Sleepy Eyes Of Death 5: Sword Of Fire (Japan 1965)

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

So, Nemuri Kyoshiro is walking down the road minding his own business when he runs into a man and woman who are trying to kill each other. He tries not to get involved, but ends up assisting the woman. Bad move, Kyoshiro! This sets into motion a tangled sequence of events that Kyoshiro can't ignore or escape from, and once again it seems that everyone in town wants him dead. Conspiracy, deception, and betrayal abound, and Kyoshiro eventually clears his name and sees justice done by slaughtering a seemingly endless horde of foes. Fairly talky, but the story remains interesting and engaging. Greed seems to be the general theme, and all of the villains are governed by their passion for money and power, while Kyoshiro scoffs at such material desires. Dramatically, there's a lot going on in this film, and the subtle emotions played across people's faces are highly effective. We really get to see Nemuri Kyoshiro, the ruthless killer, the jaded cynic, the arrogant womanizer, and in a rare moment of peace, an admirer of beauty and a man capable of selfless kindness and compassion (just don't get in his way when he's in a really good mood...). An improvement in terms of cinematic style, the cinematography is beautiful, but the return to bloodless combat scenes is disappointing (a few blood geysers here and there would have helped immensely). Instead, we get a few samples of creatively framed frontal nudity that teasingly almost shows us a pair of nekkid breasts.