Tokugawa Ieyasu is the ruler of all Japan. But one last loose thread must be tied up before his domination is complete -- the destruction of the Toyotomi clan, now beseiged in Osaka castle.... See full summary »
Nemuri Kyoshiro, a youthful and cynical ronin with unparalleled skill, is approached by both sides in a game of corruption, ambition, and double crosses. The leader of the Kaga clan, who ... See full summary »
A young coed (Nan Barlow) uses her winter vacation to research a paper on witchcraft in New England. Her professor recommends that she spend her time in a small village called Whitewood. He... See full summary »
John Llewellyn Moxey
Two devious retainers are competing to take control of a fief when the current Lord dies, but involving Kyoshiro in the conflict against his will is the textbook example of a bad idea - ... See full summary »
[Referring to Princess Kiku's attempt to kill Sir Kyoshiro while "coupling" with her]
Kyoshiro... I hate you... and I ache for the beauty of your face. I won't ever let you leave my arms... I won't!
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"I am unworthy that's why I can kill you ruthlessly"
Sword of Seduction is somewhat of a departure for the Sleepy Eyes of Death saga. Whereas the previous movies had typed Nemuri as a stray dog ronin, a sardonic fatalist without a past or future like Yojimbo, here we get to discover who he really is, his parents and the circumstances of his birth.
If Sleepy Eyes of Death has the reputation of a dark and violent chambara (especially for its time), it is exactly because of movies like Sword of Seduction. I don't want to spoil the ending that reveals Nemuri's birth but the imagery associated with him literally types him as a sword devil (to borrow the title of a Kenji Misumi picture Ichikawa worked in the next year): the son of the black mass.
This closure doesn't come out of left field though. Throughout the movie Nemuri almost literally cuts through the veils of hypocrisy and illusion: religion, politics, superstition, vanity. Each one in the form of a different subplot, all of which intersect at one point or another. The Christian missionary who renounces his faith for a drink of sake and the body of a woman (but also to save her brother), he gets his head chopped off by Nemuri. The demented daughter of the ex-Shogun who drugs and kills beautiful girls because she is deformed herself, her ugliness is exposed with a swift cut of Nemuri's sword during a Noh dance. The female fortune-teller that tries to seduce Nemuri as part of a weird sex ritual, she gets what's coming to her.
Directed by Kazuo Ikehiro, Sword of Seduction doesn't stand out as a major technical or dramatic achievement of any kind. But on a sensory level, the ways it adds grim undertones in an already cynic serialized character and how it expands the mood and universe of the movie by introducing his past, it is largely a minor triumph. The violence is on par with the previous entry Full Moon Cut and this time around the actual technique evolves on a visual level: we get to see what exactly happens with Nemuri's sword in slow-motion as he traces the circle before he kills his opponent.
If you're thinking of skipping the first three and watching this one first, I would advise against it. Nemuri, like any other serialized character from James Bond to Lone Wolf, has little character development from one entry to the next but it's cool to see the ways the style and story is moved forward.
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