What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Film Reviews and Release Comparisons
Guro Taku
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Flower and Snake: White Uniform Rope Slave (花と蛇 白衣縄奴隷) (Japan, 1986) [BD] - 2/5
Shogoro Nishimura entry into the 80ies series of this franchise. A dentist (Masayoshi Nogami) and his assistant molest female patients after putting them under and eventually set their sights on a lesbian obijime master and her student (Ran Masaki). The usual bondage and scat ensue, with the notable addition of a genuinely cringey bit of syringes-into-gums torture.

Violence Voyager (バイオレンス・ボイジャー) (Japan, 2018) [BD] - 3.5/5
Director Ujicha's sophomore gekimation (paper cut-outs being moved in front of a camera) effort finds two kids stumble upon an abandoned theme-park where a crazed scientist (voiced by Tomorowo Taguchi!) performs nasty experiments on naked children. Not exactly a good film but so odd, unique and disturbing that it demands attention and sticks with the viewer. Lots of uncomfortable sexual abuse subtext too, including a old man who lives alone in the woods and at one point sniffs a kid's underpants and mumbles about how it brings back memories (the bonus features include an interview with the director who says this man was based on a guy who played with him when he was a kid!).

Genocyber (ジェノサイバー 虚界の魔獣) (Japan, 1994) [BD] - 5/5
One of the absolute pinnacles of bubble economy OVA insanity and one of the most wildly inventive and experimental animes I know of. Director Koichi Ohata mixes traditional cel-animation with occasional live-action footage and early 3D CG animation in a dizzyingly-paced cybepunk horror-show that's been blowing my mind every single time I've watched it since the 90ies VHS days. Also has the all-time greatest ending theme song with Sayuri Shimizu's "Fairy Dreamin'". Just don't bother with any of the four inferior sequel OVAs if you want to avoid crushing disappointment. The recent US BD release includes only SD transfers, which doesn't come as a surprise considering I saw the original 35mm/16mm negatives for sale on Yahoo Auctions Japan about 10 years ago!

My Girlfriend is a Serial Killer (羊とオオカミの恋と殺人) (Japan, 2019) [BD] - 2.5/5
That other female-directed 2019 film (Mari Asato's UNDER YOUR BED being its counterpart) about a hunky incel spying on a girl and finding out something he probably didn't want to know. Here we have TOXIC INSECTS' Kayoko Asakura directing a manga adaptation starring Yosuke Sugino as suicidal incel (!) Kurosu (sigh) who, in an attempt to hang himself, knocks a hole into his apartment wall and promptly witnesses his female neighbor Haruka Fukuhara cutting some dude's throat. An occasionally cute romance between incel and manic pixie murder girl ensues. Overlong at 100+ minutes and painfully manga-y at times but also clearly Asakura's most polished effort to date. The performances are fine (and include a fun turn by Noriko Eguchi as the dommy mommy leader of a corpse disposal service) but there's a lack of chemistry between the leads that hurts the film. And the less said about the copious amounts of unconvincing CGI blood sprays the better.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Dragon Inn (Taiwan, 1967) [VoD] - 4/5
King Hu’s grand wuxia classic, and a beautiful example of how to establish a location-based identity for which a film will be remembered. And when the film finally leaves its atmospheric title location, we are treated some breathtaking mountain locations for the final reel. Also worth noting is the superb action choreography - the fighting is far ahead some of the other classics from the era (e.g. One-Armed Swordsman) and the duels are exhilarating.

