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Compiled by Terry Atkinson

"Sword of Doom." Embassy. $29.95. Samurai film fans know that the largely unheralded director Kihachi Okamoto ("Kill!") is one of the masters of the form--a stager of action sequences whose vitality almost matches Kurosawa's. This is his most amazing film: a nihilistic epic with outrageously exciting battle scenes. Its protagonist is a free-lance samurai played by Tatsuya Nakadai, who, like Rambo, cuts down hundreds of foes at a clutch but who's motivated by pure evil, ego and malice--as if the master swordsman of "Seven Samurai" hadturned sadistic devil. Toshiro Mifune appears as the closest thing possible here to a hero, a wily old master swordsman who resents impolite behavior. And Okamoto presents the milieu with cynicism and without romance--a corrupt, dirty, violent world that goes up in a blaze of bloody swordplay. Information: (213) 553-3600. ***

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