Monthly Archives: April 2017

PASSION-FIRE SWORD (1965): SON OF THE BLACK MASS SERIES

Son of the Black Mass

Raizo Ichikawa as the Son of the Black Mass

Balladeer’s Blog resumes my reviews of the Son of the Black Mass series of Samurai movies. This time around I will examine the fifth film with legendary Raizo Ichikawa. I will eventually cover the pre-Raizo and post-Raizo SOTBM flicks as well PLUS the original novels that the movies were based on.

Though the Son of the Black Mass series has also been released under alternate titles like The Full Moon Killer and Sleepy Eyes of Death (?) I go by the original title to the novel and movies. The recurring lead character is Kyoshiro Nemuri, a Ronin who is the product of the rape of a Japanese woman by a Portuguese Christian Missionary during a Black Mass.

Nemuri inherited his father’s red hair, marking him as a half-breed and leading to his disgrace. He wanders Japan of the 1780s, a time when Japanese Christians and the foreign Christian missionaries who converted them were being oppressed. As in imprisoned and told to renounce their faith or be executed through Crucifixion.

Raizo Ichikawa 1

Raizo Ichikawa as the red-haired Samurai Kyoshiro Nemuri, the Son of the Black Mass.

I consider Passion-Fire Sword to be the worst of the Raizo Ichikawa movies in the series. Usually the Son of the Black Mass films go beyond typical Samurai movies and into a realm of quasi-horror and moral anarchy. This flick is instead so bland it could pass as just another Samurai story. It even takes a step backward regarding Kyoshiro’s supernatural abilities like his power to communicate with the dead and the hypnotic nature of his Full Moon Death Strike.  

Stripped of the whispers our anti-hero hears from the dead, he winds up looking like just a man who makes incredible guesses as he sorts through the layers upon layers of deception in this tale. (The novel highlights the manner in which Nemuri’s most recent kills speak to him from beyond the grave to set him on the right path in this labyrinthine conspiracy.) And the story itself is a rehash of The Chinese Jade as crooked businessmen and outright criminals conspire to hide their joint activities from the Shogun and from the head of their own Clan.

One of the fresh elements of Passion-Fire Sword comes in the way Kyoshiro gets caught up in the intrigue. The conspirators refuse to believe that a man who interacted with our protagonist at his Edo hideout did not have time to tell him anything about their plot. Believing that Nemuri MUST have been given information that could lead to their death they have no choice but to continue to try killing him, no matter how many people die in the attempt. Continue reading

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THE WAR UNDER THE SEA (1892): VINTAGE SCIENCE FICTION

War Under the SeaTHE WAR UNDER THE SEA (1892) – Written by Georges Le Faure. This sci-fi work was intended as an escapist societal salve to a French public still smarting from their loss to Germanic forces during the Franco-Prussian War just over two decades earlier.  

One of the main characters in The War Under The Sea is Count Andre Petersen, a French military man who saw service in the Franco-Prussian War. The Count was appalled at France’s humiliation and since then has been running a secret intelligence organization to ensure that his homeland will be much better prepared the next time they must face Germans in war. And that’s not the only outrageous science fiction concept put forth in this novel. (I’m kidding.)

Unfortunately for Count Andre the Germans have been outmaneuvering his organization at the arts of spycraft and know the names of every member of his secret organization – even the Danish, Austrian and Alsation operatives. Unless the Count agrees to a political marriage to the daughter of a German Consul followed by the disbanding of his spy network the Germans will kill every one of his agents.

VindexInterestingly enough, despite this threat the Germans are not depicted as being any more bloodthirsty than the alleged “heroes” of this story as we will see. Though the Count and his allies prove equally callous about large-scale killing (and worse) their attitude is romanticized and approved of by the narrative since Andre and the others are fighting France’s traditional Continental foes the Germans. Instead of Film Noir think of this novel’s approach as callous enough to be called World Noir. Or at least Politics Noir.

The Count is rescued from his dilemma by Jacobus Delborg, a Dutch scientist who has created an incredibly advanced submarine and has been running an anti-German spy network of his own. Andre falls in love with Delborg’s sister Ellen and the conspirators fake the Count’s death, freeing him to join Jacobus in his sub-aquatic war against the Germans.  Continue reading

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CAL-BERKELEY FASCISTS UPSET THAT PEOPLE HAVE NOTICED WHAT FASCISTS THEY ARE

Free Speech 2As if the Faculty Lounge Fascists who run Cal-Berkeley haven’t already proven what bloodthirsty garbage they are, NOW the administration and faculty are trying to pretend that it’s wrong for the rest of the country to have NOTICED their masked, black-clad thugs beating bloody anyone who expresses an opinion they disagree with.

Cal-Berkeley is to the Left-Wing Archie Bunkers of the 1960s generation what Nuremberg was to the Nazis. First the Nazis took pride in the Nuremberg Rallies and saw them as the mark of their ascent, but then the later war-crimes trials at Nuremberg gave the place a whole different meaning.

