Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 11 Feb 2017, 14:55

Leave it to Kotaro (Japan, 1984) [35mm] - 2.5/5
Another typical mid-80s Japan Action Club film, again based on a manga, directed by Norifumi Suzuki, starring Hikaru Kurosaki, and favouring comedy over action. It's about a mischievous modern teenage ninja (Kurosaki) who spends his days hanging upside down in front of girls' dressing room window. There are more panty shots than you can keep track of. Other students finally get sick of him and put a reward up for his beloved long hair. Then a blonde Caucasian girl arrives the school and falls in love with the pervert ninja, which leads to the film's best, and dumbest, laughs. It's a silly, mostly entertaining but a bit overlong comedy with some action and stunts. Hiroyuki Sanada and Etsuko Shihomi play supporting roles, and Sonny Chiba makes a quest visit in a fully English language role. Suzuki did much better with the more action oriented Roaring Fire a few years earlier.

* Original title: Kotaro makari tooru (コータローまかりとおる!)
* Director: Norifumi Suzuki
* Chiba's role: Small Supporting Role
* Film availability: VHS (Japan) [Review format: 35mm]

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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 12 Feb 2017, 13:33

The Last True Yakuza (Japan, 1985) [DVD] - 2/5
Kosaku Yamashita was one of the best ninkyo yakuza directors back in the 1960s, but he never seemed quite that comfortable with contemporary films. This yakuza epic suffers from a typical 80s approach to the subject matter. It leans more towards human drama than yakuza mayhem. The production values are fine, but the film suffers from a lame delivery, bloated 125 minute running time, and an intended female audience appeal that never worked well with yakuza films - all symptoms of the decade. Sonny Chiba has small but decent supporting role as a simple minded, expendable gangster who is ordered to carry out a hit. Hiroki Matsukata is the real star, with other big names such as Koji Tsuruta (in his last role) and Tetsuro Tamba making brief appearances along the way.

* Original title: Saigo no bakuto (最後の博徒)
* Director: Kosaku Yamashita
* Chiba's role: Small Supporting Role
* Film availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (No Subs)

Matsukata
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Chiba
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Tamba and Tsurura
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 13 Feb 2017, 08:32

Yakuza Warfare (Japan, 1991) [DVD] - 2/5

A typical early 90s yakuza drama, made long after the genre's demise. Toei had ruled the yakuza cinema first with the chivalrous ninkyo films in the 60s, then with the documentary style jitsuroku films in the 70s. As genre cinema become something of a dirty word at Toei in the 80s, the yakuza films also transformed - to the worse. They became over-long, all-star character dramas which lacked the kind of explosive energy of the jitsuroku films or the unrealistic but charming tall tales of the ninkyo films. Instead they emphasized 80s greyness - some sort of everyday realism that forbid excitement - and melodramatic storylines that weren't all that interesting or original.

Yakuza Warfare starts well enough: two gangster buddies conduct an attack in enemy headquarters in favour of their clan. One manages to escape, the other is arrested and thrown in prison. Years later the when the latter is released from prison, the former has become a successful yakuza, but the game has changed. The yakuza are now suit wearing businessmen who don't want too much trouble with the authorities. Lots of slow-moving, un-engaging drama ensues before the predictable climax. The small amount of action featured in the film only reminds of what it lacks: balls and attitude. Sonny Chiba has a small and rather forgettable supporting role as one of the yakuza bosses.

* Original title: Gokudô sensô: Butôha (極道戦争 武闘派)
* Director: Sadao Nakajima
* Chiba's role: Small Supporting Role
* Film availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (No Subs)

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Chiba
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Chiba and Tamba
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 13 Feb 2017, 08:45

Triple Cross (Japan, 1992) [DVD] - 3/5
Kinji Fukasaku returned to the streets after a long hiatus from gangster movies. A group of veteran criminals (including Chiba in a supporting role) receive tip about a money truck from a young hothead (Kazuya Kimura). Things go badly wrong. Unusual to Fukasaku, the film portrays the older generation in a positive light while the youngsters have gone completely crazy. Especially Chiba's young, attention hungry girlfriend (Keiko Oginome) becomes an endurance test for the audience. There's also a rock band/ rock music theme that feels out of place. Fukasaku fares much better with the veteran actors and in creating suspense and action. There is a long, brilliantly edited car chase near the end that is probably the second finest chase scene in Japanese cinema, only second to Fukasaku's own Violent Panic: The Big Crash (1976).

