After assassinating the son of business tycoon Leonard Dawson, Golgo 13 finds himself prey to the CIA and the U.S. Army, whom Dawson has personally hired to kill the assassin. As days pass by, Dawson slowly loses his sanity as he continues to plot every attempt to kill Golgo 13 even without caring about who hired the assassin to kill his son.
I'm amazed that there's no review for this movie, especially as Golgo 13 is pretty well known in anime circles. But then again, anime that are over 25 years old don't seem to get much love these days, no matter how good or bad they are.
Golgo 13: The Professional was released in 1983, a full 7 years after the manga by Saito Takao ended serialisation. During it's run the manga saw phenomenal success in both Japan and the rest of the world, with over 200 million sales in various formats. The series was adapted into two live action movies in 1973 and 1977, both of
which were reasonably well received, but were not the successes that had been hoped for.
Fast forward to 1983, and the release of the first anime incarnation of the legendary assassin Duke Tougou. At that time anime was still in it's infancy in the Western market, with much of what was being released were either Ghibli affairs, or shows that were deemed suitable for Western audiences. Then, Golgo 13: The Professional arrived on the stage, and nothing was ever the same again.
It's often commented about how Akira opened the Western markets for anime, however what is often overlooked are the shows that came before it that gradually forced their way into how we in the West viewed "cartoons". Golgo 13 was not only responsible for giving that door a good kick, it also had the added bonus of being made specifically for an adult audience, something which was almost unheard of at the time.
The story follows the exploits of Duke Tougou, the legendary assassin known only as Golgo 13. He has been comissioned to kill one Robert Dawson, the son of oil baron and owner of Dawson Enterprises, Leonard Dawson. Although Golgo 13 is successful in his task, Leonard Dawson has sworn bloody revenge for the murder of his son and heir. Throw in the army, FBI, CIA, other assasins, mass murderers and a distinct lack of morals, and you have a recipe for something..... unique.
The pacing and style in which the plot unfolds is actually very good, and is very reminiscent of the better class of action movie. Indeed, the writers took their cues from several action movies from both the East and the West, which is ironic as this movie has in turn inspired others, from Luc Besson's "Leon", to Tarantino's "Kill Bill" (even the videogame "Hitman" pays homage to the whole Golgo 13 series in several instances). The whole story starts with an innocuously languid feel, which belies the breakneck speed at which it progresses later on.
One thing I did like about the plot for this movie was that it wasn't simply about Duke Tougou, but was seen from the perspective of Leonard Dawson as well. His blinding rage at Golgo 13 is the main driver for the story as a whole, and is also what adds some drama and tension to what would otherwise have been a fairly one dimensional action movie. Another thing that separates this from the herd is the huge twist at the end of the movie as it adds a new dimension to the events that occur, and also explains a lot about Leonard Dawson as a character.
Given the age of the movie it would be fair to expect animation to be subpar compared to most titles on offer today. That said, Golgo 13 was one of the first anime to make regular use of CGI, something which did not become prominent in the medium until the mid 90s. This is only used in certain sequences, however it is used to good effect on the whole. Some of the buildings and backdrops are clearly CGI, but rather spartan with the detail. Those that are not are nicely drawn and detailed, making them a decent canvas upon which the action can take place.
The design for Duke Tougou follows very close with that of the manga and, using the manga as inspiration, the other characters were also created using Saito's foundations. The nice thing about this is that each of the characters have a certain "believable-unbelievability" about them, in other words, they're visually larger than life characters in the style of any good action story.
Animation-wise, the movie isn't too bad on the whole. It is, however, reflective of the time, which means that there is often an over-emphasis on speed and movement (the use of speed lines for example), which can detract from a given scene. These techniques were used often during the 70s, 80s, and early 90s though, so their usage can be forgiven if one remembers that fact.
Unfortunately I've only seen the English dub for this movie (one of the few anime I haven't watched in both languages - yet), but don't be fooled into thinking that this is a bad thing. The dub is actually pretty well acted, if a little wooden on the whole. Gregory Snegoff, who plays the role of Duke Tougou, has also played several other anime based roles, however this role was a challenge for him and the rest of the cast as they were effectively being asked to speak and act like no other anime characters before.
Ultimately the dub is pioneering stuff though as it effectively paved the way for more adult oriented anime like Akira, Crying Freeman, Wicked City, Genocyber, AD Police, etc, etc, to be released on the Western market.
