280 The Sword of Doom

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Anonymous

#76 Post by Anonymous » Tue Oct 11, 2005 2:04 pm

kortik wrote:really I think its a pretty good trnasfer IMO

well R2J is better of course but CCs is not bad better that vhs IMO
If only R2J has English subtitles, I wouldn't bother with Criterion.
Better overall transfer than VHS? Yes.
Better brightness levels than VHS? No.

che-etienne
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#77 Post by che-etienne » Wed Oct 12, 2005 8:33 am

I'm not sure it's too bright. That film seems to have been shot purposely to have a high contrast ratio. To me, the way they shot that film only strengthens the explosiveness of the imagery and narrative. The compositions are wonderfully beautiful, and quite symmetrical (see one of the opening shots his hat becomes a sister mountain to another mountain balancing out the composition - I can't take credit for spotting that... my dad pointed it out but still...). The hypnotic use of the dolly and the frequent extreme close-ups given to Nakadai's face give the whole film a real visual suspense, while the contrast between the extremely wide shots of carnage after-the-fact and the very in-your-face shots of the carnage as it unfolds really slam home the climactic battle sequences when they do occur. This contrast between the wide and extremely tight is I think only enhanced by the high contrast monochrome look. Still, maybe it is a mistake... we've got no way of knowing really.

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#78 Post by Anonymous » Wed Oct 12, 2005 9:33 pm

che-etienne wrote: Still, maybe it is a mistake... we've got no way of knowing really.
Actually, if dvdbeaver.com and / or someone would do a comparision of the R2J vs. Criterion ... I think it would become apparent.

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HerrSchreck
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#79 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Feb 28, 2006 12:37 pm

Ahhh... having grabbed what I've seen & had to grab definitive editions for, as well as those other films I've always known I wanted from the CC, I'm moving to grabbing some CC titles which I'd never seen before. Double Suicide, Quai Des Orfevres, and now SWORD OF DOOM.

KERPOW-- what a beautiful film, so much more than a baddest-of-the-bad killer-of-the-most-skilled-killers inspiration for Eastwood spaghetti westerns. Visually, this films surface is easily approaching a par-- credit to Hiroshi Murai-- with the work of Yamada as well as Miyajima (not quite at this level, but approaching it) for Kobayashi, particularly in SEPPUKU/HARA-KIRI as well as SAM. REBELLION. I also see the distinct influence of Eisenstein's compositions in IVAN, in the use of extreme closeup facial-sections imposed in immediate foreground to play off of a geometrically offset interacting background to create extremely compelling harmonizing-disparates sum designs, as in the famous shot at the end of IVAN pt1, where Ivan, in his exile-dacha, receives the snaking line of subservient, kneeling-in-the-snow citizenry aching for his return to Moscoow.

Beyond the fabric of it's design my appreciation of tatsuya Nakadai has expanded yet another notch. This man is an actor's actor, easily holding his own beside Mifune-- compare his Ryunosuke with his performance in SEPPU-HARA... what versatility, depth. The wordless, spaced out fascination of Ryunosuke in SWORD OF with his own swirling head-- the look of ever-so-slight sadness/vulnerability etched on his face while sitting & drinkng & brooding on the neverending challenges to his tumultuous, weird fate is infinitely compelling to me. This is by no means an autonomous killing machine, or a stylized blank slate opening his mouth to spout Cinematic Kool... he is rendered as a man quite conscious of his operation along the strangest fringes of the human soul, almost oblivious to the possibility of Choice versus his own fate: this particular element made his short monologue to Omatsu, extremely poetic, in the haunted bamboo room before his final breakdown & assault on the spirits hemming him in-- and on the subsequent mass of sabotaging samurai-- fascinating and absolutely sublime; how he didn't (yet) see the spirits Omatsu just saw, but that he has heard the whispers coming softly up out of the deep valleys, rustling the young green leaves, etc... As interplayed with the superb soundtrack, the fractured and unintentionally ambiguous nature of the film (owing to the vignette-format in lifting from the source novel, making it almost an omnibus-style film) leaves the viewer looking to follow the conventions of the melodrama confused, particularly viz the freeze-frame ending, intended orignally to be answered by a never-made sequel. These elements create in an ex post facto way a nice, almost Bressonian poetic ambiguity. Also, ahh... the accidental assault on the unintended Shimada/Mifune in the snowstorm, with a riveted & motionless Ryunosuke standing by, dumbfounded out on the circumference of the attack while Shimada destroys his whole battalion of men is one of the most visually satisfying swordfight scenes Ive seen. A very rich, rewarding film.

