Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Sword of Doom (1966)


Them wonderful folks at Criterion deemed the DVD edition of this relatively little-seen samurai picture worthy of their prestigious stamp.
It follows (and half-tries to patch together into a coherent plot) the dozens upon dozens of cold slayings committed by an unsmiling masterless swordsman in feudal Japan. The crafting is highly sophisticated: the (Tohoscope) compositions are elegant, the lighting painterly and the cutting often imaginative. But the anti-hero, as portrayed by blank-faced Tatsuya Nakadai, comes off as hollow rather than mysterious and at several points throughout the film it becomes difficult to care about what's going to happen next. Upon further viewings however, I might be more patient with the earnest brooding that takes up at least half the film's running time, knowing as I do now that it all eventually builds up to a hallucinatory, enthralling final showdown.

dir: Kihachi Okamoto
ph: Hiroshi Murai
ed: Yoshitami Kuroiwa
cast: Tatsuya Nakadai, Yuzo Kayama, Michiyo Aratama, Toshiro Mifune, Yoko Naito, Tadao Nakamaru, Ichiro Nakaya, Ko Nishimura


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