Starring: Shin’ichi Chiba, Saburo Date, Koji Fujiyama, Tooru Hanada
Directed by: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba is a martial arts “manimal” in the ultra-70’s, 100% bizarre mixture of horror, action and sci-fi that is Wolf Guy, one of the rarest and most sought-after cult films produced by Japan’s Toei Studio. Based on a manga by Kazumasa Hirai (creator of 8 Man), and never before released outside of Japan, it’s a genre film classic waiting to be discovered and a completely unclassifiable trip into phantasmagoric funk.
Chiba stars as Akira Inugami, the only survivor of a clan of ancient werewolves who relies on his supernatural powers to solve mysterious crimes. After a series of bloody killings perpetrated by an unseen force, Inugami uncovers a conspiracy involving a murdered cabaret singer, corrupt politicians, and a plot by the J-CIA to harvest his blood in order to steal his lycanthropic powers! At the same time, Inugami also discovers the truth behind his family heritage, and that he may not be the last of his kind.
Directed by B-movie genius Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (Sister Streetfighter, Wandering Ginza Butterfly, Karate Bear Fighter), Wolf Guy truly is one-of-a-kind, with Chiba in full effect as the part-man, part-wolf, all-karate action hero and a collection of familiar 1970’s Toei actors in support. Violence, action, nudity, real surgical footage, and a psychedelic musical score all work together to create an unforgettable trip to the heights of Japanese cinematic weirdness.
Arrow Video’s release of Wolf Guy is presented in an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1 aspect. My overall impression of the film’s transfer was unimpressive to a certain extent. I understand resurrecting a film of this caliber and reproducing the inconsistent cuts and pops of the films original transfer. The upside of the transfer was the consistency of softer visuals that complimented the color palette as well. Improvement with my 4K Ultra HD television with enhanced HDR really made my experience of this film worth the 86 minute length of this film. Still with settle sharpness and clarity throughout the film, I still feel the transfer could have been better for my viewing pleasure. If you own a 4K television with HDR, I highly recommend it, if not then you can pass on this film.
Wolf Guy is featured in a LPCM Mono audio track in it’s original Japanese audio. Aside from the PQ being mediocre at best, the audio pushes its ratings a bit higher than PQ. The soundtrack to the film was satisfactory, with clear dialogue and unnoticeable clicks and pops. Overall a consistent transfer with an exceptional score makes this audio experience well worth it.
Overall I am 50/50 with this release. A split decision, but being a fan of this film, I am satisfied. I would have loved to see better treatment of this film, but the special features makes up for it. I am a big fan of Japanese cinema, so to find out Arrow Video was releasing one of my favorite films in it’s exceptional packaging, I was thrilled. If you are a fan of this film, give this release a shot. Arrow Video usually doesn’t disappoint, but they might have hit a minor thud on this one.
Production release: Toei Tokyo
Video release: Arrow Video
Number of discs: 2
Runtime: 86 minutes
Case: Standard amaray clear case
Release date: May 23, 2017
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1, Original 2.39:1
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC, 1080p
Japanese: LPCM Original Mono