Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

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HungFist
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Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by HungFist » 20 Nov 2019, 05:27

I'm a complete newcomer to Nikkatsu youth films, but having watched a few over the past few weeks I feel like I've discovered Nikkatsu for the 1st time! I thought I should start a thread to share some completely uninformed reviews and screencaps.

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Re: Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by HungFist » 20 Nov 2019, 05:37

1st, let me quote relevant parts of my Shogoro Nishimura write-up from a few years ago.

...Nishimura got his second chance at directing in 1966 with the excellent Sun Tribe film Kaettekita ookami (帰ってきた狼). The story kicks off when a mixed blood, misunderstood loner (Ken Yamauchi) drifts back into a small seaside town where he slew a man years ago. Around the same time a super hot yacht girl Rika, who is a bit of a spoiled brat, sails to the shores. She has instant hot for him, and her bloated self ego takes a hit when he says he just digs her yacht. Then there is the film’s actual protagonist (Junichi Kagiyama), a cowardish but decent guy and the only rational one of the bunch, as well as some local teen hoods giving everyone trouble.

Kaettekita ookami is almost everything a good Sun Tribe film should be: yachts, motor boats, guitars, fights and burning teen passion, all packed into 78 minutes. The characters are excellent, there’s a constant aura of energy to Nishimura’s direction, and most importantly the Taiwanese-Japanese actress Judy Ongg is just amazingly hot and badass as Rika. When director Nishimura, in an unrelated interview, expressed his regret that much of the Roman Porno genre that later employed him may be problematic from a female perspective, I wondered if he truly cared. But seeing movies like this, with show stealing female characters, I can believe he really meant what he said. Fantastic film!

Note: I cannot find an English title for Kaettekita ookami anywhere. The Japanese title translates as “Return of the Wolf”, referring to the character played by Ken Yamauchi.


Availability: none, I'm afraid. I viewed the film at a Shogoro Nishimura retrospective. I do believe it has been on TV, however.

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Re: Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by HungFist » 20 Nov 2019, 05:51

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Goodbye Mr. Tears (涙くんさよなら) (Japan, 1966) [VoD] – 4/5
A delightful Nikkatsu youth musical from the days before director Shogoro Nishimura became a Roman Porno vending machine. An American-Japanese girl (16 year old Judy Ongg who starred in Nishimura's tremendously enjoyable Sun Tribe picture Return of the Wolf) travels to Japan in search of a lost mother, hooks up with a bunch of musically minded youngsters (actor/singer Ken Yamauchi and his fellow Young and Fresh band members + Meiko Kaji) for a road trip, hitches a ride in 60s pop super stars The Spiders's tour bus, all while being chased by mass media (one persistent reporter being played by Akira Takahashi, a future Roman Porno heavy). Perhaps not a huge artistic achievement, this is nevertheless terrific fun with great location work, wonderful pace at 81 min, amazing colors popping straight through the screen, and some very funny character play between the too-lovely-for-her-own-sake Ongg and jealous kid Kaji. The title comes from a Japanese 1965 pop song that found popularity after American singer Johnny Tillotson performed it in Japanese and English - he's in the movie, too!

Availability: There's a 15 year old OOP Japanese DVD. I viewed the film on streaming, clearly a new HD master.

Kaji + Young and Fresh
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Judy Ongg. Born in Taiwan, moved to Japan at the age of 2, speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, English and Spanish according to Wiki
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That's young Akira Takahashi on the left
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Kaji +Ongg
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Johnny Tillotson
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Re: Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by HungFist » 20 Nov 2019, 06:07

Here is a video clip from Goodbye Mr. Tears to give you a taste of the swing and atmosphere:
https://vimeo.com/374340850

(note: the video and audio quality is quite a bit worse than the source)

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Re: Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by DenPryan » 20 Nov 2019, 10:23

Oh yes, so many have been filmed. No less than action movies.
These were films of different directions, but all of them were shot about youth and for youth. Very interesting topic.
Thanks! And I really hope that there will be a continuation.

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Re: Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by HungFist » 20 Nov 2019, 14:03

Thanks. Up next will be Youth a Go-Go (1966)

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Re: Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by DenPryan » 20 Nov 2019, 15:47

Fine!
I would like to take this opportunity to ask you, did you watch the film Zankoku onna rinchi / Mini-Skirt Lynchers (1969)?

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Re: Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by HungFist » 20 Nov 2019, 18:01

DenPryan wrote:
20 Nov 2019, 15:47
I would like to take this opportunity to ask you, did you watch the film Zankoku onna rinchi / Mini-Skirt Lynchers (1969)?
No, it has never come across anywhere. No disc, no stream, no 35mm screenings at least in the past 6 years, nothing.

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Re: Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by HungFist » 22 Nov 2019, 14:19

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Youth A Go-Go (青春ア・ゴーゴー) (Japan, 1966) [VoD] - 4/5
Another insanely energetic Nikkatsu youth / music picture with student kids (Ken Yamauchi & Young and Fresh again) starting a band. They cross paths with the The Spiders (prominently featured in the film) and find a vocalist in a strange girl (awesome Judy Ongg who gloriously mixes Japanese, Mandarin and English) they meet while practicing in an abandoned church. Also features the most awesome moment of cameraman going nuts with the film's swing and starting to do crazy zooms and movements before flipping the whole camera upside down. Meiko Kaji is in the film too, in a minor little sister role.

