Sword of the Beast - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Sword of the Beast Reviews

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January 24, 2016
A Japanese B movie...interesting...but lacks the depth of more serious Japanese productions
½ August 18, 2012
Sword of the Beast is a beautifully told and intricately crafted story of beasts and men. The action scenes are brilliant, although not as gory or technically impressive as Gosha's other films. But his flair for simple stark photography and menacing music is indeed present.
½ July 26, 2012
Only a second movie in the long and impressive career of the director Hideo Gasha, Sword of the Beast is a thrilling and action-filled samurai epic about vengeance, loyalty, betrayal, honor, and Bushido. Mikijiro Hira stars as as a young swordsman forced to become a wondering ronin, after he commits a dreadful act, which was actually ordered by one of his superiors. However, as he soon finds out, he was betrayed and forced to leave his clan. While on the loose, he meets a band of misfits and realizes that one of them may be actually the key to his revenge. The script is spellbinding, as is the black-and-white cinematography and the tense atmosphere of the film. A true classic in the samurai genre, this epic doesn't stop to satisfy.
July 25, 2012
Another hit from Hideo Gosha. I like this guy. He could make strong action flicks, that are also sensitive, and full of life and intrigue. Action flicks today are so screwed up. They give you unrealistic action containing fake characters. This was the polar opposite :] After watching, my friend and I realized it has only about a million similarities to the anime show Samurai Champloo (you should really check that out if you dig the chanbara stuff). Yea, nothin else worth noting. It's a great slice (eh, you like what I did there?....sorry)
April 7, 2012
I wish Hanna-Barbera hadn't scored this movie. There is a certain weight missing from the intertwined plotlines; each thread was fun to watch, but I wasn't rooting for a single character. At a certain point, all of the backstories collide in a series of well-shot duels that feel obligatory.
½ March 16, 2012
If I was of a political mind, I'd say this film is a critique of capitalism as the lower end samurai scrape and hustle to 'move up the ladder' only to get screwed over by their superiors and put out with the trash all the while doing their superior's dirty work...eh...ah...the sword fights were really cool!! Wham! Slash!! Fight fight fight!!
½ January 10, 2012
This is one of my favorite old Japanese samurai movies, featuring very sympathetic characters and a very anti anti-hero, beautiful scenery, and a compelling story of tradition versus individual dreams.
Super Reviewer
December 4, 2011
Sword of the Beast by Hideo Gosha is a samurai film taking place almost entirely outside in a forest atop a mountain where gold is located. The lush landscapes add a beautiful and timeless backdrop against a wonderful story of betrayal and lost honor. Mikijiro Hira (13 Assassins was a recent Miike film he starred in). plays Gennosuke and infuses his character with all the attributes of the wild beast he has become, yet still retains honor and his humanity in the end. The story is a complex and layered piece that involves several characters and the involvement of Gennosuke which in one way or another helps him to find his honor once again. The film is filled to the brim with stunning battles and duels, all of which seamlessly take place in the wilderness and add a real artistic beauty to the action. This is truly a masterpiece of samurai and Japanese cinema!
½ August 13, 2011
At a brisk 90 minutes, it manages to shove five separate groups of people in a hunt for gold on a mountain. The main one is Gennosuke, who is being chased for killing a man under orders.

It does feel a bit rushed, but flashbacks manage to keep the character development afloat. The few sword fights are well done, but it ended in a way I disliked.
March 20, 2011
This kind of reminded me of a Samurai "Unforgiven" in that it was a comment of the genre in some ways. Great sword fighting and camera work help things along as well.
February 6, 2011
I think. I loved this one. It started out in the middle of a sexual rendezvous in a field, and I thought I was watching another Onibaba.

But although this film does have it's share of rapes, sexual assaults, and all around lusty sexual moments....(not too many, but more than perhaps the average film today), it's focus is on pure animal violence or the perception of such compared to the "honorable" samurai murders and violence that their code permits or simply chooses to turn a blind eye to, is a diatribe I can support.

Though, that last paragraph ,in itself, is a mouthful and a paragraphful. I do like the focus of the film, it's deeply rooted and feels worth exploring. It exposes the ideal samurai that we all imagine when we think of the word or culture in a different light.

On the film itself, it seems to start in the middle of something and never fully fleshes out the main characters history or back story, but it does complete him enough through the main story for us to identify with him and his quest. The fight scenes are pretty great, Yuuki takes on 20 + men at a time, and he does so with a sense of realism and survival. The cinematography was pretty good, not spectacular but not bad and was exceptional in some action sequences.

