Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand, etc.
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 26 Aug 2017, 11:35

Image

The Gorilla Seven (Japan, 1975) [TV] - 2.5/5

An initially disappointing follow-up to Sonny Chiba's badass 1974 TV shows The Bodyguard (*). Chiba leads a private 7 man team specializing in miscellaneous protection and crime solving missions. Jiro Chiba, Etsuko Shihomi and Yuki Meguro return from The Bodyguard, Isao Natsuyagi, Akira Nishikino and Maria Elizabeth are new additions to the team. JAC is responsible for the stunts as usual.

Despite the great premise, the show suffers from excessive poor comedy and a laidback tone that is in stark contrast with the violent, even nihilist The Bodyguard. The storylines tend to be very forgettable, and so are the characters who spend half of their time fooling around. Shihomi's character supposed to be a ninja descendant, but that is merely a bit of trivia you'd never figure out based on what her character is doing in the series.

There is much less fighting than in The Bodyguard, and too much of it is left for the less capable members such as Meguro and Natsuyagi. As a slight compensation, there's more focus on stunts, including Chiba grabbing on to a plane about take off (he did the same stunt in Key Hunter) or hanging from a ropeway wires. Not all of the stunts are as exciting, though.

Thankfully halfway into the 26 episode show the crew seem to have realised they need to get a grip, and they do. The last 10 episodes are quite enjoyable, with better action and better stories, the highlight being a terrific episode that co-starts Masashi Ishibashi as a hitman armed with a machine gun. Other cool episodes include Shihomi going undercover, and a storyline with Jiro where two rich douche bags are hiring proxy fighters (and bikers) and betting money on whose fighter survives.

Big name quest stars are quite few in the show, and most of them appear during the late episodes. Pinky Violence star Yumiko Katayama makes a 2 scene appearance in one of the two episodes directed by Teruo Ishii, Yuriko Hishimi has a central role in one episode, and Roman Porno actress Yuri Yamashina plays Ishibashi's girlfriend.

It's a shame the show is so uneven since it does come with rewards towards the end. In case one starts getting bored after the first few episodes, I recommend jumping straight to episode 17 (perhaps via episodes 11 and 13) as from there on almost every episode is a good one. There is no harm in doing that, thanks to nonexistent character development and lack of any kind of story connections between the episodes.

* Chiba had his own TV slot on NTV in 1974-1976. He starred in five shows in total starting with the karate actioner The Bodyguard (1974), followed by the action/crime shows The Gorilla 7, Blazing Dragnet (1975-1976) and Emergency Line (1976), and finally the family drama Nanairo tongarashi (1976).

* Original title: The Gorilla 7 (ザ・ゴリラ7)
* Director: Various
* Chiba's role: Starring Role
* Film availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (No subs) (December 2017). Review format: TV.

The Gorilla Seven screencaps: Part 1
Image

Image

Image

One of the worst episodes. The Gorillas use small radio-controlled planes to...
Image

... fight gangsters who are comedic idiots
Image

Thankfully there's good stuff too, like Chiba with a gun
Image

Jiro with a bike
Image

Shihomi vs. Ishibashi
Image

Chiba vs. Ishibashi
Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 26 Aug 2017, 11:36

The Gorilla Seven screencaps: Part 2

Some of the stunts are cool
Image

Image

Image

Shihomi looking good
Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Soundtrack
Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 27 Aug 2017, 17:48

I gave this a very brief review before, but felt like it deserved a more thorough examination, especially in regards to why the original Japanese version Iron Sharp is 100 times better that the butchered US version known as Invasion of the Neptune Men.

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 rarely 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)

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.

Image

Here is the real building in Tokyo
Image

Title screen
Image

Chiba the superhero and his mobile!
Image

American deem the odd accidents taking place around the globe as Soviet Union's attempt to start WWIII
Image

Kids who are only irritating in the dubbed version.
Image

Evil aliens
Image

Image

Image

Image

Oh, and a piece of trivia. According to Toei, Iron Sharp was as a follow-up to the TV superhero series National Kid (1960-1961). National Kid was produced by Toei but initiated by Matsushita aka Panasonic who wanted to encourage kids to science with a superhero TV show. They changed the characters and introduced a new hero in Iron Sharp, but the premise remained similar (a superhero who is also a scientist who teaches science to a group of children).

