With a change in directors and cinematographers, this fourth installment is not quite so sleek or streamlined as previous chapters, but is nonetheless remarkably consistent with the overall tone of the series and is highly enjoyable.
Accidentally separated from his father, Daigoro (Akihiro Tomikawa) is found by Yagyu Gunbei, son of Lord Retsudo and onetime rival of Ogami Itto (Tomisaburo Wakayama) for the post of official executioner. Upon Ogami's winning the post, Gunbei swore to kill him. Meeting up with Ogami now, Gunbei
loses an arm but is allowed to live.
Continuing on his mission to kill tattooed female assassin Oyuki, Ogami encounters her at a hot springs. Ogami watches as she kills some attackers, afterwards explaining to him that she had been trained as a martial artist for the Owari clan, but her instructor raped her and she fled in shame. In
killing Owari clansmen, she has been attempting to draw out her former instructor. It works--Owari appears and as he and Oyuki duel, Oyuki shucks her clothing. Stunned by her tattoo, the instructor loses his concentration and is killed. Ogami then kills Oyuki, burns the body to protect her honor,
and brings the ashes to her father.
Afterward, Owari clansmen attack the village, killing the father. Returning with them to the Owari castle, Ogami takes their lord hostage. Marching through a desolate landscape, they are set upon by Retsudo and his men. Ogami manages to kill all the men and blind Retsudo in one eye, then stumble
away badly wounded while Gunbei watches from afar, declaring he will one day be the one to kill Ogami.
BABY CART IN PERIL, the only entry to include a one-on-one duel between Ogami and perennial villain Retsudo, is peculiar in its generous use of flashbacks (the origin of the Retsudo-Ogami feud is a welcome bit of backstory), always signaled by a brief fade to black and white. Also unusual is the
occasional omniscient narration, and even a song about a lost little boy as Daigoro wanders looking for his father. In fact, the music throughout is more conventional than previous, while the visuals are fairly straightforward and devoid of the early quirks and perks of the series.
Meanwhile the character complexities (and contradictions) continue. The opening sequence of Daigoro lost and alone reveals even more about his relationship with his father. Gunbei is shocked by Daigoro's battle-hardened gaze--a mere child can't possibly have this depth of experience, he thinks. He
watches as Daigoro is surrounded in a field of flame, never showing fear, never calling out for help. Instead the child calmly reacts with instincts learned from his father, burying himself in mud to escape the fire. (This sequence, and the blinding in one eye of the antagonist, were among the
elements borrowed by John Woo for HEROES SHED NO TEARS, his father-and-cub actioner updating dad to an artillery-toting mercenary in the Golden Triangle.) (Graphic violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1972
- Rating: NR
- Review: With a change in directors and cinematographers, this fourth installment is not quite so sleek or streamlined as previous chapters, but is nonetheless remarkably consistent with the overall tone of the series and is highly enjoyable. Accidentally separate… (more)