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SRG Sites > NewTechReview > News > Classic Samurai Wolf movies and Violent Streets arrive on Blu-ray May 16 and 23 from Film Movement
Classic Samurai Wolf movies and Violent Streets arrive on Blu-ray May 16 and 23 from Film Movement
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Classic Samurai Wolf movies and Violent Streets arrive on Blu-ray May 16 and 23 from Film MovementOne of the best-kept secrets of Japanese genre filmmaking in the 1960s and ’70s, Hideo Gosha began his studio career in 1964 and quickly emerged as a peerless specialist in chambara (samurai) films. A few years later, a contemporary twist on the chambara formula appeared in the form of the yakuza film, and Gosha proved equally adept with modern dress action. Whether the weapons of choice were swords or snub-nose revolvers, few could match Gosha at his best for economic storytelling and sheer velocity—and these are three of his very best, arriving on two Blu-rays for the very first time in North America, featuring 2K digitally restored films from original broadcast elements.


Legendary genre auteur Hideo Gosha’s gleefully anarchic, spaghetti western-informed samurai adventures are finally available to North American audiences in one complete set. In SAMURAI WOLF 1 (1967, 75 mins, 2.35:1 Widescreen, Mono), Isao Natsuyagi stars as Kiba, a charismatic ronin who wanders into a small town and ends up ensnared in a local conflict that's more than meets the eye. After dispatching a pair of highway criminals seen robbing a courier wagon, Kiba agrees to assist a beautiful blind woman who runs the local shipping company. Double- and triple-crosses ensue, illustrated with savage but economical violence courtesy of famed director Hideo Gosha's striking black and white filmmaking. The result is a lean and mean triumph of samurai cinema, cementing Gosha's status as a master of the genre. In SAMURAI WOLF 2: HELL CUT (1967, 72 mins, 2.35:1 Widescreen, Mono), charismatic ronin Kiba (Isao Natsuyagi) returns, once again entangled in a complex web of intrigue, involving a crooked goldmine owner, a cynical swordsman, and an arrogant dojo master. Master filmmaker Hideo Gosha brings his trademark tight pacing and stylish action to this brisk morality play, inevitably punctuated by the explosions of violent swordplay beloved by fans of the genre.

Of SAMURAI WOLF, Lone Wolves and Hidden Dragons wrote that it’s “a delicious cold cut samurai sandwich that adheres to standard Chambara conventions, but creates a vastly likable hero in the process. [Gosha's] work is ripe for discovery and wider recognition” and Japan on Film said, “To call it action-packed would be an understatement. At the same time, it is also one of the most imaginatively photographed and edited films of the sixties”.

- Outlaw Director - Hideo Gosha featurette with Tomoe Gosha
- Audio commentary by Chris Poggiali, co-author of These Fists Break Bricks
- 20-page booklet with a new essay by Robin Gatto, author of Hideo Gosha, cinéaste sans maître


Sometimes regarded as not only among Gosha’s finest films but among the finest yakuza films ever made, VIOLENT STREETS (1974, 96 mins, 2.35:1 Widescreen, Mono) is a brutal, gripping, kinetic action yarn in which legendary gangster-turned-actor Noboru Ando plays Egawa, a retired yakuza underboss, now nightclub owner, who gets pulled back into the life when his old comrades demand control of his club. Meanwhile, a gang war quietly roiling behind the scenes erupts into open violence in response to a high-profile kidnapping, lending unimaginably high stakes to Egawa's reemergence onto the yakuza scene. The result is a kinetic and stylish explosion of deception, mayhem, and death that leaves no one safe - and a masterpiece of 1970's yakuza cinema, a pulpy, pungent thriller.

Films from the Far Reaches said “Violent Streets is one of the wildest, bloodiest and most visually stunning Yakuza yarns ever made…[it’s] a masterpiece, plain and simple. One of Gosha's best (just maybe his very best) and one of the crowning achievements in Japan's Yakuza cycle of the 70s. A must see,” and Joseph Perry of When It Was Cool said the film “boasts engrossing performances, taut direction, double-crosses galore, eye-popping visuals, and plenty of offbeat moments,” and Ruben Rosario of Film Monthly called it ““an insane delight to behold.”

- Tattooed Director: Hideo Gosha featurette with Tomoe Gosha
- A Street That Can’t Be Beat video essay by TokyoScope author Patrick Macias
- 16-page booklet with a new essay by Japanese film expert Mark Schilling

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