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kortik
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#80 Post by kortik » Tue Feb 28, 2006 3:41 pm

I own both R2JP dvd and Criteiron DVD both are awewsome.

R2J japan dvd is sharper IMO thats all

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#81 Post by Anonymous » Wed Apr 26, 2006 10:20 am

Does anyone know of any good literature on Okamoto, and specifically, Sword of Doom? I'm really interested in reading more about the film and its director.

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Steven H
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#82 Post by Steven H » Wed Apr 26, 2006 11:49 am

There's a great interview with Okamoto in Chris Desjardins book "Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film" (amazon.com link here). Another interview, reprinted from an issue of Wide Angle, can be found in the Viennale's catalog for the Art Theatre Guild retrospective from 2003 (you can puchase this from their site, the english version of which I linked). There's a tribute to Okamoto on midnighteye.com. Also, a great deal of information can be found in Richie and Anderson's The Japanese Film (a must buy item, if you haven't already). Here's an excerpt.

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#83 Post by Red Beard » Wed Dec 27, 2006 10:02 pm

Does anyone know how far plans went for the sequel? or why they didn't proceed with it? After watching this, I was a bit disappointed that Mifune didn't have more screen time. Oh, what could have been: Mr. EvilAss vs Mr. BadAss.

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Steven H
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#84 Post by Steven H » Wed Dec 27, 2006 10:25 pm

l'esprit d'escalier wrote:Does anyone know how far plans went for the sequel? or why they didn't proceed with it? After watching this, I was a bit disappointed that Mifune didn't have more screen time. Oh, what could have been: Mr. EvilAss vs Mr. BadAss.
In the Outlaw Masters book I mentioned in the post above, Okamoto answers a question about Sword of Doom's sequel:
DESJARDINS:All the other versions of Sword of Doom or Great Boddhisatva Pass, as it is known in Japan, have almost always been made as trilogies. There were the versions in the fifties by Kunio Watanabe and by Tomu Uchida, and the very early sixties version directed by Kenji Misumi and Kazuo Mori. Did Toho originally plan to do two more films after Sword of Doom? Or was it decided to just tell the first part of the story?

OKAMOTO: Originally Toho had planned to do it in two parts with a second part to come later. However, shortly before the release, the executives decided it would probably not do that well. So they stopped the second film right before it went into production.

DESJARDINS: How did it do when it was released?

OKAMOTO: The box office was mediocre. You see, the Daiei version with Raizo Ichikawa, and the two versions from Toei had all been big hits. Toho had originally been expectiing to do the same kind of business as the other companies' versions. At the last minute, they had a premonition it wasn't going to do that well. Then it came out and did do mediocre business. So in a way, they were right. But it was a very successful film overseas, especially in the United States. When it first played in New York, there were lines around the block.
Again, if anyone here is like me, and a huge Okamoto Kihachi fan, pick up this book.

As for Mifune in it, there's plenty of Mifune in Samurai Assassin, so go there for it. Funnin aside, Nakadai blows him out of the water in this film, and I think Okamoto realized that (how can anyone keep up with him?) Nakadai reminds me so much of Mitchum in Cape Fear in this film (and like Gregory Peck in that film, Mifune would have come off irritatingly self-righteous in too large a dose.)

