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Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

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  • New addition to my wall: Yakuza Deka: Poison Gas Affair (やくざ刑事 恐怖の毒ガス) (1971) B0 poster (approx. 100 x 141cm)

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    • That is super rad.
      Rock! Shock! Pop!

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      • Wow! That is sweet!

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        • Hard Core Chocolate released three new Chiba t-shirts on Saturday.
          https://core-choco.shop-pro.jp/











          Deadly Battle in Hiroshima actually sold out online in 10 hours (ALL sizes), but I managed to grab one a few minutes before they were gone, albeit in L-size (M suits me better). They announced they'll be getting more stock next month so I might order the M alongside Karate Inferno later, or I might just settle for the L which might be more future proof, haha.

          Takuma
          Senior Member
          Last edited by Takuma; 06-27-2023, 12:40 PM.

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          • More Chiba coming to DVD via Best Field (who do most of the Toei catalogue releases these days as Toei seem too lazy to bother with physical media). They will be releasing the two Narcotics Prostitution G-Men films (1972) and the short lived but good detective TV show Emergency Line (1976) in September. Here’s hoping someone will pick them for a BD release in the UK or US, particularly the first Narcotics Prostitution G-Men aka A Narcotic’s Agent’s Ballad which I think is one of Chiba’s best movies.

            https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B0C6K5QL92
            https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B0C6K7J3HM



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            • Coming 11/14/23.

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              Rock! Shock! Pop!

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              • This is an absolutely fantastic set!

                The Defensive Power of Aikido (1975) is one of the very best and most neglected Japanese martial arts movies. The screenplay by Koji Takada is basically a martial arts version of a ninkyo yakuza film, pitting two fundamentally honourable men (Jiro Chiba as young and reckless Morihei Ushiba, and Sonny Chiba as a gun for hire bodyguard working for villains) against each other. Great scrip dealing with honour and duty conflicts, and fantastic action especially between the two Chiba’s. Etsuko Shihomi appears as well.

                13 Steps of Maki (1975) is another absolute gem! If The Defensive Power of Aikido was a martial arts version of a ninkyo film, then this movie is a martial arts version of a Pinky Violence film with Etsuko Shihomi starring as a girl gang leader, and basically the only female in the entire film who doesn’t lose her robe. Lots of entertaining action and it even turns into a women in prison film for a while. I’ve been praying for a home video release for decades, and travelled to Tokyo twice to see this in 35mm. Chiba only does a cameo, though.

                Some readers here may be aware of this, but in Japan Karate Warriors (1976) is often considered a loosely related 4th film in the Street Fighter series despite Chiba playing a different character. The film’s Japanese title Kozure satsujin ken is literally a crossover between Love Wolf and Cub (Kozure ookami) and Street Fighter (Satsujin ken), though there’s also a heavy dose of Yojimbo thrown in. It’s karate meets katana, and you get to see Chiba fight with both swords and empty hands. And sometimes both at the same time! And let’s not forget about the incredible slow motion trick that was later used in Shogun’s Ninja and Soul of Chiba, where you see a slow motion move that reverts back to normal speed for a second just at the moment of impact and then back to slow motion. It’s ridiculously cool and fun to watch!

                The Great Okinawa Yakuza War (1976) is a legendary, insanely violent true account yakuza film set in Okinawa briefly after the island was returned to Japan from USA, which opened the floodgates to mainland yakuza invading the island. It even got banned in Okinawa in fear that it would initiate another gangster war. Someone once summarized the film as being what would happen if Sonny Chiba’s character from The Street Fighter had decided to join the yakuza. Hiroki Matsukata stars, but Sonny Chiba steals the show as a homicidal, karate obsessed yakuza psycho. Also listen carefully and you can hear the music tune that would later be used in Tomoyasu Hotei’s Battle Without Honor or Humanity which plays in Kill Bill.

                Karate for Life (1977) is the last film in the Oyama trilogy and also Chiba’s last karate movie as a leading man. It was the end of an era. It’s not one of Chiba’s best efforts, but it has some of his very best fight scenes such as the Chiba vs. 100 karate student opening and a fantastic final duel against Masashi Ishibashi, not to mention the Enter the Dragon rip-off mirror hall fight.

                Golgo 13 (1977) is another film that doesn't need big introductions. Chiba plays the world’s most badass assassin, and even John Woo seems to have copied one scene from this to The Killer. It’s frankly not the greatest movie ever made with some clunky stuff in it, including a non-charismatic Chinese co-lead, but it’s a very entertaining trashy action picture full of sex, violence, martial arts and some delightfully nonsensical bits, filmed on location in Hong Kong. Etsuko Shihomi is in it too. A saw this a few years ago in 35mm on a huge screen and kind of had a blast with it. Just approach it without expecting great art.

