Issue #277          HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES          August 22nd, 2005

Legend of the Eight Samurai
(1983; Toei Company/Kadokawa Haruki Jimusho)

Satomi hakken den
Alternate English Titles: Legend of Eight Ninjas, Legend of Eight Samurai

  RATING: 6/10


Kinji Fukasaku helmed this ornate Toei fantasy, which features such luminaries as Sonny Chiba, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Etsuko Shiomi. A century after they were slaughtered, the Hakita clan return from the grave to seek revenge. They eliminate all of their enemies, save for a young princess (Hiroko Yakushimaru), who must unite with eight samurai possessing magical crystals. Only these glowing orbs possess the power necessary to vanquish the demonic Hakita matriarch and her underlings.

Sonny Chiba Hiroko Yakushimaru

There is much to enjoy in this big budget Toei spectacular, including elaborate and colorful production design, offbeat horror elements, and a villainess who rejuvenates herself by bathing in blood. However, routinely staged action, a weak score (including an awful English pop theme song), and excessive running time lessen the production’s appeal somewhat.

Hiroyuki Sanada Etsuko Shiomi


LEGEND OF THE EIGHT SAMURAI was first released domestically on tape by Prism Entertainment during the ‘80s. That severely cropped, dubbed, monaural version served as the source for various unauthorized DVD editions from labels like Brentwood and VCI, and somewhere along the way a 6 ½ minute chunk of the film was edited out. Thankfully, Adness’ edition makes those releases even more disposable than they already were. Although the anamorphic transfer presents the film at a seemingly compromised 2.00:1 ratio, compositions rarely seem impeded and the picture quality is greatly improved, with proper contrast, detail, and color levels. It also goes without saying that the fantasy-oriented storyline plays much more respectfully in the original Japanese language stereo mix (with optional English subtitles). The horrible international export trailer (which makes no mention of Chiba and cannot decide whether the title is LEGEND OF EIGHT SAMURAI or LEGEND OF EIGHT NINJAS) is on-hand, along with additional trailers for the titles in Adness’ Sonny Chiba Collection. Patrick Macias’ liner notes provide much info, including the movie’s unusual distribution pattern in Japan, which saw it released on video while still in theatres.



Images in this review courtesy of Adness. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2005. All Rights Reserved.


- U.S. Release

NTSC – Region 1 Only

Adness #20592-7

Dolby Digital 2.0

Sync Sound Japanese Language

Subtitles (Optional): English

12 Chapters

16:9 Enhanced (2.00:1)

136 Minutes


- Great Britain: 15

Manitoba: 14A

Nova Scotia: R

Ontario: 14A

Contains moderate violence and nudity

10 A Masterpiece
9 Excellent
8 Highly Recommended
7 Very Good
6 Recommended
5 Marginal Recommendation
4 Not Recommended
3 Poor
2 Definitely Not Recommended
1 Dreadful