Sword of the Beast Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.