Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

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Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Unread post by HungFist » 17 Jun 2015, 16:41

This is a sister thread for Japanese Cult Cinema thread, to post reviews of films that are not available on DVD / BD. I created it by extracting all the TV and VoD reviews from the original thread.

Basically the rationale was that some of you guys might get frustrated with me posting so many Japanese TV / VoD reviews of films that can't be purchased from abroad in the JP Cult thread, and I didn't want that to happen. Hence I created a new thread.

There's no strict rules, though. Discussion of rare films is just fine in both thread. But I'd prefer the Japanese Cult Cinema thread to focus on films that are available on (or might be coming to) DVD/BD.

(Classic Japanese Exploitation thread still covers both films available and not available on DVD/BD).

VoD Review / No DVD available

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Wicked Kempo (1974)

This is one of the numerous karate films Toei produced after The Street Fighter (which itself was a response to Bruce Lee's popularity) turned out a success. Unlike The Street Fighter, though, it's a period film. The film opens really good. Tsunehiko Watase plays a bodyguard for a hire, a real asshole kind of guy who only helps others for money. He lands himself in jail after beating two military policemen, but is then hired by the government to eliminate gangsters who are selling state secrets to foreign powers.

Watase was not really a martial artist, but he did have a bit of karate background from his university times. This was his only starring role in a martial arts movie; he's more often seen as lead actor, co-lead or supporting player in yakuza films (e.g. Wandering Ginza Butterfly, Okinawa Yakuza War, Violent Panic: The Big Crash, Salor Suit and Machine Gun etc.). He's quite alright in the fight scenes, which are pure Chiba-school badassery (e.g. he throws a guy trough a window, then pulls him back up for a series of punches, and finally breaks his neck has he's lying on the ground).

Unfortunately the film pairs him with two useless sidekicks who steal screentime from him during and between fight scenes, and throws in some dumb comedy and silly melodrama. Despite the historical setting and Shaw Bros. style character introductions the film just doesn't feel as epic as it should. Director Shigero Ozawa, who was a prominent yakuza film director in the 1960s, did much better the following year with the excellent martial arts biopic The Defensive Power of Aikido (1975). Wicked Kempo falls somewhere between The Defensive Power of Aikido and his earlier karate-violence classic The Street Fighter, sharing a bit with both of them, but not succeeding so well at either style.

Some of the supporting cast is great, though. For once, regular karate film villain Masashi Ishibashi gets to play a good guy. Ishibashi was a real life karate master who taught Sonny Chiba and visited Masutatsu Oyama's dojo as a quest instructor every now and then (on his way home from work, they say). He had been working on TV and movies as drama actor for a few years before he collaborated with Chiba in the second Bodyguard Kiba movie in 1973, and the rest is history. He went on to play villains in countless Chiba and Shihomi films and also often worked on the choreography together with Chiba.

Wicked Kempo is not a bad film overall - it certainly has its violent charm - but it's not one of the best movies in the Japanese karate film genre either. Fans of the genre should take a look if they have a chance; others can focus on the better films like the Masutatsu Oyama trilogy, The Killing Machine, The Defensive Power of Aikido, The Street Fighter etc.

A few screencaps from a Japanese VoD version:

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 12 May 2016, 08:36

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Master Night Manipulator: 1000 Women Killer (Japan, 1971) [TV]
Playboy Tatsuo Umemiya is a pimp who tricks and blackmails girls into prostitution, and sleeps with all of them, including one blonde gaijin. It's a rather good looking film, but it's a bit difficult to find a reason to care. It's not a comedy, it's not much of a crime film, and it's so mild with only a little bit nudity that it can barely be balled exploitation. It's just a movie about playboy Umemiya. Colourful visuals are the films biggest - and perhaps only - appeal. Original title: Yoru no teihashi: suke chi hitokiri.

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(sorry, I seem to have fucked up my screencaps)

This film was part of the "Night / Yoru" series. I've only seen two of them, but Chris D. write that the series consists of very loosely linked movies where Umemiya plays different kinds of pimps or other such characters. The other movie I've seen is Rogue of the Night (Yoru no narazumono) (1972) and it's even more boring than Master Night Manipulator. Reiko Ike is actually supposed to be in it, but her role must have been really small because I didn't even notice her. Both films, as well as many others in the series, were directed by Makoto Naito. I decided to give up on the "series" after these two films.

There is another series called "King / Teio" that, according to Chris D, is similar.

