Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (1972) Poster

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10/10
Beauty among slaughter
jolgo1317 November 2002
The first entry in a series of master pieces. Based very strongly upon the manga series `Lone Wolf and Cub' is most likely the best film series derived from comics. And truly great films as well. One cannot base one story on a single comic. There are so many elements in each. There is a basic story, but often times there are mixed with others. Little things are thrown in as well. Normally it would make any less a film seem crammed or just forced in. But it is pulled off brilliantly.

This film, the first entry is largely a set up for the sequels but still brilliant, from its beautiful camera shots to the extremely gory ascetic fights. It tells the story of how the main character Ogami Itto was exiled from his royal position as the Shoguns decapitator. It flashes from past to present until the entire past story is told. The ending fight is a great climax.

The sword work although at times seems fake is brilliantly choreographed. The gore in the film is not overly done, but rather thrown in to give it an artistic feel, as if you're watching a moving painting. Often times one may think every scene could very well be a panting.

Some aspects of the plot may seem odd to most western audiences. The scene where Ogami gives his son a choice between a ball and a sword. Or rather life or death, may strike many people as cold. However one must understand bushido and know that the way of the samurai is life in death. Ask yourself what would be worse taking your son on a trip as you kill men beyond number, or giving somewhat of a choice.

This film is truly beautiful, and hold up today as not just one of the greatest samurai films ever made, but films period.
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8/10
Beautiful, bloody and brilliant.
BA_Harrison15 September 2007
Like many fans, my first exposure to the world of badass warrior Ogami Itto (and son) was through Shogun Assassin, an infamous 'video nasty' that was compiled from the 'best bits' of the first two movies in the Baby Cart series, 'Sword Of Vengeance' & 'Baby Cart At The River Styx. A stylish blood-drenched epic, Shogun Assassin piqued my interest enough to make me seek out the entire Baby Cart series (comprising of six films, made between 1972 and 1974).

Sword of Vengeance introduces us to protagonist Itto (Tomisaburo Wakayama), whose job, as Second for the Shogunate, is to execute the enemies of the Shogun, should they fail to commit seppuku (ritual suicide). After his wife is murdered, Itto is framed for treason by the nasty Yagyu clan (who wish to take his coveted position as Second). Now a Ronin—a samurai without a master— he takes to the road working as an assassin for hire, accompanied by his young son Daigoro, who rides in a booby-trapped wooden cart. Together, they are known as Lone Wolf and Cub.

With superbly choreographed fight scenes, wonderful cinematography, a terrific soundtrack, and a great central performance from Wakayama, this is an unmissable piece of samurai cinema. Itto is the Japanese equivalent of Clint Eastwood's 'man with no name': a cool-headed, tough-as-nails, and honourable character who is sparing with his words, and who only acts with violence when necessary (but always with devastating results).

A lethal force with his sword (and also with the variety of weapons secreted about Daigoro's cart), Itto cuts a swathe through all who are stupid enough to challenge him. A quick flash of his blade, and his enemies are either minus a limb or two, or spouting a geyser of blood from a fatal wound.

Sword of Vengeance is a prime example of cool, gritty and stylish 70s cult cinema. Watch it, and be cool by association.
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8/10
The beginning of one of the most entertaining Japanese movie-series.
Boba_Fett113817 April 2010
The foremost reason why this is a standout movie-series is because of it's unusual and highly original main concept. There are plenty of Japanese movies about a shogun, ronin or a samurai fulfilling their destinies and travel through the country, getting into all kind of adventures and troubles. The Kozure Ôkami-series has an original take on this type of movies by letting the main character carry and drive around his infant son in an armed and dangerous baby cart. His infant son even helps him in battle sometime. No big surprise that this all is being based on a manga-series, by Kazuo Koike, who also contributed to this movie its script.

