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Sonny Chiba reviews


#1

All Sonny Chiba reviews are welcome. Even short ones are useful. If you are reviewing a dvd, please include some some information about the DVD.



10 Faces Of Sonny Chiba

Released by Brentwood



The Street Fighter

The Street Fighter is one of Chiba’s best movies. Chiba plays a mercenary who �Ain’t so much of a good guy as he’s just a bad motherfucker� (Clarence Worley -True Romance). This movies made Chiba one of the coolest guys it the world. Or at least the meanest. Street Fighter is filled with cool action scenes, superb soundtrack and and a great attitude. This is martial arts exploitation at it’s best.

8/10



The DVD

I haven’t watched this dvd because I already own Street Fighter double pack released by Diamond entertainment. I think my version is a little bit better, but this looks good, too. It’s presented in original aspect ratio (non anamorphic) with classic english dub. For some reason there’s also a chinese dub included (no subtitles). If you want a better version, get Optimum’s region 2 UK release. It features anamorphic transfer and original language track.





Return of the Street Fighter

The second film in the Street Fighter series was a disappointment to me. It lacks the good action of the first film. Cool soundtrack isn’t used as effectively as it should. Chiba’s new sidekick is irritating. There’s a long and totally unnecessary flashback from the first film. There are other problems too, like bad editing and too dark scenes. But it’s not all bad. Chiba is as charismatic as ever. Violence is as over the top as you would expect.

4/10



Haven’t watched the dvd, but looks quite acceptable. Non anamorphic widescreen version dubbed in english. Again, R2 UK dvd is a better choice.





The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge

Chiba returns to his role as Terry Tsuguri in this under-rated film. There’s not much of that over-the-top violence that made the first two films so famous. But that doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be a healty dose of quality action. Street Fighter’s Last Revenge is a bit more serious and less exploitation than it’s predecessor, but it’s an higly enjoyable action flick.

7/10



The DVD

This is the best dvd in the set. A good quality non anamorphic widescreen version with the usual english dub.

5/10

Note: I don’t know if this is cut or not, but I heard R2 UK release runs many minutes longer.





Sister Street Fighter

Wow, I was expecting a cheap rip off on Street Fighter series, instead I got a kick ass karate classic. Well, at least I consider this a minor classic, but I’m not sure if anyone else agrees with me. Etsuko Shihomi plays a sweet little girl kicking some serious yakuza ass. Sonny Chiba only has a small supporting role, but that’s not a bad thing. This movie works on it’s own, having Chiba there is a nice bonus. The movie surprises by offering plenty of good quality fight scenes. Nice soundtrack and a simple but decent kung fu plot also help. At the beginning there’s a couple of dead moments, but otherwise this is cheesy martial arts entertainment at it’s best.

8/10

(Note: This was the fourth Chiba film I watched in a row, so the rating may not be the most reliable one)



Presented as an acceptable widescreen version (non anamophic) with english dub. Not such a great presentatinon but not awful either. This is the R rated version. Uncut version has never ben released outside Japan, but there has been rumours of western release coming later this year.

4/10





The Bodyguard

â€?The path of the righteous man and defender is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness…â€?.

The second big surprise is that Chiba plays himself in this film. His not a movie star, though. Instead he is a bad ass crime fighter famous all over the world. In order to fight against drug dealers he decides to work as a bodyguard, hoping to find out who is the head of the drug ring.



The Bodyguard is a petty good Chiba film, even though I’ve read many negative reviews. It’s well made and has a decent plot, too. The finale even has some spaghetti western feel in it. Unfortunately the action scenes are not so great, mosty because of fast editing. It’s nevertheless an enjoyabe Chiba film with many interesting elements.

Note: This is an American version of the film (originally called Karate Kiba) featuring newly filmed footage at the beginning. The new footage is actually quite hilarious.

6/10



The DVD

The Bodyguard surprises with it’s moderately good picture quality. At first it look pretty bad but it gets better and better as the film advances. The only serious problem is that it’s a full screen version. The sound quality is almost acceptable. During the first 20 minutes there’s some irritating hiss but after that it’s fine.

Note: Upcoming UK release will most likely be superior.

3/10



Continues…


#2

Karate Warriors

Another entertaining Chiba flick. The plot is somewhat similiar to Yojimbo/Fistfull of Dollars. Chiba plays a stanger who tries to benefit of two yakuza gangs fighting against each other. Chiba also meets a little boy whose father works for the opposite gang. The best thing about Karate Warriors is action scenes. There’s plenty of well done fights, and even some really cool slow motions. The movie combines exploitation and more serious elements succesfully. Karate Warriors reminds a bit of Street Fighter movies. It works well if you don’t take it too seriously.