Poster for Master Night Manipulator
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by Marshall » 12 May 2016, 12:46

Hey! That looks like Yukie Kagawa in that fifth still. So it's got that going for it. :)

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 12 May 2016, 12:53

Marshall wrote:Hey! That looks like Yukie Kagawa in that fifth still. So it's got that going for it. :)
That's her. In the 4th also ;)

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 18 Jun 2016, 16:01

VoD Review / Not Available on DVD

Kôkôsei burai hikae (高校生無頼控) (1972)
The first film in the Muramasa trilogy. These are relatively obscure films for never having been available on video, despite being Toho films based on a Kazuo Koike manga. Unfortunately, this is not an exploitation movie like most other Koike adaptations, but a comedy. Murasaki is a high school boy who gets all the girls and beats the guys with his karate and kendo skills. But he's not all that much of a badass; in fact he's just a goofy manga hero gone live action character who needs to get to Tokyo to meet his brother. On his journey he meets various silly characters, sleeps with at least half dozen girls, beats an all-gaijin girls' motorcycle gang, and makes some money. Harmless mainstream / family friendly entertainment with some laughs and nostalgia, and quite a few pairs of boobs.

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Junko Natsu
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Gaijin gang
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by Marshall » 18 Jun 2016, 16:41

Is that Junko Natsu?! Looks right up my alley.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 19 Jun 2016, 04:22

That's her.

Yeah, if you liked stuff like Girls' Junior High School, you might like this too.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by Marshall » 19 Jun 2016, 08:32

I did/do!

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 14 Mar 2017, 04:27

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Himalayan Wanderer (ヒマラヤ無宿 心臓破りの野郎ども) (1961)
A very loose sequel to the wonderfully nutty The Big Gamblers of The Amazon. Unfortunately this one is not half as much fun. It has the same lead cast, including Chiezo Kataoka, but that's where the similarities end. In this film Kataoka (not a gambler this time) finds a yeti in the Himalaya and brings him to Japan. Not much interesting happens since bringing a yeti out to the public is no easy task and we end up spending too much time with a fake-yeti (Eitaro Shindo). Reporters and gangster businessmen alike are after the real yeti, who spends most of his time sleeping in Kataoka's bathtub. A poor man's King Kong with a lot of filler material between the relatively good opening and closing parts.

I love the New Toei logo
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Kataoka
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Gaijin are also interested
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Fake yeti Eitaro Shindo
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The real thing
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 26 Mar 2017, 05:30

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Story of Japanese Bad Men (日本悪人伝) (1971)
The 1960s saw loads of chivalrous yakuza films with the word "den" (tale or story) in their title. There was the Tale of Japanese Chivalry series (11 films), Tale of Meiji Era Chivalry, Tale of Kawachi Chivalry, and many others. Here we finally have the tale of "Japanese Bad Men", which very much lives up to its title. This is like a Ken Takakura film if Takakura and his benevolent clan had never entered the scenario and we were left only with the villainous gang lead by someone like Bin Amatsu (who actually is in this film). It's a sort of mash up between the 60s ninkyo films and the 70s jitsuroku style that was just emerging. Tomisaburo Wakayma plays a no good hood who joins a villain gang. The rest of the film follows him running a prostitution business and becoming a boss himself. It is, unfortunately, a lot less fun than one would expect due to the lack of a plot, and a relatively low exploitation factor until the spectacularly bloody finale.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 27 Mar 2017, 04:59

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Story of Japanese Bad Men: Travelling Companions to Hell (日本悪人伝 地獄の道づれ) (1972)
Messy sequel is basically a repetition of the first film, but with even less coherence. A ninkyo film it is not, nor a jitsuroku movie despite excessive violence, and as exploitation it is not exploitative enough. The scrip and direction lack focus and style: this little more than a series of scenes featuring bad men doing bad things.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 07 May 2017, 12:37

VoD Reviews

I recently watched the whole Nihon boryokudan series. Here's my reviews from the other thread + a few additional screencaps for parts 1 & 3. I was too lazy to take caps for the rest.

Japan's Violent Gangs: Boss (aka Japan Organized Crime Boss) (日本暴力団 組長) (1969)
The first film in the transitional yakuza film series that paved way for the jitsuroku true account films of the 70s. Koji Tsuruta stars as an old school gangster boss who has become something of a fish out of water in the modern gangster world. Despite some ninkyo elements, and a soundtrack that resembles Teruo Ishii's contemporary gangster films, this movie already leans heavily towards the jitsuroku style. The opening disclaimer states the film to be fictional, but that's not entirely true as it was heavily influenced by true events (the Yamaguchi gang moving to the Kanto area). Director Kinji Fukasaku's trademarks are already in a steady use, including documentary like footage of violent chaos, effective use of still photos, and a nihilistic storyline. While the film is loaded with good performances - Noburu Ando being one of the many who deserve a mention - it's Tomisaburo Wakayama who is the real stand out as a drug addicted, volatile boss who is like a time bomb trying keep himself from exploding.

