by Jack Nilan            EMail :

Shogun Assassin (1980)

Director: Robert Houston

Jack   B

IMDB    7.4



Voice of Daigoro: When I was little, my father was famous. He was the greatest Samurai in the empire, and he was the Shogun's decapitator. He cut off the heads of 131 lords for the Shogun. It was a bad time for the empire. The Shogun just stayed inside his castle and he never came out. People said his brain was infected by devils, and that he was rotting with evil. The Shogun said the people were not loyal. He said he had a lot of enemies, but he killed more people than that. It was a bad time. Everybody living in fear, but still we were happy. My father would come home to mother, and when he had seen her, he would forget about the killings. He wasn't scared of the Shogun, but the Shogun was scared of him. Maybe that was the problem. At night, mother would sing for us, while father would go into his temple and pray for peace. He'd pray for things to get better. Then, one night the Shogun sent his ninja spies to our house. They were supposed to kill my father, but they didn't. That was the night everything changed, forever. That was when my father left his samurai life and became a demon. He became an assassin who walks the road of vengeance. And he took me with him. I don't remember most of this myself. I only remember the Shogun's ninja hunting us wherever we go. And the bodies falling. And the blood.

   Shogun Assassin was edited and compiled from the first two films in the Lone Wolf and Cub series, using twelve minutes of the first film, Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance, and most of Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx.

   The movie opens up with a young boy talking about his father, Lone Wolf, who had been the executioner for the Shogun. The Shogum had grwon old, and had become paranoid. He was killing everyone. the Shogun sent some ninjas to the kill his executuioner, but they ended up killing his wife instead.

   The Lone Wolf then walked the road of vengeance, and took his baby with him in a cart. Baby in hand he chops down the Shogun's men. He has a duel with the Shogun's son, baby on his back, and chops his head off.

   The Shogun sends men to execute the Lone Wolf's son as punishment, but Lone Wolf kills them all. Lone Wolf begins doing jobs for money. He is now an assassin for hire. he is hired to kill three brothers, the Masters of Death, who fight with different styles. His son keeps track of the Shogun's ninjas he kills : 342 .. 345. Men and women, they all fall before his sword.

   Lonesome Wolf also uses the cart as a weapon as blades come out of its wheels. Lone Wolf meets up with the three Masters of Death. One of he masters has claws on his hands, one uses a club ans the other has iron fists. Lone Wolf makes quick work of them.

   The dubbing in English adds to the cartoonish effect of the film, and it works. Heads go flying and blood is everywhere. More outlandish, campy and over the top than Kill Bill, which it probably was an influence on. The story isn't great or believable, it's all about the style.

   I usually like my samurai movies straight, without the camp or comedy. But this movie was very well done.