Road Rash Reviews

THE BULLET TRAIN [SHINKANSEN DAIBAKUHA] (Eureka Classics) Special Edition Blu-ray Review****-

Cert PG | 152 mins | 1975

4 Star

A Tension Packed Thrill Ride.

Writer/director Jun’ya Satô (Hold Me and Kiss Me, G-Men ’75), along with writers Sunao Sakagami, and Ryûnosuke Ono (Crying Freeman (TV Mini Series), The Procurer), came up with one intense story that would go on to inspire future filmmakers. The Bullet Train is a unique film to Japan, but the story can be placed anywhere.

In Yūbari station, it is the dead of night and a suspicious character Masaru Koga (Kei Yamamoto, Men and War II, Shutter) is skulking around the marshalling yard looking for freight train 5790 that is going to Oiwake. When he finds it, we see him place a bomb on it.

In Tokyo Okita Precision Instruments, INC is lying empty due to the owner going bankrupt, but that is not the only thing that has befallen Tetsuo Okita (Ken Takakura, The Yellow Handkerchief, Poppoya) as he has also gone through a messy divorce and he doesn’t get to see his son. This has led him to get in with some dodgy bedfellows, in activist Masaru Koga, Shinji Fujio (Eiji Gô, The Yakuza, Karate Inferno) and former employee Hiroshi Ōshiro (Akira Oda), but Fujio has been arrested, so Okita is having second thoughts about their main plan to extort money out of the government. However Koga persuades him to go through with the plan.

The plan, Bullet Train (Hikari) 109 is departing from Tokyo station to Hakata, with fifteen-hundred passengers on board for the seven-hour journey. But this time there is an extra package onboard, a bomb packed with dynamite. Okita is going to blackmail the government into giving him $5 million. The bomb has been fitted with a speedometer, and once the train reaches its full speed of 210 km/h, the train cannot go below 80 km/h, or it will detonate the bomb.

Okita phones security lieutenant in chief, Japan National Railways and tells them about the bomb on Hikari 109, and the one on freight train 5790, that is about to get to its destination. Only when the freight train explodes does Okita phone in with his demands for the money. Hikari 109 driver Aoki (Sonny Chiba, The Street Fighter Trilogy, Sister Street Fighter Collection, The Executioner Collection) is informed about his new situation. He is told to keep his speed down to 120 Km/h to give them another three hours to find the bomb or the bombers. The Hunt is on. Ten hours of stress and strain on a train.

This intense thriller will have you on the edge of your seat the whole way through. As cops search for the Stoic Okita and his accomplices’ while trying to raise the money to save the train, or the fifteen-hundred people on board. Ken Takakura takes the driving seat as the man with a troubled past, and hoping for a better future, and great to see Sonny Chiba in a straight acting role.

A must for the suspense fan in the house.

The Bullet Train is available on a (Eureka Classics) Special Edition Blu-ray





Limited Edition slipcase featuring new artwork by Tony Stella (First Print Run of 2000 copies) | 1080p presentation on Blu-ray from a 2K restoration of the original film elements | Original Japanese theatrical version and alternate dubbed International version included | Optional English subtitles | Brand-new audio commentary by Jasper Sharp and Tom Mes | Brand-new interview with author / critic Kim Newman | Brand-new interview with Tony Rayns | “Big Movie, Big Panic: Junya Sato on The Bullet Train” archival featurette | Off the Rails: Junya Sato’s biographers on the making of The Bullet Train – Brand-new interview with film writer Tatsuya Masuto and film critic Masaaki Nomura | Trailers | PLUS: A limited edition collectors booklet featuring a new essay by film writer Barry Forshaw (First Print Run of 2000 copies)

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DirectorJun'ya Satô
StarringKen Takakura, Shinichi Chiba, Ken Utsui, Fumio Watanabe, Kei Yamamoto