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What Asian Films Have You Been Watching Recently?

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  • TCM showed a quite good but dubbed print of Crippled Masters last night. Sounds like it will be getting a BD release.


    • Takuma, interesting takes on the HK films, Takuma.

      My disagreement is with your IN THE LINE OF DUTY 3 comments. I think the action, with the exception of the first scene, is extremely stylish and inventive: the fashion show massacre/shootout; the brutal fight in the warehouse; the sex scene with the Japanese couple where male's hair comes out because he has cancer.


      • Originally posted by AngelGuts View Post
        Takuma, interesting takes on the HK films, Takuma.

        My disagreement is with your IN THE LINE OF DUTY 3 comments. I think the action, with the exception of the first scene, is extremely stylish and inventive: the fashion show massacre/shootout; the brutal fight in the warehouse; the sex scene with the Japanese couple where male's hair comes out because he has cancer.
        Part 3 actually used to be my favourite. I still have the old HK DVD though it must be more than 15 years since I've last viewed it.


        • I have the HK dvd, too. But it did see it first in a Chinatown Cinema in Melbourne. Four times!


          • Originally posted by AngelGuts View Post
            I have the HK dvd, too. But it did see it first in a Chinatown Cinema in Melbourne. Four times!
            That's awesome!


            • Centipede Horror (Hong Kong, 1982) [BD] - 3.5/5
              A long sought after Hong Kong cult horror isn't quite as original as one might expect, but the last 20 minutes delivers the notoriety is spades. This is yet another tale of urban Hong Kongers venturing to South East Asia were they get a wicked curse laid upon them (the Shaw Brothers made several similar films with higher production values). The film proceeds as an entertaining, but slightly mediocre horror picture until the jaw dropping gross-out last 20 minutes that alone earn the film a minor classic status. Animal splatter is thankfully kept near zero, limited to some mistreatment of centipedes and a chicken losing some of her feathers. The new BD release by Error 4444 offers an optional animal cruelty free version, which however only eliminates about 30 seconds of not particularly shocking footage, alongside the full uncut version.

              Seeding of a Ghost (Hong Kong, 1983) [BD] – 3.5/5
              A slightly out of ordinary premise in this Shaw Bros. horror as it has the protagonist using black magic against adulterers and criminals rather than the other way around. This is a solid entry though it doesn’t reach heights of Bewitched or The Boxer’s Omen, or the prominent smaller studio output like Red Spell Spells Red, partly because the Hong Kong setting lacks their exotism. It is also a bit mediocre in terms of directing and editing, though it doesn’t matter too much in the end. Where this delivers is the special effects, gore, concept, and abundant bare skin. The climatic black magic ceremony, which among other things includes a rotten corpse having sex with a fresh corpse, may have the biggest gross-out factor of any of the films mentioned above. It’s another lovely relic of a bygone era to be cherished as these type of films are surely never to return again.

              Calamity of Snakes (Taiwan, 1983) [BD] – 2.5/5
              Notorious, but underwhelming Taiwanese shocker released around the same time as the similarly themed Hong Kong productions Centipede Horror and Red Spell Spells Red. This one however lacks their cinematic style and merely relies on excess. The storyline is simple: a greedy construction boss has thousands of snakes massacred to make way for an apartment complex. 10 months later the snakes take revenge against the construction workers and new inhabitants. That does result in a couple of standout scenes, such as an old kung fu master taking on a giant snake, and the film’s last 15 minutes which likely features more snakes than any other movie has ever has. Unfortunately the film makes for needlessly heavy viewing due to its colossal amount of animal cruelty. The more civilized version offered as alternative on the Unearthed BD cuts a whopping 10 minutes from the film, and might actually be a partial improvement not only for toning down the genuine cruelty displayed on screen, but also for shortening the severely overlong snake sequences, even if it may become a bit incoherent in the process. As it stands, the film is more of an interesting curiosity than a genuinely well made exploitation film.

              Red Spell Spells Red (Hong Kong, 1983) [BD] – 4/5
              The 2nd and superior Nikko International production, following the previous year’s Centipede Horror. This one goes all the way, even to the unfortunate authentic animal kills. The plot is the usual one, with a Hong Kong documentary film crew having a slight mishap in South East Asia where they unleash a vicious spirit who wants to kill them all. The spirit gives them just enough time to relocate to a primitive village (whose people sacrifice animals and humans alike, and invite visitors to deflower their daughters) before they start dropping dead. There’s some obvious resemblance to Centipede Horror in how the film plays out, but with an added Cannibal Holocaust influence to the plot and violence. It’s also tighter paced film and somewhat expanded in scale compared to Centipede Horror, with a hugely spirited black magic battle climax in which lead lady Poon Lai Yin is rotated in a huge water wheel while a chorus chants about Jesus Christ. Curiously enough, both this and Centipede were scripted by a woman, Amy Chan, who was also in charge of handling scorpions (frequently placed on people’s bodies and faces) on the set! Speaking of which, reviewed here is the animal cruelty free version which runs approx. three minutes short compared to the uncut version which is also included on the Error 4444 BD. The edits are noticeable, but not particularly jarring, and save you from some animal slaughter that appears worse than anything in Centipede Horror (which I viewed uncut).


              • Kanto Street Peddlers Clan (関東テキヤ一家) (Japan, 1969) [Streaming] – 3.5/5
                The first in a five film series focusing on tekiya / street peddlers, a lesser covered breed of yakuza than their sexier cousins, the bakuto / gamblers. It's very much a ninkyo film, but set in modern day and starring Toei's new hell raiser Bunta Sugawara instead of the stoic old timers Takakura or Tsuruta. Director Norifumi Suzuki adds his own brand of fun with comedy, nudity (wait for silly vice cop Toru Yuri visiting a strip club) and one of the defining Takuzo Kawatani moments when the beloved bit player gets his ass kicked by a team of female wrestlers. Sugawara plays a slightly reckless but good hearted tekiya who promised old oyabun Kanjuro Arashi to keep his dagger sealed, something made increasingly difficult by villains Fumio Watanabe and Bin Amatsu. There's also a rather charming romantic subplot with Sugawara and fellow gang member Kyosuke Machida falling for the same woman, and a solid ninkyo backbone in form of friendly enemy Tatsuo Terashima who earns Sugawara's trust by trying to prevent unnecessary bloodshed between gangs. Completing the cast are Sugawara's allies boss Minoru Oki and female boss Hiroko Sakuramachi, the latter of whom adds a bit of colour to the mix. All in all, a surprisingly entertaining and visually good looking film that started Suzuki's first own film series (he'd helm four of the five entries). It's no surprise the film was a success since in addition to being filled with humour, action and romantic emotion, Sugawara is great as a short tempered but lovable yakuza hero who is not entirely unlike the protagonist in Suzuki & Sugawara’s later Truck Yaro series. This film would be even better if not for a couple of overly talkative autopilot scene.

