Overall | Lone Wolf and Cub-Sword of Vengeance (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart to Hades (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in Peril (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973) | Lone Wolf and Cub-White Heaven in Hell (1974) | Shogun Assassin (1980)

Lone Wolf and Cub: Ultimate Collection (1973)

Lone Wolf and Cub: Ultimate Collection (1973)

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Released 8-May-2013

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Overall Package

     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.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance, the first film in the series, reveals how Ogami Itto, the Shogun’s Executioner, came to be wandering the roads of Japan with his baby son. It is a fabulous film, exhilarating, colourful and bloody and gets the series off to a spectacular start.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx, is an absolute ripper, full of invention, action, blood and insights into feudal Japan; it is one of those rare second films that top the first in the series.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades, the third in the series, is another fabulous film. For an action film it contains a quite complex deconstruction of Bushido, the warrior code of behaviour by which the samurai lived, as well as a spectacular battle.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril, the fourth film in the 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.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons is the fifth film in the series. It is engrossing, violent and beautiful to look at, but is possibly the most convoluted and, certainly outside of the first film, the bleakest, most pessimistic and nihilistic in the series.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell is the sixth, and final, film in the series. It is more of a straight action film, but also includes a supernatural element, and a massive battle in a snow covered landscape which has perhaps the biggest body count in the series. This was not intended to be the final film in the series, but it was, leaving the saga and Ogami’s revenge against the Yagyu’s incomplete.

    Shogun Assassin is 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. It looks beautiful and it retains enough of the relationship between Ogami and Daigoro to give the film a heart that not many action films possess. Shogun Assassin may be a hybrid, but it is very entertaining in its own right.

     In this set are six stylish, exciting, innovative beautifully shot chambara action films of consistently high quality, plus the American hybrid. The video is very good for forty year old films, the audio reflects the original releases. Extras are limited, but there is nothing much else available elsewhere. For a RRP of $39.95 no self-respecting fan of Japanese or samurai cinema should be without this set.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, August 02, 2013
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Lone Wolf and Cub-Sword of Vengeance (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart to Hades (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in Peril (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973) | Lone Wolf and Cub-White Heaven in Hell (1974) | Shogun Assassin (1980)

Lone Wolf and Cub-Sword of Vengeance (1972)

Lone Wolf and Cub-Sword of Vengeance (1972)

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Released 8-May-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Notes
Trailer-Lone Wolf and Cub trailers x 3
Trailer-Eastern Eye Trailers x 4
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1972
Running Time 79:38
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kenji Misumi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Tomisaburo Wakayama
Fumio Watanabe
Tomoko Mayama
Shigeru Tsuyuguchi
Tomoo Uchida
Taketoshi Naitô
Yoshi Kato
Yoshiko Fujita
Reiko Kasahara
Akihiro Tomikawa
Kauji Sokiyamo
Teruo Matsuyama
Toshiya Wazaki
Case ?
RPI ? Music Hideaki Sakurai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     In Edo period Japan master swordsman Ogami Itto (Tomisaburo Wakayama) is the Shogun’s Executioner, coldly dispatching the Shogun’s opponents and enemies. His is a position of privilege and power, but the powerful and influential Yagyu clan led by the shadowy Retsudo Yagyu (Yunosuke Ito) covets his position. On Retsudo’s orders Ogami’s wife is killed and Ogami framed for treason. The Shogun orders Ogami to commit seppuku, ritual suicide, but Ogami disobeys the order, cuts a swath through the Yagyu swordsmen come to kill him, and escapes to travel the roads of Japan, pushing his baby son Daigoro (Akihiro Tomikawa) in a wooden baby cart. Until he can get his revenge against the Yagyus, Ogami becomes the deadly assassin for hire, Lone Wolf and Club.

     The Lone Wolf and Cub films are based upon the manga written by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, fealty to the manga being assured by the film screenplays being written by Koike himself. The first film in the series, Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (in Japan the original title was Kozure okami: Ko wa kashi ude kasha tsukamatsuru which translates roughly as Lone Wolf and Cub: Child and Expertise for Hire), is a samurai cult classic that remains as fresh and exhilarating as when it was made 40 years ago. This is due to its timeless themes and the wonderful quirky, experimental filmmaking.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance is a film about samurai duty, obedience, honour and maintaining composure, but it manages to subvert all of the above, frequently showing just how hollow such values can be and the corruption and disloyalty of those in privileged positions of trust. The film’s plot is not told in a straight forward way, but utilises a gradual and fragmented flashback structure to explain Ogami’s background and how he came to be on the road, pushing a baby cart. The film’s sound design is very interesting; on many occasions, such as where heavy rain is falling or even during action sequences, the audio is practically silent. In one action sequence there is no music and no sound of feet, only the sound of the sword slashing into bodies.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance also makes excellent use of colour and locations, and sequences such as the fight on the weir with the running water (around 23:57) look magnificent. The action, in fact, is quite bloody, with copious sprays of blood and multiple examples of severed heads and limbs including legs and arms. In one classic scene, the trunk of a man whose head has been cut off stands wavering for what seems an age, blood spurting up from his neck. There is also quite a bit of female toplessness and the film had the reputation of being something of a video nasty in the early days, but it was ahead of its time and these days most of the effects look quite tame by comparison, and would hardly rate a mention.

     The audacious opening sequence illustrates much of what you need to know about Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance. A very young boy, a toddler, is being led down a long hall in front of sobbing retainers. He is a Daimyo, the current lord of the house, and although so very young he has been ordered to commit seppuku by the Shogun. His retainers would not dream of disobeying the order and Ogami, in his role as the Shogun’s Executioner, has been sent to deliver the killing stroke. This is duty and obedience that has gone mad and the whole scene is lit glaringly, and silent except for the sobs of the retainers, showing that this whole incident is not natural, but a society that is unhinged. Then when Ogami delivers his blow (off camera), and beheads the child, the screen goes a vibrant red.

