Miyamoto Musashi / Sword of Fury (1973) Tai KATO

Miyamoto Musashi / Sword of Fury (1973) Tai KATO
TITLE: Miyamoto Musashi (AKA Sword of Fury)
YEAR: 1973
RUNTIME: 02:28:17
GENRE: Jidai Geki, Historical Fiction, Sword Fighting.
LANGUAGE: Japanese
SUBTITLES: English srt (extensively rewritten and reworked)
CAST: Jiro Tamiya, Keiko Matsuzaka, Mitsuko Baishô, Hideki Takahashi, Furankî Sakai

In 1973, Shochiku Studios released Tai Kato’s updated two-part version of Miyamoto Musashi, this time with Hideki Takahashi in the title role. Jiro Tamiya played Musashi’s nemesis Kojiro in a subdued manner, & extremely pretty. Akemi is played by Mitsuku Baisho. She and Keiko Matsuzaka add both their talent and beauty. The director has a sardonic approach which, like Kohata in the 1954 version, refuses to romanticize Musashi. Tai Kato was not able to go so far as to have Musashi realistically vulgar in appearance; Hideki Takahashi is too handsome an actor for that, & more attractive still with long hair instead of the crew-cut of his gangster roles. Still, Musashi’s spirit decidedly unrefined. He’s not someone who goes from wild & naive to Zen purity. He is one hell of a mean bastard from start to finish. Titled Sword of Fury I & Sword of Fury II in the
subtitled release, the dual film allows us to hear Musashi’s thought processes as he faces opponents & develops his fighting style. The story itself is the familiar one, & it’s really only the “attitude” toward Musashi that is strikingly different.

In Part I we see the young would-be swordsman setting out to achieve greatness in war, achieving nothing because fighting on the losing side, & then beginning his long period of wandering & training, with the goal always in mind of his duel with Kojiro. Part II builds toward that great duel on Ganryu Island, with considerable focus on Musashi’s planning & forethought as to how to gain an advantage. Rather than the Zen questor of Inagaki & Uchida’s versions, we come to realize by watching Kato’s film that this Musashi is a calculating, cold-blooded trickster, scientific in his approach. This is close to the truth of Musashi’s historical self, for he was an opportunist first & sentimentalist last. – Mostly taken from Avallach’s upload at ADC

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