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Thread: What Asian Films Have You Been Watching Recently?

  1. #621
    Went to check out Jacky Gan's VORTEX which is a Mainland kidnapping crime thriller fused with lots of kiddie bonding melodrama. It was decent but just a rehash of other films with the usual cat and mouse tropes & the morally bereft protagonist finding redemption at the end. The only real interesting characters were the criminal brothers in which the older brother keeps preaching to the younger one that "only money makes people treat you as a person" in this harsh world. The brooding younger brother in particular, played by singer Ou Hao had quite a presence about him and was the most dynamic character on screen. So overall, it's worth a watch but nothing will grab your attention to make it worth watching a second time.

    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  2. #622
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Daiei time! Took a free trial for Amazon Prime's Kadokawa Channel.

    Yakuza Priest (やくざ坊主) (Japan, 1965) [VoD] – 2/5
    Messy ‘fallen monk opens a business’ picture in which nothing interesting happens. Shintaro Katsu, still half in Zatoichi mode, plays the hoodlum monk who gambles, brawls and womanizes his way through the uneventful non-story. It even lacks exploitative or technical edge. But it does have one saving grace (in addition to Katsu): the underused Mikio Narita as Katsu's ronin opponent. Typecast to the point of boredom in the 70s yakuza films, Narita’s 60 swordsman roles have been a real discovery. A watchable film, but criminally weak considering the potential and talent involved. Followed by one sequel.



    Bloody Shuriken (赤い手裏剣) (Japan, 1965) [VoD] – 2/5
    Dagger throwing anti-hero Raizo Ichikawa rides into a spaghetti western town full of crooks and a hidden treasure everyone wants to locate. Watchable yakuza / jidaigeki / western hybrid is occasionally stylish, but too superficial to make you care about what's going on.

    Woman Gambling Expert (女の賭場) (Japan, 1966) [VoD] – 2.5/5
    Part 1 in the 17 film Daiei series. An old man commits suicide after being accused of cheating in gambling den by a crooked yakuza (excellent Fumio Watanabe in a routine role). His restaurant owner daughter (Kyoko Enami) becomes the next target. Conservative Daiei surprisingly initiated this series two years before Toei took reign of the female gambler genre with Red Peony Gambler. But the origin is still evident. This is mainly a Daiei woman drama with yakuza elements until the electrifying last 15 minutes when Enami decides to learn the trade and get even. In a Toei picture, that scene would have played after the opening credits, or even before them, and served as the starting point for the story.

    Love for an Idiot (痴人の愛) (Japan, 1967) [VoD] – 3/5
    A couple goes domestic World War III in Masumura's exceedingly 60s gender satire. A pre-otaku era salaryman (excellent Shoichi Ozawa) gets a young wildcat (Michiyo Yasuda) as his pet, a role she goes along with for a while till she gets bored with the old geezer trying to fit her into his idea of what a woman should be like. There are some crazy outfits and amazing still photos, wickedly funny observations about desperate men, and fine performances too, but the lack plot can make all the rage a bit numbing at times. Michiyo Yasuda, who is better known as Daiei’s late 60s action Duracell Bunny (Lady Sazen and the Drenched Swallow Sword, Bamboo Leaf Omon) does a surprisingly daring role, however, there is doubt whether it’s really her or a body double in the numerous nude photos. Oh, and the English title is a bit different from the Japanese “An Idiot’s Love”, the idiot being the salaryman. Based on a 1924 novel by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki - bit ironic considering how unmistakably 60s Masumura's film is. There had been at least 2 earlier film adaptations as well, in 1949 and 1960.



    A Certain Killer's Key (ある殺し屋の鍵) (Japan, 1967) [VoD] - 3.5/5
    Refined, stylish action thriller with professional killer Raizo Ichikawa hired to assassinate a businessman. Ichikawa, with his handsome looks integrated into a character who immerses in traditional arts when not assassinating people, doesn't look much like a hired killer, but that's one of the film's charms. From story to stylistic touches, the film does most things a bit differently, without becoming overly quirky. Captivating, even when nothing in particular is happening. A sequel to A Certain Killer, also a stylish film, but this sequel is even more focused and low key, better.



