Lone Wolf And Cub: Baby Cart At The River Styx – Misumi Kenji – 1972



Ogami Itto and his three-year-old son Daigoro are on the road. Itto is former executioner to the shogun, and is now living as a killer for hire. He is also under the surveillance of the Kurokawa clan who have fallen in with the ninja Shadow Yagu. The point is, by the end of the film, lots of people are going to attempt to kill Itto, but you can’t because he’s the baddest mutherfucker around.

The film opens with someone trying to kill Ogami and he slices them up into a spray of blood. Opening credits. I will say, before I gush about how great this gory chapter of The Lone Wolf and Cub is, I hate the music. It’s really awful. But the action more than makes up for it.

The plot is dense, but basically Itto takes a job to kill a guy while several contingencies of ninja are trying to kill him. The action is stellar and the performance of both Itto and Daigoro are marvelous. The gore is top notch and the action is breathless and consistent.

The introduction of the ninja clan is a highlight with a man being chopped up in front of his peers until he is a bleeding torso on the floor. Hey, don’t fuck with the Shadow Yagu.

Except, don’t fuck with Ogami Itto. As he sets of on his job to go and kill a dye industry turncoat, it turns out everyone on his journey is out to kill him. Shadow ninja Yagu are everywhere. No problem. Itto solves his problems with a blade. Bloodshed is a very convincing tactic.

It’s really cool how the kid helps his father and is an instrumental part of these fight scenes. By having a child in the scene it raises the investment of the audience, because no one wants to see a child get hurt but by having such a young child do these things it becomes transcendent. The scene where the kid kicks off a shoe into the well, letting his father know how much time he has to catch his son blew my mind! Talk about suspense!

The staging of these fights is just clockwork. Each move is fluid and artistic. There’s another great scene where the kid realizes he can carry water to his fatigued father in his mouth better than his hands that demonstrates how intelligent this character is and what a devotion he has.

Sakura is a fairly interesting character. In the beginning of the film she sees her self as bloodthirsty and cold, but after meeting Ogami Itto she realizes that a man who has something to live for can be even more dangerous than a man with nothing. When given the opportunity to kill him in the cold, does she resist the temptation for moral reasons or because she does not want to freeze to death?

After his health returns Itto confronts his victims on a sand dune. A short and amazing fight takes place and Itto slays everyone. This man would not be invincible on his own but because of his devotion to his son is galvanized into something superhuman. In the end Sakura has opportunity to try her hand at Itto one last time, and a single gesture by the man intimates, “Do you want to die”?

The Lone Wolf and Cub continue into the forest. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: