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

Film Reviews and Release Comparisons
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chazgower01
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by chazgower01 » 25 Jun 2019, 01:10

Never Say Regret (Hong Kong, 1990) youtube 3/5
Yukari Oshima stars in this low budget action drama from no-name director Lau Kwok-Ho. Yukari gets framed for drugs and sent to prison where she quickly makes an escape attempt, and later tries again. Caught a second time, she is then sentenced to death. Shing Fui-On plays the warden.

Meanwhile, Dick Wei, as a good guy here, and Max Mok are a part of a team that comes to rescue Yukari. A lot of it is shot at night, and my copy had no subs, but luckily most of the first half of the movie is in the prison, and most of the second half of the movie features a lot of ‘war movie like’ violence out in the wilderness.

The finale is well done, though Yukari could’ve been used more effectively. If this had been subtitled and on Blu-Ray, I suspect it could’ve been rated higher, as it's pretty well done considering a story that’s nothing new. I’d definitely see it again under those circumstances - all the performances are top notch, especially for a low budget movie like this.

Of note: When Yukari is first booked into the prison, she’s sent to get hosed off, and I suspect this is one of the few, if not only times she’s naked in one of her films. It’s from behind and very brief (and a shitty copy of the movie as well), but still surprising to see from her.

That first pic is a production still. I had a hell of a time trying to get a good pic...

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

Unread post by HungFist » 25 Jun 2019, 14:39

chazgower01 wrote:
25 Jun 2019, 01:08
HungFist wrote:
23 Jun 2019, 15:31
Three Pretty Devils (三匹の牝蜂) (Japan, 1970) [DVD] - 3/5
Had no idea this was out on DVD...!!!
Since 2010

https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00BPGPUWQ
https://www.yesasia.com/global/%E4%B8%8 ... /info.html
http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/product/NEODAI ... 1223b74fae

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

Unread post by HungFist » 27 Jun 2019, 06:50

Front Row Life (かぶりつき人生) (Japan, 1968) [DVD] - 2/5
Tatsumi Kumashiro's debut film about a moody gal whose fat mother is a stripper. The daughter gets a bit into the same trade, and runs into some unpleasant men, one of whom wants her to star in a pink film. Kumashiro fans should enjoy this as it’s unmistakably his work; I wasn't that impressed by it though, nor were the audiences at the time it seems. Kumashiro was back to assistant duties until Nikkatsu went Roman Porno. This film is tame compared to those, a character drama with mainly talk, but there are a few (non-striptease) scenes that show brief glimpses of nudity while pretending to be part of serious narrative. You get the feeling they calculated how much they could get away with.

An Outlaw (ならず者) (Japan, 1964) [DVD] - 3.5/5
Badass Ishii/Takakura action thriller with Takakura as betrayed hit man in Hong Kong and Macao. The plot is purely programmer stuff with a doll full of drugs that everyone is after, but the film is so cool that it doesn't matter. Takakura's character is colder than his usual (especially later) ninkyo heroes and the film features what is probably Yoko Mihara's first topless scene ('64 was the year when nudity went mainstream in Japanese cinema, but for her scene to happen in a Takakura film is amusing). Tetsuro Tamba and Mariko Kaga steal the film in their cool/heartfelt supporting roles. And Ishii excels at what he’s best at: location work. The only problem is that half of the film is spoken in Chinese by the Japanese cast (e.g. most of Mihara’s lines) and their pronunciation sounds atrocious even to someone who doesn't speak the language.

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

Unread post by chazgower01 » 27 Jun 2019, 12:46

A Book of Heroes (Hong Kong, 1986) youtube 2.5/5
One of Yukari Oshima’s first films, this Taiwanese cheapie is a convoluted story about a treasure map, with way too many characters chasing it and acting silly. The main bad guy (Yasuaki Kurata) lives in a Scarface-style house and unknowingly has an undercover cop, Yukari Oshima working for him as a hired ass-kicker.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that, 15 minutes into the movie, Yukari has maybe one of her top ten movie fights, when she takes on five thugs as an exhibition of her talent for the boss. If this IS her first movie, I can see why she made a quick transition to Hong Kong, because it’s spotlight impressive. And it’s her second fight of the movie!

Unfortunately, most of the movie isn’t about her, though we do get some decently entertaining fights from some of the other characters - from Taiwan - including Pauline Lan who is superbly body doubled in the first fight with Yukari and Elsa Yang (aka Pauline Yang) who they get creative within her fights. And some little kid too, in a cleverly body doubled fight.

