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Archive for March 6th, 2010

Thirst (2009)

Sang-hyun volunteers for a dangerous mission in Africa. He will willingly be injected with a new virus that is ravaging the continent in order to be the guinea pig for a new cure. Incredibly, he survives, but back in Korea the experience has mysteriously turned him into a blood addict, He takes his blood from dying patients at a hospital which somehow cures them. A vampire he may be but not in the traditional sense – he’s got the powers but not fangs and he doesn’t go around preying on innocent victims. He becomes obsessed with a beautiful wife called Tae-joo. She willingly submits herself to become a vampire by Sang-hyun. However they soon come to argue when they have differing views on what a vampire should do for food – he would rather be given blood freely whilst Tae-joo thoroughly enjoys hunting humans for blood with gleeful abandon. Sang-hyun decides that Tae-joo has become too dangerous and reckless as a vampire so he decides to take matters into his own hand.

Thirst is one of the best vampire movies I’ve seen, it’s right up there with Let The Right One In even though both movies look at the vampire legend in different ways. If you’re into Hollywood vampire movies don’t bother watching this one. It hasn’t got any crosses, garlics, stakes and such. This is a thinking man’s vampire movie. Park Chan-Wook does a great job directing, the storyline is compelling, horrifying and erotic. Asian horror fans will enjoy it as it has plenty of gushing blood. I loved Kim Ok-Vin as the girl who gets turned into a vampire and starts going on a bloodlust. Definitely highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Oppai Volleyball (2009)

A great Japanese comedy with plenty of laughs. A new female teacher is given a job to be the advisor to a boys school volleyball team but they’re hopeless even losing to a girls’ team. All they ever think about is girls – they don’t really care about playing volleyball! To inspire them to play better she says she’ll do anything for them if they win a match. The boys want to see her breasts so she immediately regrets her promise to them! They start getting better but there’s a dark cloud on the horizon when the headmaster of the school finds out about her promise. You won’t find anything original about this zeroes to heroes movie but it’s a nice comedy that will bring a smile to your faces.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The first in the trilogy. Awesome gangster movie by Takashi Miike. I really enjoyed the wild 10 minute montage that introduces this movie and the totally outrageous but cool ending. Then again what do you expect from this maverick director! The story is great about a small yakuza gang that wants to take over Shinjuku but has to wipe out a Chinese gang first. Into the mix comes a policeman who has to find a lot of money to fund his daughter’s operation. Cue some shoot-outs and extreme moments. Miike fans should definitely check this one out – probably one of his finest.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tokyo 10+01 (2003)

Also known as Tokyo Eleven. A low budget tongue in cheek parody of Battle Royale that has 11 criminals having to reach a destination in 12 hours otherwise they’ll get killed by the hunters following them. It’s not exactly a laugh-a-minute but it has enough to give a few chuckles now and again. Having two actors that actually featured in the BR movies helped a lot. Not bad.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Adrenaline Drive (2000)

A teen boy Satoru and a young nurse Shizuka hook up and steal a bag full of money after an explosion at a yakuza headquarters. They go on the run with other yakuza hot on their tail who want their money back.

This is a parody of the Japanese action movie. The comedy is quite funny though the word “Adrenaline” in the title of the movie is misleading. Plenty of slapstick humour on display and the 2 leads (Masonobu Ando and Hikari Ishida) do well in their roles. Overall, a fun movie to watch.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Full Contact (1992)

When Jeff’s friend Sam steps on the feet of a local loan shark, Jeff comes to his rescue, creating a powerful enemy in the vengeful gangster. Seeking to skip town and make good, the two hatch a plan to hijack an arms shipment with the help of Sam’s flamboyant and malicious cousin Judge and his gang of dysfunctional thugs. What Jeff doesn’t know is that he’s being double-crossed by the wild group of brutal killers, who plan to bury him as they make their getaway. Judge forces Sam to kill his loyal friend Jeff, but Sam botches the job, leaving Jeff to return for bitter revenge after dealing with an emotionally painful betrayal and a physically challenging rehabilitation. Payback will be sweet!

