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 postby HungFist » 13 Jul 2017, 16:00

Kodoku Meatball Machine (蠱毒 ミートボールマシン) (Japan, 2017) - 2.5/5
Occasionally exciting but poorly paced follow-up to Yudai Yamaguchi's 2005 splatter punk film. The film is essentially a 40 minute introduction followed by a 50 minute non-stop monster melee on the streets of Tokyo. Yoshihiro Nishimura once again excels with his inventive low budget monster design and entertains the audience with the usual blood showers as well as a "topless chase scene". Unfortunately he also uses some depressing CGI and green screen sequences, and relies too much on drama that fails to engage during the first act. Another problem is that Nishimura has never been a very good action director. The fights often seems like random moves and clips edited together. Composer Kou Nakagawa played an important role in making Nishimura's earlier films so effective, but for the past few collaborations his work has been repetitive and less interesting. The film remains, however, quite watchable and at times even exhilarating despite the issues.

Girl Boss: Escape from Reform School (女番長 感化院脱走) (Japan, 1973) [35mm] - 4/5
The 5th film in the series. This one keeps getting better every time I see it. The film comes with genuinely cool characters (especially after the nasty, misogynist Girl Boss Revenge), badass girl power, groovy soundtrack, and bits of good humour instead of dumb comedy. Cool without being too flashy, except for the reform school's standard punishment method which is stripping teenage girls topless, tying their hands behind their back and leaving them in a cell alone. Hah! I also liked Kenji Imai, an actor I normally don't pay much attention to, as the reform school teacher chasing the escapees, and of course Tsunehiko Watase as a young robber who hooks up with the girls. Watase is always good at playing these kind of rough but somehow pitiable characters. The film is, generally speaking, a little more believable than most other films in the genre, which is probably why it doesn't initially stand out but grows on you on subsequent viewings. Oh, and needless to say seeing this from a near pristine 35mm print on Shin Bungeiza's large screen was a blast.

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

Unread postby saltysam » 18 Jul 2017, 20:22

Kung Fu Tiger Named Drunk Cat 2/5
Late 70's kung fu actioner is,for a change set in modern times. The comedy falls very flat but the fighting is plentiful if uninspired, the best of which is one near the end set on railway tracks. An early starring role for John Cheung, with Simon Yuen also appearing and seemingly doing his own action sequences.

One Armed Boxer 3/5
Early 70's Jimmy Wang Yu basher looks a little creaky these days but the action never lets up and you'd never get bored watching. Crazy characters including an indian yoga expert,thai boxers, lama priests and a befanged and intimidating Lung Fei.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread postby HungFist » 24 Jul 2017, 13:36

Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf (盲獣VS一寸法師) (Japan, 2001) [DVD] - 1/5
It is tragic that this shot-on-video travesty was Teruo Ishii's final film. It was only a few years earlier that he still managed entertaining if a bit sloppy "real cinema" with Japanese Hell (1999). This Edogawa Rampo adaptation on the other hand looks and feels like a home video, with awful production values and a 90 minute running time that feels like 5 hours - or at least would've felt had I endured it without fast forwarding. It was made largely with the help of film students and devoted Ishii fans. Shinya Tsukamoto plays one of the leading roles, Tetsuro Tamba appears briefly and Sion Sono is supposed to be somewhere as well. For fans of the director as well as the author there are much better films available. Yasuzo Masumura's 1969 psycho-drama Blind Beast is based on the same story, and Ishii's grand cult classic Horrors of Malformed Men (1969) is a compilation of several other Rampo stories.

Majoran (魔女卵) (Japan, 1984) [TV] - 3.5/5
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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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread postby HungFist » 26 Jul 2017, 08:41

True Account of a Gambling Den (The Pledge) (博奕打ち外伝) (Japan, 1972) [DVD] - 2/5
The 10th and final film in the Gambling Den series is an over-long all star epic without anything especially epic about it. It's the usual genre offering with honourable Tsuruta on one side, and a corrupt clan on the other. Conflicts and bloodshed ensue. The one interesting thing about the film is how "evil boss" Wakayama is actually relatively decent, but drawn to the wrong side by underling Matsukata whom he dearly loves. Unfortunately this only materializes into solid drama during the final scene. The rest is uninspired: there isn't anything original about the filmmaking, locations, or storyline. Ken Takakura and Bunta Sugawara appear in supporting roles, mainly to give the series a star studded farewell. For much better entries, see parts 4 (Big Time Gambling Boss), 6 (The Fake Game) and 8 (Drifter).

