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DVD of the Day #86 - The Professional

Golgo 13 is the greatest bad ass ever to come out of Japanese literature. He makes Jason Bourne and James Bond look like total pussies. He gets more tail than Wilt Chamberlain. He is a completely amoral bad ass that remains one of the biggest icons in Japanese pop culture. They have made two live action films (Starring Sonny Chiba), two animated films and currently an animated TV series about this Legendary assassin, and this film, The Professional remains the greatest of them all, and arguably the best straight up animated action anime flick of all time.

Warning - there is not even the slightest bit of happiness in this film. It is dark, it is morbid, it is depressing, it is violent far beyond what was acceptable in early 1980’s America, and it is mothering fucking awesome. Oddly enough the weakest link in the movie is Duke (Golgo 13) himself as he has no real character development, which makes sense as he is an emotionless killing machine. It’s the cast of minor characters, supporting aides and antagonists that make the movie, and make it exceptionally well done. Sure there are some over the top crazy bits, like the origin of the killing team Gold and Silver (Think Battle Royale but MUCH MUCH MUCH darker), but everything is within the realm of beliveability and it’s also the earliest Anime film to use CGI, which gives it another footnote in history. Also of note is the fact that even though this is an animated film, The Professional is often cited by film historians as being a huge influence on Western live action shoot ‘em up films. Tres impressive.

The plot of The Professional is a very deep and complex one. On his 62nd birthday, the richest man in the world, Leonard Dawson, is about to turn his company over to his son Robert. At the ceremony on a yacht, right as Robert takes control, he is shot with a single bullet in the skull and dies instantly. This was the work of Golgo 13. Leonard Dawson vows revenge and using his billions of dollars actually recruits members of the army, CIA, and FBI to track down and kill Golgo 13 in between, or even during, his assignments. They also start targeting Duke’s friends and co-workers in an attempt to weaken him. It’s pretty brutal and the lengths that Leonard is willing to go to are utterly batshit, including giving his daughter in law as rape payment to an assassin who wants her instead of money. The Professional while animated is a great look at how depraved some people can be, and the film is made that much stronger by its excellent voice acting cast which makes me miss the old Streamline Pictures and their fun Americanized dubs that were sometimes better than the original Japanese voice acting casts and scripts.

In all, this is one of, if not my favorite anime movies of all time, and I can’t believe I got it for only two bucks, especially as it’s been out of print for a while. If you like anime, action films, the old Golgo 13 NES games (Top Secret and The Mafat Conspiracy), then you need to see this. It’s a classic that has aged surprisingly well save for the very outdated CGI bits.

Is It Worth Keeping? Yes.
Rating: 9/10

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