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

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

Unread post by HungFist » 02 Jul 2017, 11:00

Lion Enforcer (唐獅子警察) (Japan, 1974) [DVD] - 2/5
Regrettably dull yakuza film by the uneven Sadao Nakajima. Tsunehiko Watase is a young hothead who befriends older gangster Akira Kobayashi until his temper starts causing trouble and the men find themselves enemies. The film mainly suffers from the fact that it's not all that interesting. Everything has been done better in other films, and this one is not even especially violent in its genre. Somewhat decent last 3 minutes aside, the only memorable scene is Watase raping a horny French woman who doesn't mind it at all, quite the contrary instead. Hardly counts as a merit.

Too Young to Die (死ぬにはまだ早い) (Japan, 1969) [35mm] - 4.5/5
Kiyoshi Nishimura is one of the most exciting undiscovered Japanese directors. The opening for this film is cinema at its purest, and best! Nishimura uses very little dialogue as he first shows a man and a woman in bed, making love. We don't know exactly who they are and what their relationship is, but they're not married. Quick crosscuts reveal that he appears to be a former race driver. She makes references to her husband who is away, somewhere. Cut to the following night as they are in a car. They stop in a small bar by the highway. Minutes later a desperate gunman charges in and takes everyone as hostage. This is the premise for Nishimura's gritty and intelligent debut film which serves as a prime example of what is good filmmaking. The film drafts excellent characters without ever over-explaining them, which allows us to feel for them, yet we cannot anticipate their every move. Nishimura's attention for every detail, every drop of sweat, every painful breath, combined with sparse but clever use of music make this one hell of a thriller. Unfortunately, it has never been released on home video.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 06 Jul 2017, 05:40

Yakuza and Feuds (やくざと抗争) (Japan, 1972) [DVD] - 2/5
A jitsuroku / ninkyo hybrid based on Noboru Ando's partly autobiographical, partly fictional novel of the same name, released earlier the same year. The film focuses Ando (played by Ando himself, of course) and his gangs in the early 1930s when they were still small time street thugs. Ando makes friends with a doctor and his daughter, and comes across an honourable yakuza (Bunta Sugawara) who's affiliated with villainous gangsters (Bin Amatsu, Fumio Watanabe). Unfortunately the film lacks clear vision, packing 93 minutes of mediocre yakuza mayhem that falls somewhere between the jitsuroku and ninkyo genres.

Note: this is the 1st of three films that could be considered to be a series. There's a bit of confusion about the films since in his book Chris D got the titles mixed up, calling the first two films "True Account of the Ando Gang - Yakuza and Feuds" and "Yakuza and Feuds - True Account of the Ando Gang" respectively. Actually the 1st film is just called " Yakuza and Feuds", and the 2nd one is "True Account of the Ando Gang - Yakuza and Feuds". The mistake is repeated to an even greater degree in IMDb (at least as of June 2017) where not only the English titles but also to cast listings, trivia, running times etc. for both films are mixed up, and sometimes combined.

City of Beasts (野獣都市) (Japan, 1970) [35mm] - 3.5/5
Director Jun Fukuda is probably best known for Godzilla vs. Hedorah. That piece of disposable garbage gave little indication he was capable of films this good. This aptly titled film follows a university student (Toshio Kurosawa) who makes friends with a middle aged factory owner (Rentaro Mikuni). The men have a common interest: guns. When Mikuni takes his new friend to a shady business meeting, the young apprentice cold bloodedly guns down the men who showed up with guns. The two click immediately and a father-son like relationship develops between them. Kurosawa's loyalty comes much in need when his mentor's sexy daughter is about to be married to a man with close family ties to the yakuza, who in turn are looking for the men Kurosawa shot dead and dumped in the bottom of a lake. Minor roughness in Fukuda's filmmaking is evident, but the film is cold, gritty and fast paced while simultaneously offering a fascinating insights to the characters. Based on a book by Haruhiko Oyabu (Youth of the Beast).

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

Unread post by Ivan Drago » 08 Jul 2017, 13:19

Jun Fukuda didn't direct Godzilla vs Hedorah, that was Yohshimitsu Banno.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 08 Jul 2017, 13:59

Ivan Drago wrote:Jun Fukuda didn't direct Godzilla vs Hedorah, that was Yohshimitsu Banno.
You're right. What was I thinking?

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

Unread post by saltysam » 09 Jul 2017, 15:39

Fist Of Unicorn 1.5/5
It takes a special kind of talent to make such a lousy kung fu flick with a cast to die for that this one has. Bruce Lee's mate Unicorn Chan is handed a shot at a starring role playing a wanderer who befriends a young boy and his mother and before long goes up against the local gang. Famous for Bruce Lee having choregraphed the fight sequences as a favour to his friend Unicorn,unscrupulous producers secretly filmed him and clumsily inserted the few seconds of footage into the film.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Ivan Drago » 09 Jul 2017, 20:47

On the bright side, it has an awesome pirated soundtrack of John Barry, Ennio Morricone and Pink Floyd.

Plus, Mars gets to be the first Bruce Lee clone!
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by saltysam » 09 Jul 2017, 21:45

Ivan Drago wrote:On the bright side, it has an awesome pirated soundtrack of John Barry, Ennio Morricone and Pink Floyd.

Plus, Mars gets to be the first Bruce Lee clone!
it also has the immortal line in the dubbed version uttered by Kurata to the outclassed Unicorn in the midst of their fight "for a boxer you make a great long distance sprinter" :D
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by saltysam » 11 Jul 2017, 20:46

Along Comes A Tiger 2.5/5
Decent kung fu actioner stars Wong Tao as a mute fighter known as Sacred Cloud,out for revenge on the Black Dragon gang led by Tommy Lee. Unusual (for these movies anyway) that the lead is mute. German dvd is a nice anamorphic print (by these films standards) with a choice of mandarin with english subs or english dub.
Hot,The Cool,The Vicious 3.5/5
My score for this is probably a tad generous but i've always had a soft spot for it having been one of my earliest exposures to kung fu cinema circa 1982. Wong Tao,Tan Tao Liang team up against the gorilla like (literally) Tommy Lee. included as a bonus movie on Along Comes A Tiger DVD, it's the eastern heroes print but anamorphic and still looks odd. Has a choice of mandarin with subs or english dub.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Ivan Drago » 12 Jul 2017, 21:27

I love The Hot, The Cool and The Vicious purely due to nostalgia.

The subs on the old UK VHS (missing from their DVD!) refer to Tommy Lee's character as "The Living Pluto."
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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

Unread post by 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 post by 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 post by 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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