“Wolf Guy”: A totally bonkers ’70s mash-up of martial arts, crime thriller & supernatural horror!

By on November 15, 2017

If you’re looking to watch a movie unlike any other you’ve ever seen before, and you’ve got a hankerin’ for some Japanese cinematic cult film weirdness, we’d like to invite you to check out Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s 1975 film Wolf Guy, a totally bonkers mash-up of several cinematic genres, including martial arts, hard-boiled detective style crime thriller, and supernatural horror. Watch it now on Night Flight Plus!

This movie’s got everything: a creepy “manimal”; martial arts-style action; lots of violence, blood and gore; NSFW sex and gratuitous nudity, and, it’s all set to what sounds like ‘70s porn soundtrack, with funky wacka-wacka “Shaft”-style guitar screaming freakouts.

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Wolf Guy (Japanese: Urufu gai: Moero ôkami-otoko; the movie’s overwrought dialogue appears onscreen in easy-to-read English-language subtitles) is based on the Japanese manga series originally penned by Kazumasa Hirai and illustrated by Hisashi Sakaguchi.

Their two-volume manga series was re-adapted and made even more violent in 2007 by Yoshiaki Tabata and Yuuki Yugo, and its their new twelve-volume adaptation — known collectively as Wolf Guy: Ōkami no Monshō — which serves as the source for director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s film, from a screenplay by Fumio Kônami, released theatrically in Japan in 1975.

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This movie’s full title is actually Wolf Guy: Enraged Lycanthrope.

It’s also an unofficial sequel to the 1973 adaptation Horror Of The Wolf (Japanese: Ôkami no monshô), directed by Masashi Matsumoto and based on the same manga source material (since it was based around a teenage protagonist we guess you could call that one Teen Wolf Guy).

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Quentin Tarantino fave Shin’ichi “Sonny” Chiba — he played the hot headed, and sometimes humourous, Okinawan sword maker “Hattori Hanzo” in Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Vol. 1 in 2003 — stars here as Akira Inugami, a karate expert/ladies man/news reporter who also happens to be the only survivor of an ancient clan of Japanese werewolves.

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During the opening credits, we see Inugami as a youngster when his village was destroyed and his werewolf kin were slaughtered, but Wolf doesn’t exactly transform into any kind of animal here, not even a wolf, even when he “wolfs out” during a full moon, relying solely on his feral special powers to solve mysteries and kick some Yakuza ass.

On the streets of Tokyo, Inugami witnesses the first of a series of bizarre, grisly murders when he sees a man’s flesh and clothing slashed and torn open by some supernatural force which ends up being an invisible man-eating ghost tiger, visible only to the victim!

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Wolf learns from the victim’s death rants that the phantom tiger transmogrified from a woman named Miki (Etsuko Nami), a drug addict goth-type cabaret singer at a local second-rate strip club, whose life has been ruined by rape and heroin.

Miki’s Further investigation reveals that she’d been gang-raped by all of the depraved members of a crazed rock band and since she wasn’t sure which of the musicians gave her syphilis, she’s put her “tiger curse” on them, and now they’re all dropping dead, one by one.

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Inagumi is then plunged headlong into a conspiracy and a phantasmagoric, kandy-kolored odyssey to solve these bloody crimes, and ends up diving deep into a sleazy, shadowy underworld organization comprised of dapper-dressed Yakuza, frequently-naked drug-addicted strippers, and corrupt Tokyo politicians.

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Meanwhile, his own mysterious past is catching up with him, and he soon finds himself the target of what turns out to be a secret government organization who want to harvest his blood in order to steal his lycanthropic superpowers. He also learns that Miki’s powers are being exploited for political assassinations.

Read more about Wolf Guy below.

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The supernatural/action/martial arts-heavy storyline is told in a hard-boiled film noir-ish style, and man oh man, it just never lets up!

There are mind-warping scenes you won’t soon forget, like: psychedelic footage of an actual surgery; Chiba’s Inugami kissing and fondling a woman’s breasts which then triggers breastfeeding memories from when he was a young tyke; and Inugami taking out a gang of Yakuza using loose change as a crippling weapon.

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An excellent IMDB mini-bio (written by someone who wants to be known as “firehouse44″) writes about Shin’ichi “Sonny” Chiba, a veteran of nearly 200 movie roles:

“Pivotal figure in the 1970s explosion of martial arts cinema as lethal ‘fists for hire’ trouble shooter, Takuma (Terry) Tsurugi, starring in the phenomenally popular and ultra violent The Street Fighter series of action films.”

The bio-writer adds: “Sonny Chiba wasn’t a graceful, fluid fighter like screen icon Bruce Lee, but rather he was a ferocious machine that mowed down his opponents with his fists and feet, always with a menacing grimace on his face!”

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Toei Studios journeyman director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi worked with Chiba again on several films of dubious cult quality — including Sister Street Fighter (1974) and the wonderfully-named Karate Bear Fighter (1977) — and some of his other ’70s-era movie titles include Sister Street Fighter: Hanging by a Thread (1974), The Return of the Sister Street Fighter (1975), Champion of Death (1975), and Karate For Life (1977).

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There’s something especially absurd and over-the-top about Yamaguchi’s Wolf Guy, though, possibly because the director had no prior knowledge of what usually happens in werewolf movies prior to going into production (at no point in the film do any of the characters turn into werewolves).

Wolf Guy — which was never released on home video prior to its release on DVD by Arrow Video — is probably going to be one of the craziest Japanese cinematic experiences you’ve ever had, just trust us.

Watch Wolf Guy on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.