When this film began, it soon became apparent that it had a much greater cinematic quality than the previous films. The cinematography is quite artistic and I loved how they framed the shots. It also had a much grander--more wide-open sort of look to it--with, oddly, a scene of Itto and his young son skiing!!!! Then, as the film unfolds, the music is also very nice--again, with a lovely artistic flair. Truly this is the best looking of the Lone Wolf films.
The scene switches to the head of the evil Yagyu clan (Retsudo) ). Apparently now it is only he and his daughter who are left--Ogami Itto has killed the rest. And so the clan chief is told that this 'problem' is going to be taken out of his hands and handled officially. The Yagyu boss begs to have one final chance and the scene then switches to a very impressive and sick scene--showing this killing machine daughter (Kaori) practicing her knife techniques. The old man coaches her as very methodically she kills three men--burying blades deed into their skulls. This is no ordinary lady!! Sadly, however, her showdown with Itto is over very quickly and it felt very anticlimactic.
Immediately following Kaori's failure, the boss-man himself responds. He goes to visit Hyoei--his previously never mentioned illegitimate son. Now here's where it gets really weird...in the next scene he is officiating some sort of zombie resurrection scene. It seems three warriors were buried alive for 42 days and now they are undead killing machines. Wow...and I thought Itto's anachronistic machine guns in the stroller were weird! Things now really heat up for Itto, as everywhere he goes, anyone who helps him in any way is brutally killed by Hyoei and his Tsuchigumo Tribesmen. They are definitely much more formidable than his half-sister and it sure looks as if Itto will die at Hyoei's hand...and soon. However, Hyoei fails when he he is goaded by Itto to fight him as a samurai...and when Hyoei tries to rape his sister (ewwww--why is there ALWAYS rape in the Lone Wolf films and with his sister yet!) to continue his family line, Retsudo kills him and his sister in the act. He then tries to assume command of the Tsuchigumo--who refuse and wish to destroy Itto on their own--using their magical and mysterious ways.
By now, Itto and his son have high into the snowy mountains--a hint of this was seen at the beginning of the film. Here, the Tsuchigumo are at a disadvantage--they cannot use their bizarre tunneling technique (this is a REALLY weird skill when you see it in action). But they are zombie-like magical beings and so things once again look very bad for Itto the killing machine. Fortunately, Q from the James Bond movies must have invented his baby stroller, as it helps him in this jam---which leads to a snow ski fight somewhat reminiscent of a Bond snow scene. Heck, it even has Bond-like music! However, when Retsudo turns up with his own tricked out Q-inspired baby carriage-like machine, all attempts at realism are out the window...it's truly Bond Time in the 19th century--or should I say "Wild, Wild West" time?!!! I would have to say that this is DEFINITELY the most ridiculous Lone Wolf movie and, at the same time, the most exciting to watch. It's almost non-stop insane action and wild and weird villains. It's something you just have to see.
By the way, this is the last Lone Wolf film--even though "Shogun Assassin" was released in 1980. This 1980 film is actually a film chopped from the earlier films and arranged into a 'new movie'. So, if you've seen the original films there's no reason to see this later film.