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Film / Sanshiro Sugata Part II

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Battle in the Snow
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Sanshiro Sugata Part II (AKA: Zoku Sanshiro Sugata) is a 1945 film directed by Akira Kurosawa.

It was Kurosawa's third feature and a sequel to his first feature, Sanshiro Sugata. The film is set in Yokohama in 1887, two years after the end to Sanshiro Sugata. Sanshiro Sugata is still enjoying the life of a famous champion judoka, famous enough that children sing songs about him. His girlfriend Sayo still awaits him back home (wherever that is; the first film's setting is vague). Sugata, while still studying at the judo school of his master Yano, takes on his own protege in the form of a Yokohama teen named Daizaburo.

But since this is a movie complications arrive. One problem arises in the form of an obnoxious American boxer named William Lister (reminder: this movie was made in 1945), in Yokohama for a cultural visit, who seeks a match with Sugata in order to prove his superiority. A second and much bigger problem appears in the form of Tesshin and Genzaburo Higaki, brothers of Gennosuke Higaki, the villain of the first movie. While Gennosuke no longer holds any hatred for Sugata (in fact, events will show that he is a broken man), his brothers thirst for revenge. They want to kill Sugata, and they have mastered another martial art, Karate, to do it.

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  • As You Know: Daizaburo the admiring fan approaches Sugata and provides some exposition for anyone who didn't see the first movie about how Sugata is a champion judoka who previously defeated judo master Murai.
  • Ax-Crazy: Gennsouke Higaki reveals that his younger brother Genzaburo is "just insane", and that Genzaburo is an epileptic, who is especially prone to violence right before he has a seizure.
  • Battle in the Rain: Battle in the snow, for Akira Kurosawa's first great action scene, as Sugata and Tesshin Higaki battle atop a snowbound mountain pass in a blizzard. (It was real snow. Reportedly the actor playing Sugata had to be carried to a bonfire between takes as his feet kept going numb.)
  • Big Ol' Unibrow: Tesshin's unibrow adds to his general villainous mien.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • As Sugata hauls away a seriously injured Daizaburo in a rickshaw, Yano observes "your old trade is paying off now." This is a reference to the first movie where Sugata worked as a rickshaw boy for a while.
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    • When Sugata says he's quit the dojo, the monk says "It sounds like you walked out on them. That's a bad habit of yours." This is a reference to the first movie where Sugata quit the dojo, for reasons that were never made clear.
  • Could Say It, But...: Dan and Sugata are drinking sake in the dojo when Yano the master walks in. They don't have time to hide their jug of sake, which gets knocked over. Yano responds by going on a long talk about some judo moves he's planning on teaching, which he demonstrates by flipping the jug around, making it clear that he knows exactly what happened but is willing to let it slide.
  • Demoted to Extra: Sayo the Love Interest has less to do in this movie, her romance arc with Sugata having already been completed in the first one. Here she only appears in a couple of scenes, wishing Sugata would come home.
  • Dramatic Drop: Sayo drops her water jug upon seeing that Sugata has returned home after a long absence in Yokohama.
  • Eagleland: The first film lacked any anti-American propaganda other than the rather subtle touch of having the villain be the only person in the movie to wear a Western-style three piece suit. The sequel is much more overt.
    • The very first scene features a loud, obnoxious, offensive American sailor angrily berating Daizaburo the rickshaw boy, and beating him, only for Sugata to come to the boy's rescue.
    • Later Sugata is challenged by an American boxer. Sugata expresses revulsion at the bloody violence of Western-style boxing (that's pretty rich talk, since Sugata killed a guy on the judo mat in the first film). The American expat community that turns out to see William Lister fight a lesser judoka is portrayed as a bunch of braying jackasses.
  • Evil Laugh: Tesshin has a scary evil cackling laugh.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: Sugata makes a trip home to pay his respects at the grave of Murai, his friend and his girlfriend's father.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Gennosuke Higaki's hacking cough is confirmed to be not just a cough when he says idly that he'll never see Yokohama again.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Sugata swigs some sake after his first confrontation with the Higaki brothers in the dojo. This is in violation of the dojo's no-alcohol rules.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Literally, as Sugata uses judo holds that boxers could never use to give William Lister the American champion boxer a beatdown. (Naturally this proves that the Japanese are both tougher than and culturally superior to Americans!)
  • The Perils of Being the Best: At one point Sugata wonders why he has so many enemies, and his friend and fellow judoka Dan explains that it's because Sugata is the best judoka around.
  • Remember the New Guy?: There was not a whisper of Gennosuke Higaki having two brothers in the first movie, even as he was challenging Sugata to fight to the death, but in the sequel they pop up. They're very upset.
  • Repeat Cut: One of the first ever uses of this trope in an action film, as Tesshin's karate chop narrowly misses Sugata's face in the climactic fight, as shown in a Repeat Cut.
  • Sequel: Believed to be the first ever sequel to get simply the original title with a "II" or "2" tacked on.
    • Averted in the original Japanese, however - the Japanese title (Zoku Sugata Sanshiro) would be more literally translated as something akin to Sanshiro Sugata Continues or Sanshiro Sugata Sequel.
  • Staggered Zoom: Sugata has just decisively defeated Tesshin. Tesshin's brother Genzaburo was unable to participate in the fight, having had a seizure just before Sugata arrived. The three of them have taken shelter in an isolated cabin. As Sugata sleeps, there's a staggered zoom in to Genzaburo, who is giving Sugata a murderous stare. Genzaburo picks up a hatchet, raises it in the air—and then puts it back down.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: There must have been too many characters, because Sayo's father, the judo master Murai, died between movies.
  • Training Montage: Introduced by Sugata telling Daizaburo "Expect a lot of pain". Pain follows, as there's a montage of Sugata flipping Daizaburo around, followed by montages of Daizaburo bowing at the judo mat, followed by montages of his name tag moving up the judo ranks that hang on the wall.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Gennosuke Higaki, a badass jujitsu master in the first film, is now in the late stages of tuberculosis. He makes a pilgrimage to Sugata to warn Sugata about his crazy homicidal brothers.
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