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Sword of the Beast (The Criterion Collection)
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Top Customer Reviews
The problem is that as he flees Gennosuke meets up with this shady fellow who knows where to find gold on land owned by the Shogun near Mount Shirane. Also after the gold are a gang of bandits and the samurai Jurota Yamane (Go Kato), who is being aided and abetted by his wife. What is set up is a sword fight between Gennosuke and Jurota, but when Gennosuke saves Jurota's wife from the bandits that changes the dynamics of the situation. Meanwhile, everybody is making their way to the mountain for the big showdown, and while this film was originally released in the United States as "Samurai Gold Seekers," the title "Sword of the Beast" proves to be much more accurate.
Director Hideo Gosha ("Yokiro") and his co-writer Eizaburo Shiba come up with a more complicated scenario than we usually find in these samurai movies. Although Gennosuke is the central character, it is Jurota whose life is the subject of flashbacks to explain his problems and motivations.Read more ›
That is the theme of Gosha Hideo's "Sword of the Beast" ("Kedamono no Ken") . Gennosuke, a minor clan warrior, is tricked, under the banner of "reform," into assassinating a high-ranking minister. He has been promised position and prestige for his bold act. Instead, his sponsor soon turns on him, claiming no knowledge of the plot and demands Gennosuke's death. Realizing his "samurai honor" is a house of cards, he flees into the wilderness, determined to become a beast, living only for himself. Pursued by the murdered man's daughter and her fiance, he scrambles only to live, refusing to play his role and lay down and die. Encountering Yamane, another idealistic samurai who is being played the fool by another clan, he is determined to enlighten Yamane and his pretty wife before they too become beasts, abandoned and betrayed.
Gosha's second film, after his excellent debut in "Three Outlaw Samurai," he continues the same themes of the juxtaposition of idealism and harsh reality, and how loyalty and service to a greater good are shallow hopes, used to enslave those stupid enough to believe in them, serving only to gain wealth and status for the leaders. It is a dismal, depressing viewpoint, but an understandable exploration in light of Japan's history and personal encounters with manipulative military leaders.Read more ›
After more betrayals and deadly sword fights, he encounters Jurota Yamane (Go Kato) and Taka (Shima Iwashita), a married couple who are illicitly panning gold from the Shogun's mine for their own clan. At first he is determined to take the gold from the man, an ambitious samurai like he was who has put his trust in his clan leaders. "I can't afford to to live by my conscience," Gennosuke says. "My opponent is a warrior, it's true. But it's up to me whether I defeat him and take his gold, or am defeated by him and left to die a dog's death in the hills." Bandits and the ruthless intentions of an advisor and his men from the other clan make Gennosuke find he hasn't entirely lost his sense of honor. At one point Taka tells him, "I want to become a beast like you," but she finds that, ultimately, although her husband and Gennosuke are both flawed, they make sacrifices that redeem themselves.
In other hands, this might have been high drama with moral overtones. What we have, in my view, is effective melodrama which is satisfying to watch. I wouldn't consider Mikijiro Hira a compelling actor.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
KEDAMONO NO KEN (SWORD OF THE BEAST). A Run-Of-The-Mill Production.
Rating = ***
Director: Hideo Gosha
Producers: Gin'ichi Kishimoto et al. Read more
This film is definitely not one of the strongest releases in the Criterion Collection, but it's a must-see for fans of Samurai films, because it's an anti-samurai movie, calling... Read morePublished 22 months ago by B. Adducchio
This finely crafted tale of a "ronin" roaming the countryside trying to find his fortune while running from those who would do him harm. Read morePublished on August 24, 2013 by Mr Axolotl
Here is a very original samurai movie, which was clearly influenced by the wave of contest of traditional values in the early 60s in Japan. Read morePublished on June 14, 2012 by Maciej
Made just about twenty years after the end of WWII, this samurai drama is a provocative cautionary tale about the way a code of honor based on fealty to military leaders can be... Read morePublished on September 1, 2007 by David Bonesteel
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