    Electric Jellyfish (The Hot Little Girl) (しびれくらげ) (Japan, 1970) [VoD] - 3.5/5
    A drunken dumbfuck father Ryoichi Tamagawa falls in yakuza debt trap after drawing attention by bragging about his sexy model daughter Mari Atsumi. He figures he can get the money from her jerk boyfriend Yusuke Kawazu, who just sold her body to a sleazy American to advance his own career. Meanwhile she's growing determined to tell everyone to go fuck themselves. An angry little Masumura film with dynamite Mari Atsumi on fire. Half of the dialogue is yelled, and the classical influenced score is overwhelming. For modern audiences the film may be a bit of an eye opener: this is where Sion Sono got his drama dynamics. A follow-up of sorts to a less exciting Masumura / Atsumi picture Electric Medusa (1970).


  3. #623
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    Quote Originally Posted by Takuma View Post

    Yakuza Priest (やくざ坊主) (Japan, 1965) [VoD] – 2/5
    Messy ‘fallen monk opens a business’ picture in which nothing interesting happens. Shintaro Katsu, still half in Zatoichi mode, plays the hoodlum monk who gambles, brawls and womanizes his way through the uneventful non-story. It even lacks exploitative or technical edge. But it does have one saving grace (in addition to Katsu): the underused Mikio Narita as Katsu's ronin opponent. Typecast to the point of boredom in the 70s yakuza films, Narita’s 60 swordsman roles have been a real discovery. A watchable film, but criminally weak considering the potential and talent involved. Followed by one sequel.



    Bloody Shuriken (赤い手裏剣) (Japan, 1965) [VoD] – 2/5
    Dagger throwing anti-hero Raizo Ichikawa rides into a spaghetti western town full of crooks and a hidden treasure everyone wants to locate. Watchable yakuza / jidaigeki / western hybrid is occasionally stylish, but too superficial to make you care about what's going on.
    I love the sound of "yakuza / jidaigeki / western hybrid". Bloody Shuriken sounds like a film I'd love more than it deserves. Same for Yakuza Priest as well. Thank you for the impressions Takuma.

  4. #624
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason C View Post
    I love the sound of "yakuza / jidaigeki / western hybrid". Bloody Shuriken sounds like a film I'd love more than it deserves. Same for Yakuza Priest as well. Thank you for the impressions Takuma.
    Both are available on remastered Japanese DVDs, and on older (?) bootlegs too, I believe.

  5. #625
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    Quote Originally Posted by Takuma View Post
    Both are available on remastered Japanese DVDs, and on older (?) bootlegs too, I believe.
    English subs?

  6. #626
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason C View Post
    English subs?
    Yes. I have both movies and both have English subs. Bloody Shuriken sounds great but that movie was a snoozer.
    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  7. #627
    I caught Junichi Suzuki's 1989 satirical drama, A SANDCASTLE MODEL FAMILY HOME aka ROBINSON ON THE BEACH. Yasao Daichi plays a salaryman with a lower middle class nuclear family living in cramped corporate housing until he stumbles upon a contest where a real estate company is looking to put an "ideal family" up in one of their luxurious modern spacious homes for a year for free with a few conditions. One such condition is the house is open for inspection from the public for a couple hours a day & if they break any of the rules they can be evicted at anytime. Daichi's family enters and wins the competition as the "ideal family" and as you can imagine, it's all too good to be true & it's all down hill once they settle in their new abode. Their once tight knit family starts to unravel as the husband is subjected to jealousy from the higher ups at work, rumors begin to circulate he is having an affair with a co-worker which begins a self-fulfilling prophecy, the wife is being tormented by a prank caller who claims she sold prostituted herself to win the house, the kids start having issues at school, etc. Someone over at imdb mentioned this flick has a lot of Juzo Itami feels and yeah, I can definitely see that but without the sharp wit and humor of Itami it must be said. At times a rather poignant look at modern Japanese family life & the economic pressure cooker the head of the household is subjected to daily as the economic bubble began to burst with some moments of humor and amusement but ultimately nothing special.



    On the way now to meet a buddy to check out the latest Ma Dong-suk flick, THE BAD GUYS: REIGN OF CHAOS. I'll give a review of this flick when I get back.

    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  8. #628
    ELECTRIC JELLYFISH sounds great, as does A CERTAIN KILLER'S KEY.

    Thanks again, Takuma, for these compelling reviews.

