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Furaibo Tantei: Akai Tani no Sangeki

Drifting Detective: Tragedy in the Red Valley

Japan 1961
produced by
Toei
directed by Kinji Fukasaku
starring Sonny Chiba, Shigemi Kitahara, Junya Usami, Takashi Kanda, Gozo Soma
music by Masayoshi Ikeda

Drifting Detective

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A plane crashes in some mountains, killing Mr Nakumo, the rich but benign major landowner of the region, and now his erstwhile rival Kido claims Nakuma has written all his land over to him, including the land of an orphanage/farm, and owner and orphans are threatened with eviction if they are unable to pay an exorbitant rent - which would of course play right into Kido's hands, who wants to build a skeeing resort in the region and could very well need the orphanage as a hotel.

Enter drifter Goro (Sonny Chiba), who's actually a detective for Nakumo's company who can't quite understand why Nakumo would sign over his land - and when he's repeatedly shot at by Kido's men, he knows he's on the right track. Kido meanwhile has hired hitman Tetsu the Blade to guard his interests, and when Tetsu and Goro meet, they take an immediate liking into one another, even though they know they fight on opposite sides.

Eventually and after much to and fro, Goro finds out the planecrash was not an accident at all but orchestrated by Kido's own girlfriend, and Nakumo was not in the plane at all but forced to sign over his land afterwards and then killed. Kido has to realize that Goro has come too close to the truth, so he has Shikako, the daughter of the owner of the orphanage and Goro's love interest, kidnapped to keep him in line, but Goro decides to attack Kido's hideout and shoot her free - a suicide mission if it wasn't for Tetsu, who switches allegiances and helps Goro in not only freeing Shikako but also seeing to it that all the baddies get their just rewards.

 

A very early film by later cult director Kinji Fukasaku, starring Sonny Chiba towards the beginning of his career, this is a competently handled and likeable whodunnit/detective adventure, that curiously enough shows many parallels to B-Westerns from the 1930's and 40's in both style (lots of horses and stetsons, lots of fistfights and shootouts, ...) and story. But while all of this sounds like cult potential, this film will probably never become a cult classic, it's merely light-footed genre entertainment with no deeper meaning to it, which means while the film might be 100% enjoyable, it's also something you will have forgotten rather quickly.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
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written by
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