Spent most of the day trying to decide what movie I wanted to watch. I’ve been running on fumes since Wednesday afternoon, so I was desperate for some lightweight, brainless popcorn entertainment, and Wolf Guy (the top recommendation on Kanopy based on my viewing habits) ended up being just what the doctor ordered.
The plots of Sonny Chiba vehicles tend to be flimsy justifications for the copious amounts of martial arts action and death-defying stunts, but this gloriously campy Toei production takes the cake. This time, our perpetually-scowling leading man—who, in his prime, would have given Tom Cruise a run for his money in the “suicidally self-destructive, but damn, does he make it look cool” department—plays a… private detective? Freelance reporter? It’s actually kind of unclear, but it doesn’t really matter; his profession merely serves as an excuse for him to beat up yakuza thugs, butt heads with suspicious cops, and woo seductive damsels in distress.
Oh, and he’s also the last surviving member of a clan of mountain-dwelling lycanthropes (though in this case, the full moon imbues him with the spirit and powers of a wolf, rather than triggering the traditional physical transformation).
What begins as a by-the-numbers gangland thriller (albeit with a supernatural twist) quickly becomes unclassifiable as our protagonist finds himself entangled in a convoluted government conspiracy… before literally fleeing into a third act that feels like a completely different story. Which doesn’t necessarily make it bad; on the contrary, every viewer will find at least one thing in Wolf Guy that appeals to their cinematic tastes, including legitimately impressive gore effects, beautifully choreographed fight scenes (shot with a jittery handheld camera to emphasize their brutality), and upsettingly Oedipal undertones.
Hey, I said that everybody would find something to love, not that everybody would love the whole package.
[Originally written August 4, 2018.]