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 » 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 post by 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 post by 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.

+ Sonny Chiba Special: Part 61

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

Unread post by HungFist » 17 Sep 2017, 07:57

Roman Porno treasure hunt

Crimson Night Dream (紅夜夢) (Japan, 1983) [VoD] - 2.5/5
This film is director Shogoro Nishimura's own A Woman Called Abe Sada. The subject however is not Abe but Oden Takahashi, the last woman who was executed by beheading in Japan. Her tale has been adapted into numerous films by Shintoho and Toei, including Teruo Ishii's ero-guro episode in Love and Crime (1969) and Yuji Makiguchi's feature length film Decapiation of an Evil Woman (1977). This Nikkatsu version isn't as wild, but it really isn't too bad a film. Acting and directing are subdued, making things a bit unexciting at times but allowing the film to slowly build up for a rather powerful drama climax.

Sukeban Flesh Slave (スケバン肉奴隷) (Japan, 1987) [VoD] - 2.5/5
Relatively speaking, this is a surprisingly "accomplished" ex-delinquent girl drama for a project that 9 times out of 10 would've been meritless junk. It's really a sex flick about a former sukeban girl trying to hide her past and lead straight life as an OL, and her ex-boyfriend who likewise left biker life behind to run a small bar. Lots of screwing takes place, and most of the Sukeban content is limited to brief flashbacks. But there's no denying the film actually manages to flesh out its characters with bits if solid drama, humanity, and stylish images. Director Yoshihiro Kawasaki seemed to possess this kind of ability, often bringing just a little bit of extra life and energy to films that could have been abysmal. It also helped that his eye for erotica was a notch above his colleagues, making the compulsory sex scenes more watchable than usual.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 18 Sep 2017, 06:04

Roman Porno treasure hunt

Female Convict 101: Sexual Hell (女囚101 性感地獄) (Japan, 1976) - 1/5
Thoroughly uninspired and unsexy women in prison Roman Porno without a single noteworthy scene. Rumi Tama is a woman sent to prison for strangling a man who was trying to rape her; Naomi Oka is the bad girl calling the shots behind the bars. The rest of the film plays out exactly the way you'd expect. Followed by a sequel or two. Some have suggested this film was Nikkatsu's attempt to cash in on Female Prisoner Scorpion's popularity, but that's not likely as the original Toei series (1972-1974) came out way before this, and the reboot series (1976-1977) didn't start until after this movie. Instead, this film seems like a follow up to Nikkatsu's own True Story of a Woman In Jail series (1975-1976).

Rope Hell (団鬼六「やくざ天使」より 縄地獄) (Japan, 1978) [VoD] - 2/5
Vengeful gangster joins the competing gang after being forced to cut off his finger for trying to rape yakuza sister Naomi Tani. A slightly more watchable SM tale than usual, thanks to it being a yakuza story (based on Oniroku Dan's novel Yakuza Angel). It's a little short on SM actually, and out of the two victims Tani's turn doesn't come until the film's final third. The best thing about the film is villain actor Hitoshi Takagi's enjoyably sleazy performance as a gang boss. He had an odd career that went from Nikkatsu's gangster films via Toho (e.g. Lady Snowblood) to Roman Porno and eventually My Neighbor Totoro. Side note: this is yet another film the Weissers gave an "in depth" analysis without actually having seen the movie - and got it all wrong. Their argument about the film's morale was based on a plot twist very typical to Dan films, but actually not found in this movie.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 19 Sep 2017, 08:15

Roman Porno treasure hunt

Tattoo (刺青 IREZUMI) (Japan, 1984) [VoD] - 1/5
Tiresome late Chusei Sone film is mainly "remarkable" for being the Roman Porno debut of 70s pop idol Sakiko Ito, whose film career started and ended with this movie. She plays a pop star abducted and tattooed by the yakuza. Relationship problems ensue. Sone's direction is uninspired, terribly pedestrian and merely seeks to transfer the script to celluloid. Speaking of the script, the film was based on the Jun'ichirô Tanizaki novel that Yasuzo Masumura filmed in 1966. The Roman Porno version was written by Machiko Nasu, Toei director Hiroyuki Nasu's wife. She originally entered Nikkatsu via a screenwriting competition with the excellent Girl's Pleasure: Man Hunting (1977). All that talent considered, Tattoo is a terribly disappointing film.

