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Lone Wolf and Cub - The Complete Babycart Series

Sword of Vengeance                                  Baby Cart at the River Styx                                  Baby Cart to Hades

Baby Cart in Peril                                 Baby Cart in the Land of Demons                               White Heaven in Hell

directed by Misumi Kenji, Saito Buichi, Koroda Yoshiyuki
Japan 1972 - 1974

In 1970, the first of total 114 stories of “Kozure Okami”, aka “Lone Wolf and Cub”, was published in Japan. The story was the creation of Koike Zazuo, who also wrote “Crying Freeman”, and painted in breathtaking watercolour brush techniques by Kojima Goseki.

In 14 volumes, the Manga tells the story of Ogami Ito, the former Keishakunin of the Shogun, who was framed by Yagyu clan for treason against the Shogun, and subsequently became an assassin for hire, in order to get one million Ryo to bribe officials, so that he could be allowed to bring his charges in front of the shogun and get his revenge. Together with his son, Daigoro, he now walks thru Japan, and the road between heaven and hell.

As a character, Ogami Ito is an enigma. On one side, he is an assassin without morals, on the other side, he is the very essence of Bushido. This complexity is used to examine various elements of Japanese and Bushido culture, and while the story has a continuous narrative dealing with the Yagyu clans attempts to kill Ogami, each story stands by itself, depicting unique cultural and historical sides. One story deals with peasant revolts, one with how men would carry travelers over a river and one with some unique side of sword fighting.

In 1972 the first of six “Kozure Okami” films were made by Toho. The first three were produced by Katsu Shintaro, the actor who played Zatoichi, to make a star out of his brother Wakayama Tomisaburo. The first three and number five were directed by Misumi Kenji, who also directed several of the “Zatoichi” films. The first four films were made basically back to back, released each two months, but failed to attract the same popularity as the Zatoichi films, and after two more entries, the series was dropped. In 1980 some of the films were edited together into a American dubbed version called “Shogun Assassin”, were a new dialogue was written and the film now was narrated by Daigoro. For many years was the only way to see the films in the west, as the originals were banned in 1983 as video nasties because of the extreme violence.

Despite failing at the cinema, the story was revisited several times. In 1983, Japanese TV made a short lived series out of the story, starring Nakamura Kinnosuke, in 1989 a two-hour TV film was made, in 1993 the story was once more made into a film, directed by Inoue Akira and starring Tamura Masakazu as Ogami, and in 2002 another TV series was made for Japanese TV, this time directed by Fujioka Kojiro and starring Kitaoji Kinya. Also outside of Japan, the story inspired. The graphic novel “Road to Perdition” was inspired by the story of the lone wolf and his cub, and in 2003, Darren Aronofsky announced that one of his future projects were to be “Lone Wolf and Cub”.

Today, the original films are to be considered as some of the finest chambara ever made. Especially the first three films have an almost poetic beauty to them thru the cinematography of Makiura Chishi, who also was a regular on the “Zatoichi” films, and his Zen-like Tohoscope compositions and slow-motion splatter sequences, which captures the beauty of Kojima brush techniques. They are today by their own right classics and seminal chambara films.
  out of

Henrik Sylow

Comparison:

ArtsMagic -  Region 2 - PAL vs. Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC vs. Animeigo (2 Blu-rays) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Criterion (3 Blu-rays) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL LEFT

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC SECOND

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

 

CLICK logo to order

 

  

Distribution Artsmagic -  Region 2 - PAL

Eureka Video

Region 2 - NTSC

Animeigo

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Criterion Collection - Spine # 841 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Bitrate: Animeigo Blu-ray

Bitrate: Animeigo Blu-ray

Animeigo Blu-ray Disc stats: 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc 1 Size: 43,909,851,611 bytes

Avg. Feature: 15,233,421,312 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc 2 Size: 43,623,014,712 bytes

Avg. Feature: 15,276,761,088 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.97 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Bitrate: Criterion's Sword of Vengeance Blu-ray

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,584,132,567 bytes

Avg. Feature: 15,388,133,376 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.02 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Runtime: 1:23:42.392

