Christopher T. Casey | Sierra Vista, AZ United States | 05/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finally! It is about time someone released Takashi Nomura's brilliant noir film, A COLT IS MY PASSPORT. This film, alone, would be reason enough to buy this box set; but, the added attraction of four more clasic Nikkatsu Action flicks (including the superb CRUEL GUN STORY) makes this a gotta-get for fans of hard-boiled Japanese action cinema.
Hats off to Criterion/Eclipse for stepping up and unleashing more great Nikkatsu films!
Exciting noir from Japan
Ron Rood | Amsterdam, Netherlands | 10/10/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I received an email newsletter from Criterion announcing the release of 5 japanse noirs as part of their Eclipse Series my immediate response was: where is my credit card? Not everything in the genre is easily obtainable from this side of the globe, especially for the relatively older works not directed by Kurosawa and the other well-known masters. This fine collection of films from one of Japan's oldest film studios is certainly a welcome contribution. The five pieces are very diverse, worth watching at least once and delivered in excellent quality and obtainable for an affordable price."
Probably the best Eclipse box set yet - truly eye opening
Brucifer | Boston, MA | 01/05/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having seen most of the films in the traveling Nikkatsu noir retrospective last year when it hit New York and Boston, I was initially disappointed with the choice of titles in this collection, because the only film from that retrospective included in this box set was A Colt Is My Passport. But in hindsight, I'm glad Eclipse didn't merely duplicate the films from that retrospective, as obviously there is a lot more Nikkatsu noir out there than most of us had any clue about. Whoever chose the films for this collection knows their Japanese noir and picked a bunch of obscure and pioneering titles that all happen to be excellent. All 5 of the films in this collection are true films noir (not "sort of noir" borderline cases like many DVDs marketed as "noir" can be), kinetically and inventively filmed in black and white, featuring excellent jazz scores (and in one case a spaghetti Western-like score), beautifully presented with barely a hint of print damage, and in their original theatrical aspect ratios. As with the "no frills" approach taken in the Eclipse collections to keep the prices reasonable, there are no special features like interviews, documentaries, trailers, etc. However, the printed liner notes provided for each film give you all the critical/historical background you need on each film. I very much hope Eclipse decides to do not just a follow-up but multiple volumes of this collection -- and soon! No doubt there are plenty of noirs out there from the incredibly prolific Nikkatsu studios. Japanese noir didn't really take off until the late 1950s (barring the two influential Kurosawa films: Stray Dog and Drunken Angel in the late 40s), so many of the Nikkatsu noirs I saw in that travelling retrospective were inevitably in color. So it would be great to see some of these color noirs included in the next collection, particularly Toshio Masuda's other films (the one in this collection, A Colt Is My Passport, is black and white, but Red Handkercheif, Velvet Hustler, Gangster V.I.P., Bloodstained Challenge, and probably others are in color). In fact, how about an Eclipse set with just the Masuda noirs, along with further sets with films from various directors? In any event, this first collection is an essential purchse for fans of film noir, Japanese cinema, or just plain highly entertaining B-movies."
A Quintet of Japanese Crime Thrillers
The Movie Man | Maywood, New Jersey USA | 08/27/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir" is a five-disc box set containing five feature films from Nikkatsu, the oldest film studio in Japan. From the mid-1950's to the early 1970's, Nikkatsu specialized in brutal crime movies to attract the youth audiences that were becoming accustomed to American big-screen imports. In "I Am Waiting" (1957), a restaurant manager and former boxer saves a beautiful, suicidal club hostess trying to escape the bonds of her gangster employer. "Rusty Knife" (1958) has former hoodlums trying to leave behind a life of crime only to have their lawless past resurface when the authorities seek them out as witnesses to murder. "Take Aim at the Police Van" (1960) is an action whodunit. A police truck is attacked and a gangster inside is murdered. The penitentiary warden, accused of negligence, is suspended, but takes it upon himself to track down the killers to regain his honor and reputation. The other films are "Cruel Gun Story" (1964), about a mob heist, and "A Colt Is My Passport," about a hit man caught between rival gangs. As in keeping with the high standard of The Criterion Collection, print quality is exceptional considering the age of the films."