Starring Tetsuro Sagawa, Goro Naya, Reiko Muto, Toshiko Fujita, Kumiko Takizawa, Koichi Chiba, Kousei Tomita, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Shingo Kanemoto
Directed by Osamu Dezaki
A decade before Leon, it was a Japanese hit man called Golgo 13 that had “The Professional” added to the title of his film for its U.S. release. This long-ago spy thriller follows the adventures of a blue spectacled badass as he scours the globe, taking out hits on various high-level political and criminal leaders, and earning one huge grudge along the way.
Unlike Leon, Golgo’s story is not one to delve into the human psyche, or even delve into his personality at all. Golgo remains a calm and controlled professional at all times, and has the sex appeal to make every girl in the room swoon on sight. So he really bears more resemblance to James Bond than Leon, though Bond has more personality and flare. Golgo handles every situation, no matter how unexpected, with the same stoic and taciturn demeanor, even when having sex, which he does at every opportunity. It’s rather humorous to see him sit there as if he isn’t even interested while the girls flail and moan in uncontrollable ecstasy.
The aspect that stands out the most is the bizarre camera angles Osamu Dezaki used at times. He is very fond of triple takes, mirrored images, and split-screen shots to show something from multiple angles at the same time, or just duplicated for some incomprehensible reason (I’m going to assume there was a reason, anyway). He clearly wanted the less actiony moments to feel dynamic and riveting, but I think he went a bit overboard. I mean, did it really help to see a dozen repeated images of a guy shouting into a phone? I think I would have gotten the point just fine with a single shot.
Golgo 13‘s biggest problem is a complete lack of connection to the audience. None of the characters have any depth or personality, and Golgo himself is nothing more than a remorseless gun for hire. We can’t feel any sympathy for the characters, and so we don’t have much reason to care how things turn out. It entertains, but that’s it. I don’t mean to sound too down on this film. As long as you don’t expect anything more than sex and violence, you’ll be fine. So if you wish James Bond had more gore and nudity, then Golgo 13 just might be what you’re looking for.