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Thread: What Asian Films Have You Been Watching Recently?

  1. #411
    Yesterday was bowling night with the fellas and afterward, we met at a buddy's house to check out Wu Jing's WOLF WARRIOR 2. I wasn't a fan of the first one - felt it was too try hard in its attempt to mimic Western action films but this sequel was much better. It's strange to say but it had more "depth" to the story and characters & the action wasn't marred by the over use of poorly rendered CGI like the first one. One of the guys was saying it's just thinly veiled CCP propaganda full of overt jingoism but I countered by saying so is every other US/UK action film with a white savior (ala TEARS OF THE SUN) coming to the rescue. In those flicks, all the baddies are caricatured Middle easterners, Asian gangsters, African rebels, etc. So big fucking deal if the bad guys in this one are US & European anglo mercenaries. This was made for the domestic Chinese market, so of course it's going to have nationalistic overtones and it didn't really bother me in terms of the full viewing experience.

    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  2. #412
    I watched the Takashi Ishii penned and Naosuke Kurosawa directed roman porno, DREAM CRIMES aka HIT WOMAN. I've enjoyed some of his other stuff released on Synapse/Impulse but this wasn't very good. Lame plot and the sex scenes weren't up to snuff either. There was one lesbo scene where the two gals work a double headed dildo which gave me flashbacks to REQUIEM FOR A DREAM but that was it. The ending was appropriately sleazy & should've been some over the top nastiness but was yet another letdown among many in this weak film.

    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  3. #413
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Apr 2014
    Quote Originally Posted by 47lab View Post
    I watched the Takashi Ishii penned and Naosuke Kurosawa directed roman porno, DREAM CRIMES aka HIT WOMAN. I've enjoyed some of his other stuff released on Synapse/Impulse but this wasn't very good. Lame plot and the sex scenes weren't up to snuff either. There was one lesbo scene where the two gals work a double headed dildo which gave me flashbacks to REQUIEM FOR A DREAM but that was it. The ending was appropriately sleazy & should've been some over the top nastiness but was yet another letdown among many in this weak film.
    Angreed. Kurosawa + Ishii sounded like a dream team, but the film is a major disappointment.

    I've seen all of Kurosawa's Roman Porno films, and although his films may not be "great" (except Zoom In, which is wonderful) they are usually enjoyable. Dream Crimes is an exception.

    Zoom In: Rape Apartments (1980) - 4/5
    Love Beast: Attack (1981) - 3/5
    Ecstasy Sisters (1982) - 3.5/5
    Nurse Diary: Beast Afternoon (1982) - 2.5/5
    Banned: Woman’s Secret Pictures (1983) - 2.5/5
    Lolita tsuma: Binetsu 1984 3
    Nise mibôjin - Ichijiku hakusho (1984) - 1.5/5
    Dream Crimes (1985) - 1.5/5
    Young Lady Detectives: Heart Beat (1987) - 3/5

  4. #414
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    The Gambling Monk (競輪上人行状記) (Japan, 1963) [35mm] - 3/5
    A biting black comedy/drama about a mischievous middle school teacher (Shoichi Ozawa) who becomes a gambling addicted monk following his brother's death. He tries to take care of his family temple business, but gets mixed up in bicycle betting, alcohol and desperate women. This was Shogoro Nishimura's debut film, based on a screenplay by Shohei Imamura and Nobuyuki Onishi. It may not be a film tailored for my tastes, but fans of Imamura and Japanese 60s new wave ought to be in for a threat. The mix of dark drama, comedy and social satire aiming to spark some controversy is especially reminiscent of Imamura's films. It is then perhaps not surprising that, despite being adored by critics, it bombed in theatres upon its release and brought Nishimura's career to an instant end for three years. It remains a forgotten film waiting to be discovered.

    International Secret Police: A Keg of Powder (国際秘密警察 火薬の樽) (Japan, 1964) [35mm] - 1.5/5
    Part 3 in the International Secret Police series, Toho's response to James Bond. There were 5 films in total (1963-1967). The series is probably best known internationally as the source material for Woody Allen's What's Up Tiger Lily? (1966). Allen used footage from the 3rd and 4th films to arrive at his comedy spoof, which I have not seen but which seems somewhat redundant since A Keg of Powder was already a comedy - albeit a rather unbearable one. Tatsuya Mihashi and Makoto Sato are two secret agents (whose identity is not a secret to anyone) goofing around and chasing a crazy Austin Powers type of criminal genius. Mihashi is also trying to have romantic relations with a girl, but there are constant silly assassination attempts made at him. The film is a mess with loads of dumb comedy, nonsensical storyline and clumsy action, and the fact it does all everything with its tongue firmly in the cheek doesn't make it any less painful. Akiko Wakabayashi provides some eye candy at least. The director of the film is Takashi Tsuboshima, who later helmed the equally unbearable and in many way similar Lupin the Third: Strange Psychokinetic Strategy (1974), as well as the excellent ninja exploitation Demon Spies (1974).

