User Reviews (4)

Add a Review

  • Well if you've seen and loved Kinji Fukasaku's other great yakuza flicks, there's no harm in checking out Doberman Cop, but be warned it's nowhere near as good as, say, The Yakuza Papers or Graveyard of Honour.

    It was probably shot very hastily with low production values, and it shows. The camera work is remarkably so so for a Fukasaku movie and here his trademark kinetic style could be mistaken for shoddy hand-held camera work. Everything from the sets to the fights just shows there wasn't much creativity involved. It's a pretty standard yakuza effort, probably shot together in 2 weeks to meet Japan's demands for the product.

    Sonny Chiba stars as the naive village cop that comes to the big city of Tokyo to track down a missing girl from his village. There's a fair amount of anti-establishment bikers, crazy cops, yakuzas, prostitutes, star-system sleazebags, but what makes Doberman Cop worthwhile is Sonny Chiba. The guy is a badass, there's no way around that. And he gets to show his asskicking skills on a number of occasions, thank god. He also carries a pig. Good, not great stuff but worth a watch.
  • Sonnys' on top form in this very ace and very 70s cop flick from Kinji Fukasaku. Chiba stars as the country bumpkin detective bought to Tokyo to solve the case of a 'dead' girl who may or may not be a rising young singer.

    The plot and characters are by the book, but since this is a Sonny Chiba film that doesn't matter.

    There are several outstanding action set pieces which are frankly superb, while Chiba may lack the elegance of more traditional martial arts stars but he more than makes up for it with sheer power.

    Fukasakus' verite style captures a sleazy side of Tokyo wonderfully, yakuza, psycho cops, bikers, strippers and pimps populate the film and the strong cast give excellent performances.

    There is a scene in 'Doberman Deka' where Sonny practically gets raped by a stripper after giving her his pig, and if you can't appreciate that then you have forgotten what cinema is all about!
  • A tough-as-nails cop from Okinawa investigates a savage murder in Tokyo's nightlife district. Originally dismissed as a bumpkin, he soon proves more savvy than the local police.

    As with many Japanese films, this one began its life as a manga series. By 1977, the mass-production of original movies slowed down in Japan, and the trend switched to converting manga to film. Because film audiences were decreasing, the industry thought it could boost attendance by converting already popular properties. This had proved popular with both "Lady Snowblood" (1973) and "Karate Bear Fighter" (1977) among others.

    Some will argue that "manga" is not strictly accurate and the original source was "gekiga", a more serious, dramatic form of manga. For western audiences not well-versed in Japanese comic art, the difference is somewhat analogous to the American distinction between "comic books" and "graphic novels". While the latter are still comics, they tend to be aimed at more mature audiences and have more serious, literary themes. Yoshiyuki Okamura, the writer of the "Doberman Cop" books, is probably best known today for the series "Fist of the North Star" (1983-1988).

    Kōji Takada ("The Street Fighter") then wrote a script, and the wildly popular director Kinji Fukasaku ("Battle Royale") took it from there. Fukasaku took the source material and adapted it "broadly". According to Takada, in those days writers were happy to be adapted because it would cause book sales to soar. Today such loose interpretations are harder to do because the writers want more control of their material. Takada does concede that beyond the title, the film kept very little from the comic. (Examples of changes: Fukasaku moved the character's origin to Okinawa and changed the officer's dog into a pig because it was funnier to him, even though that sort of defeats the purpose of the title.)

    Cast in the title role was none other than international star Sonny Chiba. While the 1970s may have been Chiba's decade, it is interesting to note his long history with the director -- both Chiba and Fukasaku had taken part in each other's first four films, including the little-seen "Man with the Funky Hat" (1961). According to Chiba, the two interacted more as friends than as a director and actor. And when Chiba made his directorial debut with "Yellow Fangs" (1990), he essentially borrowed the rhythm of his mentor. (Chiba also believes Quentin Tarantino borrowed Fukasaku's rhythm, which is probably correct.)

