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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > Action > Crime > Gangster > Comedy > Japan > Nikkatsu Diamond Guys: Volume 2 (1960, 62, 65/MVD Visual/Arrow Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Set)

Nikkatsu Diamond Guys: Volume 2 (1960, 62, 65/MVD Visual/Arrow Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Set)

Picture: B/B- Sound: B/B- Extras: B+ Films: C+/B/C+

New from Arrow is Nikkatsu Diamond Guys: Volume 2, another solid set in what's becoming a series and a great new Blu-ray/DVD collection of three bizarre 1960s Japanese films from the oldest movie studio in the country, Nikkatsu. Mimicking Old Hollywood, the studio assembled some of Japan's wildest genre stars and the result are three wacky movies in this release that are sure to entertain fans of Japanese and cult international cinema.

The films include Tokyo Mighty Guy (1960), Danger Pays (1962), and Murder Unincorporated (1965). All of which feature stars (known in the industry as the Diamond Guys) Akira Kobayashi (Retaliation), Ko Nakahira and one of my personal favorites Jo Shishido (Branded to Kill). Directors include Buichi Saito (Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril), Ko Nakahiri (Crazed Fruit), and Haruyasu Noguchi (Cat Girls Gamblers).

In Tokyo Mighty Guy, which was directed by Saito and starring Kobayashi, centers around Jiro who has returned home from France and decides to open his own French restaurant in the Ginza district of Tokyo. Things start to turn south when a Yakuza gang threatens not only his business but his girlfriend's as well. A little little hearted and well shot, this semi-musical is highly entertaining.

Danger Pays is my favorite of the three, starring Nakahira in a crime caper about a criminal named Joe the Ace who has a trademark purple suit, tiny red car, and avid gun collector. Seeing a get rich opportunity over a counterfeit money scandal, Joe the Ace kidnaps the famous counterfeiter and ends up encountering two other similar minded Gangsters with the same end game in mind. The highlight of the film is an incredible shootout sequence during the climax that is sure to please fans of Sam Peckinpah.

Lastly, we have Murder Incorporated, that follows three colleagues of a powerful crime syndicate who all end up getting playing cards that reveal their death in order at the hands of the treacherous hitman named Joe of Spades (Shisido). To fight against him, a team known as Murder Incorporated band together to stop the killer.

The set comes with two Blu-rays, one of which has all three feature films and the other for supplements and of course a lesser standard definition DVD version. Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen scope aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and a restored uncompressed Japanese mono audio track, there's no question that these films look better here than ever before.

The DVD features transfers of the films in standard definition with an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and a PCM 2.0 Mono track that sounds comparable but not quite as clear as the Blu-ray. The set also boasts newly translated and refined English subtitles.

Additional special features include...

Specially recorded video discussions with Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp on Diamond Guys Jo Shishido and Akira Kobayashi

Original trailers for all three films

Extensive promotional image galleries for all films

Reversible sleeve featuring brand new artwork by Graham Humphreys

Booklet featuring new writing on all the films and director profiles by Stuart Galbraith IV, Tom Mes and Mark Schilling

Limited to 3,000 units, this is a great collectors item and a few hours of nostalgic entertainment.

- James Lockhart



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