Chapters: 20

Bitrate: Criterion's Babycart at the River Styx Blu-ray

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,584,132,567 bytes

Avg. Feature: 14,955,196,416 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Runtime: 1:21:30.927

Chapters: 19

 

Bitrate: Criterion's Babycart to Hades Blu-ray

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,584,132,567 bytes

Avg. Feature: 16,354,320,384 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.92 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Runtime: 1:29:23.107

Chapters: 18

 

Bitrate: Criterion's Babycart in Peril Blu-ray

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,281,325,676 bytes

Avg. Feature: 14,939,314,176 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.02 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Runtime: 1:21:18.915

Chapters: 20

 

Bitrate: Criterion's Babycart in the Land of Demons Blu-ray

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,281,325,676 bytes

Avg. Feature: 16,450,652,160 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Runtime: 1:29:38.414

Chapters: 21

 

Bitrate: Criterion's White Heaven in Hell Blu-ray

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,281,325,676 bytes

Avg. Feature: 15,971,733,504 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.86 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Runtime: 1:23:56.156

Chapters: 20

 

 

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) LPCM Audio Japanese 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, (burned-in) English, None English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:  ArtsMagic

Aspect Ratios: various widescreen

Edition Details:
6 films of the Lone Wolf Babycart series

Sword of Vengeance

Babycart at the River Styx

Babycart to Hades

Babycart in Peril

Babycart in the Land of Demons

White Heaven in Hell
• Number of discs: 6

DVD Release Date: January 30th, 2005

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical trailers for all 6 Japanese films (same ones from individual discs)

DVD Release Date: 21 Nov 2009
Slimcase in a boxset

Chapters 18

Release Information:
Studio:
Animeigo

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Production Notes for each film

Blu-ray Release Date:
September 25th, 2012
Standard
Blu-ray Case

Chapters 18

Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• High-definition presentation of Shogun Assassin, a 1980 English-dubbed reedit of the first two Lone Wolf and Cub films
• New interview with Kazuo Koike, writer of the Lone Wolf and Cub manga series and screenwriter on five of the films (11:39)
• Lame d’un pčre, l’âme d’un sabre, a 2005 documentary about the making of the series (52:24)
• New interview in which Sensei Yoshimitsu Katsuse discusses and demonstrates the real Suio-ryu sword techniques that inspired the ones depicted in the manga and films (13:34)
• New interview with biographer Kazuma Nozawa about Kenji Misumi, director of four of the six films (12:28)
• Silent documentary from 1939 about the making of samurai swords, with an optional new ambient score by Ryan Francis (30:37)
• Trailers (Respectively - 2:20, 2:55, 2:47, 2:58, 2:54, 2:34, 2:33)
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay and film synopses by Japanese pop-culture writer Patrick Macias

Blu-ray Release Date:
November 8th, 2016
Custom
Blu-ray Case

Chapters 18

 

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: These Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray - October 2016: Okay, after some extensive comparison on my system - switching between the Animeigo and the new Criterion, my general comments are that the Criterion is vastly superior - especially considering the flagrant edge-enhancement in the Animeigo transfer of Babycart to Hades. In fact, most of the Animeigo Blu-ray looks boosted to varying degrees. I can't comment on the color representation too much - but the skin tones of the Criterion 1080P are cooler and seem more realistic. The lighter Criterion shows much more detail.

 

Criterion also put three films per dual-layered Blu-ray but the Criterion nudge ahead in every bitrate but the colors and over-digitization of the Animeigo tend to make the Criterion look even superior. The first Blu-ray has Sword of VengeanceBaby Cart at the River Styx and Baby Cart to Hades with the second housing Baby Cart in Peril, Baby Cart in the Land of Demons and  White Heaven in Hell. Criterion include a third with extras and Shogun Assassin which has a few more comparison captures (with the Animeigo DVD and Eureka Blu-ray HERE. I guess I don't have too much more to say on Shogun Assassin than "It has a high bitrate - looks fairly similar but perhaps a shade superior (contrast), slightly warmer skin tones and more detail, unfortunately has only lossy audio (in English) and offer no subtitles. The Eureka steelbook (with the two commentaries) is waaaay out of print."