The finale is a welcome relief, even though it features some of that silly comedy still, but super tall Black actor Eugene Thomas gets some impressive kicks in as one of the bad guys squaring off with everyone. Literally ‘Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting’.

And after disappearing for most of 45 minutes, Yukari is back, though somewhat limited in the 15-minute finale, sharing fight time with everyone else. The fighting, the stunts, and the creativity is such that, it’s hard for her to stand out here - they really did a great job filming these fights scenes and it’s an entertaining part of an otherwise mostly forgettable Hour and a half.

Then in the final two minutes, after the police congratulate each other - Yukari and Pauline have a sparring match at the gym (Maybe Pauline DOES have some skills) and we see Yukari practically fly through the air, flip, kick, and gymnastically do what she does best in an added display of her talent. A great debut in a very uneven movie.

Note: Sammo Hung recruited Yukari Oshima for Millionaire’s Express, which came out in January of 1986, so THAT was her first film in the Hong Kong market. (She played a regular villain in the Bioman series in Japan previously). She made three other Taiwan movies in 1986, most likely to keep working until her next Hong Kong feature the following year.

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

Unread post by chazgower01 » 28 Jun 2019, 13:58

Funny Family (Hong Kong, 1986) youtube 3.5/5
Wow, I enjoyed this a heck of a lot more than I thought I would. 

One of three Taiwan cheapies Yukari Oshima did in her first year (there’d be many more to come), it tells the story of a young man (Hu Kua) and young woman (Pauline Lan) living next door to each other who are in that awkward phase of wanting each other. The young man’s Dad and the young woman’s Mother, however, have an over the top dislike for each other and naturally keep the two of them apart.

Even this is pretty funny, especially when the parents physically fight each other in an early scene. So they end up both sending their kid off to the city to find a rich mate, and find (his) mother and (her) father - traveling together, arguing and of course getting caught up in the excitement AND pitfalls of the city. They DO find their parents (who naturally live together) and help them keep their sporting goods store thru a series of competitions.

A full hour and 8 minutes into the movie Yukari finally shows up, as a tattooed Japanese athlete named ’Tempura’, the opponent in the tennis match and then the boxing challenge. I kinda like this look! Her fight with Pauline Lan, though short, is a highlight of the movie as Yukari is a ball of super energy - kicking, punching, jumping off the ropes - the camera may be a bit under-cranked here, but the action is still furious and fun.

Pauline Lan, though obviously using a fight double at times for some of the amazing acrobatics (though still doing SOME of this action), and Hu Kua as the young man - provide some very entertaining fight scenes. These may be Taiwan cheapies, but the action is top notch and enjoyable. If you like this type of comedy, you’ll really enjoy this with the added fight action. Even the Bowling scenes were a hoot!

Note: The unauthorized use of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ and Prince’s ‘Kiss’ was kinda cool to hear. Pauline Lan would go on to be the ‘Taiwan Madonna’ with a hugely successful Pop singing career, appearing in TV shows, commercials, etc. for decades in that country. She still has a presence on Facebook and Instagram even now. The two movies I’ve seen her in (of only 6 listed), she’s very much a noticeable on-screen force.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 29 Jun 2019, 14:39

House on Fire (火宅の人) (Japan, 1986) [DVD] - 3/5
80s novel adaptation of the stormy private life of a novelist, thankfully directed by Kinji Fukasaku. It's quite long at 132 min and feels even longer with Fukasaku cramming 3 hours worth of drama into 2, but not boring thanks to Fukasaku's sparkling direction and drama that is both believable and a bit outrageous. Ken "I am the best actor of the 80s" Ogata is his usual great self in the lead and so are all the actresses playing wives and mistresses, including Mieko Harada and her heavenly breasts.

Big Magnum Kuroiwa Sensei (ビッグ・マグナム黒岩先生) (Japan, 1985) [DVD] – 3/5
“Violence education is my motto”, explains one of the new teachers at the School without Honor and Humanity, an institution full of delinquents, neo nazis and girls flashing their breasts (imported Nikkatsu actresses, I believe). And by "violence education" he means using violence in education. But the real badass in the school is the other newcomer, Kuroiwa sensei, a harmless looking old man who is actually a secret agent armed to the teeth, sent by the Board of Education! A relatively insane Kazuhiko Yamaguchi high school action comedy runs out of bullets at the end when the educational Rambo has to clear the school of bad boys without actually killing anyone. Lame. It's because the film was a family friendly mainstream comedy manga adaptation, released just prior to the 80s high school action boom (Be-bop High School and Sukeban Deka followed soon). It's still a good bit of fun, though.

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

Unread post by HungFist » 01 Jul 2019, 16:32

The Day of No Return (Kaerazaru hibi) (帰らざる日々) (Japan, 1978) [DVD] - 3/5
A young man (Toshiyuki Nagashima) returns to his hometown and recalls his youth, including an unlikely friendship with a brutish bully (Jun Etô), and a girl (Kahori Takeda from Pink Hip Girl) whose father (Atsuo Nakamura in a Yoshio Harada role) was a yakuza. Told in parallel in 1978 and 1972 with plenty of period detail. Another good, though not exceptional film by Japan's top youth film director of the 70s, Toshiya Fujita. He's ironically best known abroad for his most atypical film, Lady Snowblood. Perhaps that makes sense though, as revenge films travel better, and serious youth dramas are a genre the Japanese are for some reason much more comfortable with than the rest of the world.

Prey (餌食) (Japan, 1979) – 4/5
Yuya Uchida x Koji Wakamatsu x Reggae. Uchida is a pot smoking ex-rocker back from the States. He hooks up with a small community of ex political radical, a bozo zoku style lone youngster and a teenage girl while growing increasingly concerned about the heroine trade conducted by gangsters in the show biz back-stage. A little more laidback than your average Wakamatsu fair, with an amazing non-stop reggae soundtrack and no graphic sex. Not the director at his most intense, yet unmistakably Wakamatsu all the way to the ending where Uchida goes postal in bright daylight and starts shooting random people on the street.

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

Unread post by chazgower01 » 02 Jul 2019, 09:45

Millionaire’s Express (aka Shanghai Express) (1986, Hong Kong) Amazon Prime 3.5/5
Last year I wrote about this movie: "The fights are good - this is 'Dragons Forever' era Sammo putting this together, I just wish there'd have been more of it. But I still feel I'll like this movie better upon repeated viewings."

And it's TRUE, I do. I upgraded it to a 3.5. Watching it now, for Yukari Oshima's performance, I did fast forward through a couple of Eric Tsang parts and the Rosamund Kwan group was really fairly annoying, but most of the rest of it was fun to watch.

Yukari's part is pretty short (maybe 3 minutes total screen time in a huge cast) - she plays a ninja with Karata Yasuaki and Hwang Jang-Lee, and looks impressive in both her sword work and her fighting. And even though, Western audiences might've seen this performance and been impressed by it; the Chinese most likely saw it from the perspective of "She's Japanese". Still impressed by it, but she'd have to put up with that bias for most of her career in Hong Kong.

Still... it got her foot in the door and she would certainly make the most of it...


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

Unread post by HungFist » 04 Jul 2019, 07:49

Woman Gambling Expert (女の賭場) (Japan, 1966) [VoD] – 2.5/5
Part 1 in the 17 film Daiei series. An old man commits suicide after being accused of cheating in gambling den by a crooked yakuza (excellent Fumio Watanabe in a routine role). His restaurant owner daughter (Kyoko Enami) becomes the next target. Conservative Daiei surprisingly initiated this series two years before Toei took reign of the female gambler genre with Red Peony Gambler. But the origin is still evident. This is mainly a Daiei woman drama with yakuza elements until the electrifying last 15 minutes when Enami decides to learn the trade and get even. In a Toei picture, that scene would have played after the opening credits, or even before them, and served as the starting point for the story.

The Tale of Zatoichi (座頭市物語) (Japan, 1962) [BD] - 4.5/5
Zatoichi meets honourable but enemy gang affiliated samurai Shigeru Amachi in the beautifully written and directed opening film. It's curious how ninkyo'ish the storyline is (before the genre even existed), with Katsu and Amachi's meetings and discussions being old fashioned romanticized male honour/duty/friendship cinema at its best (you don't find anything quite like this in modern cinema, except maybe in 80s John Woo films). At the same time it steers away from the dull evil gang vs. good gang yakuza film pattern by making both gangs rotten. And the entire movie is funny and touching, with both elements beautifully integrated into the narrative rather than slapped on top of it. Also Amachi, an actor I've sometimes dismissed in his Toei films, is extremely good here. One of the all time best yakuza films.

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

Unread post by chazgower01 » 06 Jul 2019, 15:03

Outside the Window (Taiwan, 1973) youtube 3/5
This was Brigette Lin’s first movie, immediately making her a star, and it would set the course for the early part of her career, in melodramatic romance movies.

In this one, she plays a school girl (she was no more than 18-19 at the time), who falls in love with her teacher. Being a long ways away from any sort of Category III setting, we get poetry and unrequited feelings and crying, and string music and other school girls’ gossiping…
As Sting once sang, “Sometimes it’s not so easy to be the teacher’s pet.”

It’s a beautiful, sad story told many times before (a sexless Lolita), and filled with seemingly endless exposition, but Brigette Lin somehow makes it work. The camera loves her from the start and she’s just so convincing, you forget sometimes just how cliche the dialogue is. Mostly though, this is for Brigette fans...

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

Unread post by HungFist » 07 Jul 2019, 16:31

The Tale of Zatoichi Continues (続・座頭市物語) (Japan, 1962) [BD] - 3.5/5
Part 2. Zatoichi meets a man from the past (Katsu's brother Tomisaburo Wakayama). Enjoyable, wonderfully short (72 min) sequel nevertheless feels slightly superficial compared to the amazing original. The score (by Ichiro Saito instead of Akira Ikufube) dates the film, the storyline is built on back-story threads intentionally left loose in part one, and the Katsu-Wakayama pairing isn't milked to the full until the fantastic last 15 minutes. Still very good, but there was potential for even more.

New Tale of Zatoichi (新・座頭市物語) (Japan, 1963) [BD] - 4/5
Part 3. The first colour entry and a return to top form with comparable honour/duty/respect play as the original film. Zatoichi is about to leave the yakuza life behind when he encounters a man who isn't evil, but must kill Zatoichi because his brother was slain by him. Effective and very touching. Three further points of notice: the film contains one of Akira Ikufube's most beautiful scores, features stunning framing throughout, and intensifies the action with powerful sword action sound effects (something that, typical to older chambara and yakuza films, was largely absent from the first two Zatoichi movies).

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

Unread post by Ivan Drago » 09 Jul 2019, 17:03

The Dragon from Russia (1990)

Director: Clarence Ford

Utterly shambolic adaptation of the Crying Freeman manga, jumping between stylish action scenes that you could frame on your wall and low-brow Drunken Master style humour, with a vague plot linking them together. Sam Hui makes for a charmingly goofy hero (and can certainly handle a tune) but you get the distinct impression that the mysterious masked figure in the fight scenes is a different character, never mind actor. In a similar vein, Yuen Tak and Yuen Wah both play the crazy villian/sifu in bizzare lumpy makeup, and Dean Shek makes a surprsiingly subdued appearence - one of his last before vanishing off the face of the earth.

5/10
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by HungFist » 10 Jul 2019, 13:50

Zatoichi's Flashing Sword (座頭市あばれ凧) (Japan, 1964) [BD] - 3/5
Part 7. Evil yakuza Tatsuo Endo tries to obtain a riverside area from a decent boss who is harbouring Zatoichi without knowing his true identity. Standard entry with a routine storyline. Katsu is lovable as usual and Endo has a great evil laugh.

Yakuza Priest (やくざ坊主) (Japan, 1965) [VoD] – 2/5
Messy ‘fallen monk opens a business’ picture in which nothing interesting happens. Shintaro Katsu, still half in Zatoichi mode, plays the hoodlum monk who gambles, brawls and womanizes his way through the uneventful non-story. It even lacks exploitative or technical edge. But it does have one saving grace (in addition to Katsu): the underused Mikio Narita as Katsu's ronin opponent. Typecast to the point of boredom in the 70s yakuza films, Narita’s 60 swordsman roles have been a real discovery. A watchable film, but criminally weak considering the potential and talent involved. Followed by one sequel.

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

Unread post by Ivan Drago » 12 Jul 2019, 22:07

Snake in the Eagle's Shadow Part II (1978)

Director: Chang Hsin-Yi

Somewhat to my surprise, this doesn't slavishly copy the formula of its famous namesake (bullied student befriends master in hiding) and is instead a mixture of boring escort company shenanigans and vaguely amusing con-man antics. Don Wong Tao stars (already a long way from his prime in Secret Rivals), Lee Kun tries out to be a fatter version of Dean Shek, Carter Huang and Chen Sing are wasted in small throwaway roles, but thankfully Lung Fei is on hand to liven up the last reel as a fairly intimidating mantis fist master.

Incidentally, although Wong Tao is meant to be a snake fist master, he still randomly launches into the Cat's Claw from SITES, complete with shots of a poor kitty being hurled into the air!

4/10
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Unread post by Guro Taku » 14 Jul 2019, 08:50

Female Tutor - Toxic Parent's Toy (女家庭教師 毒親の玩具) (Japan, 2018) [DVD] - 2/5
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