Thursday, August 19, 2021

golden shot.

Just heard the news that Sonny Chiba has died so reposting my random rave about my fave movie of his.

Well that was short and sweet.

Sonny Chiba up a tree....kay eye cee kay eye en gee a man in the throat. Sorry, that caption is really, really shit.

Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon (AKA Golgo 13, ゴルゴ13 九竜の首 Gorugo Sātīn Kûron no kubi, 1977).
Dir: Yukio Noda.
Cast: Sonny Chiba, Callan Leung, Etsuko Shihomi, Chi-Chung Lee, Jerry Ito, Lai Dut, Dana Shum and loads of other folk that you can find online if you're really bothered, I mean I bet you don't even read this bit - you go straight to see if there's any nude pics.

Somewhere off the coast of Miami, sharp-suited drug lord Barry Badman has hired the infamous Action Man haired assassin Golgo 13 (Chiba...nuff said) to 'take out' one of the mob who's been discovered stealing cash and chocolate biscuits from the drug gang clubhouse.

Offering our (anti) hero $150,000 and a family sized packet of Hobnobs in return for killing 'The Kingpin'.

But not this one obviously.

Without further ado Golgo heads off to Hong Kong but not before shooting a couple of the drug bosses henchmen in the head - and off a balcony - for a laugh.

Actually come to think of it that would technically class as further ado really wouldn't it?

Anyway it's in Hong Kong where we (the audience) meet the character who will be cast as Golgo's nemesis for the next 90 odd minutes, the dashing detective Robert 'Smithy' Smith (not his real name) - played to sweaty perfection by Callan Leung - a straight down the line cop obsessed with taking down the Kingpin himself.

We know this as there's a helpful montage showing him roughing up a variety of small time drug dealers and raiding exotic dance clubs.

Which is nice work if you can get it.

Shit....(Far) East 17 have let themselves go.

It's at one such dance club that we finally get to meet the notorious Kingpin as well as give the cameraman a chance to have a wee cheeky lingering look at the laydees who work there.

Which tonight includes a cutsey tomboy chucking knifes at some poor extra in a glittery bra tied to a plank of wood.

And who says that Hong Kong wasn't more cuultured under British rule?

Surprisingly it turns out that the knife thrower is actually an undercover cop named Larry Lam (the fantastic Etsuko Shihomi from Sister Street Fighter) who after months of working at the club - as well as at the local holiday camp judging the nobbly knees contest - has managed to plant a listening device in the Kingpins office where she (over)hears him discussing the arrival of the latest shipment of drugs.

Following him to an old rubber factory she sneaks in to find a fully functioning cocaine lab (or is it a secret lemonade factory? - I can never tell) and quickly leaves to radio for help, unfortunately she's shot and roughly grabbed by the bad boys who decided to use her as a novelty wall ornament, hanging her - as is their want - to a wall before flicking fags, salted peanuts and lit matches at her smooth tummy.


"He did what in his cup?"

Luckily some kids playing near the rubber factory come across her discarded radio and inform the police who rush to the scene guns a-blazing and flairs a-flapping.

Except those wearing snazzy 'colonial' police shorts and long socks - of which there are a frightening amount - obviously.

Unfortunately poor Lam is killed in the crossfire and the building explodes leaving Smith red faced and bare arsed, the Kingpin off the hook and me confused as to the flammability of rubber.

With this explosive action sequence out of the way it's back to the main plot where we discover that the Kingpin is working alongside an evil diplomat named Ronan Polanski from the Peranian Republic in order to smuggle nasty drugs into Hong Kong via his diplomatic bags.

And most probably up his still peachy arse.

Polanski (Ito) it seems is even more of a rotter than the Kingpin, for not only is he dealing the drugs but he's also shagging the Kingpin's missus whilst planning to sell out absolutely everyone to the witch-hunting FBI in exchange for protection, a new identity and a big TeeVee.

What a complete bastard.

Somewhere to park your bike at least.

With both action sequence delivered and all the important plot points explained it's time to get back to Golgo 13, who on arrival in Hong Kong checks into a swanky hotel under the fan-pleasing moniker of  "Duke Togo" before building his super sniper rifle which he had mailed to him in a series of  wooden crate marked "drilling supplies" like some nightmarish DeAgostini partwork.

Unlike DeAgostini tho' all the packages come at once (just like your mum and sister - or so your uncle Jim says) (who knew it was that easy?) so he hasn't got to wait around for 2 years spending hundreds of pounds only to find a bit missing.

Even the office comes flat-packed.

With his unpacking done and with time to kill (as opposed to bad guys) Golgo/Duke heads out to the Kingpin's nightclub to gather information, sitting in a darkened corner booth and mysteriously whilst checking out the local talent and having a few drinks obviously.

It's whilst he's there that our hero comes across (not in that way which I'll admit is surprising for a Japanese movie) Polanski's moppet daughter who takes a shine to Golgo and refers to him as 'The Dragon Man'.

