Japanese cult cinema thread

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HungFist
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 11 Dec 2009, 11:05

You're right. I wasn't aware of that film (極道VS不良番長). It's not available on DVD, only VHS.

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Excellent website that is, btw. Even though the reviewer's opinions are all wrong half of the time.

******

News:
Derrick King / AV Maniacs wrote:on the facebook page Criterion confirmed some more Hideo Gosha films are coming (I think they have the rights to Three Outlaw Samurai and Bandits vs. Samurai Squadron) and that Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill are going to be reissued with new transfers.
http://www.dvdmaniacs.net/forums/showth ... 541&page=3

****

Gamera dvds in the US
http://www.dvdmaniacs.net/forums/showthread.php?t=43984

No BD's though (Kadokawa has released some BD's)
Last edited by HungFist on 06 Mar 2010, 04:08, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by kemushi » 10 Jan 2010, 20:55

HungFist wrote:As for the Sadao Nakajima film, it's the third and final film in the series. The first two films (also directed by Nakajima) were released on dvd in 2007. Some websites state "erotic" as the genre, but considering it stars Junko "the loving Japanese mother" Fuji, I would be very hesitant to place these in pink genre. But I haven't seen the movies, so I'm just guessing here.
I've seen the first film in the series, 大奥(秘)物語 (Ô-oku maruhi monogatari) (1967), on VHS and I can confirm that this serious should not be classified as erotica. The story may deal with the Oooku (Shogun's Harem) and intrigues among the various concubines but it does so without showing any nudity or sex. I'd label it as a period drama.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 15 Jan 2010, 15:29

According to Allcinema in May Toei will release three 夜の歌謡シリーズ (Yoru no kayou shiriizu) movies. I would expect more announcements later as usually Toei releases 4-6 catalogue titles each month.

夜の歌謡シリーズ 命かれても (1968)
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Directed by: Ryuichi Takamori
Starring: Tatsuo Umemiya, Shin'ichi Mori, Miyuki Shirono
- http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1968/cr003000.htm


夜の歌謡シリーズ 伊勢佐木町ブルース (1968)
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Directed by: Shinji Murayama
Starring: Tatsuo Umemiya, Teruo Yoshida, Junko Miyazono
- http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1968/cr003550.htm


夜の歌謡シリーズ 長崎ブルース (1969)
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Directed by: Ryuichi Takamori
Starring: Hiroki Matsukata, Hayato Tani, Reiko Ohara, Junko Miyazono
- http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1969/cs001340.htm

According to Eiren there's a total of 8 movies in the series.

Also coming in May are 5 Minoru Shiraki movies

てなもんや三度笠 (1963)
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続てなもんや三度笠 (1963)
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赤いダイヤ (1964)
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大笑い殿さま道中 (1964)
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一発かましたれ (1965)
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by Yi-Long » 02 Feb 2010, 18:57

Are the Female Prisoner Scorpion movies any good? And how is that 3 DVD boxset!?

Also, how is Hanzo the Razor, and Shoguns Samurai!?
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by Marshall » 02 Feb 2010, 20:05

In my opinion and the opinion of many others I have read, yes, the original Female Prisoner Scorpion films are good. Some of them are very good. I think there are two or more sets available, and I am not certain which one you are referencing.

HANZO didn't do it for me, but I gather that many people like it. Haven't seen SHOGUN'S SAMURAI.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by Shingster » 02 Feb 2010, 20:09

Shogun's Samurai is brilliant, arguably Kinji Fukusaku's greatest film imo.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by Yi-Long » 03 Feb 2010, 01:30

Thanks guys.

http://www.eurekavideo.co.uk/offers/new ... 80110.html had a big collection on sale, so that's why I was asking...

... but I went for the Lone Wolf and Cub set on it's own.

Female Prisoner Scorpion seems kinda cool, but not too sure about that one yet, and I read on play.com that the second movie isn't remastered. The other two I'll have to find some more info on...
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 03 Feb 2010, 09:32

In short, there's two kind of people. Those, who think Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion is the best pinky violence movie ever made. And those, who think Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 is the best pinky violence movie ever made.

Prisoner 701: Scorpion is Shunya Ito's debut film. It's quite sleazy - even though the director cleaned the source material a bit - but technically mindblowing. The cinematography and use of sound & music is amazing. One flasback scene tells a lenthly bit of backstory in one room in theatre style - the backgrounds and sets are changed "on the fly". And of course the film features a terrific performance by Meiko Kaji, who has hardly any dialogie. But she acts with her eyes. And of course sings the terrific theme song Urami bushi.

