Nikkatsu, the oldest film studio in Japan, inaugurated a star system in the late 1950s, finding talent and contracting them to a series of wild genre pictures. A prominent example of the tendency is “Tokyo Mighty Guy.”
Young Jiro returns to Tokyo after finishing his studies in French cuisine and opens a restaurant in Ginza. However, he stumbles upon many troubles as an ex-prime minister crashes his car in his restaurant, the Yakuza seems to demand money for protection, and Jiro does not seem able to stop helping everyone that comes across his way.
Buichi Saito directs a very entertaining film, which, although focuses on the comic element, it manages to include romance, corruption, crime, social comments and a few impressive, in hilarious fashion, action scenes. However, in order to manage to include all that in the 79 minutes of the film, he implemented a frantic rhythm, with the story progressing without stop with each scene, and the dialogues following the same pace. In the end, though, this pace is what makes the film so easily watchable after all these years (it is a 1960 film), as, along with some musical elements, it functions as a retro music video or a razzmatazz if you wish.
Akira Kobayashi, who was already a superstar in the 60’s is the definite protagonist of the film as Jiro, a true mighty guy, with his gorgeous looks, his unparalleled strength, his intellect (he does speak French after all), his kindness and his relentless pursue of justice for everyone who thinks is wronged. The female leads are all gorgeous, headed by Ruriko Asaoka and Sanae Nakahara but the one who steals the show is Toranosuke Ogawa as ex-prime minister Onizaemon Ippon’yari, who makes hilarious every scene he appears in, both due to his general appearance and his prowess in comic acting. Probably the best scene of the film, the one with the fighting on the beach owes much to his presence with a huge bamboo rod.
Technically, the digital transfer of the original Nikkatsu film in Blu-Ray format has created wonders both in image, where the coloring is impressive, and in sound. The aforementioned scene, the introduction, and the last skirmish are definite proofs of the fact.
“Tokyo Mighty Guy” shows its age at many of its aspects and particularly in the nonsensicality of its script, it remains, however, very entertaining due to its pace, funny moments, cast and restoration.
The film is part of Arrow Films Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Vol 2, that also features “Danger Pays” and “Joe of Spades” with Jo Shishido, another Nikkatsu superstar of the era. Presented for the first time in the West on DVD and Blu-ray format, the collection features these special contents:
- Limited Edition Blu-ray collection (3000 copies)
- High Definition digital transfers of all three films in this collection, from original film elements by Nikkatsu Corporation
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
- Original uncompressed mono audio
- Newly translated English subtitles
- 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