The film begins with Ogami Itto skiing downhill on the specially adapted baby cart carrying his infant son Daigoro. It is one of the striking features of this series that it juxtaposes serious moments, scenes of rape, torture and death, with more silly exploits such as this. White Heaven in Hell is the final film in the series and it does not disappoint. There is an almost melancholic feel to things as we see in the wintery landscape at the beginning. It is the perfect environment as it shows the world to be cruel and unforgiving. Ogami’s long term rival Retsudo Yagyu sends his daughter, now the last of their line, to defeat him. Her highly skilled knife juggling technique fails to kill Ogami setting up the grand climactic battle between Retsudo and the “Lone Wolf”.
Zombie assassins, a machine-gun baby cart, skiing samurai, this film has no problem with presenting more ridiculous moments. However, these are also tempered with more ordinary scenes of Ogami and his son. This film sees Daigoro more expressive, with looks of shock at what is happening. I am not sure this is a positive change, as we previously learned that he had the “eyes of death” and was inured to violence. The choreography is incredible and the special effects are once again exceptional. We see a body be sliced in half, blood spurting, and even the ghostly apparitions of Yagyu’s son. There are a few stand out scenes, but the final battle is again a masterclass in over the top action. The music is a bizarre blend of contemporary seventies vibe with electric guitar and a jazzy melody, while there are more fitting songs for a historical epic utilised at other points.
A fitting end to this fantastic series. All of the films have standout moments and bring something new to the table. This film manages to tie up the story with Retsudo and Ogami that was established in the very first film and brings things to a close in a satisfactory way.