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What Asian Films Have You Been Watching Recently?

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  • As mentioned previously in my Japanese custom subs thread, there are some films that are being ripped from the Toei Junk Films Channel through Amazon Prime Japan. This channel ispecifically features cult, rarely-seen action, gangster and erotica B movies and straight-to-video flicks. Thank goodness, there is a subbing group that is willing to sub some of these gems for the Western audience. One that I recently watched was Shin Takakuwa's 1972 sex comedy, SEX UP AND DOWN. It's just a series of adult themed skits tied together by a plot involving Shingo Yamishiro as a con artist playing a doctor specializing in sex education and treatment with his comedic sidekick played by Tí´ru Yuri as an ex-sex toy salesman. He receives various 'patients' (frigid newlyweds, virgins, various fetishes, etc) seeking his services and even gives sex ed conferences to businessmen. The ensuing hijinks are a mixed bag. Some of the skits & gags are laugh out loud funny while others are just droll to outright lame given most of the humor is of the juvenile sophomoric variety. Overall, it was quite entertaining. There is plenty of topless ladies and simulated sex with vibrators, french ticklers, etc on display too.

    While writing this review, I noticed @Takuma has seen this as well and I mostly concur with his review, although I might've enjoyed it a wee bit more than he did. But he mentions one of my favorite scenes when Miki Sugimoto busts into the office of Shingo Yamashiro and along with two other sukeban girls & does the whole yakuza introduction routine only to meet with a nonplussed Yamashiro and the gals finally have to give up their tough gal act and beg for jobs as secretaries or assistants.

    Sex Up And Down (Kigeki sex kobo-sen) (喜劇セックス攻防戦) (Japan, 1972) [VoD] - 2.5/5
    Amusing Shingo Yamashiro sex comedy about a love doctor treating miscellaneous patients. Miki Sugimoto plays one of the three sukeban girls who barge into his clinic and demand to be hired (her role is small though). The supporting cast also includes Tooru Turi, Yukie Kagawa, Yoko Mihara, Yayoi Watanabe and Ryuhei Uchida as "pervert ninja". Unlike Master of the Turkish Bath, this film is absolutely packed with boobs - and gags dumb enough to get some laughs. Norifumi Suzuki's sex comedies like the two onsen geisha films make a good comparison as this resembles them. There's not much plot or exceptional qualities, but director Shin Takakuwa does acceptable job keeping things watchable and not overly goofy. He also directed one of the best Sonny Chiba films, the cop thriller A Narcotics Agent's Ballad (1972).

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    • Still waiting on custom subs for Shin Takakuwa's A NARCOTIC'S AGENT BALLAD (it just needs another $25 to get funded!), so I went ahead and checked out the sequel, NARCOTICS/PROSTITUTION G-MEN: TERRIFYING FLESH HELL aka THE HORRIBLE OBSESSIONS (that's the working title of the print that I watched) & I have to say it was rather tame considering the sleazy title and poster. Chiba is back again as undercover agent, Kikuchi and is dispatched to Okinawa to uncover a heroin and prostitution racket by the local yakuza. He links up with local cop played by Tsunehiko Watase to take down the baddies and uncover an American behind it all. Speaking of which, this movie is no holds barred in how much contempt it has for Americans (not surprising since it's situated in Okinawa with the huge US military presence there) as the sister of Watase's girl who ends up brutally sexually assaulted by her American fiancee (played by the ubiquitous character actor, Osman Yusuf) unleashes a torrent of anti-American slurs at Yusuf & attempts to knife him. The rest of the film is pretty nondescript and unfortunately despite the big shootout at the end, there just isn't enough violence or action to elevate this flick beyond mediocre status. For Chiba completists only. The print that I saw was a nice if soft looking web rip with accurate and legible subs. Shoutout to Kemushi's sub team again.





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      • Originally posted by 47lab View Post
        Still waiting on custom subs for Shin Takakuwa's A NARCOTIC'S AGENT BALLAD (it just needs another $25 to get funded!), so I went ahead and checked out the sequel, NARCOTICS/PROSTITUTION G-MEN: TERRIFYING FLESH HELL
        I think the custom subbers fell in the poster trap. In addition to being a 10 times better film, A Narcotic's Agent's Ballad is also the sleazier of the two

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        • Originally posted by Takuma View Post
          I think the custom subbers fell in the poster trap. In addition to being a 10 times better film, A Narcotic's Agent's Ballad is also the sleazier of the two
          I really want to see the first movie, it's got a couple weeks to go to get fully funded and I'm pretty optimistic that it will. In the meantime, I'm going to check out Toshiya Fujita's DID THE RED BIRD ESCAPE? starring Yoshio Harada.