It also becomes obvious that this movie is being based on a manga when you look at its violence. It's really deliberately being over-the-top and the entire series is well known for featuring fountains of blood, whenever someone gets struck down or gets a limb or head cut off. It's a pretty bloody movie but because it all gets down in such an over-the-top way, it's nothing too shocking to watch, even when you don't have the stomach for it.

It are really its action sequences that stand out and there is plenty of action in this one. All of the fights got nicely choreographed and brought to the screen and above all things they also often have something original to offer. Often Itto uses some tricks to fool his opponents and can strike down the best trained and most powerful shogun with one strike because of some clever and unexpected moves and tricks, sometimes helped by his infant son Daigorô.

The movie is good looking, thanks to its fine directing, that provides the movie with some nicely done sequences but also due to its great looking environments. The movie often uses nature elements and environments as a key part of the movie its climatic battles, such as water or the sun.

All in all, a great start of the series!

8/10

http://bobafett1138.blogspot.com/
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Based on Excellent Graphic Novel Series
eibon0913 June 2001
Kozure Okami:Kowokashi Undekashi Tsukamatsuru/Lone Wolf & Cub:Sword of Vengeance(1972) is the story of an once distinguished samurai executioner who was framed for treason. Shows how the main character went into being an avenging assassin. After the death of his wife, Ogami Itto makes a vow of vengeance on the people responsible for the murder of his wife and his frame up. With his son Daigoro by his side, Itto tends towards the road of assassin as a way to get even with his arch enemy, the Yagyu Clan. His assignment in this story is to kill a few high officers of a samurai clan who plan on killing their future leader.

The action sequences are visually arresting and physically awesome. The sword play in these action scenes are fresh and imaginative. Many of these scenes are gory and violent but not as gory as in some of the later Lone Film & Cub films. Lone Wolf & Cub:Sword of Vengeance(1972) does an excellent job in being faithful to the visual style of the samurai sword fights from the graphic novels. The camera work on these action scenes are free flowing with style and booming with graceful movement.

The film combines the back story of volume one and volume six in the Lone Wolf & Cub comics. The prologue and the first flashback is from volume six. The second flashback later in the movie is from the first volume. These scenes for the most part are faithful to the original source. The dialogue, however is slightly different in the film from volumes one and six.

The first flashback that depicts Itto's frame up by the Yagyu fills the screen with a sea of human emotions. This scene shows the relationship between Ogami and his wife to be caring and tender. The moment when Azami touches her son's face and then dies is very sad. One of the few times in the film and the series that Ogami Itto is highly emotional. Scene depicts Ogami Itto as a man who is bound by the code of Bushido.

Lone Wolf & Cub:Sword of Vengeance(1972) is not as polish or technically slick as the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa. Does not share Kurosawa's eye for the spectacle touch of his samurai pictures. Also, not deep in depiction of human nature and human error like Akira Kurosawa's Samurai epics. The mindset and the beliefs of the samurai is better depicted here. More an authentic look at the period of the Shogun and the fatalistic nature of the samurai warrior.

The scene where Ogami Itto gives his son the choice of the ball or the sword is intense and suspenseful. Its in this scene that Itto and his son Daigoro become the Lone Wolf & Cub. The choice given to Daigoro is cruel yet compassionate. When Daigoro touches the sword his path is more fatalistic and worst than death. A very emotional moment for Ogami Itto because of his love for his son and the fact that their path together will be of loneiness and tragedy.

The love scene with the prostitute and Ogami Itto is erotic yet not overly explicit. Effective in the use of camera movement and dissolves. Scene is well edited. The only love scene that Ogami Itto is involved during the entire Lone Wolf & Cub movies. Shows that Itto will sacrifice the feeling of shame to save a girl who is an outcast like himself.

The revenge motif dominates the motives of Ogami Itto as well as the plot development of Lone Wolf & CUb:Sword of Vengeance(1972). This motif is done in the same manner as in many Italian Westerns. The theme of revenge makes the film pretty much a Japanese Spaghetti Western. Honor and revenge are the two most important things for Ogami Itto. The motif of revenge is a strong force in both the comic and film version of Lone Wolf and Cub.

