“Sword for Truth” – Chris Luedtke

It’s hard to begin these reviews of films that just make my head itch with confusion. In some cases, this is a good thing. Take the great American film Mulholland Drive by David Lynch. Mullholland Drive is a film that will sit you back and visually smash your skull in, thanks to its gorgeous style and mysterious substance. By the time it’s over, we can’t help but feel an odd impact that sits with us for days and nights on end. Sword for Truth is just the opposite of this, and for those of us who have seen it, we have been left on a very dry note.

Sword for Truth follows lone samurai Shuranosuke Sakaki (Kazuhiko Inoue) and his blood-soaked adventures as he intervenes after the Nakura clan is attacked by a giant tiger. While the clan is attacked, Princess Mayu is captured and taken away by the Seki Ninja. Sakaki’s job is to get her back while making an exchange for the Nakura clan’s legendary sword.

That’s all there is to the story. Not a whole lot of substance, is there? The film doesn’t dig deeper than it could’ve. But then again, it runs at a short fifty minutes. Everything that happens throughout Sword for Truth feels like they’re building towards something bigger. The entire film isn’t much of a film as it is an introduction to the surrounding world. As a pilot to a series, I wouldn’t be able to discredit it, because it creates a lot of mysterious air around it. Sakaki isn’t too talkative and mostly just cuts anything down around him that he either doesn’t understand or poses a threat to him. I’m surprised he didn’t wage war on insects. The violence here is more than noteworthy; it may be the film’s only draw. Blood splatters on every corner. It keeps us stimulated on a minor level, but it still isn’t enough to save the lackluster plot.

If I can give anything to Sword for Truth, it’s the credit of fan service. Again, violence is about but so is sex. Within fifty minutes, Sakaki gets a lengthy lay, and we come across one lesbian scene. Apparently, tainting the princess is on the menu; for what reasons, I can’t really recall. I doubt there was a reason behind it. But was there a reason behind Sakaki getting laid? Hardly. It’s all just there to give the anime fans and/or adolescents their five minutes of pleasure. In addition to the violence, this is really the only draw (if one can even call it that).

In a lot of ways, I feel reminded of the classic NES game “Ninja Gaiden.” Although Sakaki is a samurai and Ryu Hayabusa a ninja, Sword for Truth just feels inspired by the hustle and bustle of “Ninja Gaiden.” Both have pulse-pounding action, and both have a character that just rushes into battle without thinking twice about the consequences of losing. Both kill everything that so much as twitches, and both seem to have problems with demons and otherworldly creatures. Also, one must also note that Sword for Truth preceded Ninja Scroll, which makes me wonder if the latter took some notes from the former, with its epic action and insane violence.

While Sword for Truth does end on a cliffhanger, it should be noted that it does have a sequel, Legend of the Devil. Legend of the Devil is a live-action film however. While I hear it picks up where Sword for Truth left off, I can’t help but wonder why no announcement of the sequel was made more clear. After all, had I not known that Sword for Truth had a sequel, I would dismiss it as a completely unnecessary film. I at least hope that Legend of the Devil manages to clean up the issues that plagued Sword for Truth and leave us viewers with something more than a pile of corpses and a few sex scenes.

Rating: ★★☆☆

-Chris Luedtke

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