Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 24th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1977
Director: Yukio Noda
Writers: Takeshi Matsumoto, Nobuaki Nakajima, Takao Saitô
Cast: Sonny Chiba, Etsuko Shihomi, Callan Leung
DVD Released: September 19th, 2005
Approximate Running Time: 89 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
DVD Release: Optimum
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £12.99
Synopsis: On behalf of the U.S. drug syndicate Ricky Brown hires notorious hit man Golgo 13 (Sonny Chiba) to assassinate Chow Lui Fung who has had falling out with the syndicate. Captain Sminny (Callan Leung) currently has Chow Lui Fung under surveillance for drug trafficking and he is about to make arrest when his partner Lin-Li (Sue Shihomi) goes missing. Golgo 13 has found the prefect time and place to dispose of Chow Lui Fung at the dedication ceremony being held on his behalf. Golgo 13 is unable to complete the job when another assassin completes the job right before his eyes. The police now are on the look out for Golgo 13 who is now being blamed for a murder he didn’t commit. Golgo 13 now seeks revenge against those who have double crossed him as he tries to stay one step ahead of the law.
Before Sonny Chiba starred as Golgo 13 there was a Golgo film that was made fours years before that starred Ken Takakura as Golgo 13. Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment is an action filled adventure that visits various exotic locals and has it share of beautiful women. This film does contain many similarities to the James Bond series; still the tone of the two films couldn’t be any more different. Unlike most secret agent or hit man films Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment is a film that never really takes itself seriously which is part of its charm.
The films director Yukio Noda has worked with Sonny Chiba before on several of the Yakuza Deka films. They re-team for Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment and while this film is more hard edge then the Yakuza Deka films there is a quirky humor that is evident in both. Yukio Noda direction is solid through out with my only minor complaint being he fetish for zooming in. All the locations are beautifully photographed and used to there fullest.
The main attraction is of course Sonny Chiba who gives another hard hitting performance as Golgo 13 an assassin devoid of mercy and ready to put a bullet in his next target. Chiba also gets too show off his fighting skills in this one with a few moments rivaling his most brutal caught on film like when he stabs another man in the mouth with a knife. His character also shows a softer side as he befriends as woman who is being beaten in an alley by her boyfriend. When she kills her boyfriend Golgo lies for her when the police question him and later in the film when he is injured and in need of help she returns the favor. This is rarity in Chiba films from around this time in which he shares a romantic moment without force. Even though Golgo isn’t as down and dirty rip your balls off like most of the characters Chiba plays his charisma as an actor makes this film all that more enjoyable. Japan action club regular Sue Shihomi has a brief cameo as undercover agent Lin-li. There really isn’t much in this film in regards to character development which is ok since this film is all about kicking butt and taking names later.
Optimum presents Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original aspect ratio. Optimum just like they had done for their previous Sonny Chiba releases has sourced their Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment transfer from a 35 MM print. Having seen this film via a washed out transfer that almost made it look color and lifeless. An optimum transfer comes as a revelation as the colors vividly come alive and flesh tones look healthy through out. The black levels remain strong through out as there is an exceptional amount of detail present in every frame. There are no problems with compression or artifacts and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum. This transfer is progressive scan as the image remains stable through out and there are no noticeable problems with ghosting or blurring.
This release comes with only one audio option the films original Japanese language track that is presented in a Dolby Digital stereo. The dialog is razor sharp and easy to follow. The music and effects are evenly balanced as they never overpower the other. There are no problems with hiss or distortion. This is one of the best sounding mixes that I have heard so far out of all of Optimum’s Sonny Chiba titles. English subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included.
Once again the extras for this release are the same as the ones included in Optimum’s previous Sonny Chiba collection and they are as follows the films original theatrical trailer and a bio on Sonny Chiba. Other extras include a gallery of original Japanese poster art that includes the following films The Street Fighter, Return of the Street Fighter, The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge, Yakuza Deka, Yakuza Deka: The Assasssin, The Bullet Train, The Killing Machine and two posters for Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment. Rounding out the extras is a Sonny Chiba trailer collection that includes the following titles The Street Fighter, Return of the Street Fighter, The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge, Yakuza Deka, The Killing Machine, Yakuza Deka: The Assassin, Bullet Train and G.I. Samurai. Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment is also available as part of Optimum Asia’s Sonny Chiba collection volume 2 which also includes Bullet Train and G.I. Samurai. Optimum Asia adds another solid entry into their Sonny Chiba collection. This DVD like the U.S. release presents the film fully uncut and uncensored. Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment is another classic Sonny Chiba performance that showcases all of his strengths as an actor, highly recommended.
For more information about Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment and other titles released by Optimum visit their website.