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Thread: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

  1. #1
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

    Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Sonny Chiba in Tokyo at the Sonny Chiba Film Festival. That event, as well as Chiba himself who turned out to be the nicest guy you could imagine (very energetic, very friendly, and very modest), inspired me to challenge myself to 100 Chiba kumite. In other words, I set a target to see 100 Chiba films. Since I'm now at 97, I think it's time to begin the reporting.

    Like Chiba in Karate for Life (1977), I'm cheating a little bit. I've also included the films I had seen before last year, so I'm not actually beating 100 Chiba's at one go, and I won't be reviewing 100 films either. But there's gonna be quite a few. I'll begin in roughly chronological order, but I may make exceptions. Discussion, reviews and other contributions by other members are more than welcome: this thread is about Chiba, not about me.

    With 97 Chiba's under my belt, I can't say I feel one bit tired. If anything, I've only come to love him and his movies more. Like my friend once said, even a bad Chiba film has at least one good thing about it: Chiba. I could easily watch another 100 Chiba films, but I'm starting to run out of films I can get access to.

    Report and photos from the Sonny Chiba festival can be found in the other thread here:

    Older Chiba thread also exists. I hope you don't mind starting a new one. I just felt like taking a fresh start. The old one is here:

    Review Index

    Round 1
    1. Police Department Story: Alibi (Keishichô monogatari: Fuzai shomei) (警視庁物語 不在証明) (1961)
    2. Police Department Story: 15 Year Old Woman (Keishichô monogatari: 15 sai no onna) (警視庁物語 十五才の女) ( 1961)
    3. Drifting Detective: Tragedy in the Red Valley (Fûraibô tantei: Akai tani no sangeki) (風来坊探偵 赤い谷の惨劇) ( 1961)
    4. Drifting Detective: Black Wind in the Harbour (Fûraibô tantei: Misaki o wataru kuroi kaze) (風来坊探偵 岬を渡る黒い風) ( 1961)
    5. Invasion of the Neptune Men (Uchu Kaisoku-sen) (宇宙快速船) ( 1961)
    6. Police Department Story: 12 Detectives (Keishichô monogatari: 12 nin no keiji) (警視庁物語 十二人の刑事) ( 1961)
    7. Hepcat in the Funky Hat (Funky hat no kaidanji) (ファンキーハットの快男児) ( 1961)
    8. Hepcat in the Funky Hat: 200 000 Yen Arm (Funky Hat no kaidanji: Nisenman-en no ude) (ファンキーハットの快男児 2千万 の腕) ( 1961)
    9. The Escape (226 jiken: Dasshutsu) (二・二六事件 脱出) ( 1962)
    10. The Kamikazes (Minami taiheiyo nami takashi) (南太平洋波高し) ( 1962)
    11. Gambler ( 1962)
    12. Love, the Sun and the Gang ( 1962)
    13. Gang vs. G-Men ( 1962)
    14. Tale of A Company Boss: Part 5 ( 1963)
    15. The Loyal 47 Gangsters ( 1963)
    16. Yakuza's Song ( 1963)
    17. The Navy (Kaigun) ( 1963)
    18. Gambler's Love ( 1963)
    19. Gambler Tales of Hasshu: A Man's Pledge ( 1963)
