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Sword of the Beast (1965)

Kedamono no ken (original title)
Not Rated | | Action, Drama | 18 September 1965 (Japan)
After killing a counselor of his clan, a fugitive samurai befriends a couple poaching the shogun's gold in the mountains.

Director:

Hideo Gosha
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Cast

Credited cast:
Mikijirô Hira ... Yuuki Gennosuke
Gô Katô Gô Katô ... Jurata Yamane
Shima Iwashita ... Taka
Toshie Kimura ... Misa
Kantarô Suga Kantarô Suga ... Daizaburo
Yôko Mihara ... Osen
Kunie Tanaka ... Tanji
Eijirô Tôno ... Minister
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Shigeru Amachi
Hajime Araki Hajime Araki
Tsuyoshi Date Tsuyoshi Date
Ryûji Fujisawa Ryûji Fujisawa
Torahiko Hamada Torahiko Hamada
Tôru Hatozaki Tôru Hatozaki
Sentarô Hayashi Sentarô Hayashi
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Storyline

Gennosuke, a clan retainer, kills one of the clan ministers as part of a plot to achieve reform. He is pursued by his former comrades, each hoping to complete the vendetta put on Gennosuke by the clan. With the help of a master swordsman, Yamane, Gennosuke has a chance at survival. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Action | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

18 September 1965 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Sword of the Beast See more »

Filming Locations:

Japan

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #311. See more »

Quotes

Yuuki Gennosuke: I'm a cornered and wounded beast. I can't afford to live by my conscience. My opponent is a strong warrior, it is true, but it's up to me whether I defeat him and take his gold or am defeated by him... and left to die a dog's death in the hills.
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User Reviews

The path of the beast...
24 April 2008 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

This early Hideo Gosha jidai-geki that was released by Criterion opens quite abruptly with a ronin named Gennosuke being hunted down for having killed his clan's counsellor. We're at 1857, on the brink of the Meiji reformation that saw Japan opening to the west after years of seclusion and the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The central plot revolves around the struggle between the old and new in a country on the verge of change. Although short in duration (clocking in at 85 minutes), the story never lets up with numerous twists and a fast pace. A series of events will find Gennosuke and a prospector he meets along the way searching for gold in a mountain, until they get caught up in another clan's schemes. Nothing is what it seems though, and therein lies the beauty of Sword of the Beast. As the story progresses both forwards and backwards (with glimpses in Gennosuke's past in the form of flashbacks), the characters' motives are fully fleshed out and this provides the extra dramatic oomph that pushes Sword of the Beast above "merely OK" territory. Behind all the swordfighting (and there's enough of it to be enjoyed here, certainly not Lone Wolf and Cub though), Gosha has a story to communicate.

With beautiful natural exteriors photographed in stark black and white, confident directing from Gosha, very good swordfighting scenes from actors who know their trade and decent performances all around, Sword of the Beast should appeal to all jidai-geki fans. It's neither as monolithic and tragic as Masaki Kobayashi's work from the same time nor as lyrical as Kurosawa's, but it stands somewhere in the middle, stripped to the essentials with a focus on story and theme.


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