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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts > Drama > TV > Shadow Warriors (Kage No Gundan): The Complete First Series (DVD)

Shadow Warriors (Kage No Gundan): The Complete First Series (DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C     Episodes: B-



A series that inspired the director of such great films as Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and of course Kill Bill Volume 1 and 2 are now available on DVD as Shadow Warriors (Kage No Gundan): The Complete First Series.  The series follows Hattori Hanzo (Sonny Chiba) as an exiled, warrior, ninja, leader now pulled from his humble hideaway of a bathhouse to help the Shoguns keep the peace in a land that is rid with chaos and destruction.  A child now sits as the leader of the lands and everyone and everything is attempting to corrupt the corridors of power.  Just as Hanzo is trying to protect the distressed lands he begins to run into old enemies (Koga Clan) that would love nothing more than to see his demise.  A secret battle is beginning across the land and its fate seems to be in the hands of one man and a child leader.


For a first time viewer the series was quite intense; in both plot and violence.  This reviewer found many aspects of the series to be amazing and definitely noticeable why and where Tarantino drew his inspiration from.  Sonny Chiba is definitely a great actor and martial artist, as well as not bad with a sword at all.  The series is deep and once you start watch the expansive 27 episodes included in this first set you won’t be able to stop.  Even as a reviewer who is by no means a martial arts/Japanese Culture fan this series had its breath taking moments.  Blood.  Violence.  Swords.  Pure awesome.


The technical features of this 27 episode, 7 Disc set are quite nice.  The picture is presented in an adequate 1.33 X 1 Full Screen that has some light/dark issues due to the already dark nature of the show.  The sound is presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo that remains crisp throughout but in some instances does project as muffled.  Now, whether this is due to the original filming of bad transfer is unknown.  The extras are sparse only offering fans an interview with Sonny Chiba, which this reviewer found insightful yet boring and an 8 page Booklet on the series that spends the first couple pages talking about Quentin Tarantino liking the series and how it inspired him for Kill Bill. Nice set but not great.


The series in many ways is a cult favorite and for all intents and purposes was limitedly known in America.  If you are a fan this is a no brainer, but if you are new to this series it may be smart to view some other Japanese Classics first.



-   Michael P Dougherty II


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