Japanese cult cinema thread

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Yi-Long
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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby 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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I was there, the big BNB blackout of november, 2008. We lost many that day...

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby 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: viewtopic.php?t=2115
Jailhouse 41: viewtopic.php?t=3693
Beast Stable: viewtopic.php?t=4059
Grudge Song: viewtopic.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:
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=3509

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby 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 postby 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 postby 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 postby 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 postby 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 postby 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 postby 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 postby HungFist » 06 May 2010, 18:04

Japanese Car Action movies now have their own topic:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5529

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby 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 postby 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 postby 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 postby gerira » 17 May 2010, 19:59

Maybe I should have added "by Toei"

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby 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 postby 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 postby 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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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby 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 postby 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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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 24 Jul 2010, 05:42

Detonation: Violent Games (Bakuhatsu! Boso yugi) (1976)

Plugging William Shakespeare into the credits of a Teruo Ishii directed motorcycle gang film is not an easy task to achieve. Violent Games, the second film in the Detonation series, manages this through a donkey bridge. A small cinema cultural achievement by itself, Violent Games takes its inspiration from the 1961 musical classic West Side Story, which was a modernization of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. In Violent Games Ishii has borrowed the story structure – and dancing gangsters – of West Side Story to be used as the spice of his own violent gang saga. The director’s official explanation was that he thought it would make the film more entertaining.

Ishii was right. Violent Games is superior to its predecessor Violent Riders, and it’s all thanks to the shameless West Side Story plagiarism. Finger snapping gang members – even throwing a dance move or two at times – are an inspiring sight to the extent to make one wish Ishii had made a full on transformation to music genre. This is not the case, though. Storywise Violent Games is unsurprising – what can you do everyone knows the tale from before – but the mixture is obscure enough to keep audience steadily entertained till the climax. Furthermore, this time at least the storyline holds – this was not the case with the messily put together Violent Riders.

More regrettable is that Ishii’s was also right about the beneficiality of the West Side Story roots; Violent Games needs them. For those already familiar with the opening installment this sequel has little new to offer on other areas. In terms of capturing the thrills of speed and tuned motor vehicles Violent Games even falls slightly behind its predecessor. The exploitation elements, while firmly included, do also not rant especially high on Ishii’s own, admittedly twisted scale. The film’s finale is, however, a notable improvement over the messy gang fight of the previous film. This time the chaos follows firm trails, and even comes with some pleasingly violent ran-over-by-a-motorcycle deaths.

Finding no replacement for Violent Riders’ guest star Sonny Chiba, the sequel does handle the casting relatively well otherwise. The series star Kouichi Iwaki portrays Black Panthers gang boss, but this character is pushed to a supporting seat in a storyline that concentrates on the character’s little sister Yuki and her romance with race driver Masaki, who of course comes from the influence of a rivalry gang. There is little sympathy found for the forbidden love, aside from Yuki’s female friends at work. All the central female characters in the film are food girls, despite being portrayed by actors such as Yumi Takigawa (the star of Norifumi Suzuki’s nunsploitation classic School of the Holy Beast), Nikkatsu’s soft core queen Meika Seri, and Yutaka Nakajima – the only one with relatively clean record of the three.

Falling in the middle of a gang war, the race driver Masaki is played by real life racing professional Masami Kuwashima. In the film his character is introduced as the champion of Silverstone. In real life Kuwashima career “highpoint” was sitting behind the wheel of a Formula 1 race car. This happened only once, though, in the Japan F1 race that took place after Violent Games had been filmed. Kuwashima’s performance the pre-race practice session was, however, so poor that the team manager Frank Williams fired him before the actual race. In Violent Games Kuwashima is more successful although he didn’t return to silver screen again but spent the rest of his career in Japan’s own Formula series.

Steadily entertaining throughout its 85 minute run, Violent Games enjoys moderate and mostly deserved fame in fan circuits. Originally rising to international popularity through the bootleg tapes of Video Search of Miami, the film has potential for far wider distribution that it has enjoyed so far. With slight reservations towards the film’s exploitation content, Violent Games is a film difficult not to like. Director Ishii may have directed more hard boiled classics, but the dancing bikers of Violent Games have certainly earned their reputation.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 24 Jul 2010, 05:57

Season of Violence (Boso no kisetsu) (1976)

Toei’s Detonation biker gang series continues in somewhat tired fashion. Season of Violence takes a new approach but changes turn against it. Teruo Ishii, featured as the series director for the third and last time, helms the picture with routine, only managing to fresh up a limited amount of scenes. One of these scenes is the exhilarating opening. A dynamic police – motorcycle chase, it’s easily the best action piece in the series so far. Unfortunately, the film makes a 180 degree turn soon after, and never finds the right track again. The lack of exciting new ideas is obvious, and even the repetition of old, functional patterns has been largely ignored.

