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

Posted: 14 Jan 2019, 14:50
by HungFist
Danger Pays (危いことなら銭になる) (Japan, 1962) [DVD] - 1.5/5
Nerve wrecking idiot comedy with Joe Shishido, Hiroyuki Nagato and Kôjirô Kusanagi goofing around after stolen money and master counterfeiter. Production design and Shishido's car are admittedly cool.

+ Sonny Chiba Special: Part 71

Violent Street (暴力街) (Japan, 1963) [35mm] - 3/5
Decent yakuza lieutenant Ken Takakura tries to strike peace between gangs while rivals and reckless subordinates (Shinjiro Ebara in full Hiroki Matsukata mode trying to make money with boxing and dirty gambling) alike give him hard time. This was one of the relatively few modern day ninkyo films (most were set in pre-WWII era), which lends to some interesting bits such as the "final walk" in contemporary milieu. Not especially well written, lacking the kind of strong honor/duty dilemma that is the backbone of the best ninkyo films, but there are many good scenes like a detailed yakuza ceremony in the opening and action packed ending. It's also surprisingly sexy, without explicit nudity, with one of Ebara's businesses being turning a traditional stage theatre into a strip theatre. Sonny Chiba has a decent supporting role as an impulsive young yakuza holding grudge against Takakura's gang. There's no character development for him but Chiba acts well and gets enough screen time to make it the film's third or fourth biggest role. The film is unrelated to the Hideo Gosha movie (1974) of the same title, btw.

Life of Blackmail (わが恐喝の人生) (Japan, 1963) [TV] - 3/5
Two kids and best friends (Tatsuo Umemiya and Sonny Chiba) go different paths, one becoming a gangster specializing in blackmailing and the other a policeman. Umemiya and Chiba share the top billing; however, it is Umemiya who gets the juicier role with most screen time as the blackmailer. It’s an entertaining modern day gangster film with an energetic score and young cast; however it feels a bit superficial as the script doesn’t really pit the two main characters against each other most of the time, which could have added psychological depth. The storyline is an adaptation of Shinji Fujiwara’s novel. Kinji Fukasaku directed a better version called Blackmail is My Life for Shochiku in 1968 with a vastly different rendering of the storyline. Chiba’s character does not appear in that film at all, and the blackmailer, played by Hiroki Matsukata, faces mostly different scenarios although some plot elements and characters are the same.

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

Posted: 18 Jan 2019, 08:28
by HungFist
Blackmail is My Life (恐喝こそわが人生) (Japan, 1968) [DVD] - 3/5
One of the films Kinji Fukasaku helmed for Shochiku instead of his native Toei. The breezy youthful touch found in his film indeed fits Shochiku better than gangster heavyweight Toei, though one also feels this could’ve been a Nikkatsu film. The cast and crew are largely Toei people, though. Hiroki Matsukata is the titular blackmailer heading a very Nikkatsu esque youth gang gradually moving on to bigger fish to blackmail. Hideo Murota gets one of his best roles as Matsukata's pal, for once playing a good guy (if a blackmailer can be described as such). This was actually the 2nd time the source novel was adapted; it was preceded by a 1963 Toei film Life of Blackmail starring Tatsuo Umemiya and Sonny Chiba in a very different kind of rendering of the storyline (Chiba's policeman/former best friend character does not even appear in Fukasaku's version). Fukasaku's film is the more rebellious and faster paced one with frantic cutting between past and present to explain ongoing scenes on the fly. There’s a flashback overkill but it's an interesting way to tell a story anyway, and unmistakably Fukasaku.

Writhing Tongue (震える舌) (Japan, 1980) [Netflix] - 3.5/5
A married couple (Tsunehiko Watase and Yukiyo Toake) struggle to keep their faith and sanity when their 5 year old daughter is struck by a painful and potentially deadly disease. Extremely difficult to watch in places, it's also an emotional sledge hammer that is impossible to get through without tears. The leading performances by Watase and Toake are terrific. Towards the end of the film they really look like they haven't slept in weeks.