Jailhouse 41 is probably the best exploitation movie ever made. It's also one of the best arthouse movies ever made. Contrary to it's title, it's a surreal road movie taking place mostly outside the prison walls. The nudity and sex is almost comptely missing from this one.

Beast Stable is great too. It's a beautiful character portrait - another proof of Shunya Ito's exceptional skill.

Hasebe's Grudge Song is also very good. Some Sasori fans don't like it because it's so different from the first three - a melancholic and mostly non-surreal crime drama about two outlaws on the run. But then, Ito's films were also all very different from each other.

These are the ones starring Meiko Kaji. After a few year break Toei restarted the series with 2 New Female Prisoner Scorpion movies. The first one is essentially a remake of the original, but by no means a direct copy. It's not on par with the original, but it's a good movie. The final 15 minutes is jaw droppingly great. Yumi Takigawa is quite ok in the lead role. The second film, starring Yoko Natsuki who was always as cool as her current clothing, is slightly above average. It has a very good supporting cast, though: Eiji Go, Takeo Chii, and Masashi Ishibashi. Both New Female Prisoner films were directed by Yutaka Kohira (Dragon Princess).

DVD comparisons:
Prisoner 701: Scorpion: http://www.bulletsnbabesdvd.com/forums/ ... php?t=2115
Jailhouse 41: http://www.bulletsnbabesdvd.com/forums/ ... php?t=3693
Beast Stable: http://www.bulletsnbabesdvd.com/forums/ ... php?t=4059
Grudge Song: http://www.bulletsnbabesdvd.com/forums/ ... php?t=4060

I'm not sure, but I think the UK releases are all R1 ports, and in NTSC format, rather than conversions.

I recommed you buy the R1 box set from Media Blasters - it has films 1, 3 and 4, and wait for Diskotek's upcoming R1 Jailhouse 41 remaster.

New Female Prisoner films are only available in the Pathe box set.

Here's a couple of caps from the first three movies

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Hanzo the Razor movies are pretty cool. This ain't the blind masseur Katsu you're used to. His down and dirty interrogation techniques must be seen to be believed. The second film is the best, featuring the most exiting fight scenes and plenty of style (which is a given of course, the director being Yasuzo Masumura). I like it so much that I even own the original poster for it.

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However, if pink colored swordplay is your thing, then Teruo Ishii's Bohachi Bushido is the best thing money can buy you.

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Finally, here's Shogun's Samurai dvd comparison:
http://www.bulletsnbabesdvd.com/forums/ ... =19&t=3509

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 06 Feb 2010, 16:09

Detective Story (1982)

Keiji monogatari, or as better known, the hanger nunchuku film. Comedian Tetsuya Takeda’s beloved cop film series (a total of 5 movies) is an interesting mix of drama, comedy, and action. Takeda plays a clumsy but good hearted policeman who saves a deaf-mute girl from prostitution ring. They move to countryside together, and Takeda works as a policeman in the local precinct. It turns out, however, that the same bad guys are also active in this town. Despite being legendary for its inventive weapons use (that’s what you get when you piss off Takeda in a textile factory) Detective Story is rather light on action and invests more on upbeat drama and comedy. There’s a healthy dose of bare skin included, but without any sleaze factor. The theme song is quite good as well, and the great Ken Takakura does a brief cameo.

Keiji monogatari was released on dvd Amuse Soft Entertainment. The cover art hails it as HD remastered edition. The picture is soft, but otherwise quite ok. Audio is fine. Extras only feature the original trailer, which features some promotional footage not seen in the film. The sequels are also available on dvd, by Toho.

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Original trailer
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You can also view a dvd trailer in youtube (it's the same as the theatrical trailer, apart from opening and ending inserts):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGm81Rl4tag

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 06 Mar 2010, 05:33

Toei has announced the next two Kanto Tekiya ikka films for June.