Great Jailbreak (大脱獄) (Japan, 1975) [DVD] - 3.5/5
Teruo Ishii and Ken Takakura return to Abashiri several years after the original Abashiri Prison series which had launched them both to superstardom However, the times had changed by 1975. Takakura is no longer a romantic gangster hero swinging a samurai sword, but a desperate death row inmate who breaks out with a group of insane killers and tries to escape through the freezing Hokkaido wastelands. It is a bit ironic that Ishii, the king of Grand Guignol, delivers one of the more humane and old fashioned Japanese crime films of the mid 70s. Ishii and Takakura both disliked the overly nihilist and documentary style yakuza films if the new era. The Great Escape mixes grittiness with a bit of humanity. The film's best part sees Takakura temporarily settling down in a small village and nursing a sick woman back to health - while constantly ready to kill anyone who might threaten his freedom. While not the finest film in its genre, its layered protagonist, good use of locations and quiet, atmospheric moments echoing a lonely man's psyche, make it an enjoyable movie; the final collaboration between two crime film legends who did not quite belong to this era of yakuza cinema anymore.

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

Unread postby chazgower01 » 02 Aug 2017, 03:57

Sonatine (Japan, 1993) - 4.5/5
Watched Sonatine for the first time in many years, and it's still just as haunting. I wonder if Wes Anderson's approach to cinematography was influenced by this. The music, the faces, the violence... it's all a strange, haunting, beautiful movie, that's unlike any 'gangster' movie made. And as with all great movies, it doesn't live up to YOUR expectations, but rather it's own... charting it's own course to it's conclusion.
It's a guy movie, for guys, but thankfully, Aya Kokumai, a female, shows up 2/3rds of the way through, as the characters begin to actually breath some life outside of their yakuza drudgery.
Writer/director Takeshi Kitano also stars as yakuza lieutenant Aniki Murakawa, who gets sent to Okinawa to help bring peace to two waring gangs, but ends up on a collision course he knew was inevitable. Mandatory viewing.

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

Unread postby HungFist » 02 Aug 2017, 10:40

I haven't seen Sonatine in years. Hana-Bi is certainly Kitano's best film if you ask me (in fact one of the very best films ever made) but in its own way Sonatine is his most genius film. Will certainly pick up the Japanese BD when it comes out next month, unless I stumble across a 35mm screening before that.

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

Unread postby HungFist » 02 Aug 2017, 10:45

Bad Guy (South Korea, 2001) [DVD] - 4/5
I've been re-watching some of Kim Ki-duk's earlier films. He wasn't a flawless filmmaker, but he was damn good at writing and directing unusual, intriguing character relationships. This film, a sort of love story featuring a mute pimp unable to express his affection in ways other forcing a young girl into prostitution and watching her from behind a two-way mirror, is a prime example. The film is 20 minutes too long, but the characters and storyline are so good that much is forgiven.

Himeanole (ヒメアノ~ル) (Japan, 2016) [BD] - 4/5
A pleasant surprise and a small gem that deserves to be seen without any expectations. For those who need further convincing, here goes. Okada and Ando are two walking definitions of tragicomic video game nerds minus the video games, with no looks, no communication skills, and obviously no girl other than the super-sweet waitress Yuka whom Ando is stalking. Too afraid to talk to her, Ando has Okada (entirely unqualified for the task) find out if she has a boyfriend, and drive away the another stalker, Morita. Turns out she doesn't, as she confesses she's in, fact in, love with Okada! This initiates the most unexpected, cute otaku-meets-hot-girl love story - until Morita walks back into the film and story takes an impressively subtle turn to something far darker that fully earned the film its R15 rating. There's a bit of Swallowtail Butterfly in the way the film effortlessly slides from one genre to another, as well as Love Exposure era Sion Sono, and Daisuke Miura style otaku love story, but director Keisuke Yoshida's low key handling of the material is ultimately his own. Although the final act is a bit less inspired than what comes before, the film has a lovely habit of constantly defying expectations, and has little difficulties keeping the viewer interested.

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

Unread postby grim_tales » 08 Aug 2017, 22:35

Drunken Master: 4.5/5

Classic kung-fu comedy, the print on the new Eureka disc is beautiful and I'd never heard the complete Cantonese track before.

