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Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

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  • #16
    Wow, I never knew Chiba and Fukasaku worked together that early. My hats off to them! Better go and check these out asap!


    • #17
      Originally posted by Takuma View Post
      Do you remember which one? Have you watched it?
      It was titled Vigilante In A Funky Hat so the IMDB says it was this one,.

      And yes, I watched it but it was at least ten years ago and without any subs I honestly don't have much of a memory to fall back on!
      Rock! Shock! Pop!


      • #18
        The Escape (Japan, 1962) [35mm] - 3/5
        An entertaining military / "caper" mix based on the February 26th Incident in 1936, which saw a large number of rebel soldiers attempting a coup d'état in Tokyo. The film shows the raid on the prime minister's house and follows the military police's attempts to rescue the minister, whom the enemy thinks is already dead, without anyone realizing a rescue operation is being carried out. It's a dialogue driven film with some exiting action in the beginning and end. Sonny Chiba has a small role as one of the soldiers. Ken Takakura is the real lead as the head of the military police.

        * Original title: ni ni roku jiken: Dasshutsu (二・二六事件 脱出)
        * Director: Tsuneo Kobayashi
        * Chiba's role: Small supporting role
        * Film availability: Video on Demand (Japan) (No subtitles)

        No screencaps for this as I've only seen it on 35mm (a VoD is available in Japan, though), but here are some stills.


        Chiba on the right

        Senior Member
        Last edited by Takuma; 12-09-2015, 08:43 AM.


        • #19
          I edited the old posts to add information about "director" to each post. I don't know why I didn't do that before.

          Originally posted by Ian Jane View Post
          It was titled Vigilante In A Funky Hat so the IMDB says it was this one,.

          And yes, I watched it but it was at least ten years ago and without any subs I honestly don't have much of a memory to fall back on!
          So, should be the first film.

          I believe there is actually a subbed bootleg of the second film... but I think the first film is the better of the two.


          • #20
            The Kamikazes (Japan, 1962) [VoD] - 2.5/5
            The 1960s saw Japanese war movies becoming popular mainstream hits, and subsequently drifting towards more nationalistic tones after a number of pacifist classics that had played to international recognition in the 1950s. The output ranged from harmless adventures to patriotic melodramas. The Kamikazes leans towards the latter, but it's still a pretty decent movie most of the time. The film follows both kamikaze pilots and human torpedo pilots - the latter being a less commonly discussed but highly interesting topic. Some of the nationalistic emphasis drags the film down, but the battle scenes, both air and underwater, are highly effective. Sonny Chiba has a pretty big supporting role as a kamikaze pilot. It's a solid performance, but not especially memorable.

            * Original title: Minami taiheiyo nami takashi (南太平洋波高し)
            * Director: Kunio Watanabe
            * Chiba's role: Major supporting role
            * Film availability: Video on Demand (Japan) (No subtitles)

            Takakura as a submarine captain

            Tetsuro Tamba is a human torpedo


            ...who plays a kamikaze pilot


            • #21
              Gambler (Japan, 1962) [DVD] - 2/5
              Meiji era set gambling/family melodrama - not a yakuza film like Toei's better known gambler films - by veteran Daisuke Ito, who started directing films in the 1920s. The film looks and feels charmingly old fashioned: especially the beautiful sets seemingly built on a mountain or a big hill facing Osaka are atmospheric. Solid execution all-around. However, it's also very much a teary melodrama - a genre not made for this viewer - with crying scenes coming in ever increasing pace towards the end. Sonny Chiba has a relatively small role as the protagonist's (Rentaro Mikuni) apprentice. Most of his scenes are during the last 20 minutes and don't give him much to do.

              * Original title: Osho (王将)
              * Director: Daisuke Ito
              * Chiba's role: Small supporting role
              * Film availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (No subtitles)

              Rentaro Mikuni

              Chiba on the right

              Chiba again


              • #22
                Love, the Sun and the Gang (Japan, 1962) [DVD] - 2.5/5
                The second film in the Gang series, which is linked only by theme and title. Ken Takakura, Tetsuro Tamba and a bunch of other crooks plan on robbing a casino run by foreigners. Of course, most of the gangsters are merely looking for a chance to double-cross their partners. A decently made but unremarkable, jazz-tuned, highly noirish caper by Teruo Ishii. Takakura stars in one of his early “punk roles”, as opposed to the stoic hero roles he later became famous for. The middle part is quite talkative, but there's some energy to the visual style. Sonny Chiba appears in a small supporting role as a helicopter pilot. He has a couple of good scenes near the end, but the screen time is limited to a couple of minutes.

