280 The Sword of Doom

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
Post Reply
Message
Author
Martha
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:53 pm
Location: all up in thurr

280 The Sword of Doom

#1 Post by Martha » Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:09 pm

The Sword of Doom

Image [img]http://criterion_production.s3.amazonaws.com/release_images/1340/280_box_348x490_w128.jpg[/img]

Tatsuya Nakadai and Toshiro Mifune star in the story of a wandering samurai who exists in a maelstrom of violence. A gifted swordsman—plying his trade during the turbulent final days of Shogunate rule—Ryunosuke (Nakadai) kills without remorse, without mercy. It is a way of life that ultimately leads to madness. The Criterion Collection is proud to present director Kihachi Okamoto's swordplay classic The Sword of Doom, the thrilling tale of a man who chooses to devote his life to evil.

Special Features

-New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
-Audio commentary featuring film historian Stephen Prince
-Trailer
-PLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien

Criterionforum.org user rating averages

Last edited by Martha on Fri Feb 11, 2005 2:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Tribe
The Bastard Spawn of Hank Williams
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:59 pm
Location: Toledo, Ohio
Contact:

#2 Post by Tribe » Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:27 pm

I've never, ever heard of this movie, or its director, before. Comments? Views?

John

Narshty
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:27 pm
Location: London, UK

#3 Post by Narshty » Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:33 pm

It's kind of like the same cross between a character study and historical epic as The Leopard, except this one's about a super-badass psychotic samurai who makes Toshiro Mifune look like Mr Rogers.

User avatar
Tribe
The Bastard Spawn of Hank Williams
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:59 pm
Location: Toledo, Ohio
Contact:

#4 Post by Tribe » Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:33 pm

Thanks for the link, Hektor. One long bloody sword fight directed by Japan's "Samuel Fuller" can't be bad. Does this film have a reputation at all?

John

User avatar
cdnchris
Site Admin
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:45 pm
Location: Washington
Contact:

#5 Post by cdnchris » Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:41 pm

Narshty wrote:It's kind of like the same cross between a character study and historical epic as The Leopard, except this one's about a super-badass psychotic samurai who makes Toshiro Mifune look like Mr Rogers.
Picturing The Leopard with a super-badass psychotic samurai in the Burt Lancaster role, at first with Lancaster actually playing the role with Italian dubbing, but then replaced by Mifune.

Cool!!!

User avatar
Lemdog
The Man with no Title
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 4:43 pm

#6 Post by Lemdog » Wed Dec 22, 2004 4:20 pm

I have not heard of this one either, but I appeas that it will be a blind buy for me.
Picturing The Leopard with a super-badass psychotic samurai in the Burt Lancaster role, at first with Lancaster actually playing the role with Italian dubbing, but then replaced by Mifune.
That quote made my day.

User avatar
Andre Jurieu
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:38 pm
Location: Back in Milan (Ind.)

#7 Post by Andre Jurieu » Wed Dec 22, 2004 5:17 pm

This is about as bare-bones as it gets. They didn't even bother with a "More!"

User avatar
Hrossa
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 7:11 pm
Location: Prince Edward Island
Contact:

#8 Post by Hrossa » Wed Dec 22, 2004 5:39 pm

And might I venture, "Amazing Cover!" . that is, before I get sent off to the Cover Art Babble-On Forum.

P.S.

Has anyone seen some of Okamoto's other films?

His Age of Assassins (or Epoch of Murder Madness) is rated a 9.6 on IMDB and is apparently a "comedy"?!

I'm especially itching to hear about his post-Sword of Doom 60's work like Kill!, The Human Bullet, and Red Hair.

User avatar
Godot
Cri me a Tearion
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2004 12:13 am
Location: Phoenix

