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Thread: What Asian Films Have You Been Watching Recently?

  1. #501
    I recently re-watched Wu Kuo Jen aka James Wu's NINJA CONDORS 13 with Alexander Lo Rei. I just dig all those ninjasploitation flicks with Alexander & Eugene Thomas. yes, they are cheesy as hell and not very good but nonetheless they are quite entertaining. I think Lo Rei's charisma and magnetism are what makes these flicks watchable. I still remember Toby Russell saying Lo Rei was a baaaaadddd man IRL and wasn't one to be fucked with or played. Lo Rei admitted he would be in prison or dead if it wasn't for his venture into movies and I believe it! he just gives off a real tough guy vibe. Too bad they didn't show him boning the cute blonde gf of Lucifer at the end though. Having said that, this one is one of the weaker ones in the series and not as good as some of the others.

    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  2. #502
    I watched Hajime Anzai's indie flick, I AM A PERVERT. I actually enjoyed this despite the fact I knew going in that it was going to really off beat and weird but I still enjoyed it in spite of its weirdness. It's pretty run of the mill in the beginning about a struggling musician with a wife and newborn who can't shake his perverse S&M relationship with an ex-college groupie from his indie band days. Things really go south or (is it north?) when he gets a gig playing out in the boonies during the dead of winter. A bear is involved along with a massive dildo, butt plugs and just OTT insanity. Despite it being low budget, I will say the effects team responsible for the bear makes the bear look like CGI in comparison to bear scenes in past Japanese movies like MANHUNT but still not up to the level of Chiba in KARATE BEAR FIGHTER.







    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  3. #503
    I went to check out Chin Ka-lok's THE GOLDEN JOB at the theater the other night. All the familiar faces from the YOUNG AND DANGEROUS series are back including Ekin Cheng, Jordan Chan, Jerry Lamb, Michael Tse, & Chin Ka-lok himself. Eric Tsang also appears as a godfather/boss figure too. All of them are older of course and despite the weathered skin, male pattern baldness and stockier figures, they are all pretty much as I remember them from the 90s. The storyline pretty much continues in the same vein as that series with brotherhood and loyalty taking centerstage in terms of plot but it has more of an Expendables type of action delivery.

    This mashup of Heroic Bloodshed with big budget action set pieces sort of works. Some decent action scenes (especially the two car chase scenes) are trickled throughout and the European & Japanese locations are a nice change from having everything centered in HK or mainland China. There's a neat sequence at an auto show where Ekin Cheng commandeers an LMP type race car and engages in a raging battle on the streets of Japan with a baddie in a rally cross car. Reminded me a bit of DRIVEN but unfortunately it was marred by some crappy CGI and under cranking.

    Nice to see Yasuaki Kurata in a minor role as a sake brew master with some serious karate skills. I can't tell if they doubled for him in the close quarters hand to hand combat scene but if they didn't, he sure as hell looked impressive for a guy in the twilight of his career. Overall, a decent flick but nothing special. Still heaps better than that crap remake of MANHUNT John Woo put out earlier. I can't help but feel this is the type of flick that John Woo should've made instead with Chow Yun-fat or Tony Leung as the lead. Speaking of Chow Yun-fat, I'm going to check out his latest, PROJECT GUTTENBERG later tonight.

    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  4. #504
    I checked out Felix Chong's latest crime thriller PROJECT GUTENBERG starring Chow Yun-fat and Aaron Kwok. This flick would've made my top 10 flicks of 2018 if not for the awful final act. The denouement literally ruined a very good movie. It still has a lot going for it though and the top of that list has to the superb performance by Chow Yun-fat - easily his best performance in years. The guy is 63 freakin' years old and yet he still exudes such allure and persona onscreen that he simply overshadows everyone else including his co-star Kwok, who is no slouch in that department either. I can't think of another actor who could've pulled off this role that requires equal parts charm and utter ruthless vile criminal behavior. He puts mainstream "Hollywood" action stars like Stratham, Neeson, Willis, the Rock, etc to shame.

