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Chambara Films

edited November 1999 in Movie Discussion
In the 1970s, a brand of revisionist, non-traditional samurai film rose to some popularity in Japan, following the popularity of samurai manga by Kazuo Koike, on whose work many later films would be based. Films such as Lone Wolf and Cub, Lady Snowblood and Hanzo the Razor had few of the stoic, formal sensibilities of earlier jidaigeki films such as those by Akira Kurosawa -- the new chambara featured revenge-driven antihero protagonists, gratuitous nudity, steamy sex scenes, gruesome swordplay and gallons of blood, often spurted from wounds as if from a firehose. Many of these films were subsequently released internationally -- sometimes in truncated form, as with Shogun Assassin, an edit that combined the first two Lone Wolf and Cub films.

Famous names at this time included Sonny Chiba, Shintaro Katsu and Meiko Kaji. Kaji, star of the Lady Snowblood films, would further contribute to Japan's exploitation output by starring in the Female Convict Scorpion series, that country's answer to the women in prison genre.

The influence of these films can still be seen today, both in Japanese films like the Azumi series and US films like Kill Bill, whose plot and style pay homage to many of the aforementioned samurai films.
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