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

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

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Duel to the Death (1983): 3.5/5
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Shaolin Wooden Men (HK, 1976): 3.5/5

Surprised how much swearing there was in the subtitles (88 Films BD) :D
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Hex (HK, 1980) - first time: 3.5/5

Chinese period take on Les Diaboliques - pretty good :)
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The Fearless Hyena (HK, 1979): 4/5

Not seen this one in a long time, a good directorial debut by Jackie. The funky music in the Japanese trailer is cool :D
How did those old HK trailers get away with basically showing the whole movie :D
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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THE INVINCIBLE IRON PALM (1971)

So I was re-listening to the late, great Linn Haynes' commentary on HEROES TWO (God, has it been 15 years?) and he reccomended this one from director Chu Mu (who also plays an unlucky debtor).

It's an interesting early basher, borrowing a fair bit from THE CHINESE BOXER in that the baddies are shameless lone sharks, and the townsfolk way too prone to suicide to solve their problems. Compared to his notoriorously clunky Da Di films with Jackie Chan, Chu's direction is pretty decent here, though the fight scenes rely too heavily on editing and other tricks to try and make Charlie Chin look like he's a kung fu master.

And it's not every kung fu movie where the heroes have to soak their hands in cow urine!

Reccomended

7/10
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Zatoichi (2003): 4/5

Not seen this one in ages. Good performance by Kitano with occasional bloody action but feels more like a drama than pure action, the CGI blood is rather distracting and stands out. The colours on the BD look rather dull, was that intentional?
The climax of the movie is weird, with a tap dance/theatre number.
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Erotic Nightmare (Hong Kong, 1999) [BD] – 2.5/5
Anthony Wong dreams of schoolgirls until the dreams bite him in the ass. Late 90s CAT III film delivers what the title promises, but something seems to be missing. Perhaps it’s heart, as odd it may sound. The film comes out somehow cold and mechanical compared to the more spirited early 90s Hong Kong madness. That being said, it’s still a passable film.

A Man's Family Crest (男の代紋) (1972) [Streaming] – 3/5
Here’s a film not to be mistaken as a Nikkatsu production. Lead actor Hideki Takahashi was a major star at Nikkatsu where he did almost 100 films, including the 11 movie A Man’s Crest series (1963-1967). Like many of his colleagues, he found himself out of job following Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno switch in October 1971. Here he stars in his only Toei film, a ninkyo tale directed by 60s genre master Kosaku Yamashita. It is unclear if Toei genuinely thought Takahashi might revive the dying ninkyo genre, or if the film was just an attempt to cash in on Takahashi’s popularity. It is not a bad film, however. Takahashi plays a clansman who is banished after resorting to violence too often and too soon, sending him wandering in the countryside for the rest of the film. He of course runs into more trouble with other gangsters, while also looking after a mother and child. While the script is mediocre (not really helped by director Yamashita, whose formerly heartfelt style became more minimalist from the end of the 60s), the film still stands out for being largely outdoor and nature set, as opposed to being filmed in the usual studio sets like so many other ninkyo films. It’s also curious how violent and short tempered the main character here is; certainly atypical for the genre. It wasn’t enough to make the film a hit however, and the film seems to have fallen into oblivion.

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

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The New One Armed Swordsman (HK, 1971): 4/5

Pretty cool movie, loved the funky theme (which really stands given the period setting) and the twangy guitar notes have a spaghetti Western flavour.
Interesting that the hero doesn't fight much in this movie right at the start and then not until the very end, I wasn't sure whether to root for him at first.
I noticed both vintage trailers (HK and German) use some of the same music cues as one of early The Big Boss trailers - which used it first I wonder?
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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) - first time viewing: 3.5/5

Good movie but seemed rather stagey and drawn out especially near the end, Come Drink with Me is more enjoyable imo
Several times I noticed a music cue of a few string notes that seemed to hint at approaching horror or that something isn't quite right - that I'm sure I heard elsewhere, maybe in Fist of Fury/Big Boss?
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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The Demon’s Baby (Hong Kong, 1998) [BD] – 2.5/5
Uneven period piece horror with an army general’s concubines bearing demon babies. It doesn’t really take off until the last half an hour when it turns into a mad sfx showcase whose makers must have been inspired by Rob Bottin’s work in The Thing. Until that, however, the focus is on a romantic plot involving two poor servants. Anthony Wong appears in a Mr. Vampire / Lam Ching-ying type priest role. Also worth nothing is that despite starring Elvis Tsui as sex maniac army man, the film is free of any on-screen sex or nudity, and carries a CAT II rating.

Thugs of Shinjuku (新宿の与太者) (Japan, 1970) [Streaming] – 3/5
This lightweight gangster movie is probably most notable for possibly being part of the Modern Yakuza series. Most sources nowadays consider it the 3rd movie in the series, and Toei producers and directors have given comments along these lines. However, the series title is nowhere to be found in the film or any of its Japanese promotional materials (any titles found in English language databases with the Gendai Yakuza / Modern Yakuza header are made-up). There is even a self-referential joke in the film when the main characters come out of a movie theater and spot a poster for this film, Thugs of Shinjuku. The poster actually states “Screening next: Thugs of Shinjuku - The 1st film in a new Bunta Sugawara film series”. It’s one of the many humoristic scenes in the film that set this apart from the more seriously minded entries that preceded and followed. Title debates aside, this is a harmless and perhaps forgettable film that however quite nicely captures its era and locations on film. The violent climax for instance is set on a bustling city street in broad daylight with Sugawara navigating between thousands of ordinary people as he chases a rotten yakuza boss. And when the last drop of blood has been shed, Bunta’s charming amateur ballad “Juku no yotamono” plays to bid us a farewell. Most of the film may not fare that well, with Bunta leading his comical gang of good-for-nothings through a routine plot, but one doesn’t feel like being too critical on the film when it has such charming bits in it.

Note 1: The Japanese title Juku no yotamono is actually more consistent with the first two films, Gendai yakuza: Yotamono no okite and Gendai yakuza: Yotamono no jingi than with the next two, Gendai yakuza: Sakazuki kaeshimasu and Gendai yakuza: Chizakura san kyodai.

Note 2: The last film in the series was Fukasaku’s Gendai yakuza: Hitokiri yota (Street Mobster). It was followed by Hitokiri yota: Kyoken san kyodai (Three Mad Dog Brothers), which despite being a sequel is not considered part of the Modern Yakuza series.

Note 3: Thugs of Shinjuku is the only one of these films that Toei has not released on DVD. It’s also the only one that isn’t airing on Toei Channel whereas the rest are frequently aired back to back.

Note 4: Though Shinjuku no yotamono would be the orthodox reading of the kanji title, it’s actually Juku no yotamono as per the accompanying furigana.

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

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Odd Couple (HK, 1979) - Eureka BD: 4/5

Why did so many kung fu comedies in the 70's feature Dean Shek? He's just annoying, I get that Chinese humour is very broad, maybe there's some stuff I'm not understanding :?
There are cool weapons fights here, where 2 old masters (Sammo and Lau Kar Wing) train their young selves - so Old Sammo trains young Lau Kar Wing and vice-versa, interesting twist.
Having the old HKL trailer as an extra is a blast from the past that's for sure - but the promo says 'From Sammo Hung and Lau Kar Leung' - it's Lau Kar Wing! :D
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Freeze Me (2000) 3.5/5
It's a good movie, but not exactly Ishii's best. It plays out like a dark thriller where the unconcious of the protagonist isn't always readily available. This is an effective way of telling a story because it's never predictable. The lead actress does a decent job here portraying the traumatized rape victim with her unconventional revenge methods. Overall I enjoyed it, but I definitely prefer his earlier work. It gets a higher score because of the sheer novelty.

A Night In Nude: Salvation (2010) 3/5
It's really hard to review this one as it was the definition of a mixed bag for me. I saw the too long director's cut. This sequel was made 16 years after the original and Jiro is yet again in trouble. Salvation has a fantastic premise, but in large parts I disagree with the execution. It's too long to be truly engaging as a noir and it's terribly uneven. Some scenes are too slow and others too rushed. The best thing about it is the main female villain. That character is complex and well written. The female cop is redundant. I can understand the need for a juxtaposition. Basically, Jiro is more interested in damaged women while it's suggested he could have a shot with a healthy, good looking cop. But of course we already knew Jiro is one twisted soul to begin with. It gets dark, the movie deals with incest and horrible parents willing to pimp out their own daughter for their own advancement. Even then the direction is too pedestrian at times and it lacks the intensity of the original. Salvation had great potential, but desperately needed a re-write. That said, it fascinates and it's worth seeing because this is different cinema. Strong ending.
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Lou Bloom wrote: 27 May 2023, 18:35 A Night In Nude: Salvation (2010) 3/5
It's really hard to review this one as it was the definition of a mixed bag for me. I saw the too long director's cut. This sequel was made 16 years after the original and Jiro is yet again in trouble. Salvation has a fantastic premise, but in large parts I disagree with the execution. It's too long to be truly engaging as a noir and it's terribly uneven. Some scenes are too slow and others too rushed. The best thing about it is the main female villain. That character is complex and well written. The female cop is redundant. I can understand the need for a juxtaposition. Basically, Jiro is more interested in damaged women while it's suggested he could have a shot with a healthy, good looking cop. But of course we already knew Jiro is one twisted soul to begin with. It gets dark, the movie deals with incest and horrible parents willing to pimp out their own daughter for their own advancement. Even then the direction is too pedestrian at times and it lacks the intensity of the original. Salvation had great potential, but desperately needed a re-write. That said, it fascinates and it's worth seeing because this is different cinema. Strong ending.
Completely agreed. I've also only seen the longer cut, first at Nippon Connection (who, despite what the festival catalogue and website claimed, indeed screened the long version) and then on Japanese BD (which I had actually bought but not watched before the NC screening). I always thought the shorter theatrical cut might be better, however it may also be optically censored since it carries an R15 rating as opposed to the R18 Dir. Cut.

Thankfully there's no need to really stress about it. As fas as I'm concerned, Ishii retired after Freeze Me and never made another film again :lol:
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Deadly Camp (Hong Kong, 1999) [BD] – 1/5
A bunch of annoying teens camp on an island inhabited by a chainsaw wielding maniac and his annoying son. This frustratingly amateurish slasher, often referred to as Hong Kong’s Friday the 13th, does absolutely nothing right. The film is ineptly shot, the characters are nerve-wrecking, the violence takes place outside of the frame, and there’s not even nudity beyond one very brief scene. This was, in fact, a CAT II film. Anthony Wong appears briefly in an extended cameo.

New Eros Schedule Book: An Offering of Fine Skin (新・色暦大奥秘話 やわ肌献上) (Japan, 1972) [Streaming] – 3/5
A surprisingly good Nikkatsu Period Porno set in the shogun's inner chambers. Nikkatsu made quite a few similar films in their early Roman Porno years, but I don't think any were as lavish as this one. The colourful costumes and set are good enough to rival mainstream productions (only lacking large scale outdoor scenes), and the reasonably interesting storyline isn't completely drowned by sex scenes. The plot is about the shogun's power hungry women scheming against each other, with one girl framed by someone for smuggling a man into the harem. The others start investigating the case. Top notch cast includes Nikkatsu's early stars Setsuko Ogawa and Yuko Katagiri among others, plus shogun's yellow haired delight Sally May.

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

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Last Hurrah for Chivalry (1978) - BD: 3.5/5
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HungFist wrote: 28 May 2023, 08:03
Thankfully there's no need to really stress about it. As fas as I'm concerned, Ishii retired after Freeze Me and never made another film again :lol:
I think that would be the best way of looking at it. One plausible theory could be that he lost an editor, producer or another key player along the way. Doesn't really matter as I simply look forward to revisting the 90's stuff again.
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A Bittersweet Life (S. Korea, 2005): 4/5
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Hole in the Pants (パンツの穴) (Japan, 1984) [TV] – 3.5/5
While Shinji Somai and Nobuhiko Obayashi may have been responsible for the decade's defining youth films, Norifumi Suzuki could be trusted to deliver a less sophisticated but still heartfelt entry into the genre. Inspired by a readers' segment in a popular gravure / idol magazine called BOMB, it was never going to be high art and only got naughtier when Suzuki took helm. But it also turned out a nostalgic, warm-hearted tale of growing up, set in countryside and against the backdrop of local festivals. It also has lots of shit in it - literally. Suzuki follows a group of junior high school boys desperately in love with female classmates, but miserably failing at getting any closer to them. Fights, panty peeking, and toilet disasters ensue. Worth noting is that while a 80s youth film may not sound like your typical Suzuki film, it isn’t actually anything too out of ordinary for him. Suzuki’s greatest talent always was his ability to mix lowbrow comedy, action or exploitation with genuinely touching drama. This has been evident in his work from yakuza movies to Pinky Violence and of course his most representative work, the Truck Yaro action/drama/comedy series. He's also always had an eye for new talent, having introduced a whole lot of future stars to the world. Here he directs first timers Yoichi Yamamoto, Momoko Kikuchi and Yumi Yano, all of whom were catapulted to a success of varying degrees as a result of this film. Add a relatively catchy pop soundtrack and it is hard not to be entertained... and occasionally disgusted when shit starts flying. P.S. Yumi Yano is cute to the point of creating a plot hole: why do the guys even care for anyone else?

Uniform Virgin Pain (制服処女のいたみ) (Japan, 1981) [Streaming] – 2/5
Jun Miho stars in her debut role as a high school girl disco queen whose best friend gets raped in public bathroom while Miho is tearing up the dance floor. Several more particularly dirty scenes follow as the assailants continue to abuse the poor friend while Miho wonders what a girl's first time might feel like (the clue is in the title). One man pink factory Mamoru Watanabe directed this mishmash of disco dancing / rape & revenge / pink sleaze / youth film that Nikkatsu brought to theatres as one of their third party produced Roman Porno releases. This kind of “trendy” films were not entirely rare for Nikkatsu in the early 80s as evidenced by Watanabe’s later film Lusty Discipline in Uniform (1982) with Kazumi Kawai, and Miho’s popular but over-rated Pink Curtain series (1982-1983). Uniform Virgin Pain feels a bit more dated than those, as if it was born between the 70s disco boom and the 80s bubblegum idol pop eras, featuring elements of both. It’s not a very good film and a lot of the sleaze feels particularly dirty, but the film does befit from the enigmatic and excessively cute (though not particularly talented) Miho in the lead, as well as some good location work that captures the streets of Shinjuku that are filled with movie billboards from pinks to Bond. There’s a good ending too, if you manage stay on board until then.

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Father of the Kamikaze (あゝ決戦航空隊) (Japan, 1974) [DVD] – 4/5
Long, detailed, and engaging World War II docudrama focusing on Takijiro Onishi, the father of kamikaze warfare. Toei and Toho had already produced loads of kamikaze melodramas in the 60s through early 70s, but few (if any) had the massive scope of this. A product of the jitsuroku yakuza film era, this is essentially Battles without Honor and Humanity the war film edition, detailing the entire war from start to finish, from each strategic decision to the devastating end. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was also written by the same man as Battles without Honor and Humanity, Kazuo Kasahara. It’s also a controversial film for it taking the point of view of the men who believed in kamikaze warfare, which makes it both interesting and potentially objectionable depending on how you see it. Regardless, Koji Tsuruta is terrific as Onishi, a man who is burdened by his decision to sacrifice thousands of lives yet stubbornly believes it’s the only way to go. Akira Kobayashi is solid as his close ally, and Bunta Sugawara excels as extreme nationalist who is even more devoted to continuing the war than his superiors. The rest of the cast features just about every big name from Noboru Ando to Hiroki Matsukata, Kinya Kitaoji, Tsunehiko Watase, Ryo Ikebe, and many more.

Old Military Arts of Japan (武道ドキュメント 剣豪の祭典) (Japan, 1974) [Streaming] – 3/5
"We are witnessing a martial arts boom. Where did it come from?" asks the narrator at the beginning of this theatrical Toei martial arts documentary, which was released in the middle of Toei's karate film boom and frequently re-uses music from those films. The documentary covers notable Japanese martial arts from Okinawa Karate to Ninjutsu, Kendo, Shorinji Kenpo, sword fighting techniques popularized by the Lone Wolf and Cub series, and even firearms. None of it comes with very much depth, and the film was obviously an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of martial arts films and further promote them, but it is not without value. Various martial arts masters, from Shorinji Kenpo founder Doshin So to Japan Karate Association’s Masafumi Suzuki (who also frequently appeared in Toei’s karate films) and a supposedly 102 year old Okinawa Karate practitioner are brought in front of camera for interviews and martial arts demonstrations. We also get street interviews with random high school girls to find out if they’ve seen Bruce Lee films (some have, yes). All in all this, this is quite a passable and certainly more down-to-earth exploration of the topic than Toei's later, outrageous The Karate Professionals (1976). The film is not ruined with excessive length either, running only 45 minutes. It was released theatrically as a double feature with the 3.5 hour war film Father of the Kamikaze.

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Yes Madam (Hong Kong, 1985) [BD] - 3.5/5
Largely comedic “second” (but filmed and released first) In the Line of Duty film is redeemed by an insanely good action finale. The climax is master class in stunts and film editing. What comes before is not that bad either, with Tsui Hark and the boys providing some amusing comedy and Michelle looking very cute, but it is the climax that makes the film.

The Karate Professionals (世界最強の格闘技 殺人空手) (Japan, 1976) [TV] – 3/5
A ridiculous karate documentary helmed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi as one of Toei's last domestic martial arts productions of the 70s. There had been a slightly more down to earth martial arts doc called Old Military Arts of Japan two years prior, but now in the waning days of the karate film boom it was time to drop all pretensions and facts. The film follows the walking definition of violent machismo, the All Japan Professional Karate Association founder and part time Toei performer Go Otsuka as he faces challengers and trains his skills. Right at the beginning we are treated a nasty bit of (partially staged?) animal cruelty as Otsuka kills a wild boar with his bare hands. Not to be outdone, another fighter finds a viper in the grass and proceeds to bite it to death. Looking after the fighters is the association's own certified doctor ("You've got three broken bones. No worries, they'll heal in no time."). Much of the film is built around ring fights which cut to flashbacks showing the fighters honing their skills (e.g. why settle for running up and down stairs when you can run up mountains and have a fight at the top with whoever happens to be there). At the end of the film Otsuka travels to Hong Kong (where he's almost instantly attacked by half dozen kung fu fighters), Malaysia and Nepal, proving no one in Asia can neither match not assassinate him. This "documentary" is obviously to be approached with some reservations, but for fans of 70s karate films and true account cinema that blurs the line between truth and blatant lies there's 74 minutes of bone-headed, mostly staged fun to be had. Content wise it's not far from Yamaguchi's fully fictional films as far as the fights, performers, over the top narration and partially (or fully?) recycled Shunsuke Kikuchi score go. As documentary, it’s probably an accurate depiction of the mindset many of these fighters had.

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Royal Warriors (Hong Kong, 1986) [BD] - 3/5
Popular “first” (but filmed and released second) In the Line of Duty film comes with solid action and a cool synth score, but lacks unforgettable scenes. Worse yet, the drama is the dullest in the series and Michael Wong is at his most annoying. Kudos to having Japanese characters speak Japanese, but the dialogue, as performed by Hong Kong voice actors, comes out heavily accented and there are even bits of complete gibberish.

Loss of Innocence (処女喪失) (Japan, 1965) [TV] – 2.5/5
A stylishly filmed but awfully conservative Nikkatsu studio feature based on “sexual activity surveys” conducted with a 1000+ unmarried women. It’s essentially a condescending docu-drama about how pre-marital sex and particularly becoming a victim of sexual abuse is the end of all. The film follows investigative reporter Tamio Kawachi as he is contacted by a young man whose girlfriend had committed suicide after being forced to prostitution. The film then unfolds in episodic fashion as the reporter meets more victims or sexual abuse / violence (including several women who proposed to marry their rapist since that was supposedly the only option they had left). Some of the film’s extremely outdated views on sexuality can be quite jarring and the message is to make sure to keep your virginity until marriage if you want any happiness to ever come your way. The film should therefore be taken as a zeitgeist curiosity that was already out of date when it came out. Perhaps it was just an excuse for the filmmakers to dwell in sensationalism under the guise of condescending everything that’s on screen. As such, it is of some interest. The cast is pretty good as well, the tech credits are top notch, and surprisingly enough there’s a bit of nudity at the end by a very cute one-time actress whose name is probably Hitomi Mayama.

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Shaolin Wooden Men (rewatch): 3.5/5
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Hand of Death (HK, 1976): 3.5/5

Decent early period film from Woo, good fights and choreography by Sammo as well. Not familliar with the 'main' actor in it who plays the hero, James Tien is the villain, Jackie Chan was on the front cover of the Fox DVD of this movie even though he just has a small role.
Countdown in Kung Fu sounds like an American title, yet it's present on the Chinese title card as an AKA.. weird :)
Shame that the trailer on the Eureka disc isn't subtitled.
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In the Line of Duty III (Hong Kong, 1988) [BD] - 3/5
The most violent and even sexiest entry in the series (thanks to Michiko Nishiwaki spending a few seconds topless during a sex scene); unfortunately a bit lesser than its predecessors in terms of film making craft. Action is explosive enough, but captured without the kind of stylish lensing and great editing that Yes Madam had. Cynthia Khan is quite alright as the new lead: she's cuter than Michelle Yeoh but a lesser action performer. The Japanese characters are all dubbed in Cantonese this time, which was probably for the best.

Lost Virgin (BG・ある19才の日記 あげてよかった!) (Japan, 1968) [Streaming] – 3.5/5
Yuji Tanno made his directorial debut with this "shocking" true account exploration of the modern youth. The film sets out to uncover the sex lives of 19 year old “business girls” (the BG of the Japanese title, an old term later made obsolete by OL), based on a women's magazine whose readers’ segment served as the film's inspiration. It was another one in a line of such b-film productions by Nikkatsu, who were better known for romantic youth films and gangster movies (this movie premiered as the supporting feature for Outlaw: Heartless). Keiko Nishi, a new Nikkatsu face whose career never really took off, stars in her debut role as an innocent 19 year old typist who falls for a married senior executive (Hideaki Nitani) after he saves her from a morning train molester. Her co-workers are a bunch of straight-talking modern gals (Meiko Kaji as the meanest of them) about as far from the traditional Japanese idea of a decent woman as possible. Then there's a wannabe boyfriend Koji Wada whose charms can't compete with the married playboy. Of course, the film is very tame by modern standards and even compared to many other films that came out in 1968 that featured more graphic scenes. But it's also a charmingly old fashioned zeitgeist and a lot less judgemental than some other films of its kind (e.g. Nikkatsu’s 1965 film Loss of Innocence). It also packs a good cast, a nice musical score that grows on you, and a lot of stylish black & white cinematography. The club scenes are particularly cool. Call it low-key groovy.

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

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Mother (S. Korea, 2009): 4.5/5

Detective story about a mother whose son is accused of murder. Reminded me of Memories of Murder. I think (ending) her son actually did it, but he didn't mean to kill, he got angry because he was insulted and his mum didn't want to believe it
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