Note: There’s a scene where Chiba has his katana with him in a train, just like The Bride had her sword in a plane in Kill Bill.

6/10



The DVD

Presentation is absolutely horrible. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dvd looking this bad. The picture is not too dark, but otherwise there’s nothing good to say about it. Soundtrack sucks, too. The dialogue is very unclear at times. Especially an un-native english speakers like myself may have hard time following the dialogue.

1/10





Legend of Eight Samurai

I didn’t have high expectations for this film, even though it was directer by Kinji Fukasaku (Battle Royale). I was positively surprised to find out this was a very good film. Legend of Eight Samurai combines samurai movie and fantasy. Kind of like a combination between Conan The Barbarian, Seven Samurai and A Chinese Ghost Story. The movie doesn’t have very good action scenes, but it does have something that Chiba films often lack: a good story. Everything from visual look to cheesy 80’s pop soundtrack works well. Chiba is not the main character in this film, but he has an important role nevertheless.

7/10



The DVD

Full screen version and the usual dubbing. Get the new DVD from Ventura (Sonny Chiba Collection) instead.

3/10





Samurai Reincarnation

â€?Master Jubei, if you encounter god, god will be cut. If you encounter an evil spirit, then it will be cut. This is the greatest sword ever made by…â€?

This film had so much potential. Sonny Chiba plays a legendary character of Jubei Yagyu in this samurai fantasy directed by the great Kinji Fukasaku. Tomisaburo ’Lone Wolf’ Wakayama plays Jubei’s father. The talented martial artist Hiroyuki Sanada has a supporting role, and then there’s this one good looking chick whos name I don’t know. Yet nothing works. The movie is boring, has bad action scenes, and of course the dvd sucks too. For some reason many people seem to like this movie. All reviews I have read are praising Samurai Reincarnation. Aside great actors and a nice finale, I really can’t find any good things about this movie.

2/10



The DVD

Bad quality full screen transfer with bad dubbing. This is more serious film than most Chiba flicks, so the dubbing is even bigger flaw than usually. But the worst thing is that this version is cut by 30 minutes. The running time of the dvd is 89 minutes. If you want to see the film, get Tokyo Shock’s release, which runs 118 minutes (even that version is cut by 4 minutes).

Note: Comparison review: <LINK_TEXT text=“http://www.10kbullets.com/reviews/samur … arsion.htm”>http://www.10kbullets.com/reviews/samuraireincomparsion.htm</LINK_TEXT>

2/10





Dragon Princess

This is another film in which Chiba plays only a small supporting role. The real star is ’Sister Street Fighter’ Etsuko Shihomi, who plays Chiba’s daughter. She’s pretty good on action scenes, but otherwise the film isn’t too impressive. It has some great scenes, but some boring ones too. The film benefits from having Yasuaki Kurata in one of the supporting roles. Below average karate-revenge movie.

4/10



Full Screen presentation makes action scenes hard to follow. I think the original aspect ratio was 2.35:1, so we are missing about 40% of the picture. The picture quality is horrible, almost as bad as Karate Warriors.

1/10





Shogun’s Ninja

Lets start from pros and cons. The good things: It’s got Sonny Chiba, there are ninjas, Etsuko Shihomi is cute. The bad things: almost everything else. The film actually starts well. There’s a short action scene with really cool music playing on the background. Then there’s another nice action scene which shows that the star of the movie, Hiroyuki Sanada, is capable for some impressive fight action. We also find out that Chiba the villain in this movie. This where the good things end. The rest of the movie is partly so bad that is actually good, but also partly so bad that it’s just plain bad. The soundtrack is quite hilarious at first, but later it really gets on your nerves. And there’s some guy called Hattori Hanzo, too. But believe me, it’s nothing to get excited about.

3/10



The DVD

At first everything looks good. Bad, but not terrible transfer. But that’s okay, cause it’s a widescreen version. Well, sort of. Judging by some burnt in japanese text that appears in a couple of scenes, this is a full screen version with black bars added to top and bottom (that japanese text doesn’t fit the screen because of the black bars). In other words, this seems to be double cropped version. Ventura will release an anamorphic version of this film this summer.