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          • Recently watched Kim Dong-won's CITY OF DAMNATION which is a Korean gangster comedy version of INFERNAL AFFAIRS. It started out very light hearted with a lot physical gags and goofy comedy but man, I wasn't ready for the dark turn the movie took in the final twenty minutes or so. I shouldn't have been surprised as Koreans do the cinematic multi-mood experience better than anyone but I have to admit to being caught off guard. Actually, the grim finale elevated this flick in my view and made it a bit better than the average gangster comedy so prevalent during the comedy boom of the early 2000s. The ending even had a showdown between the two "moles" just like the original but fortunately, the script, acting and direction keeps it from just being cheap copy of the now familiar deep cover movies. I can imagine a comedic retelling of a classic film like INFERNAL AFFAIRS isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea but it's recommended for fans of the gangster comedy genre.

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            • Originally posted by 47lab View Post
              I really want to see the first movie, it's got a couple weeks to go to get fully funded and I'm pretty optimistic that it will. In the meantime, I'm going to check out Toshiya Fujita's DID THE RED BIRD ESCAPE? starring Yoshio Harada.
              Time's running out. Why not throw $25 towards the cause? You don't have to be a member to contribute.

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              • Originally posted by Jason C View Post
                Time's running out. Why not throw $25 towards the cause? You don't have to be a member to contribute.
                I already did. I'm one of the 4 or 5 that's already pledged. Still short $25 with 3 weeks left.

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                • I went to check out Kim Young-hoon's debut feature, the mystery crime thriller BEASTS CLAWING AT STRAWS starring Jung Woo-sung & Jeon Do-yeon. It's early but this is my forerunner for movie of the year. It's based on a novel by Japanese writer Sone Keisuke & I'm hoping that book gets an English translation down the road based on the movie. In addition to the novel, I can sense a lot of Coen Brothers influence as well but the tone and feel also has some Kim Jee woon vibes too. The story centers on a Louis Vuitton bag full of stolen loot stored away in a locker in a public bathhouse and as the plot begins to reveal itself like layers of a onion with multiple characters and timelines, the movie never fails to entertain along the way with plenty of suspense, treachery, comedy and violence to keep the viewer engaged. The acting is strong with particular standout performances going to Jeon Do-yeon as an amoral grifter and Shin Hyun-bin as a young wife trapped in an abusive marriage. Jeong Do-yeon doesn't show up until past the half way point but boy, does she steal the show. Her performance in Lee Chang-dong's SECRET SUNSHINE is one of my favorite female perfs in any film and she brings a lot of the same verve to this role. Highly recommended!

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                  • Brothers of Capones (舶来仁義 カポネの舎弟) (Japan, 1970) [VoD] - 3.5/5
                    Completely ridiculous, and yet superbly entertaining action comedy non-sense with Tomisaburo Wakayama as Kuriyama Capone who learned his trade under Al Capone in Chicago. The film follows his first venture to Japan with gangster brothers Frank (Shingo Yamashiro) and Joe (Fumio Watanabe). They all speak heavily American accented Japanese with bits of English here and there, sometimes complete gibberish, something that caused my brain to melt at least a dozen times. And if that isn't enough, the film has them watching a Tomisaburo Wakayama flick in cinema (“who's that guy, some C-grade actor!”) and being chased by gangster and the FBI, including the granddaughter of Eliot Ness (played by a blonde actress who is actually pretty good!). The whole thing is a good amount of fun, the performances especially (Wakayama, Yamashiro, Watanabe in a rare heroic role), making this one of routine director Takashi Harada's best pictures.



                    Capone's Younger Brother: Heart and Speculation (カポネの舎弟 やまと魂) (Japan, 1971) [VoD] - 2.5/5
                    Lesser, but still modestly entertaining sequel. Wakayama is wonderfully bastardly here, but has to do without Chicago bros. Yamashiro & Watanabe and the film is just that much less fun. It's also a little bogged down by an out-of-place environmental message. In return one does get Willie Dorsey (best known for losing his balls in The Street Fighter) in a rather big role as Capone's right hand man. There's a legion of other gaijin as well, Osman Yusuf among them of course. The rating could be a notch higher on a good day.



                    Bad Girl Mako (不良少女 魔子) (Japan, 1971) [DVD] - 3/5
                    Koretsugu Kurahara's first and last Nikkatsu New Action - the studio went Roman Porno three months later. Though a hip gangster film, this also has the kind of low key character realism that young Nikkatsu audiences identified with. The morals are ambiguous, the characters unconfident and the gang story relatively down to earth compared to Toei's more outlandish pictures. Junko Natsu is the delinquent girl who doesn't know on whose side to be: yakuza big brother Tatsuya Fuji or small time gang leader Jiro Okazaki. Entertaining, but not particularly memorable. The scrip was penned by Yasuharu Hasebe under his screenwriter pseudonym Tahashi Fujii.

