In Shogun, East meets West in a period clash of swords and culture, but with scarcely the wit, style, dramatic tension or plausibility to justify a running time of 150 tiresome minutes for this spinoff from the James Clavell novel as recut from the eight-hour Paramount TV miniseries.
Richard Chamberlain and Toshiro Mifune are top-featured in this bilingual (and subtitled) tale of 17th-century Japanese political intrigue with praiseworthy professioal dignity, the former as a shipwrecked Englishman, the latter as one of the tribal chieftains vying for the title and power of shogun, or supreme Godfather. The whole shebang was lensed on locations in Japan.
Yoko Shimada projects a Dresden-doll appeal as an aristocratic lady who, besides helping Chamberlain bridge the culture gap, enters into forbidden love, thereby telegraphing her doom.
Producer Eric Bercovici’s script on the big screen proves only too difuse and confusing to do anything like justice to either the romance, any other relationship or indeed the wider canvas of betrayal, barbarism and warlord ritual posturing.