Wolf Guy/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Wolf Guy
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Sonny Chiba is always an entertaining actor whose movies have a high nostalgia value and a huge cult following. Having been a fan of his many martial arts movies, it was surprising to find this small gem sandwiched between his highly entertaining Street Fighter trilogy. Some movies live and die by their premise, as no matter how bad things get, it can still work well if you buy into the fundamental premise of the film. That's what happens in this case as Wolf Guy has a bizarre one for the ages. It has Chiba playing a werewolf detective stuck in the crosshairs of both supernatural cults and government agents out for his (literal) blood.

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Based on a manga by Kazumasa Hirai, which had already been adapted into a movie before, Wolf Guy significantly departs from its source material. That earlier movie is a straight adaptation, while this version of Wolf Guy plays very loosely with the manga, which involved a teen werewolf. You actually wonder why it is considered an adaptation as it is only one in name alone.

The movie starts with Sonny Chiba roaming the streets in the night, and he meets a guy who is, to the amazement of everyone, slowly being ripped to shreds by an invisible force. Now this being a detective movie, Sonny goes around being a curious little cat trying to figure out the mystery behind the invisible ripper.

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What is both fantastic and dumbfounding about the movie is the twists and turns it takes. Director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (of the Karate Bear Fighter and Sister Streetfighter trilogy fame) has made one hell of a gonzo cocktail of all the genres that caught his fancy and that somehow works in its favor as a cult genre movie. You cannot predict what turns the movie will take. As it keeps switching genres so often, sometimes even in a single scene, that it is hard to keep track. It goes from a beginning with supernatural creatures and prostitutes with hearts of gold to, yes, all of it tied up into a government conspiracy that makes it rather stupefying. This movie is one scene away from being an incoherent mess, and it flirts with it pretty closely. But Sonny Chiba, as expected, heroically saves the movie from itself. If there are moments where you lose the plot, he will drag you back in with style.

Take the scene after he gets kidnapped by the government agents out for his blood, so they can duplicate it and farm raise werewolf super-soldiers. The sight of seeing him scoop his intestines back into his stomach using the power of his mind and super werewolf powers is a true highlight. It is a mess for sure, but one that is also deliciously enjoyable as Sonny Chiba, (the mass paperback martial arts movie version of a best seller) completely makes you buy into it.

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There is a reason that expecting excellence while watching a movie like this might backfire. You might end up thinking you wasted your time watching a stupid movie. That's not the audience for Wolf Guy. This is one for the cult movie fans to celebrate Sonny Chiba and the experience of watching him slashing and screaming his way to grindhouse immortality.

Alif Majeed is a contributor to Grindhouse Cinema Database. You can find a list of all his reviews HERE.

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