New kids on the block
, and here
's a first review for their inaugural title - Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs
From Henshin Online
After a decades-long drought, Japanese fantasy film fans in America are finally seeing a bounty of titles released on DVD from companies ranging from prestige outfits like Criterion and Home Vision Entertainment to major studios like Disney and Sony, to the consistently top-quality releases from smaller labels like Media Blasters, Artsmajic, and Ventura. Now, a new company named Discotek Media has announced it will be releasing an incredible selection of Asian genre movies, many previously unavailable in the US, and all produced with the highest possible standards.
In 2004, a group of retailers in Orlando, FL who were selling Asian cinema and anime videos decided the time had come to start their own DVD label, Discotek Media. Over the past year, they have licensed several titles from Toho and Toei and made a distribution deal with Ryko Distribution, with the first release coming this October. The discs will initially be available through online retailers like Amazon.com, Deep Discount DVD, and DVD Planet; and plans are underway to have Discotek Media titles in all the major retail electronic store chains.
The following list covers Discotek's planned release schedule for the next twelve months. Street dates for the first four titles are firm; all others are tentative and subject to change.
ZERO WOMAN: RED HANDCUFFS (Zeroka-no Onna Akai Wappa, 1974)
Directed by Yukio Noda (YAKUZA COP: THE ASSASSIN), this is the first - and most notorious - entry in the long-running Zero Woman series. Starring Miki Sugimoto, Tetsuro Tamba, Ichiro Araki, Eiji Go, and Hideo Murota, this Toei cult classic will be available in the US for the first time in any format, completely uncut and unedited. The violent police officer Agent Zero is stripped of her badge and sent to prison after she brutally kills a rapist. When a rich politician's daughter is kidnapped, Agent Zero is released from prison to rescue the girl and deal with the criminals however she sees fit.
Telecined from a new print, the first Discotek disc corrects print damage that was present when ZERO WOMAN: RED HANDCUFFS was released on DVD in France and the Netherlands. The film is presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen and features the original Japanese language with optional English subtitles (including newly done translations for the credits and onscreen text) and the theatrical trailer. In addition, the initial release of ZERO WOMAN: RED HANDCUFFS will be a limited edition of 10,000 that comes packaged in a slipcase, an inner casing with alternate cover art, and a collectible booklet that will not be available with future pressings. Street Date: October 25, 2005 SRP: $29.95
ANIMAL TREASURE ISLAND (Dobutsu Takarajima, 1971)
Inspired by the classic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, ANIMAL TREASURE ISLAND was directed by Hiroshi Ikeda (special effects director for THE X FROM OUTER SPACE), and features the legendary Hayao Miyazaki (director of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO and SPIRITED AWAY) as a story consultant and key animator. This "all ages" animated film was regularly shown on US television but has never been released to home video. For the first time, it will be available in its original aspect ratio (presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen), with both Japanese and English audio, and a theatrical teaser and trailer. Street Date: November 15, 2005 SRP: $29.95
Some of Hayao Miyazaki's early works, such as ANIMAL TREASURE ISLAND, will be coming to Region 1 DVD. Photo courtesy of Discotek Media Â© 1971 Toei Animation Co., Ltd
TARO: THE DRAGON BOY (Tatsu-no Ko Taro, 1979)
A beautiful Toei animated film, based on a classic of Japanese folklore and directed by Kiriro Urayama. Previously released to television and home video in the 1980s, this is the first letterboxed release (2.35:1 anamorphic) in the US - and the first time the film is available on DVD anywhere. Includes the original Japanese language with English subtitles and the English language version that was written and directed by Peter Fernandez (English dubbing supervisor for SPEED RACER and ULTRAMAN). Street Date: January 24, 2006
LUPIN THE THIRD: STRANGE PSYCHOKINETIC STRATEGY (Rupan Sansei: Nenrikichan Sakusen, 1974)
Also known as LUPIN III: OPERATION PSYCHOKINESIS, this is the first feature film based on Monkey Punch's long-running and popular manga "Lupin III" (published in English by TokyoPop), working from his original film treatment. The live action caper was directed by Takashi Tsuboshima and stars Yuki Meguro (SHOGUN, LEGEND OF THE EIGHT SAMURAI), and the DVD will be of the same standard as Toho Video's Japanese release from last year - anamorphic letterbox and in Japanese with English subtitles. Street Date: February 21, 2006.
SEXY SOCCER (2003)
Not a Japanese film, this is a Category III Hong Kong sex comedy made to ride the popularity of Stephen Chow's SHAOLIN SOCCER. As the title implies, this film follows the comedic and erotic adventures of a soccer team of beautiful women. In Cantonese with newly translated English subtitles. Street Date: March 28, 2006.
