17 June 2017

WOLF GUY and COPS VS. THUGS: A DOUBLE BILL OF FANTASTIC JAPANESE CRIME DRAMAS. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.


WOLF GUY and COPS VS. THUGS: A DELICIOUS DOUBLE BILL OF TOEI STUDIO CLASSIC FILMS OUT NOW ON SPECIAL RELEASE FROM ARROW VIDEO.
REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

WOLF GUY. (1975) BASED ON THE MANGA BY KAZUMASA HIRAI. DIRECTED BY KAZUHIKO YAMAGUCHI. STARRING SONNY CHIBA.

COPS VS. THUGS. (1975) DIRECTED BY KINJI FUKASAKU. STARRING BUNTA SUGAWARA.

You guys are in for a real treat if you like Japanese cop dramas from the 'Seventies made by the legendary film production company known as Toei Studios. Two of Japan's most iconic directors have each served up a fantastically generous helping of cop dramas for your delectation, each featuring the legendary yakuza warriors, beautiful nudie Japanese women and exciting shoot-outs in exotic places.

One of them, WOLF GUY, even throws in a supernatural element for you as well, just for fun. Let's start with WOLF GUY, shall we, an extraordinary piece of work that I'd heartily recommend to you guys to watch if you haven't already seen it.

Famous Japanese actor Sonny Chiba plays Akira Inugami, the only survivor of an ancient family of werewolves who uses his super-powers to solve crimes. Aw, that's so sweet, using his powers to fight crime. If only all super-heroes were so civic-minded, haha.

Anyway, in the film our man comes up against a former cabaret singer and continuing heroin addict called Miki, who has been terribly wronged by the gangsters of whom she's run afoul. To punish Miki, the gangsters order her to be gang-raped, which hideous act leaves her with syphilis. Poor, poor Miki. The gang-rape is partially shown on-screen and it's pretty damned harrowing to watch.

Miki's desire for revenge takes on a very strange and terrifying form. I guarantee that you won't have seen anything like this before. I won't tell you about it for fear of spoilers. I'm very good like that. Well, I am now, anyway...!

When I first started out in the reviewing business, I used to blurt out the endings of films willy-nilly because I thought that that was how it was done. Now I'm a little more careful. By the way, Bambi's mother dies halfway through the movie! Sorry. Couldn't help that. It just came out, I swear...!

Anyway, the Japanese equivalent of the CIA, known rather cleverly as the J-CIA, decide to harness Miki's new powers and use them for the purposes of bumping off undesirables. It isn't long before Miki and Inugami the Wolf Guy, one of these so-called 'undesirables,' come face-to-face in the showdown to end all showdowns. But Miki doesn't want to kill the Wolf Guy, surely? Like every woman who comes into contact with him, she loves the bleedin' bones of him...

What's so funny about the film is the way that women just throw themselves at the handsome Wolf Guy, probably sensing the barely-disguised animal in him. The biker chick from the J-CIA peels herself out of her biker leathers to reveal a perfect naked body that's just crying out to be loved all over by the Wolf Guy. He's a jammy bloody beggar, if you ask me.

Taka is the beautiful girl who sides with him when he returns to his home village, which was destroyed when he was a chubby-faced little bambino by the same bandits who killed his beloved mother. Without any prompting whatsoever from the Wolf Guy, she strips herself stark-nekkid and offers him the use of her fabulously-proportioned body so that he may experience some 'relief,' as she calls it.

Akira is only too happy to take Taka up on her kind offer. He revels in the 'mothering' he gets from her perfect bosoms and he tells Taka happily that he feels like she has 'given birth' to him by her actions. It's all very Oedipus Complex and a bit pervy but maybe sexually-active werewolves take a different view of things to us humans. Anyway, check out the Wolf Guy's extremely prolific sex-life. Betcha anything he's getting more of it than you or me...!