The Climatic battle scene builds up with an incredible amount of suspense. Awesome depiction of sword play with some gory moments. The camera moves around in a smooth fashion and acts as another member of the cast. The director, Kenji Misumi does the battle scenes in the graphic novel series. Tomisaburo Wakayama is excellent in doing this scene.

Contains a disturbing and harrowing rape scene. The cinematography, editing, and art direction are first class. Tomisaburo Wakayama was the perfect actor to play Ogami Itto because of his physical similarites. Akihiro Tomikawa is cute as Ogami Daigoro. The Violence here is on the level of the blood letting from The Streetfighter movies.
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10/10
superb movie, this was a major influence on quentin Tarantino's kill bill
bryan-mconnor30 December 2013
My knowledge in Japanese samurai films is a bit narrow, but I'll take the chance to draw a parallelism between east and west cinema that could sound blasphemous or stupid to somebody who knows more about it. But I suppose, if westerns had John Ford as a traditionalist filmmaker and Sergio Leone as a revolutioner who shattered that sanitized and mythic image and made it dirty and unheroic, I could apply that same logic to samurai films of Akira Kurosawa and then to what Kenji Misumi accomplished in this first chapter. I guess that shallow explanation could serve a newcomer to picture what kind of brilliant and bloody action film they'll find here. also judging from the bloody fight scenes its clear where Tarantino got his influence for his Kill Bill films.
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9/10
Beautiful, disturbing, bloody & touching.
vpappler-116 July 2002
I hold true to my summary. Beautiful. I belive that the cinematography is excellent in perspective and atmosphere. Disturbing. There is a rape scene which is not gratuitous in its presentation but is nevertheless disturbing. Bloody. It is a samuri/swordplay film after all. Touching. There is a gruff honor about this film that I truly appreciated. The ideas of duty, honor, disgrace and vengence meet here. If you like the genre I think that you will like this movie.
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8/10
Good, decent Samurai film...first of a series.
rcp024 September 2003
Sword of Vengeance is the first film in a series about a noble samurai and his son fallen from grace through a conspiracy, and now under a constant fear of death by assassination. This movie by itself is a fine example of how a more modern, 'slasher' style Samurai film and 'old' values like honor and '1-good-Samurai-defeats-army-of-bad-Samurai' can be put together to make a solid, entertaining film. The later films are sometimes better, sometimes worse than this movie, but I found all of them to be very entertaining and worthwhile.

If you like to see some classic Samurai action, check out the whole serie of six films. Years later they took all the juicy bits out of the first four films and stitched them together to form the film 'Shogun Assassin', a film I suspect made for export to western countries: Less story, more blood.
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10/10
The Brilliant Start to the Greatest Samurai-Cycle in Motion Picture History! Warning: Spoilers
Even before seeing the "Kozure Ôkami" (aka. "Lone Wolf And Cub") films, I was already a fan of director Kenji Misumi, for entries to the popular "Zatoichi" series, and even more so, for his sleazy and brilliant 1972 Samurai-Exploitation masterpiece "Goyôkiba" (aka. "Hanzo The Razor - Sword Of Justice") starring the great Shintaro Katsu. At the latest when I first saw this first part to the "Kozure Okami" cycle, Misumi irrevocably became one of my favorite directors of all-times. He directed the first, second, third and fifth film of what is arguably the most brilliant Samurai-saga ever brought to screen, and this "Kozure Ôkami: Kowokashi udekashi tsukamatsuru" aka. "Lone Wolf And Cub: Sword Of Vengeance" of 1972 is the first of these incomparably brilliant films. Tomisaburo Wakayama, elder brother of the more famous and equally great Shintaro Katsu ("Zatôichi", "Hanzo The Razor"), is brilliant in the role of his life as Ogami Itto, my personal favorite (anti-)hero character in the history of motion pictures.