1/10



Verdict:

Some excellent movies, many good ones and some really bad films. All are dubbed, and only Street Fighter movies are presented with their original aspect ratio. For 15$ this is a good buy, but if you want to be able to fully enjoy these films, you shoud get better versions. However, these discs have plenty of nostalgic grindhouse feel in them. Unfortunately this 5 disc set is now out of print. Ebay seems to be the best way the get this box set.

Note: There’s some confusion about the region code. It’s often stated to be region 1, but my copy is definitely region 0 (NTSC). I can’t be 100 % sure, but I belive all copies are region free.


#3

The best version currently available of the three Street Fighter films on DVD is via Optimum Asia’s region 2 Street Fighter box set. There is a region Street Fighter box set that is currently being out together that will include not only the original Japanese language track it will also include the English dubbed track. A beautifully re-mastered Sister Street Fighter DVD should be out before the end of the year. I have heard rumors about the upcoming region 2 The Bodyguard DVD, but have been unable to confirm if it is nothing more then a rumor. There is a region 1 DVD in the works for Karate Warriors by the same company who will be releasing the Street Fighter trilogy in region 1. I agree Adness’s region 1 Legend of Eight Samurai release blows away all of the public domain releases of this title. Too bad about Tokyo Shock messing up and forgetting a whole scene in Samurai Reincarnation since the DVD beside this missing scene is near perfect with an interview with Chiba. The good news is that a complete version of Samurai Reincarnation was recently released in region 3 that is completely uncut. I have heard rumors of a possible legit release of Dragon Princess; still there has been no info to confirm this title is coming anytime soon. Adness this summer will be releasing on August 23rd a beautifully re-mastered and fully uncut version of Shogun’s Ninja that will put to shame Brentwood’s transfer. The 10 Faces of Sonny Chiba is was a great set for anyone who is just getting into to the films of Sonny Chiba so that they can get a diverse overall of his work in several genres. Sure the set can be found relatively cheap, still in the end you get what you pay for movies that not only are cropped and cut they also look like crap. The Adness and Optimum Asia Sonny Chiba DVD’s despite costing more are the only way to go if you really want to see Sonny Chiba in action.


#4

Yagyu Conspiracy a.k.a. Shoguns Samurai



The best samurai film of the 70’s. Chiba plays Jubei of course. Great Visuals. About two sons fighting for power after their father dies. Second one is going to be picked so the first one poisons him. Directed by the great Kinji Fukasaku(Battle Royale).

9/10


#5

Golgo 13:

My favorite Chiba starring film. A great character in the hitman Golgo, and a good mix of gun play and martial arts.

7/10

DVD:

Bad, bad, bad, but it has original language and english dubs, and that’s something…It’s also the only version available.

2/10


#6

[quote=“helu”]
Golgo 13:

DVD:

Bad, bad, bad, but it has original language and english dubs, and that’s something…It’s also the only version available.

2/10
[/quote]

I think it (US dvd by Crash Cinema) only has english and chinese dubs (I’m not sure, though). But a remastered UK dvd of Golgo 13 will be released September 19th 2005. With the original japanese soundtrack, of course.


#7

The Executioner

This movie has a reputation as �the meanest Chiba movie yet�, but I didn’t see anything so special it. Sure, it’s got plenty of extreme violence, but hey, this is the guy who ripped the guys balls off and fed them to a dog (The Killing Machine). The movie starts well. First we get to see an assassin killing his victims is a very mean way. Soon after that we are introduced to Chiba’s character, and find out he plays a ninja in this film. I usually hate flashback scenes showing how our hero trained hard when he was a kid, but this time is an exception. We get to see how an old japanese master trains young Chiba (played by 14 year old Hiroyuki Sanada) into a deadly ninja.



The story is a bit confusing at first. Chiba and a bunch of other guys are hired to stop some drug dealers from operating in Japan. The story is quite simple actually, but weird pacing and editing makes it harder to follow than it should be. Overall this is a pretty typical crime thriller filled with martial arts sequences. Unfortunately Chiba never wears a ninja outfit. The action scenes are not bad, but the editing and camera work feel somehow a bit restless, with camera constantly moving to some direction. Though it’s possible that I was just tired while watching this film and that had an effect on me. Anyway, the final 10 minutes offer some really cool fight scenes. Overall Executioner is a very typical Chiba film. Not one of his best, but still very enjoyable.

6/10



DVD

Great job from Adness. A very good looking and sharp presentation with original mono soundtrack. The only extras consist of trailers.

