Archive for September, 2009

Ikigami:The Ultimate Limit (2008)

In a future society of Japan, the government has passed a “National Prosperity Law” that says 1 in 1000 citizens aged 18-24 will die from a nano-capsule that’s been injected into their bodies when they entered elementary school and will rupture the coronary artery inside their heart killing them instantly. The law was passed to bring crime and suicide rates down in the country and the scheme has worked.

This movie focuses on one government worker Kengo Fujimoto as he sets about delivering an “Ikigami” to 3 people. The “Ikigami” which is a death note informs the person that they’ve got 24 hours left on this earth and that they can do whatever they want in reason. The government will even fund the person’s wishes for the day and give a generous pension to their loved ones after they’ve died. We get to follow the 3 picked to die on the final day of their lives and how Kengo starts getting 2nd thoughts about the law.

What an incredibly sad tale this was and it really makes you think about the value of life. I thought it was magnificent all round from the storyline, cast, the music and the acting. I teared up in the end, that’s the kind of effect this movie will have on you. It hits you like an emotional brick wall and packs a punch. Most definitely recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Ichi (2008)

Beautiful and blind young girl Ichi travels alone in the countryside visiting towns and villages making a living as a musician. However she’s isolated and feels abandoned in the world and thus she’s searching for her father. Now you’d imagine that somebody like that would be an easy target for thieves but you’d be wrong as Ichi isn’t as weak as you think. Trained at an early age by another blind man (who could be her father) she’s skilled with a sword and can take care of herself when she has to. When she crosses paths with the Banki-to gang a samurai comes to help her but she ends up taking them all out in order to help him. An orphan child guides Ichi and the wimp samurai to a village where Banki is making a nuisance of himself with his thugs. The village isn’t big enough for both of them so somebody has to die.

A new take on the Zatoichi story but this time having a woman playing the blind swords person instead of a man. I’ll be honest and say this was slightly better than the Beat Takeshi version I saw years ago. I liked Ayase Haruka in the lead, she did pretty well in the sword fighting scenes but her singing left a lot to be desired. If you’re expecting an all out action movie then you’ll be disappointed. Another problem is the use of CG blood. It spoils the movie, I’m not a fan of it at all. The script isn’t the best but the actors involved did what they could with it apart from the lead villian who really hams it up badly. The movie length could have been shortened too. Despite the flaws it’s still a pretty decent flick with much to enjoy.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Red Room 2 (2000)

4 more individuals enter The Forbidden King Game hoping to win a large cash prize. The rules stay the same as before. Cards are dealt out and the person lucky enough to get the Crown card nominates 2 of the other contestants to do whatever they want in a small cage.

If you thought Red Room 1 was disgusting you’ve ain’t seen nothing yet as the sequel here ups the ante by having more sick and humiliating games. It’s depraved and absolutely insane the things that happen with a lot of blood and gore being splattered around. Some of the highlights if you can call them that include somebody having to swallow a bowl of bile soup, a common bathroom object being used forcefully up a nostril and a vile abortion that nearly made me gag. Just when you think things can’t get any more stomach churning, Red Room 2 enters into ludicrous territory by the climax. If you’d paid attention to one character and the dialogue that character says throughout then the revelation that’s revealed won’t surprise you. It really is bonkers this movie and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Depending on your taste in horror movies you’ll either love this kind of torture porn or not. It might be too much for some.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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The monster Guilala returns to Earth during the G8 Summit which leads to a big crisis amongst the G8 leaders. The G8 leaders take their turns in coming up with a lame brained scheme to destroy the creature. It doesn’t surprise you that none of them work until a TV reporter comes across a golden deity in a remote village called Take-Majin that could save the day.

Guilala is a kaiju that’s made it’s one and only appearance in the 1960’s flick The X From Outer Space which flopped big time in Japan. This comedy sees it’s return. This movie is fairly amusing but some of the jokes fall flat on it’s arse. It’s embarassing rather than funny seeing how they lampoon the G8 leaders. Typical stereotype for example the French Sarkozy guy bedding his interpreter. It’s the type of film you’ll roll your eyes rather than laughing out loud. That’s how bad it is but there are one or two humourous moments. I liked how they made fun of the delicate situation in Asia right now – North Korean leader Kim Jong Il makes a surprise appearance trying to sabotage the summit by disguising himself as former Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi! I would have liked to see more destruction by Guilala but even that is kept to a minimum. This could have been a far better comedy but it’s let down by the script and bad performances by the cast. I thought it would be better seeing as I enjoyed watching the 2 previous movies the director made – The Calamari Wrestler and Executive Koala. To be perfectly honest I wouldn’t waste time watching this drivel.

