Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment

Year: 1977
Director: Noda Yukio

Rating: 7.5

Four years after Golgo 13, the deadly assassin returns in this film with a new face as Ken Takakura is replaced by another action legend, Sonny Chiba. Both of them are great presences in their respective film - unsmiling, unsentimental, inexpressive killers - but one advantage that Chiba has over Takakura is his physical prowess and martial arts training. And he uses it to good advantage in the film with some good hand to hand combat scenes and hanging from a cliff top for a clear shot. This film also appears to have a bigger budget, more energy, crisper action and more of it. Director Yukio Noda keeps the film moving quickly as he had done previously in Yakuza Deka (also with Chiba) and the wonderfully deranged Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs. This is a pretty enjoyable film for what it attempts to do.

It also has some parallels with John Woo's The Killer as it follows two storylines - Golgo 13 trying to locate and kill his target and a HK policeman is chasing after him as well as Golgo's target. The policeman is played by Lun Chia who co-incidentally has a striking resemblance to Danny Lee (who played the cop in The Killer). Reporting to him is an undercover knife throwing police woman played by Chiba's protégé, Etsuko Shihomi, who doesn't get nearly as much screen time as I had been hoping for. Another actress that you might identify is Dana - which is the only name she went by in a few sleazy Shaw Brothers films like Sex for Sale, Girl with the Long Hair and Black Magic. Here she is the mistress to one of the bad guys and shows her charms at one point. I remembered them well. In a small role as Golgo's friend in Hong Kong is Koji Tsuruta, who along with Takakura had been a huge star in the Ninkyo Eiga films of the 1960's.

Golgo 13 takes a contract from a top drug dealer in Miami (after shooting two of his men in a high-rise 500 yards away just for the hell of it - like a calling card) to go to Hong Kong and kill his man there who he suspects is cheating him. This version of Golgo 13 is slightly nicer than in the first one as he saves a girl from the police (Takakura would have walked away) and is then forced to kill about ten bad guys who are after her. So there is also a good body count going here about 15 minutes into the film. It climbs higher.

Chiba is great in this film - more a scowling presence than an actor as he hardly has any dialogue. People try and engage him in dialogue but he just gives them a fierce look that would shrink your testicles. I wonder why neither of the films was turned into a series as was often the habit of Japanese producers back then - too bad because Golgo 13 is a great if slightly cartoonish character I would like to see more of.