Oddly enough, Toei never released this film even on DVD.

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Japan's Violent Gangs: The Boss and the Killers (日本暴力団 組長と刺客) (1969)
The 2nd film in the series that started with Kinji Fukasaku's Japan Organized Crime Boss. This follow up by director Junya Sato feels somewhat disappointing in contrast. The documentary-like touches and the energetic visual output that made its predecessor feel ahead of its time are mostly missing here, although the film does have a fittingly dark ending. Koji Tsuruta stars again, this time playing a gangster boss who assassinates a yakuza in broad daylight, gets a bullet in his arm in the process, and then hides in a small shop. The main storyline (about what happened before) is then told in flashbacks. Lots of talk ensues. Not terribly bad, just not that exciting either.

Japan's Violent Gangs: Degenerate Boss (日本暴力団 組長くずれ) (1970)
Koji Tsurura is a former yakuza gone straight, now running a jazzy night club, in the third film in the series. The films were not connected other than being part of the same series and all starring Tsuruta. This one was directed by Shin Takakuwa, whose brief filmography features one stand out (the superb Sonny Chiba cop drama A Narcotics Agent's Ballad, 1972) and handful of mediocre yakuza films. This film is sort of well made, with some steady handed cinematography, elegant use of colour and light (especially in the night club scenes) and a typically charismatic and stoic Tsuruta performance. However, it feels quite conventional compared to Fukasaku's film that was already reaching toward the 70s jitsuroku cinema. This one is a talkative film with the usual 'ex-yakuza trying to lead honest life while surrounded by underworld acquaintances' storyline. Not bad, and features a surprisingly sleazy op credits scene with a stripper, but a little pedestrian overall.

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Japan's Violent Gangs: Loyalty Offering Murder (日本暴力団 殺しの盃) (1972)
The 4th and last in the series was helmed by Yasuo Furuhata, a director whose films I have never especially cared for. He made talkative, character driven crime dramas that were usually neither ninkyo nor jitsuroku films. I suppose there is more-than-usual character depth to be found in his films - if you find them interesting to begin with. It sometimes seemed like he shouldn't have been working in yakuza films in the first place, but in the drama genre where he later ended up. Anyway, Tsuruta is the lead again, this time a guest at a gambling house where he kills two attackers and has to flee from the city. He settles down with old friend and gangster boss Tetsuro Tamba, whose clan is in a conflict with another gang. Tsuruta starts helping him but angers Tamba's neurotic underling Rinichi Yamamoto in the process. Chris D declared this as one of his favourite yakuza films (out of the 1000 or so that he has seen). As often is the case, I don't quite understand where his opinion is rooted. There are some good scenes with Tsuruta and Tamba, and Yamamoto is good in his role, but none of it feels especially captivating. It's not a movie you'd call "bad", just one you don't care much for.

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Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD)

Unread post by HungFist » 24 Jul 2017, 13:54

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Majoran (魔女卵) (1984)
Exciting delinquent girl drama is in equal parts a youth film and a blazing gangster movie set to "live" music à la Walter Hill's Streets of Fire. First timer Yuko Watanabe stars as an Osaka bad girl who's introduced to the world of indie rock bands by a friendly biker gay hanging out in a small a rock bar. The film was cast with open auditions, most of the sukeban girls being obvious real delinquents with wonderfully coarse Osaka dialects. The film is also packed with 80s heavy metal bands and rock stars with mind blowing names (Mad Rocker, Jesus, Christ etc.). What sets Majoran apart from Streets of Fire is how it's rooted in reality unlike Hill's pop culture fantasy. There's a wonderfully touching scene at the end - spoiler warning I guess - where the heroine, disappointed by her ex-boyfriend who's relocated to Tokyo and cut his rock star hair in preparation for salaryman life, lets him know just what she thinks of him. She then rides back to Osaka on a night bus alone. The world changes and friends grow adults, but a couple of rebels will never give up. Well, they will eventually, but the film ends before that, on a high note on the streets of Osaka, on a motorcycle, with director Seiji Izumi cross cutting to a gig by heavy metal girl band Majoran as the credits roll.