Chiba and the kids. In the Japanese version he says his idol is Yuri Gagarin (who had become the first man in space about three months before the film's release)
Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 04 Sep 2017, 14:43

As randow news, Toei Channel started airing Blazing Dragnet (1975-1976) this week. The show ran 14 episodes. Stars Chiba, Shihomi, Hayato Tani, Isao Natsuyagi.

Image

Image

Next month Toei Channel will start airing Emergency Line (1976), which ran only 10 episodes. Stars Chiba, Shihomi, Tani, Yuriko Hishimi

Image

Image

You can probably expect to see me writing something about them in the coming months.

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 10 Sep 2017, 07:59

Four Sisters (Japan, 1962) [16mm] 2.5/5
Fans of Sonny Chiba's violent action movies may find it surprising that there were a few occasions early on his career when he was cast as "love interest". Such is the case in this film, which is a bit unusual movie in Toei's generally very masculine body of work. It's a family drama (adapted from a novel by Fumio Niwa) about four sisters and their mother who wants to marry them off to respectable and successful men rather than to the ones they really love. The protagonist (Yoshiko Mita) is being arranged to businessman Fumio Watanabe although her heart belongs to handsome but poor Chiba. Chiba has only four or five scenes but he's bursting with youthful energy as he often did in his early roles. The film itself is decent in a genre that is not exactly my cup of green tea.

* Original title: Sanroku (山麓)
* Director: Masaharu Segawa
* Chiba's role: Small Supporting Role
* Film availability: None. Review format: 16mm

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 10 Sep 2017, 14:11

I've added a Review Index to the 1st post of this thread. It's still very much work in progress, and while I cannot provide direct links yet, the reviews are in the below mentioned order, which should help you find them. I will also try to add more original titles in kanji when I have time.

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 2千万円の腕) ( 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)

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 11 Sep 2017, 08:15

Legend of Seven Monks (Japan, 2006) [DVD] - 1/5
Though Sonny Chiba and Yasuaki Kurata had appeared in a couple of films together in the mid 70s, it wasn't until this sad stinker that they actually fought each other on screen. The problem here is not the three minutes the gentlemen spent brawling, but the remaining 87 minutes which focuses on a bunch of irritating teenagers (plus the most hilariously racist black comic relief in recent memory) who must train in martial arts to defeat a bargain basement demon and his martial arts underling. Terrible music, horrible acting, worthless story and miserable filmmaking with idiotic effects makes this almost impossible to sit through. It ranks alongside Storm Riders, Born to Be King and some 2000's DTV yakuza flicks as one of the worst films Chiba ever appeared in.

* Original title: Master of Thunder: Kessen!! Fuuma ryuuko-den (マスター・オブ・サンダー 決戦!! 封魔龍虎伝)
* Director: Kenji Tanigaki
* Chiba's role: Small Supporting Role
* Film availability: Some DVDs...

Image

DenPryan
Jackie Chan's Little Toe
Posts: 9
Joined: 13 Jan 2016, 20:29

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by DenPryan » 11 Sep 2017, 10:48

I agree with you, but the battle between Chiba and Kurata is worth seeing :)

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 11 Sep 2017, 11:31

Yeah, I guess that's true. I just wish it had happened 30 years earlier.

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 15 Sep 2017, 05:41

Battle Royale 2 (Japan, 2003) [VoD] - 2/5
Universally hated sequel is a bit better than its reputation suggests. While the original film was a biting action satire on Japanese society, the sequel tries to do something similar with the post 9/11 world politics. The survivor of the original Battle Royale program (Tatsuya Fujiwara) has become a terrorist leader, and a new class of school kids (this time armed with assault rifles) is sent to an island to take him down. With constant references to terrorism, Al-Qaida, freedom fighters, American imperialism, and even with parts of the movie filmed in the Middle East, it's an ambitious mess with little coherence or maturity to its satire. It's also terribly acted throughout. That being said, with tons of action and provocations, it remains a somewhat watchable piece of trash minus the first 30 minutes that pisses on the first film so hard it hurts. Sonny Chiba has a 60 second cameo as a "terrorist". Riki Takeuchi plays Riki Takeuchi (yes, you read that right).