    This movie starts off light and breezy in tone with a heist film theme and then becomes much darker and Chow Yun-fat's character mirrors the change and just when you think it's going to be all fun and games, Chong flicks the switch and it becomes an action vehicle for Fat as well. It was reminiscent of his glory days with John Woo as Fat turns to his famous two handed gun play and there is a scene in the Golden Triangle straight out of HEROES SHED NO TEARS. That's perhaps this film's strength and weakness...Chong didn't know in which direction to take it and tried incorporating both to ultimately mixed results. Still definitely worth checking out if nothing else than Chow Yun-fat's acting clinic.

    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  5. #505
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Modern Yakuza x 3

    Modern Yakuza: Outlaw's Code (現代やくざ 与太者の掟) (Japan, 1969) [DVD] - 3.5/5
    Surprisingly good transitional ninkyo / jitsuroku film sparks nicely in both genres, unlike most similar 'halfway-there' efforts. Bunta Sugawara is a jailbird back on the streets, a rough and violent but also chivalrous man who makes friends with a fellow yakuza (Kyosuke Machida). Perhaps better than any other yakuza film, this movie captures the psyche of a man just out of prison with no friends, no home, nothing to go back to. It's also beautifully filmed with ninkyo romantics and jitsuroku roughness somehow co-existing without cannibalizing each other. Add a bit of noirish atmosphere, a great Tomisaburo Wakayama supporting role (he sings also!) and an ultra bloody ending, and the film successfully overcomes its unexceptional story and the comedy-resembling Shingo Yamashiro stuff inserted in the middle. Fine effort from Yasuo Furuhata, whose films often strike as dull to me.



    Modern Yakuza: Outlaw's Honor and Humanity (現代やくざ 与太者仁義) (Japan, 1969) [DVD] - 3/5
    Noirish but not especially moving tale makes Sugawara play the second fiddle to young lovers (Masakazu Tamura, Ai Sasaki) on the run from the yakuza. Sugawara is the loyal yakuza brother trying to protect them, Ryo Ikebe an older brother obliged to bring the runaways to his boss. Violent and stylish, with some excellent character dynamics between Sugawara and Ikebe, it's a shame the central story about the young lovers is superficial and predictable, giving the viewer little reason to care.



    Modern Yakuza: Loyalty Offering Breakdown (現代やくざ 盃返します) (Japan, 1971) [DVD] - 1.5/5
    Slow moving and quite frankly boring part 3. Dodgy boss Koike orders loyal and clueless Sugawara to stab another boss, who is actually a pretty decent man with a rational son (Hiroki Matsukata). Sugawara eventually comes to realize this. Oddly enough, this is a ninkyo film rather than anything even remotely resembling the modern, soon-to-come jitsuroku films. Should've been called "The Conservative Yakuza" instead.

    Note: this is part 3, not part 4 like Chris D claims (he mistakenly included Outlaw of Shinjuku in the series). The series then continued with Sadao Nakajima's Three Cherry Blossom Blood Brothers (1971) and what is the best known film in the series, Fukasaku's Street Mobster (1972).



    Others

    Zatoichi the Outlaw (座頭市牢破り) (Japan, 1967) [BD] - 4/5
    The consequences of dealing death come haunting Zatoichi in this excellent entry. This was the first film produced Katsu's own company as opposed to the more conservative Daiei (still the distributor here). He got the politically minded Satsuo Yamamoto to helm the film with a great character touch. While the film retains all the humour, action and chivalry of the series, it also shows the corrupting effect of power and how the men Zatoichi slays are, in fact, real people. Rentaro Mikuni has an excellent supporting role as a yakuza boss sympathizing poor farmers.



    Zatoichi and the Fugitives (座頭市果し状) (Japan, 1968) [BD] - 3.5/5
    A good, darker than usual entry with a powerful ending. This was made soon after Zatoichi the Outlaw (there was one film in between) and in its depiction of Zatoichi's vulnerability it feels like a follow up of sorts. Takashi Shimura (likeable noble doctor) and Kyosuke Machida (one of the titular fugitives) provide good support. I haven't paid much attention to Machida in his Toei films, but he's pretty good here.

