First off, let's get two things straight. Sonny Chiba does NOT star in this film despite his name being printed in block capitals on the front cover - he captures the audience whenever he is on screen yes, but he is not in a starring role. Secondly, do NOT expect an action film like the other films in the Chiba series on this label (Street Fighter, Golgo 13, Killing Machine etc.) The Bullet Train is a thriller. So at first I was a little disappointed, as I had been expecting to see Chiba cracking some bones. Fortunately, this film really stands up on its own merits. The concept has been rehashed in the abysmal hollywood film 'Speed', but don't let that put you off as this film is so much deeper than that. I am not normally a fan of this genre, but I really got into this film because of the intense storyline and moving flashbacks. This film could be enjoyed by adults and children alike, that is if your children can put up with subtitles. As for the DVD, it's marvelous. It has been beautifully remastered, and comes in its original Japanese language with optional English subtitles. Extras? Nothing significant other than the original trailer and a few Chiba trailers, but overall great justice has been done to this film. To summarise I highly recommend this film and this release of it to you, but if what you're after is Chiba's usual brand of manly violence, look elsewhere.
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 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.
Optimum's release is the uncut subtitled version in a decent 2.35:1 widescreen transfer (though the colour is nothing to write home about). Extras are limited to trailer, poster gallery and a selection of trailers to Chiba's action films.