Shiba, a wandering ronin, encounters a band of peasants who have kidnapped the daughter of their dictatorial magistrate, in hopes of coercing from him a reduction in taxes. Shiba takes up ... See full summary »
The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back.
In Kabuki style, the film tells the story of a remote mountain village where the scarcity of food leads to a voluntary but socially-enforced policy in which relatives carry 70-year-old ... See full summary »
In a poor 19th century rural Japanese village, everyone who reaches the age of 70 has to climb a nearby mountain to die. An old woman is getting close to the cut-off age, and we follow her last days with her family.
A master swordsman, Kiichi Hogan, wanders Japan in search of the Spanish swordsman who murdered his parents and slashed his throat 18 years before. Renouncing any normal life the samurai ... See full summary »
What I wrote in my review for Samurai Wolf pretty much applies for the sequel that concludes Kiba Okaminusoke's adventures in the chambara world of the mid 60's. Hideo Gosha is on the helm and he's obviously having all the fun and creative freedom that comes from a directing a small b picture on a low budget.
Shot in stark b/w, Samurai Wolf II is another slice of comic book mayhem, full of plot twists and great swordfighting. Balancing between the American westerns of the 50's and the new spaghetti western mentality, the hero Kiba (played by Isao Natsuyagi who looks and acts like a young Mifune) lacks the cynicism of The Man With No Name or Sanjuro Tsubaki, but makes up for it with the good will of John Ford's heroes. Like them, Kiba is an outcast and a drifter. A misfit who can't be bound by society's structures (clan, family etc), yet he's the one who ultimately restores the balance in it, before fading in the distance for one more time. Perhaps unwittingly so, but he does punish the bad guys even though he's not a goody-two-shoes type of guy.
Both the Morricone-ish score and the cinematography scream spaghetti western, yet it's a pretty old fashioned chambara in terms of values. Gosha is looking at the old but his foot is in the door to the future. Indeed, apart from the pulpy b-movie feeling that makes Samurai Wolf II such an unapologetically fun experience, he anticipates the arterial sprayings that would surface in Misumi's Lone Wolf and Cub a couple of years later. Although more restrained compared to that, it's still bloody as hell for its time, with some very stylish geysers of blood. Ditto for various slow motion shots that are utilized in crucial points.
Confidently directed, beautifully filmed, fast paced so that it never outstays its welcome, with a b movie mindset that serves its comic book intentions very well and lots of swordfighting, this one's well worth the time for every genre fan. Both this and the first Samurai Wolf are short in duration, so they can be enjoyed in one sitting.
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