Today, Japan Cinema is going to dig through the Japanese vaults and review the classic film, The Sword of Doom (1966). This film will appeal mostly to certified fans of martial arts films, though there’s a little to interest the average movie-goer, too. It’s plot will easily slip past inattentive viewers, so prepare to be tested.
Instead of focusing on a young man out for revenge, Director Kihachi Okamoto instead focuses on the killer, many would say the story’s villain, and in this respect makes his picture stand out from others up to this point. Sword of Doom really excels in a number of areas, including a well woven story, interesting character development, excellent acting which is complimented by equally impressive cinematography. The plot of Sword of Doom is rather complex, the film starts with Ryunosuke Tsukue out on stroll on when he comes across an elderly grandfather, recently separated from his granddaughter, Omatsu. The vicious samurai begins the film by slaying this old man. This theme follows throughout and ends the film as some sort of berserk demon determined to gain access to Hell through historic murderousness.
The Sword of Doom’s black-and-white anamorphic widescreen transfer is gorgeous, with great contrast, minimal traces of debris, and only very minor film grain. I am not sure if there are any black and white movies on Blu-ray and if there is, I can’t really see how much it would benefit, but for this DVD it’s a very decent visual picture. From start to finish, the film is a host to numerous, highly memorable, shots which do a lot to heighten the mood during a particular scene.
Unlike most movies review on Japan Cinema, this movie is available on Criterion DVD, which if you didn’t already know, is a beefed up version on a regular DVD. They are slightly more expensive, but well worth it for the avid collector [I own a few myself]. At heart, The Sword of Doom is a very character driven story, and the amount of character development seen in the film tends to compliment this angle well. Flawed, but stylish, Sword Of Doom is worth seeing if only for it’s obvious contribution to recent cinema. Slight Recommendation.