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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sonny Chiba Collection Vol. 2, 10 Mar 2010
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This review is from: The Sonny Chiba Collection: Volume 2 [DVD] (DVD)
Whether you like the actual films is purely subjective, but from a technical standpoint this is a top notch collection. All three films are digitally remastered and feature anamorphic 2.35:1 AR, original Japanese audio (in Stereo 2.0) with great English subtitles. Special features include the theatrical trailers for each film in the collection + other trailers.

Personally, apart from The Street Fighter trilogy, G.I. Samurai and Golgo 13 are my favorites of Chiba's. It's worthy to note that the version of G.I. Samurai in this collection is FULLY UNCUT.

If you're not familiar with Chiba, though, I suggest you pick up The Street Fighter Box Set first: The Street Fighter / Return Of The Street Fighter / The Street Fighter's Last Revenge [DVD]
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent., 18 May 2006
By 
This review is from: The Sonny Chiba Collection: Volume 2 [DVD] (DVD)
GOLGO 13:

This film is not quite typical Sonny Chiba fare, but contains enough manliness and violence to satisfy any Chiba fan. I have not read the comic that this film is based on, but it is obvious that the film takes a lot from the James Bond series. It oozes style especially thanks to its funky soundtrack, and while Chiba doesn't get as much screen time as in his other films, when he is present he really dominates the screen with his strong silent charisma. I highly recommend this film to any fan of Sonny Chiba and to anyone with a passing interest in gangster films. As with the street fighter, he's not exactly a 'good guy' but he really commands respect.

THE BULLET TRAIN:

This film is rather out of place in this boxed set, seeing as Sonny Chiba doesn't have a starring role. It still comes highly recommended and may be the best 'thriller' I've seen, but don't expect a bone-cracking action flick. It's basically like later Hollywood film SPEED, but with less cheese and it has story flashbacks typical of Japanese films. I won't say anything more about the plot.

G.I. SAMURAI:

This film is fantastically violent, with tanks, rocket launchers and armies of samurai. What's more it has Sonny Chiba! Seriously, this film is so manly it will make you cry. The only thing wrong with it is the god awful japanese pop music soundtrack, and half of it is sung in english in a 'trendy' kind of way. Still, this can be overlooked given the sheer arse-kickery going on.

All three films come with a Japanese language track and well scripted, easily read english subtitles. All three films come in their seemingly original aspect ratios, have been remastered and the picture is nice and sharp. You might want to turn the colour down on your TV a little in GOLGO 13, as this one has been the most heavily remastered of the three. Not much in the way of extra features, just some film posters.

I highly recommend this boxed set, and other Sonny Chiba releases on Adness and Optimum labels.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth it for G.I. Samurai alone!, 8 Sep 2006
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sonny Chiba Collection: Volume 2 [DVD] (DVD)
Pop quiz: there's a bomb on board and if you go under 50, it'll go off. What do you do? Well, if you're a Hollywood studio, you move the bomb from The Bullet Train and put it on an L.A. bus and hope that no-one reminds you that Japan did it first in 1975 with this Takakura Ken movie. More a typical 70s disaster movie than a thriller, with all the stock characters onboard - yes, including the hysterical businessman and obligatory pregnant woman - Takakura Ken broods magnificently as ever as the bad guy with a grudge and a supply of explosive devices while Sonny Chiba is almost lost in the crowd as the driver on the train trying to prevent the big bang (no, he doesn't hit anyone for once). Shame it's so dull. There are a couple of mildly interesting plot twists and there's a surprising emphasis on the family of extortionists who are far more sympathetic than the clichéd and irritating passengers or the bungling cops, but there's no reason for it to stretch out to more than two-and-a-half hours. There's also a curious sense of constantly being outside the action, as if a passing spectator rather than a participant. One occasion where Hollywood definitely did it better.

Pop quiz #2: you're a part of the modern armed forces in peacetime on routine manoeuvres and you find yourself thrown back in time with a chance to change history. What do you do? Well, if you're a Hollywood studio, you change the Japanese G.I.s in G.I. Samurai (aka Timeslip) to the crew of an American aircraft carrier, have them debate stopping Pearl Harbour for 90 minutes and then go home and hope that no-one reminds you that Japan did it first and with more balls in 1979 with this Sonny Chiba movie (and this time, he DOES kill people: lots more people). But unlike its Hollywood counterpart, The Final Countdown, this sees its premise through: thrown back 400 years into the Japanese feudal wars, its peacetime soldiers decide that their best hope of getting back lies in provoking history by trying to change it by joining with a warlord to conquer the country - cue lots of tank and helicopter vs. samurai action, including a very impressive unrelenting 25 minute battle sequence featuring a cast of thousands inflicting serious damage on each other. And yes, there are decapitations. Of course, things don't go as planned, and even superior firepower doesn't stand up as well as hoped to thousands of soldiers. Even before that, the soldiers are falling out with each other into those who want to go home, those who want to go to war and those who want to rape and pillage for the Hell of it.

Impressively directed and surprisingly well thought through, the soft rock and country and western songs are sometimes a distraction, especially when they feature English lyrics sung by Japanese singers who audibly can't pronounce the words let alone speak the language, but it's a forgivable flaw in a surprisingly good sci-fi actioner. Optimum's UK DVD is a good transfer of the uncut 138-minute version (it was hacked down to 85 minutes in the US), albeit with 40 seconds of cuts of illegal horsefalls.

Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment is an enjoyable 1977 live-action version of the long-running Japanese comic strip about the adventures of an unstoppable assassin, here played with more than a slight nod to Eastwood's Man With No Name by Sonny Chiba in a vividly realised Hong Kong that seems to be populated almost entirely by Japanese. To date, no-one seems to have gone to the trouble of ripping this off quite so comprehensively. The UK DVD transfer is one of the best I've ever seen for a 70s film, boasting a surprisingly pristine 2.35:1 image great color.

All three films feature the same extras - theatrical trailer for these and Optimum's other Chiba titles, poster gallery and text biography.
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