                Kanto Street Peddlers Clan: Violent Loyalty (関東テキヤ一家 喧嘩仁義) (Japan, 1970) [Streaming] – 2/5
                Disappointing routine sequel lacks the action, romantic emotion and stylish visual touch of the original film. The first 20 minutes is filled with comic relief, followed by a good 70 minutes of talking heads before the standard bloodbath ending. Most surprising however is that for a Bunta Sugawara film there is very little Bunta Sugawara in it. He’s absent from roughly every other scene, and even when he does bother showing up he often fades to the background. Could it be that he was too busy to fully commit to this production? That might just be it, considering this was already the 5th movie he appeared in in 1970, and it was only March! He would find his way into 15 more movies by the end of the year (yes, that’s a total of 20 films for 1970).

                P.S. the film’s title is incorrect on IMDb where it’s spelled as Kanto tekiya ikka: Goromen jingi. It’s actually Kanto tekiya ikka: Goromentsuu.

                Kanto Street Peddlers Clan: Royal Temple Duel (関東テキヤ一家 天王寺の決斗) (Japan, 1970) [Streaming] – 2.5/5
                The third film brings the series a bit more back on track after the disappointing part two. Sugawara still plays the same Kanto street peddler, who this time ventures to Osaka where he defends a blind girl at a street market. The area is targeted by rotten Asao Koike and Tatsuo Endo, who have lured local senior female boss Nijiko Kiyokawa’s rebellious but not entirely indecent son Goro Ibuki to their side. This isn’t a particularly accomplished film, still mostly lacking the visual touch and the romantic pathos of the first movie, but at least Sugawara is firmly present this time (he was absent from large portion of the previous film despite playing the protagonist) and Suzuki handles the narrative with just enough energy to keep the viewer entertained. Also worth mentioning is fan favourite Yumiko Katayama as Koike’s mute woman, though sadly she’s given little to do other than look mean.

                Kanto Street Peddlers Clan: Violent Fire Festival (関東テキヤ一家 喧嘩火祭り) (Japan, 1971) [Streaming] – 3.5/5
                The fourth film in the series and the first sequel to rival part one is quality. This has a dynamite opening with silly detective Tatsuo Endo (basically in a Toru Yuri role) assigning tekiya truckers Bunta Sugawara and Toshiaki Minami to assist in a chase to catch a girl gang lead by Yukie Kagawa. It’s hard not to see this and several other scenes in the film foreshadowing the Truck Yaro series, especially considering the chemistry between Sugawara and Minami, the presence of trucks and festivals, and of course a mix of action/comedy/drama. More good stuff follows when Sugawara sides with female boss Yumiko Nogawa to fight evil Hiroshi Nawa, who at one point employs rebellious young hood Tsunehiko Watase and Kagawa (wearing the same black jump suit as Miki Sugimoto later in Girl Boss Guerilla, and Marianne Faithfull before them in The Girl on a Motorcycle, 1968). Tatsuo Umemiya also shows up as a cool, leather jacket gunman who gains Sugawara’s respect despite playing for the opposing team. What eventually keeps this film from being as good as the first is the loose script that doesn’t really tie all the fun stuff into a coherent package. Much is forgiven however when the last 20 minutes arrives with several visually striking set pieces (including one death scene stylized to the point of ridiculousness) and a terrific final massacre. This was Suzuki’s last contribution to the series; the fifth and final picture would be helmed by Takashi Harada.

                Kanto Street Peddlers Clan: Shallow Clan Honor (関東テキヤ一家 浅草の代紋) (Japan, 1971) [Streaming] – 3/5
                Norifumi Suzuki headed to pinkier pastures with his newfound muse Reiko Ike (something this film makes very obvious by featuring a billboard for the first Girl Boss film in one scene), leaving this fifth and final entry in Takashi Harada's somewhat mediocre hands. He had already worked with Bunta Sugawara several times in the Wicked Priest sequels. He helms this film in similar fashion, without much originality, but hitting the genre notes with action, comedy, and some nudity in a very Suzuki esque context when Sugawara's boys try to make money with nude photos. Hiroki Matsukata makes a series debut playing the usual conflicted foe/fried character whose incarnation can be found in every entry in the series, but it is Noboru Ando as a retired gangster with a mysterious past who gets the film's best role. Now, as stated there's not much originality to the film... until the fantastic climax where Takada somehow manages to do western and slasher in one scene, before taking the bloodshed to an eerily desolate early morning city street. Great ending to a pretty good film, and a fitting farewell to the entire series.


                • Toho x 3

                  Yagyu Secret Scrolls (柳生武芸帳) (Japan, 1957) [35mm] – 2.5/5
                  The first of Toho’s two Yagyu Scrolls films, helmed by Hiroshi Inagaki and starring Toshiro Mifune himself. Despite the big names and the film not being too bad, I must say I prefer Toei’s more action packed and pulpy nine film Yagyu Scrolls series (1961-1964) starring Jushiro Konoe.

                  Detective Story: A Brother's Rule (刑事物語 兄弟の掟) (Japan, 1971) [TV] – 2.5/5
                  Screenwriter Shun Inagaki's only directorial effort, a partly experimental character study dressed up as detective film. Kunie Tanaka is a troubled detective unwillingly working with cocky cop Yuzo Kayama in a drug case that even relates to his own family, he discovers. Some of the more experimental sequences don't really work, and while the decidedly iffy and slow character drama is acquired taste, the film does wonderful job capturing an era on film. The atmospheric footage filmed on real streets feels particular valuable in retrospect.

                  Lady Snowblood (修羅雪姫) (Japan, 1973) [35mm] - 4.5/5
                  A masterful revenge tale with Meiko Kaji as a girl born in prison for the only purpose of avenging her parents who were killed and raped by four ultra-nationalist. In equal parts tragic, lyrical and political, with an old fairytale-like atmosphere, it’s very much the kind of film that would never get made in Japan today. Kaji is terrific (though her limited swordplay skills is one of the film’s only weaknesses) and Ko Nishimura appears in one of his most memorable roles as a priest who trains her. The film’s storyline, theme song and several images (particularly in the snow) have since become iconic, but I would argue the single most impressive part in the film is how the main character’s background is told in brilliantly structured unchronological flashbacks. Fans Kazuo Koike, whose comic served as the blueprint, will find much familiar ground here besides the exceptionally female-lead premise (certainly a big contrast to Hanzo the Razor that was being adapted at the same time). However, the same can’t be said about director Toshiya Fujita, who is almost exclusively associated with contemporary youth films. It is ironic that this, most a-typical film, is what he’s best known for outside of Japan.

                  Note: this was my 2nd time viewing this from a 35mm print in Tokyo, and it served as a reminder that the Criterion Blu-Ray features probably one of the most revisionist masters ever created for a 70s Japanese film. Based on screencaps at least, the Criterion looks literally like no 70s Japanese studio film ever. The older, murkier Arrow release doesn’t do the film full justice either, but is much closer to what the film ought to look like.

                  Toei x 3

                  Red Flowers of the Harbour Mist (霧の港の赤い花) (Japan, 1962) [Streaming] – 4/5
                  Journeyman Shinji Murayama isn’t particularly well remembered among Toei directors, but he made a number of good films especially during the early years of his career. This atmospheric romantic noir is probably his best movie. Koji Tsuruta is a yakuza who falls in love with married woman Kyoko Kagawa, whose husband is away on a trip. The relationship starts out platonic, but Tsuruta wants to take it a step further, much to the confusion of Kagawa who is not quite sure of her feelings. This being nominally a gangster tale, the pistols, back stabbings and drug dealings eventually find their way into the tragic tale; however Murayama is more keen on following the doomed lovers, staging visually lyrical scenes full of lights and shadows, and drawing from Tsuruta's slightly melancholic, tortured persona. A particular stand out is a small French bar where some of the film's most atmospheric and romantic scenes take place. There’s a bit of a evident Nikkatsu Action feel to the picture, though one feels the picture owes more to American and European noir. Tsuruta is terrific in the lead and this film is also a prime example of how he was always more of a “lover” whereas his younger colleague, the stoic Ken Takakura who would soon challenge Tsuruta as Toei’s no. 1 yakuza film star, would be difficult to imagine in a role like this.

                  Lion Enforcer (唐獅子警察) (Japan, 1974) [35mm] – 2.5/5
                  Not bad, but a little dull yakuza film from Sadao Nakajima. Tsunehiko Watase is a young hothead who teams up with his older brother and gangster Akira Kobayashi until his temper starts causing trouble and the brothers find themselves fighting each other to death. The film suffers from the fact that it's not that interesting nor particularly violent despite coming out at the height of the jitsuroku wave (the tale here is entirely fictional, though). It does however come with some solid performances, Watase in particular and a number of amusing scenes. The two most memorable ones must be fan favourite Hideo Murota’s over the top interrogation scene, and a scene where Watase rapes a horny French woman who doesn't seem mind it at all. For much better yakuza films by Nakajima, see Escaped Murderer from Hiroshima Prison (1974), Authentic True Account: Osaka Shock Tactics (1976) and Okinawa Yakuza War (1976).

                  Female Convict Yakuza (女囚やくざ) (Japan, 1974) [TV] – 3.5/5
                  Reiko Ike made her final delinquent girl appearance in this atmospheric crime drama released in the waning days of Pinky Violence (*). The general impression at the time was that Ike was getting a bit old for delinquent girl roles, which is probably why she’s taking a back seat role here to pass the torch. Yuko Horikoshi and Tsunehiko Watase play bank robbers who are thrown in jail (not actual prison) where they meet Ike. She plans their escape in hopes of getting her hands on the stolen money which is being held by additional members of the gang Teppei Nagahama and (cute & subtly spunky) Kyoko Naito who are in the hiding. The police, a jealous accomplice from the bank, and a small yakuza gang lead by Harumi Sone are also after the money. This film was intended as the first in a new series (as confirmed by the trailer) that never materialized beyond the opening picture, which is a bit of a shame. Though the film is low key, low budget and largely void of the adrenaline rush found in the best Pinky Violence films, it works quite well as an atmospheric crime drama following a group of social outcasts hiding from the police. The group dynamic comes through well and Ike in particular is surprisingly good in a role that mainly involves her hanging out bored in the background. Lead Horikoshi on the other hand is a bit of a flop with a bland presence that led to no further starring roles (holding on to her robes probably didn’t increase her market value either). Things didn’t work out any better for Masahide Shinozuka, a long time assistant director helming his first and last own picture here.

                  * The golden age of Pinky Violence came to a rapid end in early 1974 when karate movies replaced them as Toei’s most popular B-films in theatrical double bills. Premiering on March 1, 1974, one month after The Street Fighter had initiated the domestic karate film boom, Female Convict Yakuza perhaps never stood much of a chance at the box office.

                  Additional note: though the film’s kanji title is Joshu yakuza (Female Convict Yakuza), the furigana reads Suke yakuza (Girl Yakuza).


                  • I somehow managed to motivate myself to sit through the Delinquent Boss films that I had not seen yet.

                    Delinquent Boss: Blues in Prison (不良番長 練鑑ブルース) (Japan, 1969) [Streaming] – 3/5
                    Part 3 in Toei’s long running biker gang comedy series that produced 16+1 films. There's a common misconception that these films are hard-boiled exploitation movies. The series started that way, but soon descended to farcical comedy. Most of the sequels were nothing more than a string of astonishingly childish comedy sketches followed by one action scene at the end. There were a couple of more serious films in between, however, such as this one. What this entry does fairly well is depicting a lower echelon gang in the dog-eat-dog underworld. Tatsuo Tatsuo Umemiya’s Capone gang is against Hirohisa Nakata’s rival biker gang, both small-timers inhabiting the same Shinjuku area. This is not left unnoticed by a bigger and far more rotten yakuza gang lead Asao Uchida, who has the smaller street gangs compete for job gigs from the big gang, which they do no matter how demeaning it may be. That aside, this is a light, but fast moving and entertaining gang tale with decent performances. There’s some good brotherly character interaction between Umemiya and guest star Bunta Sugawara, all the way to an unexpectedly ninkyo-like ending that however comes with a fun modern twist. Another highlight is Hayato Tani and biker chick Tamami Natsu’s cross-gang Romeo & Juliet sub-plot. And then there’s a rather amusing segment with the boys managing a gentlemen’s gambling den for foreigners (who all speak decent Japanese, for once!). Good stuff! This would be an even better film if not for the slow start filled with lame comedy. Oh, and he title is misleading: there are no prison scenes in the film.

