• Wolf Guy

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: May 23rd, 2017.
    Director: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
    Cast: Sonny Chiba, Rikiya Yasuoka, Jô Haruki, Kyôsuke Machida
    Year: 1975
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    The Movie:

    Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s 1975 action-horror hybrid Wolf Guy (also known as Wolf Guy: Enraged and Wolf Guy: Enraged Lycanthrope) debuts on disc for the first time thanks to the efforts of Arrow Video. For those who haven’t seen the film before (it’s been available on lousy bootleg copies sourced from what was presumably a TV broadcast for some time now), it stars Sonny Chiba – the bad man from Japan himself – as Akira Inugami, the last in a line of werewolves. Rather than run around in the night and murder random people, he instead uses the powers he gets from the moon to take on bad guys.

    Early in the story, an unseen entity is responsible for a series of gory, brutal murders. We first see this happen when some poor bastard, a musician, runs through the streets of Tokyo screaming about a tiger, only to be torn to shreds in front of some confused onlookers by…. nothing visible to the human eye. Before he dies, he mutters something about a curse and someone named Miki.

    When people start making noises about a ghost tiger on a killing spree in the city, Akira decides to start investigating. His quest takes him deep into the heart of the Japanese criminal underworld with some help from a reporter named Arai. When his snooping uncovers the details of an aspiring chanteuse named Miki, he starts to put two and two together and when a couple of other members of the band to which the first victim was involved turn up dead, well, the trail is hot! See, Miki was involved with Fukunaka, the son of a business tycoon, got her into hot water which led to her being raped by a crazy gang of leather-clad lunatics. She was also to be managed by a man named Manabe. The rape infected her with syphilis and led to her try to take her own life. When Akira and Arai are attacked by gangsters, they know they’re getting close to sorting it out – and once they find Miki, singing at a strip club and clearly a drug addict, they start to realize that the anguish she’s experienced has somehow given her the ability to summon some sort of ghost tiger to kill on her behalf! Akira tries to help her as best he can, but before you know it they’re both kidnapped by clandestine government agents that want to use her as an assassin and drain him of his lycanthrophic blood!

    Fairly zany stuff by anyone’s standards, Wolf Guy sees Chiba in fine form, scowling his way through the seedy side of Tokyo taking on all comers, be they tough guys looking for a fight or foxy ladies looking for a romp in the sack! Chock full of hyper stylish violence, colorful gore, completely gratuitous (and fairly graphic) nudity and hefty doses of general sleaze, this film bounces from one genre to the next with little regard for tonal stability or logic, but God damn it all if it isn’t a whole lot of super trashy fun. Chiba is in full on pimp mode here. No lady can resist him, no man can take him. While he never actually ‘transforms’ into a werewolf he doesn’t even need to (he gets powers from the full moon but doesn’t actually turn into a literal wolf). He’s tough enough as it is, and with his unruly, bushy eyebrows and curly hair he looks feral enough to pass. Anyone with even a passing interest in his work should check this out. He’s fantastic in the fight scenes and delivers the crazy tough talking dialogue with complete and utter conviction.

    Production values are solid even if it looks like this was made on a modest budget. The fight scenes are nicely staged and let Chiba strut his stuff, while the camerawork uses all sorts of crazy angles and gels to create some pretty wild and very colorful compositions. The effects work, almost all of which is related to the film’s pretty high gore quotient, is handled well and hey, you’ve got to love that funky seventies scuzz rock score to which the whole thing is placed. If the ending feels rushed and maybe not so well thought out (clearly they were trying to setup a sequel that never materialized) everything else about the picture scores pretty high marks.


    Wolf Guy arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video on a 50GB Blu-ray disc with the feature itself using roughly 21GBs of space. Framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition from a transfer that was ‘remastered in high definition and supplied for this release by Toei Company, Ltd.’ The picture quality here is good, but a little short of reference quality. Still, compared to the grey market/bootleg versions that have made the rounds in certain circles over the years, it’s a revelation. The image is quite clean showing very little print damage while color reproduction is pretty decent and black levels just fine. Detail is a bit soft in spots, though this could have to do with the photography employed during the shoot. Skin tones look natural enough and the image is free of any obvious digital tinkering like sharpening or noise reduction.

    The Japanese LPCM Mono soundtrack is clean, clear and free of any hiss or distortion. Optional English subtitles are included that are easy to read and free of any typographical errors. The score comes through with enough emotive strength that it perfectly accentuates the more intense scenes of the film, but it never buries the performers and neither does the foley, nor do the sound effects. As far as older mono tracks go, there's nothing to complain about here.

    Extras on the disc start off with an exclusive fifteen minute video interview with the man himself, Sonny Chiba, who speaks not about making Wolf Guy but about how he got his start in the film industry. Entitled A Life In Action Vol. 1, here Chiba notes that he was basically typecast as an action star and that he’s advised his son to hold out for different roles, but he then goes on to talk about his work with the Japan Action Club and the Japan Stunt Club, telling some interesting stories about working alongside Sue Shiomi and Hiroyki Sanada. Also on hand is a ten minute video interview with director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi titled Movies With Guts. Here he talks about some of the early projects he was involved with before becoming one of Toei Studios’ leading action and exploitation directors. He share some stories from various shoots and then talks about his working relationship with Chiba, making not only this picture together but quite a few other classics as well. Last but not least, in B-Movie Master producer Tatsu Yoshida spends eighteen minutes in front of the camera. He too talks about working for Toei, how he got his start in the film business and working on various genre pictures for the studio including Wolf Guy and a few others.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is the film’s original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release the clear Blu-ray flipper style case also holds a DVD version of the movie that has the same extras on it as are found on the Blu-ray disc. Also included inside the case is some reversible sleeve art featuring a newly commissioned piece by Wes Benscotter on one side and the film’s original Japanese one sheet on the reverse. The first pressing of this title also comes with an illustrated full color insert booklet that contains an essay on the film and the manga that inspired it written by Patrick Macias and a second covering some Japanese action/horror movies by Jaspar Sharp.

    The Final Word:

    Wolf Guy is wild, trashy fun – a great mix of action, horror and sleaze that’s well put together from a technical stand point and that features a fantastic turn from Sonny Chiba in the lead. Arrow has done a really nice job bringing this one to Blu-ray/DVD for the first time, presenting it in nice shape and with some great extras too.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      I hadn't seen this before, though I'd read about it, and I absolutely loved it. There's too much story for a 90 minute film, but it's so much fun. I'd love to read the manga on which it's based.