Thursday, 21 January 2010


An Amazon review.

Packed into this relatively slim-line box set are six movies. All are contemporary thrillers, that is contemporary for when they were all made, that being the mid-70's. Chiba himself is only the main character in three of them. In two, he's a supporting character and in one I can't even remember seeing him though he is listed in the cast. All are, however, generally entertaining and I certainly enjoyed them all. The nudity and sex in some of them surprised me and the violence is often brutal -please note, this is not a complaint.

Bullet Train appears on two discs, in the English language 115 minute version, and the Japanese with English subs 145 minute uncut original. This is by far the best film of the six by a very long long way. It's an ensemble piece which ratches up the tension but finds time to explore the background of the would-be bombers who are portrayed more sympathetically than you'd expect. It's an exceptional film by any standard. Chiba plays the train driver but it's one of the lesser roles and any competent actor could have played the part.

Golgo 13 has Chiba in the lead as a hitman for hire. It's set in Hong Kong, filmed in Mandarin or the other main Chinese language (my apologies for not remembering it), dubbed into Japanese but has an English language track, and is generally good fun.

In Karate Warriors, Chiba is a thug for hire. Arriving in town, he has to decide which gang to go with. Both gangs are after a hidden stash of heroin. You expect that Chiba will be revealed as an undercover cop but her isn't, he's just an efficient fighter with an only slightly higher moral sensibility than the people he works with. English language version only.

The Bodyguard has a daft opening filmed purely for this version in which two American martial arts experts fight a bit and extol the virtues of the movie's hero who goes by the name of -Chiba! Chiba!, who casually kills half a dozen would-be hijackers on an aircraft just to get the movie warmed up, states on tv that he will personally bodyguard anyone who wants to grass on drug dealers. So of the course the first person to come forward is female and sexy and as obviously corrupt as the gangsters who want to kill her. This doesn't seem a problem for Chiba!

Dragon Princess and Sister Street Fighter both feature young attractive female leads. One is out to avenge the death of her father, the other to rescue her undercover cop brother. Again both English language versions and packed on two Grindhouse Experience discs with the previous two movies.

If you haven't seen any Sonny Chiba movies before, he has a strong solid prescence for a big man and looks effective in action. That said, I reckon either Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan could have taken him out without breaking sweat.

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