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Archive for March 15th, 2010

A businessman named Wada travels to China to investigate the quality of jewels at a particular mine. While there he meets a Yakuza man sent to make sure Wada doesn’t pocket any of the merchandise. On their trip they come across a secluded village full of people who claim to be able to fly.

Takashi Miike comes up with yet another visual masterpiece set amongst the beautiful backdrop of China’s Yunnan mountains. Has some funny moments in it for example a raft being pulled along a river by turtles. I suspect many will be turned off by the simple storyline. I found it captivating and enthralling.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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This movie is about the tale of doctor Yuen who suddenly develops a most curious disease: every day, a blood vessel somewhere in his body start to bulge and burst. His friend Wisely recognizes this as a particularly vicious Thai blood curse. Yuen then recounts how he indeed visited Thailand a year earlier with a group of scientists to find a cure against AIDS. Instead, his group encountered a tribe of Chinese people living in the Thai jungle who worshipped a vampiric mummy of sorts called “Ancient Ancestor”. Yuen also had a chance encounter with local bathing beauty Betsy. When Betsy was about to get offered to “Ancient Ancestor”, Yuen got a bit too heroic and rescued her, resulting in the whole research team being tortured and killed by the tribe’s evil high priest Aquala. Only Betsy and Yuen escaped but got cursed by Aquala, although Betsy managed to block Yuen’s curse for a year.

Now that year has passed, and Yuen and Wisely must go to Thailand in a hurry and try to revoke the curse somehow. For on the seventh day, Yuen’s largest blood vessel will explode and kill him. They are followed by Wisely’s niece Tsai-Hung, a tenacious reporter who thinks she’s found the scoop of the year.

Unintentionally funny HK action/horror movie. It’s pretty bad with cheap gore, stupid dialogue and ridiculous creature special effects. Saying that there are a couple of good set pieces and Maggie Cheung is fine as the comedic sidekick. If you’ve got 80 mins to waste then check it out.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Raw Summer (2006)

After becoming obsessed with a 15-year-old schoolgirl, a perpetual loner named Masuo Ota finds himself aroused by the slightest provocation. Unable to control his swelling passion, he devotes his life to following her – everywhere she goes. Will the object of his affection ever return his feelings, or is Masuo destined to be consumed by his twisted desires?

Disturbing tale of a perverted man that’s obsessed with a schoolgirl he sees on a train each day. His antics reeks of desperation – he follows her around like a stalker and takes photos of her that plaster his room. Seriously this guy is sick! AV actress Aoi Sora as the schoolgirl might be pure eye candy but this movie is lame and the ending is stupid.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 out of 5

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A Long Walk (2006)

Slow but thought provoking drama of an old man seeking to vanquish some demons from his past who forms a friendship with a 5 year old girl called Sachi who lives next door to his apartment and is badly mistreated by her alcoholic mother.

It’s heartbreaking to see the way the little girl is treated like dirt by her own mother as she’s so cute and adorable. Such a great little actress. It’s a sad storyline of 2 lonely people brought together by circumstances who take a trip to go and see “the blue sky”. The open ending will leave many frustrated.

Sadako’s Rating: 5 out of 5

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Hinokio (2005)

A sweet family movie of a young lad called Satoru stuck in a wheelchair after an accident which claims his mother. His father builds an advanced humanoid robot which takes his place in school and he can interact with his classmates through a computer.

This movie touches on issues such as bullying, family, life and death. Konata Hongo is fantastic as Satoru and it’s amazing to see how young Maki Horikita is with her long hair. Loved the end song by Yui.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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A touching movie of a family forced to flee their home in the mountains and leave their Akita dog Mari and her 3 pups after a devastating earthquake. If you thought Lassie was clever you haven’t seen Mari yet. Based on a true story. An incredible tale of survival against the odds. Get those hankies at the ready for the emotional climax. If you love dog movies then this comes highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Scrap Heaven (2005)

One night, three strangers find themselves taken hostage by a depressed and drunk salaryman on the bus home. Afterwards, the trauma of the incident brings them together in a strange series of co-incidences that eventually lead to an underground job in the revenge business. But once they start, how can they be sure they will be able to stop?

A brilliant twisted movie. It’s a beautifully-directed, well-acted, tightly-structured story about 3 people who are completely different except for their grim view of life, and they each want to cause their own form of revenge on the world. Their paths cross one night and then continue to cross willingly and unwillingly over the duration of the movie, and their similarities become more apparent as the story goes on. The movie remains a clever, dark, hilarious, and different viewpoint of modern Japanese society.The three main actors are superb in their roles but of the three Jo Odagiri is the best. Loved it.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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Toire no Hanako-San (1998)

Also known as School Mystery.Satomi Kurahashi, a new student at Midoridai, takes her seat with all the hope of a freshman. Her friends, Kanae Sawaguchi and Kosuke Kashiwagi, have also been assigned to the same class. 11 years previously Satomi’s sister Kaori, who was a student at Midoridai at that time suddenly disappeared and in spite of an intensive investigation, no trace was ever found of her. Rumors abounded – she’d been kidnapped or spirited away by unknown malevolence. As the first day of school draws to a close, the friends are walking in the school grounds when they come across an old shrine at the back of the school. It is the same shrine Satomi noticed in a photo of Kaori which was taken just before her disappearance. As Satomi stares at the rusty lock on the shrine she hears a voice whispering her name. After that many strange incidents begin to occur. Satomi, Kanae, and their teacher, Mr. Yabe, all collapse after an encounter through a mirror in the upstairs’ toilet. Before long the school yard rings with stories of “Hanako, the ghost in the toilet.” As Satomi investigates Kaori’s disappearance by looking through old school records, she can’t help but note the name Reiko Kashima keeps reappearing throughout the narrative. Satomi and her friends foolishly tries to get to the bottom of the mystery by using a ouija board but get far more than they bargained for when a spirit answers back. Kanae collapses to the floor, her eyes rolling back in her head. The doors to the shrine slowly creaks open and strange noises come from overhead. An evil which has lain dormant for 11 years has now been reawakened and the girls’ lives will never be the same again.

