Tokyo Joe (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Powerhouse Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (29th June 2022).
The Film

A fifth foray into the film noir output of Columbia Pictures, but, this time, with a twist. Not only does this volume bring together six more gems from the studio’s archives, but it also serves as a showcase for the great Humphrey Bogart.

Having established his stardom in the gangster pictures of the 1930s, Bogart fit easily into the world of film noir, where he was equally at home playing troubled servicemen, slick-talking lawyers, black marketeers, gambling den owners, or hard-up journalists.

Columbia Noir #5: Humphrey Bogart brings together five of the iconic actor’s starring vehicles: John Cromwell’s Dead Reckoning, Nicholas Ray’s Knock on Any Door, Stuart Heisler’s Tokyo Joe, Curtis Bernhardt’s Sirocco, and Mark Robson’s The Harder They Fall, plus Henry Levin’s The Family Secret, a rarity starring Lee J Cobb and John Derek that was produced by Bogart’s Santana Pictures, an outfit that regularly delved into the seedy, shadowy world of noir.

Featuring a stunning 4K restoration of The Harder They Fall, and with Sirocco and The Family Secret appearing on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere in the world, this stunning collection includes newly recorded commentaries and critical appreciations, archival documentaries and short films, and a 120-page book. Strictly limited to 6,000 numbered units.


My comments for Dead Reckoning (disc one) apply to discs two (Knock on Any Door, 1949) three (Tokyo Joe, 1949), four (Sirocco, 1951) and five (The Family Secret, 1951) as they're all shot using the same format: Academy 1.37:1 monochrome by the same studio. Only disc six (The Harder They Fall, 1956) is presented in a matted widescreen circular lens format so that will have a different overall feel.

Gamma is perfectly balanced with no colour bias creeping in. Black levels are suitably dark and deep with plenty of shadow detail. Contrast allows detail to show through on all focal planes with only optical transitions showing detail loss but that's par for the course for productions made in the photochemical era. Grain is ever present, sometimes course but mostly fine. Coarseness increases during those optical transitions and in some sequences with low light.

I could see no signs of age-related wear and tear, the image is pristine which, frankly, is pretty typical for these Sony masters. The encode is superb and no digital tinkering has been used. Once again, the image is as good as can be short an UHD BD ('A').

1080p24 / AVC MPEG-4 / BD50 / 1.37:1 / 88:31


English LPCM 1.0 (48kHz)
Subtitles: English HoH

All of the discs in this set sound very solid despite lacking the range and depth we expect from modern mixes with their multichannel directionality. Everything is front and centre, unless the viewer pumps it through all channels at once. I heard no distortions beyond the usual slight variations caused by the limited range of sound equipment at the time and due to ADR wortk in post production. It's always clear and a strong track of era ('B').

The usual excellent hard of hearing subtitles are provided.



Audio commentary with Nota Fiore (2022)

Fiore is also known as The Nitrate Diva. She has become known over the last decade for writing about films made before 1965 on her blog so is expertly qualified to talk about Tokyo Joe as it was made in 1949. She has obvious enthusiasm and passion from the off in this commentary as she says upfront that she's very excited to talk about this film which is unlikely to headline anyone's list of best Bogart flicks. She's done her research and knows her stuff covering a wide range of aspects and topics concerning this film. The chat starts by discussing the fact Tokyo Joe was the first American studio film to get permission to shoot in Japan after the war. From there Fiore analyses the film, the characters, the cast, the work of the second unit, cinematographer Joseph Biroc etc, you know the score, lots to savour here. A solid yaktrak presented in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

"Tokyo Joe: A Presentation of the Film by Bertrand Tavernier" 2018 interview (in French with optional English subtitles) (33:23)

The celebrated French director discusses Tokyo Joe. This is a piece taken from a prior French disc released in 2020. Sadly, Tavernier died in 2021 so his thoughts are a valuable addition. He focuses on director Stuart Heisler and his films also touching on The Negro Soldier (1944). Presented in 1080p24 1.78:1 with uncompressed LPCM 2.0 stereo sound.

"A Superstar Returns: Tom Vincent on Sessue Hayakawa" 2022 interview (14:16)

A major star from the silent era, Hayakawa is a name I know from his appearances in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and Swiss Family Robinson (1960). This piece uses Hayakawa's appearance in Tokyo Joe as a kicking off point to discuss not just his involvement in this film but his career in general. Presented in 1080p24 1.78:1 with uncompressed LPCM 2.0 stereo sound.

1948 Second Unit Photography (10:08)

A collection of outtakes from the second unit shoot which took place a few months before the main shoot in Tokyo. Presented in 1080p24 1.37:1 and silent.

Tokyo Joe Image Gallery: Original Promotional Material (28 images)

The usual HD image gallery that brings together a set of promotional images uses to sell the film.

"The Negro Soldier" 1944 short film (40:27)
"Jim Pines on The Negro Soldier: A Presentation on The Negro Soldier by Author and Lecturer Jim Pine, at BFI Southbank, London on 20 November 2010" 2010 screentalk (40:24)

This famous short film also directed by the director of Tokyo Joe, Stuart Heisler has been restored in HD from a 35mm fine grain master. It generally looks good but there is a little weave occasionally. Also there are plenty of signs of age related wear and tear like speckles that are near constant. Presented in 1080p24 1.37:1 with uncompressed LPCM 2.0 mono sound. You also get a 2010 screentalk with Q&A session from academic Jim Pine who covers the film in detail, presented in uncompressed LPCM 2.0 mono.

120-page liner notes book with a new essay by Imogen Sara Smith, extensive archival articles and interviews, new writing on the various short films, and film credits

Tokyo Joe gets five pages devoted to it amongst the other films in the set and some articles on Bogart and Bogart at Columbia.


Unspecified at the time of writing.


Disc three in the Columbia Noir #5 set themed around Humphrey Bogart contains Tokyo Joe (1949). This film is a little more exotic than most of the noirs in these Columbia boxed sets with the story based in a foreign locale which lends the film a very different feel. As with the others in the range, image and sound is excellent and the extras are well done.

The Film: B+ Video: A Audio: B Extras: B+ Overall: A-


Rewind DVDCompare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,,,,, and . As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.