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

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)

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
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Criterion Reflections – Samaritan Zatoichi (1968) – #679

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
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Lone Wolf and Cub

You'll always be careful with knives after seeing the outrageous, impossibly gory violence of this brain-warping samurai series from the early 1970s. Tomisaburo Wakabayashi rolls his tiny tot Daigoro through feudal Japan, looking for trouble. There's simply been nothing like it: breathtakingly beautiful images aestheticize bloodletting as never before or since. Lone Wolf and Cub Sword of Vengeance, Baby Cart at the River Styx, Baby Cart to Hades, Baby Cart in Peril, Baby Cart in the Land of Demons, White Heaven in Hell + Shogun Assassin Blu-ray The Criterion Collection 841 1972-1974 / Color / 2:40 widescreen / 630 + min. / available through The Criterion Collection / Street Date November 8, 2016 / 99.95 Starring Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa. Written by Kazuo Koike, Goseki Kojima Produced by Shintaro Katsu, Hisaharu Matsubara, Tomisaburo Wakayama Directed by Kenji Misumi, Buichi Saito, Yoshiyuki Kuroda

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

In an unexpected move, Criterion has released one of the most influential Japanese film series of the 1970s,
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Quentin Tarantino Reveals Project Concerning the Cinema of 1970

Quentin Tarantino‘s brand of fetishism — the non-foot kind, I mean — is, in some part, an exploration of the cinema on a genre-by-genre basis, and so his filmography has, to my mind, been missing a certain something without a documentary. While he’ll claim there are (maybe) only two features left in him, there’s a chance that one will take that path — or at least have a documentary-like reserve of research behind it.

The subject? 1970. No, not the cinema of the 1970s, a medium-specific topic that’s been covered as much as any, but 1970, a time Quentin Tarantino considers the takeover point for New Hollywood — and it’s fascinated him so much that he’s been poring over and pondering material for four years. So he revealed during a recent masterclass held at Lyon’s Lumière Festival, where the “work in progress” was given this noncommital classification: “Am I going to write a book?
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Fountains of Blood! Shogun Assassin September 7th at Schlafly Bottleworks

“You are marked for death… wherever you go! You cannot escape the… Shogun!”

Shogun Assassin screens Wednesday, September 7th at Schlafly Bottleworks Restaurant and Bar (7260 Southwest Ave.- at Manchester – Maplewood, Mo 63143) as part of Webster University’s Award-Winning Strange Brew Film Series.

“Send Your Ninjas! I’ll Kill Them All!!! And so he does!! Shogun Assassin (1980) is a bizarre and amazing cult classic samurai film that is apparently pieced together from two longer films in the “Lone Wolf and Cub” Series. From my point of view the viewer would never know this was a composite film and it stands alone as an amazing and strangely hypnotic piece of violent film history. Shogun Assassin has some of the best sword fights ever shot on film. The plot has Lone Wolf (Tomisaburo Wakayama) travelling the countryside, pushing his son, Daigero, ahead of him in a baby cart. The only time he
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Paul Thomas Anderson Brings ‘Punch-Drunk Love’ to The Criterion Collection This November

Paul Thomas Anderson Brings ‘Punch-Drunk Love’ to The Criterion Collection This November
November tends to be the biggest month of the year for the Criterion Collection, the boutique home video company releasing some of their most exciting releases in time for the holiday shopping season. And, lucky for us, that trend continues in 2016, as Criterion has just revealed this year’s batch of November titles, and the slate includes some absolutely major must-owns. From Paul Thomas Anderson finally joining the Collection (and bringing Adam Sandler along with him!) to a series of samurai films that have never gotten their proper due, these are movies that are worth stampeding for on Black Friday.

Check out Criterion’s full November 2016 slate below, listed in rough order of our excitement for each title. And be sure to visit Criterion’s website for full release info.