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Sukeban girls, probably real ones. None of them had been in movies before / since.
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Yuko Watanabe. The guy is Ginji Gao, probably the only real actor in the film.
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Mad Rocker!
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Awesome band!
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Majoran. The film was named after this band which appears in the OP and ED credits.
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VHS cover
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 11 Oct 2017, 10:08

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Secret Turkish Bath ((秘)トルコ風呂) (1968)
A remarkably tame sexploitation tale of silly country girl Reiko Ohara running into playboy / pimp Tatsuo Umemiya in Tokyo. Toei produced quite a few of these type of films with Umemiya as the lead. They seem to have been aimed at relatively conservative audiences since they remained very tame well into the 70s. In this film nudity accounts to a couple of blink-and-you'll-miss shots with extras, and sex equals to hugging with clothes on. Toei's advertising campaign that billed it a "sex movie" with "orgies, lesbianism and prostitutes" was hyperbole at its best. Ohara, although cute at first, also becomes quite annoying with her silly I-don't-get-the-city-mentality act. Director Shinji Murayama was usually a competent director, but in this film he can't help the pointless screenplay that fails to construct any kind of meaningful storyline. A few frames of late 60s street and disco footage are the only worthwhile bits. For a much better film see the similarly themed Bitches of the Night (1966), also directed by Murayama, with largely the same cast. It has even less sex, but comes with a far better screenplay.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 17 Oct 2017, 08:59

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Chivalry of Judo Life (任侠柔一代) (1966)

Before Toei got into mass producing martial arts movies (other than samurai flicks), there was a handful of films to that mixed yakuza storylines with hand to hand fighting. This one is a ninkyo yakuza judo film. Hideo Murata is an honourable gangster who tries to assassinate rotten boss Hosei Komatsu but gets his own ass kicked. Young judo fighter Hiroki Matsukata comes to rescue. Meanwhile Komatsu gets bodyguard Tomisaburo Wakayama to look after him. Wandering karate fighter Saburo Kitajima who dislikes both Komatsu and Matsukata appears and further complicates things. Though the fights are old fashioned and a bit slow, they are quite nicely staged. Unfortunately there are too few of them. As a ninkyo film the movie is technically well done but not especially engaging. Drama lacks the kind of strong moral conflicts that you find in better ninkyo films, and it's not always clear who is supposed to be the main character. Not that bad, but not great either. The nice theme music sounds like it could be from a Zorro movie.

Matsukata
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Arashi
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Kitajima
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Wakayama
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Murata
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Note: it appears the film was released theatrically in some English speaking markets. I've seen an English language trailer in Youtube, although it's now gone.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by DenPryan » 17 Oct 2017, 14:18

Interesting. Here's another trailer with Sonny Chiba.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO0oIPkKreQ

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 17 Oct 2017, 15:01

DenPryan wrote:Interesting. Here's another trailer with Sonny Chiba.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO0oIPkKreQ
I've always wanted to see that one (Judo for Life) and have emailed Toei Channel a few times about it, but so far nothing...

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by chazgower01 » 25 Oct 2017, 00:05

HungFist wrote:TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Secret Turkish Bath ((秘)トルコ風呂) (1968)
A remarkably tame sexploitation tale of silly country girl Reiko Ohara running into playboy / pimp Tatsuo Umemiya in Tokyo. Toei produced quite a few of these type of films with Umemiya as the lead. They seem to have been aimed at relatively conservative audiences since they remained very tame well into the 70s. In this film nudity accounts to a couple of blink-and-you'll-miss shots with extras, and sex equals to hugging with clothes on. Toei's advertising campaign that billed it a "sex movie" with "orgies, lesbianism and prostitutes" was hyperbole at its best. Ohara, although cute at first, also becomes quite annoying with her silly I-don't-get-the-city-mentality act. Director Shinji Murayama was usually a competent director, but in this film he can't help the pointless screenplay that fails to construct any kind of meaningful storyline. A few frames of late 60s street and disco footage are the only worthwhile bits. For a much better film see the similarly themed Bitches of the Night (1966), also directed by Murayama, with largely the same cast. It has even less sex, but comes with a far better screenplay.

It may not have gotten a stellar review here, but I'm nevertheless obsessed with finding a recorded copy of this movie (and Bitches of the Night, as well)....

