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Shogun Assassin

Director: Robert Houston Run Time: 85 min. Format: 35mm Rating: R Release Year: 1980 Language: English (dubbed)

Starring: Kayo Matsuo, Minoru Ôki, Shôgen Nitta, Tomisaburô Wakayama

When I was little… my father was famous.

Itto Ogami, The Lone Wolf, works as the shogun’s decapitator; the man responsible for finishing the noble act of harakiri. As the shogun becomes increasingly erratic and paranoid, he sends a team of assassins after Ogami, whose wife falls to the shogunate’s blades. Marked for death, Ogami and his surviving son travel the Japanese countryside working as an assassin for hire.

Hardly for purists, Shogun Assassin is kind of a remix. Cobbled together from the first two of the six Lone Wolf and Cub films, Shogun Assassin streamlines the original story for the grindhouse set. Redubbed in a spooky, guttural English, the film also features a new score that’s all droning, moody Moog. A cult classic since its release, Shogun Assassin has worked its way back into popular culture at large. It’s the favorite film of The Bride’s daughter in Kill Bill Vol. 2, and was heavily sampled in Wu-Tang Clan member GZA’s landmark album, Liquid Swords. Shogun Assassin perfectly encapsulates everything that the nine from Staten Island were going for: dark, dirty and violent.