Arrow Video has always done an excellent job of exposing me to cult classics and foreign oddities on Blu-Ray. One of their most recent releases is one of the most entertaining and nonsensical Japanese exploitation films I have ever seen. The name of the film is Wolf Guy. Yep… Wolf Guy. I was excited to watch the film because it stars one of my favorite Japanese B-Movie actors – Sonny Chiba. I was also excited because of Arrow’s unique track record of showing me some of the strangest films imaginable.
Wolf Guy begins with a man running frantically through the streets of Tokyo. He is screaming that a tiger is after him and everybody assumes that the man is on drugs. He bumps into Wolf (Sonny Chiba) – the last of a tribe of werewolves called the Inugami. Sensing trouble, Wolf follows the man into an alley where the man promptly screams out that “Miki turned into a tiger” before his shirt rips open and he seems to be torn apart by an invisible tiger. Wolf is taken to the police department and then released. Wolf’s partner picks him up from the station and he begins to investigate the man who died. Turns out the man was part of an unruly gang that also happened to play in a band together. They had raped a woman named Miki to give her Syphilis and keep her from marrying a politician’ s son. Three out of four had died mysterious circumstances and Wolf tries to figure out what is causing these deaths and who the shadow organization is that is controlling this terrible power. Every time Wolf meets a woman she immediately sleeps with him.
Essentially, Wolf Guy is incredible. It is one of the most over-the-top nonsensical movies I have ever seen. The movie is all about excess with lots of martial arts, half cocked conspiracies, strange sexual intrigue, funky music, and Sonny Chiba. This movie will not be for everybody. In the special features the director and producer both admitted that they phoned this one in and did not care about it. What they don’t realize is that they have created something that borders on fantastically bad art. It reminded me a little of some of Seijun Suzuki’s crazier output in a good way. If you like exploitation films from the seventies (Think Golgo 13) and Japanese exploitation this should be a blast for anybody willing to just take the ride. So strange.
Video: How’s it look?
Arrow did a solid job on the transfer of the film using an MPEG 4 AVC codec. The transfer looks pretty good that Toei provided, but don’t expect any miracles. Keep in mind that this film was pretty low budget and not taken care of as much as some other films in the Toei library. This film is a pretty soft-focus film. The filmmaking itself is probably to blame more than the transfer, but people expecting this movie to suddenly look as sharp as more recent Japanese films may be disappointed. This film looks similar in appearance to Bullet Train from Twilight Time. This will more than likely be the best-looking that this film will ever be unless some crazy person decides to give this the full 4K treatment!
Audio: How’s it sound?
The audio treatment of Wolf Guy is good but has a few noticeable issues. Being a LPCM Mono track, it can be expected that range is limited to the two front speakers. The funky soundtrack is incredible and so much fun, but during some scenes there are some really noticeable distortions. This is most noticeable during Mimi’s night club singing act, but occurs occasionally elsewhere. I still though the track was engrossing, but don’t expect perfect clarity out of this one.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Kazuhiko Yamaguchi: Movies With Guts – (1080p, 10:31) an awesome interview with the director who openly admits not caring about this film whatsoever.
Toru Yoshida: B-Movie Master (1080p, 17:30) a great interview with the prolific producer that sheds light on how Toei was run during its most productive time. Toru also shares that he didn’t really care about this film that he produced at all. Fantastic!
Sonny Chiba: A Life in Action Volume 1 – (1080p, 14:31) an excellent interview with the legendary Chiba. Chiba discusses how he acts with his whole body and tries to save his face for when he really needs it amongst other great little nuggets. I can’t wait for Volume 2!
The Bottom Line
Wolf Guy is one of the most absurd and absurdly entertaining pieces of exploitation imaginable. I am giving this film high rankings for two reasons:
I could easily watch this again tomorrow and will definitely show it to friends that are down with stuff like this.
The supplements are fairly short but all of them are fascinating and weave a picture of a film that was not really focused on by anybody involved. The technical specs are good despite some minor issues that may annoy some people. If you are looking for something a bit off the beaten path, this may be the ticket for you! I am so excited that Arrow has already announced that they will be bringing more Sonny Chiba flicks stateside later this year!