Golgo 13: The Professional Anime Review
US Release By
What's In It
- Supercool Assassins
- Chases and Races
- Retro Style
- Violence: 3 (significant)
- Nudity: 3 (significant)
- Sex: 3 (significant)
- Language: 3 (significant)
Golgo 13 is the world's top assassin--he charges outrageous fees, but he always gets his man. First, The Professional must hunt down an elusive mob boss, and deal with his beautiful daughter in the process. Then, after he arrives back in the States, Golgo 13's friends--if you can call them that--start turning up dead. The hunt is on, and whoever wants Golgo 13 dead has powerful friends--before it's all over, Golgo will have to deal with the police, the military, mercenaries, and a mysterious pair of assassins rumored to be even better than Golgo 13 himself. The hunter has become the hunted, and it will take all of Golgo 13's considerable skill to stay alive.
The Professional: Golgo 13 looks at first glance like a ripoff of the live action film of the same name (The Professional, that is), but it most definitely isn't. Though it draws heavily on Hollywood action films of old, it's based directly on the classic '70s manga series and is much older than the recent spate of assassin movies to hit theaters. In fact, it probably provided inspiration for some of them.
The Professional is a product of the early '80s, and that's what separates it from your average spy thriller (not to mention most anime): It isn't just old, it looks it with a vengeance--watching it is like a massive '80s flashback. Something like a bad James Bond movie on a Mod Squad overdose, The Professional has more quirky camera tricks, arty scenes, funky music, and other bits of late '70s/early '80s nostalgia than anything this side of 1990. Even the cars are funky--Golgo 13 ends up driving a tiny, boxy, souped-up, wanna-be sports car that looks like a Chevette on steroids. As far as I'm concerned, the pervasive eighties-ness of this movie may be a bit frightening, but it's the main reason to watch it.
The story tries desperately to be cool, but gets rather silly at times. Not to say that there aren't some nice plot twists and interesting situations, but Golgo 13 tends to be a little too over-the-top for my tastes. That's me, though; fans of Mission Impossible or those unkillable cooler-than-ice superassassins (not smooth operators like Bond, just cold) will probably love Golgo 13, as will fans of classic pop style. Art wise, Golgo 13 has a more realistic look than most older anime. It's also a faithful adaptation of the original comic books, which means a lot of exceptionally ugly character designs. The animation is not spectacular, but is solid and fairly high budget, and also features some crude early 3D work.
I personally wouldn't recommend The Professional: Golgo 13 unless you go for "ultimate assassin" stuff, but it might still be worth checking out just for the funky retro style. On the other hand, it could stylistically pass for a live-action Hollywood movie, so may appeal to a broader audience on that count. If you're a Golgo 13 fan, or if you're a hardcore retro action junkie, then The Professional is a safe bet.
Notes and Trivia
Based on a very long running and popular comic series, Golgo 13, now available in English from VIZ. This is one of only two animated incarnations of the character. It was released theatrically in Japan, and later in the US by Streamline.
Reader Chris helped us out with some car trivia:
The large white car Golgo 13 drives on his way to the assassination is a 1971-1973 Ford Mustang fastback. They are the largest, heaviest Mustangs ever built, but also one of the quickest. The top engine option (which, presumably, is what he's got) was a 351 cubic-inch "Cleveland" V8 producing 330 horsepower.
The car used in the gun battle on the beach is a German Ford Capri. These cars came with a German Ford 2.6 or 2.8 liter V6. Back in the '70s and early '80s they were very popular in rallying and road racing as well as commuting. The Capri was sold as the Mercury Capri in the US; the downsized American Ford Mustang II from 1974-1978 shared many of its mechanical components, as did the infamous Pinto.
The boxy little hatchback is harder to tell. It may be either a French Renault 5 or a British / American Ford Fiesta. Both these cars were available with "high output" engines. In Europe they are still popular among amateur racers.
Available in North America from Eastern Star on bilingual DVD. Previously available from Urban Vision on bilingual DVD. Was available a very long time ago from Streamline on dubbed VHS, and that version also saw a limited theatrical release.