1. “Punch-Drunk Love” (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002). #843

It was only a matter of time before Paul Thomas Anderson finally joined the Criterion Collection,
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Edinburgh Film Festival Celebrates Cinéma du Look, Comic-Strip Adaptations

Edinburgh Film Festival Celebrates Cinéma du Look, Comic-Strip Adaptations
London — Thirty years since the Edinburgh Film Festival opened with the U.K. premiere of Jean-Jacques Beineix’s “Betty Blue,” the fest is to devote one of its retrospectives to the Cinéma du Look wave of 1980 and early 1990s French filmmaking. Another retrospective, “Pow!!! Live Action Comic-Strip Adaptations: The First Generation,” delves into the evolution of the live-action comic-strip adaptation in cinema.

The Gallic retro will focus on the work of Beineix, Luc Besson and Leos Carax, the three directors around which Cinéma Du Look revolved. Titles in the strand will include Beineix’s “Betty Blue” (1986) and “Diva” (1981), Besson’s “Subway” (1985), “The Big Blue” (1988) and “La Femme Nikita” (1990), and Carax’s “Mauvais Sang” (1986) and “Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf” (1991).

The films showcase performances by Jean Reno, Christophe Lambert, Michel Piccoli, Isabelle Adjani, Juliette Binoche, Jeanne Moreau, Dominique Pinon and Julie Delpy. Several of the stars will attend the festival, which is headed by Mark Adams.
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The John Kreng Interview

John Kreng is one of the most hard working actors/stuntman/fight and stunt corrdinators working in the industry today. Through his time working in the movie industry, John has worked with some of the very best which includes Jet Li, Yuen Wah, Tsui Hark, David Carradine, Steven Spielburg and many more outstanding talents.

John Kreng is also the author of the in depth book on screen fighting called Fight Choreography: The Art Of Non Verbal Dialogue, he was a cast member of The Jade Trader which went on to win the most outstanding cast performance award at the 10th Action on film, International film festival. John, also has years of Martial Arts experience behind him, dedicating his time learning many different styles and been taught by some of the very best masters from around the world (Which he will speak about in this interview).

John also worked on the
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50 Greatest Comic Book Movie Adaptations

40. Road to Perdition

One of the more surprising and lesser-known facts about Sam Mendes’ second film, Road to Perdition, is that it’s actually adapted from a graphic novel of the same name by Max Allan Collins. The plot follows Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks), an Irish mob enforcer as he goes on the run with his son Michael Jr. after Jr. witnesses a murder and their family is killed in an effort to cover up any witnesses. There’s many great things in this film that standout, such as Jude Law’s creepy performance as assassin Harlen Maguire, one of Paul Newman’s final and finest performances as mob boss John Rooney, and Hollywood got an early look at the talent of Daniel Craig as the unstable Connor Rooney. However, it’s the climax that remains the most memorable thing in it, featuring some of the most iconic work from
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Director & Actor Teams: The Overlooked & Underrated (Part 1 of 2)

Cinema is a kind of uber-art form that’s made up of a multitude of other forms of art including writing, directing, acting, drawing, design, photography and fashion. As such, film is, as all cinema aficionados know, a highly collaborative venture.

One of the most consistently fascinating collaborations in cinema is that of the director and actor.

This article will examine some of the great director & actor teams. It’s important to note that this piece is not intended as a film history survey detailing all the generally revered collaborations.

There is a wealth of information and study available on such duos as John Ford & John Wayne, Howard Hawks & John Wayne, Elia Kazan & Marlon Brando, Akira Kurosawa & Toshiro Mifune, Alfred Hitchcock & James Stewart, Ingmar Bergman & Max Von Sydow, Federico Fellini & Giulietta Masina/Marcello Mastroianni, Billy Wilder & Jack Lemmon, Francis Ford Coppola & Al Pacino, Woody Allen & Diane Keaton, Martin Scorsese & Robert DeNiro
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Cinema’s Greatest Villains: The 1970′s

Recent hot cinema topics such as the portrayal of the Mandarin character in Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 and speculations about what classic Star Trek villain Benedict Cumberbatch’s character in J.J Abrams’ Star Trek: Into Darkness was modeled after leading up to the film’s release, among others, underline the importance of great villains in genre cinema.

Creating a great cinematic villain is a difficult goal that makes for an incredibly rewarding and memorable viewer experience when it is achieved.

We’ll now take a look at the greatest film villains. Other writing on this subject tends to be a bit unfocused, as “greatest villain” articles tend to mix live-action human villains with animated characters and even animals. Many of these articles also lack a cohesive quality as they attempt to cover too much ground at once by spanning all of film history.

