Golgo 13: The Professional - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Urban Vision
  • MSRP: 19.95
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen Letterbox
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Golgo 13

Golgo 13: The Professional

By Chris Beveridge     November 01, 2005
Release Date: November 01, 2005

Golgo 13: The Professional
© Urban Vision

What They Say
Industrial Tycoon Leonard Dawson has always had the world at his feet, until the day is shattered with the brutal assassination of his son, the heir to all his fortune. With riches beyond belief, Dawson seeks vengeance against the hitman that murdered his son.

Adapted from Takao Saito’s classic manga series, Golgo 13: The Professional set the precedent for blending computer animation with traditional animation techniques when it was originally released.

The Review!
Golgo 13 returns for another mission that becomes one where some of his best support people are knocked off along the way.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The shows original mono mix is not available but we do get what is presumed to be the new Japanese mixed 5.1 track with it. Though it is 5.1, it's best to consider this basically a stereo mix with mild use of the left/right channels and more of a full feeling forward soundstage mix. There isn't a lot of directionality here beyond some of the obvious areas like music and some of the minor action effects as most of it really feels center channel based. It does sound good through and only gets a little bit hissy and static like during some of the louder sequences. The English 5.1 mix is relatively the same but that also makes out better with a stereo mix that brings things down a bit and avoids some of the static. Dialogue is pretty much clean and clear throughout otherwise and we had no problems with distortions or dropouts during regular playback.

Originally released to theaters back in 1983, the transfer for this movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 but is not enhanced for anamorphic playback. The transfer for this release looks decent overall considering its age and that the source materials appear to be what Urban Vision had on hand as it is not the same as the Japanese DVD release which was anamorphic. The print does have some changes to it though and based on the experiences with the Lupin TV series releases which came via TMS as this does, I'm suspecting there was some Japanese involvement. The opening logo doesn't look like something produced in 1983 so I'm suspecting that is new while during the show the name/position information that is burnt into the print from its original theatrical run is overlaid with a black section and white text with the English text. The end credits has the same new TMS logo as the Lupin releases from Geneon does which pushes the suspicions more strongly that they had a hand in how this looks. Beyond these issues, the show does look good overall though the black levels aren't quite as solid and tend to have a bit more gray to them. The big CG attack sequence near the end shows a bit of aliasing and break-up that's not unexpected considering the technology of the time and the greater detail present here. The print is otherwise in good shape, free of most noticeable problems such as dust and dirt or scratches.

Using an original creation from what limited material must be available, the front cover has a simple look of Golgo with his weapon in hand running that looks like basic clipart while behind him is the more up to date artwork that has a bland orange background where two filmstrips overlap and have various clips from the show itself as well as a couple of well placed sniper target sites. The Japanese artwork doesn't look all that much better or useable with the nudity and with the age of it there likely simply isn't a lot available but it's pretty poor in general. The back cover has another filmstrip of shots from the show while the rest of it is a brownish/black background that lists the discs features, a large text version of the summary and some of the production credits. Any technical information is essentially non-existent here other than the running time. The insert has a variant of the front cover for artwork and opens up to one panel explaining the origins of Golgo while the other panel has boxart advertisements. The back panel lists the chapter stops for the film.

The menu layout uses the same elements from the cover and rearranges them a bit and has actual animation clips playing through the film strip sections of the various scenes as the vocal song plays along to it, which plays out a fair bit lengthier than most companies allow their menus to do. The look and layout is decent enough with the navigation menu along the bottom and the selector is cutely done. Access times are nice and fast and the layout fast to access. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets accurately and played accordingly.

I'm almost surprised there are any extras included with this release, though there's only one really besides the art gallery. In addition to that, there's what appears to be a brand new video interview with the films producer Mataichiro Yamamoto. This is an interesting but brief interview in general but also because Yamamoto conducts it entirely in English and covers a range of interests in regards to the film and the process. The downside to it is that it looks like it was filmed with a handheld camera as the quality is really poor and the authoring couldn't compensate as the entire thing, especially the orange background, is constantly moving. VHS quality doesn't even cover how it looks.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Golgo 13 is one of those movies that old folks like me remember seeing sometime during the 1980's without subtitles and wondering just what the hell was going on, particularly since it seemed like there was some random sex scene every ten minutes or so. Without subtitles or scripts or even a summary most of the time, the show had to carry itself with the visuals and whatever you were able to piece together from that. Having not seen this since those days, returning to it almost twenty years later is almost an amusing exercise.