関東テキヤ一家 喧嘩火祭り (1971)
Director: Norifumi Suzuki
Cast: Bunta Sugawara, Tsunehiko Watase, Tatsuo Umemiya
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関東テキヤ一家 浅草の代紋 (1971)
Director: Takashi Harada
Cast: Bunta Sugawara, Hiroshi Matsukata, Noboru Ando
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In July Toei will release Mamushi no kyôdai 4-7. I previously stated there are 7 films in the series. But allcinema is actuallly listing 8.
http://www.allcinema.net/prog/show_c.php?num_c=144651

まむしの兄弟 傷害恐喝十八犯 (1972)
Director: Sadao Nakajima
Cast: Bunta Sugawara, Tsunehiko Watase
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まむしの兄弟 刑務所暮し四年半 (1973)
Director: Kosaku Yamashita
Cast: Bunta Sugawara, Tsunehiko Watase
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まむしの兄弟 恐喝三億円 (1973)
Director: Norifumi Suzuki
Cast: Bunta Sugawara. Hiroshi Matsukata
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まむしの兄弟 二人合わせて30犯 (1974)
Director: Eichi Kudo
Cast: Bunta Sugawara, Fumio Watanabe
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 19 Mar 2010, 06:44

Toei June Low Priced. Just a quick list with bad romaji, I'm out of time, gomenne.

Nippon senbotsu gakusei no shuki kike, wadatsumi no koe (日本戦歿学生の手記 きけ、わだつみの声) (1950)
Himeyuri no Tô ((ひめゆりの塔)) (1953)
Bei (米) (1957)
Jun'ai monogatari (純愛物語) (1957)
Ten to sen (点と線) (1958)
Ôinaru tabiji (大いなる旅路) (1960)
Arega minato no hi da (あれが港の灯だ) (1961)
Oushou (王将) (1962)
Kaigun (海軍) 1963)
Bushidô zankoku monogatari (Cruel Tales of Bushido) (武士道残酷物語) (1963)
Rikugun zangyaku monogatari (陸軍残虐物語) (1963)
Nippon dorobô monogatari (にっぽん泥棒物語) (1965)
Kiga kaikyô (A Fugitive from the Past) (飢餓海峡)(1965)
 dôki no sakura (Diaries of the Kamikaze) (あゝ同期の桜) (1967)
 yokaren (あゝ予科練) (1968)
Ningen gyorai a kaiten tokubetsu kogeki tai (人間魚雷 あゝ回天特別攻撃隊) (1968)
Saigo no tokkotai (最後の特攻隊) (The Last Kamikaze) (1970)
 kessen kôkûtai (Father of the Kamikaze) (あヽ決戦航空隊) (1974)
Shinkansen daibakuha (Bullet Train) (新幹線大爆破) (1975)
203 kochi (二百三高地) (1980)
Dai Nippon teikoku (大日本帝国) (1982)
Manji (卍(まんじ)) (1983)
Shiro hebi shou (白蛇抄) (1983)
Nihonkai daikaisen: Umi yukaba (日本海大海戦 海ゆかば) (1983)
Kita no hotaru (Fireflies of the North) (北の螢) (1984)
Ma no toki (魔の刻 (とき)) ((1985))
Keshin (化身) (1986)

Abunai deka (あぶない刑事) (1987)
Mata mata abunai deka (またまたあぶない刑事) (1988)
Motto mo abunai deka (もっともあぶない刑事) (1989)

Be-Bop High School (ビー・バップ・ハイスクール) (1985)
Be-Bop High School: Koukou yotarou aika (ビー・バップ・ハイスクール: 高校与太郎哀歌) (1986)
Be-Bop High School: Koukou yotarou koushin kyoku (ビー・バップ・ハイスクール: 高校与太郎行進曲) (1987)
Be-Bop High School: Koukou yotarou kyoshou kyoku (ビー・バップ・ハイスクール: 高校与太郎狂騒曲) (1987)
Be-Bop High School: Koukou yotarou kanketsu hen (ビー・バップ・ハイスクール: 高校与太郎完結篇) (1988)
Be-Bop High School: Koukou yotarou ondo (ビー・バップ・ハイスクール: 高校与太郎音頭) (1988)

Nihon kyokaku-den (日本侠客伝) (1964)
Nihon kyokaku-den: Naniwa-hen (日本侠客伝 浪花篇) (1965)
Nihon kyokaku-den: Kanto-hen (日本侠客伝 関東篇) (1965)
Nihon kyokaku-den: Ketto Kanda-matsuri (日本侠客伝 血斗神田祭り) (1966)
Nihon kyokaku-den: Kaminari-mon no Ketto (日本侠客伝 雷門の決斗) (1966)
Nihon kyokaku-den: Shiraha no Sakazuki (日本侠客伝 白刃の盃) (1967)
Nihon kyokaku-den: Kirikomi (日本侠客伝 斬り込み) (1967)
Nihon kyokaku-den: Zetsuen-jo (日本侠客伝 絶縁状) (1968)
Nihon kyokaku-den: Hana to Ryu (日本侠客伝 花と龍) (1969)
Nihon kyokaku-den: Nobori-ryu (日本侠客伝 昇り龍) (1970)
Nihon kyokaku-den: Dosu (日本侠客伝 刃) (1971)

