Shogun Assassin, known in Japan as Kozure ?kami (????), is a jidaigeki film made for the British and American markets and released in 1980. In 2006 it was restored and re-released on DVD in the United States by AnimEigo.
Shogun Assassin was edited and compiled from the first two films in the Lone Wolf and Cub series, using 12 minutes of the first film, Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (Kozure ?kami: Kowokashi udekashi tsukamatsuru or Wolf with Child in Tow: Child and Expertise for Rent), and most of Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx (Kozure ?kami: Sanzu no kawa no ubaguruma or Wolf with Child in Tow: Perambulator of the River of Sanzu). Both were originally released in 1972. There were six films in all in the series. These, in turn, were based on the long-running 1970s manga series, Lone Wolf and Cub, created by the writer Kazuo Koike and the artist Goseki Kojima.
The project was directed by Robert Houston and his partner David Weisman, a protégé of Andy Warhol and director of Ciao! Manhattan (1972). A fan of the original Kozure ?kami films, Weisman had obtained the rights for $50,000 from the American office of Toho Studios. The film was distributed by Roger Corman's New World Pictures to the grindhouse movie circuit in the United States, and then later as a video cassette from MCA/Universal Home Video. When released in the United Kingdom by the Vipco video tape label in 1983, Shogun Assassin's extreme violence almost caused it to be banned by the Home Office. Vipco played this for publicity in the cover art of their 2000 release on DVD, which was stamped "Banned since 1983!" The poster and title treatment was created by artist Jim Evans. Jim's son Gibran Evans voiced the narrative as Daigor?.
The title character, Ogami Itt?, is played by Tomisaburo Wakayama, brother of the producer, Shintaro Katsu, who is known for playing Zatoichi in a series of 26 films starting in the 1960s. As a result, it has garnered a cult following.