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Steven H
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#85 Post by Steven H » Sun Jan 14, 2007 7:42 pm

Anyone looking for another good turn in this line of nihilistic chambara (with a fairly similar ending) should check out Tanaka Tokuzo's The Betrayal (Daisatsujin orochi (1966). Made and released the same year, with Raizo Ichikawa instead of Mifune playing the lead, it falls pretty well in line with the "Rebel Samurai" type film that many here at this forum fell in love with in 2005 through Criterion. Gorgeous cinematography, who also lensed Misumi's excellent Ken (1964), you spend a good deal of time seeing vacant rooms, wild grass, and most of the acting is done through the eyes (which always adds to visual splendor in my book.) The action is well paced and interestingly if not terribly realistically choreographed. A subbed version of the gorgeous Japanese DVD is all over ebay, if you're into that sort of thing. This has climbed into my top ten samurai films, even though it's politically unsophisticated (did I just say that?).

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Steven H
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#86 Post by Steven H » Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:20 pm

Maybe I am just talking to myself, but I thought I'd share my opinions of the less seen but bitingly funny and wild Epoch of Murder and Madness (or Age of Assassins, 1967). The film begins with exposition as a lunatic asylum "mad scientist" ex-nazi played by Amamoto Eisei -capture 1- (he and his pals switch back and forth between menacing Japanese and scary German the whole film) discusses how a massive diamond was lost and a young Japanese (Nakadai Tatsuya) has it in his possession. A league of assassins make comedic attempts at Nakadai's life (along with a girl, Dan Reiko -capture 3-, Yuriko from Ozu's The End of Summer and a goofy pal) which are all thwarted, naturally, since even playing a little bit of a "dweeb" -capture 2-, Nakadai is still graced with luck and a certain charisma (a natural fighting ability). Turns out the diamond is a stolen Nazi item which was placed in Nakadai's body when he was eight.

Okamoto used the same cinematographer for this as Kill!, so it has that same crisp detail, but it's a bit more high contrast -capture 4- (the black and white world of assassinations, I suppose.) The score is almost inappropriately "emotional" at times, but it does nothing but enhance the odd factor. The action is believable in a "chase film" sort of way, but the real greatness of Epoch of Murder and Madness is in the comedy. Not too broad (though Nakadai's small-enough-to-pedal-with-your-feet car, which emits burps and farts as it runs, runs counter to that claim) and like most of his films anti-authority and anti-war, a fair bit of cynicism and a love for the details of human nature seem to be the ideas behind it. A bit of his earlier The Elegant Mr. Everyman can be seen in the way Nakadai uses his voice as a blunt instrument of humor, streamlining dialogue in a way that almost sounds like narration. The cynical soldier, with aims at the ridiculousness of war, is then best exemplified in his Human Bullet (which Isolde Standish's Myth and Masculinity in Japanese Film does a thorough job of explicating), where Nakadai's character, Kikyo Shinji seems to be transposed into the Special Attack Forces. Properly enough, Nakadai narrated Human Bullet and the evil as hell Amamoto Eisei plays the main character's father (i.e. the villain). The "main character" of Human Bullet, played by Terada Minori, goes unnamed.

Someone needs to bring this, and the rest of Okamoto's late sixties work, to DVD badly. All the Toho discs look fantastic (there're only a couple I haven't seen) and not a clunker in the bunch.

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Michael Kerpan
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#87 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:26 pm

Geneon just released the late Okamoto film "Rainbow Kids". It's a lot more light-hearted than Okamotos' earlier work -- and even rather gentle and sweet (surprising -- given this is nominally a movie about a kidnapping). Not likely to please action fans -- but for devotees of films like those of Yoji Yamada, it should be quite enjoyable.

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#88 Post by TheRanchHand » Sat Sep 01, 2007 4:05 am