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

Posted: 18 Jan 2019, 11:40
by chazgower01
New Killers in Town (1990, Hong Kong) Amazon Prime 2/5
Another very cheaply made HK action flick that I was hoping was a Moon Lee feature. The U.S. release was called ‘Master of Disaster’ and spliced in a couple of Jackie Chan/Sally Yeh scenes from the Protector and this Amazon Prime version has two of those scenes - completely unrelated to the movie and, if you didn’t know any better, absolutely confusing to the plot.
Eh, who watches these for the plot?
Moon Lee’s two male cousins come to Hong Kong and they all immediately get tangled in a drug dealers business. It has its moments of what you watch these movies for, but it’s pretty amateurish filmmaking, even by Hong Kong standards. Moon Lee is WAY underused, almost to the point of calling her appearance an extended cameo, especially if you figure in that she’s a hostage for half the movie. One of Sophia Crawford’s earliest HK movies, she’s also underused, but the WORST example of underuse is Liu Chia-Liang as the uncle, who doesn’t get to show these knuckleheads how to fight until the finale of the movie. The fights in the film aren’t all that bad, they’re actually fairly entertaining, but boy does he make everyone else look like they’ve been moving in slow motion!
I knew what to expect here - it just had a lot of people in it I enjoy watching.

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

Posted: 20 Jan 2019, 16:25
by HungFist
The Yellow Sea (South Korea, 2010) [Netflix] - 3/5
Gripping, but uneven thriller told in an overly complicated fashion. It works better when the politics are put aside and the focus is on the sad protagonist, a man from a Chinese / North Korean border town sent to Seoul to kill a man. There are two major chase sequences, the first one of which is brilliant but the second one a shaky cam mess. The closing scene is great, but the ultra-violent last hour is otherwise too over-the-top to be taken seriously. Feels much like director Na Hong-jin ‘s first film, The Chaser.

Female (牝) (Japan, 1964) [TV] - 3.5/5
Amazingly convoluted but breathtakingly shot tale of a somewhat disturbed young woman (Mako Midori) engaging in a relationship with a married man at night and spying on his wife at day. The wife then seeks consolation from an attorney who just happens to be Midori's old man (who is unaware of his daughter's game)! And that's just the beginning of the storyline! Entertaining in spite of (or perhaps partly because of) its melodramatic convolution, it's also packed with beautiful melancholy with Midori wandering through the night and observing the city in lyrical images of exceptional beauty. Some of these scenes feel almost as if they were directed by Wong Kar Wai or Hirokazu Koreeda, and filmed by Ping Bin Lee (In the Mood for Love, Air Doll). Also, there is an amazing scene where Midori, who’s gotten herself on a TV show, "spies" on her lover and his wife making love via the television screen.

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

Posted: 20 Jan 2019, 17:02
by chazgower01
Devil Hunters (1989, Hong Kong) youtube 3/5
At some point, someone decided to put an English dub to this and rename it 'Ultra Force 2' which is what I watched, though it was listed as 'Devil Hunters' on youtube (In this English dub, 'Devil Hunter' is the Police Superintendent's radio code name.). Neither title makes much sense or difference - it's a police action/drama with a laughably hard as nails Police Superintendent, numerous cagey bad guys and their cronies (I've seen a lot of Ken Lo movies) and of course the hero, an underling in the force, getting chewed out endlessly because things don't go as planned. In this case it starts out as TWO underlings, Sibelle Hu (of course) and Candy Wen.
Alex Man plays the pompous Police Superintendent and yells things like "The whole operation has been ruined by your incompetence!" and "What am I going to say to the chief?" Moon Lee is adorable as ever - it took me a while to figure out what her character was up to, but in the meantime, she kicks the crap out of people here and there and lights up the screen whenever she's featured, which isn't TOO little. I mean, I'd put her in every scene, but here she gets some decent usage and it helps the movie.
Pretty sure they undercrank the camera on ALL of the action scenes, including the shoot-outs and people running, but it certainly spices it all up. Sibelle Hu wears a great deal of noticeably flashy 80's fashion, and we actually get to see some martial arts from her here and not just gunplay and sour puss facial expressions. Ray Lui plays one of the many sort-of bad guys and adds to the short, frantic martial arts scenes sprinkled throughout all the shooting.
The cliches are endless, the big 'reveal' is rather eye-rolling, but in truth, I was moderately entertained by this movie. The quality of the picture was good, the quality of production good, it moves along at a nice brisk pace and there are enough familiar faces in the movie to follow its goofy plot, while waiting for someone to start shooting or kicking.
And the ending? Well, its a Hong Kong cinema ending, but then the movie tells us, that the stunt people involved were actually hurt in the explosion (which still didn't stop the filmmakers from using the footage)...


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

Posted: 24 Jan 2019, 18:59
by grim_tales
Merantau (2009): 3.5/5

Pretty good, with a darker than expected story and effective action, the Western villains are very cliche though.
If the main character had the final face off against his brother that would have been a better showdown - shame about the sad ending :(
When the credits rolled I realised the director used to be one of our own, on the old forums :)

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

Posted: 26 Jan 2019, 16:59
by HungFist
Moebius (South-Korea, 2013) [Netflix] - 2/5
Kim Ki-duk's film about lost dicks. Shocking, but repetitive with one dimensional characters. The film had quite a bit of censorship trouble in Asian countries, including Japan where the film was cut to shreds. The film could only secure an 18 rating in Japan after 5 minutes of censorship cuts to remove "child pornography" (the actor playing “the son” was 15 at the time of filming). Western censors, BBFC included, had no similar objections. How ironic.

Ken and Kazu (ケンとカズ) (Japan, 2015) [Netflix] - 3.5/5
Ice cold indie drama about two drug dealers making a barely sufficient living by dealing meth on suburban streets. The film opens with them mercilessly beating the shit out of punks who came to their territory. There's not one bit of Scorsese or Coppola's glory, not even Fukasaku's explosive chaos, but only bleak realism. Initially almost unwatchable for this reason, little by little the film gets under the viewer's skill thanks to terrific performances and fine characterization with the slightest bit of humanity inserted into Ken's character who is about to become a father. Debut director Hiroshi Shoji also helms the film with just enough visual cool to compensate for the draining nihilism. The last 25 minutes is less impressive with a more conventional confrontation. Nevertheless, the most noteworthy crime film from Japan in a while.

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

Posted: 30 Jan 2019, 17:14
by HungFist
The Bare-Footed Kid (Hong Kong, 1993) [Netflix] - 2/5
Mostly watchable kung fu fairy tale with good production values and nice supporting performances (especially Ti Lung as retired kung fu master). The story however is so naive, predictable and moralizing that the film is ultimately beyond salvation. The awful ending montage is the last nail in the coffin. The action is good, but there isn't enough of it.

Night Scandal (Akujo) (悪女) (Japan, 1964) [TV] – 2.5/5
Toei had Yusuke Watanabe, Mako Midori and Mayumi Ogawa team up for this lesser, more conservative follow-up in the wake of the success of Two Bitches. Ogawa is an innocent maid entering a decadent house with predatory playboy son Tatsuo Umemiya, lesbian party bitch Midori, and wife Hizuru Takachiho who is waiting for the old man to die and pass his fortunes to her. Pretty watchable exploitation-melodrama, but Ogawa is the weakest link. She's loud, hysterical and a bit annoying, which is at odds with the role she's playing. Umemiya fares the best, surprisingly. He spent two decades playing sexist playboy characters, usually seen thru a questionable macho filter. Here, however, he is a genuine bastard whose actions are not glorified.

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

Posted: 03 Feb 2019, 11:35
by Guro Taku
A Woman's Holes (女の穴) (Japan, 2014) [BD] - 3/5
Definitely a lot better than director Kota Yoshida's The Torture Club ちょっとかわいいアイアンメイデン (2014) and with a lot less sex and nudity. The R18 rating it brandishes is due to brief full-frontal nudity from gravure idol Yumi Ishikawa. The film is split pretty evenly into two separate stories, the first one being "A Woman's Holes" and dealing with a high school girl who got taken over by a space alien and now wants to learn about love and sex (as well as conceive a baby) from one of her teachers. It's pretty funny and even sort of sweet. You can view it as a very different take on the same concepts as Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin (2013). The second story, titled "A Woman's Pig" is about another schoolgirl getting coached by a horned demon chick into blackmailing and bullying a gay teacher she actually has a crush on. It's not terrible but much less engaging than the first story. Luckily for the film, the final 13 minutes take us back to the first story and its conclusion. Then there's an absolutely outstanding song playing over the end credits with lyrics about super-comfy deep, deep holes!

Wicked City (妖獣都市) (Japan, 1987) [BD] - 4.5/5
Animated adaptation of a Hideyuki Kikuchi pulp novel that improves upon its source material with stellar, wildly inventive direction from Yoshiaki Kawajiri. A staple of the edgy kind of anime that popularized the artform in the West in the 90ies, it still holds up perfectly. The 4K remastered BD from Toei is simply astounding as well.

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

Posted: 03 Feb 2019, 12:25
by HungFist
Painted Faces (Hong Kong, 1988) [Netflix] – 4/5
Rich, beautiful cinematic reconstruction of 1960s Hong Kong, focusing on children growing up in Peking Opera School over a 7 year period. It's the school that Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao attended, but the fact that they are featured as central characters in the film is both beside the point and wisely understated (Jackie is never referred by the name we know him by). Sammo Hung gives a solid dramatic performance as the school owner/teacher.

Rapist (犯る男) (Japan, 2015) [Netflix] - 2.5/5
Abused young woman falls in love with a homeless thief/murderer/rapist who lives by the river with his glorious special effect zombie monster dog. This is one movie that proved my initial assessment of it as garbage wrong. The first half is dull and the train groping parts downright ridiculous, but the further it gets, the odder it becomes till it ends up downright memorable twisted love story. But the best thing about the movie: the John Carpenter / Escape from New York rip-off score. The film, released theatrically as R18 and R15 versions in porn and arthouse cinemas respectively in 2014 and 2015, marked a sort of comeback for junk director Daisuke Yamanouchi (I once asked a friend who was working on a Daisuke Yamanouchi article which of his movies he'd recommend. His reply: none). The version reviewed here is the R15 one, running 70 minutes. The R18 version is supposed to have the same running time, more or less (it was released as a “Groper Train” film, btw). In 2017 Yamanouchi also released a 90 minute director’s cut. And Amazon US is streaming a supposedly 61 minute version called Wanted: For Forced Entry.

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@Guro Taku, I remember you saw and reviewed this as well. Did you manage to confirm any of the version running times first hand?
Guro Taku wrote:
03 Feb 2019, 11:35
Wicked City (妖獣都市) (Japan, 1987) [BD] - 4.5/5
The 4K remastered BD from Toei is simply astounding as well.
The price is pretty astounding as well :lol:

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

Posted: 03 Feb 2019, 12:33
by Guro Taku
HungFist wrote:
03 Feb 2019, 12:25
@Guro Taku, I remember you saw and reviewed this as well. Did you manage to confirm any of the version running times first hand?
My Japanese DVD has a runtime of 71 minutes and is identified as the R15 cut on the back cover. I compared it with the 60 minute thing on amazon and they basically cut out all the sex scenes. Never saw the R18 version and I didn't know about a director's cut existing.
HungFist wrote:
03 Feb 2019, 12:25
The price is pretty astounding as well :lol:
That it is but that's not just for the BD. You actually get 2 whole books as well, one being the complete storyboards and the other containing charcter designs, production sketches and illustrations as well as numerous interviews. If you're as big a fan of the film as I am, that's a great deal. I'm sure a cheaper BD only release will follow once this initial batch sells out.

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

Posted: 03 Feb 2019, 13:04
by HungFist
Guro Taku wrote:
03 Feb 2019, 12:33
HungFist wrote:
03 Feb 2019, 12:25
@Guro Taku, I remember you saw and reviewed this as well. Did you manage to confirm any of the version running times first hand?
My Japanese DVD has a runtime of 71 minutes and is identified as the R15 cut on the back cover. I compared it with the 60 minute thing on amazon and they basically cut out all the sex scenes. Never saw the R18 version and I didn't know about a director's cut existing.
Wait, which version is missing most of the sex scenes? The 60 minute version? Or the 71 min R15 version?

The dir. cut seems to have been released theatrically only with no DVD or streaming releases. And I think I read it was R15 as well.

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

Posted: 03 Feb 2019, 14:14
by Guro Taku
HungFist wrote:
03 Feb 2019, 13:04
Wait, which version is missing most of the sex scenes? The 60 minute version? Or the 71 min R15 version?
The 60 minute amazon version.

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

Posted: 03 Feb 2019, 16:44
by HungFist
Guro Taku wrote:
03 Feb 2019, 14:14
HungFist wrote:
03 Feb 2019, 13:04
Wait, which version is missing most of the sex scenes? The 60 minute version? Or the 71 min R15 version?
The 60 minute amazon version.
Thanks. I thought so, I just wasn't sure there was 11 minutes of sex in the R15 version to cut. And who is that 60 min version for anyway? The R15 one is already the censored commercial version...

So, we got:
- 71 min R18 version: presumably cut for storyline
- 71 min R15 version: cut for sex
- 60 minute version: cut even more for sex
- 90 minute R15 version: extended for story but cut for sex

All this for a bloody Daisuke Yamanouchi film? :lol:

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

Posted: 03 Feb 2019, 17:38
by Guro Taku
You Don't Even Like Me (好きでもないくせに) (Japan, 2016) [BD] - 2.5/5
Another Kota Yoshida film and there'll be a couple more before I'm done catching up. This one is a serious drama about Kotoko (gravure model turned actress Riko), a girl who can only have sex with guys she doesn't actually like. This mostly means Goda (Ryosuke Kawamura of Noboru Iguchi's MACHINE GIRL), a colleague from the hostess club she works at and who's in love with her. One day, when they're bar-hopping with Goda's college friends, she meets aloof male model Riku (Takuya Negishi) and falls for him. But guess what? Riku is a major sleazebag and only interested in fucking as many girls as he can... Sex scenes are of the realistic variety and the acting from Kawamura and Riko is uneven. Both are mostly alright but struggle with the more emotional scenes and, in Riko's case, with playing drunk. Negishi fares better but then again he's playing a robot without discernable emotions to begin with. The R18 is due to a couple full frontal shots of Riko's pubes/merkin.

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

Posted: 06 Feb 2019, 06:09
by HungFist
The Viper Brothers: Up on 30 Charges (まむしの兄弟 二人合わせて30犯) (Japan, 1974) [DVD] - 2/5
Part 7. Kawachi finds his long lost mother, who is a rich lady of a respectable family. Comedy and melodrama ensue. Watchable but hardly exciting entry save for a few highlights such as the excessively violent ending and a wonderful only-in-Japan comedy rape when jailed Sugawara is determined to have sex with a female guard despite there being bars between them. Michi Azuma (the topless swordswoman from Babycart in Peril) plays a tomboy girl who wants to join the bros, overdoing it a bit while remaining clothed this time.

The Viper Brothers and the Young General (まむしと青大将) (Japan, 1975) [DVD] – 1.5/5
The last in the series. Sugawara runs into two mahjong cheaters (Ichiro Araki and Mako Midori + sidekick Takuzo Kawatani) whom he takes for friends in need as his naivety prevents him from seeing their true nature. Sadly this is waste of good cast, with cool-Araki, maniac-Kawatani and femme fatale Midori all in relatively restrained, boring roles. Kawachi doesn't appear until 35 min into the film. Sugawara's mother complex becomes a pain, too. The grit, the drama and the fun of parts 1, 5 and 6 respectively are nowhere to be found here. This is typical routine Nakajima with an occasional fun or exciting moment (the mahjong scenes fare the best). Note that there was one film made before this, Scoundrel vs. The Viper Brothers, which was a cross-over with the Tomisaburo Wakayama action comedy series and seems to be primarily considered part of that series.

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

Posted: 08 Feb 2019, 12:23
by Guro Taku
Liverleaf (ミスミソウ) (Japan, 2018) [BD] - 3.5/5
Another over-the-top manga adaptation from Eisuke Naito after Litchi Hikari Club (2016). Those looking for a serious and realistic drama about bullying will be sorely disappointed as a 40 minute first third spent on character introductions and the heroine's mistreatment gives way to 80 minutes of splattery carnage and absurdity. The teacher's backstory (and her demise) had me almost drop to the floor laughing. Rena Otsuka as Rumi is easily the cutest tween psychopath in recent memory. And I remain impressed that Naito is somehow managing to keep finding projects that have similar themes in today's Japanese film industry.

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

Posted: 09 Feb 2019, 09:02
by Ivan Drago
Story of Drunken Master (1979)

Tame but pleasant enough starring role for Yuen Siu-tien (looking considerably older and frailer then he did in Dance of the Drunk Mantis, released a mere two months earlier), which is much in the vein of the old Wong Fei-hung films, and Yuen is essentially playing Wong (patrician, stern, respectable figure in the community) rather than the nomadic Beggar So of the earlier films. There's a pretty decent supporting cast, and some good fights, but it never feels like much is at stake, and ultimately it plays more like an episode in an ongoing (if non-existent) serial then a distinctive movie. The tedious Vaughan Savidge dubbing (think Fearless Hyena or any number of Godfrey Ho movies) doesn't help, though I should count my lucky stars I spared myself the re-dub…
6/10


The Thunder Kick (1974)

Interesting basher with a good supporting cast and some pretty vicious fights somewhat held back from first class appeal thanks to poor choices for male lead (Larry Lee) and main villain (Yukio Someno). Early on, James Nam has a fight with Bolo, and they would have made better lead characters. Mars also turns up. The end fight goes on for ages!
7/10

The Magnificent (1978)
Above average Godfrey Ho film set in the early years of the founding of the Republic. Carter Wong and Lung Chun-Ehrr team up to defeat Manchurian agent Chen Sing, with supporting roles provided by Casanova Wong and a gurning Dragon Lee, the latter intruding somewhat on the generally straight-laced film with his goofy Bruce impression. Impressive use of locations and settings, good fights, and a refreshing absence of OTT humour make this worth checking out, especially as it is available in a widescreen Mandarin print.
7/10

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

Posted: 09 Feb 2019, 18:14
by saltysam
Ivan Drago wrote:
09 Feb 2019, 09:02



The Thunder Kick (1974)

Interesting basher with a good supporting cast and some pretty vicious fights somewhat held back from first class appeal thanks to poor choices for male lead (Larry Lee) and main villain (Yukio Someno). Early on, James Nam has a fight with Bolo, and they would have made better lead characters. Mars also turns up. The end fight goes on for ages!
7/10
This was one of my first exposures to the genre, back in the late 70's my dad had a super 8 projector, i watched the condensed version of this endlessly. Larry digging out his tonfus stayed with me. German DVD is good but it must have been shredded there, as the amount of inserts to make it uncut is distracting.
Ivan Drago wrote:
09 Feb 2019, 09:02
The Magnificent (1978)
Above average Godfrey Ho film set in the early years of the founding of the Republic. Carter Wong and Lung Chun-Ehrr team up to defeat Manchurian agent Chen Sing, with supporting roles provided by Casanova Wong and a gurning Dragon Lee, the latter intruding somewhat on the generally straight-laced film with his goofy Bruce impression. Impressive use of locations and settings, good fights, and a refreshing absence of OTT humour make this worth checking out, especially as it is available in a widescreen Mandarin print.
7/10
Where's this available in widescreen?

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

Posted: 10 Feb 2019, 01:15
by Ivan Drago
MAGNIFICENT got a widescreen DVD from Crash Cinema nearly two decades ago. I hope the print is still around as it would make a good source for a BD, even with its burnt in theatrical subs.

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

Posted: 10 Feb 2019, 01:47
by Ivan Drago
Devil Woman (1974)

Hong Kong/Fillipino co-production that sounds like it should be a awesome combination of horror and kung fu, but mostly feels like two seperate films stuck together. There's a girl with snakes for hair killing people off (that's meant to be a shocking twist, but since it's all over the posters and trailer, I don't think I'm blowing anything), whilst a visiting Chinese kung fu expert (Tung Li, dressed in white so that he resembles Bruce Lee) gets into fights and enjoys the scenery. Disapointingly low on exploitation thrills, and boring dubbing, but the Code Red BD at least lets you enjoy in OAR and HD.

