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Shogun Assassin 2: Lightning S

Tomisaburô Wakayama , Gô Katô , Kenji Misumi    Unrated   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Yet another great Misumi Kenji production July 10 2004
By J. Holt
Format:DVD
Although I heard 1 & 2 were the cream of the crop (cooked down further into "Shogun Assassin") -- it really pays to see all of the director Misumi Kenji's work on this series. #3 is quite good as it spirals out ever wider and wider telling the story of a series of job Ogami must perform to repay a debt. The way the director handles action and gore is simply stunning -- poetic but fun. Sadly, Misumi does not work on the next, 4th installment.
One story (the farmer girl) is adapted from Vol. 3 of the manga, story "The Virgin and the Whore". As with the comic, the movie provides information and insight into the Tokugawa Period and its customs. Those who enjoy this movie series should pick up Dark Horse Comic's manga series (28 volumes, each at $9.95, 300 pages each) -- the manga is beautiful and exciting reading.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ogami Itto and Daigoro live to die on the Assassin's Road Nov. 9 2004
By Lawrance M. Bernabo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I have to wonder what it is like for those who have not read the manga epic "Lone Wolf and Cub" by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima when they watch these movie adaptations from the 1970s. Those of us who read all 142 episodes have the advantage of recognizing the various stories along the Assassin's Road that Koike works into each script. Consequently we are perfectly content to enjoy the episodic nature of these films, whereas the uninitiated might be bothered by the lack of a plot, especially if they have seen the first two films in the series and are expecting the Yagyu to be more of a presence.

"Kozure Ôkami: Shinikazeni mukau ubaguruma" ("Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades") is the third of the six films starring Tomisaburo Wakayama as the assassin for hire and Akihiro Tomikawa as his cub. Father and son continue along the Assassin's Road and there are three episodes from the manga that constitute major sections of the film, along with brief moments culled from other stories (e.g., the river crossing from #53 "Drifting Shadows" and using Daigoro drowning in a river to set up a kill from #2 "A Father Knows His Child's Heart as Only a Child Can Know His Father's"). In fact, when you spot something that does not seem familiar from the manga, it will send you scurrying to your Dark Horse Comics collection to see if you have simply forgotten it.

The first major section is from "Wandering Samurai" (#46), where a mother and daughter are brutally raped by a group of "Watari-kashi," who murder their escort. When Magomura Kanbei (Go Kato) shows up and see what has happened he kills the women and then makes the assailants draw lots so that he can kill one of them, who will then be blamed for the atrocity. However, Ogami Itto has seen what has happened and the best moment in this film comes AFTER the inevitable duel between our hero and Kanbei, which involves a philosophical discussion on the true way of the warrior.

We move directly to the second major section, which adapted "The Virgin and the Whore" (#18). A young peasant woman who has been sold into prostitution kills her pimp when he tries to take advantage of her. Lone Wolf and Cub are staying at the same inn and when she tries to hide in their room, she comes under Ogami Itto's protection. The "Boohachimono" that run the brothel want to punish her, but our hero refuses to allow it and agrees to take her place instead when their leader, Torizo (Yuko Hamada), demands satisfaction. He is then subjected to the punishment of being repeatedly dunked upside down in a tub of water and then being beaten black and blue by bamboo sticks. As a result the young girl is given her freedom.

This becomes a set up for the big fight at the end, as Torizo sets up Ogami Itto with an Elder who wants to hire the assassin Lone Wolf. Unfortunately our hero has a prior commitment, which requires the assembling of dozens of samurai and other warriors to try and take down Lone Wolf and Cub. The set up is slightly different, but the battle is essentially what we have in "The Yagyu Letter" (#50). This has to be the climax for the film because you can count the number of people still alive in the film on the fingers of one hand.

By this point Wakayama has the part down well past the point of cold. His face makes Buster Keaton look like Jim Carey. Add to this how the choreography for the sword fights is well above average for this genre and you can see its appeal to fans. True to the manga, there are several instances of nudity and blood spurting (but much more of the latter). What is missing is the sense of Ogami Itto's mission, which was set up in the first film in the series. This time around Lone Wolf is killing a lot more people to stay alive and to right wrongs than he is to make another 500 ryo. But then we had no clue at that point what those accumulated fees were for. Keep in mind that these first four movies were made in 1972, which was only two years after the first story of "Kozure Ôkami" was published.

