The Sword of DoomThe Sword of Doom is a popular Japanese swordplay/samurai film from back in 1966.

It tells the story of a Samurai named Ryunosuke Tsukue – a man with a tremendous level of skill in a very unorthodox fighting style.

Unfortunately, Ryunosoke is also a complete prick with little to no morality. He takes up a challenge fight with a man from another clan – a fight that is supposed to friendly.  The man he’s fighting is no match for Ryunosuke, and Ryunosuke is approached by the man’s wife to plead that he throws the fight so that her husband will not be killed or shamed.

After explaining that throwing a match for a martial artist is as sacred as chastity for a woman, he offers to throw the match if she will have sex with him. The woman agree’s, and thus Ryunosuke agrees to lose the match.

When the match is about to begin, the woman’s husband divorces her after discovering she slept with Ryunosuke, and wants to seek his revenge.  The match ends as a draw, as neither man attacks.  After the decision is made, Ryunosuke is attacked with vicious intent, and defends himself – killing the man with his bokken (wooden sword).

Ryunosuke then leaves, facing off against the clansmen of the dead samurai.  After effortlessly killing them all the man’s ex wife follows him and they begin their life together and have a small child. From there we see the two living together and the activities of Ryunosuke as an ordinary man.Meanwhile, the brother of the one he killed plots his revenge on Ryunosuke.

Ryunosuke in Battle

Ryunosuke – an Interesting Character.

This film definitely gives you a bit of a peek into the life of the character Ryunosuke.  The lack of emotional expression and disregard for anyone else accept himself, is nothing new.  The interesting thing is that his high level of skill and ability to forcifully have his way make him very interesting to watch – and you really want to see him get what’s coming to him.

The ex wife of the man he killed lingers around and treats him like her husband, but he shows no gratitude and basically leaves her to rot.  She eventually has enough and tries to attack him but of course he kills her without blinking.

When the finale of the movie begins you really start to pay attention, waiting to see what happens.  But it ends rather abruptly answering no questions.

After some research I discovered that the movie was intended to be a part of a trilogy that never saw part 2, so we’re left with a unfinished story which leaves you very unsatisfied, but it’s still interesting enough to watch.

Cutting up his enemies

The Action & Martial Arts

Considering the year it was made in, the action was superb!

The swordplay is shot brilliantly and showcases a variety of movesthat sell Ryunosuke’s ability extremely well.  Backed up by his careless and emotionless persona, the fighting gives you more of an image of just how little Ryunosuke cares about anyone else and just how skilled and effortless his victories seem to be for him.

We do see some emotion and rage come from Ryunosuke at the end of the film however.  He encounters some ghosts of those he’s wronged in his past and goes completely crazy chopping up men left, right and center as they try their best defeat him.

These action scenes only amount to a small portion of the overall film, but demonstrate action ahead of it’s time, adding something extra to this film.

The Verdict?

An interesting character and some good fight scenes, but the movie is bit confusing and lost, especially with the abrupt ending.  There’s a lot of good with a lot bad so it’s hard to recommend.  Watch this movie with attitude that you’re going to have to look past a lot of weaknesses to appreciate it’s strengths.

On DVD –

Region 1 (US & Canada)
The Sword of Doom (The Criterion Collection)

Region Free (Plays Anywhere)
The Sword of Doom [DVD]

More info on Movie Regions here.

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