#9 Post by Godot » Wed Dec 22, 2004 5:45 pm

John wrote:I've never, ever heard of this movie, or its director, before. Comments? Views?
Well, I second Matt's enthusiasm. Although this will be relatively barebones, it is much welcome. I recorded this off IFC last year (along with another Okamoto, Kill! (1968)), and have susequently seen two others by him (Samurai Assassin (1965) and Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970)) and have been delighted by them all. His command of action scenes is impressive, especially in setting up the calm pockets that give the flurries of strikes such power. Sword of Doom is my favorite, featuring a unique psychopathic main character, who doesn't so much develop as descend into his fateful doom (similar to Mike Hammer in Kiss Me Deadly, but not doomed by hubris as much as cruelty and genetic code). The
SpoilerShow
opening murder
is shocking in is offhand cruelty, but the most memorable fight scenes are placed at the end of each third of the film: the duel with wooden shafts in the school
SpoilerShow
that leads to the protagonist being evicted and wiping out his victim's friends in the woods during an astonishing high-angle travelling shot
, the fight in the snow
SpoilerShow
where Mifune poses as the emissary he is guarding and dismembers the attackers
, and the final fight in the house
SpoilerShow
where the shadows/ghosts of his past victims surround the protagonist and drive him to fight against everyone and everything, leading to the final image of him attacking the camera/audience head-on, a really striking emotional image of futilely battling fate ... that freeze-frame is marvelous
. The scene in the snow calls to mind the final frenzied battle in Samurai Assassin, also featuring Mifune, and is just as beautifully paced and physically laid out, placed within a courtyard; I liked it a little better because Okamoto positions our protagonist as an observer, standing in for our awestruck eyes, as he watches his nemesis use his skills grudgingly. This reminded me a bit of Mifune's similar fight in Red Beard in the courtyard.

The later two movies have elements of parody as Okamoto seems to be commenting on the genre and stylish touches he proliferated, but they both also feature fantastic swordplay scenes (and, shockingly, a pistol in Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo). I would say if you like Seijun Suzuki, Sergio Leone, Fuller, and the dark side of the force, you will enjoy Okamoto's films, particularly Sword of Doom.
Last edited by Godot on Wed Dec 22, 2004 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
The Invunche
Alleged Socialist
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 2:43 am
Location: Denmark

#10 Post by The Invunche » Wed Dec 22, 2004 5:58 pm

Swordfights and Mifune? I've never heard of this before, but it's on my wishlist now.

User avatar
Tribe
The Bastard Spawn of Hank Williams
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:59 pm
Location: Toledo, Ohio
Contact:

#11 Post by Tribe » Wed Dec 22, 2004 6:04 pm

I would say if you like Seijun Suzuki, Sergio Leone, Fuller, and the dark side of the force, you will enjoy Okamoto's films, particularly Sword of Doom.
With those comparisons, say no more, I'm in. I'm due for carnage and mayhem after the Cassavetes' set and Fanny & Alexander.

John

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

#12 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Dec 22, 2004 7:15 pm

And it's one more movie in Criterion DVD with Toshiro Mifune ...
It's also the third movie in the collection teaming Tatsuya Nakadai and Toshiro Mifune as samurai warrirors.

The Sword of Doom, the thrilling story of a man who chooses to devote his life to evil."
Frankly that right there is the reason I'm picking this movie up come March. It's ridiculous how few movies you get involving characters devoted to nothing more than evil. Especially involving swords.

Anonymous

#13 Post by Anonymous » Wed Dec 22, 2004 7:20 pm

Oh hell yeah! I was just thinking if Criterion wasn't going to release this, i was gonna count on HVE, but who cares now. Great news and nice christmas present.

User avatar
cdnchris
Site Admin
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:45 pm
Location: Washington
Contact:

#14 Post by cdnchris » Wed Dec 22, 2004 7:29 pm

Mr_sausage wrote: It's ridiculous how few movies you get involving characters devoted to nothing more than evil.
"Gentlemen, to evil."

User avatar
Godot
Cri me a Tearion
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2004 12:13 am
Location: Phoenix

#15 Post by Godot » Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:00 pm

John wrote:I'm due for carnage and mayhem...
With the two Suzukis and this Okamoto, you are in for a healthy meal of it.
As I'm sure you remember, Youth of the Beast features start-to-finish beatings, stompings, whipings, threatening tension-filled confrontations, rifle-adoration and fondling, torture, and Jo Shishido's puffed cheeks. Fighting Elegy has more screaming, pummelling, kicking and general jackassing than any other film I can remember; at one point, the characters are flailing in all directions, just spurting testosterone. And Sword of Doom may have more on-screen deaths than any other CC entry. (Now there's a competition...)

Narshty
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:27 pm
Location: London, UK

#16 Post by Narshty » Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:10 pm

Godot wrote:Youth of the Beast features start-to-finish beatings, stompings, whipings, threatening tension-filled confrontations, rifle-adoration and fondling, torture, and Jo Shishido's puffed cheeks. Fighting Elegy has more screaming, pummelling, kicking and general jackassing than any other film I can remember
...Sold.

User avatar
Cinephrenic
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:58 pm
Location: Paris, Texas

#17 Post by Cinephrenic » Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:24 pm

I saw this earlier this year on tv. I must say it is great. Great samurai film for those into the genre. Buy it.

User avatar
Tribe
The Bastard Spawn of Hank Williams
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:59 pm
Location: Toledo, Ohio
Contact:

#18 Post by Tribe » Wed Dec 22, 2004 9:30 pm

Fighting Elegy ... the characters are flailing in all directions, just spurting testosterone.
Now, this is the Suzuki that deal with masturbation issues, right?

The "spurting" sort of reminded me...

John

User avatar
Godot
Cri me a Tearion
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2004 12:13 am
Location: Phoenix

#19 Post by Godot » Wed Dec 22, 2004 10:43 pm

this is the Suzuki that deal with masturbation issues, right?
The "spurting" sort of reminded me...
Yes, that was my lead-weighted punning at work. Fighting Elegy features a character with a perpetual erection (except for the one scene in which he masturbates off-screen, in a sort of humorous ellipse), and more tented pants, stiff posture, and knowing glances waist-ward than any other CC release. It's like Un Chant D'Amour, by Paul Morrissey or Joel Coen, except with a 15-year old Japanese school girl as l'objet de lust.

User avatar
Steven H
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:30 pm
Location: NC

#20 Post by Steven H » Thu Dec 23, 2004 12:05 am

I just borrowed the Home Vision tape from a friend of mine the other day and watched it... what a fantastic film. Very bizarre ending... hopefully the essay will give it some context.

User avatar
Ashirg
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:10 am
Location: Atlanta

#21 Post by Ashirg » Thu Dec 23, 2004 12:08 am

You can read the essay from laserdisc by Bruce Eder linked by hektor above...

User avatar
Steven H
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:30 pm
Location: NC

#22 Post by Steven H » Thu Dec 23, 2004 12:35 am

Ashirg wrote:You can read the essay from laserdisc by Bruce Eder linked by hektor above...
Ah... thanks.

analoguezombie

#23 Post by analoguezombie » Thu Dec 23, 2004 11:08 am

Narshty wrote:this one's about a super-badass psychotic samurai who makes Toshiro Mifune look like Mr Rogers.
that's the best quote ever! ahahha

User avatar
Simon
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 6:52 pm
Location: Montreal

#24 Post by Simon » Thu Dec 23, 2004 11:58 am

I'm excited about this one. Watched it a few years ago and don't remember clearly, but after watching it I felt it was one of the best Samurai movie I've seen. Thereis lots of action, but it contains plenty of slow parts too, I'd say it's a metaphysical samurai movie. And the ending is very memorable.
Last edited by Simon on Fri Oct 17, 2008 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
dvdane
Kitano kyoushûsei
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:36 pm
Location: Denmark
Contact:

#25 Post by dvdane » Thu Dec 23, 2004 12:21 pm

I'd say it's a metaphysical samurai movie
Sword of Doom is not really a samurai film. It is pure chambara.

Within the samurai cycle, Sword of Doom holds a very minor rank. It is an adaptation of Daibosatsu Toge, which also is the original title, a quiet famous Japanese story about an evil samurai and a evil sword, filmed several times before. More than a study of the samurai, it is an action film, as Okamoto, like Gosha, made violence and action into expressive elements of their compositions. However where the protagonists of Gosha reflect, if only briefly, those of Okamoto does not. While it is an exaggeration to say that his films are endless swordfights, at the same time, it really isn't.

The reason why it holds such a minor rank as a samurai film is, that there is no aspect of giri versus ninjo, nor bushido. As such, the chambara of Okamoto is unpersonal and unrelated to the samurai, and is basically just endless violence, which he even stresses with the freeze frame ending of Sword of Doom, suggesting the protagonist trapped forever within the violence.

However, why Criterion would release this film is really hard to understand. It is almost if like the producer either saw the film at a festival or read about it in a book and then decided to release it. Okamoto is not any major director, Sword of Doom is not a major film, not even within the samurai cycle, where it almost has footnote quality. While Criterion yet has to release Kobayashi's Rebellion and Hara-Kiri, to name the two most important samurai films, also to continue their release of Kobayashi, this sort of is like if Criterion would release one of the Zatoichi or Lone Wolf films, and then leave it at that.

Post Reply