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Archive for March, 2011

After the group suicide of four people, journalists Yuu and Rie investigate the reasons behind an endless cycle of suicides, blamed on an infamous Suicide Manual, hidden in a tag-less DVD disk. Said manual is shot in an infomercial fashion, with examples of the best methods to kill yourself and demonstrations by real people. When investigating further, Yuu and Rie find out that in Buddhist beliefs, when a person kills himself, he or she is sent to a certain hell, from which they induce other people to commit suicide. But is this what is really happening?

After a promising start, this movie goes flat quite quickly as a journalist and his assistant try to investigate a spate of deaths linked to a DVD containing ways on how to committ suicide hosted by a female in black named Rikki. It doesn’t help that the plot changes halfway through to following Yuu’s gradual downward spiral into wanting to kill himself. It gets really confusing near the end and I didn’t have a clue what was really going on. It does have one or two great scenes but it wasn’t enough. This movie could have had some potential but it was just too tedious and there was a lack of direction in where they wanted to take this story. I’m afraid I cannot recommend this movie in any shape or form.
Sadako’s Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5

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Another great movie starring the fantastic Meiko Kaji. In this one Kaji is Nami who’s released from jail after murdering a Yakuza boss and starts a job as a hostess in a club in Ginza. It’s not too long, however, that the Owada clan start making moves on the hostess club by squeezing some pressure on the female owner to sell up. One thing leads to another and the result is one of Nami’s male friends being gunned down in cold blood. With her fury at boiling point, Nami and the murdered man’s brother head to the Owada clan’s hideout to unleash hell on them!

Don’t expect anything along the lines of the Scorpio or Lady Snowblood movies in this one. There’s a slow steady build-up that something is about to kick-off but the violence is kept to a minimum until the climax. It doesn’t matter to me, I just enjoy seeing Meiko Kaji kick some ass (something she does very well I might add!). I expect those expecting tons of blood being sprayed from the onset will become bored quickly. Kaji as always delivers a magnificent performance. For fans of Meiko Kaji like myself, this is brilliant and worth checking out.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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The setting is World War II. Japan launches the Yamato, the largest battleship in the world, to lead the Japanese fleet. The mission gets complicated when the Yamato mistakes a huge undersea monster for an enemy destroyer and accidentally kills its offspring. The monster, Reigo, wants revenge and starts attacking the fleet. But if anything can stop it, the Yamato can…

This is a very low budget kaiju movie from a fan of the genre and it clearly shows. The first thing you notice is the truly awful CGI effects, probably one of the worst examples in a movie I’ve ever seen. It just looks cheap as hell. The creature looks great but again it is let down by the crappy CGI. Awful acting by the entire cast. The attack sequences by Reigo aren’t very good either. Mercifully, this movie only runs to 80 mins which is just as well as I don’t think I could have fathomed taking any more punishment from watching it. If you can take this movie as it is, you might enjoy it but those expecting a big budget kaiju spectacular are going to be dismayed. Had this movie been done with proper CGI, I’m sure it would have been great.
I can’t find a trailer.
Sadako’s Rating: 1 star out of 5

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AV actress Rio plays Azusa, the older sister of a girl named Megumi who has committed suicide under mysterious circumstances. After some investigating, she discovers Megumi was driven to suicide by a man named Kuni and his “enboku” plan to humiliate teenage girls and drive them away from prostitution by any means necessary. She had dismissed what she had heard about Kuni as urban legend, but the horrific stories about girls being forced to don signs and be branded with phrases like “female pig” were apparently all true. In fact, Megumi’s corpse has been branded with that very phrase; she thinks Kuni is the one responsible. Azusa swears revenge, and with the help of 3 of Megumi’s fellow classmates she starts tracking him down.

This is the 3rd in the Stop The Bitch Campaign movies following the other two released in 2001 and 2005. Wasted nearly an hour and a half watching this boring movie. I expected some kind of action as our heroine Megumi and her 4 schoolgirl associates go around kicking the crap out of men who are preying on young girls for sex and branding them with a hot iron but apart from some gore near the climax it’s just plain dull. There’s not really that much else you can say about this movie except keep clear of it. Garbage.

