Raizo Ichikawa stars as "Lone Tree" or Ipponmatsu in Mushuku mono (On the Road Forever; aka, Lone Wanderer, or, Drifting Crow, Daiei, 1964) with supporting performances by Eiko Taki, Jun Fujimaki, Toru Abe, Koichi Mizu...展开hara & Shosaku Sugiyama.
In this beautifully photographed color scope film, Lone Tree is a wandering gambler a la Chuji Kunisada (the Japanese Robin Hood). He strolls into a village in search of his father's killer of five years before.
A gambling boss (Jun Fujimaki) became suddenly wealthy at the time of Lone Tree's father's death & Lone Tree investigates, discovering a power behind the scenes (Toru Abe), & an even shadowier figure behind him (Kenjiro Ishiyama)
This group of criminals are slavers sending peasants to Sado Island to die in the gold mines, & Lone Tree wrecks havoc on the underhanded goings-on.
For once the hero of a film doesn't do everything singlehandledly. We get to see peasants rising & fighting in their own behalf. Other than this, this theme is developed in a workmanlike manner, & the potentially serious social issues are skirted in favor of a strictly action-oriented plot.
Lone Tree's philosophy of duelling is it does not take skill to kill people, it takes explosiveness. When toward the film's climax he is confronted by the vicious yojimbo Washiro (Keichi Taki), the samurai takes a well-trained stance, but Lone Tree runs at him like a demon out of hell. Explosiveness wins out over calculated swordsmanship.
Some of the choreography is reminiscent of the Zatoichi series, as well it would be with Kenji Misumi directing; & physically, Raizo is looking his best. As such films go, apart from the grand opportunity to see Raizo in motion, On the Road Forever is only typical as a story, but so smoothly directed, filmed, edited, choreographed, & acted, that it is a very exciting film even with few surrises.