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Japanese animated film (1983). Based on the novels by Haruka Takachiho. Studio Nue, Nippon Sunrise. Directed by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko. Written by Haruka Takachiho and Yasuhiko Yoshikazu. Voice cast includes Reiko Mut, Chikao Ohtsuka, Run Sasaki and Hiroshi Takemura. 132 minutes. Colour.
In 2161 Crusher Joe (Takemura) and his team of Crushers (basically, hardcore interstellar odd-jobbers) are hired to deliver a cryogenically frozen woman (see Cryonics); but her casket is stolen during their first warp jump, after which they are boarded by the United Space Force (USF), who treat them as pirates. Their Crusher license is suspended so the team go to a disco, where Joe and girlfriend Alfin (Sasaki) get drunk and start a fight. Later they learn that the man who hired them, who had also disappeared, has fled to Lagol, a lawless planet still undergoing Terraforming: they pursue.
The frozen woman is Dr Matua (Mut), a Scientist working on a new warp system that has fallen into the hands of a pirate, Big Murphy (Ohtsuka). The Technology is temperamental, but allows control of other ship's warp systems, which enables Murphy to send attacking USF ships crashing onto Lagol's surface; however, it is also liable to create a spacetime implosion (thus the need for Matua). Such an implosion is only prevented when Murphy is betrayed and Matua sacrifices her life. Crusher Joe finds he had been manipulated by a USF Intelligence agent to topple Murphy and Lagol's corrupt President, so hits him.
Crusher Joe is more cynical than most of its contemporaries; characterization is negligible, but the giant space fortress, Cyborgs, explosions, Monsters, Spaceship battles, vats of acid and a cane-bearing villain, who eschews the traditional pet cat for an Alien toad, all make this is a fun, action-packed Anime.
An 89-minute censored version was later released in the USA as Crushers (1988). There were two subsequent hour-long OVAs: Crusher Joe: The Ice Prison (1989; original title Kurassh J: Hyouketsu Kangoku no Wana; vt A Trap of the Frozen Jail) and Crusher Joe: The Ultimate Weapon: Ash (1989; original title Kurassh J: Saishuu Heiki Asshu; vt The Final Weapon ASH). [SP]
We passed a couple of major milestones on 1st August: the SFE is now over 4.5 million words, of which John Clutes own contribution has now exceeded 2 million. (For comparison, the 1993 second edition was 1.3 million words, and Continue reading
Weve reached a couple of milestones recently. The SFE gallery of book covers now has more than10,000 images: this oneseemed appropriate for the 10,000th. Our series of slideshows of thematically linked covers has continued to grow, and Darren Nash of Continue reading
Weve been talking for a while about new features to add to the SFE, and another one has gone live today: the Gallery, which collects together covers for sf books and links them back to SFE entries. To quote from Continue reading
After avoiding the bandwagon for as long as possible, I finally played a bit of Overwatch last weekend. I had some fun, I have a better understanding of why people love it, and holy moly I'm terrible at it. More power to anyone who has the reaction time and teamwork to be good at it, but I think I'll stick with my racing sims. Welcome to Shelf Life.
In what turned out to be a useful coincidence, I watched Crusher Joe: The Movie in the same week that I saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Both feature a team of wisecracking heroes who save the day by blowing things up in spectacular fashion, and both are good fun despite not being especially deep or nuanced, even though the two movies are over 30 years apart. I guess some things never change.
The story follows a team of four Crushers, who essentially work as action heroes for hire. The group is led by Joe, the fiercely independent son of a famous Crusher. They take on a mission to transport a cryogenically frozen woman, but things go wrong in a hurry when their cargo disappears and they're arrested on suspicions of piracy. Their search for the real culprit leads to them to Lagol, a planet full of dangerous criminals.
Honestly, the story isn't all that important in this movie. It's mostly there to keep things moving from one action scene to the next, and the space badasses vs. space pirates premise suits that purpose quite nicely. It's not especially deep or gripping stuff, and it's half an hour longer than it needs to be, but it works. The protagonists are also relatively simple in terms of their personalities, with an emphasis on action hero charisma over serious character development. While I liked Joe and his Crusher pals well enough, they lack the special spark that distinguishes truly iconic characters from the genre crowd. The villains are in the same boat, providing an entertaining challenge for the good guys without leaving a lasting impression.
What does stand out about this movie is its wide variety of action scenes. Crusher Joe: The Movie has big space battles, drunken bar fights, laser gun shootouts, hover car chases, and every other kind of explosive sci-fi spectacle you could possibly want. The visuals have that quintessential '80s style to them, and the animation is genuinely ambitious in presentation. Spaceships blast each other to pieces, jet fighters loop and roll through the sky, and pretty much everything explodes in lovely, hand-drawn detail. There's a sense of exuberance to the whole thing, as if the production staff went out of their way to include a bunch of impressive shots. More than anything else, that abundance of unhinged creativity makes this movie fun to watch.
Crusher Joe: The Movie is also an interesting film if you enjoy placing older works into the larger context of anime as a medium. It's a good example of the shift from idealistic, inexperienced mecha pilots to tough, jaded professionals in sci-fi anime. The outfits are still bright and colorful, but Joe and his friends are definitely the kind of wisecracking space cowboys that we've grown accustomed to in recent decades. You'll also find a number of familiar names in the credits: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko directed this movie a few years after serving as animation director for Mobile Suit Gundam, while writer Haruka Takachiho is probably better known for creating the Dirty Pair series. (Kei and Yuri even make a cameo appearance!)
As releases of older titles go, this effort from Discotek Media is pretty solid. You get two versions of the movie, one in 4:3 and the other in 16:9. The English dub from past releases is also present, and it's quite good. Older dubs can be extremely hit-or-miss, but the English audio fits this movie almost as naturally as the original Japanese. Extras include a bunch of promotional videos, ranging in length from the usual short-form commercials to longer PVs. Perhaps most importantly, the movie looks and sounds good despite its age.
If Crusher Joe: The Movie has an Achilles heel, it's the sheer volume of more recent titles that have refined this formula over the years. Compared to many of those newer favorites, it ends up feeling extremely simple. There's no unique gimmick or big twist to help it stand out, partly because this style of story was less common when it was made. It remains entertaining over a single viewing, but I wouldn't count it as a must-own unless you enjoy collecting anime of this particular vintage. -Paul[TOP]