Jigoku's swords are numbered 1-9, but you don't get to see all of them, in order of use they are... sword no 7 - 17 kills (long samurai sword) sword no.6 - 12 kills (2 daggers in single scabbard) sword no.5 - 12 kills (long handle short sword that fires blade) sword no.4 - 22 kills (sword with scabbard that attaches to handle) sword no.3 - 1 kill (long very flexible sword) sword no.1 - 52 kills (very long samurai sword) sword number 9 - 1 kill (Large curved, wide bladed scimitar) another sword of his is seen, a large samurai sword with a spinning top on the hilt. Jigoku kills 146 people throughout the movie. See more »
Jigoku-goraku-Maru (JGM or roughly translated as "Hellraiser") is a swordsman for hire, traveling with his band of mercenaries in feudal Japan. JGM is constantly being pursued by innumerable bounty hunters and other fortune seekers trying to collect the bounty on his head. One of those hunters is the beautiful Teppo Oyuri (aka Pistol Lily) who is an expert in Western Firearms and a deadly markswoman. During their travels, JGM and his mates happen across a map that supposedly leads them to a fortune in gold. What they find instead is a Golden Sword with incredible powers, that is the key to finding the legendary City of Gold, Zipang (Portuguese for Japan). Unfortunately for him, this unleases a string of events which culminate with JGM and company traveling to the very halls of Zipang to do battle with its Warlord King and his "Haniwa" henchmen.
Zipangu is surprisingly similar in style to the recent Wild Wild West (1999) movie and Original CBS TV Series. While predating the Wild Wild West movie by nine years, Zipangu could easily be called a Japanese "Wild Wild West" type of saga. Like WWW's James West, JGM is a feudal samurai who is decidedly and strangely modern. JGM's "Neo-Samurai" attire fuses Western influences (leather) with Japanese (silk). He carries a cache of wicked swords and stores them much like a golfer his golfing clubs. In a hilarious and elaborate opening sequence, JKG goes through his arsenal of swords one right after another, dependant on the opponent his is facing. Even his vernacular is a wierd mixture of modern slang and feudal speak.
Director Hayashi has a flair for parody as he literally borrows and lampoons all the various Samurai Movie conventions. One delightful highlight includes JKG's encounter with a all too familiar Blind Masseur (Zatoichi?) who turns out to be able to see after all. The Ninja (Shinobi-Nin) opponents whom JKG encounters throughout the film are also a joy to watch as they incorporate and wield various "modern" type of devices and gadgets that would make Wild Wild West's Artemus Gordon green with envy.
While the pacing is a bit slow at times and the story is an exercise in style rather than substance, the movie as a whole is quite enjoyable and a feast for the eyes. Not for the overly serious and a must for Japanese cinema fans.
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