What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by chazgower01 » 17 Apr 2018, 15:53

P (Thailand, 2006) Thailand Region Netflix – 4/5
I'm going to say right off the bat, that I have rated this higher than most people here would, as I currently am living in Bangkok, recognize most of the scenery here, understand and am familiar with the Go-Go Bar business, and have friends that work in it.
Can't wait to show a few of them this movie!

The first Thai feature movie to be directed by a Westerner (Brit Paul Spurrier), it starts off as what seems like perhaps a morality tale: A young Thai girl (they make sure to let us know she is 18) can't afford medicine for her Grandmother, and living way out in the jungle of Thailand, has no way to make any money... so naturally there is someone who can 'help her out' by meeting up with a contact in Bangkok.

It's a recruitment thing to get poor Thai girls to work in the Go-Go Bar, and it goes into some pretty specific detail as to how it all works. The director did his homework as far as the conversations, the jealousy, the tier system... it's well put together. But, just as you think you've got it figured out - it becomes a horror movie!

Actually, the hints were there from the beginning, as the sick old grandmother was teaching her daughter about magic, and trying to prepare her for the real world. Each one of her rules, though, she ends up breaking later on and... the special effects aren't CGI or anything, but they're not bad for a movie with a $200,000 budget! The main cast, almost every female in it, only has this movie to their credit.

Really, I was entertained from beginning to end, but I am a bit biased.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 23 Apr 2018, 10:47

The Loyal 47 Ronin (忠臣蔵) (Japan, 1958) - 3/5
Slightly uneven but generally good Daiei version of the famous story. The film gets to an underwhelming start with a by-the-numbers opening act depicting the events that lead to Lord Asano pulling his sword on Kira, but the segment is either too long or too short (Hiroshi Inagaki showed a more detailed version is Chusingura, Kinji Fukasaku wisely condensed the whole opening act, which simply serves as a trigger to the actual story, to just a few minutes in The Fall of Ako Castle). However, the film improves once the main narrative begins and the focus is on Oishi (the excellent Kazuo Hasegawa), the struggling leader of the vengeful samurai tormented by his will for revenge and the necessity to keep it a secret even from his own family in order to fool the enemy. The supporting cast includes big name actors like Shintaro Katsu, Takashi Shimura and future yakuza film super star Koji Tsuruta before he moved to Toei in 1960.

Samurai Vendetta (薄桜記) (Japan, 1959) [DVD] - 2.5/5
A side-story following one of the samurai, Horibe Yasubei (Shintaro Katsu), from Chushingura (The Loyal 47 Ronin) before the famous incident. The film opens with the samurai marching in the snow to raid Kira's house, but then moves back in time to show Yasube's rise in the swordsman ranks and his friendship / rivalry with Tange Tanzen (Raizo Ichikawa), serving the Uesugi clan which would side with Kira. A good looking but not especially engaging Daiei picture has its fans; I however occasionally found myself wondering why I should care about this story?

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 24 Apr 2018, 06:15

Chusingura (忠臣蔵 花の巻 雪の巻) (Japan, 1962) [DVD] - 3.5/5
This is perhaps the most popular of the Loyal 47 Ronin adaptations, helmed by Hiroshi Inagaki of the Samurai Trilogy with grand production values at Toho. At 207 minutes it is in some ways the most detailed of the three adaptations I have seen (the others being Watanabe's 1958 film and Fukasaku's 1978 film), especially in terms of the opening act, which lasts a full hour, and Kira's character who is given unusual amounts of characterization. The film can be, however, a bit less affecting than the other two movies, partly due to Koshiro Matsumoto's low key portrayal of Oishi. The same can't be said about Toshiro Mifune who is the very definition of a crowd pleaser in his supporting role as a sake loving odd loner of a swordsman. Akira Ikufube's grand score includes a variation of his Godzilla theme played during the massive, exciting raid at the end.

