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Thread: What Asian Films Have You Been Watching Recently?

  1. #351
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tetrapak View Post
    Yakuza Deka (1970)

    A heavy dose of slapstick humour and some euro-spy influences don't save this uneven, (for me) unfunny action-comedy film. Also didn't like Yukio Noda style of direction...
    The series gets better as it goes on. The 1st film is the worst (sloppy action, sloppy film), the 4th film is the best (great stunts, funny jokes, feels much like a Jackie Chan film). Parts 2 and 3 fall somewhere in between (2 has better action, 3 has better story and locations).

    Unfortunately only the first 2 came out on dvd.

    Yukio Noda (who did the first 2) was generally speaking a pretty poor director. Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs is the one exception to that rule (aside Soul of Chiba of course, but I think everyone was on drugs while filming that one).

  2. #352
    Member tetrapak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Takuma View Post
    The series gets better as it goes on. The 1st film is the worst (sloppy action, sloppy film), the 4th film is the best (great stunts, funny jokes, feels much like a Jackie Chan film). Parts 2 and 3 fall somewhere in between (2 has better action, 3 has better story and locations).

    Unfortunately only the first 2 came out on dvd.

    Yukio Noda (who did the first 2) was generally speaking a pretty poor director. Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs is the one exception to that rule (aside Soul of Chiba of course, but I think everyone was on drugs while filming that one).
    So I will keep an eye for the other films and especially the 4th: hopefully it will be released some day...

    I also rewatched "The Street Fighter" and what struck me big this time around is that, beside all the cool action (and violence) you won't find a clean-cut good guy in the whole film... they are all various shades of bad...Also I noticed so many things that "inspired" Kill Bill (the special fighting technique at the start reminded me the The Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, the funny entrance by Chiba's partner in the 1974 film echoes the appearance of Chiba's restaurant co-owner in Tarantino film etc) And last but not least, it was fun to see Chiyoko Kazama in a more sizeable role as the main villainess after her little part in Criminal Woman: Killing Melody (1973)
    Last edited by tetrapak; 08-05-2017 at 03:47 PM.

  3. #353
    Going to have a little SB's "Shaolin" marathon tonight. All sourced from full HD transfers with custom English subs.

    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  4. #354
    Went to check out Jang Hoon's A TAXI DRIVER at a matinee showing yesterday. I had high hopes for this one as I've read it has topped the box office in S. Korea and it stars one of my favorite actors, Song Kang-ho. I was not disappointed and I will go as far as to say this is the front runner for my personal best film of 2017. Song Kang-ho is superb as is the rest of the cast.

    Usually these waygookin actors in Korean productions are pretty terrible or mediocre but Thomas Kretschmann did an excellent job portraying intrepid German reporter, Jürgen Hinzpeter (whose written accounts of the Gwangju massacre & interaction with the anonymous taxi driver are basis for the film) & special mention must also go to Ryu Joon-yeol (of REPLY 1988 fame) playing a university student protestor whose English skills come in handy. The scenes of the Gwangju massacre itself were harrowing and emotionally daunting but fortunately, it wasn't just overwrought drama all the time as this flick had a near perfect mix of humor, melodrama and gripping action in equal parts. The only slight negative for me was the taxi chase action scene during the finale but it didn't detract from the overall excellence of the movie. Highly recommended!

    The other negative aspect had nothing to do with the film itself but rather the sad state of cinema going these days. CGV bills itself as a premium theater but unless one actually pays extra for the limited 'premium' 4DX screens - the rest of the screens are rather middling efforts. I mean no cinemascope picture, no proper masking & very average to poor black levels with cinema DLP tech. Not to be too harsh on CGV as that is the norm for movie theaters nowadays where they have to sacrifice contrast for overall brightness but I sure can't wait until micro-led screens replace digital projection.



    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  5. #355
    I watched RETURN OF KUNG FU TRAILERS from Severin earlier today and made the mistake of listening to the audio commentary with Ric Myers. I turned it off as soon as he claimed SBs stalwart actor, Ku Feng was Chen Sing during the commentary for BRUCE AND THE IRON FINGER. They don't look anything a like and I don't know why any of the other 3 guest commentators didn't correct him right away. I know Frank Djeng knows his shit but guess he decided to remain mum to assuage Ric's massive ego plus Ric would've come up with a million excuses anyway. What a maroon!



