Lone Wolf and Cub: Babycart In The Land of Demons/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
The assassin for hire ‘Lone wolf and cub’ aka Ogami Itto and his son Daigoro are approached one after another, by five messengers. They each attempt to kill Ogami to confirm his ability to carry out the assignment they have for him. Each one of the messengers has one fifth of Ogami’s regular fee of five hundred Ryo and each know a detail of the assignment.
Eventually when the five messengers are dispatched Ogami knows the full story. The messengers sacrificed themselves on behalf of their clan, which is threatened due to there Lord’s relationship with his concubine, he has decided to raise her daughter as a boy to inherit lordship of the clan. While the real boy heir, the lords son is concealed. This secret has been written down and given to a holy man, the Abbott Jikei. Things become personal when Ogami discovers that the Abbott is working with Ogami's mortal enemies the Yagyu Clan. Ogami takes up the mission to restore order to the clan by assassinating the Abbott and retaking the document.
This film cant be expected to have perfect picture quality. With this in mind, the image is fine. The 2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen image is quite clear. There isn’t much film grain, aside from some small scratches. The cinematography in this one is surprisingly lush if you take the time to notice. There are some very nice scenic shots, of the real (or fantasy) countryside of Japan. With many leafy glades and sparkling waterfalls. As for the music, the 2.0 mono mix successfully handles the funky music track that provides the milieu for the countless screams, swiping and that lovely “Casheeeeing ” sound the swords make.
This is the 5th Entry in the Series of Lone Wolf & Cub and the penultimate installment. It also marks the return of Director Kenji Misumi who directed the first three Baby Cart films. It combines the films strong period feel, a convoluted affair and an incredible amount of onscreen stylized violence. Including, in my opinion, some of the best death scenes in the series. Particularly the deaths of some of the messengers, who die impressively and conveniently. For example lying on a burning fire after being slashed long enough to tell a complex message before finally being engulfed in flames after spitting out the last word.
For the characters it can be said that although Tomisaburo Wakayama plays a very stoic, virtually emotionless character, he does it very well. This is perhaps due to his years of martial arts training. When he handles his sword normally (without any of those classic over the top moves) he does it in a focused and intimidating way. As for Daigoro, he only really features in a side story about a pickpocket that serves little purpose other than to have him take a public beating with the same illustrative stoicism as Ogami. Retsudo, leader of the Yagyu Clan and Ogami’s nemesis, is now played by Minoru Ohki, who plays the role well although his character doesn’t get much screen time.
The idea of the five Samurai, each giving Ogami a part of his mission as their dying words is an imaginative one. The fight scenes were excellent, particularly the underwater fight scene. And although the final battle was not as epic as some of the others in the series, Ogami still fights an entire army single-handedly, as fans will have come to expect since the second film.
Beyond the entertaining action and violence this film shows the rather overt folly in the periods fatalistic honor systems. It does this perhaps more then any other in the series. In all the Lone Wolf films, the grim and relentless code of honor is considered the highest value, (certainly more valuable then human life). Although 'Land of Demons' is not as emotionally compelling as say 'Baby Cart in Peril', looking back you may feel bad for the concubine and the daughter if you’re a softy like myself. All that said, this entry in the series is often considered either among the best or among the worst by fans. Personally I consider it among the best!
Reviewed by Thousand Eyes