Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 29th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1970
Director: Yukio Noda
Writer: Fumio Konami, Yukio Noda
Cast:Sonny Chiba, Ryohei Uchida, Osman Yusuf, Fumio Watanabe
|Approximate running time:||86||83|
|Aspect Ratio:||4.3 Pan and Scan (Full Frame)||2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen|
|Sound:||Dolby Digital Stereo English & Japanese||Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese with English subtitles|
|DVD Release:||Ground Zero||Optimum Asia|
|Region Coding:||Region 1 NTSC||Region
Ground Zero’s Region 1 DVD
Optimum Asia’s Region 2 DVD
The police raid a drug deal that is happening in bus parked in the airport parking lot. Ishigurio and his rat faced sidekick with an unsightly overbite are helped by Hayata (Sonny Chiba) an undercover cop who dresses flamboyantly in a broad-brimmed hat and leather pants. After they are safely away from the pursuing police Ishigurio invites Hayata to a friendly game of cards at his boss’s night club. Hayata is broke in no time and when he is unable to secure a loan from Ishigurio’s boss Mr. Mano leader of the Seiwa gang fate intervenes in the form of masked assassins. Hayata saves Boss Mano’s life and in return is offered a job within his organization. In order to fully expose local Marijuana racket Hayata is forced to go deep undercover. Will Hayata expose all those involved before they rub him out?
Ground Zero’s transfer is a mess as it is not only cropped it also suffers colors bleeding into each other and the overall image is so soft a times it becomes blurry. Optimum Asia’s transfer breathes new life into this film with vivid color palette and healthy looking flesh tones. The image is sharp through out and there are no problems with compression or artifacts. Overall the Optimum Asia’s did an exceptional job and there really isn’t anything to complain out as there transfer is nearly flawless.
Ground Zero’s audio suffers from distortion and hiss, still these things are only a minor setback when one takes into account that have the film is in Japanese without any English subtitles while the other half is in English. Optimum Asia’s release comes with only one audio option the films original Japanese language track that is presented in a Dolby Digital stereo. The dialog is sharp as it is always easy to follow and understand. There are no problems with hiss or distortion. Overall this mix presents the dialog, music and effects as each sound even in tone and pitch as they never drown the other out. English subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included.
There are no extras included for the Ground Zero which is no surprise since they dropped the ball on the audio/video presentation of The Assassin. To their credit they have included a second feature which also features Sonny Chiba; unfortunately it looks and sounds just as bad as their Assassin release. Optimum Asia comes with the following extras 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, The Bullet Train, Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment and Time Slip.
The clear winner like it was even close is Optimum Asia’s release which excels in everyway making it a worthy addition to every hardcore Sonny Chiba fans collection. Also both releases appear to be uncut and identical in content with the difference in time due too PAL’s 25 times per second versus NTSC’s 30 times per second.
Note: Yakuza Deka: The Assassin is also available as part of Optimum Asia’s Sonny Chiba collection volume 1 which also includes Yakuza Deka and Killing Machine.