Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I should tell you right off the bat, all things considered, writer / director / star Kurando Mistutake’s spaghetti western knock off / throwback ‘Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf’ isn’t really a good movie. The acting is stiff, the swordplay is suspect, the elements of style that director was shooting for is lacking… but… there’s something here. There are certain intangibles, certain touches and details that the director just ‘gets’ that keeps you watching this movie. Especially if you like these kinds of movies, which I do. ‘Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf’ isn’t a good movie. Really, it isn’t. But it’s also wonderful, if that makes any damn sense.

Mistuake’s film begins with the majestic voice of some narration dude (Curtis Buck) informing us over Japanese text that the ‘Samurai Avenger Restoration Society’ has done everything in their power to restore this movie to its full glory, and then its on to meet a man in a beatup F-150 who is dropping off the blind swordsman in the middle desert. Eight years ago a cat beyond evil by the name of Nathan Flesher (Domiziano Arcangeli), for no reason other than it was something to do, raped and murdered this man’s wife and promised to spare his young daughter only if the man gouged out his own eyes. Flesher is a liar.

For a completely separate crime, Flesher was sent to prison and while he was away this man with no name would train, and train some more on the ways of the Samurai, looking forward only to the day when he would get his revenge. On this day at 6:30 Nathan Flesher will be released from prison. At 6:31, if all goes according to The Blind Wolf’s plan, Nathan Flesher will be dead.

Flesher is fully aware of the blind man’s plans and to avert this he has dispatched seven assassins, each of increasing skill, to keep the samurai from achieving his goal. On one of his early battles, the Blind Wolf receives the assistance of man known only as The Drifter (Jeffrey James Lippold) who is an accomplished swordsman in his own right. Now the Blind Wolf tells this cat, plain as day, if he gets in his way he will kill him, but on more than one occasion The Drifter proves himself a worthy ally.

And so the battle goes from a sword carrying hypnotist who can mesmerize you with their tittes to assassins in hot pants to zombies to old men carrying the blade of Satan, The Blind Wolf will take on all comers until he faces off for the fight of his life against the seventh and final assassin.

So I already told you what is basically wrong with this movie and there really is no getting around what’s wrong with this movie. Even for a grindhouse knockoff the acting is somewhat on the suspect side. Kurando Mistutake was pretty good as The Blind Wolf though Mistutake didn’t emit that same level of vengeful venom from the character that say, Tomisaburo Wakayama put forth in ‘Shogun Assassin’. Jeffrey James Lippold is a big dude and I certainly wouldn’t want to mess with him but he really isn’t much of an actor. And while Lippold might’ve under acted, his under acting was way more than compensated for by Domiziano Arcangeli’s Eli Wallach style overacting. If somehow the two could’ve found a happy medium then all would’ve been well. Then there were our sword fights which were a mixed bag. Some were pretty decent, say like when our heroes did battle with the Old Man (Aki Hiro) but most of the time it felt like our characters were simply trying not to hurt each other. Also for a movie that was presented to us in a grindhouse type knockoff the print was just a little too clean and pristine. I mean the movie looked good, but maybe it looked a little too good for what it was supposed to be.

But there is still an awful lot to love about this movie. Similar to the modern Blaxploitation masterpiece ‘Black Dynamite’ this film honors its source material and doesn’t spoof it or make fun of it and it is this reverence for the material that kind of makes all that other stuff float away after a while. The story that Mitsutaki has written along with John Migdal, quite honestly, is superb. At least for the kind of movie it is supposed to be we should say. They draw upon a lot of different exploitation genres for this tale and they do it well. The dialog is wonderfully and accurately cheesy, the fact that the majestic voiced narration dude is constantly interrupting to explain something or another works perfectly, the reliance on titties is also accurate for the genre and the way the story jumps around a little, inserting back stories for certain assassins including the Blind Wolf, and the way they tell these stories, also works very well.

To appreciate what ‘Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf’ does well, I am of the mindset that you have to also appreciate where it’s coming from. Without that basis, unfortunately, I think anybody watching this movie isn’t going to see much but a crap movie. At the end of the movie we are warned that the Samurai Avenger will return, and I do hope that this is the case. Despite its flaws I’m giving this movie a pass and it will be a mainstay of my private collection because it did bring me joy. But my expectations will be higher, considerably so, for the Samurai Avenger’s next adventure.

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