The Official Sonny Chiba Thread!

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HungFist
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Unread postby HungFist » 02 Mar 2009, 17:34

Bullet Train (1975)

Junya Sato helms an entertaining all star cast in a thriller that preceeded Speed (1994) by nearly 20 years. A group of criminals (lead by Ken Takakura) insert a bomb into a bullet train. If the speed falls under 80 km/h the bomb will explode. The train company staff (Takashi Shimura, Fumio Watanabe) give guidance to the train captain (Shinichi Chiba) while the police (Tetsuro Tamba) are trying to capture the criminals before it’s too late. Clocking at 150 minutes Sato’s film is more of a character driven thriller-drama than a fast paced action film. Most of the movie takes place outside the bullet train.

IVL has released the original Japanese version of the film in Hong Kong. It’s a DVD-9 disc with proper encoding. The interlaced transfer looks quite good. It’s probably a Toei port. The bad news is that the subtitles are poor. There has been talk about IVL’s Toei subtitles being translated from Chinese, which might explain something. But there are other problems, too, like several mistakes (numbers are often messed up), typos, and grammar that makes me look like a native English speaker in comparison.

The alternatives are:
R2 JP Toei: 2 releases: Japanese version and cut English language version
R2 UK Optimum: NTSC to PAL conversion. Japanese version
R4 AU Eastern Eye: This should be the exact same disc as Optimum
R1 US Ronin / Brentwood: Sonny Chiba Action Pack: cut english language version
R1 US Ronin / Brentwood: 5 Disc Sonny Chiba Collection: this is supposed to feature both versions of the film, but I don’t know anything about the quality

I’ve included a couple of caps (1, 3, 5) that you can compare to beaver’s UK caps (not the exact same frame)

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Blink and you’ll miss cameos: Etsuko Shihomi
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Yumiko Katayama
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Yumi Takigawa
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Last edited by HungFist on 03 Mar 2009, 17:17, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postby diceman » 02 Mar 2009, 19:48

HungFist wrote:Bullet Train (1975)

The alternatives are:

R1 US Ronin / Brentwood: 5 Disc Sonny Chiba Collection: this is supposed to feature both versions of the film, but I don’t know anything about the quality


I got that one. If you like I could make some screenshots sometimes, but please don't press me. Maybe tomorrow if I find the time. For me the quality was quite acceptable, though, at least I don't remember anything particularly bad, but I'm almost sure you're gonna find something to bitch about. :D
Well, subtitles are all correct and easy to read, and the movie itself is uncut, too. Anamorphic Widescreen as well.

As for the movie, I found it pretty suspenseful and well made, and certainly featuring less logical failures than "Speed". Although I still think of that one as a mighty awesome action-thriller. One of those rare remakes which actually succeed in creating something fresh and new without destroying the original.

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Unread postby saltysam » 06 Mar 2009, 21:39

Bullet Train Region 1 Random Captures

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Unread postby HungFist » 26 Mar 2009, 12:11

No Chiba, but close enough

The Blazing Valiant (Moeru Yusha) (1981)

Hiroyuki Sanada star as a man returning from Africa to Japan in first time director Toru Dobashi’s ”youth action film”. Sanada’s character settles down in a small city but soon finds out a company run by Toru Abe is terrorizing the locals. The Blazing Valiant provides service for Sanada fans, but feels a bit sub-par compared to many of his other early 80's films. The action is sparse and mostly unmemorable – although there’s a couple of nice stunts – and the drama doesn’t rise above average. Many individual scenes, Sanada’s song, and solid supporting cast – Tomisaburo Wakayama, Hiroshi Katsuno, idol Kazue Ito and even Asao Koike and Noriko Hayami in very small roles – are the film’s strongest assets.

Toei’s dvd is about the same as the previously reviewed discs from the same batch (Roaring Fire, Kamikaze Adventurers) with one important notice; there’s not one but two teaser trailers, followed by a full length trailer. The first teaser is about 15 second, basically Sanada throwing a couple of moves. The 90 second teaser includes a brief message by Sanada.

