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The Sword of Doom (1966)
"Dai-bosatsu tôge" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Action, Drama  |  1 July 1966 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 6,111 users  
Reviews: 57 user | 53 critic

Through his unconscionable actions against others, a sociopath samurai builds a trail of vendettas that follow him closely.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michiyo Aratama ...
Yûzô Kayama ...
Yôko Naitô ...
Tadao Nakamaru ...
Isamu Kondo
Kei Satô ...
Kô Nishimura ...
Shichibei, Omatsu's 'uncle'
Ichirô Nakatani ...
Kunie Tanaka ...
Takamaru Sasaki ...
Ishinsai Nakamura
Ryôsuke Kagawa ...
Dansho Tsukue
Kamatari Fujiwara ...
Omatsu's grandfather
Hideyo Amamoto
Akio Miyabe ...
Toshizo Ogata
Yasuzô Ogawa ...


Ryunosuke is a sociopathic samurai without compassion or scruples. When he is scheduled for an exhibition match at his fencing school, the wife of his opponent begs Ryunosuke to throw the match, offering her own virtue in trade. Ryunosuke accepts her offer, but kills her husband in the match. Over time, Ryunosuke is pursued by the brother of the man he killed. The brother trains with the master fencer Shimada. In the meantime, however, Ryunosuke earns the enmity of the band of assassins he runs with, and it becomes a question of who shall face him in final conflict. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

1 July 1966 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Sword of Doom  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The abrupt ending of the film is due to the fact that it was originally intended to be the first part in a trilogy of films based on a lengthy Japanese novel. Nakazato Kaizan's 41 volume historical novel focused on the Edo period in Japanese history when the shogunate collapsed and a new government arose that revolved around the Emperor. It was the longest novel in Japan - encompassing 1533 chapters and over 5 and a half million Japanese characters - until the publication of Sohachi Yamaoka's serialized novel "Tokugawa Ieyasu", which is reportedly the longest novel in any language. See more »


Ryunosuke Tsukue: A sword man prizes his skill like a woman prizes her chastity... would you surrender your chastity?
Ohama: [in the mill] Ryunosuke told me to come...
See more »


Referenced in Exhumed (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

A criminally neglected Director
22 June 2005 | by See all my reviews

I saw this film first, years ago. Must have been 10 or more years back. And it made me think of Kurosawa. And how much more I enjoyed the films of Okamoto over Kurosawa.

I like Kurosawa, I'm just not one of the rabid legion of fanatics for his films. The remakes of his Yojimba, Seven Samarai (which really are remakes of John Ford westerns, translated to the east) such as Leone's Dollars movies, and Sturge's Magnificent Seven, I prefer to Kurosawa's films.

While technically a marvelous Director, Kurosawa's work can be cold, distant. There is a standoffishness there, that is similar to Fritz Lang's willingness to stand back and bask in his angles, and patterns, the frame of the story.

Directors like Sturges are about the meat of the story, they are directors of moments rather than motion. Which is why I rate his Magnificent Seven higher than the Seven Samurai. It connects with me more.

Leone, while also a clinical director, concerned with framing, alternates that with a consummate passion for closeups, that makes his spare films, bloody with warmth.

I used to write it off to just East West differences, that accounted for the regimented to the point of distance... films of Japan. However, then I saw this film, SWORD OF DOOM, a film as clinical, and precise as any made by Kurosawa or Lang, but filled with a pathos and passion that dripped from every frame.

A longing... for everything and nothing.

Others have commented on this film: -from the patently odd assertions of this film's protagonist as some "avenging angel sent by God" (if that was the case he would have felt no guilt for his crimes, and the glorious, berserk ending would not have come about. The beauty of this film is that it is about a man... floundering, peering into the last gates of hell, and hoping against hope for something to break his fall. What makes this film interesting, is that sense, given only through the eyes, of inner conflict in everything the Sword Bearer does.) -to the missing the point cries of "explanatory sequel/2nd half needed" and "compromised end". I've seen the films this movie is based off of. They are all, complete, informed, every "I" dotted, and every "T" crossed, and every single one is grossly inferior to this film.

This film doesn't need a beginning, and it doesn't need an end. Doesn't need a sequel or a prequel, it is a Masterpiece for the simple fact of it's open ended nature. It transcends Alphas and Omegas, because it lives in that freeze frame between them. It is forever a film of the now, and one man caught in it.

The best review of all posted, and the one I urge you to read, is one of the earliest. Done back in May of 2000 by tais0.

To that review of the film itself, I cannot add or subtract anything. It is the best of all that I have read, the most brilliant. However I will clarify several mistakes regarding the director.

Someone wrote this film was an aberration for the director, and mentioned NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. Though that is not a comparison that makes sense. NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, a brilliant film, was the only one ever directed by Charles Laughton. Okamoto, who just recently passed away this February, directed 39 films.

And while this is his best, he directed several nearly as good, and just as beautiful. At his heart the Director had a love for musicals, like many of the greatest directors he had the heart of a composer. His early films included three crime/Underworld films with Toshiro Mifune. his two John Ford inspired DESPERADO films (mixing action with humor),and then finally a musical... that bombed horribly.

After that he got into the Samurai genre (the genre that was profitable at the time), but brought to it an editing style, and a use of sound, that was completely musically inspired. What is startling and brilliant about SWORD OF DOOM, is the soundtrack. The use of sound and silence as bold counterpoint to the story unfolding before your eyes.

That style permeates all of his films from 1964 on, to include: Warring Clans(1964), Samurai Assassin (1965), Sword of Doom (1966), Kill! (1968), Red Lion (1969), Zatoichi series Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970).

Two of his films I'm dying to see are later works, infused with the comedy and love of music that characterized his often overlooked career. Dixieland Daimyo(1986)- the story of a quartet of Black jazz musicians lost in 19th-century Japan, and Vengeance for Sale (2001- the director's final film)-light-hearted Samurai tale.

So by no means was Kihachi Okamoto a one hit wonder. I think history will reevaluate his contributions to film, and place his name up there with Kobyashi and Kurosawa and Seijun Suzuki as one of Japan's best.

26 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
great film, stuff I didn't realise on 1st viewing maddox-richard
Is there a Samurai as bad-ass as Ryunosuke? cool316
Whats another dark,brutal flick like this? rsin_bassist
this movie will teach you how to fight... a_hat_trick
Sword of Doom Wallpaper OldSchoolRPGs
dead total, and ending? 65chevynova
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