SWORD OF DOOM

(1966)

With Tatsuya Nakadai, Yuzo Kayama, Michiyo Aratama, Toshiro Mifune
Directed by Kihachi Okatamo
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

Just another day at the office     SWORD OF DOOM is a dark and violent film that pulls you in with its mysterious lead character and drops you off two hours later without revealing his fate.  But in between the opening scene and the mad, violent non-conclusion, you will have witnessed one of the most intense and thougtful, as well as violent, samurai movies of the 1960s.  Tatsuya Nakadai plays Ryunosuke, a samurai killing machine who starts on a moral downward spiral when he allows himself to be defeated for the sake of a woman.  (Dames!)  It is the best performance I have ever seen from Nakadai, who for once outshines Toshiro Mifune.  Mifune portrays a righteous, zen-spewing samurai who is Ryunosuke's moral opposite.  While the movie belongs to Nakadai, Mifune gets one scene in which to slaughter several enemies, thus allowing viewers to see the clear difference between the sword styles of both actors.  Mifune approaches swordplay like a boxer, while Nakadai, the more athletic performer, approaches it like a dancer.

     The abrupt ending, which was supposed to lead to sequels that were never filmed, may or may not work for you.  Plotlines are left hanging in the air while Ryunosuke, pushed to the edge by the actions of his life, slices and dices his way through a dozens of samurai warriors in an unforgettable eight-minute orgy of beautifully choreographed violence. 4½ - JB

Japanese Cinema     Toshiro Mifune     The Stuff You Gotta Watch


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"You hot-headed men caused me to kill against my will!"
   ---- Toshiro Mifune, in a line that sums up much of his screen career.

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