* Original title: Itsuka giragira suru hi (いつかギラギラする日)
* Director: Kinji Fukasaku
* Chiba's role: Small Supporting Role
* Film availability: Mia DVD (UK), Shochiku DVD (Japan) (No subs)

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Chiba on the left
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Chiba
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Keiko Oginome
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The car chases alone make the film worth seeing
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 17 Feb 2017, 06:06

Iron Eagle III: Aces (USA, 1992) [DVD] - 3.5/5

The first of the three American films Sonny Chiba made in the early/mid 90s, following the box office disaster of Yellow Fangs that had bankrupted Chiba. He was no doubt looking for a new career path abroad. Hollywood did not discover Chiba, sadly, but his adventures in the States did produce three under-rated b-films, of which Iron Eagle III: Aces was the best. The underrated action adventure was helmed by Bond director John Glen in much the same a fashion as his Roger Moore films.

Louis Gossett Jr. makes a likeable hero as an air force pilot who discovers a drug smuggling plot by the Raiders of the Lost Ark villain Paul Freeman. He gathers a team of 4 pilots, including Japanese kamikaze Chiba, to take down the bad guys. Since it's a personal rescue/revenge mission, they have to rely on whatever equipment they can get their hands into, in this case WWII era planes.

It's a remarkably dumb, but very enjoyable film with some bravura action, stunt and comedy moments. Chiba is often left with nothing to do in the early scenes, but he becomes a major character towards the end. There are times when his English is a bit difficult to understand, though. Busty bodybuilding champion Rachel McLish is there as well to please the eye, and kick some ass as female Rambo.

* Japanese title: エイセス/大空の誓い
* Director: John Glen
* Chiba's role: Major Supporting Role
* Film availability: Optimum DVD (UK), New Line DVD (USA), Maxam BD (Japan)

Louis Gossett Jr
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Chiba
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Rachel McLish
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 17 Feb 2017, 06:44

Immortal Combat (USA, 1994) - 3/5
Roddy Piper and Sonny Chiba are two cops follow a seemingly supernatural serial killer to a small island, where some sort of crazy villains are developing immortal fighters. This is a B-movie in and out, with plenty of below the par acting and nonsensical writing. At the same time it's lots of fun with Chiba being great in the fight scenes, which are better than the film's straight-to-video roots would have you expect. Not only does get to do hand-to-hand fighting and swordplay, he also goes full on ninja mode towards the end. Sadly, he's absent most of the film's middle third. Roddy Piper, who is the main star, is less impressive. Limited production values don't stick out too much as the film uses its locations quite well. Interestingly enough, the film resembles Mortal Kombat (1995) quite a bit.

* Japanese title: リゾート・トゥ・キル (Resort to Kill)
* Director: Dan Neira
* Chiba's role: Major Supporting Role
* Film availability: Simitar DVD (US) (OOP), Youtube (uploaded by the director)

Chiba and Roddy Piper
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The dude getting his ass kicked in Tommy 'Tiny' Lister
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 18 Feb 2017, 10:33

Codename: Silencer (USA, 1995) [DVD] - 2.5/5
A pair of American cops (Robert Davi & Steve Bauer) are targeted by a crazy Asian assassin (Sonny Chiba) who managed to escape prison thanks to a big breasted fan (Brigitte Nielsen) helping him for God only knows why. Very much a product of the 90s, when a premise such as this could still pass for a movie plot. It's sloppily directed and features a piss poor score, but always remains moderately entertaining in a trashy way. Action ranges from slightly impressive (car stunts) to laughable ("high speed" tram chase), and technical execution is on the level "boom mics visible". Co-produced by Toei Video (who were quite active in the American b-action market), Chiba is given a good role and frequently steals the show. He almost becomes the main character in some parts of the film. The female cast is as follow: the bust (Brigitte Nielsen), the ass (Cindy Ambuehl), the nudity (random strippers). While no one would make the mistake of calling this a good film, it's got enough things of interesting to warrant a viewing if you're a fan of one of the stars. Otherwise, probably not.

