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Thread: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jane View Post
    Twilight Time just announced Bullet Train for a US Blu-ray release!
    that's bummer. I was hoping Arrow would get there hands on it. But chance of getting some special features. Isolated score tracks don't do much for me. I'll likely stick with the DVD.

  2. #82
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    The Street Fighter's Last Revenge (Japan, 1974) [DVD] - 3.5/5

    Unfairly bashed third film tones down the violence and goes for more laid back action fun. This time Tsurugi is a ladies man with James Bond's sex appeal and Ethan Hunt's face mask stash. Make no mistake, though, he's still pretty much an asshole who steals the mafia's money, throws an enemy fighter in the cremator, and has serious difficulties respecting women. Screenwriter Koji Takada provides some very witty dialogue and insults ("I don't give a damn if you're Fire Bird or fried chicken). Action choreography is a bit uneven, but never less than entertaining, and the final fight is quite good. The film also features the best female roles in the series, with Etsuko Shihomi and Reiko Ike looking gorgeous, and the latter managing to breathe genuine dignity and spiciness into her mafia seductress character - a small miracle on the genre. A very enjoyable film although obviously no match for the unforgettable original; just don't go in expecting a bloodbath.

    While the first Street Fighter movie came with a classic English dub, the third movie is certainly best seen in its original form. The American New Line Cinema version not only loses the witty dialogue in the dubbing process, it also heavily alters the storyline (drug dealers instead of corrupt politicians; a drug tape instead of confessions caught on tape, two tapes instead of one tape) and character's motivations (Shihomi works for police instead of mafia). In a addition, it's cut and plays many scenes on different order than they should be in (as a result Chiba actually becomes a nicer guy in the US version). What a mess.

    * Original Title: Gyakushû! Satsujin ken (逆襲!殺人拳)
    * Director: Shigero Ozawa
    * Chiba's role: Starring role
    * Film availability: Optimum DVD (UK), HK Video (FR) (FR subs only)

    Tsurugi is back


    with a bite!


    Fried Chicken (Shihomi)


    Ike












    US Poster


    JP Poster 1


    JP Poster 2

  3. #83
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Takuma View Post
    The American New Line Cinema... In a addition, it's cut
    I struggle to find all the differences (partly because the scenes are in different order), but two bits that I could easily notice to be missing are:

    - The scrapyard scene is missing the final part where Chiba tells one of the punks he should hurry and go tell his boss what happened before he dies.


    - The ending is missing a part where Chiba pulls his opponents intestines out. It's not terribly graphic in the Japanese version either, but the US version entirely cuts that bit out.


    Also:

    - The execution flashback we seen in every damn Street Fighter movie is in B&W instead of color


    The US version I examined runs 78:54 in NTSC, while my HK Video disc runs 79:30 in PAL. The latter would be approx 83 if converted into NTSC (jmdb also states 83 min as the Japanese NTSC running time) so, the US version seems to be missing about 3 minutes in total

  4. #84
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Sister Street Fighter (Japan, 1974) [DVD] - 4/5
    Toei extended their winning formula to an unrelated but wonderfully entertaining sister series that gave the 18 year old Etsuko Shihomi her first starring role. The non-stop cavalcade of semi-sleaze and delightfully violent martial arts follows Shihomi battling a drug syndicate lead by a flamboyant madman (Bin Amatsu), whose "hobby" is beautiful women and evil martial arts masters. While not as fast as Chiba, Shihomi made an instant impression by performing all of her stunts and fighting. Chiba has a wonderful supporting role, and Masashi Ishibashi plays villain again. The lack of strong plot is the only real weakness. Just avoid the cut R-rated version, which was widely available on bootleg DVDs once upon a time, and is missing over 4 minutes of action and violence. Oh, and for those wondering why Shihomi's character is Chinese; that's because the role was originally written for Angela Mao.

    Three sequels followed. Chiba did not return to the series, but Masashi Ishibashi did, and Yasuaki Kurata was featured in the next two films.

