Running time: 95 mins
Director: Kenji Misumi
Starring: Tomisaburo Wakayama, Minoru Oki, Shin Kishida
Genre: Action, Drama
Seconds out, round two and this time Ogami Itto (
Wakayama) takes on a group of female ninjas
who are in the pocket of the Yagyu clan and all the while trying to prevent a rogue
member from selling the secrets of the Shogunate to the highest bidder.
Misumi didn’t waste any time at all, hot on the successful heels of Sword of Vengeance, Baby Cart at the River Styx came out the same year. You’d think that there’d be a lowering in production value but you’d be wrong. Narratively the film is as strong as LWAC: SOV, unsurprisingly as the Manga adaptations have a wealth of source material at their disposal. The feel of the film is slightly different to that of Sword of Vengeance, visually the set pieces are a strong as the first film but there’s a harder edge to sequel’s cinematography. Though they are still wonderfully, and artistically constructed it’s got a hardened side that mirrors our hero. Several of the fights, including that amazingly shot dune battle with the Hidari brothers is lyrical but grounded, earthy and a lot less flighty. Similarly the combative scenes in the Japanese countryside between Itto and the female ninjas have a rawness that’s pushing the visual palette of the film through an emotional evolutionary process that makes perfect sense.
Though not as striking as Sword of Vengeance, Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx is a strong and powerful piece of cinema. Sequels are tough, sequels to excellent films are even tougher and it’s a double edged sword for a sequel to attempt to push ahead and evolve away from the premise of it’s spawner but Baby Cart achieves that. An entertaining of distinct piece of samurai cinema.