Actor Shin’ichi “Sonny” Chiba is a legend amongst American fans of Japanese genre cinema. Known mostly in the U.S. as Hittori Hanzo, master bladesmith of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films, he was a star of 60’s, 70’s and 80’s Japanese action cinema, including Golgo 13 and the famous Streetfighter series. No less revered by these same fans is director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi who was responsible for part of the Delinquent Girl Boss series, the Wandering Ginza Butterfly films, and Sister Streetfighter, along with the genuinely strange cinematic amalgamation of genres, Wolf Guy.
Chiba stars as the Wolf Guy, the last of his race of wolf-like shapeshifters, who by day is a hardnosed reporter always in search of a lurid expose. The plot is much too convoluted to attempt to explain on paper. Suffice to say that Wolf Guy—a real man’s man, afraid of nothing—becomes embroiled with a clandestine group associated with the J-CIA, a cursed rock group, and a syphilitic—and possibly psychic– woman with a hatred so deep she can conjure invisible tigers to gore her enemies with just her thoughts! Sound strange? Believe me, I’m not doing the story justice.
Interestingly enough, and likely due to severe budget constraints, Wolf Guy never actually becomes a wolf. But on the 15th day of each Lunar Cycle, he does gain super powers that allow him to survive multiple gunshot wounds and other traumatic, and normally deadly, injuries which magically heal by the light of the moon. Good thing all the bad guys waiting until Wolf Guys powers were at their height before trying to kill him….
Featuring a ridiculous plot and no actual werewolf, Wolf Guy is nonetheless a fun and unique slice of Japanese genre cinema. The film is fairly short, running just south of 90 minutes, and is chock full of karate fights, violent gun play, explosions, beautiful topless women, and a fair amount of pretty bloody if not terribly realistic gore, including some arterial geysers that would make Lone Wolf and his Cub proud.
The whole affair is an entertaining mash-up of horror and sci-fi, yakuza, and pinky elements. Even for a production plagued by little money, director Yamaguchi shows his flair and creativity for low-budget filmmaking while Chiba does what Chiba does. He frowns and scowls across the screen, taking bullet hits and throwing deadly punches, taking on all comers, often several at a time.
Apparently this was once considered a lost film. I’m not sure how or when it was relocated, but I’m sure glad Arrow Video sank their hairy paws into it! This is just another in a long line of examples of how Arrow Video is able to track down not just genuine genre classics and well-known cult films, but also little-know diamonds in the rough and give these rarely seen flicks an entirely new cinematic life. If this isn’t enough, just stick around folks, as later this summer Arrow is releasing another Chiba vehicle entitled Doberman Cop as well as the extremely hard-to-find by highly sought-after and very entertaining slasher flick The Slayer. God Bless Arrow Video!
The film looks great and is presented in both standard DVD and Blu-Ray. The musical score is also a high point as well. And, as fans have come to expect, Arrow has seen fit to include several nice extras on the Wolf Guy disc including the theatrical trailer, a new video interview with Chiba, a new video interview with Yamaguchi, and a new video interview with producer Tatsu Yoshida. The first pressing also features a collector’s booklet with new writing by Patrick Macias and Jasper Sharp. This is simply a can’t-miss package and is newly available through Amazon or directly from Arrow at: http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/category/usa