     Central to the film is the performance of the stocky Tomisaburo Wakayama as Ogami. He could be the “Man with no name” but with a sword not a gun; silent, quick and very deadly with a wide range of weapons he dispatches a multitude of his enemies with precision and economy. He is taciturn and never smiles, but this is not to say that the film is without humour; it isn’t and some of the antics of Daigoro are very amusing without him ever becoming annoying. If Ogami is the steel, Daigoro is the heart of the film, and the relationship between father and son is beautifully realised.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance is a fabulous film, exciting, interesting, colourful and bloody, getting the Lone Wolf and Cub series of six films off in spectacular style. It has not aged a day and no self-respecting fan of Japanese or samurai cinema should be without it.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a print that can seem soft, but it still looks great for a 40 year old film; the film’s original theatrical trailer, included as an extra on this DVD, shows just how good the film print looks in comparison. Colours are deep and natural, the countryside and water beautifully rendered. Blacks are not perfect, but are acceptable, shadow detail much better than I expected. Skin tones, brightness and contract are consistent, expect when deliberately altered for effect such as in the opening sequence.

     Film grain is evident throughout the print, but is pleasing and not excessive. There is slight aliasing and the occasional fleck, but nothing serious.

    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 spelling or grammatical errors. The credits are in a white font, and on other occasions a sort of “pop up” text appeared in white on the top of the screen to explain certain Japanese terms, such as “ronin” or “Daimyo”.

     A great looking print given the age of the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     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 sharp and, as noted in the review, the use of silences or limited sound effects worked well. The original score by Hideaki Sakurai is evocative and effective, well suiting the film. Perhaps surprisingly, the score for the Lone Wolf and Cub series were the only scores Sakurai wrote. There was obviously no surround or sub-woofer use.

    Lip synchronisation was sometimes very approximate.

     The audio track was perfectly adequate, reflecting the original release.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Original Trailer (2:20)

Stills Gallery

     15 black and white film stills. Silent, use the remote to advance to the next still.

Liner Notes

     15 text pages of notes about the historical, cultural, political and religious background to the Lone Wolf and Cub films. Small black text on a yellow background could make them a bit difficult to read for some. Silent, use the remote to advance to the next text screen.

Lone Wolf and Cub Trailers

     Trailers for Lone Wolf and Cub 4: Baby Cart in Peril (3:08), 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).

Eastern Eye Trailers

     Trailers for Hanzo the Razor 1: Sword of Justice (3:16), Ong-Bak (1:57), Versus (2:02) and One Take Only (2:15).

R4 vs R1

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 series. The UK set includes the 7 films like our Region 4 release; extras are again 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.

     Region 1 and Region 2 Stand-alone editions of Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance are 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 at an excellent price.

Summary

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance, the first film in the six film series, reveals how Ogami Itto, the Shogun’s Executioner, came to be wandering the roads of Japan with his baby son. It is a fabulous film, exhilarating, colourful and bloody, and gets the series off to a spectacular start.

     The video is very good, the audio reasonable. Extras are limited, but nothing much else is available in any other region.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance is included in the Lone Wolf and Cub: Ultimate Collection from Madman which contains the six original Lone Wolf and Cub films plus Shogun Assassin, the 1980 US film that came about when parts of the first two films in the series were edited together, new dialogue written and dubbed into English and a new score added. For a bargain RRP of $39.95 no self-respecting fan of Japanese or samurai cinema should be without this set.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 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 DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Lone Wolf and Cub-Sword of Vengeance (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart to Hades (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in Peril (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973) | Lone Wolf and Cub-White Heaven in Hell (1974) | Shogun Assassin (1980)

Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972)

Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972)

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Released 8-May-2013

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Gallery-Photo
More…-Feature Liner Notes
Trailer-4 trailers for other Lone Wolf and Cub films
Trailer-Eastern Eye Trailers x 9
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1972
Running Time 77:36
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kenji Misumi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Tomisaburo Wakayama
Fumio Watanabe
Tomoko Mayama
Shigeru Tsuyuguchi
Tomoo Uchida
Taketoshi Naitô
Yoshi Kato
Yoshiko Fujita
Reiko Kasahara
Akihiro Tomikawa
Kauji Sokiyamo
Teruo Matsuyama
Toshiya Wazaki
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Hideaki Sakurai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Master swordsman and ex- Shogun’s Executioner, Ogami Itto (Tomisaburo Wakayama), travels the roads of Japan as an assassin for hire pushing his baby son Daigoro (Akihiro Tomikawa) in a wooden baby cart. His sworn enemies, the Yagyu clan, ally with the Kurokuwa clan, the Shogun’s spies, and send out orders to their retainers to kill Ogami on sight. One group who receive the order is the deadly Akashi Yagyu all-female warrior group led by Sayaka (Kayo Matsuo), who join with some ninjas led by Ozunu Kurokuwa (Akiji Kobayashi) to hunt Ogami down. Ogami and Daigoro must be constantly be on their guard to defend themselves from a succession of surprise attacks, such as by a troupe of female acrobats or women in the fields washing vegetables, who all turn out to be from Sayaka’s group.

     Just to complicate things further, Ogami is offered a commission. The Awa clan are rich, having a monopoly on indigo dye manufacture. The Shogun wants to break their monopoly and a worker with knowledge of the process is being escorted to the Shogun, protected by the three superb warrior brothers known collectively as the “Gods of Death”. Ogami accepts the commission to attack their caravan, deal with the brothers and assassinate the worker. On the way to fulfil his mission, Ogami faces constant attacks, including one in which Daigoro is captured and threatened with execution by Ozunu, shipwreck, and a confrontation with Sayaka. Finally he faces the Gods of Death in a battle amid the sand dunes.

