Japanese cult cinema thread

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 09 Feb 2017, 02:59

DenPryan wrote:Robbery, Arson and Killer Convicts, It will soon be available on DVD


You're right. I had not noticed

Toei will be remembering Hiroki Matsukata (who died recently) with three DVD releases on 2017/06/14

Escaped Murderer from Hiroshima Prison (脱獄広島殺人囚) (1974)
Dir. Sadao Nakajima
Cast: Hiroki Matsukata, Tatsuo Umemiya

Robbery, Arson and Killer Convicts (強盗放火殺人囚) (1975)
Dir. Kosaku Yamashita
Cast: Hiroki Matsukata, Tomisaburo Wakayama

Hiroshima Hostage Rescue Tactics (広島仁義 人質奪回作戦) (1976)
Dir. Yuuji Makiguchi
Cast:Hiroki Matsukata, Akira Kobayashi

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 19 Feb 2017, 09:09

This is unexpected. Twilight Time is releasing Brutal Tales of Chivalry on BD May 16, 2017.
- https://www.facebook.com/notes/nick-red ... 9125362729

Cool film, too, although part 2 is my favourite of the ones I've seen (parts 1, 2, 3, and 8).

I suppose this is the first time ever a Toei ninkyo film is released officially in the US? Which is kinda strange considering it was (domestically) one of the most successful genres Japanese cinema ever produced.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby DenPryan » 19 Feb 2017, 09:37

What sense to produce only one part of the film series?

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 19 Feb 2017, 10:43

I think Twilight would go banckrupt if they released all 9. I don't see any problem releasing just one. It's not like the films are connected or feature the same characters. I do kinda wish they had released part 2 instead of part 1, though.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby Guro Taku » 19 Feb 2017, 18:13

Arrow have revealed another of their upcoming Toei licenses with Kinji Fukasaku's Cops vs. Thugs 県警対組織暴力(1975), due in stores on May 23rd. Toei BD has been out for a while now (without subs, of course) and Arrow aren't adding any extras worth mentioning (does anybody really watch those "visual essays"?) so I won't be picking it up but it's a cool and stylish flick that very much deserves the wider audience this release no doubt will afford it.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby Varrick » 20 Feb 2017, 12:46

Guro Taku wrote: (does anybody really watch those "visual essays"?)


The "visual essay" is a quite frustrating form but the other extra included (interview with Fusakau biographer Sadao Yamane) could be worth of a watch

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby Guro Taku » 10 Mar 2017, 10:43

HungFist wrote:Toei April. And before anyone asks, no, none of the three Makiguchi films are his (in)famous torture or action movies. I'm also disappointed Toei went the erotic drama path. Oh well, at least I can some some money in April... or rather recover from the series of bankruptcies of the previous months...

らしゃめん(Rashamen) (1977)
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Directed by Yuuji Makiguchi
Starring Haruko Wanibuchi
http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1977/da002630.htm
http://www.ofdb.de/film/111917,Rashamen

I've been wondering for a long time why this was Makiguchi's final theatrical movie and how it came to be that he only worked in TV (and one crappy V-cinema flick) afterwards. Well, a long interview (literally what it is called) in the Japan Cult Film Collection series' volume on Torn Priestess/Nuns That Bite finally answered that question. The reason is as boring as unfortunate: RASHAMEN was a gigantic box office bomb and the higher ups at Toei promptly decided that Makiguchi was better suited for TV. Never mind that a lot of his previous films were big hits for them. No second chances.

Not that I'm trying to deney that RASHAMEN is a disappointing effort. It isn't poorly made but after an utterly amazing opening credit sequence, the remainder of the film is a weepy melodrama about how much the female protagonists suffers from being made a filthy foreigner's mistress. It wasn't what I was expecting from Makiguchi and it's quite possible that Japanese audiences in 1977 had the same problem.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby 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 postby HungFist » 16 Mar 2017, 05:13

DVD review

Karate Wars (空手大戦争) (1978)

One of the few Japanese karate films made by some other studio than Toei, in this case, Shochiku. The film's production background is actually more interesting than the movie itself. The film was produced by Ikki Kajiwara, the author of the comic books Karate Kiba and Karate for Life, which Toei had made into feature films with Sonny Chiba. It was intended as a starring project for Kajiwara's brother Hisao Maki, who was a student of Masutatsu Oyama. The film failed to make Maki a star (for very obvious reasons) but he would later contribute to cinema as a screenwriter and novelist (e.g. Takashi Miike's Big Bang Love, Juvenile A)

