Movie Reviews - Baby Cart at the River Styx, Baby Cart in the Land of Demons, Baby Cart to Hades, Badlands, Bang

Baby Cart at the River Styx (Color, 1972) AKA Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx, Sword of Vengeance II, Kozure Ôkami: Sanzu no kawa no ubaguruma ("Perambulator of the River of Sanzu")
Much of the footage was later used in the American dubbed release, Shogun Assassin. Second Lone Wolf and Cub film, in which Itto Ogami is hired to kill a man protected by three brothers known as The Gods of Death. Unfortunately, Ogami is also the target of a clan of female Yagyu ninja who try to hypnotize him with colored cloth, throw razor-lined hats at him, and even attack him with radishes. With the help of Daigoro and the infamous baby cart of doom, he gets past them, but is left near death from blood loss. After some touching scenes with Daigoro resourcefully caring for his comatose father, Ogami's enemies kidnap the child and almost toss him down a well. After getting through this pitfall, Ogami boards a ship carrying the Gods of Death, each of whom uses a unique weapon - one uses a metal claw, one mailed fists, and one a spiked club. The ship is set on fire, but Ogami escapes to face the Gods of Death in a desert showdown. One of the best in the series: existential, dark, beautiful, and very, very bloody. Don't miss a chance to see this, or any of the others in the series. (This film is more commonly known in America as Shogun Assassin, but in that form it's re-edited to include footage from the first Lone Wolf and Cub film, Sword of Vengeance. Narration by Daigoro was written & added as well.) -zwolf

Baby Cart In the Land of Demons (Color, 1973) AKA Kozure Ôkami: Meifumado ("Crossroads to Hell") Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons, Sword of Vengeance V
One of the best in the Lone Wolf and Cub samurai film series. Assassin Ogami Itto and his toddler son Daigoro meet several men on the road who will each pay a fifth of his fee and tell him a fifth of his assignment; the catch is, he has to kill each of them in battle to prove that he's the man for the job. One of them even falls into a fire and relates his story while he's burning to death. On the way to his mission (which is to kill an abbot and recover a document that would destroy a clan), Ogami loses track of Daigoro, who gets mixed up with a female pickpocket. It's a very well-done subplot and perhaps the most powerful episode in the series: Daigoro takes a beating in order to teach the pick-pocket a lesson and turn her away from crime. Ogami does his job, even though he's got to go through a couple of small armies to do it. There's a little less blood than usual, but the fights are still amazing - brutally violent but at the same time artistically beautiful. -zwolf

Baby Cart To Hades (Color, 1972) AKA Kozure Ôkami: Shinikazeni mukau ubaguruma ("Perambulator Against the Winds of Death") Lightning Swords of Death (the dubbed American version), Lupine Wolf, Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades, Baby Cart in Hades, Sword of Vengeance III
Ogami is contracted to get revenge on a governor who had betrayed a clan lord in order to gain control himself. This governor tries to trap Ogami, but he underestimated him - a whole army isn't enough to take down the Lone Wolf, as long as he's got that baby cart handy. The third film in the series addresses a new problem facing the bushido system - guns - and set the trend of having Ogami take on an entire army at the climax. The finale here is probably the most memorable action sequence in the series, and the body count is astronomical and very graphic (one of the decapitations is one of the best such effects I've ever seen). There's also a powerful subplot with Ogami defending a girl who killed a pimp, even if he must endure a beating and water torture at the hands of the Yakuza in her stead, and another subplot detailing Ogami's respectful dealings with a samurai who worries that he's been disgraced. -zwolf

Badlands (C, 1973)
Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek turn in some of their best performances in this one-of-a-kind film based on the Charlie Starkweather murder spree. Charismatic (and weird) garbageman Sheen runs off with his girlfriend Spacek and they go on a killing spree that manages to be both chilling and strangely poetic. One of those movies you can't see enough times, so don't miss a chance to see it. Terrence Malick's direction is very unique and close to perfection. -zwolf

Bang (C, 1996)
This extremely low budget (I'd be kinda surprised if it was into four figures) shot-on-video crime drama is like a poor-man's Reservoir Dogs with a few low-brow comedy elements thrown in. Four police officers are kidnapped by some Crip-like gangsters with bandanas on their faces (but with holes cut in 'em so they can still smoke!) They're beaten up with nunchuks (wielded by co-producer El Timo, who's a really sinister-looking long-haired black man) and once an hour the masked guys come in, play some really bad rap song about "Little Boy Blue," and shoot one of the cops (I don't think they could even afford blanks - the shots are mostly sound effects). In the meantime the cops reflect on what bad things they did that may have brought them to this impasse (one stole some drug money, another messed with a married woman, one humiliated a motorist by making him wet his pants, etc.) - turns out they're all wrong. It's very amateurish but it's not all bad - it'll keep you entertained for 90 minutes despite its serious shortcomings (like pickup trucks that have to stand in for cop cars, etc.). The acting is decent, but the climactic kung-fu fight between co-producer El Timo and writer/ director/ producer King Jeff is one of the most absolutely hilarious things you'll ever see. El Timo and King Jeff also did the music and editing. Overall it's not bad at all for a home-job, really. I was never bored, and these guys make up for a lot with their obvious enthusiasm. The opening (reminiscent of the long waiting-for-a-train sequence at the beginning of Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West) is pretty funny and at least shows you that you're in the hands of guys who care about what they're doing. JeTi Films is based in Louisiana and also brought you another short movie called The Murder Men, which is also worth a look. Both are available on DVD in a box set called Livin' Da Life, which gives you ten movies on DVD for 'bout twelve bucks, so you can't go wrong. -zwolf

More film reviews are available in the archives on our website!

No comments:

Post a Comment