    * Original Title: Onna hissatsu ken (女必殺拳)
    * Director: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
    * Chiba's role: Major Supporting Role *
    * Film availability: BCI Eclipse Sister Street Fighter DVD Box Set (USA), BCI Eclipse Sister Street Fighter BD Double Feature, Toei DVD (JP) (No Subs), HK Video Street Fighter Box Set (FR) (FR subs only)

    * This is a bit tricky. Chiba's screentime is certainly limited; however, he is featured in three fight scenes and provides some of the film's best moments. I'm calling it a "major supporting role" because "minor supporting role" simply wouldn't do it justice. Feel free to disagree.

    Shihomi receoving her mission in Hong Kong


    She arrives Yokohama


    where ugly men are waiting for her


    amazons as well


    and Masashi Ishibashi's gang


    Chiba


    Chiba vs. Ishibashi


    If you saw the R-rated version, you didn't see this








    Fantastic US Theatrical Trailer:
    Last edited by Takuma; 06-28-2016 at 09:08 AM.

  5. #85
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    The Executioner (Japan, 1974) [DVD] 3.5/5

    By mid 1974 karate films had proven so popular that even directors who didn't want work with the genre were ordered to make some. Such was the case with madman Teruo Ishii, who made The Executioner one of Chiba's trashiest pictures. The hit squad flick features ninja descendant Chiba, ex-cop Makoto Sato, and death row convict Eiji Go hired to wipe out a drug cartel. Former police chief Ryo Ikebe and his assistant Yutaka Nakajima are behind the assignment.

    Ishii was bored with the project, so he filled it with extreme violence, sex, and crude jokes - and let's not even get started with the hilariously degrading treatment of every single female character in the film. One of the highlights features Chiba having a go with his half-dead opponent's naked girlfriend while the poor man is taking the count on the floor. Another scene features rock star gone actor Rikiya Yasuoka biting a man's ear off.

    Chiba is in his usual manic swing, frequently using exaggerated violence against his opponents, sometimes landing 17 extra blows after the opponent is clearly ready to drop dead. It's a fun show, even if the fights are not quite Chiba's best. Yasuaki Kurata, in a full Bruce Lee mode, joins the cast for the final fight. Hiroyuki Sanada appears in the early scenes, playing Chiba's character in the childhood flashbacks where he's being trained by a ninja master.

    The Executioner is hardly a pretty movie, but that's exactly where it's appeal lies. As irredeemable trash it never ceases to entertain, and it works like medicine on broken hearts (tested more than once). The film was followed by an even crazier sequel The Executioner 2: Karate Inferno.

    * Original Title: Chokugeki! Jigoku-ken (直撃!地獄拳)
    * Director: Teruo Ishii
    * Chiba's role: Starring role
    * Film availability: Adness DVD (USA), Toei DVD (JP) (No Subs)

    Chiba and Nakajima


    Young Hiroyuki Sanada


    Sato


    Ultra-violence


    More glorious violence


    Chiba is distracted by the enemy's female friend


    Kurata kicking ass


    Kurata again


    Chiba vs. Rikiya Yasuoka



  6. #86
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Here's a quick dvd comparison for The Executioner

    Top: R1 Adness
    Bottom: R2J Toei













    Obviously Adness has better picture. I'm not sure about audio, however. I don't have the Adness disc at hand right now, but I remember some of the Adness releases had a pretty rough and shrill audio. The audio on the Toei disc is perfectly fine.

  7. #87
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    The Executioner 2: Karate Inferno (Japan, 1974) [35mm] - 4/5

    Director Teruo Ishii was never keen on making karate movies, but the studio had him direct one with The Executioner (1974). Ishii responded by delivering an over the top action sleaze fest, which was probably more enjoyable than Ishii ever intended. Much to his shock, it was a commercial success and Toei had him make a sequel, which Ishii turned into a madcap action comedy.