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

Unread postby saltysam » 09 Aug 2017, 21:08

Drunken Master 3.5/5
Seminal Jackie Chan flick is very entertaining but suffers from overlength and actually drags in places. As said above, the eureka disc is very nice, i hope they release SITES, the superior film imo.

Dance Of The Drunk Mantis 3/5

Follow up to Drunken Master sees Sam Seed return home to find his wife has adopted a son,who he dislikes intensely. He also has Hwang Jang Lee looking for him. Decent sequel, as good as could be expected minus Jackie Chan. The soulblade disc requires a change to your players aspect ratio setting for it to display correctly.

Emperor & His Brother 2/5 Ti Lung & Lo Lieh can't save this rather tedious shaw bros movie, in fact the best sequence is a non fighting one Where the young boy rats his family out on the promise of a pair of binoculars.

Come Drink With Me 3.5/5 Considered a classic of the genre, i found it merely good.

Lion Vs Lion 3/5 Lo Meng & Wong Yu are a pair of scoundrels who get mixed up in a plot involving the manchus and a secret paper. Mainly light hearted but takes a dark turn towards the end. The title refers to a midpoint extremely well done Lion dance/fight which basically comes out of nowhere.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread postby HungFist » 12 Aug 2017, 02:59

The Wailing (South Korea, 2016) [BD] - 4.5/5
Obscure murders begin to take place in a small Korean town after a mysterious Japanese man (Jun Kunimura) arrives. Excellent thriller is best seen without knowing much about it. Although its logic might not hold on repeated viewings, and the film is actually a bit less original than mainstream viewers think, it remains exceptionally captivating, atmospheric, and comes with one hell of an ending.

Black Line (黒線地帯) (Japan, 1960) [DVD] - 3/5
An investigative reporter (Shigeru Amachi) getting too close to a narcotics syndicate wakes up in a hotel room with a dead prostitute in his bed. He flees and tries find the real killer while on the run from the police. Entertaining Teruo Ishii / Shintoho noir is yet another dive into the seedy night of modern Japan. Gangsters, transvestites, hot girls, some stylish black and white cinematography and somewhat daring for the era, one does however get the feeling the storyline is a bit over-plotted. This was the 2nd film in the Line series. The films were made at Shintoho in 1958-1961, Ishii helming the first four of the five. The 1st movie, Secret White Line (1958), is quite difficult to see because the film materials are partially lost / damaged, and it was only released on DVD as a bonus feature in the Line Series DVD box set in 2008, that version lacking 15 minutes of footage.

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

Unread postby Ivan Drago » 14 Aug 2017, 19:51

FIST OF DEATH (1982)

Lame South Korean Bruce/Jackiespolitation yarn with Kim Tae-Chung looking only like Bruce when he bugs his eyes out. The Jackie clone is even weaker. In a way, this is a Fist of Fury knock-off with the Ching Wu school vs the...well, the dialogue says "YMCA" but the logo on the school is clearly YMGA!

Either way, I wonder why I bother sometimes...

3/10
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread postby saltysam » 15 Aug 2017, 18:04

The Flying Guillotine 3/5
Chen-Kuan-Tai is part of the emperor's squad of guillotine assassins who realises that they are actually the bad guys so escapes, the rest of the movie has him being hunted down by the emperor's squad. Plenty of guillotine action, not loaded with martial arts but a solid Shaw effort.

The Flying Guillotine 2 2.5/5
inferior sequel sees Ti Lung take up the Chen-Kuan-Tai role but he's only really an extended cameo here, the focus being on a squad of female guillotine assassins.

The Vengful Beauty 3/5
The Flying guillotine returns in this 3rd entry, which features Chen Ping a pregnant woman vow revenge on the evil Lo Lieh, who's guillotine squad murders her husband. very fast paced and superior to the second movie.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread postby Markgway » 15 Aug 2017, 18:43

I really liked the sequel GUILLOTINE movie and thought it was the best of the three. :D

Followed by BEAUTY with the original coming in third.
Bradavon: As probably the only guy on this forum who has snogged another man (3 times in fact), it didn't do a lot for me but I didn't hate it either. Who doesn't like a snog?

