Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

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HungFist
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Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Unread post by HungFist » 01 Jul 2018, 07:52

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Three Lakes Prison: Widespread Brutality (三池監獄 兇悪犯) (1973)

Try to beat this opening: dirty prisoners working in a coal mine dig a tunnel to the neighbouring mine... a tunnel full of sweaty topless girls in physical labour. Someone's tipped off the guards though, and as they return every man is shot (3-15 times). A 1973 Toei film by Shigehiro Ozawa, this initially seems like a male version of WiP movies, complete with bare-assed men marching the corridors, naked guys in tiny cages, a silent protagonist, and at least one third of the inmate population being gay. How odd. Unfortunately the film then tones it down considerably to become a socially aware, violent drama about Meiji Era Japan which was exploiting prisoners to finance their war with Russia. The jitsuroku influence is obvious. The film's weak link is Koji Tsuruta, the venerable samurai and ninkyo star who is obviously disgusted to be in this movie, and would quit Toei very soon after. Co-stars Joe Shishido, Goro Ibuki and Minoru Oki give more passionate performances. Uneven but interesting film, and peculiar for its coal mine setting. Note: misspelled by IMDb and Chris D.'s as "San ike kangoku", the correct reading is "Miike kangoku: Kyoakuhan".

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Tsuruta and Shishido
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Yuriko Hishimi
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DenPryan
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Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Unread post by DenPryan » 01 Jul 2018, 09:04

Thanks for the review. I liked this hard film.

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Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Unread post by HungFist » 01 Jul 2018, 11:52

Thanks.

You're very much welcome to post reviews here if you wish to share your opinions and knowledge.

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Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Unread post by HungFist » 16 Jul 2018, 10:38

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Saburai: Way of the Bohachi (忘八武士道 さ無頼) (1974)
Disappointing follow-up to Teruo Ishii's chanbara masterpiece Bohachi Bushido: Code of the Forgotten Eight (1973). Ishii mentioned in an interview that he didn't even know Toei had made a sequel. This is a blatant re-telling of the original, with Goro Ibuki playing Tetsuro Tamba's role, although it's not clear whether this supposed to be a remake or a sequel. The storyline is almost the same with many scenes playing out exactly the same way! And this came out less than a year after Ishii's film! Someone ought to ask writer Sadao Nakajima what on earth was going on in the pre-production? It still has its own trashy appeal with just as much sex and violence as Ishii's film, but it is also incoherent in characterization and lacks the style, pace, originality and superb action of Ishii's film. Aside from a couple of fun new additions (Reiko Ike as a woman dealer and Takuzo Kawatani as her abused servant in a gloriously misandric role, for once!) the film feels like a copy by a lesser filmmaker, that man being the mediocre Takashi Harada. Ibuki and Harada, however, teamed up for a better ninja sexploitation the following year, Shitakari Hanjirô: (Maruhi) kannon wo sagase, which, like this film, was based on a Kazuo Koike comic book.

Code of the Forgotten Eight: Bored hero gives up a fight, throws himself to river, is thought to be dead
Way of the Bohachi: Bored hero gives up a fight, is arrested, taken to be executed, is thought to be dead
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Code of the Forgotten Eight: Hero wakes up at Bohachi headquarters, fondled by naked bohachi women
Way of the Bohachi: Hero wakes up at Bohachi headquarters, fondled by naked bohachi women (that made more sense in Ishii's film where he had been rescued from cold water. Here he has suffered a neck injury for God's sake!)
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Code of the Forgotten Eight: deadly bohachi women trained in assassination techniques
Way of the Bohachi: deadly. bohachi.. oh dear, I could go on forever about this
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Hey, something new: Reiko Ike
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And her loyal jealous servant Takuzo Kawatani
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And here we go again. Yep, it's the exact same ending as in Ishii's film (the following scene has rain instead of snow, though)
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Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Unread post by Guro Taku » 16 Jul 2018, 19:17

If nothing else, the Toei Channel version looks a lot better than my old VHS. I'd probably pick up a DVD release even if it's indeed just an inferior remake.