Africa opening; Sanada and a big cat
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Kazue Ito
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Ogami
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Random bikers hired by...
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...evil Tooru Abe
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Noriko Hayami 4 years before Love Hotel and Yokohama Film Festival prizes
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Sanada action
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Sanada and Hiroshi Katsuno (Dolls of the Shogun’s Harem)
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Teaser trailer 1
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"Minna-san konnichiwa. Sanada Hiroyuki desu." Teaser trailer 2
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Theatrical trailer...
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... with another English aka for the film
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A couple of Kazue Ito live performance links
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kMvF7wiROM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6Y3wOWlCj8

And an intro to one of her Daies TV dramas:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzE-D-hbkhs

Considering this film stars Ito and the girls’ regular daydream visitor Sanada, I really wonder if this review would be better placed the idol topic rather than in rip-your-guts Chiba thread.

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread! Shadow Warriors out now!

Unread postby HungFist » 03 Sep 2009, 16:23

Yellow Fangs (Remains: Utsukushiki yuusha-tachi) (1990)

Sonny Chiba's largely self financed directorial debut nearly destroyed his career. The film played for empty theaters. In order to compensate for the million loss Chiba was forced to sell his personal property as well as Japan Action Club – cold irony considering the film was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of JAC. It's also a shame because Yellow Fangs is a stunning adventure film. It's loosely based on real evens that took place in Hokkaido in 1915. A bear attacked and killed seven people in the village of Rokusen sawa. It dragged some of the female victims into the woods where it ate them or buried them in snow. It was believed that the bear was targeting women on purpose. The film takes some artistic freedom from the facts – spreading the events into larger area and longer time span – and also adds its own theories and fictional characters. The storyline follows 5 men trying to hunt down the bear. Chiba himself has stated it was his aim to create the ultimate action adventure. In some respects, he even succeeds in it. Rather than man versus bear the film is the ultimate battle between man and nature. The snowy mountains of Hokkaido provide breathtakingly beautiful yet merciless setting for the adventure. One can only imagine how difficult the shooting process must have been.

In many ways Yellow Fangs is a very masculine movie. It's easy to see Chiba's admiration for these strong men that survived in extreme conditions and made their living by hunting. But then, one of the strongest characters in the film is a young girl (Mika Muramatsu) who goes after the bear alone; living long periods of time in the mountains all by herself. The leading male roles are played by Bunta Sugawara (the leader of the hunting group) and Hiroyuki Sanada, who is one the main contributors to the film's quality. Not only does he give a charismatic performance, but he's also responsible for the film's score. While some the music goes a bit over the top, most of it is magnificent. The film's minor problems include a couple of less than believable bits, an unnecessary sequence related to gold mines (Chiba's commentary on modernization) and in a few scenes the bear itself. While most scenes feature real animal, the opening and ending sequences rely on the good old man in suit method. This footage looks more like classic kaiju than National Geographic like the rest of the movie, although the good editing and cinematography lessen the problem and keep the beast outside the frame most of the time.

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread! Shadow Warriors out now!

Unread postby HungFist » 15 Jan 2010, 14:09

This went completely below my radar... thanks to HAZ for the heads up.

Sonny Chiba 4 Film Set (First Look Pictures)
- Machine Gun Dragon (1978)
- Fighting Fist (1992)
- Doberman Cop (1977)
- Soul of Chiba (1975)

- http://www.amazon.com/Sonny-Chiba-4-Fil ... 062&sr=1-1

It would seem there are English language versions. I'm a bit dubious about this set, really. 4 films for $10, including two movies that RareScope has released before, and two Toei movies that I can't believe Toei would license for these prices. They may have bought the rights from somewhere else... there has been problems with these kind of US releases before... for example the Ultraman TV series dvds later turned out bootlegs as they were licensed from Taiwan on some other country where a rights holder existed... and later it turned out this person / company did not actually have the right to sell distribution rights to the US. I can't remember the exact story, and I don't know what's the case with this new Chiba set, just advicing consumer causion. I hope this is a fully legimate release, and it may very well be.

Yokohama Underworld: The Machine-Gun Dragon
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(poster scan thanks to Marukomu)

As you can see, it's a Bunta Sugawara movie, not a "Sonny Chiba Movie". Directed by Akihisa Okamoto. This film has not been officially released on dvd before.