Anyone in the LA area, Sword will be double featured with The Great Melee on Thursday the 6th at the Egyptian.
SWORD OF DOOM (DAIBOSATSU TOGE), 1966, Janus Films, 120 min. Director Kihachi Okamoto made a slew of great films, including KILL!, DESPERADO OUTPOST, AGE OF ASSASSINS, SAMURAI ASSASSIN, and THE HUMAN BULLET – to name only a few! – but his ultimate masterwork is this uncompromising samurai film. It is a riveting, desolate picture, anchored by a mesmerizing portrayal from Tatsuya Nakadai as paranoid killer Ryunosuke Tsukue, an outcast from his family and a hunted man recruited by the notorious Shinsengumi band of assassins. There have been many movie renditions of Kaizan Nakazato's popular novel The Great Boddhisatva Pass since it first appeared over seventy years ago, but Okamoto's version in ashen black-and-white scope captures the nihilistic netherworld of the sociopathic swordsman best. Masaru Sato's music is at the pinnacle of a multitude of great Japanese movie scores from the 1960's. The supporting cast, including Toshiro Mifune, Michiyo Aratama and Yuzo Kayama, are all excellent. Screenwriter, Shinobu Hashimoto (who co-wrote many of Akira Kurosawa's masterpieces) provides an expert distillation, going back to the literary source. If you've never seen it on the big screen, it is not to be missed.

THE GREAT MELEE (DAI SATSUJIN), 1964, Toei Studios, 118 min. The literal translation of the Japanese title is "The Great Killing" and, as you might guess, it delivers in spades. Director Eiichi Kudo (THIRTEEN ASSASSINS) helmed this stark samurai allegory of the radical student movement in early sixties Japan and captures this feeling perfectly without sledgehammer proselytizing. A reform activist (Kotaro Satomi) is pulled into a violent fray when an acquaintance hunted by government troops hides in his house. Samurai police burst in, kill the man and attempt to arrest Satomi. Rescued by fellow activists who create a diversion, Satomi is sheltered by a good natured, hard-drinking, apolitical ronin (Mikijiro Hira, of SWORD OF THE BEAST and THREE OUTLAW SAMURAI). A wealthy opposition samurai organizes Satomi, a female ninja, a sex-obsessed priest and a samurai family man, in an effort to assassinate the province's abusive ruler. However, the cruel, arrogant lord (Kantaro Suga) has an expert swordsman as his bodyguard (Ryutaro Otomo). Consequently, the desperate crew's unraveling plan devolves into a spectacular bloodbath of repression that will serve as a wake-up call for previously carefree samurai Hira. NOT ON DVD

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Steven H
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#89 Post by Steven H » Sat Sep 01, 2007 11:19 am

TheRanchHand wrote:THE GREAT MELEE (DAI SATSUJIN), 1964, Toei Studios, 118 min. NOT ON DVD[/b]
This is one of my favorite samurai films from the era, and it *is* on DVD, in France, without English subtitles (from Wild Side). Its a bit plot heavy, similar to Shinoda's Samurai Spy in this way, but this is only a detriment if you don't have good subtitles handy.

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#90 Post by TheRanchHand » Sun Sep 02, 2007 1:53 am

Ah, I suppose when they said NOT ON DVD they meant commercialy in the U.S.

But, either way I am looking forward to seeing them both. Thanks for the review.

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malcolm1980
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#91 Post by malcolm1980 » Sun Nov 04, 2007 11:04 am

I recently saw this film. It was pretty darn good.

Two questions:

What do you guys make of the very abrupt ending?

What other works of Okamoto do you guys recommend?

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tryavna
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#92 Post by tryavna » Sun Nov 04, 2007 11:40 am

malcolm1980 wrote:What do you guys make of the very abrupt ending?

What other works of Okamoto do you guys recommend?
For question #1: My understanding is that Okamoto originally intended to make a sequel that would pick up where this one left off. I've never read -- or even seen -- the novel the film is based on, but I hear that it's enormous and that Sword of Doom covers only a very small part of it.

For question #2: Okamoto's great! And just about anything he made between 1965 and 1972 (the extent of my familiarity with his work) is worth watching. Steven H may have more to add, but I'd recommend checking out the CC edition of Kill!. It's a very funny parody of the genre (and a reworking of the plot of Sanjuro) -- especially now that you're familiar with the genre. Japan's Longest Day is a fantastic historical epic that plays out like a real-life political thriller. My favorite Okamoto film of all, however, is Samurai Assassin, but the Animeigo DVD is piss-poor. You'll want to rent rather than buy it.

