Rating (2.5 out of 5)
Subtract 1 from my rating if you are not a fan a Japanese martial arts film.
Now having watched the entire series I can provide this recommendation: watch the first 2 or 3 films and stop. The subsequent movies have nothing new to offer and White Heaven in Hell has nothing of value to offer.
Plot: The Samurai Itto Ogami (Tomisaburô Wakayama) and his son Daigoro (Akihiro Tomikawa) continue their journey but together and deal with assassins attempting to eliminate them.
What I Liked: There is a female swordsmen who throws blades. They show her skill in practice as she kills three warriros from her clan. She battles Itto and Daigoro together. That portion was a nice bookend with the first movie.
What I Didn’t Like: The first movies started off as simple martial arts with a few samurai tricks here and there. They went too far in White Heaven in Hell. The baby cart now has platforms to ski down a hill…I kept waiting for a kid on a bicycle saying “I want my 2 dollars”.
Itto uses his baby cart guns so much in this film. Where did all the bullets come from and the gunpowder? How is a baby cart gun so accurate and why are the other samurai so stupid? Too much again.
An incest rape scene pulls the movie down and feels weird. The whole scene is thrown at you unexpectedly and caught me off guard. Felt out of place.
The mysticism of the 3 warriors wasn’t needed. The mysticism was a gimmick to try and breath new life into the series. Using the mysticism gimmick results in watering down what had been a simple struggle between men.
Conclusion: The series lost me after #3 but films #4 and #5 offered a few good scenes. In this the 6th and final offering the weird mystical fighters and unexpected incest scene sucked what little life was left in the series.