Before he made his name in ‘Lone Wolf’ and ‘Cub’ Tomisaburô Wakayama starred in this triptych of violent samurai spectacles that draw on James Bond and Spaghetti Westerns for inspiration yet feature the familiar style and blood-spattering action of the period.
In director Shigehiro Ozawa’s (The Streetfighter) “Killer’s Mission”, Wakayama stars as Doctor (and spy-for-hire) Shikoro Ichibei, who is hired to prevent the sale of firearms to a hostile Shogun.
In Eiichi Kudo’s (13 Assassins) follow-up, “The Fort of Death”, Ichibei is hired on a Seven Samurai-style mission to protect a village of farmers from a ruthless Lord.
The final film sees Ozawa return for “Eight Men to Kill”, in which Ichibei is hired to recover a cache of stolen gold from the government’s mine. Featuring an array of weapons and gadgets that would make Q proud (with Ichibei supported by a band of helpers including fellow spies, Ronin and female ninjas), the Bounty Hunter films deliver action thrills galore and deserve to sit alongside the celebrated action epics that followed.