November 28th, 2008

BULLET TRAIN (1975) * ½

Remember in Speed when Dennis Hopper rigged the bus so that if it went below 55 mph it would explode?  Well, he wasn’t the first one to think of it.  In this Japanese disaster movie, a terrorist puts a bomb aboard a commuter train that will explode if the train goes below 80 kph.  Instead of Keanu Reeves though, we get Sonny Chiba, which is a fair trade in my book.  Sounds like a recipe for a classic doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, Bullet Train is about as much fun as Speed 2:  Cruise Control. 


Far too much of the movie is filled with boring scenes of sweaty Japanese transit workers negotiating with terrorists while looking at computer screens and trying to reconfigure the train schedule.  Not my idea of thrilling entertainment.  It’s funny how a movie about a fast moving train could be so slow paced.  What’s worse is that the flick seemingly goes on FOREVER!  At least the hideous dubbing will keep you chuckling (Chiba sounds like Wally Cox) whenever the tepid dramatics threaten to put you to sleep.


I have to give the filmmakers props for the scene where they blew up a real train.  Most Japanese filmmakers rely heavily on cheap looking models, so it was a nice change of pace to see something blow up in its actual size.  Chiba is good as the worrisome train conductor who puts the pedal to the metal in order to save his passengers’ lives, although he really isn’t given a whole lot to do in his miniscule role.  I don’t know why you would put Sonny Chiba in a movie and not let him kick somebody’s ass, but oh well.  Wimpy Chiba is better than no Chiba at all I guess.


AKA:  Super Express 109.