When I first saw this, as a less savvy viewer with a less crisp transfer, I was mainly confused. But with the benefit of historical context—into the film's source material and its setting—it's close to a great samurai masterpiece, electrifying in its form and provocative in its sociopathic villain and the harsh society around him. The nixed sequel plan was a shame, but it made the cliff-hanger into a true apocalypse.
The movie is famous for several reasons, one being the incredible amount of carnage which is somewhat impressive at first, then boring, and then sickening in the sense of the total futility of it. It certainly seems to both celebrate and critique the power of the sword. On the other hand, I kept waiting for the many narrative threads and thematic elements to come together and that did not happen (at least for me).
This is one of a hell-ish, enigmatic, cold and hauntingly sinister film for its time. The last sequence prefigures a film like Shogun Assassin for its bleak dose of violence and slash-like method. Recommended for fans of Japanese underground-trash cinema and Chanbara.
9 - As thematically superficial (though what is there is expertly delivered) as it is masterfully crafted. Every frame is visually impeccable, every movement has purpose and every cut flows. Major props to Nakadai, who portrays a volatile, inhuman husk so well that he looks carved into the scenery more often than not. Lord Mifune has no use for my compliments. What a trilogy this could have been...
Dull, impotent “nihilism” fanatically hailed by fatalist 14-year-olds yearning for exoticism from their bourgeois cages, Sword of Gloom contains tormented vigor but is incomplete and empty – not in the notion of proto-creation but more in line like a Buddhist monk’s fart. It aims to depict the hollowness of evil but simply castrates it mightily (while being it’s only draw), inducing viewers directly into comas.
A primera vista, Okamoto es un maestro en el uso del plano-contraplano y la profundidad de campo. En historia, es el descenso de un hombre hacia lo maligno. Aquí el antihéroe está en crisis. El final de "La espada del mal" es un drama psicológico. Mientras tanto, otra historia de una venganza. En contexto, la decadencia del samurai es inevitable. Ni la técnica ni el honor ni el amor salvará a estos 2 hombres del fin.
Amazing noir-style samurai movie, and a highlight of the genre. The twisted and psychopathic lead by Tatsuya Nakadai is a role very distant from his character in The Human Condition. Don't be hesitant to watch this movie because it is missing the two films that were supposed to follow it. The absence of any sequel(s) gives this particular movie an entirely different feel. It gives you movie blue-balls.