Movies From the Black Lagoon: Shotgun Assassin 2

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Shotgun Assassin 2 - 1972, Rated R
By Tom Doty

A chubby samurai and his pre-schooler take on all comers in this action epic that actually played theaters during the early seventies under the title "Lightning Swords of Death."
We close out our salute to Japanese genre flicks with this sword story that represents the best of samurai cinema. There are plenty of great samurai series like "The Blind Swordsman" and "Lady Vengeance" but the best were the "Lone Wolf and Cub" series. This series was based upon a popular comic book that followed a rogue samurai, or Ronin, named Itto Ogami. He roams throughout the country earning a living as an assassin after being betrayed by his master. The added ingredient here is that he also had a four year old in tow that he must protect while continuing to serve a code of honor that has been abandoned by the new regime.
This entry opens with Ogami running into trouble right off the bat as Ninjas drop from the trees like coconuts while his son is taking a potty break. He drops the Ninjas like a bad habit and is back on the road before you know it. Meanwhile a fellow ex-samurai steps in when three companions assault a group of travelers. Ogami comes upon the aftermath and finishes off the thugs . The tows speak about the old ways and almost fight a duel but get nostalgic and opt to part ways.
Ogami runs into a slave who has killed her master and opts to protect her form the local police. this involves taking her punishment for her . The sentence is pretty rough and calls for water torture followed by a round of "Woody, Woody." It's not as benign as it sounds. A person is hung upside down and whacked with sticks whilst his attackers shout "woody, woody." He survives and opts to kill a corrupt governor(no this doesn't take place in Chicago) as a favor to his torturers who plan to pay him a lot of gold.
Unfortunately the governor figures this all out and sends his best killers to stop Ogami. They get his attention but that's about it. The Governor decides to raise a small army and tarp Ogami in a canyon. Good plan and it would have worked had he not tricked out the wooden cart his son rides in. You won't find strollers like this at "Wal-Mart" as it packs enough firepower to raze a village. It all leads to a final showdown with the governor's last standing hire that turns out to be the samurai from the beginning. A bloody battle ensues .
This is the best samurai film you're likely to see. In Japan they are most akin to our westerns as they are often nostalgic and prone to moralizing. They also feature plenty of bloodshed with each blade striking a major artery every time it's unsheathed. The cinematography in this series is breath taking and resembles the films of Sergio Leone. expect lost of close-ups of sweaty faces and rolling eyeballs before there is a bit of violence to move the story along. Long on style but short on dialogue, which is just fine, as most of Itto's speeches sound suspiciously like crib notes form Philosophy 101.
Best Line: "The way of the samurai is to find a way to live through death."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@myactv.net.