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The Smoker
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« on: March 21, 2005, 02:35:03 PM »

Sword of Doom (1966)
AKA: Daibosatsu Pass

Dir: Kihachi Okamoto
Starring Tatsuya Nakadai, & Toshiro Mifune


Recently revisited this chambara gem. Middle of last week I received The Criterion Collectionís new DVD.
Itís probably the first decent release this film has got on a home format. Its been a few of years since I lent my faded VHS copy too somebody that I lost contact with, and obviously the video tape. I tend to do this a lot.Roll Eyes

Okamotoís film follows a skilled swordsman Ryunosuke Tsukue (Tatsuya Nakadai† -Pistol weilding 'Rabbit' in Yojimbo)†
Driven by what others perceive as evil intent walks a blood-soaked trail of destruction as he dispenses with an unearthly justice upon those he meets. The 1860s backdrop of Japan's turbulent end days of the Shogunate when increasingly desperate samurai attempt to cling to their power.
Director Okamoto's ability to bring a veiled supernatural quality to the film and its leading man. Not unlike Eastwood or more so Bronsonís Harmonica. The film seems to be shrouded in either mist or snow,† a very high contrast B/W film also adds to this doom layden, other quality. Toshiro Mifune plays a small support, but memorable role as the Shimada school instructor. The film also sports a fantastic final showdown.





Its Interesting to watch just on the basis of how much Spaghetti Iíve been soaking up over the last 4 years.
Ofcourse thereís lot of general parallels With Chambara and Spaghetti Western genres. Most obviously Yojimbo at its genesis, the cynical anti-hero & stylized violence.† Sword of Doom is a perfect example of symmetry in style at the very least to Leoneís films.

Okamotoís earlier Samurai Assassin (1965) probably comes off as a more rounded piece of work. But it lacks Sword of Doom's striking visuals and punch.

For anybody looking to stretch there legs outside Spaghetti Westerns or looking for something of a similar breed.
Well recommended.

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cigar joe
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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2005, 04:43:21 AM »

That bottom pick looks like something out of Carpenters "Big Trouble in Little China"

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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2005, 02:03:23 PM »

a straw jingasa..† †

I think Carpentor's three charactors were most likely based on Kazuo Koike's 3 Gods Of Death from Lone Wolf & Cub.

Each charactor distinctively weiled a different weapon.† † † † † † †† † †† † †† †(film version)

I think Carpenter was having fun with the idea.† The jingasa looked just a little exaggerated, looked like the 3 actors necks where gonna cave in from the weight.
A nodding dog comes to mind. lol

I watched it again recently after quite a few years. I notice alot of funny stuff i didn't get when i was younger.
Like Russells Jack Burton charactor has proberbly seen one to many John Wayne movies.† Wink cracking film
 

« Last Edit: March 22, 2005, 03:26:32 PM by The Smoker » Logged

dave jenkins
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« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2005, 07:08:01 PM »

You guys are all right! I'm a big fan of BOTH Sword of Doom and Big Trouble in Little China. And both are well represented on DVD. Is this a great time to have eyes, or what?

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« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2007, 05:47:02 PM »

I saw Sword of Doom for the second time today.  I think it is  fascinating movie.  The swordfighting in the midst of a light snowfall with Mifune destroying all his opponents is in a way beautiful and horrific.
I get confused watching this movie.  There is a scene in which the evil samurai kills someone in a boat who looks like Mifune, yet it is not him.  Is this a fantasy thought on the evil samurai's part?  Also, the duel never takes place that is supposed to.  Its as if the film cuts off before the grand finale.
Any thoughts?  I read the imbd analysis.

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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2007, 05:53:17 PM »

The guy in the boat is one of the politicians the Mito assassins want to kill; I thought the film explained that clearly. The climactic battle never happens because this film was supposed to be part one of a two-film series. As the story is well known in Japan (other film versions are available), it was no big deal when they didn't make the second film. You can do a version of the siege of Troy without including anything about the Trojan Horse (see The Iliad) or a story about King John of England without references to either Robin Hood or Magna Carta (check Shakespeare's play). Audiences can be trusted to know "the rest of the story" (and the makers of Sword of Doom never dreamed the film would have a career outside Japan).

