The Films (4/5, 4.5/5, 3/5)
TOKYO MIGHTY GUY
Akira Kobayashi plays JirŰ Shimizu, the titular Mighty Guy of Tokyo. After studying to be a gourmet chef in Paris, JirŰ returns with a zero bullshit tolerance, especially when it comes to the yakuza messing with his fatherís restaurant. Queue the love triangle as Hideko (Ruriko Asaoka) and Lila-Ko (Sanae Nakahara) compete for Tokyo Mighty Guyís affections. This half-musical comedy is so light and whimsical that I didnít even realize it was ending until the credits started to roll. I donít even mean that as a criticism because this is one of the most pleasant (and most quintessentially Japanese) films Iíve experienced in years. File under: movies for people who love movies.
After a truckload of printing paper on its way to the mint is stolen, three crooks try to hire the best counterfeiter in Japan to make them billions of yen and kooky hijinks ensue. This film opens fairly straight-faced but once characters with nicknames like Slide-Rule, Dump-Truck, and Glass-Hearted Joe (JŰ Shishido) show up, I got a clue as to where Danger Pays was headed. Throw in a judo-chopping Ruriko Asaoka and you have something truly wonderful. This zany and insanely charming film really knocked me out. Highly recommended.
When the members of the Five Rays Club crime syndicate start getting picked off one by one, the remaining survivors hire a team of inept assassins to locate the culprit and kill him. JŰ Shishido is barely in this one but thereís so much going on that you wonít have time to notice. If you have a very high tolerance for rampant dumb jokes and unbridled silliness (in the vein of Benny Hill but less naughty) then youíll be able to hang with this movie. The slapstick is of the cheesiest variety and the overall vibe is so bizarre that I had to wonder if this was even made by humans. I canít recommend Murder Unincorporated but I had a good time with it.
Here we have yet another stellar job from Arrow Video. Much like their previous Nikkatsu trio of pictures, the 2.35:1 presentation of these films has eye-popping color and is very sharp considering these films are all over 50 years old now. Mono audio is very clear with no detectible noise.
The ever reliable and always engaging Jasper Sharp is back in two interviews talking about the careers of actors Akira Kobayashi and JŰ Shishido. Thereís a lot to learn here and I greatly appreciate Sharpís enthusiasm. The only thing I wanted more of on this set was a little cultural information about some of the jokes in the three films. To say that some of the material went over my western head is an understatement. There are also trailers for each film and even trailers for the Gangster VIP set (also from Arrow Video).
My expectations for what was awaiting me on this second volume of Nikkatsu films were completely destroyed in the best way. The mostly serious tone of the three films in the first Diamond Guys set is torpedoed into kooky oblivion this time around. These three idiosyncratic snapshots of Japanese pop culture are easy on the eyes and all of them are under 90 minutes apiece. I hope that Arrow Video has even more Nikkatsu goodness hidden up their sleeves because I canít get enough of this stuff.