Lone Wolf and Cub: Parting Thoughts

Lone Wolf and CubWell, poop.  I feel a little sad now.  It’s like that slightly empty feeling you get when you finish binge-watching an epic TV show.  Well, it’s actually that feeling, I guess, since I did binge-watch Lone Wolf and Cub; one per day.  It’s even sadder though, given the cinematic and epic nature of the films.  I’ll never be able to watch it for the first time again…

Anyway, let me tell you probably the best thing about the films in the Lone Wolf and Cub series: they’re short.  I’m not sure why, but these days, frivolous jaunts that involve robots punching each other a lot, or superheroes punching each other a lot, or people driving really fast cars before the drivers punch each other a lot, seem to think they need to be in excess of two hours.  The Lone Wolf and Cub films know what they are: frivolous jaunts that involve sword-fighting.  As such, they don’t take up that much of your time.  Each entry clocks in at about eighty to ninety minutes—not that much more than a Game of Thrones finale.

Make no mistake, though; each film in the Lone Wolf and Cub series has more artfulness and cinematic expressiveness than all of the MCU, Transformers flicks, and Fast & Furious movies combined.  See the individual reviews for specifics, of course.  But while each film in a modern franchise seems to be simply an advert for the subsequent entry, each individual Lone Wolf and Cub chapter is satisfying on its own.

This may change as the films settle within me, but here’s my ranking of the Lone Wolf and Cub films from best down to very goodest:

  1. Baby Cart to Hades
  2. Baby Cart at the River Styx
  3. Baby Cart in the Land of Demons
  4. White Heaven in Hell
  5. Baby Cart in Peril
  6. Sword of Vengeance

Spoilers for White Heaven in Hell:

Ah, yes.  In my review for White Heaven in Hell, I mentioned my disappointment that the film did not wrap up the narrative of the series.  I did hint, though, that it might end the series thematically.  So here’s what I meant by that: Yagyu Retsudo gets away in the end, vowing to kill Ogami Itto another time.  For me, this is kinda like the end of The Sporanos, with its (in)famous fade to black.  Did that narrative have a definite end?  No, but the point of it was very deliberately to put you in the feeling space of Tony Soprano.  Maybe he gets shot right then.  Maybe next week.  Maybe twenty years from the time the series ends.  We don’t know and neither does he.

But that feeling of Am I gonna get mine now? will never leave him.  That’s what he’ll feel for the rest of his life.  And so it is with Ogami.  He chose to ‘walk the demon path down the four lives and six realms.’  Maybe he’ll never get Yagyu, the way that Tantalus never got his fruit or water.  The feeling of disappointment we feel at the end is how Ogami may feel for all eternity.

I’m honestly not 100% on board with this interpretation of the ending; it just occurred to me once the film ended.  I need to think on it more.

Wait!  Brainstorm: Quentin Tarantino makes the seventh and final film to wrap up the narrative.  Holy hell, am I a genius!

End of spoilers for White Heaven in Hell.

Well, it’s been a hell of a ride.  Here’s my farewell to one of the most consistently entertaining film series I’ve ever seen.  Don’t worry though—wild horses couldn’t stop me from revisiting it!

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