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What Asian Films Have You Been Watching Recently?

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    ropo1
    Senior Member

  • ropo1
    replied
    Originally posted by Takuma View Post
    Sex & Fury (Japan, 1973) [DVD] - 4/5
    Most foreign viewers fail to put this film into a context. As much as a Pinky Violence film, it was also a late descendant of Toei's 60s gambler/yakuza movies. Once a hugely popular genre, Toei was still trying to keep it alive in the early 70s. After their biggest female star Junko Fuji retired, Toei tried finding a substitute. All attempts failed, and each new female yakuza film came out sleazier than the previous. Sex & Fury was the film that essentially burned all the bridges as it wholeheartedly crossed to the exploitation side. No more straight female gamblers were to come. Reiko Ike stars as a female yakuza on a mission of vengeance, while Christina Lindberg (drafted by Toei during a flight from Paris to Stockholm!) is a British (!) spy whose boss is trying to start an opium war in Japan. The storyline is messy with political aspects that director Norifumi Suzuki has no patience to develop; however, the film is visually stunning. Nowhere is that better evidenced than in the scene where Ike, attacked by enemies while taking bath, takes out the whole gang with a sword while in the nude in a snowy garden. The hypnotically choreographed carnage makes that one of the greatest scenes in exploitation film history.
    Regarding Red Silk Gambler.. although i feel lazy for not having seen it yet (have to ask as I assume you have).

    Seeing as it came 1972 also from Toei AND starring Reiko Ike, and! in the breeding period for PV, as you mention this PV/gambler/yakuza - I assume this is not pinky violence or (?)

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  • Takuma
    Senior Member

  • Takuma
    replied
    Japan's Violent Gangs: Boss (aka Japan Organized Crime Boss) (Japan, 1969) [VoD] - 3.5/5
    The first film in the transitional yakuza film series that paved way for the jitsuroku true account films of the 70s. Koji Tsuruta stars as an old school gangster boss who has become something of a fish out of water in the modern gangster world. Despite some ninkyo elements, and a soundtrack that resembles Teruo Ishii's contemporary gangster films, this movie already leans heavily towards the jitsuroku style. The opening disclaimer states the film to be fictional, but that's not entirely true as it was heavily influenced by true events (the Yamaguchi gang moving to the Kanto area). Director Kinji Fukasaku's trademarks are already in a steady use, including documentary like footage of violent chaos, effective use of still photos, and a nihilistic storyline. While the film is loaded with good performances - Noburu Ando being one of the many who deserve a mention - it's Tomisaburo Wakayama who is the real stand out as a drug addicted, volatile boss who is like a time bomb trying keep himself from exploding.



    Japan's Violent Gangs: The Boss and the Killers (Japan, 1969) [VoD] - 2/5
    The 2nd film in the series that started with Kinji Fukasaku's Japan Organized Crime Boss. This follow up by director Junya Sato feels somewhat disappointing in contrast. The documentary-like touches and the energetic visual output that made its predecessor feel ahead of its time are mostly missing here, although the film does have a fittingly dark ending. Koji Tsuruta stars again, this time playing a gangster boss who assassinates a yakuza in broad daylight, gets a bullet in his arm in the process, and then hides in a small shop. The main storyline (about what happened before) is then told in flashbacks. Lots of talk ensues. Not terribly bad, just not that exciting either.

    Japan's Violent Gangs: Degenerate Boss (Japan, 1970) [VoD] - 2.5/5
    Koji Tsurura is a former yakuza gone straight, now running a jazzy night club, in the third film in the series. The films were not connected other than being part of the same series and all starring Tsuruta. This one was directed by Shin Takakuwa, whose brief filmography features one stand out (the superb Sonny Chiba cop drama A Narcotics Agent's Ballad, 1972) and handful of mediocre yakuza films. This film is sort of well made, with some steady handed cinematography, elegant use of colour and light (especially in the night club scenes) and a typically charismatic and stoic Tsuruta performance. However, it feels quite conventional compared to Fukasaku's film that was already reaching toward the 70s jitsuroku cinema. This one is a talkative film with the usual 'ex-yakuza trying to lead honest life while surrounded by underworld acquaintances' storyline. Not bad, and features a surprisingly sleazy op credits scene with a stripper, but a little pedestrian overall



    Japan's Violent Gangs: Loyalty Offering Murder (Japan, 1972) [VoD] - 2/5
    The 4th and last in the series was helmed by Yasuo Furuhata, a director whose films I have never especially cared for. He made talkative, character driven crime dramas that were usually neither ninkyo nor jitsuroku films. I suppose there is more-than-usual character depth to be found in his films - if you find them interesting to begin with. It sometimes seemed like he shouldn't have been working in yakuza films in the first place, but in the drama genre where he later ended up. Anyway, Tsuruta is the lead again, this time a guest at a gambling house where he kills two attackers and has to flee from the city. He settles down with old friend and gangster boss Tetsuro Tamba, whose clan is in a conflict with another gang. Tsuruta starts helping him but angers Tamba's neurotic underling Rinichi Yamamoto in the process. Chris D declared this as one of his favourite yakuza films (out of the 1000 or so that he has seen). As often is the case, I don't quite understand where his opinion is rooted. There are some good scenes with Tsuruta and Tamba, and Yamamoto is good in his role, but none of it feels especially captivating. It's not a movie you'd call "bad", just one you don't care much for.