COPS VS. THUGS stars the marvellous Japanese actor Bunta Sugawara. He was also the star of the director Kinji Fukasawa's superb five-film series of crime movies, BATTLES WITHOUT HONOUR AND HUMANITY. In those films, he played a yakuza.

In COPS VS, THUGS, you might be forgiven for thinking that, once again, he lines up with the crimmos. In actual fact, however, he's very much on the side of law and order this time as he aligns himself with the cops, playing a super-tough detective by the name of Kuno.

As usual, gang warfare between rival yakuza gangs is the order of the day. Kuno, whose wife has left him and taken his son with him, is a cop who finds himself in the metaphorical firing-line when a new police lieutenant comes to town.

The new guy, who likes to do everything strictly by the books, is determined to stamp out corruption on the force. He has an especial dislike of cops fraternising with criminals, in particular detectives cosying up to yakuza and suchlike.

This is where this 'new broom,' which as we know always likes to 'sweep clean,' clashes with Kuno. Kuno's best friend, his brother in spirit, is a fully-fledged yakuza called Hirotani, a lieutenant for the Ohara clan. The Ohara gang, by the way, are currently engaged in beating the living shite out of rival gang, the Kawades, and vice versa. It's a bloodbath out there.

Kuno and Hirotani's alliance runs deep. In a scene singled-out by the film critics as being especially moving and powerful, Kuno gives Hirotani shelter and, most importantly in the critics' eyes, he gives him food, when Hirotani is on the run from the cops after a shooting.

This simple act of human kindness earns Kuno a friend for life in the grateful Hirotani. Similarly, when Kuno sees the injured Hirotani diligently washing up his rice bowl after devouring its contents, Kuno heartstrings are violently tugged and he knows he'll never hand Hirotani over to the long arm of the law.

But now it looks like Kuno's going to have to make a choice between his police badge, and all the responsibilities that that entails, and his friendship and working relationship with his blood brother Hirotani. Which way will Kuno jump, and what will be the consequences of his choice? Whichever decision he makes will affect someone. Will Kuno choose responsibility and duty, or will he go with the call of his heart?

There's a very funny scene here which bears mentioning. Kuno and a colleague are beating up a suspect they've got in custody. They really go to town on the guy, even going so far as strip the fella naked while continuing to slap him around vigorously.

What's funny about it is this. In one of the special features that come with the film, we hear that the actor getting the beating was really into it. I mean, he was so enthusiastic that he asked the other two actors, the ones that were pretending to be pounding him, to really lay it on him and hit him for real. Which they did...!

Now, either there's one guy who really takes his craft seriously, in which case good for him. The alternative is to think that someone had distinctly masochistic tendencies and really enjoyed a good going-over, like Moe the Bartender (desperate for human contact as always) from THE SIMPSONS when he was getting walloped by the guys at the railway station in the episode about Grampa Simpson and Marshall Goldman. As Moe said then: 'You don't get a good beating like this nowadays...!'

Anyway, both these superb films, each made in 1975 by Toei Studios, are out now on special release, in a Dual Format Edition, from ARROW VIDEO. Separately, not together, I might add. This is in conjunction with FETCH PUBLICITY. 

They each come complete with an array of spiffing extra features and, if you like your yakuza dramas, you'll positively adore these two special examples of the genre. Here are the extra features for WOLF GUY:

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
High Definition digital transfer
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original uncompressed mono audio
New optional English subtitle translation
New video interview with actor Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba
New video interview with director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
New video interview with producer Tatsu Yoshida
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Wes Benscoter
First pressing only: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Patrick Macias and a history of Japanese monster movie mashups by Jasper Sharp


And here are the extra features for COPS VS. THUGS:

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
High Definition digital transfer
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original uncompressed mono audio
Optional English subtitles
Audio commentary by film scholar Tom Mes
New video interview with film scholar & Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane
Sympathy for the Underdog, a new visual essay on Fukasaku's career by Marc Walkow
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ian MacEwan
First pressing only: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film

How d'ya like them apples, then...?


AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com















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