Lone Wolf And Cub: Baby Cart In The Land Of Demons (1973)
Genre: Samurai Period Action Drama Serial (Japan)
Starring: Tomisaburo Wakayama (Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold, The Ninja), Michiyo Ookusu (Face, Zatoichi (2003))
Directed By: Kenji Misumi (Lone Wolf And Cub: Sword Of Vengeance, Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice)
Overview: In the fifth instalment the Lone Wolf and Cub Series, our hero is challenged by five samurai messengers who each have a piece of his assignment. He must kill a young girl wrongly planted as heir to a Lord. We also see Daigoro prove his own bravery and honour when accused of working with a wanted pickpocket.
Acting: In my previous reviews of this series I never really assessed the young Cub Daigoro's acting. Granted he is three years old and until now his role has been fairly subdued, more like a ward to be guarded than a character developed, but here we have a nice little storyline where the kid proves his stoic and aged demeanour, very cool indeed. As for the rest of the cast, top notch as always.
Cinematography: Gore flying around is still the order of the day. I think we see our first midline bisection if I'm not mistaken, and it looks really believable, icky! I'm not surprised anymore at the crazy authentic haircuts, costumes and villages but I'm still impressed at the skill of the storyboarding and the visuals, not to mention all the blood and samurai action.
Script: The honour and life lessons exudes our hero like the blood dripping from his blade. I will admit that the dialogue was a little harder to follow, but I'll chalk that up to the booze and the company. I think my favorite of the speeches was the one delivered by one of the mission-giving samurai. Wounded, he falls near the fire, flames lowly rising. He quickly shares his part of the task as he becomes completely engulfed. Intense!
Plot: By the fifth in the series, you pretty much know how it's going to be: here's some money, be a ronin even though it's not all that honourable, kill this guy, face an army to do it, mission over. Lots of twists in this one though. The doozie of a mission is delivered in a series of challenges, there's some genuine risk going in, and the subplots are plentiful. A terrific story this time around.
Mood: Knowing how far this person is willing to go to make a buck and hone his skill to go back and slay the Yagyu who framed him is made abundantly clear in this one. We always knew that he was willing to lay himself on the line, but no one seems innocent in his eyes when there's dollars involved, and he's almost brazen in his cold attitude towards fate and his son. As ever it was, this is super-cool and immersive.
Overall Rating: 86% (Damned Good)
Aftertaste: I'm debating watching all the Zatoichis now. Not only was there the 2004 film, but the original 1965 series numbered over twenty, and there's also the 17 episodes of the 1974 TV series to consider as well. It's alright kiddies, I'm not going Samurai crazy anytime soon. I think I'll take a little break after this to catch up with more well-known classics...
Double Happiness Daigoro Detail Corner: One more kill brings baby Cub to six!