I know these movies were edited and dubbed into "Shogun Assassin" in 1980, but just take the high road and avoid that butchery in favor of the original sextet of films: (1) "Kozure Ôkami: Kowokashi udekashi tsukamatsuru" ("Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance," 1972); (2) "Kozure Ôkami: Sanzu no kawa no ubaguruma" ("Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx," 1972); (3) "Kozure Ôkami: Shinikazeni mukau ubaguruma" ("Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades," 1972); (4) "Kozure Ôkami: Oya no kokoro ko no kokoro" ("Lone Wolf and Cub: In Peril," 1972); (5) "Kozure Ôkami: Meifumando" ("Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Land of Demons," 1973); and (6) "Kozure Ôkami: Jigoku e ikuzo! Daigoro" ("Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell," 1974). The above does not include literal translations of each Japanese title but rather the name given their most recent U.S. releases (I believe the original U.S. releases in the 1970s just numbered these as "Swords of Vengeance" I-VI). The literal translation of this third film in the series would be "Lone Wolf and Cub: Perambulator Against the Winds of Death," so you can see why that would not be the way to go.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing, geat film. March 20 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
An astonishing, great film. Wakayama Tomisaburo does not just act, he embodies. To me, this amazing actor is "Lone Wolf" of the Kazure Okami comic book series (itself a masterpiece). I can never get enough of looking at him. There is a simple scene in this film, in which Lone Wolf and his son are sitting in an inn drinking tea. The silence, the graciousness and subtle charm of the gestures, the unhurried and measured quality of the shot, create a moving experience for the viewer. Most people focus on the violence of these films -- which is done beautifully -- but for me,the most important thing is the simple, pure, and usually wordless characterization of the relationship between father and son.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an exotic, lush, exaggerated world of Japanese and Samurai absolutes July 5 2005
By James Neville - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
In many ways, this is my favorite of the Lone Wolf & Cub movies. It was the first I ever saw, wherein I was trying to figure out the whole premise as it went along.

This one starts on a river trip, scenic, but I had no idea where it was going. I could not BELIEVE it when the hero cut down the first 3 assassins in the first 5 minutes... in an otherwise quiet forest, where he and his son were taking a "bathroom break". I replayed the scene twice, including slow-mo on the flourish with which he clears the blood from his sword and sheaths it.

I LOVE these movies and have watched them again and again. The photography is bright and lush when our heroes are traveling in the country. The spoken Japanese is abrupt and guttural (men) and pitched and inflected (women), and subtitles are placed well for non-distracting readability. I find myself grunting monosyllables (ooshh! yyoot!) in empathy. The costumes and side characters are bright, colorful, and medieval-Japanese folkloric (i.e., like watching "authentic" costume in a Shakespeare play).

It's an exotic, lush, exaggerated world of Japanese and Samurai absolutes that never really existed was but whose principles still appeal to some part of us. Lone Wolf & Cub are unique among Samurai movies for their exaggeration AND their not taking themselves TOO seriously.

I particularly like two things in this movie. The first is the touching interactions between father and son in simple settings like eating or washing. The second is the woman leader of the entertainment band which recruits the hero's help. She has got the best accent and attitude I have ever seen in a Japanese woman character! For that matter, NONE of the women leads in Lone Wolf & Cub movies are exactly shy, retiring types.

Be warned all the Lone Wolf & Cub movies have graphic gore (spraying blood, death throes, severed heads) and sex (rape scenes, bare bosoms).

I agree that internal and night scenes are darkly lit, but I found only a few hard to follow.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way of the Warrior... April 22 2002
By Archmaker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This 3rd entry in the Series is one of the best. There are several plots involved, more or less revolving around the Bushido code and what are the correct actions and responsibilities of the true Warrior, the true Samurai.
Ogami states that he and his young son, Daigoro, "live the life of Demons, without rules" but in truth, Ogami Itto is a true warrior and, although an implacable and remorseless assassin, he strictly follows the Warrior's code of behavior.
This is demonstrated in this film when he, at the outset, declines to duel with another honorable, though disgraced, Samurai; and later, when Itto saves a farm girl from servitude as a prostitute and indures the Water & Buri Buri torture (don't ask) in her place.
Very stylized and as bloody and violent as the rest, I found the six-gun packing villain a bit incongruous (six guns in the 17th Century?), and the series steps far into the fantastic with Itto literally slaying an army of opponents with a trickier than we supposed Baby Cart and a two-sword frenzy of slashing and stabbing, chopping and skewering dozens of enemies (with the by now familiar gushes and sprays of blood).
But, what the hell, James Bond can kill em by the dozen, so why not our Master of the Suiouryu Horse-Slaying Technique, Ogami Itto? And in the end, there is an elegant duel with the disgraced Samurai and we learn the true Way of the Warrior is to "live to die". Great liner notes, and good subtitles help to explain what you need to know as background to the story.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely violent. For people who like John Woo films. Jan. 20 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
If you're a fan of Martial arts movies and/or violent westerns like The Wild Bunch, any of the videos in the Lone Wolf & Cub series will be enjoyable. They're about a rogue Samurai travelling the Japanese countryside with his infant son, seeking revenge on the villains who murdered his wife and soiled his once-proud name. He finds opposition almost everywhere he goes.The plot is above average and the swordplay scenes are amazing. Start with this video, since I believe it's the first in the series (of 6, I think). By the way, it's in Japanese with English subtitles.
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