Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955)

samurai ii duel at ichijoji temple poster 1955 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Toshiro Mifune is always good

Story is really dense and sometimes difficult to follow

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Samurai II:  Duel at Ichijoji Temple

Studio:  Toho

Genre(s):  Drama/Martial Arts/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  July 12, 1955

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

samurai ii duel at ichijoji temple toshiro mifune kaoru yachigusa

Damn…everybody wants me

Miyamoto Musashi (Toshiro Mifune) is continuing on his quest to be a great samurai, but victory at a duel shows him that he has a long way to go to understand the true path of a warrior.  When Musashi becomes involved with a school led by Seijuro Yoshioka (Akihiko Hirata), he becomes a target for Seijuro’s students who vow to prevent him from a fair fight with their master.  Meanwhile Musashi’s love Otsu (Kaoru Yachigusa) pines for Musashi but learns that Akemi (Mariko Okada) dreams of the man she loves as well.

Directed by Hiroshoi Inagaki and Jun Fukuda (as assistant director), Samurai II:  Duel at Ichijoji Temple (続宮本武蔵 一乗寺の決闘 or Zoku Miyamoto Musashi: Ichijōji no Kettō) is a Japanese samurai film based on the 1935 Eiji Yoshikawa novel Musashi which adapts aspects of the life of Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645).  The film follows Samurai I:  Musashi Miyamoto from 1954, and the Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #15).

samurai ii duel at ichijoji temple otsu akemi mariko okada kaoru yachigusa

Uh yeah…Musashi said he hated you and to go away…sorry.

The Samurai movies are odd in that they are a true trilogy.  As individual movies, the films really don’t work very well, but as a whole, they flow together.  I find the second entry in these films the toughest of the movies to follow, but all three films benefit from multiple viewings.

The story for the film is rather dense, and it asks a lot of viewers.  There are aspects of honor and respect and don’t necessarily translate to all countries and that governs a lot of Musashi’s actions.  You add to that the romance, Musashi’s friend Matahachi (Sachio Sakai) and the introduction of Sasaki Kojirō (Kōji Tsuruta) who is almost a weird third wheel in this film (he factors into the next film heavily).

Toshiro Mifune generally can do no wrong in my book.  I love him in Akira Kurosawa’s epics, and he is generally the same here in style and performance.  Kōji Tsuruta plays a nice cocky guy who still has a sense of honor, but both Mariko Okada and Kaoru Yachigusa are rather forgettable simple because of their pining for Musashi.

samurai ii duel at ichijoji temple ending miyamoto musashi toshiro mifune

It’s on like Donkey Kong!

The film is rather early color and even in remastered versions feels washed out and muted.  Opposed to some other films from the period that really take on the bright Technicolor look of the time, the movie feels older.  Also, the fighting for the film feels rather minimal in comparison to bigger epics.

Samurai II:  Duel at Ichijoji Temple is a solid film, but not for the casual viewer of samurai pictures.  The film works but it really only works as a whole with the rest of the trilogy to show the arc of Musashi’s character.  If you are going to watch the Samurai film series make sure you take the time to seek them all out at once for the best viewing option.  Samurai II:  Duel at Ichijoji Temple is followed by Samurai III:  Duel at Ganryu Island in 1956.

Related Links:

Samurai I:  Musashi Miyamoto (1954)

Samurai III:  Duel at Ganryu Island (1956)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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