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One of the attractions of Asian martial arts for many Westerners (including this one) is the promise of self-improvement that goes beyond better street fighting.

In Kazuyoshi Kumakiri’s “Mukoku,” a turgid film set in the kendo world, mastery of the sword is supposed to not only focus the mind and elevate the spirit, but also promote love of country and world peace. But these ideals, expressed in the wall hangings that decorate the Kamakura house where an alcoholic security guard (Go Ayano) once lived with his kendo master father (Kaoru Kobayashi), now ring hollow.

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