Sadako’s Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5

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Zoro goes missing, as the Straw Hat’s restock. On their search for him, Sanji follows Maya, a girl of the island, to a village. There, Zoro appears, accompanied by a group of marines. Zoro wields his sword against Sanji and takes three jewel balls from Maya. Luffy stumbles upon a training center of the local navy division. There, he encounters Saga, the leader of the center and owner of the Seven Star Sword, who made Zoro take the balls to revive that swords slumbering power. Luffy fights him, but falls from a cliff. The Seven Stars Sword was that, which had ruined the country of Asuka with its cursed power a long time ago and had therefore been sealed. But with a night of a red full moon, that occurs only once every hundred years, the jewel balls in his possession, and Zoro on his side, only the remaining Straw Hats stand in Saga’s way to reviving the swords true power.

Plenty of One Piece fans dislike this movie for the fact that Zoro betrays the Going Merry crew at the sight of his old friend, takes Sanji down during a fight and is quite happy to join a sinister and evil plot. Granted, it may seem out of place to the rest of the series but doen’t affect the overall storyline of the anime. See this as only a side-story. Zoro’s unusual behaviour makes a welcome change and needs to be enjoyed for what it is. It’s the only time you see Zoro and Sanji have a proper fight. An excellent and exciting addition to the One Piece movie franchise.

I can’t find a trailer but did find this:

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Rampo Noir (2005)

Four short films, based on stories by Japanese mystery writer Rampo Edogawa, explore dark themes of obsession, sex and death. In “Mars Canal,” a naked man wanders alone through a swamp recalling a former lover. “Mirror Hell” follows a serial killer with a fixation on hand mirrors. “Caterpillar” centers on a crippled veteran, his sadistic wife and their unhealthy relationship. And in “Crawling Bugs,” a chauffeur plots to seduce a starlet.

Starring art-house regular Tadanobu Asano as almost different characters spanning across the shorts, this movie, to put it mildly, should excite art-house lovers since it stars one of their idols, but everyone else, unless you have spare capacity for the bizarre, would likely want to steer clear of this. For omnibus movies, you’d come to expect varying standards and levels of enjoyment, and this one is no different. I did enjoy the 2nd short called “Mirror Hell”. The other 3 shorts were just plain too weird for my taste and I got bored. There’s more visual style than solid substance here in driving the movie. I’d only recommend this to people that are into their art-house movies and have a long attention span as this movie drags on for over 2 hours.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 stars out of 5

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Teketeke 2 (2009)

The vengeful spirit Teketeke continues her bloody rampage. This time a group of schoolgirls are to be her victims.

Teketeke 2 begins with a recap of the 1st movie before finding the only survivor to escape Teketeke finally succumb to her inevitable death at the hands of the vengeful spirit. The sequel revolves around a schoolgirl named Reiko who has never had many friends, however things only get worse for her after an altercation with Erica, one of the popular girls at school. Soon, Reiko’s only friend Natsuki begins to notice that she is behaving strangely. It seems that the girls who are her enemies soon find themselves dead – completely dismembered. What is the connection between Reiko and the legend of TekeTeke? Natsuki must unravel this mystery and discover the truth before it’s too late. This is a definite marked improvement on the 1st movie with more bodies sliced in half and gore. I loved the neat little twist right at the end. Adequate acting and the cast is beautiful. I really enjoyed this movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Two Hong Kong narcotics cops are mired in a morass of betrayal, divided loyalties, and depravity when they discover that some of their colleagues in blue are on a drug kingpin’s payroll.

Tiger Cage is a high-octane action thriller about some bent HK coppers involved in some shady business with American drug dealers. The action choreography is pretty jaw dropping at times and includes some memorable fights with the super star Donnie Yen. From the opening shootout that begins the movie, you know that you are in for some rough and tumble action, as hundreds of bullets are shot, bodies fall and are hit by cars, the fighting is gritty, and so on.The final 10 minutes are among the most furious and insane action I’ve seen in any Hong Kong movie and the viewer is quite breathless by the time the mentioned freeze frame comes. The movie is very violent and the story is well paced by the great Yuen Woo Ping, and is a competent addition to the Hong Kong cop film library.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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A group of 4 high school girls each begins to die under mysterious circumstances after witnessing a black shadowy figure. Who is the black shadowy figure and will these girls be able to escape death?

