DOG SOLDIER: SHADOWS OF THE PAST (1989) is a one-shot 44-minute anime OAV (original animated video) that tells a rather convoluted tale of a Japanese-American ex-Green beret who gets caught up in deadly military operations and government intrigue involving a stolen secret and finds his two childhood friends now on the opposite side. The character of John Kyosuke Hiba is clearly inspired by Rambo and he performs the same kind of outlandish superhuman combat action that Rambo was famous for. The action shifts from Japan to an unnamed island with Mayan-style pyramids and flashbacks to John's youth in Los Angeles. The idea of the hero's having to face off against his childhood buddy Makoto, now a powerful crimelord/terrorist, with their former playmate Catherine Mackley, now a government operative of some sort, caught in the middle is kind of intriguing but it's not handled with much depth or finesse here. There's a lot of action but it's too far-fetched, even by anime standards, to be suspenseful and the violence is kept to PG limits so there's not much in the way of gore or bloodshed to keep viewers' attention.
The whole thing is too crudely animated and designed to make this one even remotely watchable. And the English dubbing on the U.S. video release is very badly done. Also, there's so little music on the soundtrack that the frequent spots of "dead air" make a mercifully short running time seem much longer than it should. The script is filled with all kinds of conspiracy thriller clichés and flashbacks to trumped-up American military operations (e.g. a raid on a village in El Salvador) that are designed to show the U.S. military and government in the worst possible light.
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