 

Criterion stick with linear PCM mono tracks for all 6 films. Swords slice with uncomfortable impact and although, obviously, there is no surround separation - it does have plenty of aggressive depth. Aside from some exceptions (ex. Kunihiko Murai doing the score for Zatoichi at Large and Zatoichi in Desperation - assisting with Babycart to Hades) or Hiroshi Kamayatsu (TV work and White Heaven in Hell) the scores are essentially done by Hideaki Sakurai (Shogun Assassin and Hanzo the Razor: Who's Got the Gold? also to his credits) and remains consistent throughout supporting the violence and passive moments equally well with drama and/or traditional charm. There are optional English subtitles on the three region 'A'-locked Blu-ray discs.

 

Okay - the supplements cover and entire third dual-layered (48,567,691,967 bytes) Blu-ray and provide a 1080P presentation of Shogun Assassin, a 1980 English-dubbed reedit of the first two Lone Wolf and Cub films - and we have compared it below and, with more captures, HERE. There is a new, 12-minute, interview with Kazuo Koike, writer of the Lone Wolf and Cub manga series and screenwriter on five of the films and a 52-minute 2005, French, documentary entitled Lame d’un pčre, l’âme d’un sabre about the making of the series. It was made by Wild Side Films and features director Buichi Saito. producer Masanori Sanada, and cinematographer Fujio Morita. There is a new, 14-minute, interview in which Sensei Yoshimitsu Katsuse, 15-year headmaster of the Suio-ryu martial arts system, discusses and demonstrates the real Suio-ryu sword techniques that inspired the ones depicted in the manga and films. We also get a new 12-minute interview with biographer Kazuma Nozawa about Kenji Misumi, director of four of the six films Lone Wolf and Cub films. Sword of the Samurai is a 1939 silent documentary about the making of samurai swords, with an optional new ambient score by Ryan Francis. It runs 1/2 an hour. On the first two Blu-rays there are trailers for each of the film and the package contains a booklet featuring an essay and film synopses by Japanese pop-culture writer Patrick Macias.

 

The Lone Wolf films have such a strong following and Criterion have met the challenge producing another wonderful Blu-ray set that will, no doubt, make noise at our end-of-year poll. Strongly recommended!

 

 

***

ADDITION: Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (September 2012): So, 6 films spread over 2 Blu-ray discs. The bitrate is only about 3 times that of SD. It is hard to deny the improvement but the image is severely digitized looking overly glossy with some less-noticeable banding. It looks like HDV with some of the same contrast weaknesses, BUT - it is so significantly improved over the flat, hazy, cropped and picture-boxed ArtsMagic and the boosted Eureka. So, despite the waxy-glossiness it is still an enjoyable presentation for the less image-discerning. I really enjoyed it without getting overly picky although the edge-enhancement on Babycart to Hades is very distracting.

 

The audio is lossless via 2.0 channel linear PCM tracks. The effects benefit from the lossless transfer sounding quite crisp and sharp. Animeigo are very thorough with subtitles and they are in both yellow and green for alt-characters reasonably matching the ArtsMagic translation.

 

No extras save the digital program notes as a menu option for each film that flash through pages every 45 seconds. There is no booklet.

 

Absolute classic of the genre and great to have in 1080P despite the imperfect transfer. I think fans will appreciate the improved appearance and audio.  

 - Gary Tooze  

 

***

ADDITION: Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC - December 09: Eureka took reigns from Artsmagic which released all 6 films in UK first in 2005 and then restored version in 2008 HERE and used excellent Toho restorations for this 7-disc boxset. Unfortunately, we could not compare to the second edition or to Animeigo US releases, but compared to Artsmagic's first release the improvement can be seen easily. Each progressive all-region disc use NTSC masters from Japan, so there is no PAL/NTSC conversion issues. White font subtitles with black borders are easy to read and placed over the image (see examples below). The bonus 7th disc presents a 1980 US re-edit and re-dub of the second film (plus a few scenes from the first) called Shogun Assassin. Most English-language speakers learned about the series from this version and it's been restored as well. Notice that in the second comparison from Shogun Assassin, the damage spot from is missing in the original. Each disc has an original trailer which are also on the 7th disc. Each disc is packed in a slimcase Eclipse Series style. Reversible artwork has a one-page essay about each film by Tom Mes on one side and reproduction of original posters on the other.