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

Unread postby HungFist » 16 Aug 2017, 14:08

I saw The Flying Guillotine 2 about 10 years ago, and liked it quite bit. I've often used it as an example of a film that takes 1 main idea and does something memorable with it (as opposed to something like Live Free or Die Hard which takes 42 ideas, crams them all into one film and achieves nothing memorable). I can't remember what Live Free or Die Hard was about, but I can still remember what The Flying Guillotine 2 was about... a flying guillotine :D

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

Unread postby HungFist » 17 Aug 2017, 13:35

Ruined Heart (Philippines, 2014) [DVD] - 1.5/5
German distributor gone producer Rapid Eye Movies had enough success with their 2011 pink musical Underwater Love to try the same trick again, this time with Philippine director Khavn. Tadanobu Asano stars, Christopher Doyle is in charge of cinematography, and the French-German duo Stereo Total does the music again. The arthouse film bills itself as "Another Love Story Between a Criminal & a Whore", told in a very vague fashion via music and images, with almost no dialogue. It is too bad the film is neither especially stylish nor interesting, and nothing much happens in it. Fans of experimental cinema willing to seek for meaning behind images, sit through long scenes of people doing random things, and Asano running around with a camera in his hand filming himself (Doyle had a day off?) may still dig it. For anyone else, this 70 minutes is likely to feel like four hours.

Sexy Line (セクシー地帯) (Japan, 1961) [DVD] - 2.5/5
The 4th film in the Line series. This was Teruo Ishii last movie for Shintoho before moving to Toei. Teruo Yoshida is a company employee whose OL girlfriend is secretly working for a yakuza prostitution ring that hires nude models and sends them out with customers for extra money. When the girl is murdered, he becomes the prime suspect. He flees and hooks up with pickpocket Yoko Mihara to go undercover and find out what's going on as he's blissfully unaware of the whole racket. Semi-sleazy (for the era) noir is entertaining and suitably short at 82 minutes, but ultimately a bit pedestrian. The storyline does not seem entirely credible: there are too many (un)lucky coincidences and Mihara's willingness to risk her life to help Yoshida is not believable. Visually the film is also not as wild as Ishii's better movies. However, the film can be praised for its strong female characters, especially considering the topic. Victims they may be, but none of them are portrayed as weak or passive.

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

Unread postby saltysam » 20 Aug 2017, 13:27

The Anonymous Heroes 3/5
An imdb user description nails this Shaw Brothers effort- a hybrid of Butch & Sundance and The Wild Bunch. David Chiang & Ti Lung play two scoundrels who are enlisted to steal 3000 rifles from the opposing Army. Quite light hearted for a lot of it's run time, i enjoyed this Chang Cheh effort, though a suspension of disbelief is required. The DVD however,is dreadful. I'd forgotten how bad the early Celestials were. Non-Anamorphic & when zoomed the subs virtually disappear off the screen.They also repeat quite a lot of the time.5.1 audio. I ended up watching this window boxed.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread postby HungFist » 20 Aug 2017, 14:40

Journey Into Solitude (旅の重さ) (Japan, 1972) [DVD] - 3/5
A 16 year old girl runs from home to hike around Shihoku alone. She sleeps outside, washes herself in the sea, and gets her food from friendly people or by stealing. An inspiring, beautiful and well acted, if a bit dated in some of its gender political stances, coming of age tale that could have been a little known gem. It is a shame that after a very promising first 30 minutes the movie and its protagonist get stuck with a dull theatre group for the film's entire middle third. The film gets better again towards the end, thankfully. Takuro Yoshida's wonderful theme song is a perfect fit for the film.

Wandering Ginza Butterfly (銀蝶渡り鳥) (Japan, 1972) [DVD] - 3/5
Uneven, occasionally exhilarating female yakuza film is a bit of a mishmash. Director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi was fresh off from his trendy and contemporary Delinquent Girl Boss series. Actress Meiko Kaji was starring in her first Toei film after abandoning Nikkatsu. Toei saw her as potential heir for Junko Fuji, their biggest female yakuza star, whose retirement earlier in 1972 had ended the Red Peony Gambler series and put another nail in the soon-to-be-buried ninkyo yakuza genre which Toei was reluctant to let die. This film starts out as a contemporary female ex-con tale, but the further is gets the more evident the ninkyo influences become. The stylish climax that sees Kaji walk to enemy headquarters in white kimono is straight out of the ninkyo book - except for the added neon lights - while the fantastic billiards duel that precedes is a clever modern twist. Kaji brings her usual touch to the role, and looks amazing in mini skirt, but the film is unfortunately too routinely written with silly comedic relief and standard yakuza trappings to be a genre classic.

