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Golgo 13: Queen Bee

director: Osamu Dezaki

56 minutes (18) 1998
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 4/10
reviewed by Jeff Young
Democratic presidential candidate Robert Hardy (voiced by Dwight Schultz) runs for the top office on an anti-drugs ticket, and his campaign promises mean he's in direct opposition to South American gangsters peddling dope throughout the US. But Hardy is no squeaky-clean political hero, nor a champion of the people. He's the puppet of organised crime, and is fully aware of the plots to assassinate rivals on both sides of the law. A hitman known as G13 is hired to kill Sonia 'Queen Bee' - the fabulous redhead who's a smuggler of drugs and weapons, and has a mixed bunch of offspring from all the international revolutionary terrorists that she's bedded over the years. Sonia still gets a kick out of staging shoot 'em ups against cops and federal agents, and so a crisis looms in this already volatile situation when a psychotic ex-soldier, guilty of wartime atrocities, is directed to lead a band of mercenaries in a major attack on the Queen Bee's jungle HQ camp...

Despite its horribly clichéd dialogue, and the bog-standard genre stereotypes that populate the scenario when proper characters would have made for a rather more intriguing drama, Golgo 13: Queen Bee is a watchable anime action thriller. As sexy film noir, it's a guilty pleasure, with a few startling moments of imagination in the art direction and frequently stylised animation that verge on the iconic - in a knowingly camp manner, at least. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the corruption and sleaze is entirely lacking in subtlety, and the amoral quagmire that consumes the ambitious Hardy makes for a markedly sharp contrast to his 'wholesome' public image and forthright, crowd-pleasing speeches.

The weakest aspect of this short drama is that its title character, hitman Golgo 13, is somewhat bland compared to the glamorous Sonia, or the maniacal mercenary. Although this appears to be a belated sequel to an earlier Golgo 13 anime series (from 1983), I was disappointed that DVD producers failed to gather any such previous material for this disc. Let's face it, when the main 'feature' runs less than an hour, the DVD format is not being used to full advantage, and this fact alone insults the buyer.

The DVD is presented (4:3) full-frame, in an English dubbed version also with English subtitles. Disc extras include image gallery, trailers, and a commentary track (audio in Japanese) thankfully translated by the English subtitles.
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