    20. Here Because of You ( 1964)
    21. Dragon's Life ( 1964)
    22. Meiji Underworld - Yakuza G-Men ( 1965)
    23. Code of Ruffians ( 1965)
    24. Sing to Those Clouds ( 1965)
    25. Abashiri Prison 4: Northern Seacoast Story ( 1965)
    26. Golden Bat ( 1966)
    27. Abashiri Prison 6: Duel in the South ( 1966)
    28. The Terror Beneath the Sea (Japan/USA, 1966)
    29. Kamikaze Man: Duel at Noon (Japan/Taiwan, 1966)
    30. Game of Chance ( 1966)
    31. North Sea Chivalry ( 1967)
    32. Tale of Kawachi Chivalry ( 1967)
    33. Organized Crime ( 1967)
    34. Diaries of the Kamikaze ( 1967)
    35. The Young Eagles of the Kamikaze ( 1968)
    36. Human Torpedoes ( 1968)
    37. Army Intelligence 33 ( 1968)
    38. Delinquent Boss: Ocho the She-Wolf ( 1969)
    39. Memoir of Japanese Assassins ( 1969)
    40. Yakuza Deka ( 1970)
    41. Yakuza Deka: The Assassin ( 1970)
    42. Yakuza Deka: Poison Gas Affair ( 1971)
    43. Yakuza Deka: No Epitaphs for Us ( 1971)
    44. Yakuza Wolf: I Perform Murder ( 1972)
    45. Yakuza Wolf: Extend My Condolences ( 1972)
    46. A Narcotics Agent's Ballad ( 1972)
    47. Narcotics/Prostitution G-Men: Terrifying Flesh Hell ( 1972)
    48. Tokyo Seoul Bangkok Drug Triangle (1973)
    49. Battles without Honour and Humanity: Hiroshima Death Match ( 1973)
    50. Bodyguard Kiba ( 1973)
    51. Bodyguard Kiba 2 ( 1973)
    52. The Street Fighter ( 1974)
    53. Return of the Street Fighter ( 1974)
    54. The Street Fighter's Last Revenge ( 1974)
    55. Military Spy School ( 1974)
    56. Sister Street Fighter ( 1974)
    57. The Executioner ( 1974)
    58. The Executioner 2: Karate Inferno ( 1974)
    59. Wolfguy: Enraged Lycanthrope ( 1975)
    60. Bullet Train ( 1975)
    61. Killing Machine ( 1975)
    62. Karate Bullfighter ( 1975)
    63. Karate Bearfighter ( 1975)
    64. The Defensive Power of Aikido ( 1975)
    65. Rugby Yaro ( 1976)
    66. Machine Gun Dragon ( 1976)
    67. Jail Breakers ( 1976)
    68. Karate Warriors ( 1976)
    69. Okinawa Yakuza War ( 1976)
    70. Karate for Life ( 1977)
    71. Doberman Cop ( 1977)
    72. Yakuza War: The Japanese Godfather ( 1977)
    73. Honor of Japan ( 1977)
    74. Okinawa 10 Year War ( 1978)
    75. Message From Space ( 1978)
    76. G.I. Samurai ( 1979)
    77. Dead Angle ( 1979)
    78. Shogun's Ninja ( 1980)
    79. Tokyo Daijishin Magnitude 8.1 ( 1980)
    80. The Bushido Blade (1981)
    81. Samurai Reincarnation ( 1981)
    82.Ninja Wars ( 1982)
    83. Legend of the Eight Samurai ( 1983)
    84. Kabamaru the Ninja Boy ( 1983)
    85. Leave it to Kotaro ( 1984)
    86. The Last True Yakuza ( 1985)
    87. Yakuza Warfare ( 1991)
    88. Yakuza Warfare ( 1991)
    89. Triple Cross ( 1992)
    90. Iron Eagle III: Aces (1992)
    91. Immortal Combat (1994)
    92. Codename: Silencer ( 1995)
    93. The Storm Riders (1998)
    94. Explosive City (2004)
    95. Sushi Girl (2012)
    96. Shuryo no michi 8 ( 2013)

