Shogun Assassin (1980)
Before I talk about this film I should mention that the version I am reviewing is the PAL All region version as opposed to the NTSC version (Also on Blu-Ray). This PAL version claims to be the strong uncut version and I can only assume that the NTSC is as well.
Set in mid-eastern Japan around the Tokugawa era, the story concerns Ogami Itto (Lone Wolf) played by Tomisaburo Wakayama and his son Daigoro played by Akihiro Tomikawa. Ogami Itto was the Shogun’s official executioner. The Shogun began to become more and more paranoid that people were trying to express opposition to his dominion and sought out to kill anyone he thought might be against him. Ogami Itto fit the bill and the Shogun sent Yagyu Clan assassins to kill him but only succeeded in killing his wife. “Accused of treason and stripped of position”, he gave his son a choice. Die and join his mother or the sword and join his father. Daigoro chooses the sword. Now a Ronin he and his son become Lone Wolf and Cub, swearing vengeance. A wandering samurai, for “500 gold pieces you can buy his sword”.
What’s really interesting is that this film (Shogun Assassin) is a melding of two other Japanese films that started in 1972 and spanned four other installments totaling six. These two films are “Lone Wolf and Cub-Sword of Vengeance” and “Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart at The River Styx”. Shogun Assassin, directed by Robert Houston based on Misumi Kenji’s two films is what some people call the best parts of those two films. It’s over-dubbed with an English narration by Daigoro but don’t let that deter you because they did a great job and the dubbing etc. doesn’t feel out of place. The editing also speeds up the story keeping all the violence. Also of note is that Shogun Assassin was mentioned in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill Volume 2“. This release comes with Trailers and a picture gallery.
All in all a great film and I highly recommend it.
– By James