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3 items from 2017

Lone Wolf & Cub: the best comic book movie franchise ever?

4 April 2017 1:55 AM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

Craig Lines Apr 5, 2017

Marvel? DC? They have their moments, but how about Shogun Assassin, and in turn, the Lone Wolf & Cub movies?

Like most western viewers, I came to the Lone Wolf & Cub series via Shogun Assassin – a recut/mash-up of the first two movies, trimmed to 90 minutes and dubbed into English by a pair of enterprising Andy Warhol acolytes. It was one of the original 'video nasties' in the UK, banned for years, so highly desirable to a kid like me. And it didn’t disappoint. In fact, it was probably the goriest movie on the list.

While it may seem criminal now to butcher a pair of bona fide Japanese classics and completely change their meaning and tone, Shogun Assassin got away with it by being so vibrant and hyperactive. The inappropriate score is a joyful synthesiser meltdown and the spirited dub goes full-pelt, even if what they »

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‘Lone Wolf and Cub’ Blu-ray Review (Criterion)

29 March 2017 6:01 AM, PDT | Blogomatic3000 | See recent Blogomatic3000 news »

Stars: Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Yunosuke Ito, Go Kato | Written by Kazuo Koike, Tsutomu Nakamura | Directed by Kenji Misumi, Buichi Saito, Yoshiyuki Kuroda

Producing six films across two years (1972-1974) is no mean feat, especially when you consider that they mostly retain their quality throughout. Based on the 28-volume manga series by Kazuo Koike (writer, who adapts for screen) and Goseki Kojima (illustrator), Lone Wolf and Cub is a set of brisk, ultraviolent action-adventure movies, packed with clever ideas, beautiful scenery, and weird characters, set in the Edo period (17th to 19th centuries) of Japan.

Martial arts star Tomisaburo Wakayama plays Itto Ogami (meaning “wolf”), an ex-Shogunate Executioner whose wife is murdered by the fearful Yagyu clan, led by the cruel Retsudo (Yunosuke Ito). Framed and shamed into exile, Ogami takes his son, Daigoro (Akihiro Tomikawa), and hits the road. Not just any road, but the “Demon Way in Hell »

- Rupert Harvey

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Criterion Reflections – Samaritan Zatoichi (1968) – #679

5 February 2017 2:00 PM, PST | CriterionCast | See recent CriterionCast news »

David’s Quick Take for the tl;dr Media Consumer:

Samaritan Zatoichi, the 19th film in the franchise and the fifth of six installments directed by Kenji Misumi (who started off the series with 1962’s original The Tale of Zatoichi) is a solid entry in the series that I can’t say is particularly unique or altogether distinctive from its predecessors. The aspect that stands out the most is that we get to see Zatoichi functioning in a role usually reserved for his backstory, that of a lethal yakuza enforcer, even though his companions in that early scene don’t seem to have any knowledge of his lethal capabilities. To them, he’s just a blind bumbling tagalong who could have just as easily been left behind. But as it turns out, Ichi is the guy who had to deliver the fatal blow to a young hothead who didn’t »

- David Blakeslee

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