Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 29th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1977
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Writer: Kôji Takada
Adapted From: manga series Urufu gai written by Doberman Deka
Cast: Sonny Chiba, Hiroki Matsukata, Janet Yata, Eiko Matsuda, Seizo Fukumoto
BluRay released: June 26th, 2017 (UK), June 27th, 2017 (USA)
Approximate running time: 90 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono Japanese
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £17.99 (UK)
Synopsis: Joji Kano (Sonny Chiba) is a small town detective from Okinawa who has been hired by a woman who wants him to find her daughter Yuna who disappeared five years ago. When a prostitute’s body is burned beyond recognition in an apparent arson the police links up this body as the missing girl named Yuna who Jiro has been looking for. Unconvinced that this is the girl Jiro starts to investigate on his own.
One day fate would intervene as the police need Jiro’s helps when a madman is keeping a pop star named Miki prisoner in an apartment on the fortieth floor. This girl named Miki looks mysteriously like the missing girl Yuna and when Jiro presses her about her identity the Yakuza who are in charge of her career put up obstacles in his way to convince him other wise. Is this the girl who Jiro has been looking for and has he put his life in danger by crossing the Yakuza?
Doberman Cop is yet another classic collaboration between Sonny Chiba and director Kinji Fukasaku. Chiba’s character Jiro is like a fish out of water as his rural upbringings clashes with the way big city folks do things. Early on it is apparent that this is not your typical Yakuza films as Chiba’s character carries around in a sack a pig. The pig seems to pop up through out the film at the most opportune time like when Jiro goes to a strip and when the pig won’t stop squealing the stripper dancing on the stage asks Jiro to let the pig loose on the stage. What follows in even more bizarre as the crowd helps rip off his clothes as the stripper mounts Jiro as she performs a live sex act for her audience.
The action is more in the style of bar brawler then that of a expert martial artists. It is the rawness of the fighting choreography that helps sell the ruff and simple character of Jiro. Chiba’s character is given in one scene a 44 Magnum which is a gun that is a trademark of another renegade cop who doesn’t play by the rules named Dirty Harry. Like many of Fukasaku films from this period Doberman Cop deals with abuse of power this time in the form of police brutality.
To make the action feel more authentic during action sequences often employs the use of a hand held camera giving the film a documentary look and feel. Another major theme that runs through out is the loss of innocence as Miki has gone to far that she can never return to past she left behind and the how the big city has forever changed Jiro’s view of the world. Overall Doberman Cop is one of Chiba and Fukasaku’s most unusual and compelling collaborations.
Doberman Cop comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This HD transfer used for this release were created from original preservation elements that were supplied by Toei and the end result is a transfer that is on par with Arrow Video’s transfer for Wolf Guy.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in Japanese and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. The audio sounds, clean, clear and balanced throughout. Range wise the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented and when it comes to film’s score its sounds appropriately robust.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 15 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), an interview with Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane titled Beyond the Film: Doberman Cop (8 minutes 54 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), an interview with screenwriter Koji Takada titled Koji Takada: Cops, Pigs and Karate (17 minutes 55 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles) and an interview with actor Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba (17 minutes 53 seconds, in Japanese with English).
Topics discussed in the interview with Sadao Yamane include, the decline of the Japanese film industry in the late 1970’s, Gekiga Manga film adaptions, Doberman Cop and how the film did not do well at the box office and why Toei in the late 1970’s started to male Samurai films again.
Topics discussed in the interview with Koji Takada include, Gekiga Manga’s and how many of these were adapted into films in the 1970’s, screenwriters and how there is a lack of good screenwriters working in modern Japanese cinema, background information about various films he wrote screen[plays for and various director’s he collaborated with, Doberman Cop, Kinji Fukasaku, Sonny Chiba and the Street Fighter films.
Topics discussed in the interview with Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba include, Kinji Fukasaku, their professional collaborations and personal relationship, screenwriting, directing, Doberman Cop / Stunts / The Manga which the film was adapted from and Okinawa.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a thirty two page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Doberman Days: Kinji Fukasaku, Sonny Chiba, and the Twilight of Toei Exploitation written by Patrick Macias , an essay titled Video Killed the Manga Star: Resurrecting the Doberman Cop written by Tom Mes and information about the transfer.
Also, included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo. Overall Doberman Cop gets a definitive release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.