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The Loose Canon: LONE WOLF AND CUB: SWORD OF VENGEANCE & BABYCART AT THE RIVER STYX vs. SHOGUN ASSASSIN

Every now and then I write a more-in-depth-than-usual study of a movie I consider important and influential in the evolution of Badass Cinema, a movie I believe most fans of the genre would love and all should see and have an opinion on. I call this series THE LOOSE CANON.

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In 1980, a violent samurai movie called SHOGUN ASSASSIN hit American shores. It is the story of Lone Wolf, an assassin trying to avenge the murder of his wife by the Shogun he used to work for. He travels Japan by foot pushing a babycart that  carries a number of weapons and his son Daigoro – who also narrates the movie – and eventually kills the Shogun’s brother. With its weird tone and garish violence, and coming right at the beginning of the decade when Americans became obsessed with Japanese traditions like karate and ninjas, the movie took on a legendary status in pop culture that lasts to this day. Its dialogue and primitive synthesizer score were heavily sampled on the seminal 1995 hip hop album Liquid Swords by GZA, and also heard in KILL BILL VOLUME 2 as little Bebe’s chosen bed time movie.

The one problem with SHOGUN ASSASSIN: it’s an insultingly dumbed down bastardization of two excellent 1972 Japanese films, LONE WOLF AND CUB: SWORD OF VENGEANCE and LONE WOLF AND CUB: BABYCART AT THE RIVER STYX (the first two installments in a six movie series).



SWORD OF VENGEANCE introduces us to Ogami Itto, the Shogun’s executioner, just as he’s about to do his job of murdering a little kid. The kid was recently named the lord of his clan and the Shogun doesn’t like the idea, so he’s ordered the little guy to commit seppuku. I’m not sure the kid is old enough to have had that talk, you know? So that means Ogami’s gonna stand there and when the kid doesn’t do it he’s gonna chop off his head.

It’s a whole big ritual with the young lord’s subjects there in their fancy robes, bowing. They’re also crying and protesting, but nobody’s gonna stand up and try to stop it. That’s the broken system we’re dealing with, here. Well then, maybe our hero Ogami Itto will have to be the one to do it. Your loyalty can only go so far before you become disillusioned and have to make a decision t–

nope, never mind, he just swung the sword down and we heard a “whack.” Cut to title screen and badass theme music as Ogami is superimposed pushing a wooden babycart down a white path between fire and water, a visual representation of the rest of his life.

As the movie proper begins, Ogami and little Daigoro are living as “demons” and assassins for hire. Through flashbacks we learn how it happened: he got set up. The Yagyu Clan, who are ninjas, were jealous of Ogami and wanted his post as the Shogun’s executioner. I’m not sure why you would want that, because this poor guy had to build a huge shrine to all the people he’s executed, and his wife has nightmares about their spirits coming after her. But these Yagyu take advantage of unrest over the death of the young lord to turn people against Ogami and frame him for having blasphemous anti-Shogun tablets in his shrine.

Executing little kid: legal. Tablet with Shogun’s symbol in your death shrine: punishable by death. (I mean, in the U.S. you’d probly get interviewed by the Secret Service, but that’s about it.)

In a way this is kind of like a samurai DEATH WISH. He deals with the murder of his wife by going out and killing other unrelated people. But it’s much more complex than that righteous vigilante indignation because, remember, the movie opened with our hero chopping a little boy’s head off. You can never shake that feeling that he brought this down on himself with his own evil deeds.

I don’t care if it’s before Nuremberg, “just doing my job” doesn’t cut it for this one. He knows it, so he decides to “abandon my samurai life and become a true demon, bound by no rules” and “follow a road of blood and corpses as an assassin in the world of killing without remorse.” But no matter what he claims he’s clearly working from a strong code of honor. Before he was an upstanding citizen doing some evil shit sometimes when the Shogun demanded it, now he’s an evil demon assassin for hire who can’t help but do good and honorable things sometimes.

So now Ogami Itto travels the world with a sign advertising “Child and Expertise For Hire.” Sure enough the child is needed by a woman who breast feeds him because her own child was killed and she’s so traumatized by it she thinks other people’s babies are hers. Unfortunately there aren’t too many of those along Blood and Corpses Avenue, so he’s really gonna need to find someone who needs his expertise.

His first onscreen clients are two samurai willing to die for the cause of hiring him. A group of men suspect he’s the legendary former Second to the Shogunate, so they send two to attack him. If they can kill him then obviously he’s not Ogami Itto, he’s some chump. If he kills them he really is Ogami Itto, so they should hire him. Well, obviously he is Ogami Itto, so he kills them. While sitting down. With his back turned.

So he’s hired to go to a remote bath village taken over by rapist bullies – basically the ancient Japanese equivalent of a biker gang. They’re a bunch of outlaw ronin with prices on their heads, terrorizing the poor outcasts who used to take refuge in this place.

The ways Itto fucks with these creeps demonstrates an excellent laid back style of badass. He acts like just some slightly overweight dude who has come to relax at the bath and doesn’t even notice that a bunch of maniacs keep threatening him. He really pisses off a guy by not flinching when a handful of small daggers are thrown at him and stick into the wall right next to his head. He’s accused of “mocking my dirks.” He actually dozes off while a dude is swinging a sword next to his head to challenge him. It’s kinda like Bruce Lee eating those chips while infiltrating THE BIG BOSS’s mansion: an extreme illustration of I’m not even remotely scared of you dipshits.

A weirder demonstration of fearlessness happens when the ronin threaten to kill a prostitute if he won’t have sex with her in front of them. She says she’d rather die until Ogami stands up and takes his robe off. Alot of the Japanese films have these violent sexual things that bum me out, for example in the otherwise great Karate Forever trilogy Sonny Chiba’s character rapes a woman and she later falls in love with him. And he’s the hero. And it’s a biography of a real guy that was Chiba’s teacher. This isn’t that bad, because it turns out she only turned him down as a suicide attempt. She changes her mind because she’s incredibly moved that a samurai is willing to give up his dignity to save her life.

Anyway, I bring this up because the bad guys are making fun of him for giving in to their threats, but they shut up when the prostitute points something out to them: “If you were scared out of your mind, begging for mercy, could you make love right then and there?” In other words Ogami Itto is a badass because he can get a boner at swordpoint.

So the last part of the movie is just this slow burn showdown between the assholes and this suspiciously badass father-and-son combo in their midst. The leader of the outlaws even thinks Ogami looks familiar, but can’t figure out why until they’re going to execute one of their hostages and one victim’s ogamu (chanting) juxtaposed with the mention of a Second makes his mind click that holy shit, that’s where I’ve seen that motherfucker, that’ s Ogami Itto, the Shogun’s Second! The look of terror on his face is classic. He knows it’s too late. They’re all gonna die, in the sort of head-chopping, blood-geysering massacre that this series became known for.