     The Lone Wolf and Cub films are based upon the manga written by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, fealty to the manga being assured by the screenplays being written by Koike himself. The second film in the series Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx (the original title was Kozure okami: Sanzu no kawa no ubaguruma which translates literally as Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart of the River Sanzu), is a fabulous film, one of those rare second films that top the first in the series. The River Sanzu in Buddhist cosmology is the river that is crossed by those on their way to the next world, thus it is similar to the River Styx in Greek mythology. It is an apt title for the film, for in this film Ogami and Daigoro venture to the very outskirts of hell.

     First and foremost Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx is an exhilarating action film, with inventive and bloody action sequences, including a ship on fire and the climactic battle on the sand dunes against the Gods of Death, one of the most spectacular sequences in the series. The film has the reputation of being very bloody, and this is well deserved as during the action sequences arms, legs, fingers and heads are severed amid copious sprays, no gushes, of blood. However, these are more comic book than real, and these days most look quite tame. But this concentration by critics and viewers upon the bloody aspects of the film overlooks both its themes and the experimentation that makes Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx such an interesting film.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx is directed by Kenji Mishmi, who also directed the first film, and he continues to bring to the film innovative ideas and stylish camera techniques. Unlike Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance, this second film is much more straightforward in structure, telling the story without flashbacks. However, innovative camera techniques and sound design remain. Some of the camera tricks work well, such as deliberate brightness, colour and contrast changes and slow motion, others less well, such as dual exposure during a fight scene that just looks messy. There is also the use of extreme close-ups of eyes, a technique so enjoyed by Sergio Leone, and used to good effect by Misumi. The film’s sound design continues on from the first film with the use of silences during action scenes, with no music and no sound of feet, only the sound of the sword slashing into bodies. There are also a couple of excellent scenes with only a single chime sounding, allowing the tension to develop as Ogami waits for an attack.

     There is less cultural comment in Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx than in the first film, but it is there, especially about the role of women. In the films women are frequently victims of attacks by violent men, but they also, like the prostitute in the first film, are more clear sighted than many of the male characters who are often so tightly bound by the code of Bushido they cannot see right from wrong. Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx also introduces the first of the strong female roles in the series, that of Sayaka who is not outwardly a victim. She starts off as an over the top villain, and a better swordsman than any man (except Ogami of course), but her relationship with the father and son becomes much more complex and ambivalent as the film continues, and at the end she has a difficult choice to make about duty and honour. Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx is also more overtly humorous, with Daigoro’s baby cart acquiring enough hidden features to make James Bond’s Aston Martin look tame in comparison. However the father / son relationship is still at the heart of the film, and the sequence where Daigoro brings water and food to his wounded father is humorous and poignant, played in an excellent way by young Akihiro Tomikawa.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx is a ripper, arguably the best film in the entire series. The filmmaking is innovative and interesting, the action sequences colourful and bloody, there is humour and cultural comment and the characters of father and son continue to develop and delight. This is breathtaking filmmaking, with more invention and depth than is usually expected from a bloody action film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a print that can seem soft, but it still looks pretty good for a 40 year old film if not as good as the first film. Colours are natural, the green countryside and forests nicely rendered. Blacks are not perfect, but are acceptable, shadow detail can be indistinct at times. The film does include some deliberate brightness changes, but even so some sequences are quite bright and glary, such as the opening credits (if you were a reader of Japanese script you would have a very difficult time reading the credits) and while on board the ship. Skin tones are good.

     Film grain is evident throughout the print, sometimes quite strongly, there is slight aliasing and the occasional fleck and scratch (such as at 66:10), but nothing serious enough to spoil one’s enjoyment.

    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. The credits are in a white font, and on other occasions a sort of “pop up” text appeared in white on the top of the screen to explain certain Japanese terms, such as “Sanzu River”.

     A reasonable looking print given the age of the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     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 sharp and the use of silences or limited sound effects worked well. The original score by Hideaki Sakurai is evocative and effective, well suiting the film. Perhaps surprisingly, the score for the Lone Wolf and Cub series were the only scores Sakurai wrote. There was obviously no surround or sub-woofer use.

    Lip synchronisation was sometimes very approximate.

     The audio track was perfectly adequate, reflecting the original release.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Stills Gallery

     15 black and white film stills. Silent, use the remote to advance to the next still.

Liner Notes

     9 text pages of notes about historical places, terms and people mentioned in the Lone Wolf and Cub films, information about ninjas, cotton production. Small black text on a yellow background could make them a bit difficult to read for some. Silent, use the remote to advance to the next text screen.

Lone Wolf and Cub Trailers

     Trailers for Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (2:20), Lone Wolf and Cub 4: Baby Cart in Peril (3:00), Lone Wolf and Cub 5; Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (2:54) and Lone Wolf and Cub 6: White Heaven in Hell (2:33).

Eastern Eye Trailers

     Broken into two sections. Trailers for Eastern Eye Live action: Eastern Eye Promo Reel (2:21), Azumi (1:20), Sanjura (2:32), Lady Snowblood 2 (2:22), Seven Samurai (3:56) and Violent Cop (2:11). Trailers for Madman Anime: Peacemaker (0:31), Ninja Scroll Movie (0:33) and Kaidohmaru (0:37).

R4 vs R1

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 again 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.

     Region 1 and Region 2 Stand-alone editions of Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx are 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 at a good price.

Summary

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx, is an absolute ripper, full of invention, action, blood and insights into feudal Japan; it is one of those rare second films that top the first in the series.

