An epic saga of war, passion, and power set in Feudal Japan.

Drama War & Politics
English     8.7     2024     USA


In Japan in the year 1600, at the dawn of a century-defining civil war, Lord Yoshii Toranaga is fighting for his life as his enemies on the Council of Regents unite against him, when a mysterious European ship is found marooned in a nearby fishing village.


MovieGuys wrote:
The original Shogun, the series, from 1980 like the novel it was based upon,by James Clavell, was a masterpiece. It worked because of tight coherent storytelling, compelling characterisations and intelligent narrative, that very wisely took its inspiration and direction, from the novel it was based upon. Then along lumbers this latest effort. Its manages to partly shift its focus away from the relationship between the pilot John Blackthorne and Lord Toranaga. In so doing, diffusing a key focal point of the story. A story which is essentially about the collision of Western and Eastern societies and cultures, which resonates in this period of Japanese history and beyond. The other key aspect of the original story that no longer works as well, was one of ultimately tragic love between Blackthorne and Lady Mariko. Mariko is a courtier who relies on her skill as a negotiator, to influence those around her. We see this clearly in the book and the original series. Instead, we now get a shift towards female warriors, which might reflect modern expectations but not those of Japan in the 1600's. Yes, there were female warriors in this period but they were not courtiers, trained in the art of diplomacy. Their role was in defence of the home, when male Samurai were absent or had fallen in battle, guarding women at court and at times, they were found on the battlefield. Suffice to say, the new revised Mariko is anything but diplomatic. She rebukes male Samurai in the opening episode in the way that is jarringly and unconvincingly, at odds, with the talents, that define this character who is able to delicately and intricately navigate the conspiracies and intrigue, of courtly life. The result is a series that feels clumsy and monotonous but also rather ignorant. The narrative in many cases does not work well, because the new series has discarded many of the subtleties and intrigue inherent in this tale, that are as much a weapon of the Japanese nobles, as the spear, bow and sword. Acting in this series is excellent, sets admittedly amazing and visuals often spectacular. Regrettably the degree of meddling in the underlying story, for this reviewer, ruins what could have been, a promising updated series. In summary. Lavish sets, stunning visuals and quality acting can't overcome flawed, revisionist storytelling. The result feels awkward, unbalanced and lacking in coherence and direction. My advice, read the remarkable book and watch the wonderful series from 1980.