    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  6. #356
    I caught Lam Yi-hung's 1992 heroic bloodshed revenge flick, KILLER FLOWER aka RAKEHELL KILLER from a nice laserdisc rip. Nothing special but some nice gunplay and general mayhem.

    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  7. #357
    FIST OF DEATH (1982)

    Lame South Korean Bruce/Jackiespolitation yarn with Kim Tae-Chung looking only like Bruce when he bugs his eyes out. The Jackie clone is even weaker. In a way, this is a Fist of Fury knock-off with the Ching Wu school vs the...well, the dialogue says "YMCA" but the logo on the school is clearly YMGA!

    Either way, I wonder why I bother sometimes...

    3/10

  8. #358
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    Quote Originally Posted by 47lab View Post
    I watched RETURN OF KUNG FU TRAILERS from Severin earlier today and made the mistake of listening to the audio commentary with Ric Myers. I turned it off as soon as he claimed SBs stalwart actor, Ku Feng was Chen Sing during the commentary for BRUCE AND THE IRON FINGER. They don't look anything a like and I don't know why any of the other 3 guest commentators didn't correct him right away. I know Frank Djeng knows his shit but guess he decided to remain mum to assuage Ric's massive ego plus Ric would've come up with a million excuses anyway. What a maroon!
    Speaking of maroons, alike is one word...

  9. #359
    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy Parker View Post
    Speaking of maroons, alike is one word...
    FUCK YOU! is two words.
    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  10. #360
    Senior Member Takuma's Avatar
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    Journey Into Solitude (旅の重さ) (Japan, 1972) [DVD] - 3/5
    A 16 year old girl runs from home to hike around Shihoku alone. She sleeps outside, washes herself in the sea, and gets her food from friendly people or by stealing. An inspiring, beautiful and well acted, if a bit dated in some of its gender political stances, coming of age tale that could have been a little known gem. It is a shame that after a very promising first 30 minutes the movie and its protagonist get stuck with a dull theatre group for the film's entire middle third. The film gets better again towards the end, thankfully. Takuro Yoshida's wonderful theme song is a perfect fit for the film.

    True Account of a Gambling Den (The Pledge) (博奕打ち外伝) (Japan, 1972) [DVD] - 2/5
    The 10th and final film in the Gambling Den series is an over-long all star epic without anything especially epic about it. It's the usual genre offering with honourable Tsuruta on one side, and a corrupt clan on the other. Conflicts and bloodshed ensue. The one interesting thing about the film is how "evil boss" Wakayama is actually relatively decent, but drawn to the wrong side by underling Matsukata whom he dearly loves. Unfortunately this only materializes into solid drama during the final scene. The rest is uninspired: there isn't anything original about the filmmaking, locations, or storyline. Ken Takakura and Bunta Sugawara appear in supporting roles, mainly to give the series a star studded farewell. For much better entries, see parts 4 (Big Time Gambling Boss), 6 (The Fake Game) and 8 (Drifter).

    Wandering Ginza Butterfly (銀蝶渡り鳥) (Japan, 1972) [DVD] - 3/5
    Uneven, occasionally exhilarating female yakuza film is a bit of a mishmash. Director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi was fresh off from his trendy and contemporary Delinquent Girl Boss series. Actress Meiko Kaji was starring in her first Toei film after abandoning Nikkatsu. Toei saw her as potential heir for Junko Fuji, their biggest female yakuza star, whose retirement earlier in 1972 had ended the Red Peony Gambler series and put another nail in the soon-to-be-buried ninkyo yakuza genre which Toei was reluctant to let die. This film starts out as a contemporary female ex-con tale, but the further is gets the more evident the ninkyo influences become. The stylish climax that sees Kaji walk to enemy headquarters in white kimono is straight out of the ninkyo book - except for the added neon lights - while the fantastic billiards duel that precedes is a clever modern twist. Kaji brings her usual touch to the role, and looks amazing in mini skirt, but the film is unfortunately too routinely written with silly comedic relief and standard yakuza trappings to be a genre classic.



    Bad Guy (South Korea, 2001) [DVD] - 4/5
    I've been re-watching some of Kim Ki-duk's earlier films. He wasn't a flawless filmmaker, but he was damn good at writing and directing unusual, intriguing character relationships. This film, a sort of love story featuring a mute pimp unable to express his affection in ways other forcing a young girl into prostitution and watching her from behind a two-way mirror, is a prime example. The film is 20 minutes too long, but the characters and storyline are so good that much is forgiven.

