Shogun Assassin

Shogun Assassin

1980, R, 86 min. Directed by Kenji Misumi. Starring Tomisaburo Wakayama, Masahiro Tomikawa, Kayo Matsuo, Robert Houston.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Wed., April 18, 2001

Absolutely one of my all-time favorite martial-arts movies, Shogun Assassin is a fascinating Americanized amalgam of two Japanese movies, Lightning Swords of Death and Baby Cart at the River Styx. Shogun Assassin combines bits and pieces from both films, adds an unfortunately bad dub track, and creates a seamless whole. The story centers around a samurai who travels the countryside, fighting and wheeling his infant son in a baby carriage. The entire story is told in a voiceover from the child's point of view. Once a loyal fighter, the samurai's shogun employer goes senile (or mad) and orders the samurai's death, but the ninjas sent to kill him mistakenly murder the samurai's wife instead. The samurai vows vengenace, the baby voluntarily chooses the way of the sword, and the life of the itinerant soldier becomes the duo's path. Perhaps not as action-packed as some martial-arts epics, but Shogun Assassin has an emotional warmth and subtlety that the big guns often lack.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Kenji Misumi Films
Lone Wolf & Cub: Sword of Vengeance

Jan. 21, 2020

Lone Wolf & Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx

Jan. 21, 2020

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
The Song of Names
Holocaust drama about a missing musical prodigy never finds its rhythm

Jan. 17, 2020

Just Mercy
True-life story of prison injustice can't escape procedural bonds

Jan. 10, 2020


Shogun Assassin, Kenji Misumi, Tomisaburo Wakayama, Masahiro Tomikawa, Kayo Matsuo, Robert Houston

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Time to vote! Music Poll 2019-20 balloting is underway   VOTE NOW