Today I watched Buichi Saito’s Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril (1972)
In this entry into the Lone Wolf and Cub series, Itto Ogami is hired to kill a woman who abandoned the personal guard of the Daimyo of the Owari province. This woman, O-Yuki, is a master of the short sword and was originally hired from among the itinerant performers who form their own society in this period. As Ogami hunts her though, he learns from other performers that her story is truly a tragedy, as she deserted after one of the lord’s retainers had assaulted and raped her. Now we finally see Ogami struggle with morals, and his grim stoicism begins to crack under the pressure of walking the path of hell.
So far in the series, Ogami’s son Daigoro has been the conscience of the pair, but here we finally see some empathy and emotion from the elder. One could say that this is the actor growing more confortable with the role, but it certainly does fit into an arc for the series. Ogami begins the series as a stone faced badass, an unbreakable killing machine devoid of emotion, now we see him changed, worn down by the path he walks. Conversely Daigoro now takes on elements of his father’s stoicism and inhuman murderousness, bearing the Death Life Eyes as one opponent points out.
There is just a bit more humanity and empathy in this entry, a much needed change of pace from the infamous mass slaughter that it is known for. Granted there is still plenty of bloody action to satisfy, this is still a Lone Wolf and Cub film with all that that entails. This film also establishes something of a true nemesis for Ogami, moreso than the distant overlord of his enemy Yagyu family anyways, though with only two films left, we will see if that goes anywhere. Anyways, The Lone Wolf and Cub series is totally excellent, but if you want an entry with a bit more empathy, this is the one. 5/5