Shogun Assassin (Robert Houston, 1980)

Grouse all you want, you Edo period-piece aficionados, you snobs of samurai film, at the bastardization/dilution/sensationalization of your beloved originals. Need one remind you that your favored Mks. I and II are themselves mere lights-and-shadows-on-a-screen adaptations of pens-and-inks-on-a-page? Consider this: the voiceover of Daigorō is that of a much older audible version of his visual pre-language self, reflecting back, through the distorting pane of memory, on adventures with the best single father ever, whose beheadings and cartoonish blood-geysers are truly epic. The clunky echoed dubbing, where characters sound like they’re speaking into steel buckets? That’s just what happens when you replay conversations in your mind. The lack of complex narrative coherence? It’s simplified dream logic, bucko. The rhythmic electronic score? Who doesn’t remember in disco?

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