Ogami Itto is highly skilled. Even arch-nemesis Retsudo, leader of the Yagyu clan, fears his technique for sword-fighting in water. He’s clever, winning a duel with his eyes to the sun by blinding his opponent using a mirror. He’s well-equipped, having a powerful sword made for battle on horseback and a babycart pimped out with hidden knives and metal shielding that can deflect bullets. I like when he kills somebody and then announces the technique he used, like when he slices through both calves on a guy and says “Suiouryu Horse-Slaying Technique.”

He always protects Daigoro physically, but doesn’t seem too worried about his mental health. He’s allowed to see the carnage. In one scene, after Ogami beheads a guy, Daigoro smiles. But he still seems more cute than evil. He just roots for his dad to win, I think.

During the massacre, one of the ronin says, “Why you… it’s intolerable!” Kind of an understatement, I think.

When it’s all over, Lone Wolf and Cub just leaves. The prostitute, excited that he really is the legendary assassin, tries to follow. He threatens to cut the rope bridge, so she lets him go. His legend has only grown, and even if this had been the only movie we’d know he kept going around having other adventures.

But we don’t have to imagine that, because we have BABY CART AT THE RIVER STYX. In the opening moments of the first LONE WOLF AND CUB sequel, Daigoro watches, mildly interested, as his pops has a duel that ends in one guy’s head bisected, another guy impaled. As the head-split guy dies he says that the Yagyu clan have spread across Japan and Ogami Itto will never escape. BAM – cut to title and theme music.

That’s how you start a sequel. Our hero is still a bad motherfucker, but threats are rising, welcome to part 2, please allow this awesome music to pump you up.

Ogami Itto is still traveling around as a hired killer. He’s being spied on by the shinobis (cool hat-wearing ninjas) of the Kurokawa spy clan, on behalf of the ol’ Shadow Yagyu. They’re getting desperate, so they go to Sayaka, leader of the all-female Akashi Yagyu ninjas. To prove they’re up to the task they challenge the Kurokawa’s best man to leave the room, and as the poor sucker tries they slice off his ear, fingers and limbs and then stab him while he’s down.

By now Ogami has a well-established system. “When one wishes to hire the assassin Lone Wolf and Cub,” we hear in voiceover, “one places amulets of evil at religious sanctuaries alongside major roadways. When Itto sees these amulets he leaves road signs to let his whereabouts be known. By following the signs one can meet Itto.”

The narrator does just that, but when Ogami shows up of course he could be any single father who travels along major roadways looking for amulets of evil at religious sanctuaries. They ask him if he can prove his identity. Still sitting down on the ground, he throws his sword into another room and into the wall. Blood spurts out, the sword slowly slides down, slicing the wall, and then a body falls through. He didn’t do it for show, though – he just heard some asshole ninja sneaking up on him. “This does not concern you,” he says. “But does it answer your question?”

His mission – laid out spy movie style – basically has to do with corporate espionage and protection of intellectual property. The clan depends on sales of a unique indigo dye, and they fear that a disillusioned farmer plans to give the secret to the Shogun. The farmer will be transported by the Hidari Brothers, a.k.a. the Gods of Death, three deadly shinobis with giant hats and trademark weapons (claw, flying mace, metal fist). Ogami has to get past the brothers to kill the farmer.

As far as we know Lone Wolf and Cub doesn’t have a Q or a Morgan Freeman, he must have to make his equipment himself. Whatever he does he’s managed to soup up the babycart even more. Now it has retractable blade wheels, handles that can be pulled off and combined into a bladed staff, and also it’s seaworthy. It survives a shipwreck and a fire.

We’ve learned that Lone Wolf and Cub likes to act casual while getting into violent confrontations, often not even bothering to stand up during a duel. In this one there’s a classic scene where he pushes the baby cart along a path, and along the way women pretending to go about their daily business suddenly leap out to attack him. He dispatches them and then keeps walking, as if nothing happened. The weirdest thing in this movie is when one of the ninja girls admits defeat by leaping up out of her dress and then quickly scurrying away backwards. Not sure what that’s about. Also in this scene Daigoro actually takes part in murder, happily pushing a button that causes a knife to pop out of the cart and stab a woman.

The kid is no dummy, he knows how to survive. There’s a great section where Ogami is badly wounded, laid up for days in a small temple. Daigoro is smart enough to go out and find him water and berries and things, and take care of him.

But Daigoro obviously can’t defend himself too well against adults yet, and some of them decide to use him to get to his dad, abducting him and hanging him over a well. Revealing a mathematical side to his ever-more-impressive badass talents, Ogami gets Daigoro to drop a sandal into the well so that he can hear how long the fall is and calculate how long he can let him fall before stepping on the rope.

Our man makes it onto the boat where the Hidari Brothers are coming into town. There he gets to do another lazy-warrior-feat, sitting sleepy-eyed as a guy throws a knife his way, then tossing it right back into its holder on the hilt of the man’s sword. He escapes a boat fire (long story) and provides this installment’s uncomfortable sexual moment when he tears off Sayaka’s clothes as if planning to rape her but he’s actually using body warmth to stop her, himself and Daigoro from freezing to death like all those people from the Titanic.

The shit finally goes down in the opposite of the ocean: a desert. The Hidaris prove their worth when the claw guy suddenly punches the ground and makes the desert bleed. That would be cool if he murdered a desert, but it turns out there are ambushers hidden in spiderholes, and he sensed it. After they massacre all the attackers I’ll be damned, it’s Ogami Itto’s boy just standing there pointing over the horizon where his dad is posed, ready for a fight.

That Ogami would let Daigoro stand by himself so soon after a  kidnapping either shows his confidence in resolving those types of situations or his understanding that the Hidaris aren’t gonna harm a child. As bad as they are they do have some traces of a code, and are clearly impressed by him as a warrior. “So you’ve come after all,” one says, smiling with admiration. “It’s remarkable that you escaped from the burning ship.”

The final Lone Wolf and Cub vs. Gods of Death battle lives up to its potential and includes one Hall of Fame worthy death scene. One of the brothers has his neck gently sliced in such a way that it slowly sprays a mist of blood, creating a sound he calls “The Whispering of Wintry Wind.” He always dreamed of making this cut on someone, but never did. When he drops and falls down a dune he actually rolls over the hilt of a sword and it props him up for a second as he flips over. I don’t know how they did that or if they knew how much authenticity it was adding. But then his neck explodes.

Itto’s target is planning to give the secret of the indigo dye to the shogun, which will destroy the clan’s ability to make a living. But I’m a pro-labor guy so I feel kind of weird about it, he’s a farmer that got mistreated, it sounds like. Well, whatever the morality of it is, Itto announces “I am the assassin Lone Wolf and Cub… at your service!” and then chops off his head.

In SHOGUN ASSASSIN, he’s not the assassin Lone Wolf and Cub, he’s not even Ogami Itto. They just call him Lone Wolf. He speaks English now, voiced by Lamont Johnson, a veteran director of TV and movies like THE GROUNDSTAR CONSPIRACY and SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE, who took the gig in order to re-up his health insurance from the Screen Actor’s Guild. Among the other voices he encounters are Sandra Bernhard in her first film, 3 years before KING OF COMEDY.

This version takes the 83 minute SWORD OF VENGEANCE and 81 minute RIVER STYX and combines them into one 86 minute film. Since both of the original movies are great, mathematically this means almost half of the good stuff is missing. It uses 12 minutes of the first film to establish a dumbed down version of his origins. Gone entirely is the execution of the young lord that originally started off the saga. Now “Lone Wolf” is “the Shogun’s Decapitator,” but the Shogun is “infected by demons” so he has ninjas attack the Lone Wolf family household.

The Shogun is never shown in the real movies, and I guess you gotta have a super villain, so the American producers called Retsudo the Shogun. For some reason the ruler of the empire is just a ratty looking old man walking around freely in public. The traitor with the secret of the indigo is no longer a traitor with a secret about indigo, now he’s just “the Shogun’s brother,” and that’s why Lone Wolf is trying to kill him. They say he’s a lord who tortures people so you won’t have to feel torn about his assassination. Don’t worry everybody, he’s a bad guy.

One of SWORD OF VENGEANCE’s most memorable scenes is the one where Itto decides to bring Daigoro along on his demonic quest rather than kill him. He lets the boy make a decision he couldn’t possibly comprehend by having him come to either a ball (to be with his mother, dead) or his sword (to come with papa, killing people). In the original version Itto is saddened by his son’s choice of the sword. If he were to die and be with his mother he’d be at peace, instead he’s chosen a life of violence and danger, the demon’s path. It’s a tragedy. That’s too complex an emotion for SHOGUN ASSASSIN, so they change it to “Your mother will be happy.”

Part of what’s great about these stories is the amount of historical detail. They’re based on a comic book series by writer Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima, who are also credited with writing both movies. The comics and the original versions of the movies are heavily researched and play almost like samurai procedurals, not just because of the feuds between clans that are left out of the dubbed version, but also the little details. The ronin can tell that Itto was somebody important because he has a better sword than them, one designed for battle on horseback; Lone Wolf just has a “mystic blade.” Itto at first made his persecutors believe he was honorable because he wore a traditional white death robe to his execution, but then they realized he was wearing the symbol of the Shogun, considered an insult; no mention of this in SHOGUN ASSASSIN, too complicated.

I don’t think respect between enemies would be too difficult a concept for Americans, but apparently the producers thought it would be. When Itto catches up with the Hidari brothers, instead of acknowledging admiration of his escape from the burning ship they just give him a generic threat: “So, we have a reunion. Now we will show you Masters of Death!” The more these touches are taken out, the more of the beauty of LONE WOLF AND CUB is chipped away. We lose the interesting world they take place in, the complex relationships between the characters, even the pure action movie joy of a hero so badass his opponents have to tip their hat to him. Sure, the dubbed version is bloody fun, but the original had all that while also being smart, atmospheric, nuanced.

Ogami Itto is a screen badass in the YOJIMBO or Man With No Name mold – a guy who rarely talks, even when prompted, and is much more scary for it. Quiet, of course, is terrifying to hacky American producers, so they wrote reams of narration in the point-of-view of older-but-still-a-kid Daigoro, and had the producer’s son awkwardly read it throughout the movie. So now it’s not a story of a mysterious samurai traveling and battling with his toddler in tow. Now it’s a story a kid tells us about his dad.

On one of SHOGUN ASSASSIN’s DVD and Blu-Ray commentary tracks, Asian film scholar Ric Meyers says he thinks SHOGUN’s Moog score by Mark Lindsay and W. Michael Lewis is better than the original orchestral ones by Hideaki Sakurai, in part because the originals had many scenes without music. I have to respectfully disagree with that horse shit. The quiet sections, of course, were not an accident. In particular, the scene in RIVER STYX where Itto is wounded and little Daigoro goes to find food and water plays ten times better with the wind blowing than with sentimental keyboards.

As for the scenes that do have music, I have a hard time imagining why anybody would think it was lacking. While I would definitely enjoy the crude synthesizer sound of SHOGUN on a more appropriate ’80s action movie, it’s a disgrace to use it in place of Sakurai’s ingenious music which combines traditional Japanese textures with ominous horror movie sounds, weird experimental free jazz type tangents and hints of blaxploitation swagger.

I mean, you let me know which one of these songs you think is a more badass theme for a period samurai epic:

or

These are some of the many small reasons why SHOGUN ASSASSIN is not as good as LONE WOLF AND CUB. But I think for the biggest one we have to go back to the beginning. By lopping off the execution of the young lord you don’t just lose a ballsy and extremely unsettling opening, and you don’t just lose a perfect illustration of the world our anti-hero has left behind. You lose the whole meaning of the character. When he was the Shogun’s Executioner he was a respected, high ranking member of society. He was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing. But what he was doing was terrible. It haunted his wife, and then it got her killed. Now he’s the reverse. He’s a feared outcast, wandering around, breaking the rules, considering himself to be a demon. But more often then not he is doing the honorable thing, and fighting for the right side.

In the real version of this story, Ogami Itto is a man atoning for past sins. He’s willingly made his life a living hell, an endless, aimless war, to try to make up for what he’s done. He’s not just a guy that got attacked by an evil wizard.

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Who is responsible for this? Two people who have attended the Oscars. The credited “director” for the American version is Robert Houston, the same one who played Bobby, the surviving son in the original THE HILLS HAVE EYES (and part II). Houston continued to direct TV and movies after this and won an Academy Award for best documentary short subject for his film MIGHTY TIMES: THE CHILDREN’S MARCH (2004). The producer who had the idea and brought the project to Houston was David Weisman, a former assistant to Otto Preminger, Andy Warhol protegee and co-director of CIAO! MANHATTAN. He later was nominated for an Oscar for producing KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN. His brother Sam Weisman produced D2: THE MIGHTY DUCKS.

On the DVD commentary for SHOGUN ASSASSIN, Weisman proudly explains, “We eviscerated from part 2 all of the side stories that were sort of indigenous to Japanese culture. Explanation of the Yagyu – who this is, but we call him the Shogun, in fact he’s the ninja leader, the ninja clan leader called the Yagyu – I don’t quite understand what it’s about, it’s very Japanese.”

Weisman describes his job as finding out “how to take this series and make it palatable to the American audience.” He complains of an English dub of part 4, BABY CART IN PERIL, that someone else did a few years before SHOGUN ASSASSIN: “It’s just a straight dub, there was no sense of play, they didn’t try to make it more than it was. We tried to make it much more than it was. We tried to make it into sword and sorcery. We tried to make it into something that could compete with CONAN.” (He mentions this alot, thought SHOGUN ASSASSIN came out 2 years before CONAN THE BARBARIAN.)

Weisman seems to think his version is better for American audiences, who he thinks prefer their movies to be “brain dead”:

“Well, the story essentially is not that different from the original Japanese part 2, except it had a number of cultural digressions. They would sit around and talk about problems that the clan was having with a dye. They were dye makers, right? And they made this blue dye and somebody was coming along with purple dye, or something, and… ugh. So we just got rid of all that and simplified it. Whatever it is, it’s the ninjas are causing trouble, so let’s really keep it brain dead.”

I don’t really mind that the brain dead version exists. It’s an interesting example of crass Americanization, Hollywood producers finding great Japanese cinema and thinking it’s like a mineral or something that they have to process into a different product. They seem entirely unaware of how great the original thing was or how badly and disrespectfully they treated it. The results are an odd chapter in the history of exploitation cinema that left a notable mark on pop culture.

What’s unfortunate is how these versions have replaced the originals for many people. I can’t believe how many times I’ve met a fan of SHOGUN ASSASSIN who didn’t know about LONE WOLF AND CUB and couldn’t be convinced to watch it. Even some big time movie nerds, who can be such purists about a director’s original vision and changes from comic book source material, who even get mad that Disney made English dubs of the Miyazaki movies so that kids can watch them, are down with SHOGUN ASSASSIN. They use the nostalgia excuse, that they grew up with it dubbed and heavily edited and rescored and dumbed down and they just prefer a much shorter, stupider experience with a small child mumbling monotonously over some of the scenes. And that’s fine.

But there are consequences to that version’s popularity. As of this writing AnimEigo (the company that owns American rights to both versions) have not released the original series on Blu-Ray, but they’ve done a 5-film English-dub-only SHOGUN ASSASSIN box set. Five films, you ask? Yes, the third film was once released dubbed as SHOGUN ASSASSIN 2: LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH, so now they included that and then made new dubs for the other films and call them SHOGUN ASSASSIN sequels as well. It would’ve been easier and cheaper to just release them subtitled. They spent more money in order to make them worse.

But, like Ogami Itto surviving the burning ship, the LONE WOLF AND CUB series has survived SHOGUN ASSASSIN. By all means, enjoy the dumbed down version if you’re into that sort of thing. But when you’re ready to stop fuckin around and see some great samurai movies, watch LONE WOLF AND CUB. Even if it kills you you’ll express admiration for the skill in which it did you in.


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 at 1:35 pm and is filed under Action, Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

97 Responses to “The Loose Canon: LONE WOLF AND CUB: SWORD OF VENGEANCE & BABYCART AT THE RIVER STYX vs. SHOGUN ASSASSIN”

  1. Two interesting facts about Tomisaburo Wakayama (the Lone Wolf).

    1. He was a 4th Dan Kodokan Judo expert. So he could legit kill you.
    2. His little brother was Shintaro Katsu, better known as motherfucking Zatoichi! You probably don’t want to cross that family.

  2. Nabroleon Dynamite

    July 25th, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I can’t front Shogun Assassin is my shit and I’ve never seen the originals except “White Heaven In Hell” which is a crazy ass ride!!

    But, have you seen “The Last Circus”???

    If not, then we’re even.

  3. Republican Cloth Coat

    July 25th, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I can’t hate Shogun Assassin, as stupid as it is, that cinematic abortion is a work of art, very enjoyable in its own right. It’s kind of clear that the Americans were onto something figuring that US audiences would want something incoherent, mythic and totally 80s. Getting the full Japanese series undubbed would be nice, though.

  4. White Heaven ends with him fighting a squadron of ninjas…on skis. Like you do…

  5. I was not aware of that! Thanks, Blitzkrieg!

    Vern, I have to thank you for introducing me to this series with the Badass 100 list. It’s easily one of the best series of films I’ve ever seen. Such great characters! I want to try watching the TV show at some point, as well as read the manga (both of which have been translated to english), but they can’t possibly be as good as those movies.

    One thing that kind of sucks is that Retsudo never gets killed in the last movie. It really seemed like they were leading up to it, but then he got away. I guess at the time they must have planned to continue the series. It’s too bad, because that would at least give the series some sense of closure. Out of curiosity, I wanted to see how the manga series ended and apparently it ends with (SPOILERS!!!) Retsudo killing Ogami Itto and then Daigoro immediately avenges his death. The last image is Daigoro plunging a small blade into Retsudo’s chest. That would have been an epic ending for the films.

  6. Love the Loose Canon concept, Vern. Can’t wait to see more.

    This was a great opening act, I adore Lone Wolf and Cub, though I’ve only seen the first two. My favorite part that didn’t involve blood mist was the well scene from the second one. From the beginning I thought bringing a kid into battle was a huge liability, even if the baby cart is loaded with weapons. I knew that at some point someone was bound the threaten the kid and force Ogami to compromise some of his badassery. But when that scene happened, he just looked at the kid and said [paraphrasing]: “Remember when I said one day I might not be able to save you, and you would be reunited with your mother. Today might be that day. You good with that?”

    He did have a plan, and he did save the kid, but the sentiment was completely honest. Living the life they do, it’s a serious possibility that one or both of them are going to die, so they came to an understanding about it. His liability turned out to be no liability at all.

    Plus, it provided all those motherfuckers who grabbed the kid to share a “Well fuck…we’re dead” moment.

    Classic.

  7. Nabroleon Dynamite, I finally see why you’re so obsessed with “The Last Circus”. I just watched it the other week. That shit was epically insane. I’m totally in your corner on the recommendation.

    I’m surprised Vern hasn’t seen it yet, since it’s directed by Álex de la Iglesia, who did “El Crimen Ferpecto” and “800 Bullets”, two movies he really seemed to enjoy.

  8. Wasn’t this remade as that comic book that got turned into a movie with Tom Hanks as a mobster?

  9. The graphic novels these films are based on are better than you could ever imagine. In the same way that the original series subverts many of the things we think of in the West as “correct storytelling” as far as films go, it does exactly the same for sequential art. These are the “Parker” novels of Japan.

    Tell me you’ve watched/are going to watch, Lady Snowblood, Vern…OR…

    OH GOD, VERN! Oh man, I know this might be difficult for you to track down (back in the day, I paid over $60 for the 3 DVD set), but Jesus in a Kimono, you have to see Hanzo the Razor if you haven’t yet.
    Hanzo the Razor and it’s two sequels will give you enough material for another book, no joke. Hanzo may be a hero that’s SO legitimately badass that he rounds the curve and is almost…well, watch the movies.
    http://youtu.be/E-ZvLtoV0yo

    Annnnddd, just so everyone knows, apparently the entire films are on YT, so…

    Anyways, Vern, same manga writer/creator as Lone Wolf and Cub on both Lady Snowblood and Hanzo…

  10. I grew up with (and loved) SHOGUN ASSASSIN, but that didn’t stop me from immediately trying to source the original LONE WOLF films and comics. SHOGUN ASSASSIN was a shabby door that led to a bigger, brighter world. I mean, it was pretty entertaining (for a door), but the purpose of such a thing is always… Ah, I forget where this analogy is leading. Great article, would love to see reviews of the other LONE WOLF films.

  11. – vern

    Have you seen the Female Prisoner # 701: Scorpion – series? Highly recommended, with Meiko Kaji from Lady Snowblood being the ultimate female badass.

  12. I was fortunate to see all six Lone Wolf movies before I saw Shogun Assassin, and it was hard to see what all the fuss was about. Some friends of mine were obsessed with SA in the 80’s, but for some reason I never watched it back then. Thanks Outland (a comic book store in Oslo) for stearing me in the right direction in the early 90’s!

  13. One of my favourite scenes (from part 2?) has always been the one where Itto and Daigoro are in a bath, chilling, and you hear this weird trilling sound that keeps getting louder and shriller, standing in for the encroaching danger that never really materialises. Deliciously suspenseful.

    I’ve got a strong dislike for the TV show, though. It’s just a lot of bad acting, bad wigs and awful fight choreography, plus it’s not nearly as pointedly violent as the films. And let’s not forget that smarmy theme tune…

    – dna:

    I’ve watched some of the Female Prisoner films and thought they were misogynistic trash. To me, it didn’t feel like the director(s) just put Kaji and co. through all this humiliating shit so her revenge could be more gratifying in the end – it felt like he actually enjoyed seeing the humiliation going down.

  14. – CEPE

    I don`t think that they are worse than other pinku movies in content. The babycard series have tons of rape, torture of women (and men) and unneccesary nudity. Streetfighter, Sex and Fury, Zero Woman etc are kinda rapey too. Hanzo The Razor is even raping his prisoners with his massive member and it`s all played for laugh (and yes, I think it is funny as hell, when Hanzo is beating his giant penis with a wooden stick while his minions look at him with awe..)

    I actually think that Female Prisoner Scorpion is pretty subversive in all it`s trashy gloriness. (and I`m onlu referring to the original trilogy by Shunya Ito, which tells a complete story.

    SPOILERS

    Part 1 has one implied gang-rape (and the only nudity from Meiko in the series). The rest is Scorpion being tortured by her fellow female inmates (being beating with sticks and stuff, nothing an actionhero doesn`t suffer from in ordinary actionmovies and defenetly not meant to arouse the audience).
    The second FPS has a pretty harrowing gang-rape, which imo makes the victim, the scorpion, completely insane. When they group of girls escape from the prison, they run into a bus with ordinary japanese travellers, who are joking about raping chinese girls in Nanking. Most japanese citizens refuses to believe that the japanese army was responsible for war-crimes in Nanking, so it´s a pretty bold move to mention it in a very popular franchise. (FPS 1 was a massive hit in japan and kick-started the pinku-genre). As in all the FPS movies, Scorpion doesn`t really do a lot, she mostly indures a lot of abuse and bids her time. And when she sees the chance, she goes for the throat. Even if we have sympathy for her fellow inmates, who despite their hidious crimes all have touching backstories and basically are abused women themselves, OR the hostages on the bus, who are being humiliated and abused, she condemns them all to death. (guess the message is that rapey behavior is unaccceptable, no matter the cirmumstances.) I think that japanese cinema are overtly sexuel because of the japanese populations inability to cope with the war-atrocities in China, just like torture-porn like SAW and HOSTEL became a big thing in USA after the torture scandals in Iraq. In FPS 2 the hostages are the japanese audiences, not taking sexuel abuse serious, but joking and laughing about it, and they all get the death-sentence by Scorpion because of it.

    In FPS 3, there is no rape if I remember correctly (there is a guy who tries to blackmail her and gets a pot of boiling water thrown in his face), but the first actually nice character in the series is a prostitute, who has been impregnated by her retarded brother. And we still root for her. And Scorpion returns to the prison to kill of the sadistic boss of a prostitution-ring (and does so by starring. Badass!)

    I think the first FPS is pure exploitation, but after it´s succes, the director took the series in a different direction, with a very experimental visual style, weird set-design and an almost theatrical atsmophere. And despite the characters flaws, you feel a lot of compassion for them. But that doesn`t excuse their behavior and they get punished as deserved. And the biggest villains in the series are either corrupt policemen or sadistic wardens, with the petty criminals often being portrayed as poor and abused women, who only did what they did out of neccesity or frustration.

    Also, Meiko Kaji is an awesome actress.

    Anyway, I don`t like realistic rape or torture in movies, but I can enjoy it in a very stylished and symbolic fictional world like in the female prisoner scorpion-series. Just think of the first rape in FPS1:
    It`s filmed from underneath a glass-floor, and as Scorpion realizes that she has been betrayed, the light from underneath the glassfloor turns red. It´s so stylished, that it reminds the audience that they are watching a movie.

  15. dna:

    The national psyche angle you’re bringing up here is quite interesting, and I admit that I hadn’t really considered all this when I watched the films, but it doesn’t really change my perception of them. I guess most Pinku’s simply not for me.

  16. Love the Moog score by Lindsay & Lewis, but it would be more appropriate for one of the many “Escape from New York”-Rip Off Movies that followed the Carpenter Classic.
    It would also fit perfectly on the “Drive” OST. But a Samurai Movie, I don’t think so.

  17. “They’re based on a comic book series by writer Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima”

    *pushes nerd glasses up* *clears throat* um excuse me Vern, the correct term is manga

  18. Did you see the LW&Cs as part of the recent Eureka box set, Vern, and if so, does that mean we can look forward to reviews of parts 3 to 6 one day?

    I really do consider the LONE WOLF & CUB films to be badass samurai movie classics of which there is no equal. Every other samurai film I’ve ever seen, they just don’t come close.

    Even the works of Sonny Chiba can’t match these bad boys. Sorry, Sonny. I still love ya.

    Over the years, I have read the LW&C manga and seen some of the TV show – the former is superb and the latter is good but I just missed Wakayama too much. The other guy was just that – some other guy.

    There is something oddly fitting about the film series not having an ending. I like that. They’re still out there, father and son, they will always be out there and there will never be peace for them.

    I’m glad that AnimEgo are putting out a proper blu-ray set of the original versions. If people want the SA cuts, fair enough, but to me they are a novelty.

