Part of our free Essential Cinema series.
“Wild … unmissable … combines slapstick violence with brilliantly choreographed fight scenes and stunning cinematography.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
The first installment in the legendarily outrageous Lone Wolf and Cub series (encompassing six films based on a long-running manga), Sword of Vengeance begins the epic story of Ogami Ittō, a wandering assassin for hire who is accompanied on his increasingly violent adventures by his young son, Daigoro.
Ogami Ittō (Tomisaburo Wakayama), is a shogun’s executioner who is framed by the Yagyu clan and forced into exile as a wandering assassin for hire. After the killing of his wife by the Yagyus, the bereft Ogami gives his young son Daigoro the choice between instant death (represented by a ball) and the life of the ronin (represented by a sword). As the child reaches for the sword, father and son’s fate is sealed to a life of violence and tragedy. Wheeling Daigoro through the countryside in a wooden baby cart rigged with deadly weapons, Ogami comes to a town held hostage by evil ronins, and he is contracted to stop a planned assassination. A spectacular showdown ensues – one that will leave the town’s population seriously depleted. Considered one of the first samurai films to fully embrace the extreme, comic book-esque sex and violence that would soon become a hallmark of the genre, Sword of Vengeance is a highly-stylized and remarkably intelligent action extravaganza that has influenced generations of filmmakers, including Quentin Tarantino, whose Kill Bill films owe a great debt to the Lone Wolf and Cub series. For years known under its U.S. release title Shogun Assassin (a film which consisted of the most violent scenes from the first two installments of the series edited together into one exploitation classic which played in American drive-ins for years), this is the original, beautifully-restored version of the film that started it all!