TROUBLE CITY

DVD REVIEW: SHOGUN ASSASSIN 2

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Shogun Assassin 2 CoverBUY IT AT AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
STUDIO: AnimEigo
MSRP: $19.98
RATED: R
RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
Image gallery
Movie trivia
Theatrical trailers

The Pitch

A pudgy samurai warrior endangers his child by giving him a horrible haircut and bringing him along on a journey full of death and destruction.

The Humans

Tomisaburo Wakayama, Go Kato and Yuko Hama

The Nutshell

Shogun Assassin 2: Lightning Swords of Death is the sequel to the original Shogun Assassin, which was actually two films in the Lone Wolf and Cub series smashed together haphazardly. Shogun Assassin 2 is the third film in the series, known as Baby Cart to Hades in its native land of Japan. Movie titles don't come much cooler than that.


Weeaboo! Weeaboo! Weeaboo!


Ogami Itto was the Shogun’s executioner until he was framed for an assassination plot and his wife was murdered by hired thugs. Ogami and his son, Daigoro, go down the path of the ronin and become samurai without masters. They travel the countryside, dispatching the Shogun’s assassins and ultimately plotting their revenge upon him.

In this chapter, Ogami crosses paths with a corrupt governor who doesn’t appreciate Ogami’s refusal to help him terrorize the countryside. As usual, the governor dispatches his best assassins, one at a time of course, to try and bring him the head of Ogami. Lots of bloodletting follows as Ogami’s sword carves up underling after underling as his mute son looks on.


I seem to have misplaced my sword. It has to be around here somewhere.


The Lowdown

Despite the title of the film and the English dubbing, Shogun Assassin 2 is more or less an straight re-release of Baby Cart to Hades. The film remains relatively unmolested by American hands, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on what you’re looking for. None of the ‘80s charm of the original Shogun Assassin is here. No poorly worded voiceovers by Daigoro, no pumping synthesizer beats and not nearly enough arterial spraying. The film is an entertaining sword and sandal tale and just as good as the other films in the Lone Wolf and Cub series, but if you loved Shogun Assassin for its cheesiness, you won’t find much of it here.

Shogun Assassin 2’s plot feels more like a retread of the previous film than anything fresh or new. Ogami offends someone with power who proceeds to dispatch numerous assassins to kill him. In the original Shogun Assassin, these hired killers all had neat gimmicks such as iron claws to differentiate them from each other. The killers in Shogun Assassin 2 are all nameless swordsmen who last about five seconds against Ogami in combat. The film does make an effort to up the ante when it comes to the baby cart antics though. The buggy has been transformed into an arsenal on wheels capable of leveling an entire army.


You brought this upon yourself! You clearly saw my "Baby and Portable Arsenal On Board" sign!


The voiceover from the original Shogun Assassin was horribly performed and probably written in thirty minutes, but it at least gave the character of Daigoro a presence in the film. With the voiceover gone, Daigoro is reduced to a mute little kid that just stares at everyone like a creep. The films are undeniably more about Ogami’s killing sprees than Daigoro’s experience growing up amongst so much death, but the voiceover was still a nice addition and helped flesh out the importance of the father/son relationship in the series.

The real reason many people watch the Lone Wolf and Cub series is to see jets of blood spray out of any body part that can be sliced and Shogun Assassin 2 delivers. The film is slow to start, but by its conclusion plenty of brains have been splattered around the countryside by Ogami’s blade. Shogun Assassin 2 also features plenty of nudity to go along with the gore, but it’s all of the uncomfortable variety. The first thirty minutes of the film are almost dominated by rape scenes. Don’t worry. Since it’s feudal Japan, both the rapists and the raped get executed to save face!


Oh, come on! My wife gave me this bandit outfit!


Shogun Assassin 2 is a fun and typical film of its genre, but it doesn’t do much to its source material besides an English dub. Robert Houston’s magical hand wasn’t involved here, so if you loved Shogun Assassin for the ‘80s factor, you’ll be disappointed by this film. Also, if you like the entire series of Lone Wolf and Cub films, you’ve probably already seen the original Baby Cart to Hades with subtitles, so you’ll also be disappointed by this film. Who is this film for? People who just want to pop in a DVD and see men get eviscerated by sharp blades for 90 minutes and then move on with their lives. In other words, great men.

The Package

The disc’s only real feature of merit is a tiny slideshow with notes about the film. Whoever put together these notes was pretty comprehensive, as they go from the general stuff such as the history of the Lone Wolf and Cub films to explaining Japanese cultural artifacts that appears throughout the movie. It really helps put to rest any confusion created by seeing Japanese women walking around with black teeth. It turns out they didn’t go down on a cavity creepy after all. It was just the style!


All I need is a pair of helping hands and Barbara Crampton's nethers and I'm in business!


Also included in the extras are a boring image gallery and fun trailers for other sword and sandal films such as the original Shogun Assassin and Zatoichi’s Revenge. A lot of attention is given to the “movie voice “guy, Don LaFontaine, but no love is sent to the mysterious voice-over man responsible for so many B-movie trailers. Doing voiceovers for Academy Award winning films may earn you money, but doing voiceovers for Shogun Assassin and Surf Nazis Must Die is what earns respect.

Overall: 7.0 out of 10