 - Gregory Meshman

***

ON THE ARTS MAGIC: DVD 5 editions, the image appears to be a port from video. Its presented in 1.78:1 anamorphically, with the cropped 2.22:1 Aspect Ratio top aligned, not centre as normally, with space for the fixed subtitles below the image.

The image has serious problems. First the ghosting is very intrusive. Even normal movement causes ghosting and fast movement causes invisibility of objects. Secondly, the image is very soft and has a tendency to blur. Third, it has at time very visible edge enhancement, even visible on small screens. Forth, it has serious problems with light. Bright scenes tend to “white” out, night scenes tend to “black” out. Fifth, it lacks sharpness in detail, images away, especially in long shots show almost no characteristics. Six, colors are faded.

Also the sound has problems. Being the 2.0 Dolby Digital mono, the sound seems to have been subdued, possible by noise reduction. While dialogue is clear, subtle sounds are barely audible.

ArtsMagic should simply take this release back. Even as this is the first time these films are released completely uncut in the UK, a very bad cropped image does not do these films any justice.

Henrik Sylow

 

Eureka packaging

 

(aka "Kozure Ôkami: Kowokashi udekashi tsukamatsuru" or "Babycart - Sword of Vengeance")

 

directed by Kenji Misumi
Japan 1972

 

Framed for treason, the executioner of the Shogun is stripped of office and declared an outlaw. Together with his infant son, he sets out as a mercenary on a blood soaked journey of revenge against the secret society that murdered his wife, and robbed him of his good name.

With his life in ruins, and literally believing that he is in hell, he and his baby son have become Lone Wolf and Cub.

Poster

Theatrical Release: January 15, 1972 (Japan)

Reviews                                                                            More Reviews

Menus

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP LEFT

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC TOP RIGHT

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920 X 1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC SECOND

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC SECOND

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

1) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

(aka "Kozure Ôkami: Sanzu no kawa no ubaguruma" or "Babycart at the River Styx")

 

directed by Kenji Misumi
Japan 1972

 

Ogami Ito is dead - Lone Wolf lives on, continuing his blood spattered journey through the land he calls Hell. As he remorselessly seeks the secretive shadowy Yagyu clan, they continue in their efforts to destroy him, first sending their female warriors, the viscous Akashi ninja. Beyond them, barring his way, the self proclaimed Gods of Death, sadistic warriors with a lust for blood.

Lone Wolf must defeat them to justify the 500 pieces of gold that have just bought his sword once more.

 

Poster

Theatrical Release: April 22, 1972 (Japan)

Reviews                                                                   More Reviews

Menus

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP LEFT

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC TOP RIGHT

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray



Screen Captures

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC SECOND

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC SECOND

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

1) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

(aka "Kozure Ôkami: Shinikazeni mukau ubaguruma" or "Babycart to Hades")

 

directed by Kenji Misumi
Japan 1972

 

''Child and expertise for rent'' reads the sign on the babycart that traverses the land called Hell. The child is Daigoro, the Cub, and the expertise is in the art of slaughter as practiced by Ogami Ito, the Lone Wolf. In a rare moment of compassion, Lone Wolf rescues a girl who has killed a pimp in self defense. By his code, he is forced to endure being tortured to within an inch of his life. Lone Wolf takes to the road again, where his expertise is very much in demand, so much that a would-be employer had already had a contract placed on him.

Poster

Theatrical Release: September 2, 1972 (Japan)

Menus

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP LEFT

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC TOP RIGHT

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray



Screen Captures

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC SECOND

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC SECOND

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

1) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

(aka "Kozure Ôkami: Oya no kokoro ko no kokoro" or "Babycart in Peril")

directed by Buichi Saito
Japan 1972

Lone Wolf is separated from his Cub, Daigoro, in the course of a mission to find and kill the tattooed mistress of martial arts, Oyuki. Daigoro is found at the mercy of a rival of his father, Ogami Ito. Ogami eliminates the problem with his routine efficiency. Despite continuous harassment from Yagyu assassins, Lone Wolf discovers Oyuki. Although he admires her, he is contract to destroy her.

