Doberman Cop

| July 1, 2017

While Arrow Video has made it a point to release gems like Wolf Guy and Battles Without Honor and Humanity from legends Sonny Chiba and Kinji Fukusaku, nothing can truly prepare you for the beauty that is Doberman Cop. Never before released in the U.S., this 1977 film is loosely adapted from a Shonen Jump manga, written by Buronson, acclaimed writer of Fist of the North Star. The original manga has its central protagonist, Joji Kano, as a motorcycle riding, .44 Magnum wielding detective, Sonny Chiba’s version is a country bumpkin from Okinawa. He shows up, with a pig in tow, to Shinjuku, where he’s been summoned to investigate a murder of a young girl from his hometown of Ishigaki. While the local cops write off her murder as one of the victims of a serial killer, who burns his victims after strangling them, Joji feels that something isn’t right. As he looks into what really happened, he gets wrapped up in a scheme by a local yakuza, who grooms girls into pop stars, as well the fiery serial killer who’s on the loose.

Fukusaku takes liberties with the original source material of Doberman Cop and manages to truly make it his own, to craft a fully entertaining action film, that never fails to deliver. The angle of a “fish out of water” make the character of Joji much more endearing, who is played brilliantly by the legendary Sonny Chiba. Chiba manages to engross viewers into the role with both comedic chops, as well as an action spectacle by doing most of his own stunt work in the film. Fukusaku regular and notable bad-ass in most yakuza films, Hiroki Matsukata plays Hidemori, the mob boss turned manager and turns in just as strong of a performance as he did in the recently released Cops VS Thugs by Arrow Video. Fukusaku’s stylistic approach to telling stories are always dynamic, through the use of great handheld camerawork and raw performances and Doberman Cop is no exception to this. This, plus a great gag involving the live pig that Joji brings from home makes this film a pure joy to sit through.

This release of Doberman Cop comes with a top notch transfer, as well as excellent special features that make this set worth owning. The video transfer comes in a 1080p, AVC encoded transfer, with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. This transfer is much cleaner and nicer than the one Toei provided for Wolf Guy to Arrow Video. During musical numbers or lively strip club sequences, the colors really shine through. The only audio track on the disc is a Japanese Mono LPCM track. It’s a pretty solid track that deftly balances the music dialog and effects extremely well. The extras on the disc include a sequel to Sonny Chiba interview presented in Wolf Guy, an interview with Fukusaku Biographer, Sadao Yamane and an interview with screenwriter Koji Takada.

Every single interview is absolutely stunning and offers a variety of insight to Doberman Cop, Kinji Fukusaku’s body of work and the state of the film industry at the time. Yamane describes how the Yakuza film genre had drastically declined and studios looked more to adapting “Gekiga” or dramatic pictures, manga serials which were aimed more at adults than children. The second Chiba interview has him speaking more of how it was to work with Fukusaku, as well as the interactions that they had in their own personal lives. Koji Takada explains why he and Fukusaku decided to only borrow the bare minimum from the manga and how they made they film that they ultimately wanted. Each one contains some brilliant segments that shed much light on all of those who were involved with the making of Doberman Cop and beyond.

Doberman Cop is a great piece of work, in that it’s highly entertaining and engaging for its entire 94 minutes. Kinji Fukusaku’s work has never been more accessible than this and if you’re looking for something that’s going to be a nice entryway into his work, look no further than Doberman Cop. Highly Recommended!

About the Author:

is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He's an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
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