Availability: none on disc, I'm afraid. I viewed the film on VoD.

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Kaji
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Judy Ongg
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Judy!!!
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The Spiders
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Young and Fresh
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Re: Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by HungFist » 23 Nov 2019, 17:21

Here's a few clips from Youth a Go-Go

https://vimeo.com/375126343

https://vimeo.com/375126430

The 2nd one is the cameraman going nuts scene. Maybe it's not as good when you've been warned, but when it came in the film out of the blue at the end of a dialogue scene it was pretty damn awesome!

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Re: Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by HungFist » 25 Nov 2019, 14:33

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The Evening Sun Is Crying (夕陽が泣いている) (Japan, 1967) [VoD] – 3.5/5
Another one in a series of Nikkatsu youth films starring Young and Fresh and made in a fruitful collaboration with The Spiders who’d contribute new hit songs and play a supporting role in the storyline. A pessimist might call it shameless commercialism, but why not when everyone, the audience included, benefitted from the results. This film plays out like a more realistic, low key version of Youth a Go-Go with very a similar storyline.The difference is that this time the student band struggles to find any success, as such a band in reality probably would. Curious observation: cinematography somehow levels up 20 minutes before the film’s closing, with some fantastic framing and use of the widescreen format.

Availability: none on disc, I'm afraid. I viewed the film on VoD.

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Re: Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by HungFist » 27 Nov 2019, 05:28

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You and I (逢いたくて逢いたくて) (Japan, 1966) [VoD] - 1.5/5
A rather unbearable vanity project / fan film for singer Mari Sono, disguised as Nikkatsu youth film. A college girl (Sono) participates a look-a-like competition for beloved idol Mari Sono (Sono again) and wins it. The film's first half is made of shockingly unfunny and boring college drama/comedy but it gets a bit better when the showbiz hits in. Tetsuya Watari and Chieko Matsubara play reporters, Meiko Kaji a school girl friend. Their roles aren't worth a lot. Still, the film at least looks good. I had to resort to a fair bit of fast forwarding to make it to the end so I may have missed something.

Kaji
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Believe it or not, this scene features Mari Sono the judge giving Mari Sono the college girl 5 stars for her Mari Sono performance
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Re: Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by DenPryan » 27 Nov 2019, 16:02

Thanks! Young Meiko Kaji is so funny.
And The Spiders are a fun group.
Japanese Wikipedia writes that The Spiders participated in 10 Nikkatsu films, two Toho films and one Shochiku film. Have you watched any other films with their participation?

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Re: Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by HungFist » 29 Nov 2019, 15:25

DenPryan wrote:
27 Nov 2019, 16:02
Thanks! Young Meiko Kaji is so funny.
And The Spiders are a fun group.
Japanese Wikipedia writes that The Spiders participated in 10 Nikkatsu films, two Toho films and one Shochiku film. Have you watched any other films with their participation?
I tried one of their Nikkatsu films, ザ・スパイダースのゴーゴー向う見ず作戦 (1967), but it seemed like goofball comedy and fan service dialed up to 10 and little else, so I gave up after 15 min. A few others that I peeked at seemed similar.

What I liked about the films I reviewed before was The Spiders was at least half-properly written into a drama narrative.

I do love this still from the ザ・スパイダースのゴーゴー向う見ず作戦, though.

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Re: Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by DenPryan » 29 Nov 2019, 16:58

Thanks for your reply.

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Re: Nikkatsu Youth Films (are dope!)

Unread post by HungFist » Yesterday, 07:27

The Beautiful Teen (美しい十代) (Japan, 1964) [VoD] - 2.5/5
A young yakuza punk (Mitsuo Hamada) falls in love with an adorable orphan girl (Mieko Nishio) who is going out with a sweet guy (Akira Mita) who loves kids, animals and singing. Guess who wins her heart? A pretty enjoyable Nikkatsu youth / lightweight yakuza mash-up if you can get past the above mentioned relationship realism (!). The only problem is that the film proceeds nicely towards a climax that... never arrives. It almost feels as if the screenwriter died before finishing the story (though that was not the case, she, Fukiko Miyauchi, survived until 2010). Oh and the film’s English translation title is an absolute disaster: The Japanese title refers to an age period (10-19), not some pretty teenager!

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My Sweetheart (君は恋人) (1967) [VoD] - 2/5
A Nikkatsu youth / musical about a young actor making a comeback (Mitsuo Hamada making a real comeback after an 8 month hospital stint following a bar fight that nearly blinded him) in a yakuza film that he feels is too dark and needs to be re-written. The tale unfolds with the “film” being the main story and the “reality” interacting with the fiction. Despite the curious concept and meta aspect, this is mass entertainment with several musical numbers and tons of cameos & supporting roles with major stars (Yujiro Ishihara, Ichiro Araki, Tetsuya Watari, Joe Shishido, Meiko Kaji, Akira Kobayashi, The Spiders etc.). The ridiculously long opening credits with a list of nearly a dozen songs featured in the film give some indication. Not much coherence or innovation to be found here, just superficial mass entertainment.

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