Expectations of a violent gang saga, fueled up by the film’s memorable title, are best buried right in the beginning. For an outlaw action film of the 70’s, Season of Violence is notably violence-free, up to the point of escaping the action film categorization. More describing is the film’s original poster art, displaying the bare chested Kouichi Iwaki on a yacht, accompanied by a topless woman on a chopper at the bottom of the image. Neither of these elements are faulty as per se, but certainly lacking balls compared to the previous installments in the series. Where are the tattooed neo Nazis and bike riding Travis Bickles that filled the character galleries of the first two Detonation movies?

Setting the majority of its story on sunny beaches rather than on burning streets, the film follows a troubled young man (Kouichi Iwaki) whose days are spent playing guitar and drooling after a selfish rich girl (Yutaka Nakajima). A hard fisted party group that rules the beaches give our hero hard time, but hardly even manage to stir a proper conflict. The protagonist’s loser friends make occasional screen visits, bumping up the film’s comedy factor by a notch. Before its climax the story even makes a dive into romance and drama. This isn’t what the audience was expecting from madman Ishii.

A complete failure Season of Violence is not. Ishii does raise his head every now and then with oddities such as romantic rape scene, and some of the beach parts do have successful laidback atmosphere. The same setting was, however, used to a far superior effect in the second Stray Cat Rock film, Wild Jumbo (1970), which even featured a male lead (Tatsuya Fuji) unmistakably resembling the bad guy of Season of Violence, Taro Shigaki. Shigaki’s performance, however, falls to flatness, a problem concerning most of the film’s cast.

Including Season of Violence in the Detonation series is a rather questionable act on Toei’s behalf. The lack of the Detonation headline could be taken as a hint of new approach, of course, yet it did little to prevent Toei marketing the film as a part of this specific series. In practice, however, the Detonation films have always been very loosely connected and only tied by their director, cast, and theme, the latter of which has now been stretched to the wrong direction. Explosive action is, aside the impressive opening, limited to the final few minutes, and even then expectations are not quite met. For little demanding Kouichi Iwaki fans Season of Violence is passable viewing, for others it’s mostly likely a pass.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 24 Jul 2010, 05:59

Detonation: 750cc zoku (Bakuhatsu: 750cc zoku) (1976)

Lacking an official English title, 750cc zoku brings the Detonation series to a conclusion with mixed results. Teruo Ishii, the director of the first three films, has finally been released from the motorcycle chains, with Yutaka Kohira taking over the directing responsibilities. Kohira, while not a widely known director, is a man of relative importance in the cult film circuits. Having gained his experience as the assistant director for such greats as Kinji Fukasaku and Shunya Ito, Kohira later went to direct one of the best grind house karate affairs of the 70s: Dragon Princess (1976).

The strengths and weaknesses of 750cc zoku are clear from the opening scene. Kohira doesn’t challenge Ishii’s mad imagination, but as an action film director he is a step ahead. Kicking off with a motorcycle chase Kohira sets the level high right from the beginning, although the opening credits sequence that follows is puzzling in its lack of music and punchy execution. After the arrest of the hotheaded and law defying protagonist Koji (Kouichi Iwaki) the film leaps ahead one year in time. Koji now works in a car repair shop, trying to lay low and keep his dumb friends out of trouble. A crash course with a local car gang seems unavoidable, however.

Similarly to Season of Violence, 750cc zoku doesn’t line up well with the other Detonation films. Rather than quality the problem is simply that 750cc zoku isn’t much of a motorcycle gang film. Introduction aside the protagonist is never belongs to a gang, and his primary vehicle is a car, rather than motorcycle. The film’s final third does make a comeback to two wheel action, though, with a few motorcycle riding group souls as a bonus. Calling these T-shirt wearing fellas hard edged gang members would be a joke, though (although it must be noted that reality is often lamer than fiction, and so were bousou zoku; T-shirts and yukata type clothing were not rare).

In terms of storyline 750cc zoku is messy and uninteresting. The plot is there to move characters – which don’t give much reason to cheer, either – from point A to point B, or the other way round. The film’s first 30 minutes nevertheless ride fluently thanks to quality car action. Iwaki’s charisma and dark sunglasses help also, even though they can’t quite carry over some of the weaker parts. Humor works occasionally and there’s a couple of catchy songs on the soundtrack. Ishii level of funky soundtrack is not to be found here, though.

Dangerously falling towards mediocre, the film pulls out a surprise ace from its back pocket during the last half an hour. Placing Koji back on the iron saddle, the film concludes with a 20 minute non-stop motorcycle chase. Starting out easy and careful but raising the bar minute by minute, the finale finally turns into a series of breathtaking motorcycle stunts. The cheer energy of this action scene is not even hurt by a discreet use of fast motion in some shots, or plus a heartwarmingly ridiculous trick shot of a police car “floating” between buildings (the same technique was used in almost all of the Detonation films, and for some reason, to increasingly poor results).

