If director Kitamura could've resisted camping up the eventual duel, this could've been a great film, but the duel is an extended cartoon sequence with moments of beauty but even more moments of goofiness.
The first half of the film is like a little stage play & was pulled off very well. A samurai takes sactuary in an obscure mountain temple & enters into a more or less philosophical discourse with the temple's resident, who turns out to be a powerful goblin. I found their discussions captivating, so liked much better the non-action portion of the story.
But in the final analysis, a story with such a simplistic story line shouldn't have been this irrational; such notions as the demon being history's great swordsman Mushashi Miyamoto was about as convincing as the god Loki claiming to have been Abraham Lincoln. It was just silly. And the ending with our hero becoming the "new" temple demon was way too obvious a "twist" to succeed as a surprise, but at the same time it seemed that if he was supplanting a demonic Mushashi who claimed to have travelled the world learning about French wine & Russian Vodka (another loony idea), then isn't it a bit odd that his replacement is just a country bumpkin footsoldier who seems to have run away from his first battle.
No, it's just not on the level of Yojimbo or Seven Samurai, & it's a very bad idea to watch this one with one's thinking cap turned on.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl