Shogun Assassin

Shogun Assassin

Robert Houston (1980)

81min
18 Certificate
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Review

Our Score
Movies don't come any bloodier than this claret-hued samurai tale, which sees a revenge-seeking assassin wandering medieval Japan with his infant son, whom he pushes in a weaponised baby buggy. The film was culled from the first two parts of the 1970s Lone Wolf and Cub series, then re-edited, re-scored (the synth soundtrack hasn't dated well), dubbed into English and released to Western audiences (and cult acclaim) in 1980. Rather than being a cheaply made cut-and-shut job, it's actually a sympathetic stand-alone translation, but one lacking the nuance and artistry of the original films. However, a new narration track from the child's perspective is a welcome (if eerie) addition that helps move the story along, while the lean running time prioritises gruesome thrills over plot. The extreme, exaggerated violence (limbs are lopped off, bodies butchered and heads cleaved in two) meant the picture was branded a video nasty in the UK, although it never earned that badge of honour by being banned. Its reputation as an exploitation classic was confirmed when Quentin Tarantino borrowed its blood-gushing style for his Kill Bill saga, even featuring Shogun Assassin in one scene as a child's choice for bedtime viewing. Gore hounds will no doubt revel in the visceral carnage, but its notoriety should not obscure the fact this seminal work is richly atmospheric and makes for often mesmerising viewing.

Summary

A samurai refuses to fight for a cruel shogun, so the ruler responds by having his wife murdered. The swordsman becomes a rogue assassin, roaming the land with his four-year-old son and seeking revenge on the henchmen of the shogun wherever he finds them. Martial arts adventure, starring Tomisaburo Wakayama and Akihiro Tomikawa.

Cast & Crew

Lone Wolf Tomisaburo Wakayama
Lone Wolf Lamont Johnson
Supreme Ninja Kayo Matsuo
Supreme Ninja Sandra Bernhard
Master of Death Minoru Oki
Lord Kurogawa Akiji Kobayashi
Master of Death Kishida Shin
Daigoro Masahiro Tomikawa
Daigoro Gibran Evans
Director Robert Houston
Director Kenji Misumi
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Other Information

Language: Japanese dubbedColourAvailable on: DVD
Drama