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Thread: What Asian Films Have You Been Watching Recently?

  1. #641
    I caught Renny Harlin's latest Chinese flick, BODIES AT REST starring Richie Jen & Nick Cheung. I believe this is his 3rd flick since he's moved to China and it's mediocre like the others. Heard this described as DIE HARD 2 in a morgue and yeah, it has some of the old 90s blockbuster action feels but unfortunately not enough to redeem it. Nick Cheung, who can usually be counted on to play competent roles is surprisingly a weak link here and he looks really old to top it off even with all the stage makeup (he is in his early 50s after all and finally this Asian is starting to raisin) & just seems to be sleepwalking throughout. I'm sure the weak script with numerous implausible twists and turns didn't aid matters (how many times are the baddies going to kill Nick but he gets a reprieve at the last second?!). I read the script was originally sitting in a pile somewhere in Hollywood never to see the light of day but was bought by the Chinese and translated & reworked into this story. That might explain why it's such a mess. Garbage in, garbage out.

    Richie Jen the second co-lead is okay here but by now he can play these villain roles in his sleep. The real "star" of this flick was Andy Yang aka Yang Zhi who plays Nick's growing love interest and coroner assistant/intern. She like Richie Jen is also a singer and they both contribute to the theme song. She takes a beating in her role but keeps on ticking. Not sure how often she was doubled for her physical stuff onscreen but she was at least game for it. Watch once and forget.

    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  2. #642
    I recently watched Kiyoshi Nishimura's HAIRPIN CIRCUS starring Kiyoshi Misaki as a retired professional race car driver who now lives a quiet reserved life as a driving instructor with a young wife and child. Early on it appears to be a story of redemption as the viewer through a series of flashbacks witnesses the past tragedy which led to Misaki's early retirement from racing but is actually shares a lot of themes with the "sun tribe" flicks from the 50s. Misaki is woken out of his slumber by witnessing the pretty girl who head a group of delinquents who terrorize the streets after dark with their street racing antics. Misaki slowly succumbs to the temptation and his need for speed arises once again as he is lured to a fateful street race by the young temptress played by Yuko Enatsu. She is the best part of the flick as the taciturn morose Misaki does little to excite the viewer while Enatsu is the opposite with her good looks and wild spirit. Some nice action shots of cars speeding through the streets and expressways of Tokyo including a nice dream sequence driving in the snow (although one has to wonder where the hell are the cops?!) especially the close ups of Enatsu's gorgeous modified yellow Toyota 2000GT but it quickly starts to become repetitive and tiring. The funky jazz soundtrack by Masabumi Kikuchi was a standout though. Kikuchi's pulsing energetic score was intoxicating. I'll watch again just for the OST!

    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  3. #643
    I've been watching some of Spectrum Films blu ray releases and one of them was the Vietnamese horror film, KFC directed by Le Binh Giang. Calling this flick a traditional horror film is a disservice as this flick is really a genre mashup. What's absolutely hilarious is the product placement and the setting of a real KFC franchise is used! I can't imagine KFC would be very pleased to be associated with this flick in anyway haha. There is deliberate mention of Coke and Pepsi throughout as well. I'm sure the director is critiquing these Western multi-national conglomerates taking over Vietnam and the deleterious health effects that Western fast food and soft drinks are having on the locals. I'm not sure though because that message is drowned out in the unrelenting violent images of cannibalism, necrophilia, sexual violence that follow.

    This flick's central plot revolves around a cannibalistic doctor and his aid who not only partake in eating his unfortunate victims but he also indulges in his necrophiliac fantasies with any attractive deceased females he finds along the way. There are a bunch of secondary characters involving a makeshift gang of delinquents and street kids. Somehow despite the seemingly unrelated events & characters, they all come back in the end to the central figure of the sadistic doctor & his obese young son. The production values and special effects are surprisingly decent for what started out as a student film project and while ultimately this flick was not my cup of tea, I'm interested in what the future beholds for the young director. Hope he isn't rotting away in a jail cell somewhere for violating the standards of decency of the Vietnamese government because this flick definitely has to be the most transgressive film in Vietnamese cinema history.

