The Fearless Avenger – More Vanilla

Country: Japan
Genre: Action/ Swordplay
Director: Kazuo Ikehiro
Year: 1972

Rating: ★★½☆☆

WORTH A LOOK

Those of you who have seen the first installment in the Mikogami Trilogy, Trail of Blood, know pretty much what to expect. As before, there are gorgeous vistas of rural Japan, competent but not terribly inspiring swordplay, some juicy villainy, and the amusingly inappropriate and simplistic music score. But ultimately, what makes The Fearless Avenger just as disposable as Trail of Blood is that the plot is similarly uninteresting and lacking any sort of relevance beyond simple vengeance.

Oh, I had hopes that the filmmakers might be trying for something a touch more ambitious this time around. If you recall, Jokichi (Yoshio Harada) tried to quit the gangster life in order to have a family, but his plans were foiled when his wife and son were killed. (If you didn’t see the first film, all the salient plot points are covered in the opening minutes of The Fearless Avenger.)

Anyway, Jokichi finds out that one of his family’s killers, Chogoro, will be present at a memorial service attended by every big boss in the region. Jokichi foolishly crashes the memorial service and narrowly escapes with his life, also earning the enmity of all the bosses.

Unfortunately for Jokichi’s mission of vengeance, he needs to be at least tolerated by the bosses so that he can travel through Japan looking for his enemies unmolested.

Jokichi gets the opportunity to make amends by escorting the wayward daughter of Boss Juzaburo home. The daughter resents her father because he is making her marry another boss, probably for business reasons.

There might have been some emotional or philosophical resonance in this development, but no. It turns out to be nothing more than plot, with no greater meaning at all.

I don’t know. I’ve probably been spoiled by all the great Japanese flicks out there, but when something this shallow and lazy comes around, it’s hard to feel much enthusiasm. Being a sequel, The Fearless Avenger doesn’t even have the virtue of being fresh.

The Fearless Avenger is an okay time waster, but I can’t really recommend it.

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