Jun 23

The Ninja Wars (1982) aka Iga ninpôchô

A fortuneteller prophesizes that whoever marries the beautiful Ukio will become the ruler of the world. Naturally, this makes her very popular with those vying for power, particularly the insatiably greedy Lord Donjo. Only the ninja Jotaro can stop Donjo’s plan, but to do so, he must first battle the deadly team of “Devil Monks” serving the lord. Will Jotaro succeed in his mission? And if so, will Ukio marry him, thus making him the ruler of the world?

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Oct 25

Shadow Hunters (1972) a.K.a Kage gari

shadow-hunters-1972-coverIn the late Tokugawa period, the Edo government is using Spies from Iga Province to cause the downfall of innocent provincial Daimyo. The Shogun needs to claim the assets of fallen clans in order to boost the failing economies of Edo. The Ninjahunters, jesting Sunlight or Tadanoshi Unui (Ryuhei Uchida) & gaunt Moonlight or Denosuke Kusaba (Mikeo Narita), are led by a brooding fellow named Jubei Muroto. These three ronin are not your normal ornery ruffians who are looking for a drink, a broad and someone to jab a sword into, but are in fact former samurai who, rather than follow their destroyed fiefs and murdered masters into death via seppuku, have dedicated their combined sword prowess to stopping the government from raping its daimyos for valuable resources. It turns out that in the Tokugawa era’s twilight years, one of the tools that the shogunate would screw their daimyos with would be the ninja-sometimes referred to as ‘shadows’. The ‘shadows’ would manipulate the daimyos by planting incriminating anti-shogunate evidence (therefore they could be taken over under the ruse of being treasonous or mutinous), by stealing valuable documents (asserting a fiefdom’s inalienable right of existence), or by the assassination of key political figures and lords. In a sense, the Shadow Hunters act as a kind of firefighter to the Tokugawa shogunate’s ninja bad guys; moving from land to land, offering their swords and ridding Japan of the accursed ‘shadows’ that destroyed their own clans.

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Oct 24

Shadow Hunters II: Echo of Destiny (1972) a.K.a Kage gari: Hoero taihô

kagegari2_1972The three Shadow Hunters return for another round of Ninja killing. As the film opens, the three Hunters are apart but each is attacked by a “Kunoichi”, a beautiful, deadly female Ninja. After each has dispatched with the Kunoichi, they reunite for another job thwarting shadows at the behest of a clan. Though its use has been outlawed, a mountain clan has a prized cannon that was used in the civil war. Recently, they have melted it down to make a new and more deadly weapon, even though doing so is in direct defiance of the current Shogun’s orders. The Shadow Hunters must retrieve the new cannon from the summit of the mountain and return it to the village before the Shogun’s inspectors arrive. Unbeknownst to the trio, Domoto Makaku, leader of the Shogun’s shadows, is personally coming to make sure that their mission fails. It will take more than brute strength and swords to get the cannon down the mountain and the Hunters pull out all the stops to complete the mission they’ve been assigned.

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May 17

Decapitation of an Evil Woman (1977) aka Dokufu oden kubikiri asa

MDjqRJaAn unusual blending of elements comes together in this crime story drawn from Japanese history. During the early Meiji period a number of “Dokufu” (Poison Women) committed a significant number of murders. These crimes were most often committed by wives on their husbands in order to be together with their lovers. At that time women were executed in the same manner as men, to wit: by being decapitated. This is the story of the most notorious of all, Takahashi Oden who, in 1879, was the last woman executed by decapitation in Japan.
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Jan 11

The Naked Seven (1974) aka Sengoku rokku hayate no onnatachi

Sengoku-rokku-hayate-no-onnatachiProlific Nikkatsu studio director Yasuharu Hasebe crossed the Seven Samurai legends of Shichinin No Samurai with his own popular Naraneko Rokku series, dressed it up with some of the most popular softcore pinup queens of the day, and scored one of the studio’s few crossover successes of the period.
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Sep 01

Boachi Bushido: Code of the Forgotten Eight (1973) aka Bôhachi bushidô: Poruno jidaigeki

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Tetsuro Tanba plays a nihilistic ronin which faces down the “Clan of this forgotten about Eight”, that got their title because they lost all of their standard feelings like conscience, appreciation, loyalty, pity etc. Continue reading