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Archive for March 7th, 2010

The 4th in the Haunted School series. After a typhoon hits a coastal town during high Summer, strange things start to happen for the local kids and some start to disappear. It all links to a typhoon that hit the town 50 years previously and 4 children drowned whilst playing hide and seek at their school when a tsunami struck. The ghosts of the 4 have come back to haunt the children of the present time.

This is essentially a kids movie and a very good one at that. Whilst it doesn’t provide any major scares, it is suitably creepy and produces some effective chills. For the child actors, only 10 year old actress Toyoda Mayu excels in her role, giving out wisdom well beyond her years. I enjoyed it.

I can’t find a trailer for this movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Fascinating story of a girl who’s been in a coma for 17 years since her birth but is constantly visited by a boy who’s convinced that she’ll wake up if he kisses her just like the Sleeping Beauty story. Then one day it comes true and she wakes up but the only thing is she’s only going to be awake for 5 days.

A modern day retelling of the fairytale Sleeping Beauty. A bit of a tear jerker as it ends on a downbeat note. A nice change of genre for Hideo Nakata considering he directed Ringu and Dark Water.

Unfortunately no poster or trailer can be found for this hard to find movie. I was only able to see it as a part of the Ringu DVD boxset. It’s worth buying the boxset to see this movie though.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5.

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Young fish-girl Ponyo lives in the sea with her parents and siblings. After going on a trip and wanting to see more of the world around her, Ponyo escapes and ends up being ashore in a small fishing town where she’s picked up by a young boy called Sosuke. The two become firm friends but Ponyo’s father wants her back – convinced that humans have kidnapped his daughter and wants to punish them for poisoning the oceans. Ponyo however wants to become human as she’s fallen in love with Sosuke.

Miyazaki’s latest masterpiece (his first in 5 years) could well be his most charming work to date. It’s a modern day fairytale which also carries an important environmental message with it. It leaves you with a big smile on your face after it’s ended. Pure Miyazaki magic. I just love the wonderful theme tune sung by 9 year old Nozomi Ohashi. I heartily recommend Ponyo.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Pom Poko (1994)

This anime movie concerns the mysterious tanuki, creatures that are able to transform themselves into anything and they’re also very mischevious in playing a lot of tricks on human beings. The most prominent feature of the tanuki creatures is the size of their huge testicles!!!

The story begins in the late 1960s. A group of tanuki is threatened by a gigantic and ongoing suburban development project called New Tama, in the Tama Hills on the outskirts of Tokyo. The development is cutting into their forest habitat and dividing their land. As construction continues, the story resumes in the early 1990s, during the early years of the Heisei era. With the amount of living space and food decreasing every year, the tanuki begin fighting among themselves for the diminishing resources of their habitat until at the urging of the matriarch Oroku (“Old Fireball”), they decide to unify against the humans to stop the development.

I’ve seen better by Studio Ghibli but I did like the message that was being put in the movie about the impact that humans have on the environment without giving a toss for the animals. As for the mystical shapeshifting tanuki that’s featured, it would perhaps be best to brush up on Japanese culture to find out who they are before watching this movie otherwise you might get confused.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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Chow Yun-Fat plays Ko Chun, an extremely talented and well known gambler. On the eve of a big confrontation with a famous Singaporean gambler, Ko walks into a trap set by Knife, an avid but a so-so gambler meant for an Indian servant. Struck on the head, Ko suffers from amnesia and regresses to a child-like state. Knife, not knowing who Ko is, takes him in and gives him a name, Chocolate, since Ko now has an over-obsessive love for chocolate. When Knife sees Ko’s talent with cards he begins to exploit his abilities. Will Ko be able to reclaim his memories before his enemies find out where he is and try and kill him.

One of Chow Yun-Fat’s best loved roles as a professional gambler who loses his memory after an accident. A nice combination of comedy and great action sequences make this a brilliant HK flick. A must see for Chow Yun-Fat and Andy Lau fans.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tiger Wong is a highly skilled martial artist with a strong sense of justice. At the yearly bun festival, Tiger realizes that a group of triad gangsters are bullying innocent people. Tiger, unable to stand by and just watch, defeats the gangsters using his special move – Dragon Slaying Leg Eighteen, and accidentally grabs the garland from the top of the bun mountain winning the applause and admiration of the audience. Hidden in the garland is a gold medal.

It turns out that this gold medal is the Lousha token decreed by the leader of the Lousha Gate, Shibumi. ‘Gate’ is a word describing martial arts sect or organization and Lousha Gate is a criminal organization in Asia and whoever owns the gold medal has the right to demand the full cooperation of Lousha Gate. Tiger, unaware of the medal’s powers, is ambushed by the gang during his celebrations. As fate has it, he is saved by Dragon Wong, the bodyguard of one of the gangsters, who is sent to retrieve the medal. A blonde youth using nunchakus, Turbo Shek, also joins in to help them. Dragon retrieves the medal from Tiger. Tiger is shocked when he notices a jade pendant and realizes that Dragon is his step-brother.

Although Dragon is working for a criminal gang Jiang Hu, he has kept himself away from any criminal activities. After Dragon’s gangster boss Ma Kun returns the plaque to Shibumi he announces his retirement from Jiang Hu. Shibumi is angry upon hearing this news and sends his adopted daughter Lousha to destroy Ma.

