Golgo 13
The Professional - Special Agent Edition

Starring (voice): Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Tetsurô Sagawa and Gorô Naya
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 18
Available 26 February 2007

Golgo 13, also known as Duke Togo, is an amoral, nameless, assassin for hire, a Japanese James Bond without a conscience. When he kills the son of, Dawson, a wealthy oil tycoon the hunter becomes the hunted. As Golgo 13 continues his assassination assignments his allies are systematically killed, until even Golgo 13 has had enough and goes after Dawson...

The Golgo 13 manga, originally created by Takao Saito, has had significant success in Japan, spawning a couple of live action films, three console games and two anime features, of which this is the first. An animated film noir for an adult audience, from the endless rain to the soft jazz soundtrack, this show is the son of Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade and Joan Collins The Bitch. To further forward its adult credentials the show contains the requisite cheesy '70s sex scenes and luridly drawn graphic violence. Any friends of blood, bottoms and dodgy, cliché ridden, dialogue are going to have a heyday with this one.

The titles and menus pay homage to the shows manga roots, both of which used frames. Though this motif isn't, for the most part, carried over to the main feature, which uses more traditional animation techniques. There are some elements which survive, such as hand drawn stills which intersperse some of the action sequences. The show was made in the '80s and boy does it look it - with its decidedly anachronistic pop art look, this is a show which hasn't aged very well.

The voice actors do what they can with the script. Golgo 13 comes off the best, but then he has the least dialogue. If you're going to listen to one of the tracks, then pick the Japanese one, at least that doesn't suffer from the actors revelling in their stereo types or the truly awful female characterisations.

To be fair to the show, it is a product of not only its time but also of the original material. So if you're a fan of the Golgo 13 manga your going to love this.

Although the two discs contain the same feature, the extras go a long way to make up for this repetition. Disc one has Japanese and English stereo and 5.1 options with a rather good commentary by Jonathan Clements, co-author of the Anime Encyclopaedia. Rounding the disc off is a selection of trailers for other shows.

Disc two has a three and a half minute interview with the producer, Mata Yamamoto, as well as a six and a half minute sneak peek at the new Hellboy anime. Disc two contains the DTS versions of the feature. To be honest, having listened to all of the audio tracks, a lot more could have been down with the soundscape. On both the 5.1 and DTS tracks I had to get up and listen to the rears just to be sure that they were outputting something. They were, just.

Violent, cheesy and often unintentionally funny, Golgo 13 is an odd little movie which is showing its age in plot and presentation. Still if you're a fan of cold hearted killers whose hobby is bedding women who can't even spell suffragette, then this may be for you.

Charles Packer

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