A solitary middle-aged station manager is haunted by troubling memories of his past when he learns the line his station is on will be decommissioned for lack of profitability. He is visited... See full summary »
When Sokichi stops providing his long-time lover Kikuyo enough money to pay for the care of their three young children, Kikuyo leaves the children with Sokichi - and his very surprised and angry wife Oume - and disappears.
One of the Japanese Shinkansen "Bullet Trains" is threatened with a bomb that will explode automatically if the train slows below 80 km/h, unless a ransom is paid. Police race to find the bombers and to learn how to defuse the bomb. Written by
Pop quiz: there's a bomb on board and if you go under 50, it'll go off. What do you do? Well, if you're a Hollywood studio, you move the bomb from The Bullet Train and put it on an L.A. bus and hope that no-one reminds you that Japan did it first in 1975 with this Takakura Ken movie. More a typical 70s disaster movie than a thriller, with all the stock characters onboard yes, including the hysterical businessman and obligatory pregnant woman - Takakura Ken broods magnificently as ever as the bad guy with a grudge and a supply of explosive devices while Sonny Chiba is almost lost in the crowd as the driver on the train trying to prevent the big bang (no, he doesn't hit anyone for once). Shame it's so dull.
There are a couple of mildly interesting plot twists and there's a surprising emphasis on the family of extortionists who are far more sympathetic than the clichéd and irritating passengers or the bungling cops, but there's no reason for it to stretch out to more than two-and-a-half hours. There's also a curious sense of constantly being outside the action, as if a passing spectator rather than a participant. One occasion where Hollywood definitely did it better.
Optimum's UK DVD is the uncut subtitled version in a decent 2.35:1 transfer.
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