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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts > Samurai > Ninja > Western > Shadow Hunters + Echo Of Destiny - Shadow Hunters II

Shadow Hunters + Echo Of Destiny - Shadow Hunters II


Picture: C+     Sound: C     Extras: C     Films: B-



The Shadow Hunters films are like Professional Westerns and Spaghetti Westerns combined and the first two films arrived in 1972 during both cycles.  Shadow Hunters and Echo Of Destiny - Shadow Hunters II tell the tale of three exceptionally skilled killers for hire that are talented enough to hunt and kill elusive Ninjas.  Toshio Masuda had directed the Japanese half of 20th Century Fox’s WWII epic Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) and if one has any doubt of his talents or being able to hold his own as a director, they need look no further than these films.


Based on the writing of Golgo-13 author Takao Saito, a creation that moved on to live action and animated film productions, and these films have the same twists and turns that makes sense narratively instead of being a boring film with a “big” twist at the end that supposedly will impress and shock the audience.  Yes, this is a brutal film, though some of the visual effects have not dated well, but blood and butchery are still that and this is a hard “R” if it had a rating.  Besides some fine fight sequences, this has better acting than expected, with a cast headed by Yujiro Ishihara.  Running about 90 minutes each, they know when enough is enough and deliver enough to be engaging more often than not.  The sequel has them on the road, but that is the only major difference.  These are two of the most recommended Samurai Cinema installments to date because they are so effective in mixing genres and having so much energy.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on both DVDs are colorful and from restored 35mm materials, yet again have a slight lack of detail that just misses the mark for these transfers.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on both is average at best, also typical of too many of these reissues.  I hope they sound better when they roll around on an HD format.  Extras include text notes, stills and trailers for other films in the Samurai Cinema collection series from AnimEigo.  With the Sonny Chiba Golgo-13 coming to HD-DVD, HD versions of these cannot be far behind, but these are good standard DVD copies worth catching because the films are pretty good.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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