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Akira Kurosawa, The First Films of DVD Set (S) LiveAction

Years before Akira Kurosawa changed the face of cinema with such iconic works as Rashomon, Seven Samurai, and Yojimbo, he made his start in the Japanese film industry with four popular and exceptional works, created while World War II was raging. All gripping dramas, those rare early films - Sanshiro Sugata; The Most Beautiful; Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two; and The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail - are collected here. Containing a two-part martial arts saga, a portrait of female volunteers helping the war effort, and a kabuki-derived tale of deception, these captivating films are a glorious introduction to a peerless career.


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An Autumn Afternoon DVD (S) LiveAction

Yasujiro Ozu's final film is also his final masterpiece, the gently heartbreaking story of a man's dignified resignation to both life's ever-shifting currents and society's gradual modernization. Though widower Shuhei Hirayama has been living comfortably for years with his grown daughter, a series of events leads him to accept and encourage her marriage and departure.


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Bad Sleep Well DVD (S) LiveAction

A young executive hunts down his father's killer in director Akira Kurosawa's scathing The Bad Sleep Well. Continuing his legendary collaboration with actor Toshiro Mifune, Kurosawa combines elements of Hamlet and American film noir to chilling effect in exposing the corrupt boardrooms of postwar corporate Japan.


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Cowboy Bebop the Movie: Knocking On Heaven's Door DVD (Hyb) Special Edition

Mars. Days before Halloween 2071. Villains blow up a tanker truck on Highway One, releasing a deadly virus that kills hundreds. Fearing a bigger, even more devastating biochemical attack, an astronomical reward is offered for the arrest and capture of the person behind the destruction. On the spaceship "Bebop," Spike Spiegel and his crew of bounty hunters (Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Ed, and Ein) are bored and short of cash. But with the news of the reward everything changes.


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Crazed Fruit DVD (S) LiveAction

Two brothers compete for the amorous favors of a young woman during a seaside summer of gambling, boating, and drinking in this seminal "sun tribe" (taiyozoku) film from director Ko Nakahira. Adapted from the controversial novel by Shintaro Ishihara - and critically savaged for its lurid portrayal of the postwar sexual revolution among Japan's young and privileged.


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Disciples of Shaolin DVD (Hyb) LiveAction

Impetuous young martial arts master Kuan takes a job at a textile factory where another disciple of the revered Shaolin discipline warns him about the rival Manchu clan, who run another nearby mill. Combat breaks out between the two warring camps, with Kuan becoming his boss' right-hand man but becoming distracted by the promise of wealth. Soon his skills are put to the test by his opponents, who practice expert boxing and the deadly Iron-Finger Lock, which can kill a man in his tracks.


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Dodes'ka-Den DVD (S) LiveAction

By turns tragic and transcendent, Akira Kurosawa's Dodes'ka-den follows the daily lives of a group of people barely scraping by in a slum on the outskirts of Tokyo. Yet as desperate as their circumstances are, each of them - the homeless father and son envisioning their dream house; the young woman abused by her uncle; the boy who imagines himself a trolley conductor - finds reasons to carry on.


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Drunken Angel DVD (S) LiveAction

In this early noir from the great Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune bursts onto the screen as a volatile, tuberculosis-infected criminal who strikes up an unlikely, unhealthy relationship with Takashi Shimura's jaded physician. Set in and around the muddy swamps and back alleys of postwar Tokyo, Drunken Angel (Yoidore tenshi) is an evocative, moody snapshot of a troubled time and place, featuring one of the director's most memorably violent climaxes.


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Floating Weeds DVD (S) LiveAction (Essential Art House)

This late-career triumph for Yasujiro Ozu is one of his most visually splendid works. Shot in vibrant Technicolor, the film (a remake of Ozu's own 1934 silent classic A Story of Floating Weeds) tells the elegant tale of an aging actor who returns to the small seaside town where he once fathered a son, who has been raised to think the man is his uncle. Floating Weeds is a rich, evocative tale of family and the life of the theater.


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Harakiri DVD (S) LiveAction

Following the collapse of his clan, unemployed samurai Hanshiro Tsugumo (Tatsuya Nakadai) arrives at the manor of Lord Iyi, begging to commit ritual suicide on his property. Iyi's clansmen, believing the desperate ronin is merely angling for charity, try to force him to eviscerate himself - but they have underestimated his honor and his past.


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Hidden Fortress, The DVD (S) LiveAction (Essential Art House)

Widely remembered as the film that inspired George Lucas's Star Wars, The Hidden Fortress is one of Akira Kurosawa's most popular works, a thrillingly choreographed and cleverly written tale of chivalry and greed in medieval Japan, featuring Toshiro Mifune as a weary general in charge of protecting a princess (Misa Uehara).


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High and Low DVD (S) LiveAction

Toshiro Mifune is Kingo Gondo, a wealthy industrialist whose family becomes the target of a cold-blooded kidnapper in Akira Kurosawa's highly influential domestic drama and police procedural High and Low. Adapting Ed McBain's detective novel King's Ransom, Kurosawa creates a diabolical treatise on class and contemporary Japanese society.


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