Japanese cult cinema thread

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HungFist
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 08 Jul 2017, 05:14

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

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


As for Malformed Men there's no way Toei can top the excellent Synapse DVD.

Orgies of Edo and Yakuza's Law on the other hand... I have the HK Video DVDs and while they are ok, I never liked their transfers very much (they nearly always go for strange bluish skin tones for some reason). I'd expect the Toei DVDs to look more natural.

But you're right. It's the BD format that those films ought to hit. I'd like to support Toei, though, because if we do, maybe they'll be encouraged to put out some stuff.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby gerira » 11 Jul 2017, 08:37

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

ABNORMAL BLOOD 日本暴行暗黒史 異常者の血 (1967)

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


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

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


This is indeed a whole series consisting of five parts (by Wakamatsu. I don't know if other directors contributed to it)

Wakamatsu's five parts

1) Nihon boko ankokushi: Ijosha no chi
日本暴行暗黒史 異常者の血 (Release: July 1967)

2) Zoku Nihon boko ankokushi: Bogyakuma
続 日本暴行暗黒史 暴虐魔 (December 1967)

3) Shin Nihon boko ankokushi: Fukushuki
新 日本暴行暗黒史 復讐鬼 (February 1969)

4) Nihon boko ankokushi: Onju
日本暴行暗黒史 怨獣 (December 1970)

5) Gendai Nihon boko ankokushi
現代 日本暴行暗黒史 (May 1972)

The first part ("Abnormal Blood") was released on VHS and circulated internationally as "Dark Story of a Japanese Rapist"
The first AND the second part are listed with THIS title on imdb

The third part was released on VHS and circulated internationally as "Vengeance Demon".

So, only the 2nd and the 4th are "new" releases (Of course DVD-wise they are all new)

The fifth is still unreleased (to my knowledge)

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 11 Jul 2017, 08:52

Excellent information, thanks!

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 20 Jul 2017, 03:29

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

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

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

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

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


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Here's the funny thing. Yakuza's Law and Orgies of Edo have been given R15 ratings and Malformed Men is PG-12! The text on Toei's site says that they were originally released as "adult films" (R18) but those designations are out of date, and the contents corresponds to R15 and PG-12 respectively by modern standards. They are uncut, it says.

For Malformed Men it also says "adult guidance is necessary if you show the film to elementary school kids!" :lol:
- http://www.toei-video.co.jp/special/ishii13/

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 24 Jul 2017, 13:54

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

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

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

Unread postby Guro Taku » 21 Aug 2017, 19:10

Arrow Video will release 5 early works by Seijun Suzuki in a box set:

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This set will include:

The Boy Who Came Back (1958)
The Wind-of-Youth Group Crosses the Mountain Pass (1961)
Teenage Yakuza (1962)
The Incorrigible (1963)
Born Under Crossed Stars (1965)

Set for release on November 28th. A second volume with more films is supposed to follow shortly.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby DenPryan » 21 Aug 2017, 20:43

Cool! This is probably the best news of this year!

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 11 Oct 2017, 10:08

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

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

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 17 Oct 2017, 08:59

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Chivalry of Judo Life (任侠柔一代) (1966)

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

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

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby DenPryan » 17 Oct 2017, 14:18

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

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 17 Oct 2017, 15:01

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


I've always wanted to see that one (Judo for Life) and have emailed Toei Channel a few times about it, but so far nothing...

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby chazgower01 » 25 Oct 2017, 00:05

HungFist wrote:TV Review / Not Available on DVD

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



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

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 26 Oct 2017, 14:36

VoD Review / Not Available on DVD

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

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

Unread postby Marshall » 28 Oct 2017, 00:26

^ Oh how I wish this trilogy was on disc.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby YumenoKyusaku » 28 Oct 2017, 15:04

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


I've always wanted to see that one (Judo for Life) and have emailed Toei Channel a few times about it, but so far nothing...