* Japanese title: ザ・サイレンサー(The Silencer). English aka: Body Count
* Director: Talun Hsu
* Chiba's role: Major Supporting Role
* Film availability: Ardustry Home Entertainment DVD (USA) (OOP), Allumination / Source One Entertainment DVD (4 Movie Pack) (USA)

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Robert Davi & Steve Bauer
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The bust
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The ass (I really wish we had widescreen presentation)
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The random strippers
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Chiba and Nielsen
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I have no idea why Robert Davi('s stuntman) is hanging on to a tram when he could easily run faster
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 19 Feb 2017, 05:41

The Storm Riders (Hong Kong, 1998) [DVD] - 1.5/5
Sonny Chiba has a surprisingly good and large role in this otherwise terrible big budget Hong Kong fantasy. Chiba is an evil lord who raises the sons of his dead enemies as his own. The kids grow up to be swordsmen who look just like boy band members. The film looks very much like a mixture of a 90s video game (with excessive use of primitive CGI) and television drama. Fights are mostly computer and wire assisted. If there is something good about it except for Chiba, it would be the way the film treats bad guys as central characters and makes them quite sympathetic. Chiba has plenty of screen time, as well as many fight scenes, but the Cantonese dub robs him of his charismatic voice. Frustrated with his, I was switching back and forth between Cantonese and Japanese audio tracks until I realized that while Chiba sounds better in Japanese, everyone else sucks in both languages, and it's better to watch the whole thing in Japanese.

* Japanese title: 風雲 ストームライダーズ
* Director: Andrew Lau
* Chiba's role: Major Supporting Role
* Film availability: loads of dvd releases

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The special effects look a bit dated...
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Chiba steals your ladies
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This scene isn't quite as terrible as the rest of the film
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This is how Chiba does the X-ray punch
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 19 Feb 2017, 05:49

Explosive City (Hong Kong, 2004) [DVD] - 3/5
Japanese female assassin sent by a gangster boss (Sonny Chiba) is captured in Hong Kong after she fails a political hit. Unremarkable but nevertheless enjoyable crime film works suffers from some fashionable fast editing and shaky cam used to speed up the pace (not just action). Plot and storyline are surprisingly functional despite lacking in originality, and the closing scene is very stylish. Alex Fong and the bilingual Hisako Shirata make uncharismatic leads, but Simon Yam and Sonny Chiba stand out in their supporting roles. Chiba doesn't have terribly much to do, but it's still nice to have him there. He speaks his lines in Japanese. Eddy Ko and Suet Lam also appear briefly.

* Japanese title: 爆裂都市
* Director: Sam Leong
* Chiba's role: Small Supporting Role
* Film availability: Deltamac DVD (HK)

Simon Yam
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Eddy Ko
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Chiba
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Alex Fong and Hisako Shirata
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 20 Feb 2017, 07:19

Sushi Girl (USA, 2012) [DVD] - 3/5
Five criminals get together several years after a failed diamond gig. Their aim is to find out who took the diamonds, the prime suspect being the new guy who got caught by the cops and was just released from prison. A needlessly nasty, Reservoir Dogs meets Torture Porn variation is nevertheless an effective crime film with an underlying (very) black comedy aspect. It's well enough written to keep you attention till the very end, although it may not eventually make as much sense as it should. There are several good performances as well, with Mark Hamill being a standout as a disgustingly sadistic and (intentionally) irritating psychopath. The title refers to the wonderful Japanese tradition of using a naked woman as a human sushi plate, with the men's meal placed on her body by chef Sonny Chiba, who instructs the lady prior to the clients' arrival “don’t move a muscle, whatever you see.” It's adds a rather interesting element to the film. Chiba himself only has a couple of minutes of screen time.