    Delicate Skillful Fingers (Japan, 1972) [DVD] - 4/5
    My second time seeing this, this time with my girlfriend. I picked this film because it's one of the few Roman Porno films I think are both great and somewhat female friendly... although from a female perspective Hiroko Isayama's (a naive young girl falling in love with a pick pocket) character could surely be stronger. That, and some poor acting and unnecessary sex aside this is such a good film. From the vivid depiction of the early 70s Tokyo to the pick pocketing scenes that are small works of art, the film is loaded with great scenes, not to mention a cool as hell Ichiro Araki performance and a fabulous score that is absolutely firing on all cylinders. It was probably the unlikely pairing of writer Tatsumi Kumashiro (known for his low key approach and social realism) and flamboyant director Toru Murakawa that made the film so great, giving it both style and substance. There's been some guessing that the film was in fact so good that it destroyed debut director Murakawa's career (following the raving reviews he directed 2 more films in the next 6 months, both less-well received, before retiring from cinema for almost a decade).

    Criminal Woman: Killing Melody (Japan, 1973) [35mm] - 4.5/5
    This is the most feminist of all the Pinky Violence films, in addition to being one of the best. Reiko Ike is the daughter of a murdered man, sent to prison after she fails to kill the yakuza boss responsible. She makes friends with a miscellaneous bunch of girls (each given the coolest introduction scenes since Lynch Law Classroom) who team up with her after they're out of the slammer. It's a relatively simple story told with impeccable style, superb pacing, functional plot and likeable characters. Especially notable is how the heroines are handled by the filmmakers with worshipping rather than sleazy hands. That's not saying the film is lacking it in the nudity and sex department, even featuring the infamous chainsaw intimidation scene and the longest girl fight ever filmed (with malfunctioning garments, of course). However, the approach is quite different compared to some other films in the genre. These women are goddesses, and the sleazy guys are doomed from the start. The men ain't got nothing on these girls.



    Sex & Fury (Japan, 1973) [DVD] - 4/5
    Most foreign viewers fail to put this film into a context. As much as a Pinky Violence film, it was also a late descendant of Toei's 60s gambler/yakuza movies. Once a hugely popular genre, Toei was still trying to keep it alive in the early 70s. After their biggest female star Junko Fuji retired, Toei tried finding a substitute. All attempts failed, and each new female yakuza film came out sleazier than the previous. Sex & Fury was the film that essentially burned all the bridges as it wholeheartedly crossed to the exploitation side. No more straight female gamblers were to come. Reiko Ike stars as a female yakuza on a mission of vengeance, while Christina Lindberg (drafted by Toei during a flight from Paris to Stockholm!) is a British (!) spy whose boss is trying to start an opium war in Japan. The storyline is messy with political aspects that director Norifumi Suzuki has no patience to develop; however, the film is visually stunning. Nowhere is that better evidenced than in the scene where Ike, attacked by enemies while taking bath, takes out the whole gang with a sword while in the nude in a snowy garden. The hypnotically choreographed carnage makes that one of the greatest scenes in exploitation film history.

    Female Yakuza Tale (Japan, 1973) [35mm] - 3.5/5
    Fun but hastily made sequel to Sex and Fury. Teruo Ishii directed the film, but it seems he didn't have much of a script to work with - more like a plot draft written in a hurry. There's a lot of incoherent nonsense between the opening and ending scenes. Ishii makes up for it with colourful images, a plot that revolves around a yakuza gang using girls who smuggle drugs in their vaginas, and a number of fantastic set pieces including the apocalyptic final massacre with two dozen naked ladies slaying yakuza with swords, nails, guns and hand grenades. There's a certain charm to seeing trash like this done with relatively amazing production values, something that would never happen in modern cinema.



    Ghost in the Shell (Japan, 1995) [BD] - 4.5/5
    The mediocre live action adaptation made me want to revisit Oshii's film, which remains a mind blowing throwback to the 90s cyber punk anime. It's a movie I'm forever dreaming of seeing in 35mm as it is audio-visually an incredibly atmospheric film. It also crams so much complicated plot content and philosophical discussions into mere 82 minutes that it demands the viewer's full attention. It could be argued that it goes overboard with the latter, and even comes out a bit corny with some of the philosophical bits, but that only works in its benefit by giving the film the personality that the chewed out and bland Hollywood film solely lacked. It must be emphasized that Oshii also knows when to slow down and cut out all the talk. I feel it is in part this "inconsistency" - from long silent sequences to dialogue overkill, from juvenile nudity and action scenes to philosophical discussions - that characterizes Ghost in the Shell and makes it endlessly re-watchable.
    Takuma
    Senior Member
    Last edited by Takuma; 05-06-2017, 01:39 AM.

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  • 47lab
    replied
    Originally posted by Bruce Holecheck View Post
    It's NAKED RASHOMON, also available on DVD from Mondo Macabro.
    I recall that being one of Chusei Sone's weaker efforts & I usually enjoy most of his output. If I recall (haven't seen that dvd in ages), it also had a documentary too in the supplemental features. Is it the same EROTIC EMPIRE one that was in ASSAULT! JACK THE RIPPER?

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  • Bruce Holecheck
    Member

  • Bruce Holecheck
    replied
    Originally posted by Keeth View Post
    On the Assault! disc, the documentary has a scene of a couple having sex. The woman cuts his throat then her own & the wall next to them is totally drenched in blood. Anyone know the title of that film?
    It's NAKED RASHOMON, also available on DVD from Mondo Macabro.

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  • Keeth
    Senior Member

  • Keeth
    replied
    Yeah, docu on the Mondo Macabro dvd.

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