                    Delinquent Boss: Wolf Escort (不良番長 送り狼) (Japan, 1969) [Streaming] – 2/5
                    Part 4. It would be incorrect to say that this is where things started to go wrong for this series (after all, the abysmal part 2 had already been made), but there are a number of unfortunate firsts to be found in this entry. Toei's former assistant director Makoto Naito (also AD in part 1) takes over from Yukio Noda and opens the film with silly, nonsensical comedy routines that have nothing to do with the biker gang premise. This is something that would become increasingly common later on in the series. The little plot this film has deals with the boys running escort services and other night life ventures, a theme that Naito would revisit in several other (mostly poor) films with Umemiya. Now, there are a couple of genuine highlights in the film, including Umemiya grabbing a mic and performing at a club, and a decent machine gun action finale that makes it all feel at least somewhat worth it. But a good film this is not.

                    Delinquent Boss: Operation Rat (不良番長 どぶ鼠作戦) (Japan, 1969) [Streaming] – 2.5/5
                    Part 5. Yukio Noda returns to the director's chair after being absent for one film. He and Makoto Naito would take turns helming the rest of the films from here on. It is not really necessary to specify who was behind the camera each time as there was very little to set them apart. Anyway, this fifth entry is a very light affair that still manages to be somewhat entertaining. This time Umemiya and the gang end up helping a struggling strip theatre, which produces some fun bits (“what kind of father asks his daughter to substitute for a missing stripper?!”) and amusingly outdated drama (the fore-mentioned missing stripper issue is solved when a good-hearted husband lends his wife to the stage, but all the teary-eyed melodrama that accompanies this great “sacrifice” is between the men! Never mind the wife who actually has to go on the stage…). Also kudos to Shingo Yamashiro who delivers some comedy that is actually funny. Bunta Sugawara, who appeared in a lot of the early films, is missing from this film.

                    Delinquent Boss: Checkmate (不良番長 王手飛車) (Japan, 1970) [Streaming] – 3.5/5
                    Makoto Naito delivers a major surprise with this 6th film which might be the best in the series. This is a genuine yakuza film, even if a very light one in tone, with a solid story, good characters and several actors giving top performances. There’s even a small surprise at the start with Umemiya and his hoods for once thrown in prison for their conman activities. Nothing much changes once they’re out, with the gang setting up a shady consulting business as advised by new member Toru Yuri. One of their targets is construction company boss Toru Abe. Turns out Umemiya’s old pal Bunta Sugawara is working for Abe as a subcontractor, but is unable to proceed with their plans because local print shop owner Tamami Natsu and her loyal worker Shingo Yamashiro refuse to sell their lands. Meanwhile rival construction entrepreneur yakuza Fumio Watanabe tries to steal the project from Sugawara. Umemiya agrees to help Sugawara, but also can’t help falling in love with the woman he’s supposed to con, creating a solid moral dilemma, which aren’t typically found in this series. It makes for a thoroughly solid film with good pacing, complex story, and of course some decent action at the end. The film also features excellent supporting performances from Watanabe who looks remarkably confident in his evil boots, Abe who appears in one of his best and most unusual Toei roles as an easily fooled civilian, and Yamashiro whose low-key drama/comedy performance is spot on (with hilarious dialogue and line delivery) and doesn’t descend to the kind of random childish gags that plague most of the films in the series.

                    Delinquent Boss: Hooligans on Buggies (不良番長 暴走バギー団) (Japan, 1970) [Streaming] – 1/5
                    Part 9. A mind-numbingly dull entry with lame jokes, little plot, and no exploitation excess. There is nominal entertainment value from the inclusion of Maki Carrousel in the cast, and Shun Ueda whose Sammy Davis Jr. looks earn a couple of laughs. The film’s only other highlight is the titular buggies utilized in the not-too-bad action climax. But it is frankly nothing unmissable, and certainly not worth the suffering it takes to get there.

                    Delinquent Boss: Wolves on Motorcycles (良番長 やらずぶったくり) (Japan, 1971) [Streaming] – 2.5/5
                    Part 11. An astonishingly childish entry with several gags so bad they develop an almost surreal quality. Perhaps it's a sign of the viewer's brain starting to melt by this point in the series, but some of it actually works. Better yet, the film comes with rather functional buddy dynamics. Umemiya and others are joined by Rikiya Yasuoka, Bunta Sugawara and the always good Tsunehiko Watase. In some of the film’s best scenes it feels almost like hanging out with old idiot buddies (that you hopefully never had). We also get Yayoi Watanabe at her absolute cutest in her Toei debut (she had done one film at Nikkatsu before) and fellow Pinky Violence player Rena Ichinose in her first ever film role. Ichinose might have earned the role for her willingness to undress, something Watanabe surprisingly doesn’t do here. The plot, if you can call it that, features Umemiya’s pirate gang clashing with the yakuza who polluted fishing waters and caused a shit panic. It all leads up to a huge action finale with some inspired, though incredibly silly mayhem.

                    Delinquent Boss: Smooth Talking, Good Fighting (不良番長 手八丁口八丁) (Japan, 1971) [Streaming] – 2.5/5
                    Part 12. This is another incredibly silly entry, though it manages to be more amusing than most. There's a dynamite opening with Umemiya's pirate gang (who get killed in almost every film, but are resurrected for each sequel) steal bikes, sabotage police property and finally get their asses kicked by Flower Meg's red dressed biker chick gang. None of this has much to do with the rest of the film where the boys proceed to act in a number of conman jobs (including sex therapist), gang rape Junko Ohara in a comedy scene, and even meet Chuji Kunisada in the forest. Somehow, the stupidity manages to come out moderately entertaining, Flower Meg struggles to keep her clothes on, and then there is guest star Kyosuke Machida in full ninkyo attire. Passable low brow fun.


