Saturday, June 6, 2015

SAMURAI AVENGER: THE BLIND WOLF (2009)

SAMURAI AVENGER: THE BLIND WOLF (2009) 

Label: Synapse Films
Region Code: Region-FREE
Region: Region A
Duration: 95 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Sound
Video: HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Kurando Mitsutake
Cast: Kurando Mitsutake, Jeffrey James Lippold, Domiziano Arcangeli, Megan Hallin

Synopsis: After losing his eyesight, his wife, and his daughter at the hands of a deranged psychopath, a man is transformed into an unstoppable killing machine hellbent on revenge! Eight years after the massacre of his family, the “Blind Wolf” has returned as a highly trained swordsman ready to seek justice. But he doesn’t know seven deadly (and even undead) assassins have been hired by his sworn enemy to make sure he doesn’t leave town alive! 

I love and adore Synapse Films for their preservation of classic horror and exploitation movies, but every once in awhile they will distribute a newer indie film that seemingly comes from straight out of nowhere, such is the case with Kurando Mitsutake's sushi-western Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf (2009), a strange retro mash-up of a spaghetti-western and a classic samurai film, loaded with samurai swordplay, torrents of blood spray and a fun Tarantino-esque tone that makes for  fun watch.

The "Blind Wolf" is out for revenge against the psychopath who not only took his eye sight but murdered his wife and daughter in cold blood eight year earlier. Imprisoned for an unrelated crime the enemy is about to be released from prison, and the Blind Wolf plans to send him to Hell upon his release, but first he must contend with an assortment of deadly assassins sent to kill him, they range from low-profile henchman to the more supernatural variety, and there's even a topless woman-swordsman to contend with, but nothing will stand in the way of the Blind Wolf's vengeance. 

The film has been digitally aged and abused to give it a retro grindhouse patina and it works quite nicely, while the effect has been overused in recent years I will give it a pass as it was shot in 2009 - where the Hell has this film been for six year? Mitsutake makes the most of the genre mash-up and the retro vibe, striking a compelling tone but also allowing for loads of humor and over-the-top gore and blood, this is one very bloody tale of revenge, and at times the gore brought to mind early Peter Jackson, there's even a baby sliced from the mother's womb during a confrontation.  

It's very inventive and features some clever cinematography with a great blend of practical gore effects with some digital effects layered over the top for enhancement. I absolutely love the effect of the blood on the sword being flung off the blade, it's a small thing but I just love it. Not sure what the budget was on this one but regardless the filmmakers went above and beyond with tons of stylistic flourishes. 

The disc from Synapse Films looks fantastic considering the scratched-up aesthetic of the film with blown-out whites and the desaturated colors. The single-disc Blu-ray contains over two entertaining hours of bonus content  including an in-depth making-of documentary, audio commentary and several featurettes. 

Special Features
- Audio Commentary with Director Kurando Mitsutake, Producer Chiaki Yanagimoto and Editor John Migdal

- Making Of Documentary (89 Mins)
- Sword Fight Choreography (12 Mins) 

- Production Stills Slideshow (5 Mins) 
- Character Design and Storyboard Slideshow (4 Mins) 
- Storyboard Scene Comparison (5 Mins)
- Blooper Reel (10 Mins)
- Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins) 


Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf (2009) is a fantastic low-budget effort loaded with copious amounts of vengeance, blood spray and gore, a strange revenger and a fun genre mash-up. Mitsutake also has another film on Blu-ray right now from Scream Factory called the Gun Woman, I definitely need to check that out, this was a blast. Highly recommended to the adventurous films fans out there who love a bloody revenge film. 3/5

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