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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Nikkatsu Diamond Guys 2 [Blu-ray]

 

(Buichi Sait˘, 1960 / K˘ Nakahira, 1962 / Haruyasu Noguchi, 1965)

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Nikkatsu

Video: Arrow Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtimes: 1:18:46.012  / 1:22:02.083 / 1:24:54.089 

Disc Size: 49,794,035,986 bytes

Tokyo Mighty Guy Size: 16,682,232,960 bytes

Danger Pays Size: 14,047,866,432 bytes

Murder Unincorporated Size: 14,530,864,704 bytes

Video Bitrates: 19.99 Mbps - 25.89 Mbps

Chapters: 10 X 3

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: June 13th - 14th, 2016

 

Tokyo Mighty Guy Danger Pays Murder Unincorporated

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.50:1 for Tokyo Mighty Guy / 2.4 for Danger Pays and Murder Unincorporated

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio Japanese 768 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras: (limited to 3,000 editions)

Specially recorded video discussions with Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp on Diamond Guys Jo Shishido and Akira Kobayashi (20:21)
Original trailers for all three films (3:47, 3:51, 4:11)
Extensive promotional image galleries for all films
Reversible sleeve featuring brand new artwork by Graham Humphreys
Booklet featuring new writing on all the films and director profiles by Stuart Galbraith IV, Tom Mes and Mark Schilling

 

Bitrates:

Tokyo Mighty Guy

 

 

Danger Pays

 

 

Murder Unincorporated

 

 

Description: Nikkatsu, the oldest film studio in Japan, inaugurated a star system in the late 1950s - early 60s, finding talent and contracting to their Diamond Line for a series of wild genre pictures. This collection celebrates these Diamond Guys with three classic films from directors Buichi Saito (Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril), Ko Nakahira (Crazed Fruit), and Haruyasu Noguchi, who is a new discovery for the West.

In Saito's Tokyo Mighty Guy, mega star Akira Kobayashi stars as Jiro in the rambunctious tale of a chef who opens a restaurant in the busy Ginza district. His culinary skills and dashing good looks bring in the women as well as unwanted trouble, while an explosive political scandal builds around his girlfriend s business...

Next, Jo Shishido (Massacre Gun, Retaliation), one of the most popular Diamond Guys in the West, stars in Danger Paws (aka Danger Pays), a crime caper from Ko Nakahira about counterfeiting. When one billion yen goes AWOL, Joe the Ace (Shishido) spies an opportunity to get rich quick, but things soon go wrong as it turns out he isn't the only one who ll stop at nothing to get his hands on the missing cash...

Finally, Shishido stars once again in Noguchi s screwball classic Murder Unincorporated. When the mysterious Joe of Spades executes one of the bosses of a powerful syndicate, his colleagues, fearing for their own lives, call on the services of assassin agency Murder Unincorporated to take care of the problem. This unique entry showcases some of the most peculiar killing tactics to ever hit Japanese cinema!

Presented on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time in the West, these thrilling genre films feature some of Nikkatsu s leading talent at the top of their game.

 

 

 

 

The Film:

Tokyo Mighty Guy
After mastering the art of French cuisine, young Jiro (Akira Kobayashi) returns to Japan and opens a restaurant in the busy streets of Ginza. His dashing looks, iconoclastic culinary skills, and charismatic character attracts not only women, but unwanted trouble. Things get personal when he finds out that a scandalous political figure is trying to take over his girlfriend's business.

Excerpt from Nikkatsu located HERE

 

Danger Pays
Things that people will do for money! Money! Even fake money!
In a race to win over a master counterfeiter capable of printing fake bills that are virtually impossible to detect, "Joe the Ace" faces a merciless hit man and the lord of the underworld. A whimsical hardboiled Nikkatsu action classic.

Two taxi cab drivers turn up dead. Over one billion yen worth of watermarked paper for bills had been stolen. As most shook their heads in disdain, some men saw this as an opportunity, a chance to get rich quick - including "Joe the Ace" (Joe Shishido). His scheme was to introduce a master counterfeiter and receive a handsome referral fee in return, but the heist team was already a step ahead. Joe's connection had been kidnapped.

Excerpt from Nikatsu.com located HERE

Murder Unincorporated
Director Haruyasu Noguchi displays tongue-in-cheek brilliance in this classic screwball comedy. Countless hit-men go on an erratic killing spree with some of the most peculiar murder tactics ever to hit Japanese cinema. Joe Shishido leads an all-star cast in a murder mystery tale full of whimsy.

In a miserable town corrupted by murder, one of the five Gokou-kai bosses, Sasaki is gunned down. Beside his lifeless body lay a card; the ace of spades. The man responsible for Sasaki's death was a serial killer who went by the name of "Joe of Spades". The remaining four Gokou-kai executives panicked, for they had already received "greeting cards" from Joe. Each card was numbered from 1 to 5, taunting the four that they are next in line.

Excerpt from Nikatsu.com located HERE

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Vol 2 is simultaneously released on Blu-ray in UK and North America by Arrow.  It stacked in dual-layered territory to house the three films and some supplements. Bitrates are modest at around 20 mbps and there is softness that appears inherent. The 1080P supports the three films in the 2.4:1 frame (2.5 for Tokyo Mighty Guy).

 

With three films o  one disc, even dual-layered, the image quality isn't reaching stellar heights, but the visuals look consistent and clean. I thought Danger Pays might be a notch above the others showcasing some impressive colors. Generally, they are very watchable and look similar to others from the studio and era. There is some texture and no bothersome noise. This Blu-ray offers a lot of value and it's easy to accept the modest, but pleasing, 1080P video - as each film appears to be a good replication of the source. Part of the value if having the three films together rather than a striking image quality.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Tokyo Mighty Guy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Danger Pays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murder Unincorporated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Arrow use a linear PCM mono tracks (16-bit) for all 3 films. They are flat with a pinch of depth. There is some more punchier aggression in the infrequent fighting but it is fairly modest in terms of being dynamic. The score in Tokyo Mighty Guy is by composer Taichir˘ Kosugi (The Rambling Guitarist). Danger Pays score is by Harumi Ibe (Outlaw Gangster VIP). All audio sounds reasonably supportive - mostly standard and unremarkable with a lighter edge to Murder Unincorporated. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' + 'B'.

 

Extras :

Extras include a specially recorded video discussions with Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp on 'Diamond Guys' Jo Shishido and Akira Kobayashi for a total of 20-minutes. It shares some educational background on these two Japanese performers. There are also original trailers for all three films and other trailers (ex. Outlaw Gangster VIP) plus extensive promotional image galleries for all three films with posters, day-bills and more. The package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys and a liner notes booklet featuring new essays on all three films by featuring new writing on all the films and director profiles by Stuart Galbraith IV, Tom Mes and Mark Schilling.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Vol 2 is a wonderful continuation by Arrow following their excellent Vol 1 package. Despite not following the standard crime-dramas of Eclipse's Nikkatsu Noir there is some enjoyment here - although I didn't embrace the comedic elements of Murder Unincorporated - I still got something out of my viewing - a shade more liberal with the adult situations than the older efforts. We, again, get three films of them on one Blu-ray! The a/v quality is pleasing, if not demo, and there is plenty of value in having the films at all. I thoroughly enjoyed Tokyo Mighty Guy as well as Danger Pay (possibly my favorite of the three.) Fans know what they are getting with this - and most are extremely appreciative. We give a strong recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

May 28th, 2016


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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