Third Generation Yamaguchi Gang (山口組三代目) (Japan, 1973) [TV] – 3.5/5
Toei's biggest yakuza film of 1973 (this left Battles without Honor and Humanity behind at the box office), and shameless promotion for the country's biggest criminal organization. The film chronicles Yamaguchi gumi boss Kazuo Taoka's rise from rags to ranks in pre WWII Japan, based on his serialized biography in Weekly Asahi Geino. What's curious is that it was brought to the screen by chivalrous Ken Takakura and Kosaku Yamashita as their first jitsuroku film. What it amounts to is an oddly entertaining fusion of cinematic styles, a true account that plays out much like a ninkyo film. There are moments of ultra-violence (Taoka's trademark move is sticking his fingers in the opponent's eyes like a pre-war Sonny Chiba!) and documentary esque jitsuroku touches sprinkled throughout of what is ultimately a romanticized gangster tale of male bonding and honour. The word is Toei producer Okada went full-on bromance with Taoka and even hired his non-yakuza son as producer, in addition to the cast partying and hanging out with the still-active gangster boss, something that should instantly cast a doubt on exactly how truthful the film is. And yet, in its own flawed way, this is one of the most interesting films of the jitsuroku movement.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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In the Realm of the Senses (愛のコリーダ) (France, 1976) [DCP] – 3/5
Nagisa Oshima's famed arthouse porno about mad love, with enough sex to make the audience wish the characters would take a break and go for a walk instead. And once in a while they do, generating some of the film's best scenes. Poignant and poetic (the musical score is particularly beautiful), it's also repetitive and frankly immature with its endless hard-core close ups - certainly a product of its time with Oshima and Wakamatsu making the most of the film being a French production. This remains heavily censored in Japan to this day (*), with fogging applied to cover genitals - pubic hair has been freed, however (**). This was the 3rd of the four best known Abe Sada true account adaptations, following Teruo Ishii Love & Crime (1969) and Noboru Tanaka's A Woman Called Abe Sada (1975), and pre-dating Nobuhiko Obayashi's Sada (1998).

* Reviewed here: 2021 Japanese nationwide theatrical re-release DCP.
** I had already caught this uncut on Finnish national TV over 20 years ago, when I was a kid.


Shadow Warriors (影の軍団 服部半蔵) (Japan, 1980) [TV] - 3/5
Eiichi Kudo’s debated ninja film, later re-made into a legendary Sonny Chiba TV series. This was produced just after when Toei had brought back their big budget, all-star jidai geki (Shogun's Samurai, Swords of Vengeance) and were putting out more comparable productions for the paying audience. The days of mass produced, small budget genre films had largely come to an end. Hence here we have a 136 min tale of political intrigue, with Koga and Iga ninjas involved. It's a bit of an overlong mess. Yet, it’s got a collapsing castle, two Hattori Hanzos (Tsunehiko Watase and Teruhiko Saigo), Aiko Morishita fighting with a three sectioned staff (moments before she is stripped naked), and the infamous(ly awesome) tactical all-day and night ninja battle where the ninjas take turns attacking each other in teams as if they were American football players (they are even wearing helmets and shoulder pads!). A classic example of 80s mental madness raising its head in an otherwise polished, expensive period production. So it's not all bad, not at all!

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Guro Taku
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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HungFist wrote: 30 Mar 2020, 11:57King of the Girls Cave (女巌窟王) (Japan, 1960) [DVD] – 3/5
Enjoyably frank Shintoho pulp entertainment with two sexy and busty night club dancers (Yoko Mihara & Masayo Banri as sisters) caught in the middle of a drug related gang war. Their brother gets killed after losing the merchandise, and the girls escape into an island cave (!). Thought to be dead, it's revenge time, but not before making bikini out of the shreds of their clothes and finding a way out of the island. Slick and trashy, with a fair bit of visual style, this sometimes feels like it could've been a Teruo Ishii film. The actual director is Yoshiki Onoda, who also did Female Slave Ship.
Are you sure you saw this on DVD? I can only find it on VHS. VOD maybe?
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Guro Taku wrote: 15 May 2021, 12:56 Are you sure you saw this on DVD? I can only find it on VHS. VOD maybe?
It was DVD. I rented it from DMM via mail delivery. I haven't checked but it could have been a rental-only release.

