While this standalone entry may just as well have been a quasi-remake of the original, She-Cat Gambler brings its own party with it. Sure, the style from the previous film is still there, but the filmmakers wisely decided to keep things fresh. As such, they ditched the comical character (played by Tsunehiko Watase in the first outing) and chose to throw in a hardened sword-fighting Sonny Chiba (who was only two years from achieving immortality in the Street Fighter series) as the film’s co-star. So, even if it is very similar to the prior entry, we still score double points with Sonny alone.
Both movies arrive straight from the Toei Company vault in an absolutely stunning presentation. Each film has been fully-restored and boasts a new anamorphic widescreen transfer (2.35:1) mastered in High Definition. The mono stereo Japanese sound comes through clear as day on both titles, and newly-translated optional English subtitles are included (just in case you’ve never bothered to learn Japanese).
Most of the special features on these two films are identical. There’s a new interview with director/co-writer Kazuhiko Yamaguchi; trailers for both Wandering Ginza Butterfly films; a gallery of poster art (featuring its own biography); and a reversible cover with the original (and really cool) Japanese theatrical artwork on the back side. The “indigenous” extras are an audio commentary with Japanese film fanatic Chris D. (on Wandering Ginza Butterfly) and a second featurette with Pinky Violence expert J-Taro Sukiyaki (on Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2: She-Cat Gambler ).
Whether you have a real yen for sword fighting and billiards (like my fiancée), enjoy watching the great Sonny Chiba in action (like me), or you just prefer to watch Japanese films in general, the Wandering Ginza Butterfly series should prove useful.