    To be fair, SHOGUN ASSASSIN did open people up to these kinds of movies and I’m grateful to it for that, but the real Ogami Itto will take it’s pretender head off in one smooth stroke.

    Regarding HANZO THE RAZOR – yup, these are crazy, crazy films with part 2 standing out as the nuttiest as well as the most awesome. Definitely recommended.

  19. I used to really love SHOGUN ASSASSIN as a kid. The Wu-Tang connection Vern mentioned was probably a big part of it cause I wore out my LIQUID SWORDS tape at one point. But yeah it’s definitely pretty flawed when you revisit it.

    I still have yet to see all the LW&C movies though. I have to man up and purchase one of the many crazy box sets one day cause it’s probably the only manga that I ever really liked and the few movies from the 70’s saga that I did see like the reviewed by Vern SWORD OF VENGEANCE as well as BABY CART TO HADES were an interesting way to certainly spend some time.

  20. Hey, spoiler warning if you haven’t seen these yet –

    These are some epically badass movies, but I do wish that the ending of the comi… manga had been done in the Wakayama films. It’s such a perfect way to wrap up the story and this crew deserved to tell it on screen. It’s like they did Lord of the Rings perfectly and then wrapped things up as Frodo starts climbing Mt. Doom. Sure you can go read the original but after a certain amount of time spend you want to see Elijah Wood throw the goddamn thing in some lava. Same with the epic final of Lone Wolf and Cub. I certainly love the fuck out of what was made for sure, but oh what could have been.

    Lady Snowblood is completely awesome but I never could get more than 20 minutes into Hanzo the Razor. Tokyo Drifter anyone?

  21. JESUS (or rather, Vern) THANK YOU FOR THIS REVIEW.

    I too have run into far too many people who love to whoop it up and mst3k Shogun Assassin, without recognizing what awesome films it was cannibalized from. The idiotic view of the producers of that version is… disheartening to say the least. Yet I cannot help but feel that such antics are largely a thing of the past. These days young people are used to watching subtitled films and are exposed to an exponentially wider range of works than 20 or 30 years back. Now even video games often come with the option to switch between dubbed and subtitled audio tracks.

    One of the best times I had in college was when a childhood friend and I got together every night for a week and watched one of these films. There’s so much to love, these really are fun and wonderfully made movies filled with just the right balance of high adventure and exploitation. I’ll be very happy to revisit the films on BluRay (I last seen them on a mixed collection of VHS and LD, long gone).

  22. I’ve never seen SHOGUN ASSASSIN. That and the original films were the type of products you had to import with great expense in the shady times before the Internet and the DVD boom. So you might as well go with the originals rather than a hacked up imitation.

    I like the LONE WOLF films, but I love the original manga. And I’m not really a fan of manga in general. It’s a much more low-key piece of work, and like said, exhaustively researched. There’s plenty of violence, but the emphasis is more on the period details and weird quirks the culture had rather than crazy amped up samurai action. Also, since it’s massive in scope (several thousand pages in total), it can let its characters and the world breathe. I feel the journey of Ogami Itto and the scale of his journey comes across much better when the book(s) take the time to go in detail about the culture, the power hierarchies, and the character relationships. There’s a terrific sense of time and place in it.

  23. Vern, great review, you’re doing the Lord’s work here.

    Just wanted to chime in say Aktion is right, the manga is crazy good. In the same way MacReady says he couldn’t imagine the manga being as good as the films, I can’t imagine the films being as good as the manga. Maybe this is one of those rare cases of a genius reinterpreting the work of a genius.

    If you like the movie, for goodness sake pick up one of the manga. From the sounds of it the films are incredibly faithful to the original, which is great, because the original was full of badass writing. But! The illustrator! Oh my goodness, each page is a little work of art. I don’t know anything about comic art, but this stuff SPOKE to me. I’ve spent time just appreciating the way the guy drew trees. After reading and rereading a story, I’d come back to it and notice that before another incredible fight, while Itto and his enemy pose in preparation to attack, the bushes on either sides of the frame had been drawn in such a way as to embody the opposing spirits of the two fighters. I can’t explain it. The artist is a soulful warrior whose weapon is the brush.

  24. Criterion officially announced the box set of all 6 films coming in November. Also it includes SHOGUN ASSASSIN as one of many cool bonus features!

    The suggested retail price is $99, $79 to pre-order from the Criterion store, but as of this writing Amazon has a pre-order for $39. I don’t know why, but I don’t think I’ll find it cheaper than that. Here’s the link if it’s still priced that way:

  25. There is a region 2 boxset with all the films including SHOGUN ASSASSIN available. I´ve been meaning to buy it but don´t know if it has any special features, unless as you say you count SHOUGUN ASSASSIN as a bonus.

  26. Done and done. Thank fuck I’ll finally be able to retire that hideous AnimEigo blu-ray boxset once this drops.

  27. Was just about to spread the word re the 50% pre-order.

    Y’all need to get on that.

  28. I saw one of these once. Most of the movie was dudes sitting around a sauna.

  29. Challenge accepted!

    In fact, let me double down on the sacred cow slaughter. From what I’ve seen (admittedly not much, aside from LIGHTING SAUNA OF DEATH or whichever one that was) LONE WOLF is sort of the Parliament-Funkadelic of badass cinema: I don’t actually like it very much, but I respect it for creating a wealth of raw material for someone else to refashion into something that I do enjoy. (SHOGUN ASSASSIN is the Dr. Dre in this analogy.)

  30. (For the record, I’m mostly just fucking with you guys. It’s true that I like SHOGUN ASSASSIN way more than the one LONE WOLF movie I saw but it’s not a hill I’m willing to die on. My hot take was about 15% honest opinion, 85% shock value.)

  31. Coincidentally my DVD rental thingy that sends you movies per mail (Yes, I still use one of those) decided to send me the first two movies of the series today, after I had them in my queue for at least 5 years.

  32. Thank you for telling us that you’re fucking with us. And since SHOGUN ASSASSIN is the 7th best Lone Wolf movie I guess we’ll just regard it as a slow working introduction drug in your case…

  33. Amazon.com have now updated the price of the Criterion BD set to $100.

  34. I replaced my worn out VHS cassettes with dvds a couple of years ago. I think I will wait a while before I upgrade again to blueray.

  35. I don’t blame you one bit, Pegsman.

    I’ll have a rethink if/when the Criterion set drops in price.

  36. Do they ever drop in price? It seems like just one of their releases requires a mortgage.

  37. Criterion have occasional sales on their website, I’ve been told.

    When I get the heads up I’ll be sure to share.

  38. Barnes & Noble have a big reunite Criterion sale once or twice a year. Due to that, unless you need RIGHT when it comes out (or it is going out-of-print) there is not much reason to pay full price for Criterion titles if you can wait.