* Japanese title: Sushi Girl
* Director: Kern Saxton
* Chiba's role: Small Supporting Role
* Film availability: Various DVD releases

Sonny Chiba
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Mark Hamill
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Danny Trejo and Michael Biehn
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 21 Feb 2017, 14:04

Shuryo no michi 8 (Japan, 2013) [DVD] - 2/5
This yakuza film series is the DTV equivalent of a low budget television series, with 75 minutes episodes that continue from where the previous one left off. To extend the comparison, they are not too different from women's TV dramas; they just replace housewives with grumpy old yakuza and love stories with yakuza conflicts. The films do not fare especially well as standalone films. There isn't much to speak of in terms of production values or high quality; however, this instalment at least, is more watchable than one might expect. The film also has at least two undeniable assets: Sonny Chiba as one of the yakuza bosses, and Asami as his daughter. And they do karate sparring together.

* Original title: Shuryo no michi 8 (首領の道8)
* Director: Hiroyuki Tsuji
* Chiba's role: Small Supporting Role
* Film availability: All In Entertainment DVD (Japan) (No subs)

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Asami
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Chiba
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 22 Feb 2017, 08:04

Before I begin Chiba Reviews Round 2, I'd like to correct this popular non-sense story about Chiba's English name. Basically every English language biography from Wikipedia to August Ragone's article on Henshin Online claims Chiba was named Sonny after the Toyota Sunny S -commercials he was famous for.

This story is easily debunked. First of all, no such car as "Toyota Sunny S" even exists. "Sunny" was a brand for Nissan (Datsun), and Chiba never did commercials for Nissan. He was famous for Toyota Carina commercials.

While I have not read the book, the Japanese language wikipedia contains an explanation for Chiba's English name, with a reference to Chiba's own book 千葉流 サムライへの道 . In the 1960s when Chiba was not yet as much an action star as a handsome actor / idol, he was given a nickname Chiba-chan (Chiba-boy or Chiba-darling). Apparently the English name Sonny was chosen because the name comes from the word "son", hence you could argue it has similar connotation the Japanese word "chan".

* Japan is a pretty formal society where everyone gets called Mr. or Ms. In Japanese that is "san", e.g. Chiba-san. There is a less formal version of "san", which is "chan". This is often used in situations such as when adults speak to children, a boyfriend speaks to his girlfriend etc. The meaning is kind of like "darling" or "boy" or "girl" depending a bit on the situation. With Chiba it became something of an official nickname. When Chiba released a sports / workout manual in 1977, he was called Chiba-chan in the cover. When Cinema Vera had a film fest in 2014, it was called Chiba-chan matsuri, and so on.

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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby Varrick » 22 Feb 2017, 09:24

HungFist wrote:Before I begin Chiba Reviews Round 2, I'd like to correct this popular non-sense story about Chiba's English name. Basically every English language biography from Wikipedia to August Ragone's article on Henshin Online claims Chiba was named Sonny after the Toyota Sunny S -commercials he was famous for.

This story is easily debunked. First of all, no such car as "Toyota Sunny S" even exists. "Sunny" was a brand for Nissan (Datsun), and Chiba never did commercials for Nissan. He was famous for Toyota Carina commercials.

While I have not read the book, the Japanese language wikipedia contains an explanation for Chiba's English name, with a reference to Chiba's own book 千葉流 サムライへの道 . In the 1960s when Chiba was not yet as much an action star as a handsome actor / idol, he was given a nickname Chiba-chan (Chiba-boy or Chiba-darling). Apparently the English name Sonny was chosen because the name comes from the word "son", hence you could argue it has similar connotation the Japanese word "chan".

* Japan is a pretty formal society where everyone gets called Mr. or Ms. In Japanese that is "san", e.g. Chiba-san. There is a less formal version of "san", which is "chan". This is often used in situations such as when adults speak to children, a boyfriend speaks to his girlfriend etc. The meaning is kind of like "darling" or "boy" or "girl" depending a bit on the situation. With Chiba it became something of an official nickname. When Chiba released a sports / workout manual in 1977, he was called Chiba-chan in the cover. When Cinema Vera had a film fest in 2014, it was called Chiba-chan matsuri, and so on.

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I always wondered where that nickname came from... thanks for posting!

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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 22 Feb 2017, 13:42

Sonny Chiba Reviews Round 2

New 7 Color Mask (Japan, 1960) [DVD] - 3/5

Sonny Chiba landed his very first acting role with a bit of luck. Drafted by Toei in 1959, he replaced Susumu Namishima is Toei's first ever superhero TV show 7 Color Mask after Namishima dropped out after 31 episodes. Chiba took his role as Detective Ran (the show was then renamed as New 7 Color Mask), a master of disguise fighting all sorts of foreign super villains threatening Japan, including "Golden King" and a middle east terrorist group using poison gas emitting spiders. Ran's ace in the sleeve was turning into an invincible masked superhero, 7 Color Mask. It's a world where kilt-wearing masked villains are running around in broad daylight, the police bow to a private detective who solves all crimes for them, and everybody is always fooled by the silliest of disguises. A bit of child-like mindset is required from the viewer.

Chiba himself looks self-assured as stylish as hell in black suit, also benefiting from solid production values (the series was originally meant to be released as edited movie versions in theatres as well, hence shot on 35mm, though only Namishima's episodes made it to the silver screen). Chiba did all of his own stunts and fighting, with no "suit actor" (stunt performer for the superhero scenes) utilized in the show. The show's main liability is its unimaginative writing. Ran's invincibility always saves him from any trouble, and storylines tend to drag a bit until it's time for the bad guys to get caught.

Toei produced a total of 26 episodes of the show. Episodes 1-13 are included in Toei's recent 4 disc DVD set. Episode 14 is also featured as an extra. The rest will probably never be seen as, according to Toei's announcement, the negatives are lost. This seems to have been the case already back in the 1980s when the same 13 episodes were released on video. The positive news is that the series is made of independent story arcs, 1-13 episodes each. The DVD release contains the first two stories (episodes 1-6 and 7-13) in their entirety. The final story arch (episodes 14-26) is missing except for the first episode (14). It's a shame because that story looked very cool, but at least the first two stories can still be enjoyed.

* Original title: 新七色仮面 (Shin nana iro kamen)
* Director: Toshiro Suzuki
* Chiba's role: Starring Role
* Film availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (No subs)

7 Color Mask
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Villains
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Can you guess who this guy is?
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That's right! Chiba in disguise.
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Chiba in suit
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Bad guy in phone
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Before Planet Terror! Before Sukeban Boy! The original machine gun leg!
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DVD Art
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 02 Mar 2017, 15:50

Mid-August Commotion (Japan, 1962) [TV] – 2.5/5
Toei's early 1962 release The Escape, which was one of the many films depicting the February 26th Incident of 1936, must have been a success since this movie, released in August, is almost a carbon copy. It is, however, loosely based on a different true story. This one deals with Japan's surrendering in WWII. On August 14-15 the surrendering declaration had already been prepared for broadcasting; however, a group of rebel soldiers attempted a coup d'état (just like February 26th) by invading the emperor's palace. Koji Tsuruta is the hero trying to get the recording out of the house for public broadcasting. It's a standard film that works pretty well once the action begins; however there's a good 45 minutes of talk before things start rolling. Sonny Chiba, who had a tiny role as a solder in The Escape, has a few more minutes of screen time here as a doctor invited to the house as a part of the plot to get Tsuruta out.

* Original title: 八月十五日の動乱 (8 gatsu 15 nichi no douran)
* Director: Tsuneo Kobayashi
* Chiba's role: Small Supporting Role
* Film availability: None / Review format: TV

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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby Guro Taku » 04 Mar 2017, 14:35

HungFist wrote:Samurai Reincarnation (Japan, 1981) [35mm] - 4/5

Sonny Chiba designed the film's action scenes, including the stunning final duel against Wakayama in a burning castle that still makes audiences wonder how the hell did they do that? Reportedly, almost everyone suffered burns during the filming. Modern CGI spectacles look pathetic in comparison.

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I really need to revisit this film sometime soon. A pity there isn't a BD release yet... As for the showdown in the burning castle, I recently read that they filmed that for a full two weeks!

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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 06 Mar 2017, 13:14

I believe Toei has an HD scan available. BD would be nice indeed. The HK dvd has very weak black levels and the US dvd apparently skips one scene due to coding error. I saw the film in 35mm and it looked absolutely magnificent and the print was in perfect shape.