     The video and the audio are fine. Extras are limited, but nothing much else is available in any other region.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx is included in the Lone Wolf and Cub: Ultimate Collection from Madman which contains the six original Lone Wolf and Cub films plus Shogun Assassin, the 1980 US film that came about when parts of the first two films in the series were edited together, new dialogue written and dubbed into English and a new score added. For a bargain RRP of $39.95 no self-respecting fan of Japanese or samurai cinema should be without this set.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, June 24, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 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 DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Lone Wolf and Cub-Sword of Vengeance (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart to Hades (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in Peril (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973) | Lone Wolf and Cub-White Heaven in Hell (1974) | Shogun Assassin (1980)

Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart to Hades (1972)

Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart to Hades (1972)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 8-May-2013

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Gallery-Photo
More…-Feature Liner Notes
Trailer-x 3 for other Lone Wolf and Cub films
Trailer-Eastern Eye Trailers x 4
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1972
Running Time 85:08
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kenji Misumi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Tomisaburo Wakayama
Fumio Watanabe
Tomoko Mayama
Shigeru Tsuyuguchi
Tomoo Uchida
Taketoshi Naitô
Yoshi Kato
Yoshiko Fujita
Reiko Kasahara
Akihiro Tomikawa
Kauji Sokiyamo
Teruo Matsuyama
Toshiya Wazaki
Case ?
RPI ? Music Hideaki Sakurai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

“What is the true way of the Warrior?”

     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. However, this third film in the Lone Wolf and Cub series, Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades (the original title was Kozure okami: Shinikazeni mukau ubaguruma which translates literally as Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart Against the Winds of Death), is less about the ongoing feud between Ogami and the Yagyu clan than a deconstruction of Bushido, the warrior codes of behaviour practiced by the lords and samurai of feudal Japan. As such the screenplay, again by Kazuo Koike, who with Goseki Kojima wrote the manga upon which the films are based, has a limited narrative arc, concentrating instead upon the actions of a few characters in addition to Ogami: Kanbei (Go Kato), an honourable samurai turned watari-kashi (a ronin for hire) who is an excellent swordsman, Torizo (Yuko Hama), the female leader of a gang who control the brothels of the district, and Genba (Isao Yamagata), a chamberlain who betrayed his master and was rewarded with the post of Deputy of the district.

     When we meet Kanbei he is waiting at a crossroads with three other watari-kashi. Kanbei is aloof and restrained, but the other three are low-life, really only interested in drink and raping woman they meet on the road. When the three rape a mother and daughter, and show their cowardly true nature when the daughter’s retainer attacks them, Kanbei saves his fellow samurai but to protect the reputation of the lord they serve he kills the innocent retainer, the mother and daughter, as well as one of the samurai. But Kanbei knows that what he is doing is not right or just, and he feels deeply about it.

     In this period in Japan it was common for poor farmers to sell their daughters into prostitution in order to get enough money to survive. At an inn Ogami intercedes when a young virgin, Omatsu, who has been sold by her father, kills a man as he attempts to rape her. The brothels are controlled by a gang led by Torizo and they cannot afford to let Omatsu get away with murder, nor are they willing to challenge such as great swordsman as Ogami. As a compromise Ogami undergoes ritual torture on Omatsu’s behalf to satisfy Torizo’s code, and Omatsu goes free. Torizo, although leader of a criminal gang and, as she says, without honour, nevertheless has her own code of behaviour, and although Ogami is defenceless during the torture, she honours their agreement and frees Omatsu.

     Indeed, Torizo has an assignment for Ogami. She was a member of a clan that was destroyed when their lord was falsely accused by Genda and ordered to commit seppuku by the Shogun, a sentence that had, in fact, been carried out by Ogami. They ask Ogami to kill Genda, and he accepts. Shortly afterwards, Ogami is summoned by Genda and offered an assignment to kill the lord who had sponsored Genda until this time; Genda, indeed, is totally without honour or scruples in his ambitions. When Ogami refuses the assignment Genda orders his retainers to kill Ogami and Daigoro. After a number of attempts, father and child face a hundred plus warriors armed with bows, rifles and swords in a bloody battle to the death.

     Although Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades includes the biggest battle so far in the series, in which as usual limbs and heads are severed, blood spurts theatrically and bodies lie strewn all across the landscape, the film was not as well regarded as the previous film in the series, Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx, which was all action and indeed a hard act to follow. However, Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades, again directed by Kenji Mishmi, is a far more complex creature with its examination of the warrior code. Certainly the high ranking Genda has no code, unless it is self-interest; instead it is the outcasts, such as Torizo, and Ogami, who allows himself to be tortured to save an innocent girl from prostitution and who rejects a commission he considers dishonourable, who display compassion, understanding and honour, although as outcasts they are outside the warrior code. The most complex character however is Kanbei. We learn that he was banished from his clan when he broke ranks and attacked during a battle, winning the battle but breaking the rule of duty that required him to stand beside his master, even if that led to defeat and the death of them all. Kanbei is an honourable man, who now does not comprehend what the code requires, and seeks atonement in a final duel with Ogami. Then, as Kanbei notes, at least he can die honourably as a warrior.

     In Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades, Mishmi continues to bring to the film innovative ideas and stylish camera techniques, although this film feels more “stagey” and the techniques are more noticeable. For example, we get flashbacks that are either very bright and glary or filmed through a heavy red filter, freeze frames, lots of waving camera in battle sequences and some “hero” shots, such as Ogami and the baby cart silhouetted on the ridge against a blood red sky (19:23). There are still some silences in the sound design, and some abrupt changes from loud action to silence, and the music is more noticeable, sometimes having a very spaghetti western feel. The humour is also still present, mostly in the looks and reactions of Daigoro, and the baby cart is now amassing quite a wide range of weaponry, including multi-fire guns!