                * Original title: Koi to taiyo to gang (恋と太陽とギャング)
                * Director: Teruo Ishii
                * Chiba's role: Small supporting role
                * Film availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (No subtitles)


                Takakura and Tamba





                • #23
                  Gang vs. G-Men (Japan, 1962) [DVD] - 4/5
                  The young Sonny Chiba is fabulous in this wildly entertaining Kinji Fukasaku film. It's the 4th movie in the very loosely related Gang series. This instalment sees former gangster (Koji Tsuruta) brought back to action when the police needs his help to bring down a dangerous gang lead by Tetsuro Tamba. Chiba plays an enthusiastic young man who goes undercover even though it's obviously more than he can handle. Critic Mark Schilling aptly described his character as "the seventh samurai" of this story. Though not an all time classic like some of Fukasaku's later movies, it's a very stylish and entertaining film full of 1960s cool. Chiba, bursting with youthful charm and energy, is the film's biggest asset. This is one of his best performances, often leaving superstars like Tamba and Tsuruta in his shadow, and marked the beginning of his best era as an actor.

                  * Original title: Yakuza tai G Men (ギャング対Gメン)
                  * Director: Kinji Fukasaku
                  * Chiba's role: Major supporting role
                  * Film availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (No subtitles)

                  Tsuruta and his gang

                  Bad guy Tamba

                  Enter Chiba

                  Chiba the cool

                  Chiba and Tsuruta

                  Superb shot


                  • #24
                    Tale of A Company Boss: Part 5 (Japan, 1963) [VoD] - 2.5/5
                    The 5th (or 6th, depending on how you count) part in a series of salaryman comedies. Old man Eitarí´ Shindí´, young fella Katsuo Nakamura and future pinky violence comic relief Toru Yuri run a travel agency whose latest customer turns out to be bunch of mischievous elementary school kids. They end up travelling the country with the singing and goofing kids while Nakamura falls in love with their teacher (Hitomi Nakahara from Hepcat in the Funky Hat) and Shindí´ and Yuri have the hots for a geisha. It's not a bad film for what it is: fans of the genre should be entertained, even though the film is hardly exceptional. Fans of Chiba should be warned, though: his role as Nakamura's old student pal is only about 45 seconds.

                    * Original title: Jirocho shacho to Ishimatsu shacho: Yasugi bushidochu (æ¬¡éƒŽé•·ç¤¾é•·ã¨çŸ³æ¾ç¤¾å“¡ã€€å®‰æ¥ã¶ã—é“ä ¸­)
                    * Director: Masaharu Segawa
                    * Chiba's role: Cameo role
                    * Film availability: VoD (Japan) (No subtitles)


                    Yuri with a geisha


                    Shindí´ and Yuri


                    Chiba with Nakahara

                    Nakamura and Nakahara


                    • #25
                      The Loyal 47 Gangsters (Japan, 1963) [VoD] - 2/5
                      A modern gangster film reworking of the 47 Ronin story, where an innocent lord is forced to commit harakiri, but his loyal samurai swear for revenge. In this version Ken Takakura is a young gang boss tricked by the villainous Toru Abe. His underlings, lead by Chiezo Kataoka, start planning for revenge after Takakura dies in jail. Fans of the original story may be interested in seeing how the modern aspect is executed, but otherwise this is a relatively uninspired yakuza film. It doesn't help that it's remarkably slow paced, originally intended as the first half of an epic; however, part 2 never surfaced. The biggest point of interest is probably setting some of the scenes in Paris. Sonny Chiba plays one of the gangsters, but his role is sadly very small and forgettable.

                      * Original title: Gang Chusingura (ギャング忠臣蔵)
                      * Director: Shigero Ozawa
                      * Chiba's role: Small supporting role
                      * Film availability: VoD (Japan) (No subtitles)

                      Takakura and Abe in Paris (see the background)

                      Chiezo Kataoka



                      Chiba loses his temper


                      • #26
                        Yakuza's Song (Japan, 1963) [VoD] - 3.5/5
                        This is one of Chiba's best early starring roles, an enjoyable crossover between Toei's old fashioned yakuza cinema and the kind of youthful love story set in the criminal world you'd find in Nikkatsu's films. Sonny Chiba plays a low ranking yakuza who spends more time enjoying life than doing the yakuza work. He falls in love with a pretty student girl, whose brother (Saburo Kitajima) later gets drawn into the yakuza business against his own wishes. The film is charmingly old fashioned, utilizing many studio sets and Showa era music; however, the film's real strength is the breezy romance between Chiba and lovely Chiyoko Honma. Early/mid 60s was the time when Chiba was at his best as an actor, and here he finds just the right balance between youthful energy and seriousness. It also doesn't hurt the dressing department seems determined to make Chiba look as cool as possible, and that composer Tooru Funamura provides a cool, highly spaghetti esque score. The film may not add anything new to the genre, and the storyline is strictly standard stuff, but as an enjoyable programmer picture the film delivers!

                        * Original title: Yakuza no uta (やくざの歌)
                        * Director: Miki Wakabayashi
                        * Chiba's role: Starring role
                        * Film availability: Video on Demand (Japan) (No subtitles)


                        • #27
                          Kaigun (Japan, 1963) [DVD] - 3.5/5
                          A tale of two best friends in the WWII era Japan. Takao (Sonny Chiba) is a young man enthusiastic about joining the navy to fight for his country. He convinces his best friend Shinji (Kinya Kitaoji) to join him. As it turns out, however, Takao's poor health prevents him from entering the navy while his friend is chosen instead. As time goes by, Takao becomes a painter and changes his mind about the meaningfulness of war and fighting, while his friend goes the opposite path. Meanwhile Takao's sister falls in love with Shinji. This is a well made war time drama with decent characters and good performances. It is especially enjoyable to see Chiba in a very atypical quiet drama role. This is by far one of his most restrained performances, yet his usual energy and youthful charm are constantly bubbling under. Although he is not the film's main character - that is Shinji - his role is pretty major and easily the film's best.

