Sleepy Eyes of Death 2: Sword of Adventure – Intrigued By Decency

Country: Japan
Genre: Action/ Drama/ Swordplay
Director: Kenji Misumi
Year: 1964

Rating: ★★★½☆


Swordsman Nemuri Kyoshiro (Raizô Ichikawa) is an odd guy. He’s so used to dealing with scumbags that when he runs across someone who’s decent and moral, he’s amused and intrigued. Such is the case with Asahina, the financial advisor of the Shogunate.

Japan is in the middle of an economic downturn and the Shogunate is strapped for cash. Asahina has requested reforms, such as eliminating the allowance for the Shogun’s numerous daughters and limiting the extravagance of rich merchants. This has earned Asahina a price on his head.

Fortunately for Asahina, Nemuri finds life more interesting with him alive.

Just as in the first episode of Sleepy Eyes of Death, Sword of Adventure sustains interest because of sharply written characters, lots of intrigue, and it’s willingness to engage with themes of a timeless moral nature.

For example, the Occupy movement is currently raging through the United States and even the world because the individuals that comprise the top 1% of the financial elite have no end to their greed. The parallels are obvious.

The merchants in Sword of Adventure quintuple the price of rice taking advantage of its scarcity. In our time, in spite of an oil glut and low demand, the oil companies have conspired to keep prices high.

The farmers in Sword of Adventure are lucky if they can scrape together 1 ryo, but the Shogun’s princesses each get 20,000 ryo allowance per month. On the other hand, in the United States the top 400 individuals now have more money than the bottom 50% combined.

Some things never change.

In fact, the rapaciousness of the rich is threatening to bankrupt the Shogunate. Sound familiar?

Sword of Adventure, thanks to terrific filmmaking and timeless themes, is excellent entertainment.

I should caution you though that the swordplay is minimalistic, as is the bloodshed. If you watch it expecting a ton of action, you’ll be disappointed, but if you’re up for a rich cinematic experience, you’ll be rewarded.

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