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Archive for March 9th, 2010

Takayu and Satsuki are teenagers going to the same school and have been friendly since they both become members of the kendo club. Takayu has been hiding a deep crush for Satsuki, and when she reveals that she has always liked him, the two begin dating. Although it seemed to be what he always wished for, after the two lose their virginity with each other, Takayu finds he is not interested in her in a normal sexual fashion. Takayu is more comfortable with being subservient. When Satsuki discovers his drawer full of pictures of her, articles of her clothing, and an audio tape of her going to the bathroom, she is initially sickened and shocked. She begins dating a classmate, Uematsu, but Takayu continues to follow her and insist that he wants to be her obedient dog. Satsuki finds that she gets pleasure out of being cruel to him, and soon the two begin an odd relationship, struggling with their strange desires.

A romance movie with a difference as two teenagers embark on a sado masochistic relationship. This is quite interesting in that it delves into the premise that not all relationships are normal. Perverse and twisted it may be but don’t let that put you off from watching. Give it a go.

Can’t find a proper trailer but did find this clip from the movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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Zebraman (2005)

Superhero spoof of a teacher taking on the mantle of a 70’s TV sentai hero called Zebraman and his battle against a green alien slime who have taken control of people and plan on invading the Earth.

Another great movie by Takashi Miike. The guy is so talented he can turn his hand to any genre. Zebraman’s most obvious appeal is its delightful comedy. The idea of a superhero with zebra-themed powers is by itself a great jumping-off point for a lot of oddball humor, like how he instantly sprouts a mane and whinnies when trouble is afoot. Along with goofy sight gags, there’s a fair amount of cleverness for grown-ups to appreciate, like the witty exchange between the Japanese Men in Black over how best to investigate a crime scene while simultaneously avoiding contact with gooey alien germs. Despite the comedy it does have some flaws and it starts to run out of steam but overall I’d recommend it.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Crazy, hilarious, off the wall comedy movie of a 3rd rate journalist and his hippy friend trying to find Deathfix, an insect that supposedly revives you after death and the various people they meet on their quest. Some random gags make their way into this movie such as sumo leg wrestling but it’s incredibly funny. Endo the hippy is such a great character. I loved it and it made me laugh a lot. Don’t miss this one if you like wacky comedies.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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Deep in the forest, a man and woman have been brutally attacked in a cabin and left to die. Arriving too late, Kang chases the killer only to be hit by a speeding car. Barely surviving surgery, he now finds himself a prime suspect. He cannot shake the feeling that there are strange gaps in his memory regarding that night and the killer’s identity. While police set out to confirm his story, he begins his own quest to remember the truth about the murder and himself.

A great Korean art house flick which can be confusing at times. Starts out very slow. It’s a good complex thriller with an intriguing storyline which keeps you guessing right till the end although it does leave a few questions unanswered. Well worth watching.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Onechanbara (2008)

Also known as Chanbara Beauty. In a post apocalyptic future, scientifically created zombies roam the world in record numbers. Despite this, Aya is determined to track down her father’s killer, a person who was once close to her. With sword in hand and wearing nothing but her trademark bikini and cowboy hat, she sets off to settle the score. Aya is joined on her path to vengeance by the chubby Katsuji and the gun-toting Reika. Together, they hack, slash, and shoot their way through a sea of the undead to reach the final showdown with a mad scientist and the destined duel with Aya’s own sister!

Based on a video game, this movie does have that kind of feel to it. There’s a nod to Kill Bill with a ball and chain wielding zombie schoolgirl and even a zombie nurse pops up. Plenty of gore scenes. The movie is a little camp at times, but it doesn’t lose its forward momentum. The film is very simple and the plot has been built around the encounter with zombies and the action sequences. There is some sex and nudity to be had! The film is very action-packed and fast-paced. Despite its weaknesses in storyline the film is never boring and does provide the expected entertainment from a manga-inspired movie.Overall this is a fun movie to watch. The main character’s little sister – Saki is so hot in her schoolgirl uniform!

A sequel came out last year called Vortex which I’ve yet to see yet.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Meatball Machine tells the story of a doomed romance between two sweet but painfully awkward young people that ends in blood when they discover an invasion of alien parasites that infest human beings from the inside and transform them into “necro-borgs” (badass half-human half-machine undead humanoid assault weapons capable of mutations of a deadly sort). The aliens use their human hosts to do battle with one another in a perverse extraterrestrial version of the ancient gladiatorial face-offs of Roman lore!!

