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Black Tight Killers (Limited Edition) (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

A wartime photographer woos stewardess on his way back to Tokyo and when she is kidnapped by knife wielding female ninjas, he ends up investigating her kidnapping.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Hasebe Yasuharu steps out from being an assistant to auteur Suzuki Seijun (Branded to Kill) to direct the wild 1966 spy thriller spoof Black Tight Killers.

A bold pronouncement of Japan’s reemergence onto the world stage, following wartime Akira Kobayashi (Daisuke Hondo) photographer whom we first meet in the heat of battle in an English-language sequence set during Vietnam. On his flight back home, the smooth Akira romances the gorgeous flight attendant Yuriko Sawanouchi (Chieko Matsubara, Tokyo Drifter). Back home in Tokyo, he takes her on a date to a hip jazz club, but a foreigner with designs on Yuriko moves in. Akira tries to defend his date, but a trio of well-groomed, leather-clad female ninjas wielding knives hidden in makeup compacts and shooting bubble gum bullets from their mouths attack and kill the foreigner. Now Akira is embroiled in a murder, Yuriko is kidnapped by these “black tight killers.” After being cleared by the police for the killing, Akira goes off looking for Yuriko, getting tangled up with one of the ninja, go-go dancing black tight killers, and ending up on the hunt for a group of foreigners who are searching for wartime gold.

If it all sounds a bit strange and a little hard to follow – it is, but the journey is worth it. Hasebe fills the film with so many flashes of vibrant primary colors, surreal backgrounds of yellow or red, dancing sequences thrown in for good measure, and just enough skin flashed from beautiful women that there is no way one could not enjoy the mayhem. Black Tight Killers predicts its studio Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno era and the more chaotic exploitative Japanese genre films, such as Battle Royale. It is carefree, madcap, fun that does not take itself seriously at all.

Purchase Black Tight Killers (Limited Edition) Blu-ray on Amazon.com

  • Black Tight Killers (1966)
  • Black Tight Killers (1966)
  • Black Tight Killers (1966)
  • Black Tight Killers (1966)
  • Black Tight Killers (Limited Edition) (Radiance)
  • Black Tight Killers (Limited Edition) (Radiance)
  • Black Tight Killers (Limited Edition) (Radiance)

The Video

Black Tight Killers was transferred in high definition by Nikkatsu Corporation and provided to Radiance as a digital file. Additional restoration was carried out by Radiance in 2023. The 2.35:1 AVC 1080p encodement looks organic, with a natural layer of grain. There is film softness here that looks mostly down to the film stock and lenses, because there is a lot of detail. The transfer also presents the film’s vibrant palette of primary colors brilliantly, with wonderfully saturated colors.

The Audio

The original monaural audio mix for Black Tight Killers is presented in Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (the packaging incorrectly lists it as an Uncompressed PCM track). It is reasonably solid for a mono track for a Japanese film from 1966. Some audible clipping in the source is there, but it is mostly clean and intelligible.

The Supplements

This is a barebones entry from Radiance, but the Jasper Sharp audio commentary really offers a lot of context and info. The archival interview with Hasebe is welcome as well.

Limited Edition Contents:

  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Time Tomorrow
  • Limited edition booklet featuring new writing by Japanese cinema expert Chris D.
  • Trailer

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary by Jasper Sharp
  • Yasuharu Hasebe (1080i; 00:08:33) – In this Archival interview from 2000, the director looks back on his career and the making of Black Tight Killers.
  • Trailer (1080p; 00:02:48)

The Final Assessment

An excellent entry of a lesser-known Japanese genre film from the 1960s ripe and ready for rediscovery in the West making its worldwide English subtitled debut on disc thanks to Radiance, in a very satisfying transfer on Blu-ray. Recommended.


Black Tight Killers (Limited Edition) is out on Blu-ray February 27, 2024 from Radiance

Purchase Black Tight Killers (Limited Edition) Blu-ray on Amazon.com


  • Rating Certificate: Not Rated
  • Studios & Distributors: Nikkatsu | Radiance Films
  • Director: Hasebe Yasuharu
  • Written By: Nakanishi Ryûzô | Tsuzuki Michio
  • Run Time: 87 Mins.
  • Street Date: 27 February 2024
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English
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A wartime photographer woos stewardess on his way back to Tokyo and when she is kidnapped by knife wielding female ninjas, he ends up investigating her kidnapping.Black Tight Killers (Limited Edition) (Blu-ray Review)