I love action, I love gore, and I love boobies, so why didn’t Wolf Guy, a Japanese action flick featuring a lot of boobies, lovely gore and pretty cool action from tough guy Sonny Chiba, impress me? It’s quite possible the lack of a coherent story is to blame. The flick throws a story thread at you and says: “this is what the movie is about,” but before you get used to that it throws another plot thread at you and says: “Nah, just kidding, this is what the movie is about” and before you get used to that…and so on and so on.
Yes, the film leads you to believe that Sonny Chiba is going to go all werewolf on bad guys asses, seeing how the film is subtitled “Enraged Lycanthrope”, but sadly, the film goes invisible tiger on our asses instead, with Mr Chiba looking all confused and occasionally jumping around and banging hot babes left and right. Ah, now I see why he took the role.
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.
Wolf Guy doesn’t seem to know what story it wants to tell. It starts off with Chiba investigating reports of an invisible tiger attacking gangsters and ripping them apart in gory fashion. The cause is a girl by the name of Mika, who was raped and given syphilis. The Wolf Guy himself goes head first into finding Mika and tries to bed her, syphilis and all. As for Chiba’s werewolf abilities, on the 15th day of each Luna cycle, Chiba will be invincible, so he plans on fighting a bunch of guys to protect Mika.
Wait, no that isn’t the plot. The film leads you to believe it is, but instead, once Chiba finds Mika, he is abducted and experimented on, and we have a new girl who previously instantly fell in love with the hairy dude, and she happens to work for some secret government agency… I think. So, now Chiba is hunted down by a half human/half wolf and the action goes through the roof… ha-ha, just kidding!
Wolf Guy is actually about Chiba wanting to go home and be at peace. Of course, going home also means bedding the local hot girl and instantly falling in love together and confessing he has been reborn, and he sees this local girl as his mother/lover. What the what? Anyway, cue explosions, more invisible tigers and a sad excuse for an ending.
Wolf Guy is scatterbrained. It doesn’t know what story it wants to tell the audience. If it would settle on one and stick to the cool gore and righteous titties, maybe then I can enjoy the damn film. Instead, I’m almost getting into one story, and then they pull the rug out from under me and waste time setting up another story I don’t care about; whereas that time could be spent on more action and titties.
Having said all that negativity above, I should probably mention the Arrow Video Blu-ray that has recently been unleashed on us. TOEI provides the transfer this time around, so it doesn’t have the same quality as something that has been personally overseen by Arrow, but that isn’t to say it’s terrible. In fact, given the quality of the film, the transfer is above acceptable. The same goes for the audio, which doesn’t do anything special but does the job.
The special features consist of the interview kind, with three new interviews with various talking heads, Mr Chiba included. None of them is overly long, but they all are somewhat informative. Rounding everything out is a trailer and a very nice collector’s booklet.
Wolf Guy had the potential to be a wacky, over the top gore fest with tons of nudity, but sadly, pesky story issues get in the way of the fun. Yes, the gore is present, and the nudity is also present, but those story issues drive you out of the film, squandering any fun you were having. Nevertheless, the Blu-ray from Arrow Video is well done and will impress any fans of the movie.
High Definition digital transfer
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original uncompressed mono audio
New optional English subtitle translation
New video interview with actor Shinichi ‘Sonny’ Chiba
New video interview with director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
New video interview with producer Tatsu Yoshida
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Wes Benscoter
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Patrick Macias and a history of Japanese monster movie mashups by Jasper Sharp