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Hunter in the Dark (闇の狩人) (Japan, 1979) [DVD] - 3.5/5
Effective if depressingly gloomy de-romantization of samurai romantics, a fitting continuation to Hideo Gosha cinematic work in 60s. The storyline is convoluted beyond belief with multiple simultaneous revenge quests and political plots. The main focus is on a one eyed assassin (Yoshio Harada) working for a gangster boss (Tatsuya Nakadai), clashing with a rotten politician (Tetsuro Tamba) and his right hand man, a sadistic police commander (Sonny Chiba in an excellent role.) This was a mid career film by Gosha, a messy but intriguing samurai epic full of sex and violence. Case in point: in scene where a gangster boss is assassinated in the upstairs, the blood drips through the floor and falls on a stripper's breasts, all set to a groovy score by Masao Sato in a scene that draws comparisons to Dario Argento, and not for the first time (Violent Streets, 1974) on Gosha's career. However, what the film really excels in is displaying swordfights as ugly, un-cinematic battle for survival. Chiba recalled in an interview that (despite only being in a handful of scenes) his part took two months to film due to Gosha's obsession for detail and realism in fight choreography.

The Fall of Ako Castle (赤穂城断絶) (Japan, 1978) [DVD] - 4/5
A very good adaptation of the Loyal 47 Ronin story, produced as a follow-up of sorts to The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy. As audiences know, the story is about 47 loyal samurai who avenge the death of their master Asano who was ordered to commit harakiri. What director Fukasaku adds to the story is a strong focus on the politics of justice system (in a hieratical system the Shogun's word must always be true or the system might collapse - something that echoes WWII era Japan which Fukasaku lived) and a grittier approach to the still heroic tale. Fukasaku's collaborator Sonny Chiba is in excellent form as an actor (playing a minor character with great sympathy) and fight choreographer, making the 15 min end massacre not only bloodier but also more realistic, including a (literally) breathtaking 4 minute death duel with Tsunehiko Watase. At 159 minutes this film is among the shortest Chusingura adaptations (many others running up to 4 hours) which is cleverly achieved by reducing the opening act to just one scene, which is sufficient because the whole conflict between Asano his nemesis Kira is just a trigger to the main story. All in all, Fukasaku does excellent job with the material, utilizing fine performances, good editing, and especially Toshiaki Tsushima's music as a cinematic tool, coming out with a more consistent storyline than The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 25 Apr 2018, 16:35

Crest of Betrayal (忠臣蔵外伝 四谷怪談) (Japan, 1994) [DVD] - 2/5
Kinji Fukasaku merges two classic tales in this film which is best described by its original title: "A Chusingura Story: Yotsuya Kaidan". It's a Loyal 47 Ronin spin off following one of the Ako clan members, with a ghost story twist. Visually good looking (and not just Saki Takaoka's breasts, which are impossible not to mention), but the over the top theatrics feel jarring in this context. For rough reference, imagine crazed Keiko Oginome from Fukasaku's Triple Cross (1992) doing period drama, and yes, she is indeed one of the central players in Crest of Betrayal. For a far more satisfying Fukasaku take on the Loyal 47 Ronin see The Fall of Ako Castle (1978).

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Sure Death Revenge (必殺IV 恨みはらします) (Japan, 1987) [DVD] - 2.5/5
A samurai detective (Makoto Fujita) known as the most unproductive man in the precinct moonlights as a bounty hunter, unbeknownst to his nagging wife and mother in law. This is uncharacteristically conventional mainstream entertainment by Kinji Fukasaku, based on a TV franchise about assassins and detectives that had already produced 29 consecutive TV shows and two film series. Based on this film, the success may have been due to strong focus on ordinary female characters, and a protagonist who is the archetype of Japanese businessman drudge yet a liberated fighter at night, appealing to both sexes. This film, the 4th in the 2nd film series, is overlong but occasionally exhilarating. Sonny Chiba's heartfelt performance as a bounty hunter raising his two kids to become his successors is the best thing about it. Chiba was also responsible for the choreography, which looks overly polished at times but also stylish in excessive slow motion against a score that sounds like a mixture of Zorro and a spaghetti western that one does not really mind. Reportedly Fukasaku initially offered Chiba a chance to perform as Yagyu Jubei in this film, an idea Chiba turned down.

Shogun's Shadow (将軍家光の乱心 激突) (Japan, 1989) [DVD] - 4/5
A group of ronin and ninjas volunteer to escort the shogun's heir to Edo when the whole country's army forces have been mobilized to kill them. This is Fellowship of the Ring meets The Dirty Dozen n samurai style with the attitude of Commando (1985). One of the last grand Japan Action Club films, it doesn't disappoint with an almost non-stop delivery of fighting and great stunts. Chiba was in charge of the choreography, with Jianqiang Hu (The Shaolin Temple, Martial Arts of Shaolin) brought in to assist and co-star. American stunt choreographer George Fisher (The Towering Inferno) was also called in to stage the fire stunts. Reportedly the insurance costs for the stunt team was 400 million yen - more than most Japanese films cost to make. Ken Ogata plays the hero, Chiba is the villain and showcases some great sword fighting that makes the audience cheer for the wrong team. Other than lacking the grit and exploitation of Chiba's old films, and coming with an odd 15 minute drama climax (which nevertheless works) this is tremendous fun. The fact that the film was criticized upon its release for having too much action helps to understand the sad state Japanese action cinema is in these days.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 27 Apr 2018, 08:18

Rape Shot: Momoe’s Lips (レイプ・ショット 百恵の唇) (Japan, 1979) [VoD] - 2.5/5
This fast paced, surprisingly watchable pop thriller emerges as junk director Katsuhiko Fujii's best film. It's about a sleazy asshole reporter (Noriaki Abe with an amazing 70s moustache and perm) trying to bust pop star Miki (Minako Mizushima) for drugs while she's also being targeted by kidnappers and protected by a Terminator like bodyguard (Toei actor Shinzo Hotta in a ridiculous role). While the film's title is Momoe Yamaguchi exploitation it seems the project itself was influenced by Koyu Ohara breezy pop films and Yasuharu Hasebe's crime films (Abe also starred in Hasebe's tonally similar Secret Honeymoon: Rape Train). It's still sloppy filmmaking with some dull sex scenes and zero depth (you'll notice your attention drops the second there isn't something cool on screen) but it remains more watchable than you'd expect, is finely shot and even has some cool music.

+ Sonny Chiba Special: Part 69

Seventeen Ninjas (十七人の忍者) (Japan, 1990) [TV] - 2/5
An underwhelming but watchable remake of the 1963 ninja classic, produced by Toei and Fuji TV as a television film. A group of 17 loyal Iga ninjas (lead by Sonny Chiba) are tasked with invading a castle and stealing a scroll protected by Negoro ninjas (led by Isao Natsuyagi) who are plotting to take over the government. While it's nice to see Chiba in a starring role (which clearly resembles his role in the Shadow Warriors TV show), this is a far cry from what he could do at his best. Anemically directed with unstimulating visuals and elevator music, it even disappoints with most of the action. What was no doubt meant as an intense "ninjas against impossible odds" scenario, with Iga ninjas dropping dead like flies throughout the film, merely makes them look incompetent on screen. It is only the last 30 minutes that provide some real intensity and a cleaver final fight. Amusingly, the storyline and Chiba's casting as a ninja protecting the shogunate from Negoro ninjas is the exact opposite from 1989's Shogun's Shadow where he played a villain trying to kill the shogun protected by Negoro ninjas.

Dragon Princess (必殺女拳士) (Japan, 1976) [DVD] - 4/5
One of the best Etsuko Shihomi films, also with one of the finest openings with Sonny Chiba fighting bad guys in an abandoned small church beaten by spaghetti western winds. Before the fight is over Chiba's got a dagger in his eye. Cut to eye patched Chiba training his daughter, who grows up into Etsuko Shihomi during the OP credits, in snow in Los Angeles (!), to avenge her dad. A weaker film but crush under such a diamond opening, but this is Shihomi and co-star Yasuaki Kurata in top form. The straight forward plot has a habit of abandoning every story thread it introduces (Chiba is killed off by the 20 minute mark, the story moves from USA to Japan at the same time, and a bad guy is organizing a martial arts tournament but every top contender, and himself, is killed off before the tournament!) but that matters not as the film moves like a bullet train, packs truckloads of first grade karate action into 81 min and completes the package with Shunsuke Kikichi's kick ass score. From gender political perspective it's one of the finest films of its era/genre with Shihomi kicking major ass and no woman getting raped or stripped down (except in the American theatrical version which inserts a scene from Tokyo Emmanuelle in the middle of the film!). If you were to ask "what are fine women made of", this film's answer would be "positive attitude and karate kicks".

