Release Date(s)1963 (September 7, 2018)
Studio(s)Nikkatsu Corporation (Arrow Films)
- Film/Program Grade: D
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: D
In the 1960s, Nikkatsu studios wanted to raise the bar when it came to their Japanese gangster films, producing them with added touches of violence, gore, and over-the-top action. To that end, Seijun Suzuki, the director responsible for Branded to Kill, along with his frequently-utilized leading man, Jo Shishido, brought to life the 1963 thriller Kutabare akutô-domo – Tantei jimusho 23, known as Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards! in North America.
Detective Bureau 2-3 features Tajima (Joe Shishido) as a private investigator who runs his own detective business and has been given the mission of tracking down firearms that were stolen during an illegal transaction. After a violent drive-by shooting, which culminates in the capture of a truck driver (Tamio Kawaji), Tajima steps in to investigate, soon going undercover in order to find out who is behind the operation, which leads to the involvement of multiple Yakuza gangs and a great deal of gun violence.
Detective Bureau 2-3 features an exciting, action-packed opening in which the aforementioned drive-by shooting occurs inside, of all things, a Pepsi delivery truck. It’s a fantastic melee that the rest of the film simply isn’t able to live up to as it tends to be all over the place without any clear explanation as to what’s going on and why. The film also can’t decide if it wants to be a serious crime drama or a fluffy comedy with its occasionally tongue-in-cheek moments, including an unforgettable scene of several half-naked, Japanese girls dancing to “When the Saints Go Marching In.” It’s even reminiscent of a James Bond film (Dr. No actually debuted a year prior), and perhaps Seijun Suzuki made the film with the intention of creating something more stylish in the same vein, but unfortunately, it falls a bit short.
Arrow Video presents the film on Blu-ray with a presentation that’s been “newly-transferred in high definition by Nikkatsu Corporation and the film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with original mono audio.” The image looks splendid; colors are sharp and robust throughout with great detail. There are some moments, due to how the film was shot, where the image appears a bit murky or blurry. Skin tones also appear accurate. During nighttime scenes, blacks looked decent as well. Film grain is present and there doesn’t appear to be any DNR or compression issues. For the film’s audio, Japanese 1.0 LPCM, the sound quality isn’t bad at all, with dialogue coming in clear and gunfire, which there is plenty of, maintains its aggressiveness. The snazzy rock & roll and jazz-infused music by Harumi Ibe also comes through strong. Extras include the featurette Tony Rayns on Detective Bureau 2-3, who provides his thoughts on and insights into the film, as well as a still gallery and an insert booklet with an essay by Jasper Sharp.
While this package may not carry a lot of bells and whistles, it’s a nice, serviceable release that is sure to please fans of Detective Bureau 2-3.
- David Steigman