Ogami Itto, the 'Kaishakunin' (highest executioner) of the Shogunate, falls victim to a conspiracy by the powerful Yagyu-clan. After his wife is murdered, Itto is supposed to commit seppuku with his infant son Daigoro. He waits for his accusers in mourning dress. Not in order to kill himself, however, but to announce that he and his son will henceforth walk the 'path of hell' as an assassin, killing for 500 ryu as the 'Lone Wolf with his child', in order to clear his name and avenge his wife's death...

Tomisaburo Wakayama as Itto Ogami is, as mentioned above, in my opinion one of the greatest (and most bad-ass) characters in motion picture history. Even though the 'Ôkami' films are based on a comic book series, it seems like the role of Ogami Itto was written especially for Tomisaburo Wakayama, and as if Wakayama was born to play this particular role. Sheer brilliance also comes from Akihiro Tomikawa, who plays Ogami Itto's infant son Daigoro, and who never played another role after the "Lone Wolf and Cub" series. Never have I seen a greater child-character nor a greater child-performance in a film. In this first film, Daigoro is still a toddler who doesn't speak a word, and yet it is him who is responsible for some of the most ingenious and witty moments in the film. The film is blood-soaked throughout (and the successors become even more violent) and yet the father-son relationship of Ogami Itto and Daigoro gives these ultra-violent Chambara-highlights a sort of heart-warming touch at times. The ingenious score by Hideaki Sakudai is equally impressive as the brilliant editing and prefect cinematography. Hardly have sequences made an impact on me as in the 'Ôkami' films when the music suddenly stops and hardly a sound is heard. Simply everything about "Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance" is perfection in my eyes: the unique atmosphere, the feeling, the brilliant performance and characters (above all Ogami Itto and Daigoro), the impressive locations, the swordplay sequences and incomparably stylish gore, the score... I could keep on praising this film for a long time, but I'll simply conclude with an advice: Get this film now! The entire "Kozure Okami" cycle ranks high on my personal all-time favorite list, and this first film is particularly essential! The American director Robert Houston edited the first two 'Okami' films together as "Shogun Assassin" in 1980 (I haven't seen it yet), but, as far as I am considered the Japanese Language is an absolutely essential factor here, and I strongly advise everybody to go for the (subtiteled) Japanese version. I first saw this film when I got all six 'Okami' films on DVD about a month ago, and I have seen the entire cycle three times by now, so you can imagine how deep an impact this has made on me. In short: "Kozure Ôkami: Kowokashi udekashi tsukamatsuru" is a masterpiece that is absolutely essential for any lover of film to see! 10/10!
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10/10
You would've been happier if you'd chosen to join your mother in her world.
bc794164410 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I absolutely knew from the beginning that I would love this film especially when the main character started swinging his sword resulting in blood rushing out of his enemy bodies like a sprinkler. also the scene where his infant child plays a part in defeating his enemy he had challenged to a dual. the character were likable the main character Itto, the brave prostitute who he saves and last but not least in my opinion the most likable the child. in my opinion the music which was perfect early 70s cinematic music was excellent. the sound effects were brilliant. the editing was perfect also the colours and camera angles were absolutely beautifully perfect especially during the swordfight/ dual scenes. I would have to rate this movie a 10 out of 10 my second favourite film behind the godfather.
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9/10
The one that started it all
nkingstown322 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The Lone Wolf and Cub movies are not particularly well known outside Japan, largely due to the fact that they have not been available until fairly recently. The central figure is Ogami Itto, played by Tomisaburo Wakayama (brother of Katsu Shintaro of Zatoichi fame) the Official Shogunate Executioner, which makes him the best and most feared master swordsman in all of Japan. The Yagyu Shadow Clan desperately lust after Ogami's very prestigious position, and plot to frame him as a traitor to the Shogunate. The plan works, and Itto's wife and servants are all killed. Only he and his adorable infant son Daigoro remain. Ogami swears revenge against the Yagyu and the best way for him to accomplish this is to become an assassin for hire, as he charges 500 gold pieces for every assignment. He is commissioned to assassinate a large band of Ronin who plot on killing the ailing lord of a powerful clan. All the LW&C movies are extremely violent, this one in particular.Wakayama's Iaito skills are first rate, and it's hard to believe that a chubby, dumpy looking middle-aged man can wield a sword with such grace and speed. He is absolutely awe-inspiring to watch. Simply a fantastic movie.
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8/10
Classic samurai series
Tuco-418 August 1998
The first film in a great series of samurai films. Veteran Japanese actor Tomisaburo Wakayama, brother of Shintaro Katsu (Zatoichi), stars as the ultra-stoic hero Ogami Itto, who, along with his infant son Daigoro and a babycart with hidden spears and guns, wages a one-man war against the evil Yagyu clan who killed his wife and framed him for disloyalty to the Shogunate. A very well-made series of action films, some reasonably inventive direction, editing, and photography, a good soundtrack too. The action scenes are especially well-done, from the one-on-one sword duels to the Wild Bunch-style Ogami Itto vs. Everybody battles at the end of each film. A must-see for anyone who enjoys Spaghetti Westerns or martial-arts films.
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10/10
But when I swing my swords they all choppable
ac667607511 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I first heard about these movie after one of my friend's recommended me to watch it.

so I purchased the DVD off amazon and I have to say I am not disappointed, I love action movies especially those of die hard and terminator 2. the kill count in these movies make die hard look like a Disney film lol. the gore is over the top but when I say that over the top with brilliance. the story is easy to understand and well written also brilliantly executed.

overall this movie deserves 10 out of 10 this movie should have more reviews because it is awesome!!!!
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10/10
Love it
euanconn969 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I absolutely love samurai genre films especially Seven samurai, yojimbo, sanjuro, samurai rebellion, throne of blood, Azumi, kill bill, last samurai and many others. my temptations were high before this film and one thing for sure I was not let down at all in my opinion this has to be my second most favourite samurai film behind Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. the sword fight scenes are beyond iconic especially the moments of silence when the main character Itto Ogami is moving katana drawn whilst circles of enemy soldiers are standing who don't even stand a chance against a ex shogunate executioner. this movie also is filmed beautifully, the angles and the colours are amazing. when it comes to fight scenes no one can beat the Asians seriously the Japanese samurai films and the Chinese kung fu moves both have an eye for detail. I highly recommend this film to samurai movie/ sword fighting lovers, even people who absolutely adored the kill bill series. you will not regret it 10 out of 10
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10/10
One of my most favourate films
johnm35919 January 2014
Sword of Vengeance is a hugely pleasant surprise. The film is surprisingly mature in its visuals, storytelling, and action. It feels way ahead of its time and it is quite amazing. It is a perfect blend of depth and pure samurai action. One of the best samurai (chanbara) movies I've ever seen. Granted, I haven't seen many. I did hugely enjoyed this film.

Lone Wolf and Cub gets its appeal from its hugely unique style. The subtle intensity of the fight scenes in the sound design (or lack thereof) and cinematography is staggering. There is this powerful aura within the film that is utterly engaging.

Overall, Lone Wolf and Cub is an outstanding chanbara film that achieves a powerful unique marriage of style and substance. an absolute masterpiece when it comes to the samurai genre
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10/10
Amazing
londonscot200329 December 2013
Absolutely breathtaking. I thought it was a bit too violent, a bit too sexual, and a little weird. But all of these things only added to the experience. This is a movie truly for comic book fans. But then again, I like serious movies that are extremely violent and well, it looks like I am watching the right type of stuff. .

