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The Sword of Doom (The Criterion Collection) (1966)

Tatsuya Nakadai , Michiyo Aratama , Kihachi Okamoto  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, Yűz˘ Kayama, Y˘ko Nait˘, Tadao Nakamaru
  • Directors: Kihachi Okamoto
  • Writers: Kaizan Nakazato, Shinobu Hashimoto
  • Producers: Konparu Nanri, Masayuki Sat˘, Sanezumi Fujimoto
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: March 15, 2005
  • Run Time: 119 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007989YS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,361 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Sword of Doom (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • A new essay by film critic Geoffrey O'Brien

Editorial Reviews

Wandering samurai Ryunosuke lives his life in a maelstrom of violence. A gifted swordsman—plying his trade during the turbulent final days of Shogunate rule—he kills without remorse, without mercy.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Into the Dark December 21, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
Sword of Doom is the best of the non Akira Kurosawa Samurai films. The action sequences are phenomonal, and the setting is so atmospheric and beautiful it leaves you entranced. The snow scene where our anti-hero meets with his kharmic opposite for the first time (Mifune Toshiro) has to be the most beautiful setting for a battle I have ever seen. The story is of a thoughtful swordsman who is evil, yet unlike so many other films where there is no character or depth to a villains evil we really get to know Ryunesuke. His Father comments that he is fascinated with evil and therefore he has sought it out and now it has overcome him. We later see examples of his swordstyle even affected by his soul. He kills people that ask to be killed without thinking twice, and all in all he is a complex swordsmen who can't necessarily be written off as just an evil person. The ending leaves you gasping for more, wich I am told exists you just have to read the books or speak fluent japanese to see the rest. A must see. I recommend it highly.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Boddhisattva Pass (Daibosatsu Toge) October 18, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Thats the real name of this story. "Sword of Doom" was to be part one of a three part story. There are other versions of this story, but none have been subtitled into english yet. Basically, the story is about a swordsman who suffers from bad karma. Everything he does comes back to haunt him. He can't stop it and goes through fits of madness. If the story had continued further you would have seen him go blind in an explosion, become an even better swordsman, and continue to suffer more because he wants to see his son again. All of this is to convey the idea in Buddhism that "Life is Suffering". Most of the people that complain about the ending of the movie are clueless about the original book story, other filmed versions, and think that "Sword of Doom" is the complete story. It is not, because the sequels were never made.
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149 of 173 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex, Profound, and Bloody - The Bushido Way... March 17, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The actions of a man can describe the man's true identity, as the identity of righteousness and moral character are a reflection of a man's actions. Bushido expresses honor before living, which was the way of the samurai. This honor seemed to fade away, as large numbers of samurai without masters accrued in cities and other locations around Japan during the 1860s. At the end of the shogunate in 1868, which also changed the importance of the samurai in the Japanese society, warfare began a drastic change from swords to guns and cannons. The end of samurai also indicated an end to bushido, which lead many samurai into a more corrupt lifestyle where honor no longer had the same meaning.

Sword of Doom opens in the spring of 1860 where a young woman and her grandfather climb a mountain pass where the grandfather is ruthlessly murdered without any apparent reason by the film's antihero, Ryunosuke Tsukue (Tatsuya Nakadai). Ryunosuke is the symbolic embodiment of the unification of steel and man, as it often was taught by sword masters that one must become one with the sword in order to reach perfection. When Ryunosuke callously let his sword fall over the girl's grandfather a small bell falls on the rocks, which unsettles him. However, it seems to be the last time that Ryunosuke will show emotion.

Later in the story the audience gets to meet the sword master and teacher Toranosuke Shimada (Toshir˘ Mifune) who suggests, "The sword is the soul. Study the soul to know the sword. Evil mind, evil sword." Fundamentally, Toranosuke points out the old way of the samurai where the samurai is one with the sword, as the sword is only an extension of the samurai. Thus, if the man is evil then the sword does evil.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hack and Slash May 22, 2005
"The Sword of Doom" ("Dai-bosatsu Toge" or "Pass of the Great Bodhisattva ") is entirely unlike most films in the Samurai genre. Harder than most, crueler than most, and certainly more bloody than any other Samurai film from this time period, it is a difficult film to define and for some impossible to enjoy.

At first, the plot seems straight forward. An outcast Samurai, Ryunosuke enters into a match with Bunnojo Utsuki, upstanding member of the fencing school where Ryunosuke was expelled from. Defending himself from an illegal attack, Ryunosuke kills Bunnojo. Bunnojo's brother, Hyoma, vows revenge and begins to train himself to be strong enough to kill the powerful Ryunosuke. Into this revenge-motif there are added elements of the Shinsengumi army of Kyoto, and the Shogun loyalists, as well as a pair of women seeking to find their place in a dangerous world.

However, nothing else of "The Sword of Doom" is straight forward. Ryunosuke is a sociopath, an emotionless killer of almost-supernatural skills with his sword. His motivations are cloudy, and sheer momentum seems to be his driving force. It is easy to label him a villain, yet it cannot be denied that each of his kills are justified, and he himself does not seek death. Hyoma's vendetta against Ryunosuke is almost pathetic, as it is obvious he would only die in the challenge. He struggles to gain an advantage, but the outcome is never in doubt. Fencing school master Toranosuke Shimada (Mifune Toshiro) is a bridge between the two men, being the only one skillful enough to give Ryunosuke pause, he trains Hyoma. In the background are the political motivations of the Shogun-loyalists, whom hire Ryunoske to kill for them.

Tatsuya Nakadai is incredible as Ryunoske, a driven, intense performance.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A gift for my Husband.
Published 23 days ago by Wycked Wanda
4.0 out of 5 stars Great video of a very complex movie
Great video of a very complex movie. I am still trying to understand the movie. I could spend years doing this, and will be happy to do it.
Published 1 month ago by Ron Clark
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Ride
This film has some very good swordsmanship in it. The story is typical for an older samurai movie but very entertaining. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Shooter16a2
1.0 out of 5 stars Defective DVD?
NOT a review of the film: the film is brilliant. Of course, being the first and only part of a projected three, the ending is abrupt, extremely bizarre, and leaves every single... Read more
Published 9 months ago by M. Collier-Zans
1.0 out of 5 stars Sad production
I didn't like this movie. Way too bloody and no real ending to the movie. The story line was confusing and a bit creepy.
Published 12 months ago by Teresa L. Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Drama, steel, fury, darkness
This movie has one of the best endings, it leaves you wanting more. One of the best dramatic action movies of all time.
Published 15 months ago by Beyjan Itez
4.0 out of 5 stars sword of Doom is not a prediction re OBama care but a well crafted...
The sword of doom is a good story and well developed characters. and does not over rely upon endless
martial arts fights to carry the film.
Published 18 months ago by EDWARD HANNON
4.0 out of 5 stars Sword of Doom
Having studied Japanese history I enjoy martial arts films. This is a well crafted and detailed account of Japanese life.
Published 19 months ago by reviews 4 free
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Samurai Film
Nakadai at his best, which can be said of any samurai film he had a major role in. Toshiro Mifune plays a small but great role. Great directing and cinematography. Read more
Published 20 months ago by SamuraiFilmGuru
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Action and Profund reflection on the human condition
The other reviews are very well done. What caught my attention was how the doomed swordsman did not actually do anything wrong. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Movie Mike
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Topic From this Discussion
the sword of doom.
its definitely a very cool film;)
Jan 21, 2011 by Iggy |  See all 2 posts
the sword of doom. Be the first to reply
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