Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 13th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, October 9th, 1982
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Writer: Kouhei Tsuka
Cast: Keiko Matsuzaka, Morio Kazama, Mitsuru Hirata, Akiko Kudo, Sonny Chiba
DVD Released: February 1st, 2005
Approximate Running Time: 108 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: Home Vision
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
Ginchan Kuraoka (Morio Kazama) is a washed up actor who still craves the spotlight. Tachibana (Daijiro Harada) is an up and coming star that the studio is banking on becoming the next big thing. Konatsu (Keiko Matsuzaka) is Ginchan’s pregnant girlfriend. Ginchan is desperate too regain his former glory and he doesn’t want a child too tarnish his image. He convinces Yasu (Mitsuru Hirata) too take care of and marry Konatsu. Yasu too support his new wife and child becomes a stunt man who is willing to do any stunt as long as the price is right.
The Fall Guy is a big departure from the Yakuza and visceral violent films that Fukasaku is most associated with. While I went into the Fall Guy expecting a comedic send up of the movie industry. I came away pleasantly surprised by the depth of the films characters who moved me through their tragedy. Fukasaku keeps the moving a break neck speed as he moves between action set pieces mostly on the set of samurai films. Sonny Chiba is listed as a guest appearance and if you blink you might just miss him. These scenes that take place on the movie set are mere filler that offers relief in between the more character driven moments. Fukasaku has worked with many great actors and in most of his films women are either prostitutes or woman of lesser virtue. Keiko Matsuzaka who plays Konatsu in the film gives greatest performance that I have seen to date in a Fukasaku film. Her range of emotions and ability to make the viewer sympathize with the two men in her life even though they are abusive towards her speaks volumes about the subtly of her performance. The character of Konatsu a strong female is a rarity in a Fuksaku film. Fall Guy is essential a story about a women torn between her love for two men.
Fall Guy is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The colors are robust and the black levels remain strong through out. The flesh tones look natural and the amount of detail in each frame is incredible. Grain is kept to a minimum. This transfer overall is in excellent shape with no problems with compression or artifacts. This DVD comes with only one audio option the films original Japanese language track which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The dialog & action are crisp through out as the mono track evenly balances them with the music & effects. There are no problems with hiss or distortion. Overall for a mono mix this audio track packs a punch. English subtitles that are easy to follow and understand have been included.
The main extra is a twelve minute interview with Kinji Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane. He discusses the origins of Fall Guy like how it was a play first and how it was based on a real event that happened at Teoi studios. The information is insightful and comprehensive. Other extras included the films original theatrical trailer and Kinji Fukasaku’s filmograpahy. Rounding out the extras is an excerpt from author Sadao Yamane’s “Director, Kinji Fukasaku” book. The excerpt is in the form of a Q&A that Sadao Yamane conducted with Fukasaku. The Fall Guy is a moving drama that perfectly balances its humor with its more tragic moments. Like their previous releases Fall Guy comes with a stunning audio/video presentation and several extras, highly recommended.