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Steven H
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#93 Post by Steven H » Sun Nov 04, 2007 1:19 pm

malcolm1980 wrote:What other works of Okamoto do you guys recommend?
Along with his samurai films (which Tryavna went over), his war stuff is outstanding. The only thing that's available with english subtitles is Japan's Longest Day, but his Battle in Okinawa is coming out this week in the US (I've only seen this without subs, but its a powerful film.) His earlier war films are more than interesting, including the depressing Fort Graveyard with Mifune as a doomed WWII band leader, and his earlier "Desperado" films are like spaghetti western War films, with a great sense of humor. Some of my favorites are his dark humor films, like The Elegant Life of Mr Everyman (about a middle aged salaryman who humorously starts writing about his urban life, and becomes a star of sorts), Oh Bomb! (a TRULY BIZARRE Noh musical about WWII, can't make this stuff up... of course it made the studio no money and is mostly why Okamoto had to do the samurai films he's most well known for), and Age of Assassins (which I reviewed up above, maybe his best, I don't know.) You can get most of his stuff without subs from Japan.

His Art Theatre Guild films are OUTSTANDING as well (Human Bullet, Battle Cry, and At This Late Date The Charleston), if a bit dated except for The Human Bullet, which deserves to be better known (here's the first five minutes with english subtitles.) His output after during and after the 70s was hit and miss.

Oh, and you can find a subbed version of his early samurai film Warring Clans floating around eBay and a few other places.

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#94 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Nov 04, 2007 3:16 pm

I enjoyed his late Rainbow Kids (starring Tanie Kitabayashi, who played the kindly fruit peddler in Burmese Harp).

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ChristianN2
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#95 Post by ChristianN2 » Tue Jul 15, 2008 12:46 am

Just picked this up, & promptly watched it. Overall, very nice film. I especially liked the abrupt ending. I typically enjoy ambiguous endings, and this definently satisfied that. However, I wish the DVD wasn't so bare bones. But hey, you can't have everything. Lastly, I felt that at some points Tatsuya Nakadai was unconvincing as a cold, & possessed samurai.
I'll definently check out Okamoto's other Criterion work, 'Kill.'

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Godot
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#96 Post by Godot » Tue Jul 15, 2008 1:56 pm

ChristianN2,
I very highly recommend the four-disc Rebel Samurai boxed set, which has not only Kill! but the superior Samurai Spy and Samurai Rebellion. The latter features Nakadai and Mifune again, this time fulfilling the duel that is teased in Sword of Doom's snow battle. All four discs are similarly bare-bones, but the excitement and visual inventiveness on display (as in Sword of Doom) are wonderful.

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ChristianN2
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#97 Post by ChristianN2 » Thu Jul 17, 2008 6:08 pm

Godot wrote:I very highly recommend the four-disc Rebel Samurai boxed set, which has not only Kill! but the superior Samurai Spy and Samurai Rebellion. The latter features Nakadai and Mifune again, this time fulfilling the duel that is teased in Sword of Doom's snow battle. All four discs are similarly bare-bones, but the excitement and visual inventiveness on display (as in Sword of Doom) are wonderful.
Thanks for the recommendation. I have previously seen Samurai Rebellion, but haven't seen the other 2 films. I thoroughly enjoyed Samurai Rebellion. It is a truly great film. I will forever remember the finale of the film. The raw emotion of Mifune in the last confrontation is astounding. The tandem of Mifune and Nakadai is in golden form, superior to Sword of Doom as you say.

Side note: As I previously stated, I enjoyed the ending of Sword of Doom. I interpreted the abrupt ending as there is no end to how far or extreme Nakadai will venture. His evil is boundless.

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Ashirg
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Re: 280 The Sword of Doom

#98 Post by Ashirg » Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:34 pm

On blu-ray on January 6, 2015

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Re: 280 The Sword of Doom

#99 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:42 pm

With a new Stephen Prince commentary!

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tenia
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Re: 280 The Sword of Doom

#100 Post by tenia » Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:15 am

That's an expensive commentary since it seems to prevent the almost bare-bones BD to be priced lower tier. :?

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