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Archive for March 14th, 2010

Virgin Snow (2007)

Min, a Korean boy, moves to Japan with his father who is a potter. One day at a local shrine, he meets Nanae, a beautiful Japanese girl with stunning eyes who is aspiring to be a painter. Min falls in love at first sight and finds out that Nanae attends the school to which he has just transferred. Their friendship develops fast despite their cultural and language difference. Yet when Min’s grandmother suddenly falls ill, Min hastily returns to Korea without having the time to explain Nanae the situation. After his grandmother regains her health, Min hurries back to Japan but Nanae is nowhere to be found. Had his true feelings for Nanae not been apparent to her? Why has Nanae disappeared without a word?

A wonderful, sweet romantic movie this turned out to be of a relationship between a male Korean and a Japanese female. They strive to make their relationship work despite language barriers and cultural differences. I guess the story is trying to say is no matter how different 2 people are, if they care deeply for each other then no obstacle will stand between them. Aoi Miyazaki is so beautiful.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Harmful Insect (2001)

An interesting and unique movie about a messed up 13 year old girl called Sachiko. Her father’s dead and her mother tries to kill herself. She feels all alone and alienated so she skips school and hangs out with a couple of misfits whom she feels a connection of sorts. However, happiness doesn’t seem to last long for her.

This is not the most joyous of movies to watch, in fact it’s pretty bleak that ends with an uncertain future for Sachiko. Aoi Miyazaki excels herself again and has proved over the years what a versatile actress she is.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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Black Kiss (2006)

Asuka is an aspiring model living with her friend in Tokyo. A bizarre murder is committed in a hotel room across the street from them in which the corpse is propped up in some sort of strange artistic pose. More murders keep occurring around the two girls it becomes clear that the murderer is following them for some reason.

Intriguing horror thriller of a serial killer on the loose in Tokyo with a female model witnessing one of the murders. Plenty of red herrings and twists as we try and find out who the killer is. What started out as a good movie gets ruined by the final part and the poor ending. Black Kiss is OK I suppose but nothing special.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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The Suicide Song (2007)

Also known as Densen Uta. Anzu Natsuno, an ordinary student at an all-girls high school, is walking in the hallway when she is attracted by a mysterious melody coming from the auditorium. There, she finds her classmate Kana singing and, much to Anzu’s shock, commits suicide right before her. A few days later, Anzu is approached by magazine columnist Riku Nagasei, who is investigating an urban legend about the Densen Uta, or the infectious song, that turns whoever sings it suicidal.

In order to verify the urban legend, Riku convinces Anzu and her friends to sing the song, which they reluctantly agree. Soon after, one by one, the girls begin to kill themselves.

This is supposed to be a scary movie of a song that makes people committ suicide – but it’s not that frightening at all. In reality this is just one big advert for idol group AKB48 – not that I’m complaining as they’re my favorite Japanese idol group. Suicide Song has a weak plot, parts of the movie doesn’t make any sense and the acting is terrible (sorry girls – at least they’re better in their current drama series Majisuka Gakuen). At times you feel the plot is just dragging on and on making it dull. To be honest I wouldn’t bother with this movie. I’d only recommend this to die-hard AKB48 fans.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Chow Yun Fat is an undercover cop, whose out to nail a gang of jewel thieves who are planning to rob a bank. He becomes a solid member of the gang. But when the heist goes awry, Chow takes a bullet in the stomach, panic ensues and guns blaze across the crowded streets of Hong Kong; in the mad dash to make a run for it, accusations are thrown back and forth and mistrust settles in amongst the gang members.

Brilliant Chow Yun Fat movie of a disillusioned cop doing one last undercover job before quitting the force. Tarantino may have copied some ideas from this movie to make Reservoir Dogs but the way I see it City On Fire and Reservoir Dogs are two completely different movies. Ringo Lam does a brilliant job directing this classic HK crime thriller. This movie comes highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Exte:Hair Extensions (2007)

Thanks to a warped morgue attendant Yamazaki, the extensions in question come from the corpse of a murdered South-east Asian woman, which keeps growing hair as a protest from the beyond. It turns out that these extensions have a murderous mind of their own…

This is a parody disguised as a serious horror – ripping into the long haired Asian women horror genre. Don’t expect this to be something like Scary Movie as it’s not. The premise of hair with a mind of it’s own going round murdering people sounds ridiculous doesn’t it. Chiaki Kuriyama is superb as always and the little girl who played Mami was great too. I liked this movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Wild Zero (1999)

The ultimate trash b-movie of an invading UFO fleet resurrecting the dead as zombies. Enter J-rock group Guitar Wolf to save the day!

