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Bodyguard Kiba 
Written by: on December 18th, 2005

Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1993
Director: Takashi Miike
Cast: Takeshi Yamoto, Takanori Kikuchi, Noriko Arai, Megumi Sakato, Hisao Maki

DVD released: August 22, 2005
Approximate running time: 93 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen presented in 4:3
Rating: 18
Sound: Dolby Digital stereo
DVD Release: Film 2000 Japan
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £15.99

Junpei is a lazy minor gangster going nowhere in Okinawa. That is until he decides to rob 500million Yen from his boss at the Soryu Gang. The gang catch up with Junpei and are beating the truth out of him when the cops turn up and arrest all present, Junpei is sent to jail for five years. When his time is up, he hires Naoto Kiba to be his bodyguard as he returns to Okinawa to recover the money and his girlfriend. The police are also waiting for him. After a number of ambushes they get to Okinawa and Junpei sees his girlfriend again. But will their happiness last and the money be recovered or will the Soryu gang get its revenge?

Bodyguard Kiba has its roots in the Sonny Chiba 1973 film and a Japanese comic book. This seems apparent as this very early offering from Miike shows; the story is really an excuse for men to fight and dominance to be asserted. Like those old Chiba films, it is an opportunity for the good guys to take on all comers and an array of fighting styles to be shown off. Unfortunately the fight choreography is dull in comparison to the Chiba films, and over too quick to make any real impression. The interesting thing about Kiba is that it is quite so generic, sure there are some Miike themes of identity and being a rebel but this really is just a gangster fightfest. It feels like anyone could have directed it.

The story is provided by Hisao Maki who also stars here. Maki wrote four of Miike’s early scripts and they are riddled with cliché, dodgy dialogue and a lack of ideas. In some cases Miike rises above his material – Silver being one example- but here Miike is doing it by numbers. Miike believed passionately that it was only by making films that he would get better at it and he has made an awful lot, Bodyguard Kiba would not be one of his most successful efforts. Miike’s set ups, choice of angles, use of lighting and editing are unimaginative here which leaves the poor quality of the production even more obvious. The leaving jail sequence is a particularly cheap and unbelievable example of the production values.

Bodyguard Kiba is an ordinary and uninspired V-cinema feature of interest only to Miike completists.

The DVD:

This was a direct to video release so expectations can not be too high, however Film 2000 Japan have spared an awful lot of effort in this presentation. The transfer is ghastly, variable colours, soft, thin and strobing throughout. The picture is presented in Japanese but the English subs are burnt in. The audio is satisfactory but lacking any punch.

There are 11 trailers on the disc for a variety of oddball films which is quite entertaining although I wouldn’t want to watch any of them. There are no further extras.

This is a poor presentation of one of Miike’s poorer films. The quality is little different to a bootleg or grey market copy. It is the only English language version of the film available so it is strictly for Miike completists who just need to own it all.

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