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 26 Oct 2017, 14:36

VoD Review / Not Available on DVD

Kôkôsei burai hikae: Tsuki no Muramasa (高校生無頼控 突きのムラマサ) (1973)
The 2nd film in the Muramasa trilogy, all based on Kazuo Koike comic books, these are quite a bit more light hearted than the material he is usually associated with. There's plenty of silliness mixed with nostalgic 70s youth comedy innocence, and no, sexism, groping and bit of raping were not deemed unfit for this context back then. The film opens with high school kid gone watadori Muramasa is practicing kendo bare-assed by the river, which shocks a pretty lady so bad she falls off her bike. A few moments (and a lecture about manhood's symbol) later he's already "accidentally" groping her breasts while getting a ride, all thanks to a bumpy road of course. The rest of the film follows in the same trails, with Muramasa coming across goofy characters and hot girls, with little in terms of plot. Muramasa is this time played by Masaaki Daimon, and the girls he runs into are Yuriko Hishimi (teacher), Yayoi Watanabe (bar girl) and Sayoko Kato (school girl), all of whom he manages relieve of their clothing. Worth mentioning as a bit of trivia is that all three films (1972-1973) premiered as Toho "Wild Youth" double features with the Rica films, a series that started out mean and gritty, but eventually went down the Muramasa road of comic book silliness.

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Yuriko Hishimi
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Yayoi Watanabe on the table
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Sayoko Kato
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 16 Nov 2017, 12:37

I've also been watching some Nakajima films recently

VoD Review / Not Available on DVD

Modern Yakuza: Three Cherry Blossom Blood Brothers (現代やくざ 血桜三兄弟) (1971)
The 4th film in the series (not 5th; many English language sources mistakenly include the 1969 film "Outlaw of Shinjuku" in the series). Three small time gangsters (Bunta Sugawara, Tsunehiko Watase and Goro Ibuki) get involved in a deadly gang war after a suave gambler and ladies men (Asao Koike) arrives the town and causes a yakuza conflict. Quite a passable, but ultimately forgettable modern day yakuza film made just before the jitsuroku era. Groovy score and good performances (especially Ichiro Araki as a shy wanna-be gangster) are the film's assets. The film would probably rate a notch higher if there weren't scores of other, more accomplished yakuza films out there. Very watchable nevertheless.

Watase and Araki
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Koike
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Koike and Sugawara
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Watase and Araki again
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TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Secret Story: Plundering the Jewel (戦後秘話 宝石略奪) (1970)
Everybody's chasing a diamond in Sadao Nakajima's tiresome crime/action/drama. It was a based on a novel by Tsusai Sugawara, who was a Japanese writer and political figure campaigning against drugs, prostitution and sexually transmitted diseases. Sugawara also gave the incentive for a trio of superior Sonny Chiba crime films (A Narcotic's Agent's Ballad, Terrifying Flesh Hell, Tokyo-Seoul-Bangkok Drug Triangle, in 1972-1973). The problem with "Secret Story" is that the story is short on action and memorable characters, something that is not offset by the big name cast (Bunta Sugawara, Chiezo Kataoka, Tomisaburo Wakayama, and in what seems like a referential joke, Tetsuro Tamba as a gangster who shares his name and looks with his Key Hunter character) playing gangsters and other shady political/corporate figures. Nakajima's direction is uninspired as well, even though he was fresh off from one of his best pictures, Memoir of Japanese Assassins (1969). That kind of unevenness was typical of him, and in some ways he remains both over-rated and underappreciated with his remarkably vast but uneven filmography. "Secret Story" does have a stylish, hallucinatory ending that rewards the viewer, as well as some interesting bits set in Singapore, but in all honesty, much of the film is a chore to get through.

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Yukie Kagawa as nihonjin hating prostitute
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Wakayama looking silly
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Tamba in the middle. His character is even called "Kuroki", like in Key Hunter, but he's no secret police in this film
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All the Nakajima films I've seen:

Excellent
Kunoichi ninpo (1964)
Memoir of Japanese Assassins (1969)
Girl Boss: Escape from Reform School (1973)
Okinawa Yakuza War (1976)

Good
Diaries of the Kamikaze (1967)
Modern Yakuza: Three Cherry Blossom Blood Brothers (1971)
Cold Wind Monjiro (1972)
Aesthetics of a Bullet (1973)
Tokyo-Seoul-Bangkok Drug Triangle (1973)
Account of the Ando Gang: Hitokiri Shatei (1974)
Authentic True Account - Osaka Shock Tactics (1976)
The Japanese Godfather (1977)