                    • Toei x 3

                      Scoundrel from Kamagasaki (釜ヶ崎極道) (Japan, 1973) [TV] – 2/5
                      I've not found motivation to write about most of the Gokudo / Scoundrel sequels as they are, with the exception of Junya Sato's Hong Kong bound The Scoundrel Takes a Trip, largely throwaway programmers void of memorable scenes. This 9th entry in the series is slightly more noteworthy for featuring a delirious climax in which Wakayama and Yamashiro, armed to the teeth with hand grenades and firearms, raid an office in the 28th floor of a skyscraper bustling with businessmen and office women as they go against Endo, Amatsu and Watanabe's modern businessman scum. They even stop in one of the building’s bathrooms to put on traditional yakuza robes before launching the attack as they can't just march into be building in full yakuza attire. Contemporary ninkyo films were no rarity - there were plenty beyond this series - but rarely did any movie clash the old and the new in such amusing and contrasting way. This scene, as well as an earlier 4th wall breaking comedy sequence in which Gokudo (Wakayama) meets the popular actor Tomisaburo Wakayama (yes, you read that correct) in front of a film studio and tries to convince him to quit Katsu Pro., justify this film's existence. P.S. this is indeed the 9th film in the series despite the English language internet thinking it’s part 8.

                      Neon Jellyfish: Shinjuku Flower Streetcar (ネオンくらげ 新宿花電車) (Japan, 1973) [35mm] – 3/5
                      17 year old naïve country girl Emiko Yamauchi has a hash wakeup call when she’s welcomed to Tokyo by a bunch of rapey hoods. Fast forward past the opening credits and we have her working in Mitsuko Mori’s Shinjuku girlie bar managed by manager/pimp Takeo Chii, who is dreaming of making it big once the plan comes together. Meanwhile she gets romantically involved with young chap Seiji Sawada who’s trying to make it as a bike racer. Toei's critically snubbed and even ridiculed, but consistently successful genre director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi helmed this sexy Shinjuku street tale during his brief pink stint from 1973 to 1974. It shares instant resemblance to the Song of the Night series (1967-1974), to which Yamaguchi contributed an underwhelming entry earlier in 1973, only supercharged with a lot more sex and rock n roll. It’s also a sequel to Makoto Naito’s original Neon Jellyfish, which I’ve not seen, from six months earlier, also starring Emiko Yamauchi. Story wise the picture is merely functional and comes with sex scene or two too many, but the film often does good job at capturing the neon lit world of vice in the Tokyo night, and the people inhabiting it. The soundtrack is also enjoyable with rock ballads by Kan Mikami played throughout the film, there are occasional mad bursts of energy particularly in terms of camerawork, more slapping than in any other movie ever, and a fantastic closing scene in the Shinjuku neon jungle. Star Yamauchi fares quite will in the lead role: she’s certainly easy on the eye but also radiates such sukeban vibes that it’s a shame she never got her own girl boss series. As for this film, it’s a solid piece of 70s street Toei, even if it’s not necessarily any lost classic.

                      Hitozuma sex jigoku (人妻セックス地獄) (Japan, 1974) [35mm] – 3/5
                      Housewife Miwako Onaya is raped in her own garage, then blackmailed into prostitution by an unknown caller. She tries to keep it a secret from salaryman husband Eimei Esumi, busty little sister Natsuko Yashiro and horny/suspicious maid Mitsuko Aoi. Toei's famed ero-guro / and genre film screenwriter Masahiro Kakefuda wrote this compact 52 minute Toei Porno under the pen name Baku Isshiki. For the most part it plays out like a standard depraved eros feature that could have come out from Nikkatsu just as well... until she figures out who's behind her suffering and goes into full ice queen revenge mode. Adding to the fun is yet another amusing Takuzo Kawatani performance with the genre favourite appearing as a sex crazed taxi driver who may or may not be the mastermind behind it all. Director Tatsuo Honda was a long time Toei assistant director since the late 50s who had a brief stint helming his own features, debuting with The Viper Brothers Rage Again in 1971, and following that with a handful of almost entirely forgotten Toei Porno features in 1974-1975, before assuming producer's duties for the rest of his career that went on at least till the late 90s. He does somewhat alright here helming a slightly mediocre genre work that really comes alive at the end, which had me grinning for the entire last 5 minutes. Not a lost classic, but should suffice as nice little treat for Toei completists.

                      The title translates as “Married Woman’s Sex Hell”. I’m not aware of an official English title, nor do I think this film has ever been released outside of theatres in any format, anywhere. Viewed at Laputa Asagaya, Tokyo. 35mm print.

                      Roman Porno x 3

                      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.

                      Foreign Wife (外人妻) (Japan, 1973) [Streaming] – 2/5
                      A slightly amusing Nikkatsu Gaijin Porno with clueless American Sarah Burnett following her crush to Japan. The dude, a young Japanese tea ceremony master who didn’t even know she’s coming, is of course in the act of banging other women when she shows up behind the door. He’s from a rich family, with a strict conservative mother and a fat maid who is constantly farting for comedic value. This film was one Nikkatsu’s many attempts to milk foreign women, which also included several pictures filmed in Sweden as well as the domestic Oman films starring the blonde pseudo gaijin Sally May. This film stands out for being a low-brow comedy, and particularly dumb one at that. Lead actress Sarah Burnett is a complete mystery; a one-time actress void of talent and frankly not that much of a beauty either, though that exactly gives her a bit of sympathy appeal. It would probably not be a bad guess that she was scouted on location in Japan or brought in by someone who knew her, for her white skin and willingness to strip.

                      Sex Rider: Injured Lust (セックス・ライダー 傷だらけの欲情) (Japan, 1973) [TV] – 3.5/5
                      After being near impossible to see for decades, director Koretsugu Kurahara's follow-up to his 1971 action film Sex Rider: Wet Highway has finally been unearthed. The sequel follows young outlaw couple Masafumi Shiga and Mimi Sugihara (neither one of whom seem to have any other acting credits) in an incestuous relationship trying to rebel against the word while being chased by a trigger happy detective. Kurahara, one of the young Nikkatsu action directors who refused to let go of the past even in the Roman Porno era, and veteran screenwriter Hideichi Nagahara (A Colt is My Passport, Stray Cat Rock, Hairpin Circus) construct the film as a Nikkatsu Outlaw actioner with a handful of added (compulsory) sex scenes. Grainy cityscapes and slow-motion montages dominate the first half while the second borrows more from road movies. The soundtrack is almost entirely recycled from other films and sources, but it's a hell of a mix tape. Speaking of the soundtrack, Morio Agata's Kanto hit Red Elegy plays throughout the film and is a likely inspiration for the storyline. Like the original movie, the film is a bit superficial in parts and clumsy in others, yet there's an overwhelmingly positive sense of rebellion unfolding on screen with Kurahara stubbornly crafting yet another decidedly cool action picture within the studio mandated Roman Porno frame. It may be slightly different flavour from the first film, with more urban crime film vibe, but fans of the original ought to enjoy it.

