Blu-ray Review “Shogun Assassin – 5 Film Collector’s Edition”

Director(s): Robert Houston, Kenji Misumi, Buichi Saito, Yoshiyuki Kuroda
Actors: Kayo Matsuo, Masahiro Tomikawa, Tomisaburo Wakayama
Distributed by: AnimEigo
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Running Time: 427 minutes

Box Set: 3 out of 5 stars
Films: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Let me start with that fact that I have been a long time fan of the “Lone Wolf and Cub” series, which are the films that “Shogun Assassin” series has been morphed into.  This series is so influential for recent films like “Kill Bill” and artists like RZA. AnimEigo is the team behind the Blu-ray box set and they did a pretty decent job overall.  For “Shogun Assassin”, they completely reconstructed the movie using pristine masters of the original two “Lone Wolf and Cub” films. Basically every frame has been restored using uncompressed 24p 1080p 2.35:1 anamorphic source materials.  So that is very impressive but the rest of the films, I can’t really say the same.

This set does not only include “Shogun Assassin” but also its 4 sequels, “Shogun Assassin 2: Lightning Swords of Death”, “Shogun Assassin 3: Slashing Blades of Carnage”, “Shogun Assassin 4: Five Fistfuls Of Gold” and “Shogun Assassin 5: Cold Road to Hell”. It is a fantastic to be able to get all these films released on Blu-ray in once box set for the first time. The box set itself seems a little cheap though and low production, with repeated artwork and lacks of documentation on the restoration process. The first film is included on its own Blu-ray, which honestly does looks amazing. But I do not feel that the same TLC really went to the following four films, which are crammed onto the second Blu-ray disc.  For the price of this box set it just seems like you would get a little more on presentation of the discs.

The special features on the disc are not out of this world but does included some new material.  There is an exclusive interview with Samuel L. Jackson, which I can listen to him talk about just anything.  There is a new commentary included which features producer David Weisman, illustrator Jim Evans, and Gibran Evans (narrator of Daigoro).  It is very informative and fun to listen to, I recommend this.  Lastly there is also another audio commentary by film scholar Ric Meyers and martial arts expert Steve Watson.  Let’s just say I prefer the first commentary more.  I would have also love to seen more production special features from these films.

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