The Bullet Train

Sonny Chiba as train driver Aoki

Disaster movies summed up in one factoid: Airport (1970) to Airplane! (1980). You’re welcome. The Bullet Train comes slap dang in the middle, 1975, and though it’s often sold as being the inspiration for 1994’s Speed, which it is, it’s just as significant for being a grand summing-up of the entire disaster movie genre. Let’s deal with the Speed stuff first. A bomb has been fitted to one particular Japanese bullet train, or shinkansen (Shinkansen daibakuha is the Japanese title), on the Tokyo to Hakata route. Once the train reaches 80kph the bomb becomes armed. After that, if the speed drops below 80kph, the bomb will detonate. So far, so Sandra Bullock. But … Read more

The Yakuza

Keiko Kishi and Robert Mitchum

Robert Mitchum in a martial arts movie? That was Warner Bros’ crazy idea back in the early 1970s. Riding the massive success of their collaboration with Bruce Lee and the vogue for all things chop-socky, the next logical step was never to pack a paunchy and ageing Mitchum off to Japan but Warners went ahead and did it anyway. In 1974 came the verdict – The Yakuza was a massive commercial flop. Time hasn’t done much to restore its reputation, though there are great things in it, and any opportunity to watch Mitchum is usually worth taking. After 1973’s monster hit Enter the Dragon, the race was on to get more of the … Read more