The music an eclectic blend of pop, rock and jazz, with some strange quasi-classical pieces thrown into the mix. This seemingly odd mixture of style and content has meant that some people have found the movie to be less than satisfying, primarily because the music and the atmosphere sometimes don't mix. Although this may be the case in certain circumstances, it's my belief that, at least musically, the movie is well served by the majority of the tracks it uses.
As far as characters go, one would expect Duke Tougou to be the one who gets the most development. Ironically, and fittingly, it isn't actually him who is the driver for the movie. That role belongs to Leonard Dawson who, in my opinion, is one of the better anime antagonists to appear fro the 80s. Dawson's blind rage over the death of his son pushes him to act in ways that are both morally and legally wrong, however his thirst for revenge overrides everything else. What is interesting to see in the movie is how Golgo 13 remains unchanged and unchangeable - forever the quiet assasin, whilst all the hatred, evil and invective happen because of Leonard Dawson, which poses an intruiging moral argument as to who is actually the monster in this case.
That said, the other characters aren't really developed all that well, and some of the supporting characters are extremely stereotypical. Laura Dawson (the widow of Robert), is a case in point, as she seems to be a character with almost no backbone whatsoever, no matter gets thrown at her. The other characters are equally as poor unfortunately, with almost no depth to them.
This is a movie with numerous flaws, however it works as a straight up action flick simply because of the conflict between Duke and Leonard. The acting may be wooden at times, but this can easily be forgiven as the action does make up for it.
So, will you enjoy this? If, like me, this was one of the first anime you owned back in the 80s, then the movie will have a certain nostalgic feel, especially when we recall how cool the CGI helicopter looked back then. Likewise, if you're a fan of the manga, or the recent TV series, then this is a movie you shouldn't miss as it does do justice to the franchise.
Action junkies and people looking for something with a bit more bite may also want to give this a try as, even with the flaws, it's still makes for pretty entertaining viewing.
But if you want romance, friendship, comedy, or twinkly stars and rainbows, then steer clear.
As a person new to anime, Golgo 13: The Professional was one of the most recommended movies. It ranked in the top 5, along with Ninja Scroll, and later, Ghost in the Shell, Akira, Vampyre Hunter D, and other classics.
Over time, the graphics have come to appear a bit dated, so i would only give it 8/10 for graphics (unlike Ghost In The Shell, there doesn't seem to be a remake coming), but this is mostly in the CG sequences and, considering limits of the time, overall, it is still well presented.
However, the reason why I came to like this movie is because of
the protagonist, Golgo 13. Without spoiling the plot, he is one of the most consistent "heroes" in a series ever (after this movie, there was a sequel, a manga series, a series of games, and even an anime TV series).
To use one word to describe him: stoic.
Golgo 13 does not hesitate, respond emotionally, or ever seem out of control, even when things clearly go wrong and he is in danger. This may make him sound dry (like, say, K. Reeves / Neo in The Matrix Trilogy), but he isn't. He is quite an engaging character.
The story of this movie is somewhat simple, but the details make it interesting. In fact, that is one of the things that makes it worth re-watching... a lot happens in a short space of time, which doesn't feel rushed, but afterwards, makes plot development in other movies feel pale and unprofessional.
The presentation style, from opening credits to ending, sets the tone for this dramatic action, which takes itself seriously without being boring. Furthermore, it deals with mature themes such as betrayal and murder (in fact, the lead character is an assassin).
Okay, if you haven't ever watched this yet, then go out an do so now... although, actually, I prefer the sequel to this (Golgo 13: Queen Bee) for pure entertainment value, even though this is overall a better movie.
When you think of the most successful and best selling manga series of all time, you probably think of stuff like: One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, Dragonball, etc. However, there is a manga that has been running non-stop since the 1960s! That manga is Golgo 13, and it is basically unknown outside of Japan. Golgo is one of those series along with Lupin 3rd that is not just HUGE in Japan, but at the level of cultural icon, yet they are utterly irrelevant everywhere else outside of Japan. In Japan, Golgo has sold well over 200 million copies, which is more than Rurouni Kenshin, Yu Yu
Hakusho, Attack on Titan, and Inuyasha...combined! Is the anime movie of this highly successful manga any good? Not really.