    Again, Chiba was at his peak in the 1970s, and this is no exception. While he has been referred to as a martial artist, that may be a stretch. He is not graceful like Bruce Lee or other martial artists. He really acts more like a bar brawler, which makes perfect sense for a cop in the big city. Maybe Japan is different than the United States, but one doubts that most police there are black belts in anything.

    Despite being based on a popular story and starring a popular actor, the box office performance was underwhelming and what should have been a series of films never happened. Years later, following this film were both a second film and a short-lived television series, though neither had Chiba and from what can be determined, had relatively little to do with the manga, or the earlier film either. Japanese media... such a strange thing.

    Never before released on video outside of Japan, Arrow Video brings us the Blu-ray we never knew we wanted (but we do). And while not as packed full as some releases, it still has some great extras. There is a new video appreciation by Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane. A new video interview with actor Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba (the second in an ongoing series from Arrow). And a new video interview with screenwriter Koji Takada. It is beyond time that these films and their creators are getting their due in the west.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've said before that one of the joys of movies on disc is that movie fans now have access to so many movies they might never have had the opportunity to before. Sometimes that is a joy and a treat and sometimes they're as terrible as the worst we have to offer in the states. For the most part they usually end up somewhere in the middle. The fact is that the difference in cultures becomes greatly apparent in the storytelling from one country to another. Still, it allows us the opportunity to open our eyes to new things, to experience films from a different perspective.

    That being said there is DOBERMAN COP, a starring vehicle for Japanese actor Sonny Chiba whose claim to fame in the states comes from his starring roles in the Streetfighter movies. Based on the Manga of the same name he stars as a fish out of water, a police detective from the "backwoods" city of Okinawa. Backwoods at least to those who live in Tokyo where he is now, searching for a missing girl who was supposed to have traveled here. He has a personal motivation to find her as a psychic back home told him the two of them were to be married.

    Of course the local police laugh him off and suggest he return home to let the "real" police solve this missing persons case. Instead he remains in town, makes friends with a few shady characters and searches for the girl on his own. It takes little time to realize that the girl has been taken under the wing of a local yakuza boss who has plans for her to be a new pop singing sensation that he will control and manage. Kept in line with a steady flow of drugs, she is a total addict and has no plans on leaving.

    Chiba eventually finds her and tries to rescue her but is stopped by the boss and his gang. Deals and double crosses, never knowing who to trust, it seems that every side has someone working both sides of the street. Whether or not he succeeds in his task is eventually solved by the end of the film.

    While watching this I couldn't help but think back to the movie COOGAN'S BLUFF starring Clint Eastwood in a similar vein as an AZ sheriff sent to New York to extradite a captured criminal and the TV series MCCLOUD which starred Dennis Weaver in a role based on that film. The fish out of water backwater lawman who teaches the city cops a thing or two ran through both of those items just as it does here. What makes it interesting to watch is Chiba in the role. For the most part his films had him as more urban and violent than this one where he has a somewhat country bumpkin persona he uses to help people underestimate his abilities.

    The movie isn't quite Hollywood clean but the print is very good considering the source. Japan in the seventies in on display here and reminds one more of Times Square at the time than the serene images most garner from Tokyo. It's almost a modern day Tombstone with criminals having no problems carrying and using guns while the police seem unable to corral anyone that should be, focusing instead on suspects that are far easier to catch and deal with.

    As with all releases from Arrow Video the contents make this one for movie lovers to enjoy and fans of Chiba to love. Included in the extras are "Beyond the Film: Doberman Cop" a new appreciation by director Kinji Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane, a new interview with Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba, a new interview with screenwriter Koji Takada, a reversible sleeve with newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon and with the first pressing only an illustrated collector's book. All of this comes together to prove why Arrow Video is a name to be reckoned with when it comes to quality product.