Rope Torture (団鬼六 縄責め) (Japan, 1984) [VoD] - 3/5
Here's something a bit unusual with Toei director Ikuo Sekimoto (Girl Boss: Diamond Showdown, 1974) gravitating to Nikkatsu for work. It was usually the other way around with successful directors climbing the studio ladder to Toei. He made two Oniroku Dan adaptation for Nikkatsu, both starring Miki Takakura whose Roman Porno career only lasted for five films until she quit. She was one of the several successors to Naomi Tani, none of whom were especially successful. Despite some unfortunate genre trappings, this film is better than your usual Dan Oniroku junk thanks to brisk pacing, beautiful score, a decent visual touch, and the big breasted Takakura who is not only easy on the eye but also had a rather melancholic presence. The most delighting part, however, is the "feminist" twist at the end. It would be interesting to know if that ending originated from Oniroku's novel or if it was conceived by the filmmakers. Screenwriter Masahiro Shimura was a mainstream Toei veteran who wrote several yakuza and pinky violence films, and directed the last two Terrifying Girls' High School movies.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 20 Sep 2017, 05:14

Roman Porno treasure hunt

Double Rope Torture (団鬼六 縄責め) (Japan, 1985) - 1.5/5
This was a sort of follow-up to Ikuo Sekimoto's earlier SM film Rope Torture (1984), also starring Miki Takakura. Curiously enough, it's yet another film about two sisters, a theme Sekimoto had tackled multiple times in his Toei films (The Story of a Nymphomaniac, Tenshi no yokubo). Takakura stars as the older sister, a kimono dressed Ginza woman sold to a rich scumbag for some sexual torture. Her little sister shows up one day and seems to be heading towards the same path, to which Takakura obviously has objections. Sekimoto was a better filmmaker than many of Nikkatsu's SM directors, and here he at least refrains from the more disgusting content that one often encounters in the genre. Unfortunately the storyline is uninspired and the film lacks style and memorable moments. It's not terrible, just terribly forgettable.

Skin of Roses (団鬼六 薔薇の肉体) (Japan, 1978) [VoD] - 2/5
Perhaps more notable than the film itself, is the fact that SM queen Naomi Tani got nominated for Best Actress at the Japanese Academy Awards for this film. It is a little puzzling what exactly got Tani nominated, though. One can only assume the jury had a soft spot for SM sleaze, and this, being perhaps the most restrained of all Oniroku Dan films, seemed like a safe pick. Anyway, the film is a tale of two young lovers and an older "sister" who do live sex shows with two sided mirror to pay off a debt, then later proceed to blackmailing with sensitive photos, which finally lands Tani the long overdue rope punishment as the victim was yakuza affiliated. Curiously enough, all the rope action is limited to the last 10 minutes of the film; possibly due to some sort of artistic ambition. Highlights include Tani as a dominatrix (a fun reversing of roles) and a lesbian scene between Tani and Ako, something I normally wouldn't mention but Ako happens to be one of my favourite actresses. It's a shame she doesn't have too much to do in the film despite her large role. Story wise the film is passable and probably had a few more pages in its scrip than usual.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 21 Sep 2017, 10:07

Roman Porno treasure hunt

Female Teacher in Rope Hell (団鬼六 女教師縄地獄) (Japan, 1981) [VoD] - 1.5/5
Nikkatsu's 2nd generation SM queen Junko Mabuki stars as a female teacher who is raped, locked in a dungeon and sexually tortured for the rest of the film. I don't often describe movies as misogynist (I feel the term, at least in its most negative sense, is often unwarranted when discussing exploitation films which provide visual entertainment for their selected audience demographics, usually without any deeper ideological "hate" towards any sex). However, this film's exceptionally iffy display of endless sexual torture of a single woman, almost entirely void of psychological or even stylistics merits, makes one wonder if the term was indeed in place here. The film's only saving graces are a handful of over-the-top moments, including a ridiculously stereotypical homeless rapist character, and a strange appreciation for the fact that sleaze like this once passed for "mainstream" theatrical entertainment.

