Generally regarded as the best in the LONE WOLF series, entry five is certainly the most complexly-plotted, as well as the most emotionally rich and rewarding.
In order to prove his fitness for the difficult task at hand, Ogami Itto (Wakayama Tomisaburo) must kill five assassins, each of whom holds one-fifth of his fee, and one part of his assignment. All are emissaries of the Kuroda clan, whose addled master has imprisoned his own young son Matsumaru
and placed his daughter (by a concubine) in power instead. If the Shogunate hears of this impersonation, the clan will be dissolved. Ogami's job is to intercept the Abbot Jihei and obtain a document detailing the deception, before Jihei can turn it over to the villainous Yagyu Retsudo.
Ogami is hired for an additional task by Shiranui, governess of a young girl masquerading as prince Matsumaru. She wants him to save the Kuroda clan's honor by assassinating the fake prince, as well as the Lord himself and his mistress. After Ogami kills the Abbot and obtains the scroll in full
view of Retsudo, he is assisted in fighting off Yagyu soldiers by the Kuroda Masked Clansmen, who take him to meet their lord. There Ogami demands to see the real prince.
A fight ensues. Eliminating the Kuroda guards, Ogami slays his way through the Masked Clansmen to get to the lord himself and perform the triple execution. Afterwards, Shiranui kills herself, following her young charge into death as tradition dictates.
Original director Misumi Kenji is back, toning down some of the earlier gore (or at least holding it in abeyance till the end), offering whirlwind action surrounded by still and stately moments, telling the tale with economy and imagination. Regular scripter Koike Kazuo has been joined for the
first time by an additional screenwriter, Tsutomu Nakamura, and together they have crafted a truly masterful tale of honor and irony.
Most significant of all is the subplot involving Ogami's son Daigoro (Akihiro Tomikawa) becoming separated from him and encountering a female pickpocket. This thread actually interrupts the narrative flow of the film, stopping the main plot dead and inserting an unrelated story that runs for
twenty minutes and then vanishes as we return to the Kuroda tale. But it's a crucial twenty minutes for the movie, and the series as a whole. Daigoro is the linchpin of the series, and with the wrong young actor in the role, the whole concept would fall flat. Tomikawa Akihiro is the perfect
Daigoro: he doesn't display much emotional range (none is called for), but instead is a natural at detachment, and that's enough. Along with infrequent flashes of anger, he periodically displays a child's sense of wonder manifested in a fascination with nature and occasional longing looks at other
children at play. (Graphic violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations, profanity)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1973
- Rating: NR
- Review: Generally regarded as the best in the LONE WOLF series, entry five is certainly the most complexly-plotted, as well as the most emotionally rich and rewarding. In order to prove his fitness for the difficult task at hand, Ogami Itto (Wakayama Tomisaburo)… (more)