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by saltysam » 29 Apr 2018, 20:41

Superdragon Vs Superman 3/5

Alternate chinese version of Bruce Li's Bruce Lee Against Supermen is a different movie,which a different plot,scenes and alternate fights. It's still as bonkers as the english version, featuring Green Hornet, Batman 66 and Pink Panther music to full effect. It's a terrible movie to be sure but entertaining and it's got the great Lung Fei in a cape and costume. a Win Win
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by grim_tales » 29 Apr 2018, 23:46

Youth of the Beast (Japan, 1963): 4/5

Has a Yojimbo style story with some crazy moments and a super cool jazz score/soundtrack.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 30 Apr 2018, 05:23

Youth of the Beast is a really cool film. Arrow will be releasing another similar Suzuki film, Detective Bureau 2-3: Go To Hell Bastards! in July. It's already streaming in the UK.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 30 Apr 2018, 06:28

Shinjuku's Number One Drunk: Killer Tetsu (新宿酔いどれ番地 人斬り鉄) (Japan, 1977) [TV] - 2/5
Below average Toei yakuza mayhem from late 70s when the genre was already past its prime. Bunta Sugawara is the titular character, just out of prison and giving trouble to his own gang who don't know what to do with him. Contrary to the film's title, they are quick to dispatch him away from Shinjuku to a more distant location where he brawls with other gangs and causes trouble with a bunch of other small time goons (Makoto Sato, Hiroshi Tachi etc.). One of the film's three screenwriters was the ero-guro specialist Masahiro Kakefuda, but do not expect anything special here. This film might work better were it not directed by Yutaka Kohira (who did great with Dragon Princess but disappointed with everything else), who manages to turn the premise of Sugawara as a booze loving hothead into a sloppy, run of the mill genre product. There's some sex and violence, but none of it packs much punch, and the action scenes are sloppy. It's not until the last 15 minutes that the film's drama comes alive with a couple of powerful confrontations and a solid jitsuroku style visual touch.

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Blazing Dragnet (燃える捜査網) (Japan, 1975-1976) [TV] - 3/5
The third series in Sonny Chiba's mid-70s streak of action packed detective shows, following The Bodyguard (1974) and The Gorilla Seven (1975), all produced for NTV where Chiba had his on TV slot in 1974-1976. This follows the usual Japanese cop series pattern with a team of detectives as the focus, also utilized in the previous two shows, with a slight new twist. The detectives now belong to a secret mobile unit, all having dull day jobs (Chiba and Hayato Tani are office clerks, Shihomi and Gajiro Sato traffic officers) as a cover and just waiting for a call by boss Nobuo Kaneko to jump in a travel van and head where ever crime is taking place. This is the least action packed of all the shows, investing more on decently written detective storylines, though there are occasional shootouts and karate kicks by Chiba and Shihomi. An entertaining show despite ultimately underutilizing the mobile police concept and not featuring anything unforgettable. Chiba's beautiful theme is one of the show's assets, always restoring the viewer's hope even after a weaker episode as the song plays over end credit montage of Chiba wandering on city streets.

Emergency Line (大非常線) (Japan, 1976) [TV] - 3.5/5
The last of the mid-70 action/detective shows with Sonny Chiba, this one makes an immediate impression with its grit and darkness. It's the usual 'group of detectives' (Chiba, Shihomi, Tani etc.) pattern, but without jokes. The opening episode has a bitter war vet trying to assassinate a foreign little girl flown to Japan for medical operation, and another story has Chiba, taking a bullet in his leg in the first scene, trying to penetrate a top floor condo where the shooter is holding hostages. There are also smaller delights like usual yakuza crook Eiji Go quest starring as a narcotics cop, and Toei's regular evil gaijin Osman Yusuf as murderous diplomat in an episode that concludes with one of Chiba's most explosive karate sequences as Chiba decides to ignore diplomatic immunity and fight his way though 20 bodyguards. Another stunt highlight involves Chiba chasing criminals. After his car falls off the cliff, he climbs on top of a train, then jumps at a bridge and lands on the moving car's roof, only to slip, grab the rear bumper, pull out his gun and shoot the tires. Bravo! Not every episode is as exciting as there are also a couple of dullish stories, and Etsuko Shihomi is largely wasted in her role, but this is still a very worthy and atmospheric closing product for the detective show streak.

