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Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 08/18/2003

Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed, and Ein are in for a real challenge when they go after a whopping 300,000,000 woolong bounty -- Vincent Volaju. Vincent plans to annihilate everyone on Mars with a deadly virus, and it looks like it's up to the Bebop gang to make sure that doesn't happen.
Set sometime in the latter half of the series, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie comes off as an extended, more intricately detailed episode. It does not really try to deviate from the formula that made the series such a smashing success. Amazingly though, I believe that it would still work even without any TV background because it's structured much like a Hollywood action film with a straightforward plot, clear-cut characters, and loads of ass-kicking and fireworks. Of course, having known the Bebop gang beforehand would probably yield the best desired effect but all I'm saying is that you can enjoy every minute of this spectacle even if you're a total stranger to the series.
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie opens with Faye chasing after a minor bounty, a hacker named Lee Sampson. Somewhere along the way, Faye witnesses a fatal tanker explosion from which a mysterious and ominous-looking man emerges. Further investigation leads the gang to believe that the man is Vincent Volaju, a man who was once a member of a special military unit. The problem is, according to the files Vincent Volaju is dead. What's more, Vincent seems completely unaffected by the virus that he's been terrorizing the populace with. With all the odds stacked against the Bebop gang, the question of how they are going to stop Vincent just hangs there... reeling you more and more into the story. An engaging new female character is also introduced in the person of Electra. Electra is very much interested in apprehending Vincent as well, although her motivation is not the money.
Aside from showcasing a generally higher level of audio-visual elements, Cowboy Bebop the Movie treats existing Bebop fans to supplementary characterizations for Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed, and even Ein. We get to understand them more as individuals, since they take on Vincent separately even while working as a group. I also found Vincent's side of the story to be rather philosophical and touching at the same time. The pacing wasn't as dynamic as it should have been, and I got the feeling that things were being overly drawn out to make the plot seem more complex than it really is.
As I've mentioned earlier, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie takes the series' already flawless visual aspect and elevates it some more (even I didn't think it was possible) resulting in even smoother, more refined animation. Fighting scenes especially were mesmerizing to behold. I thoroughly enjoyed the music as well, as composer Yoko Kanno presents her trademark blend of jazz, R&B, and J-pop once more. Both the English dubbing and the original Japanese dialogues are comprised of perfectly suited voices and stellar performances as well, so you can't go wrong with either track. Admittedly there are slight variances in what's actually being said, but the gist remains the same -- only the wordings differ.
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is really just more of the same thing that you experience in the series, but it's so exceptionally done that one can't help but be impressed. I had some qualms with regards to the pacing but overall it's an enjoyable and action-packed ride well worth taking.
I really liked the DVD extras on this one, especially the featurette that contained interviews with the director, composer, voice actors, etc.

Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door
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Review Title:
Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Alternative Titles:
Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku no Tobira, Cowboy Bebop The Movie
115 Minutes
General Rating:
4.5 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Young Adults
Action, Adventure, Comedy,
Mystery, Sci-Fi, Space
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