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades may be more slowly paced that some of the other films in the series, but it is an intelligent, interesting film with complex characters and themes all too seldom attempted in an action film. The film also remains anchored by the continuing stoic, unsmiling performance of Tomisaburo Wakayama as the deadly assassin for hire, and includes the biggest, bloodiest battle so far. As a series Lone Wolf and Cub continues to prosper with such strong, but different, films.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This print is quite soft in places, but still looks pretty good for a 40 year old film. Close-ups have good detail, as do some wider shots, but others can be quite hazy. Colours are nice and natural, the countryside, trees and rivers nicely rendered and the spurting and gushing blood is a deep red. Blacks are not perfect but are acceptable, shadow detail can be indistinct at times. The film does include some deliberate brightness changes in flashback sequences, but contrast does vary elsewhere. Skin tones are good.

     Film grain is evident throughout the print, sometimes quite strongly, there is slight aliasing and the occasional dirt mark, but nothing serious.

    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. On occasion a sort of “pop up” text appears in white on the top of the screen to explain certain Japanese terms, such as “watari-kashi”.

    The layer change at 46:10 created a slight pause.

     A quite good looking print given the age of the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     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 sharp and the use of silences or limited sound effects worked well. The original score by Hideaki Sakurai is more noticeable in this third film, sounding quite spaghetti western-like sometimes. There was obviously no surround or sub-woofer use.

    Lip synchronisation was sometimes very approximate.

     The audio track was perfectly adequate, reflecting the original release.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Stills Gallery

     15 black and white film stills. Silent, use the remote to advance to the next still.

Liner Notes

     8 text pages of notes about historical places, terms, customs and people mentioned in the Lone Wolf and Cub films, some repeated from notes in earlier films in the series. The small black text on a yellow background could make them a bit difficult to read for some. Silent, use the remote to advance to the next text screen.

Lone Wolf and Cub Trailers

     Trailers for Lone Wolf and Cub 4; Baby Cart in Peril (3:08), 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).

Promo Trailers

     Trailers for Infernal Affairs (1:55), Born to Fight (1:28), Brotherhood of War (2:37) and Seven Samurai (4:05).

R4 vs R1

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 again 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.

     Region 1, Region 2 and Region 0 Japanese stand-alone editions of Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades are 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 at a good price.

Summary

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades, is another fabulous film. For an action film it contains a quite complex deconstruction of Bushido, the warrior code of behaviour by which the samurai lived, as well as a spectacular battle.

     The video and the audio are fine. Extras are limited, but nothing much else is available in any other region.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades is included in the Lone Wolf and Cub: Ultimate Collection from Madman which contains the six original Lone Wolf and Cub films plus Shogun Assassin, the 1980 US film that came about when parts of the first two films in the series were edited together, new dialogue written and dubbed into English and a new score added. For a bargain RRP of $39.95 no self-respecting fan of Japanese or samurai cinema should be without this set.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, July 05, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 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 DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Lone Wolf and Cub-Sword of Vengeance (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart to Hades (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in Peril (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973) | Lone Wolf and Cub-White Heaven in Hell (1974) | Shogun Assassin (1980)

Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in Peril (1972)

Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in Peril (1972)

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Released 8-May-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Gallery-Photo
Trailer-Baby Cart in the Land of Demons & White Heaven in Hell
Trailer-Eastern Eye Trailers x 4
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1972
Running Time 77:33
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kenji Misumi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Tomisaburo Wakayama
Fumio Watanabe
Tomoko Mayama
Shigeru Tsuyuguchi
Tomoo Uchida
Taketoshi Naitô
Yoshi Kato
Yoshiko Fujita
Reiko Kasahara
Akihiro Tomikawa
Kauji Sokiyamo
Teruo Matsuyama
Toshiya Wazaki
Case ?
RPI ? Music Hideaki Sakurai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

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.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     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.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     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.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Original Trailer (3:00)

Stills Gallery

     15 black and white film stills. Silent, use the remote to advance to the next still.

Lone Wolf and Cub Trailers

     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).

Promo Trailers

     Trailers for Silmido (2:26), The Eye 2 (2:41), Godzilla vs Mothra (2:17) and Breaking News (2:02).

R4 vs R1

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.

Summary

     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.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, July 12, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 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 DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Lone Wolf and Cub-Sword of Vengeance (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart to Hades (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in Peril (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973) | Lone Wolf and Cub-White Heaven in Hell (1974) | Shogun Assassin (1980)

Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973)

Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973)

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Released 8-May-2013

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Trailer-Baby Cart in Peril, White Heaven in Hell trailers
Trailer-Madman trailers x 4
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 85:32
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kenji Misumi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Tomisaburo Wakayama
Fumio Watanabe
Tomoko Mayama
Shigeru Tsuyuguchi
Tomoo Uchida
Taketoshi Naitô
Yoshi Kato
Yoshiko Fujita
Reiko Kasahara
Akihiro Tomikawa
Kauji Sokiyamo
Teruo Matsuyama
Toshiya Wazaki
Case ?
RPI ? Music Hideaki Sakurai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     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. This fifth film in the Lone Wolf and Cub series, Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (the original title was Kozure okami: Meifumado which can be either Lone Wolf and Cub: Land of Demons or Lone Wolf and Cub: The Crossroads to Hell), is certainly outside of the first film the bleakest, most pessimistic and nihilistic in the series with possibly the most convoluted plot as well.

