“Dai-bosatsu tôge” (original title)
Runtime : 119 min
Genre : Action | Drama
Movie Release : 1 July 1966 (USA)
Director: Kihachi Okamoto
Writers: Shinobu Hashimoto (screenplay), Kaizan Nakazato (novel)
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, Yûzô Kayama
Ryunosuke is a sociopathic samurai without compassion or scruples. When he is scheduled for an exhibition match at his fencing school, the wife of his opponent begs Ryunosuke to throw the match, offering her own virtue in trade. Ryunosuke accepts her offer, but kills her husband in the match. Over time, Ryunosuke is pursued by the brother of the man he killed. The brother trains with the master fencer Shimada. In the meantime, however, Ryunosuke earns the enmity of the band of assassins he runs with, and it becomes a question of who shall face him in final conflict.
Three years before The Wild Bunch(1969) and the same year as Django(1966) came a film called Dai-Bosatsu Toge/Sword of Doom(1966) which was one of first body count action dramas in 1966. Not only a terrific samurai film but also a terrifing portrait of a samurai warrior who’s on the brink of madness. Tatsuya Nakadai gives one of his best performances that is surpassed only by his excellent performances in the following Kurosawa films, Kagemusha(1980) and Ran(1984). Sword of Doom(1966) contains elements that reminds me of Henry:Portrait of a Serial Killer(1986) because Ryunosuke also kills at random and is a very scary person. Toshiro Mifune is magnificent in his role as the wise samurai teacher, Shimada. The high body count ending would influences people like Sam Peckinpah and John Woo as well as the Lone Wolf and Cub films. Dai-Bosatsu Toge is about a lone samurai warrior who is unable to live outside of his sword. The cinematography is great and the story is very interesting. The film has some scenes of graphic violence that must have shocked Japanese audiences back in 1966. The film ends on an amazing body count blood bath battle that is ahead of its time. One of the most underrated Samurai pics of all time.
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