  39. I’d like to follow up and maybe apologize since my previous post was coming from a very I-assume-you-are-living-in-the-US perspective. Not sure if B&N deals with international customers.

  40. Geoffreyjar – I live in the UK, but that info is still good to know, so thanks.

  41. https://www.amazon.com/Lone-Wolf-and-Cub-Blu-ray/dp/B01KGR17U8?SubscriptionId=AKIAIY4YSQJMFDJATNBA&tag=bluray-030-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B01KGR17U8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

    As seen in Vern’s link above and, hey, in this one, too – Amazon.com is showing the blu ray set for $79.99 – the same price as the Criterion site.

  42. That is not bad . I wonder if it is Regionfree.

  43. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dvd-criterion-collection-lone-wolf-cub/30229407

    $64.74 pre-order.

    Shoot – probably region A locked, so hang fire until it’s confirmed.

  44. Vern – Just re-read this awesome piece as I await the delivery of that sweet new Criterion set and it made me wonder if – a) you have plans to revisit the series and review the remaining instalments at any stage and b) if you feel that you will ever be inclined to write any more additions to The Loose Canon??

    Hope you’re holding up okay, sir.

  45. Thanks for asking! I have the new box set and plan to start with the third one and review them all. Looking forward to it. Already got a laugh from the booklet’s story about how Tomisaburô Wakayama lobbied to get the role.

    And yes, there will be more Loose Canon entries, but I don’t know what will be next. Sometimes they incubate for a long time.

  46. Thanks so much for answering! So glad to hear that you’re digging the new box set and I cannot wait to see what you cook up for the upcoming reviews and future instalments of The Loose Canon. I gotta say, the quality and quantity of full cinema-movie-saga Lone Wolf & Cub reviews out there is lacking to say the least. Baby Cart in the Land of Demons is my personal fave of the series so I obviously cannot wait to read your thoughts, good or bad, on that one.

    Also thank you so much for continuing, as you always have, to keep fighting the good fight. I cannot put into words just how much this sight, the community that has grown around it, and your commitment to change, growth, understanding, empathy and acceptance has legitimately helped me thorough some of the most difficult and painful challenges I’ve ever faced in my life. Reading you has made me not just a better person but, more importantly, a better citizen of the world which is an absolutely priceless gift which I will never be able to repay or thank you for enough. Kings to you, my friend.

  47. I’m now 2 movies into this series and still haven’t encountered any old many in saunas. I guess it’s back to YouPorn for me then.

  48. Ugh, don’t you hate it when you make a dumb joke and then have to go back and correct a typo? “Old men”, not “old many”.

  49. Maybe Majestyk got his copy from one of those seedy porn stores in New York we´ve been hearing about and they sneakily edited in a lot of sauna fetisch sequences.

  50. You’re right, I did. Maybe that was the problem.

  51. Finished SWORD OF VENGEANCE. There was indeed a lengthy sequnce with a bunch of dudes sitting around in a suna. Not my favourite scene.

  52. Ha! Vindication!

  53. Technically it was a bathhouse, and they were wearing clothes. It was not like they sat with their sweaty flabby man tits and farted. But I think it might have been the suggested sequence.

  54. Finished LONE WOLF AND CUB 2: LONE WOLF AND THE GREAT LAUNDRY DISPUTE. And it is more enjoyable than the first one; LONE WOLF AND CUB ORIGINS:SHOGUN SPONGEBATH.

    I agree with Majestyk, that there was too much dudes sitting around in what felt like a third of the movie. But this one feels more like a great adventure he embarks on with lots of action, gore, weird and wonderful characters and a lot of great artistic touches built into it. So, Majestyk might want to give the next movie a chance.

  55. I am 100% convinced that Mr M would love ALL the LW&C films.

    Don’t forget, we now live in a new world: one where Vern is now a fan of the RESIDENT EVIL films.

    Anything can happen.

  56. Vern only likes RESIDENT EVIL because he can make PRESIDENT EVIL jokes about Trump.

  57. No, seriously. Anything can happen apparently. In Russa they are about to pass a law that makes it legal for men to beat up women. I mean Jesu Christ. This is gonna be a fun year…

    Russian politicians are making it legal for men to beat their partners

    Russian lawmakers are being urged to reject a "dangerous" law that could decriminalise all acts of domestic violence, with the exception of rape and serious bodily harm. 

  58. I’m gonna be honest: I’m not a huge samurai fan. I can’t help feeling that their bushido code is nothing more than a real sneaky way for the ruling class to create a class of remorseless enforcers whose loyalty to their lord, couched in terms of duty and honor, enables them to completely remove any sense of conscience or human morality (and even basic self-preservation) from their decision-making process, allowing for any and all atrocities to be committed against the poor in the name of maintaining feudal power and wealth. A samurai is every cop whose loyalty to the badge outweighs his duty to the people.

    I realize LONE WOLF is about a samurai who rebels against that, if only for selfish reasons. He had no problem cutting off all those heads for his shogun when it didn’t affect him personally.

    So I don’t know. It all just kind of grosses me out.

  59. Mr Majestyk, as samurai fans go I’m huge. And I get your point about the class aspect, but I really don’t think you’re supposed to judge the LONE WOLF movies by conventional standards.

    Mr McKay, you’re Swedish, your country invented movie nudity, don’ say that a simple bath house scene gets to you..?

  60. I think the class aspect is what makes for instance SEVEN SAMURAI such a great movie, and that got lost in the american western remake as there really is no longer a reason why the farmers should be scared of the gunfighters as they came to the village. Samurai used to oppress the villagers and even if they were ronin and had no authority anymore, it probably awoke fear of what tehy used to do againstthem. That does not translate to gunfighter as easily I feel.

  61. I’m sure there are tons of movies that address exactly my concerns. I still don’t care for samurai very much. I remember reading HAGAKURE a while back and being struck by how I disagreed with literally every single tenet of its moral code, which posits dispassionate murder and suicide at the behest of an unquestioned authority as the noblest of acts. It was basically a blueprint for creating mindless automatons. It’s the kind of thinking that led to Japan trying to take over the world in a fit of nationalistic fury.

    I still like SHOGUN ASSASSIN, though, because it’s just a gory geek show.

  62. I have seven words for you: BABY CART IN THE LAND OF DEMONS!

  63. Sure, but if you are only going to engage with perspectives that fits your own, hos interesting is that?

  64. Yeah, but aren’t you like the world’s biggest James Bond fan, too? Maybe you just have a higher tolerance for imperialist killing machines than I do.