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

Unread postby HungFist » 21 Aug 2017, 06:02

Over the Fence (オーバーフェンス) (Japan, 2016) [DVD] - 1.5/5
Nobuhiro Yamashita, whose slacker masterpiece Ramblers (2003) I've seen seven times, directing Yu Aoi, whose talent and beauty I adore, should have resulted in something special. Over the Fence, however, is so painfully dull a drama that I struggled to make it to the end. It's the third part in the Hakodate trilogy (preceded by the very good Sketches of Kaitan City, and the highly praised The Light Shines Only There), and features Joe Odagiri is a guy who falls in love with bipolar girl Yu Aoi. Strangely enough, it's Odagiri who is the more watchable of the two, Aoi being almost nerve wrecking. That may be more due to the character than the actress, but in the end it matters not. Yamashita's usual dry humour and energetic delivery are sparse here, and the film's musical score is especially bad.

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King of Gangsters (ギャングの帝王) (Japan, 1967) [TV] - 2/5
The 11th and final film in the Gang series. Most of the films had different directors and cast, and were only connected by the title and Toei's marketing department. Unlike the early entries, which were jazzy capers, this final entry is a prototype jitsuroku yakuza film. Just back from the war, Noboru Ando leads a gang of war vets turned gangster in the US occupied streets of Tokyo. They get into a conflict with a Chinese gang as well as the military police. Tetsuro Tamba appears as a police chief trying to bring peace to the streets; 1st wave pinky violence star Masumi Tachibana is a girl grieving his dead gangster father. Like many of director Yasuo Furuhata's films, this is light on action and relatively realistic in characterization to the point becoming dull. It is more interesting as a somewhat nationalistic peek into the history of Japan and modern yakuza than as a gangster flick. Sonny Chiba plays one of Ando's men, but like most supporting roles in the film, his part is ultimately minor despite getting a decent amount of screen time.

Wandering Ginza Butterfly: She-Cat Gambler (銀蝶渡り鳥 牝猫博奕) (Japan, 1972) [DVD] - 3/5
Slightly superior sequel gets off to a very good start with boobs, sunset, a Meiko Kaji theme song, and an excellent gambling duel before the film even hits the 12 minute mark. A moment later Sonny Chiba shows up as a goofy entrepreneur running a small prostitution business! Unfortunately the rest of the film is not as good, save for the finale. The film comes with the usual yakuza film clichés, including Chiba's comedy sidekick (Toru Yuri), an evil gang harassing girls, and an old ex yakuza (Junzaburô Ban, who played identical role in Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless to Confess) trying to do something good for once. However, the tale comes back to life big time at the end where Kaji and Chiba, armed with swords and pistols, finally decide they've had enough of it! This isn't a movie that utilizes Kaji's talent, but she's gorgeous as usual. Chiba looks like he ran off from the set of a Yakuza Deka film and started dealing girls instead of catching bad guys. It's nice to have him here, although the finale is his only real standout. There's not much of ninkyo influence left in this production, and perhaps that was for the best.

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

Unread postby HungFist » 26 Aug 2017, 11:44

Beautiful Sisters: Seduced (美姉妹 犯す) (Japan, 1983) [VoD] - 1/5
Miserable loser of a man moves in with a family that comes with two beautiful sisters. He spends most of the movie raping the older one, then later the younger one too, eventually both at the same time, and then they fall in love with him. Meanwhile his friend rapes his nasty female boss. She falls in love with him also. Happy end! Dear God. Sorry for spoilers.

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Detonation: Violent Riders (爆発!暴走族) (Japan, 1975) [DVD] - 2.5/5
Violent Japanese biker gangs were all over the news in the mid 70s. They were mostly aimless young men seeking excitement in gang life and tuned bikes. Toei was quick to smell easy box office revenues, and much like with karate films (The Executioner), Teruo Ishii got assigned to the job despite his lack of interest for the genre. That shows in good and bad. The film has a magnificent start with Ishii filling the screen with leather dressed bikers and motorcycle stunts, sex and nudity, anarchy and violence, anything he could think of. The long intro climaxes with Rebel without a Cause style "who's got bigger balls" race towards a cliff while blindfolded. Unfortunately, from here on the film gets progressively worse. There is almost no plot, and the storyline about a troubled mechanic boy (rocker / bike maniac Koichi Iwaki) falling in love with a girl who hangs out with a dangerous biker gang is messy to say the least. There's some wild and anarchic street racing, but the action at the end is sloppily filmed and edited. Beard-faced Sonny Chiba has a small but enjoyable role as the girl's charismatic ex-biker brother. Much of the supporting cast are likely real gang members.