* Original title: バトル・ロワイヤルII
* Director: Kenta Fukasaku and Kinji Fukasaku
* Chiba's role: Cameo
* Film availability: Lots on DVD and BDs

Image

Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 15 Sep 2017, 05:47

Adventurer Kamikaze (Japan, 1981) [DVD] - 3.5/5
Sonny Chiba's last starring role in a theatrical release (excluding the 2007 film Oyaji) and a swansong to his stunt driven "modern action" era that had started in the mid 60's with Kamikaze Man and Key Hunter. The romantic caper co-stars Chiba and Hiroyuki Sanada in equal roles as two adventurers who by chance both try to rob the same money van. After an unfortunate mishap the money ends up with the yakuza, and it's time to team up to get it back. The film was a long time dream project for Chiba who had been waiting for Sanada to grow old enough to play the second starring role. He based the storyline on his two favourite films, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and the Alain Delon flick Les Aventuriers (1967). Being an 80's film, exploitation is gone and romance is in, but it's all surprisingly enjoyable with likeable performances by all principals. Action is relatively sparse but there is a major stunt at the end and tech credits are ace. 70's idol Kumiko Akiyoshi plays the charming girl between the two men that Sanada goes horse riding with in amusingly sappy scenes. Her presence only barely counterbalances the enjoyably, unintentionally homoerotic male bonding between Chiba and Sanada.

* Original title: Bokensha kamikaze (冒険者カミカゼ)
* Director: Ryuichi Takamori
* Chiba's role: Starring Role
* Film availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (No subtitles)

Chiba
Image

Sanada
Image

Chiba and Sanada
Image

Akiyoshi
Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 21 Oct 2017, 11:39

Truck Yaro: Dokyu Ichiban Boshi (Japan, 1977) [DVD] - 3.5/5

This 10 film series is what director Norifumi Suzuki is best known for in Japan. The series struck a perfect balance between action, low brow comedy and touching drama. Bunta Sugawara and Kinya Aikawa star as two carefree trucker drivers sitting behind the wheels of gorgeously decorated trucks (aka dekotora, a once-flourishing sub-culture among Japanese truck drivers). In addition to action, comedy and drama each film adapted a road movie format where the protagonists would encounter various local attractions such as festivals around Japan. In a way, it was a truck variation of the wandering hero / watadori / matatabi concept that had been popular in old school yakuza movies (e.g. Zatoichi) and 60s action films like the Wandering Guitarist series. Each film also featured a rival truck driver played by a quest star (Sonny Chiba, Tomisaburo Wakayama etc.), a love interest for Sugawara, some nudity with Sugawara visiting a Turkish bath, a climatic race against the clock (and police), as well as a theme song by Sugawara and Aikawa. The films were formulaic and repetitive, but that was part of the charm.

This 5th film probably stands out most for the Western viewers due to Sonny Chiba's participation. It's also one of the better films in the series, repeating the usual formula with all the action, nudity, comedy, drama and festivals, and featuring one of the best climatic chase scenes in the series when Sugawara has to drive a truckload of fish from Kanazawa to Niigata, making an 8 hour drive in 5. Chiba plays the rival trucker, the leader of the Jaws gang whose vehicles are numbered Jaws I, Jaws II, Jaws III, Jaws IV and Jaws V. In addition to being badass and demolishing a small village with his truck, he also has an incredibly silly and funny fist fight with Sugawara. Speaking of Sugawara, many Western viewers who only know him from his yakuza roles may be surprised to see him doing physical slapstick comedy. The Japanese very much welcomed this approach, making 9 of the 10 Truck Yaro films annual Top 10 hits at the box office.

* Original title: Truck Yaro: Dokyu Ichiban Boshi (トラック野郎 度胸一番星)
* Director: Norifumi Suzuki
* Chiba's role: Major supporting role
* Film availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (No subs), Toei BD (Japan) (No subs)