Carousel Maki: Yoru wa watashi o nurasu (カルーセル麻紀 夜は私を濡らす) (Japan, 1974) [VoD] - 2/5
This is one of the oddest entries in the Roman Porno series for it stars Maki Carousel, a famous transsexual actress. He first got himself castrated at the age of 19, then later travelled to Morocco for a sex change operation that nearly killed him, after which she spent some time working in bars in Paris, which is something she also did in Japan before finding a career in movies. That she would be cast as the lead of a relatively high budgeted mainstream erotic film in the year 1974 in Japan is a bit surprising indeed. In any case, curiosity value aside this Shogoro Nishimura film is nothing special; just another standard tale of a singer/hostess and her troubled (thanks to a tattoo she has on her leg) love life. It is a bit curious though that there is an apparent disparity between the film's inner reality and the filmmakers' approach to filming it. The storyline treats Carousel's character as just an ordinary woman, but the camera hardly shies away from showing the actress's unusually masculine features, which can only be deemed intentional.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 22 Sep 2017, 08:04

Roman Porno treasure hunt

Female Teacher: In Front of the Students (女教師 生徒の眼の前で) (Japan, 1982) [VoD] - 2/5
A female teacher is raped in school by a masked assailant. She decides to find out who was it. More sex and rapes ensue in a relatively standard narrative that gains some psychological interest towards the end. I must say I laughed a bit in the scene where a girl is having sex with a guy and eating banana at the same time. Other noteworthy points include a male teacher's cool moustache and a very warm looking sweater worn by a rapist. There was another film in the series later called Twice Raped. This one could've been called Raped Six Times.

Love Beast: Hunt (愛獣 猟る!) (Japan, 1983) [VoD] - 2/5
The next most unusual thing in the Roman Porno catalogue after a film starring a transsexual actress (Carousel Maki: Yoru wa watashi o nurasu, 1974) was this tale of Japanese girls hitting on black US navy soldiers around the Yokosuka base. The tagline could as well have been "The most black men you'll ever see in a Japanese movie!" Consequently nearly all of the film's male characters are American and a large portion of the film's (frequently terrible) dialogue is spoken in English. Director Yasuaki Uegaki was known for tackling trendy topics (e.g. his Pink Curtain trilogy) and this film certainly fits the bill. He was also an over-rated filmmaker who sometimes used trendy topics to hide mediocre storylines and unremarkable filmmaking. This movie fits that bill as well. It's a curiosity with some stylish scenes, but ultimately a bit pedestrian.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 23 Sep 2017, 06:47

Roman Porno treasure hunt

Zoom Up: Graduation Photos (ズームアップ 卒業写真) (Japan, 1983) [VoD] - 3/5
This one, at first, comes a bit out of left field. It's the zillionth entry in the Zoom Up / Zoom In series, which started out as violent pinks but then turned into standard smut, often with photography theme. This one begins with a girl auditioning as a photo model and learning that the job involves posing nude. From there on the film starts developing unexpected quality with bits humanity mixed with biting black humour, tender characterization, and of course sheer voyeurism. It even turns critical on its very own existence, which I cannot remember witnessing in any other Roman Porno, in a wonderful scene where a school girl raped by boys she accidentally caught touching themselves while reading a porn magazine, walks into the studio and starts yelling what the hell are they doing publishing smut like that? Unfortunately the film then begins to devolve to cruder paths, undoing some of its earlier accomplishments. Nevertheless, it remains an oddly pleasing piece of 80s Japan.

