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Crusher Joe


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Title Info

  • type: movie
  • grade: worthy
  • dur: 130
  • form: dub
  • source: AnimEigo
  • made: 1983
  • Review created: Fri Feb 16 11:21:19 EST 2001
  • mod: none

I thought this was a short OAV...boy was I wrong, this is a 2 hour 10 minute movie epic. A sci-fi story full of impressive technology, tough guy's, beautiful women, complex plots and a triple serve of action. And, even better, it's actually pretty good stuff.

It's drawn from a series of novels so there's a wonderful feeling of depth to this world. It's a complex world with a history, political forces and a wide range of characters. It's also a world that contains `crushers'. These guys are half-way between being mercernaries and trouble-shooters. In other words while they're not criminals or killers the sort of jobs they get are plenty dangerous, which means that crushers tend to be skilled and capable people with lots of high tech way's of hurting people. In this case we get to follow Joe, son of the original crusher, and his team. He's definitely on the physical end of the spectrum, tough, acrobatic and skilled with all sorts of weapons. The other members include a big, tough `old salt' who's joe's second in command. There's also a young, slightly hyperactive engineer. Then there's an attractive, but capable, ex-princess who's also joe's romantic interest. And finally there's a robot who does various support functions. Taken together they're meant to be a tough and capable bunch.

Although sadly they're not the most subtle people in the world. While killing some downtime they take a simple `ambulance' job, transporting the daughter of a corporation leader for a life-saving operation. Sure, they know that various factions of the corporation don't want her to recover, but they figure they can handle it. And perhaps they can, but it turns out the plot is way bigger, and more twisted, than that. And indeed things start going wrong very quickly, and continue to get more and more complex over the whole two hour running time. It's quite an impressive acheivement, and almost tiring, to watch a show that keeps such a sense of pace, while the complex story unrolls, for such a long time.

Although, as I mentioned, joe's of the physical persuasion rather than the cunning intellectual mold. As a result when things go wrong he hits the disco and get's drunk. It looks like even in the future some things haven't changed much. However at least some of the forces in the story are very interested in keeping him involved. And while he's a tad trusting, and a bit one-track minded, he's got an amazing ability to survive and come out on top. And, once the firings settled down, he can stop to work out what's going on. And this is actually the first problem. The fact that Joe seems so willing to resort to force rather than a bit of planning is a minor irritant. The main problem, however, is that he's amazingly secure in the knowledge that he's the hero. Over two hours there's an immense amount of action and he, plus his team, are always in the middle of it. And despite the risks they take they come out unscathed. It's the old problem where you have to assume that, when needed, the bad guys will develop an inability to think or shoot straight. This isn't innately bad, it just means that this is an `epic action', rather than hard sci-fi or realistic, movie.

And the action is impressive. Joe, and the team, have the gear and the moves to make it almost believable they could pull this stuff off. There's dogfights, space battles, hand-to-hand, acrobatics of all sorts and just full on shoot em-ups. There's almost too much action for any one film to contain. And this takes place in a number of interesting and different places, giving a great deal of variety to the show. Add in a bit of politics and subterfuge, and some nice personal interaction and dialogue, and there's a solid experience to be had. And the scale, both of plot and event, gets pretty impressive by the end. If you like sci-fi and action I can't see how you'd dislike this.

Another nice touch is that, at one point, they stop at a drive in. The reason being that it's a neutral place for some negotiations to occur. What's really cool is that there's actually a movie playing on the screen. And the subjects of the movie is the `dirty pair' who eventually got their own, popular, anime series. It's cool in itself, as well as being another indication of attention to detail.

It also gains in that the design work, and animation of these designs, is very solid. Mind you, being an oldish anime the style looks a bit dated, but it all still works. Things like gun's running out of ammo, or even different types of ammo, is one example of the care taken. But there's a huge amount of detail in stuff like armor, mecha, security drones, the starships and all sorts of minor gadgets which gives a feeling of it having been thought out. There's an immense number of nice touches that give a feeling of quality to it. And things like multiple warhead missiles, jet-pack combat and fighters using maneouver jets are all well respresented in action.

Of course this isn't a new movie, and the animation does reflect that. Both in style, appearance and it's limitations. That said this must have been pretty good stuff at the time. The characters look fine, there's quite a lot of detail and the movements are imaginative and smooth enough to be fun to watch. And it's still very watchable today. Some of the `flash' may have faded, but the sense of scale and energy still comes through loud and clear. In part this is because, being a long movie, you quickly adapt to the style. The voices are quite reasonable and lively for a dub of this period, although some of the lesser characters are less strong. The music, bar some strange vocal sounds at the start, is mostly symphonic `space-opera' style. It's quite good and fits the energy of the film well.

Other Reviews

  • Lord Carnage review Lord Carnage demonstrates the scope of his page by having the sole review of this title. He mentions that (especially after some Ghibli) while it has dated it's still a show worth watching (3/5).


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:16 WST 2009