Weak
Chivalry of Judo Life (1966)
Cold Wind Monjiro: None of My Business (1972)
Journey to Japan (1973)
Lion Enforcer (1974)
Jean's Blues: No Future (1974)
Honor of Japan (1977)
Japanese Godfather: Ambition (1978)
Japanese Godfather: Conclusion (1978)
Yakuza Warfare (1991)

Poor
Kunoichi kesho (1964)
Secret Story: Plundering the Jewel (1970)
Crazed Beast (1976)

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 29 Nov 2017, 04:55

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

On the Road (オン・ザ・ロード) (1982)

Pink film director Seiji Izumi had 49 skin flicks under his belt when he helmed this motorcycle cop flick, his first mainstream release. Largely forgotten since its theatrical run in 1982 (a double feature with Nobuhiko Obayashi’s Transfer Student), the film might be heading towards small cult reputation since its re-discovery a few years ago by a small arthouse theatre in Yokohama that played it in 35mm for more than a year.

Hiroyuki Watanabe, in his debut role, stars as young, eccentric loner of a Tokyo biker cop. The film’s opening chase leaves a bystander, a model called Reiko (Kumi Fujishima), injured when his bike hits her. Feeling quilt, he tracks her down months later, but she’s determined to start a new life in Okinawa and wishes not to see him. She hops in a car with her sister to drive through half of Japan to a port in Kyushu, while he, still in his uniform and riding his bike, is determined to follow her to the end of worlds. His superior (Hideo Murota) and half of the nation’s police force are trying to capture the renegade cop and avoid a public scandal while the lone rider grows reputation as a rebel hero of sorts.

The film features a fantastic concept, even though some of the drama is mediocre and the two female characters are poorly written and cast. Not really an action film (despite the poster that would have you believe otherwise), but there’s a fair bit of stylish bike and chase footage as well.

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Kahori Takeda (Pink Hip Girl) on the left
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If I'm not mistaken, this guy was in Crazy Thunder Road. Oh and Moeko Ezawa on the right.
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HungFist
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 04 Mar 2018, 15:07

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

True Account of the Ando Gang - Story of the Attack (実録安藤組 襲撃篇) (1973)
Noboru Ando was a real life gangster who ordered a non-fatal hit that left a businessman seriously injured in 1958. Ando was arrested after 35 days on a run, and sentenced to prison for eight years (of which he serve six), after which he disbanded his gang and became a reasonably successful yakuza film star utilizing his own notoriety. This is the third and final film in a series based on Ando's life, and the most realistic of them. Director Junya Sato goes for a documentary approach, accounting the events before and after the infamous incident almost hour by hour. Due to its realism, the film is far less violent than most jitsuroku movies (only one person is killed in the film) but mostly no less intense. The film is visually very stylish, mixing grainy images with stylish use of colour and shadows, and features a solid cast with Ando as himself; Eiji Go as the gangster who shot the businessman (the bullet he fired went through the target's arm into his chest), and several other tough guys like Rikiya Yasuoka. For an interesting comparison piece, see Noboru Tanaka's lesser but much more over-the-top sexploitation accounting of the same incident, Noboru Ando's Filthy Escape into Sex (1976).

Toei has released the first two films (Yakuza and Feuds, 1972, and True Account of the Ando Gang - Yakuza and Feuds, 1973) on DVD, but not this one, which is a real shame since this is easily the best film of the three.

Eiji Go receiving the mission
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I really like the visual look of the film
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Ando and his men
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Ando
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Ando gumi member arrested
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 30 Apr 2018, 05:16

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Shinjuku's Number One Drunk: Killer Tetsu (新宿酔いどれ番地 人斬り鉄) (1977)
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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Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Unread post by HungFist » 15 May 2018, 06:58

This is a sister thread for Japanese Cult Cinema thread, to post reviews of films that are not available on DVD / BD. I created it by extracting all the TV and VoD reviews from the original thread.

Basically the rationale was that some of you guys might get frustrated with me posting so many Japanese TV / VoD reviews of films that can't be purchased from abroad in the JP Cult thread, and I didn't want that to happen. Hence I created a new thread.

There's no strict rules, though. Discussion of rare films is just fine in both thread. But I'd prefer the Japanese Cult Cinema thread to focus on films that are available on (or might be coming to) DVD/BD.

(Classic Japanese Exploitation thread still covers both films available and not available on DVD/BD).

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

Unread post by HungFist » 15 May 2018, 07:13

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Continental Drifter (大陸流れ者) (1966)
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.

Tsuruta in Hong Kong
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My hero Osman Yusuf
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Tamba
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Osman Yusuf being an asshole
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Junko Fuji
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