Sleepy Eyes Of Death 4: Sword Of Seduction (Japan 1964)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 2/5/00
Cast: Ichikawa Raizo

Well, this episode is just full of surprises! One of the Shogunate's daughters has gone insane and has developed a taste for opium, torture, and murder. Lucky for her, she has struck a deal with the local rice dealers to smuggle all sorts of contraband into the country, including opium. Unfortunately for her, she attracts the attention of Nemuri Kyoshiro when she kills an underground Christian who begs Kyoshiro for help and claims to know a blood relative of his - a Christian saint known as "the Virgin Shima." This sparks his interest, and he begins a quest to track her down and learn the mysterious circumstances surrounding his birth. Having made a lot of enemies in town, the road to his destination is strewn with hostile assassins who ambush him at every turn. The shit really hits the fan when he finally meets up with the Virgin Shima, and we learn that Kyoshiro is actually "the bastard son of Satan," which explains why the series is also known as "Son Of The Black Mass." A good film in all regards. The combat is exciting, and spruced up by a couple of surprisingly bloody scenes. Kyoshiro's signature "Full-Moon Cut" technique gets an optical facelift as the circle it traces leaves a nice "acid trail" effect. And finally, apart from learning Kyoshiro's cursed and tragic past, we also see the first hints of his inner demons. Very interesting.