Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in Peril (1972)
Trailer-Baby Cart in the Land of Demons & White Heaven in Hell
Trailer-Eastern Eye Trailers x 4
|Year Of Production||1972|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Kenji Misumi|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
“There are times when parents believe that praying for the death of their children is an act of love.”
Master swordsman and ex-Shogun’s Executioner Ogami Itto (Tomisaburo Wakayama) continues to travel the roads of Japan as an assassin for hire pushing his baby son Daigoro (Akihiro Tomikawa) in a wooden baby cart. Ogami needs to be always on his guard as he continuously is hunted and attacked by retainers of the Yagyu clan, attacks orchestrated by Retsudo Yagyu (Tatsuo Endo).
In this fourth film in the Lone Wolf and Cub series, Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril (the original title was Kozure okami: Oya no kokoro ko no kokoro which translates literally as Lone Wolf and Cub: Heart of the Parent, Heart of the Child), the conflict between Ogami and the Yagyus returns in earnest after the essentially Yagyu free Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades. Indeed, in this episode we learn for the first time how Ogami became the Shogun’s Official Executioner at the expense of the Yagyu clan, how Retsudo plotted and orchestrated Ogami’s downfall and why Retsudo banished his own son Gunbei (Yoichi Hayashi), who just may be a swordsman to equal Ogami.
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril is still a bloody film in which the usual limbs are severed and blood spurts copiously and explosively, and it ends in the huge battle between Ogami and the numerous Yagyu clansmen. However, the most interesting part of Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril concerns the female swordswoman Oyuki (Michie Azuma), who Ogami agrees to kill. She was the daughter of the man who controls the street performers, and thus from the lowest outcast group. However, Oyuki had both beauty and sword skills and was noticed by the head of the Owari clan and taken into his household. But there she was raped by Kozuka Enki (Shin Kishida), one of the Owari retainers, and in her shame she left the clan and had tattoos engraved across her upper body; fighting bare-breasted with the tattoos displayed gives her an advantage over her male attackers and she is working her way through the Owari samurai to get to Enki in order to take her revenge.
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril is the first film in the series not directed by Kenji Misumi; his duties are taken over by Buichi Saito, an experienced director in his own right. Perhaps as a result of Saito being new to the series, the credit sequence involves a montage of flashbacks to the previous films, and there is also now a voice-over narration that was not there previously. The other change made by Saito is that the camera work is less innovative and indeed in the climactic battle it is very jerky and distracting; but instead there are some static scenes where the colours and framing are stunning, such as Ogami and Gunbei silhouetted on the bridge (20:14) or scenes with a candle in the foreground, the actors static in the background such as at 44:32. These scenes are beautiful and could be framed and hung on the wall.
It is true that the narrative structure of Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril is disjointed. Before the opening credits we see a topless Oyuki dispatch a group of attacking samurai before she disappears for 30 minutes while Daigoro gets lost and meets Gunbei. Then occurs Gunbei’s story and his duel with Ogami, and then Gunbei disappears until the end of the film. Then the Oyuki plot returns before the last 10 minutes of the film contain a massive battle between Ogami and the Yagyu clansmen that is not related to anything else in the film, except for the overall back story of the feud between Retsudo and Ogami. Indeed, Gunbei does not even participate in this battle which feels very tacked on. However, the theme which ties the film’s narrative strands together is the relationship between parents and children as the Japanese title of the film indicates. There is Daigoro becoming separated from his father, Gunbei himself being banished by his father and, last but by no means least, the ties between Oyuki and her father.
The theme of parents and children means that Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril is a more intimate, personal story than other Lone Wolf and Cub films. As well, Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril continues the series’ examination of the warrior codes of conduct and the message that even the outcasts of the society have their pride and a code of conduct is more overt, with the express statement by Oyuki’s father that outcasts are human too. The treatment of Oyuki by Ogami is telling. He clearly comes to respect Oyuki but he has accepted a commission and carries out his obligations. Yet her death is filmed almost as an act of love, and Oyuki, having killed Enki and completed her revenge, is content to die, as she says, fully clothed. Then Ogami cremates her body so that she will never need to be seen naked again and returns her ashes to her father, who shows more dignity than perhaps anyone else in the series so far. His quiet dignity and honour are in stark contrast to the high class Yagyu and Owari clan leaders, who are anything but honourable despite, or because of, their high position in society.
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril is more personal than earlier films in the series and includes some beautifully framed scenes, but the concentration upon the society’s codes of behaviour remains. And in the figure of Oyuki it has another of those fascinating strong women who make the series so memorable. Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril is another bloody, intelligent and exciting film in the ongoing Lone Wolf and Cub series.
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.
This print is one of the best in the series with good clean detail, especially in close-ups although the wider shots of forests, grasslands and fields are also clear. Colours are deep and natural with the spurting and gushing blood a deep red and the burning of the fields a vibrant yellow. Blacks are good, shadow detail, as seen in the sequence when Ogami is attacked by grey dressed assailants in the dark temple, much better than other films in the series. Skin tones are good.
Light film grain is evident, there is slight aliasing and ghosting with movement in front of surfaces like trees, but marks were absent.
English subtitles are easy to read and seemed timely. They are mostly in a yellow font, but when two people were talking the other dialogue is in a white font. I did not notice any serious spelling or grammatical errors.
I did not notice the layer change on this disc.
For a 40 year old film, this looks very good indeed.
The audio is Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kbps, which is not surround encoded. The film was released with mono sound, so this represents the original mix.
Dialogue was clear. The sound effects were quite good with horse’s hooves and gunshots and explosions having some resonance, although clearly not having the depth of modern audio tracks. There was no hiss or other problems. There was obviously no surround or sub-woofer use.
Lip synchronisation was occasionally out, but nothing serious.
The original score by Hideaki Sakurai is becoming a bit worn by now, but a few new themes, such as a single flute, add a nice touch.
The audio track was perfectly adequate, reflecting the original release.
|Surround Channel Use|
15 black and white film stills. Silent, use the remote to advance to the next still.
Trailers for Lone Wolf and Cub 5; Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (3:02) and Lone Wolf and Cub 6: White Heaven in Hell (2:41).
Trailers for Silmido (2:26), The Eye 2 (2:41), Godzilla vs Mothra (2:17) and Breaking News (2:02).
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
There are Region 1 US and Region 2 UK collections of the Lone Wolf and Cub complete series. The UK set includes the 7 films the same as our release; extras are trailers and written liner notes. The US release is a 6 disc set, excluding Samurai Assassin and has no extras listed. There is also a Region A Blu-ray with the six Lone Wolf and Cub films on 2 discs.
A Region 1 Stand-alone editions of Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril is listed on Amazon.com; previous releases in Australia seem no longer to be available. There is no reason to go past the Lone Wolf and Cub: Ultimate Collection from Madman which contains the six original Lone Wolf and Cub films plus Shogun Assassin.
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril, the fourth film in the Lone Wolf and Cub series, is another bloody, intelligent and exciting film. It is a more romantic film, with beautifully framed scenes, and in the fascinating character of Oyuki it has another of those strong women who make the series memorable.
The video and audio are fine, extras are limited.
The Lone Wolf and Cub: Ultimate Collection from Madman contains the six original Lone Wolf and Cub films plus Shogun Assassin, the 1980 US film that resulted when parts of the first two films in the Lone Wolf and Cub series were edited together, new dialogue written and dubbed into English and a new score added. For a RRP of $39.95 no self-respecting fan of Japanese or samurai cinema can be without this set.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|