The film was shot in Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand, utilizing many local martial artists. It's also spoken in various languages, including Japanese, English, Chinese and Thai. Unfortunately it's a pretty poor film with an unremarkable storyline about a Japanese martial artist (Maki) who convinced to travel to Hong Kong and Thailand where he fights local fighters. It takes about half an hour before anything happens, but once the film moves to foreign locations it picks up some pace and remains watchable enough thanks to a steady delivery of action. Most of the fights happen when Maki is ambushed time after another on the streets.

Maki is amusingly wooden in the lead role, especially as an actor. His fights suffer from the Steven Seagal syndrome where he barely needs to do anything but walk around and the opponents drop dead. Although there is certain realism to the fight moves, he looks surprisingly slow compared to the likes of Sonny Chiba. While martial arts aficionados may get something out of it, the film is solely lacking in the fun department.

The film was set for a R1 DVD release a decade ago but the company went bankrupt before the disc came out. Shochiku released the film on DVD in Japan (without subs) a few years ago.

Yes, this scene is ridiculous. There's a fight after the wrestler tries to hit on Maki's gal.
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Toei villain Nobuo Kaneko in the middle. You know him from films like Battles without Honor and Humanity.
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Maki
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Hong Kong
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Screencap makes this fight look better than it is
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Thailand
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Original trailer & teaser. Masutatsu Oyama
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Ikki Kajiwara (left) and Hisao Maki
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"The 3rd film in the Chijo saikyo no karate (The Strongest Karate) series". That's a little confusing since the first two are documentary films, and this is a work of fiction. Also, the title of Karate Wars (Karate daisenso) makes no reference to the Chijo saikyo no karate series. I think the ad team probably came up with that connection just to sell the film. I don't think anyone actually considers it a part of the series.
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 17 Mar 2017, 06:05

The under-rated Tsunehiko Watase, one of Toei's most reliable supporting (and occasional lead) actors in various gangster films, died this week at the age of 72. Watase was also the younger brother of Nikkatsu star Tetsuya Watari. Rest in peace.

Terrifying Girls' High School: Lynch Law Classroom (1973)
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Girl Boss: Escape from Reform School (1973)
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Aestetics of a Bullet (1973)
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Bodyguard Kiba 2 (1973)
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Girl Boss: Diamond Showdown (1974)
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Violent Panic: The Big Crash (1976)
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Okinawa Yakuza War (1976)
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Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (1981)
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Picture from Laputa Asagaya's Watase retrospective a few years ago.
http://www.laputa-jp.com/laputa/program/watasetsunehiko/

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 17 Mar 2017, 06:26

Kadokawa is going to release a bunch of Hiroki Matsukata Daiei films on dvd on 2017/05/26, including Sleepy Eyes of Death 13 and 14.

眠狂四郎 円月殺法 (1969)
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眠狂四郎 卍斬り (1969)
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兇状流れドス (1970)
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二代目若親分 (1969)
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秘剣破り (1969)
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刑務所(むしょ)破り (1969)
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I'm actually planning to see Sleepy Eyes of Death 13 and 14 in 35mm next week.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 20 Mar 2017, 08:45

DVD review

Yakuza Masterpiece (やくざ絶唱) (1970)
Shintaro Katsu gives the performance of a lifetime in this absolutely mind blowing yakuza film by Yasuzo Masumura. Katsu is a hot headed gangster who treats women like trash, except for his little sister (Naoko Otani), whose innocence is his only pride. He guards her night and day and beats all the boyfriend candidates to hospital, desperately trying to make sure she won't become what he is. But after he lands in jail (for not only beating the shit out of four men, but also the policemen who came to arrest him) she's left alone. Ironically, she chooses to follow her brother's path. A thoroughly gripping film with amazing performances by Katsu and little sister Otani, who can more than stand up against Katsu. This film serves as a good reminder that modern Japanese gangster films are nothing but a lame joke compared to movies like this; and Otani has more balls than the entire male cast of Gonin Saga (2015).