Which is nice.

Maybe he'll see some good in Polanski later or spare his life for his daughter?

Nah, the film-makers will probably forget all about this caring side to him and have Golgo shoot Polanski in the face whilst his daughter sits on his lap during a daring helicopter escape at the films climax.

Who knows?

It's not all product placement whiskey drinking, stroking weans on the head and long lingering looks at Mrs Kingpin tho, as on the way back to his hotel Golgo happens across a disgruntled prostitute in the middle of an argument with her pimp who she shoots dead.

Hang on is this Hong Kong or Dudley?

Taking pity on the poor woman, our hero holds her tightly as the police arrive and tells them that they were having a wee cuddle in the alley when a bad man ran by and shot the pimp, luckily the police (including Smith) believe Golgo and head off in pursuit.

The night's excitement isn't over yet tho' for as Golgo is walking the woman back to her boat eight of the pimps pals appear from nowhere with the intention of giving our hero a bloody good kicking.

Have they not seen The Street Fighter?

Obviously not as Golgo almost immediately kills five of them (and that's just by staring at them harshly) before putting two others in hospital and administering a severe kicking to the others arse.

Suffice to say it's all over in a flash and he's soon waving the woman (whom we'll call Brenda) off before heading back to his hotel to clean the shit off his shoes.

Eye son.

Golgo wakes bright and early the next morn as he prepares for 'the hit' (remember? the reason he's actually in Hong Kong), taking up position overlooking the swimming pool where the Kingpin is getting an award for something or other but mere seconds before he squeezes the trigger, someone else shoots the Kingpin dead.

Annoyed at the thought of someone stealing his thunder Golgo heads off to see his old mentor One-Eyed Ralph Jenkins**, an ex-assassin who now runs a fish and chip shop in Sham Shui Po.

Jenkins warns Golgo to be careful as Assassinating is a young mans game and there will always be someone vying for your job.

A wee bit like blogging then.

But without copious amounts of sexy Oriental babes throwing themselves at you obviously.

Obsessed with discovering the identity of the killer (tho' fuck knows why I mean he'll still get paid) Golgo heads back to the bar to pump Mrs Kingpin for information.

And by that I mean have sex with.

Turns out that the whole thing was planned by Polanski and that Mrs Kingpin had hoped that Golgo would turn up so she could kill him too.

But our hero is on to the whole scheme and no sooner has he shot his muck over her ample arse he's fired an altogether more lethal load on her face.

And by lethal load I mean bullets.

Well one bullet.

But by face I do actually mean her face.

So that's OK then.

Put it in me!

Aware that Golgo is on his trail, Polanski hightails it to Japan to meet  the FBI with Golgo in hot(tish) pursuit.

And by that I mean actually on the same plane, which gives him ample opportunity to continue 'bonding' with Polanski's poppet princess.

By some bizarre stroke of luck 'Smithy' Smith is also on the plane, partly to visit his cute as a button sister Angela - who's studying in Kyoto - but mainly to follow Golgo and Polanski for some reason.

Maybe he fancies a threesome?

I know I would.

Anyway upon landing Golgo sneakily follows Polanski around all the tourist spots before recording his entire FBI-based conversation on a sexy Sony HandyCam camcorder he just happened to have in his pocket.

Whilst all this surveillance stuff is going down Smithy has been busy chatting to the local police in the hope of finding any dirt on either Polanski or Golgo (apart from all the killings obviously) but due to the formers diplomatic immunity and Golgo's sexy hair he discovers that he can't arrest either of them.

Not even a wee bit.

I blame Brexit myself.

Down but not out Smithy decides to follow Golgo anyway but not before having lunch with his sis and taking a trip on the bullet train, which nicely ties in with director Junya Satō's The Bullet Train ((新幹線大爆破, Shinkansen Daibakuha) which also features in this boxset and is said to be the inspiration for Speed.

The film that is not the drug.

Phew glad that's cleared up.

"Slate and Vera Lynn?"

After all this touristy stuff Smithy soon locates Golgo at his hotel and tries perform a citizens arrest only to be informed that he has no jurisdiction in Japan and that anyway Golgo could take him with one hand tie behind his back.

And another up an Emu's arse.

It's not too surprising then that fisticuffs ensue that leave Smithy looking a wee bit disheveled and Golgo free to continue following Polanski - who is, as we speak, flying back to Hong Kong where he quickly informs the police that Duke/Golgo are one in the same.

"Pull my finger!"

With the police desperately hunting Golgo thru' Kowloon's market district, our hero jumps from bus roof to telegraph pole in order to evade them and lose his pistol before they catch him (it appears that it was illegal for notorious hitmen to carry guns in 70s Hong Kong....who knew?) so it's pretty lucky when he bumps into Brenda (you remember the prostitute he saved earlier) who grabs his weapon and quickly hides it up her arse just as Smithy and co. grab him by the boondocks.