A wild, over the top splatterfest of alien parasites taking over humans as hosts but you’ve also got a tender cyber-punk romance mixed into the plot. The Necroborg costume designs are pretty good and what can I say about the sick special effects such as the transformation sequence where the alien host uses drills to penetrate the eyes to put their implants in. Gross or what! Asian extreme fans will love it.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Juri Ueno is Sazume, a bored housewife stuck doing cleaning and tidying whilst her husband is away overseas on business. He cares more about their pet turtle than her and only calls home to make sure it’s fed properly. After some hilarious calamity involving Sazume she finds a tiny rectangular poster, about as big as a stamp, advertising a spy club.

Sazume later calls the spy number and meets up with a husband and wife spy team. They offer her 5,000,000 yen for doing absolutely nothing, except being as ordinary as she possibly can be. Sazume then goes back to her ordinary life but doesn’t find being ordinary as easy as it once seemed.

Another wonderful Juri Ueno comedy. It’s funny, full of wit and has a nice steady pace to it. You can never go wrong with any comedy featuring Juri. I really enjoyed it.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Fine, Totally Fine (2008)

Teruo is a thirty year old slacker who works part time as a park grounds keeper while dreaming about creating the world’s most convincing haunted house theme attraction. He lives to scare people and does so at every available opportunity without showing much concern for anything else, a fact most irritating to his terminally depressed, used-bookstore owning father. One of Teruo’s accomplices is Hisanobu, also thirty and working as a hospital administrator, overseeing the cleaning staff. Hisanobu seems to be Teruo’s exact opposite – friendly and outgoing and hyper organized and yet the pair spend their off time together staging pranks and acting in zero budget films for a mutual friend. But where Teruo seems content to do nothing more than scare people, Hisanobu can’t quite shake the feeling that at thirty his life should be offering considerably more than it is. Into their lives could a woman called Akari. An incredibly clumsy woman – at one point she breaks her finger while trying to press an elevator call button – who Hisanobu hires at the hospital despite her awkward ways. Akari prefers to spend her off time watching one particular homeless woman, using her as the subject of drawings she shows to nobody. Both Hisanobu and Teruo fall for Akari, a fact to which she remains blissfully ignorant.

This is a great comedy of 2 friends who find themselves at odds with each other when they both fall for a clumsy accident prone woman. It’s a very original, charming and refreshing tale. It works well as the film makers kept it simple. Even Tanaka from the famous Japanese variety show Downtown’s Gaki No Tsukai has a nice role in this movie. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Smile (2007)

In this comedy movie a young man has to whip a kids ice hockey team called The Smilers into shape as they keep losing all the time in order for him to marry his girlfriend. Her father has challenged him to actually win a game – should they do that he might allow the two to marry! The only problem is he’s never coached a team before!!

This movie runs along the lines of The Mighty Ducks. It stars the delectable Rosa Kato. It’s a warm and fantastic feel good movie tinged with a hint of sadness of zeroes who get to be heroes and teaches the audience about teamwork and friendship. Loved it.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Bad girl Rika is released from a girls detention school where she wants a fresh life as a normal citizen in society. She winds up at a lounge bar where she finds her other former classmates working. The local villain boss is trying to acquire the lounge and basically the film is about the girls getting in trouble with drugs, boys and each other, and the owner’s struggle to keep her bar from the bad guys. However things go a bit pear-shaped and Rika must take revenge the only way she knows how: reform girl style!

I’ve been a fan of 70’s Japanese pinky violence movies for a whille. These movies are usually full of sleaze, comedic, plenty of nudity, sex and violence involving women being treated like shit until they decide to fight back in some way or the other. The peak and popularity for the genre was back in the 70’s but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped making pinky violence movies in Japan. Oh no, they’re still being made today though they’re not as good as the classics from the 70’s.

Blossoming Night Dreams is a fun and undemanding movie to waste 90 mins. The lead Reiko Oshida whilst being cute wasn’t as cool as other bad-ass women who were in the same kind of movies during the same era such as Miki Sugimoto and Reiko Ike. There’s a lot of comedy in this movie which turns all serious during the last third. There are better movies in the genre to watch but it’s not too bad and it’ll give you a taste of what to expect from similar movies.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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Apartment 1303 (2007)

A young Japanese woman has just moved into her new apartment and is settling in happily as she unpacks. Then she receives a telephone call from her boyfriend who is contacting her after attending a funeral, and says he will be over to see her without changing out of his suit. This turns out to be more appropriate than he could possibly imagine as when he arrives at the apartment block he is walking up the steps and is surprised to be taken by the hand by a little girl who points upwards: there is his girlfriend falling from her thirteenth floor balcony.

The next resident Sayaka also does the same after inviting her friends to a housewarming party. She goes all weird – eating dog food and looking like she’s in a trance before jumping over the balcony. Her sister Mariko starts investigating what would prompt her to do such a thing……

Average scary movie which has it’s moments. It started out quite well but after a while it got boring. There’s nothing in the least original about the storyline or in it’s long haired ghost. The climax is shite. For hardcore Asian horror fans only.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 out of 5

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Install (2004)

Aya Ueto stars as 17 year old Japanese schoolgirl Asako, who one day decides to play truant and ponder on what she wants to do in life. She chances upon a 9 year old elementary schoolboy Aoki, who is extremely horny, and introduces her to the world of cybersex, and lucrative business of impersonating an online woman in a chat room!

Not really sure what to make of this movie. It’s quite bizarre in it’s storyline of a 9 year old boy and a 17 year old schoolgirl running an online adult chatroom for money. You might think from that it sounds perverted but it’s not. It’s Aya Ueto that really makes this movie work. She’s so funny!

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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1 Litre Of Tears (2007)

One day on her way to school, middle school student Aya suddenly falls to the ground. The doctor diagnoses her with spinocerebellar degeneration, a rare and incurable neurological disease. Entering high school, Aya’s condition continues to worsen as physical movements become more difficult. Forced to attend a special boarding school, she nonetheless finds hope and happiness through the support of her new friends and family. Working hard, she completes her high school education and bravely begins a new stage in her life, despite her weak health and continuous trips to the hospital. Aya never gives up, living each day of her life to the fullest until the very end.

Probably the most heartbreaking, touching, inspiring and moving story you’ll come across based on the real life tale of a 16 year old schoolgirl who contracted an incurable disease. She fought on for 9 years before finally succumbing to the inevitable. Brilliant acting from all the cast especially from Asae Onishi as the lead character Aya Kito. You’ll cry a litre of tears before the end of the movie. Try and watch the 11 episode drama starring Erika Sawajiri if you want a slightly different and expanded version of the story.

Sadako’s Rating: 5 out of 5

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Only You Can Hear Me (2007)

Also known as Kimi ni shika kikoenai. Shy, quiet, and unsure of herself, Aihara Ryo (Narumi Riko) doesn’t quite fit in anywhere. Though she wants to make friends, she has trouble speaking up and holding a normal conversation like everyone else. It seems that whenever she talks, the words just don’t come out correctly. Gradually, Ryo has gotten used to living life in silence as a lonely and introverted student. With no one to talk to, Ryo also has no need for a cell phone. Longing for friends to talk to, she creates a cell phone in her mind for imaginary phone conversations, and much to her surprise, one day Shinya (Koide Keisuke) picks up on the other side. For the first time in her life, Ryo has found someone she can talk to.

Brilliant and moving tale of two young people (one a deaf mute and the other introverted but both leading lonely lives) communicating by telepathy. That might sound a bit far fetched but the storyline and the two leads blend together to create a spiritually uplifting and compelling movie. Highly recommended.

I can’t find a trailer but did find this wonderful fan-made video containing scenes from the movie with music by the excellent YUI and her song Tomorrow’s Way.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tears For You (2006)

The film is also better known as Nada Sou Sou. 21-year-old Yotaro works odd jobs in mainland Okinawa, earning money to provide for his younger step-sister Kaoru, who lives in a small village in an outlying island off the coast of Okinawa as a promise he made to his mother before she died. When she arrives on the mainland to join him and attend a top high school, Yota works doubly hard to see her through high school and college. As brotherly affection grows into something more, and threaten to destroy the comfortable sibling relationship between them, they eventually come to a point where they have to make a decision.

Excellent and touching movie. I loved it but wasn’t too keen on the sad ending. Get the tissues out! It does have many of the usual clichés you’ll find in Japanese doramas of this kind. The two leads share a wonderful chemistry together and Masami Nagasawa has always been one of my favorite Japanese actresses. There’s some wonderful scenic shots of Okinawa, it’s made me want to visit there. The end song is beautiful.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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