Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

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Teruo Ishii Retrospective: Part 2/3

Hot Springs Giesha
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King of the Ring: The World of Glory (1957)
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Queen Bee and the School for Dragons (1960)
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Queen Bee and the School for Dragons (1960)
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Abashiri Prison 3: Saga of Homesickess (1965)
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Original scripts for Love, the Sun and The Gang, Boss wo taose, Love & Crime...
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Ishii items for sale. Oh and those soundtracks are playing in the lobby around the clock... as usual!
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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

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Teruo Ishii Retrospective: Part 3/3

Finally, the program Chirashi

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And website:
http://www.laputa-jp.com/laputa/program/ishiiteruo/

I only had a change to catch 8 films this time. That was alright since this was the 3rd Ishii event I've attended in 3 or 4 years (following Cinema Vera's Ishii retrospective and Shin bungeiza's Ishii all night). A few brief comments:

History of the Shogun’s Harem (1968) screened from an absolutely amazing 35mm print. It’s one of those movies that have to be experienced in 35mm in an old school theatre… not just for the film, which is a bit slow but sells an image of an almost otherworldly place via beautiful sets, seductive camera work and atmospheric score, but also to get a sense of what people must have been feeling when they first saw it back in ’68. I believe it was the first pink film produced by a major studio with lavish production values. Critics were offended, feminists enraged, and audiences flocked to see it.

The Nikkatsu film Rising Dragon’s Iron Flesh (1969) was better than I expected. A starring vehicle for singer Hiroko Ogi and bit of routine production, Ishii stills injects it with his own brand of the perverse: there’s an unexpected 30 min WiP segment with gratuitous bathing scene, a fight where Hideki Takahashi's sword causes someone's face to explode (!), and a cool final massacre where the heroes are repeatedly aligning their tattoos into one big dragon in the midst of the action. Not really a great movie, but has enough great scenes to warrant a viewing.

From the Shintoho films King of the Ring (1957) was alright, an entertaining if not very convincing boxing drama with already a number of Ishii trademarks visible: a night club scene with a scarcely clothed go-go dancer, a femme fatale who seduces the hero (a side plot that hasn't aged very well gender politically) and frantic boxing scenes. Queen Bee and the School for Dragons (1960) on the other hand was a thoroughly entertaining street fighting actioner with Yoko Mihara leading a gang of of scarcely clothed, arse kicking prostitutes/townswomens whose tops are constantly about to fall off... unfortunately the time was not yet ripe for full-on pinky violence, hence we get a bit too much plot focus on daddy Kanjuro Arashi's gang struggles and young hero Teruo Yoshida.

I also ended up seeing Love and Crime (1969)... again. I was on my way to see Gambler Tales of Hasshu: A Man's Pledge (1963) in Jimbocho when I got another reminder why I hate Shinjuku Station... all four of them! I went to the fucking wrong one! That was because I needed to ride the Shinjuku Line, and there are two of those, too! Then when I finally got to Jimbocho station, with only 3 minutes left till the film, I took the wrong exit in a hurry and ended up on the side of the district that I didn't recognize and was lost. Then changed my plan and headed back to Laputa as fast as I could, got to the theatre about 2 min late, fell in the dark when I was trying to find a seat, and finally managed to sit my butt down when the opening credits were playing. It's the first time I have ever been late from a movie, and I felt embarrassed to enter / disturb others when the film had already started.
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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

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HungFist wrote: 10 Jan 2020, 15:11 A 15 film Tetsuya Watari retrospective is starting in Jimbocho tomorrow:
https://www.shogakukan.co.jp/jinbocho-t ... atari.html
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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

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HungFist wrote: 23 Sep 2019, 16:04 A pretty great Toho New Action series coming up at Laputa. Dying to see Attack on the Sun (1970) and The Target of Roses (1972) by Kiyoshi Nishimura. And maybe Bullet Wound as well. The others I've seen.

The whole program:

11/09(土)~11/15(金) 「狙撃」(Sun Above, Death Below) (Hideichi Nagahara, 1968)
11/16(土)~11/25(月) 「弾痕」(Bullet Wound) (Hideichi Nagahara, 1969)
11/26(火)~12/02(月) 「白昼の襲撃」(Attack on the Sun) (Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1970)
12/03(火)~12/12(木) 「豹(ジャガー)は走った」(The Creature Called Man) ()Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1970)
12/13(金)~12/19(木) 「野獣都市」(City of Beasts) (Jun Fukuda, 1970)
12/20(金)~12/26(木) 「ヘアピン・サーカス」 (Hairpin Circus) (Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1972)
1/06(月)~1/12(日) 「薔薇の標的」(Target of Roses) (Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1972)
1/13(月)~1/19(日) 「野獣狩り」(Beast Hunt) (Eizo Sugawa, 1973)
As promised, I managed to make it to Attack on the Sun (1970) and The Target of Roses (1972). This was playing in Laputa Asagaya at the same time with the Teruo Ishii retrospective! All I can say is... look at the line-up above, it's bloody amazing! I had actually been hoping for a Toho New Action series for years, and I was just about to start suggesting it to theatres!