    International Secret Police: Key of Keys (国際秘密警察 鍵の鍵) (Japan, 1965) [35mm] - 2.5/5
    Part 4. Makoto Sato is out, and Tatsuya Mihashi is left alone with assassins, femme fatales and foreign terrorists who are all after a secret safe that could enable a revolution. While still goody and relatively nonsensical, this is an improvement over the previous film. At the very least the film takes itself seriously enough to work as a b-grade spy film, even if it's a comedic one. Parts of the story are set in foreign locations, in a fictional nation called Tongwan, channelling India or Egypt (?) type of exotic vibes. The film also features both Akiko Wakabayashi and Mie Hama, who would go on to appear as Bond girls in You Only Live Twice (1967). Director Senkichi Taniguchi also helmed the fantastic one-night patrol car docudrama Car 33 Doesn't Answer (1955), which would be a fantastic candidate for a Criterion release.

    Kaettekita ookami (帰ってきた狼) (Japan, 1966) [DCP] - 4/5
    Excellent Sun Tribe film by Shogoro Nishimura; his second movie as a director. The story kicks off when a mixed blood, misunderstood loner (Ken Yamauchi) drifts back into a small seaside town where he slew a man years ago. Around the same time a super hot yacht girl Rika, who is a bit of a spoiled brat, sails to the shores. She has instant hot for him, and her bloated self ego takes a hit when he says he just digs her yacht. Then there is the film's actual protagonist (Junichi Kagiyama), a cowardish but decent guy and the only rational one of the bunch, as well as some local teen hoods giving everyone trouble. This is almost everything a good Sun Tribe film should be: yachts, motor boats, guitars, fights and burning teen passion, all packed into 78 minutes. The characters are excellent, there's a constant aura of energy to Nishimura's direction, and most importantly the Taiwanese-Japanese actress Judy Ongg is just amazingly hot and badass as Rika. When director Nishimura, in an unrelated interview, expressed his regret that much of the Roman Porno genre that later employed him may be problematic from a female perspective, I wondered if he truly cared. But seeing movies like this, with show stealing female characters, I can believe he really meant what he said. Fantastic film!

    Tokyo Streetfighting (東京市街戦) (Japan, 1967) [35mm] - 1.5/5
    Tetsuya Watari's theme song is the only good thing about this half-arsed Nikkatsu yakuza action film. It's yet another tale of people coping in the ruins of Tokyo in the post WW2 Japan, with a couple of good men (Watari, Joe Shishido) standing against the exploitative Korean gangsters. Toei also made several films like this, some of them good (True Account of Ginza Tortures, 1973), some as bad as this (Third Generation Boss, 1974; Kobe International Gang, 1975). With its uninspired performances, routine execution and a programmer storyline aiming to connect with the more sentimental and nationalistically minded viewers (there even an orphan boy and his blind sister suffering in the slums!), Tokyo Streetfighting offers little to be impressed about. Even the final street war / machinegun massacre fails to thrill, despite its unbelievable body count.

    Burning Nature (花を喰う蟲) (Japan, 1967) [DCP] - 3.5/5
    Here's further evidence that director Shogoro Nishimura is remembered for the wrong films. Before he became a Roman Porno vending machine, he was a yakuza and youth film director at Nikkatsu, making several interesting pictures that have since been forgotten. This one starts out as a breezy youth film but soon morphs into a study of greed and moral corruption as a wildcat girl (Taichi Kiwako) runs into a manipulative "businessman" (Hideaki Nitani) who promises her a career as a model. She finds success due to her good looks, but also learns that that is exactly her worth the in the modern world. The stylish film features a terrific leading performance by Taichi Kiwako. Eiji Go, an actor best known for portraying crazed yakuza, is also very good as a young man in love with the protagonist. Meiko Kaji has a small supporting role. The film's only problem is that it can't quite keep the wonderful momentum it establishes during the superb first half till the very end.