8/10


#8

I watched Shogun’s Ninja again, this time from the remastered Adness dvd. The old dvd was, as I suspected, double cropped. It means the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio had first been cropped to 1.33:1 (full screen) and then black boarders had been added ON the image to make it look like widescreen. This means Brentwood dvd is missing approximately 60% of the image. Action scenes were very hard to follow as people were literally fighting off-screen. Of course the great colors were also totally ruined by the shitty transfer.



Watching the film remastered in it’s original language with 60% more image made me totally change my mind about it. The action scenes were very good, and I loved the beautiful scenery and visual look. The soundtrack is still getting on my nerves, but everything else is great. Especially the opening fight scene (which took place off-sceen in Brentwoods dvd) is just pure magic. 8/10 (I’ve seen about 1500 movies and I have never raised a rating this much. Though I’m positive I would give 3 or 4/10 again if I had watched the old Brentwood dvd instead of Adness’s beautiful remaster).



Brentwood vs. Adness comparison review: <LINK_TEXT text=“http://www.10kbullets.com/reviews/shogu … arison.htm”>http://www.10kbullets.com/reviews/shogunsninjacomparison.htm</LINK_TEXT>


#9

Sister Street Fighter 1-3 should be out on Region 1 DVD this year uncut with English subs. The American company BCI is using the same masters Toei used. I have the Region 2 uncut Japanese DVD from Toei for Sister Street Fighter and I cannot tell you enough how badass it is to finally experience this film in all its glory. Easily one of the highlights of my year. It doesn’t have English subs but man I couldn’t wait a day longer from experiencing this film uncut.


#10

[quote=“badassmovieman”]
Sister Street Fighter 1-3 should be out on Region 1 DVD this year uncut with English subs. The American company BCI is using the same masters Toei used. I have the Region 2 uncut Japanese DVD from Toei for Sister Street Fighter and I cannot tell you enough how badass it is to finally experience this film in all its glory. Easily one of the highlights of my year. It doesn’t have English subs but man I couldn’t wait a day longer from experiencing this film uncut.
[/quote]


Hey, you are just like me :D I just received my french Street Fighter Box Set (HK Video) which features Chiba's Street Fighters + the first Sister Street Fighter. Apparently HK Video is using Toei's transfer for Sister. I'm gonna order the R2J's for parts 2 and 3 next month. I haven't watched the dvds yet, but all films seem to have great transfers.

A few more mini-reviews:

[b]Karate Bullfighter[/b]
The first part in the Matutatsu Oyama trilogy (very loosely based on real life character). The action choreography is great, but the action scenes suffer from bad camera work and editing. The fight scenes are still enjoyable, but undeniably �too fast�. Surprisingly the rest of the movie works better. Chiba is as cool as ever, and the film is filled with beautiful images and great music (including Champions of Death, also featured in Kill Bill Vol. 1)
7.5/10

[b]Karate Bearfighter[/b]
This is one of Chiba’s best films. Great action choreography, lots of fighting, improved camera work, great visuals (the final fight on the beach looks terrific on Adness’ superb transfer) and even pretty decent characters.
8.5/10

[b]Karate for Life[/b]
The opening scene is pure Chiba. Matutasu is bored, so he decides to humiliate a local master by beating his 100 students and the master himself. After the great opening the film gets a bit slow. The storyline consentrates on wrestling tournament, which wasn’t the smartest idea. However, the film remains entertaining, and offers some nice action scenes.
6/10

[b]Shogun’s Shadow[/b]
Damn, this is what I’ve been looking for. Ever since I got through Lone Wolf and Cub films I’ve been highly depressed because I though I would never find anything that great again. Shogun’s Shadow isn’t a LW&C beater, but it comes close. Excellent action choreography, fast paced story (even though the film runs over 2 hours) and a great 80’s pop soundtrack. Chiba plays the villain of the film.
9/10
[b]
The Executioner 2: Karate Inferno[/b]

Since Ishii was forced to direct a sequel, he decided to take it as over the top as possible. Karate Inferno is more of a comedy than a martial arts/crime film, but that’s not a bad thing. The humour is simply unbelievable (Chiba saving his buddy (who’s clothes caught on fire) by pissing on him..) and even the action scenes are better than in the first film.
7/10

[u]DVDs[/u]
Typical high quality transfers from Adness. Karate for Life suffers from ghosting, and the soundtracks on Bull- and Bearfighter are a bit rough at times, but it’s not a huge problem. The first two parts in the Karate trilogy are the best looking transfers, but the rest are pretty nice, too.