Attack on the Sun (白昼の襲撃) (1970) , which follows two punks and a girlfriend coming in possession of a handgun, has similar vibe to early 70s Nikkatsu new action, only with Nishimura’s trademark aggressive jazz score and international flair with G.I.s and their offspring flocking the bars in the era of ANPO controversy. It isn’t Nishimura at his best, but it’s still an interesting, politically and socially conscious action film. And I really like Noriko Takahashi, who had an exceptionally captivating presence and facial features. Unfortunately Takahashi would go on to retire soon after co-starring in Jun Fukuda’s City of Beasts later the same year following marriage at the age of 24.

The Target of Roses (薔薇の標的) (1972) on the other hand is an absolutely fantastic action thriller with professional killer Yuzo Kayama hired to assassinate a foreign photographer (Rolf Jesser) and a Chinese woman (Zhen Zhen). Before soon, he falls in love with the woman and realizes his own employer is the Japanese branch of a neo-nazi organization planning to initiate the fourth reich! This features some of the most beautiful, naturalistic cinematography I've seen in any Japanese film, and very little music, which elevates the intensity near the level of Too Young to Die (1969), Nishimura's masterful debut film. Shot in Japan and Hong Kong, largely in English (thankfully, Kayama is pretty good at pronouncing English lines). Only if the otherwise badass ending had had a bit more inspired action design the film would be even better.

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The Target of Roses
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Attack on the Sun
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The Target of Roses
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Attack on the Sun
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Program chirashi
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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

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Japan is getting a "Bruce Lee 4K Revival Festival" that will tour the country this summer. It's been booked to 36 theatres already.

The films are The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, The Way of the Dragon and Game of Death.

4K DCP and blah blah, but what is interesting is that they will be the original Japanese theatrical release versions. They are all listed as being in English.

Of course I'd much rather see these in 35mm, but I'll go see these anyway.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8hX...ature=youtu.be

http://brucelee4k.com/

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

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I had a bit of a Bruce Lee day today. The Criterion BD set arrived in the morning, and I went to see The Big Boss in theatre in the evening. The screening was part of the Bruce Lee re-releases that are playing nationwide here in Japan.

As I mentioned earlier, the soundtrack was the original Japanese theatrical audio, which was actually an ENGLISH language track. This track appears to have been included on an earlier Japanese BD, I don’t think is present on the Shout or Criterion releases. Hardcore fans surely know more about this matter than I do, but I can summarize the Japanese English track in three points:

1) The Peter Thomas score is NOT present in the opening credits.
2) The Peter Thomas score is, however, used frequently during the film, the famous theme tune popping up at least 4 times.
3) The film’s last 45 seconds feature the Mike Remedios song.

I don’t know the film well enough to tell what other differences there may be compared to the standard English track.

As for audio quality, it was comparable to the English / Peter Thomas tracks on Criterion and Shout BDs, meaning it doesn’t sound quite as good as you’d wish.

As for picture quality, I can’t give a very detailed report, but it looked like the Fortune Star 4K master without the kind of colour correction done by Shout and (to lesser extent) Criterion in USA. So, a green / blue push, though there are parts that look perfectly natural as well (e.g. the ending fight).
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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

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I caught Fist of Fury in cinema yesterday (part of the Japanese theatrical re-releases). This was advertised as a DCP re-construction of the Japanese 1974 Theatrical Version (based on the Fortune Star 4K masters), but that info appears to be partially incorrect. It was the standard 106 min cut unless I’m completely mistaken, and not the shorter Japanese theatrical cut (which I've never seen).

I was rather anxious (scared shitless) because the flier ad said the film would be presented with 5.1 audio. I believe the Japanese BD release was also 5.1. What I can say is that it did not sound like a 5.1 track, and there was thankfully no Fortune Star junk on it. It was an English track with the glorious Mike Remedios theme song at the beginning and end, though audio quality left something to be desired and the track sounded like it was stitched together from more than one source.

Sadly, this audio track is not included on the Criterion BD, and if I’m not mistaken, it’s not on Shout’s BD either? Though bizarrely it can be heard playing in the background in the Mike Leeder commentary.

Oh and sorry for a noob question, but who exactly was this great man Mike Remedios and how did he end up on the Japanese (only?) prints?

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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

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I went to see The Way of the Dragon yesterday (part of the Japanese theatrical re-releases). Now, this was interesting because not only did it have the English dub with the great Mike Remedios songs, it was a slightly longer cut with about 2 minutes of new title and logo screens at the beginning and end to allow the songs to play in full.