https://www.dmm.com/rental/-/detail/=/c ... h&i3_ord=1
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Path of Japanese Chivalry: Story of All-Out Attack (日本任侠道 激突篇) (Japan, 1975) [TV] – 3/5
1972 was essentially the end of chivalrous yakuza films. Queen Fuji retired, Wakayama fled Toei, Brutal Tales ended, and the audience no longer bough the idea of honourable gangsters. Then came Battles without Honor and Humanity which initiated a new era of grit and realism. And yet, here we have a Kosaku Yamashita / Ken Takakura ninkyo film made years after the genre's practical demise. This one tries to be a little more realistic by refraining from overt melodrama and romantics in its depiction of gang life under noble boss Takakura. Unfortunately the low-key approach more often than not translates as non-eventfulness. The film doesn't really come alive until the last 35 min, which surprisingly dials up the action and drama to very enjoyable heights. Loose cannon Joe Shishido and lusty hothead Takuzo Kawatani are to thank for triggering the mayhem. Also, it's curious to see Ken Takakura in an oyabun role, another sign the change of times. Trivia: this was originally intended as the 3rd Yamaguchi gumi film (following Third Generation Yamaguchi Gang, 1973, and Third Generation Boss, 1974) before Toei gave in to political pressure to stop promoting the Yamaguchi clan, and the project was re-written into a fictional ninkyo tale. The realism and Takakura’s oyabun role may well be leftovers from the original project.

Office Ladies: Lesbians in Uniforms 3 (OL百合族19歳) [TV] – 2/5
Part 3 in the Lesbians in Uniforms series, only without uniforms this time. Young woman Kaoru Oda and five star lolita Natsuko Yamamoto have graduated from their school uniforms into OL’s. The former is planning to lead straight life but the latter can’t let go of lesbian love. Drama ensues. This was directed by Shusuke Kaneno (Death Note, Gamera) as opposed to Hiroyuki Nasu of the first two films. Kaneno frames some visually good looking images of the girls in the lively, neon-lit night city streets. But the storyline has no pull, and despite the evident psychological push the character drama only works occasionally.

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Rise of the Machine Girls (爆裂魔神少女 バーストマシンガール) (Japan) [VoD] - 1/5
Abysmal reboot courtesy of Yoshihiro Nishimura protégée Yuuki Kobayashi and Nikkatsu. Kobayashi goes for excessive bad taste that makes the original look like high-brow art (the opening, where two SM girls have their big boobs tied tight, and then sliced off with a sword, lets you know what to expect). Unfortunately the film is embarrassingly badly made, from ridiculous cool posing to endless crap CGI, dwelling in forced "craziness", and heavy infusion of idol culture at its most appalling (it's often hard to tell whether it embraces or parodies it, but one gets the impression it does the former under the guise of the latter). There are some semi-interesting ideas such as apparent inspiration from Midori (the film has a circus setting) and tons of Toei yakuza films references, most of them coming off childish and misguided. Director Kobayashi is a young hood whose breakthrough was the amateurish, but energetic youth biker gang docudrama Kamikaze Cowboys (2016) starring his friends, genuine youth criminals. He's likely a former gang member himself, even if he denies it.

Biography of a Chivalrous Man (遊侠列伝) (Japan, 1970) [TV] -3/5
A roller coaster ninkyo film with bits of refreshing originality. There's a nice romantic opening with lovers Takakura and Fuji fleeing to seek happiness, leaving her enraged brother Bin Amatsu eating dust. Filler and comic relief follows for the next 30 minutes as Takakura becomes a tekiya with Toru Yuri and other sillies. By the time tuberculosis Fuji delivers the longest ever death bed speech, the audience just don't care no more. But this is also where the film is re-born as a rather touching depiction of Takakura going on alone with his young son. Then Amatsu shows up and things get even more dramatic. This is one of the few films where ninkyo villain Amatsu gets to act on something more than just pure greed and evil (that role is reserved to Akira Shioji). It's still broad strokes, but the film gives him some of the qualities associated to the usual "conflicted comrade" type of characters seen in many of the best ninkyo films (e.g. the Brutal Tales or Red Peony films, Kosaku Yamashita films).

