Monday, January 7, 2019

January and February film programs at the Japan Society

Japan Society Presents Two-Day Marathon Screenings
of Recently Restored Six-Part Samurai Film Series
*Plus Jan/Feb Film Screening Announcements

The Complete Lone Wolf and Cub

Friday & Saturday, January 25 & 26, 2019, at Japan Society

© Katsu Pro.; Toho Co., Ltd. / Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril

New York, NY – Among the most beloved genre film series in Japanese cinema, the Lone Wolf and Cub introduced the iconic sword-wielding, baby cart-pushing father-son duo to the world with six films made in 1972-74, capturing the imaginations of samurai film fans for over forty years. Adapted from the mega popular manga series by Kazuo Koike and Goseki KojimaLone Wolf and Cub features the adventures of itinerant sword for hire Itto Ogami (Tomisaburo Wakayama), who is forced to embark on the revenge-driven road to Hell with his infant son Daigoro in tow after he is wrongly accused of treason and stripped of his position as the Shogun’s executioner. Produced by Katsu Productions (founded by Wakayama’s brother Shintaro Katsu, famous for starring in the Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsmanfilm series from 1962-73) and featuring some of the era’s most talented chanbara filmmakers, Lone Wolf and Cub is Japanese genre filmmaking at its bloody best, each entry replete with bold visual style and brilliant action choreography.

With the two-day NYC premiere marathon presentation The Complete Lone Wolf and Cub, Japan Society screens recent 2K restorations of all six films in sequential order, on Friday January 25 and Saturday January 26.

"The Lone Wolf and Cub series contains some of the best sword-slinging, Buddhist-sutra-spouting samurai fiction ever committed to celluloid, enriched with the beauty of Japan’s natural landscape and seasoned with the vulgarity of its pop entertainment." — The Current

All films are shown on 2K DCP, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. These films are unrated, but not recommended for persons younger than 18 years of age due to excessive violence and graphic sexual content. 

Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (Kozure OokamiKo o Kashi Ude Kashi Tsukamatsuru)
Friday, January 25 at 7 PM
1972, 83 min. Directed by Kenji Misumi. With Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Fumio Watanabe, Tomoko Mayama

In this classic first film in the Lone Wolf series, the fearsome former executioner Itto Ogami takes on an assassination job in a remote hot springs area filled with murderous outlaws. Penned by the original manga writer Kazuo Koike and directed by chanbara director extraordinaire Kenji MisumiSword of Vengeanceintroduces the iconic father-son duo and their battle against the duplicitous Yagyu clan, setting the tone for the entire series with blood-spewing decapitations and unforgettable action sequences.

Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx (Kozure OokamiSanzu no Kawa no Ubaguruma)
Friday, January 25 at 8:45 PM
1972, 81 min. Directed by Kenji Misumi. With Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Mayo Matsuo, Minoru Oki. 

Itto Ogami and Daigoro continue to get hounded by the Yagyu clan as they travel the countryside, set upon by a deadly female ninja and the spiked weapon-wieldingHidari Brothers. In a touching father-son moment, the battered Ogami survives thanks to Daigoro’s love and ingenuity. A fan favorite entry in the series featuring flying limbs and geysers of blood, this second film makes up a large majority of Shogun Assassin, the 1980 recut and dubbed U.S. release of the franchise. 

Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades (Kozure OokamiShinikazeni-mukau Ubaguruma)
Saturday, January 26 at 3 PM
1972, 89 min. Directed by Kenji Misumi. With Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Go Kato, Yuko Hama. 

In the thrilling third film, set in the sweltering summer heat, Itto Ogami displays extraordinary virtue and self-discipline when he endures torture to protect a young woman sold to a brothel by local yakuza (who eventually hire him). Later, in a thrilling battle against an army of soldiers, Ogami reveals the true power of his baby cart and its arsenal of hidden weapons. Finally, he ruminates on the true “Way of the Warrior” after a duel with a formidable former samurai (Go Kato). 

Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril (Kozure OokamiOyano Kokoro Kono Kokoro)
Saturday, January 26 at 4:45 PM
1972, 81 min. Directed by Buichi Saito. With Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Yoichi Hayashi, Michi Azuma. 

For the fourth installment in the series, the last released in 1972, director Kenji Misumi (who directed the first three films) relinquishes the director’s chair to veteran genre director Buichi Saito. As the Yagyu clan continues to pursue him, Ogami accepts a job to assassinate the tattoo-clad killer Oyuki (Michi Azuma), who has been cutting off her victims’ topknots. Meanwhile, Daigoro gets lost and has a melancholic musical interlude in the rain. 

Saturday, January 26 at 6:45 PM
1973, 89 min. Directed by Kenji Misumi. With Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro TomikawaMichiyo Yasuda, Shingo Yamashiro. 

Kenji Misumi returns to direct the fifth Lone Wolf film, but long-time producer Shintaro Katsu (Zatoichi) leaves the responsibility to his brother and series star Tomisaburo Wakayama. In this next chapter, five disguised messengers test Ogami’s skills in a series of surprise attacks, gradually revealing the information he needs for his next assignment: to kill a revered Buddhist priest. Replete with Buddhist philosophy, this penultimate film taps into the spiritual aspect of Ogami’s journey for revenge. 

Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell (Kozure OokamiJigoku e IkuzoDaigoro)
Saturday, January 26 at 8:30 PM
1974, 83 min. Directed by Yoshiyuki Kuroda. With Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Junko HitomiGoro Mutsumi

In the final film of the Lone Wolf and Cub series, star and producer Tomisaburo Wakayama is given almost complete creative control and runs with it to extreme ends, bringing in director Yoshiyuki Kuroda. The final battle—10 minutes long and involving undead assassins and an army of skiing ninjas—is one of the greatest action sequences in the franchise in terms of its epic scale and cost (taking a month and half to shoot). In the conclusion to their quest, Ogami and Daigoro share a moment of quiet profundity. 

Series Admission: $14/$11 seniors & students/$10 Japan Society members. 2-Film Pass: Purchase tickets for two different Lone Wolf and Cub films in the same transaction and receive $2 off each ticket. All Access Pass: $36 for all six films. Tickets may be purchased online at, in person at Japan Society, or by calling the box office at 212-715-1258.


Monthly Classics: Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters                                                                         
Friday, January 11 at 7 PM
1985, 121 min., DCP, color and b&w, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Paul Schrader. With Ken Ogata, Kenji Sawada, Yoshiyuki NagashimaYasosukeBando. 

This unconventional, visually stunning biopic directed by Paul Schrader (presented in a new 4K restoration) deconstructs the life and work of Japanese writer and outspoken ultranationalist Yukio Mishima—who famously killed himself in a public act of seppuku (ritual suicide) after he failed to incite a military coup—through a dazzling assemblage of biographical dramatization and extravagantly stylized interpretations of his fiction. This screening is presented in conjunction with the current Japan Society exhibition Yasumasa Morimura: Ego Obscura, which runs through January 13. In his artistic exploration of postwar Japanese history, Morimura has repeatedly transformed himself into Mishima, including works featured in the exhibition. 
Tickets: $14/$11 seniors and students/$5 Japan Society members.


Monthly Classics: The Ballad of Narayama (Narayama Bushiko)                                                             
Friday, February 8 at 7 PM
1983, 131 min., DCP, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Shohei Imamura. With Ken Ogata, Sumiko Sakamoto, Tonpei HidariTakejo Aki. 

Shohei Imamura's 1983 Palme d'Or-winning masterpiece is set in a remote mountain village in 19th-century Japan wherein tradition dictates that those who reach the age of 70 must be carried to the top of Mount Narayama and left to die. Despite her hardscrabble surroundings, Orin (Sumiko Sakamoto) is still sprightly at 69, working the fields and managing her family's affairs. Even so, when winter returns to the valley, she demands that her eldest son (Ken Ogata) carry out her fate. A film full of mud, lust, sweat and death, Narayama is a grand culmination of Imamura's career-long interest in "the lower part of the human body and lower part of the social structure," presented in a brand-new 4K restoration
Tickets: $14/$11 seniors and students/$5 Japan Society members.

Special Screening: Tomoyasu Murata: Stop Motion Master                                         
Saturday, February 23 at 3, 5 & 7 PM
2000-2017. Approx. 84 min. DCP. Written, directed and animated by Tomoyasu Murata. 

One of Japan's most prolific independent animation artists, Tomoyasu Murata (b. 1974, Tokyo) has created breathtaking, boundary-breaking stop motion animated films over the last two decades. Initially inspired by the expressive power of traditional Japanese bunraku puppet theater, Murata's films—at once tender, whimsical and mysterious—deal with themes of memory, absence and mujo (the Buddhist concept of impermanence) through the cinematic manipulation of his meticulously handcrafted puppets and fantastical miniature sets. The eight short films in this program range from the artist's award-winning student work to recent projects that respond to the Great East Japan Earthquake. 
Tickets: $14/$11 seniors and students/$10 Japan Society members.

Japan Society Film offers a diverse selection of Japanese films, from classics to contemporary independent productions. Its aim is to entertain, educate and support activities in the Society's arts and culture programs. For more, visit

Founded in 1907, Japan Society in New York City presents sophisticated, topical and accessible experiences of Japanese art and culture, and facilitates the exchange of ideas, knowledge and innovation between the U.S. and Japan. More than 200 events annually encompass world-class exhibitions, dynamic classical and cutting-edge contemporary performing arts, film premieres and retrospectives, workshops and demonstrations, tastings, family activities, language classes, and a range of high-profile talks and expert panels that present open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia.

Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and M subway at Lexington Avenue). For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit

Japan Society’s Film Programs are generously supported by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund. Additional season support is provided by The Globus Family, Masu Hiroshi Masuyama, James Read Levy, Geoff Matters, David S. Howe, Dr. Tatsuji Namba, Mr. and Mrs. Omar H. Al-Farisi, LaurelGonsalves, and Akiko Koide and Shohei Koide.

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