Kadokawa released this on Japanese DVD a few years ago.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby Guro Taku » 21 Mar 2017, 19:05

On June 5th, Arrow will release Seijun Suzuki's Taisho Trilogy on BD and DVD:

Zigeunerweisen (1980)
Kageroza (1981)
Yumeji (1991)

http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/shop/index. ... uct_id=954

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby 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 postby 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 postby HungFist » 27 Mar 2017, 08:11

Three Tsunehiko Watase releases coming from Toei in August

Aesthetics of a Bullet (Teppôdama no bigaku) (1973)
Dir. Sadao Nakajima
Cast: Tsunehiko Watase, Miki Sugimoto, Ichiro Araki

Killer's Black List (Koroshiya ninbetsucho) (1970)
Dir. Teruo Ishii
Cast: Tsunehiko Watase, Teruo Yoshida, Goro Ibuki, Kanjuro Arashi

Prisoners' Black List (Kangoku ninbetsucho) (1970)
Dir. Teruo Ishii
Cast: Tsunehiko Watase, Makoto Sato, Goro Ibuki, Kanjuro Arashi

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I've seen Aesthetics of a Bullet and Killer's Black List (both in 35mm). The latter is not that great. It's one of those modern day crime films that are neither ninkyo nor jitsuroku. Bloody, but not especially exciting. Kanjuro Arashi has a knife fight, and frankly he looked way too old to handle that. To be honest, I don't really remember that much about the film.

Aesthetics of a Bullet is pretty cool. Here's my old mini review:

Aesthetics of a Bullet (Japan, 1973) [35mm] - 3.5/5
Workman director Sadao Nakajima took a small break from Toei's genre pictures to helm this Art Theater Guild production. It is, in fact, not that different from his Toei films, although it has a certain independent film aura with extra attention to realism and detail. The film portrays gangsters as incompetent losers who cannot even start epic trouble. The protagonist is a street thug who makes his living selling rabbits and living off his girlfriend's money. He finally gets a chance to rise through the ranks when he's sent to Kyushu to kill a man. Star Tsunehiko Watase is clearly enjoying playing a bigger loser than usual, although he hadn’t reaches his peak as an actor yet. Pinky Violence starlet Miki Sugimoto is an interesting piece of casting; she'd make a bigger impression a few years later in ATG's Preparation for the Festival, though. Rock band Zuno Keisatsu provides the electrifying soundtrack.

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https://youtu.be/TGKKhe7djGg

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 22 Apr 2017, 07:56

I guess I should mention Arrow is releasing New Battle Without Honor and Humanity on 17th July 2017

NEW BATTLES WITHOUT HOUNOUR AND HUMANITY: THE COMPLETE TRILOGY
New Battles Without Honour and Humanity
New Battles Without Honour and Humanity: The Boss's Head
New Battles Without Honour and Humanity: Last Days of the Boss

In the early 1970s, Kinji Fukasaku's five-film Battles Without Honour and Humanity series was a massive hit in Japan, and kicked off a boom in realistic, modern yakuza films based on true stories. Although Fukasaku had intended to end the series, Toei Studio convinced him to return to the director's chair for this unconnected, follow-up trilogy of films, each starring Battles leading man Bunta Sugawara and telling separate, but fictional stories about the yakuza in different locations in Japan.

In the first film, Bunta Sugawara is Miyoshi, a low-level assassin of the Yamamori gang who is sent to jail after a bungled hit. While in stir, family member Aoki (Lone Wolf and Cub's Tomisaburo Wakayama) attempts to seize power from the boss, and Miyoshi finds himself stuck between the two factions with no honourable way out. In the second entry, The Boss's Head, Sugawara is Kuroda, an itinerant gambler who steps in when a hit by drug-addicted assassin Kusunoki (Tampopo's Tsutomu Yamazaki) goes wrong, and takes the fall on behalf of the Owada family, but when the gang fails to make good on financial promises to him, Kuroda targets the family bosses with a ruthless vengeance. And in Last Days of the Boss, Sugawara plays Nozaki, a labourer who swears allegiance to a sympathetic crime boss, only to find himself elected his successor after the boss is murdered. Restrained by a gang alliance that forbids retributions against high-level members, Nozaki forms a plot to exact revenge on his rivals, but a suspicious relationship with his own sister (Chieko Matsubara from Outlaw: Gangster VIP) taints his relationship with his fellow gang members.

Making their English-language home video debut in this limited edition set, the New Battles Without Honour and Humanity films are important links between the first half of Fukasaku's career and his later exploration of other genres. Each one is also a top-notch crime action thriller: hard-boiled, entertaining, and distinguished by Fukasaku's directorial genius, funky musical scores by composer Toshiaki Tsushima, and the onscreen power of Toei's greatest yakuza movie stars.

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS:
• High Definition digital transfers of all three films
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
• Original uncompressed mono audio
• New optional English subtitle translation for all three films
• Beyond the Films: New Battles Without Honour and Humanity, a new video appreciation by Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane
• New Stories, New Battles and Closing Stories, two new interviews with screenwriter Koji Takada, about his work on the second and third films in the trilogy • Original theatrical trailers for all three films
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist • Illustrated collector’s book featuring new writing on the films, the yakuza genre and Fukasaku's career, by Stephen Sarrazin, Tom Mes, Hayley Scanlon, Chris D. and Marc Walkow

- http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/shop/index. ... uct_id=959

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby Guro Taku » 22 Apr 2017, 09:30

Not an unexpected choice from Arrow. Like with COPS VS THUGS these films have also been out on BD in Japan for a while so it's slightly less exciting then them scoring a BD premiere like WOLF GUY or DOBERMAN COP.

On an unrelated note, two films directed by Atsushi Yamatoya just hit DVD in Japan. These include his directorial debut SEASON OF BETRAYAL 裏切りの季節(1966) and THE PISTOL THAT SPROUTED HAIR 毛の生えた拳銃 (1968).

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Trailer for the release: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfYUoNIurSA

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby Guro Taku » 29 Apr 2017, 22:25

Two rare Koji Wakamatsu films are finally getting DVD releases on June 2nd:

ABNORMAL BLOOD 日本暴行暗黒史 異常者の血 (1967)

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DARK STORY OF A JAPANESE RAPIST 続日本暴行暗黒史 暴虐魔 (1967)

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby 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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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 30 Jun 2017, 12:16

Toei will give stand alone releases to all their Ken Takakura BD box set films in 2017/10/25. That means the Abashiri Prison films (10), the Brutal Tale of Chivalry films (8) and the ones from the Takakura set(Bullet Train, Railroad Man, The Firefly, Dôran, Winter's Flower).

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Good news for people like me who couldn't afford the box sets but might want to pick up a few favourite films.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 30 Jun 2017, 12:39

Great! It seems photobucket has updated their terms so that you can't post your images on websites anymore unless you pay $400 a year. That means a couple of thousand screencaps I've posted here are no longer visible (the last couple of years should be mostly ok as I was using my blog as a host). Sorry about that.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 05 Jul 2017, 13:10

Guro Taku wrote:Two rare Koji Wakamatsu films are finally getting DVD releases on June 2nd:

ABNORMAL BLOOD 日本暴行暗黒史 異常者の血 (1967)

DARK STORY OF A JAPANESE RAPIST 続日本暴行暗黒史 暴虐魔 (1967)


The last (?) two films in the series came out yesterday

「新日本暴行暗黒史 復讐鬼」
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「日本暴行暗黒史 怨獣」
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+ there's gonna be 12 new releases of Wakamatsu films that were already out on dvd. I don't know if the transfers will be new or not. The cool thing for those located in Japan is that they are finally made available for rental, too. The lack of rental versions is the reason why I haven't seen too many Wakamatsu films.
- http://natalie.mu/eiga/news/239280

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 07 Jul 2017, 13:04

Toei will be releasing three Teruo Ishii films on DVD 2017/10/04
- Orgies of Edo (1969)
- Yakuza's Law (1969)
- Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)

http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... id=1008381
http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... id=1008377
http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_dvd. ... id=1008380

Although these will be DVD releases, they will almost certainly utilize new HD masters (since Toei never released them on dvd before, it's unlikely they had SD masters available). Which means that if Arrow and others have any interest in these titles, now is your chance!

Btw, Toei also screened Love and Crime in HD on Toei Channel last month, even though it's a title they released on DVD more than a decade ago.

Oh and I can't believe they are finally putting Malformed Men out.

Guro Taku
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Posts: 312
Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 16:37

Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby Guro Taku » 07 Jul 2017, 18:21

HungFist wrote:Oh and I can't believe they are finally putting Malformed Men out.

That is indeed surprising but I just can't see myself buying any of these again unless they hit BD. It's only a matter of time, surely.


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