The Sword of Doom

Critics Consensus

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75%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 8

91%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,625
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Movie Info

In this epic Japanese samurai adventure, a bloodthirsty young fighter (Tatsuya Nakadai) kills a man in competition and is pursued by the slain warrior's brother. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for The Sword of Doom

All Critics (8) | Fresh (6) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for The Sword of Doom

  • Oct 08, 2015
    Sword of Doom is well-shot and well-acted, but the lack of resolution and farcical ending make it impossible to rank the film among the foremost of the genre.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 13, 2015
    Though the narrative does not seem to be succinctly charted, 'Sword of Doom' makes up for it by being beautifully photographed and completely engaging, leading to a fiery climax that doesn't let up.
    Kase V Super Reviewer
  • Jun 17, 2011
    The Sword of Doom has been on my short list of films to watch since I first eyed the Criterion DVD years ago, the cover is haunting, and I finally caved and watched it before any word of a Blu-ray upgrade. I'll say this, if they ever realize one I'll be at the store on day 1 with money in hand! The Sword of Doom is an epic samurai film with a wonderfully detailed plot and characters and some of the finest, longest and most epic in every sense of the word set pieces! I can't praise the film enough for being one of the most intense and action driven samurai films of all time! Highly Recommended!
    Chris B Super Reviewer
  • May 28, 2009
    <i>"The sword is the soul. Study the soul to know the sword. Evil mind, evil sword."</i> <CENTER><u>DAI-BOSATSU TÔGE (1966)</u></CENTER> <b>Director:</b> Kihachi Okamoto <b>Country:</b> Japan <b>Genre:</b> Action / Drama <b>Length:</b> 119 minutes <CENTER><a href="http://s712.photobucket.com/albums/ww125/ElCochran90/Decorated%20images/?action=view¤t=Film_280w_SwordDoom.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i712.photobucket.com/albums/ww125/ElCochran90/Decorated%20images/Film_280w_SwordDoom.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a></CENTER> Funnily enough, I was wondering where should I have begun when I first wrote this review, staying frozen with my fingers paralized floating above my keyboard while staring at the wonderful Criterion Collection's cover of the film. This is not an ordinary film, and that is a fact. It is a brutal, uncompromising, psychologically disturbing and beautifully crafted film that purely portrays the samurai and the darkest and cruelest side of the human being. Few times have directors dared to portray such dark thematic elements in such an accurate and poetic form. Let's forget about the huge influence this movie had over several future films around the world and basically over Japanese samurai filmmaking for a while and start talking about what makes it an outstanding classic. This film has never been topped due to the type it belongs. Let's talk about its plot a little bit. The film is set on the second half of the 19th Century and focuses on the story of a relentless, sociopathic samurai named Ryunosuke Tsukue that, when scheduled for a match at his fencing school, meets Ohama, the wife of his opponent Bunnojo Utsuki, who begs him not to kill Bunnojo. He agrees and asks for her chastity in exchange. However, he ends up killing Bunnojo, so his brother Hyoma swears revenge and decides to enter master Shimada's fencing school. Frankly, that's all I will give away of the story. There are, of course, several disturbing and unique aspects of the film. The fact that the main character is a sociopathic samurai is a notoriously contrasting change in Japanese films, which normally portrayed a hero guided by moral, loyalty and discipline, like the ones portrayed in Kurosawa and Kobayashi films, whether they were valiant warriors or crafty ronins. Tatsuya Nakadai is definitely a name I will remember for the rest of my days. Although I had already seen him in several Kurosawa films before, his capacity of personifying such a cold-hearted, mentally disturbed samurai without a real man living inside him and with a rotten soul that feels no shame nor guilt, but pride and insanity, was a performance for the ages. It should be right there with the Top 10 villains of all time. His character even goes beyond a villain, but violates every single moral standard imposed in samurai philosophy. Overall, the performances were pretty good, and was awesome to see Toshirô Mifune once again, no matter if he played a supporting role, but Tatsuya Nakadai steals the whole show. The image of his face has permanently been glued to my mind. Kihachi Okamoto's direction surpassed any expectation I had before seeing this unusually macabre and violent film, in case I had any. The cinematography and camera placing were beautiful to look at, and the editing was just awesome. The amount of violence was certainly shocking for worldwide audiences (even Japanese) for being a 1966 film. Its style clearly influenced several other films, such as the <i>Kozure Ôkami</i> series and <i>Shurayukihime</i> (1973), but this is some of the best stuff this kind of genre has to offer. There are three major action sequences, one having Toshirô Mifune in action and a closing sequence with Nakadai's character you will never forget. My only complaint with this film, despite the past different versions of the story it had, are the several subplots that unfold throughout and that, naturally, do not conclude, due to the fact that this was supposed to be an entire trilogy based on the historical Kaizan Nakazato's novel, which is composed by 41 volumes (1533 chapters) and is reportedly the longest novel ever made. That's why I think it would have been interesting to actually see the trilogy completed. Despite that minor flaw, I prefer to consider this film as an independent entity from the novel and see it as a standalone masterpiece with an abrupt, but openly unconcluded ending. The film may shock some viewers and astonish others. I was literally left amazed and caught off guard. I shall never forget the uniqueness and cinematic influence of this Japanese treasure, for all of the reasons mentioned above. Kihachi Okamoto's best, and he is surely the guy to thank for upcoming stylishly violent projects, from the cult classics mentioned above to the fan-loved Kill Bill (2003-2004) movies. 98/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer

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