Beauty Rope Cosmetology (団鬼六 美女縄化粧) (Japan, 1983) [VoD] - 1.5/5
Standard SM junk with one point of interest; the professional abductor who kidnaps wealthy daughter Miki Takakura and begins to discipline her for a new buyer is played by Miike/Kitano regular Ren Osugi. Even at the age of 32 he looked old, and with a moustache made a suitably sleazy villain. The rest of the film is unremarkable and a bit boring unless you're a major SM fan, though it does feature the pretty Takakura and due to its somewhat restrained nature it's not as disgusting as most of director Katsuhiko Fujii's films.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 24 Sep 2017, 04:10

Roman Porno treasure hunt

Blazing Bondage Lady (団鬼六 縄炎夫人) (1980) [VoD] - 1.5/5
Revenge story and an atmospheric score make this Oniroku Dan film almost watchable. It's about a couple who accidentally run over a yakuza bondage master's wife, and pay the price when the tough guy abducts his wife and her sister. Unfortunately character depth is nil and Katsuhiko Fujii's directing is terribly TV film like, only with excessive sex and SM thrown in. Still, it could've been worse.

Beauty in Rope Hell (団鬼六 美女縄地獄) (Japan, 1983) [VoD] - 3/5
This film epitomes the romantic approach to abducting beautiful women, as seen in Japanese films from time to time. Capture and discipline, but do it gently. Right. The film stars Miki Takakura as a rural beauty abducted by a wartime mailman who turns out to be a bit of a romantic dreamer who wishes to live happily ever after with her. Although an SM film, it more closely resembles the 90s and 2000s Perfect Education films which also had a dubious romantic undertones. They are all boyish fantasies, notably softer than the sleaze fests that usually resulted from Oniroku Dan stories, and as such, this film has proven less popular with certain audiences. As a film, however, it is better written, filmed and acted than most, and features the 23 year old Takakura at her most beautiful (I guess I must admit I've been having a slight crush on her). This and Ikuo Sekimoto's Rope Torture (1984) are her best films. This film's biggest flaw is a bunch of unnecessarily long SM scenes that take place in a brothel and feature neither one of the main characters.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 24 Sep 2017, 14:10

Roman Porno treasure hunt

Sex Dynamite: Madonna no shizuku (SEXダイナマイト マドンナのしずく) (Japan, 1988) [VoD] - 2/5
This was one of the last Roman Porno films as adult videos were killing the franchise. It is then perhaps not surprising that the borders had already blurred to some extent. Here we have a pink film director helming a second party production for Nikkatsu distribution, with popular baby faced big boob AV actress Eri Kikuchi as the lead. Co-star Yui Maisaka was an AV performer as well. Indeed, although Roman Porno was a soft-core series (except for some Roman-X releases in the mid 80s that may or may not have been hard core), the sex scenes in this film don't really differ from (censored) hard core. The film is basically a theatrical, story driven AV shot on 35mm. The good news is, Eri Kikuchi is cute as a button, and director Kin Ishikawa has some talent as a filmmaker as the movie is often funny, even adorable at times. It is just too bad the film ultimately doesn't do much with its characters other than engage them in sex scenes long enough to make even Roman Porno fans blush. One feels there was potential for more. The male lead, btw, is played by the highly successful modern pink director Kazuhiro Sano, and his colleague Yutaka Ikejima makes a brief appearance as well.

Bed-In (ベッド・イン) (Japan, 1986) [VoD] - 3/5
This is one of Masaru Konuma's underrated small films, a tender relationship drama about a Tokyo woman in love with a pretty nice guy who happens to have a wife and kid. I was quite reserved at first, figuring this would be another dull 80s human drama, and wondering why should I care, but little by little the characters and the actors won me over. There are also some small funny moments, such as the scene where the guy is standing in traffic lights with his family and suddenly notices his girlfriend, who was there by chance, standing next to him with a jealous look on her face, and even a romantic bit that skip over the sex scene. Speaking of which, lead Miki Yanagi is the only woman getting naked in the film; there is no "supporting character sex" at all in the film that is very much a one woman character study. I did not realize until the ending credits that the film was scripted by screenwriter extraordinaire Haruhiko Arai (Rape Ceremony, Rolling on the Road, Distant Thunder, Vibrator, Kabukicho Love Hotel). That explains something.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 25 Sep 2017, 11:49

