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on 26 November 2000
The first film in the fantastic "Lone Wolf & Cub" series... this film details the framing and exile of the Shogun's exectutioner Itto Ogami, the murder of his wife, and his first assignment as an assassin who walks the road to hell... with his young son Daigoro in tow. This is essential background plot material for the following 5 films. _Very_ gory, but some truly excellent swordfight choreography.
As for the DVD itself, it is based on the AnimEigo print, which means it is a) in Japanese Language and b) has excellent English subtitles and occsionally some supertitles with information on Japanese terms. The subtitles are burned into the print (but in the "black bars" so it doesn't conceal any of the action), and so cannot be turned off. It is in Widescreen format (1.85:1 I think) and picture quality is ok, but certainly not crystal clear... it is slightly blurry, hazy, very dark and a little grainy. Extras are almost non-existant; The only extras included are Synergy's own trailers for the other 5 films.
If you have only seen this film as "Shogun Assassin" I'd sincerely recommend watching this film and "Babycart at the River Styx", as Shogun Assassin was a dubbed edit of these two films.
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on 24 January 2003
The samurai, as most will know, were japanese warriors from a particular period of history who became lethally proficient in the use of bow and sword. They are a particularly rich seam for storytellers to mine with their near-godly status, military prowess and adherence to strict honour codes. Sword of Vengeance takes a very high ranking samurai (the Shogun's assassin no less) and sends him on a path through a violent hellish world of brooding intensity interspersed with moments of extreme bloodletting. To be quite honest plotlines in this kind of film are never likely to be particularly subtle, and they're not supposed to be. Most artistic effort is put into creating an atmosphere of constant mortal danger which is expanded further by the fact that the samurai has his very cute toddler son with him even in the most violent and dangerous of confrontations. As our hero marches a steady path towards the vengeance he craves the forces of evil whirl around him yet he faces each new foe with the same quiet intensity. One particular scene which demonstrates the strength of this samurai is as follows. Our hero (Lone Wolf)is sat face to face in a meeting with his back to an open door, two would be killers attack suddenly from behind armed with swords. You'd expect Lone Wolf to rise turn and face them but he remains seated staring at the same spot he was during the meeting. However sitting in this position he draws his sword, parries one attack and kills the first assailant with a slash to the chest in one move and finishes the other off before he can get an attack in and then gracefully resheathes his sword. The two dead men topple slowly to the floor....
The quality of the film print might be a little ropey but the subtitles make more sense than one might expect. Overall this is a worthy addition to anyones film collection as are the other 5 films in the series. Well paced, beautifully realised storytelling with A LOT of blood.
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on 16 October 2001
Ogami Itto, the 'hero', is disgraced former headsman who now rents out his sword as an assassin.
This film and others in the series, explores Ogami Ittos ongoing quest for revenge against the Yagyu clan who plotted his downfall. It also contains a number of interesting sub-plots based around the assassination which Ogami Itto has undertaken.
The film is quite graphic and stylised in its portrayal of violence, but this is central to the story and also gives an interesting insight into Japanese culture.
This film along with Babycart at the River Styx was re-edited as Shogun Assassin.
Don't watch that, watch these !
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on 15 March 2013
I saw an extract of this on a Barry Norman Film Night programme on the electric fishtank years ago and, the scene has stayed with me when the handles of the pushcart miraculously morph into lances/billhooks. Every now and then that thought would come back and haunt me, so, I spent some time tracking it down and, here it is. It certainly doesn't disappoint in the blood letting etc, it may seem a mite contrived and dated by today's standards, but, it is a film of it's time and, I for one mightily approve of it..
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on 12 February 2013
A shortened version of this film, released many years ago, was apparently condemned as a video nasty. The special effects are so laughable that it doesn't even deserve that accolade. The story is so patchy and pointless, and the acting so wooden that, unless you like watching marionettes playing with swords and squirting fake blood, give this one a miss.
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on 10 July 2014
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on 6 November 2009
Muah ha ha ha ha, what a laugh. I imagine the full oriental version would make more sense.
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