Slaughter In The Snow (Japan 1973)

Rating: **
Review Date: 2/5/23
Director: Ikehiro Kazuo
Cast: Harada Yoshio, Natsuyagi Isao, Yasuda Michiyo

Part 3 of the "Mikogami" Trilogy

The final installment of the "Mikogami" Trilogy is an episodic detour that pushes Jokichi (Harada Yoshio) into the background while focusing on a knife-throwing rival named Konbunji (Natsuyagi Isao) who has been hired to kill him. However, their fateful duel keeps getting interrupted by a gang boss who holds a grudge against Konbunji, and Jokichi gets involved in their business by association. There's also a woman named Oyea (Yasuda Michiyo) who follows them around, hoping to see Jokichi die.

It's a good-looking film with a dramatic increase in blood effects. While that's satisfying on a visceral level, the biggest disappointment is that gang boss Chuji is nowhere to be found, so the series ends with no closure to Jokichi's story. Jokichi also seems a bit out of character as he gets rid of his sacred red sash and is particularly cold and mean towards the women in the movie. Much of the film takes place during winter, and the snowy locations are beautiful. Although the action feels toned down, the snow is a great setting for spilling blood. The film never seems to go anywhere and primarily focuses on the dramatic tension between Jokichi and Konbunji, knowing that one of them will have to die. This entry is a significant departure from the previous two films and suffers from the lack of continuity. While it's still an enjoyable film, it's the weakest in the series, which makes me wonder if they planned to make more films, or if the studio cancelled the series due to diminishing returns.