    Round 2
    97. New 7 Color Mask (Shin nana iro kamen) (新七色仮面) (1960)
    98. Mid-August Commotion (8 gatsu 15 nichi no douran) (八月十五日の動乱) (1962)
    99. Special Tactical Police (Tokubetsu kido sosatai) (特別機動捜査隊) ( 1963)
    100. Special Tactical Police: Part 2 (Tokubetsu kido sosatai: Tokyo eki ni harikome) (特別機動捜査隊 東京駅に張り込め) ( 1963)
    101. Decree from Hell (Jigoku meirei) (地獄命令) ( 1964)
    102. Tale of Japanese Burglars (Nippon dorobô monogatari) (にっぽん泥棒物語) ( 1965)
    103. Bitches of the Night (Yoru no mesuinu) ( 夜の牝犬) (1966)
    104. Game of Chance 2 (Zoku rokyoku komori-uta) (続浪曲子守唄) (1967)
    105. Game of Chance 3 (Shusse komori-uta) (出世子守唄) (1967)
    106. Key Hunter (Kii hantaa) (キイハンター) (1968-1973) (TV)
    107. The Bodyguard (Za bodigaado) (ザ・ボディガード) (1974) (TV)
    108. 13 Steps of Maki (Wakai kizokutachi: 13 kaidan no Maki) (若い貴族たち 13階段のマキ) (1975)
    109. The Visitor in the Eye (Hitomi no naka no houmonsha) (瞳の中の訪問者) (1977)
    110. Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon (Golgo 13: Kûron no kubi) (ゴルゴ13 九竜の首) (1977)
    111. Soul of Chiba (Gekitotsu! Jado ken) (激殺!邪道拳) (1977)
    112. Roaring Fire (Hoero tekken) (吠ろ鉄拳) (1981)
    113. Minefield (Jiraigen) (地雷原) (1992)
    114. Young and Dangerous 6: Born to be King (狼たちの伝説 亜州黒社会戦争) (2000)
    115. Jitsuroku Kyushu yakuza retsuden kyoken to yobareta otoko (実録 九州やくざ烈伝 兇健と呼ばれた男) (2013)
    116. Shuryo no michi 6 (首領の道6) (2013)
    117. Shuryo no michi 7 (首領の道7) (2013)
    118. Shuryo no michi 9 (首領の道9) (2013)

    Round 3
    119. King of Gangsters (ギャングの帝王) (1967)
    120. Wandering Ginza Butterfly: She-Cat Gambler (銀蝶渡り鳥 牝猫博奕) (1972)
    121. Detonation: Violent Riders (爆発!暴走族) (1975)
    122. The Gorilla Seven (ザ・ゴリラ7) (1975)
    123. Four Sisters (山麓) (1962)
    124. Legend of Seven Monks (マスター・オブ・サンダー 決戦!! 封魔龍虎伝) (2006)
    125. Battle Royale 2 (バトル・ロワイヤルII) (2003)
    126. Adventurer Kamikaze (冒険者カミカゼ) (1981)
    127. Truck Yaro: Dokyu Ichiban Boshi (トラック野郎 度胸一番星) (1977)
    128. Robot Keiji: The Movie (ロボット刑事: 劇場版) (1973)
    129. Fighting Fist (覇拳 ふりむけば修羅) (1992)
    130. Akumyo: Tough Guys (悪名) (2001)
    131. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
    132. The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy (柳生一族の陰謀) (1978)
    133. The Fall of Ako Castle (赤穂城断絶) (1978)
    134. Hunter in the Dark (闇の狩人) (1979)
    135. Sure Death Revenge (必殺IV 恨みはらします) (1987)
    136. Shogun's Shadow (将軍家光の乱心 激突) (1989)
    137. Seventeen Ninja (十七人の忍者) 1990)
    138. Dragon Princess (必殺女拳士) (1976)
    139. Blazing Dragnet (燃える捜査網) (1975-1976)
    140. Emergency Line (大非常線) (1976)
    141. Violent Street (暴力街) (1963)
    142. Life of Blackmail (わが恐喝の人生) (1963)
    143. Gendai onibabako: Satsu ai (現代鬼婆考 殺愛)( 1973)
    144. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (ワイルド・スピードX3 TOKYO DRIFT) (2006)
    145. Resurrection of the Golden Wolf(蘇る金狼) (1979)

    * this is index is still work in progress, and while I cannot provide direct links yet, the reviews are in the above mentioned order, which should help you find them. I will also try to add more original titles in kanji when I have time.
    Last edited by Takuma; 09-10-2019 at 11:49 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    ok, let's start

    Police Department Story: Alibi (Japan, 1961) [VoD] – 2.5/5
    Sonny Chiba in his first movie role. This is the 15th film in the Police Department Story series that started in 1957. Most of the films were one hour long detective tales shown as b-features in theatrical double bills. All of them were written by Kimiyuki Hasegawa. This installment kicks off with the murder of a security guard in a major company. It’s a relatively well made, although not especially cinematic story with plenty of talkative scenes at the crime scene and in the police headquarters. Chiba has a supporting role as one of the detectives. He’s not bad, but his lack of experience shows when he’s surrounded by the series’ regular cast. He sometimes looks like he's waiting for his turn to speak.