THE WAR IN SPACE (Wakusei Daisenso, 1977)
Directed by Jun Fukuda (SON OF GODZILLA, GODZILLA VS MECHAGODZILLA) with special effects by Teruyoshi Nakano (GODZILLA VS HEDORAH- GODZILLA 1985), this Toho sci fi classic combines elements from BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE and ATRAGON, and even throws in a horned Wookiee-like alien called the "Space Beastman". Featuring many familiar classic Toho cast members and a special guest appearance by action star Hiroshi Miyauchi (KAMEN RIDER V3). The first-ever US DVD release of THE WAR IN SPACE will include the original Japanese audio, English subtitles, and the English dub. Street Date: April 25, 2006.
Future releases will include Toho's scifi adventures THE WAR IN SPACE and BYE BYE JUPITER. Â© 1977 Toho Co., Ltd
PUSS 'N BOOTS (Nagagutsu O Haita Neko aka "The Wonderful World of Puss â€˜N Boots", 1969)
This Toei anime feature is based on the Grimm's fairy tale, directed by Kimio Yabuki, and features the early work of Hayao Miyazaki (NAUSICAA, HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE). The English language version was directed by Fred Ladd (GIGANTOR). The title character of "Pero" became the signature mascot of Toei Animation Co., Ltd. Street Date: May 3, 2006
BURST CITY (Bakuretsu Toshi, 1982)
Director Sogo Ishii's (GOJOE, ELECTRIC DRAGON 80,000 V) bleak and anarchistic look at a future dystopian Japan; where punk rock gangs wage war in clans and battle with the state police for survival of the fittest. Once you see BURST CITY, you'll never forget it. Discotek's highly-anticipated release of Toei's cult classic is remastered and enhanced for anamorphic televisions, and will also be available in a special box set similar to ZERO WOMAN: RED HANDCUFFS (tentative). Street Date: June 27, 2006.
ROBOKILL BENEATH DISCOCLUB LAYLA (Mikadoroido aka "Mikadroid, 1991)
Produced by Tsuburaya Eizo and released by Toho's V-Cinema label, ROBOKILL BENEATH DISCOCLUB LAYLA was written and directed by Tomoo Haraguchi (SAKUYA: SLAYER OF DEMONS, KIBAKICHI) with special effects by Shinji Higuchi (the 1990s Gamera trilogy, LORELEI: THE WITCH OF THE PACIFIC). In a forgotten underground factory, an experimental robot soldier intended to fight in the last days of World War 2 is activated and goes on a bloody rampage in modern Tokyo. The cast includes Sandayu Dokumamushi ("Arashi" in ULTRAMAN, "Little Man" Machan ("Minilla" in the Showa Godzilla series), and horror film director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (PULSE) in a supporting note. [I hope that they change the title back to the original MIKADROID, rather than this made-up-by-Asian-Cult-Cinema title - Editor] Street Date: July, 2006
BYE BYE JUPITER (Sayonara Jiyupeta, 1983)
While BYE BYE JUPITER has several similarities to the US book and movie 2010, the film is based on the novel by Sakyu Komatsu (SUBMERSION OF JAPAN), which was published years before the sequel to 2001. Directed by Koji Hashimoto (GODZILLA 1985) with effects from Koichi Kawakita (the Heisei Godzilla series), this odd Toho film has too much going on for its own good - a dolphin-loving cult lead by a guitar playing hippie, laser fights, a love scene in zero gravity, and a mystery near Jupiter - but the production design and visual effects are top notch. More than twenty years after its Japanese release, BYE BYE JUPITER comes to the US with the original Japanese audio, English subtitles, and an English dub. Street Date: August, 2006
LUPIN THE THIRD: LEGEND OF THE GOLD BABYLON (Rupan Sansei: Babiron-no Ogun Densetsu, 1985)
A bizarre entry in the LUPIN III series, released for the first time on DVD in the US. A Polish Mafia boss and a cadre of female cops pursue Lupin III as he seeks a treasure hidden in ancient Babylon. Discotek's release of this Toho anime will be fully letterboxed, 16:9 enhanced, and contain both Japanese and English Audio, with removable English subtitles. Directed by the legendary Seijun Suzuki (BRANDED TO KILL, TOKYO DRIFTER). Street Date: Late 2006
LUPIN THE THIRD: FUMA CONSPIRACY (Rupan Sansei: Fuma Ichizoku-no Inbo, 1987)
During the wedding of Lupin III's partner in crime, the ronin Ishikawa Goemon, a band of ninja disrupt the proceedings to steal a precious family heirloom. All hell breaks loose as Lupin & Co. race to rescue Goemon's bride and retrieve the stolen treasure. One of the best LUPIN III films, this Toho anime title was previously released by AnimEigo, as RUPAN III: THE FUMA CONSPIRACY. Discotek is reissuing this film with the proper "Lupin the Third" moniker and all-new English subtitles and English dub. Street Date: Late 2006
Discotek Media has just launched their own website which features the trailers for ZERO WOMAN: RED HANDCUFFS and LUPIN THE THIRD: STRANGE PSYCHOKINETIC STRATEGY. Henshin! Online will also have news and reviews of Discotek's releases, so check back here for further updates in the near future.