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Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Unread post by HungFist » 31 Aug 2018, 15:23

VoD Review / Not Available on DVD

King of Porno (ポルノの帝王) (1971)
Dumb Tatsuo Umemiya / Shingo Yamashiro comedy about a young bloke whose dick grows to inhuman dimensions (obviously a role tailor made for star Umemiya's ego). He visits a doctor, impresses ladies and opens a porn shop before running afoul with yakuza... With few laughs, sparse nudity and one big slong that is little utilized and never seen, this is dull junk, as bad as some of director Makoto Naito's other films with Umemiya. The boredom gets to the point where watching a big fake dick would probably have been more fun than what the film has to offer. Well, it does at least have the subtly titled theme song "Manhood's Symbol" by Umemiya!

King of Porno: Red God of the Turkish Bath (ポルノの帝王失神トルコ風呂) (1972)
This is a better than the previous film, with more naked girls, more outrageous scenarios and visually more stylish. There's an especially hilarious Umemiya's dick vs. brothel scene, as well as some fun stuff with Umemiya putting up a whorehouse with only foreign girls he's picked up from the street. Yumiko Katayama is in the film as well. Unfortunately the film keeps abandoning its own good ideas, even the Turkish bath theme is ultimately just a background elements. Also, opening and closing 20 minutes, in which absolutely nothing interesting happens, are excruciatingly boring.

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Yumiko Katayama
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Both films are now on Junk Film by Toei channel on Amazon JP Prime. Note that the first film, unlike the sequel, is presented in old VHS era master.

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Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Unread post by HungFist » 03 Sep 2018, 14:36

VoD Review / Not Available on DVD

The Master of The Turkish Bath (Kigeki toruko-buro osho-sen) (喜劇トルコ風呂王将戦) (1971)
Dull as dishwater Shingo Yamashiro comedy about a pig sound making silly man who finds success in brothel business with his equally silly male and female cohorts. Don't expect any naughtiness as this is essentially a family friendly affair (no graphic sex whatsoever, a tiny bit of nudity) despite the subject matter. Worse yet, there's not one interesting scene in the film. Ok, perhaps the "Mobile Toruko" at the back of a truck was a fun idea. And there's Bunta Sugawara cameo. They don't count to much. The humour is mainly based on people making funny faces or saying silly things. One of the films in Toei's related-in-name-only Kigeki/Comedy series, following Toho's similarly titled 60s series.

Sex Up And Down (Kigeki sex kobo-sen) (喜劇セックス攻防戦) (1972)
Amusing Shingo Yamashiro sex comedy about a love doctor treating miscellaneous patients. Miki Sugimoto plays one of the three sukeban girls who barge into his clinic and demand to be hired (her role is small though). The supporting cast also includes Tooru Turi, Yukie Kagawa, Yoko Mihara, Yayoi Watanabe and Ryuhei Uchida as "pervert ninja". Unlike Master of the Turkish Bath, this film is absolutely packed with boobs - and gags dumb enough to get some laughs. Norifumi Suzuki's sex comedies like the two onsen geisha films make a good comparison as this resembles them. There's not much plot or exceptional qualities, but director Shin Takakuwa does acceptable job keeping things watchable and not overly goofy. He also directed one of the best Sonny Chiba films, the cop thriller A Narcotics Agent's Ballad (1972).

Creative use of the Eirin logo
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Yamashiro
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Watanabe on the left, Sugimoto on the right
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Watanabe and Sugimoto treating a patient
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Tooru Yuri undercover
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Ryuhei Uchida!
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Note: IMDb and JMDB are both listing Reiko Ike for this film, but I don't think she's in it. Neither list Miki Sugimoto (as of writing, I have already submitted her credit to IMDb) who is in it. Probably a mix up between the two.

