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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
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  • 5 Theatrical trailer
  • Animated menus

Golgo 13 - The Professional

Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 93 mins . R . PAL


Duke Togo, codenamed Golgo 13, is a professional assassin – the world's finest. A man without morals or conscience, he is clinical, thorough and never, ever misses. Looking like a cross between James Bond and Bruce Lee, this cravat-sporting tough-guy is the essence of ’80s cool. As you might expect, he’s quite a hit with the ladies and all his out of work hours seem to be spent giving pleasure to an endless stream of beautiful women. Come to think of it, it's a good proportion of his work hours too.

When Duke offs the son of the world’s richest man - American oil magnate Leonard Dawson - Dawson uses his considerable clout with the US government to bring the full weight of his sizeable rage down on our hero. Ever the professional, Duke isn’t much fazed by all the attention and, despite finding the combined might of the FBI, CIA and US Army Special Forces allied against him, it’s business as usual. Even when it begins raining gunfire, grenades and rockets at all hours of the day and night, Duke still manages to service his outstanding contracts and finds the time to bed some beautiful ladies. But just how long can Duke overcome these seemingly insurmountable odds? And just why is Dawson directing his fury against our hero, when Duke's employer seems a more sensible target?

Based on the characters created by manga author Takao Saito, the world of Golgo 13 is a cold and violent one, filled with death, sex, intrigue and of course, sex - lots of sex. Maybe even too much sex. Be there no doubt, The Professional earns its R rating with countless instances of nudity, sex scenes, oceans of blood and strong language. Sounds good to you? Me too - but it's certainly not everyone's cup of tea. The plot, reminiscent of the Hollywood spy film or 'lone-wolf' western, is certainly engaging and well written; playing out like a violent installment of the Bond franchise that shows the sex and doesn't bother with the witty banter. In all, The Professional is a neat action-thriller that finishes off with a satisfying twist.


Presented on a single-layer, single-sided disc and at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (non-anamorphic), although The Professional is certainly watchable, its video quality is a little disappointing given Madman's strong (and well-earned) reputation for beautiful anime transfers.

Whilst the animation techniques used to produce The Professional were probably state-of-the-art in 1983, they do look rather dated now; with its rudimentary CGI and simple, hand-drawn character animation lacking the wealth of detail that is now the standard for feature-length anime. Therefore, whilst the image is reasonably sharp (despite the odd moment of soft focus), there just isn’t the detail for the digital transfer to plumb. And although foreground colours are well rendered and mostly solid, some compression problems are evident - with many of the film’s backgrounds being affected by pixelation, and the image exhibiting shimmer on several occasions. Film to video artefacts are also evident, and while instances of aliasing are low, the image does suffer from the odd bout of telecine wobble.

Black level is generally good, but only serves to highlight the disappointing number of film artefacts that litter the image – appearing heavily during the first and last five minutes, but also fairly steadily throughout. Although the large number of film artefacts is not surprising given the age of the film, many occur in places that would have been quite straightforward to correct! All in all, The Professional is definitely showing its age, and whilst enjoyable in spite of these problems, it does not live up to outstanding quality of Madman's past work.


With only an English dub (Dolby Digital stereo) to accompany the film, sadly we miss out on every anime aficionado’s pre-requisite: the original Japanese soundtrack. And without a means of comparison, just how faithful this English dub remains to the original production cannot be guessed.

As it is, the soundtrack is definitely feeling its age, being restricted to the forward speakers and with little-to-no channel separation when using a Prologic decoder. With zero sound routed to the surround or LFE channels, the lack of low-frequency activity especially shows the age of the film – and sadly we're not treated to a digital remix (a la Akira). Ultimately, without a Prologic-friendly stereo mix The Professional sounds better with the decoder turned off altogether.

In all, what audio we have is serviceable enough, with clear distinct dialogue and a reasonable contemporary score (well for 1983 anyway), that matches the action and international locations nicely. The foley work is particularly impressive given the age of the film, and the English voice actors give reasonably dramatic performances. Whilst an English dub is definitely not my preference, what The Professional provides is certainly enjoyable enough.


Despite the nicely animated menus, The Professional is very light on in the way of extras, providing only five theatrical trailers - one for the feature itself that displays comparable video and audio quality, and four for other Madman releases. Trailers for Perfect Blue, Akira and Black Jack are presented in non-anamorphic widescreen. A trailer for Wicked City is presented full-frame.


Overall The Professional is an engaging, action-packed thriller for those who like their anime violent and chock-full of animated sex scenes. And with a well-constructed plot and a satisfying finale, it certainly rates as one of the must-see feature length anime titles currently released. Despite looking a little dated and being presented without its original Japanese soundtrack, The Professional is definitely recommended viewing for all you anime fans out there.

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      And I quote...
    "...an engaging, action-packed thriller for those who like their anime violent and chock-full of animated sex scenes..."
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • TV:
          Panasonic TC-68P90A TAU (80cm)
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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