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 Afringe Home / Reviews / Golgo 13: Queen Bee Special Edition DVD 12/05/2022 



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Golgo 13: Queen Bee Special Edition DVD
Bilingual DVD
60 minutes
Urban Vision
Saito Production
Tezuka Production
New Generation Pictures
The second movie featuring Japan's most popular hit man.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Golgo 13: Queen Bee Special Edition DVD
By Jake Forbes

Duke Togo, aka Golgo 13, is an undeniably cool character; he's like James Bond without a conscience. While he's hardly recognized in the US, in Japan he's been the star of 120 best-selling graphic novels, making Golgo 13 the most successful adult manga series ever. For fans of Duke Togo, Queen Bee is a huge disappointment. While the second and latest Golgo animated movie is a beautiful film to look at, it suffers from a bad script, poorly choreographed action scenes, and an overall shortage of what makes the manga series so cool- Golgo 13 on the job.

The film opens like any Golgo 13 story: with a job assignment. Hardy, the democratic presidential nominee, has been getting death threats from a South American paramilitary leader, Queen Bee (named so because she sleeps with all her workers and bears many children). Hardy's running mate (and gay lover and puppet master) hires Golgo 13 to take her out. Of course Queen Bee has her reasons for wanting Hardy dead, but it takes a lot of digging for Golgo to uncover her true motives, and Hardy's. After a couple of close encounters with the mysterious beauty, Golgo follows Sonia, the Queen Bee, to a South American jungle village where he must help her defend her village from psychopathic Nam vet. But there's still the matter of his original contract, and Golgo 13 never breaks a contractů

Queen Bee almost has an interesting story-almost. Are the elements are here: death threats, political maneuvering, surprising twists, and bizarre sexual relationships. Unfortunately, too many plot threads are left hanging and others pop up out of nowhere. It's as if the filmmakers realized that they couldn't properly develop all of the characters in 60 minutes, so they decided to focus just on developing the Queen Bee's personality in bed. There are more sex scenes with Queen Bee than there are scenes of Golgo 13 doing anything!

Artwork throughout the film is beautiful. The director isn't far off when he says it looks better than OAV quality. The lighting is incredible, the backgrounds are realistic, and the visual effects are innovative. The director uses a grab bag of techniques to give the film an overall stylish look. Actions are often repeated multiple times at different distances, emotional scenes cut away stills of color drawings, and shaky cameras are simulated in chaotic moments. Sometimes it works, but these techniques are likely used so much to keep the lavish film under budget.

Where the budget constraints become apparent and the film utterly fails is in the action scenes. The action is large in scope, with the final scene involving a fleet of helicopters and a few dozen soldiers. Whereas the sex scenes are fairly detailed with plenty of motion and close ups, the action is "artfully" done, with stills and abstract death scenes making up for the lack of actual movement. If the filmmakers knew that their budget wouldn't allow for elaborate battles, then they should have built the action around smaller scale confrontations. Their hero is an assassin after all, so why not built some suspense with him picking people off?

All of these flaws fall on the Japanese filmmakers and not on Urban Vision. For their part, UV did a wonderful job at localizing the film. The 5.1 soundtrack is well mixed, and unlike many DVD's, this one features a 5.1 Japanese language track as well. The dubbing is excellent with most of the voice actors fitting perfectly with their characters. Urban Vision does a great job at finding actors that sound like people and not like cartoon voices, and this is certainly the case with Queen Bee. The only voice I found lacking was that of Golgo 13 himself; the biggest badass in the manga world deserves the ultimate cool voice. But as he only has 5 real lines, it doesn't detract that much from the film.

There's only one special feature to the "Special Edition" DVD (aside from language tracks and UV trailers), but it's a doozey: the director and executive producer provide an engaging running commentary. It's unusual to get this kind of in depth look at an anime movie by its creators, so props to Urban Vision for this special treat. Actually, the two middle-aged men spend more time talking about women's sexuality than they do the film (much to the chagrin of the DVD producer who they keep saying is trying to get them to stop talking about sex). Sure you'll learn a little bit about how and why the film was made the way it was, but you'll learn a lot more about sex roles in Japan. The director even confesses that he envies homosexuals for their ability to connect with emotions and therefore be more artistic. You aren't likely to hear an American director say anything like that! An interesting cultural note that is indirectly revealed is that while the producer ended up cutting a gay kissing scene as being too disturbing, he kept in a very disturbing image of a man about to rape a 9-year-old girl. Strange standards, but the same thing would probably happen here too.

Golgo 13: Queen Bee might very well be the best political/sexual/assassination thriller anime around (it's probably the only one), but it's still not a very good movie. It doesn't quite succeed as a political thriller and it drops the ball as an action anime, leaving just some pretty visuals and numerous but tame sex scenes to get excited about. Urban Vision did a terrific job on their end, with excellent dubbing and subtitles, killer sound, and a great audio commentary, but it's just fancy icing on a flawed cake. If you want a good assassination film, check out the Yakuza drama Gonin with Beat Takeshi- now that's intense. For a sexual thriller, Perfect Blue is much better than this. Golgo 13 is a great character and I hope that he is done right next time, but his second outing isn't worthy of his name.

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