Part horror part comedy – this is a fun over the top movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. What a hilariously crazy ending. More importantly it’s proof that rock n roll can even save the planet from zombies!

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tokyo Drifter (1966)

Classic 60’s gangster movie. Tetsu is a reformed gangster trying to go straight but his old enemies won’t let him. He flees Tokyo to drift throughout Japan but even then they won’t leave him alone. After hearing his old boss may have betrayed him he goes back to Tokyo to settle the score. I thought this was a good movie which used colours to great effect. A solid plot with interesting characters. Really enjoyable.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rika is out of reform school and starts working for one of her classmates’ father who’s being squeezed out of money by the yakuza who wants his land. When he’s killed, Rika reverts back to bad girl mode and along with 4 of her friends all hell is about to break loose on the yakuza. One of the tamest pinky violence movies I’ve seen. I still found it enjoyable to watch but I’ve seen a lot better movies in this genre.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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The delectable 70’s female Japanese icon Meiko Kaji stars in this movie revolving around gangs. She plays Mako, leader of the Alleycats – a group of girls who become involved in a war with a rival male gang called The Eagles led by The Baron.

It’s a great movie with racial violence a major part of the plotline. If you like Meiko Kaji then you can’t go wrong with this movie as she’s brilliant in it but those who think she plays a character like Sasori (Scorpion) are going to be sorely disappointed.

No trailer but a part of the opening sequence from the movie

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Ghost Train (2007)

The story starts in the busy Tokyo subway system, when little Takashi picks up a train pass off a platform, only to be told to “give it back” or he will die. He later tells a schoolfriend Noriko, and her older sister Nana, of the warning from a woman in black. He soon disappears off the face of the Earth, and the train pass re-appears on the platform. This time Noriko unwittingly picks it up…

On the same line, train driver Shunichi sees a bloodless mangled corpse lying on the tracks in the tunnel ahead. But when he stops and looks underneath the train, the body has disappeared. His boss is concerned that he’s not only seeing things, but that he keeps making emergency stops. On another subway train, Kaeru gets a cursed bracelet that she can’t remove. What is going on?

The title of this movie is strange as it’s more about lost items being sought after by a ghostly woman in black rather than a haunted train. It’s definitely atmospheric and creepy. What a shame that Erika Sawajiri and Oguri Shun’s acting is a bit stiff. Another problem I’ve got is the ending – where’s the explanation about the tunnel with all those corpses and why did Noriko survive and nobody else? If you’ve got 90 mins to spare then take a look at this but there are many better J-horror titles around.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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Go (2001)

Sugihara seems just like any other Japanese high school student, except for one thing—he’s actually Korean. Which means discrimination not only from any Japanese who finds out his secret, but also from his former Korean classmates when he transfers to a Japanese school. Things start to look up when he meets a young woman named Sakurai. She finds him inexplicably fascinating, and her quirky behavior begins to lighten Sugihara’s mood. However, he’s scared to tell her the truth about himself, for fear that she’ll reject him like all of the others.

And making matters even worse, his parents have problems of their own. His father is a gruff old man whose solution to all of Sugihara’s problems is beating him senseless and his flighty mother barely seems able to handle her job as a waitress. Until Sakurai comes on the scene, his only release came in the form of the boxing his father taught him as a kid, which comes in handy from time to time as bullies constantly try to test his skills. However, when violence threatens to break out following the death of one of his Korean friends (and likely his only real friend) at the hands of a Japanese student, it further drives home Sugihara’s sense of disassociation and lostness.

Brilliant movie about racial discrimination faced by foreigners living in Japan with one young man with a Korean-Japanese heritage facing many difficulties in order to fit into society. Had a thought provoking storyline and Kubozuka Yosuke as Sugihara is magnificent in his role. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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3 Iron (2004)

Sun-hwa is a golf-loving young man who moves from house to house, breaking in when he knows the residents are away and setting up home for the night. He steals nothing, cleans up behind himself and does odd spots of DIY, then moves on in the morning. One day he enters a house he believes to be empty but encounters a girl called Tae-suk who has been beaten by her husband. It’s love at first sight for the pair, and Sun-hwa sets about liberating her from her abusive spouse.

Another masterpiece by Kim Ki-Duk. The beauty about this movie is the 2 lead characters don’t utter a single word but it’s this silence that makes watching this so special. You don’t need words to express the love between the two and the director pulls it off magnificently. Some might be put off by the long bouts of silence but those that want to see a challenging and compelling art-house movie then give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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