Roman Porno treasure hunt

Subway Serial Rape: Office Lady Hunting (地下鉄連続レイプ OL狩り) (Japan, 1986) [VoD] - 1/5
The original Subway Serial Rape (1985) was a bit of an odd for an 80s Roman Porno because it was a hybrid between pink and action film. Director Shuji Kataoka seemed to have been influenced by Charles Bronson flicks. This sequel throws in even more gangster stuff but somehow completely misses the target. The film plays out like Z-grade gangster film with no style or no punch to speak of, and even the score is lame as mineral water (unlike the in the 1st film). The only fun bit is when a girl takes a shower with sunglasses on. The rest of the film is a bore. The title refers to a gangster's girlfriend who, of course, meets the promised fate. The series later continued with an equally dull third film before climaxing with the ballsy, media critical 4th film that was surprisingly the best in the series.

Orgasm Mariko (オーガズム・真理子) (Japan, 1985) [VoD] - 2/5
This bloody revenge film has one of the most ridiculous premises in recent memory, courtesy of writer Chiho Katsura (Assault! Jack the Ripper, House, Zoom Up: Rate Site). A girl is proposed by her boyfriend by the highway while they're having sex, and seconds later he's already is dead thanks to a truck driver who threw a glass bottle out of the window as he passed. She turns into a vengeful Charles Bronson on her period (no kidding, there's menstruation blood in every sex scene) who seduces truckers and other sleazy men and stabs them to death during sex. Also, there an odd sex scene where she and her partner keep squeezing grapes throughout the sessions. It is a shame that ultimately the film isn't better despite pairing Katsura with the visually talented Fumihiko Kato. There are enough odd and bloody moments, plus potential for all kinds of interpretations about menstruation and female psyche, to keep you moderately entertained, but the film isn't especially well made or stylish. Director Kato is best remembered for two unusual SM films, the psychological neo-noir Girl and the Wooden Horse Torture (1982) and the occult horror influenced Exotic Mask in Hell (1988), both of which are better films than this. Still, Mariko is obviously of some interest to genre buffs.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 25 Sep 2017, 14:36

Roman Porno treasure hunt

Blue Lagoon: A Summer Experience (ひと夏の体験 青い珊瑚礁) (Japan, 1981) [VoD] - 1.5/5
Director Toshiharu Ikeda famously said he was forced to direct this film as a penalty for Sex Hunter (1980), which the producers found too dark. He didn't object too much as he didn't mind a "free Okinawa vacation" as he described the filming experience. Anyway, the film is about a girl (Mayumi Terashima) who goes to Okinawa to lose her virginity and meets a couple of people who like sex. Not much interesting happens - even Ikeda called the script "stupid". Oddly enough, it was written by Haruhiko Arai. Perhaps he was being punished for something as well? In any case, the film is at least technically accomplished, with beautiful Okinawa landscapes expertly captured on film. I suppose this served as better travel advertisement than Toei's Okinawa Yakuza War.

Bu-ra-i no onna (BU・RA・Iの女) (Japan, 1988) [VoD] - 4/5
There's that extremely rewarding feeling when, after countless by-the-numbers Roman Pornos, you sit down for one more and suddenly you're witnessing a young talent directing with a crazy inspiration, completely ignorant to low expectations, transcending the whole genre. Nowhere is this more evident than in the scene where two people who know they have no future meet in a hotel room, in what is the best love scene in the history of Roman Porno, and he is so hesitant that they end up spending most of the time just looking at each other. It's magical. The storyline is about a young yakuza chinpira (Hitoshi Ozawa) sent to his native Okinawa to carry out a hit ordered by his boss (Hideo Murota). Not up to killing another man, he ends up spending desperate hours lying alone in his hotel room and listening to live music in a bar. He also hooks up with two old pals who are considering getting married (though he also always had feelings for her). Meanwhile his superiors are starting to get impatient about the assassination. Though namely a Roman Porno production, it would be wrong to call this anything but an extraordinary gangster drama. Hitoshi Ozawa (you may not know the name, but you know the face; he's the most recognizable DTV actor after Takeuchi and Aikawa) wasn't necessarily the greatest actor but here he gives his everything to portray an interesting character.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 28 Sep 2017, 10:29

