I have to be honest and say that before Arrow Video put this movie out, I had never heard of it. The cover art plus the title plus Sonny Chiba attracted my attention and I was excited to check out this slice of 70’s action.
Wolfguy: Enraged Lycanthrope come from the same director as Sister Streetfighter and Wandering Ginza Butterfly 1 & 2. It stars Chiba as Wolf, the lone survivor of a clan of wolf people. At the beginning of the film he runsafoul of a yakuza looking dude who nearly gets hit by Wolf’s car as he runs screaming down the street. He fears a tiger, more specifically a woman who has turned into a tiger. Before Wolf’s eyes, the man is torn apart by some invisible force. Intrigued, he investigates the murder along with his newspaper associate and together they uncover a sleazy plot involving rape, drugs, the world of entertainment, politics, and that yakuza. Wolf infuriates the wrong people and they want him dead. Can he uncover the truth and destroy the bad guys before they get him?
Let me begin by saying that despite the title of the film, the movie is not a horror flick. Yes Chiba plays a wolfman but he never turns into a werewolf if that makes sense. There are no transformations and he doesn’t howl at the moon. He is more animalistic than a normal man and has bestial strength that grows until it reaches it’s apex at the 15th day of the moon where he becomes invincible. The film’s tone is one of action and mystery, not of horror. So, if you’re hoping for a 70’s horror flick with Sonny Chiba tearing people apart, you’re going to be disappointed. That being said, I really enjoyed this flick. It starts with a big bloody bang and the action continues through it’s tight run time. Chiba is at his roguish best and all the ladies in the movie can’t wait to make love to him. The camera work is shaky and raw which gives the film energy and a real sense of danger and menace. The music is super funky and could not have come from any other decade than the 70’s. It feels like a soundtrack that could have easily been on a blaxploitation film from the era. There’s no question the movie was meant to appeal to an audience that had a hunger for blood, action, sex, and a sense of cool. It has no airs and no pretensions. It gives the audience what it wants and does so in a fast and short run time.
The image is fantastic and so is the audio. Again, as always, Arrow has done a great job at presenting this film. From what i can tell this is a rare one and Arrow has saved it from obscurity looking like it was always well looked after. The film is supplemented with interviews with the director, producer, and Sonny Chiba, and a collector’s booklet. If you’re a fan of Sonny Chiba, Japanese cinema, cinema from the 70’s, crime, action, or the original Manga, you’ll have fun with this flick.