Now the story is so captivating, it is the first time in a while that I was watching an Asian film and was really excited, but patiently waited and watched with great interest as the story unfolded. The final battle of the movie was great and really has you saying, "man, I hope this story continues". And ALL of the characters are wonderful as they are bursting with character in their appearance. The acting is also superb. Overall I would have to give this film a 10 out of 10
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10/10
one of the best movies ever
Curby-216 January 2001
i really adore this movie. it ranks as one of my all-time favorites - no. 3 after apocalypse now and the searchers. simply the best action movie i've ever seen. if you watch this movie the first time and you're open-hearted it will really hit you. the fight-scenes are haunting. philosophical. breath-taking. the editing is masterful. i've seen thousands of movies but this one is the most impressive action-mystery-road-movie ever. the story of a lonely ronin walking the earth with his understanding son became part of my being. watch it. give it a chance.
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7/10
Want Lots Of Blood And Japanese Stoicism?
boblipton6 April 2020
Tomisaburo Wakayama is Lone Wolf and Akihiro Tomikawa is Cub, his three-year-old son. Together they wander around Japan, the youngster in a baby carriage with a sign noting that child and expertise are for hire. It turns out, via a long flashback, that he used to be the executioner for the Shogun. Then the evil Yagyu seized that office and he was supposed to kill himself. So he went rogue and is now wandering around Japan, dealing with prostitutes, madwomen, thieves and the occasional Yagyu ninja.

Anyway, in this one, he trundles Cub to a hot spring for a vacation. It's run by desperate criminals who try to intimidate him. They don't. Eventually, we can be assured, assassins will show up and there will be a colorful bloodbath.

For people who like lots of fake blood amidst some great cinematography, and Japanese acting stoically bizarre, it's just what the audience ordered.
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10/10
A brilliant start to the series
erandy-894-94441811 January 2014
Part 1 of the Lone Wolf and Cub series, known as "Sword of Vengeance", which literal translation reads: "Child and Expertise for Rent".

A sublime masterpiece! Yojimbo (1961) left a tremendous legacy behind and it was precisely in the brutal 70s where exploitation grindhouse flicks were at their peak, slicing every human being in feudal Japan. Grabbing influence from Sword of Doom (1966) and completely forgotten action-oriented samurai movies like Tokuzô Tanaka's The Betrayal (1966), the first entry into a prolific and long-running samurai saga is a bold feast to watch, with western elements, gorgeous shots and Wakayama as a tremendous future star whose looks are definitely not what they seem. Amazing storytelling.
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10/10
classic samurai film
drewconnor29 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Lone Wolf & Cub: Sword of Vengeance is the story of an once distinguished samurai executioner who was framed for treason. Shows how the main character went into being an avenging assassin. After the death of his wife, Ogami Itto makes a vow of vengeance on the people responsible for the murder of his wife and his frame up. With his son Daigoro by his side, Itto tends towards the road of assassin as a way to get even with his arch enemy, the Yagyu Clan. His assignment in this story is to kill a few high officers of a samurai clan who plan on killing their future leader.

The film combines the back story of volume one and volume six in the Lone Wolf & Cub comics. The prologue and the first flashback is from volume six. The second flashback later in the movie is from the first volume. These scenes for the most part are faithful to the original source.

Lone Wolf & Cub: Sword of Vengeance is not as polish or technically slick as the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa. Does not share Kurosawa's eye for the spectacle touch of his samurai pictures. Also, not deep in depiction of human nature and human error like Akira Kurosawa's Samurai epics. More an authentic look at the period of the Shogun and the fatalistic nature of the samurai warrior.

The scene where Ogami Itto gives his son the choice of the ball or the sword is intense and suspenseful. Its in this scene that Itto and his son Daigoro become the Lone Wolf & Cub. The choice given to Daigoro is cruel yet compassionate. When Daigoro touches the sword his path is more fatalistic and worst than death. A very emotional moment for Ogami Itto because of his love for his son and the fact that their path together will be of loneliness and tragedy.

The revenge motif dominates the motives of Ogami Itto as well as the plot development of Lone Wolf & Cub: Sword of Vengeance. This motif is done in the same manner as in many Westerns. The theme of revenge makes the film pretty much a Japanese Western. Honor and revenge are the two most important things for Ogami Itto. The motif of revenge is a strong force in both the comic and film version of Lone Wolf and Cub.

The action sequences are visually arresting and physically awesome. The sword play in these action scenes are fresh and imaginative. Many of these scenes are gory and violent but not as gory as in some of the later Lone Film & Cub films. Lone Wolf & Cub: Sword of Vengeance does an excellent job in being faithful to the visual style of the samurai sword fights from the graphic novels. The camera work on these action scenes are free flowing with style and booming with graceful movement.

The Climatic battle scene builds up with an incredible amount of suspense. Awesome depiction of sword play with some gory moments. The camera moves around in a smooth fashion and acts as another member of the cast. The director, Kenji Misumi does the battle scenes in the graphic novel series. Tomisaburo Wakayama is excellent in doing this scene. The cinematography, editing, and art direction are great. Tomisaburo Wakayama was the perfect actor to play Ogami Itto because of his physical similarities. Akihiro Tomikawa is cute as Ogami Daigoro.
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7/10
good bloody Samurai movie
SnoopyStyle17 May 2020
It's a brutal time in Japan. Executioner Ogami Itto has been set up by his rivals and his family has been massacred. He kills many of his would-be assassins and escapes with his toddler son. He roams the countryside with a pushcart, his boy, and a sign stating "Sword for Hire" and "Son for Hire". He is hired for an assassination.

This is plenty good bloody Samurai movie. It's got a good gimmick and I love the son-for-hire bit. I'm simply wondering if he should work to seek revenge in the first movie. Then the movie can end with him and the cart as a roaming sword for hire. One expects Itto to continue his vengeance until the entire enemy clan is wiped out. That should be most of the first movie. As for the violence, it's got the blood splurting craziness that one expects from a Samurai movie. It's brutal fun.
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8/10
Swift, Dark, Visceral Samurai Action with a Familial Twist
drqshadow-reviews8 March 2017
After being framed for treason and losing his wife to an after-hours assault, a former state executioner seeks revenge as a ronin, walking the dusty trails of rural Japan with his three-year-old son in tow. The hallmarks of a generic '70s samurai/kung fu movie are all over this one, from the exploitative camera-work to the bad makeup and sprays of hyper-saturated blood, but despite the obvious tropes it delivers some deep, ruminative storytelling and efficiently lays the groundwork for the five sequels which are soon to follow. Often, we're shocked by an act that seems vile and emotionless, only for a subsequent explanation to flip the script and offer unexpected rationalization. The audience constantly sees Ittō (the protagonist) in different lights, filling the character out from all angles while the man himself (stoically played by a convincing Tomisaburo Wakayama) maintains a stiff, honorable composure. Despite the eccentricities mentioned above, I was impressed by the fight scenes, which are shockingly - yet appropriately - swift and decisive. With his blade drawn bare, Ittō doesn't fool around: he kills with immediacy and precision, though he's often fighting such steep odds that the battles aren't over too quickly. A real jewel for fans of the genre, which storms through a few clunky patches and sets itself up to soar in later installments.
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8/10
First in a classic Japanese series
Leofwine_draca19 August 2016
Having previously only seen SHOGUN ASSASSIN, I was pleased to finally get the chance to sit down and watch the entire six-film Lone Wolf & Cub series, beginning with this, the first entry. I was hoping for a treat, and with this film, I got one! It's a brilliantly conceived historical adventure film, blessed with Toho's fantastic production values and some truly lush cinematography. It follows the action template of cinema perfectly and is one of the most purely enjoyable samurai movies I've yet seen. A simple film, full of action and event, and yet at the same time it serves as a moral critique of Japan's violent and impassioned feudal era for those who like to look deeper into their films.

