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City Hunter: The Motion Picture (1997) – DVD Review

City Hunter: The Motion Picture


Written by Yuuichi Higure, based on an original story by Tsukasa Hojo
Directed by Kazuo Yamazaki
Character Designs Yukiko Kamimura and Keiichi Satou


  • Original Japanese TV spots
  • Character bios
  • Clean opening and closing animation

Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:

  • Groping
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Lechery
  • Mokkori and more mokkori
  • Mild violence

Released by: ADV
Region: 1
Rating: 15+ for violence and suggestive themes
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: A must-buy

[ad#longpost]If you aren’t familiar with the concept of City Hunter, you are in for a treat. A kind of spoof of adventure films, the series blends hysterical fun with amazing action and solid plotting. Here, the story begins with a mysterious known terrorist and former Gulf War soldier known only as the Professor. He resents and hates the government–which he feels betrayed him–and works out his revenge upon the government and people of Tokyo, threatening to destroy the entirety of downtown along with the Professor’s own sister unless the government pays him a huge ransom. Meanwhile, City Hunter Ryo (aka “Joe” in English) and Kaori are contracted to find out who is trying to kill lovely Makaze Emi/Amy, to find her missing brother, and to keep her safe. (Ryo, listen: she’ll be safer if you keep your hands on your gun…no, not that “gun”…) It’s up to City Hunter to save the day, the girl, and the city. Come on, you knew a pretty girl had to be in there somewhere. Poor, poor Kaori.

The characters have always been the basis for this franchise, and this film is no different. We get the very endearing and likable Ryo, along with the down-to-earth Kaori, with whom every woman in the world can identify. Emi and the Professor are also both very well done, with reasons for what they do and how they act, which is somewhat unusual in an action film. The plot may be clever, but it is still pretty standard for action films (thus the “spoof” aspect), but the characters make it a quite enjoyable viewing experience.

The extras are spare, but quality: we get clean opening and closing animation, along with over a minute of fun original Japanese TV spots. It is always interesting to see what the Japanese got to see before the film came out. We also get a passel of character bios that will help fans new to the show and the series. It would have been nice to have had some interviews with director, voice actors, artists, etc. or a comparison with other versions of the franchise, but we otaku take what we can get.

Still from City Hunter: The Motion Picture

The audio is clean and full in both English and Japanese, though the Japanese voice actors have a slight edge on style here, as they’re more familiar and immersed in the dubious glory that is Ryo/Joe (eventually, American anime companies will realize that we can handle foreign names and stop changing them). The visuals are similarly solid, except for a few scanning issues in the opening credits. The character designs are a little more appealing and “realistic” here than they were in the TV series and look great.

Okay, so Ryo is hardly going to win over any feminist viewers. Ladies, just remember, he’s supposed to be a spoof. They know he’s out of control and inappropriate. So just identify with Kaori and throw pillows at the screen when you feel you need to. I did. Besides, you just can’t help but like him despite yourself.

If you’ve seen the live action version with Jackie Chan, then come here and see the original, especially if you didn’t like the Chan version, since this version is better, as is the way with originals. If you have never seen any City Hunter episodes and never heard of the franchise, you can still dive right in here and enjoy the film fully; no back knowledge is required. Truly, the action and comedy can’t be beat. Come suffer along with Ryo as he searches for true love (or more accurately some true lovin’) and saves the world again.

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