     As Ogami travels he is attacked by five separate samurai warriors, all retainers of the wealthy and powerful Kuroda clan. When Ogami successfully kills each in turn he is given 100 gold pieces and part of a message. It transpires that the warriors have been sent to find Ogami by the Chamberlain of the Kuroda clan and to test, with their lives, if he is really as good as his reputation; once he proves this by killing all five the clan wishes to hire him. The story, when Ogami gets the final piece, is this. Lord Kuroda had a son by his wife but he fell under the influence of his concubine Otae. When Otae had a daughter, Kuroda’s legitimate son was imprisoned and the girl put in his place. Lord Kuroda wrote down the full story and intrusted it to Abbot Jikei; however, now Jikei is on his way to meet Retsudo Yagyu and to give him the document, which Retsudo will take to the Shogun and use to destroy the Kuroda clan.

     While this is happening Daigoro wanders through a village where a festival is in full swing. Notorious lady pickpocket Quick Change Oyo (Tomoni Sato) is at the festival stealing wallets but an investigator from Edo, Shinnoji Senzo (Akira Yamashiro), is on her trail. Pursued by Senzo, Oyo gives a stolen wallet to Daigoro, asking him to promise not to tell anyone who gave it to him. Daigoro is found with the wallet and arrested. Honouring his promise, Daigoro refuses to tell Senzo where he got the wallet, so Senzo takes him to the market square and publically threatens to whip him if Oyo does not come forward. She does, and confesses, but Daigoro refuses to identify her and is whipped, stoically enduring the punishment. He is clearly his father’s son, adhering rigidly to his own code of honour, whatever the personal pain. Indeed during the series both father and son, although assassins at the crossroads of hell, display a level of loyalty and honour far beyond anything shown by the aristocratic class, where double dealing and betrayals are commonplace.

     Ogami successfully kills Jikei and retrieves the document from under the nose of Retsudo and is then helped in a battle against a horde of Yagyu samurai by the masked Kuroda lancers. But then Ogami is offered another commission by the Kuroda chamberlain: go to the Kuroda fief, kill Lord Kuroda, the concubine Otae and their daughter and restore the legitimate heir, thus saving the clan from disgrace and destruction by the Shogun. So Ogami embarks on this additional mission.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons is again directed by Kenji Misumi, his fourth in the series. In this film there are less camera tricks, although there is still frequent swaying camerawork plus a few slow motion sequences. However, much of this film is beautiful to look at with stunning scenes such as Ogami and Daigoro silhouetted against the setting sun or forest visages. Ogami’s assassination of Jikei on the river in his boat is an action sequence that is different, but elsewhere there is plenty of the series’ usual bloody action, with weapons piercing bodies, limbs and torsos severed and blood spraying everywhere. While the body count in this film may not be quite as high as in some of the other films, there is still plenty to go on with.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons is a bleak film because it highlights the moral corruption of the society, and there is no-one who comes out of it with any credit except perhaps Daigoro. He is a child and, although no longer innocent, he is steadfast in his refusal to betray a promise. In this film children suffer: Daigoro is whipped while his father looks on and, as in the first film of the series, we see a young child, the daughter of the Kuroda lord, who has to die because of the code of conduct. That Ogami kills the child without remorse is, in terms of the code, an honourable act as he has accepted the commission. But if to kill a child is honourable, this act again illustrates the moral bankruptcy of the entire system, a viewpoint that has been consistent throughout the Lone Wolf and Cub series.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons 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, seascapes, rivers and fields are also clear. Colours are deep and natural with the spurting and gushing blood a deep vibrant red, while sunsets are stunning. Blacks and shadow detail are very good. Skin tones are also good.

     Light film grain is evident, and there is some inconsistency with brightness in scenes with the light source behind the actors, such as in the final indoor battle. There is the occasional fleck and a vertical line right at the end at 85:24, but this print looks very good for a film now 40 years old.

    Subtitles in American English 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 spelling or grammatical errors. On occasions a “pop up” text appeared in white on the top of the screen to explain certain Japanese terms, such as “Genpuku” ceremony and “Jitte”.

    The layer change on this disc is not noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     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 the waterfall having some resonance although clearly the audio does not have 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 noticeably out a number of times, but nothing too serious.

     The original score by Hideaki Sakurai includes some of the familiar themes but adds some that are new. This score is nice and feels quite fresh.

     The audio track was perfectly adequate, reflecting the original release.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Original Trailer (2:54)

Stills Gallery

     15 black and white film stills. Silent, use the remote to advance to the next still.

Lone Wolf and Cub Trailers

     Trailers for Lone Wolf and Cub 4: Baby Cart in Peril (3:08) and Lone Wolf and Cub 6: White Heaven in Hell (2:41).

Promo Trailers

     Trailers for Bangkok Dangerous (1:54), Ju-On – The Grudge 2 (1:38), Ring, The Spiral (1:15) and Godzilla vs Ebirah – Horror of the Deep (2:18).

R4 vs R1

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 edition of Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons is listed on Amazon.com; previous releases in Australia seem no longer to be available. But really for the price 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.

Summary

     Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons is the fifth film in the Lone Wolf and Cub series. It is engrossing, violent and beautiful to look at but is possibly the most convoluted and, certainly outside of the first film, the bleakest, most pessimistic and nihilistic in the series.

     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 should be without this set.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 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 DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Lone Wolf and Cub-Sword of Vengeance (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart to Hades (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in Peril (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973) | Lone Wolf and Cub-White Heaven in Hell (1974) | Shogun Assassin (1980)

Lone Wolf and Cub-White Heaven in Hell (1974)

Lone Wolf and Cub-White Heaven in Hell (1974)

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Released 8-May-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Trailer-Baby Cart in Peril, Baby Cart in the Land of Demons
Trailer-Madman trailers x 4
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 80:04
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Yoshiyuki Kuroda
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Tomisaburo Wakayama
Fumio Watanabe
Tomoko Mayama
Shigeru Tsuyuguchi
Tomoo Uchida
Taketoshi Naitô
Yoshi Kato
Yoshiko Fujita
Reiko Kasahara
Akihiro Tomikawa
Kauji Sokiyamo
Teruo Matsuyama
Toshiya Wazaki
Case ?
RPI ? Music Hideaki Sakurai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Master swordsman and ex-Shogun’s Executioner Ogami Itto (Tomisaburo Wakayama), pushing his baby son Daigoro (Akihiro Tomikawa) in a wooden baby cart, is on his way to Edo to kill his arch enemy Retsudo Yagyu (Minori Oki), head of the Yagyu clan and the man who framed Ogami, killed his wife and usurped the position of Shogun’s executioner for his own clan. But Retsudo’s failure to kill Ogami is causing the Shogun concern and undermining the Yagyu’s reputation and position. Retsudo sends his last remaining legitimate child, his daughter Kaori (Junko Hitomi), to kill Ogami with her two daggers technique, but Ogami manages to defeat and kill Kaori instead. In desperation Retsudo turns to his illegitimate son Hyoei (Kenji Ushio), whom he had abandoned in the mountains as a child many years ago. But Hyoei is now part of the shadowy Tsuchigumo clan; he rejects his father’s approach but decides to kill Ogami anyway and take over the Yagyu’s position in the Shogunate for his own clan. His most potent weapons are three demon warriors, who are neither dead nor undead.

     But Ogami, as ever, proves impossible to kill, so Hyoei and his warriors evolve another strategy; anyone Ogami speaks to or has contact with is slaughtered. If he and Daigoro stay at an inn, the staff and all customers are killed, if Ogami buys food from a vendor, the seller is killed, making life even more isolated for Ogami and Daigoro and driving them away from all human contact. Yet finally Hyoei does come to face Ogami in a duel, where his wish to become a legitimate samurai leads to his defeat. Then, in the snow covered mountains, Ogami faces Retsudo himself and hundreds of Yagyu warriors in a final bloody battle.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell (the original title was Kozure okami: Jigoku e ikuzo! Daigoro, which is literally Lone Wolf and Cub: Daigoro! We’re off to Hell) is the sixth, and final, film in the Lone Wolf and Cub series. Unlike most of the earlier films that were directed by Kenji Misumi, this film is directed by Yoshiyuki Kuroda, who was better known as a special or visual effects supervisor.

     To my mind, Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell is the weakest film in the series, although others would disagree. This is because this is more of a straight forward action film, without the deeper examination of the moral bankruptcy within the society that made other films in the series so compelling. Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell also includes a supernatural element, with warriors who can burrow underground or fly in the air, that is at odds with the general tone of the series. However, the fights as usual are very bloody, with limbs and torsos severed and blood spraying elaborately, and one sequence, a battle in a pavilion over the water, looks very beautiful. The climax of the film is a battle between Ogami and the Yagyu’s led by Retsudo in a snow covered landscape using sleds with cannons and guns and samurai warriors on skis which has perhaps the biggest body count in the series, and that is saying something. Yet for all the spectacle, this final battle feels campy, the staging not rising to any interesting heights as the swaying camera basically stays in close.

     Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell ends inconclusively. It was not intended to be the final film in the Lone Wolf and Cub series, but it was, leaving the saga and Ogami’s revenge against the Yagyu’s incomplete. What we do get is a spectacular looking film that is action packed and never boring and which ends with carnage, blood and a huge body count in the snow. If that was to be the last image of this incredible series of films, it is one to remember.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This print has generally good clean detail, especially in close-ups. Colours are deep and natural with the spurting and gushing blood a deep vibrant red, sunsets are stunning while the snow covered slopes and the forests are spectacular. Blacks and shadow detail are very good. Skin tones are also good.

     Light film grain is evident and there is some inconsistency with brightness in exterior scenes where the camera struggles to adjust to the brightness of the snow for example. There is slight aliasing and the occasional fleck, but this print looks good for a film almost 40 years old.

     Subtitles in American English 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 spelling or grammatical errors. On one occasion a “pop up” text appeared in white on the top of the screen to explain the Japanese term “Bakufu”.

    The layer change on this disc is not noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     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 gunfire having some resonance although clearly the audio does not have 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 noticeably out a number of times, but nothing too serious.

     The original score this time is by new composer Murai Kunihiko. It is varied and includes some beautiful eastern themes plus some music that sounds a bit like a 1970’s James Bond theme. Mostly the score worked well with the visuals.

     The audio track was perfectly adequate, reflecting the original release.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Original Trailer (3:33)

Stills Gallery

     15 black and white film stills. Silent, use the remote to advance to the next still.

Lone Wolf and Cub Trailers

     Trailers for Lone Wolf and Cub 4: Baby Cart in Peril (3:08) and Lone Wolf and Cub 5; Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (3:02).

Promo Trailers

     Trailers for The Samurai Trilogy 2 – Duel at Ichijoji Temple (3:46), Son of Godzilla (2:35) and Godzilla – Invasion of Astro Monster (2:24).

R4 vs R1

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 edition of Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell is listed on Amazon.com; previous releases in Australia seem no longer to be available. But really, for the price 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.

Summary

     Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell is the sixth, and final, film in the Lone Wolf and Cub series. It is more a straight forward action film but it includes a supernatural element and a massive battle over a snow covered landscape which has perhaps the biggest body count in the series. This film was not intended to be the final film in the series but it was, leaving the saga, and Ogami’s revenge against Retsudo and the Yagyu’s, incomplete.

