When it comes to obscure and entertaining titles, Arrow and MVD have a knack for tracking some of the strangest. WOLF GUY is definitely not a commonplace title, and it’s certainly weird…but it’s also a lot of fun. Chances are, you’ve probably never heard of this one (I hadn’t!), but that should not dissuade you from checking it out. The film is an odd mix of action, mystery, and quirky backstory, but it all combines to create a crazy, 85 minute trek into 70’s nostalgia.
If you are not familiar with WOLF GUY, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution:
Shinichi ‘Sonny’ Chiba is a martial arts ”manimal” in the ultra-70’s, 100% bizarre mixture of horror, action and sci-fi that is Wolf Guy, 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’s a genre film classic waiting to be discovered and a completely unclassifiable trip into phantasmagoric funk.
Chiba stars as Akira Inugami, the only survivor of a clan of ancient werewolves who relies on his supernatural powers to solve mysterious crimes. 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.
Directed by B-movie genius Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (Sister Streetfighter, Wandering Ginza Butterfly, Karate Bear Fighter), Wolf Guy truly is one-of-a-kind, with Chiba in full effect as the part-man, part-wolf, all-karate action hero and a collection of familiar 1970’s Toei actors in support. 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.
I’m not really sure how I would classify WOLF GUY. Does it have martial arts action? Check. Does it have a murder mystery? Check. Does it have gore? Check. Does it have STDs? Check. Is this a trippy movie? Definitely check. Ultimately, you’ll have to watch this for yourself and then decide where you would put it.
WOLF GUY is shot fairly well, although some of the camera angles are “odd”. I can’t really describe it…you just have to see it to understand. The camera is placed in some strange locations in order to capture the scene. This isn’t a negative, but you’ll probably notice what I mean pretty quickly.
The acting is typical 70’s, Japanese fare: it’s not horrible, but it certainly won’t win any awards. I always enjoy Sonny Chiba onscreen, regardless of the role he’s playing. I will admit it was a bit weird to see him in this one, but he does a great job nonetheless.
The story in WOLF GUY, as mentioned, is basically a murder mystery…with a supernatural twist. I won’t go into great detail, as I don’t want to spoil anything, but it involves a girl who received an STD and her plan for revenge. Chiba is a descendant of a line of werewolves and uses his powers to solve crime. See what I mean about quirky?
My sole complaint about the film is that there’s not really any werewolf effects. This doesn’t detract from the film per se, but I was personally disappointed because I’m a sucker for special effects.
Still, WOLF GUY is a ton of fun, and you’ve got to see it to appreciate it. I definitely recommend it; this is one of those films you should watch in a group…just to make sure you don’t miss anything. It is available now.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
• High Definition digital transfer
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
• Original uncompressed mono audio
• New optional English subtitle translation
• New video interview with actor Sonny Chiba
• New video interview with director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
• New video interview with producer Tatsu Yoshida
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Wes Benscoter
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Patrick Macias and a history of Japanese monster movie mashups by Jasper Sharp