                The Okinawa War of 10 Years (1978) is another true account yakuza film based on the Okinawa conflicts. This was made in the late 70s when yakuza films were starting to tone down sex and violence in favour of plot and characterization, and isn’t as outrageous as Okinawa Yakuza War. It however features one of Chiba’s most charismatic turns as a yakuza boss trying protect his family in the middle of a gang war. And Chiba’s bearded look alone is enough to make straight man question their sexual orientation! Great machine gun climax as well. A small if flawed gem that is long overdue on home video!

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                • Amazing stuff!

                  I've only just finished off the first Shout set to be honest, but as you say Takuma, this one looks great - a couple of absolute bangers, a couple I currently only own as sketchy-looking DVD-rips, and a couple I've never seen but would like to ASAP.
                  https://breakfastintheruins.blogspot.com/
                  http://stereosanctity.blogspot.com/

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                  • Some more info on the Shout! set...

                    https://cityonfire.com/sonny-chiba-c...y/#more-132170

                    Brace yourself for seven more high-octane films from the legendary career of Sonny Chiba! This second box set offers thrilling highlights from Chiba’s highly influential legacy, and some of these films are making their North America Blu-ray debut. Greatly missed by his legion of fans, Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba – The “Street Fighter” – remains an icon for all time!

                    DISC ONE:

                    THE DEFENSIVE POWER OF AIKIDO

                    (1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1), DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, 82 min.)

                    Jiro Chiba tackles the role of Morihei Ueshiba, born in Wakayama to a farming family and destined for martial arts greatness as he learns from the masters (including brother Sonny Chiba) and develops his own well-polished Aikido.

                    13 STEPS OF MAKI

                    (1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1), DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, 78 min.)

                    Based on a comic book, 13 Steps Of Maki follows the leader of the all-female Stray Cats gang who use their fighting skills to help others. But when Maki crosses the daughter of a powerful man with connections to the yakuza, she winds up in prison on false charges.

                    DISC TWO:

                    KARATE WARRIORS

                    (1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1), DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, 89 min.)

                    A street fighter (Sonny Chiba) arrives in a town ruled by two warring gangs headed by feuding yakuza brothers. He does everything he can to keep them feuding while tracking down a lucrative stash of drugs and befriending the son of a sword-wielding samurai …

                    THE GREAT OKINAWA YAKUZA WAR

                    (1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1), DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, 95 min.)

                    Co-starring alongside Hiroki Matsukata, Sonny Chiba makes for a striking, animalistic gangster battling his way through the streets of Okinawa in this eye-popping martial arts powerhouse set one year before the return of power to the mainland.

                    DISC THREE:

                    KARATE FOR LIFE

                    (1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1), DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, 90 min.)

                    The final film in the Masutatsu Oyama trilogy, Karate For Life follows our hero through US-occupied Okinawa, where he leaves a professional wrestling job … but must return to the ring in order to help a friend in desperate need of medical supplies.

                    GOLGO 13: ASSIGNMENT KOWLOON

                    (1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1), DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, 92 min.)

                    International spy Duke Togo has taken on a tricky assignment from an American drug syndicate: take out a Hong Kong kingpin who has been selling their drugs on his own. Duke faces danger at every turn … and competition from a detective who wants the kingpin for himself!

                    DISC FOUR:

                    THE OKINAWA WAR OF TEN YEARS

                    (1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1), DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, 101 min.)

                    It’s brother against brother and friend against friend when Okinawa is returned to mainland Japan … and the local yakuza does not take kindly to being strong-armed by mainland gangs. The result is mayhem and the biggest yakuza war ever fought in Okinawa.
                    Rock! Shock! Pop!

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                    • So excited to finally get those Shout Factory Chiba blu-ray sets. I put them on my Wishlist thinking they were some the least offensive genre films I could get as gifts. It took longer than I had wanted to finally get my hands on them, but they were worth the wait.

                      So with my newfound enthusiasm for Sonny Chiba I ask the group, what Chiba film are most hopeful will get a quality HD physical release?

                      I was going to say my choice would be a Bodyguard Kiba double feature with commentaries and supplements to add context to the films, but it appears Eureka has us covered. Awesome!

                      Next up, I would love to see Dragon Princess get an upgrade.

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                      • Originally posted by Jason C View Post


                        So excited to finally get those Shout Factory Chiba blu-ray sets. I put them on my Wishlist thinking they were some the least offensive genre films I could get as gifts. It took longer than I had wanted to finally get my hands on them, but they were worth the wait.

                        So with my newfound enthusiasm for Sonny Chiba I ask the group, what Chiba film are most hopeful will get a quality HD physical release?

