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What Asian Films Have You Been Watching Recently?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Takuma View Post
    47lab, I was hoping you'd come back! The forum has been missing you.

    Shameless is an odd, but entertaining film. I was doing DVD collection clean up last year, but I couldn't let go of this one. Very 60's...
    Thanks Takuma! Unfortunately, a rather hectic job schedule and never ending family obligations has prevented me from being a more active poster but I definitely still lurk here to specifically check your posts as well as sukebanboy. You guys are my life line to what's happening in the Asian cinema scene & Japan in particular. :up:

    yeah, Shameless is totally bizarre but mesmerizing. I dig that type of exploitation + art house mashup. Btw, I know it's kind of late but finally got around to checking out Kurando's GUN WOMAN -- totally agree with what you said about it on another forum...yeah, that movie was one of the best I've seen all year in terms of trash, entertainment value and overall DIY aesthetic sleaziness. Alas, I missed out on the German blu ray but I'll definitely be picking up the North American release from Shout Factory next year! :woot:


    • #17
      Glad to hear that. I hope you can find more time to post!


      • #18
        Originally posted by Takuma View Post
        Glad to hear that. I hope you can find more time to post!
        Hey Takuma were you able to get in on that kickstarter project with Third Windows for their "New Directors from Japan" series? I know you spoke highly of Isogai's The Lust of Angels but how are the other films in that set?


        • #19
          Originally posted by 47lab View Post
          Hey Takuma were you able to get in on that kickstarter project with Third Windows for their "New Directors from Japan" series? I know you spoke highly of Isogai's The Lust of Angels but how are the other films in that set?
          I haven't seen the other movies, and I'm afraid I haven't ordered that dvd either. These days I'm investing my movie budget on Tokyo trips and theaters - I haven't bought a dvd in at least 6 months (I had Red x Pink on pre-order, but cancelled when they announced Norifumi Suzuki retrospective )

          edit: well, I did buy Jailhouse 41 as a birthday present to a friend


          • #20
            Originally posted by Takuma View Post
            I haven't seen the other movies, and I'm afraid I haven't ordered that dvd either. These days I'm investing my movie budget on Tokyo trips and theaters - I haven't bought a dvd in at least 6 months (I had Red x Pink on pre-order, but cancelled when they announced Norifumi Suzuki retrospective )

            edit: well, I did buy Jailhouse 41 as a birthday present to a friend
            haha, yeah I remember now! You had a pyramid of Cup o' noodles next to your Zatoichi criterion collection box set & you were planning on subsisting on that to save funds to buy the blu ray. Shit even the bog standard dvd was around $80 US?!

            Back on topic, the last two flicks I caught were Yuji Makiguchi's Virgin Breaker Yuki 1 & 2. Jun Masami is great with her cold steely persona.


            • #21
              THE COMPLEX (Hideo Nakata 2013) 8/10

              as in "apartment complex"

              The director of the RING returns to the horror genre with a good psychological supernatural movie that avoids the "jump scares" format for the most part.

              First 1/3 is slow build up,,,,,,the rest follows a few twists and surprises and is a good film filled with lots of social commentary and ideas about ghosts and the lives of sole survivors of accidents/ kinda reminded me of his earlier movie DARK WATER....but it loses a point or so by needlessly going all "demonic possession" at the end a la EXORCIST 3....the fillm didnt need it and looks like it was shoehorned in when they couldnt think of a way to finish the movie...

              Anyhow, a good , well made film with excellent acting from the main girl and , as long as you are not expecting RING / JUON type scares it is worth a watch.
              Senior Member
              Last edited by sukebanboy; 10-15-2014, 12:18 PM.


              • #22
                Vampire (USA/Japan, 2011) [DCP] - 3/5
                A highly unusual and extremely uncommercial take on the vampire genre. Perhaps for being an English language production by a Japanese filmmaker, it feels more like an arthouse effort by a film school graduate than a work of a true master that Shunji Iwai is. A very quiet and grey film which strips the vampire genre from all of its shock and goth: no one gets bitten in the neck here. There are elements that don't work, such as the serial killer side plot and some clumsy artiness, but much of the rest is fascinating, especially the combination of vampire theme, suicide and depression

                Akira (Japan, 1988) [35mm] - 4.5/5
                Seeing one of the best sci-fi movies of all time on 35mm!! Amazing experience. Played as a double feature with another Katsuhiro Otomo film, Memories (1995), but unfortunately I didn't have time to stay for that. Lot's of people showed up even though they played it three weeks straight, three times a day.

                Red Light District: Woman in the Honmoku Brothel (Japan, 1975) [35mm] - 2/5
                An average-at-best Roman Porno, which nevertheless contains some interesting elements. The strengths are: a small number of odd scenes featuring a blind woman, (underused) jitsuroku approach, and setting the film in a Japanese wartime brothel serving both Japanese and foreign customers, which adds a bit of political touch. Unfortunately the rest of the film is nothing special.

                Sukeban Sex Violence (Japan, 1973) [VoD] - 2/5
                Nikkatsu was no stranger to girl gang movies, having pioneered the genre with the Stray Cat Rock series. This modest roman porno is a far cry from those movies or Toei's larger budgeted action films. It's 70 minutes of sex, schoolgirl fights, rock music, and more sex. It's a sound concept, but comes out far less exiting than you might hope. There's even a comedic fat sukeban girl who is bound to get on the viewer's nerves. The most outrageous exploitation is actually found in the poster, which clearly states “High School Girl Sex Violence” in Japanese, but gives the kanji characters an alternative, “correct” reading “Sukeban Sex Violence”. Two birds with one stone, and a way to argue that high school girls are not, in fact, mentioned in the title.


                • #23
                  We watched My Neighbor Totoro last night on Blu-ray. It's very cute. I think I would like a pet Totoro, but not the big one. The little one with the bird feet.
                  Rock! Shock! Pop!


                  • #24
                    In the local yakiniku restaurant tontoro is my favourite. My gf always gets angry when I tell her to order totoro

                    ah, that joke never gets old (in my opinion, she disagrees )


                    • #25
                      A Killer's Blacklist (Japan, 1970) [35mm] - 2/5
                      Toei is best known for two distinctive types of yakuza films - the chivalrous old school films of the 1960s, and the brutal true account films of the 1970s. Between them also existed a modern middle ground that didn't quite fall into either category and sometimes lacked distinguishable identity. A Killer's Blacklist suffers from this problem: it's a violent, yet humoristic modern day film that doesn't find much balance between gratuitous violence and some silly characters. Tsunehiko Watase is the first billed star - and does fine job at it - but frequently takes the back seat in favour of bigger stars like Makoto Sato and Kanjuro Arashi (yakuza film legend who was, frankly, too old to convince anyone as a knife fighter at this point). A semi-entertaining but forgettable effort by Teruo Ishii, who has helmed far better crime films in his career.


                      • #26
                        Jeans Blues: No Tomorrow (Japan, 1974) [35mm] - 2.5/5
                        Clumsy Bonnie and Clyde variation by Sadao Nakajima, who could be a fine filmmaker from time to time. This time, however, action and editing are a bit off, the storyline has some silly twists, and Tsunehiko Watase and Meiko Kaji struggle to find a common tune. It is no wonder that Kaji recommended against seeing the film. That being said, it's by no means a boring movie. It is, oddly enough, a rather entertaining train-wreck produced in the middle of Toei's mid 70s action movie craze - something that can be easily sensed while watching it.

                        True Account of Ginza Tortures (Japan, 1973) [35mm] - 3/5
                        Here's an incredibly brutal jitsuroku yakuza film, more violent than any of Fukasaku's movies. The film follows post-war criminals in Ginza. Every single character is a homicidal maniac. The introduction sets the tone: the protagonist returns from war only to find out his girlfriend has a baby with an American G.I. He kills them both. We later witness men vomiting blood, tortured to death and fed to pigs. Almost every woman in the film is beaten, raped, killed, or all three in that order. Nevertheless, in the hands of an experienced director like Junya Sato is becomes powerful and occasionally even poetic, if repetitive, vision of madness on the streets of post-war Tokyo.

                        Senior Member
                        Last edited by Takuma; 12-06-2014, 02:52 AM.


                        • #27
                          Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter (Japan, 1970) [35mm] - 4/5
                          One of the best films in the series which consisted of very different kind of installments by gang film director Yasuharu Hasebe and youth drama specialist Toshiya Fujita. This one is remarkable not only for being a slick action film, but also for capturing even more timely themes and content than the rest of the films. Among these is the girl band playing in the club scenes: The Golden Half, which consisted of half-Japanese members (Runa Takamura later had a brief Roman Porno career as well). Another great turn is featuring rock star Rikiya Yasuoka as the heroic male lead - he's much better known for bad guy roles and yakuza brutes that dominated his later acting career.

                          Wet Sand in August (Japan, 1971) [35mm] - 3/5
                          Popular early 70s zeitgeist by Nikkatsu's youth film specialist Toshiya Fujita. The director spent most of his career bouncing back and forth between youth dramas and crime films with similar themes. This film belongs to the former category and follows a handful of rebellious and restless youngsters hanging out on the beach and eventually heading to the sea with a stolen boat. Although a solid film, one gets the feeling it resonates best with audiences who have lived through the time period depicted in the film. In cinematic sense, unlike some of Fujita's other films, it's hardly extraordinary.

                          Onsen Mimizu Geisha (Japan, 1971) [35mm] - 2.5/5
                          Reiko Ike's debut film. There's a rumor she was underage during filming, but that hasn't been confirmed. In fact, there was a 5 week window between her birthday the release of the film, which, by the hectic 1971 production standards, could've been enough. In any case, director Norifumi Suzuki shows little restraint in his idol-like shots of naked Ike running on the beach. The film is a silly sex comedy about a young woman (Ike) who earns money as geisha (or rather as a prostitute posing as geisha). Harmless and forgettable, but moderately entertaining pink comedy. Miki Sugimoto appears in a small supporting role as Ike's sister.

                          Onsen Suppon Geisha (1972) [35mm] - 3/5
                          The 4th film in the Onsen Geisha series trades Ike for Sugimoto who now plays the leading role. The film follows the same pattern as its predecessor, with Sugimoto as university student turned stripper turned geisha, but with more energy, more WTF moments, and even dumber jokes. One of the side plots focuses on a mad scientist using vaginal fluids to develop serum to create Japanese negros! Sugimoto also sings the theme song. She look better in geisha dress than Ike did anyway, and of course director Suzuki thought it would make great cinema if he had her riding motorcycle dressed as geisha! That pretty much sums it up.

                          True Account of the Yamaguchi Gang: Life-and-Death Operations on Kyushu (Japan, 1974) [VoD] - 3.5/5
                          Kosaku Yamashita, who is better known for his old school yakuza classics like Red Peony Gambler, helms this solid jitsuroku-tale. Bunta Sugawara is excellent as trigger-happy gangster whose violent nature gives trouble even to his own superiors. It's a relatively ambitious film, although slightly too long and not quite the Fukasaku caliber. The film was re-cut and re-titled for US theatrical release in the aftermath of The Street Fighter. The US edit, known as The Tattooed Hitman, loses 20 minutes and severely alters the storyline to make it more of a grindhouse fare.

                          Badass video art:


                          • #28
                            Delinquent Girl: Alleycat in Heat (Japan, 1973) [35mm] - 1/5
                            Countryside gal runs to Tokyo and gets exploited by a bunch of crooks, only she's too naive to realize it, so she hooks up with them. Leading girl Yuko Katagiri had the kind of genuine innocence (it seems she barely understood what kind of films she was making) that was spot on in director Chusei Sone's earlier film, the cute and funny harem fantasy Secret Chronicle: Prostitute Market. This one, however, is a dud. It's directed without any kind of passion or style, had no storyline to speak of, and doesn't even make much use of Katagiri's good looks. There is only one interesting scene: a street dance sequence near the end.

                            Goyokin (Japan, 1969) [35mm] - 4.5/5 (Theater experience: 6/5!)
                            An absolutely breathtaking samurai film shot in epic winter locations in Shimokita Peninsula. The cold was too much for the original co-star Toshiro Mifune, who dropped out and was replaced by Kinnosuke Nakamura. Tatsuya Nakadai stars as a silent swordsman with a dark past. It's certainly got a spaghetti western vibe to it, with The Great Silence (1968) being the closest companion, but comparisons do no justice to the film's terrific mix of realism, great characterization and lyrical beauty that comes out fresh and breezy. One of Hideo Gosha's best films.

                            And holy shit this was amazing on Shin Bungeiza's big screen! Pristine print too!


                            • #29
                              Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends (Japan, 2014) [Flight] - 2/5
                              When I saw the previous film, Kyoto Inferno, I said it felt like a bloated teen opera version of something that has been done before with real actors. The same could be said about this slightly superior closing instalment. The highlight of the film comes during the last 45 minutes which feature some terrific action and wirework shot in relatively long takes (minus the burning sword, which was just a dumb idea). Unfortunately it is preceded by 90 minutes of pretty plastic idol action melodrama (with admittedly fine production values). Fans of the series should be pleased; 1960's and 1970's swordplay aficionados probably less so.

                              Brutal Tales of Chivalry 8 (Japan, 1971) [DVD] - 2.5/5
                              Young gangster (Hiroki Matsukata) and his sister try to escape their ruthless boss who has laid his eye on her. The boss sends four men after them, lead by Ken Takakura, who is torn between his obligation and humanity. This is yet another late entry in the hugely popular 1960s ninkyo yakuza genre which inspected the themes of honor, obligation and friendship between men. Some unfit comedic scenes and lesser-than-usual studio sets aside it's a pretty functional but unremarkable genre film. One can't help but to feel that by 1971 old school yakuza films had already passed their prime.

                              Three Outlaw Samurai (Japan, 1964) [35mm] - 4/5
                              Hideo Gosha's debut film is a terrific samurai movie of a bunch of ronin who decide to take sides with local farmers who have kidnapped a corrupt official's daughter. It an exploration of honour and greed, an entertaining film but with a darker edge than usual for the time, starting from the Japanese title, which translates somewhat like "Three Samurai Dogs". Chang Cheh directed an inferior Hong Kong remake The Magnificent Trio, which, true to its title, made its characters cleaner and more heroic.

                              Boss in Jail (Gokuchu no kaoyaku) (Japan, 1968) [DVD] - 2.5/5
                              Ken Takakura plays a gangster who is sent to prison not once, not twice but three times during the course of the film. Subsequently, most of the film takes place in the slammer. This is a rather mediocre modern day yakuza film by talented filmmakers. There are some stylish drama scenes set in the 1960s Japan, especially those with Junko Fuji as the boss' daughter, and of course a theme song by Takakura, most of the film consists or humoristic and unoriginal prison scenes.

                              Cash Calls Hell (Japan, 1966) [35mm] - 4/5
                              Hideo Gosha took a small break from directing samurai films to make this excellent noir. Tatsuya Nakadai stars as an inmate with no future. As he's about to be released he accepts a job to find and kill three men, with no questions asked. He tracks down the first man, but then someone takes the target out before him. A small gem featuring some truly beautiful shots and magnificent ending.

                              Senior Member
                              Last edited by Takuma; 01-02-2015, 07:30 AM.


                              • #30
                                Abashiri Prison (Japan, 1965) [DVD] - 3/5
                                The first film in what is probably the most beloved yakuza film series of all time. Ken Takakura stars as tough guy sent to the Abashiri Prison, which is populated by Toei's regular yakuza films stars (Toru Abe, Kajuro Arashi, Kunie Tanaka etc.). The opening half isn't that special, but after that the film takes off when it transforms into an exhilarating chase set in the beautiful and cold Hokkaido locations. Solid cinematography and well used ninkyo elements (although it's not really a ninkyo series) also contribute to the success. The series ran a total of 18 instalments, the first 10 of them helmed by Teruo Ishii.

                                Abashiri Prison 2 (Japan, 1965) [DVD] - 1.5/5
                                An uninspired routine sequel only made to cash in on the success of the original. The first film was an entertaining action flick set in the snowy Hokkaido winter; this sequel misses the cool for being filmed during summer. There are no prison scenes either; the shabby storyline follows Takakura and others ex-cons as free men. They soon get involved a with diamond theft. The series theme song by Takakura is the film's only highlight.

                                Lupin III (Japan, 2014) [Flight] - 2.5/5
                                Ryuhei Kitamura's live action Lupin the Third had all signs of a train wreck around it; oddly enough it turned out a rather passable movie. The cast is alright, the anime esque acting is fit for the context, the action is passable if instantly forgettable, and for once I found Meisa Kuroki pretty hot. Most of the film is spoken in Engrish, which only makes it more stupid/amusing. Hardly a good movie, but better than was to be expected.

                                The Battle Cats (Japan, 2008) [DVD] - 1.5/5
                                An early straight to DVD feature by the director of the far superior Aru hi mori no naka (2014). It's about a school girl and man in catsuit who are fighting evil invaders from outer space, including a space kappa! There's plenty of old school special effects, including lots of miniature work, but the film is otherwise amateurish and suffers from the typical post-modern "let's do something intentionally stupid" syndrome.