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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 06 Mar 2017, 13:16

Special Tactical Police (Japan, 1963) [TV] - 2.5/5

Special Tactical Police was one of the longest running detective series in Japanese television (801 episodes from 1961 to 1977). The series was also extended to silver screens in 1963 with two feature films. Both films ran approximately one hour and were released as b-features in theatrical double bills. One can only assume they did not do that well as only two films were produced.

The film opens with a woman seemingly committing a suicide by throwing herself under a train. The police, however, suspect things aren't as simple as they seem. Plenty of dialogue driven police work follows until the case is solved.

The original television show shared its theme, format, and screenwriter with the Police Department Story film series. The feature films, however, utilized a different writer and new cast playing the same characters. Sonny Chiba is the first billed actor as one of the detectives, yet he is given very little to do in the film and mostly takes the back-seat. The real star is Toru Abe in a rare good guy role; most fans remember him from yakuza films, in which he nearly always played a back-stabbing, slimebag gang boss.

From a technical point of view, Special Tactical Police is competent enough, but tends to lean a bit too much on talk instead of visual storytelling. It feels less cinematic ,much like a television show episode with a theatrical aspect ratio.

* Original title: Tokubetsu kido sosatai (特別機動捜査隊)
* Director: Koji Ohta
* Chiba's role: Small supporting role
* Film availability: None. Review Format: TV

Toru Abe inspecting crime scene. It's so strange seeing him as a good guy
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Toru Abe drinking coffee; Chiba on the left
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Harumi Sone
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Chiba, Hitomi Nakahara and Abe
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There's a lot of talking on the car phone in the two films...
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Chiba
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The cinematography is pretty stylish in places
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 07 Mar 2017, 10:59

Special Tactical Police: Part 2 (Japan, 1963) [TV] - 3/5
The second and final Special Tactical Police film. This time the detectives are investigating the poisoning of a diva-like fashion model. Plenty of talk ensues until the case is solved. What makes the sequel a notch better than the first movie is the final 10 minutes, which packs the kind of emotion and intensity that were largely missing from the first film. The movie also comes with occasional beautifully shots that capture the early 60s urban landscapes via black & white widescreen cinematography. Sonny Chiba's role is unfortunately once again minor. Although he has a decent amount of screen time, he only has a handful of lines.

* Original title: Tokubetsu kido sosatai: Tokyo eki ni harikome (特別機動捜査隊 東京駅に張り込め)
* Director: Koji Ohta
* Chiba's role: Small supporting role
* Film availability: None. Review Format: TV

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Abe
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Chiba in the background
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I think this is a simple, yet beautiful shot
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Chiba
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 07 Mar 2017, 11:50

Decree from Hell (Japan, 1964) [TV] - 2/5
While Toei's gangster movies are best remembered for the chivalrous ninkyo movies (roughly 1963-1972) and the documentary style jitsuroku movies (roughly 1969-1977), there also existed a third sub-genre that we might simply call "contemporary gangster film". Decree from Hell belongs to this genre, and like many others of its kind, it suffers from the lack of strong genre identity. Chiezo Kataoka is a gangster boss who barely escapes an assassination attempt by Toru Abe's evil gang. A gang battle ensues. This is a forgettable time waster with a fairly routine storyline, a bit of action and some humour. There's quite a bit of focus on the gangsters' families and gangs, including Sonny Chiba as Kataoka's teenage son who wishes to gave no part in the criminal business. The film is a part of a very loosely related series of "Hell" movies, all starring Kataoka.

* Original title: Jigoku meirei (地獄命令)
* Director: Shigero Ozawa
* Chiba's role: Small supporting role
* Film availability: None. Review Format: TV

Kataoka
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Chiba
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Chiba
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 08 Mar 2017, 05:38

Tale of Japanese Burglars (Japan, 1965) [DVD] - 3/5
A bit slow, but eventually powerful tale of a professional burglar who witnesses a far bigger crime. Years later, after he has gone straight and started a family, he discovers innocent men have been sentenced for death for a crime they didn't commit - but he cannot testify in their favour without revealing his own crimes. Despite the thriller plot, the film is in equal parts a family drama and a critique on police and government corruption. Rentaro Mikuni is quite excellent in the lead role and keeps the film interesting even during the very long build-up. Sonny Chiba appears as assistant defence lawyer - his role, which comes during the last half an hour, is brief but very good.

