Satan's Sword II (1960) Poster

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Classic Misumi swordplay and drama.
alice_frye6 April 2006
While Misumi would continue to improve his riffs as a top-drawer director, this second episode shows all of the hallmarks of the mature Misumi in its fight choreography, choice of establishing scenes and camera angles, and character development.

Ryunosuke, having given up all attachments to his family and former associates, travels like a kite over central Japan, relentlessly pursued by coincidence and chance. Repeatedly confronted with his stunningly rapid karma, he seems to grow from the selfish, murderous young man of the first episode into an adult with a growing sense of responsibility for his actions.

The way Misumi set up his shots is classic Japanese cinema, reminiscent of Inagaki and even Kurosawa at times. Notice the dojo scene, when young Hyoma accepts a lesson from the wise old Lord, who has seen Ryonosuke in action. The final group fight scene is perfect in its timing, style and economy. This is what the Chinese directors acknowledged in the documentary "Chop Socky Cinema," when they gave a nod to the Japanese directors of the early 60's for innovations in action choreography. Misumi would repeat this staging effect in almost all of his later work. Eight or ten enemies surround the hero, who stands quietly in the center until he mows everyone down with just a few strokes. This scenario is the heart of the Nemuri Kyoshiro (Sleepy Eyes of Death,) Zatoichi and Lone Wolf series, all shaped largely by Misumi.

Like that other Kenji, Mizoguchi that is, Misumi was well-known for his ability to work effectively with women. He allowed his actresses to be interesting and more fully formed than the typical decorative set pieces of contemporaries. They bring a real world quality and depth to his films, one which is often missing in jidai geki.

Volume 2 is a mini-masterpiece and one which we can, thankfully, enjoy without the inevitable comparisons to "Sword of Doom" and the splendid, intense Tatsuya Nakadai as Ryunosuke. This episode has plenty to recommend it to fans of chanbara.
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Kenji Misumi's Satan's Sword 2: The Dragon God
chaos-rampant9 April 2008
The second entry in Misumi's Daibosatsu Toge trilogy starts where the first one left off. We see the aftermath of Ryunosuke Tsukue's duel with Hyoma Utsugi, both of whom have survived and lots of bodies litter the ground. The rest of this 88 minutes chapter takes us on a journey through central Japan as Ryunosuke escapes from the duel and tries to settle down as a teacher in a dojo before he becomes involved with the Tenchu Group, a small group of rebels that the Tokugawa Shogunate is hunting down. In the meantime he gets emotionally involved with a woman that bears an akin resemblance to his deceased wife Ohama, we also find out what happened to his son Ikutaru, and we watch Hyoma hunt down Ryunosuke to extract his just revenge. Eventually his actions will lead him to seek refuge in the Dragon God Mountain where he will once again face off with his sworn enemy. That's the plot in a nutshell.

Revenge is the main motivating factor that pushes the story forward here, but what provides the acute dramatic punch is Ryunosuke's tragic fate. Plagued by the bad kharma he brought upon himself at the start of the first Daibosatsu Toge, his acts seem to lead nowhere but down. There's no rise and fall for this guy. Just fall. Even when he tries to settle down in a dojo and begin life anew, there's bad luck lurking around the corner. Can a man such as himself be redeemed in the end? He doesn't seem to think he even deserves it. He's not one to wallow in self-pity, although his monologues have a tinge of hopelessness and resignation, but he's more determined to keep pushing deeper in his own hell.

Kenji Misumi's direction is again adequate as a stepping stone to his early 70's masterpiece that is Lone Wolf and Cub. There's no arterial sprays here though and the swordfights lack the energetic quality of those films. They're more akin to the works of Kurosawa and classic jidai-geki, although the swordfighting leaves a lot to be desired in terms of technique. The set pieces and cinematography are very good, occasionally hampered by the use of studio sets. Comparisons to the 1966 masterpiece Sword of Doom (which is essentially a remake of the first Satan's Sword) are inevitable and one cannot help but think what Kihachi Okamoto's planned sequels to that movie would have looked like. There's dramatic potential here as Ryunosuke's story unfolds and action scenes that would have made a Sword of Doom 2 a definite masterpiece. Sadly, they never materialised.

Overall if you came all the way here to read this review, you're probably a chambara fan so Satan's Sword 2 will be right up your alley. This is also a must-see for fans of Sword of Doom that wanna find out what happens to Ryunosuke after the very abrupt ending of the '66 movie. Just don't expect a mind-blowing masterpiece and you'll be fine. Not a classic by any means, but a worthy addition to any fan's collection and entertaining throughout.
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My Favorite in the Trilogy
jrd_7329 August 2020
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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A little less dull
sharptongue16 November 2002
This one is the second in a trilogy, and is marginally less dull than the first. Having killed his wife and put his son in care, Raizo finds another woman who looks just like his wife (played by the same actress) and chops up a few more unfortunates.
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