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Packed into this relatively slim-line box set are six movies. All are contemporary thrillers, that is contemporary for when they were all made, that being the mid-70's. Chiba himself is only the main character in three of them. In two, he's a supporting character and in one I can't even remember seeing him though he is listed in the cast. All are, however, generally entertaining and I certainly enjoyed them all. The nudity and sex in some of them surprised me and the violence is often brutal
Bullet Train appears on two discs, in the English language 115 minute version, and the Japanese with English subs 145 minute uncut original. This is by far the best film of the six by a very long long way. It's an ensemble piece which ratches up the tension but finds time to explore the background of the would-be bombers who are portrayed more sympathetically than you'd expect. It's an exceptional film by any standard. Chiba plays the train driver but it's one of the lesser roles and any competent actor could have played the part.
Golgo 13 has Chiba in the lead as a hitman for hire. It's set in Hong Kong, filmed in Mandarin or the other main Chinese language (my apologies for not remembering it), dubbed into Japanese but has an English language track, and is generally good fun.
In Karate Warriors, Chiba is a thug for hire. Arriving in town, he has to decide which gang to go with. Both gangs are after a hidden stash of heroin. You expect that Chiba will be revealed as an undercover cop but her isn't, he's just an efficient fighter with an only slightly higher moral sensibility than the people he works with. English language version only.Read more ›
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I urge every Chiba fan to buy this. Some of the films have only been available in poor dubbed transfers. These are uncut and have the original language track. This is superb and the picture and sound quality is amazing. Definite 5 stars.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
The product description is wrong26 May 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Of course if you are a Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba fan this will be a dream come true; 4 films at an incredible price. The individual films are described elsewhere, so I wanted to correct the product description, from amazon. These are not the old, terribly dubbed english versions in pan scan format at all. Four films, on three dvd's, each film is presented in a beautiful, anamorphic widescreen transfer, featuring sharp images and vibrant color. and most importantly, for once the awful English dubbing is gone. Each film features the original Japanese audio, with optional and excellent yellow english subtitles. (There is no English language option at all) These are the Japan versions of the films as well, much longer, uncut versions never seen in the West. The result is a high quality product at a wonderful price. for the first time these films can be seen the way they were meant to be seen, and not recut and voiced over by some incompetant idiot with no respect for the artistic value of these rare works. just be aware when buying this for the comical effect you remember when you saw the old versions, it is a different experience entirely in the original language. Great product!
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Nice Quality Collection - But Only 3 Legit Chiba Movies13 April 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
Thanks to Quentin Tarantino Sonny Chiba has had a bit of a career revival. Since Tarantino featured a Chiba fanatic main character in his screenplay for True Romance Chiba's been brought back to public attention in the U.S.
Over the last few years many different Sonny Chiba collections have been released on DVD. Some of them are good, some not so good. This one, The Sonny Chiba Collection, is one of the better releases. BCI has again teamed up with Adness to release anamorphic widescreen versions of some of Sonny Chiba's best movies....along with a couple titles that don't really belong in a "Sonny Chiba Collection."
First, the classic Japanese hijacking/extortion film (and the basis for the movie Speed), Bullet Train is included in both the international edit (English dub, 115 minutes) and the original Japanese version (152 minutes). The sound on the international version is pretty thin and tinny, and English dubs of Asian movies is usually mediocre at best - although this one isn't too bad. The Japanese version, however, is very good. The picture quality is excellent for a non-restored print of a 35 year old movie, and the sound is more than acceptable for a film of that vintage. The only downside to this movie (as part of this set)? Not a lot of Chiba. He has a major supporting role, but is not the main character (that role went to the great Ken Takakura). Still, this is a classic thriller (and I would have paid $[...] for an anamorphic widescreen release of the Japanese version by itself).
Golgo 13 is a top notch Chiba movie, where he plays an international hit man. While this one has more action that Bullet Train, it has less action than many of Chiba's samurai or karate movies, and it plays as more of an action thriller than your typical kick ass Sonny Chiba action movie. Don't take that as a negative, however, as the script is actually one of the best Chiba got to work with in a leading role during the 70's. The Japanese audio is again noticeably stronger than the English dub.
Karate Warriors is more of what many Chiba fans go for - out and out action. This time it's a variation on Kurosawa's Yojimbo. Kurosawa this is not - but Kurosawa never got to work with Sonny Chiba, either. Chiba's got IT, and this is one of those movies that really shows his charisma and screen presence. This is one of the stronger movies that Chiba headlined (again, the difference is a decent script), and it is another highlight of the set. English dub only on this one, and while the sound is again a little thin (and sometimes just a tad muddy), it is adequate. The picture quality is uneven, but it is anamorphic widescreen, and it looks much better than most public domain releases.
The Bodyguard has some of that cheese that many people associate with 70's martial artus/karate movies, but it also has a fairly complex plot and a decent script (although, this is one of the 4 movies in the set that do not have the original Japanese audio, so it's hard to tell what the original script was like - it could have been significantly better than the English dub script). There are several good action sequences, and some genuine suspense in this movie. Good to very good picture quality, and the sound is again adequate to good.
Then we get to the two titles that probably shouldn't have been included in this set - Dragon Princess and Sister Street Fighter. Neither one features Sonny Chiba in anything more than a glorified cameo role, and neither one is as good as the other movies in this set. Sure, there is lots of action, and some good fight scenes, but weaker scripts hurt these films. As for the audio? English dubs only, but the sound quality is decent for both. The picture quality is noticeably poorer for Dragon princess (lots of very fine vertical emulsion layer scratches from time to time, and the color level shifts dramatically - whether that's intentional or not I'm not sure). Sister Street fighter fares a little better, but not a lot.
