Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Classic Trailer - Hanzo The Razor: Sword Of Justice

The 70s - Golden Age of exploitation cinema. The transitional period between old school conservatism and liberal views coming into play more. Back when a film could feature violence, torture, rape and gore but be done with a wink and a nod so that it would be labelled exploitation. Ah fine times.

Starring Shintaro Katsu, of Zatoichi fame, as Hanzo 'The Razor' Itami a police officer in Edo. Hanzo is unlike all the other bureaucratic, time wasters he finds himself on the force with. Hanzo is a man of action. His home is a battle ground of traps and weaponry. He suffers thoigh interrogation procedures just so he knows what the best ones to use on criminals are.
He has the fastest blade in the east. He is also blessed with an abnormally sized trouser snake/tackle/one-eyed monster or... Johnson. It's this trait that gives the film it's notoriety. Hanzo uses his most powerful weapon in the interrogation of female suspects. It's these moments which lend the films (there are three in the series - this being the first) their most unsavory and comical aspects. Unsavory in that the women are basically raped as way of giving up information and in that Straw Dogs way they end up enjoying it. Which then lends the moments some comical quality - they are just so absurd and of there time that you can't help but laugh in disbelief.

Fans of the Lone Wolf & Cub series will find much to enjoy in the action sequences. There's a whole lot of sword action and some truly remarkable action scenes of Hanzo taking on hoards of men. That is the most surprising aspects of the Hanzo series - they are incredibly well made. Great period detail, intriguing plots, well shot and funky as hell soundtracks. Yes funk guitar plays during the "interrogation" scenes. Most of it is played pretty straight. Katsu never once raises a smile, everything is dealt with seriously. But there is light relief in the form of Hanzo's servants who do manage to bring some lightness with their slapstick banter.

Directed by Kenji Misumi who made many Zatoichi and Lone Wolf & Cub films Hanzo The Razor: Sword Of Justice is a worthy addition to Japanese exploitation cinema.

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