Shadow Hunters II: Echo Of Destiny (Japan 1972)

Rating: **
Review Date: 2/12/06
Cast: Ishihara Yujiro, Uchida Ryohei, Narita Mikio, Natsu Junko

The Shadow Hunters continue wandering the roads to hell, this time taking on a job to protect and transport a forbidden cannon to a fief that is under government suspicion. The Shadows want evidence to expose the fief's treachery, but they also wouldn't mind getting their hands on the cannon for themselves. Too bad the Shadow Hunters won't let them have it. Like the previous entry in the series, this one suffers from slow pacing, unconvincing swordplay, and a disappointing lack of bloodshed. However, things finally start to pick up towards the end and the red stuff really starts erupting. Unfortunately, it's also too little and too late to save the film from tedium. The daughter of the gunsmith (Natsu Junko?) adds a nice bit of feminine intrigue and her miserable fate becomes intwined with that of the Shadow Hunters. She gives an excellent performance and pulls off some very agonizing moments. There are also more female ninja this time around which is a welcome sight, but they are sadly underutilized. Even though the fight choreography tends to be rather stilted and mechanical, Ishihara Yujiro and Narita Mikio get really intense at times and occasionally don't hold back with their strikes. Overall, a marginally enjoyable outing that satisfies a samurai fix.