    Violent Money Network (暴力金脈) (Japan, 1975) [DVD] - 3/5
    If you ever wondered what a capitalist corporate & society satire would look like as a Toei jitsuroku yakuza film, here it is. Hiroki Matsukata stars as boxer turned small time thug who makes a living by marching into company offices and starting trouble until they pay him to leave, or he gets paid by a third party who has hired him to make trouble. Scriptwriter Kazuo Kasahara based the character on a man called Kaoru Ogawa whom he interviewed while doing research for Battles without Honor and Humanity. This is quite a different type of film though the cast, crew (Fukasaku was originally set to direct before being replaced by Sadao Nakajima) and the underlying mentality are largely the same. Also, there's no explicit violence or sex until Reiko Ike walks into the picture around the 50 minute mark in one of her better drama roles. The lack of violent mayhem makes this a smaller picture than some of its contemporaries, but the Nakajima - Matsukata pairing produces energetic results, and there are nice supporting turns by Takuzo Kawatani (thug) and Tomisaburo Wakayama (Ike's sugar daddy), among others. Also features an extremely funny cat killing scene.


  6. #506
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    All those sound fantastic. I suppose there's no chance of ever getting my hands on an English friendly version of Violent Money Network.

  7. #507
    Member tetrapak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Takuma View Post
    Fine effort from Yasuo Furuhata, whose films often strike as dull to me.
    Furuhata's non-toei film "station" is one of my favourite films... do you like it ?

  8. #508
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason C View Post
    I suppose there's no chance of ever getting my hands on an English friendly version of Violent Money Network.
    I don't see it quite impossible, perhaps some fansubber could make subs for it (it is Nakajima/Matsukata/Ike/Jitsuroku/Toei after all) or even Arrow pick it up, but frankly I wouldn't hold my breath.

    Quote Originally Posted by tetrapak View Post
    Furuhata's non-toei film "station" is one of my favourite films... do you like it ?
    I haven't seen it, but I'll promise to rent it some day.

  9. #509
    One of my fave movies from last year was Thai director Nattawut Poonpiriya's BAD GENIUS, so I made it point to catch his debut COUNTDOWN from 2012. Obviously this flick was made with a much smaller budget and the tone of the film is very different too but you can see that Nattawut had the directing chops even back then. I've seen this storyline play out many a time & the plot is nothing original but overall, it's nicely scripted, with decent acting and as mentioned Poonpiriya does a very good job directing. The standout was mixed Thai-French actor, David Asavanond who plays Jesus (pronounced like the Hispanic name), a small time drug dealer who just might be God himself. He really chews up the screen and you can tell he really enjoyed playing this role. He's had some bit parts in some other Thai productions (namely THE PROTECTOR) but this flick got me itching to see more of him. I wish the supplemental feature titled "Meet Mr. Jesus" delved into his background more but instead it was played for laughs. Anyway, Poonpiriya is definitely one of the upcoming Thai directors to keep an eye on and I will check out his future projects for sure.



    I just got back from watching the big budget epic Korean sageuk movie, THE GREAT BATTLE and will have more to say about this flick later.

    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  10. #510
    As previously mentioned, I went to check out Kim Kwang-sik's THE GREAT BATTLE. An epic historical film about the Siege of Ansi in 7th century Manchuria starring Jo In-sung and Nam Joo-hyuk. Thought it was fairly entertaining and worth checking out. The plot is generic and character development is non-existent but the action/battle scenes were engrossing & well done. I was pleased that the night battle scenes were well lit and not murky as in some other films which made it easy to follow the action. There is a quite a bit of CGI and slo mo bullet time effects and it does get repetitive but the high production value (the opening sequence is reminiscent of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN replete with the graphic war gore) and generally good VFX effects make it worthwhile. Also, another plus is Seolhyun is in this and she's definitely trending upward. She's only had bit roles so far but at least here she's able to showcase some of her physicality & prove she can handle some meatier roles.
    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

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