Dokyumento: Seijuku genchizuma (ドキュメント 性熟現地妻) (Japan, 1995) - 2.5/5
A pink film docudrama about a Shinjuku club hiring and exploiting Chinese women as sex workers. It should be noted that the word "documentary" in the title accounts for little more than a real life topic being the centre of an otherwise fictional film. It is, however, a surprisingly decent film for a "sex flick" as I found myself somewhat caring for the characters towards the end. While director Shigeo Katsuyama's primary ambitious may be centered around large breasts, there is more than that to the film, including bits functional characterization, social commentary, and a 90s atmosphere slightly reminiscent of Miike's Shinjuku Triad Society (minus the violence and madness).

Two Bitches (二匹の牝犬) (Japan, 1964) [35mm] - 4/5
Terrific, gripping drama about a Tokyo prostitute (Mayumi Ogawa) seeing marriage with a clueless businessman as her way out of the sex labour, until her seemingly innocent and ultra-cute little sister (Mako Midori) shows up and turns out a completely sociopath. She secretly starts whoring on her own and even seduces her sister's fiancé who is unaware of the two women being sisters. Director Yusuke Watanabe (of miscellaneous gangster films and a few entries to the popular Detective Story film series) is not know as one of the greats, but here manages strong drama, some fantastic camerawork (including a long tracking shot, the kind Shinji Somai would do two decades later) and absolute powerhouse performances by Midori and Ogawa. Midori especially was a terrific and underappreciated actress, best known to Western audiences as the female lead of Masumura's Blind Beast (1969). As an interesting trivia, although Two Bitches has since been forgotten, it played in various European countries in the mid 60s, including West Germany, Denmark, and Finland.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 29 Sep 2017, 10:07

Wrath of Daimajin (大魔神逆襲) (Japan, 1966) [35mm] - 3/5
Enjoyable fantasy with a nice sense of adventure and bits of genuine movie magic. Being the only Daimajin film I've seen I cannot compare it to the first two, but that did not hamper my enjoyment of this film. It's also a typical Daiei film in the sense that it's well made but a bit safe and conservative in its approach, which means there are no major surprises. The special effects are fantastic.

Military Comfort Woman (従軍慰安婦) (Japan, 1974) [35mm] - 2/5
A little known Toei film about a Japanese WW2 era brothel and its women, written by Teruo Ishii and directed by Ryuichi Takamori. Unfortunately we get the worst of both gentlemen here; Takamori's sloppy handling of drama and Ishii's dumb humour. Add bad acting, especially by Yutaka Nakajima, and it becomes impossible to tell if the film was supposed to be taken seriously or not. What is clear though, is that a sexploitation flick it is not as nudity is very sparse. There is some fun to be had, though, the highlight being a scene where a hooker saves the day on the battlefield by pissing on an overheated machine gun. Not every film has quality stuff like that on offer.

Seven Bullets (七つの弾丸) (Japan, 1959) [35mm] - 3/5
Toei docudrama about a man (Rentaro Mikuni) who robbed a bank in Osaka in 1955 and left multiple people dead before his arrest. Well made and gripping film spends almost all of its running time paralleling the daily lives of the bank robber and his soon-to-be victims prior to the incident. The amount of attention given to the victims is interesting but excessive considering most of them get killed in a matter of seconds during a sequence where the audience's attention is anyway drawn to action and a desperate escape attempt rather than victims.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 11 Oct 2017, 09:38