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That's 140 Sonny Chiba reviews so far!

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 10 May 2018, 14:28

Bushido: The Cruel Code of the Samurai (武士道残酷物語) (Japan, 1963) [DVD] - 2.5/5
Repetitive and overlong, but powerful criticism of the Japanese social hierarchy and the unreasonable side of the traditionally romanticised bushido code. The film chronicles eight generations of Iigura family men (cleverly, all played by Kinnosuke Nakamura), from the 17th century to the modern day, who met their destinies under cruel and corrupt rulers. One of the men, without the slightest doubt in his words, teaches his son that the greatest thing in a samurai's life is receive an opportunity to kill oneself for his lord. Episodic (literally) for most of its running time, it is the final story that ties the string of sad destinies to modern day Japan and makes a powerful point. It's also fun seeing Nakamura tackle eight characters in one movie, though that's about as far as "fun" goes. The level of cruelty on display occasionally rivals that of late 60s Teruo Ishii movies, only lacking their graphic visualization, and the cathartic revenge part that Ishii usually granted his viewers. Dark stuff.

Daimajin (大魔神) (Japan, 1966) [Hulu] - 3/5
The first in Daiei's famed tokusatsu trilogy. These are interesting for being set in period, with poor villagers praying for mythical stone god Daimajin to rescue when they are enslaved by evil lords, giving the films an altogether different aura than Toho's sci-fi monster films. Like many of Daiei's mainstream productions, this is a professionally made, good looking and occasionally exhilarating picture that suffers from one-dimensional characters. There are the good and suffering, and the bad, and absolutely no shades of gray or story complexities. I guess such simplicity can have its own charm. If one can put up with that, we are left with an often atmospheric film with some beautiful scenery and absolutely fantastic special effects work. One has to wait for the showdown till the last reel, but special effects are almost seamlessly blended in, exceeding in quality most Godzilla films not to mention any CGI garbage Hollywood studios are putting on screens these days.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by grim_tales » 11 May 2018, 22:39

Lady Snowblood (Japan, 1973): 4/5

Very cool film, it's easy to see how it majorly influenced the Kill Bill films (main character tracking down multiple villains, story divided into 'Chapters', one scene in this film is very similar to Kill Bill's anime section, the asshole priest/teacher character, the theme music was used in KB, etc)

The colours on the BD looked rather subdued to me (I watched the Arrow version).

I really wasn't expecting the pulling off of Gishiro's face when he was killed (?)

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 12 May 2018, 03:11

grim_tales wrote:
11 May 2018, 22:39
The colours on the BD looked rather subdued to me (I watched the Arrow version).
It's regrettably colorless, yes, but still much preferrable to the Criterion transfer which looks like it was supervised by Michael Bay for MTV... it's an absolute disgrace.
- http://caps-a-holic.com/c.php?go=1&a=0& ... 4&i=10&l=0

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by grim_tales » 12 May 2018, 03:35

Which one do you think represents the film best? The bright red blood seems at odds with the rest of the muted palette of the Arrow transfer :dontknow:
Maybe that was closer to how the film looked in the 70's, it's 45 years old not a modern movie

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 12 May 2018, 12:50

The Arrow is like a faded version of how it should look like. I don't own it, but I think if you enhanced the color and blacks a bit, you'd probably get an acceptable presentation.

The internet is full of all kinds of self-declared experts who claim to know how Japanese films are supposed to look like... despite the fact they've probably never seen a single Japanese film in 35mm. In fact, they are not experts, they are label fanboys who cannot accept that their favourite label might put out a flawed product. Hence, they start coming up with all kinds of bullshit theories about intended looks.