4/10



Dragons Never Die (1974)

Sadly not another Bruceploitation flick, but instead a goofy and underwhelming buddy movie with Alex Lung and Hon Kwok Choi travelling the land seeking challenges. The action is decent but the story choppy and uninvolving, not helped by the awkward dubbing. It is, however, VERY interesting to see debutant director Chen Chi-Hwa trying out several gimmicks (a fights with eggs, a dream sequence where a comic bufoon imagines himself a kung fu master) he would re-use note-for-note 4 years later in the Jackie Chan veichle Half a Loaf of Kung Fu. So much for that being "the first kung fu comedy"...

The master on the Code Red BD is SD but looks OK and is OAR.
4/10

Check out this funky trailer for the US double bill release!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TL5kML04-w

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

Posted: 11 Feb 2019, 13:44
by HungFist
Ichi the Killer (殺し屋1) (Japan, 2001) [Netflix] - 3.5/5
Never been a huge fan of this, but I've grown to like it. Miike has always been good at location work and this, too, captures the threatening 90s anguish Tokyo much like Shinya Tsukamoto's earlier films. The violence seems surprisingly tame by today's standards; in a world where Hostels and Saws pass for mainstream entertainment, Ichi could almost be downgraded to a 15.

Alley Cat (アリーキャット) (Japan, 2017) [Netflix] - 3.5/5
A failed boxer (Yôsuke Kubozuka) and a punk (rock star Kenji Furuya) try to help a woman blackmailed by obsessive ex with revenge porn. They are soon way over their heads as they run into her old acquaintances. Surprisingly good neo noir built on a socially aware blue collar indie drama. There are some very well acted and directed low key segments, as well as impressively realistic violence. In one scene the boxing hero's encounter with two gangster-like bodyguards leaves him lying on the ground nearly dead after receiving "only" a couple of hard punches and kicks. The storyline gets convoluted towards the end and struggles to find an entirely satisfying closing, though. Director Hideo Sakaki is best known as the main villain in Ryuhei Kitamura's Versus; he's also a competent director this movie proves.

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

Posted: 13 Feb 2019, 14:50
by HungFist
Kôkôsei burai hikae: Kanjirû Muramasa (高校生無頼控 感じるゥ~ムラマサ) (Japan, 1973) [VoD] – 2/5
Part 3. The last and least of the three Muramasa films. This time Muramasa saves a girl from drowning herself, then proceeds to demonstrate the beauty of living by making love to her (he forgets to ask permission). Moments later he's selling school girl panties and agrees to molest one while being photographed to trick a clueless parent (yakuza baddie Toru Abe!) to pay abortion money! Great opening half hour, naughty and perverted to the bone, yet plays out like a cheerful family film. These kinds of boys' fantasies would be impossible to film in Western countries. Too bad from halfway on the film completely loses its steam. One problem is the plot - there isn't one. Basically Muramasa has shagged too many girls and there's trouble with boxer/kendo kid Eiji Go & the silly gang who are protecting the honour of one of Muramasa's conquests and intend to propose another one. At the end there is a bad car chase and some fighting, all of it purely comedic.

Pretty Devil Yoko (非行少女ヨーコ) (Japan, 1966) [DVD] - 3/5
Easily bored, but still innocent and naive countryside girl Mako Midori discovers partying in Tokyo is a ton of fun. Yakuza-to-be Ichiro Araki is an acquaintance who tries to rape her, and the typically bland but very-good-here Hayato Tani the first boyfriend. Director Yasuo Furuhata (his first picture) lets his camera roll in trendy clubs amongst partying youngsters in a way that could've been out of 60s England or a Nikkatsu film if it wasn't shadowed by dated 60s Toei conservatism. The resulting film is a bit confused, either a rebellious youth tale chained by moral concerns, or something conceived as a morality tale trying to break free from its chains. It's notable that this, like most Midori films, got slapped with an 18 rating despite featuring nothing graphic, as if out of fear of how it might influence the teenagers. Lavishly filmed with striking B&W compositions, the film retains its visual cool even during the more moralizing moments. For a superb 70s counterpart, see Tooru Murakawa's Delicate Skilful Fingers (1972), also with Araki.

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