City Hunter: 357 Magnum box cover

© Tsukasa Hojo / Shuseisha / YTV / Sunrise

Info

Available on VHS and DVD from A.D. Vision.
Movie
80 minutes
Action/Comedy
Version I Watched: English dubbed
Objectionable Content: Violence, sexual innuendo

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City Hunter: 357 Magnum

City Hunter: 357 Magnum (originally titled Magnum of Love and Destiny) is another made-for-tv movie brought over by A.D. Vision. As with City Hunter: The Motion Picture, the dubbed version contains a couple name changes, from Ryo to Joe and Saeka to Sandra. Purists need not fret, though, for the subtitled version is left intact.

The story in 357 Magnum is a fairly basic one, yet benefits strongly from depth of character. Things open in an airport where Sandra is meeting a Russian passenger who is toting something of extreme importance. It must be important for no sooner does Sandra meet him, then he is assassinated and his briefcase stolen. Another Russian has also arrived in Japan, but this one comes for a different reason; she is a beautiful Russian pianist named Nina who has come to play several charity concerts. She does have an ulterior motive, though, one which leads her to Joe Saeba, the "City Hunter". Her father apparently left her mother when she was a child and she wishes to reunite with him. Joe is more than happy to accept and agrees to help her (does he ever). Soon after, however, Nina's grandfather is threatened by the very same terrorists involved in the airport assassination. Nina is soon swept into the conflict, and Joe, Kaori, and Falcon right along with her. There seems to be a connection between the terrorists and Nina, but one that goes far back into Nina's past.

The early stages of the plot are quite laden with comedy as Joe tries vainly to "acquaint" himself with Nina, while Kaori dissuades him with her usual assortment of giant hammers. By the middle of the movie, however, the action begins to heat up nicely. It's fairly traditional fare as far as action flicks go, with car chases, shoot-outs and huge explosions being in no short supply. The only thing that bothered me about the action was the ubiquitous "Stormtrooper effect". Most of the disposable baddies are supposedly part of a special forces unit, yet have the skill of a drunken fruit fly. Another odd thing about the action was that it was generally bloodless, until one instance where Joe blows part of a man's hand off in gory detail. This instance marked a sharp contrast, to say the least. The action eventually dissipates for the movie's finale in which things take a strong turn to the dramatic. The whole thing sparks of a roller-coaster ride, running the gamut from downright goofy to deadly serious. And yet, in true City Hunter fashion, it comes across as seamless.

Being that this is a television production, the aesthetic qualities pale in comparison to theatrical or OAV anime. The art and animation are quite simplistic compared with modern anime releases and may disappoint anyone expecting more. The music is equally uninspiring, save for a couple instances of classical melodies which significantly add to the mood. The dubbing was solid, if a little odd, given that the main characters quickly cross the line from silly to serious and back again. The voice actors do a good job with their characters, though, and the dub should sit well with most.

Fans of City Hunter or those who enjoy lightweight action movies with a healthy dose of comedy will want to check out City Hunter: 357 Magnum. It's by no means the most original anime on the block, but has all the right ingredients of an enjoyable time-waster.

The Verdict: * * * 1/2 (above average)


   

City Hunter: 357 Magnum image
City Hunter: 357 Magnum image
City Hunter: 357 Magnum image
City Hunter: 357 Magnum image

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