                          * Original title: 海軍
                          * Director: Shinji Murayama
                          * Chiba's role: Major supporting role
                          * Film availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (No subtitles)

                          Young men eager to fight for their country

                          But only Kitaoji gets chosen

                          Disappointed Chiba...

                          who later finds a few life as an artist

                          unfortunately we do not get see when he drew that picture...

                          I'm gonna be heading for Christmas holidays soon, and I'll be leaving my laptop behind, so Chiba reviews will become irregular for the next few weeks. I'll save a few in my email so if I have time, I may post a few every now and then. Expect more next year. I still have more than 3 dozen reviews left...


                          • #28
                            Gambler's Love (Japan, 1963) [VoD] - 3/5
                            Sonny Chiba is a young gambler on the run. He pretends to be an innocent student, and is taken in by an honorable yakuza (Hideo Murata) in Tokyo's Asakusa district. Chiba later falls in love with a beautiful musical actress who is also being looked after by the yakuza clan. This is a decent, very old fashioned period yakuza/romance/drama. Although Chiba is not really the main character - he's the second billed actor - he is very much the film's heart and has a major role. Hideo Murata (not to be confused with Hideo Murota, who also appears in the film) plays the benevolent yakuza leader. He was not only a popular actor during the early years of the yakuza film genre, but also a singer; hence we have him singing in this film as well. The film ends with a massive 3 vs. 30 fight which also contains a pretty long take sideways scrolling take - the same kind that movies like Oldboy would use decades later.

                            * Original title: Asakusa no kyoukaku (浅草の侠客)
                            * Director: Kiyoshi Saeki
                            * Chiba's role: Major supporting role
                            * Film availability: Video on Demand (Japan) (No subtitles)

                            Murata and Chiba

                            Chiba talking to a girl

                            The evil yakuza underlings who are after Chiba

                            More Chiba

                            Bruised Chiba stands by his love

                            Final fight


                            • #29
                              Gambler Tales of Hasshu: A Man's Pledge (Japan, 1963) [VoD] - 3/5
                              This is one of the many films based on the legend of Chuji Kunisada, a wandering gambler and a defender of the weak in the Edo period. In other words, he was the Japanese Robin Hood. In this film Kunisada (Chiezo Kataoka) arrives to a small town terrorized by an evil gang. He insists that he is not Kunisada, as the word is Kunisada has been executed, but of course the audience know better. Sonny Chiba plays an unusual supporting role as a helpless young man unable to defend himself from the gangsters. He does, however, get to play taiko drums and dance with Junko Fuji (who makes her film debut here). Chiba's father, an old judge who helps Kunisada, is played by Takashi Shimura (Seven Samurai). The film hardly anything exceptional, but it's a pretty decent jidai geki / yakuza drama.

                              * Original title: Hasshu yukyoden - otoko no sakazuki (八州遊侠伝 男の盃)
                              * Director: Masahiro Makino
                              * Chiba's role: Major supporting role
                              * Film availability: VoD (Japan) (No subtitles)

                              Kataoka as Chuji Kunisada


                              Chiba and Shimura

                              Chiba and Junko Fuji

                              Chiba playing taiko drums

                              Kataoka vs. bad guys


                              • #30
                                Here Because of You (Japan, 1964) [DVD] - 3.5/5
                                A very enjoyable youth film about two high school kids who aren't exactly in love, but certainly have a bit of love/hate sparks between them. It was a starring vehicle for two young pop stars, Kazuo Funaki and Chiyoko Honma (Yakuza's Song, 1963). However, it is Sonny Chiba as their nice guy gymnastics teacher who ends up having one of the film's best roles. Chiba lands himself in trouble after one of his students hurts himself in his class, and the kid's father begins a smear campaign to get him fired. What results is a high school "court room" session where the double faced adults are accusing Chiba of everything they can think of while his students come to his defense. Director Ryuchi Takamori helmed numerous mediocre action films in the 1960s. This movie, his first as a director, is different. It's full of upbeat energy, good performances, and catchy songs. It an old fashioned movie in the most positive sense.

                                * Original title: Kimitachi ga ite, boku ga ita (君たちがいて僕がいた)
                                * Director: Ryuichi Takamori
                                * Chiba's role: Major supporting role
                                * Film availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (No subtitles)

                                Kazuo Funaki and Chiyoko Honma

                                Chiba as their ramen eating teacher

                                Honma finds Chiba has never washed his dirty socks... he has stored them all in the closet

                                This is hilarious and cute at the same time

                                Chiba and Junko Miyazono

                                Chiba accused of everything

                                Lovely Honma comes to his defense