                      Senior Member
                      Last edited by Takuma; 02-18-2024, 11:47 AM.


                      • I'd love to get my hands on some HD, English subbed releases or downloads of those Sex Rider films.


                        • Toshiki Sato: Part 1

                          E-Cup Real Action Take Two: Rich & Ripe (鍵のある風景 Eカップ豊熟) (Japan, 1989) [TV] – 3/5
                          When I first saw this film, I didn’t really warm up to it. Now eight months and five Toshiki Sato films later I found myself a lot more receptive to it. Though only his second theatrical release, this already contains everything expected from Sato and screenwriter Masahiro Kobayashi. Satsuki Fuji is the titular young E-cup heroine whose marriage has lost its spark with introvert husband Toru Nakane having turned into a passive roommate. She finds her fulfilment in a secret new boyfriend (Kikujiro Honda) who is however about to be transferred to Okinawa and is hoping she’d join him. Meanwhile the husband by chance comes across an old key to the wife’s former apartment, where old memories (and new inhabitants) live. He makes it a habit to visit the apartment to immerse in precious memories. Sato cuts between the boring present and the romantic past, creating subtle cinematic poetry, while also documenting the heisei era suburbs and apartments, which would become one of his most recognizable trademarks (the other being “dysfunctional couples”). Compared to some of his later films, this is a bit less refined and also comes with a rape scene (which is suggested to have been the tragic trigger behind their marriage), but it has one of the most beautiful closing shots in any Sato film. Sex is plenty, but Fuji and her assents are easy enough on the eye to make it less a drag than it might otherwise be. “Landscape with a Key” was Sato’s original title for the film, but that got changed to something more commercial upon the film’s release. Reviewed here is the R-15 version Kagi no aru fukei: E-kappu hojuku, which doesn’t seem to have an English title and is unlikely to differ substantially from the original theatrical R-18 version E-kappu honban II: Hojuku other than some shots in sex scenes being clearly re-framed.

                          * The re-watch was entirely unplanned. I just happened to turn on the TV last night and the film was on, with opening credits playing. I thought I’d just watch the first few scenes, but 60 minutes later I was still there, now with closing credits playing.

                          Like a Rolling Stone (aka Blissful Genuine Sex: Penetration!) (さすらい 絶倫放浪記) (Japan, 1995) [TV] – 3.5/5
                          Dysfunctional relationships and lonely people are recurring themes Toshiki Sato's films. He rarely outright repeats himself, however, as he seems to find slightly different approaches to the same topic every time. This deadpan drama/comedy follows an emotionless slacker (Kikujuro Honda) who is not really hitting it off with his partner, or anyone, and relocates to a small freezing cold town to after meeting a woman who never smiles (Hotaru Hazuki). Fans of late 90s / early 2000s Nobuhiro Yamashita films should find some familiar ground here, only with more sex and less jokes. But this comparison does not do the film full justice because Sato’s film adds its own existential angle to the mix. Sato repeatedly films his protagonist from extreme close distance with handheld camera as he seems to be searching for some fulfilment that cannot be found (unlike in many other Sato films where an existential awakening sets the story in motion). A lot of these shots also beautifully capture time and place on celluloid: few if any other pink directors were as good at it as Sato, whose 90s films function as time capsules to the streets and apartments of the heisei era. The cast is solid as well, with Honda and his pal Yoji Tanaka in particular standing out. They of course benefit from having good material to work with, which is typical to Sato who frequently worked with top screenwriters. This film was written by poet and movie critic Kenji Fukuma (under the pseudonym Shinji Tachibana), whose film career begun as an actor in Koji Wakamatsu and Masao Adachi’s films back in the 60s. Oh and one final note: Mitsuru Meike was the assistant director on this picture.

                          Reviewed here is the R-15 version Sasurai: Zetsurin horoki which may, but is unlikely to, differ substantially from the original theatrical R-18 version Monzetsu honban: buchikomu! aka Blissful Genuine Sex: Penetration! The original title was Like a Rolling Stone, which got ditched as it clearly wasn’t commercial enough. The R-15 version features no mosaic or cuts that I could notice, but some sex scenes have obviously been re-framed.

                          Adultery Diary: One More Time While I’m Still Wet (不倫日記 お願いだからもう一度) (Japan, 1996) [TV] – 3.5/5
                          It sometimes takes a bit of good faith to get to the good stuff, as in this film that packs four sex scenes into its first 11 minutes. Once past that chore, there’s another unique and very funny deadpan satire by Toshiki Sato and his most valued screenwriter collaborator, the regular Cannes invitee Masahiro Kobayashi, to be found. Hotaru Hazuki plays a housewife novelist who is presented the most unusual hypothesis by friend Yukiko Izumi. “Authors depict the hell of misery in their writing, hence they should first live through the hell of adultery”. She then proceeds with this completely ridiculous suggestion, even getting permission from introvert husband Takeshi Ito, who deems it reasonable enough. After all, she promised to be back to her usual boring housewife self once done with the experiment. Thing don’t go quite as expected however, as her first adultery partner (Sato’s director and actor colleague Kazuhiro Sano) gets completely spooked by her active stance... Do not expect raunchy sex farce here despite how it may sound like, as Sato and Kobayashi progressively dial down the amount of sex as the film goes on. They’re more interested in examining gender roles, poking fun of the genre, and staging long, frequently hilarious discussions with stage-like and deadpan dialogue delivery. If there’s a flaw in the film (besides the horny first 11 minutes) it’s that Sato and Kobayashi get a bit too carried away with wild plot twists towards the end for it to make sense. But perhaps that’d be being too hard on a pink film. The 1997 Pink Film Awards certainly didn’t mind: the film took home best movie, best screenplay, and best actress awards.