If Criterion or Arrow released Vertigo in black & white, they'd say the film was originally in black & white and earlier home video editions were based on an old print that had faded into color :lol:

Of course, very few people can testify exactly how a film should look like, but having seen a couple of hundred JP from the 60s and 70s, in Japan, in 35mm, often from near pristine prints, I feel confident to say the reality is far more simple than most people think. 95% of Japanese films from the era have roughly the same look with strong but pretty natural colors, and strong blacks (aside specific scenes where boosted color/contrast/etc has been used as a "special effect" e.g. surreal dream sequences).

And yes, I did see Lady Snowblood in 35mm. I can't say I remember precisely how it looked but that's just because there was nothing out of ordinary about its look. Strong but natural colors, not faded like Arrow, not supercharged like Criterion.

As a rough reference, here are two examples:

This one is Lone Wolf and Cub 6 Criterion BD. I'm not entirely happy with the Criterion transfers for the first 5 films, but this looks very similar to the 35mm prints of the first two Lone Wolf films (and countless other movies) I saw (I never saw part 6 in 35mm). I think there's a shade of blue or pink that's not supposed to be there, but no big deal.

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And here's Inferno of Torture Toei DVD from early 2000s. The DVD transfer looks a tiny bit faded compared to the 35mm print which had stronger colors and blacks, but it's still a pretty good presentation. I'm using it as refence because I've seen it in 35mm three times in three different theatres so I'm very familiar with it...

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My point is, those are both acceptable presentations. They are close enough to the 35mm look.

This (Criterion Lady Snowblood) is not:
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oh, and make no mistake, age doesn't mean films should look less colorful or less good. Quite the opposite in fact. A lot of modern films look like shit in comparison with their muted or boosted and manipulated looks.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 15 May 2018, 04:18

The Return of Daimajin (大魔神) (Japan, 1966) [Hulu] - 3/5
This is a bit of a rehash of the first movie, with a similar story told with slight modifications. This time an evil lord attacks a peaceful village by the sea whose inhabitants worship a stone god statue on a small island. Directed by samurai film master Kenji Misumi (Lone Wolf and Cub), this is actually a better told (and written) story than the original. The special effects showdown, however, is not quite as impressive although it's well done to say the least.

Samurai Rebellion (上意討ち 拝領妻始末) (Japan, 1967) [DVD] - 4/5
The original title for this film, "Execution of Order: Receiving the Wife", is quite different from the English one yet they are both apt. A young woman and an unwilling samurai family become human tokens when a local lord gives arbitrary orders for people to marry and break up serve his own political interests. The young samurai and his father (Toshiro Mifune) decide to take a stand against this madness that is enabled by the traditional Japanese social hierarchy, even if it was to cost their lives. A socio political family tragedy that ends in a hell of a bloodbath, this is indeed a film that escapes easy classification. Interesting, well acted and beautifully filmed with some striking compositions, its biggest accomplishment may lay in the social criticism that has kept it - a 1967 samurai film set in the 18th century - timely to this day.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Guro Taku » 19 May 2018, 17:10

Cure (キュア) (Japan, 1997) BD - 4/5
I can't say I care too much about director Kiyoshi Kurosawa's current output but he was absolutely on fire in the late 90ies. This slow-burn horror thriller just oozes atmosphere and is among his best works.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by grim_tales » 31 May 2018, 23:24

Magnificent Bodyguards (Lo Wei, HK - 1978): 3/5

Wacky period adventure featuring Jackie Chan, American indians, evil monks and music stolen from Star Wars, quite good fun.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 03 Jun 2018, 12:52

Female Prisoner Scorpion: Death Threat (女囚さそり 殺人予告) (Japan, 1991) [DVD] - 1.5/5
The first new Sasori film since New Female Prisoner Scorpion: Special Cellblock X (1977), this is a V-Cinema restart rather than a remake. This is actually a bold attempt at doing something original, and it shakes the franchise in ways that would not be acceptable in the modern fanboy era. The premise is as follows: retired warden Goda (yes, he's still alive in this version) sends a female assassin to prison to kill Nami who is now a middle aged woman! Cool, eh? Unfortunately the execution itself is lame as a bag of potatoes, starting from the god-awful disco pop cover of the original theme song. None of the political spark nor the visual style of the original series is here to be found (a bit surprising considering this was helmed by Evil Dead Trap director Toshiharu Ikeda). Now, for those who wish to read spoilers (since the film is not worth watching, nor will probably ever be available in English), here's how the storyline goes. The assassin, who now carries the number 701, kills her target but learns she's been betrayed. It was the wrong target and the real Nami died 20 years ago when she was murdered by Goda. Her spirit, however, lives and the betrayed assassin becomes the new Scorpion, assuming the name of Nami Matsushima at the end. Pretty cool. Too bad the film isn't.

