Dave Foster has reviewed the Region 2 release of Golgo 13: The Professional. A desperately average anime is released on an equally average DVD from Manga UK as part of their February line up.
Please note that at the time of writing this review (23rd February 2002) several online retailers were listing this release as Golgo 13: Queen Bee which is a more recent (1998) movie based on the same main character. This is of course incorrect as the film released by Manga UK is Golgo 13: The Professional which is an older 1983 movie.
Based on the original Graphic Novels by Saito Takao Golgo 13: The Professional revolves around the key character of Golgo, a professional assassin who is the very best at what he does. To showcase this fact we are initially treated to an example of Golgo’s abilities as we see him cleanly and efficiently take out a target without so much as flinching an eyelid in the process. All of which is part of the cold and detached character we will follow throughout the films 93-minute running time.
The rest of the plot follows a straightforward pattern of assassinations, sex, a plot against Golgo that involves recruiting the very dregs of the human race to pit against him and of course more killing and sex. This is adult anime at its most basic and boring without stepping into the arena of hentai (which is the term for pure adult anime) whereby every woman Golgo meets is seen naked, and with the exception of one is (apparently) seduced by him although quite what he does to get them into bed is anyone’s guess! And of course the other staple of the more mature anime is that of the abundance of violence, in this case we see shots of the bullets Golgo uses tearing into the flesh of his victims while there is no lack of blood to be found in the more up close combat scenes.
As you can probably tell from my tone Golgo 13: The Professional is not a film I particularly enjoyed and the reasons are manifold. First and foremost is the main character that apart from featuring a quite boring character design by Japanese animation standards is possibly the worst anti-hero I have ever come across as while we realise he is by all intents and purposes a ‘bad man’ we need a little something to make us at least care that he makes it through the film. Due to his callous nature this is just not possible so I found myself watching without any interest that he may survive the dangerous situations that arise.
Secondly while I realised this was an anime released back in 1983 I was still more than a little displeased by the quality of animation, or the near absence of it which is dreadfully apparent in the action sequences which as a result are not in the least bit exciting or engaging. Character design throughout is also generally quite poor with everything having a somewhat western look to it. Worst off are the female characters who in an anime of this ilk are required to be in a state of undress for the majority of the film and yet the artists were not able to make them in the least bit appealing to the eye while in ‘action’ they often look quite daft!
There are various other issues I have with this film but they tend to be within the areas already mentioned such as an unconvincing main enemy who insists on forgetting all reason to obtain his goals (despite being an initially quite normal character) and the quality of animation used to bring the world to life, which if it were of a higher calibre might allow me to overlook the more apparent problems with the characters and the generally weak storyline. Although one good point is the fine twist at the end (that is if you are still paying attention) which prevents the movie from completely failing, as do a few other interesting concepts such as the use of still artwork which is far more accomplished than most of the animated art present and gives the film a somewhat more artistic look and feel.
Probably most disappointing of all is that I am not at all opposed to the concept of the more adult based (read violent and erotic) anime that is available and indeed there is much more anime on offer that Manga could have chosen to release in the UK. Sadly they have looked to their back catalogue and found a title that for me represents the lower end of the scale in terms of quality and entertainment value as Golgo 13: The Professional’s biggest problem is that for an adult action film it is completely bereft of excitement and intrigue making it a very average nights entertainment.
Presented in a Non-Anamorphic 1:66:1 Widescreen Transfer the print used looks likely to be the same as that used for the VHS release many years ago so for anyone familiar you will of course realise you can expect to see some dirt and white specks present throughout the presentation, but otherwise the condition of the print is fine for what is a reasonably old film. The only major problem with the use of this print is that it shows it was originally destined for VHS use and as such is lacking in fine detail which results in some slight jaggies, fortunately though Golgo 13 does not feature the most detailed of artwork so you never miss out on that much. Colour reproduction seems fine while blacks are also well represented, so for the most part we get a decent if unspectacular presentation.
Despite what the packaging tells us the only language track included on this release is the English Dub, which is presented in DD2.0 Stereo and for its age sounds fine with no noticeable distortion or background noise present. The lack of the original language track is a disappointment both for the fans of the film and on the basic principal that all foreign language films deserve to be presented how they were originally conceived but for obvious reasons I am not going to spend any more time raging on about this issue with regards to this particular film! What I will say is that the English dub acting is reasonable and barring a miraculously captivating performance from the Japanese actors I could not see it making much of a difference to the films overall impact.
The only extras on show are the English promotional Trailer for Golgo 13: The Professional and trailers for other Manga titles which are Akira, Perfect Blue, Black Jack and Wicked City.
It is safe to say that I was not exactly inspired by Golgo 13: The Professional and would certainly not recommend you do anything other than rent it first. Of course if you like the film then this DVD from Manga UK is not a bad effort, but like the film is somewhat lacking in most departments!
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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