Kamala films have bought the rights to Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima's celebrated samurai manga: Lone Wolf and Cub. Director Justin Lin (helmer of the last three Fast and Furious movies and the vastly underrated Christopher Guest style mockumentary Finishing The Game, about a film company looking for the next Bruce Lee after his untimely death, the film pokes fun at Asian stereotypes and Bruceploitation movies featuring such characters as Breeze Loo and a Caucasian Lee wannabe)
So will the film makers deliver a homage to Tomisaburo Wakayama? If so it's going to be a short list - Brendan Gleeson, Ray Stevenson, er Gerard Depardieu? (a long shot) In the manga Ogami Itto is quite a tall and slender chap. Wakayama brought his incredible swordplay skills into play despite his burliness. It really humanizes the character in a way. His world weary and depressed facial features didn't hurt either. Lord Retsudo will be easier to cast. After his role in Thor I present Sir Anthony Hopkins...
What else do we know about the project? David and Janet Peoples have been hired to write the script. Both were responsible for Twelve Monkeys and David wrote or rather rewrote Hampton Fancher's Blade Runner script as well as Unforgiven so it looks as though this could be a high profile, big budget movie. It's interesting that Peoples can handle science fiction but was nominated for an Oscar for Unforgiven. Does this tell us that Lone Wolf and Cub will be a post apocalyptic western? There has been a "remixed" comic book version of Lone Wolf and Cub 2100 by Mike Kennedy. In that version little Daigoro became Daisy Ogami - daughter of a renowned scientist and Itto was her father's bodyguard and subsequent protector who must attempt an escape from the Cygnat Owari Corporation's schemes. We've also had the Road To Perdition graphic novel (and film) whose author Max Allan Collins declared "an unabashed homage to Lone Wolf and Cub" I can't help but agree with J Hoberman's review of the film version when he describes it as "grim but sappy" something you could never accuse the six 1970's film versions of LW and C.
The story has a transgressive nature - little Daigoro must witness numerous acts of carnage because it is the violence of the nation in uncensored form. Every time Daigoro picks up a puppy or tries to play with other children events usually spiral out of control, reminding him that his innocence has gone and he must face the reality of the situation. There's nothing sappy about it. There's no internal monologue explaining his inner thoughts and feelings (Re: Shogun Assassin) it's just the way things are - unspoken, elegiac, poetic. I hope the Peoples are able to keep some of the cinemagic in this new incarnation of a great archetypal story.
Meanwhile you can watch the whole LW and C TV series (with Eng subtitles) on you tube courtesy of japaneseclassics' channel. It is a faithful adaptation of the manga starring Kinnosuke Yorozuya.