Continental Drifter (大陸流れ者) (Japan, 1966) [TV] - 3/5
A ninkyo yakuza film shot on location in Hong Kong. The motif is a water refinery under construction to free the locals from having to buy their water from gangsters at extortionate prices. Honourable Japanese yakuza Minoru Oki, who is in charge of the construction, is killed by evil gweilo Osman Yusuf and his Japanese associate Tetsuro Tamba, who does evil yojimboing pitting the Chinese and Japanese against each other. Koji Tsuruta is sent to replace Oki and resolve the conflict. Initially, the film seems lacking since Tsuruta's character never encounters the moral conflicts that form the backbone of a good ninkyo film. It is however Tamba's character who begins to develop interesting moral ambiguity as the story goes on. There are other points of interest as well: the locale, the international cast, and the English proficient Tamba utilizing his language skills, all of which begin to manifest themselves once the film gets over the dullish first 30 minutes. There's perhaps a bit of inherent, unintentional racism with the Japanese getting the more heroic roles, but the film means well, and the exact same kind of storylines and characters appear in Japan set yakuza films with all Japanese casts as well.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Ivan Drago » 04 Jun 2018, 22:59

Raging Rivals (1982) AKA Hard Bastard

Hwang Jang Lee plays a trumpet player in a travelling medicine show...no seriously. Decent fights, but lame "comedy", tedious "drama" and an unconvincing period setting do little to help. Gam Kei-Chu, the formidable headbutting antagonist of Shaw's King Boxer, is wasted yet again as a fat bumbling oaf

4/10



The Dragon, The Hero (1979) AKA Dragon on Fire

Godfrey Ho's head-on collision between the Secret Rivals flicks (John Liu and Tino Wong again playing rivals who team up to fight a greater threat) and Bruceplotiation (Dragon Lee is on the sidelines as Tino's brother) is far better then you'd expect, with some fantastic kung fu and truly bonkers moments, especially Chan Lau as a creepy pervert who looses his willy to a dog, and thus develops the "Mad Dog Technique!" Phillip Ko especially impresses.

Definetly reccomended

7/10
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chazgower01
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by chazgower01 » 06 Jun 2018, 03:28

Chinese Torture Chamber Story (1994) youtube 3/5
As a big fan of Hong Kong movies, right up through 1994, it sure took me a long time to see this. I'm not a big fan of torture, so I guess that had a lot to do with it, but I was entertained enough by this to give it a passable 3/5.
The reasons? Well, I actually grew to like the story and some of the ways the different characters played a part in making it move forward, though I'm still puzzled about certain aspects of it (though that should be no surprise in a Chinese movie). Like, where did Elvis Tsui and Julie Lee's characters go to after they were asked for help and accepted?
Lawrence Ng plays his usual character, always on the lookout for some additional prime booty, and this time it turns out to be 'Little Cabbage' played by the undeniably cute Yvonne Hung Yung. When they are framed for murder (they're innocent) we slowly learn the reasons and the whys and have to endure them getting tortured to admit their guilt. But for all the torture we have to endure (and it's not all that creative), we get plenty of nudity to make up for it. Ah, yes. Category III.
I mean, I can endure a little torture if it also includes 'Little Cabbage' getting her bare bottom spanked or helping her horse hung husband hilariously 'finish'; or Ng's wife Mai Ching having sweaty sex while Ng's sister is getting her lesbian groove on - and of course, the Hong Kong go-to girl for full frontal nudity, Julie Lee playing a supernatural being in the forest (along with Elvis Tsui) and having, of course, supernatural super sex.
A torture movie that's actually funny and sexy. I'll take it.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by chazgower01 » 06 Jun 2018, 07:24

