The first Shogun Assassin was something of a mongrel. Released in 1980, it was culled from the first two films in the Lone Wolf and Cub series of films (referred to in some translations as The Babycart films), Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance and Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx, both of which were from 1972 and based on a series of manga. Set in feudal Japan, Shogun Assassin told the tale of Ogami Itto (Tomisaburo Wakayama), samurai and former executioner to a powerful Shogun. After being betrayed by his master who also murdered his wife, Ogami is forced to flee and wander the land with his young son Daigoro (Akihiro Tomikawa). The Shogun's men are dispatched to kill the samurai, and violence finds the father and son at nearly every turn. Though I haven't seen the first two films in their unedited state, the hybrid they form with Shogun Assassin is an exciting and brutally violent film. The narrative is choppy at times, but the nearly non-stop samurai carnage forgives many flaws. I've heard purists say these films are best watched in their original forms, but Shogun Assassin is the film by which English speaking audiences first saw the series, and it is pretty entertaining in its own right.

Shogun Assassin 2: Lightning Swords of Death is the English dubbed version of Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades, though the onscreen title is presented as Lone Wolf With a Child : Baby Cart On To The Hades (sic). This stilted English title is actually difficult to read because it is cut off on the left and right sides of the screen. Although presented in widescreen the DVD from AnimEigo does not use the original aspect ratio, a situation that creates problems for onscreen compositions throughout the film.
categories Dvds, Cinematical