Samurai Wolf 1 & 2 Collection
review by Bobby Blakey
I love anything that has to do with martial arts. The Samurai sub-genre is easily one of the oldest and typically most epic. In 1967 director Hideo Gosha brought his trademark style to the genre with the films Samurai Wolf 1 & 2 starring Isao Natsuyagi. Now Film Movement Classics is bringing these two classics together to Blu-ray available for the first time in North America.
Samurai Wolf 1 follows Kiba, a charismatic ronin who wanders into a small town and ends up ensnared in a local conflict that's more than meets the eye. After dispatching a pair of highway criminals seen robbing a courier wagon, Kiba agrees to assist a beautiful blind woman who runs the local shipping company. Double- and triple-crosses ensue, illustrated with savage but economical violence.
I had never gotten to see either of these films, but love this genre. Films like these are always a mixed bag as they aren’t just trying to make an action film, but a true story about characters. The pacing here is slow at times, but it’s all about trying to build depth to these characters and their stories leading into the showdown it is all leading too. A lot of times these samurai stories fight its way into a love story as well as vengeance. The action here is well executed and way bloodier than I would have thought for the time.
I really enjoyed this film and its beautiful visuals. The music is an interesting choice as it often sounds more of a horror film than an Asian epic period piece, but at the same time it is very impactful. The other interesting choice is the decision of using no sound at all in some of the action pieces. This is off putting at first, but then I found myself laser focused on what was happening allowing my other senses to really embrace the impact of it all.
Samurai Wolf 2: Hell Cut follows the charismatic ronin Kiba who returns, once again entangled in a complex web of intrigue, involving a crooked goldmine owner, a cynical swordsman, and an arrogant dojo master.
This next chapter has the obvious same vibe as the first film, but felt like there was way more action. It also seemed to be less artsy and more straight forward in its storytelling and execution. It moves faster and never feels like filler despite it still allowing the story to unfold. I just feel like its overall execution was just all around better than the first, but as a whole together they are both iconic and classic.
If you have never joined in on the fun of these classic samurai flicks then you
are truly missing out on a masterclass. They are infused with culture, action, heart, betrayal and everything in between that you could want in a film.
Decide for yourself and grab your copy of the Samurai Wolf 1& 2 Collection available now on Blu-ray for the first time in North America from Film Movement Classics.