Shadow Hunters (Japan 1972)

Rating: **
Review Date: 1/21/06
Cast: Ishihara Yujiro, Uchida Ryohei, Narita Mikio

Based on the manga by Saito Takao, "Shadow Hunters" is the tale of three ronin who have banded together to fight the corrupt Shogunate. They have all been wronged by the government and seek justice and revenge. The leader of the band is Mukoto Jubei (superb Ishihara Yujiro), a quiet and stoic master of the sword. His sidekicks are Sunlight (Uchida Ryohei) and Moonlight (Narita Mikio), who are also suberb swordsmen. Sunlight is the goofy loud-mouthed womanizer who provides comedy relief, while Moonlight is his polar opposite. The current situation has the Shadow Hunters safeguarding a document that must be presented in Edo, and they're faced with numerous ninja, assassins, and double agents along the way. The cinematography is wonderful and the film looks great. While it features a handful of delightfully satisfying blood geysers, the combat for the most part is rather poor and unconvincing. The acting is decent, but only Ishihara Yujiro manages to add something above and beyond the otherwise B-movie mentality. As you might expect, the pacing is slow and the plot is overly heavy on dialog, but it still manages to provide some enjoyment along the way.