Golgo is a badass assassin who kills without mercy and sleeps with all the ladies. He is a smooth, sociopathic killing machine. However, Golgo never evolved outside a crude ripoff of James Bond in 50 freaking years. He is never given a background even in the manga, so it goes without saying that you learn NOTHING about the guy in the movie. It would be OK if only certain details were kept ambiguous like where he was born, how he became an assassin, why he became an assassin, but we don't even know his basic likes and dislikes, let alone his character motivation. Golgo may be GAR, but he is possibly the most flat, one dimensional character in anime history. For many viewers, this kind of makes Golgo a tad boring. We know he's going to win. We know he's going to kill his target without getting a scratch on him and he isn't going to feel bad for killing him. Eventually even something as awesome as sniping people in the head gets stale and redundant.
The plot is that Golgo kills the son of a very wealthy man, who had a mysterious hit order placed on him. The wealthy father than sends legions of guys after Golgo only for Golgo to easily kill them all. The plot in this movie is honestly pretty simplistic, apart from having one of the absolute STUPIDEST twist endings in anime history. I won't spoil it, but even M. Night would say that was head bashingly retarded!
To be honest, Golgo 13 doesn't even have the cheesy 1980s charm to it that Violence Jack has. It is honestly quite boring. Seriously. A movie about a hitman popping people in the fucking head is boring! If you want to see a Golgo movie, I would check out the live action version with Sonny Chiba! Why? Because Sonny Chiba makes everything better! He rips people's balls off, has a black belt in Ninjutsu, and has eyebrows even bushier than Leonid Brezhnev's! Golgo 13 the anime movie is a mediocre waste of time, but it is never a waste of time to see what kind of over the top performance good ol Shinichi Chiba will turn in!
Trashy 80s action! Relentlessly visually innovative! Fun to laugh at!
Golgo 13 is the longest running manga ever. He's the Japanese James Bond, sort of. He's an assassin who tends to kill people in impossibly skillful and unpredictable ways, usually with just one shot, he's the ultimate sex machine even though he barely moves and keeps the same stern expression he always has... which is hilarious. Especially because of those trademark colossal stern eyebrows. He's cool. Too cool. Emotionless, meticulous, unchanging and amoral. He's the hyper masculine ideal. His codename is Golgo 13 but the name he goes by from day to day is Duke Togo,
which seemingly everyone knows, kinda defeating the point of a fake name. Heh.
Anyway, the point of Golgo 13 is that he is unchanging. He is a fact. Whilst it's great to see how he completes his jobs, the main point of Golgo 13 is the effect he has on other people. Take the main antagonist in this film - Golgo is unchanging and emotionless whilst this character is driven by sheer emotion provoked by Golgo's actions. This film will seem pretty disjointed if you don't know the basic premise - that the antagonist's son is killed at the start of the film and as Golgo goes from job to job he is pursued by agents of the antagonist.
Know this. Golgo 13: The Professional has the most relentlessly innovative interesting visuals I've ever seen in an anime... Now, this is disputable, but I'd say moreso than even Mind Game. The sheer number of things they do with light is astonishing. ASTONISHING. The anime industry has adopted cgi which this was the first anime to use, and the postcard technique where animation turns into drawn stills was pioneered here. When the cgi comes, try to get into the mentality that you've never seen cgi in an anime before. It is awesome. I know it isn't awesome from our perspective, but just pretend that it's awesome and you'll have a blast.
This film is obsessed with reflections, presumably because the antagonist is the mirror image of Golgo, at least in the emotional department. It's a game in and of itself just to look out for the countless mirror-esque reflections shown onscreen. Whatever you do, DON'T MAKE IT A DRINKING GAME. YOU WILL NOT WIN.
This is a great film to laugh at. Gold and Silver alone are worth the ticket price. All the villains are great fun.
The music is fantastic as well. Lots of smooth jazz and otherwise just perfect music to make everything seem oh so cool.
This is a truly special and unique anime. That being said, the other anime film and tv series are definitely worth a watch too if you like this, but don't expect the same level of visual innovation.
THERE IS A GRATUITOUS RAPE SCENE. IT FINISHES AND THEN A WHILE LATER IT COMES BACK TO IT. I'M SORRY IT'S A GREAT ANIME APART FROM THAT.
(please do let me know yours feelings about this review via private message!)
Anime aimed at teens is a lot of fun. But anime aimed at an older crowd is on a whole other level! You get more violence, gore, nudity and sex than you bargained for...which isn't entirely a bad thing.
While there have been some wonderful video games based on anime, not all of them have been so well received by critics or fans. Video games in general seem to have issues when based on a licensed product and the following ten are no exception.