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The Sword of Doom (Criterion Collection) (1967)

Cast: Tatsuya Nakadai, Toshiro Mifune, Yuzo Kayama, more...
Director: Kihachi Okamoto
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Studio: Criterion
Genre: Adventure, Samurai, Criterion Collection
Running Time: 121 min.
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English
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In this epic Japanese samurai adventure, a bloodthirsty young fighter (Tatsuya Nakadai) kills a man in competition and is pursued by the slain warrior's brother. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Inscrutable by JKelly August 14, 2006 - 9:46 PM PDT
Plenty of good fight scenes and a well-done period piece. Don't expect too much of an appearance with our favorite Toshiro. He does appear in an excellent fight scene, but otherwise plays the sage to the arrant brother and is generally not seen very much. I have to say that the plot is somewhat inscrutable to me as a westerner. I know there were periods in Chinese and Japanese history where swords were pretty much outlawed or severely regulated. I am sure this is a massive generalization, but I don't think the movie intends to be too specific about it at any rate. It's as if we are watching a morality play with the theme "swords and their use in power politics lead to your destruction". Or something like that. Or maybe more generally, "swordfighting gets society nowhere and takes a big toll in life and creates suffering even for those who master the art". See, the main character is practically unsurpassed in swordfighting. He uses a style which in itself represents a sadistic boy-pulling-wings-off-of-flies mentality. His own father thinks him a plague and wants him dead. Yet somehow his excellence does not pay off. His wife explains away this apparent paradox with an offhanded "You always take these jobs that pay a pittance." I guess the idea is that all he wants to do is kill, and he doesn't care how much he is paid to do it.

"Honor"able mention goes to the cliches - A guy with a gun is a coward; it's worse to live with your mistake than actually die; a swordfighter who drinks has no honor; only the swordfighter that kills as a last resort is honorable ("You made me kill!").... I am sure I am missing some, but you get the idea. It's a well-done movie. I enjoyed it. I'm into samurai flicks, but I have to admit it's essentially a pedantic romp.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.71)
80 Votes
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