Dragon Tiger Gate is OK considering the story is a bit weak. It’s the fight sequences that save the movie though, they’re fantastic to watch. A bit too far fetched for my liking at times. Donnie Yen impresses once more. Not bad.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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The 2nd Guinea Pig movie is even more nasty than the first as a sick bastard kidnaps a woman off the streets. He takes her back to his lair where he dons a samurai helmet, ties her up to a bed, drugs her and then starts mutilating the poor woman bit by bit and whilst doing so spouting some haiku!

It’s extremely gory and shows in close up the sicko cutting off various limbs before the woman’s life is ended. Again, as with the 1st GP movie – there’s no plot or characters. It’s just an excuse to show brutality against a defenceless woman. Hardcore gorehounds will no doubt love it.

Sadako’s Rating: 1.5 out of 5

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The first in the series of 7 controversial and extremely nasty shockers revolves around a group of men who kidnap and graphically torture a young woman as part of an experiment on the human body’s threshold of pain.

What was the point of this movie as there’s no plot to it whatsoever except to show 3 guys torturing a girl to death by various methods (physical and psychological). It’s close to being a snuff movie, that’s how real it feels. I was deeply disturbed watching this sickfest and was praying for the poor girl’s suffering to come to an end which thankfully does happen. The final thing the 3 guys do to this woman is horrific. Unless you’re a total sicko who enjoys this kind of ‘torture porn’ I wouldn’t bother watching it at all. Being the curious person that I am, I’ll probably give the other Guinea Pig movies a try. The Guinea Pig movies even made the actor Charlie Sheen complain to the FBI that actual murders was taking place.

I can’t find a trailer for this movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 1 out of 5

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Also known as The Enforcer. Excellent Jet Li actioner finds him as a cop unable to tell his wife and son his true profession. Sent on an assignment to infiltrate a gang in Hong Kong, his cover is blown by the head. With a female cop played by the late Anita Mui on his tail and his son in mortal danger, will Jet’s character be able to come out of this alive.

It’s definitely up there with one of Jet’s best action movies and the fight sequences are out of this world especially when they have him team up with his son who’s also a kung-fu kicking expert. The little lad is special and so agile during his fights. Highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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Chow Yun-Fat is Inspector Tequila, whose partner is killed in a tea house gunfight with a small army of gangsters led by Johnny Wong. One of the mob’s high-ranking assassins is the undercover cop Alan, who must team up with Tequila for their common pursuit of taking down Wong’s crime syndicate. The film leads up to a climax in a hospital, where the two must rescue innocent civilians and newborn babies from the maternity ward while fighting off dozens of mob hitmen.

Before he came to Hollywood, director John Woo was famed for his stylish violent action movies in Hong Kong. This movie is one of the best he directed there and the last he did before heading overseas. Team him up with Chow Yun Fat and you were guaranteed to have a hit movie on your hands. Full of intense action and gunfight sequences, it probably is the best action movie ever. Chow Yun Fat oozes coolness as the tough cop trying to destroy the Triad member that killed his partner. Who cares if it seems far fetched at times with Chow Yun Fat seemingly never having to reload his gun as it has unlimited bullets! The set pieces are breathtaking to watch especially the chase through the hospital with a baby in his arms. I cannot recommend this highly enough for action junkies. It’s a bona-fide classic.

Sadako’s Rating: 5 out of 5

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Windstruck (2004)

Director Jae-young Kwak reunites with actress Jun Ji-Hyun after the massively popular My Sassy Girl. Viewers expecting this to be similar to that movie are going to be a little bit disappointed. Even so, this is a really good movie which I enjoyed very much. Jun Ji-Hyun is a female cop who arrests a man by mistake. They start dating but he feels that as a man he should protect and help her out. But on one fateful day, he helps her out again and tragedy occurs.

This movie is in 2 parts: the 1st is about the blossoming love relationship between the pair and it’s quite funny but as I’ve seen with many Korean movies of this type the mood gets darker in the 2nd half and is quite depressing. It rather annoys me when that happens. Still a good movie to watch though.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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A rather silly but funny violent comedy about an ordinary high school baseball team taking on the undead inhabitants of Gedo High who play by their own rules and usually end up killing their opponents. The baseball coach from Gedo looks like Jim Carrey from The Mask. There are some elements from similar movies such as Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer. The script isn’t particularly good but ignore that and just enjoy the wackiness on offer. It’s a lot of fun.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Sky Crawlers (2008)

Brilliant piece of animation from Mamoru Oshii about a never ending war that’s been organised by two warring companies for entertainment. The participants are Kildren, genetically modified children who can never grow up. When one dies in battle, a clone comes to take it’s place with a new identity and wiped memories.

The story is a little plodding but stick with it, it makes perfect sense before the end credits comes along. The animation is top notch especially when it shows the landscape and the aerial dogfights which are sensational. Quite a thought provoking drama which will not suit everybody who expects this to be like Top Gun which it isn’t.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Very enjoyable live movie done anime style of a mismatched duo (a tall girl and a short boy) that are friends but are afraid of ruining what they’ve got if they fall for each other. Japanese rom coms are a lot of fun and this one is no different. If you like this kind of genre, Lovely Complex will hit all the right buttons for you. I thought it was great.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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A great old fashioned supernatural good vs evil movie of a dark wizard Kato who is trying to awaken a sleeping warrior Lord Masakado through magic to destroy Tokyo as people are moving away from ancient religion towards modernity. A group of white wizards and scientists band together using magic and technology to save their city from this evil.

The special effects may look dated compared to today (very Ray Harryhausen) but the sets showing Tokyo in the 1920’s look fantastic. The only problem with the story is it tries to cover too much and there are various side plots which may confuse the viewer but overall I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.

Unfortunately I can only find this trailer with a Russian voice-over on it.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5.

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