Monday, August 30, 2010
bad/awesome flixxx review: Shogun Assassin (1980)
"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."- Daigoro (Cub)
"They will pay... In rivers of blood!"- Ogami Itto (Lone Wolf)
"Your technique is magnificent. When cut across the neck, a sound like wailing winter winds is heard they say. I've always hoped to cut someone like that someday to hear that sound, but to have it happen to my own neck ---is ridiculous."- Claw (Master of Death)
Rounding out the "Big 3 Cult Ninja/Samurai/Black Belt movies" (the others being Riki-Oh, and The Crippled Masters) we have arguably the greatest samurai movie of all time. This flick is simultaneously as beautiful and as bloody as they come. Originally released in Japan as a six film series beginning in 1972 based on the long running manga comic series LONE WOLF AND CUB, the first 2 films were recut, and released in the US and Britain in 1980 as SHOGUN ASSASSIN!!
Most people who first watch the film recognize the voice of the dubbed voice of Daigoro in the first few moments as the sample in the beginning of the GZA's debut solo record "LIQUID SWORDS". Daigoro comes on to explain that his father (Ogami Itto) was a "famous" man. He was the "Shogun's" killer for years, until the Shogun's mind became infected with "devils". The Shogun became untrusting and sent his guards to kill Ogami Itto. In the original films, there was a war between the different clans, and the Shogun was like one of the head Emperors or some shit. Anyway, he sends his goons to off Ogami Itto, but Ogami was out doing some samurai shit. The goons killed his wife, and shamed his honor. So Ogami freaked out, swore vengeance and became the mad one, the mad wolf, or the Lone Wolf. He quit his job with the empire, and was gonna split, but the Shogun had other ideas.
The Shogun made Lone Wolf win his freedom by fighting the Shogun's son. Wolf did it with ease. Then he comes and says, ok you won your freedom, but you didn't win the freedom for your son, so hand him over, we're gonna sacrifice him since you killed my son. Wolf is like, "Bull-shit!", and he starts hackin dudes up. He even kills the Shogun's other son. Shogun's like, I'll send every son I have up against you. Wolf is like, I'll kill every ninja in this world you motherfucker.
So then, the Wolf asks his son to make a choice, choose a ball or choose the sword. If he chose the ball, Wolf would kill him and he would rest in peace with his mother, if he chose the sword, he would walk along the path to hell with his father. Needless to say, he chooses the sword. Then they set out, always wary of what lay on the road ahead. Lone Wolf slices and dices his way throughout their journey easily defeating every enemy with a giant spray of blood across the screen. Its beautiful. The end of the story shows how they make money on their journey. Selling his services as a secret assassin to those who can't protect themselves from the empire's taxing lords, he is set on a journey to find and kill the Shogun's brother. The journey takes them on a ship, through the desert, and against 3 men known as the Masters of Death. The Masters of Death look as though they were the inspiration for the "Three Storms" in my favorite movie of all time BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA.
So... I would go ahead and give this movie the highest rating that I can give a flick. Find yourself a copy and buy it, and watch it at least once a year with a giant pizza and a couple buddies. word up. PS, the goddamned soundtrack sounds like it was written by John Carpenter. Its amazing. Turns out it was the singer from Paul Revere and the Raiders, Mark Lindsay. Ba-zong!