"Three years ago is just like the day before yesterday."
StrayDog: Kerberos Panzer Cops (ケルベロス 地獄の番犬) (1991) is director Mamoru Oshii's follow up to The Red Spectacles (1987), though chronologically this film is a prequel. After he finished The Red Spectacles, Oshii started writing a manga called Kerberos Panzer Cop (犬狼伝説) to fill in some of the backstory of that world. StrayDog: Kerberos Panzer Cops is loosely based on the first volume of that manga.
StrayDog: Kerberos Panzer Cops takes place toward the end of the three years before Koichi comes back to Japan in The Red Spectacles. StrayDog follows a young man named Inui who was one of the men under Koichi and felt betrayed and confused that Koichi ordered the Kerberos men to hold out and resist while he took off in a helicopter and escaped after the riots. After Inui stands trial and gets released from prison he leaves Japan in search of his former officer, Koichi who has fled to Taiwan. Unfortunately Inui is not the only person looking for the renegade Koichi.
This film has even better direction, and camera work than Oshii's previous live action attempt The Red Spectacles (1987) and Oshii helped himself immensely by actually hiring some real actors this time around. Again, I liked the questions Oshii asks in this film (can dogs choose their masters? etc.) and I found the story of this film really quite interesting.
Also i think the final action sequence is very well shot and super enjoyable, (probably the whole reason I'd recommend this movie besides the beautiful montages).
Although I liked the story of this film, it's noticeably light on actual content. This film is 30 minutes shorter than The Red Spectacles and it feels twice as long (and it's not like that was a quick movie either!) A lot of this is for mood and tone but over all it really could have used more actual plot and things happening.
Though this film probably works on it's own, most likely you're going to be confused about little bits and you're really not going understand the significance of certain things (like the ending) if you've never seen The Red Spectacles.
I really don't understand the point of having the Taiwanese girl in this film? She really doesn't do anything. I get she's supposed to bring Inui and Koichi together and have a platonic relationship with both of them but she could have done more in the plot. Inui joins with her because she's the most recent person to talk to Koichi but she has no idea where he is either so instead of helping the plot along she just decides to travel with Inui on his search, does she do anything for Inui? Nope. Does she help things when they find Koichi? Nope. Waste of a character in my opinion.
And the goofy humor of the The Red Spectacles which I hated returns, it lays dormant for most of the film until Koichi comes back. When Inui finds Koichi (once again played by Shigeru Chiba) they have a the silliest wrestling wussy (almost) fight I've ever seen, and it lasts for probably a solid ten minutes! Am I the only one who thinks this is not how soldiers would act at all?! What the heck is with these guys!
Lastly the only problem with watching this film right after The Red Spectacles is the world in this film is a whole lot less interesting the amazing dystopia that was created in The Red Spectacles. This film has beautiful montages of Taiwan but Taiwan in this world pretty much just looks like Taiwan today (with maybe a little more junk hanging around?). It's really quite beautiful and this begs the question, why doesn't everyone just leave Japan... I mean two of our main characters didn't seem to have any problem doing it!
The magnificent thing this film conveys is it's mood. It's very powerful in that respect. I really enjoyed the sweeping montages of Taiwan aided greatly by (long time Oshii colaborator) Kenji Kawai's beautiful soundtrack accompaniment.
StrayDog: Kerberos Panzer Cops (1991) is a solid blend of art and action, I just wish there was a little more content and a little less of the beautiful landscape montages. 3.5/5 Stars.
Be sure to check back because everyday this week I am going to be reviewing the films of acclaimed Japanese director Mamoru Oshii. If you missed it be sure to go back and check out my review of The Red Spectacles (1987)
Like this blog? You can support it by buying this film through these links: