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What Asian Films Have You Been Watching Recently?

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  • 47lab
    replied
    I recently watched Naoyuki Tomomatsu's EAT THE SCHOOLGIRL: OSAKA TELEPHONE CLUB (1997) at the suggestion of a buddy. I've seen some of Tomomatsu's other stuff like STACY, LUST OF THE DEAD, ZOMBIE SELF DEFENSE FORCE & MAID DROID, so I know he's someone that likes to mashup genres especially pink films with horror and supernatural elements. This is probably his most experimental and mean spirited vision of the pink /slasher/gore film. It's very cheap looking but that actually works to its advantage and while it's no GUINEA PIG or TUMBLING DOLLS OF FLESH, it still has some quite disturbing material. Story is about two low level chinpira working for the Yakuza, by randomly kidnapping girls off the street to be used by the Yakuza thugs in very sadistic gonzo rape porn. One them is a stuttering autistic fool and the other a quiet loner whose only sexual release is through phone sex clubs. The moron character is ridiculed by hookers he picks up and develops an intense hatred towards females in general. He can only get sexual satisfaction while violently mutilating and killing them. The loner guy suffers from PTSD from having witnessed his family murdered as a young child and has all sorts of visions and hallucinations. Some brutal scenes on display including a very graphic forced enema on a poor victim and another graphic disembowelment in the shower. Overall, it's not very good with just a bunch of guerilla street shots and no real directorial vision other than inserting various disturbing scenes for pure shock value but if you're a fan of this type of stuff, then it'll be worth checking out for the novelty. Features a soundtrack by noise band HARSH NOISE MOVEMENT with songs like Yakuza Enema & Semen Guts.

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  • 47lab
    replied
    I saw Shinya Tsukamoto's first period samurai flick, ZAN aka KILLING the other night. I read a bit about the background of this flick and knowing Tsukamoto, I didn't expect it to be a long meditation on the samurai code or shit like that. Thankfully, Tsukamoto gets down to business early on the brisk pacing of the film is an asset. It's a fairly straightforward story about a samurai's reluctance to take another life and the implications it has for a family of farmers. The plum role is played Tsukamoto himself and he is excellent as the stoic ronin who is looking for young recruits to go to Edo and fight for the Tokugawa Shogunate against the Meiji restorationists. There are some weird Tsukamoto moments as to be expected but it's mostly a morality tale about the implications of a Samurai's code of Bushido and the vicious cycle of violent revenge and retribution that ensues. The downside is the limited budget as this could easily be mistaken for a low budget TV drama in terms of production value. Unfortunately, this cheap look really dampens the mood of the flick and there is a pivotal violent fight scene with a band of rogue ronins in their forest hideout but it's impact is lessened due to the cheap effects on display. On the other hand, the score was fantastic with a foreboding menacing soundtrack. Sadly, long time Tsukamoto collaborator, Chu Ishikawa passed away shortly after he scored this film.

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  • 47lab
    replied
    After catching Nishimura's HAIRPIN CIRCUS recently, I decided to check out his hard boiled action film he did for Toho in 1970 titled ATTACK AT DAYLIGHT aka ATTACK AT HIGH NOON. First off, thanks to the always reliable ShaolinWolf for the subs! Stars Toshio Kurosawa as a roughneck truck driver who reunites with his old reform school buddy and a go go dancer at a club and they undertake in low level criminal activity (robbing prospective johns with Toshio's gf as the bait). After killing a rich college kid and injuring another, he goes on the lam with the assistance of a Yakuza and he is quickly blackmailed into joining the organization. Toshio shows the boss that he's got guts and isn't shy about killing and soon works himself up the ranks. After a betrayal, Toshio and his buddies (one of them a gaijin named Johnny) have a showdown with the police. Decent little flick with a great finale involving a bloody shootout on the pier. Nishimura seems partial to seeing people get shot in the eye! Another highlight was the jazz soundtrack by Terumasa Hino & Hiroki Tamaki.

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  • Ian Jane
    Administrator

  • Ian Jane
    replied
    Thanks. PQ looks better than I figured. The burned in duel language subs don't bother me, I've seen plenty of Chinese movies like that in the past!

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  • 47lab
    replied
    Originally posted by Ian Jane View Post
    47, how is the picture quality? I don't need or expect perfection here but it is at least a legit HD transfer from a film source?
    yeah, it's fine considering the source material. The audio is very good as well.The one issue is the burnt-in subtitles (Chinese on top, English on bottom) but it doesn't bother me at all. I can imagine the time and expense it would take to mask the subs and create new subs and doubt this label has that type of budget.

    You can get a quick glimpse at the PQ in this sample of Michael Worth's audio commentary.

    https://vimeo.com/365994304

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  • Ian Jane
    Administrator

  • Ian Jane
    replied
    47, how is the picture quality? I don't need or expect perfection here but it is at least a legit HD transfer from a film source?

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  • 47lab
    replied
    Received my blu ray of THE LEG FIGHTERS the other day. Gotta support this Pearl River Collection and any label that puts out these kung fu classics on blu ray. Watched it three times with all the audio options including the Michael Worth commentary. He has a very pleasant delivery and doesn't sound like a pompous twit like Bey Logan or a buffoon like Ric Meyers. I just marvel at the leg work of Dorian Tan but the fight between Master Mo (Sun Jung-chi) and Peng Kang was superb too. Of course, Ha Kwong-li is always nice - my fave movie from her was another Lee Tso-nam flick, THE WOMAN AVENGER. Love to see that movie get the blu ray treatment.

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  • Takuma
    Senior Member

  • Takuma
    replied
    King Kong vs. Godzilla (キングコング対ゴジラ) (Japan, 1962) [VoD] - 3/5
    Fun entry with an awesome monster pairing, a more watchable than usual media satire storyline, and perhaps the most awesomely ridiculous Godzilla discovery scene in the whole series. Osman Yusuf appears for a few seconds as well. Version reviewed: Japanese.

    Son of Godzilla (怪獣島の決戦 ゴジラの息子) (Japan, 1967) [VoD] - 2.5/5
    Godzilla teaches toxic masculinity to his son. Intelligent kaiju film was 50 years ahead of its time.

    The X from Outer Space (宇宙大怪獣ギララ) (Japan, 1967) [VoD] - 3/5
    A pleasant surprise for a non kaiju fan. The opening half is dull as they tend to be, but then you get Guilala, the Nicolas Cage of giant space monsters! From there on it's non-stop destruction with a wonderfully monotonic score, an exciting car vs. giant monster chase, and the infinitely charismatic antenna-headed space-bird on drugs, Guilala.



    Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (ゴジラvsスペースゴジラ) (Japan, 1994) [VoD] - 2/5
    The cutest minilla ever almost saves this watchable but unremarkable entry. The end fight has potential for an epic, but comes off unfocused. Megumi Okada from Hana no Asuka gumi co-stars, the score rips off You Only Live Twice.

    South to the Horizon (南へ走れ、海の道を!) (Japan, 1986) [VoD] - 3/5
    Three Okinawa punks fuck with the yakuza and pay the price. Fast forward one month and shift gear to revenge film as combat vet older brother Koichi Iwaki comes out of the jungle for vengeance. The main target is yakuza boss Hideo Murota. Delightfully violent b-action film disguised as Shochiku studio production, by former porn director Seiji Izumi who splatters the walls with blood and can't even resist wielding some chainsaw. Plenty of bad writing, several gaijin supporting actors (mostly good, not bad guys) and music cues so bad they shouldn't suffice even for b-cinema. And it's all rather enjoyable; the kind of action cinema Japan wasn't producing anymore in the 80s. You just need to get past the deceivingly dull opening act. Director Izumi's 80s mainstream work has been a discovery: he also did the renegade biker cop film On the Road (1982) and the gritty delinquent girl rock picture Majoran (1984), both minor cult classics.




    Four Days of Snow and Blood (226) (Japan, 1989) [VoD] - 1.5/5
    Dull military drama tries to humanize the men behind the infamous Feb. 26 1936 coup d'état attempt. This is of the few male-centric films by late Hideo Gosha who had switched almost exclusively to women's cinema in the 80s. It makes no difference, the man was long out of touch. The only points of interest here are the ridiculously packed cast - stars like Tetsuro Tanba, Tatsuya Nakadai, Tatsuo Umemiya, Hiroki Matsukata and even Takuzo Kawatani popping up in 2 minute roles, sometimes without a single line of dialogue (Nobuo Kaneko) - and the perspective which is strictly with the renegade military men. The other 2/26 film I've seen, the 1962 Ken Takakura film The Escape, focuses on the prime minister hiding in the house (barely featured in this film at all) and the police trying to save him.

    For those who slept in their history class, the incident was about a conservative military wing trying to assassinate Western minded politicians, the prime minister being the prime target. They invaded the prime minister's house with several hundred men, but lacking smart phones and Google Image Search they committed the fuck-up of the century and killed the wrong man (the brother-in-law posing as the prime minister) without ever realizing their mistake. The real prime minister managed to hide in the house for several days and finally escape.

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  • 47lab
    replied
    I caught Kim Yong-hwa's (200 POUNDS BEAUTY, ALONG WITH THE GODS) 2009 sports flick, TAKE OFF. It's loosely based on the trials and tribulations of the 'real' National Korean ski jump team. It's basically Korea's take on the Jamaican bobsled team saga as depicted in COOL RUNNINGS. The usual tropes associated with this type of flick are all present - the ragtag group they assemble to represent Korea in a sport they have no historical background on the World level, zero budget and no public interest in funding them, lack of proper training facilities and coaching, parental disapproval, etc. So you can expect a story of the underdog overcoming all odds and such but it's still done in fairly entertaining manner. There is a tearjerker ending with the lead character played by Ha-jung woo relaying a message to his birth mother who gave him up for adoption. That is my primary fault with this flick, Ha Jung-woo is supposed to be a gyopo who has lived in the US for 20 out of his 27 years but he still has a fob accent and speaks Konglish? I've seen this in other Korean films as well and I guess the Korean audience doesn't care if it doesn't make sense but it's annoying.



    This flick did well enough at the box office to inspire a sequel called RUN OFF aka TAKE OFF 2 but this time it's about Korea's first women's National hockey team. I haven't caught this one yet but I plan to see it soon.

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  • 47lab
    replied
    Originally posted by Takuma View Post
    I loved the 2nd storyline, somehow it reminded me of Shinji Somai. The girl (the main character's sister if I recall correctly) is played by Kazumi Kawai. She made her film debut in the roman porno film Lusty Discipline in Uniform (セーラー服色情飼育) which somehow immediately ended up on my watch list

    I also loved the unusual and frankly confusing structure where Kawai's story takes place within a 24 hour time frame while Takada's storyline covers approximately 1 year, beginning before and ending after Takada's story. It requires quite a bit of attention, you often have to figure out the time frame from news weather maps, seasons, the clothing they are wearing, school graduation time etc. I don't know how much of that was subbed.
    the copy I watched had all that stuff subbed. It showed the timeline onscreen with all the dates but I didn't pay attention when it came to Kazumi Kawai's story. yeah, I have that Mamoru Watanabe RP movie too. A nice rip of the Happinet blu ray release was available a couple years ago and I perused it quickly. Didn't realize she was the 'object' of that middle aged perv's affections. He was basically dating the mom to get to the daughter (Kazumi). She must've dealt with a lot personal issues as imdb says she leapt to her death from a high rise and died at just 32.

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  • Takuma
    Senior Member

  • Takuma
    replied
    Originally posted by 47lab View Post
    This flick also features a secondary story involving some other gal who explores Tokyo on her own but is constantly harassed & solicited by middle aged men along her journey. I forgot the actress' name and she was very cute (I can see why recruiters wanted her to be gravure model) but her storyline was rather boring and lame.
    I loved the 2nd storyline, somehow it reminded me of Shinji Somai. The girl (the main character's sister if I recall correctly) is played by Kazumi Kawai. She made her film debut in the roman porno film Lusty Discipline in Uniform (セーラー服色情飼育) which somehow immediately ended up on my watch list

    I also loved the unusual and frankly confusing structure where Kawai's story takes place within a 24 hour time frame while Takada's storyline covers approximately 1 year, beginning before and ending after Takada's story. It requires quite a bit of attention, you often have to figure out the time frame from news weather maps, seasons, the clothing they are wearing, school graduation time etc. I don't know how much of that was subbed.

    Originally posted by 47lab View Post
    Sone's own production company, Film Workers and it features as its logo a feeble ant with crutches. The English subs read "this ant died from overwork" - I don't know if Sone is making a statement that workers in the film industry are like ants constantly working with little or no recognition for their efforts but it cracked me up.
    I know, that killed me! The best studio logo ever!



    I'm really loving these DIG releases (other than pretty shitty compression), also because they started including mini replicas of the theatrical pamphlets.

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  • 47lab
    replied
    Recently caught Chusei Sone's delinquent youth flick, BLOW THE NIGHT!. The title is from the rock band, THE STREET SLIDERS song of the same name (they are featured prominently in the soundtrack). Interesting and at times entertaining look at "yankii" youth culture of the early 1980s. yes, these kids are Japanese parents' worst nightmare, spending their school days idling about, sniffing paint thinner, having a general disrespect for authority, bullying their peers, unprotected sex with multiple partners, engaging in dangerous street riding with bosozoku, etc. This flick starred real life yankii delinquents such as Namie Takada, who was infamous for being featured in the early 80s delinquent girl lifestyle magazine Gals' Life. So Sone got actual hoods to play themselves & it brings a certain credibility to the flick but it's also rather depressing and bleak too. Sone still manages to impart the message that at least these 'misguided' youth are not hampered by the restrictions placed upon them by the hypocritical 'two faced' society at large (Sone takes a few pointed jabs at school authority, parents and the police). This flick also features a secondary story involving some other gal who explores Tokyo on her own but is constantly harassed & solicited by middle aged men along her journey. I forgot the actress' name and she was very cute (I can see why recruiters wanted her to be gravure model) but her storyline was rather boring and lame. This was made under the auspices of Sone's own production company, Film Workers and it features as its logo a feeble ant with crutches. The English subs read "this ant died from overwork" - I don't know if Sone is making a statement that workers in the film industry are like ants constantly working with little or no recognition for their efforts but it cracked me up. It also reminded me of a story in the early 90s when a French politician made controversial remarks equating Japanese with "ants" and caused an anti-French backlash. The print I saw was very good with an excellent anamorphic picture (R2 dvd released last year) and English subs free from grammar and syntax errors. The picture was so clear that I can easily discern the pockmarked face of singer, Harry of THE STREET SLIDERS when he's belting out "Masturbation" during the opening scene.

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  • Takuma
    Senior Member

  • Takuma
    replied
    Originally posted by mjeon View Post
    The Cat Girl Gambling movies are available on a French blu-ray: Woman Gambler Coffret
    That's the one I bought (and gave away).

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  • mjeon
    Senior Member

  • mjeon
    replied
    The Cat Girl Gambling movies are available on a French blu-ray: Woman Gambler Coffret

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  • Takuma
    Senior Member

  • Takuma
    replied
    Cat Girl Gambling x 3

    Cat Girl Gambling (賭場の牝猫) (Japan, 1965) [BD] - 3/5
    Early female gambler film, surprisingly not by Toei or Daiei, but the hip Nikkatsu. Yumiko Nogawa is very good in the lead, extremely beautiful and determined yet somehow fragile in a way most Toei heroines were not. The fact that she does not fight in the film translates to character realism rather than conservatism. The gambling scenes are excellent as well, with the course of the game depicted in detail, which is vital for sustaining suspense and not always done right in yakuza films. There's even the fun game tactic laid out for all the wannabe cat girl gamblers out there: show some thigh and the players are less likely to notice you are cheating! And finally, the film is lower key and void of the pathos of many Toei films. A richer storyline and more focus on the modern milieu would not have hurt, however. As it stands, the film is good but not especially memorable.



    Cat Girl Gambling: Naked Flesh Paid Into the Pot (賭場の牝猫 素肌の壷振り) (Japan, 1965) [BD] - 2/5
    A direct follow-up with Nogawa now working in a bathhouse where gangster runaway Nitani (different role than last time) seeks shelter. Nogawa's detective uncle is again investigating the case with young partner Tatsuya Fuji. Nogawa is her usual electrifying self, but the story is dull as dishwater with no gambling until the second half and only about 45 seconds of action in the entire film. Nikkatsu fans may get more out of it than I did.

    Cat Girl Gambling: Game of Sharpened Fangs (賭場の牝猫 捨身の勝負) (Japan, 1965) [BD] - 2.5/5
    The last in the trilogy, notably better than part 2. Nogawa gets acquainted with an honourable gang boss running a strip joint (!) (no nudity, however) who is being harassed by a crook boss. The enigmatic Nogawa dominates the screen, especially whenever someone tries to fuck with her - she's really fantastic, like Meiko Kaji but cuter and spicier. And she wears tattoos perhaps better than any other female star. She also gets to do a bit more action here, in addition to the great dice matches. But as usual, the storyline isn't especially dynamic and doesn't always even feel much like a gangster picture with the softer Nikkatsu drama touches.



    Sister Street Fighter x 3

    Sister Street Fighter: Hanging by a Thread (女必殺拳 危機一発) (Japan, 1974) [BD] - 3.5/5
    Fun Shihomi flick suffers from some shaky cam excess, something that director Yamaguchi invented in late '74 (probably a Fukasaku influence) but gradually let go off in 75. It's still a lot of fun with guest star Kurata, Hideo Murota in rare main villain role, sleazy smugglers operating jewels into girls' arses, that awesome apocalyptic shot near the end, and some kiddie porn (is that Eva Ionesco? She seems to have been big in Asia... her Playboy photos are in one of the Shaw Bros.'s Criminals films too) that EVERYONE had forgotten was in the film until BBFC made it front page news.



    Return of the Sister Street Fighter (帰ってきた女必殺拳) (Japan, 1975) [BD] - 3.5/5
    The most excessive film in the series. Shihomi goes through her entire Chinese wardrobe, wheelchair villain Rinichi Yamamoto organizes a fight tournament reminiscent of Wang Yu films (one fighter is a fucking Zulu!) and my idol Osman Yusuf appears for 10 seconds as strip joint customer. Only a notch away from overly goofy, it still remains on the cool side and is mostly well paced at lovely 77 minutes. Shunsuke Kikuchi's score rocks the socks off as usual, and Yamaguchi thankfully does away with the shaky cam. But the storyline is a rehash of the first two films (how many relatives / friends / friends' relatives to be kidnapped does she have?) and Ishibashi is again denied the finale he deserves, which slightly hamper the enjoyment.



    Sister Street Fighter: Fifth Level Fist (女必殺五段拳) (Japan, 1976) [BD] - 3/5
    The least in the series, yet packed with small pleasures. Shihomi in a hippie costume, future ATG director Claude Gagnon as a US drug lord, and ATG talents Ken Wallace & Michi Love as half-blooded siblings in a ridiculously manipulative yet sympathetic sub-plot. Shigehiro Ozawa helms it as pg-rated affair, which is a stumbling point for many fans. The real problem: a conservative doubt whether girl power goes all the way after all, given in Watase's speech about a woman's place and later verified when he needs to save Shihomi, something unheard of earlier in the series.

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