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Professor Layton & The Eternal Diva (2009): 3.5/5

Animé inspired by the popular series of puzzle solving/adventure games on Nintendo DS/3DS. The story isn't bad at all. The blend of hand drawn animation and CGI doesn't seem that.. well, seamless.
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Gunhed (ガンヘッド) (Japan, 1989) [VoD] - 2.5/5
Masato Harada's notoriously incoherent cyberpunk piece. In the year 2038, post robot war apocalypse, a bunch of space pirates land an island once controlled by an A.I. computer system that wiped out the island’s human population and then just stood idle for decades (probably). Their attempt to steal valuable tech gets a nasty turn when the A.I. wakes up and starts defending its island. Their only hope is to rebuild a battle tank called Gunhed, whose remains remain on the island. The storyline is difficult to follow, there is absolutely zero chemistry between the main characters, and even action is incoherently put together. Mickey Curtis, the only worthwhile cast member, is killed off in the very beginning. But there's no denying the film is absolutely packed with cool cyberpunk imagery, much of it derived from anime and the films of James Cameron (both Terminator and Aliens), but much of it also becoming representative of the genre by itself. The spoken language is 50/50 English and Japanese, each cast member speaking their lines in their native language save for the fully bilingual Curtis.

Tales of Japanese Chivalry (日本侠客伝) (Japan, 1964) [DVD] – 3/5
Part 1 in the long running ninkyo series. Quite curiously, this one is an ensemble piece with Kinnosuke Nakamura, Ken Takakura, Hiroki Matsukata and even Hiroyuki Nagato in equal parts. The series didn't become a Takakura vehicle until later on (this was made before the Abashiri Prison series elevated him to superstardom from spring 1965 on). Producer Shundo reportedly wanted Nakamura to be the star of the series, but Nakamura was unwilling to appear in yakuza films, and only reluctantly agreed to be part of the 1st film, partly explaining the film's structure. The film is a typical noble labourer gang vs. Toru Abe's rotten bastards tale, with Nakamura and Takakura emerging as saviours. It’s a famous entry in the genre, and one of the early ninkyo films that set the template hundreds more to come. Excessive melodrama (particularly at the end when Takakura's clansmen all meet their destinies at the same time in different places) aside it’s not bad. The last scene is great. Ninkyo giant Masahiro Makino helms – he did the first 9 films in the series – with a notch more vitality than some of his other films.

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Welcome to Japan (WELCOME TO JAPAN 日の丸ランチボックス』) (Japan, 2019) [VOD] - 1.5/5
Painful political splatter satire and culinary exploration from Japan's not-most-sophisticated political critic Yoshihiro Nishimura. Olympics, immigration policy, hospitality, JK walks and right wingers (with Nishimura himself as ultranationalist leader with Yukio Mishima's photos plastered over his walls) all get their share as Nishimura follows the street battle between two lady warriors, one Japan's protector and the other a supposed evil foreign power. It's a numbing, amateurish mess with little of that professionalism that could be found in Nishimura's 80s, 90s or even 00s films. But there are occasional laugh-out-loud jabs at Japanese politics, a welcome return to CGI-free splatter (one particularly fun scene where Nishimura switches from actors to puppets between shots to allow for exploding heads) and what is probably a Japanese censorship milestone: Hiroko Yashiki's partial pubic hair is frequently displayed in what is a PG-12 rated film. The film was based on its star, idol / songwriter / singer / actress Ena Fujita’s 2018 music video Ienai koto wa uta no naka, which Nishimura directed.

Note: take this review and rating as "roughly indicative": I couldn't make it through the film without extensive fast-forwarding, and only wrote this because there isn't a single English language review on the net as of speaking.

Song of the Night: Villain Blues (夜の歌謡シリーズ 港町ブルース) (Japan, 1969) [TV] -2.5/5
Part 7 in the Song of the Night series. Umemiya is a bar former barker gone photographer whose pride still hasn't recovered from a girl he couldn't conquer. Young bloke Tani is now doing rounds in the same circles Umemiya used to, and is constantly in trouble because of a girl, or competition (hothead Sone working for rotten geezer Kaneko), or both. Then he falls in love with Umemiya's sister. Meanwhile Umemiya has made a fan out of don’t-take-no-for-an-answer Tachibana, much to the comical dismay of his mother. This was based on a novel as opposed to a pop ballad, though it seems to make no difference. There isn't much of a plot to speak of, nor does it capture the nocturnal atmosphere the way some other in the series do. But director Takamori keeps things moving fast, the Toei gang are all there doing their thing, and Tachibana flashes her boobs once or twice. As harmless time waster this is not half as bad as Chris D suggested. Kazuhiko Yamaguchi is credited as assistant director.

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Tales of Japanese Chivalry: Osaka Story (日本侠客伝 浪花篇) (Japan, 1965) [TV] - 2.5/5
Part 2. A slow-moving entry. One gets the feeling director Makino was more keen on depicting life in period setting than generating yakuza film thrills, which may explain why he is so highly regarded among action hating Japanese critics. However, there is a very good scene at the end. Quest star / veteran Tsuruta has just cold-bloodedly massacred half of an evil gang when young Takakura arrives the site. The accepting look and slight laugher he gives to the still almost wet-behind-ears Takakura, before the two men walk together to the surviving boss' headquarters, was a premonition of things to come. This is where the series begun to turn into a Takakura vehicle, even if Tsuruta still earned the top billing (despite only appearing in the last 30 minutes!). In a few years time, Takakura would have elevated himself to an equal of Tsuruta.

Police Department Story 6 (警視庁物語 夜の野獣) (Japan, 1957) [TV] - 2.5/5
Toei Scope! The first entry in widescreen, following the introduction of the new aspect ratio at Toei some 8 months earlier (The Lord Takes a Bride, April 1957). It's also the longest entry yet, with an 83 min running time. The detectives are tracking a professional pickpocket gang who has left a dead body behind. There is some extra attention to the police work, abetted by the extended running time, and a voice over further enhancing the documentary touch. But it's only a good film, hardly exceptional, like most films in the series by today's standards.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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The Association (1975)

Incredibly sleazy Golden Harvest offering that tries to make up for its shortcomings with lots of nudity, including cinema's funkiest and funniest abortion scene! One-shot star Byong Yu left production early, resulting in a martial arts film that has no martial arts finale, just a slow and boring scene of the villains being arrested! Poor Angela Mao, Carter Hwang, Sammo Hung et al are horribly wasted. A low point for everyone involved.

4/10
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Sailor Moon Eternal (2021) - 4/5
Adapts the Dream arc of the manga. Overall a cleaner told story than Sailor Moon SuperS (4th season of the '90s anime, that deviates heavily from the original manga). SuperS, like every other season of the '90s anime, had a monster of the week format (and thus a lot of filler episodes) and they did a messy, inconsistent job to justify it. None of those issues here, no filler. The runtime of about 160-170ish mins is equal to about a 12 ep season of anime, so there's no worries about significant cut content to support the format of telling a manga arc over a film duology.

The first film is episodic, focusing on each of the supporting guardians reflecting upon their internal struggles, defeating a particular one of the big bad's mooks and unlocking their Super form transformations. They gave each of Usagi's allies their character moments here, something that they didn't do much of in the Sailor Moon Crystal seasons (i.e. the series that Eternal is a direct sequel to) .

There were things that I preferred in SuperS, eg the rewritten origin and motivation of the villain Queen Nehelenia. In SuperS she was a sorceress queen who was afraid of growing old and losing her beauty, so she drained the dreams of others to maintain it. In Eternal she's just an incarnation of a cthulhu-like cosmic evil (like every other major villain in Sailor Moon, which originated from the manga). Every prior arc of the Sailor Moon '90s anime could be boiled down cthulhu gets beaten by Deus Ex Machina powers, this wasn't the case with SuperS. Eternal goes back to the recycled format.

In all versions of the story Nehelennia was imprisoned in a mirror by Queen Serenity (Usagi's mother in her previous life in the Moon Kingdom). They really exploited the idea of mirrors in the '90s anime. (Eg had the mooks were looking for Pegasus in people's dreams, accessible through mirrors.) They did none of that in Eternal.

If they ever do an adaptation of Stars manga arc (i.e. a sequel Eternal), I wouldn't be surprised if I end up largely preferring Sailor Stars (i.e. the 5th and final season of the '90s anime), even though that is a bit messy and inconsistent with its writing like SuperS. They're back to fighting a cthulhu in Sailor Stars, but they do a bit more than just using deus ex machina powers to defeat it.
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May the Devil Take You Too (Sebelum Iblis Menjemput: Ayat Dua) (Indonesia, 2018) [VoD] - 2/5
A sequel to the 2018 film that is, unfortunately, worse in every way. Like the original it takes much inspiration from Sam Raimi's Evil Dead films with the haunted orphanage where much of the film takes place looking suspiciously like a certain cabin in the woods from the outside and sporting a trapdoor inside as well. The connection to the first film is simply that Chelsea Islan's surviving character here finds herself kidnapped by some teenagers who have supernatural trouble of their own. Acting is uniformly terrible (even from Islan, who I thought was solid in the original), lots of bad CGI and there's no reason this should have run for almost two hours. Hopefully the third film, which is currently in the works, will be better.

Female Slave Ship (女奴隷船) (Japan, 1960) [DVD] - 3/5
A very entertaining adventure flick that has a 20-something Bunta Sugawara as a WW2 soldier trying to get a microfiche back to Tokyo and ending up getting involved with Chinese pirates (led by Tetsuro Tamba!) and a boatload of the titular female slaves. A blast from start to finish.
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The Legend of Love and Sincerity (愛と誠) (Japan, 1974) [DVD] - 2/5
A somehow popular adaptation from Ikki Kajiwara's even more popular manga. Little girl Ai goes skiing and is about to commit a hit-a-tree suicide by accident when reluctant little boy Makoto comes to rescue. Fast forward 10 years and they meet again. Ai is now a daughter of high class family, Makoto a delinquent boy constantly fighting. Ai works her magic (her dad's money) to land Makoto in her school, but the boy can't behave, nor love. Repeat to the point of frustration until the film ends. The manga was a big hit among girls, reportedly for its strong female characters, but little of that is in evidence here. One must assume the audiences found their money’s worth in bad boy Makoto, played by rock star and idol Hideki Saijo. Saijo used his influence to have newcomer Ai Saotome selected as Ai (she took the character name as her professional name) from 40 000 candidates! Reportedly Shochiku’s regular actresses all turned the role down in fear of being lynched by jealous Saijo fan girls. It's impossible to tell if Saotome was the most talented applicant, but from looks of it she probably had the biggest bust (which would be revealed in the early 80s in Playboy and the Roman Porno film She Cat, directed by Toei's comic relief actor Shingo Yamashiro of all people). Takashi Miike adapted the manga into a musical film in 2012 – there's no singing or dancing in this original. Oh and for the non-Japanese readers, “Ai and Makoto” is the Japanese title, whereas the English title uses the literal meanings of their names (Ai = love, Makoto = sincerity).

Police Department Story 7 (警視庁物語 七人の追跡者) (Japan, 1958) [TV] - 3/5
Shinji Murayama is back in the director's chair (after the disappointing part 5) in what is best entry in the series so far! There's an instantly evident change of pace in the energetic camerawork, with pans and crane shots replacing the largely static images in the earlier films, and an almost operatic score. The prolonged ending is particularly thrilling, almost like Sergio Leone directing a police stakeout. The film's middle part is slower-paced, as usual. However, there is quite an interesting bit of police work involved when an autopsy is performed to discover what the victim ate during in her last days alive. That will serve as a clue to trace the victim's movements and find possible witnesses.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Youth of the Beast (1963): 4/5
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Tales of Japanese Chivalry: Kanto Story (日本侠客伝 関東篇) (Japan, 1965) [TV] - 3/5
Part 3. The best of the early instalments. Chris D. described this as seamlessly put together, and he was right. There is a charming old fashioned quality to the filmmaking, created by the images, music and a naive depiction of heroes of a bygone era, creating that Toei ninkyo film atmosphere. Makino also keeps things moving at a good pace, opting out of silly comedy, and saving Nagato from yet another doomed love sub plot. That being said, the character depth and storyline are nothing to be celebrated about, making this an exercise in style but not substance. The storyline here follows punkish Takakura helping fish dealer Minamida defend against yakuza Bin Amatsu. Tsuruta joins the resistance as venerable wanderer (still somewhat maintaining the status quo). The final melee, featuring more fishing equipment utilized as weapons than swords, has a touch of originality to it.