#11

Where did you buy the HK Videos of Street Fighter set at? Sounds awesome. Does it have English subs for any?


#12

[quote=“badassmovieman”]
Where did you buy the HK Videos of Street Fighter set at? Sounds awesome. Does it have English subs for any?
[/quote]

I got it from amazon.fr. Asia-diffusion has it for same price (the site if in french, but easy to use). And no, none of HK Video’s releases have english subs. But they have released lots of excellent stuff like Fist of Legend, Tai Chi Master, The Blade, Drunken Master (full cantonese), Just Heroes (Woo) Shanghai Blues, Terracotta Warrior, some Hideo Gosha films… Everything is uncut, remastered and with original audio/soundtrack.

<LINK_TEXT text=“http://www.asia-diffusion.com/new/liste … %20Vid%E9o”>http://www.asia-diffusion.com/new/liste_dvd.php?critere=2&table=hk_dvd&champ=editeur&action=EDITEUR%20HK%20Vid�o</LINK_TEXT>



The bad thing about HK Video is that their releases come with (player-generated) forced french subs. For me that is not a problem as I add english subs the their dvds myself (and naturally drop out the french ones)



EDIT: forgot to mention, HK Video will be releasing more Chiba films in the future, mostly titles that have already been released by Addness and Optimum. But they also have some new stuff like Dragon Princess


#13

Now did I tell ya, or did I tell ya Shoguns’s Shadow was great. Definitely Chiba’s second best after Street Fighter. I love the credits, tacky jap pop music and you see the guy riding the horse on fire. ;D



By the way was your Karate for Life really poor quality? I kept seeing lines on the friggin white karate uniforms that made my head hurt. It wasn’t some cheap version either. >:(


#14

I do remember you saying great things about Shogun. I was actually going to quote you but couldn’t find that post.



About Karate, I don’t recall any problems other than ghosting. But it was a long time ago when I watched it.


#15

I checked my Karate for Life dvd, and other than some serious ghosting I can’t see any other problems. The dvd is worth buying because there are no alternatives, but the ghosting is rather distracting at times.



I watched HK Video’s Sister Street Fighter and the film was every bit as good as I remembered. I don’t know the exact differences compared to the American version, but the US cut is probably missing some blood spurts, close ups and etsuko ripping a man’s guts out :smiley: As for the dvd, the image quality is very good, but judging by the screencaps I’ve seen, it’s slightly inferior compared to Toei. HK Video seems slighly grainier, brighter and streched, but it is still a great transfer. Toei does look better, but if you already own this french box set, then there’s no reason to get the R2J.



I posted some screencaps from HK Video here:

<LINK_TEXT text=“http://adg.invisionzone.com/index.php?s#entry8526”>http://adg.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=968&st=0&gopid=8526&#entry8526</LINK_TEXT>


#16

Here’s a little Street Fighter dvd comparison between my new and old dvd release.





HK Video (France) vs. Diamond Entertainment (USA)



















These resized pics don’t do justice to HK Video while the US disc actully benefits from small screencaps ;D. Overall HK Video’s transfer is the best this film has ever looked, and it will remain that way till Toei releases it.


#17

“l’integrale” does that mean its uncut or that it has all 3 sequels in it, too?

are there english subtitles or forced french ones?


#18

[quote=“The Seb”]
“l’integrale” does that mean its uncut or that it has all 3 sequels in it, too?
[/quote]

No idea what it means, but all films are uncut. Street Fighter and Return of the Street Fighter seem to be the same versions as the US releases, but Street Fighters Last Revenge appears to be a longer cut. The US dvd runs 79 min (NTSC) while the French dvd runs 80 minutes (PAL), which means the french release is about 4 minutes longer. The British dvd by Optimum also features the longer cut.



Sister Street Fighter should also be slightly longer than the US version. I’m not 100% sure about this, but I don’t recall anyone’s guts being ripped out or Etsuko twisting a guys head 180 degrees in the US version…

[quote=“The Seb”]
are there english subtitles or forced french ones?
[/quote]

Forced french, but naturally not burnt in. I heard some finnish guy is currently working on the subs for the first three films… :wink:


#19

Return of the Street Fighter

Okay, same as before, Diamond Entertainment (US) vs. HK Video (FR)



















I don’t think I have to comment the results…


#20

Does it come with the english dub. The bad guys speach is friggin hilarious.



I will kill you it is written in fate that we would kill each other its amazing what modern science can do like repair vocal cords…