    In Karate Inferno the same old gang is back, supposed to save a kidnapping victim this time, but when the deal goes, bad they decide to rob their employer instead. There isn't quite as much action this time around since half of the film consists of Chiba (asshole ninja), Makoto Sato (asshole ex-cop) and Eiji Go (asshole pervert) taking the piss out of each other and molesting Yutaka Nakajima. The jokes are crude but funny, the soundtrack is fantastic, and there’s some great action at the end of the film. Oh, and this is the film that features Chiba saving his pal, whose clothes have caught fire, by pissing on him. Top grade entertainment.

    The film contains quite a few film reference jokes, many of which may not be understood by most foreign viewers. For example, in the prison scene we see Kanjuro Arashi as Onitora - the character he played in Ishii’s Abashiri Prison series. Chiba also appeared in the 4th and 6th Abashiri Prison film, which is why he recognizes the character!

    * Original Title: Chokugeki jigoku-ken: Dai-gyakuten (直撃地獄拳 大逆転)
    * Director: Teruo Ishii
    * Chiba's role: Starring role
    * Film availability: Adness DVD (USA), Toei DVD (JP) (No Subs)

    Chiba, Sato and Go


    Chiba enjoying the view


    Chiba takes bad guy by surprise




    Go caught cold


    Etsuko Shihomi


    Chiba gets pissed off...


    ...like, seriously


    Villains pass a wrist watch ad featuring Chiba... Tarantino did something similar in Kill Bill.


    Kanjuro Arashi



  8. #88
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Wolfguy: Enraged Lycanthrope (Japan, 1975) [35mm] - 4.5/5

    This is the holy grail of Sonny Chiba madness. Chiba is the last remaining member of a werewolf clan, and a crime reporter who conceals his true identity from the mortals. The film kicks off with a series of ultra-brutal murders, in which members of a rock band have been slaughtered. The culprit appears to be a woman with supernatural powers. Her skills are demonstrated in the opening scene, were one of the rockers (Rikiya Yasuoka) pretty much explodes into pieces.

    There is no other Sonny Chiba film as outrageous as this. The film begins as a psychedelic city noir, then transcends into a science fiction film with mysterious research labs, and eventually reaches for mythical tones as Chiba returns to his birth town in the mountains. Some of the scenes unfolding feature a werewolf vs. werewolf karate fight, a werewolf being created surgically by doctors, and Chiba pulling off the prison bars with his bare hands. It's bloody as hell and comes with copious amounts sex and nudity as well. And let's not even get started with the odd mother syndrome as Chiba rubs his face against Yayoi Watanabe’s breasts because she reminds him of his mother!

    The mad visions spring from Kazumasa Hirai's 'Adult Wolfguy' graphic novels. Hirai also published the similarly titled but more youthful 'Wolfguy' manga that Toho had already adapted into a film in 1973. Toho's enjoyable adaptation was no children's film either, but Toei brought the sex and violence to a whole new level. The material was expertly adapted into a screenplay by Koji Takada. The relatively high level of continuity Takada manages to bring into the screenplay is quite shocking in fact. The storyline comes a long way, and the process feels. This is a far more coherent display of mayhem than some other Chiba films, where parts of the movie don't always connect to each other so well.

    Director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi does what he's best at, delivering non-stop mayhem with occasional beautiful images. Most of his other films, such as Sister Street Fighter and Karate Bearfighter, were very enjoyable; none of them however were quite as great as Wolfguy. Yamaguchi's usual problem, shaky cam, is thankfully nearly absent here, resulting in lots of fun action. Wolfguy isn't entirely a karate film, but it was made at the height of the karate film boom, which meant there were a lot of hand to hand fights accompanying gunplay and explosions.

    Wolfguy is one of those rare cult movies that not only lives up to its outrageous premise, but exceeds it. It was certainly a hit with the audience at the Sonny Chiba festival in Tokyo, where one poor fella became mentally insane after the film! He sat quietly during the film, but burst into an uncontrollable laughter once the film finished and couldn’t stop. His maniac laughter echoed in the theatre staircase for several minutes. The film’s greatness must have been too much for him to handle.