    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  4. #644
    I watched the Netflix Sion Sono flick, FOREST OF LOVE earlier. It's Sono's version of the infamous Kitakyushu serial murders. Of course being Sono, it's not just a straight forward retelling of the serial killings but instead he recycles a lot of his past themes such as teenage angst, societal alienation, sexual abuse, dysfunctional families, etc. Yes, this movie also has his trademark extreme gore - there is one scene that is reminiscent of COLD FISH. One of the more enjoyable, if I can use that term to describe this flick which goes down very disturbing paths, Sono flicks of late. I have to say veteran character actor, Kippei Shiina is superb playing the sociopathic lothario conman, Joe Murata who is the fictional character based on real life convicted serial killer, Futoshi Matsunaga. He has such magnetism that even those who are aware of his evil deeds are compelled to follow him like a modern day Svengali. Recommended!



    For those who are interested in the true crime version, here is a mini-documentary on the crimes of Futoshi Matsunaga and his female accomplice Junko Ogata.

    https://vimeo.com/262710167
    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  5. #645
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 47lab View Post
    I watched the Netflix Sion Sono flick, FOREST OF LOVE earlier.
    I didn't even know Sono had done a new film. Might watch this next time when I take a 1 month Netflix subscription (1 month a year should be well enough for Netflix, as they have the absolute shittiest film selection of any streaming service...).

  6. #646
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Cat Girl Gambling x 3

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



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

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



    Sister Street Fighter x 3

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



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



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


  7. #647
    The Cat Girl Gambling movies are available on a French blu-ray: Woman Gambler Coffret

  8. #648
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjeon View Post
    The Cat Girl Gambling movies are available on a French blu-ray: Woman Gambler Coffret
    That's the one I bought (and gave away).

  9. #649
    Recently caught Chusei Sone's delinquent youth flick, BLOW THE NIGHT!. The title is from the rock band, THE STREET SLIDERS song of the same name (they are featured prominently in the soundtrack). Interesting and at times entertaining look at "yankii" youth culture of the early 1980s. yes, these kids are Japanese parents' worst nightmare, spending their school days idling about, sniffing paint thinner, having a general disrespect for authority, bullying their peers, unprotected sex with multiple partners, engaging in dangerous street riding with bosozoku, etc. This flick starred real life yankii delinquents such as Namie Takada, who was infamous for being featured in the early 80s delinquent girl lifestyle magazine Gals' Life. So Sone got actual hoods to play themselves & it brings a certain credibility to the flick but it's also rather depressing and bleak too. Sone still manages to impart the message that at least these 'misguided' youth are not hampered by the restrictions placed upon them by the hypocritical 'two faced' society at large (Sone takes a few pointed jabs at school authority, parents and the police). This flick also features a secondary story involving some other gal who explores Tokyo on her own but is constantly harassed & solicited by middle aged men along her journey. I forgot the actress' name and she was very cute (I can see why recruiters wanted her to be gravure model) but her storyline was rather boring and lame. This was made under the auspices of Sone's own production company, Film Workers and it features as its logo a feeble ant with crutches. The English subs read "this ant died from overwork" - I don't know if Sone is making a statement that workers in the film industry are like ants constantly working with little or no recognition for their efforts but it cracked me up. It also reminded me of a story in the early 90s when a French politician made controversial remarks equating Japanese with "ants" and caused an anti-French backlash. The print I saw was very good with an excellent anamorphic picture (R2 dvd released last year) and English subs free from grammar and syntax errors. The picture was so clear that I can easily discern the pockmarked face of singer, Harry of THE STREET SLIDERS when he's belting out "Masturbation" during the opening scene.

    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  10. #650
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 47lab View Post
    This flick also features a secondary story involving some other gal who explores Tokyo on her own but is constantly harassed & solicited by middle aged men along her journey. I forgot the actress' name and she was very cute (I can see why recruiters wanted her to be gravure model) but her storyline was rather boring and lame.
    I loved the 2nd storyline, somehow it reminded me of Shinji Somai. The girl (the main character's sister if I recall correctly) is played by Kazumi Kawai. She made her film debut in the roman porno film Lusty Discipline in Uniform (セーラー服色情飼育) which somehow immediately ended up on my watch list

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

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



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


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