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Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Unread post by HungFist » 08 Sep 2018, 06:18

VoD Review / Not Available on DVD

Sex, Gamble And Big Money (Porno gamble kigeki: O ana, chu ana, heso no ana) (ポルノギャンブル喜劇 大穴中穴へその穴) (1972)
Panty stealing gambling addict becomes a gigolo but quits because the customers are too ugly. He then begins running various scams relating to prostitution and gambling with his associates. This is another Shingo Yamashiro / Yusuke Watanabe comedy. Watanabe was a capable drama director (e.g. the excellent, noirish Two Bitches, 1964) but awful with comedy, at least as far as these Yamashiro films go. This film's highlight is when Yamashiro snatches panties from a bathhouse and the owner turns out to be an old granny.

Note, the following review is for the King film that preceded King of Porno. I saw and reviewed them in the wrong order, resulting in some backwards logic if you read them in the posting order. Gomen.

King of the Widow-Killers (未亡人ごろしの帝王) ( 1971)
Part 3 in the King series (1970-1972). There were 5 films in total, all starring Tatsuo Umemiya as a young bloke who leaves his poor family and doctor dad behind to make fortunes in a big city with the help of his big slong. Yes, you read that right. There's also comedy, a bit of melodrama and some action when he runs afoul with gangsters. I have not seen the first two films, but considering the series theme song was called "Manhood's Symbol" and each of the three latter films followed the same formula, it's reasonable to assume the first two were in the same alley as well. This film features Umemiya becoming a gigolo. There's no nudity or good laughs, but it does feature the 'pop star about to go Roman Porno' Sally May as one of Umemiya's customers (Umemiya must have had a thing for blondes as he screwed a Caucasian girl in every other sexploitation flick he did, climaxing with the Oh Wonderful Utamaro (1974) where he claims to have had real sex with co-star Sharon Kelly). Other cinematic achievements are modest but there is the kind of technical basic quality to the film and direction that keeps it just about watchable.

Family reunion
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Umemiya becomes a model... until the lady realizes what he's got in his pants.
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He then starts selling his tool... and Sally May is one of the customers.
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Yes, Shingo Yamashiro is in this one too.
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Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Unread post by HungFist » 17 Oct 2018, 18:41

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Evil Boss vs. The Henchmen (悪親分対代貸) (1971)
A conceptually fun twist to the usual ninkyo formula with Tomisaburo Wakayama as... The Evil Boss! He's the corrupt bastard who'd normally function as the villain threatening the heroes, who are largely absent from this film. Made between Wakayama's similar Story of Japanese Evil Men films (1971, 1972), this one is a bit better than them. The film still underperforms with little action, no sex, and a deadly boring first 30 min, but the concept does begin to spark eventually and the ending is a ton of fun. Also features a goodish Wakayama vs. Bunta Sugawara fight that echoes their brawls in the Wicked Priest series.

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Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Unread post by HungFist » 13 Nov 2018, 14:20

VoD Review / Not Available on DVD

Yakuza vs. G-Men: Decoy (やくざ対gメン 囮) (1973)
Ruthless drug dealer (Hiroki Matsukata) is busted and forced to become a mole for an equally ruthless undercover cop (Tatsuo Umemiya) in a stylish, little known gangster film gem. Void of any comic relief, the film is bad to the bone with unmistakable jitsuroku aesthetics - even if it's entirely fictional. Writer Koji Takada and director Eiichi Kudo examine the honour/brotherhood tension between two bad men (the cop is so deep undercover that, except for his superiors who have also grown suspicious of him, everyone treats him as a gangster and he behaves accordingly) without going too over the top, and the film does exceptional job capturing the pulse of the city and streets. Bunta Sugawara has a great supporting role as Chinese (!) drug boss. The film's main flaw? It actually feels too short at 93 minutes!

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Caps from the Netflix Japan version. This has also been on Toei Channel but I wasn't wise enough to record it because a certain D suggested the film was no good... :mad:

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