Secret Turkish Bath ((秘)トルコ風呂) (Japan, 1968) [TV] - 1.5/5
A remarkably tame sexploitation tale of silly country girl Reiko Ohara running into playboy / pimp Tatsuo Umemiya in Tokyo. Toei produced quite a few of these type of films with Umemiya as the lead. They seem to have been aimed at relatively conservative audiences since they remained very tame well into the 70s. In this film nudity accounts to a couple of blink-and-you'll-miss shots with extras, and sex equals to hugging with clothes on. Toei's advertising campaign that billed it a "sex movie" with "orgies, lesbianism and prostitutes" was hyperbole at its best. Ohara, although cute at first, also becomes quite annoying with her silly I-don't-get-the-city-mentality act. Director Shinji Murayama was usually a competent director, but in this film he can't help the pointless screenplay that fails to construct any kind of meaningful storyline. A few frames of late 60s street and disco footage are the only worthwhile bits. For a much better film see the similarly themed Bitches of the Night (1966), also directed by Murayama, with largely the same cast. It has even less sex, but comes with a far better screenplay.

Ninja Hunter (忍者狩り) (Japan, 2015) [Hulu] - 2.5/5
Seiji Chiba's mini-budget ninja actioner is sloppy cinema, but comes with an amazing finale that that rivals anything in The Raid. The storyline is a crossover between Rashomon and Memento, with a ninja (Masanori Mimoto of Alien vs. Ninja) waking up in a cave, minus his memory, and surrounded by corpses. Another ninja (Bushido Man's Mitsuki Koga) shows up, claiming to be a fellow Iga warrior, but something stinks in his story. The rest of the film is spent with the ninja recovering his memory little by little in reverse chronological order. There are some slightly original ideas, such as seeing one fight 4 times from different perspectives, as well as infuriating visual effects every time the film shows a flashback (which is about 20 times) and lots of bad acting. But the plentiful action by Japan's best choreographer Kensuke Sonomura is entertaining, and in case of the 8 min finale, breathtakingly furious, some of the best ever filmed in Japan. What's best, the fight is expertly captured with clear cinematography and logical editing, unlike some other recent action films (e.g. nonsensically edited John Wick 2, shakycam Raid 2).

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

Unread post by chazgower01 » 16 Oct 2017, 04:50

Hot Springs Snapping Turtle Geisha (温泉スッポン芸者 Onsen suppon geisha) (Japan 1972) (Blog Stream) 3/5
Having seen a couple of Miki Sugimoto movies, this one sort took me by surprise. Sure, there's no shortage of her naked and of course she has her head back in love scenes, showing off those pouty lips and making wonderful little noises - but she doesn't beat anyone up! This is a comedy!
Of course she looks great - we get a strip tease, a panty scene, numerous love making scenes... oh and there's a sort of story too. This was an undubbed/unsubbed version, so I take it as - she needs money, so she becomes a geisha. Well sure! What's a girl to do when she needs money?
Apparently her vagina won't let go of someone once they enter her, and so numerous times, she ends up in the emergency room. When she finally decides to quit, because she falls in love, she has a 'sex' showdown with her boss. Somewhere in there, a weird guy turns one of the girls into a black girl. All in good fun of course!
It also includes Miki giving us a sneak peek of just a tiny bit of hair from down there...can I post that here?


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

Unread post by HungFist » 16 Oct 2017, 14:10

Saw that in 35mm a few years ago. It was a double feature with Onsen Mimizu Geisha (starring the then underage Reiko Ike, and featuring Sugimoto in a small supporting role). I recall Onsen Suppon Geisha being the better of the two.

Those are parts 4 and 5 in the Onsen Geisha series. The series started in 1968 with Teruo Ishii's (terribly boring) Hot Springs Geisha, which was actually the 2nd movie in the "Abnormal Love" series (preceded by History of Shogun's Harem, and followed by The Joy of Torture, Orgies of Edo, and Inferno of Torture) but I think people have pretty much forgotten that connection and all the better for it because the film doesn't fit in the Abnormal Love series very well and turned into a series of its own later...

Oh, and we are not afraid of hair :cool:

(there are no specific rules about NSFW material... basically goes by common sense. We're not afraid of a bit of nudity, although in case of this thread perhaps a link would be preferable to an image since more people might be reading it in public places. In film/genre specific threads, especially those for exploitation films, there is surely no problem with images since readers should expect the images/screencaps to match the films that are being discussed there).

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