10,000 Bullets   Exploring the world of Cinema from the Arthouse to the Grindhouse™

Black Test Car 
Written by: on May 21st, 2007

Theatrical Release Dates: Japan, 1962
Director: Yasuzo Masumura
Cast: Jiro Tamiya, Junko Kano, Eiji Funakoshi, Hideo Takamatsu, Ichirô Sugai, Kichijiro Ueda

DVD released: May 22nd, 2007
Approximate running time: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35.1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: Fantoma Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98

Synopsis: Two rival corporations spy on each other in hopes of gaining an edge over the other with their latest model of car. Soon both sides discover that they have spies with in their mists and that no one can be trusted so they start to filter out misinformation in hopes of sabotaging the other side. Has anyone gained an upper hand or is the playing field more level then all the participants realize?

Yasuzo Masumura is one of the most gifted and diverse filmmakers that Japan has ever produced. He has worked in just about every genre imaginable and along the way created some films that defied all genre conventions. Some of his most memorable films are Red Angel, Manji, Giants and Toys, Afraid to die, Blind Beast and Vixen. His most famous and memorable film is his 1969 masterpiece Blind Beast a film that flawlessly sums up all that it great about Yasuzo Masumura as a filmmaker.

Double crosses, blackmail and greed are at the core of director Yasuzo Masumura’s 1962 film Black Test Car. Masumura once again takes satirical look at the world of business lime he had previous in his 1958 film Giants and Toys. This time around this are approached in a much darker manner and subtext then the more light hearted Giants and Toys. In Black Test Car Masumura effortlessly creates an environment of paranoia which remains as one of the films most present themes through out the film.

In this environment that Masumura has created no one if safe including women. One of the men who works for the Tiger corporation convinces his lady that is she sleep with the boss of his competitor and find out everything about the car they are making then he will be promoted and they can finally be married. These scenes revolving around this couple are by far and away the most compelling in the film especially the moments when she returns after sleeping with another man.

Acting wise all the performances while not outstanding are more then adequate. Story wise the scenes move quickly form one to the next. Also despite the numerous double dealings going on the story is really easy to follow and keep track of who knows what and who is in the dark still. If you have seen any of Yasuzo Masumura’s films then you have a good idea of what are in for when watching Black Test Car a film that bears all the style and mood his other films are all known for. If you have never seen any of Yasuzo Masumura’s don’t worry because this film out of all the ones I have seen of his to date is easily the accessible for someone wanting to test the waters of Yasuzo Masumura’s cinema for the first time.

The DVD:

Black Test Car is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The black and white image looks sharp and detailed through out. There are no problems with compression, artifacts or edge enhancement. Overall the transfer is on par with Fantoma’s previous Yasuzo Masumura DVD releases.

This release comes with one audio option the films original Japanese language audio track which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The audio like the video source for this film is in great shape and free of any distortion or any other sound defects.

Removable English subtitles that are error free and easy to read and follow have been included.

Extras for this release include the films original trailer in Japanese with English subtitles, a bio/filmography for director Yasuzo Masumura and a poster & stills gallery. The main extra for this release is the insightful and informative liners notes about the film and Yasuzo Masumura. The liner notes were written by Chuck Stevens.

Fantoma’s Black Test Car DVD while not a definitive release comes with a solid audio/video presentation and a handful of extras, recommended.

For more information about The Films of Yasuzo Masumura visit Fantoma Films here.

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