Sanshiro Sugata Part II

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Sanshiro Sugata Part II
Zoku Sugata Sanshiro poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAkira Kurosawa
Screenplay byAkira Kurosawa
Tsuneo Tomita
Based onCharacters
by Akira Kurosawa
Tsuneo Tomita
Sanshiro Sugata
by Tsuneo Tomita
Produced byMotohiko Itō
StarringSusumu Fujita
Denjirō Ōkōchi
Kokuten Kōdō
Ryūnosuke Tsukigata
Music bySeiichi Suzuki
Distributed byToho (Japan)
Film Distribution Inc. (USA)
Release date
  • May 3, 1945 (1945-05-03)
Running time
83 minutes

Sanshiro Sugata Part II (Japanese: 續姿三四郎, Hepburn: Zoku Sugata Sanshirō, a.k.a. Judo Saga II) is a 1945 Japanese action drama film written and directed by Akira Kurosawa. It is based on the novel by Tsuneo Tomita, son of Tomita Tsunejirō, the earliest disciple of judo. It was filmed in early 1945 in Japan towards the end of World War II. Unlike the original Sugata Sanshiro, the sequel is in part considered a propaganda film.[1]

It is believed by some to be the earliest known film sequel whose title is simply the original title followed by a number, predating the likes of French Connection II (1975) by decades,[2] although possibly mistaken as the added kanji (Zoku) is not a numeral but simply means "Continuation" or "Sequel" sort of in the style of Another Thin Man or The Invisible Man Returns.[3]


In the 1880s, a martial arts student continues his quest to become a judo master, from that discipline's founder. Eventually, he learns enough to demonstrate his skill in a boxing match between American and Japanese fighters at the end of the movie. The whole movie is actually about the rivalry between karate and judo martial artists, and Sanshiro's struggle to do what is right. On one side there is the morally right thing to do, and on the other the rules in the dojo. Eventually he decides to break all of the rules, leave the dojo, fight the American boxer and, also, the karate masters. He wins both fights and at the end of the movie smiles while washing his face, finally able to sleep and finally be happy.


Critical reviews[edit]

In his review of the original Sanshiro Sugata for Bright Lights Film Journal, Brian Libby noted that the film is "less propaganda-oriented" than its sequel. In the original film, "fighting is but a vehicle for a larger spiritual quest" whereas the sequel "promotes Japanese judo's superiority to Western boxing", setting a different tone.[4] Christian Blauvelt, writing a review for Slant Magazine, agreed that the film is somewhat tainted by noticeable propaganda. Sanshiro's victory against the American boxer "is taken as a sign of Japanese physical, moral, and spiritual superiority". He also noted that "Sanshiro comes to the aid of defenseless Japanese who are being beaten up by a drunken American sailor".[5] Historian David Conrad has contextualized the film as a "crude bit of wish-fulfillment" during the last weeks of World War II when Japan's leaders "moved the war's frontlines to the only place it could still be won: the realm of fantasy."[6]

Christian Blauvelt however saw merit in the film as illustrated in the battle against the brothers of Gennosuke Higaki, the original film's villain: "Their battle takes place on a snow-covered hillside and matches the natural beauty of the first film's windstorm finale. In his years apprenticing at P.C.L. [Photo Chemical Laboratories, which later became Toho], Kurosawa had become exposed to the films of John Ford, many of which played in Japan, before the foreign-film embargo that accompanied Japan's declaration of war on the United States in 1941. Like Ford, Kurosawa would emphasize the place of landscape in his films, often pairing his characters' emotional turmoil with the Elements. The rain in One Wonderful Sunday, Rashomon, or Seven Samurai, the beating sun in Stray Dog, the sinkhole in Drunken Angel, the snowfall in The Idiot, the wind in Dersu Uzala, and the crashing waves of Kagemusha would express some emotional anguish of the characters and, as a kind of cinematic synecdoche, society as a whole."[5]

Home media[edit]

The film was released in 2010 as part of a 4 DVD box set of Kurosawa's early films under the following designation:


  1. ^ Chris Gosling (March 2011). "Akira Kurosawa: Master of Cinema by Peter Cowie". Senses of Cinema. After Sanshiro Sugata, Kurosawa yielded to the times and produced two propaganda films – The Most Beautiful ... and the lacklustre Sanshiro Sugata Part II.
  2. ^ Sheldon Hall; Stephen Neale (April 30, 2010). Epics, Spectacles, and Blockbusters: A Hollywood History. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 978-0814330081 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "續". Jisho. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  4. ^ Brian Libby (July 31, 2010). "Sanshiro Sugata: Kurosawa's Elegy for the Reluctant Kamikaze". Bright Lights Film Journal.
  5. ^ a b Christian Blauvelt (August 2, 2010). "DVD Review: Eclipse Series 23: The First Films of Akira Kurosawa". Slant Magazine.
  6. ^ David A. Conrad (2022). Akira Kurosawa and Modern Japan. McFarland & Co.

External links[edit]