Classic tale of betrayal and revenge from Ringo Lam. This is as nasty a crime movie  as you will ever see but it is also a worthy action movie that deserves to be watched. It’s got some great gunplay/action sequences, the storyline is exciting and Chow Yun Fat is just brilliant as Jeff. He just exuded cool when he was at the top of his game during the late 80’s. The same can be said when it came to starring in action movies in HK, he was the best apart from maybe Jackie Chan. A shame he doesn’t do these kind of movies anymore. However, it’s not Chow Yun Fat that steals the show in this movie, it’s Simon Yam as the sadistic homosexual villain Judge. Apparently there was tension between the cast during the making of the movie with both Chow Yun Fat and Simon Yam competing against each other which probably got the best out of them for director Ringo Lam. The story might not be original. The avenging angel theme is one we’ve seen countless times but it’s just the stylish way Full Contact is directed that gives it the edge over the other more average movies in the genre. An example is the bullet-cam sequence in a nightclub which is just unforgettable.

Full Contact is a pure rush of energy and a fantastic action movie of revenge and retribution which comes highly recommended. If you thought John Woo was the be-all and end-all for directing action movies during HK’s golden period in the 80’s be prepared to be stunned.

Sadako’s Rating: 5 out of 5

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Sundome (2007)

A strange little comedy movie. Hideo is a typical horny high school boy. When a new sexy girl arrives in his class she sexually teases him and promises all sorts of things if he can control his masturbating urges! As if that wasn’t enough, another female classmate Kyoko has her eye on him too. I can’t say that this is a good movie at all but there’s plenty of fan-service on offer if you like that sort of thing. The two lead female actresses are hot eye-candy!

Sadako’s Rating: 2 out of 5

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A heartfelt tragic romantic action tale of 2 lovers from opposite clans in a war with Brigitte Lin and Leslie Cheung at their best. Interesting storyline with the 2 leads sharing a wonderful chemistry. Some fantastic fantasy swordplay on display, it’s just a shame the sequences are so short. The siamese twin villains are great to watch especially the female one who’s constantly goading her brother. The movie can be described as horror, fantasy, romance, action, martial arts and adventure all wrapped up together. It’s a classic HK movie that nobody who likes Asian cinema should miss.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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H (2002)

Outstanding Korean crime thriller. Borrowing elements from Se7en and Silence Of The Lambs, a particularly nasty killer Shin Hyun is slaughtering pregnant women. The first killing with the dead baby will really shock viewers. When Shin Hyun gives himself up to the police and is sent to jail for execution, the killings continue. The police seek Shin Hyun’s help in catching the copycat killer. What follows is a mental cat and mouse game between Shin Hyun and the police as they struggle to apprehend the suspect and more bodies start to appear.

I really liked this movie – it’s gripping, mysterious and tense and it keeps your interest as the story unfolds. Halfway through the movie you should have a good idea who the killer is and it wasn’t such a surprise when the revelation was eventually shown. Worth checking out.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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More mature, darker and violent, the sequel to KR The First follows 2 years later with Hongo now a science teacher at a high school and a bit of a laughing stock for the pupils. The terrorist organisation Shocker is planning to kill humans using nano virus technology. Those that are immune to the virus get to be soldiers for Shocker. Also a pop idol Chiharu seems to be involved too. This movie introduces us to Kamen Rider V3 and the 2 original riders team up to wipe out Shocker once and for all. It’s got a lot more action than KR The First and has quite a fair share of blood which is unusual for KR movies. The plot is a bit of a mess but the action more than makes up for that.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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200 Pounds Beauty (2006)

Very good Korean comedy movie of a fat girl called Hanna with a low self esteem who’s a ‘ghost singer’ for untalented beauty Ammy (think Milli Vanilli!). After hearing Ammy and her manager ridicule her, she transforms herself with plastic surgery into a beautiful woman and renames herself Jenny vowing to get the spotlight all to herself. But her attitude starts changing and she ignores her best friend and sick father in hospital. Then Ammy finds out who Jenny really is and starts a campaign to expose her phony facade.