All this time, the evil Lord Retsudo is coming closer to Lone Wolf, and he's bringing an army with him.

Poster

Theatrical Release: December 30, 1972 (Japan)

Menus

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP LEFT

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC TOP RIGHT

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 


Screen Captures

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC SECOND

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC SECOND

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

1) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

(aka "Kozure Ôkami: Meifumadô" or "Babycart in the Land of Demons")

 

directed by Kenji Misumi
Japan 1973

 

Prior to hiring Ogami Ito, Lord Kuroda, head of the Kuroda clan, sends his five greatest warriors to individually test the skill of Lone Wolf. Ogami passes the test. Hired to ensure that the succession of the clan passes to the legitimate heir, the son of Lord Kuroda, Lone Wolf becomes enmeshed in a web of intrigue that leads in turn to Lord Retsudo, the evil head of the Yagyu.

Before he can break free, he must turn against the very men who hired him, the loyal retainers of the Kuroda clan.

Poster

Theatrical Release: August 11, 1973 (Japan)

Menus - Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray



Screen Captures

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC SECOND

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC SECOND

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

1) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

(aka "Kozure ôkami: Jigoku e ikuzo! Daigorô" or "Babycart - White Heaven in Hell")

 

directed by Yoshiyuki Kuroda
Japan 1974

 

This is the last adventure of Lone Wolf and his Cub. Having failed in all his previous attempts to destroy Ogami, the evil lord of the Yagyu clan recruits his blood thirsty daughter. Together with the supernatural warriors, these are his most powerful weapons. If they fail, Retsudo plans to release the might of the entire Yagyu army. Ogami and Daigoro stand at the crossroads to hell.

Poster

Theatrical Release: April 24, 1974 (Japan)

Menus - Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray



Screen Captures

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC SECOND

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC SECOND

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

1) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Criterion Region 'A' 3rd Blu-ray (extras) Menus


(aka "Lone Wolf and Cub" )

directed by Robert Houston
USA 1980

 

Framed for a crime he didn't commit. A renegade samurai warrior and his infant son are pursued by assassins hired by the Shogun.

Blu-ray Product Description: Censored, banned, mistreated, but ultimately unstoppable, this breathtaking high-definition special edition is the release Shogun Assassin fans have been waiting for. Unquestionably the most popular samurai film in the West since the days of Akira Kurosawa, this chanbara classic was lifted from a hugely popular comic book saga and, still wet, transferred glistening to the screen. After being framed for disloyalty to his clan lord, disgraced ronin Itto Ogami (with three-year-old son Daigoro in tow) travels medieval Japan as the most skilled samurai-for-hire bar none. But as the treachery and obstacles in his latest mission quickly pile up, Ogami is forced to handle it the only way he knows how. A re-scored, re-dubbed reassembly of the first two films in the Lone Wolf and Cub series, the result has become an ageless cult sensation in its own right: a crazed thrill-ride in a booby-trapped baby cart, propelled on arterial spray, hurtling gleefully to nowhere. One of the most enduringly popular and deliriously violent action films of the 1980s, originally censored by the BBFC for cinema release and then banned as a video nasty; Shogun Assassin is released on 29 November 2010, fully uncut and in a Ltd edition Dual Format Steelbook (Blu-ray & DVD). SPECIAL FEATURES: - Ltd Ed Dual Format Steelbook (Blu-ray & DVD) edition - Stunning fully-restored 1080p presentation of the uncut film in its original aspect ratio - New video appreciation of the film by actor Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) - Two commentary tracks: one featuring producer David Weisman, illustrator Jim Evans and actor Gibran Evans (the voice of Daigoro); the second with film scholar Ric Meyers and martial arts expert Steve Watson - Original HD theatrical trailer for Shogun Assassin - Original Japanese trailers for all six of the original Lone Wolf and Cub films