                          Reviewed here is the R-15 version Furin nikki: onegai dakara mo ichido, which may but is unlikely to differ substantially from the original theatrical R-18 version Furin nikki: nureta mama mo ichido. I think I spotted subtle mosaic (made less noticeable by darkness) in one or two scenes, and re-framing is likely, but I doubt the film has been cut.

                          Recent Films

                          It Comes (来る) (Japan, 2018) [TV] – 1.5/5
                          Tetsuya Nakashima deserves some credit for making bold movies - a rarity in Japanese cinema these days. One just wishes they were a little better – or a lot better in this case. The premise is interesting enough: a family man (annoying Satoshi Tsumabuki) with a vicious curse on him resorts to third party help against the violent spirit. In comes troubled redhead punk of a psychic (mostly excellent Nana Komatsu), then her big sister (embarrassingly bad/miscast Takako Matsu trying to act strange), and finally a whole army of exorcists. There are some moments where the film actually works, mostly scenes with Komatsu, or characters being treated unexpectedly brutally. However, as Nakashima continues to raise bets to turn the film into an epic, it gets silly to the point of becoming laughable. Were this set in a rural community it might work, but not when it takes place in central Tokyo with everyone from civilians to the police taking all that happens in the film at face value. Nakashima's trademark music video aesthetics and use of supposedly trendy Western music doesn't exactly help either. Nothing could save the film from its train wreck CGI finale, however. Ultimately there's nothing here that 80s Shaw Brothers horror films, or The Wailing for a more recent reference, didn't do 100 times better.

                          Revolver Lily (リボルバー・リリー) (Japan, 2023) [In-flight] – 1.5/5
                          If anyone needed a reminder of the sad state of modern Japanese action cinema, this CGI-soaked revolver opera should do. Uneven indie / mainstream director Isao Yukisada helms the 1920’s set spy-esque tale where a little kid in possession of a government secret is caught in a power struggle between the army and the navy, and his only hope of survival is Haruka Ayase pretending to be an action star. The story is largely nonsensical, as are character actions throughout the film, despite the movie trying to establish itself as something more “respectable” by adding historical context and what the Japanese call human drama, which means tears, crying and family tragedies. At the end of this 2½ hour drivel awaits a miserable CGI bloodbath without a single original idea, unless you count Ayase’s white wedding dress as one.

                          Godzilla Minus One / Minus Color (ゴジラ-1.0/C) (Japan, 2024) [DCP] – 3.5/5
                          Going by my memory alone, I'd say this black & white edition works a tad better than the color version I saw last year. Deducting the color doesn't particularly add anything to the film – it's still the same piece of modern digital filmmaking as before – but it might have made the CGI stand out slightly less and hence less distracting. I have a number of small complaints (e.g. was it really necessary to have Godzilla do an angsty teenager pose right at the start? A monster movie ought to have more patience and build suspense first), and a bigger one with having to put up with all the CGI (some of which is admittedly well done, but a lot of which is not, and that always pulls me out of the story) that comes with the modern maximalist must-show-everything approach. However, the film's dark tone is done just right, the 1940s Tokyo-in-ruins setting is perfect, the depiction of the post war trauma works quite well, and the musical score is absolutely majestic! Godzilla himself is depicted as a stiff, God-like monster and a near-unstoppable force of nature, save for an occasional athletic Instagram pose. I suppose a modern giant monster movie has done enough things well when someone like me, who is lukewarm to tokusatsu and appalled by CGI, goes to see it twice in the theatre.
                          Senior Member
                          Last edited by Takuma; 01-21-2024, 09:55 AM.


                          • I now wish I hadn't seen Godzilla Minus One is color. I'm certain I would have much preferred black & white. I will try to go see this in the theater. I far too soon for a second viewing but I at a minimum, I feel the need to support black & white films in the theater.


                            • The Killing Game (Satsujin yugi) (Japan, 1978) 4/10 **

                              What a hugely disappointing film. Some of the shootouts in this film are the best I’ve seen in a Japanese crime film. The expertly choreographed long takes mixed the mobile camera are something special. The final shootout ups the ante with interesting use of canted angles and fascinating layers between foreground and background. It’s a visceral and visual delight. Unfortunately I cannot get into the aloof and odd character Yûsaku Matsuda is portraying in this series. He doesn’t care about anything, so I don’t either. Other than an interesting setup in the beginning, the story didn’t anything for me either. Its frustrating because I can see me being interested in revisiting this series in the future just because of the shootouts.


                              • Toei x 3

                                Yakuza of Seki (関の彌太ッペ) (Japan, 1963) [35mm] – 3.5/5
                                Future ninkyo master Kosaku Yamashita struck early gold with this gorgeously photographed matatabi yakuza film that was only his 4th movie. Kinnosuke Nakamura plays a wandering yakuza who saves a little girl from drowning and reluctantly escorts her to safety after her father is killed. Years and seasons pass, but he never forgets about the girl, who grows up without knowing what happened to her saviour. Rightfully considered a genre classic, this thoroughly entertaining film is nevertheless just a little less moving than it could be. The storyline is good, and the characters are solid, but there’s a slight feeling of emotional distance in the drama, which doesn’t doesn't click quite the way the film’s visuals do. Speaking of which, the 35mm print viewed at Laputa Asagaya was breathtakingly beautiful and yet another reminder of the cinema magic that we are missing in the modern digital era.

                                Ninja's Mark (忍びの卍) (Japan, 1968) [35mm] – 3.5/5
                                Body snatching ninjas battle each other in Norifumi Suzuki’s gloriously bonkers and erotically charged ninja film. There’s even an early scene where ninja magic is used to turn a woman into a fish while she’s having sex with the shogun! A swordsman investigator (slightly miscast Isao Natsuyagi) is assigned to find out who’s trying to spook the shogun off from having offspring. Should come as no surprise that novelist Futaro Yamada (Ninja Wars, Samurai Reincarnation) provided the source material. It’s solid fun, even if a little short on action and not quite as good as Sadao Nakajima’s less goofy Female Ninja Magic (1964), also based on a Yamada novel. From a film historical perspective this film remains noteworthy as one of the early attempts by Toei producers Shigeru Okada and Kanji Amao at capitalizing on the success of independent pink films, though it ended up underperforming at the box office. Insufficient amount of nudity by the studio cast was to blame according to Okada, who went on record to say “Men don’t forgive eros that goes only halfway there”. Wised up from the commercial failure, the Okada and Amao then tried again with Teruo Ishii’s The History of Shogun’s Harem (1968), which became a huge success and the start of the loosely defined Pinky Violence movement that gave birth to many of Toei’s most successful B-films in 1968-1973, most of them produced by Amao under Okada’s orders. Ninja’s Mark of course wasn’t the first time Toei had flirted with eros, but none of the earlier attempts (which ranged from the short lived Female Ninja Magic series to the hopelessly discreet O-oku series, as well as more popular contemporary Tatsuo Umemiya / Mako Midori films) had quite set things in motion the way Okada’s teaming up with Amao would do after this movie. Certainly a film ripe for re-discovery!