- In the beginning there was a Japanese language title screen and a credits screen (about 1 min in total) before the standard opening credits. The theme song would play throughout the new screens and the standard opening credits.

- At the end there was a “dragon logo screen” (about 1 min) after the closing credits. Again, the song would play throughout the closing credits and the new logo screen.

This version of the film is not present on the Criterion or Shout BDs, which do have the Japanese theatrical audio track, but in cut form since we are missing the above mentioned footage.

Curiously, I don’t think there was a Fortune Star logo at all, unlike in the earlier films. Maybe they omitted it by accident?

I had a blast with the film, as it’s my favourite Lee film. I also took my girlfriend to see it (her first ever kung fu film!). I figured The Way of the Dragon would be the most beginner / girl friendly of Lee’s films since it’s rather humoristic, features some nice Rome scenery and if nothing else, she could rest her eyes on Chuck Norris’ hairy chest :lol: Much to my surprise (and delight), she loved the film! “One of the best films!” I agree! :cool:

I also couldn’t resist the temptation to put on my Sister Street Fighter t-shirt, and have her wear my Return of the Sister Street Fighter t-shirt. There’s a Japanese word that might be useful here… bakappuru. It’s a combination of the words “baka” (stupid or silly) and kappuru (couple) :lol:
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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

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I went to see The Way of the Dragon again, since I love it so much. Here are corrections and additions to my previous post:
I went to see The Way of the Dragon yesterday (part of the Japanese theatrical re-releases). Now, this was interesting because not only did it have the English dub with the great Mike Remedios songs, it was a slightly longer cut with about 2 minutes of new title and logo screens at the beginning and end to allow the songs to play in full.

- In the beginning there was a Japanese language title screen and a credits screen (about 1 min in total) before the standard opening credits. The theme song would play throughout the new screens and the standard opening credits.
Actually the theme song plays only during the new title and credits screens (about 1 minute). Then the original Mandarin score plays during the standard opening credits that follow.
- At the end there was a “dragon logo screen” (about 1 min) after the closing credits. Again, the song would play throughout the closing credits and the new logo screen.


This was correct alright.
This version of the film is not present on the Criterion or Shout BDs, which do have the Japanese theatrical audio track, but in cut form since we are missing the above mentioned footage.
The Criterion / Shout version has also another change: it replaces the opening credits score with the Mike Remedios song, even though in the DCP Japanese version the Remedios song played before the credits and the credits retained the original score. Dammit.

Also, the audio quality on the BDs is inferior, with evident hiss. The DCP sounded much better. I guess I will have to buy this new Japanese version on BD if they ever put it out...

The image quality was quite nice as well. Some (only a few) shots had some blue tint whereas the same scenes have a greenish tint on the Criterion. Shout probably has the best image quality, but I think all three look good and considering the audio, I think the DCP had the best overall presentation.
Curiously, I don’t think there was a Fortune Star logo at all, unlike in the earlier films. Maybe they omitted it by accident?
No Fortune Star logo, but also no Toei logo. It only has Concord and Golden Harvest logos (brief still-type logos, not the usual long Golden Harvest fanfare).
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Re: Retro Cinemas and Cult Films in Japan

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I went to see Game of Death, the last one of the Japanese theatrical re-releases. Quite an awkward Frankenstein job indeed, but it does have a fantastic score, great Lee footage at the end, and a heart-warmingly exploitative touch throughout. It was certainly the right choice to make the film… just not to make it this way. Surely they could have done it with a better plot that doesn’t need the lazy Lee insert shots, and without the constant confusion about whether we are supposed to be seeing Bruce Lee or Billy Lo on the screen. And whose idea was it to make Hugh O'Brian the final opponent after Kareem Abdul Jabbar?

The version screened was again (advertised as) a reconstruction of the Japanese theatrical cut. It had the full opening with the John Barry score over the Golden Harvest logo before the Bruce yells. However, the audio was NOT the same Japanese Theatrical track that is on the Criterion BD. This version played the Ji Han Jae fight without the John Barry score, and also had some audio issue in either the Ji Han Jae or the Dan Inosanto fight (I forgot which) where the audio source clearly changed to something inferior for about 10 seconds. There may be other differences, but I wouldn’t know since this was probably only the 3rd time I’ve ever seen the film.

A diehard Lee fan might find this version interesting (if it comes out on Japanese BD later), but the opening aside I think the above mentioned changes are to the worse, so I’ll be quite happy the US BDs. And I don't know if those changes are correct or an accident (how is the Japanese print on the Shout disc? Barry in the Ji Han Jae fight?).

Anyway, I must say I had a blast with this “Bruce Lee 4K Revival Festival”, going to cinema every week for 4 weeks. The local (4 screen) theatre also honoured Lee by putting all the films on their biggest screen and having the original Japanese posters on display. I’d say this was the coolest thing to hit mainstream multiplexes in Japan since Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno reboot.

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