The Tokyo police are stumped by a string of murders. Fortunately, Sonny Chiba, carrying a live pig, arrives from Okinawa to help out in 1977's Doberman Cop (ドーベルマン刑事). This is a fast paced, brutal, and delightfully oddball film with well edited action sequences and a surprisingly haunting story.
The victims are women, always burned to death. Joji Kano (Chiba) arrives just in time to save a fifth victim, a singer named Miki Harukaze (Janet Hatta), by swinging into her apartment through the window while she’s being held hostage. The media quickly dub him “Tarzan”.
Except Kano doesn’t think Miki is really Miki at all but a missing woman, Yuna, from his small rural hometown. But the city police have little patience for his use of superstitious technique—like his bag of cowries he likes to consult or references to dreams and the weather. And no one wants his pig though he kindly offers it to any potential friend. “It’s food!” he explains.
Finally a stripper eagerly reaches out for the animal during her act. This incident somehow culminates with her apparently having sex with a restrained Kano onstage.
Though judging from his martial arts prowess elsewhere in the film, I’m pretty sure Kano could break free if he wanted to. Chiba, of course, is a legendary martial artist but the editing helps him a lot, too. In one particularly effective shot, he leaps from the fifth or sixth floor of a building then hops on a motorcycle to chase a suspect.
This is obviously done with editing but it’s done at a pace that really makes you buy it.
It turns out Miki is mixed up with a yakuza manager (Hiroki Matsukata) and it’s unclear if she has the freedom to break free or even acknowledge to Kano that she’s the girl he’s looking for. But the cowries say Yuna is still alive so Kano doesn’t quit. He fights through a series of wonderfully stylish sequences with his feet, fists, and a magnum. Doberman Cop is available on Amazon Prime.