     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 should be without this set.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, August 01, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 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 DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Lone Wolf and Cub-Sword of Vengeance (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart to Hades (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in Peril (1972) | Lone Wolf and Cub-Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973) | Lone Wolf and Cub-White Heaven in Hell (1974) | Shogun Assassin (1980)

Shogun Assassin (1980)

Shogun Assassin (1980)

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Released 6-Jun-2007

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Cult Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Trailer-Madman Trailers
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1980
Running Time 81:31 (Case: 86)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Robert Houston
Kenji Misumi
Studio
Distributor
Toho Company
Madman Entertainment
Starring Tomisaburo Wakayama
Kayo Matsuo
Minoru Ohki
Akiji Kobayashi
Shin Kishida
Akihiro Tomikawa
Lamont Johnson
Marshall Efron
Sandra Bernhard
Vic Davis
Lennie Weinrib
Lainie Cooke
Sam Weisman
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music W. Michael Lewis
Mark Lindsay
Kunihiko Murai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The Lone Wolf and Cub series of films made between 1972 and 1974 were based on a manga comic created by Kazuo Koike, who would later create the Crying Freeman. The films were violent, bloody, action packed subversions of the samurai myths so popularised by Akira Kurosawa and others. In 1980 parts of the first two films in the series, Sword of Vengeance and Baby Cart at the River Styx, originally released in Japan in 1972, were edited together, new dialogue written and dubbed into English and a new score by Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere and the Raiders) and W. Michael Lewis added. The result was Shogun Assassin.

     Ogami Itto (Tomisaburo Wakayama) is an expert samurai and the Shogun’s executioner. However, the Shogun begins to distrust Ogami and sends a team of ninja to kill him but they only succeed in killing his wife. Ogami distains an order to commit suicide and instead kills the Shogun’s son in a duel before going on the road as an assassin for hire with his infant son Daigoro (Masahiro Tomikawa) in a baby cart. But no-where is safe for the lone wolf and his cub; the Shogun will not forget and they are constantly hunted by the Shogun’s ninjas, including deadly female ninjas led by the Supreme Ninja (Kayo Matsuo). Just to complicate things further, Ogami accepts a thousand gold coin fee to kill the Shogun’s brother Lord Kurondo although he is protected by the three Masters of Death (Minoru Ohki, Akiji Kobayashi and Shin Kishida). Ogami must fend off the attacks of numerous assailants, protect his son from harm and take out the Masters of Death in order to fulfil his contract.

     Shogun Assassin takes about 10 minutes from the first film in the series, Sword of Vengeance, to set the back story before using the female ninjas and Masters of Death from Baby Cart at the River Styx. This means the film is very episodic and the motivation for Ogami’s fallout with the Shogun only sketchily drawn, but this really does not matter for a number of reasons. The first is a voice over from Daigoro that is not in the original films but works very well; it not only joins together the pieces but also adds humanity, and a little humour, to what is otherwise a sombre film. The second is the performances: Tomisaburo Wakayama is simply wonderful and totally believable, Masahiro Tomikawa fantastic for one so young and Kayo Matsuo both enigmatic and beautiful. The third is the superb action sequences.

     Shogun Assassin was banned in the UK for years as a video nasty but this fails to do the film justice. It is undeniably violent: there are severed limbs, cleaved skulls and massive sprays of blood at every turn. But while they are there, the film does not dwell on them, or render them in loving, slow motion detail (mostly anyway); there are many more recent films that have far more nasty, voyeuristic depictions of decapitations and lingering pain than Shogun Assassin. Instead, in Shogun Assassin there is no depiction of pain and the action is swift, sharp, and over. The film is also beautiful to look at, the cinematography of Chishi Makiura showing the vibrant colours and seasons of the Japanese landscape to full effect.

     Fans of the wonderful Lone Wolf and Cub series of films will find that Shogun Assassin omits much of the motivations and character moments of the first two films in favour of the action. However, in its own right and for those not familiar with the Lone Wolf and Cub films, Shogun Assassin is a very entertaining film. It has a great cast, looks beautiful, the action sequences are inventive and very well staged and it retains enough of the relationship between Ogami and Daigoro to give the film a heart that not many action films possess. It is well worth a look.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Shogun Assassin is presented in a ratio of 2.35:1, the original Toho theatrical ratio of the Lone Wolf and Cub films, and is 16x9 enhanced. It looks beautiful. Colours are vibrant with brilliant greens and yellows, skin tones are natural, blacks solid and shadow detail very good. There is mild grain, the odd scratch and occasional artefact but for a 30 year old film it looks great.

     As all dialogue was rewritten and dubbed into English, lip synchronisation is sometimes off but this is an action film and so is not distracting.

     There are no subtitles but from the Set Up Menu you can select the option to turn on a subtitle translating the Japanese signs.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 224 Kbps that does a great job. Dialogue is clear, swords swish, clash and cut and the rumble of the baby cart wheels on the unpaved roads is very satisfactory. The new score by Mark Lindsay and W. Michael Lewis took some themes from the original score but is otherwise electronic rock, reminiscent of the Alan Parsons Project. Perhaps it should not work as well as it does, but it provides very effective support for the film. There is no surround or subwoofer use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Original Theatrical Trailer (2:25)

Stills Gallery

     18 black and white film stills.

Madman Trailers

     Included is Death Trance (2:30), Branded to Kill (0:45) and Shadowless Sword (2:58).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 seems to have the same good video and audio and slightly more numerous extras, including different trailers, a restoration Gallery, Program Notes and Daigoro’s History Lesson. I don’t know that these are substantial enough to give a win to Region 1. Perhaps a draw.

Summary

     Shogun Assassin has a great cast, looks beautiful, the action sequences are inventive and very well staged and it retains enough of the relationship between Ogami and Daigoro to give the film a heart that not many action films possess. The video and audio are fine, the extras minimal. Shogun Assassin may be a hybrid, but it is very entertaining in its own right and I enjoyed it far more that I expected to. It is well worth a look.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def 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 DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE