in about 100 words or less
Japan, 79m, B&W
Director: Akira Kurosawa; Cast: Denjirô Ôkôchi, Susumu Fujita, Yukiko Todoroki, Ryunosuke Tsukigata, Takashi Shimura
Sanshiro Sugata is Akira Kurosawa’s brilliant directorial debut. This dramatic martial arts/coming of age film is based on Tsuneo Tomita’s novel of the same name which follows a young man known as Sanshiro who travels into the city to learn Jujutsu. Upon his arrival he discovers Judo and after receiving training he eventually enters a mixed martial arts competition which dramatizes the rivalry between the two disciplines. This is a beautifully made, carefully paced, and thoughtful film. Although 17 minutes of the film was lost to wartime censorship in 1944 (as it was criticized for being too American/British in style), the full story of Sanshiro Sugata unfortunately remains somewhat disjointed, despite the attempted explanation through the use of intertitles (Klaus Ming January 2011).