Hey New Yorkers, two of my all-time top sword films are playing this Saturday, April 24th at the Japan Society: The third installment in the Zatoichi series, New Tale of Zatoichi, and the fourth film in the so-called Sleepy Eyes of Death franchise, Sword of Seduction. The latter film in particular is my favorite in the 12-part series starring the incomparable Raizo Ichikawa.
Sword of Seduction was a make-or-break film for the series; box office hadn't been great and the Daiei studio execs tasked director Kazuo Ikehiro with turning things around or else. Fortunately, Ikehiro had the good sense to take a page (or two) of the more transgressive material contained in the original novel by Renzaburo Shibata to liven things up. And it worked. Sword of Seduction is the chambara equivalent of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll (with swords replacing electric guitars). You can read my drooling review of the film in Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves or in the booklet that accompanies AnimEigo's box set of the first four films.
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