What I also liked was the palpable feeling of impending death. I know that sounds morbid but it kept me interested. The husband/wife relationship between Yamane and was some good drama as well.

I would assert that the deep story and a handful of great action scenes put this one at the higher end of the spectrum of samurai film.
December 5, 2010
Sword of the Beast tells the tale of fugitive samurai Gennosuke (Mikijiro Hira). Fleeing from his pursuers after he slays his clan counselor, he meets Gundayu (Takeshi Kato), a penniless farmer, who reveals his get-rich-quick scheme to poach gold from the shogun's mountain. Gennosuke is intrigued and decides to join Gundayu, but the two find they're not the only ones after the gold. A pack of bandits is already hot on the trail; meanwhile, master swordsman Jurata Yamane (Go Kato) and his attractive wife Taka (Shima Iwashita) are holed up in a shack, where they've been panning a mountain stream for some time and have accumulated a formidable sum of gold. Inevitably, this is all a recipe for bloodshed and, as the blades flash, we learn more about Gennosuke and how he was betrayed by his clan.

Actually the plot is quite convoluted for a film with such a short runtime. Sword of the Beast is my first Hideo Gosha film and, after all the hype I've heard, I must confess myself disappointed, especially considering Sword of the Beast is his most well-known film outside Japan. It hardly seemed original either. The pursuits, the gold, the clans-isn't that a pretty good description of Akira Kurosawa's 1958 masterpiece The Hidden Fortress?

Well, unfortunately, Sword of the Beast couldn't hold half a candle to the likes of The Hidden Fortress. I had a number of problems with this film. Firstly, the sword fights could be missed if you so much as blink at the wrong moment, which doesn't make for very good entertainment. Aren't samurai films supposed to have a little more action than this? The abrupt ending also harms this film, though I can't deny feeling a small amount of relief because I was finding the whole experience more than tedious.

Unfortunately, Sword of the Beast didn't satisfy my appetite for a good jidaigeki, but I haven't given up on Hideo Gosha. Sword of the Beast was a competent enough film for a sophomoric effort and there's certainly the potential here for something much better. Let's just hope I enjoy Goyokin (1969), Onimasa (1982), or The Geisha (1983) more than I enjoyed this one.
½ April 10, 2010
another great rebel samurai film. this one takes on more female issues and how woman are caught up in how the men act on their ideology. tragic and beautifully shot.
½ December 16, 2009
1st Criterion Samurai disappointment as the in between fights and music just were unbearable.
October 28, 2009
Excellent samurai drama that offers sharp criticism of the concept of blind loyalty. Especially notable for its superb score by Toshiaki Tsushima. The film is fast-paced and exciting, but I did get a little confused at times (I'm still not quite sure who Osen was).
August 27, 2009
Gennosuke, a renegade ronin, is one of the best on screen bad asses. With beautiful natural exteriors photographed in stark black and white, confident directing from Gosha, very good swordfighting scenes from actors who know their trade and decent performances all around, Sword of the Beast should appeal to all jidai-geki fans. It's neither as monolithic and tragic as Masaki Kobayashi's work from the same time nor as lyrical as Kurosawa's, but it stands somewhere in the middle, stripped to the essentials with a focus on story and theme.
½ August 11, 2009
Not a sequel or a prequel to Sword of Doom, but a very similar idea, Sword of the Beast revolves around a rogue Samurai who wants to be free, but maintains the rules of engagement, for the most part. It's a wonderful story about finding your heart, and giving your life for others, even if they would gladly take yours. Strangely, the film starts out without a proper introduction to the main character, but reveals who Gennosuke is through flashbacks and storytelling. And yet, it plays very well for the film. As Gennosuke runs to the mountains to search for gold, he is haunted and hunted by his past. He was conned and set up to kill the master Samurai, only to find out he was to be banished for this act. Now, the master's followers are chasing Gennosuke, ready to kill him, when they run into a bit of trouble.
It's a complicated story, full of side plots, twists and unpredictable events. But it's a masterful film, beautifully captured, and surprisingly well acted. Worth the watch.
½ August 9, 2009
Cool samurai adventure flick set in the early days of the Meiji Restoration. At only 85 minutes, it movies along at a very brisk pace with lots of sword fights and very few moments not steeped in drama or danger. Doesn't reach the artistic highs of other chambara pictures, but it's a cool watch, nonetheless.
July 15, 2009
I know that this is blasphemy, but I liked this film more than many of the Akira Kurosawa samurai genre films I seen. The story, the action, and the lead to the ending are what really seal the deal for me.
½ May 8, 2009
A superb samurai movie with a solid story. Talks about the corruption of samurai clans.
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