An observation about samurai swords.

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dome Vongvises, Sep 12, 2002.

  1. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    I was watching Pulp Fiction the other day, particularly the scene where Butch kills that one dude with the samurai sword. It was an awfully quick kill, and I remarked to myself that "Hmm, I guess certain things stay the same." It got me to thinking that whenever fight scenes are choreographed with samurai swords, anytime somebody gets slashed, they die a quick instant death.

    I never really questioned this until recently. What is it about samurai swords that causes people to drop dead instantly after one slash? I notice this phenomenon in Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Rashomon, and the whole of the Samurai trilogy with Toshiro Mifune. This stands in stark contrast to somebody who gets shot in the gut with a bullet (eg. Resevoir Dogs).

    Are samurai swords poisonous? Do samurai swords cause a big gaping wound with a single slash, and we as the audience are to assume that guts will spill off screen?
     
  2. Rob Lutter

    Rob Lutter Producer

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    let me illustrate:
    -0-
     
  3. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  4. Aaron Wisner

    Aaron Wisner Agent

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    dj is right on. they couldn't (or didn't want to, or couldn't afford to) show 'gore', so they had the victim just fall over.

    that kind of thing still happens in movies, but now they can afford squibs.
     
  5. Tom Ryan

    Tom Ryan Screenwriter

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    Well, the thing is, getting run through will pretty much put you down for the count. In Pulp Fiction you'll notice that Butch slashes the first guy, and he's goes into shock as he's hit across the chest, but he's conscious enough to go after Butch behind his back. That's when Butch uses a backwards stabbing motion to put the sword right through his stomach. That'll kill ya quite nicely, but you'll notice that the first slash across the chest (not as lethal a hit) did NOT kill the man instantly.
     
  6. Tony Stirling

    Tony Stirling Stunt Coordinator

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    Samurai swords (katana) are not poisonous, they are just extremely well-made swords. Making true katana involved a very painstaking and time-consuming folding and forging process. The forging/folding process could take as long as a year and several thousand foldings. The result was a very hard and extremely sharp sword that could cut a hair on end, of so I've read...

    Understandably, true katana are very rare and very, very expensive. The souvenier swords that one can buy for a few hundred dollars are most likely not true katana. Who knows? Perhaps the sword in the shop was a real katana.

    They were very efficien weapons and were light enough to use one-handed if necessary, though they were designed primarily to be used two-handed.

    As for gore in samuai movies, take another look at the last scene in Sanjuro. I'd call that pretty gorey for the period. Hit an artery and you never know what will happen, I suppose. These swords were very good at hitting arteries!!

    Well, there you go--I don't profess to be an expert on katana or any other kind of sword, but I have seen real katana, and what you normally see are replicas... Interesting topic.

    tony
     
  7. Todd Beachler

    Todd Beachler Stunt Coordinator

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    Dome,
    I'm not sure these other guys quite understood your post. I found it very funny! [​IMG]
     
  8. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Those swords are designed for quick kills. In Seven Samurai, the guy was practicing in the rain by repeatedly pulling the sword out of the scabbard in a slicing motion. That is actually somewhat accurate. Those long drawn-out flying around sword fight scenes in most martial arts movies are BS (though fun to watch).
    The blades are simply extremely sharp, that is why they're so dangerous.
     
  9. Matt Pelham

    Matt Pelham Screenwriter

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    For some good and extremely bloody samurai sword deaths check out Shogun Assassin, a movie edited down from the Baby Cart series. This stuff was made in the 70's and continues to amaze me with it's level of gruesomeness.
     
  10. Jeremy Stockwell

    Jeremy Stockwell Supporting Actor

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    What's the movie where Sean Connery (I think) tosses a silk scarf in the air and it falls onto one of these blades and slices the scarf without moving the sword? Rising Sun? Entrapment?

    JKS
     
  11. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Yes, when true samurai battled (see the beginning of Seven Samurai) it was really a one slice encounter.
     
  12. D. Scott MacDonald

    D. Scott MacDonald Supporting Actor

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  13. Jeremy Stockwell

    Jeremy Stockwell Supporting Actor

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    The Bodyguard - Yes, that was it.

    Does that mean that I have to admit seeing this? :b

    JKS
     
  14. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Thanks for the responses guys. Going back to watch the Samurai trilogy, it was cool, yet strange seeing Musashi dispatch rogues with one quick slice. You figure the guys would at least fall down and writhe in pain.
     
  15. D. Scott MacDonald

    D. Scott MacDonald Supporting Actor

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  16. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    The disarming of Japan after WW2 has caused authentic katana (and other japanese swords like the wakizashi, no daito, et cetera) to become scarce. But even before WW2 the tradition was to "hand down" your sword to your eldest son. And as the scene of battle shifted from horse-back to trench warfare (around the turn of the last century) the longer sword was a hindrence, so part of the tang (the metal of the blade that passes through the handle for structural strength) was usually cut in half so that the handle (and thus) the whole sword could be shortened.
    As a result; an antique sword (shortened) will be worth anywhere from five to twenty five thousand dollars in good condition. An even older example with the original, longer handle (historical period: tokagawa shogunate) will be worth anywhere from twenty thousand, to well over a million dollars depending who owned it, and who made it.
    Was the sword in the pawn-shop a historical weapon? Probably not. It was most likely a modern reproduction with the blade ground-smooth for safety reasons. But in general a cheap ($50-$200) katana is a lethal and capable weapon for self defense or martial arts practice, the stainless steel blade is far heavier than a forged blade, and most of them are too short for todays larger people (I have several modern katana, they are all about 6" too short in the blade and 8" too short in the handle).
    There, I hope that clears everything up [​IMG]
    -Brought to you by Garrett, Martial arts buff, war afficianado, and sword collector.
     
  17. Greg_C_T

    Greg_C_T Second Unit

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    There was a program on the History Channel (I think) a month or so ago where they showed katanas being forged and then demonstrated one in action. The "host" explained that the sword was made to strike and then pull in a slicing motion, and that this was what made the sword so deadly.

    Cool show..sorry I missed most of it though.
     
  18. Paul W

    Paul W Second Unit

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    I think the show you saw was "Mail Call" with Ron Ermey (the ubiquitous drill sargeant from Full Metal Jacket and Toy Story 1/2).
    I remember seeing that particular episode where they showed the pounding and the folding of metal by the blacksmith.
    Really neat process.
     
  19. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    A kid I go to school with is really smart and did a lot of research on things like old weaponry, which includes knight armor/weapons and samurai stuff.

    He told us (for a presentation) that in medieval times, the swords used in Europe were made to look like a cross (religiious reference) but this meant they were hard to pull out of a victim who had been stabbed (their swords fights were usually ended by a good stab). To solve this, they would cut small grooves into their blades so the suction of the blood and other liquids in the victims body would loosen their grip on the sword. In Asia, they developed curved blades that could be stabbed into somebody and then removed with relative ease because of their design.

    Just an interesting tidbit.
     

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