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|Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades
by Brian McKay
Just like a roast tastes better after simmering in a crock pot all day, or the best orgasm comes after a gradual build, BABY CART TO HADES takes a slower pace than usual before building to a climactic crescendo of blood and steel.The third installment of the LONE WOLF AND CUB saga begins and ends as they usually do. In the first five minutes famed assassin Ogami Itto (Wakayama Tomisaburo) throws a hurtin' onto a pack of those pesky Yagyu shadow clan ninja who murdered his wife, framed him for treason, and have doggedly pursued him ever since. In the last five minutes, some gorgeous woman looks after him longingly as he pushes his child and weapon-laden babycart into the sunset - often after she's been trying to kill him for most of the movie. As for the 80 minutes in between, anything goes. You can always count on one thing though - Ogami Itto is gonna kick some ass.
"Steady buildup Culminates in an Orgiastic Ballet of Bloodshed"
After dispatching with some not-sneaky-enough ninja in a bamboo thicket, Ogami Itto and his young son Daigoro encounter the aftermath of a brutal rape and murder at the hands of group of Watari-kashi, which are basically Samurai temps who are one step above a Ronin on the socioeconomic scale. Itto kills the two perpetrators of the rape, but lets the third one, a young warrior named Kanbei, live. He recognizes in Kanbei a "true warrior" with potential, and worthy of being spared - even though the young man requests a duel. Although the two part ways on peaceful terms, a showdown between them is inevitable.
A short time later, he encounters a young peasant woman who has been sold into the profession of Joro- which is generally translated as "entertainer of men" but really means "hooker". When her pimp tries to sample the goods at the inn where Ogami and Son are staying, she fights back and kills him. Now she has the authorities on her ass, as well as the Boohachimono, a yakuza-like organization that runs the brothel the peasant girl has been sold to. Although it's not his usual style to meddle in the affairs of others (unless you call carving them up like a honey-baked ham "meddling"), Lone Wolf defends the girl and even undergoes the torture of buri-buri in her place in order to satisfy the demands of Boohachimono justice and buy her freedom. Buri-buri consists of being hung upside down and beaten senseless with bamboo sticks. Good times!
The Boohachimono are led by a gorgeous woman who serves in a capacity similar to that of a madame. Once her boys finished tromping him with sticks, she takes him to see "The Elder", the samurai leader of the local authorities. The Elder offers Ogami Itto an assassination job. He turns them down, however, since he's already been paid to kill the the Elder! Once The Elder realizes this, he gathers every man he can spare and sets up an ambush on the road. As the Lone Wolf turns a bend to see hundreds of men standing in his path, he calmly utters to his son, "Daigoro, we have entered the crossroads to hell".
Carnage and Carnality
-bushwhacking Yagyu beotches brilliantly butchered in bamboo patch.
-brief rape-related breast shots (if that's your cup of tea)
-riverbed slaying with "drowning child" subterfuge
-mano-a-mano duel with leaping over-the-shoulder coup de grace
-Quick-draw with reverse slash and re-sheath - in under two seconds!
-Simultaneous slashing and skewering with two-fisted katanas
-triple-parry with reverse thrust finishing move
-close-up Kanbei clash with copious slow-mo blood splash
-rolling head cam
-The unrepentant slaughter of over two hundred extras in a single scene.BABY CART TO HADES ups the ante, and the body count, in a big way. Wakyama Tomisaburo is larger than life and as intimidating as ever. Even his allies are scared shitless of him, as they should be. Only young Daigoro takes the old man in stride. Special props go to AnimEigo, who not only provided excellent subtitles on the series' re-release, but include a "liner notes" page with a glossary of terms and various cultural and historical tidbits that are pertinent to each film. This comes in quite handy, especially for film critics too lazy to take notes. Great job, guys! Now where are the DVD's???
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6665&reviewer=258
originally posted: 01/08/03 09:03:58