A little history about Hanako-san first. School kids in Japan know fully well of the urban legend that is Hanako-san. There are many variations of the story but the basic one is very simple. It happens in a toilet at school. You knock three times on the toilet door, and say “Hanako san?” and a ghostly girl is supposed to appear. This tale has created so much fear among elementary school students that some students refrain from using the toilet.. Japanese elementary school toilets have a reputation for being poorly lighted and smelly which may contribute to this as well.

There are 2 Hanako-san movies (one released in 1995 and 1998). Having watched both I have to say to preferring the 1998 version although the 1995 movie involving a maniac stalking teens with a sickle was OK. What I’m reviewing here is the 1998 movie which has a demon doll being released by schoolgirls and causing supernatural happenings at a school. It’s a really good creepy movie – full of tension and good scares. The music adds to the atmosphere too. Some scenes freaked me out. Great stuff.

I can’t find a trailer unfortunately

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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We’re back in 1959 again in the company of the residents of Third Street with the construction of Tokyo Tower now completed. A new temporary member to the Suzuki clan, Junnosuke’s father still trying to grasp him away from the hands of his guardian the novelist Chagawa and young Ruko finding romance are just some of the many storylines in this awesome sequel which is bursting with nostalgia. The characters are still as endearing as they were in the first. Love the Godzilla dream sequence at the start – that was so cool. Two thumbs up.

Sadako’s Rating: 5 out of 5

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Post war Tokyo – 1958. A time of change and hope for the future as we follow the lives of the residents of Third Street (a working class area) over the span of 12 months set amongst the backdrop of Tokyo Tower being constructed. A simpler time with the most exciting thing happening for the residents being a new TV in one house in which everybody crowds around or having a fridge.

I absolutely loved this movie, it gives you such a feel good factor at the end. It’s a must see. Stunning sets to recreate that period of time. For me, the child Junnosuke’s tale is incredibly heartwarming. It’s a bit of a tearjerker. A pleasure as always to see Maki Horikita given that she’s such a great actress. Don’t miss out on this movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 5 out of 5

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Marrying School Girl (2004)

The story begins with the tale of a classic Korean story of romance about a princess named Pyun-gang whose husband, On-dal dies. Then we flash forward to the present day and a mother who has brought her daughter (also named Pyun-gang) to a psychic, who informs her that her daughter is haunted by the ghost of the princess. He then goes on to say that the girl must marry her On-dal by her 16th birthday and produce a child within a year otherwise she will die. The family treats it skeptically until years later, Pyun-gang has several near-death experiences and is immediately spooked, convinced she is going to die. As luck would have it, soon thereafter, a new transfer student joins Pyun-gang’s class. His name is On-dal, and he’s intelligent, handsome and rich which really doesn’t make the prospect of high school marriage such a tough deal for Pyun-gang, what with her impending death and all.

Funny Korean comedy. Plenty of humourous moments especially when it involves a guy who gets his ass kicked by Pyon-gang on a regular basis! Eun-Kyeong Lim is pretty hot as Pyon-gang!

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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April Story (1998)

A fascinating story of a young girl moving to a certain university in Tokyo for reasons unknown to the viewer at first (we do find out why in the end though). This short movie chronicles her struggles settling into her new life in the big city away from her family in Hokkaido.

It’s a very simple movie about loneliness and love. The movie ends rather abruptly and I would liked to have seen more. Nevertheless I really enjoyed it and it did bring a smile to my face.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Strawberry Shortcakes (2006)

Satoko just got dumped by her boyfriend, and works a thankless reception job at a call girl service. Her only consolation in life: drinking beer and mumbling prayers to a small stone which she has christened a god. Satoko’s death-obsessed call-girl friend Akiyo sleeps in a coffin and is diligently saving up money for a fifth-floor condo – so she can efficiently jump out and kill herself when the moment calls for it. Her only consolation: drinking with her friend Kikuchi whom she secretly loves. Reclusive illustrator Toko is thrown into a bitter binge-eating slump by the news of her ex-boyfriend’s imminent marriage, and by her current assignment to draw God. Toko’s roommate Chihiro is an outwardly cheerful office worker who loves shopping, makeup, and her egotistical boyfriend, but the unrewarding relationship leaves her no less lonely than Toko. Anonymous faces in a big city, these four women struggle to find happiness on their own terms.

Quite a depressing movie highlighting the problems of 4 women. Each of them lonely in their own way and trying to find some meaning to their otherwise mundane lives. It’s a very slow paced movie. Not sure why people have said this is similar to Sex & The City because it’s nothing like it. Glad to see that there’s at least a chink of light at the end of the tunnel for them at the conclusion.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Evil Dead Trap (1988)

A nasty Japanese horror movie which at first is a slasher movie before changing into something completely different near the end. A psycho sets a bunch of deadly traps in an old abandoned military base for a TV news reporter and her crew who foolishly go there after he sends her a video of a woman being brutally killed.

I quite liked the slasher aspect of the movie but when the mutant foetus makes its appearance I was like WTF is this! For those that like their horror give this a go but be prepared for the strange ending.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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The final chapter in the trilogy. After quitting as a knight errant and living a simple life as a vegetable farmer close to a village, Musashi takes care of some bandits roaming the country before one final duel awaits him in the form of Kojiro Sasuki. An exciting conclusion to what has been an enthralling trilogy.

No trailer and there’s a clip from the movie on Youtube but it would spoil the ending so I haven’t included it.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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