* Original title: Nippon dorobô monogatari (にっぽん泥棒物語)
* Director: Satsuo Yamamoto
* Chiba's role: Small supporting role
* Film availability: Toei DVD (JP) (no subs)

Mikuni
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Fantastic shot
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Chiba
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Chiba
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 09 Mar 2017, 05:16

Bitches of the Night (Japan, 1966) [TV] - 3/5
A well made, atmospheric, although remarkably tame exploitation melodrama about a playboy bartender (Tatsuo Umemiya) who pretends to be gay in order to approach women. He is in cahoots with another opportunist, a young woman (Mako Midori) who trying to seduce a rich married man. Their attempts at making easy money can only end tragically. This is a rather aged morality tale about the sinful life in urban metropolis, but captures the era, the bars and the cityscapes very nicely. It's also becomes quite interesting and touching when Umemiya fools a naive country girl (heartbreakingly played by Reiko Ohara) into living with him. Sonny Chiba makes a very brief appearance as a policeman looking for his sister. He only has two scenes. The film was part of the "Night / Yoru" series, which consisted of very loosely linked movies where Umemiya plays pimps or other such characters.

* Original title: Yoru no mesuinu ( 夜の牝犬)
* Director: Shinji Murayama
* Chiba's role: Small supporting role
* Film availability: None. Review Format: TV

Umemiya on the right
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Chiba as a policeman
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Chiba
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Ohara
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Midori
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 11 Mar 2017, 07:23

Game of Chance 2 (Japan, 1967) [TV] - 3.5/5
This is an odd series for each of the three films represent a slightly different breed of yakuza films. The first movie was an off-note ninkyo drama about a somewhat dishonourable yakuza gambler and single father (Chiba) looking after his 6 year old son (Hiroyuki Sanada). The sequel is a much more typical ninkyo film with all the usual genre elements and themes, but oddly enough Chiba has now gone from a gambler (bakuto) to a street vendor (tekiya), which is a different sub-genre of yakuza films. The father-son relationship between Chiba and Sanada works wonderfully again, and although Chiba may not have been a yakuza film star comparable to Takakura or Tsuruta, his youthful energy distinguished him from most other actors. Only Chiba could pull off such extremes as wild snow fight with his son only moments before a melancholic ninkyo walk to enemy headquarters and near certain death. The film's snowy winter setting also adds its own flavour to the film and helps it overcome some uninspired, occasionally incoherent screenwriting.

* Original title: Zoku rokyoku komori-uta (続浪曲子守唄)
* Director: Ryuichi Takamori
* Chiba's role: Starring role
* Film availability: None. Review Format: TV

Taro Hitofushi. The films were inpired by his song, which was also used as the theme song
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Chiba
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Kunie Tanaka
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Reiko Ohara
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Chiba and Sanada
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 14 Mar 2017, 05:28

Game of Chance 3 (Japan, 1967) [TV] - 3/5
This must be only yakuza film series where each film focuses on a different breed of yakuza. This time Chiba's character, who was a gambler in the first movie and a street vendor in the second, becomes a forestry worker with a small honourable clan harassed by a villainous gang. The ninkyo tension rises from conflict between the hero's will to set things right and his promise to stay away from yakuza life. Another typical ninkyo element walks into the film in the shape of Tetsuro Tamba who is after Chiba to avenge his brother. "It was a fair duel and I hold no grudge, but I cannot let the man who killed my only brother live" he says. The film is well made, but it does feel very familiar after the previous two entries. The continuity seems a bit confusing at first until Chiba's dead wife walks into the frame and the viewer realizes the series has rebooted itself at some point. Hardly rare in yakuza films of the era, but usually the filmmakers remembered to inform the viewer of it.

* Original title: Shusse komori uta (出世子守唄)
* Director: Ryuichi Takamori
* Chiba's role: Starring role
* Film availability: None. Review Format: TV

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Chiba and Sanada
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Tamba
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Sanada
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Posters
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Re: Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

Unread postby HungFist » 15 Mar 2017, 04:04

Here is the theme song for the Game of Chance films, performed by Taro Hitofushi
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exGprMKGZ1I


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