The revenge story is well crafted and the film packed with many larger than life characters: prostitutes, bandits, mad women, noble warriors, and frightened villagers. Towering over all these are the central twosome, with Tomisaburo Wakayama as the typically 'stony-faced' Japanese assassin and Akihiro Tomikawa as his absolutely gorgeous and lovable son. The film is dotted with superb action sequences full of the usual blood-spurting swordplay and in addition the backdrops are beautifully shot, making this a sumptuous film to watch. Along with the violence, there's plenty of female nudity and sex along the way, so exploitation fans will be in heaven. There's a slow twenty minutes or so before the climax, but aside from that it's a classic film: one that feels stylish and epic throughout, despite the adult themes. I can't wait to watch the sequel!
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10/10
Better than shgoun assassin
rickmac9014 January 2014
just to start off this movie is far better than a cheesy dubbed edited shogun assassin, why because it is original in its language and release. the fight scenes are as iconic as those of westerns especially those of Sergio leonne. The filming locations are magnificent and brilliantly set the scene. the gore and amount of violence is brilliant for a film of this genre.

the movie also has good characters especially the kid of the main character. the movie also contains a brilliant and easy to understand plot. Sadly this movie is not well known among the western world, in my opinion this movie should be it has been an inspiration for many films such as kill bill, last samurai and many other films.
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10/10
A brilliant and bloody samurai extravaganza; not to be missed!
LoneWolfAndCub3 October 2007
Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance is the first of the Lone Wolf and Cub series and what a way to start it! With a simple story, brilliantly choreographed fight scenes, amazing cinematography and a terrific soundtrack, this is an unmissable piece of gritty 70's cult cinema.

Ogami Itto is the official Shogunate executioner who, after his wife is murdered, is framed for disloyalty to the Shogunate by the Yagyu clan (who desperately want the coveted position). Itto is now a Ronin (a samurai without a master) and has become a wondering assassin for hire, accompanied by his son Daigoro, who he pushes around in a cart. Together they are known as Lone Wolf and Cub.

The first in a series of six films, Sword of Vengeance is a superb introduction into the world of Itto and his son Daigoro. Together they hack and slash their way through people stupid enough to challenge Itto, who is a calm, collected fighter and who always gets the fatal cut in (usually followed by a geyser of blood or loss of limbs, in the traditional Japanese samurai film style).

Definitely a must see, Sword of Vengeance is a very well-made piece of cinema and will always remain the cult film it is.

5/5
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9/10
Series Summary.
Golgo-132 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Now this is some great cinema! Official Second for the Shogun, Samurai Ogami Itto is framed (and his wife murdered) by the Yagyu Clan so that they may claim his honorable position. Instead of committing the ordered seppuku, Itto, along with his young son Daigoro, roam the country as the assassins Lone Wolf and Cub in order to seek revenge on and shame the Yagyu Clan. These six films, based on a popular Manga series, tell his tale. Filled with interesting plots and characters, great scenery, awesome battles, spraying blood, and honor, these are truly some of my favorite films. Tomisaburo Wakayama is perfect as Ogami Itto, and a real bada** of cinema. His swordplay is simply amazing! Though he may not have the chiseled body or good looks of your typical action hero, his appearance brings a certain realism to the movies and his presence is commanding. And talk about your child actors, Akihiro Tomikawa is equally as good as Daigoro, despite having little dialogue. The direction and cinematography are fantastic. The DVDs I have are from AnimEigo and while they are light on extras (just trailers and liner notes), the prints are sharp and clean. Speaking of the liner notes, they really are very informative and provide good grounding so that you may better understand the plots and the ties to Japanese culture. You can tell the AnimEigo people put in some research time. Anyway, forget your Japanese horror and Miike and check out this excellent series. Highly recommended!
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