Can't Stop My Crazy Love For You (1993) youtube 1.5/5
So I haven't had a chance to watch a whole lot of Asian Cinema lately, I needed some time off after all of those Amy Yip movies, but I saw Chinese Torture Chamber Story and thought...why not more? So I found another Cat III movie with Yvonne Yung Hung (or is it Hung Yung?) and the always enjoyable Simon Yam.
Oh boy, talk about a let down. Simon Yam plays the worst kind of stalker creep, and just annoys and creeps out Yvonne (a feature TV reporter) throughout the whole movie until... well until they have to put together a finale that is so wrong, it's not even funny. I mean... it's just terrible.
The only redeeming thing about it is the attractiveness of Yung Hung, but really they even ruin that, which leaves us with the subtitles which are unintentionally funny throughout.
It's pretty bad when I'm giving half a point FOR unintentionally bad subtitles.
And yet... I'm looking for another Cat III to watch...

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Markgway » 06 Jun 2018, 19:00

The BBFC cut 9:34 from this back in 1993.

The second most censored Cat-3 title yet to have been passed in the UK.

Raped By an Angel lost 11:02 back in 1997, although 6:20 of that were pre-cuts after two separate rejections.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 07 Jun 2018, 08:05

I saw A Chinese Torture Chamber Story about a decade ago and must say I found it to be a mean spirited bore. The girl was cute, though.

As for CAT III, I'm mainly familiar with the best known films, of which Naked Killer, Raped by an Angel, Sex and Zen 2 and the films of Billy Tang (especially Red to Kill and Run and Kill) are my favourites. And Ebola Syndrome of course! Never saw The Untold Story.

Cuts (especially by HK censors) are a constant irritation though (Japan may have had their no pubes policy, but at least it was clear cut and there are no multiple cuts or possible censored footage to be discovered in some Taiwanese potato cellar...).

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 07 Jun 2018, 08:06

Sasori in U.S.A. (Scorpion's Revenge) (Japan, 1997) - 2/5
Another restart film, this time a theatrical release although I suspect this was produced for the video market and only given minimal theatrical run. In any case, it's a bit better than you'd expect, a passable b-film with some nudity, one explosion (yes, this actually has production values, minor they may be), a bit of action, and shot in USA. There are quite a few American actors as well, giving typical b-film performances that some people might describe as "bad". Nami (uncharismatic but passable TV star Yoko Saito, daring to show her boobs here) is this time a woman living in the US, falsely accused of murdering her husband and sent behind the bars. If you don't think of it as a Female Prisoner Scorpion film but rather a normal WiP flick it's quite watchable, and would be up another half star if the ending wasn't such a letdown with some very underwhelming action and car chase. The director is Daisuke Goto, better known for some watchable pink films (A Lonely Cow Weeps at Dawn, Blind Love).

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Scorpion: Double Venom (サソリ 女囚701号) (Japan, 1998) - 1/5
Unrelated follow-up to Sasori in U.S.A, scripted but not directed by Daisuke Goto. This time the film is set in Japan, with Nami (Chiharu Komatsu) a nurse who goes to prison for murder. This is a surprisingly inoffensive film, with a good amount of nudity and some lesbian sex but nothing sleazy at all, even the prison guards are nice people. Not so much a terrible film as one that ultimately doesn't leave any kind of impression at all. Tomoro Taguchi plays a villain and has one or two decent moments.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by chazgower01 » 07 Jun 2018, 11:44

Markgway wrote:
06 Jun 2018, 19:00
The BBFC cut 9:34 from this back in 1993.

The second most censored Cat-3 title yet to have been passed in the UK.

Raped By an Angel lost 11:02 back in 1997, although 6:20 of that were pre-cuts after two separate rejections.
Well that sucks. I hate sitting through a cut version of anything.
I watched a cut version of Amy Yip's China Dolls and got about half way through and thought, this is NOT a Cat III movie...

Currently looking for an uncut version of My Pale Lover (1993), though it seems ANY version is hard to find. Youtube has it all chopped up and missing all the good parts (rough sex, full nude thai strippers, lesbian sex)... what's the point of making a Cat III movie if theyre going to cut out what makes it that?

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