    I saw Wolfguy three times that day. Since it was a double feature with Game of Chance, playing all day, I simply decided not to give my seat away after the first go. After the insanely enjoyable second viewing I initially left for Co-ed Report: Yuko’s White Breasts (1971), which was playing on the other side of the town, but that screening turned out to be sold out, so I headed back to Chiba fest for one more go at Wolfguy, and I didn’t regret one bit!

    The fact that there is no DVD or even video release anywhere in the world is a crime against humanity!

    * Original Title: Wolfguy: Moeru okami otoko (ウルフガイ 燃えろ狼男)
    * Director: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
    * Chiba's role: Starring role
    * Film availability: None. Review format: 35mm. Screencaps: TV

























    Last edited by Takuma; 07-07-2016 at 05:43 AM.

  9. #89
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    The Bullet Train (Japan, 1975) [35mm] - 4/5

    Toei anticipated Speed (1994) by nearly two decades with this excellent thriller. The film stars Ken Takakura as a criminal who plants a bomb on a bullet train and demands money from the government. If the speed falls below 80km / hour, the train will explode. The police do their best to track down the criminals without giving in to their demands, while the desperate train pilot (Sonny Chiba in a rare 1970s non-action role) is trying to keep his cool. Tension begins to rise among the uninformed passengers as the train skips its designated stops.

    Director Junya Sato does fine job helming a character driven thriller, even if there are a couple of silly bits and too many flashbacks. The film’s biggest merit is the well crafted villains, whose acts are understandable though not acceptable. Takakura is very good at making his character human. Action scenes are few, but expertly executed. The ultra-funky 1970s score feels out of place at first, but once you get used to it, you can't imagine the movie without it. Supporting roles feature a whole variety of stars from Takashi Shimura to Etsuko Shihomi, Yumi Takigawa, and Tetsuro Tamba, sometimes only getting a few seconds of screen time. Chiba has limited screen time, but it's nice to have him in the film.

    Interestingly, 1975 saw the release of not one but two bullet train thrillers. The other was Yasuzo Masumura's Toho release Dômyaku rettô, in which noisy bullet trains are seen as industrial monsters upsetting peace and tradition. In that film, too, activist/terrorists threaten to destroy a speeding bullet train unless the government gives in to their demands. Suffering from a silly premise and underwhelming climax, Dômyaku rettô was certainly the lesser of the two bullet train films released that year.

    * Original Title: Shinkansen daibakuha (新幹線大爆破)
    * Director: Junya Sato
    * Chiba's role: Small supporting role
    * Film availability: Twilight Time BD (US) (Upcoming), IVL DVD (R3 HK), Subkultur BD (DE) (no Eng subs), Optimum DVD (UK)

    The original English dubbed US release was cut down to around 115 minutes, and should be avoided. The uncut version runs 152 minutes (NTSC).



    Chiba


    Takakura






    Chiba








    Shihomi







  10. #90
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Killing Machine (Japan, 1975) [DVD] - 4/5
    Sonny Chiba stars as Doshin So, the founder of Shaolin Karate, in this superb martial arts film set immediately after WWII. It was the first of the many martial arts biopics made in 1975 that brought the genre to a higher level by focusing not only on the violent mayhem, but also on the more philosophical aspect of martial arts. This one was easily one of Chiba's best directed movies with excellent pacing, strong focus on a well written storyline, and a very good leading performance by Chiba. There may be a few crying orphan child too much, but a bit of melodrama only works to the film's benefit and there's a suitably epic feel to the film. The production values are better than in most Chiba films, with limited but entirely functional sets capturing the atmosphere of the mid-1940s Japan. The fight scenes are terrific as well: fast, hard hitting and filmed with steady hands. Highly recommended.

    * Original Title: Shorinji kenpo (少林寺拳法)
    * Director: Norifumi Suzuki
    * Chiba's role: Starring role
    * Film availability: Adness DVD (USA), Toei DVD (JP) (no subs)









    Chiba teaching Etsuko Shihomi












    A little bit more stuff from the Toei DVD

    Great teaser trailer with Chiba practicing in front of Doshin Do




    Doshin Do




    Photo gallery


    Poster
    Last edited by Takuma; 08-11-2016 at 12:00 PM.

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