                        I was going to say my choice would be a Bodyguard Kiba double feature with commentaries and supplements to add context to the films, but it appears Eureka has us covered. Awesome!

                        Next up, I would love to see Dragon Princess get an upgrade.
                        Not to side track your future Chiba film wishlist topic, but since you have an impressive collection of his films on display here, I figured I ask: for a Chiba novice, what film/blu-ray release would you recommend? I vaguely remember seeing shitty quality VHS copies of a few of the Street Fighter films back in the late 90's, but I haven't revisited his work since then. (I kind of stayed away because I don't need yet another film obsession to deplete my funds!) What's a good, action packed film to start with?

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                        • Originally posted by Vincent Dawn Jr View Post

                          Not to side track your future Chiba film wishlist topic, but since you have an impressive collection of his films on display here, I figured I ask: for a Chiba novice, what film/blu-ray release would you recommend? I vaguely remember seeing shitty quality VHS copies of a few of the Street Fighter films back in the late 90's, but I haven't revisited his work since then. (I kind of stayed away because I don't need yet another film obsession to deplete my funds!) What's a good, action packed film to start with?
                          Not that this was directed at me - but all things Chiba start with The Streetfighter and its immediate sequels which are featured on blu-ray in The Streetfighter Collection (Shout Factory, I think).

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                          • Arrow’s releases are a good starting point. Their UK Street Fighter set utilizes the latest Japanese masters for all three films. Shout uses US prints instead, and for the third film which was heavily cut upon its original US release they used VHS inserts for the missing and censored footage.

                            Arrow’s UK/US The Executioner set is great as well (other than the Mark Schilling booklet being full of errors), and the films should please any fan of the Street Fighter films. Well, the first film at least. The 2nd movie is more a madcap comedy and a huge favourite in Japan, but not very well liked by Western audiences.

                            And while not being really Chiba films, Arrow’s UK (slightly censored) and US (uncensored) Sister Street Fighter set is a must!

                            And let’s not forget my favourite Chiba film of all time (and the only film I’ve viewed three times in one day… in 35mm!), Wolfguy, which is a crazy mix of city noir, science fiction and werewolf mythology… with karate of course! Arrows US/UK BD available.

                            As for Shout, their two Sonny Chiba Collections offer fantastic value for money and plenty of good films. Vol. 1 has Bodyguard Kiba 1&2, Yakuza Wolf 1&2, Swords of Vengeance, Samurai Reincarnation, and Shogun's Shadow. Vol. 2 has 13 Steps of Maki, The Defensive Power of Aikido, Golgo 13, Karate Warriors, Karate for Life, Okinawa Yakuza War, Okinawa 10 Year War.

                            Karate Bullfighter and Karate Bearfighter are essential and have HD masters available, but not released on BD yet.

                            Originally posted by Jason C View Post
                            So with my newfound enthusiasm for Sonny Chiba I ask the group, what Chiba film are most hopeful will get a quality HD physical release?
                            Dragon Princess is one of my most wanted titles. Toei did a brand new HD scan a few years ago so all that’s needed is someone to pick it up!

                            Really hoping for A Narcotic’s Agents Ballad (aka Narcotics / Prostitution G-Men). It’s one of Chiba’s best films and one of the best Japanese crime films of 70s. The sequel is good, too. HD masters gave been available for almost 10 years now

                            A dream come true would be Army Intelligence 33 (1968), a superb mix of WWII spy noir and commando action, but this doesn’t have an HD master available sadly.

                            Chiba’s TV output would be most welcome too. The Bodyguard (unrelated to Bodyguard Kiba) is an absolutely awesome hard-core karate action series with Chiba working for a private bodyguard company. And The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy, which is often considered the greatest work in Chiba’s entire career, is incredible and was recently scanned in HD.
                            Takuma
                            Senior Member
                            Last edited by Takuma; 12-28-2023, 12:57 PM.

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                            • Ok, thanks fellas! Now I have a sense of where to begin the journey.

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                              • Originally posted by Vincent Dawn Jr View Post

                                Not to side track your future Chiba film wishlist topic, but since you have an impressive collection of his films on display here, I figured I ask: for a Chiba novice, what film/blu-ray release would you recommend? I vaguely remember seeing shitty quality VHS copies of a few of the Street Fighter films back in the late 90's, but I haven't revisited his work since then. (I kind of stayed away because I don't need yet another film obsession to deplete my funds!) What's a good, action packed film to start with?
                                I don't think you could go wrong with anything that's been released on Blu-ray. The Shout collections have more variety so that might be the best starting point. Volume 2 has some of my favorite Chiba films.

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