★★★☆☆ – Worth a Watch!
Based on the 41 volume Buddhist/samurai historical novel ‘Great Bodhisattva Pass’ and planned as a trilogy of films, ‘The Sword of Doom’ feels like an unfinished piece of work. Plot points and sub plots are sketched rather than developed which gives the narrative a modernist yet disjointed feel. This is also largely in part due to the story being quite well known in Japanese popular culture with no need for characters to be developed for its target audience.
The film will take multiple viewings to unify the myriad of plotlines together, especially for viewers who are not familiar with the story or its characters. As a result, the most engaging of the characters is Ryunosuke, who struggles with his karma and inevitable downward plunge. Well ahead of its time with its approach to stylized cinematic violence.