Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 17th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1997 (Black Angel 1), Japan, 1999 (Black Angel 2)
Director: Takashi Ishii
Writers: Takashi Ishii
Cast: Riona Hazuki, Reiko Takashima, Jinpachi Nezu, Kippei Shiina, Miyuki Ono, Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi, Hideo Murota, Shingo Tsurumi, Ren Osugi, Daisuke Iijima, Noriko Hayami, Reiko Kataok (Black Angel 1), Yuki Amami, Takeshi Yamato, Reiko Kataoka, Yôzaburô Itô, Shingo Tsurumi, Susumu Terajima, Eugene Nomura, Noriko Hayami, Daisuke Iijima (Black Angel 2)
DVD released: December 12th, 2006
Approximate running time: 107 minutes (Black Angel 1), 103 minutes (Black Angel 2)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese, Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Black Angel 1: Ikko as a young child witnessed the death of her parents at the hands of assassins. She narrowly escapes death when a hit woman named Mayo saves her life. Unable to stay in Japan Ikko it sent away to America to live for her own safety and protection. Fourteen years later Ikko returns to Japan with revenge on her mind as she tracks down for those responsible for killing he parents.
Black Angel volume one is a story that revolves around revenge. In fact three characters in the film have the same goal and eventually come together. The plot starts off by introducing us to Ikko Amaoka who at six years old witnessed the murder of her parents. Another major player whose story plays prominently in throughout is Mayo “The Black Angel”. She starts out as Ikko’s savior and later she unwittingly places her in hands of those she originally saved Ikko from fourteen years before. The third character who seeks their own vengeance is a police officer who years before witnessed a rape. He has remained silenced about the attack due to pressure from the Yakuza.
The characters are not as well defined as they could be. The story has some flaws. On the plus side Takashi Ishii’s direction is visually very satisfying. Takashi Ishii does a solid job mixing the more violent moments with the more sexually charged ones. The performances as a whole are more than adequate with the two females leads Riona Hazuki as Ikko Amaoka and Reiko Takashima as Mayo “The Black Angel” giving the most interesting performances. Ultimately Black Angel volume one makes up for its flaws with its wall to wall carnage.
Black Angel 2: A beautiful hit woman named Mayo also known as “The Black Angel” is hired to kill a Yakuza boss. Mayo quickly discovers that this is no ordinary hit when another pair of assassins moves in on her target before her. Mayo is wounded in the chaos and narrowly escapes with her life. Mayo now wounded is visited by the person who hired her and informed that she has to still complete the job.
Black Angel volume two sees the character of Mayo returning at the central character in the film. Once again the structure of the plot if very similar with three characters seeking revenge Mayo “The Black Angel”, Yamabe a Yakuza henchman and Suzu a woman whose husband was accidentally killed by a stray bullet. To makes matters worse she was also pregnant at the time and suffered a miscarriage. The plot is stronger than the previous film Black Angel volume one and characters are well defined throughout. Black Angel volume two is not a direct sequel to the previous Black Angel film as much as it is a remake.
This time around Takashi Ishii creates something more substantial than his first attempt at the Black Angel character. Everything about Black Angel volume two is a vast improvement over the first film. Takashi Ishii’s direction is inventive and very stylish throughout. The cast are all very good with the standout performance coming from Yuki Amami as Mayo “The Black Angel”. The Black Angel character in many ways is like a modern day version of the “Sasori” character from the Female Prisoner 701 film series. Ultimately Black Angel volume two is an explosive tale about revenge and redemption.
Tokyo Shock presents both Black Angel film’s in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves their aspect ratios. Both transfers look colorful, detailed and free of any print damage. There are no problems with artifacts or compression and edge enhancement is minimal.
Both Black Angel film’s each come with two audio options Japanese and English. All audio mixes are presented in a Dolby Digital stereo. All audio mixes sound clean, clear, evenly balanced and at times dynamic. English subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included.
Extras for both films are limited to trailers for other films that Media Blasters have released under their Tokyo Shock banner. Black Angel 1 and Black Angel 2 are available as part of Tokyo Shock’s “Art of the Gun Triple Feature” box sets which also includes Seijun Suzuki’s Pistol Opera. Tokyo Shock’s “Art of the Gun Triple Feature” box set is fantastic savings for anyone who hasn’t already purchased these films and is interested in seeing these films.