Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 24th, 2007
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1987
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Writers: Kinji Fukasaku, Akira Nakahara, Tatsuo Nogami
Cast: Sonny Chiba, Makoto Fujita, Hiroaki Murakami, Kazuko Kato, Ken Nishida, Ippei Hikaru, Toshio Yamauchi
DVD released: July 31st, 2004
Approximate running time: 130 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
DVD Release: Artsmagic
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: $25.95
Sure Death Revenge is the fourth film in a five film series which is loosely based on the Japanese television Hissatsu! Sure Death Revenge reunites Sonny Chiba with his protégée Hiroyuki Sanada who in recent years would find international acclaim for his role in the film The Last Samurai. The director of Sure Death Revenge was Kinji Fukasaku who had already worked with Sonny Chiba is several Chambara/Edo era films like The Yagyu Conspiracy, Swords of Vengeance, Samurai Reincarnation and Legend of the Eight Samurai.
If you are familiar with Chambara/Edo era films then the plot for Sure Death Revenge while familiar it still retains an identity and charisma that is undeniable its own. Also despite being the fourth film in the series one need not watch the other three to fully understand or be able to enjoy this film on its own merits. The film strongest asset is its many swordplay/fighting scenes all which are done with the utmost care and execution. The acting is enjoyable all around especially the collaboration between Makoto Fujita and Sonny Chiba.
The films score is not as dated as most films of it ilk that where made during the same era. Visually director Kinji Fukasaku proves that he still can make a diamond out of the rough with his striking use of colors and framing of compositions he elevates the film above its average status. Also Chiba fans take not while Sonny may not be the films lead he does get ample screen time. This performance is not his typical later day cameo. Ultimately Sure Death Revenge is an interesting Chambara/Edo era tale which overcomes most of its flaws and the end result is wild ride filled with non stop action.
Visually, Sure Death Revenge looks really nice and it is anamorphic enhanced while the region 1 release is full frame. Overall details look clear and colors and flesh tones look accurate.
The only audio option is Japanese and the mix sounds clean and robust especially during the many fighting scenes. Removable English subtitles have been included.
Extras for this release are sparse and limited too bios for cast and crew members with the two lengthiest bios being Kinji Fukasaku and Sonny Chiba. Artsmagic’s DVD while light on extras does give fans of this film a chance to view via a solid audio /video presentation which also trumps the region 1 releases transfer.