Golgo 13: Queen Bee (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, April 17, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, April 17, 2001



What They Say
Golgo 13: the world’s most notorious assassin is on another dangerous mission!! The Professional is back in action, this time on DVD! He’s a James Bond 007 type, but without the conscience, cold and suave, a real lady-killer…in more ways than one! His current assignment is to terminate Queen Bee, the leader of a South America liberation army, before she assassinates a high profile presidential candidate. The mission complicates when Golgo penetrates the hive and discovers that there’s more to the assassination plot than meets the eye. He must now step aside, in what turns out to be a personal quest for revenge. The hunt is on as Golgo and Queen Bee’s path cross several times, culminating in a confrontation laced with violence and personal conviction. In a bizarre episode filled with action, drama and passion, which climaxes with and end that’s impossible to predict, Golgo 13: Queen Bee will keep audiences on the edge and guessing!

With an intricate plot and nonstop action and intrigue, there is something for everyone! The exciting sequel to the groundbreaking The Professional: Golgo 13, Golgo 13: Queen Bee continues the tradition of thrilling story lines and unabashed adult content that established the Golgo 13 character across the board in theatrical movies, comics, and video games!

The Review!
After fifteen years from the previous release of the Golgo 13 movie, the creative folks have returned to a character they really enjoy and bring to life a very interesting 60 minute movie. Of course, the manga author has been busy during all that time, with the series up to almost 120 volumes worth as of the directors commentary recording last year. Suffice to say, there's a lot of stories about this character and his world.

Audio:
For the primary review, we listened to the movie in its original language of Japanese. Contrary to their recent releases where the English track was getting a 5.1 remix and the Japanese wasn't, Urban Vision has gone and made sure both tracks were remixed for this release. What does it result in? A quite pleasing mix. While there's very little going to the rear speakers, the separation along the front soundstage is excellent with characters voices being placed precisely and ambient effects and gunshots being used to great effect. While not an overly active full immersive track, it's definitely true to the original stereo mix while adding a level of richness to it.

Video:
Being a more recent release, the source materials used here are in what appears to be pristine shape. There were no visible nicks or scratches, line noise was practically non-existent and my hated rainbows were present only on the actual credits in the opening and ending. There were a few areas where some minor artifacting showed, such as one of the blue night time sky sequences towards the end, but overall this is a solid looking transfer. Colors are solid, blacks maintain their level and the few vibrant colors look great when contrasted against the more realistic tones of the rest of the show.

Packaging:
The cover used for the disc fits pretty well with the mood of the show, dark, violent and sexy at the same time. The reverse side has a good rundown of both the features and the show itself. Only gripe is the lack of region coding listing, but we're assuming it's 1 since it's not listed. The fold out insert provides some expanded artwork and some interesting tidbits about the history of both the shows character (such as what the 13 stands for) and the various incarnations.

Menus:
The menu layout is pretty basic with the usual selections sans music and animation. Access times between menus is a tad sluggish but nothing unbearable unless you've only got a few seconds left to live. There's not much depth to the menus though, so you won't spend a lot of time on them. The disc did reflect my presets for my player though, which was visible in the audio and subtitles selection menu.

Extras:
The only extra here is one that Urban Vision is quickly becoming famous for, a directors commentary. Additionally, the executive producer participated in this as well. Due to time limits, we only got a chance to listen to parts of it, but what we did here was quite interesting. The two definitely have things to say about the show and their own passion for telling the stories as well as attempts to bring it to TV and the like. For Golgo 13 fans who want to know more, this is a great extra.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The premise of the show is pretty straightforward. Legendary assassin for hire Golgo 13 will do any job for the right amount of money. This time he's hired to assassinate a woman nicknamed Queen Bee, who leads a guerilla group and has a personal vendetta to kill the Democratic candidate for President of the United States.

Though simple and straightforward, there are plenty of twists and turns as pieces are revealed along the way. Golgo himself doesn't have all that many lines, preferring to be the grim assassin and take everything in and act with minimal necessity. As Golgo moves deeper into his mission (and a rather passionate encounter with his target), the pieces start falling into place. There are a number of parties involved, from the candidates past, the Queen Bee's guerilla affiliation and the political maneuverings of the American system.

The first half of this movie is pretty much a set up for the second half. The characters interactions keep the revelations coming and bring things to their boiling point, which results in the second half of almost non-stop action sequences and other maneuvers. There's not a lot of depth to the characters, but you get a good feel for the main ones, especially Queen Bee. The main focus of the show is of course the action, but there is a good amount of character development for her and for the presidential candidate. Golgo isn't one of those characters whose supposed to grow from these experiences.

What this show does have is violence in spades. Lots of gun action, lots of bodies piling up and even the doctor brought to the wounded warrior onboard a ship to be attended to. Not enough? Well, there's plenty of sex too, with Queen Bee making sure her passion is spread among her comrades and even her enemy. With the show done in a more realistic style, the sex scenes are pretty well done and the Japanese voice actress goes at them with good sounding passion.

What really shines with this show are the varied styles used in it. Several sequences towards the middle use a starfield feeling mixed into the animation that gives you an odd feeling and sets you off balance. Other areas have some great use of speedlines that you rarely see done well in anime. One area that I usually dislike that's done well here is the transition to/from cel animation to a piece of static artwork. Though the triplicate pans do become slightly bothersome, the transitions work pretty well and look good.

Golgo 13's story is pretty interesting, and after the election year we just had in the U.S., this is one show that will remind you what a real scandal is all about. There are a number of minor surprises throughout, but a fair amount of the show is predictable. It's a good hour of fun entertainment that looks great and sounds better than expected. Golgo 13: Queen Bee caught us off-guard from our expectations and proved to be an enjoyable show.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Director & Executive Producer Commentary (Japanese w/DVD Subtitles)

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Urban Vision
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Golgo 13