Sugawara
Image

Aikawa
Image

Their vehicles
Image

Sugawara visiting a Turkish bath
Image

Local festival
Image

Sugawara trying to, ehm, never mind
Image

Sugawara and Aikawa in trouble
Image

Enter Sonny Chiba
Image

Image

That's Chiba, yes
Image

Image

Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 24 Oct 2017, 05:14

Robot Keiji: The Movie (Japan, 1973) [TV]
Despite the title, this is not so much a "movie" as a theatrical 25 minute edit combining scenes from multiple episodes from the Robot Detective TV series. It was created for the Toei Cartoon Festival, an anime and superhero film event held by Toei during holiday seasons and aimed at children. The original TV series, which ran 26 episodes, was an early entry in the Metal Hero genre and followed a robot detective who would dress in casual clothes on his free time. Sonny Chiba appeared in one episode, and his brother Jiro had a role as a (human) detective. The Movie Version compiles selected scenes from episodes 1-9, 11 and 12. As such, it's quite difficult to follow unless you've seen the original TV series as there is clearly too much content crammed into 25 minutes. It has also been cropped from its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio to theatrical 2.35:1, which causes major amounts of information to be cut off from top and bottom. That being said, the original TV series seems fun. Being more of a special compilation than a movie, I shall refrain from rating this version. Chiba appears in it briefly.

* Original title: Robotto keiji: gekijoban (ロボット刑事: 劇場版)
* Director: Various
* Chiba's role: Cameo (in the movie version)
* Film availability: None. Review format: TV
* TV series availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (No subs)

Image

Image

Detective's car
Image

I can't stop laughing at this bad guy...
Image

As you can see, the framing is often way too tight vertically
Image

Image

Image

Jiro and Sonny
Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 04 Feb 2018, 08:39

Fighting Fist (Japan / Kong Kong, 1992) [DVD] - 2.5/5
Cheap but relatively watchable martial arts thriller is one of Sonny Chiba's few directorial efforts. The Japan - Hong Kong co-production probably originated from Japan where low budget V-Cinema films were the new big thing, and many of which were filmed abroad, including Chiba's 1991 film Minefield. Chiba is credited as the director in the Japanese print, but in the Hong Kong version Casey Chan, who was a producer-director involved in distribution of Japanese films, apparently gets the credit. The storyline is about a Japanese man (Shogo Shiotani) sent by his boss (Chiba) to Hong Kong to assassinate a gangster boss' family to lure the big man out. Local cops (Sibelle Hu, Chin Kar Lok) as well as nasty martial arts assassin (Ken Lo, Jackie's opponent in Drunken Master 2) are soon on his tail. The story then moves to Japan for a showdown. The film is a mess - badly acted, lacking in continuity, and suffering from needless ultra-cruel gore and strange characterization - but at the same time strangely watchable in a trashy sense. The action, which combines Japanese and Chinese martial arts, isn't half bad for this type of film, and Shiotani makes a passable poor man's Hiroyuki Sanada - he was a Japan Action Club member and the film was probably intended to make him a star. Unfortunately he committed suicide in 2002 at the age of 35.

* Original Japanese title: Haken furimukeba shura (覇拳 ふりむけば修羅)
* Director: Sonny Chiba / Casey Chan
* Chiba's role: Minor supporting role
* Film availability: Rarescope DVD (USA) (Japanese language version)

Strange subtitle error on Rarescope DVD. The Japanese on-screen text says "Director: Chiba Shinichi" but the subtitle say Casey Chan. There are other parts in the film as well where subtitles are inaccurate.
Image

Sibelle Hu, Chin Kar Lok
Image

Image

Shogo Shiotani
Image

IMDb and HKMDB credit Masashi Ishibashi as "Sato's karate teacher" but that's not Ishibashi unless he's wearing 10 kilos of makeup and had his voice dubbed by a different Japanese actor. I don't think he's in the film at all.
Image

Image

Ken Lo
Image

Image

Chiba
Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 05 Feb 2018, 15:03

Akumyo: Tough Guys (Japan, 2001) [DVD] - 1.5/5
A remake of the 1961 yakuza classic "Bad Reputation" which starred Shintaro Katsu and Jiro Tamiya. The new version casts Koji Matoba and Mikihisa Azuma, two gentlemen of far lesser reputations, in the lead roles. Sonny Chiba appears as a yakuza boss. Director Seiji Izumi, who spent the first 10 years of his career helming pink films, proved in the 80s that he could do more than just skin flicks (On the Road, 1982; Majoran, 1984). Perhaps this film would have been better had he directed it 15 years earlier, when he still had something to prove. The new Akumyo is a regrettably lame, television-like period yakuza drama with a bit of underwhelming action and lots of talk. It was a (minor) theatrical release, but obviously intended for video distribution. Chiba's appearance is so brief that it doesn't justify seeing the film.

* Original title: Akumyo (悪名)
* Director: Seiji Izumi
* Chiba's role: Minor supporting role
* Film availability: Endless DVD (Japan) (No subs)

Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 11 Feb 2018, 05:28

Kill Bill Vol. 1 (USA, 2003) [DVD] - 5/5
Out of Tarantino's masterpieces, this has the most nostalgia value for me for having come out when I was a high school kid - the perfect age to be exposed to an audio-visual genre film wonder full of samurai swords, Japanese school girls and Shaw Brothers sets. Nostalgia aside, it still holds up wonderfully even if the second half is stronger than the first, Tarantino goes a bit overboard DJing with his record collection, and I wish Thurman and Liu had had a bit more time to practice their Japanese dialogue. The slightly non-chronological structure, characters, music, and colourful sets and locations are all wonderfully handled, and the action isn't bad at all. Tarantino often gets accused of stealing, but I think he always adds his own unique flavour and context to the recycled elements (some of the criticism seems to come from people who acknowledge his sources but are not educated enough to evaluate them critically). Sonny Chiba is extremely well utilized in what are perhaps the film's finest scenes as retired sword smith Hattori Hanzo, and David Carradine gets a fine treatment in a small role that only utilizes his voice and hands. These two characters fine examples of Tarantino's skill to build ethereal, mythical aura around his characters that spring from the rich history of genre cinema.

* Japanese title: Kill Bill (キル・ビル)
* Director: Quentin Tarantino
* Chiba's role: Major supporting role
* Film availability: Japanese Cut: Universal Japan DVD. US Cut: BD releases around the world, including all Japanese BD releases.

The bad guys... the same shot appears in Lady Snowblood, which was the biggest inspiration for the film.
Image

Bill with his Hanzo sword
Image

Table full of Sion Sono and Takashi Miike stars... Jun Kunimura (Why Don't You Play in Hell), Akaji Maro (The Room), Shun Sugata (Confessions of a Dog)...
Image

Chiba as the X'th generation Hattori Hanzo (following the tradition of Shadow Warriors... where he played a different generation Hanzo in each series). Space Sheriff Gavan and fellow JAC star Kenji Oba in the background. God I love their scenes in the film!
Image

Another Chiba on the right... Sonny's daughter Juri Manase
Image

Sakichi Sato, the screenwriter of Ichi the Killer, and Yuki Kazamatsuri (Female Teacher: Dirty Afternoon), Nikkatsu's Roman Porno rape queen of the 80s.
Image

Chiaki Kuriyama as Gogo Yubari (reference to Yubari Fanta Film Fest) which Tarantino loves.
Image

Image

As everyone knows, the Japanese version features 1 extra minute of violence has the end fights in color
Image

It also explains what happened to Sophie's second arm...
Image

Another highly Lady Snowblood esque scene, not least because of Liu's dress and Kaji's song. Then again, snow garden fights weren't invented by Lady Snowblood...
Image

Image

I was re-watching the extras on the JP dvd and... ahaa, the now notorious "Q strangling U" footage surfaces
Image

Q was actually doing the dirty work on Chiaki-chan's behalf
Image

Lovely footage of Uma practicing the choreographies alone at night
Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 15 Feb 2018, 07:27

The last three reviews were missing the ratings (I managed to confuse myself by refraining from rating Robot keiji...) Here they are:

Fighting Fist - 2.5/5
Akumyo: Tough Guys - 1.5/5
Kill Bill Vol. 1 - 5/5


Let me also take this opportunity to post some cool Chiba posters that you may not have seen

First, two films that I have not been able to see

Fearful Witch (Eijiro Wakabayashi, 1962) (恐怖の魔女)
Judo for Life 2 (Kiyoshi Saeki, 1963) (柔道一代 講道館の鬼)


Image Image

Then a few films I have seen:

Special Tactical Police (Koji Ota, 1963) (特別機動捜査隊)
Special Tactical Police: Part 2 (Koji Ota, 1963) (特別機動捜査隊: 東京駅に張り込め)


Image Image

The Kamikazes (Kunio Watanabe, 1962) (南太平洋波高し)
Gambler's Love (Kiyoshi Saeki, 1963) (浅草の侠客)