Sadako’s Rating: 1.5 out of 5

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Set in 1930’s Manchuria, 3 men are all set on a collision course with each other when The Weird steals a treasure map from an official on a train. The Bad is paid to get it back for his boss whilst The Good is a bounty hunter who gets caught up in the mix and tracks both of them down. Who is going to come out on top at the end of the day?

A funny Korean take on the spaghetti western genre with it’s inspiration coming from Sergio Leone’s classic The Good The Bad & The Ugly. It maintains a nice balance of comedy and violent action with the 3 main leads doing a great job especially Song Kang-ho as Yoon Tae-goo (The Weird). He’s the movie’s scene stealer. The sets, clothes, soundtrack and the cinematography are all fantastic. The only complaint I have is the threadbare plot but otherwise this is great stuff. One of the best Korean movies to come out in 2008 for it’s sheer entertainment value. Miss it miss out!

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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Frontieres (2007)

I did mention that I’d be adding some French movies in this blog and this is the first of them:

Amidst fierce rioting in Paris, 4 young thieves (3 males and a female) who have tried to stage a robbery which has gone awry decide to flee the capital by splitting up in two cars and head to Holland via the French backroads. They decide to meet up at a small hostel deep in the French countryside run by a family. The first 2 men to arrive at the hostel get laid by the 2 sexy women running the reception area. After they’ve had their fun, one of the cocky young men insults one sister. Her brother comes along and all hell breaks loose. Both men decide to run for their lives and try and escape through a tight claustrophobic cavern until one of them is clobbered over the head by an axe when the cavern opens up inside the hostel kitchen. The other man fearful for his life backtracks in the cavern and goes and hides somewhere.

Meanwhile unaware of the troubles that have befallen their friends, the other two arrive at the place. They ask for their friends and one of the receptionist girls will show them where they’re staying on the estate. Curiosity takes over for the male when he starts snooping around the outbuildings and discovers one of his friends half-dead and dangling upside down like a butchered animal. It’s then a battle for survival as they have to escape from the hell they’ve found. However they’re captured and the male subjected to one of the movie’s nastiest moments before being chained and thrown into the family’s pigs pen. What they thought would be a nice place to stay on their way to Holland has turned into their worst nightmare. Who, if anybody will survive?

If there’s any nation that makes decent horror movies these days it’s got to be the French. Frontieres is yet another brilliant example of a shocking and frightening movie to come out of the country. It’s a terrifiying movie with a great storyline and solid performances from the cast especially from the heroine Karina Testa. I really enjoyed it. It’s inspired partly by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre in that you have a family of cannibal nutcases run by an elderly ex-Nazi patriach who kills any person staying at their hostel and then they cook and eat the meat! It has some really extreme moments which will make some of you wince. Overall this is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in the past year – it’s unsettling, disturbing and edge of your seat stuff. Gorehounds – miss this at your peril!

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Geisha Assassin (2008)

The movie begins with our young geisha heroine Kotono trying to track down her father’s murderer – a samurai. When she finds him he claims not to remember who her father is and takes off leaving behind his lackeys to finish her off. But Kotono isn’t an ordinary geisha. She’s skilled in sword-fighting and martial arts. She dispatches the samurai’s cronies in spectacular style and goes after him but there are other opponents blocking her way. She’ll have to defeat each and every one of them if she’s to take on her father’s murderer.

Throw the plot and character development out of the window as you don’t really have one with this b-movie but if it’s action you want you’ll have that in bucket loads. The action is relentless. The sword-play and fights are really entertaining with some ridiculously over the top wire-fu moments. In fact you’re never more than 5 mins away from a skirmish. I liked the actress Minami Tsukui. She was pretty cool in the role of Kotono. The alternative title for this movie is Geisha vs Ninjas which is very confusing as the ninjas disappear after the first 20 mins as our heroine takes on other more interesting opponents on her way to meeting the final ‘big boss’. It does start to lose some steam after the hour mark though. Disengage your brain and just enjoy this popcorn movie. It’s great fun.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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