I guess the message you get from this movie is beauty is only skin deep. It’s very well done and so enjoyable. Ah-jung Kim is excellent as Hanna/Jenny and the 80’s soundtrack is great. Loved the cover of Blondie’s Maria in Korean. Get your tissues out for a tearful ending.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sammo Hung plays Yee, a genius chef and village leader, authoritative but down to earth, a man worthy of the right to wield the Golden Dragon Blade, a mystical cleaver capable of awesome feats of cookery. Yee however has a tragic past which, during an important birthday banquet, inevitably catches up with him. The ensuing mayhem results in betrayal and Yee’s exile from his home.

Ken’ichi is a young apprentice whose own master has deemed too diamond-in-the-rough to continue training. Ken is sent off in search of his master’s master, who just happens to be the same person Yee comes looking for. Both men more or less converge on Sum’s Restaurant (“Four Seas”, in Chinese), only to find the sought after Master Sum has passed away and his daughter Ching is now in charge. After some mystical tasting of the house specialty, some fine words of wisdom and a cooking competition which ousts the resident chef, Yee becomes head cook to help out the sisters and Ken assigns himself as the kooky yet promising pupil. Things are fine until the Best Chef in China competition looms, and that’s when Yee’s past finds him again and the knife fights start.

Good to see the great Sammo Hung doing comedies again and this time he’s got a former Japanese idol Kago Ai acting with him too. Whilst you won’t find anything new in this movie, it does provide some laughs, drama and some cool fights. There is however some problems with this movie in that some scenes just go straight into a fight for example with no explanation so the flow is a bit odd like there was a cut scene before it. Strange ending too. The cast is great with Sammo, Vanness Wu, the beautiful Cherrie Ying and Kago all contributing to this enjoyable movie. Kago spoke her lines in Japanese which were later dubbed in Cantonese. There’s a great scrap in a supermarket with Kago showing off her limited kung fu skills. If you’re a fan of old school HK comedies then you’ll love it.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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House (1977)

Schoolgirl Oshare and her friends who have colorful nicknames decide to visit her grandmother’s house unware that her grandmother is long since dead and the house is occupied by a witch who wants to kill them all!

Want to know what it feels like to be tripping out without taking any drugs then take a look at this weird fantasy horror movie. There’s a lot of crazy stuff taking place including death by piano!! Very inventive deaths! This is such a unique movie, never seen anything quite so strange before. It’s not too bad once you get your head round what’s going on. Those that want to see a different kind of J-horror should take a look at this movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Blue Spring (2002)

What a great coming of age tale set in an out of control boys school in Japan where violence and bullying run rampant. An interesting storyline and strong performances from the lead actors, also the soundtrack is pretty good too. It follows the life of a schoolboy called Kujo. He does nothing but wander aimlessly with his friends doing anything but schoolwork or getting a job. One of their activities is to hang off the school’s roof to see who can clap the longest. When Kujo manages to last the longest, he’s elected leader of the gang. The only problem is, he doesn’t have much taste for enforcing mob rule, preferring to leave the task to his second in command. This raises the ire of his emotional best friend and leads to a neverending set of power plays and rivalries that soon become the daily norm in school life. I found Blue Spring to be a fascinating movie and can definitely recommend you to check it out.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bounce KO Gals (1997)

This movie is all about the outlawed practice of ‘enjo kosai’ in Japan (schoolgirl prostitution) which has been going on for years. Schoolgirls that peddle their bodies to older men for money or expensive designer clothes. Bounce KO Gals follows 3 girls for one day as they try and make as much money as possible for one of them who wants to escape to New York for a better life. This movie takes a different approach from a similar movie called Love & Pop which also dealt with this controversial subject but in a much more seedier way. I found it fascinating whilst also showing the dark underbelly of Japanese society. The 3 leading girls did a really good job. Overall I found this movie quite a moving experience. Recommended.

(I couldn’t find a trailer so I’ve posted the title sequence for the movie instead)

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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