***

Shogun Assassin is the North American theatrical version of the first two 'Lone Wolf and Cub' films, 'Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance' and 'Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx'. The plot for Shogun Assasin's takes 12 minutes of footage 'Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance' and over seventy minutes of footage from 'Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx'. To help simply and stream line the story, a voice over was added for Shogun Assassin. Story wise Shogun Assassin stays fairly close to the first 'Lone Wolf and Cub' with the main difference being the removal of all Yagyu Clan references and in their place the shogun has become the main nemesis of Ogami Ittō, the renegade samurai. One of things that the 'Lone Wolf and Cub' films are known for are their blood-soaked death scenes. And it appears that the majority of these moments have made their way into Shogun Samurai. While it is easy to see why this film has obtained a cult following. The end product while highly entertaining. It still pales in comparison to the first two 'Lone Wolf and Cub' films.

Michael Den Boer

Theatrical Release: November 11th, 1980 (USA)

Reviews                                                                                  More Reviews                                                                      DVD Reviews

Comparison

Animeigo (Shogun Assassin: 5 Film Collector's Set) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Eureka (Dual Format) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Criterion (3 Blu-rays) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Michael Den Boer for the DVD Review!

1) Animeigo (Shogun Assassin: 5 Film Collector's Set) - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT

2) Eureka - Region 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion (part of Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

  

 

Also available in a regular Blu-ray edition from Eureka:

  

Distribution

Animeigo

Region 1 - NTSC

Eureka

Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Criterion Collection - Spine # 841 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:24:45 1:25:02.680 1:25:05.141
Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 29,525,477,747 bytes

Feature: 21,959,577,600 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,567,691,967 bytes

Feature: 19,964,841,984 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.49 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: DVD

Bitrate: Eureka Blu-ray

Bitrate: Criterion Blu-ray

Audio English Dolby Digital Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio English 1583 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1583 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1794 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1794 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1789 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1789 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 384 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps
Subtitles English (text related), none English, none English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Animeigo

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary with film scholar Ric Meyers and martial arts scholar Steve Watson for Shogun Assassin
• Interview with Scott Houle the English Dub director for Shogun Assassin 3-5 (16X9; 31:25)
• Trailer for Shogun Assassin (16X9; 2:25)
• Image galleries for each film
• Program notes: text based extras about each film
• Trailers for The Wolves (16X9; 3:22), The Geisha (16X9; 3:03), Ashura (Letterboxed Widescreen; 1:24)
• Kon Ichikawa's 47 Ronin (16X9; 1:56), Shinsengumi (16X9; 2:42)
• Zatoichi's Conspiracy (Letterboxed Widescreen; 3:18), Shadow Hunters (Letterboxed Widescreen; 2:29)
• Shogun Assassin 4: Five Fistfuls of Gold (16X9; 2:09), Shogun Assassin 5: Cold Road to Hell (16X9; 1
• 28 page booklet with liner notes about each film

DVD Release Date: November 11th, 2008
Digipack

Chapters 20

Release Information:
Studio:
Eureka  

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 29,525,477,747 bytes

Feature: 21,959,577,600 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary with featuring producer David Weisman, illustrator Jim Evans and actor Gibran Evans (the voice of Daigoro)
• Second Commentary with film scholar Ric Meyers and martial arts expert Steve Watson
• Video appreciation of the film by actor Samuel L. Jackson  (12:55)
• Original HD theatrical trailer for Shogun Assassin
• Original Japanese trailers for all six of the original Lone Wolf and Cub films

Enclosed DVD of the Feature

Blu-ray Release Date: November 29th, 2010
Steelbook Blu-ray Case

Chapters 23

Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• High-definition presentation of Shogun Assassin, a 1980 English-dubbed reedit of the first two Lone Wolf and Cub films
• New interview with Kazuo Koike, writer of the Lone Wolf and Cub manga series and screenwriter on five of the films
• Lame d’un pčre, l’âme d’un sabre, a 2005 documentary about the making of the series
• New interview in which Sensei Yoshimitsu • Katsuse discusses and demonstrates the real Suio-ryu sword techniques that inspired the ones depicted in the manga and films
• New interview with biographer Kazuma Nozawa about Kenji Misumi, director of four of the six films
• Silent documentary from 1939 about the making of samurai swords, with an optional new ambient score by Ryan Francis
• Trailers
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay and film synopses by Japanese pop-culture writer Patrick Macias


Blu-ray Release Date:
November 8th, 2016
Custom
Blu-ray Case

Chapters 18

 

Comments NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were obtained directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion (Lone Wolf and Cub boxset) Region 'A' - Blu-ray - October 2016: More comparison captures (with the Animeigo DVD and Eureka Blu-ray HERE. Comments above.

