Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell ★★★★

"The winds of carnage will blow."

Following the path of the Demon way in hell, crossing rivers, streams and now snow covered mountains, master swordsman and assassin Itto Ogami (Tomisaburo Wakayama) and his young son Daigoro truly find themselves in the land of the dead in this last instalment of the Lone Wolf and Cub series.
Running out of those he can call on to kill Ogami and about to loose face, (here a fate worse than death) one eyed Retsudo sends forth his dagger juggling daughter Kaori and then his illegitimate, abandoned in the mountains son Hyoe, who in turn calls upon three dead warriors to rise and take on Ogami, culminating in a fantastic final battle as the white heaven of the snowy mountains becomes a blood drenched hell.
A series that has been full of codes of honour, violence and bloodshed here also becomes, along with a simplified story, a little more preposterous than previous outings but in a fun way as Itto faces enemies in the form of the living and the dead. Shot ninjas fall dead through a wall looking like zombies, a rocket whistles through the air and blows to pieces a lady spy, the three ghost warriors Mudo, Muga and Mumon created using black magic, burrowing through the ground and floating among the trees are just some of the moments of craziness among the slaughter.
The ghost warriors do add a sense of eeriness to the film though, their haunting voices flowing through the air, silently killing those that aid Ogami in any way. Typical of the series women have only a small part to play but demonstrations of Kaori's dagger juggling, skull penetrating skills were good to watch as was an excellently shot and staged battle against Hyoe's men by a temple near swampland and the epic finale on the snowy mountain is a joy to watch as wave after wave of ninjas come down the slopes on ski's and sleds to try and kill Ogami, the flowing blood a striking image against the pure white snow.
The sound of his Dotanuki sword slicing through the air, Tscuhigumo-ryu versus Suio-ryu, the dead will rise, many a ninja will fall, crawling on your belly or vaulting high, upon the snowy mountain the warrior will stand, arms outstretched to receive his son. A series that here doesn't manage a conventionally satisfying conclusion but maybe Ogami and Daigoro continue the path of the Demon way in hell in the netherworld, crossing the river along with their cart, Sin and Death gladly open the gates for them, the denizens of hell all kneel and Lucifer bows his head as he welcomes a true lord of death.

"Will you be a Samurai and fight?"

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