                                Viewed from a breathtakingly beautiful 35mm print (my second time viewing in the past 10 years), which did full justice to the film’s colourful visuals! Toei’s recent HD master is pretty as well, though it doesn’t quite reproduce the beauty of the film print.

                                Histories of the Chivalrous (侠客列伝) (Japan, 1968) [35mm] – 3.5/5
                                Masahiro Makino's yakuza films tend to feel a bit different from the rest. While most directors followed the standard formula, Makino had his eye on period detail and sentimental human drama. Quite often one even gets the impression he wasn’t too interested in the yakuza genre at all and was merely trying to film period dramas within the studio mandated genre frame. Sometimes his approach worked well however, such as in this film. The year is 1907 and the Japanese government has outlawed gambling. The Kanto and Kansai yakuza are looking to collaborate, with Takakura’s boss Kenji Sugawara hosting a meeting between them. Jealous rival Seizaburô Kawazu pulls a Chūshingura on him and leaves Takakura’s gang turfless after Sugawara is provoked to lose his temper in public. What follows is a melancholic, genuinely touching study of outsiders. The film greatly benefits from a solid script that is more complex in terms of giri & ninjo than most of Makino's films, and essentially void of dumb comedy. There are several great scenes, such as one with Takakura asking geisha Junko Fuji to go out with his mate, only for her to confess she’s patiently awaiting long lost lover Tsuruta to return. Takakura and Tsuruta later meet, unaware they both share a connection to Fuji, and find themselves on opposite sides due to arbitrary obligations. And then there’s expelled clansman Tomisaburo Wakayama who is the film’s biggest standout as a hard-fisted monk desperate regain the clan’s acceptance! A beautiful film; one to win over even the harshest Makino critic such as myself, though it admittedly takes a good while to get moving.

                                Amorous Tales of Genpei (好色源平絵巻) (Japan, 1977) [Streaming] – 2.5/5
                                An odd and at times unexpectedly ambitious Toei Porno, based on a historical account of the Heiji rebellion in the year 1160. It starts out as a relatively down-to-earth depiction of the rivalry / hatred between Kiyomori of the Taira clan and Yoshitomo of the Minamoto clan, which culminated in a battle between the clans and Yoshitomo’s demise. The latter’s wife and children flee in hopes of not being caught by the sex crazed Kiyomori, who is not content with merely abusing his enemy’s severed head but wants his woman as well. This is despite him having no lack of women of his own, though most of them are “killed in action” by his Hanzo the Razor like tool and stamina (I’m not even going to write about a certain scene that follows, which would not be out of place in a Noboru Iguchi directed porn feature). Needless to say this is where things get strange, and the film more than earns its porno labelling (somehow the first 20 minutes didn't feature any nudity). All in all, a strange, somewhat interesting and decently made, but ultimately a bit flat narrative with no likeable characters or big payoff. It may very well prove a pleasant discovery to fans of obscure cult and eros, but it’s a slightly smuttier and lower-key picture than many of Toei’s bigger budgeted erotic spectacles of the 60s and 70s (Suzuki, Ishii, Sekimoto etc.). Director Michinori Fukao seems to have directed only two theatrical features on his career, this and 1973’s Toei Porno A Diary of A Woman Doctor, in addition to miscellaneous AD and writing credits ranging from Nagisa Oshima’s Death by Hanging (1968) to Sadao Nakajima’s Modern Yakuza: Three Cherry Blossom Brothers (1971).

                                + Sabu x 3

                                Dangan Runner (弾丸ランナー) (Japan, 1996) [TV] – 3.5/5
                                A failed bank robber, a failed rock singer on heroin, and a failed yakuza with something to prove chase each other on foot, each with their own reasons for the run. Sabu’s directorial debut captures something about the post bubble 90s Japan on film while also being a neat 82 minute adrenaline rush. Most of the film is spent running, with well placed flashbacks fleshing out the characters and filling in missing pieces of the puzzle as the chase goes on. Former AV star Hitomi Kobayashi appears briefly in what must be one of the most clever sex scenes inserted into any 90s film.

                                Postman Blues (ポストマン・ブルース) (Japan, 1997) [TV] – 3.5/5
                                Sabu's second directorial effort is a lightweight gangster parody with an unlucky postman Shinichi Tsutsumi mistaken for a drug courier by hilariously inept detectives. This is a more mainstream and studio-like picture than Sabu’s debut Dangan Runner, toning down content and expression, and adding a romantic sub-plot. It feels a little drawn out at 110 min and occasionally goes overboard with silly movie reference jokes, but it's still a fun little Tarantino era entertainment with amusing performances and several good scenes. Ren Osugi in particular is a stand-out as a Joe Shishido inspired hitman.

                                Unlucky Monkey (アンラッキー・モンキー) (Japan, 1998) [TV] – 1.5/5
                                Sabu made it an early career trademark to film the same movie again every year. This third rendition of an unlucky loser on the run is the worst of his first three films, an exceedingly contrived tale of a bank robber burdened by guilt and unlucky coincidences. The swift pacing of his debut Dangan Runner and the heart of his follow up feature Postman Blues are both missing from this picture which feels more like second grade copy made by a talentless imitator. One of the dumbest and annoyingly long segments sees the on-the-run protagonist holding an environmental speech at a citizen's convention after he got pushed into the building by chance. An intertwined second plot with dumb gangsters trying to deal with a dead body fairs a little better, featuring an odd bit of wit here and there, but it's all undone by the worst, most drawn-out and plain idiotic ending imaginable.