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Shogun Assassin (1980)

When the wife of the Shogun's Decapitator is murdered and he is ordered to commit suicide by the paranoid Shogun, he and his four-year-old son escape and become assassins for hire, embarking on a journey of blood and violent death.


Robert Houston, Kazuo Koike (screenplay) | 3 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tomisaburô Wakayama ... Lone Wolf
Kayo Matsuo Kayo Matsuo ... Supreme Ninja
Minoru Ôki ... Master of Death
Shôgen Nitta Shôgen Nitta ... Master of Death
Shin Kishida Shin Kishida ... Master of Death
Akihiro Tomikawa ... Daigoro (as Masahiro Tomikawa)
Lamont Johnson Lamont Johnson ... Voice (voice)
Marshall Efron ... Voice (voice)
Sandra Bernhard ... Voice (voice)
Vic Davis Vic Davis ... Voice (voice)
Lennie Weinrib ... Voice (voice)
Lainie Cooke Lainie Cooke ... Voice (voice) (as Lainie Cook)
Sam Weisman ... Voice (voice)
Mark Lindsay Mark Lindsay ... Voice (voice)
Robert Houston ... Voice (voice)


Long ago there was a great samurai warrior who served his Shogun honorably. The Shogun however grew paranoid as he became more and more senile. The Shogun sought to destroy all those who might stand to oppose his rule, and so he sent his ninja spies to the samurai's home. The ninjas failed to kill the samurai, but did kill his beloved wife. From then on, the samurai swore on his honor to seek out the Shogun and avenge the death of his love. The samurai roams the countryside with his toddler son taking on mercenary work for money until the final battle with the Shogun's three Masters of Death. Written by William Pagan <ny952696@pacevm.dac.pace.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


he whips out his sword and relieves his victims of their heads! See more »


Action | Adventure


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Japan | USA



Release Date:

11 November 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A sógun orgyilkosa See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Mark Lindsay (former lead singer for Paul Revere and the Raiders) co-wrote the music with W. Michael Lewis. The performing credit is listed as "The Wonderland Philharmonic." "Wonderland" refers to the house that Lindsay lived in at one time. However, music cues from the original "Kozure Ôkami" films are also used. See more »


The Shogun: Listen to me, Lone Wolf! I want your head!
Ogami Itto: You cannot kill me! By my eternal vow, I will destroy you!
The Shogun: You and your son are cursed for ever more!
Ogami Itto: Send your ninja! I'll kill them all!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Although often mentioned among video nasty titles the film was never officially listed among the 72 films originally targeted by the DPP. The original UK cinema version was cut by the BBFC to edit shots of heads being sliced with swords and closeups of clawed faces during the ship fight, and the 1992 Vipco video featured a pre-cut print which was also missing shots from the mirror blinding scene. The 1999 release featured the full uncut version. See more »


Referenced in The King of Comedy (1982) See more »

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User Reviews

A difficult film to review
15 July 2005 | by wierzbowskisteedmanSee all my reviews

Released today, film fans across the world would be throwing copies of Shogun Assassin onto bonfires because technically, it is 100x worse than the type of 'rip offs' that people keep accusing Tarantino of lately. Essentially, Shogun is the first fifteen minutes or so of Sword of Vengeance followed by the majority of Babycart at the River Styx copy and pasted into an 80 minute film, with the addition of bad dubbing and some seriously cool music. But, as it stands, Shogun Assassin was 'made' in 1980 and did the full trip around grind house theatres so it has gained a cult following. So today it is looked back on as classic hack and slash cinema, as Kill Bill will probably be in twenty years time as much as some purists hate to admit it.

Speaking from my current state of mind I would say screw Shogun Assassin and go for the six Lone Wolf and Cub films. Even as a cure for film geeks lust for blood and guts, Shogun Assassin seems kind of strange. I never really understood why Houston didn't c & p some of the much more epic scenes of carnage from Babycart to Hades or Babycart in Peril. Still, the fight with the Hidari brothers (or 'Masters of Death' as they are known in Shogun) is one of the coolest in all six films. John Carpenter later used the brothers as prototypes for his '3 Storms' in Big Trouble in Little China, but if he was 'homaging' River Styx or Shogun Assassin we will probably never know.

Ultimately, Shogun Assassin works in the same way as Kill Bill, as a gateway to grind house cinema for the masses. How many people realise, respect and take advantage of this is where the problems start. Regarding Kill Bill, thousands of people see the films and see them as original without realising their true purpose. But it is difficult to argue that both films are not taking advantage of underseen cinema.

Alas, three paragraphs and I haven't actually said if the film is any good. The truth is, I will probably never watch it again because there isn't much point if you are into the LW & C films. But I won't have been introduced to 70s Japanese samurai 'grind house' cinema, which I regard as the best action genre there is, if it wasn't for Shogun. So I can't say it is rubbish, and to be fair, if you haven't seen LW & C it is far from crap, showcasing some of the coolest fight scenes ever filmed along with some seriously awesome music (which is the main reason I still have love for Shogun). Of course, the dubbing completely ruins Wakayama's performance and the Yagyu female ninja leader is turned into a useless loose end.

But Shogun's existence is important and a godsend is stopping 70s Jap samurai cinema from falling into nothingness in the west. If you don't know samurai cinema, watch Shogun once and you will turn into a nerd like me and become instantly obsessed with Japanese cinema. I would never know and love a lot of the films I do now if it wasn't for Shogun, and for that I hold it in the highest regard. Well, sort of.

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