films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


Return of Daimajin

Daimajin Ikaru
1966 / 79m - Japan
Fantasy, Action
Return of Daimajin poster

The middle entry in the Daimajin franchise. Three films in one year is quite a lot, it's no surprise then that the makers have taken a couple of shortcuts. The setup is pretty much identical to the first film, including the perks, sadly also the warts. While the overall quality didn't really drop, the straightforward repetition was a little disappointing.

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The story is virtually the same as the first film. A village is overrun by a malicious gang. The survivors retreat and pray to their God, hoping he'll rise to help them. After some back and forth, Daimajin finally awakes and gets ready to kick some ass. Cue 20 minutes of solid destruction and that's that.

Like the first film, there's not quite enough Daimajin to be truly satisfying. The Kaiju action is cool, but there simply isn't enough of it. The samurai elements feel a bit more tedious and even though it's a short film, the first three quarters are a bit slow, even dull. Luckily the cinematography is well above par, which pushes the film to a positive rating. Not bad, but could've been better.

Destiny's Son

1962 / 71m - Japan
Drama, Adventure
Destiny's Son poster

A classic samurai flick that isn't particularly remarkable, but benefits from a relatively short runtime and some decent cinematography. It's certainly not my favorite Japanese cinema niche and Destiny's Son doesn't do much to change that, but I've seen a lot worse.

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When the wife of a lord kills his concubine, thinking it's the only way to save her clan, a string of fateful events is set in motion. The lord is forced to kill his wife and vows to become a monk, while his son is sent to a foster family. His son grows up to be a very skilled swordsman, when he finally learns about his past he sets out to find his father.

The film is quite peaceful, considering the somewhat tragic plot. Stark framing, gentle camera work and a soothing soundtrack result in a surprisingly subdued film. The story isn't all that interesting though and there's more drama than action, which makes that the limited runtime is a real blessing. Not terrible, but not very memorable either.

Shogun Assassin

1980 / 85m - USA
Adventure, Action
Shogun Assassin poster

Tricky. I haven't seen the original Japanese series yet, but I figured I might go with this one first. Shogun Assassin is an edit of the first two Lone Wolf films, apparently botching up Japanese films is something Americans used to adore. There are some interesting scenes here, but I'm pretty certain I'm going to like the original films a lot better.

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When Itto's wife is murdered by the shogun, he doesn't want to live under his reign anymore. Unwilling to commit harakiri, he kills the shogun's men and moves away with his young son. He becomes an assassin for hire, but the shogun can't just let Itto go, and he puts even more men on his tail.

There are some nicely stylized action scenes, but they're ruined by terrible dubbing and some nonsensical editing. The story is quite fragmented as if you're watching a compilation video rather than an actual film. Maybe seeing the original films will change my mind about this "experiment", but for now, I'm not impressed with Houston's work.