Image Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 16 Feb 2018, 11:41

The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy (Japan, 1978) [DVD] - 3.5/5
Toei resurrected the samurai film genre with this epic, which served as their answer to the waning popularity of karate and yakuza films. It was the start of a new era of bigger budgeted Toei films, and even got released it as a standalone feature as opposed to half of a double feature. It was also the first time for Sonny Chiba to play the legendary ninja Yagyu Jubei, whom he would later portray in film, TV and stage. Kinji Fukasaku's take on the material was interesting as well: he'd dropped the documentary antics of his gangster films and taken creative, provocative freedoms from acknowledged history, while at the same time taking a more realistic approach than most 60s samurai films. It's a long and talkative tale of power struggle between two brothers (Hiroki Matsukata and Teruhiko Saigo) wishing to become the next shogun, with some historical dryness and perhaps a subplot or two too much. At the same time it's an interesting, massive and well crafted tale with some nice action and good performances by Chiba (whose JAC stars co-star in the film) and Kinnosuke Nakamura, whose highly theatrical acting creates a great portrayal of a man who is not allowed to show his true feelings under the Japanese etiquette. The audiences agreed: the film was the 3rd most popular domestic release of 1978.

Note: the film's theatrical trailer somewhat puzzlingly advertises The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy as Toei's return to jidai geki after 12 years. Had Toei not produced a single samurai film since 1966? Actually, the statement refers to Toei's Toei Tsurugikai unit, which specialized in sword fight action in the 1960s until samurai films went out of fashion at Toei. Toei Tsurugikai worked in closely with Chiba in The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy, trying to get the best out of Chiba and his JAC army. Chiba later went to star and choreograph numerous sword action films, and he has stated that his personal interest (more or less) shifted from karate towards sword action.

* English AKA: Shogun's Samurai
* Original title: Yagyû ichizoku no inbô (柳生一族の陰謀)
* Director: Kinji Fukasaku
* Chiba's role: Major supporting role
* Film availability: US DVD, UK DVD.

Image

Image

Image

Sonny Chiba's Yugyu Jubei filmography:
- The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy (1978) [Theatrical Film]
- The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy (1978-1979) [TV series]
- Yagyu Jyubei's Wild Travels (1980-1981) [TV series]
- Yagyu Jyubei abaretabi (1982-1983) [TV series]
- Yagyu Jyubei's Wild Travels (1980-1981) [TV series]
- Samurai Reincarnation (1981) [Theatrical Film]
- Samurai Reincarnation (1981) [Stage Play]
- Shogun Iemitsu, Hikosa and Tasuke Issin (1989) [TV film]
- Sarutobi Sasuke and the Army of Darkness 3 (2005) [DTV Film]
- Sarutobi Sasuke and the Army of Darkness 4 (2005) [DTV Film]

User avatar
grim_tales
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 21680
Joined: 25 Oct 2004, 18:34
Location: St. Albans, UK

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by grim_tales » 17 Feb 2018, 14:30

Why doesn't the 'Japanese version' of KB Vol.1 seem to available on Blu Ray? Just seems to daft to me :?

The only annoying thing about the DVD is there isnt a seperate subtitle track for the occasional Japanese dialogue. Otherwise very good.
I loved seeing KB in the cinema, just great :D

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 17 Feb 2018, 16:16

grim_tales wrote:Why doesn't the 'Japanese version' of KB Vol.1 seem to available on Blu Ray? Just seems to daft to me :?
No idea. Perhaps Universal was too cheap/lazy to scan the Japanese print.

It's really frustrating though, especially to Japanese audiences I'd guess. They've been watching the Japanese version for a decade since that's the version that played in theatres and was sold on DVD. Now they are suddenly being asked to buy a censored version on BD...

I saw the Western version in cinemas of course... no less than five times... but ever since 2004 I've been viewing only the Japanese cut. The problem is, the Japanese DVD doesn't look too hot by today's standards. No wonder I guess... it was released 14 years ago.

