In the history of the manga (read: Japanese comic book) genre, Lone Wolf and Cub is one of the biggest success stories ever. Created in the 1970s by Koike Kazuo and illustrator Goseki Kojima, Lone Wolf and Cub is an epic action saga of a betrayed samurai executioner traveling the countryside as a sword-for-hire along with his infant son.
The Lone Wolf and Cub manga series has given rise to live-action film adaptations, TV shows and stage plays in Japan over the course of the last several decades – and it remains one of the most popular samurai properties worldwide. Now, a new English-language remake has been set up by the producer behind the developing (but already controversial) Ghost in the Shell live-action movie starring Scarlett Johansson.
Also referred to as the “Baby Cart Saga” after the subtitles of several stories and films in the franchise canon, Lone Wolf and Cub follows the feudal-era adventures of samurai master-swordsman Ogami Itto. Once the chief executioner for the Shogun, he is framed as a traitor and sees his family slaughtered by a rival clan – with only his infant son Daigoro surviving. Seeking to avoid his own assassination and clear his name, Itto becomes a sought-after ronin (mercenary samurai), traveling the country armed only with his legendary Dōtanuki sword and an armored, booby-trapped baby carriage for transporting Daigoro.
As reported by Variety, this new film is titled Lone Wolf and Cub: Final Conflict and is being produced by Steven Paul, whose SP Productions label is also behind the live-action Tekken films, the two Nicholas Cage-starring Ghost Rider films and the upcoming remake of Ghost In The Shell. However, whereas Ghost has been heavily criticized for “whitewashing” its main cast, Paul has indicated that Lone Wolf will have an “essentially Japanese cast.” No actors have presently been announced, though.
While it is being presumed that the new film will take place in the Feudal Japan setting of the original manga, there is precedent for changing that up. A reimagined 2002 comic titled Lone Wolf 2100 relocated the action to a post-apocalyptic setting. The manga has also inspired acknowledged American comic reworkings like Road to Perdition (which was made into a film starring Tom Hanks).
Best known in Japan, the Lone Wolf and Cub franchise gained worldwide popularity through a series of six internationally-beloved 1970s feature film adaptations (starring Tomisaburo Wakayama as Itto) – films that even gained a cult following in the United States in heavily-edited format as Shogun Assassin. Prized for their mix of gritty period detail and inventive, blood-soaked battle sequences (many of which involve Itto simultaneously battling his attackers while also carrying or otherwise protecting his baby son), they’re among the most influential martial-arts films among Western fans of the genre.
We’ll bring you more information on the Lone Wolf and Cub remake as it becomes available.