                    Tekken (鉄拳) (Japan, 1990) [VoD] - 2/5
                    Old grump Bunta Sugawara takes young hothead Takeshi Yamato under his wings and tries to make a boxing champ out of him. Fate intervenes and cripples the young hope, THEN some kind of super-right pure-Japan group of karate hooligans beat him half dead because he's a cripple. This is an odd, drawn-out meditation on ultra-masculinity, ultimately more admiring than critical of its heroes and their huge balls. They get their share of almost homo-erotic love from director Junji Sakamoto via endless slow-motion images and scenes trying to accomplish “something” by constantly running 30 seconds longer than they need. And then, just when you're bored out of your head, Bunta builds a training course and boxing ring in the middle of a fucking forest (!) for his protégé who has now been enhanced with an iron fist (literally), resulting in a freaking amazing, 5 minute cyber-punkish training sequence. And then some more big balls at the end when it's payback time! Bunta goes full-on killer boxing, too! Not a good film, but has its moments.



                    Slum-Polis (Japan, 2014) [VoD] - 1.5/5
                    Ambitious but unconvincing early feature Ken Ninomiya (The Limit of Sleeping Beauty), set in 2041 when parts of Japan have become outlaw areas ruled by gangs and killers. Ninomiya's energized editing rhythms and eye for striking visual compositions are partially evident, but the young (evidently student) cast lacks any credibility in tough guy roles, and the ending is the epitome of an emotional J-film climax gone embarrassing. The characters may be crying their hearts out, but the audience doesn't buy any of it. Ninomiya soon after established himself as one of the few new Japanese filmmakers worth keeping an eye on.
                    Takuma
                    Senior Member
                    Last edited by Takuma; 02-23-2020, 09:23 AM.

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                    • Re-watched Lar Kar-leung's TIGER ON BEAT. Man, I remember loving this movie back in the day. It was one of my fave Chow Yun-fat flicks from that period of the mid-80s to early 90s when he just went from one fantastic movie to another. It was such an entertaining oddball cop buddy movie with Conan Lee providing the foil for Chow Yun-fat's antics. Seeing this and NINJA IN THE DRAGON'S DEN and one would think Conan Lee was poised for super stardom but alas, it never happened. I try and watch it at least once every couple of years just to see the chainsaw fight scene again.

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                      • Conan Lee is quite the character in real life. A very strange character.

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                        • I've been meaning to watch Taiwanese director Chang Mong-hong's latest, A SUN based on the glowing review by the usually reliable Kevin Ma & I was not disappointed. It started off with an absolute slap to the face - a brutal and gory act of violence punctuated by a comedic scene that had me stunned for a sec. I wasn't sure where this flick was going after that but it turned out to be a rather disquieting yet strangely uplifting family drama. It's very slowly paced and repeated viewings will be required to get all the nuance and subtle depth to the characters but it's definitely worth it. Highly recommended!

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                          • Recently watched the joint Thai-Chinese cat and mouse crime thriller, SLEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD which is a remake of the Indian film from 2013, DHRISHYAM. It did really well at the box office and it played locally at my AMC but didn't get an opportunity to catch it until now. Plot revolves around a good natured but poorly educated father going up against the police after the disappearance of the teenage son of a powerful family who just happens to be the only child of the local police chief. The father (played Xiao Yang of Chopstick Brothers fame) just happens to be a movie buff and has a particular interest in Hitchcock, detective films and Korean cop thriller - so he has to put all that film knowledge up against the investigative cunning of the police chief (played superbly by Joan Chen - good to see her again!)...it's a battle of nerves and wits between the two and director Sam Quah does a excellent job of ratcheting up the tension when needed to keep the viewer engaged. It's also a poignant story of loss, redemption and justice. Recommended!

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                            • I caught Jacky Lee's 2019 unofficial sequel to SPECIAL FEMALE FORCE titled THE FATAL RAID. While the first flick was comedy bordering on parody, this one attempts to be serious and it fails miserably. This is a mishmash of Girls with Guns & heroic bloodshed but does neither effectively. Girls with Guns 90s starlet, Jade Leung is decent here but the rest of the cast is real letdown including the insufferable lead played by Patrick Tam. Sexy gals in hot pants & mini skirts shooting automatic weapons sounds like a good time right? Unfortunately, director Lee outsmarted himself and threw in a bunch of stupid melodrama centering on revenge and most annoyingly of all, a soundtrack full of shitty Cantopop at the most inopportune moments. He attempts to harken back to the glory days of 90s HK action cinema but it's just a complete misfire and not recommended even for those swayed by action packed trailer.

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                              • Originally posted by 47lab View Post
                                I've been wanting to see THE CREATURE CALLED MAN for ages (ever since i read about it in Chris D.'s book) but never got a chance. I know the dvd has been out in Japan forever and one day I'll get around to ordering it. I actually listened to the soundtrack before even seeing the movie because I really dig the Masahiko Satoh score and bought the OST plus it had a cool looking cover.
                                Holy shit! Kemushi came through with a custom of THE CREATURE CALLED MAN. Pleased as motherfucking punch. :woot:







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