The Bullet Train (Shinkansen daibakuha)
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Year Released: 1975, 2023 Eureka Blu-ray
Runtime: 2h 32m
Director(s): Junya SatÅ
Writer(s): Ryûnosuke Ono, Jun'ya Satô, Sunao Sakagami
Cast: Ken Takakura, Sonny Chiba, Ken Utsui
Where To Watch: available now at www.eurekavideo.co.uk
RAVING REVIEW: Get ready for SPEED Part 0, released when Keanu Reeves was only 11. Okay, so not really, but the inspirations are evident in nearly every scene. SPEED's creative team did little to hide the connection between the two, other than they had their adventure on a much slower city bus instead of a high-speed train (I guess that's still better than a luxury cruise liner, I'm looking at you SPEED 2!) THE BULLET TRAIN is more than a thrilling joy ride, this Japanese gem is a riveting mix of suspense, high-stakes drama, and exploration of human resilience when confronted with a crisis. Imagine a locomotive with a bomb set to explode if the speed drops below 80 km/hr – a storyline that undoubtedly keeps you on the edge of your seat!
What makes this film an absolute joy is its intricate narrative structure. This isn't your average disaster flick; it's a heart-pounding journey that examines the lives of individuals in turmoil. Jun'ya Satô and Ryûnosuke Ono, two of the creative minds behind this film, have sculpted their characters with such finesse that the villains transform into tragic heroes, succumbing to the overwhelming societal pressures.
THE BULLET TRAIN isn't just about adrenaline-pumping action sequences. It intermixes elements from various genres, combining the excitement of a disaster film, the suspense of a heist movie, the pulse-racing tension of an action thriller, and the depth of a social drama. So, while you get a generous serving of high-speed chases and nerve-wracking bomb-defusing scenes, you're also privy to a different perspective, providing a unique cinematic experience.
However, the narrative occasionally sways, making the already lengthy runtime of the film seem a little longer and, in the end, needs to add more substance. Some of the subplots seemed almost unnecessary but were thrown in to add to the drama (SPEED was guilty of this as well!)
Occasionally things seem too convenient, which adds to the experience but takes a little from the main narrative. While contributing to the drama, these elements may somewhat detract from the film's realism, leaving you slightly underwhelmed.
But let's not get derailed by these minor detours! The strength of THE BULLET TRAIN lies in its genre-blending prowess and commendable character development. Diverging from his usual action-packed roles, Sonny Chiba delivers a compelling performance as the stressed conductor (the man can sweat on command!)
THE BULLET TRAIN is a compelling journey and a powerful exploration of its characters' motivations and struggles. It's a film that resonates with viewers, stirring thought-provoking reflections long after the screen goes dark. It stands as a testament to the inventive spirit of its era, presenting a narrative that's strikingly ahead of its time. This is one of those movies that will get you thinking about what you would do if you were in the film and what differences you could make if you were part of the cast.
Despite some narrative hiccups, THE BULLET TRAIN stands out as a fun experience but also paves the way for future films like it. Its characters aren't merely "people"; they serve a purpose; you connect with them on various levels, and the film gets you to care about their survival. With its blend of action, disaster, suspense, and social drama, and a profound exploration of the human condition, THE BULLET TRAIN is a film that appeals to everyone in some way. So grab your ticket and step onboard THE BULLET TRAIN – it promises to be an unforgettable ride!
- Limited Edition slipcase featuring new artwork by Tony Stella [2000 copies]
- 1080p presentation on Blu-ray from a 2K restoration of the original film elements
- Original Japanese theatrical version and alternate dubbed International version included
- Optional English subtitles
- Brand new audio commentary by Jasper Sharp and Tom Mes
- Brand new interview with author/critic Kim Newman
- Brand new interview with Tony Rayns
- Off the Rails: Junya Sato’s biographers on the making of The Bullet Train – Brand new interview with film writer Tatsuya Masuto and film critic Masaaki Nomura
- "Big Movie, Big Panic: Junya Sato on The Bullet Train" archival featurette
- A limited edition collectors booklet featuring a new essay by film writer Barry Forshaw [2000 copies]
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[photo courtesy of EUREKA VIDEO]