This movie is played backwards – one story broken up into 10 chapters and a prologue. Yes, it does steal some bits and bobs from other J-horrors but it’s still an effective scary movie. Each chapter presents us with a character who soon succumbs to dying at the hands of a vengeful female spirit after hearing some clicking sounds (the same sound from the Ju-On movies). This time the ghost takes on the form of a schoolgirl. I did like the concept that as we work backwards with the storyline we finally get to uncover the origin somewhat of the ghost. There are some great scares with it’s ‘corner-of the-eye’ and ‘watch-the-reflections’ pacing and it’s sense of steadily uncoming unstoppable doom for the victims. Those expecting to see some gore will be disappointed as there’s none. The creepy slow tempo makes this movie an unnerving experience. Ju-Rei isn’t epic by any means and is certainly not the most terrifying movie from Japan as the movie poster states but if you enjoy Japanese ghost tales, it’s well worth a shot.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Hellevator (2004)

A future society in an unnamed underground world is composed of a huge metal cased terminal split into many floors with different functions. The outside world is deemed unfit for human habitation. Individuals travel from one level to another in huge people transporters, metal lifts that speed along the exterior of the terminal. Schoolgirl Luchino gets in unaware that she has left a lit cigarette (smoking is illegal in this world) which causes a devastating explosion. Meanwhile other passengers get on and off the people transporter, until there is a message from the Surveillance Bureau. There is going to be an unscheduled stop at level 99. Two prisoners and guards get on and soon the passengers journey is going to turn into a nightmare hence the name of the movie Hellevator. 

I found this movie to be extremely imaginative with a nightmarish storyline where time is distorted, fantasy and reality is blurred and it provides the viewer with an ending that really is quite audacious and mind blowing. Stylistically, director Hiroki Yamaguchi goes for an almost retro feel in the design of the huge carriers and the world itself. Apparently all the actors gave their services for free for the love of being in this movie, and scrap metal was used to create the future world. How refreshing. This movie proves that it’s best to look to the East when seeking to find new concepts in movies, as Hollywood is a stagnant pool at present.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Death Water (2006)

Newspaper correspondent Kyoko Togakure (Haruka Igawa) visits a nursing home in the outskirts of Tokyo. She finds the dead body of a resident. It was an apparent suicide. He’s holding a piece of paper with the mystifying word “Death Water” written on it. Nearby are blood-stained scissors, and his eyes have been stabbed. She has no idea that this death is just the beginning of a horrendous nightmare.

Intriguing J-horror which is creepy and dark. It’s a bit slow at times but it didn’t put me off watching it. It relies heavily on atmosphere and psychological thrills rather than blood and gore though there is a little bit of that in this movie as well. The plot is a bit confusing though – can water make you mad and possess someone to kill themself. Some secrets about the bad water phenomena is revealed such as an ancient temple being revealed after some earthquakes and a Professor doing some investigating on a so-called ‘water of the dead’. It all builds up to a nice climax. The filmmakers obviously took some time to create a thought-provoking story rather than churn out the usual J-horror cliched movies. It is a little bit scary with the tension being ramped up to full effect as we come to the climax. I really enjoyed this movie and thought it was very good. The acting was great too. Definitely check it out if you’re after a J-horror with a difference.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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In order to gain money, the crew of the Going Merry enter the Dead End Race, a dangerous anything goes sailing competition. On the starting island of the race the crew is introduced to that year’s favourite, General Gasparde, a former navy general who deserted after killing his men. A subplot in the movie involves a cabin boy named Anaguma on Gasparde’s ship, who in order to save Biera, the boiler man, is allowed off the ship to claim the bounty of whichever pirates he chooses to kill. As fate would have it, he picks the Going Merry as his target. A bounty hunter named Shuraiya Basc├╣d is also introduced as the ‘Pirate Executioner’, and seems to have a dark past involving Gasparde, and at the climax of the film, goes head to head with both Needles and Gasparde himself, a battle that Luffy interrupts and ultimately finishes, once and for all.

