DVD Review: Lone Wolf and Cub - Sword of Vengeance (1972) ( Super Samurai Week 2013 Day 1)

Posted by Retrokaiser On Monday, November 25, 2013 0 comments

Woo hoo!  It's that time once again where I spend a whole week of writing reviews that have one theme that joins them all up.  This special weeks theme is super samurai films AKA Super Samurai Month 2013.  All week long you'll be getting reviews of films that have some very crazy overpowered samurai.  For this years edition of Super Samurai Week 2013 I'll be reviewing all the films from the Lone Wolf and Cub series and a bonus mystery review for day seven.  So let's kick off the most depressing day of the week (Monday) with a review of the first film in the series: Sword of Vengeance.

The film opens up with an execution of the Young Lord who is a little boy and it leaves everyone feeling very upset.  We then jump forward into time where we see a very tired and messy samurai walking around with his child.  That beat up looking samurai is none other than Ogami who was none other than the executioner of that boy.  Ogami is now a hitman for hire so he can make a living for him and his son.  After seeing that sad sight we travel back to the past to see the origin of how he came to be in such a sad state.  Ogami's wife is suffering from depression from lack of sleep due to having nightmares of ghosts of the people that Ogami has executed.  Ogami decides that his wife needs some alone time so she can calm down and takes his son with him to pay his respects in a shrine he built to honor those men who have been executed by his hands.  While he is there his wife gets attacked and killed by ninjas who also leave false evidence to point the murder to Ogami.  Ogami returns in shock to see his wife has been murdered and then the police come.  The police try to arrest him but Ogami finds all of this way to suspicious as the police came into the scene way to fast.  He was right as they admit it was a setup so he will lose his job so that their boss will get more political power.  Ogami and his son both get sent to death row but break out and go killing all the corrupt.  The corrupt boss comes out and makes Ogami an offer he can't possible refuse and he accepts it.  Now we cut back to the present where Ogami has accepted a job to assassinate four men hiding in a bathhouse.  He makes it to the bathhouse and sees that the men he has to kill have captured the whole place and treat all who end up there like dirt.  Ogami is no acceptation to them and he gets captured and thrown in with the other guests and staff... or did he let them capture him on purpose?  (Click "Read More" to read the full review).

For a movie that is only just over eighty minutes long you get so much story packed in and it doesn't feel crowded but rather very satisfying.  I was expecting the origin story to take up the whole film but BAM we also get a nice little bonus story thrown in.  The origin story was pretty good with a pretty basic but very strong telling of how Ogami became to be the hitman he is today (well today as in Edo era Japan).  Second story was also pretty good although it wasn't as strong as the origin tale but it still told some really great stuff. This was also more darker with some very violent rape scenes and some ultra violent battle scenes that were pretty gory.  The origin story was also pretty violent but not as high impact as the second tale.  The characters in this film are brilliant with some excellent acting that makes you believe that they are real people as opposed to actors playing these characters.  I do also like how human these characters can be as they aren't simply soulless robots on a killing spree as they do show some very strong emotion that help make the characters very lovable.  The relationship between Ogami and his son is very natural and they really do act like a family unlike a lot of shows where the bond between father and son is more like being buddies more so than being family.

The action scenes are all very top notch with some great sword action that is coordinated very brilliantly.  The violence is very gory but not in a horror movie way but more in a very stylish way that is also very comic book-esk and pulpy.  I love how the fight scenes are silent minus the sounds of swords as it builds some tension making the fights very intense and satisfying.  There is quite a bit of female nudity (and some mild male nudity) in this one and it doesn't disrupt the film one bit although what happens to some of these women (caused by the bad guys) is a bit disturbing but I wouldn't say it's chauvinistic but more like bad guys just being bad guys. 

Special features included with this film are: The theatrical trailer, fifteen pages production notes about the time the film is set at, and some promotional stills of the characters (AKA promotional photos).  Overall this was a great movie that left me craving for more adventures of this dynamic duo.  Must watch.

That wraps up the first day but this is merely just the tip of the iceberg (or katana if we want to stick to the theme) as we still have five more films to cover from this series of films.  Tomorrows review from the Lone Wolf and Cub series is going to be the second film titled: Baby Cart at the River Styx.  But until then hold off from committing seppuku because it's Monday because Tuesday is going to be a brighter (and bloodier) day.

Title: Lone Wolf and Cub - Sword of Vengeance
Directed by: Kenji Misumi
Starring: Tomisaburo Wakayama
Genre: Action
Running Time: 83 minutes
Distributor: Madman Entertainment/Eastern Eye (www.madman.com.au)
Rating: R18+ (High level violence)
Price: $39.95 (as part of "Lone Wolf and Cub Ultimate Collection")
Recommended: Yes


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