“Legend of the Devil” – Chris Luedtke

To reiterate myself, I often worry about sequels. Legend of the Devil was no exception to my worry. I knew the sequel to the hack-and-slash anime adventure Sword for Truth was either going to acknowledge the flaws of its predecessor or follow its bloody path and leave our eyes so covered in gore that we become blind to the rest of the film. I can’t say that Legend of the Devil is anything special, but it isn’t anything bad either.

Picking up where Sword for Truth left off, Shuranosuke Sakaki (Masaki Kyomoto) is called in to rescue Mistress Mayu (Rie Imamura). His mission: to trade their family treasure (one of two sacred swords) for Mayu. However, not everything is as it seems, and intentions seem to run deeper than just a simple trade mission. In addition to this, Sakaki’s past is beginning to creep up on him, and a mysterious warrior seems to be at his every turn.

All you really need to know about Legend of the Devil is that Sakaki is basically the greatest samurai to grace this green earth. He continues wasting anyone in his path dumb enough to start a fight with him. Still, Sakaki holds a large sense of honor in the blood-stained path he treads. The problem is that no matter how awesome and unstoppable his character may be, he’s still a big, walking cliche. He’s quiet, he’s never an instigator, and he walks the path of the ronin. We unfortunately are never shown how he became so powerful. He’s masterless and just kinda hanging around town. Some of his past is uncovered but it’s pretty underwhelming.

The gore level has been turned down quite a bit. Within the first five minutes, we see a guy who has to weigh a metric ton get sliced right in two by Sakaki, but not a drop of blood falls. Odd, considering the film’s predecessor would barely allow us a moment to collect ourselves from the previous battle before shedding more blood on the field of battle. That is one thing that Legend of the Devil has in common with Sword for Truth: battles seem almost endless at times. When they do end, the film becomes pretty boring.

Therein lies another problem: the plot. I really had no reason to care about it. At times, there was nothing going on but Sakaki staring at a grave, and at other times, there were three clans being filmed almost simultaneously on screen. One wanted to keep their treasure, one wanted both treasures, and the other just wanted to redeem themselves by obtaining the treasures. I could have cared way less about the third clan. They were just a group of angsty people who kept whining that their clan had fallen. If only Sakaki had set one foot in there and torn them to shreds. Alas, I didn’t get my wish. By the time something concise is happening in the plot, I was already lost in memorizing my minor A scale on guitar.

Legend of the Devil isn’t a failure on all levels. It has some pretty good fight sequences, but its slew of characters just bore us into one of the world’s biggest yawns. Main villain Tenkai (Daisuke Ryu) is the same old bad guy we see in any Japanese film, and to be honest, I didn’t even understand his intentions. I guess there was something about the two swords coming together in a cave and opening up a door to treasure. Nothing really special. If you’ve seen Sword for Truth, go ahead and make it a point to see Legend of the Devil…someday. At least we get some closure.

Rating: ★★☆☆

-Chris Luedtke

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