    * Original title: Keishichô monogatari: Fuzai shomei (警視庁物語 不在証明)
    * Director: Shoichi Shimazu
    * Chiba's role: Major supporting role
    * Film availability: Video on Demand (Japan) (No subtitles)

    Crime scene



    More Chiba!

    Last edited by Takuma; 12-09-2015 at 08:36 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Police Department Story: 15 Year Old Woman (Japan, 1961) [VoD] – 3.5/5
    The 16th film in the Police Department Story series marks a notable improvement over the previous instalment, even though they were most likely shot back-to-back. Sonny Chiba returns to his co-starring role as one of the detectives inspecting the case of a 15 year old girl, whose dead body was discovered floating in a river. As usual, the film runs only one hour and doesn’t depart too far from the usual formula; however, it greatly benefits from frequent outdoor locations that were missing from the previous film. It also touches far more serious topics, such as child abuse and mental insanity, and even utilises Rashomon-like storytelling techniques to some extent. The last scene especially is haunting and echoes far more talented filmmakers like Kurosawa. Chiba has also greatly improved his acting with a far more confident performance, including a lot of small gestures even when his character is only in the background.

    * Original title: Keishichô monogatari: 15 sai no onna (警視庁物語 十五才の女)
    * Director: Shoichi Shimazu
    * Chiba's role: Major supporting role
    * Film availability: Video on Demand (Japan) (No subtitles)

    Title screen

    Crime scene


    This shot reminds me of Kurosawa's High and Low... and it's not the only one in the film

    More Chiba

    More Chiba

    I like Chiba's acting in many of the scenes where he's only in the background

    The victim when she was still alive

    Chiba finds the murder weapon
    Last edited by Takuma; 12-09-2015 at 08:38 AM.

  4. #4
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    So jealous. If I travel back in time not only will I give my younger self the future Sports Alamac but insist he learn Japanese.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason C View Post
    So jealous. If I travel back in time not only will I give my younger self the future Sports Alamac but insist he learn Japanese.
    Hey, it's never too late!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Drifting Detective: Tragedy in the Red Valley (Japan, 1961) [DVD] – 2.5/5
    Kinji Fukasaku started his career with this Japanese gunplay Western set in the snowy mountains. A local farmer family is being harassed by a rich businessman and his goons who are after their land. The film was highly influenced by both American Westerns as well as Japanese watadori (drifter) films. The 21 year old Sonny Chiba stars in his first leading man role as a wandering detective who takes a stand against the bad guys. It’s fun seeing the two talents together for the first time, and the action scenes and cinematography are terrific. However, the film is a bit too goofy on its own right, with constant joking, comic book style characters and comic timing that is sometimes a bit off. You can see Chiba and co-star Harumi Sone are trying a bit too hard to be fun and energetic.

    * Original title: Fûraibô tantei: Akai tani no sangeki (風来坊探偵 赤い谷の惨劇)
    * Director: Kinji Fukasaku
    * Chiba's role: Starring role
    * Film availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (No subtitles)

    Lovely visuals


    Harumi Sone

    Bad guys

    Last edited by Takuma; 12-09-2015 at 08:39 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Drifting Detective: Black Wind in the Harbour (Japan, 1961) [DVD] – 2.5/5
    Fukasaku and Chiba are back in a sequel filmed with the same cast and released just two weeks after the first film. This time the storyline is set in a small seaside town and favours detective and watadori film influences over westerns. Like its predecessor, the film runs barely over one hour and never drags. It's a little less goofy, but doesn't have as beautiful landscapes the first movie had. Not a classic, but for fans of Fukasaku and Chiba it's an entertaining if flawed 60 minutes.