    Biographies of Killers (刺客列伝) (Japan, 1969) [35mm] - 2.5/5
    Although better known for contemporary films, Nikkatsu also produced scores of period yakuza films. I am far from well educated in Nikkatsu's yakuza output, but compared to Toei's ninkyo films, this movie at least is somewhat grittier in philosophy (as suggested by the title), leaving less room for chivalry, stoic pathos and manly bonding than you'd find in your average Ken Takakura or Koji Tsuruta film. Sentimental drama is not avoided though: the film features Nikkatsu's regular wallflower Chieko Matsubara as a young woman with a missing brother and a sick kid to take care of. Hideki Takahashi is the main character, a yakuza joining a gang of killers to make some money. He later runs into Matsubara, who doesn't know he's a yakuza and indirectly related to his missing brother who has been killed. There's also a common yakuza film theme with poor workers being targeted by the yakuza. The storyline isn't especially interesting and the lack of a strong plot hurts, but Nishimura's direction is pretty good, often vitalizing quiet scenes with emotional tension.

    Yakuza Native Ground (やくざ番外地) (Japan, 1969) [35mm] - 4/5
    A very good transitional era yakuza film by Shogoro Nishimura. Tetsuro Tamba is a businessman-like gangster who builds his gang of youngsters willing to do the dirty work for him, including a psychotic hothead Jiro Okazaki. Tamba is pals with Kei Sato, a slightly more righteous boss in a rival gang, likewise leaving the quarrels to the youngsters while trying remain friends with Tamba. The film takes a while to get going with some seemingly random side plots, which however all come together big time when Tamba's sister falls in love with a young man associated with the rival gang, and then all hell starts breaking loose, leading to a well orchestrated final massacre. There's also an interesting mix of ninkyo-like honour themes and jitsuroku shades of gray, especially evident in Tamba's well written character. Nishimura's character direction is effective and it's always a pleasure to see Tamba in starring roles.

    Teruo Ishii Wonder Night

    - Inferno of Torture (Japan, 1969) [35mm] - 4/5
    - Horrors of Malformed Men (Japan, 1969) [35mm] - 4.5/5
    - Bohachi Bushido: Code of the Forgotten Eight (Japan, 1973) [35mm] - 4.5/5
    - The Executioner 2: Karate Inferno (Japan, 1974) [35mm] - 4/5

    All night Teruo Ishii marathon with four excellent films from pristine prints. It didn't hurt at all that I had seen all of them before in theatre, some of them several times. Inferno of Torture is cruel yet romantic, supremely stylish tale of two tattoo artists in Edo competing each other and tattooing the horrors of hell on the backs of beautiful topless women. Horrors of Malformed Men, Ishii's most legendary and atmospheric film, is a mystery following a man who discovers an island where a tragic madman is building a society of malformed men. Bohachi Bushido, Ishii's best film, is a visually amazing tour de force of a nihilist samurai wandering in a surreal ero-guro pop Japan and fighting ninjas and naked female bodyguards in terrific, bloody action scenes. All three films excel at creating imaginative fantasy worlds, at which Ishii was at his best. The Executioner 2 is a smaller but no less enjoyable film: an insanely funny and crude action comedy and a perfect closing film to keep people awake at 4:30 am. All in all, amazing night where every film, partly due to the circumstances, made me think "this is a strong candidate for the best movie ever!"

  5. #415
    I recently re-watched Alex Law's 2010 flick, ECHOES OF THE RAINBOW with Simon Yam. One of those bittersweet coming of age stories set in late 60's HK and it veers from sentimental melodrama to outright tearjerker. I enjoyed it more on the re-watch though as perhaps I appreciated the message of this film as I've gotten older. Supposedly an autobiographical account of director Alex Law's life growing up as a working class family during one of HK's most turbulent times. I can't help but feel this flick was supposed to be a showcase for young upcoming talent, Aarif Lee nee Rahman but the real stars were the performances by veterans Yam and Sandra Ng. Felt this to be one Yam's better acting performances & he deftly plays the stern shoe cobbler father whose own failed ambitions are projected onto his eldest son played by Lee. One of Yam's more subdued performances but that's a good thing here. Same goes for Ng as well as she isn't playing her usual brash loudmouth comedic role which can get quite annoying.

    In my "to watch" list I have Shinji Somai's P.P. RIDER, Hiroshi Sugahara's SEVEN DAYS' WAR (new BD rip) & the remake of John Woo's ONCE A THIEF, THE ADVENTURERS starring Andy Lau (not to be confused with the mid-90s Ringo Lam action flick of the same name and also starring Andy).
    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

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