I have always loved Japanese samurai films. Now, during my quarantine, I have been checking out some of the more marginal samurai series. As of today, I have seen all six of the Lone Wolf and Cub films starring Tomisaburo Wakayama and produced by the Toho studio in the early 1970s. These films include:
- Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (1972), dir: Kenji Misumi
- Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972), dir: Kenji Misumi
- Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades (1972), dir: Kenji Misumi
- Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril (1972), dir: Buichi Saito
- Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973), dir: Kenji Misumi
- Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell (1974), dir: Yoshiyuki Kuroda
In all six films, Ogami Itto is pushing a wooden baby carriage which comes complete with an impressive series of armaments, including an early precursor of the Gatling Gun (?!). In White Heaven in Hell, it even turns into a toboggan, enabling Ogami to escape hundreds of attacking members of the Ura-Yagyu clan mounted on skis.
The body count in all six films easily exceeds a thousand, as the combination of Ogami’s swordsmanship and the rapid-fire machine gun built into the baby carriage wreaks havoc on his enemies.
Obviously the source for the films comes from Japanese comic books known as manga. Below is a panel from one of the comics:
Although there is no real dedication to realism or even plausibility in either the films or the comic books, the films are all well-crafted Toho Studio productions and immensely entertaining. There is some minor nudity in the films and a great deal of violence.