This article focuses on the 1970’s,
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What’s All The Hulu-baloo About? [This Week In Criterion's Hulu Channel]

In a world that is getting more and more used to streaming their TV shows, their movies and even their lives, one company is known as the king of it all, and that’s Netflix. But Hulu, being around since 2007, has started to gain some steam this past year alone. Then Hulu Plus came along officially in November 2010, and as a monthly paid subscription promised subscribers full seasons of television shows, more episodes of series that were already on the site. When Criterion announced they were partnering with Hulu to showcase their films on the site, we here at CriterionCast were a bit skeptical.

A bit might be treading lightly. As fans, we first thought it was the biggest mistake they could have made. It was from the mindset that the ‘only’ streaming sight out there was Netflix and any other choice was a poor one. Myself being one that
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DVD Review: "Shogun Assassin" On Blu-ray In UK

  • CinemaRetro
By Spencer Lloyd Peet (

Eureka! Entertainment Ltd has released a Blu-ray and DVD combined two-disc limited edition dual format steelbook of the cult classic blood-spurting Japanese/American film Shogun Assassin. Hailed in the West as one of the most popular samurai films ever, it is a spectacular representation of violence in film as an art form.

The film depicts the story of ronin Itto Ogami (Tomisaburo Wakayama) and his son Daigoro (Akihiro Tomikawa). After the deranged Shogun has Ogami’s wife murdered in an exercise to test the samurai’s loyalty, Ogami abandons his role as official decapitator and, with son in tow who now travels in a wooden cart affixed with hidden lethal weapons, takes up the life of a paid assassin. Lone Wolf and Cub now wander among the wilderness of ancient Japan constantly fending off attacks by ninja spies hired by the Shogun. The
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Shogun Assassin Blu-ray Review

  • HeyUGuys
The production concept behind Shogun Assassin is one that would often immediately put film fan’s noses out of joint but Shogun Assassin is a much loved film and with good reason. Essentially a re-edit and re-dubbing of the first two feature film instalments in the Lone Wolf & Cub series Shogun Assassin was produced as a ‘brand new’ feature for the Us market in 1980.

The film contains approximately twelve minutes of the first Lone Wolf film, Sword of Vengeance, and approximately seventy-five minutes from the second film, Baby Cart at the River Styx (both directed by Kenji Misumi). Director Robert Houston splices various sequences from these films together to create one film that obviously bears a lot of similarities but simplifies and removes plot points in places and drastically alters dialogue. Hiring deaf people to guess at what the characters could be saying Houston then took these approximations and rewrote the script,
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Japan Society, New York, Screening Of Kenji Misumi's "Destiny's Son"

New York inhabitants seeking to extend their filmic Japanorama need look no further than the Japan Society's upcoming screening of Kenji Misumi's 1962 breakthrough film, Destiny's Son (Kiru.)

Forming part of their Monthly Classic Series, The Double-Edged Sword: The Chambara Films of Shintaro Katsu and Ichikawa Raizo, Destiny's Son sees Misumi (Zatoichi, Lone Wolf and Cub) set the formidable Raizo Ichikawa on a visually stylistic journey of revenge and redemption. 

Destiny's Son screens Friday Feb. 19th at 7.30pm.

See Japan Society for tickets and more info. on current and upcoming events.

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Shogun Assassin

The Shogun's former decapitator-in-chief turns Lone Wolf with his young son as they wander the dusty tracks as masterless samurai, always keeping an eye out for the Shogun's nasty ninja’s.

Shogun Assassin must surely be one of the most infamous video nasties, a product of an age not so long ago but which now seems curiously nostalgic to our desensitised modern eyes. “Blood gushes out all over the screen – as if being hosed into the camera!!” Vipco proudly announces on the cover of it’s previously banned 1980 rehash of the first two instalments of the Baby Cart series, itself a version of the original Lone Wolf and Cub manga comics.

Shogun Assassin is basically a violent repackaging of the Sword of Vengeance and Baby Cart at the River Styx films, edited together to maximise the violence and minimise the story for we bloodthirsty Westerners who, in the golden age of gore,
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