Two of the discs in this set are from BCI's "Grindhouse" series, and that probably explains the inclusion of Dragon Princess and Sister Street Fighter (as they were paired up with legit Sonny Chiba movies as double feature discs, and BCI just used their previously mastered and pressed discs).
Overall, this set (at around $[...]) is a great value and a must have for any fan of Sonny Chiba - or for anyone interested in (or just curious about) Chiba's movies. Considering the [...] this set is Highly Recommended.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A sliding scale of Chiba15 Nov. 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Mill Creek's Sonny Chiba Collection features 4 great Japanese action flicks, all from the late 70s through early 80s, all filled with copious amounts of ass kicking and a varying quantity of Sonny Chiba.
GI SAMURAI is the only film in this set that can be truly said to STAR Sonny Chiba. He plays a JSDF commander zapped back to in time to feudal Japan along with his squad and some very heavy artillery. Their only way to return home . . . is to f%#& up history! Chiba is absolutely glorious in his role as the unstable commander. Some awe inspiring action and touching meditative moments mix with cheeseball J-Pop and an EXTREMELY meandering storyline to create a one-of-a-kind experience. GI SAMURAI!
LEGEND OF THE EIGHT SAMURAI is a no-holds-barred epic fantasy filled with demons, monsters, romance, tragedy, and THE EIGHT SAMURAI! Sonny Chiba has a strong supporting role and gets to mix it up with the demon army. No real karate stuff here, though.
RESURRECTION OF GOLDEN WOLF is a sleazy crime thriller about a brutal thief who lives a daring double life. And that thief is . . . NOT Sonny Chiba! Chiba plays a minor supporting character with an important role in a subplot. The film is very good regardless, and very weird too! "When do we get to Jupiter?"
NINJA WARS, aka NINJA DEATH or DEATH OF A NINJA, is another dark fantasy feature in the vein of EIGHT SAMURAI. Sonny Chiba is onscreen for a grand total of maybe five minutes, but there's enough twisted visions and dark doings [head swapping, puking monks, HELL] to make up for that. Think of it as an unrelated bonus film in the Sonny Chiba Collection.
With anamorphic transfers and the original Japanese audio, you can't go wrong dropping $$$ on this set! [Aside from Mill Creek's awful new packaging - very slick looking on the outside, but the disc storage isn't very practical!]
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Hodge Podge Chiba Collection30 Jan. 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
I bought this collection after the purchasing the vastly superior The Sister Street Fighter Collectionwith high hopes. What is apparent upon opening this collection is that it suffers from being largely an afterthought. Two of the discs (double features of "Bodyguard," "Karate Warriors," "Sister Street Fighter" and "Dragon Princess"-all dubbed) are from the "Welcome To The Grindhouse" series (see Welcome to the Grindhouse: The Bodyguard/Sister Street Fighterand Welcome to the Grindhouse: Dragon Princess/Karate Warriors), and one of the discs is simply inserted in a paper sleeve laid in between the clear DVD holders! To make this collection even more irritating is that both versions of "Bullet Train" were released by the very same company (BCI) along with "Golgo 13" and "Virus" as Sonny Chiba Action Pack [DVD] Virus/Golgo 13/ Bullet Train. So you are getting a bunch of DVDs which were previously released and re-packaged for your enjoyment. For a more coherent collection, I would opt for the "Sister Street Fighter Collection." To add insult to injury, Golgo 13 suffered from a manufacturing defect!
The picture quality is fine in all the films25 April 2015
- Published on Amazon.com
DVD Review: This is a 6 film set. 2 of the discs is the Grindhouse double feature which you could get separately which 1 disc contains Karate Warriors and Dragon Princess and 2 disc contains The Bodyguard and Sister Street Fighter. These four films are all English dubbed (no Japanese w/ subs). Golgo 13 comes in a single disc in Japanese w/ subs and English dubbed. And finally there are 2 versions of Bullet Train on 2 separate discs. On is uncut Japanese version and the other is cut in English. The picture quality is fine in all the films. Some damage but that's how you watch Grindhouse movies you posers!
Movie Review: Golgo 13: Sonny plays a hit man who kills a bunch of drug dealers. This is a good action thriller with gun fights, karate action with a descent story. Not Sonny's best movie but it's entertaining enough. 3 1/2 stars.
Bullet Train: Sonny is a co-star in this movie and does NO KARATE!! I liked Speed and I know Speed was influenced (assuming) by Bullet Train but Bullet Train was s******. It was boring and I didn't care about anyone in this movie. So up yours. 2 stars
Karate Warriors: This is one BAD-ASS MOVIE!! The karate action and blood splatter was superb and the story was easy to follow unlike most Japanese exploitation movies. 4 1/2 stars
Dragon Princess: Sonny is only in this movie for the beginning. This is a Etsuko Shihomi movie where she is on a quest to avenge her father for some s***. This one was okay. I think Etsuko is cute and f***able, the characters are cool and the karate action was neat but the pacing was slow as hell. 3 stars
Sister Street Fighter: THIS FILM RULES!!!! Lots of bloody gory karate action and confusing story about some broad karate kicking people to rescue her brother. I love Etsuko in this movie and I wanna make f*** with her. Sonny Chiba is in this movie but as a character actor more so than a co-star. 4 1/2 stars.
The Bodyguard: The pacing is a little slow but I did like this movie. I don't know why but I did. So shut up! 3 1/2 stars.
Conclusion: Well 3 of the 6 movies are Sonny Chiba films while the others are either a Etsuko Shihomi movie or something. 4 stars for the DVD set.