Dirs. Robert Houston & Kenji Misumi
Strangely, a film like Shogun Assassin is as famous for being a Video Nasty despite, as recent documentary releases on the Video Nasty debacle prove, it wasn't even a candidate for the prosecution lists. Its of course a film as famous as the original Lone Wolf and Cub films it was built from, one of the few re-cut and re-edited versions of an original, foreign work that is still loved, not looked down upon like a dubbed Hong Kong martial art film, and in some ways is loved more than the originals and not necessarily for nostalgia reasons. Seen in its remastered form, literally rebuilt and probably better looking than the original release of it was, Shogun Assassin shows itself up to be an impressive work by itself.
Abstract Rating (High/Medium/Low/None): Medium
Its a conventional manga based samurai story, though because its adapted from a manga from Koike Kazuo, it has some pretty insane content that would increase as the original Lone Wolf and Cub films went on. What really stands out for the film, why it has a Medium rating, is its composition, how the film was made, which makes it far and away more alien, existing in its own universe. With its dubbed voices, comic book violence and brilliant cinematography, I could have dreamt the film up rather than have seen it. The music is incredible, its dated synthesizers ominous and adding a cathartic power to the visual content. As much as I liked the Lone Wolf and Cub films that made this one, Shogun Assassin is the more atmospheric interpretation.
For a full review, read my Videotape Swapshop review here. Also take a look at the Video Nasty reviews by my fellow authors if you are interested.