Japanese film studio Nikkatsu in the 1950’s had several actors under contract that became known as “Diamond Guys” and were known for playing tough guy roles.
Arrow have released a collection of three films starring some of Nikkatsu’s Diamond Guys on Blu-ray comprising of Voice Without A Shadow (1958), Red Pier (1958) and The Rambling Guitarist (1959).
Voice Without A Shadow
Hideaki Nitani stars in Voice Without A Shadow as a reporter who helps Asako, a former telephone operator, whom her remembers from his first story where at work she heard the voice of a killer as a murder had just happened when she accidentally phoned the wrong number when trying to connect another caller.
It has been a few years and now married her husband invites some work colleagues over when she recognises the voice of the killer in her husbands new boss.
To make matters worse her husband is then charged with his murder.
A classic old style mystery film that I wasn’t sure if I had missed something important in the film or if the film had a few loose ends in it.
Either way this was a good watch with some great performances and seeing a classic mystery film that wasn’t American or European was certainly refreshing.
Starring Yujiro Ishihara as “Jiro the Lefty” a Yakuza who arrives in Kobe and witness a murder. He later falls for the murdered man’s little sister and ends up on the run.
Now Jiro is an arrogant, cocky, nasty piece of work and I think we’re suppose to feel for him near the end of the film but to be honest he’s despicable with no redeeming features no matter how hard the film tries to make us like him unlike the murdered mans sister.
How she falls for him knowing his lifestyle and why she keeps helping him is a mystery as she’s just far to nice a person to be caught up with scum like him.
Another good film, easier to follow than Voice Without A Shadow and filmed by a beautiful Pier; this film has some nice vistas as well as being faster paced.
Another I enjoyed.
The Rambling Guitarist
Now this is my favourite of the three. It is also the only one in colour.
Akira Koabyashi from the Battles Without Honour Series (Which you can read my review of here) plays a travelling musician Shinji who accidentally helps out two fellow musicians when they are attacked by two drunk sailors in a badly acted fight scene.
The two western sailors sound like they have had their voices dubbed by Japanese actors and were just horrible to watch so naturally this fight scene is hugely entertaining.
The two musicians work for a mob boss that offers Shinji a job. Shinji refuses initially but eventually agrees to.
The film takes a slight change in tone towards the end but again has some nice shots of a Japanese coastal town and kept me engrossed.
Good characters to watch especially George who you just feel an unease around him everytime he’s on screen.
Overall I really enjoyed all 3 films and would watch them again if only to try and understand Voice Without A Shadow a bit better.
The transfer to Blu-ray is very nice and gives a very clear picture for the two black and white films.
Initially in The Rambling Guitarist the colour transfer seemed a tad noisy but with very vivid and bright colours the picture quality is excellent and maybe the issue was for outside shots only.
Audio is great and the subtitles are easy to follow but don’t look away for a second especially in Voice Without A Shadow as you might miss something important.
Great set and if you like old Japanes films as well as classic Noir and old gangster type flicks then this is the set for you.
Roll on Volume 2
The Special Edition includes
Limited Edition Blu-ray collection (3000 copies)
High Definition digital transfers of all three films, 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 Hideaki Nitani and Yujiro Ishihara
Original trailers for all three films and trailer preview for Diamond Guys Vol. 2
Extensive promotional image galleries for all three films
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
Booklet featuring new essays on all three films and director profiles by Stuart Galbraith, Tom Mes and Mark Schilling