Roughly taken up the station and tied to a chair Golgo is given the full bad cop/badder cop shiny lampface treatment before the cops realise that they have fuck all on him and may get into trouble for basically duffing up a tourist.

And with this they let him go.

Heading back to his hotel to prepare for the hit (well you have to admit for a film about a crack assassin there's been precious little assassinating - cracked or otherwise) Golgo notices an abandoned construction site and being a fan of Liebherr Tower Cranes goes in to investigate.

Unfortunately a gang of Polanski's hired thugs are lying in wait (or to be more precise sitting in a digger) and attack him.

Golgo, being hard as nails, easily beats the bad men to a pulp (not even their high-viz jackets and safety goggles can save them) but as he's impaling their ringleader on a splintered chairleg he's shot in the leg ruining the cut of his immaculate white suit.

Needing medical attention but unable to go to a hospital (again for reasons), Golgo collapses in the mud only to be found by Brenda who carries him back to her houseboat, tends his wounds and has 'the sex' with him.

Stitched up, sexed up and refreshed after a few days of sweaty water-based passion Golgo quietly leaves the love nest to prepare for the showdown with Polanski, leaving Brenda a necklace (but thankfully not a pearl one) as a thank you.


Ever increasingly worried that it's nearly the end of the film and Golgo hasn't made an attempt on his life yet, Polanski heads off to a highly fortified island off the Chinese coast where the FBI have set up a safe house that's not only monitored by dozens of cardboard box-like closed-circuit TV cameras but protected by a squad of hired goons with big guns.

Smithy deciding that sailing out to the island with a gung-ho war party is less likely to cause a diplomatic incident than just, you know giving all the evidence he's amassed on Polanski to his superiors and taking it from their storms the beach with all guns blazing whilst Polanski orders his FBI handler to take a motorboat to the mainland in the hope that the police - thinking it's the dirty diplomat will follow him.

Sounds legit.

Who am I to argue tho' as this seems to do the trick because no sooner have Smithy and co. caught up with the boat than a helicopter appears overhead to pick up Polanski and his daughter.

But where is Golgo? I hear you cry.

Well by this point, our hero has swum onto the beach and free-climbed up the side of a sheer cliff face, where he now waits, swinging from an assassins hammock tenderly stroking massive weapon.

As the helicopter flies overhead taking Polanski to freedom Golgo takes aim and fires, hitting Polanski right between the eyes, his daughter watching in horror as his limp, lifeless body crashes into the water, his notebook detailing all the dodgy drug deals in Hong Kong lying in the water ready to be collected by Smithy.

All kinds of everything remind me of you.

As Golgo goes to the airport to fly home the obsessed copper is waiting for him to give him a goodbye punch in the face and a stern "Don't come back!" talking to.

Which is a wee bit shit seeing as if it wasn't for him Polanski would still be dealing drugs to 'ver kids' and Smithy would never have smashed the dealers ring (ooeerr) but that's the police for you.


The great-granddad of every John Woo/Chow Yun Fat movie ever made (especially The Killer), Yukio (Zero Woman Red Handcuffs, Yakuza Deka and he Soul of Bruce Lee - AKA Soul of Chiba - amongst others) Noda's Manga adaptation of Takao Saito's manga classic Golgo 13:  is a low budget, batshittly baffling no-brainer that happily coasts by on the charisma of it's lead actor and an outrageous sense of fun.

The second attempt to bring the classic comic book character to the screen (after the little seen - outside Japan that is - 1973 Ken Takakura starrer) forgoes the gritty Yakuza-style realism of the first movie, replacing it (alongside half-decent direction and plot) instead with lots of long, lingering shots of action legend Chiba frowning whilst polishing a big gun.

Which frankly is enough for me to elevate this film to classic status.

"You ain't seen me right?" - Beyond our Ken.

Luckily for everyone else there are a couple of other good performances on show too, including a top turn from Callan Leung who'd already carved out a career playing determined police types and the fantastic Etsuko Shihomi as undercover cop Lam.

A member of Chiba's famous Japan Action Club (a training school set up by the actor for aspiring martial arts film actors and stunt performers), Shihomi was one of Chiba's most successful students, going on to appear in four Sister Streetfighter movies as well as the adventure classic Shogun's Ninja again alongside Chiba as well as future Hollywood star Hiroyuki Sanada.

With so much talent on show it's a pity then that a better director couldn't be found.

I mean Noda is workman-like and Chiba obviously enjoyed working with him (they did make Soul Of Chiba and Yakuza Deka together too) but a film of this size and scale needs a more bombastic eye and sense of style as without the natural charisma and genuine big screen appeal of its star Golgo 13 would be just another run of the mill country-hopping crime caper.

It's still a top piece of entertainment tho'.

**I may have made some of these names up after realising I'd forgotten to make a note of the characters. Sorry.

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