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  Wolf Guy Bark At The MoonBuy this film here.
Year: 1975
Director: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
Stars: Sonny Chiba, Kyôsuke Machida, Saburô Date, Kôji Fujiyama, Tooru Hanada, Ryuji Hayami, Jiro Ibuki, Haruki Jô, Kenji Kawai, Hiroshi Kondô, Kôji Miemachi, Hideo Murota, Etsuko Nami, Hiroshi Nawa, Yoshio Neshima, Kumi Taguchi, Yayoi Watanabe
Genre: Horror, Action, Thriller, Adventure
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Reporter Akira (Sonny Chiba) is in the city tonight, but what he did not count on was an old pal, a band member in the music industry, crossing his path with a look of absolute terror on his face and babbling about a tiger he is convinced is following him. Akira tries to shake some sense into the man as a crowd gathers, but he breaks away down a side street where the journalist witnesses him slashed to bloody pieces by an unseen assailant - there couldn't be an invisible big cat at large in the region, could there? Then he realises he is hearing a strange sound, and seeing a vision of the tiger appearing before his eyes: it is all to do with the nightclub singer Miki who has been down on her luck for a while, but with magic powers can seek revenge...

Wolf Guy, not to be confused with the Canadian grindhouse homage Wolf Cop, was not a Sonny Chiba film that got a lot of play in the West, in spite of the star being popular there among martial arts fans, but here he did not demonstrate much in the way of his bludgeoning skills which may be a reason why it did not receive any more attention during the nineteen-seventies. It was gradually rediscovered as Japanese exploitation flicks grew in popularity among the cult crowd, probably because of the inevitable Quentin Tarantino endorsement, but even if you liked to discover stuff like this without his assistance, this remained a confounding experience with its attention deficit disorder plotting.

Some say this was a semi-sequel to a previous Wolf Guy hit (not starring Chiba), but it may be more accurate to observe they were both drawn from the same source, a manga naturally, and it certainly carried over the out of nowhere plot developments and typical action comics shenanigans, which only rendered watching them acted out all the more cartoonish. In that way it was amusing enough, if a little exhausting since it never settled to catch its breath, the groovesome soundtrack playing near-constantly underneath the mayhem. There was sex and violence a-plenty as expected with this star and this era of far Eastern efforts, all of them married to a theme about how mankind is no better than the beasts, making Akira better than all of us since he is part beast himself.

Quite how that happened was difficult to discern, but we never saw him transform into a wolf, or even a werewolf, though he did have bushy eyebrows that met in the middle, a sure sign of lycanthropy according to certain legends. We were offered regular updates on the progress of the lunar cycle, for Akira's superpowers would wax and wane with the moon, so of course the plot led up to a full moon when he would be at his bullet-defying best. What did this have to do with the singer? He puts his detective hat on and tracks her down, discovering she was a promising performer with a rich fiancé, but his father disapproved and had Miki gang raped by her backing band; one of these ne'erdowells had syphilis, and now she is diseased and addicted to smack, which brought about her curse on anyone who had wronged her.

Akira is sympathetic, but just as the narrative is settling into an encounter between them they are interrupted by what appears to be a secret organisation who wish to harness their supernatural abilities. This leads to ever more bemusing scenes as our hero is given surgery which was represented by actual surgery footage, and not only that but it was treated to make it look psychedelic, since obviously that makes it a lot more palatable (?). It would seem the creators of the Marvel movie The Wolverine might have seen this, as there were parallels with Chiba's troubled warrior and Hugh Jackman's superhero, or it may have been coincidence, or even further, the sole way such a character could be utilised in a comic book context. The last act saw Akira escape to the mountains with a new girlfriend, Taka, he regarded as his "wife and mother" (huh?) after enjoying carnal relations with her in a damp cave, and those bullets began to fly once again, not that a few gory holes bothered Chiba's superhuman. Does it have a happy ending? Well, you know how these things go...
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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