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Blood for Money! Sonny Chiba is "Golgo 13", a cold, calculating, ruthless assassin, working for the U.S. drug syndicate. His assignment: "take-out" Hong Kong's underworld kingpin. His only obstacle: a relentless cop, determined to stop him - no matter what the cost. The result is an explosive adventure through the seamy, violent streets of Hong Kong. Written by
There's nothing quite like a 1970s professional hitman, usually played by an emotionless hunk in a suit and tie, eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses, carrying a briefcase from which he will coldly assemble a sniper rifle. Not only do you get one snap-together rifle scene in ASSIGNMENT: KOWLOON, but you get two, as Sonny Chiba portrays the professional assassin who cannot be stopped and will not cease until his job is done. Or, until he has his revenge against those who've wronged him. Both is the case in this movie.
The plot of this film is incidental, as Golgo 13 is hired to kill a renegade drug trafficker posing as an important businessman; Golgo 13 is beaten to the kill by another faction, but is nonetheless blamed for the assassination by a strong-willed Hong Kong detective named Smithy who is determined to stop Golgo 13.
This is a gritty film, with a seething, rock-hard performance by Chiba as Golgo 13, presenting a character who is a professional killer, and worse. Chiba's barely-controlled rage is palpable; Golgo 13, when not coldly sighting down his rifle, emerges as a dangerous, paranoid man expecting at any moment to be attacked. And as is the case, Golgo 13 finds violence wherever he goes, whether or not he is involved directly or not. A young woman, a mere stranger on the street arguing with a man, suddenly murders this man in a blind rage right in front of Golgo 13. Golgo 13 not only saves her from the police, but from the murdered man's roving gang, who are seeking the girl, for revenge. This puts the girl in debt to the assassin, and later he will use her when he is wounded and nearly captured by police. Golgo 13 affords himself a way to stay alive by taking advantage of any situation, even if it is a poor girl who made a mistake; that mistake is the assassin's edge, and Chiba revels in it.
The Crash Cinema video is great, though the sub-titles are some of the worst I've ever seen. But the movie very much retains its 1970s grindhouse purity, to be viewed in a run-down theatre smelling of piss and cigarettes. GOLGO 13 is a tough, well-made movie, and Chiba is just a wicked physical performer who makes his kills, with hands or weapons, look especially painful. The character of Golgo 13 is what James Bond might have become, if he ever left the BSS and turned into a for-hire killer. He'd be unstoppable, and that's what Golgo 13 is: Unstoppable, and very, very cool.
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