More dated than its predecessor, Sanshiro Sugata Part II is an overt propaganda film, made at governmental suggestion. That’s not to say it’s inherently a poor film or anything, but it definitely lacks the ambition or creativity of Kurosawa films drawn from his own inspirations.
The film is hobbled by the first film in no way setting things up for a sequel. Characters and story moves are awkwardly regressed to retrofit a second story into the world of the original film.
The American antagonist’s presence is fascinating in a metatextual sense, but in terms of the film itself, the story with him isn’t particularly compelling.
Still, there’s plenty to enjoy. Kurosawa again displays great handle over visuals, particularly in his exploration of motion. Some notably splendid framing too. The actors emote in interesting ways, I quite liked the theatricality of many of the performances. Ultimately, it’s a much lesser film than its predecessor though, and I was never satisfyingly engaged. I give it two judo matches, and a poorly-timed release.