This feature length film came out in 1983 and was very much something that caused some notice, not only for its adaptation of a very popular manga series that ran years earlier but because it was the first anime film I believe that used some extensive computer graphics within it, including a sequence towards the end that was filled with helicopters swarming around a building. These scenes of course look almost comical by today's standards but at the time it was just as startling to see as the kind of effects used in the Matrix were surprising back in 1999. Unlike most of today's anime though, they didn't mix the traditional with the computer generated material so it stands out in its own way as opposed to badly fitting into the scene of traditional animation.

The storyline for the Golgo 13 movie is complex if only because of the way that it unravels. The films opens with a couple of quick hits to establish the skill of Golgo before he goes for an impressive shot of taking out someone on a stage on a cruise liner from a lighthouse a considerable distance away. The cruiser is owned by Leonard Dawson, one of the most powerful oil barons in the US who was just going through a ceremony of introducing his twenty-nine year old son Robert as the new president of the company. He had tied the event to his own 62nd birthday party which only makes witnessing his only son and family member left to be slain in front of him. Golgo gets away without problem but that only gets him so far.

Golgo finds out that the man that he goes through for the jobs has been crucified inside his church and is slowly dying. He claims clearly that he hasn't told anyone about the job and he has no idea who it was that did this to him but he knows its related to what Golgo just did. Figuring someone else is out there after him now, Golgo goes on something of a retreat and makes his way to various locales and meets up with other supporting members of his missions who then invariably end up dead along the way, which pushes him to go so far as South America to get himself in order for what has to pursue next.

One of the colorful characters he comes upon during his travels is one of his targets named Dr. Z. Initially he starts up with his daughter, a buxom and gorgeous blonde woman who is doing her best to try and convince Golgo to not go after her father, which means she gets a good sex scene with him since she'll try anything in her slightly drunken state. Another woman that he comes across is one of his support people named Rita who makes him his specialized guns as well as fast cars which he acquires from her so he can deal with those that are tailing him.

While Golgo spends his time on the run, the other side that we see is Leonard Dawson as he calls in every favor he has to get people from the FBI, CIA and the military to hunt him down. He's completely enraged that as much money as he's spent to buy these people has resulted in no actual kill of the man who killed his son and rages at them. One of them has brought in a new weapon to do the job though, a thoroughly disgusting elongated man who has the look and feel of a man-snake. But the thing has a price of its own and Dawson actually gives him his daughter in law for the guys' sexual pleasure before he agrees to go out and hunt down Golgo.

The look and feel for the show is pretty much on par from what little of the manga I've read so it doesn't seem like it really strays that much. My only other experience with it was with the 1998 OVA release of Queen Bee which had its own set of issues but was still a nicely done show for a genre that doesn't allow itself to have really detailed characterizations. This movie covers the basics for what you need for a good cat and mouse game but it's dulled by age and sensibilities. The animation itself is decent and it's definitely more fluid than a lot of movies out at that time but it does minimize things in order to approximate the style used in the manga.

In Summary:
While there isn't anything terribly original here as it evolves into the rich man hunting down the assassin by using his money and resources, there are some good twists along the way that gives it a bit of flavor. A lot of the draw is Golgo himself as the super marksman who pulls off some really amazing and impossible shots as he takes on the various missions. Like a lot of movies of the time, it fits the mold of what anime was thought of by the mainstream by being filled with lots of sex and violence. It does what it does very well and is faithful to the original manga but Golgo is a hard character to really work with since it's the epitome of the strong silent type. This release is pretty solid overall for fans of the property and while there are some minor issues with the transfer and the lack of an anamorphic print, it's a surprise that it got released at all considering Urban Vision's track record.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Interview with Producer Mata Yamamoto, Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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