In his book on Mifune and Kurosawa, Stuart Galbraith IV suggests the film sucks because it didn't tell the whole story. I, however, feel the film benefited from the fact that it didn't have to worry so much about the plot; the brilliant kiru ending, for example, would not have been possible if the filmmakers had been fastidious about narrative resolutions.

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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2007, 06:06:01 PM »

BTW, a while back The Smoker posted some nice screen caps of this beautiful film: http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1775.0

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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2007, 04:29:28 PM »

Thanks for the info Dave.  There is just something about this movie that is compelling to watch.  I like watching Mifune in all the sword play movies.  He seemed to be one of those guys that if he is in the same scene with you, his charisma steals it. 
The first time I saw Mifune was at the theater in the early 70s watching Red Sun.  I liked him then.  He was the perfect choice for Shogun later on.

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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2008, 02:13:30 PM »

In today's Wall Street Journal there is an excellent piece on Tatsuya Nakadai (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121502586341223673.html?mod=2_1168_1 ) The whole thing is worth reading, but particularly noteworthy are the 4 paragraphs (count 'em, 4!) dedicated to SoD:

Quote
The actor estimates that he has appeared in about 150 films, but he is reluctant to name a favorite. "It's difficult to choose. Every time a film is completed, I say it is not good." Yet he holds Kihachi Okamoto's "The Sword of Doom" (1966) especially dear. In it, Mr. Nakadai plays a psychopathic ronin increasingly troubled by his violent actions. "I think it is the least appreciated of my best roles," the actor said.

He is certainly right about it being among his finest performances, his uncompromising portrayal strangely sympathetic despite his character's unregenerate actions. When a young woman pleads with him not to fight her husband, for example, he seduces her and then, with nary a second thought, dispatches the opponent anyway. Yet later, living with this woman he ruined, an anguished Mr. Nakadai somehow earns our caring.

What troubles the Japanese, apparently, is the movie's silence regarding his character's motives. "Japanese people want to know why someone kills," Mr. Nakadai said, "and this film does not even ask that question. It shows the beauty of killing."

His disarmingly humane portrayal has its roots in the film's source, a 41-volume series of historical novels by Kaizan Nakazato. "The hero is essentially the reincarnation of an ancestor," he explained. "His sins are inherited. But even as he is fighting the trouble in his heart, he's also affirming himself. That is why I like this part."

7/3/08 B13

« Last Edit: July 03, 2008, 02:17:18 PM by dave jenkins » Logged


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« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2008, 07:31:14 PM »

Finally got around to watching my copy for the first time today. All I can say is... WOW! Cheesy

I wish the final fight sequence had never ended. Everything about the film was just damn good.

Jenkins, do you know what Ryunosuke's fate actually is in the novel?

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« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2008, 09:13:17 PM »

I don't. My understanding, though, is that other elements come in to further complicate the plot, making it difficult to anticipate what happens based on the first part.

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« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2013, 01:57:16 PM »

I decided to give this a chance - I'm not much of a fan of traditional samurai movies - and I shouldn't have bothered. The script is an absolute mess, though it makes sense now learning that there was supposed to be another film.

There are some really nice scenes but much of this is painful to sit through, and by 1964, this was old hat. This could have been a great 90 minute movie, instead of a 120 min draggy, plot overloaded mess that felt like 3-4 hours.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2014, 05:52:55 AM »

Coming to Criterion Blu on Jan. 6 2015! With a Stephen Prince commentary! It's certainly gonna be a happy new year at my place. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

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« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2014, 05:31:02 PM »

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/The-Sword-of-Doom-Blu-ray/115397/#Review
Only a 3.5/5 for picture quality? That's disappointing. Still, I can't not get the Stephen Prince commentary, so I guess they've got me hooked anyway . . .

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