    Ruined Heart (Philippines, 2014) [DVD] - 1.5/5
    German distributor gone producer Rapid Eye Movies had enough success with their 2011 pink musical Underwater Love to try the same trick again, this time with Philippine director Khavn. Tadanobu Asano stars, Christopher Doyle is in charge of cinematography, and the French-German duo Stereo Total does the music again. The arthouse film bills itself as "Another Love Story Between a Criminal & a Whore", told in a very vague fashion via music and images, with almost no dialogue. It is too bad the film is neither especially stylish nor interesting, and nothing much happens in it. Fans of experimental cinema willing to seek for meaning behind images, sit through long scenes of people doing random things, and Asano running around with a camera in his hand filming himself (Doyle had a day off?) may still dig it. For anyone else, this 70 minutes is likely to feel like four hours.

    Scoop (Japan, 2016) [Flight] - 4/5
    There is still hope for Japanese cinema, as shown by this tremendously entertaining film. Basically a mixture of Nightcrawler (2015) and 48 Hours (1982), Scoop follows a sleazy and misogynist tabloid photographer (Masaharu Fukuyama) unwillingly paired with a young female rookie (the always excellent Fumi Nikaido). Like the best 80s buddy comedies, the film doesn't shy away from gritty contents (and a protagonist who is a bit of an asshole) while remaining very funny at the same time. It also comes with excellent chemistry between the leads, and an unexpectedly strong ending that somewhat kicks the unprepared viewer in the face. As an added bonus, the film teaches practical photography tricks, such as how to lure a naked politician and his secret lover to a hotel window with fireworks. There hasn't been much positive to say about Japanese cinema in the recent years, partly thanks to the polarization of the industry with good production values reserved for dumbed down commercial entertainment, original ideas dumped in the zero-budget category, and very little existing in the middle. Scoop, with its solid production values and spicy contents, shows there's still an occasional film that can exist between those two extremes.



    Over the Fence (オーバーフェンス) (Japan, 2016) [DVD] - 1.5/5
    Nobuhiro Yamashita, whose slacker masterpiece Ramblers (2003) I've seen seven times, directing Yu Aoi, whose talent and beauty I adore, should have resulted in something special. Over the Fence, however, is so painfully dull a drama that I struggled to make it to the end. It's the third part in the Hakodate trilogy (preceded by the very good Sketches of Kaitan City, and the highly praised The Light Shines Only There), and features Joe Odagiri is a guy who falls in love with bipolar girl Yu Aoi. Strangely enough, it's Odagiri who is the more watchable of the two, Aoi being almost nerve wrecking. That may be more due to the character than the actress, but in the end it matters not. Yamashita's usual dry humour and energetic delivery are sparse here, and the film's musical score is especially bad.

    The Wailing (South Korea, 2016) [BD] - 4.5/5
    Obscure murders begin to take place in a small Korean town after a mysterious Japanese man (Jun Kunimura) arrives. Excellent thriller that is best seen without knowing much about it. Although its logic might not hold on repeated viewings, and the film is actually a bit less original than mainstream viewers think, it remains exceptionally captivating, atmospheric, and comes with one hell of an ending.

    Himeanole (ヒメアノ~ル) (Japan, 2016) [BD] - 4/5
    A pleasant surprise and a small gem that deserves to be seen without any expectations. For those who need further convincing, here goes. Okada and Ando are two walking definitions of tragicomic video game nerds minus the video games, with no looks, no communication skills, and obviously no girl other than the super-sweet waitress Yuka whom Ando is stalking. Too afraid to talk to her, Ando has Okada (entirely unqualified for the task) find out if she has a boyfriend, and drive away the another stalker, Morita. Turns out she doesn't, as she confesses she's in, fact in, love with Okada! This initiates the most unexpected, cute otaku-meets-hot-girl love story - until Morita walks back into the film and story takes an impressively subtle turn to something far darker that fully earned the film its R15 rating. There's a bit of Swallowtail Butterfly in the way the film effortlessly slides from one genre to another, as well as Love Exposure era Sion Sono, and Daisuke Miura style otaku love story, but director Keisuke Yoshida's low key handling of the material is ultimately his own. Although the final act is a bit less inspired than what comes before, the film has a lovely habit of constantly defying expectations, and has little difficulties keeping the viewer interested.


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