    * Original title: Fûraibô tantei: Misaki o wataru kuroi kaze (風来坊探偵 岬を渡る黒い風)
    * Director: Kinji Fukasaku
    * Chiba's role: Starring role
    * Film availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (No subtitles)

    + a couple of cool stills from the Toei DVD

    Last edited by Takuma; 12-09-2015 at 08:39 AM.

  8. #8
    Administrator Ian Jane's Avatar
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    Once again, Takuma, I am envious. I'd love to see English friendly versions of Chiba's early stuff.
    Rock! Shock! Pop!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jane View Post
    Once again, Takuma, I am envious. I'd love to see English friendly versions of Chiba's early stuff.
    Yeah, there's a lot of good stuff still MIA on English friendly DVD... and on non-English friendly DVD as well.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Iron Sharp (Japan, 1961) [DVD] – 3/5
    Sonny Chiba is Iron Sharp – a superhero who must fight alien invaders who arrive in flying saucers. The campy sci-fi adventure has a lot to be enjoyed: an awesome superhero mobile, good special effects (better than the 2014 Godzilla film if you ask me), aliens watching terrestrial TV in outer space, and of course Chiba! At 74 minutes the film never drags. The alien costumes are leave something to be desired, though: they're not even men in rubber suits, but men in plastic suits with iron helmets. Unfortunately in 1964 the film was licensed, and butchered, by American distributor Walter Manley Enterprises who not only cropped and dubbed, but also re-cut and enhanced it with extensive stock footage, eventually earning the film - or rather its American version Invasion of the Neptune Men - a reputation as one of the worst films ever made.

    * Original title: Uchu Kaisoku-sen (宇宙快速船)
    * Director: Koji Ohta
    * Chiba's role: Starring role
    * Film availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (No subtitles) (Iron Sharp version), Dark Sky Films DVD (USA) (dubbed, cut, re-edited Invasion of the Neptune Men version)

    Title screen

    Chiba the superhero and his mobile!

    Chiba the scientist

    Many have called these kids irritating, but I that is only an issue with the dubbed version.

    Evil aliens

    Karate vs. Alien

    Here's a brief summary what Walter Manley Enterprises did to Iron Sharp when they created the Invasion of the Neptune Men version:

    1) The film was originally released in the US in TV. For this purpose, it was cropped from its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio to 1:37:1, making its battle scenes incomprehensible. The DVD release by Dark Sky Films widens the presentation to 1.78:1, which is still missing plenty of image.

    2) The film was given a nerve shatteringly bad English dubbing. Many people familiar with the English version would be very surprised to learn the kids in the film are not irritating at all in the original Japanese version.

    3) The film was heavily cut, which made the storyline extremely incoherent. They even deleted the two scenes where Iron Sharp is originally introduced, the 1st one being a scene where the boys talk about him and the 2nd being the opening credits scene where the character makes his first appearance.

    4) Other than just deleting scenes, the film was re-edited. The film's last 15 minutes originally consisted of three battle scenes played in order and taking place in three different locations. In the US version they are all edited together into one big battle that takes place all over the place and makes absolutely no sense.

    5) Speaking of the films last 15 minutes, it's actually 21 minutes in the US version. While there is about one minute worth of stock footage stolen from a different film, the rest was achieved by recycling the same shots from the battle scenes over and over again every few minutes. None of this happens in the original Japanese version.

    Speaking of stock footage, it always cracks me up when I see reviewers calling the film's special effects crappy, and the in the same review criticising the film of bad taste for using WWII stock footage of a "Hitler Building" being blown up. That's not stock footage, it's a special effects shot made for this film. The building in question, or should I say the miniature in question, is Tokyu Culture Hall in Shibuya. The "Hitler" on its wall is an advertisement for the Swedish documentary film Den blodiga tiden. This documentary about Nazi Germany was released in Japan in February 1961 (5 months before Iron Sharp) under its Japanese title Waga tôsô, which btw is written in there in Japanese.

    Here is the real building in Tokyo
    Last edited by Takuma; 08-25-2017 at 12:40 PM.

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