The Shuto Kosoku Trials (also known as Megalopolis Expressway Trials) is one of the best Japanese car related movie series from the late 1980s until the late 1990s. Unsurprisingly they closely collaborated together with Keiichi Tsuchiya to make the racing action more realistic. This video that I found is a VHS tape transfer of the making of the stunts used in Shuto Kosuku Trial 5: the Final Battle. This movie was shot in 1992 and you see this reflected in the use of a brand new red Mazda RX-7 FD! It’s also amazing to see how much care is taken into making these stunts!
Shuto Kosoku using old school film cameras
I think the most striking detail of this video is the size of the action cameras. Nowadays we are used to high definition GoPro (or similar) action cameras delivering 8K whist being the size of a walnut. Back in 1992 most sophisticated non-film cameras were at most using NTSC CCD image sensors. These image sensors were notably bad during low-light situations and thus useless for filming action.
This meant back in 1992 any action had to be filmed using a real film camera. These cameras are notoriously bulky and heavy. In this video you can see these bulky cameras being mounted on the RX-7 FD and a yellow Nissan Skyline GT-R BNR32. We are so spoiled these days where you can slap on a dozen of GoPros and just pick and choose the best footage. Or even better: a 360 camera mounted high up to give drone-like videos. Software then will erase the camera mount and it appears as if you are flying next to the cars. We do live in an amazing time!
Crazy analogue stunt dry run
Anyway, back to the Shuto Kosoku Trial stunts movie. In this movie you can also see how director draws the map of the stunt on the asphalt of the road. Then he explains the stunts are though die-cast toy cars. This is valuable input for the crew and drivers. Nowadays everything probably has been modeled in 3D and rendered with CGI beforehand and then shown to the drivers. Or maybe nowadays they just omit the whole stunts section and directly render the stunts in CGI.
Flipping an RX-7 FC
The most prominent stunt is the flipping of the white RC-7 FC. It is interesting to see how this all is prepared into great detail, run through twice before shooting the actual flip. It was also interesting to see they flipped the car twice. One time with relatively slow speed while the second time, when the FC actually is already a bit damaged, is done on higher speed. The latter was done probably to film the flip in a more dramatic way whilst the first flip has the “beauty” (undamaged) shots and the long scraping over the asphalt on its roof.
Subaru Legacy wagon camera car
Also impressive is their choice of camera cars. Nowadays the Porsche Cayenne is often used as a camera car as its spacious and fast. For Shuto Kusoku they chose a brand new Subaru Legacy BF wagon. The Legacy is literally packed with camera crew and two heavy cameras. Windows have been removed to ensure there is nothing obstructing or deforming the picture. Together with preppy EJ20T it would have been able to keep up with the RX-7 (the protagonist) and GT-R (Keiichi Tsuchiya) on the circuit. This is also what you see in the video: the Legacy is barely able to keep up with the pair on the circuit and leans over heavily during tight corners.
I found this video amazing and thrilling to watch. Even though it’s well over 30 years old now, this footage shows you on one side things have changed so much over the years and on the other side actually haven’t.
I hope you enjoy the video as much as I did!