Shogun Assassin Blu-ray Review

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Reviewed by Mark Botwright, 17th November 2010.
Shogun Assassin is an acquired taste that won’t please all fans of chanbara cinema. If you like your samurai thrills more subdued and contemplative this will seem a garishly grisly trek into the world of feudal swordplay and bloodshed. If, however, you can look past the heavy handed editing of two superior films to make this one amalgamation then you will find a kitsch and bewitching uber-violent vision of Tokugawa Japan complete with hammy voice acting and the inspired juxtaposition of a synth score laid over historic imagery.

The disc, being nigh on identical to the US release, certainly shows an extra level of detail and improved colour fidelity, but it was never likely to rewrite history completely. There are still problems, namely print damage and the lack of detail in darker areas, but this remains the best the film has looked. Audio brings to life the Moog synthesiser and distinctive narration in a good manner, but does sometimes struggle to even out the higher frequencies of the action itself. The extras are minimal in quantity, but make up for that with two information-packed commentary tracks, but the omission of an in-depth look at the restoration process is a little disappointing, for me at least.

Those hungry for more of Kenji Misumi’s iconic imagery to arrive on Blu-ray will find this will keep the wolf from the door. Here's hoping we see a high def release of the full Lone Wolf and Cub series that proves of a similarly high quality.

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