Free speech is a civil rightThe Left-Wing Archie Bunkers of the 1960s who now run American colleges and universities used to take pride in Cal-Berkeley’s significance to the Free Speech Movement. Now, however, Cal-Berkeley has come to epitomize the hypocrisy of the American Left and the Faculty Lounge Fascists who abuse their positions to browbeat students into agreeing with their outdated 1960s worldview. 

The forever-hypocritical 1960s generation of American Liberals were all about Free Speech when THEIR ideas were the ones offending people. Once they considered themselves to be comfortably in the cultural, educational and political driver’s seat by the early 1990s they decided they wanted their own already outdated worldview enshrined in stone and presented as THE one true set of values.

The totalitarian asses of the 1960s can’t bear the fact that younger people might have opinions that offend THEM as much as their opinions offended their parents’ generation.  Continue reading

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POLO: AUDI WINS HALL OF FAME CUP

Polo Silhouette LogoHALL OF FAME CUP: AUDI VS COCA COLA – Audi – Official Balladeer’s Blog Nickname: The Bavarians – did battle for the 2017 Hall of Fame Cup against Coca Cola – Official Balladeer’s Blog Nickname: The Red Colossus.

Audi Hall of Fame CupFIRST CHUKKER – Coca Cola – which has the female player Gillian Johnston on its team – seized a 3-0 lead off of 1 Goal from the field and 2 scores on Penalty Shots. Audi squeezed in 2 answering Goals of its own before the Chukker ended with the Red Colossus on top 3-2. 

SECOND CHUKKER – The Bavarians took the opening Toss-In of this Chukker and tied things up at 3 Goals apiece. From there Audi and Coca Cola played each other move for counter-move and score for score. The count was now 5-5.

THIRD CHUKKER –  Compared to the virtual orgy of scoring to start the Match, this time around the defenses dominated. Neither team was able to sneak the ball between the Uprights and they rode into Halftime with the score still knotted up at 5 Goals apiece. Continue reading

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EVEN ELIZABETH WARREN IS BASHING OBAMA FOR HIS OBEDIENCE TO WALL STREET

Elizabeth Warren 2Fellow Democrat Elizabeth Warren, a potential presidential candidate in 2020, joined the chorus of voices thrashing Barack Obama for his recent Wall Street wallow.

At this point it’s hard to tell if Warren is upset that Obama was always a whore for Wall Street but got a pass because he’s male OR if she was upset because Democrats usually take pride in being a little more subtle about being in Wall Street’s pocket.

Warren may have a point because this outrageous maneuver on Obama’s part was so blatant and gauche even California President Hillary Clinton must be turning up her nose in disgust … or envy.

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THE WRECK OF A WORLD (1889): VINTAGE SCIENCE FICTION

The Wreck of a WorldTHE WRECK OF A WORLD (1889) – Written by W. Grove. (No other name available) This novel is the sequel to Grove’s A Mexican Mystery, an ahead-of-its-time work about a train engine devised to have artificial intelligence. The machine – called only The Engine in that story – rebelled and took to preying on human beings in horrific fashion. For Balladeer’s Blog’s review of that novel click HERE  

The Wreck of a World is not a direct sequel to A Mexican Mystery but does use one of that novel’s elements as its springboard: the deliciously frightening notion that the Engine’s artificial intelligence might have  included the capacity to design and build others of its kind. Though A Mexican Mystery never explored that concept, Grove deals with it in much more detail in this second novel.   

demon-1300-859-wallpaperOur story begins in what was to Grove “the far future” of 1949. After a fairly superficial depiction of the world’s political and scientific situation in this imaginary future the meat of the tale begins. All in all the author did not present 1940s technology as being much more advanced than what was available in the 1880s. Grove might have done better to set his tale in 1899 or just into the 1900s to detract from his lack of vision on this particular element.

The revolt of the machines begins with train engines, presumably as a nod to the memorably malevolent Engine from Grove’s previous novel. The engines begin constructing others of their kind with the same robotic arms and with each new edition flaunting deadlier and deadlier weaponry to boot.

The engines soon modify themselves beyond the need for train tracks and become more like tanks, so kudos to this neglected author for nicely predicting the advent of such mobile death-machines.   Continue reading

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XAVIER (LA) GOLD RUSH WIN FOUR OF FIVE VERSUS NCAA DIVISION ONE

XAVIERLANEW ORLEANS — For the fourth time in its last five attempts, Xavier University of Louisiana has defeated the University of New Orleans in men’s tennis.
      Tushar Mandlekar and Karan Salwan won in doubles and singles, and Antoine Richard and Moses Micheal saved the doubles point in the Gold Rush’s 4-3 victory at UNO Monday.
     XULA (11-5), ranked second in the NAIA, snapped a 2-dual losing streak but won its third in a row against an NCAA Division I opponent. It was the Gold Rush regular-season finale; next will be a May 17 dual match in the second round of the NAIA National Championship at Mobile, Ala. The NAIA will announce the 24 qualifying teams May 8 and the pairings and seedings May 9. Continue reading

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