Monday, 7 May 2012

Review - Shogun Assassin (1980 - Dir. Robert Houston)


I can remember seeing this a long time ago when I was a tiny little evlkeith, more of a moderately-spitefulkeith at that point - I was still in evil training. It was a cut version that I had to rent from Creepy's Seedy Video Emporium but even so, it was bound to be at the very limit of acceptable gore standards. As I watched, I couldn't help but dream about what the uncut version was like - a veritable smorgasbord of lopped heads and dribbling entrails. Beauty.




It was with some trepidation that I sat down to watch an uncut version only recently. I removed my rose-tinted glasses, (I am often confused with Elton John. No, sorry. That's a lie. That would be horrendous) and prepared myself. 




Let's face facts: I was always going to be disappointed. It all seems very tame now, especially compared to the excesses of Machine Girl and Helldriver. There are some quite stylish gore scenes with split heads and blood fountains, although I think I was expecting a lot more decapitations and limb choppings.




It is quite funny in parts, especially the panto acting of the shogun. The camera zooms in on his face at regular intervals and he performs comedy evil grimaces with his symmetrial eyebrow/moustache combo (two lines of symmetry - nice).




The story concerns a samurai and his son, travelling around with a baby cart (a babby cart - Yorkshire translation) trying to evade the Shogun's sneaky ninjas. The film was cut together from two original Japanese films: Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance and Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx. I can't help thinking that I would rather watch the originals instead. Why did the films need to be dubbed and simplified into one truncated package? I would have thought that even Japanese language unedited versions of the original films would have become successful at the time. Just for the blood alone. It would only take one film like this to be a mega-hit and it would open up a world of cinema for viewers, rather than having to sit through pale-imitation remakes. Or badly dubbed versions of Studio Gibli classics. Rant over.




Easily the best characters in the film are the Masters of Death each with their own signature weapon. Luckily we get to see them in action, slicing, bludgeoning and hacking their way through numerous sword-fodder, before they finally meet our heroes. This builds their part up nicely and provides worthy foes. Our Mars Bar magnet hero still has a good go at them. What amazes me is how a chubby little fellow like this can be such a top samurai. I think I need to eat more Ginsters. Maybe that will hone my skills.




This is a film that I file under 'influential but not that great now'. I want to like it more than I do - and I did enjoy it to a certain degree - but It just doesn't get me that excited now. Some people love it though, so give it a try. If you fancy.
5/10
evlkeith

 

If you like this you could also try: Saviour of the Soul, Sword of the Stranger, Machine Girl, Zatoichi, Lady Snowblood.




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