More info about the Nihon kyokaku-den series
http://www.toei-video.co.jp/DVD/sp21/kyokakuden.html
http://www.weirdwildrealm.com/f-nihonkyokakuden.html
http://adg.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=95

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+ new films (Go, Akihabara @ Deep, Hair Extensions, Kike wadatsumi no koe Last Friends, Dear Friends (2007), Sakura no ki no shita de (1989), TANNKA (2006), Rock'n'Roll Mishin (2002)) that do not belong to this topic.

This batch contains mostly movies that are not well known outside Japan. Nihon kyokaku-den series is an easy pick for anyone interested in classic yakuza cinema. There's also several war movies (Â dôki no sakura, Â yokaren, Saigo no tokkotai etc.) with all star casts, and some other famous classics like Tomu Uchida's Fugitive from the Past and Hideo Gosha's Fireflies of the North.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 29 Mar 2010, 15:24

Here is a perfect introduction to Japanese 1970's action, yakuza, chambara and pinky violence cinema:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUcNDKIApxw

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 06 Apr 2010, 05:10

Toei has announced 3 Reiko Ohara films for August.

三匹の牝蜂 (Sanbiki no mesubachi) (Three Pretty Devils) (1970)
Directed by: Motohiro Torii
Starring: Junko Natsu, Reiko Ohara, Yumiko Katayama
- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0194333/
- http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1970/ct001510.htm

経験 (Keikein) (1970)
Directed by: Ryuichi Takamori
Starring: Reiko Ohara, Hayato Tani, Tsunehiko Watase
http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1970/ct002590.htm

セカンド・ラブ (Second Love) (1983)
Directed by: Yoichi Higashi
Starring: Reiko Ohara, Kaoru Kobayashi
- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086268/
- http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1983/dg000990.htm

Poster for Sanbiki no mesubachi
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by Marshall » 06 Apr 2010, 09:15

Oh, hell yes. I am going to be so far up in THREE PRETTY DEVILS that I won't even know how to end this sentence.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 11 Apr 2010, 15:08

Hokuriku Proxy War (1977)

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One of the hardest hitting movies on Kinji Fukasaku’s career, Hokuriku Proxy War does much the same to yakuza cinema that Goyokin did for samurai movies. With the merciless Hokuriku winter as its background (constantly freezing cold, windy, and snowing) the film follows a reckless and stubborn yakuza that turns against his boss and eventually anyone who stands on his way. Hokuriku Proxy War has the typical ingredients of a Fukasaku yakuza movie, but this time the mix is more powerful than almost ever before. The storyline and characters are excellent, and the violence hurts even on the other side of the screen. Hiroshi Matsukata stars in the role of his life, backed up by a hard boiled supporting cast (Sonny Chiba, Jiro Chiba, Takeo Chii, Mikio Narita, Tatsuo Endo, Goro Ibuki, Ko Nishimura...).

Caps from the Toei dvd
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 06 May 2010, 18:04

Japanese Car Action movies now have their own topic:
http://www.bulletsnbabesdvd.com/forums/ ... f=1&t=5529

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 14 May 2010, 17:31

HungFist wrote:Toei has announced 3 Reiko Ohara films for August.

三匹の牝蜂 (Sanbiki no mesubachi) (Three Pretty Devils) (1970)
Directed by: Motohiro Torii
Starring: Junko Natsu, Reiko Ohara, Yumiko Katayama
- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0194333/
- http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1970/ct001510.htm

経験 (Keikein) (1970)
Directed by: Ryuichi Takamori
Starring: Reiko Ohara, Hayato Tani, Tsunehiko Watase
http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1970/ct002590.htm

