director Kenji Misumi
So many movies, so little time. I had watched the first of the series of the Lone Wolf and Cub films (Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (1972)), with the intention of watching the whole series as I delved more deeply into the samurai film genre. Only, that was four years ago already.
Well, no time like the present to catch up.
Unlike the Samurai Trilogy that I had just finished watching, the Lone Wolf and Cub films, coming 20 years later, are comprised of a much different substance. These were not big budget studio films, but much more rapidly produced, pulpy action films in which blood spouts and breasts are bared, limbs are lost, surprises leap out from many places. Though it’s not as high-falutin’ nor noble or polished, the films are gruesome fun, much more like a comic book (they were adapted from a manga, not a novel.)
One thing about these films, four years between episodes doesn’t require a great deal of memory to catch on to the story. The “Lone Wolf” is the former executioner for the shogunate and is pretty much the most badass swordsman out there. He treks through Edo-era Japan, taking assassination jobs, having committed his and his “Cub’s” life to Evil. Though he’s not really evil at all. He’s just a ruthless killer.
He is hired to take down three assassin brothers who seek to assassinate another man in a dispute over trade secrets. He’s also faced with a clan of killer geishas and ninjas, who still seek revenge over his shaming them from before.
With his cute as hell kid in his super-armed cart, he puts on some wild shows, chopping limbs and heads and loosing geyser after geyser of bright red liquid. The child even gets in on the act at one point, pushing a button that pops out some more blades that take down one assailant. The contrast of the innocence of the wide-eyed expression on the face of the child, seeing everything unflinchingly, to the stylized violence offers the films’ jarring kick.
Great stuff. Hope it doesn’t take four years for me to see the next one.