Wolf Guy (1975)

One expects a movie with a title as succinct as “Wolf Guy” to feature a bit of lycanthropy. I mean, it’s implied right there in the title printed on the cover, right? That’s generally the agreement but not in the Sonny Chiba led kung fu-cum-crime drama recently released on blu ray by Arrow Video. What there is though, is what I’m fairly safe in calling one of the earliest known appearances of the male romper in film history. Besides the fashion on display, there’s also some wild kung fu sequnces, a phantom tiger, heaving bossom’s and even some supernatural powers (just so you aren’t fully missing out on a lycanthropic experience).

The only link to werewolves in the film is his  origin of being the last surviving member of the Werewolf Clan and a few minor but not very lycan- related slupernatural powers. There’s an interview with the director included in the special features of this release that shed quite a bit of light into the why’s and how’s of the making of this movie and why exactly a furry fiend never makes an appearance. I recommend checking it out if only to hear some explanation of the above and as an added bonus, some Sonny Chiba shit talk.

The story feels like it was the least important part of the equation when they were making Wolf Guy (what with the , with two plot lines that seem to have just been butted up against one another to make this a feature length release. With that said, each half does contribute something unique and entertaining to the whole, resulting in a bizzare spectacle so complaints about a confusing story line only go so far. The first half of the story takes place in urban Tokyo under the cover of night and follows a series of murders that appear to have been committed by something not human. Cue strange visions of not wolves but of a tiger listlessly just sort of walking towards the camera/stars. Super threatening stuff right? And totally related to werewolves. The tiger spirit is linked to a club singer whose had all sorts of nasty run ins with the local yakuza before this story begins, and this is where things start to get messy.

The “second story” takes place near Chiba’s childhood home, which turns out to be a run-down shack adjacent to a rock quarry. I think the idea here is that they are hiding out from the Yakuza (?), but like the rest of the plot, it’s poorly communicated. Thankfully, we get a whole bunch of explosions and fighting, a welcome reprieve from the strange but slow moving middle of the movie. The end of the movie also features the aforementioned male romper so watch for that among the flying bodies and machine gun fire.

The soundtrack in the film, boots the strangeness that defines and propels Wolf Guy into overdrive from the moment you hit play. It opens on a squealing guitar lick ripped straight from a 1972 psych rock album, kicking the door on your brain and announcing that it’s here to play for keeps. The music, next to the kung-fu of course, stands as one of the major highlights of the movie, providing something for the watcher even when the story is lost and trying to sort itself out, which happens more than a couple times. The kung fu is obviously going to be a highlight; why else would you hire Sonny Chiba? The fight scenes are typical Chiba, favoring brutality and savage blows over style and they match perfectly with the sleazy yakuza tone of the movie. I don’t feel there are quite enough fights towards the middle of the flick but the third act quickly remedies that in a memorable fashion.

While Wolf Guy is nowhere near as entertaining or impactful as some of Chiba’s other work, that doesn’t mean it should be slept on. As long as you aren’t expecting a full fledged kung-fu canine, then you might be a disappointed. It also includes interviews with the director and part one of a two part interview with Sonny Chiba about his role in this genre. Grab this release from Arrow Video.

-Scotty (@drunkgraveyard)

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