Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Can you say Blaxploitation?  I can, and this old school grindhouse gem starring the ultimate baddass Sonny Chiba seems as if it lifted its story directly off of Jim Brown’s ‘Slaughter’ or ‘Shaft’s big Score’.  Speaking of Blaxploitation, I have quite a few of these gems in the collect and I must bless you, loyal singular dude who reads me, with some reviews one day.  But we are gathered here today my faithful, not to lay praise upon greats, Brown, Kelly, Williamson and Roundtree, but onto Sony Chiba who even out Sonny Chiba’s himself in ‘Golgo 13: The Kowloon Assignment’.

Years ago I was in my local video store and saw the anime feature ‘Golgo 13: The professional’ on display.  Being relatively new to the genre I picked it up and thoroughly enjoyed the exploits of super assassin Duke Togo, Golgo 13.  Duke was simply unstoppable yo, to the point where he was obviously a god.  Not THE one true God mind you, but a god nonetheless.  So when I found that Ronin Entertainment was releasing three lesser known Chiba films, I was interested.  When I found out that one of the films was Chiba playing Duke Togo, people, I was THERE!

Released in 1977, a half dozen years before the Anime feature, you would think that if a role was tailor made for Sonny Chiba it would be that of Golgo 13.  They even explained to us what Golgo 13 means, which has something to do with the 13th hill of Golgotha where Jesus was crucified.  So I’m guessing if you choose THAT as a nickname, you definitely don’t give much of a f**k.

As the narrative plays out, Duke is hired by a U.S. drug kingpin to rub out a Chinese

drug dealer who is taking away too much business.  This is good and fine, but one thing that was odd is that Duke got a delivery of crates to his hotel room which were plainly labeled as ‘firearms’, at least according to subtitles.  I guess everybody gets high powered scope rifles delivered to their rooms in late 1970 Hong Kong.  While Duke is plotting his hit, Hong Kong super cop Detective Smith (Callan Leung) is planning to legally bring down the Chinese Kingpin.  When word gets out that Golgo is on the job, assholes get tight from criminals and law enforcement alike, and security around the Kingpin is heightened.  At a ceremony, which John Woo obviously, unabashedly stole from and inserted into his own classic ‘The Killer’, Golgo is on a rooftop prepared for the hit, but is stunned when a female assassin beats him to the punch and takes out the Kingpin.

Personally, I’d be like ‘Cool, dude is dead and I’m already paid.  Time to move on.’, but not Duke, who as usual, is severely pissed off.  He finds out that there is somebody pulling this guys strings and as such, he’s gonna kill him too, because he’s not going to rest until somebody dies.  Mind you Duke has already killed a good twenty five people so far, but those were for free.  So with Detective Smith hot on his trail, and the bad guys desperate to kill him before he gets them, Golgo 13 is up against it.  But remember, and never forget, he’s NEVER left a job unfinished.

Folks, if you like these kinds of movies, you’ll love this one.  Lots of Kung-Fu fighting, plenty of cheesy dialog, semi-truck huge plot holes, the occasional naked woman who takes a bullet to the skull and a stockpiling body count.  That’s what these movies are all about.  In one scene, Detective Smith laments about how meticulous and precise Golgo 13 is and he never leaves tracks.  Uh, no… not really Detective Smith, considering that Duke Togo registers in hotels under his own name, hotels that he has high powered weapons delivered to, and everybody seems to know that Duke Togo is Golgo 13.  Consider that Duke Togo tends to carry guns he’s used to commit previous murders on his person, and has to rely on prostitutes he rescued to get rid of these guns as he is arrested by the police ain’t really covering your tracks.  And if dead thugs were bread crumbs, chances are they will always lead straight to Duke’s whereabouts.  That’s IF he were hiding, which he isn’t.  Duke is actually a pretty shitty assassin in the clandestine sense, with his main ability being that he can kill you from three miles away with a bb-gun, and can go through an entire movie without blinking even once.

It’s too bad they only made one of these as I would have loved to have seen a series starring Chiba as Duke Togo.  Cheesy?  Perhaps.  Nonsensical?  Definitely.  Entertaining?  Beyond all reasonable expectations.

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