Directed by Robert Houston (original “Lone Wolf and Cub” films directed by Kenji Misumi)
Written by Kazuo Koike, Robert Houston, and Hisaharu Matrasubara
Cast: Tomisaburo Wakayama, Masahiro Tomikawa, Kayo Matsuo, Minruo Ohki, Shoji Kobayashi, Shin Kishida

1980/85 mins/Color/Mono
2.35:1 anamorphic/English/Japan/NTSC Region 1

Review from the AnimEigo DVD

Lone Wolf (Tomisaboro Wakayama) was once the Shogun’s decapitator, but when the shogun sends his ninja assassins to kill him and instead kills his wife, he swears revenge on him. So, he and his infant son (in a blade filled baby carriage) go through the countryside, avoiding death and slaughtering enemies.

As, many fans know this film is really the combined/ edited version of two LONE CUB AND WOLF films (SWORD OF VENGENCE and BABY CART AT THE RIVER STYX), by American director Robert Houston. This film has long been a fav of splatter movie fans, including Quentin Tarantino, who has it mentioned in KILL BILL VOL. 2 and horror movie critic Chas. Balun. It is a classic that finally gets a nice DVD release.

The acting is great, but alas, this version is still suffering from the shitty dubbing. But, I have heard worse. Nonetheless, the movie moves at such a breakneck pace and is so exhilarating that you won’t have time to think about the dubbing. The ultra-gory violence is amazing, still. As the movie packs on impalings, cloven and bisected heads, dismemberment, decapitation, amputations, glorious arterial sprays, and other bloody acts you will drool in joy. Yet, the movie is never mean-spirited and always fun. The kid who narrates has a great sense of dry humor and makes for some very funny moments.

The film also has some very stylish editing and camera work. The violence put against the gorgeous scenery makes for a very breathtaking view. And, speaking of beautiful the scene with the deadly ninja women features many a hot Japanese girls, but it is their gorgeous leader who is the prettiest. And, who thankfully shows her breasts, later on in the film.

SHOGUN ASSASSIN slices its way to DVD thanks to AnimEigo. The movie is show in its full 2.35:1 aspect ratio in anamorphic widescreen. The blacks are rich, so that night and shadow scenes look beautiful. There is no grain or artifacting, but a few flesh tones are too red at times. The stock footage scenes could not be remastered, though. But thankfully those are only two shots of those. Those of us used to the horrid bootlegs of this movie will be very pleased! The sound, though in mono, is clear and crisp and has some great bass to it.

Most of the extras are just words on the screen. “Program Notes” are facts about the film, including comparing the differences between this and LONE WOLF AND CUB, plus other cool revelations. DAIJORO’s HISTORY LESSON is about this era of Japanese history. Finally, “Restoration Gallery” has comparisons of the unmastered pan-and-scan shots with remastered, widescreen shots. I always like when they do this stuff like this. I wish there were interviews and not so much reading on the screening, but there are some interesting factiods revelaed here.

There are also trailers for the film itself as well as the first LONE WOLF AND CUB film: SWORD OF VENGENCE, and two other films written by Kazuo Koike: LADYSNOWBLOOD and DEMON SPIES. The disc comes in a keep-case and is broken into thirty-one chapters. They can be accessed from the cool menu that has the decapitation in the field playing. There is no inlet card.





This Film Features:

Review by Giovanni Deldio. All Right Reserved. 2008. ©

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