The Legend of Love and Sincerity: Continuation (続愛と誠) (Japan, 1975) [DVD] – 3.5/5
A most pleasant surprise; a sequel that outdoes the original in every way. This is, in fact, a sukeban film. Makoto (Koji Nanjo) has transferred to a new school, a low level dump ruled by a sadistic girl gang. Ai follows Makoto to the new school and makes friends with sweet looking Yuki (excellent Yumi Takigawa from Toei’s School of the Holy Beast) who turns out to be a "shadow bancho" secretly leading the gang. Then we have a new teacher who tries to handle the situation by beating the hell out of the delinquent girls! He is, in fact, a proficient karate fighter! Though done by the same people as the first film, this is much more action packed and outrageous, often visually imaginative, and packed with those lovely images of badass (or just plain cute in case of Ai) girls walking the city streets. Oh, and this has just about the only scene I can recall of a schoolgirl driving a convertible! Very entertaining, if much lighter and less nihilist than Toei’s sukeban films. Side note: Fujiki TDC considered Takigawa’s character in this film and the source manga an important turning point in the sukeban genre's development from (primarily) porno in the early 70s to (primarily) mass idol entertainment in the 80s. Portrayed with sympathy, without sexualisation (the only character stripped naked and whipped in the film is Makoto) she appealed to the audiences, many of whom were girls of junior high or high school age.

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The Legend of Love and Sincerity: Conclusion (愛と誠・完結篇) (Japan, 1976) [DVD- 1.5/5
Disappointing conclusion follows on the previous film's gang action path, however, without the punch. This time Makoto is battling an eye-patched Jubei Yagyu wannabe in school while lonely Ai is crying alone at beach, making this yet another love story without much concrete love. With its Makoto emphasis, it comes out much like Toei's delinquent boy actioners, only with lacklustre action and without Toei's exploitative thrills, perhaps creditable to director Hideo Nanbu (whose later credits include the sub-par martial arts film Karate Wars) who took over from Shigeyuki Yamane. Also worth nothing is that Makoto is played by a different actor in all three films, this time by relative newcomer actor/singer Ryu Kano.

Tales of Japanese Chivalry: Duel at Kanda Festival (日本侠客伝 血斗神田祭り) (Japan, 1966) [TV] - 2/5
Part 4. The worst of the early instalments, incidentally one of the best regarded among Japanese critics. The film opens with some unwelcome comedy routines, followed by characters crying their eyes out for much of the rest of the film in a near endless array of sobbing scenes. Tsuruta does his last quest appearance until part 10. Two minor points of interest: ninkyo villain Rin'ichi Yamamoto is cast as a good guy for a change, and Hiroyuki Nagato delivers the film's best turn as a melancholic assassin (likewise cast against type). The titular Kanda festival is barely present in the film (in any meaningful way anyhow).

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Tales of Japanese Chivalry: Duel at Thunder Gate (日本侠客伝 雷門の決斗) (Japan, 1966) [TV] - 2/5
Part 5. Takakura is the son of a noble oyabun running a theatre in Asakusa. Rotten Amatsu does his evil deeds and soon Takakura has to take his father's place. This is despite Takakura being a sailor rather than a full-fledged yakuza. This one has a good start, including Asao Uchida nicely cast against type as a good guy, and one particularly surprising plot turn that is better left unspoiled. The rest of the film fails to engage. Although reasonably serious without excess comedy or sobbing, the film feels routine, save for Amatsu's demise. One can once again draw some intended or accidental allegory from the films storyline (Takakura becoming a boss) and lack of major quest roles coinciding with Takakura's rocket rise in Toei ranks.

