Sunday, 21 March 2010

Catching the Virus

The latest issue of Video Watchdog (#155 March/April 2010) features a superb article on one of the greatest films I've never seen, Kinji Fukasaku’s 1980 apocalypse epic Virus. The film which was reckoned to be the most expensive Japanese film of its time was a major flop despite the a large well known international cast - Glenn Ford and Sonny Chiba, no less. Anyone who frequented videoshops in the 80's will know well the old Intervision VHS (with its striking sleeve) which seemed to be everywhere. It certainly caught my eye, but it wasn't until many years later when I was seriously watching Japanese films that I discovered the film was directed by one of my favourite directors Kinji Fukasaku. The film is available on DVD in a number of editions, all running around the 100min mark and falling well short of the original 156min Japanese version. In 2006 BCI Eclipse sneaked the film out as part of their "Sonny Chiba Action Pack" boxset with little fanfare considering it was the full-length director's cut. Sadly, I missed out of this box because I already own the other two films that came in the set, and since then the box was deleted after BCI Eclipse went to the wall.

Still, its not impossible to see Virus in its long form. Apparently the film has fallen into public domain, and is available for download over at the Internet Movie Archive. Not the best way to see Virus, but until it appears again on DVD, it will have to do.

5 comments:

  1. I have a rare out of print Japanese DVD box set of Virus. It came in a nice package with two DVDs of the film (the full length Japanese version and other lesser edited versions). The box set also included a beautiful concept art book and a story board book as well as great 70s film poster. I think there was also a text book which was all in Japanese.
    I bought it in Japan a couple of years ago and wasn't the cheapest box set I've bought. I do like this film, it has a certain US/Japan mash up charm.
    I also have the Sonny Chiba box set version which is the uncut Japanese version with english subtitles which is well worth hunting down. I must also say the Japanese uncut version is from a great print and looks lovely in scope.

    Howl

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  2. There is a Sonny Chiba box set for sale on ebay for a good price...

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Sonny-Chiba-Action-Pack-Virus-Golgo-Bullet-3-DVD-Set_W0QQitemZ300413958902QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUS_DVD_HD_DVD_Blu_ray?hash=item45f2113af6

    Howl

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  3. A big thanks Howl... I just placed a bid for Virus, fingers crossed. I remember you told me to pick this up, when it actually was in print, but I let in go and go...

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  4. I did indeed see this on many video shelves back in the day - and never rented it. I think I have the Chiba boxset in the video vault - looking forward to seeing the full length version of this if I do! Fingers crossed...

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  5. I still to this day haven't seen this one and the film regularly appears on my radar for one reason or another.. I hope this one gets re-issued at some point with all the bells n’ whistles…

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