  9. #629
    I recently caught Haruki Kadokawa's CURTAIN CALL starring Tomoyo Harada. It's a musical/coming of age vehicle to feature then pop star/teen idol Harada. Harada is definitely cute and endearing in it, so if you're fan of Tomoyo then I would definitely check it out. She plays an adopted girl who has been training to be a ballerina ever since she was abandoned at age 3 with a pair of pointe shoes. Each year on her birthday, she receives a bouquet of flowers presumably from her father who initially left her for adoption. Her adopted mother promises Tomoyo that once she can fit in the pointe shoes, she will give her blessing to search for her biological father. On her 16th birthday, she embarks on a journey to find him and initially meets a potter played by Tsunehiko Watase. Although, Watase denies being the person who sent her the flowers, Harada begins to have doubts. Oh and it should be mentioned Harada gets taken to see a musical on her birthday by her mother and she has a change of heart from becoming a ballerina to becoming a musical actress/dancer. This is important to note because it gives an excuse for plenty of screen time for Harada to perform various dance routines along her journey. This came out in the mid-80s, so expect the usual US musical influences such as FLASHDANCE, FAME, etc to make an imprint here. A lot of the dance numbers are quite cheesy for sure and I don't think Harada is the strongest dancer either or at least the musical numbers don't play up to her strengths. I will say the opening number with a nod to THRILLER was pretty cool though in a cheesy 80s way with the pop locking and break dancing moves. I watched via a nice looking blu ray rip with excellent subs. Props to bLoodZ for the English subs. I really appreciate that the subs show the singer and name of song for every song and dance number performed throughout.



    Last edited by 47lab; 09-14-2019 at 03:54 PM.
    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  10. #630
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Hah, Curtain Call seems to be trending!

    Kadokawa x 3

    Curtain Call (愛情物語) (Japan, 1984) [VoD] – 3.5/5
    Utterly crazy Kadokawa dance flick with an amazing, ultra-80s "Broadway" musical opening which also collects all the black dudes in Japan into one scene! It's poor man's Flashdance, Streets of Fire, Michael Jackson and every 80’s female pop star in one, and it's one of the best manifestations of Kadokawa, whose strategy was to bring Hollywood spectacle into Japanese filmmaking. And this was helmed by the big man himself, narcotics criminal Haruki Kadokawa. The story is about 16 year old Tomoyo Harada going on a trip to find a lost father, then making a father figure of a nice middle aged man (the always watchable Tsunehiko Watase) while training for a musical audition. Showman Kadokawa was less a storyteller and more a monkey in the director's chair. But it works here, and there's no denying the musical scenes, many of which even the most hard-core 80s junkie would admit are cheesy as hell, deliver the fun and the sheer amazement.



    Inujini seshi mono (犬死にせしもの) (Japan, 1986) [VoD] - 1/5
    Fisherman Hiroyuki Sanada and two pals go pirate in 1947 Japan. A rather miserable drama with awful quirky direction and performances, including a couple of Japanese Richard Nortons. Sanada is the only one who comes off at least half-tolerable. I gave up after 40 minutes and fast-forwarded the rest, which seemed to be even worse.

    Lover’s Time (Koibitotachi no jikoku) (恋人たちの時刻) (Japan, 1987) [VoD] – 3.5/5
    Kadokawa discoveries, part deux. Great opening scene with cute, disturbed girl (Michiko Kawai from Somai’s P.P. Rider) silently watching the sea. She sees a lonely surfer boy swallowed by the waves. The next moment two biker guys emerge and try to rape her. The surfer boy manages to drive the goons away, but gets knocked out in the process. The girl, who seems more irritated than shocked by the incident, comes out from hiding, still minus the clothes which she doesn't seem to mind. As the story continues, he develops an obsession to get her to go out with him. The girl (she lives with an old sculptor as his nude model) then asks him to track down a missing person.

    There's an odd quality to the film from the very beginning that I kept wondering about till Japan-best screenwriter Haruhiko Arai's (Rape Ceremony, Distant Thunder, Vibrator) name popped up in the OP credits, followed by Shinichiro Sawai's directorial credit. Sawai did Tragedy of W with Hiroko Yakushimaru, and this movie has the same kind of grip and relative grit. Not Arai at his most steady handed, yet endlessly interesting with plenty of unusual character details and melancholy, often captured by Sawai with ultra-long takes against gray Hokkaido fall backdrop. And the score is a by a certain Joe Hisaishi, who plagiarized his own work for A Scene at the Sea. Almost like a film from an alternative universe where idols do nudity and have traded bubblegum pop for dark psychological movies.



    Also, the curious thing about Arai is that throughout the 80s essentially every second of his scripts were filmed as a Roman Porno and every second as mainstream or arthouse production, and most of them could've been any of the three with minor or no modifications.

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