A prime example of the importance of satisfying ending, 750cc zoku shows how film can redeem itself at the end, even if the road may have been slightly bumpy. A good way to end the Detonation saga, even if the series wasn’t really returned to its original tracks other than in terms of quality.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 24 Jul 2010, 06:08

and finally, the "female Detonation" movie (not officially related to the Detonation series).

Hell’s Angels: Crimson Roar (Jigoku no tenshi: Akai bakuon) (1977)

A skillfully mismarketed piece of Toei action from the late 1970’s, Hell’s Angels: Crimson Roar is no more genuine biker gang film than it is pure pinky violence entertainment. The film does attempt to cut in both genres – and a few others as well – but the blade only scratches. Bikes are featured in the beginning and end, the only girl gang is beaten in the opening scene, and the fashionable jailhouse visit is taken care of, in its entirety, during the opening credits.

The action bits, which are sparse, and just enough to provide an explosive artwork for a theatrical poster, hide a relatively serious minded crime drama behind them – something of a bit more mature than Toei’s typical girl gang films. The storyline, which follows former bad girl Yoko – now straitened by prison, and taking a try at honest life – leaves out the more over-the-top genre elements. A couple of more exploitative knife fights are there though – perhaps as a legacy of the pinky violence genre – but nothing in the line of clothes being ripped off in all female brawls.

For the main part, however, Hell’s Angels (another title the producers pulled out of their ass), sticks itself in the drama genre. Action is there only as a spice, and it never reaches a high level of quality. Furthermore, near the end the film uses a cheap old trick for a couple of times: the high speed motorcycle shots are a carbon copy of the ones seen in Teruo Ishii’s Detonation: Violent Riders (1975). Indeed, it’s Kouichi Iwaki (or his stuntman) cruising in the scene – it’s all archive footage shamelessly inserted into a new movie.

Previously having gained credit as the director of Etsuko Shihomi’s sought after karate classic 13 Steps of Maki (1975), Makoto Naito doesn’t quite manage to breath fresh air into the film. The main problem is the mediocre screenplay that would serve an average Toei action fest fine, but can’t quite carry a film that is meant to work on story level. Nevertheless, the director has inserted plenty of good music into the film – including screen visit by famous pop star Yasuko Naito – and the cinematography manages to catch the attention with skillful framings a few times, too.

Leading lady Yuuko Iruka – unknown in her native country as well – isn’t entirely bad in her role. She avoids the bigger mistakes, but real energy and captivating persona are lacking. Certainly she’s doesn’t live up to the “Violence Queen” crowning given to her by the film’s original Japanese trailer. This of course has something to do with the screenplay, too: the character was never quite intended as the yakuza beating one woman powerhouse in the tradition of Reiko Oshida or Miki Sugimoto.

The film’s real savior is supporting man Hiroshi Tachi. A popular actor and pop-star alike, Tachi gives an engaging performance as a miserable, drug shooting small time crook. Contrary to what would be expected from a star actor of Tachi’s status, he doesn’t try to steal the show with over-done manners, but instead reads his lines with the broken voice of a man who has flushed his life down the gutter. It should be noted though, that one reason for his sensitive articulation may be the fact that his character is stabbed in the stomach already in his introduction scene.

Hell’s Angels takes its final redemption in the very last scene. The brief climax is as impressive as it is ice cold. The truth is, however, that without this scene, and Tachi’s superb acting performance, Hell’s Angels would be little more than an average crime drama among all others. As it is now, Hell’s Angels is rather a decent time killer for those that have already browsed through their 1970’s biker, pinky violence and japano-crime genres. For beginners, however, all of the fore mentioned genres contain superior films to explore.

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby Gaijin84 » 26 Jul 2010, 19:15

fantastic reviews as always - thanks

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Re: Japanese cult cinema thread

Unread postby HungFist » 30 Jul 2010, 10:16

If you're close to Tokyo, you have a chance to see 30 Teruo Ishii films theatrically. And if you're not close to Tokyo, then now is the time to start thinking how to change that.

Celebrating the release of the new documentary film [url="http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/ff20100730a3.html"]Ishii Teruo: Eiga Tamashi[/url], Cinema Vera will screen 30 of Ishii's movies June 31-September 3. The selection includes many of his early films (scifi, noir), seminal pinky violence works, and some 1990's movies.

A little bit disappointed with the selection to be honest (I was hoping for more unreleased 70's gems) but there's a lot of great stuff there. May drop by for a few days if I get a chance.

http://www.cinemavera.com/schedule.html

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