She Cat (女猫) (Japan, 1983) [VoD] – 2.5/5
Sweet Shochiku idol Ai Saotome became a nationwide sweetheart at 15 when she starred in the The Legend of Love and Sincerity films (1974-1976). Though about innocent as they get, it was already obvious in those films she had more under her blouse than most girls of her - or any - age. Fast forward 8 years and she's in Weekly Playboy, and soon after, starring in a Roman Porno film, all following a career that went TV and never quite got out of there. She Cat comes under the command of Shingo Yamashiro, a veteran of 100 Toei yakuza films as comedic relief, and also the star of many of 70s sex comedies, here filming a script by fellow Toei director Makoto Naito (13 Steps of Maki) and enfant terrible Chiho Katsura (Assault! Jack the Ripper, House). Saotome is a female doc with a hidden past, and the yakuza after her head. Sex, drama, a bit of gunplay, a truly disgusting rape scene and some okama comedy follows in a very 80s package, delivered with an extended 90 min running time and marketed as a (relatively more) mainstream release. Biker / rocker / Toei star Kouichi Iwaki co-stars. Now, this isn't a particularly good film, but acknowledging the background makes it more interesting to see how things (and Ai's blouse) unfold on screen.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Martial Arts of Shaolin - 1986 (Shaw Bros) - 3/5

Jet Li in an early role, this feels like a later film than it is (if that makes sense), could have been made in the later part of the decade.
Last edited by grim_tales on 04 Jul 2021, 22:36, edited 1 time in total.
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Police Department Story 8 (警視庁物語 魔の伝言板) (Japan, 1958) [TV] – 2/5
The most talkative of the early films. Most of the police work here is done at the station, with little in terms of outdoor scenes. This is quite a turnabout after the previous film, the most stylish and energetic one so far, curiously made by the exact same people from director (Murayama) to writer (Hasegawa) and producer, cinematographer, production designer etc. Considering there was only two weeks between their release dates, and they were the only instalments in 1958, it's highly likely they were shot back to back.

Meneko: Utsukushiki fukushusha (女猫 美しき復讐者) (Japan, 1992) [VoD] – 1.5/5
A very loose, direct-to-video remake of She Cat (1983). Female doc Kazumi Kawai starts investigating a suspicious death of an Indonesian woman who supposedly committed a suicide, but might have been murdered while being her patient. This is commendably different from the original, which may be the only praiseworthy thing about the thoroughly dull production. It omits both the supporting male gay characters and lesbianism, though there is sex and nudity. As with the ’83 film, the biggest interest lies in the casting, with the very pretty actress / idol / pop star Kawai substituting Saotome. Her career was literally short-lived: she jumped off a building in 1997, ending her life at just 32. She’s probably best remembered as one time Roman Porno star (Lusty Discipline in Uniform, 1982) after which she attempted a mainstream idol career with limited success. Curiously, the world has now lost both she cats since Saotome also met an untimely death (multiple organ failure in 2010, at the age of 51).

Note: the film's title is wrong in IMDb. It's "Meneko", not "Onna neko"

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Executioners From Shaolin (1977): 4/5

There's some graet action here but it feels quite long in places (and rushed at the same time as the hero's son seems to learn martial arts very quickly.). Gordon Liu plays the same character that he did in Kill Bill Volume 2. I found the ending very abrupt and a bit crap, with a voiceover saying "Pei Mai was eventually killed using Tiger and Crane style" - why not show that then? Why was the best time to fight him between noon and 3pm?
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grim_tales wrote: 04 Jul 2021, 22:33 Gordon Liu plays the same character that he did in Kill Bill Volume 2.
Wait, it's been more than 10 years since I saw this, but surely it was Lo Lieh who played Pai Mei?

The ending is totally awesome!
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You're right, my mistake. Gordon Liu is in this but he doesn't play Pai Mei, I got confused :)
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Five Shaolin Masters: 3.5/5

Chang Cheh tells a Magnificent Seven-kind of story. Feels a bit long winded in places but the finale is cool One villain has his eyes gouged/cut out and another pisses blood! :D
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