Shogun Assassin (1980)

Lone wolf and son. The greatest team in the history of mass slaughter.
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Shogun Assassin - Lone wolf and son. The greatest team in the history of mass slaughter.

It's not usual that a Samurai movie would be reviewed on this site but Shogun Assassin (known in Japan as Kozure Okami) is here for two reasons. Number one is that this movie almost made the notorious Video Nasty list in the UK and number two is the plentiful amount of blood and violence. One of the movie's taglines is "It's impossible to keep a body count!" and it definitely rings true. The movie focuses less on martial arts skills and concentrates on swordplay, gushers of blood and dismemberment, hence it is often regarded as a horror movie and hence it was banned as part of the Video Nasty hysteria.

Shogun Assassin tells the story of "Lone Wolf", a powerful and masterless samurai out for revenge for the death of his wife, who was killed when he refused to pledge allegiance to the vicious Shogun Kurando. Armed with only his swords and his young son Tizuro in a wooden baby cart (a wooden baby cart pimped up with various sharp instruments); he sets out to avenge the death of his beloved wife.

Lone Wolf's retribution plan is to take out the Shoguns sons, but unfortunately Kurando is expecting him and unleashes numerous assassins to take out the rogue samurai. Luckily for Tizuro (who narrates the story) his father is an unstoppable killing machine and easily and quickly disposes of numerous armies of ninja's and soldiers, the Supreme Ninja, the legendary Masters of Death and the Shogun's sons.

Plotwise there is not much more to this movie. Each scene is different violent encounters that Lone Wolf must face as he tracks down the Shogun's sons, from ambush to sword fight, to recovery and some wise words from Tizuro. The blood and violence are excessive and this movie was obviously a major influence on Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill movies. Most of the blood and dismemberment come from Lone Wolf's swords although in one scene the Baby cart uncovers a number of hidden blades and rolls down a hill relieving people of their feet, also the "Masters of Death" cause some major damage armed with a club, spiked gloves and a claw.

Lone Wolf is like the samurai version of Superman except he seems to have no Kryptonite equivalent, all of the fighting scenes are over quite quickly as Lone Wolf is obviously a master of death himself but the swiftness of the killings does not lessen the intensity of the rivers of blood, bodiless limbs, split heads and impalements.

Shogun assassin is in fact an amalgamation of two movies from the Japanese Lone Wolf and Cub series of six movies, specifically targeted at the US and British audience. This movie does not fit snugly in the horror genre but from my experience of samurai and martial arts movies (which is admittedly a fairly limited experience) this is probably not your average one of those.

This movie will keep you fixated from the beginning to the very abrupt ending as it is a rollercoaster ride of action, blood and peculiar dialogue.
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Categories: Asian Horror Movies

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