  65. I engage with all kinds of perspectives that don’t fit my own. I read the book in the first place, didn’t I? Then at the end of it, I said, “That’s interesting, but fuck that entirely.” If I actually found most samurai movies entertaining, I could forgive their blatant Trump-esque whitewashing of the horror of “the good ol’ days.” I find the morality of the DEATH WISH movies repulsive, too, but I still think they’re fun. But I am not a huge fan of Japanese pacing, so if all I want is to see some swordfights, I’ll watch a Shaw Brothers movie that gets right to it.

  66. Oh, we are going there are we…? Well, I just think it is more interesting with feeling ambivalence or at least not always agree with the perspective that is given to you.

  67. Ok, missed that post. Fair enough.

  68. Also, Shoot, I was responding to pegsman, not you with that James Bond comment. I didn’t see yours before I posted it.

  69. Sorry, your memory is playing tricks on you, Majestyk. I’m no JB fan. Like you I’m fully capable of studying things without agreeing with the philosophy. And as you say, the LONE WOLF films are just gory fun.

  70. Really?

    pegsman
    November 14th, 2012 at 6:14 am

    I’m a huge Bond fan, but I will try not to get too geeky about it. Skyfall IS the best Bond movie ever, and absolutely worth a trip to the theater. Biased as I am I also think it’s a damn fine film on it’s own merits, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we get to see an Oscar nom for Dench this time.

  71. Jesus, you´re keeping track of what we say?

  72. No, I went back and made sure pegsman was the one I was thinking of before I made that James Bond remark. That SKYFALL talkback always sticks in my mind so it was easy to find verification.

  73. Someone like me would just let that shit slide. I don´t think I would ever go back to contradict another person.

  74. I didn’t “go back to contradict” him. I’d just found that quote in which he clearly stated he was a huge James Bond fan like ten minutes before he then said he wasn’t a James Bond fan. It was fresh in my mind. No need to go back and find evidence to contradict him. I already had the tab open.

    So what’s the deal, pegsman? Have you changed your tune on Bond or what?

  75. If he has, then I am truly alone. Sailing on a sea of Bond haters

  76. Nope, I’ve never been a fan in the sense that you implied on January 26th, 2017 at 9:26 am. But I love to explore movie franchises and get down to the very essense of them. So, no, I haven’t changed my mind about the Bond phenomenon. Or Dirty Harry. Or Die Hard. Or Lone Wolf. Or any violent “hero” who takes the law into his own hands. I think I’ve explained this before, but you probably remember that better than I do…

    PS! In retrospect I think ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE is the best of the lot.

  77. He did not imply. he just recited what you once said! In fact, I had to go back and contradict you, even though I said I never would do that!! Oh, the irony…

  78. Who’d have thought that my lack of interest in the LONE WOLF & CUB series would lead to our little community, nay, REALITY ITSELF being torn asunder?

    I take it all back! I love dudes in saunas! More dudes in saunas, please!

  79. Shoot, I’m not refuting the quote, but I strongly object to the implication that I watch Bond movies because I have a high tolerance for imperialist killing machines (January 26th, 2017 at 9:26 am).

    Is it just me, or is this discussion a bit silly?

  80. Sorry, Majestyk, I should have expected a post inbetween…

  81. All I was saying was something I tried to illustrate in my DEATH WISH remark: We all forgive dubious ethics in films if we enjoy the overall product. I used James Bond as an example because, while he’s really no more of a tool of the oppressor than any number of other state-sanctioned action heroes, his movies are also uniformly 20 minutes too long and rarely build to a climax that justifies that prodigious length, so I don’t find them that entertaining. This is similar to how samurai movies often espouse a moral code I find reprehensible, but more importantly, they also tend to not have a particularly favorable “sitting around talking about strategy” to “chopping motherfuckers up” ratio, so I find them boring. If you guys assure me that one or more of the LONE WOLF movies have a ratio that’s comparable to SHOGUN ASSASSIN, I’ll probably get over my moral objections.

  82. So, as almost always, we are basically on the same page.

  83. This comment section has exhausted me

  84. Tell me about it. I spent the other part of my day on the phone with two different branches of my insurance and arguing about the morality of punching Nazis. I’m exhausted.

  85. (Two different things. I was not arguing about the morality of punching Nazis with my insurance.)

  86. One final thought for the day. I watched LONE WOLF 3: CONFUSION AT HADES. I have no idea what this one was about, but Lone Wolf at least pulled a Django and unleashed a barrel of guns from his baby cart and blowed holes in some samurai. Good enough, I guess. But this was a disappointment. Maybe I should watch these when I was less drunk.

  87. Not to pry or anything,Majestyk. I hope your insurance problems are unrelated to the dismantling of Obamacare.

  88. So far it’s just a clerical error. But when Obamacare goes down, so does my insurance.

  89. I think you both deserve a sauna.

  90. Poeface- If you are going to be salty, may I just be the first to question your avatar? As funny as pun as it is, the avatar does not look like any Cameron Poe I have ever seen. It seems more like someting out of FACE/OFF. Clarification,please.

  91. Glad you asked Shoot, because it ANNOYS THE LIVING SHIT out of me too. I was going for a combined homage to my love for Cage, and to what I consider the greatest action movie to ever come from an American studio, a miracle in which Woo *finally* got to bring Hong Kong to Hollywood, white doves and all after teasing us with HARD TARGET, shaking our faith with BROKEN ARROW then landing this up the arse of every unbeliever.

    More specifically on the name – around that time I had loved a woman who wasn’t clean, and was running for dear life. Hence the need to change quick smart from my real name on here to something less conspicuous, lest I draw the wrath of Lucifer upon these fine pages.

    If I had had more time I would have gone for something like PEACHEATER or TONGUESUCKER.

  92. The thing about HAGAKURE, it was written long after the era of warring states, at a time when samurai were glorified civil servants. It’s an invention of a nostalgic warrior code that the actual warriors would have laughed at. GHOST DOG understands this, with the advice to always carry your supply of powdered rouge.

    But though the shogunate era didn’t have a lot of battles, it was still a police state. I think the best of the samurai movies understand this. Many, like SEPPUKU, are very explicit attacks on the culture. LONE WOLF AND CUB isn’t like that, but it’s not DEATH WISH either. It’s more like a view of a completely alien psychology — with added lashings of sex and violence, of course. I wouldn’t think of it as an endorsement of the philosophy, any more than POINT BLANK endorses what Lee Marvin gets up to.

  93. I can’t say I’m super excited about this, but I like everyone involved so far and hope it turns out well. Should be a minimal amount of old dudes in saunas, so Majestyk will be happy.

    'Lone Wolf and Cub' Adaptation Lands 'Se7en' Scribe Andrew Kevin Walker

    Justin Lin is set to produce and possibly direct a live-action adaptation of 'Lone Wolf and Cub', now with 'Se7en' screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker onboard.

  94. They should use that on the poster: “ALMOST NO OLD DUDES IN SAUNAS”

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