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CompleteMartialArts.com - Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves: The Samurai Film Handbook

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Manufacturer: Stone Bridge Press
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 791.43658
EAN: 9781880656938
ISBN: 1880656930
Label: Stone Bridge Press
Manufacturer: Stone Bridge Press
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 240
Publication Date: 2005-05-01
Publisher: Stone Bridge Press
Studio: Stone Bridge Press

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Editorial Reviews:

Finally, a book about the ever-popular genre of samurai film. Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves provides essential background on the samurai warrior in Japanese culture to help explain what makes these tales of loyalty, revenge and explosive swordsmanship so watchable. It covers top directors and stars and has over 50 original reviews of a wide variety of films, from classics like Samurai Trilogy and Yojimbo to influential films like Lady Snowblood, plus newly released hits like Takeshi Kitano's Zatoichi. With American directors like Quentin Tarentino increasingly influenced by Japanese films, this book is as much a guide to style as it is a solid film reference.

"Galloway's thoughtful and personal touches make this book much more than just a vital reference for samurai film fans." -- The Asian Reporter

"Galloway's contextualization of the genre is masterly, one of the clearest and most succinct explanations I have read on teh whole historical samurai phenomenon." -- The Daily Yomiuri

"Without a doubt, Galloway knows his stuff." -- Yellow Menace

From the publisher: Check out Patrick Galloway's latest book, Asian Shock: Horror and Dark Cinema from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, & Thailand

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Oh, yeah, keep them swords-a-slashing!
Comment: Very good, very fun and very much loved by this very big chambara fan!!! A big and sincere thanks to the author for creating this informative guide and loving tribute.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Perfect reference book for Samurai film fans
Comment: Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (3/07)

At the recommendation of a lab assistant that used to work for me, I started watching samurai movies. My interest in this genre stemmed from years of training in the Japanese martial arts. These movies are fun to watch, incorporate aspects of Japanese history and culture and are a nice break from the current pop culture movies available today. When my assistant moved away to go to a four-year college, I lost my source for samurai movie recommendations. Well, Patrick Galloway has saved the day for me with his book, "Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves: The Samurai Film Handbook."

More than just recommending a list of samurai films to watch, Mr. Galloway also provides a chapter on the world of the samurai. He also discusses the samurai film genre and also the artists involved. I found all of this background information to be interesting and informative because it provided me with a wealth of information that will enable me to enjoy the movies even more.

Mr. Galloway breaks the movie reviews down into sections separated by time. He covers the beginning, middle and end of the 60's, all of the 70's and then runs through the 80's and beyond. I like how much background information he provides because it enriches my enjoyment of the films. I truly appreciate the amount of work that he put into writing this book. He also combines an extensive glossary and cross index reference in the back of the book. Based upon the wealth of information that Mr. Galloway provides, he gave me a whole new list of movies that I want to watch. The best part is that I found many of these films available on Netflix, so I actually have a way to access them!

I definitely recommend "Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves" to martial movie fans and think that it would also make a great gift.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Great source to find your next rental
Comment: As a fairly new Chambara/Samurai film fan, I've found this book to be a great source to help know where to look. The writing is fun and informative, definetly from a fan's point of view. It is heavy on plot details with interesting history details mixed within, but this is in no way a critical/academic book. Its much more of a fan saying "Let me describe to you about some great films and why I found them interesting."

The book is nicely organized by time frame and one can watch the evolution of the genre. An index is in back if you prefer to track down a particular actor. There are also plenty of aside facts about actors/studios and glossary terms that I found added a nice spice to the mix.

This probably won't be of much interest to the already hardcore fan, but definetly a great starting point for the novice.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: A handy handbook
Comment: This book is an absolute must for chambara fans, both newbies and fans seeking new films to explore. This is a handbook - a "practical reference" book, as Galloway states right at the beginning [7]. The first three chapters provide a nice overview for the "detailed plot synopses that follow" (although, as Galloway also states, he never gives away an ending) [47].
In fact, Galloway is explicit about the purpose of this reference book. It "provides historical background, cultural insights, production anecdotes, actor and director bios" [47] and the aforementioned plot synopses. Those looking for a more Leonard Maltin-like review guide should probably look elsewhere.
Unlike another reader, however, I was not disappointed by a lack of reviews - it is quite clear that Galloway picked his films carefully and that he's an enthusiastic booster for each film in the book.
As for misinformation, film budgets and the financial equations used to calculate them are always arguable. What is not arguable, however, is the depth of research Galloway undertook with regard to the information about directors, actors, scripts, and Japanese language and history. I would be amazed if Tatsuya Nakadai would allow his name to be attached to a book that misrepresented the genre or the creative people who produced these films (Nakadai is a well-known Japanese actor who appears in several of the films described in the book and provides a "thumbs up" review blurb on the book's back cover).
I think it is evident that the films chosen for inclusion are the result of Galloway's belief that these particular films are important for aesthetic as well as historic reasons and, well, because he enjoys them and wants to share his enthusiasm for these films with other viewers.
Similar to a list of last year's "best movies," one can always argue for the inclusion or exclusion of a particular film. However, Galloway is explicit about his desire to whet appetites for Japanese film (and not just chambara or jidai-geki, either) by providing an entertaining and highly readable guide to a selection of films he considers representative of the best in the genre. This is not meant to be an exhaustive or encyclopedic survey of every chambara produced.
This is a handbook for those movie fans who want more background on an already-loved genre and, more importantly, this is a must-have book for those who are beginning to explore the wonderful world of Japanese samurai films. Buy the book and begin expanding your cinematic world!

Customer Rating: Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5
Summary: Strictly for newbies
Comment: It's thin compared to the other, much better, Stone Bridge Press books about Japanese cinema, coming in at 235 pages with only 150 pages dedicated to samurai film reviews. The first 3 chapters did a pretty good job giving a brief overview of samurai, the samurai film genre, the studios and talent behind the films.

Sadly, the reviews deal more with plot synopsis than review or how the film fits into the big picture of the genre and leaves much to be desired. Many titles aren't covered. Only 2 of the Sleepy Eyes of Death series warrant reviews. Only one Wicked Priest entry is covered and only 3(!) of the Lone Wolf and Cub film are included. These seem to be some HUGE gaps, and were the films I was most interested in reading about.

Galloway starts his Forward by stating that "the samurai film genre is woefully underrepresented in film criticism,..". and on page 21 mentions how film snobs hold genre films in low regard. I can relate to a beloved film genre not given the credit it's due, but Galloway takes every chance he gets to put down Godzilla and kaiju films. Putting down another genre isn't going to elevate the genre you champion.

-"...it should be noted that Japanese films in general tend to adhere to a fairly high quality standard(unless we're talking about sweaty guys in rubber suits...)" p26

In the review of Daimajin the author claims "Daiei always did quality work and you'll be pleasantly surprised by just how good a kaiju-eiga can be when done right. No Cheesy monster mash this;" What about Daiei's 1960s & 70s Gamera movies? Are they quality work? Hell no!

In the review of Seven Samurai the author claims that it "was the most expensive Japanese film ever made, costing 210,000,000 yen(some $560,000)". And that it was at least 5 times the average Japanese film budget. But in David Kalat's Critical History of Toho's Godzilla Series it lists Gojira, which was released the same year as Seven Samurai, as costing "60 million yen", "3 times the budget of the average Japanese film" and "cost $900,000 at 1954 yen to dollar rates".

Misinformation and conflicting information, like the above examples, make me wonder what other information in areas I'm not familiar with may be skewed.

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