User avatar
grim_tales
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 21680
Joined: 25 Oct 2004, 18:34
Location: St. Albans, UK

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by grim_tales » 17 Feb 2018, 19:29

I saw the Western version in the cinema too :)

User avatar
saltysam
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 9311
Joined: 27 Oct 2004, 19:27

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by saltysam » 18 Feb 2018, 00:47

With the Weinstein and now Uma Thurman controversy i think the current BD is the best we are going to get on the format for the forseeable.
working class blu-ray fan

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 23 Apr 2018, 10:20

The Fall of Ako Castle (Japan, 1978) [DVD] - 4/5
A very good adaptation of the Loyal 47 Ronin story, produced as a follow-up of sorts to The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy. As audiences know, the story is about 47 loyal samurai who avenge the death of their master Asano who was ordered to commit harakiri. What director Fukasaku adds to the story is a strong focus on the politics of justice system (in a hieratical system the Shogun's word must always be true or the system might collapse - something that echoes WWII era Japan which Fukasaku lived) and a grittier approach to the still heroic tale. Fukasaku's collaborator Sonny Chiba is in excellent form as an actor (playing a minor character with great sympathy) and fight choreographer, making the 15 min end massacre not only bloodier but also more realistic, including a (literally) breathtaking 4 minute death duel with Tsunehiko Watase. At 159 minutes this film is among the shortest Chusingura adaptations (many others running up to 4 hours) which is cleverly achieved by reducing the opening act to just one scene, which is sufficient because the whole conflict between Asano his nemesis Kira is just a trigger to the main story. All in all, Fukasaku does excellent job with the material, utilizing fine performances, good editing, and especially Toshiaki Tsushima's music as a cinematic tool, coming out with a more consistent storyline than The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy.

* English AKA: Swords of Vengeance
* Original title: Akô-jô danzetsu (赤穂城断絶)
* Director: Kinji Fukasaku
* Chiba's role: Minor / major supporting role
* Film availability: US DVD

This scene with Lord Asano forced to commit harakiri while one of his samurai watches, acknowledging he's about to lose his place in society...
Image

...really concretizes the old class society. It plays better in Fukasaku's hands than in the Inagaki or Watanabe versions which I've also seen.
Image

Image

Sonny Chiba playing a very likeable character
Image

The impatience and desperation among the waiting samurai...
Image

...while their leader (Kinnosuke Nakamura) is deceiving both the enemy and even his own family to make them think he's given up...
Image

...on revence, is depicted in every version of Chusingura, but Fukasaku gives it a slightly grittier, more desperate touch.
Image

Image

Chiba vs. Watase
Image

Image

Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 23 Apr 2018, 10:34

Hunter in the Dark (Japan, 1979) [DVD] - 3.5/5
Effective if depressingly gloomy de-romantization of samurai romantics, a fitting continuation to Hideo Gosha cinematic work in 60s. The storyline is convoluted beyond belief with multiple simultaneous revenge quests and political plots. The main focus is on a one eyed assassin (Yoshio Harada) working for a gangster boss (Tatsuya Nakadai), clashing with a rotten politician (Tetsuro Tamba) and his right hand man, a sadistic police commander (Sonny Chiba in an excellent role.) This was a mid career film by Gosha, a messy but intriguing samurai epic full of sex and violence. Case in point: in scene where a gangster boss is assassinated in the upstairs, the blood drips through the floor and falls on a stripper's breasts, all set to a groovy score by Masao Sato in a scene that draws comparisons to Dario Argento, and not for the first time (Violent Streets, 1974) on Gosha's career. However, what the film really excels in is displaying swordfights as ugly, un-cinematic battle for survival. Chiba recalled in an interview that (despite only being in a handful of scenes) his part took two months to film due to Gosha's obsession for detail and realism in fight choreography.

* Original title: Yami no karyudo (闇の狩人)
* Director: Hideo Gosha
* Chiba's role: Major supporting role
* Film availability: Shochiku DVD (Japan) (No subs), HK Video DVD (France) (French subs), Hong Kong DVD (full screen)

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Nakadai and Chiba
Image

Chiba
Image

Image Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10589
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread post by HungFist » 24 Apr 2018, 06:10

I have the HK Video DVD of Hunter in the Dark... which comes in the usual gorgeous HK Video packaging...

Image

Image

Image

Part of Coffret Ronins & Yakuza Vol. 3 (aka Coffret Hideo Gosha Vol. 3). I have all three.

Image

I also used to own the inferior Shochiku DVD. Neither one looks that good, though...

Shochiku top, HK Video bottow

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

As you can see, Shochiku is really soft and colorless... but while HK Video looks better in many scenes, but also unnatural and boosted in others.

Shochiku is now streaming a new HD master... I'm not sure if Criterion was (is?) streaming the same master. Sadly, that master is not on disc in either country...

Post Reply