1 May 2006 | alice_frye
Amazing!! Only Raizo could create such fury with a sword.
A serious young student at a popular dojo is pressured into taking the blame for a treacherous murder in order to save the family of his lovely and devoted fiancé. The real world, which exists outside of the stuffy and hypocritical confines of samurai society, pounds (but does not flatten) the once-idealistic man with unforgettable and incredible bad luck. He endures a number of trials, only to return and discover how dishonorable his elite comrades truly are. And this is only the beginning! However grim the viewer might speculate the outcome to be, there is no second-guessing the resolution of this amazing tale. The climactic fight scene even puts "Enter the Dragon" and "Sword of Doom" to shame.
This is one of Raizo Ichikawa's finest performances, from both the dramatic interpretation and physical prowess standpoints, and it demonstrates why nearly four decades after his early death from cancer, Ichikawa remains one of the most popular Japanese film stars of all time. In a culture that values dogged persistence from its heroes, Ichikawa was one of a very select group of actors who could create a believable model of this virtue.
Before watching "The Betrayal" (Daisatsujin orochi,) I thought only Kenji Misumi could choreograph such brilliant fight scenes, but director Tokuzo Tanaka scored a place at the top with this film. I cross-checked his BO and found that he was AD on "Rashomon" and "Ugetsu." Anyone who sharpened his steel under Akira Kurosawa and Kenji Mizoguchi would definitely have a few good chops, as Tanaka demonstrates here.