When James Ferman left the BBFC many of the old nasties began to crawl out of the woodwork and, unlike most in the early 2000’s, Shogun Assassin had easy passage with the board, passing uncut at 18 as part of Vipco’s first wave of (terrible) DVDs.
Shogun Assassin is one of a handful of films whose status as a video nasty is up for some debate (another is Cain’s Cutthroats, which I’ve not yet decided whether to review, Xtro and Werewolf Woman also appeared only on certain regional lists, making their status as nasties uncertain). The BBFC cut the film by just two seconds for its 1981 cinema release, and it seems to have been this version that Vipco – one of the more famous companies of the nasties era – released on video. Copies were seized, and the film was prosecuted for obscenity, but the prosecution failed and Shogun Assassin seems to have been quietly dropped from the nasties lists that it found itself on. However, whether or not it was ever officially banned, the film did drop out of circulation after the nasties panic, and wasn’t re-released until 1992, when the pre-cut cinema version got an 18 with no further cuts.
Ultimately, if you are a massive LW&C fan, I highly recommend owning both sets. But a very sensible alternative exists as well. There is a Blu-ray of JUST the original film, which is apparently identical to the first blu-ray in this set. Since the high definition scans of the Shogun Assassin sequels are average at best, and since the dubbing gets pretty spotty at times in each of the sequels, I would recommend picking up the DVD boxed set of the LW&C series, and also picking up the Blu-ray of just the original Shogun Assassin title. I’d say that is a best of all worlds scenario for fans right now, until AnimEigo unleashes a high definition, extras packed boxed set of the full, original language Lone Wolf and Cub films.