Click for reviews of the first and second films.
Picking up directly where the last film left off, we find our hero Ishikawa Goemon (Raizo Ishikawa) on his way to a cliffhanger-worthy date with a vat of boiling oil, his punishment for the failed assassination of the evil Hideyoshi. Of course, the film isn't going to start with the gruesome death of the lead. Instead Goemon's fellow ninjas pull the ol' switcheroo and some poor sap is deep fired in Goemon's place. The "Ressurection" subtitle is quite fitting, he is saved from the brink of death and Goemon in this film is very much a man who is back from Hell.
Goemon takes to hiding out, keeping to the ruse of being dead, and this time he mostly shuns any help from his fractured ninja pals, save one, Inuhachi, a fellow man of the shadows who has been forced into using his skills for petty robbery to sustain himself. Embracing his role of a living ghost, Goemon begins stealing from Hideyoshi and working his inner circle against him, namely his ignored wife and his nephew and only legitimate heir who fears that he will be skipped over in favor of Hideyoshi's son via concubine.
The previous film set up Goemon as a man completely lost, first separated from his clan of ninja brethren, then losing his wife and child, murdered before his eyes. Fittingly Raizo Ishikawa plays Goemon in this film as a total shell of a man, all haunted dark circled eyes, driven by single-minded vengeance. That is really all he lives for anymore. As such, the film is all about his plotting the world agaisnt Hideyoshi, from a failed kidnapping of his son, to turning his allies against him while he is away trying to widen his conquests in Korea.
Daiei cranked out eight films in this series, and you cannot expect every one to be a standout in every department. As such, the action this time out isn't of the highest caliber. There is a lot of slinking around, naturally, and a nice nighttime battle with a group of ninja assassins but the gruesomeness and ninja trickery isn't quite up to par with some of the other films. When it comes to Goemon at his most seething and devilish and the weaving the labyrinthine conspiracy to bring about Hideyoshi's downfall, the film definitely delivers. Part three was directed by Kazuo Mori, who would return for 6 and 7 and was the assured hand behind some of the Zatoichi films (Tale of Zatoichi Continues, Zatoichi and the Doomed Man, and Zatoichi At Large).
The DVD: AnimEigo
Picture: The film is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen. The print is in good shape, relatively clean, and free from severe wear and tear. Black and white contrast is nice and deep. Grain levels are good. Overall, a very nice image, and I didn't notice any of the motion blurring that has marred some of AnimEigo classic samurai discs.
Sound: A basic Japanese language mono track wont dazzle you but is thankfully free from any glaring age defects. The English subtitle options are stellar, giving viewers many choices, dialogue and/or caption translation in yellow or white text.
Extras: A thin but pleasant round of extras includes a trailer (+ a few more AnimEigo titles), program notes, image gallery, and interactive map.
Conclusion: The Shinobi No Mono series is fun. The early films are especially winning (I think they get increasingly weak towards the end) and are really the first films to launch the ninja craze. The DVD presentation is solid making this a worthwhile purchase for fans.