The saga continues with more action…
Ogami Itto continues to roam the streets with his son, Daigoro, who is now three years old. His reputation as an assassin for hire has grown, and this has brought him money, but the constant hunting by the Yagyu clan seems to have taken its toll upon him. The Kurokawa ninjas, who have fallen in with Shadow Yagyu follow his every move and report to Sayaka, head of Akari Yagyu, a clan consisting of female assassins. As the original Yagyu branch cannot attack Itto, due to the events of the first part, Akari is tasked with his killing, with the help of the Kurokawa ninjas. At the same time, Itto is hired by a clan who task him with killing a fugitive of theirs, who is about to reveal their secret indigo dye process to the shogunate. The Hidary brothers, three notorious fighters are accompanying the fugitive.
Kenji Misumi’s second entry in the series focuses on the exploitation and action elements, much more than the first film. The battles are almost constant, with the sequence in the road where different teams of female ninjas attack the two protagonists being a great sample of the tendency. The fact that the ones killed, always in very bloody fashion, are women, definitely moves towards exploitation. Furthermore, the film is much crueler, not only due to the aforementioned, but also because the enemies seem to have no remorse in directly attacking 3-year old Daigoro, while Itto uses him and his cart as a weapon. The scene where the infant kills a woman by thrusting a secret blade in her middle area synopsizes the aesthetics of the film. Nudity is not totally absent, but is definitely toned down in comparison with the first part, with the focus being on action.
However, the film retains some humanistic elements, as Itto is presented hurt and vulnerable for the first time, while, the more intense focus on Daigoro results in some almost heart-warming scenes, which tone down the exploitation a bit.
Three sequences highlight both the impressive action and the excellent production values: The one in the forest, the one in the burning ship, and the final one in the desert, where Itto faces the Hidary Brothers. These scenes are benefitted the most by Toshio Taniguchy’s editing, Chikashi Makiura’s cinematography and Eichi Kusumoto’s fight choreography. Particularly the last one in the desert is quite impressive from the beginning, when the three brothers kill enemies hiding in the sand, to their confrontation with Itto. This last part, and the one that follows the battle in the desert, also feature Hideaki Sakurai’s the most memorable music, with tracks filled with rapid percussion, that suit the action perfectly.
The acting is on the same high level with the previous film, with Tomisaburo Wakayama being great, once more, as Ogami Itto and Kayo Matsuo presenting a majestic villain as Sayaka, head of the female ninja clan. However, the one who steals the show is Akihiro Tomikawa as Daigoro, who gives an amazing, performance for someone so young (He was 4 years old at the time).
Baby Cart at Styx is a great entry in the saga and a film that fans of exploitation are bound to adore.