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"Child and expertise for rent," reads the banner flying from the wooden cart of rogue samurai Itto Ogami (Tomisaburo Wakayama). With his infant son and a baby carriage stocked with a veritable arsenal in tow, Ogami rents his services for 500 pieces of gold while awaiting his revenge on the corrupt clan that murdered his wife. Director Kenji Misumi draws his distinctive graphic style from the legendary manga series written by Kazuo Koike (who adapted his own work for the screen) and adds an inspired cinematic device: when Ogami enters battle, the world falls silent, literally, until his sword strikes. The fights are savage--blades slash, limbs fly, and blood spurts like geysers--yet the film relaxes in moments of serenity and tenderness as the cooing baby boy marvels at the wonder of the world. An essential of Japanese action cinema, it launched a classic six-film series.

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