Yes, it's the return of Kibakichi (Harada), everyone's favourite samurai werewolf - even if the competition in that particular field isn't exactly what you'd call tough. Here, he's back to roaming the countryside, but opts to settle down (slightly) after rescuing a blind girl from a savage dog. However, the village is being terrorized by a psychopath: gradually, battle lines are drawn between the various forces who have issues to settle - either with Kibakichi, or each other. The problem is, this can't decide if it wants to be a serious samurai drama or a monster movie. No reason why it can't be both, I suppose, but when the uni-horn on the chief villain's head starts flashing like a Christmas tree ornament, you'll be forgiven if all the serious dramatic intent of the previous hour flies out the window.
That's a shame, as there are credible aspects: the psychopath actually turns out to have some surprisingly noble qualities, and on the whole, there are more shades of grey in the characters than you might expect. Unfortunately, positives such as these are sadly outweighed by moments which appear to have strayed in from lame children's TV. In particular, an encounter between two were-samurai, could have been unique and enthralling. Unfortunately, the execution is so lame, it looks more like a pair of Wookies having a dance-off - footage mercifully edited out of The Phantom Menace, as a bad idea all round. Between the arterial spray, meaningful stares, and often sub-Power Rangers production values, it's kinda hard to see at whom this is really aimed.
[The film is released in the US on March 28th, in widescreen and in both English and Japanese language, as well as with a behind-the-scenes featurette. For more information, visit MTI's website.]