Lone Wolf and Cub (Criterion)

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Synopsis

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Based on the best-selling manga series, the six intensely kinetic Lone Wolf and Cub films elevated chanbara to bloody, new heights. The shogun’s executioner, Itto Ogami (Tomisaburo Wakayama), takes to wandering the countryside as an assassin—along with his infant son Daigoro (Akihiro Tomikawa) and an infinitely weaponized perambulator—helping those he encounters while seeking vengeance for his murdered wife. Delivering stylish thrills and a body count that defies belief, Lone Wolf and Cub is beloved for its brilliantly choreographed and unbelievably violent action sequences as well as for its tender depiction of the bonds between parent and child.

The Films

Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance: The inaugural film in the Lone Wolf and Cub series immediately thrust Itto Ogami into the ranks of the all-time great samurai movie icons.

Lone Wolf and Cub: Babycart at The River Styx: This exploitation-cinema classic took the action and graphic violence of the Lone Wolf and Cub series to delirious new heights.

Lone Wolf and Cub: Babycart To Hades: The third Lone Wolf and Cub film follows Itto Ogami and Daigoro as they stumble upon a crime scene involving a group of lowlife swordsmen from the watari-kashi class.

Lone Wolf and Cub: Babycart in Peril: In this distinctly lowbrow entry in the Lone Wolf and Cub series, Itto Ogami is hired by the Owari clan to assassinate a tattooed woman who is killing her enemies and cutting off their topknots.

Lone Wolf and Cub: Babycart In The Land of Demons: Balancing physical action with Buddhist musings on life and death, the most spiritual of the Lone Wolf and Cub films finds Ogami’s combat skills put to the test by five different warrior-messengers.

Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell: In the final Lone Wolf and Cub film, star Tomisaburo Wakayama decided to make the sort of wild movie he’d always wanted to: one in which Lone Wolf battles zombies and Daigoro’s baby cart zips improbably across an icy landscape on skis.

BONUS FEATURE: Shogun Assassin: High-definition presentation of the 1980 English-dubbed reedit of the first two Lone Wolf and Cub films

Special Features

New 2K digital restorations of all six films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-rays • New interview with Kazuo Koike, writer of the Lone Wolf and Cub manga series and screenwriter on five of the films • Lame d’un père, l’âme d’un sabre, a 2005 documentary about the making of the series • New interview in which Sensei Yoshimitsu Katsuse discusses and demonstrates the real Suio-ryu sword techniques that inspired those in the manga and films • New interview with biographer Kazuma Nozawa about filmmaker Kenji Misumi, director of four of the six Lone Wolf and Cub films • Silent documentary from 1937 about the making of samurai swords, with an optional new ambient score by Ryan Francis • Trailers • New English subtitle translations • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay and film synopses by Japanese pop culture writer Patrick Macias

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