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Shooting Robert King 01, Blood Trail, Robert King, Vaughan Smith, Richard Parry 2008 2009

Shooting Robert King (aka Blood Trail): follows an aspiring war photographer through 15 years and three conflicts. First off, Robert King is a total asshat. We meet him as a young – egotistical – douche, and see him grow to a middle-aged cold-and-jaded douche. He comes across as the worst parts of the psychotic “Cool Ethan” from Slackers and the grating Josh from Generation Kill (the singing driver). A lot of the “OMG” moments feel set up, or are ridiculously convenient. For a documentary about a photographer, there’s not actually a lot of his work, and it’s mostly nondescript handheld footage from his freelance cameramen buddies in the ‘good old days’. What’s weird is that he clearly wanted to film a documentary from day 1 of his career – hence the abundance of ‘look at me’ and ‘look at the peril’ type interviews he did. There are a couple of more disturbing / shocking moments – pics of dead bodies, and bombing / war aftermath; and a boring deer-hunting simile / parallel that is just unnecessary filler. The best part of the documentary is a 2-minute montage of his best photos; however the best thing on the disc is a 5-minute slide show in the extras – which are more powerful, interesting and tell a better story than the full-length 80-minute documentary. Most annoyingly, the doc doesn’t tell you anything about the wars he’s covering, showing only Robert King trying to make it all about him. Whilst his story is remarkable, having such an unlikeable person at the centre of this makes it very hard to appreciate.

Score: 3/10

Shooting Robert King 02, Blood Trail, Robert King, Vaughan Smith, Richard Parry 2008 2009

JAPANORAMA - SF WASABI RICE BANNERBabycart in Peril 01 Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Yoichi Hayashi, Michie Azuma, Asao Koike, Tatsuo Endo

Lone Wolf and Cub – Baby Cart in Peril (AKA – 子連れ狼 親の心子の心  Kozure Ōkami: Oya no kokoro ko no kokoro, Shogun Assassin 3: Slashing Blades of Carnage): Ito’s latest contract is to assassinate a killer of many samurai, but to his surprise it’s a lady with outstanding short-blade skills, and in a similar situation to himself… Oyuki presents a very strong female lead, something that the previous movies have had – but not taken this seriously. The very first frame is a tattooed boob, so it starts off great! But soon after there’s a bit of silly magic (face mask magic guy), some sizable flashback sections, and a lot more talking than previous installments. However, as good as the story and premise are, the Babycart films are never better than their action set-pieces: with Wakayama hacking, slashing, and literally flying around the frame – he can’t half move around for a big bloke. The now customary ‘final battle’ with dozens of enemies and a few ‘bosses’ is also great, and for the first time we see him properly injured/vulnerable too. More than anything, the film is a little confused about who the baddie is: the girl? Her nemesis? Itto’s old foe? The big hairy guy? By the fourth movie it does feel a bit like more-of-the-same but the film still pushes the boundaries, and does well to set up the one-armed swordsman myth.

Score: 6/10

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Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance Review

Babycart in Peril 02 Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Yoichi Hayashi, Michie Azuma, Asao Koike, Tatsuo Endo Babycart in Peril 03 Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Yoichi Hayashi, Michie Azuma, Asao Koike, Tatsuo Endo Babycart in Peril 04 Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Yoichi Hayashi, Michie Azuma, Asao Koike, Tatsuo EndoBabycart in Peril 05 Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Yoichi Hayashi, Michie Azuma, Asao Koike, Tatsuo Endo Babycart in Peril 06 Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Yoichi Hayashi, Michie Azuma, Asao Koike, Tatsuo Endo Babycart in Peril 07 Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Yoichi Hayashi, Michie Azuma, Asao Koike, Tatsuo Endo Babycart in Peril 08 Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Yoichi Hayashi, Michie Azuma, Asao Koike, Tatsuo Endo Babycart in Peril 10 Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Yoichi Hayashi, Michie Azuma, Asao Koike, Tatsuo Endo