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread! Shadow Warriors out now!

Unread postby HungFist » 14 Mar 2010, 13:58

Some info on the Chiba set:
http://www.kungfucinema.com/forums/show ... 205&page=2

In brief, same dubbed Soul of Chiba as the previous R1, and subtitled 1.85:1 versions of the rest. Machine Gun Dragon and Doberman of course were shot in 2.35:1. Possibly VHS source.

And I'm not getting any more convinced about the officiality of this release. Will not buy. Toei better release Machine Gun Dragon some day.

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread! Shadow Warriors out now!

Unread postby oldeschool17 » 14 Mar 2010, 14:25

So is First Look Pictures a Videoasia alias?

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread! Shadow Warriors out now!

Unread postby Gaijin84 » 15 Mar 2010, 16:02

HungFist wrote:Yellow Fangs (Remains: Utsukushiki yuusha-tachi) (1990)

Sonny Chiba's largely self financed directorial debut nearly destroyed his career. The film played for empty theaters. In order to compensate for the million loss Chiba was forced to sell his personal property as well as Japan Action Club – cold irony considering the film was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of JAC. It's also a shame because Yellow Fangs is a stunning adventure film.


Sorry to backtrack here, but what was the reason why no one went to see this film? Bad reviews from the Japanese press? With the star power involved I'm surprised it made absolutely no money.

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread! Shadow Warriors out now!

Unread postby HungFist » 15 Mar 2010, 16:17

Gaijin84 wrote:
HungFist wrote:Yellow Fangs (Remains: Utsukushiki yuusha-tachi) (1990)

Sonny Chiba's largely self financed directorial debut nearly destroyed his career. The film played for empty theaters. In order to compensate for the million loss Chiba was forced to sell his personal property as well as Japan Action Club – cold irony considering the film was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of JAC. It's also a shame because Yellow Fangs is a stunning adventure film.


Sorry to backtrack here, but what was the reason why no one went to see this film? Bad reviews from the Japanese press? With the star power involved I'm surprised it made absolutely no money.


I don't know why it didn't find audience. I do remember reading that the reviews were quite ok. Maybe it's just that "based on true story film about men hunting a bear in the early 20th century" doesn't necessarily sound that exciting. Sanada's female fans would probably prefer seeing him in modern day film, and his male fans would expect a modern action flick... not a movie that emhasizes nature. And Sugawara was also maybe in a bit strange role and movie at that age... his audience was growing old already.

I'm just guessing here.

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread! Shadow Warriors out now!

Unread postby Gaijin84 » 15 Mar 2010, 17:00

HungFist wrote:
Gaijin84 wrote:
HungFist wrote:Yellow Fangs (Remains: Utsukushiki yuusha-tachi) (1990)

Sonny Chiba's largely self financed directorial debut nearly destroyed his career. The film played for empty theaters. In order to compensate for the million loss Chiba was forced to sell his personal property as well as Japan Action Club – cold irony considering the film was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of JAC. It's also a shame because Yellow Fangs is a stunning adventure film.


Sorry to backtrack here, but what was the reason why no one went to see this film? Bad reviews from the Japanese press? With the star power involved I'm surprised it made absolutely no money.


I don't know why it didn't find audience. I do remember reading that the reviews were quite ok. Maybe it's just that "based on true story film about men hunting a bear in the early 20th century" doesn't necessarily sound that exciting. Sanada's female fans would probably prefer seeing him in modern day film, and his male fans would expect a modern action flick... not a movie that emhasizes nature. And Sugawara was also maybe in a bit strange role and movie at that age... his audience was growing old already.

I'm just guessing here.


Interesting - thanks!
I have this film at home, I'll have to check it out ASAP.

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread! Shadow Warriors out now

Unread postby Japanflix » 07 Feb 2011, 19:48

Chiba is interesting. He started a company in Japan devoted to getting real martial artists in film because he couldn't find other people who were in as good of shape as he was.

