Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Arrow Video

Release Date: May 23, 2017

Region: Region Free (A & B)

Length: 01:25:57

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: Japanese Mono Linear PCM Audio (48 kHz, 768 kbps, 16-bit)

Subtitles: English

Ratio: 2.35:1

Bitrate: 30.00 Mbps

Notes: Arrow Video also includes a DVD copy of the film in this package.

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This is a film that throws out logic, good taste, and rationality in favor of an absolutely insane cinematic experience. Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba portrays a martial arts “manimal” in this bizarre mixture of horror, action, and sci-fi. Don’t even try to wrap your brain around the insanity. It just wouldn’t be healthy. Apparently, Wolf Guy is one of the rarest and most sought-after cult films produced by Japan’s Toei Studio. Based on a manga by Kazumasa Hirai (creator of 8 Man), and never before released outside of Japan, it is a genre film classic waiting to be discovered and a completely unclassifiable trip into phantasmagoria.

Akira Inugami (Chiba) is the only survivor of a clan of ancient werewolves who relies on his supernatural powers to solve mysterious crimes (yes, really). After a series of bloody killings perpetrated by an unseen force, Inugami uncovers a conspiracy involving a murdered cabaret singer, corrupt politicians, and a plot by the J-CIA to harvest his blood in order to steal his lycanthropic powers! At the same time, Inugami also discovers the truth behind his family heritage, and that he may not be the last of his kind.

If this synopsis doesn’t give you some indication of the absolutely insane nature of Wolf Guy, there isn’t any hope for you. Of course, this could also simply be an indication that the film is tailor made for your particular sensibilities. Directed by B-movie genius Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (Sister Streetfighter, Wandering Ginza Butterfly, Karate Bear Fighter), Wolf Guy truly is one-of-a-kind and will fulfill all the expectations of Chiba’s many fans. Violence, action, nudity, real surgical footage, and a psychedelic musical score all work together to create an unforgettable trip to the heights of Japanese cinematic weirdness.

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The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

Arrow Video houses the Blu-ray and DVD discs in a sturdy clear Blu-ray case with a reversible sleeve featuring the choice of newly commissioned artwork by Wes Benscoter and what is presumably the film’s original poster art. Benscoter’s new design is less busy and more attractive than the original artwork, and will probably be most people’s preference. There is also an attractive booklet that features two new essays: “Full Moon Chiba: The Resurrection of Wolf Guy” by Patrick Macias and “Monster Mashups, Japanese Style” by Jasper Sharp. The booklet’s text is enhanced with a number of production stills and other artwork. The usual cast and crew credits and transfer information is also included.

 [Note: The aforementioned booklet is only included with the first pressing of this particular release.]

Menu

The animated menus utilize footage and music from the film and are reasonably attractive and easy to navigate.

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Picture Quality:

3 of 5 Stars

A pattern becomes evident when one considers Arrow Video’s many transfers of Japanese films. Their often specific and reasonably lengthy liner notes concerning their film transfers suddenly become short and generalized. For example, their informative paragraph about Wolf Guy’s transfer is only two sentences in length.

Wolf Guy is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and the original mono sound. The film was remastered in high definition and supplied for this release by Toei Company, Ltd.” –Collector’s Booklet

Like many of their other Japanese titles, Arrow is at the mercy of the studio that supplied them with the transfer. They certainly did the best that they could with it and have given it a technically robust bitrate, but the results are only “okay.” Even if the image isn’t particularly remarkable, it is certainly better any transfer North American audiences have previously seen. It might very well be a relatively faithful representation of the original, but this is impossible to claim without having actually seen any film print of the film. The visuals have s soft quality that will probably irk more modern viewers and there are some unusual hues that cause one to question whether the color timing accurately reflects the filmmaker’s intentions. Depth is also far from impressive. However, there are no noticeable compression artifacts and black levels are relatively solid. In fact, none of the transfer’s weaknesses are distracting and anyone who has seen the film in a previous home video incarnation is likely to be impressed with this new high definition transfer.

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Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

The original Japanese mono mix is faithfully presented here in a Linear PCM audio transfer that represents the track nicely. Sound effects, dialogue, and music all sound reasonably good considering the mono origins of the mix and the production methods utilized to create the track. Anomalies such as hiss or hum are never evident and sounds come across clearly and well balanced. This is a very solid sound transfer.

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Special Features:

3.5 of 5 Stars

Arrows supplemental package is made up of three interviews that were recorded in Tokyo in 2016:

Interview with actor Sonny Chiba – (14:31)

Sonny gives a short but informative interview that will delight his fans. He discusses his origins an actor and his work in the action genre.

Interview with director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi – (10:31)

Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (director) discusses his work at Toei and some of the specific films that he worked on at that time. The trajectory of his career is also revealed (he started as an assistant director) as is his work with Sonny Chiba on Wolf Guy. Inevitably, many aspects of Wolf Guy are discussed in a generally illuminating manner. It is an interview that fans of the film will certainly appreciate.

Interview with producer Tatsu Yoshida – (17:30)

Like the other two interviews on the disc Tatsu Yoshida (producer) briefly discusses his career origins, his work at Toei, some of his other film projects at the studio, and several aspects of the production of Wolf Guy.

Theatrical Trailer – (02:55)

The theatrical trailer is not unlike those for similar films in the yakuza genre but it is nice to have it included here. (It is difficult to understand why all releases can’t at the very least include a film’s trailer.)

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Final Words:

This film was a pleasant surprise. It is an absolutely jacked up, balls-to-the-wall, insane film that delivers exactly what Sonny Chiba fans expect and hope even as it blends elements from other genres. The result is absolutely bonkers.

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Review by: Devon Powell

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