***

ADDITION: Eureka (Dual Format) - Region 'B' Blu-ray - (November 2010): The new Eureka HD transfer looks just great - visually a large step beyond the DVD edition. Skin tones lose the orange hue, detail advances notably and colors tighten up and show far better balance. The UK Blu-ray is dual-layered and appears competently transferred 2 years after the release of the Animeigo DVD.

Audio also advances with a lossless DTS-HD stereo track at 1583 kbps. There is some depth notable with plenty of sword-wielding effects. There are optional English subtitles (see sample below) and my Momitsu informs me that this is region-locked to 'B'.

The Eureka includes the same audio commentary as the Animeigo DVD with film scholar Ric Meyers and martial arts expert Steve Watson but adds a second featuring producer David Weisman, illustrator Jim Evans and actor Gibran Evans (the voice of Daigoro). Kind of cool is a 2009 video appreciation of the film by actor Samuel L. Jackson for about a dozen minutes where he admits to owning over 8,000 Asian films! We also get an HD theatrical trailer for Shogun Assassin and original Japanese trailers for all six of the original Lone Wolf and Cub films.

This is quite a quintessential chanbara adventure - plenty of blood and honor. The Blu-ray bests the older DVD on every front (a/v and supplements) and comes in a cool steelbook case with a PAL DVD of the feature included (hence 'dual format'). We give this a strong endorsement.

***

ON THE DVD: Shogun Assassin is presented in a anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film's original 'scope' 2.35:1 aspect ratio. For this transfer AnimEigo uses the same masters which they used for their DVD releases of Sword of Vengeance and Baby Cart at the River Styx. in order to recreate as usual master of Shogun Assassin they also have added stock footage from other lesser sources. Colors look vibrant, details generally look crisp, flesh tones look accurate and black levels fare well, with a few instances where things look a tad too soft. In all this is a very good transfer that gives Shogun Assassin it's best home video release to date.

Shogun Assassin comes with one audio option, it's original English dubbed audio mix which is presented in a Dolby Digital stereo. It should be noted that there are several instances where Japanese text appears in the film and English subtitles have been included for all instances where Japanese text appears in the film. Background noise is kept to a minimum. Dialog is clear and everything sounds balanced.

Also included with this release are the other four film's which make up the Lone Wolf and Cub series. Just like Shogun Assassin, these four films are presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Transfer wise these all appear to be the same transfers used for the Japanese language versions of these films that were also released on DVD by AnimEigo. Each of these four films come with one audio option, a Dolby Digital stereo mix in English. And they all also come with the aforementioned English subtitles for Japanese text that appears in each film.

Extras wise each film gets a image gallery, trailers and program notes, which is essentially text related info about each film. The main extras a interview with Scott Houle the English Dub director for Shogun Assassin 3-5 and the audio commentary with film scholar Ric Meyers and martial arts scholar Steve Watson. These are both located on the first disc. The audio commentary is a detailed account of the various aspects of this production and the original Japanese versions of the first two
Lone Wolf and Cub film's is also discussed in depth. Rounding out the extras is a booklet with liner notes about each film.

  - Michael Den Boer

 



Menus

 

Animeigo (Shogun Assassin: 5 Film Collector's Set) - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Eureka - Region 'B' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 

 

Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


Screen Captures

 

Eureka - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Subtitle Sample

 

 

1) Eureka - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion (part of Lone Wolf and Cub Set) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

CLICK logo to order

 

  

Distribution Artsmagic -  Region 2 - PAL

Eureka Video

Region 2 - NTSC

Animeigo

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Criterion Collection - Spine # 841 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


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