The Gorilla Seven (ザ・ゴリラ7) (Japan, 1975) [TV] - 2.5/5
Initially disappointing, but eventually somewhat rewarding follow-up to Sonny Chiba's 1974 TV shows The Bodyguard. Chiba leads a private 7 man team specializing in miscellaneous protection and crime solving missions. Jiro Chiba and Etsuko Shihomi are also part of the team. Despite the great premise, the show suffers from excessive poor comedy and a laidback tone that is in stark contrast with the badass, even nihilist The Bodyguard. The storylines tend to be very forgettable, and so are the characters who spend half of their time fooling around. There is much less fighting than in The Bodyguard, and too much of it is left for the less capable members such as Yuki Meguro and Isao Natsuyagi. Thankfully halfway into the 26 episode show the crew seem to have realised they need to get a grip, and they do. The last 10 episodes are quite enjoyable, with better action and stories, the highlight being a terrific episode that co-starts Masashi Ishibashi as a hitman.

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

Unread postby HungFist » 30 Aug 2017, 05:21

Scoop (Japan, 2016) [Flight] - 4/5
There is still hope for Japanese cinema, as shown by this tremendously entertaining film. Basically a mixture of Nightcrawler (2015) and 48 Hours (1982), Scoop follows a sleazy and misogynist tabloid photographer (Masaharu Fukuyama) unwillingly paired with a young female rookie (the always excellent Fumi Nikaido). Like the best 80s buddy comedies, the film doesn't shy away from gritty contents (and a protagonist who is a bit of an asshole) while remaining very funny at the same time. It also comes with excellent chemistry between the leads, and an unexpectedly strong ending that somewhat kicks the unprepared viewer in the face. As an added bonus, the film teaches practical photography tricks, such as how to lure a naked politician and his secret lover to a hotel window with fireworks. There hasn't been much positive to say about Japanese cinema in the recent years, partly thanks to the polarization of the industry with good production values reserved for dumbed down commercial entertainment, original ideas dumped in the zero-budget category, and very little existing in the middle. Scoop, with its solid production values and spicy contents, shows there's still an occasional film that can exist between those two extremes.

Girls Without Return Tickets (女体渦巻島) (Japan, 1960) [DVD] - 3/5
Action packed exploitation noir with some wild, colourful sequences. Teruo Yoshida is a tough guy affiliated with a Hong Kong syndicate running a drug and woman trafficking ring on a small island in Japan. Yoshida travels to the island with an intention free his loved one Yoko Mihara, whom he hasn't seen for three years, only to find out she's been promoted to a managerial position and is enjoying her job commanding the other drug addicted hookers. Decently stylish and entertaining, with an ace running time of 75 minutes, but ultimate quite routinely written. Although the English title makes no reference to it, the film is part of the Jotai / Woman's Body series, which was similar to the better known "Line" series.

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

Unread postby HungFist » 10 Sep 2017, 08:25

The Story of a Nymphomaniac (好色元禄㊙物語) (Japan, 1975) [35mm] - 1.5/5
Though better known for their pinky violence line, Toei also churned out loads of erotic comedies and dramas, most of which have never come out on home video. This tiresome period comedy is one of the better known ones, perhaps due to popular mainstream and ex-Toho actress Yuriko Hishimi's starring role. Unfortunately the tale of Hishimi pimping her sister (with the help of a monk) to lusty men is as dumb as they come, and seems to have been filmed with far more modest production values than Norifumi Suzuki's comparable films (e.g. Tokugawa Sex Ban, 1972) from a few years before.

+ Sonny Chiba Special: Part 62

Legend of Seven Monks (マスター・オブ・サンダー 決戦!! 封魔龍虎伝) (Japan, 2006) [DVD] - 1/5
Though Sonny Chiba and Yasuaki Kurata had appeared in a couple of films together in the mid 70s, it wasn't until this sad stinker that they actually fought each other on screen. The problem here is not the three minutes the gentlemen spent brawling, but the remaining 87 minutes which focuses on a bunch of irritating teenagers (plus the most hilariously racist black comic relief in recent memory) who must train in martial arts to defeat a bargain basement demon and his martial arts underling. Terrible music, horrible acting, worthless story and miserable filmmaking with idiotic effects makes this almost impossible to sit through. It ranks alongside Storm Riders, Born to Be King and some 2000's DTV yakuza flicks as one of the worst films Chiba ever appeared in.

Four Sisters (山麓) (Japan, 1962) [16mm] 2.5/5
Fans of Sonny Chiba's violent action movies may find it surprising that there were a few occasions early on his career when he was cast as "love interest". Such is the case in this film, which is a bit unusual movie in Toei's generally very masculine body of work. It's a family drama (adapted from a novel by Fumio Niwa) about four sisters and their mother who wants to marry them off to respectable and successful men rather than to the ones they really love. The protagonist (Yoshiko Mita) is being arranged to businessman Fumio Watanabe although her heart belongs to handsome but poor Chiba. Chiba has only four or five scenes but he's bursting with youthful energy as he often did in his early roles. The film itself is decent in a genre that is not exactly my cup of green tea.

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

Unread postby HungFist » 12 Sep 2017, 05:54

Four and a Half Mats (四畳半物語 娼婦し) (Japan, 1966) [35mm] - 1.5/5
Director Masashige Narusawa was better known as a prestige writer who penned several Kenji Mizoguchi films (e.g. Street of Shame). This period drama about a prostitute and her heartaches unfortunately put me to a sleep a few times during its middle third. Don't be fooled by the R18 rating which is a bit of a mystery even by 1966 standards as there isn't even partial nudity nor any on-screen sex, or bloody violence.

Evil Dead Trap (死霊の罠) (Japan, 1988) [35mm] - 4/5
Endlessly re-watchable horror fun by Toshiharu Ikeda and writer Takashi Ishii. Ikeda claims he had not seen the Italo flicks, which is hard to believe with the similarities ranging from Argento esque camerawork to Fulci inspired kills and a fantastic "bootleg Goblin" score. Ikeda and Ishii also manage some of the most spectacular kills that come to mind, and a (mostly) fantastic pacing that takes the film from one set piece to another with little regards to logic, which is something the audience just has to deal with. The final act does drags a bit, though, before delivering the goods big time. Ikeda, a former Roman Porno director, also scatters the film with sex and nudity (two of the three female leads are 80s AV stars). The English title is faithful to the original (Shiriyo no wana = "Trap of Evil"), which is indeed a reference to The Evil Dead (Shiryo no harawata = "Guts of the Evil"). Co-produced by Japan Home Video, which did the later Guinea Pig films and some Riki Takeuchi action, and Director's Company, a small arthouse firm formed by Ikeda, Shinji Somai, Sogo Ishii, Kichitaro Negishi and a few other young filmmakers to produce their own films.

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

Unread postby chazgower01 » 12 Sep 2017, 16:13

Tokyo Drifter (Japan, 1966) - 3.5/5
How can you go wrong with a yakuza film directed by Seijun Suzuki, with the cool as ice Tetsuya Watari, the beautiful (with a capital B) and mysterious Chieko Matsubara, and the always reliable Hideaki Nitani? Well apparently Nikkatsu studio thought it went horribly wrong, as this was the beginning of their frustration with Suzuki's directing style. An over reaction for sure.
It's about a slick yakuza guy (Watari) who decides to retire and... uh... drift... The problem is his enemies keep trying to track him down and kill him. Sounds a lot more exciting than it is, at least until the second half of the movie, when it does seem to pick up and feature a fair amount of bloodshed.
I have a feeling this is Quentin Tarantino's favorite Suzuki movie.
Not as good as Branded to Kill, it still has plenty of style, some great sets, and is maybe worth it to see just for the strange burlesque show bar brawl near the end of the movie. And, ya know... because it's Seijun Suzuki.

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

Unread postby HungFist » 13 Sep 2017, 07:08

The Most Dangerous Game (最も危険な遊戯) (Japan, 1978) [DVD] - 2/5
A typical Yusaku Matsuda film, popular but underwhelming, made during the transitional era when Japanese cinema was moving away from masculine action towards story driven dramas and noir. The problem with these films was that they didn't really work in either genre, and were often sloppily made by action or exploitation directors who were given orders to cut down exploitation and emphasize story. The Game (Yugi) series was produced by Toei's low budget branch Toei Central. The series went from action (the 1s film) to dull noir (the 3rd film). This opening installment is an exceptionally stupid action flick with the charismatic Yusaku Matsuda as an assassin. The film suffers from ridiculous action scenes where Matsuda can outrun a car and avoid every bullet fired at him from a close distance (the bad guys have a worse aim than a blind Storm Trooper). On the positive side, the film is so unbelievably sexist that one can't help but to be amused.

Aching Wives: Continuous Adultery (うずく人妻たち 連続不倫) (Japan, 2006) [35mm] - 3.5/5
I wasn't too happy to see my favourite movie theatre in Tokyo to "waste" their Late Show slot on semi recent Shintoho pink films. I'm glad to have been proven wrong as, at least in the case of this film, someone has done fine programming job exposing one of those small semi-gems a casual viewer would otherwise never discover. Hidden beneath the fleshy premise and ridiculous title, Aching Wives: Continuous Adultery turned out to be a rather beautiful film set in two time periods. A young single man and middle aged woman with troubled marriage first meet and have a brief affair in 1995. In 2007 they meet again by chance in a small hot springs hotel where he, now married, has escaped his troubles, and she, who has managed to fix her marriage but not forget him, arrives with her husband. Effectively minimalist and sad film with surprisingly fine performances.

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

Unread postby HungFist » 15 Sep 2017, 05:57

Tenshi no yokubo (天使の欲望) (Japan, 1979) [35mm] - 2.5/5
An oddly misbalanced film pretending to be a serious drama about two sisters while helmed by the exploitative hand of sexploitation director Ikuo Sekimoto. In the film a slutty older sister spends all her time sleeping with men or getting raped. Once the virginal younger sister discovers this, her disappointment initiates a psychological and eventually physical war that climaxes in an unintentionally silly scene where the two fight it out in the nude. On the positive side, the film is rarely boring.

+ Sonny Chiba Special: Part 63

Battle Royale 2 (バトル・ロワイヤルII) (Japan, 2003) [VoD] - 2/5
Universally hated sequel is a bit better than its reputation suggests. While the original film was a biting action satire on Japanese society, the sequel tries to do something similar with the post 9/11 world politics. The survivor of the original Battle Royale program (Tatsuya Fujiwara) has become a terrorist leader, and a new class of school kids (this time armed with assault rifles) is sent to an island to take him down. With constant references to terrorism, Al-Qaida, freedom fighters, American imperialism, and even with parts of the movie filmed in the Middle East, it's an ambitious mess with little coherence or maturity to its satire. It's also terribly acted throughout. That being said, with tons of action and provocations, it remains a somewhat watchable piece of trash minus the first 30 minutes that pisses on the first film so hard it hurts. Sonny Chiba has a 60 second cameo as a "terrorist". Riki Takeuchi plays Riki Takeuchi (yes, you read that right).

Adventurer Kamikaze (冒険者カミカゼ) (Japan, 1981) [DVD] - 3.5/5
Sonny Chiba's last starring role in a theatrical release (excluding the 2007 film Oyaji) and a swansong to his stunt driven "modern action" era that had started in the mid 60's with Kamikaze Man and Key Hunter. The romantic caper co-stars Chiba and Hiroyuki Sanada in equal roles as two adventurers who by chance both try to rob the same money van. After an unfortunate mishap the money ends up with the yakuza, and it's time to team up to get it back. The film was a long time dream project for Chiba who had been waiting for Sanada to grow old enough to play the second starring role. He based the storyline on his two favourite films, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and the Alain Delon flick Les Aventuriers (1967). Being an 80's film, exploitation is gone and romance is in, but it's all surprisingly enjoyable with likeable performances by all principals. Action is relatively sparse but there is a major stunt at the end and tech credits are ace. 70's idol Kumiko Akiyoshi plays the charming girl between the two men that Sanada goes horse riding with in amusingly sappy scenes. Her presence only barely counterbalances the enjoyably, unintentionally homoerotic male bonding between Chiba and Sanada.

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