The second Daibosatsu Toge (Satan's Sword) film improves on the first one, and is the best of the three films where Ichikawa Raizo plays Ryunosuke Tsuke, the murderous protagonist of the series.
The first film ended in a cliffhanger, the second film opens somewhat unsatisfyingly after the climatic duel at the end of the first film. Hyoma is still seeking vengeance for his dead brother. O-Matsu, the girl's whose grandfather Ryunosuke killed at the beginning of the first film, has been sold to a courtesan. The film introduces a new character, a ronin that Ryunosuke meets on the road who gets our anti-hero involved with members of the Tenchu Group, a rebellious group which wants to overthrow the shogun. I believe Ryunosuke worked for a pro-shogunate group in the first entry, but Ryunosuke is first and foremost a killer. Politics do not mean much to him.
Once again, the film's strengths are its bright colors (Kenji Misumi returns as director) and Ichikawa Raizo's performance as the smug killer Ryunosuke. This second entry has more excitement, particularly in the second half. Ichikawa Raizo gets even more of a chance to shine in the role. The climax builds to a mountaintop duel while a fire rages in the village below. This is a visually arresting, if sudden (another cliffhanger ending is coming soon), finale.
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