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread! Shadow Warriors out now

Unread postby HungFist » 01 Dec 2013, 12:05


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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread! Shadow Warriors out now

Unread postby HungFist » 30 Aug 2015, 10:25

Stills from one of my favourite Chiba films, the the WWII noir / commando action film Army Intelligence 33 (1968). Chiba plays a young soldier who is forced to become a spy for the Japanese army. Later he is sent on a commando mission to the enemy headquarters in Southeast Asia. I'm praying Toei or some other company will put this out on DVD one of these days.

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In case anyone was wondering, my Chiba Festival coverage (which I still haven't completed) can be found in the other thread:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6739&start=16

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I'll be posting more about Chiba once I complete my 100 Chiba kumite (trying to see 100 Chiba films... I'm still about 10 films short)

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread!

Unread postby HungFist » 12 Oct 2015, 14:16

Just rewatched Ninja Wars. Slightly too long, but enjoyable ninja film. Great production values for a film with quite a bit of exploitation in it - or maybe the other way round: quite a bit of exploitation for a mainstream film that is essentially an idol film (Noriko Watanabe + Hiroyuki Sanada). Loved the romantic ending; made me wanna sacrifice myself for my girlfriend (preferrably after killing a few evil monks first).

I happen to own the original pamphlet, too. A few photos:

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Sanada, Watanabe, Yakushimaru on Watanabe's (17) birthday party
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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread!

Unread postby HungFist » 12 Oct 2015, 14:25

oh right, should post this too:

Keanu Reeves meets Chiba:
https://youtu.be/d4Rw347pkZE

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread!

Unread postby grim_tales » 12 Oct 2015, 17:18

:o Sonny Chiba doesnt actually look that old to me at all.

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread!

Unread postby HungFist » 12 Oct 2015, 17:36

He's 76 but he's in better health than many men in their early 60s.

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread!

Unread postby HungFist » 06 Nov 2015, 11:14

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(ad for the old box set release)

Toei is finally re-releasing the classic detective/action show Key Hunter (1968-1973), starring Tetsuro Tamba and Sonny Chiba, which has been OOP for a long time, on DVD.

This is the TV show that made both Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan fans of Sonny Chiba. The show apparently had quite a bit of following in Hong Kong. Tetsuro Tamba is the main star, but Chiba plays a major role as one of the detectives and was responsible for designing all the action scenes. The series features quite a lot of classic stunts performed by Chiba, as you can see in the video below.

Top 5 Key Hunter Stunts Chosen by Fans:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6SXggYiYp8

Toei originally released a 5 disc box set in 2009, which has been OOP for a long time and impossible to obtain for a decent price. The box set contained a selection of 20 episodes, each running about 50 minutes. It's too bad we can't get the entire series, but it ran nearly 300 episodes so it would be quite impossible to put them all out. Here is the original product page for the box set:
http://www.toei-video.co.jp/DVD/keyhunter.html

Toei is now re-releasing those five discs from the box set, starting in March (one volume each month, five in total). I'll be picking them up for sure. I have copies of the rental discs, and I'm not proud of that, but I just couldn't afford it. Used copies of the set were going for 500 dollars the last time I checked.

The episodes included are:
第1話 「裏切りのブルース」
第27話 「殺しの招待旅行」
第28話 「太陽に帰った殺し屋」
第60話 「パラシュート殺人部隊」

第105話 「世界殺人集団 南国の決斗」
第109話 「俺は西部の殺し屋キッド」
第120話 「宝石泥棒 裸で御免なさい」
第132話 「日本アルプス 大追跡作戦」

第135話 「吸血昆虫島 上空異状あり」
第140話 「人殺し あの手この手」
第154話 「サギ師の皆さま ふところにご用心!」
第161話 「荒野の列車 大襲撃作戦」

第162話 「蒸気機関車 大渓谷の決戦」
第168話 「サイコロGメン 死んで貰います」
第171話 「お化け怪獣大戦争」
第185話 「真昼の決戦!すれすれ愚連隊」

第196話 「1972紅の翼 大空を行く」
第210話 「いんちきキイハンター探偵局」
第225話 「大空のギャング 現金強奪作戦」
第262話 「また逢う日までキイハンター」(最終回)(Final episode)

The first episode was directed by Kinji Fukasaku, btw.

