Ōkami no Monshō was a two-volume manga published in 1970 and then re-created in 2007. This film version — which wildly differs from its inspiration — hit Japanese screens in 1975 and stars Japanese actor, singer, film producer, film director, and martial artist (and the inspiration for a marijuana nickname) Shin’ichi “Sonny” Chiba. And it’s one of the wildest, strangest films I’ve ever seen.
Let me see if I can come close to summarizing the batshit insanity that is this movie: Akira Inugami (Sonny Chiba, of course), our hero, is the last survivor of a clan of werewolves. As a child, he watched his village and people get destroyed. Today, he uses his werewolf abilities to help him solve crimes — but never transform into a wolf.
His new case begins when a man is yelling in the street about being attacked by an invisible tiger that soon tears him apart. At the center of his investigation is Miki, who was abused by The Mobs, an evil rock band, and now only cares about heroin and killing everyone who hurt her. Now, a phantom government agency uses her to kill those they deem necessary of elimination.
Along the way to solving this mystery, Inugami will battle ninjas, the Yakuza, the Japanese CIA, assassins and more. It’s also worth noting that Wolfguy sleeps with more women in this movie than James Bond, but everyone he touches usually ends up dead. There’s one bonkers sex scene near the end with his true love, Taka, that has him remember sucking on his werewolf mother’s breast while doing the same to the woman he claims is his wife. Alright there, Wolfguy.
Sonny Chiba didn’t form the Japan Action Club for nothing. This group, created to develop and raise the level of martial arts techniques and sequences used in Japanese film and television, has him at its center. In this film, he has a multitude of battles and even gets thrown down a cliff and somehow front flips directly onto his feet, a stunt that completely astounded me.
Directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (Sister Street Fighter) and written by Fumio Konami (Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion), this is the only Japanese werewolf that’s not a werewolf scored by Japanese jazz noise rock that sounds like Goblin featuring blood gushing FX that I have — and probably will ever — see. Imagine Wild Zero but played completely straight. I’ve also never seen a movie where the hero is able to control his intestines and pull them back into his body.
Imagine this: loud guitars, neon colors, dizzying camera angles, werewolf fistfights against ninjas and a love scene every fifteen minutes. This is a gloriously scuzzy, scummy, silly and majestic piece of film. It blew me away from start to finish and I can barely comprehend much of what I watched!
Credit for getting this movie back into the pop culture consciousness belongs to Arrow Video, which put out a gorgeously cleaned up release. You can grab that at Diabolik DVD. Even better, if you have Shudder, you can watch it now! It’s streaming and ready to blow your fucking mind.