According to The Hollywood Reporter, Seven writer Andrew Kevin Walker will adapt thousands of pages of the Lone Wolf & Cub manga series into a feature film for producer (and possible director) Justin Lin. And he might be a writer actually up to the challenge.
The series, created by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, follows Itto Ogami, a shogun’s executioner — a position of high authority in the Tokugawa Shogunate — and his young son as they roam Japan during the Edo Period. Wrongfully disgraced and stripped of his title, Itto takes on small assassination jobs while his son, Daigoro, learns the art of killing at his side. Along their road to Hell, Itto and Daigoro also seek out vengeance for the death of their family by a rival clan. It is an often brutal, but magnificent series filled with action, consequence and sadness.
Walker’s kind of material, in other words.
And while the body of work is massive, the series was known for extended fight scenes covering tens of pages; the longest fight went on for 178 pages. It is unclear if Paramount intends for the film to spark a series, but presumably part of Walker’s job will be to parse out how much of the manga’s storyline will be needed for a satisfying film and how much can be left for potential future installments.
Lone Wolf & Cub has a long track record of spawning feature films and television series. If you’ve ever seen a film called Shogun Assassin, it’s an American reworking of the second Lone Wolf & Cub film by director Kenji Misumi. The Criterion Collection released a set of the original six Lone Wolf & Cub films — with Shogun Assassin as a bonus feature — last year in the US.
Of course, as with any adaptation of Japanese series, concern will turn to the potential for whitewashing the characters and concepts. At this stage, it’s doubtful that Lin or Walker will transfer it to an American context; Road to Perdition already walked that ground. But even if the film version stays in Edo Period Japan, the potential for mistakes in casting remains high. It will be interesting to watch the studio tread this particular minefield.