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(picture of the old rental release. The new releases will probably have the same covers)

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread!

Unread postby HungFist » 06 Apr 2016, 15:58

Toei will finally release Shadow Warriors III (1982) on DVD! Just like Shadow Warriors II, the series will be released in two box sets.

Box Set I
- episodes 1-13
- 4 discs
- 12 page booklet
- 2016/08/03
- http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... sid=983166

Box Set 2
- episodes 14-26
- 4 discs
- 12 page booklet
- 2016/10/05
- http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... sid=983167

The series is currently screening on Toei Channel, so I think we can expect the same print (with better encode). Here are some screencaps from the television version.

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I haven't had time to watch the show yet, but it looks great. I love the opening theme, and the action scenes look fantastic.

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread!

Unread postby HungFist » 14 May 2016, 10:12

Toei is releasing the tokusatsu series New Seven Color Mask (新 七色仮面) (1960) on DVD on September 14, 2016. Or, well, half of it. More about that later.

New Seven Color Mask was Sonny Chiba's first work as an actor. It was a follow-up to Seven Color Mask (1959-1960) which had starred Susumu Wajima. After Wajima dropped out in 1960, Chiba was made the new star and the show was then called New Seven Color Mask.

Toei is releasing 4 Disc Box Set (HD Remaster) with 13 episodes, or stories 5&6. The series was divided into "stories", each of which ran anything between 6 and 13 episodes. The original Seven Color Mask told stories 1-4. New Seven Color Mask told stories 5-7. This DVD set contains stories 5 (episodes 1-6) and 6 (episodes 7-13). Story 7 (episodes 14-26) is not included, although episodes 14 is supposed to be included as a bonus feature. Perhaps Toei will release Story 7 later if this box set sells well enough.

Here's an old VHS cover for one of the New Seven Color Mask casettes.
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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread!

Unread postby HungFist » 29 Jun 2016, 15:59

HungFist wrote:Toei is releasing the tokusatsu series New Seven Color Mask (新 七色仮面) (1960) on DVD on September 14, 2016. Or, well, half of it. More about that later.

... Story 7 (episodes 14-26) is not included, although episodes 14 is supposed to be included as a bonus feature. Perhaps Toei will release Story 7 later if this box set sells well enough.

Here's an old VHS cover for one of the New Seven Color Mask casettes.
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Well, this mystery was solved.

"第15話~第26話は、原版不明の為収録されておりません。"
- http://www.toei-video.co.jp/data/hs/vca ... 10020.html

"Episodes 15-26 are not included because the film reels are missing".

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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread!

Unread postby HungFist » 01 Jul 2016, 11:59

HungFist wrote:Toei will finally release Shadow Warriors III (1982) on DVD! Just like Shadow Warriors II, the series will be released in two box sets.

Box Set I
- episodes 1-13
- 4 discs
- 12 page booklet
- 2016/08/03
- http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... sid=983166


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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread!

Unread postby HungFist » 10 Jul 2016, 08:49

HungFist wrote:Toei is releasing the tokusatsu series New Seven Color Mask (新 七色仮面) (1960) on DVD on September 14, 2016.


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Re: The Official Sonny Chiba Thread!

Unread postby HungFist » 28 Aug 2016, 10:18

The first part of this post has nothing to do with Chiba, buy anyway...

What a glorious screw up! I bid on a Which is Stronger: Karate or the Tiger (1976) poster. I thought it was a standard thin poster, but it turned out to be 4 times bigger than I expected! And it is bloody gorgeous!

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I bought a couple of Sonny Chiba posters: Game of Chance 2 (1967) and Yakuza Deka 3: Poison Gas Affair (1971).

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These are the small size posters I was talking about. Same height as standard Japanese movie posters but half the width.

I went all MacGyver to get them on my wall without causing any damage to the posters (remember, they are 40-50 years old). I made a hooking system using a girls' accessory pack I found from a 100 yen store and put small pieces of white paper between paper clips and posters. I even used an iron hair pin that my girlfriend forgot here on top of the poster with a small magnet behind the poster to pull the top and bottom half of the Tiger poster (it comes in two halves) together.


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