Plot: Ogami Itto (Tomisaburo Wakayama) has served as executioner for the Shogun with great honor, always fulfilling his duties. The position of executioner is one that carries a good deal of respect and influence, but Ogami sought only to serve his Shogun and nothing else. But others might exploit such a powerful position and for the Yagyu clan, it holds immense potential. Of course, Ogami is a dedicated and skilled executioner, so taking his place isn’t going to be a simple task. In order to have him removed, the Yagyu seek to set him up as a traitor and slaughter his family. The plan is put into motion, but Ogami fights back and kills several Yagyu members. Ogami and his young son Daigoro survive the attack, but the damage to his reputation has been done. Now Ogami and Daigoro roam the countryside, with their services available for a price. Ogami will serve any client for any reason, as long as he is told the story and reasons for the contract. What does the future hold for the father and son duo and will they ever be able to exact some measure of vengeance against the Yagyu clan?
Entertainment Value: The Lone Wolf and Cub series is a masterpiece of cinema and deserves a place in any film buff’s collection. Sword of Vengeance kicks off the six film series and lays the foundation for the films that follow. The story follows the revenge arc, but also the narrative of Ogami and Daigoro as they are enlisted to help others. The writing is excellent and provides a wealth of colorful, memorable characters. The cast is also great, with of course Tomisaburo Wakayama as the stand out. He might look odd with his chubby face and disheveled hair, but he makes Ogami into one of cinema’s iconic roles. He has the intensity needed to pull off a driven man, but also works well in more subtle moments and of course, when the action heats up. The production values are rock solid, with great costumes and overall attention to detail. The locations are quite good and transport you to these little villages and wooded areas. Sword of Vengeance packs in a lot of exposition, but is never dull or even really slow. The pace is brisk and because the cast and writing are good, even quieter moments hold your attention. This is just a well crafted, highly entertaining movie on all fronts.
The movie has some naked boobies, including a couple of breast feeding scenes. Another girl gets naked to indulge in some awkward sex, which means we get to see Ogami’s pale ass as well. So not a lot of jugs, but man…there’s a lot of blood. The movie has a high body count and is never shy about flooding the screen with the red stuff. Ogami slays his enemies in traditional sword battles that yield geysers of blood, like seriously it sprays out in geysers. There are also some more ghastly killings, such as decapitation, hairline splits, and of course, cutting a man off at the legs. Just awesome stuff and seeing Ogami stand there while the blood of his fresh kill sprays all over the place is so badass. The writing is good, but doesn’t yield a lot of memorable lines to quote. Hard to be mad though since the story is told so well. A movie about a guy pushing his son in a cart, leaving the countryside soaked in blood is pretty crazy. But the movie never goes over the top outside of the violence, as it tells a grounded story with believable characters.
Overall Insanity: 4/10