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

Posted: 13 Jun 2020, 15:22
by HungFist
The Shogun and His Mistresses (大奥(秘)物語) (Japan, 1967) [VoD] – 2/5
Lavish women's cinema by Sadao Nakajima. This is exceptionally feminine for a Toei film and void of any notable male characters. Reportedly the costumes alone cost over 30 million yen, which is about the same as many other films’ entire production budget, because Toei did not have a tradition of grand scale women’s jidai geki. Indeed, this is one film that more than the average Toei fan, his mother is likely to enjoy. Toei of course advertised it as a peek into the women's hidden world, even if suggestive sensuality was as far as the film went. That was still enough for Eirin to slap it with an “adult” rating. There is also some evidence to suggest that Toei's period eros line may have actually initiated from here, and sometimes Teruo Ishii's History of the Shogun's Harem has been seen as the 4th film in the "Secret" series that this film started. Shigeru Okada was the producer on all of them.

Kyomaiko satsujin jiken: Kyofu no uwaki shutcho (京舞妓殺人事件 恐怖の浮気出張) (Japan, 1980) [TV] – 1.5/5
Teddy bear family man Hiroyuki Nagato visits Kyoto on business, soon has a dead geisha in his hands and the police on his tail. Annoying TV film / Kyoto travel advertisement full of "funny overacting" and "old man does silly mistakes" scenes as Nagato tries to hide from the police. Awful musical score completes the wreckage. Phenomenal waste of talent in the casting: pink hip girl Kahori Takeda as travel guide co-star (also does a tiny bit of awful karate), fellow Roman Porno star Junko Miyashita as older (alive) geisha, Escape From Reform School runaway Fujika Omori as younger (dead) geisha, Tatsuo Endo is in the film too, and even Etsuko Shihomi appears for about one minute as a lady cop. And the film is directed by bloody Yuji "Shogun's Sadism" Makiguchi! And written by Atsushi Yamatoya! Shows how Japanese TV can turn men into pale shadows of their former selves, except there's not even a shadow left here. The title translates roughly as The Kyoto Geisha Murder Case: Horrifying Illicit Business Trip. Should've been The TV Viewer Suicide Case: Horrifying Boring Movie Experience.

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

Posted: 15 Jun 2020, 07:54
by Markgway
The Third Murder (2016) *½
Pretentious, ponderous Japanese legal drama.
The story changes from scene-to-scene,
by the end you won't care who did what to whom or why?
John Grisham this isn't.

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

Posted: 20 Jun 2020, 09:32
by Ivan Drago
FISTS OF BRUCE LEE (1978)

Bruce Li directs himself in this modern day crime thriller (if you can call 1978 modern ;) ) which...actually I'm not entirely sure what is going on here, as the plot seems needlessly complicated, owing in part to the worse-than-usual dubbing, and that the script requires everyone to talk in passwords. It seems Li is an undercover cop hired by a reclusive millionaire as an electronics expert to make his house more secure. As assorted hoodlums and weirdos convert the usual Maguffin, Li finds himself getting entangled with the millionaire's eccentric and shotgun-wielding daughter.

As usual for me, style wins the day, with a truly awesome pirated soundtrack that is late 70s heaven - everything from Bond music to a Henry Mancini cover of an Average White Band tune. The decent fights include an awesome playground setpiece that looks forward to POLICE STORY 2, and the assorted cast includes Bruce Lee veterans (Wei Ping Ao), Lo Lieh swinging a metal hand on a chain, and the eccentric looking Robert Kerver, who is the bizzare result you get if you gene-splice Bruce Lee with Shaggy from Scooby Doo...

6/10

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

Posted: 20 Jun 2020, 09:50
by Ivan Drago
THE IMAGE OF BRUCE LEE (1978)

A mainstay of public domain releases for years since its early VHS release, this Bruce Li outing has him as a police officer on the trail of counterfeiters...led by The Big Boss himself, Han Ying Chieh, with his son Johnny Cheung (later to cripple Bruce Lee in Dragon The Bruce Lee Story) and his long lost niece Dana joining the family business (oh, and Bolo is along for the ride too as a "Japanese" crook).

This film is certainly entetaining (and not just because Dana and clothing spend a lot of time apart from each other), but for some reason it feels like there are too many fight scenes! Maybe it's the police procedural setting, but the endless fisticuffs (and the three looped fighing cries) do wear one down after a while, before the decent finale. This isn't as funky as other Bruce Li films, but the sight of him attending a suicide attempt decked out in a yellow tracksuit is one for the ages, capped when the scene ends on a wonderfully macabre note.

Ammusingly, the film uses the theme from Taxi Driver but NOT for the scene where Bruce poses as a taxi driver!

6/10

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

Posted: 22 Jun 2020, 23:42
by grim_tales
The Age of Shadows (Korea, 2016): 4/5

Well acted period thriller - reminded me of Lust, Caution.

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

Posted: 23 Jun 2020, 17:44
by HungFist
Beautiful, Goodbye (ビューティフル、グッバイ) [Nippon Connection Online] - 1.5/5
A stuttering introvert on the run from the police picks up a pretty girl who's been killed by her boyfriend but came back to life as a zombie. I do not wish to be too hard on this because it was clearly made by young, perhaps still student filmmakers. But the romantic arthouse road movie with one revisionist zombie suffers from the same problems as a lot of modern Japanese indie films. It's way bloody too long at 2 hours, feels pretentious and ultimately quite unoriginal despite the somewhat original premise (that doesn't lead anywhere). You can tell the filmmakers would disagree, like someone who invented the wooden wheel in the year 2018 thinking he was the first. Someone should have told them the rest of us have already got Pirellis. At least the film looks pretty solid from a visual point of view, particularly for an indie.

Lone Kanto Yakuza (関東やくざ者) (Japan, 1965) [TV] – 3/5
A standard ninkyo film with honourable yakuza Koji Tsurura going against merciless, but not entirely rotten businessman gangster Tetsuro Tamba. There are too many talking heads scenes and a storyline that isn’t awfully interesting, but also solid filmmaking and drama that sneaks into the film almost unnoticed. Tamba is always interesting, and the bloody final sword duel against him is quite powerful. There’s also some old fashioned charm stemming from an extensive use of songs, which shouldn’t necessarily be surprising since Toei’s prominent enka singer actors Hideo Murata and Saburo Kitajima are both in the film. This was the 2nd movie in the Kanto series, one of Toei’s early ninkyo series. Shigehiro Ozawa wrote and directed them all five of them. While I have not seen the others, it appears Tsuruta plays the same character only in the first two, and different characters in the rest.

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

Posted: 28 Jun 2020, 11:47
by HungFist
Nothing But Bones (骨までしゃぶる) (Japan, 1966) [VoD] - 3/5
Poor daughter Hiroko Sakuramachi is sold off as courtesan in Tai Kato's convincing adult drama. It's impressively cold and critical (particularly one scene with Sakuramachi in the foreground and men casually discussing her as merchandise in the background off-focus) but it also has decent enough characters to care for. Quite a bit better than Sadao Nakajima's similarly themed Ooku / Secret films.

Shape of Red (Red) (Japan, 2020) [Nippon Connection Online] - 4/5
Excellent, progressive gender role critique dressed up as a trendy love story. Kaho (from Gentle Breeze in the Village and Puzzle) is devastatingly good as a young mother who realizes her happiness may not be with her daughter and husband, but in an extramarital affair with ex-boyfriend Satoshi Tsumabuki. Her dilemma cracks open the traditional belief of home, marriage and children as the basis of woman's happiness: a way of thinking so deeply rooted in Japanese society it's rarely questioned even by women. There is a key scene where she is asked why she started a family, but can’t answer because she never realized there was another way to happiness. Most people around her still don’t. Another incredibly powerful and well acted scene sees tears of happiness and guilt flow down her face at the same time as she has sex with Tsumabuki. One can’t help but to wonder how director Yukiko Mishima managed such an intimate, poignant portrayal of a young woman. Perhaps she's just a damn good director. Or maybe women making a film about women is, after all, an equation that can bear more fruit than male directors guessing what women must be thinking. Anyhow, the film is so strong you forget it’s yet another tale of someone dying of cancer! And so non-judgemental of its protagonist it won’t be well received by all audiences, even women.

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

Posted: 12 Jul 2020, 15:58
by HungFist
Tokyo Fundoshi Geisha (東京ふんどし芸者) (Japan, 1975) [VoD] - 1/5
An absolutely horrible geisha sex comedy that is sometimes considered a 7th film in the Hot Springs Geisha series, just without hot springs. It certainly was a production follow-up, courtesy of producer Kanji Amao and writer Masahiro Kakefuda. But this is even worse that the worst of the Hot Springs films. Yukio Noda helms it in much the same way as the most unbearable of his idiotic Delinquent Boss films, with retarded comedy mixed with boring drama and silly sex scenes. The film climaxes with a 25 minute geisha vagina duel (Shingo Yamashiro is the judge, of course) where two contestants perform tricks with their pussies, e.g. calligraphy, rope pulling and playing a trumpet (ok, I laughed there). The actual storyline I'm not too sure about since the film is unwatchable and I could only make it to the end with extensive fast-forwarding.

Under Your Bed (アンダー・ユア・ベッド) (Japan, 2019) [Nippon Connection Online] – 4/5
A great opening scene in this romantic stalker thriller: a lovelorn hero hides under the bed and feels the mattress as the love of his life has sex on top of it. When he isn’t under the bed, he’s peeking into the house from the opposite building… until his zoom lens catches something more threatening than himself. The premise is Hitchcockian, the shocks DePalma (this is rated R18+), but the social context strictly Japanese with an otaku-like protagonist who has fallen outside the social circles and destined to live alone as an invisible man. The film draws an overly romanticized image of the (stalker) hero, which is something sure to rub foreign audiences in the wrong way, but also a way to create an interesting character and “a cleaver love story” (as praised by Kiyoshi Kurosawa). But a true otaku he isn’t as he’s got fishes instead of video games, a cool hair instead of a terrible one, and he’s played by the boy from the girls’ daydreams: Kengo Kora. Perhaps that was one of female director Mari Asato’s inputs. She helms the film with style, pace and loads of sympathy towards her two protagonists (wonderfully played by Kora and Kanako Nishikawa), creating something not too unlike the mix of love, cheerful naivety and brutal violence in True Romance (1993).

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

Posted: 20 Jul 2020, 17:11
by loempiavreter
'Violent Streets (1974)' [DL] 3.5/5
My intro into Hideo Gosha. Some nice scenes (the shootout with Bunta!) and scenography (the chicken barn!). Comic booky henchmen did good in my book too. Story is ok. Soundtrack has some nice spanish flamengo moments, but also that cool 70s toei musical stuff.

'Violent Panic: The Big Crash (1976)' [DL] 2.5/5
The lead has some of the best 'savoir faire' for 70s male leads. Miki Sugimoto, was a little to desperate and needed a mind of her own. I love the free jazz narrative that weaves all the subplots into the chaotic Blues Brother-esque final. The thing is... I'm not a fan of Kinji's preference for throwaway framing and bleach white colour grading. He does his kinetic camera stuff, but I want to oogle at something too. Soundtrack is decent.

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

Posted: 23 Jul 2020, 17:49
by HungFist
Broken Blossoms (戦場のなでしこ) (Japan, 1959) [DVD] - 2/5
A sappy hospital melodrama about a bunch of Japanese nurses in Manchuria under soviet command immediately after losing the war. Tears, flag waving and ‘oh Japanese are such good people after all’ moments. Later a handful of them are forced to serve as soviet comfort women (yeah, this didn't age well) but nothing juicy ensues. There are quite a few foreign actors in the cast and loads of Russian dialogue, though none for Osman Yusuf in a minor, non-speaking moustache role. Teruo Ishii helms it all with professionalism, but there is no spark. Had he directed it 8 years later, it could've been an amazing exploitation picture. Now it's merely toothless.

New Abashiri Prison Story: Honor and Humanity, Ammunition That Attracts the Storm: (新網走番外地 嵐呼ぶダンプ仁義) (Japan, 1972) [DVD] - 1.5/5
More fourth wall jokes in the opening with Takakura, Shishido and palls cheering and sobbing to a Brutal Tales of Chivalry film in a prison screening. Shishido gets himself killed before the opening credits roll, and Takakura goes on to work for a dump truck company once he's out. More comedy and tiresome yakuza shenanigans ensue. The truck plot is simply a variation of the usual good labourer gang vs. evil labourer gang plot done before with dock workers, railway builders, horse breeders etc. This was the 8th and last NEW film, made when the series was way past its prime and void of any inspiration. It still ranked 3rd at the annual box office, but the B-film that opened with it, Girl Boss Guerilla, had frankly much more vitality.

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

Posted: 02 Aug 2020, 13:00
by HungFist
Song of the Night: Isazaki District Blues (夜の歌謡シリーズ 伊勢佐木町ブルース) (Japan, 1968) (1969) [VoD] – 1.5/5
Instantly forgettable 4th entry with Tatsuo Umemiya pimping Junko Miyazono to old man Junzaburo Ban in largely comedic scenes. The second half gets more serious with just-out-of-prison Teruo Yoshida coming to redeem what he considers his. The rest of the storyline escaped my mind before I had time to write this. Osman Yusuf appears in the film for about 3 seconds.

Song of the Night: Nagasaki Blues (夜の歌謡シリーズ 長崎ブルース) (1969) [VoD] – 3/5
Part 5. Hiroki Matsukata’s only appearance in the series. Pretty boy Hayato Tani arrives in Tokyo and gets scouted as host / hooker by Matsukata. Big sis Junko Miyazono comes to rescue from Nagasaki but fails to convince either one of the men to give up on their easy-money lifestyle. Matsukata then falls in love with Miyazono who already has a fiancé: small time gangster Tatsuo Umemiya. There’s also Reiko Ohara as Matsukata’s young but wealthy customer who wants to own the man. A pretty functional script (by Kazuo Funahashi) and good performances make this work, even if Ryuichi Takamori’s direction is just average. The most interesting thing about the film is how men are constantly treated as cheap merchandise and sex objects – something that usually only happens to women.

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

Posted: 12 Aug 2020, 19:17
by HungFist
The Big Boss (Hong Kong, 1971) [JP Version] [DCP] – 3.5/5
I’ve always liked this film. It drags a bit, but it’s got a ridiculously cute Nora Miao selling ice scream, a pair of boobs, a truly great score in the English language track and plenty of satisfaction once Bruce finally lets the bad guys have it. The version viewed here was the 2020 Japanese theatrical re-release, which combines Fortune Star’s new DCP with the original Japanese theatrical audio, which was an English dub with the Mandarin music in the opening, the Peter Thomas score after that, and the Mike Remedios vocals in the closing scene (this track is not included on the Criterion and Shout BD releases). In terms of clarity and quality it sounded about the same as the English tracks on those BDs, in other words: not an improvement.

Thirst of Love (愛欲)(Japan, 1966) [VoD] – 3.5/5
Beautifully old-fashioned, grand melodrama with quite a bit of resemblance to the 90s and 2000s Wong Kar-wai films. Advertising company employee Rentaro Mikuni is the doomed hero who is one step away from marriage with kind, long time darling Yoshiko Mita when he falls in love with melancholic Kyoto widow Yoshiko Sakuma. Boss Tetsuro Tamba tries to talk sense to him but love has no ears. There’s an overwhelmingly romantic score, classy cinematography and fantastic performances that make the film feel like something from the 1950s. Although old-fashioned to the bone, the melodrama also wisely focuses on the main characters and their feelings only (one of the best scenes featuring quilt-ridden Mita telling the innocent, desperate Sakuma that she’s really sorry but she’s not going to give Mikuni back to her) and largely avoids the kind of conservative moral judgement that could easily be present. A bit surprisingly, this was helmed by soon-to-be yakuza film maestro Junya Sato.

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

Posted: 24 Aug 2020, 15:41
by HungFist
Expelled from the Kanto Mob (関東破門状) (Japan, 1965) [TV] – 2.5/5
Kanto yakuza Koji Tsuruta is expelled from his clan after wounding rotten bastard boss Nobuo Kaneko in a fight he didn’t start. It’s all for preserving underworld harmony. One gets the feeling there was great potential for a watadori film here. The filmmakers, however, went for a standard ninkyo romp that doesn’t do much with its premise (in their defence, the genre was still young). Tsuruta merely relocates himself while tearful sweetheart Junko Fuji produces tears at home, and Kaneko does more evil things until it’s time for Tsuruta to right wrongs. This was part 3 in the Kanto series. Not to be confused with the Nikkatsu / Tetsuya Watari film of the same title (1971).

Fist of Fury (Hong Kong, 1971) [JP Version*] [DCP] – 3.5/5
Heavy-handed martial arts classic is certainly a good film, but lacks the brutal energy of The Big Boss and the effortless charm of The Way of the Dragon. Silly Japanese caricatures aside, it’s too safe of a filmmaking to be truly exciting – either not light enough or not dark enough. The Japanese theatrical version adds superb Mike Remedios vocals to the English dub track (even if, objectively speaking, this probably wasn’t the right context). The audio quality on the DCP left something to be desired however (clearly stitched together from more than one source) and the film ran the standard 106 minutes despite the original Japanese 1974 theatrical version being shorter. This should not hence be called the real Japanese version [*].

The Way of the Dragon (Hong Kong, 1972) [JP Version] [DCP] – 4.5/5
Lee’s best film, hands down. There are so many things to love, including Bruce’s narrow escape from Italian breasts, the lovely back-alley set where the bad guys get their asses kicked, and the amazing battle against Chuck. Plenty of inventive visual details that weren’t present in Lee’s previous too films, too. Best of all, the film flows better than Boss and Fist, and is full of charming, laidback charisma. The Japanese DCP was a reconstruction of the original Japanese 1975 release: a slightly extended cut with about two minutes of added title, credit and “dragon logo” screens at the beginning and end to allow the new Mike Remedios songs to play in full while still keeping the wonderful, original score in the opening credits. The audio is an English dub, but with Lee’s real battle cries inserted into it (unlike the standard English track). The dubbing doesn’t always make sense in what is supposed to be a bilingual film, but is otherwise very enjoyable. Note that the “Japanese Theatrical Track” found on the US BDs is cut (opening and closing), modified (different OP credits music) and technically inferior (lots of hiss) compared to this DCP.

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

Posted: 30 Aug 2020, 13:08
by HungFist
Game of Death (Hong Kong, 1978) [JP Version] [DCP] – 3/5
Quite an awkward Frankenstein job, but this does have a fantastic score, great Lee footage at the end, and a heart-warmingly exploitative touch throughout. It was the right choice to make the film… just not to make it like this. Surely they could’ve come up with a better plot and structure that doesn’t require a lazy Lee insert shots in every other scene, and without the 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 Japanese DCP was a reconstruction of the Japanese theatrical version which inserts Lee’s battle cries into the English audio and also removes the John Barry score from the Ji Han Jae fight. There was a moment during the end fights where the audio source changed to something inferior for about 10 seconds (possibly to remove Cantonese dialogue that I hear some versions had). There may be other differences, but I wouldn’t know since I’ve only seen this a few times. Oh and the opening was intact with the Barry score over the Golden Harvest logo before the Bruce yells.

The Karate 2 (ザ・カラテ2) (Japan, 1974) [VoD] – 3.5/5
A mentally insane sequel with blinded Tadashi Yamashita chased by a legion of vengeful martial artists, including Chinese Hercules Bolo Yeung as a fighter called Dracula! There’s also a Swedish assassin who tries to kill Yamashita on the surgery table before he can get his eyes fixed, resulting Yamashita going Zatoichi for the rest of the film. The whole film is built on such shaky grounds that it could collapse any moment, but somehow the insanity keeps it together. There’s more comedy, but also moments of gut ripping brutality, and a constant uncertainty about whether Yamashita looks brain-dead on purpose or by accident. But it’s American assassin Jerry Samson who gives one of the most ridiculously over-the-top performances you’ll ever see. The action nevertheless remains good, at times ridiculously good with loads of good moves by Yamashita, Samson and Korean double kicker Kim Jin-pal (Bolo goes partially wasted, unfortunately). Also interesting to see All Japan Karate Federation’s Masafumi Suzuki (who’s also in The Street Fighter and a few other films) returning in a rather large acting and action role.

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

Posted: 03 Sep 2020, 18:15
by HungFist
Fugitive Scoundrel (極道兇状旅) (Japan, 1970) [VoD] – 2/5
Part 7. Gokudo goes politics. Gray-haired Bin Amatsu has Wakayama assist a politician, meaning trashing the opponent. But of course the opponent has a pretty daughter to have a crush on. Enter protective Bunta Sugawara and Gokudo’s gotta settle for a cheaper Toei nude actress (in a rather gratuitous scene; a sign of the change of times). The old battle axe wife Nijiko Kiyokawa (wasn’t she already killed in one of the earlier films?) is back too. A standard entry with nothing much to write about, for or against. Approach with low expectations and you may enjoy it. The rating could be a notch higher on a good day.

Kanto Yakuza Storm (関東やくざ嵐) (Japan, 1966) [TV] – 2.5/5
The 5th and last in the series. There's a good Shakespearian start with the 'in love with the rival boss’ daughter' Koji Tsuruta ordered to go nagurikomi on old man to settle gang accounts that don’t even involve him. Can’t escape the damned giri. This is another film that could’ve been interesting had it focused on the above mentioned humanity / obligation tragedy. Unfortunately Tsuruta soon drifts off to digging holes and bonding with a loud-mouth construction worker yakuza Rin’ichi Yamamoto while the film largely forgets the opening premise. There are still some beautiful scenes, a nice use of umbrellas (a romantic genre cliche that never got old), and a strong ending, but too much time is spent on unessentials.

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

Posted: 12 Sep 2020, 17:20
by HungFist
Song of the Night: Harbour-Town Blues (夜の歌謡シリーズ 港町ブルース) (1969) [VoD] – 2.5/5
Unremarkable, but entirely watchable 6th film. Party girl Yumiko Nogawa wonders what to do with her life, while dating guys left and right, and milking money out of old fool Hisao Toake. The old fool’s son Kyosuke Machida also has the hots for Nogawa and wants to marry her. Enter conman Tatsuo Umemiya (in a sailor suit he bought from someone) who tells every girl they are the love of his life. And then there’s Yukie Kagawa who also wants her share of the old fool’s money. This one’s got some nostalgic 60s wild youth / young adults swing and a script by Masashige Narusawa – certainly not his best work but still better than average.

Japan's Underworld History: Futile Compassion (日本暗黒史 情無用) (Japan, 1968) [VoD] – 2.5/5
The fictional account of Noboru Ando’s underworld activities, part 2. Ando does not actually play himself here, but him being an ex-gangster and gang leader, there was often ambiguity about how much his characters were based on reality even in fictional films. This movie has a curious low-key approach to the protagonist building his gang and conducting businesses, with action toned down to the minimum. But director Eiichi Kudo’s unenthusiastic handling keeps it from becoming truly interesting. It’s not until the action packed ending that the film truly comes alive. Curiously, Kudo later directed one of the most stylish, energetic and psychologically interesting jitsuroku-style yakuza films of the 70s: Yakuza vs. G-Men: Decoy (1973).

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

Posted: 16 Sep 2020, 23:43
by grim_tales
One Armed Swordsman (1967): 4/5

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

Posted: 22 Sep 2020, 12:16
by HungFist
Underworld Betrayal (裏切りの暗黒街) (Japan, 1968) [VoD] – 2/5
Four gangsters (lead by Koji Tsuruta rob) a bagful of yakuza money. They agree to lay low for three years before touching the money. But a kid (Ken Sanders) who witnessed the robbery thinks he can either redeem a membership in the gang (and a share of the money) or sell the information to the yakuza whose money went missing. This is a standard modern day gangster picture with energetic opening and closing reels; the rest is routine, though at least free of any comic relief. Yasuo Furuhata directed.

Beautiful Escape (ファンファーレが鳴り響く) (Japan, 2020) [Yubari Fanta Online] – 3/5
“Adults are full of lies, so we have to kill them”. A bullied schoolboy and a girl who likes to kill small animals find each other and embark on a journey to change the world by brutally murdering bullies and rotten grown-ups. An interesting youth film by new director Kazuki Morita, slightly amateurish in parts, but also energetic and focused with a clear vision, which is something most Japanese indie productions are solely missing. Morita does a meaningful drama about social problems, but does not shy away from throwing in severed limbs, a zombie musical dream sequence (somehow neither particularly over-the-top nor out of place) and opening shot of God being decapitated (two bare-breasted angels accompany him). It’s all done with practical effects as well (considering Asuka Kurosawa’s casting as the protagonist’s mother, I wonder if her husband Soichi Umezawa had an assisting hand in the gore). Someone might call the mix of social drama, gore and nudity pretentious, but a good argument could be made that this is the exact opposite (particularly when compared to many of the amateurish, stiff art films made by similarly inexperienced filmmakers). Director Morita is Yubari 2019 Grand Prix winner and made this film with the award money. Theatrical release coming Oct. 2020.

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Trailer: https://youtu.be/VGZ7A2sXxP0

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

Posted: 24 Sep 2020, 16:20
by Guro Taku
New Eros Schedule Book: An Offering of Fine Skin (新・色暦大奥秘話 やわ肌献上) (Japan, 1972) [BD] - 2.5/5
Isao Hayashi's period roman porno is more of a mystery/drama than a sex film - and that's a good thing! A concubine gets exiled because she's found to have smuggled a kabuki performer into the ooku for some carnal fun. Or has she been set up because of the usual harem intrigues? The film held my attention for its 70 minutes of running time and actually the weakest part is a 5 minute scene that seems to try to emulate Norifumi Suzuki's period sex films by having several girls sent from various provinces performing for the shogun. This part is completely at odds with the rest of the film and the low budget and Hayashi not being Suzuki also do it no favors. However, when a black girl (credited as Theresa Palmer) shakes her tits for the shogun he dismisses her as "too dark". Oooof! Oh, and Sally May is in this briefly as well.

Female Beautician Rope Discipline (団鬼六 女美容師縄飼育) (Japan, 1981) [BD] - 3/5
An Oniroku Dan S&M flick from a director I had never heard of (Hidehiro Ito) and with a singularily unappealing poster... I wanted to stab myself in the eyes even before hitting play! But then the film starts with a woman used as a human shield while two deranged dudes try to stab each other and everyone except her acts like this is the most normal thing ever on the streets of Tokyo. I was starting to get interested. The poor lass is taken to a beauty salon so she can relax by a helpful stranger (Shinsho Nakamaru, who's absolutely great in this film) and ultimately that leads to a S&M love triangle between him, the woman he rescued and the woman who runs the beauty salon. The best scene of the film has him with a rope around his neck while the two women pull on each end while fighting for his attention, almost killing him in the process. I somehow doubt the comedic elements were written as such in Oniroku Dan's original novel but this adaptation proved to be great fun!

High School Teacher: Maturing (高校教師・成熟) (Japan, 1985) [BD] - 1.5/5
Terrible Shogoro Nishimura flick about a teacher sexually harassed by her students and torn between two lovers, neither of which have any interst in marrying her. There is one interesting character (one of her two lovers), who's said to have become a recluse after killing a couple of his students. Unfortunately that doesn't really go anywhere in particular and the ending is about as predictable as you can get.

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

Posted: 25 Sep 2020, 22:29
by Guro Taku
The Blood of Wolves (孤狼の血) (Japan, 2018) [BD] - 3.5/5
Seasoned detective Shogo Ogami (Koji Yakusho, THE WORLD OF KANAKO) - the film's title is a play on the similarity of his last name Ogami to the Japanese word for "wolf", i.e. okami - and his rookie partner (Tori Matsuzaka, the callboy from, well, CALLBOY) are teamed up to investigate the disappearnce of company employee in Kazuya Shiraishi's overlong but still rather entertaining crime film. I've read reviews comparing this to V-Cinema but it's actually closer to the theatrical yakuza films released by Toei in the early 90ies, when drama was given emphasis over the gangster stuff. Not that this film shies away from gnarly violence when it gets around to it: it literally starts with a close-up of a pig's asshole squeezing out a turd, which is then promtly shoved into a poor guy's mouth. There's also an interrogation scene that includes cutting implanted pearls out from a guy's dick. But these excesses are few and far between a whole lot of character drama. Luckily Yakusho and Matsuzaka are absolutely brilliant in their roles and so is everybody else, down to the smallest supportiung roles. Maybe not an all-time classic but recommended for fans of the genre.

Oryu's Passion - Bondage Skin (お柳情炎 縛り肌) (Japan, 1975) [BD] - 1.5/5
Miserable yakuza-themed Oniroku Dan S&M flick from Katsuhiko Fujii. Some clan boss is assassinated and the successor is more interested in running off with his lover and starting a normal life. A rival clan uses this weakness for their own purposes and eventually Naomi Tani has to piss into a bucket. You know how that goes. I want those 70 minutes back, please.