Longer in running time with more character development, the 4th One Piece epic is certainly the best I’ve seen so far in the franchise. The animation is very well done as it always is, the villains and secondary characters are interesting such as the Pirate Bounty Hunter Shuraiya and the action is exciting along with the typical One Piece humour which balances out the overall storyline very nicely. Luffy gets to meet a worthy and very powerful opponent that tests him to the limit in a spellbinding finale. An absolute joy to watch.

No trailer but a fan made video highlighting the best bits from the movie

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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When Earth is tearing itself apart by means of crime, pollution and war, aliens choose the time to invade, taking advantage of the lowering of everyone’s guard. The Japanese government establishes an elite police organization known as Blue SWAT to combat the aliens, known as the Space Mafia. The aliens attack by possessing humans to obtain their goals. When an alien possesses the chief of the Blue SWAT unit to infiltrate the organization, it manages to completely demolish their building of operations and murder all but three SWAT members; Shou, Sara and Sig. Managing to keep the suits and equipment assigned to them, the three form their own private detective-like agency called Blue Research to continue their mission of defeating the Space Mafia. Now working on their own, their battle with the Space Mafia is only beginning…

Blue SWAT was the 13th Metal Hero series that ran from January 1994 to January 1995. Although targeted towards kids, it was the adults that took to this series more than the kids due to the serious mood of the show although they decided to change it to a lighter mood halfway through the 51 episode thinking that this would appeal more to kids. This movie is a compilation of the first 2 episodes of the show – introducing us to the villains throughout the series – The Space Mafia and the heroes out to stop them – Shou, Sara and Sig. The movie wastes no time in getting right down to the action with our 3 metal heroes blasting the alien foes with specialised guns and rocket launchers. It’s a tad too short for my liking at 20 mins, I would have liked to see more. I guess it was just a taster to entice curious tokusatsu fans to watch the show. It’s good stuff nevertheless.

No trailer but the OP credits to the series

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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Bayside Shakedown (1998)

Aoshima, a police detective working in the Bayside Precinct, is continually frustrated by the hierarchy and red tape that plague the system. His friend Muroi is climbing the ladder of the police bureaucracy. Muroi has made a pact with Aoshima that while Aoshima looks after the streets, Muroi would make life easier for the cops on the beat. One day in Bayside, a series of events turns the small station upside down. A corpse is found in the river, then the Police Commissioner is kidnapped, leading to the Metropolitian Police Department to take over the investigation which is led by Murai. Will he be true to his pact with Aoshima and co-operate with the local police? In the meantime, the murder investigation leads to a morbid web page and a deadly chat room in cyberspace.

This is the big-screen sequel to a popular Japanese television drama called Bayside Shakedown. The series ran in Japan in 1997, and was followed up by three television specials before finally getting its big screen debut which has since spawned 2 sequels. This is a police drama with a difference as it does not include guns (in fact none of the officer carry guns!), car chases, or gratuitous violence. It’s more about the humdrum life of police officers who want to do their job but get prevented from doing so by meddling from their superiors. This movie features well-drawn characters such as the hot headed Aoshima, the tough female officer Sumire played by the adorable Eri Fukatsu and Inspector Heihachiro Waku. There’s also plenty of humour in this movie so it’s not all serious. Fans of gritty cop dramas should steer clear. This was made for the fans of the original drama series and the filmmakers haven’t changed any of the formula that made it popular in the first place. It has enough charm, humour and drama to make it a great and refreshing new take on a cop movie. I’m looking forward to watching the 2 sequels.

No trailer but a clip from the opening credits

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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The 3rd annual One Piece movie revolves around the newest member of the Going Merry crew – Tony Tony Chopper the toddler sized Reindeer hybrid who gets crowned the Animal King of Crown Island after falling from the sky. A group of hunters led by the violin playing horn eating Count Butler and his 2 henchmen are terrorising the island’s animals especially those who have horns. Can Luffy and the Going Merry crew save the day?

I swear these One Piece movies get better with each installment. This one as like the other two I’ve seen are so damn enjoyable. The animation is brilliant, the action exciting, the characters are fantastic and the comedy is very funny. A great bunch of villains for Luffy and the crew to stop. A satisfying ending with an excellent tune during the credits. There’s never a dull moment in the movie. Top stuff and a must-see for One Piece fans.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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