Sanshiro Sugata Part II (1945)

sanshiro sugata part ii poster 1945 movie akira kurosawa
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visual: 7/10

The US/Japan portions

Lower quality film, so-so story

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Sanshiro Sugata Part II

Studio:   Toho

Genre(s):   Martial Arts/Drama

Release Date(s):   May 3, 1945

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

sanshiro sugata part ii rivals susumu fujita akira kurosawa

All Sanshiro Sugata gets to do is fight for his right…to party!

Sanshiro Sugata (Susumu Fujita) continues his training to become a Judo master. As Sanshiro finds American influence coming to Japan plus the return the allies of his former rival Shōgorō Yano (Denjirō Ōkōchi) challenging him, Sanshiro discovers he might have to sacrifice his beliefs and training in order to defend the honor of Judo.

Directed by Akira Kurosawa, Sanshiro Sugata Part II (續姿三四郎 or Zoku Sugata Sanshirō translated as Judo Saga II) is a martial arts action movie. Following Kurosawa’s The Most Beautiful from 1944, the film is a sequel to Akira Kurosawa’s first film Sanshiro Sugata from 1943. The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film as part of their Eclipse imprint collection The First Films of Akira Kurosawa (Eclipse #23).

sanshiro sugata part ii boxing susumu fujita vs american propaganda

Japan rules! USA drools!

I love Akira Kurosawa but his early films are a bit tough to watch. This isn’t because his skill isn’t fully developed, but more due to the quality and stories of the film. Like The Most Beautiful, Sanshiro Sugata Part II is partially considered propaganda…and it is the propaganda aspect that is most interesting.

The movie’s core store is about Sanshiro Sugata realizing to master his skill he’ll have to break the rules to protect it. He is kicked out of his school for these, but it is a necessity to protect the honor of the school. The movie ends in a fight sequence a lot like the previous film, but Sanshiro find peace it seems.

What is interesting is one of the storylines within the film. The film commences with Sanshiro throwing a U.S. sailor into the water for beating a rickshaw operator. This leads to Sanshiro learns about the “East meets West” type of fight being set up with a boxer. Sanshiro of course beats him easily when he fights him…proving Japan’s power…right after losing to the United States in World War II.

sanshiro sugata part ii ending fight akira kurosawa

Do you want to build a snowman?

Visually the movie is a bit lower in quality. Even remastered, the prints for the film are scratch and dark. You can still see some of Akira Kurosawa’s trademarks emerging early in this film including the fight in the snow and the influence of weather. It unfortunately seemed limited by the technology that he had available to him.

Sanshiro Sugata Part II is probably only of interest to Akira Kurosawa fans. It isn’t much of a martial arts movie (it is more about the ideas and concepts behind martial arts) and it isn’t as visual as Kurosawa’s later epics. With the title of Sanshiro Sugata Part II, the film does become one of the first (if not the first) major movie to employ a “Part II” for its title. Akira Kurosawa followed Sanshiro Sugata Part II with The Men Who Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail in 1945 (though it wasn’t officially released in Japan in 1952).

Related Links:

Sanshiro Sugata (1943)

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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