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Shogun Assassin [Steelbook] [UK] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec:
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Classification: 18
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: November 29, 2010
  • RRP: £24.99

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00450AG6E[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]

Shogun Assassin is actually an edited-together U.S. version of the Japanese director Kenji Misumi’s first two films in his Lone Wolf and Cub series of movies. Utilizing footage from the first film, Lone Wolf and Cub: The Sword of Vengeance and Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx, writer/director Robert Houston simplified the storyline for Western audiences, downplaying the originals’ stories of clan warfare.

The story tells of Ogami Itto (Tomisaburo Wakayama), a ronin framed for disloyalty by his clan lord, who goes on the road to vengeance after the shogun sends ninja to his house who fail to kill him, but instead kill his wife. With his young son Daigoro (Masahiro Tomikawa) in tow in a booby-trapped baby cart, Ogami becomes a deadly ronin for hire and slays every ninja in his path. It’s a bloodletting road that, as the series, originally based on a manga, describes, leads to hell.

Shogun Assassin is dripping with gallons of fake blood, ridiculously fake special effects,  quick swordplay, and frenetic martial arts violence. It and its main character exist solely to dole out bloody murder, it seems, but at its heart is the story of a man and his son bonding and coping with great loss, which gives it more depth than most films in this genre.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Shogun Assassin does not look so great in this new restoration. There is a lot of visible damage in the original source still present and the image looks quite soft. Grain is uneven, though it does look natural and imparts an organic, film-like quality to to the image. It appears here in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio in a 1080p/24 encoding.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3/5]

What a shame that no original Japanese language track can be provided with this release, only the U.S. English dub is given in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 monaural mix. I do realize that major changes to the original script were purposely made in the U.S. dub, but it would still be nice to hear what that would be like. Otherwise, dialogue is clear and intelligible, but there is a lot of audible hiss and pops on the track.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

Fans of the series of films will garner brief pleasure from seeing the original trailers for all six of the original films in HD and it’s interesting, although odd, to see an interview segment with Samuel L. Jackson included as well, but the best supplement here will be the expert audio commentary.

Supplements provided with this release are:

  • Expert Commentary by Asian film scholar Ric Meyers and martial arts expert Steve Watson
  • Production commentary by producer David Weisman, illustrator Jim Evans, and actor Gibran Evans (the voice of Daigoro).
  • Samuel L. Jackson on Shogun Assassin (1.78:1; 1080p/24) — This video interview with actor Samuel L. Jackson was filmed in 2009. He shares his thoughts on the film and its influence.
  • Original Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24)
  • Lone Wolf & Cub Trailers (1080p/24):
    • Sword of Vengeance
    • Baby Cart at the River Styx
    • Baby Cart to Hades
    • Baby Cart in Peril
    • Baby Cart in the Land of the Demons
    • White Heaven in Hell
  • DVD

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]

If you are a fan of the martial arts genre, then Shogun Assassin will not disappoint. The new restoration is about as good as it will get, although it is unfortunate that we still can’t get this version with the original Japanese language track, although that may be difficult given the major changes to the script U.S. producers made.

Additional Screen Captures:

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00450AG6E[/amazon-product]

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