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RUNNING TIME: 83 min
Heads roll and the cart keeps on going.
Akihiro Tomikawa, Junko Hitomi, Tomisaburo Wakayama, Minoru Oki and Isao Kimura
Yoshi always wondered why he got left behind on Hoth. Maybe, it was the Tauntaun fuckery. Maybe, it was the tipping off the Probot. It doesn’t matter now. It just doesn’t matter.
Shogun Assassin 5 centers around deposed executioner Ogami Itto and his son Daigoro. Ogami has taken his son across Japan in a quest to find the man who betrayed him and murdered his wife. A rip-roaring path of bloody revenge has been cut across the land, as Itto demands bloody satisfaction. This all sounded cooler before Tarantino co-opted this Nippon revenge tale. Oh well, fuck it.
Lady Snowblood thinks that she might be in the wrong film.
Yagyu Retsudo has lost all three of his sons in his quest to stop Ogami Itto. He decides to call upon a bastard child and his sole daughter. Both have spent years training to be assassins, while hoping to earn their father’s love. But, Yagyu has no love. He only has a desire to see Ogami Itto slain.
The final stand of Ogami Itto comes to the screen with a strong start and then nothing. I can’t think of many film franchises that started off so strong only to end on nothing. Yagyu’s bastard kid steals the show away from Ogami in several scenes. He plays with the mystic side of martial arts that had been missing from a lot of the Lone Wolf and Cub films. At times, all the smoke and jumping around seems silly. But, that’s par for the course.
Ogami dropping Le Tigre on yo’ ass.
The changing of the director for the final installment really hurt the franchise. I don’t know why they went Yoshiyuki Kuroda for this final film. His playing around with reaction shots and the push to get cutesy moments comes across as stitled. If something’s cool, it needs to be seen. I don’t need a cutaway scene to Daigoro. I could give a fuck about what the kid in the Babycart is doing.
The battle in the snow that concludes the film is a mixed bag. It’s staged well and it looks neat. But, it’s the fifth reel in a six-reel movie. I needed a little more to bring to me the necessary conclusion. I needed to see something that said the journey was over. Damn Asians and their ambigious tales of revenge. It’s like Rashomon all over again, if I remember correctly.
Doesn’t the guy on the right look like Bruce Campbell and Gary Oldman fucked?
Shogun Assassin 5 arrives on DVD with what seems to be its third iteration. We first got to see the film in its original Japanese form. Then, there was the English dub and finally we get the American re-cut. It seems as though Animego has found their version of The Evil Dead to shill in the home entertainment realm. I think the multiple cuts show off something interesting about the film. An expanding world of samurai drama played up to the grand levels of human drama.
The A/V Quality is pretty amazing. This is the cleanest print of the film that you’re going to find in Region 1. The special features are rather flat. I don’t care for a remix trailer. The program notes are nice, but they are liner notes. When did liner notes become special in this day and age? We need more as fans.
In the end, Shogun Assassin 5 works as a successful adaptation of a foreign tale into something that works for American audiences. But, it still manages to lose the dramatic underpinnings of the original Japanese film. I don’t really care, as long as it gets more people into Eastern cinema. Some Eastern cinema fans might have a problem with that, but tough shit for them.