セカンド・ラブ (Second Love) (1983)
Directed by: Yoichi Higashi
Starring: Reiko Ohara, Kaoru Kobayashi
- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086268/
- http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1983/dg000990.htm
Artworks
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Toei's September is going to consist of three films from the late 80's / early 90's. Going off topic, will not cover. The films are:
六本木バナナ・ボーイズ (1989)
きんぴら (1990)
赤と黒の熱情 Passion (1992)

There's also gonna be two more films in the 影の交渉人 ナニワ人情列伝 V-cinema series, released in August and September. The first part came out last year

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by gerira » 17 May 2010, 15:42

HungFist wrote:
三匹の牝蜂 (Sanbiki no mesubachi) (Three Pretty Devils) (1970)
Directed by: Motohiro Torii
Starring: Junko Natsu, Reiko Ohara, Yumiko Katayama
- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0194333/
- http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1970/ct001510.htm
This was the first SUKEBAN-Movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

three months before the first DELINQUENT GIRL BOSS

according to this list

http://shibuya.cool.ne.jp/team_masa/tok ... main.shtml

(and I guess the reason for the Queen Bee-Title-Crap in Suzukis first entries)

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by Marshall » 17 May 2010, 19:44

For additional context, it came out about six weeks after the first STRAY CAT ROCK movie.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by gerira » 17 May 2010, 19:59

Maybe I should have added "by Toei"

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by Marshall » 17 May 2010, 21:42

Sorry, I hope that didn't sound like an attempt to one-up you. The STRAY CAT ROCK series has some pretty tame entries and are not really "sukeban." I suspect THREE PRETTY DEVILS will be subdued as well. As you say, it's a very early entry, and I think Junko Natsu never really got into the harder stuff.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by gerira » 18 May 2010, 04:43

Yes, even the first 2 Suzuki-entries are quite tame. It got really "good" with Sukeban Gerira (that´s the reason for my name). Yes, and there were a lot of movies before, but the actual name was "found"by an assistant of Suzuki for Sukeban Blues one

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 21 Jul 2010, 14:24

Toei has announced their November low priced batch. The list is too long (you can find it at allcinema), so I will only briefly list the highlights here. Sorry for poor romanjizations, I'm short on time as usual.

Junko Fuji
Red Peony Gambler 1-8 (緋牡丹博徒)
Kanto Cherry Blossom Family (Kanto hisakura ikka) (関東緋桜一家) (1972)
Kyokaku retsuden (侠客列伝) (1968)

Ken Takakura
Kyokotsu ichidakei (侠骨一代) (1967)
Gokuchu no kaoyaku獄中の顔役 (1968)
Gorotsukiごろつき (1968)
Jigoku no okite ni ashita wa nai(地獄の掟に明日はない) (1966)
Sutemi no naratzumono 捨て身のならず者(1970)
Nihon yakuza den souchou henomichi(日本やくざ伝 総長への道) (1971)
Boss wo taose (親分(ボス)を倒せ) (1963)

Others
GMEN’75 FOREVER Vol.1-4
Message From Space (Fukasaku)
Wolves, Pigs and Men (Fukasaku)
Shinjuku jun ai monogatari(新宿純愛物語) (1987)
Female Prisoner Scorpion 1-4
Jako yoruzu to tetsu (ジャコ萬と鉄) (1964)
13 Assassins (13 nin no shikaku) (十三人の刺客) (1963)
Chuushingurasakura hana no maki: Kikka no maki (忠臣蔵 櫻花の巻・菊花の巻) (1959)
Hokoritakaki chousen(誇り高き挑戦) (1962)

ok, so if you don't own the Red Peony Gambler films yet, now is your chance. If you're not sure whether you'd like these yakuza eiga all time classics, watch the first film. It's good. If you like it, buy the sequels. Some of them are twice as good as the first one. My favorites are parts 3, 5 and 8. Many people love part 6, too. And naturally you want to see the original. And the first sequel, which is directed by Norifumi Suzuki. And when you get here, you realize you own 6 of the 8 films, and may just as well buy the last two also.

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HungFist
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 24 Jul 2010, 05:39

In the spotlight: Detonation x 4

Toei has released all 4 Detonation biker gang films on R2 dvd in Japan. Each dvd is nicely remastered and comes with good audio. The image is a slighty soft but otherwise fine and progressive. Extras are limited original trailer and picture gallery. No subs as usual. All four films star Kouichi Iwaki. Sonny Chiba makes a quest appearance in the first film. The first three are directed by Teruo Ishii.