It looks like there's a sequel too, released nearly a year after and without Hideo Murata : 柔道一代 講道館の鬼.
なんでやねん

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby Guro Taku » 12 Nov 2017, 15:23

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1750 Days of Turbulence 激動の1750日 (dir. Sadao Nakajima, 1990)

This is a late work from Nakajima that I didn't have very high expectations for. And initially all my fears seemed justified because this film runs almost 2 hours and it's strictly a yakuza drama for the first half or so with no action anywhere in sight. The story concerns a large yakuza organisation struggling to find a successor for their recently deceased boss and at first the film concerns itself with all the various conflicting factions and the political scheming going on. Of course things don't work out, there's a split in the group and things eventually escalate to an all-out war. And this is where the film really comes alive in quite spectacular fashion. After a nasty torture scene involving a blowtorch and chainsaw we get a decent amount of amazingly bloody shoot-out scenes before things are finally resolved.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 16 Nov 2017, 12:37

I've also been watching some Nakajima films recently

VoD Review / Not Available on DVD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby Guro Taku » 17 Nov 2017, 23:04

Let's keep the Nakajima train rolling...

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Yakuza Hooligans 893愚連隊 (dir. Sadao Nakajima, 1966)

This was Nakajima's 4th films as a director, following the two Kunoichi movies and Hatamoto Yakuza, another period film that I don't think was ever released on home video. Yakuza Hooligans was shot in black and white and plays like a rather strange hybrid of the youth and yakuza film genres. The poster artwork makes it look like it'll be a wacky comedy but it actually goes to some pretty dark places in the course of its narrative. It's about a group of friends who are small-time criminals but don't feel up for becoming actual yakuza. Eventually they do become involved with real gangsters and decide to steal 10 million yen from them. Not a very smart decision, that. It bears repeating that this isn't a comedy. Don't expect a happy ending either. The part that surprised me the most was a scene where the group decide to rape a woman and one of them, who is of mixed Japanese and African American descent breaks down crying saying he can't do that because "that's how I was made".

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby Guro Taku » 24 Nov 2017, 15:58

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Conquest 制覇 (dir. Sadao Nakajima, 1982)

This is one of those yakuza films that are pretty much all drama and no action. CONQUEST has an impressive cast with Toshiro Mifune, Bunta Sugawara, Tomisaburo Wakayama, Koji Tsuruta, Tetsuro Tanba, Akira Kobayashi... Hell, it'd be easier to list which Toei star wasn't in this film! A failed assassination attempt on Mifune's yakuza boss opens the film but from then on it's mostly a family drama with the problems of his children and wife getting more screentime than the typical squabbles over who will eventually succeed the boss. One of his sons is running a fashion business that gets raided for tax evasion because the cops want to bring down his father's group. His daughter (Kumiko Akiyoshi) is dating a reporter who is torn between his feeling for her and pressure from the newpaper to use her as an inside source for juicy stories. And so on. Tomisaburo Wakayama walks away with the entire film as a member of a different gang who had his life saved once by the oyabun and is now more loyal to him than practially anybody else.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 29 Nov 2017, 04:55

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

On the Road (オン・ザ・ロード) (1982)

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

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

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

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

Unread postby HungFist » 05 Dec 2017, 14:24

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The Young Animals (皮ジャン反抗族) (1978)

Yasuharu Hasebe took a break from the Roman Porno series to do this biker youth / disco film for Toei Central. And what an opening it has! Hiroshi Tachi on a bike. Cut to a disco where he tames a Nikkatsu runaway girl gang (Yuri Yamashina with razor blades, Natsuko Yashiro). And then he goes all Travolta to "Funky Disco Princess" on the dance floor. Tachi was one of those rock stars turned actors who were better screen performers than you'd expect (Yuya Uchida, who also happens to be in the film, is another). His youthful looks combined with charisma a strangely suffering look on his face made him perfect for playing melancholic punks. This was his first starring role after a couple fine supporting turns (e.g. Classroom of Terror, 1976). The film is basically Rebel Without a Cause meets Saturday Night Fever done in the Japanese youth film genre, fun and colourful, but ultimately lacking in characterization, and perhaps also missing the final punch on the tech side. Aiko Morishita has a small supporting role with no bare skin on display.

Tachi!
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Travolta time!
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Yuya Uchida. He only appears very briefly in a couple of scenes
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Yuri Yamashina in the middle (in blond wig). Natsuko Yashiro next to her in red & white
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Aiko Morishita
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Yoko Natsuki does a bit better here than in New Female Prisoner Scorpion: Special Cellblock X only because no charisma needed in this role
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