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aka - Sword Of Vengeance
Japan 1972
Directed by
Kenji Misumi
83 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Lone Wolf And Cub: Child And Expertise For Rent

Lone Wolf And Cub: Child And Expertise For Rent is the first in a series of six films known collectively as the "Lone Wolf and Cub" or the "Baby Cart" series and which made between1972 and 1974 based on the long-running manga by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima concerns Ogami Itto (Tomisaburo Wakayama), executioner to the Tokugawa Shogunate who is framed by theYagyu clan and forced into exile as a wandering assassin for hire in the company of his young son, Daigoro.

Unlike the well-known samurai films of Akira Kurosawa such as Yojimbo, Sword Of Vengeance is much closer to the popular tradition of Japanese action cinema, the kind of fare on which Quentin Tarentino drew heavily for his Kill Bill diptych. It is an impressively realized film nonetheless, intertwining a thumbnail view of feudal Japan, with its ruthless clan-based power struggles and brutally extreme caste-based code of honour, with spectacularly staged fight sequences in a story that is essentially one of revenge after Ogami is betrayed by the Shogun and his wife murdered by hired assassins.

Whilst the violence is graphic it is of the highly stylized and choreographed type and whether the opening scene of the ritual execution of the infant Lord Daimyo, the almost comedic dispatching of two hirelings, or the full-on stoushes between Ogami and his innumerable assailants it always brilliantly realized. Kurosawa it is not but given its comic-book origins it is exhilarating cinema nonetheless

FYI: During the late 1970s, Roger Corman’s New World Pictures acquired the rights to both Sword Of Vengeance and the second instalment in the series, Baby Cart At The River Styx. The two films were  cobbled together and dubbed and released to Western audiences as Shogun Assassin.

 

 

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