The films are:
Detonation: Violent Riders (Bakuhatsu! Bosozoku) (1975) (dir. Teruo Ishii)
Detonation: Violent Games (Bakuhatsu! Boso yugi) (1976) (dir. Teruo Ishii)
Season of Violence (Boso no kisetsu) (1976) (dir. Teruo Ishii)
Detonation: 750cc zoku (1976) (dir. Yutaka Kohira)

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread post by HungFist » 24 Jul 2010, 05:41

Detonation: Violent Riders (Bakuhatsu! Bosozoku) (1975)

Detonation: Violent Riders is the first installment in Toei’s series of bosozoku biker gang films. Formed by youngsters grown tired of traditional Japanese school and societal systems, the bosozoku gangs received notable media attention in the 1970’s as newspapers and magazines cashed in with the phenomena and even took it out of its original frame. For Toei Studios, that had already been making money with their gang films for years, the bosozoku hysteria provided an opportunity to combine established cinematic formulas with a current and talked about real life phenomena.

Bosozoku’s roots date back to the post WWII years when a new societal problem group arised. Having lived under the war time rule and even an assumption of never returning home alive, such as the kamikaze pilots assigned for a mission that never came to be, some of the war veterans could not return to peaceful life without difficulties. The most extreme of these individuals started looking for new excitement by tuning cars and conducting less than desired, gang type activities on city streets. Inspiration and idols were found from foreign movies such as Rebel Without a Cause (1955). These ideologies later caught the motorcycle obsessed youth and bosozoku was born.

The first 20 minutes of the movie Detonation: Violent Riders is exactly what one would expect from a Teruo Ishii bosozoku film. Black dressed biker men chase on the streets, perform stunts on bikes and bring public outrage. A leather dressed lady provides the men with physical pleasures out in the nature, and the night is spent partying with topless dancers. Disagreements between men are solved by speeding towards cliff blindfolded. Ishii knows how to make quality cinema.

No high art by any means, Ishii directed the Detonation films as a gun for hire. Having first found himself somewhat bored with traditional filmmaking since the late 1960’s, Ishii ever since spend a notable amount his career – and Toei’s money – for his personal cinematic refreshment. The infamous Tokugawa-era torture epics are only the tip of iceberg in the director’s resume. In the Detonation movies Ishii threw in just about any elements he found potentially entertaining. Very describing of the director’s talent is, that even with this philosophy Ishii managed to deliver several technically competent cult classics. Violent Riders, however, is not among his best efforts.

After a strong start it soon becomes obvious that Violent Riders’ biggest problem is the screenplay which, rather than being full of holes, appears to one big hole in itself. Pieces of poorly attached storyline are hanging somewhere on the sides, ready to fall at any moment. If there is an actual plot to be found, it would probably be the romance between the wild hearted mechanic boy Iwaki (Kouichi Iwaki) and the innocent but gang tied Michiko (Tomoko Ai). The newcomer is quick to make enemies while at the same time his old pals are tempting him to re-join the gang and fight the competing group. The execution of this technically close-enough-to-decent plot is, however, far from dynamic and engaging.

Motorcycle money shots are what Ishii handles without difficulties. Close ups, sunset backgrounds and fast scenes on streets are plenty, even if there isn’t much in terms of bike tuning. Worth a mention is also a jaw dropping truck crash escape stunt that does, however, turn out to be a trick shot with closer look. Far less convincing is the climatic gang war that is little more than a messy display of bikers riding in circle and kicking and punching each other on the way. Thankfully the film’s last few minutes mark an improvement and leave a good taste in the viewer’s mouth.

Next to the bikes Violent Rider’s best offering is the cast. Little known outside his native country, the soon to become television superstar Kouichi Iwaki handles the lead role with natural fluency. His manners and looks – in this film at least – mark him as a born to play gangster. Heavy weigh support is provided by Sonny Chiba whose beard-faced charisma is an instant hit. Regrettably, Chiba’s role is quite small and his action talent has been notably limited. Most other supporting actors are unknown stars and one-timers – real life gang members by a good guess. Toei’s executives have never been shy of picking up natural talents from the streets… and most of the time the results have been sufficient.

Ishii followed Violent Riders with two more gang films; Detonation: Violent Games (1976), and Season of Violence (1976). The series was, however, not buries after Ishii’s resignation but saw one more dawn under Yutaka Kohira’s direction in the film Detonation: 750CC Zoku (1977). Iwaki returned for all of the three sequels.

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