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Archive for April, 2011

In the 7th One Piece movie, the Going Merry crew embark on an Indiana Jones style adventure to find a treasure called The Golden Crown on an island that’s being run by a mecha building nerd.

There’s a lack of a serious villain and no major fights but don’t let that put you off, this is still a solid entry in the One Piece franchise with some decent action scenes. Nami provides a lot of the comedy as she displays her sadistic side on her male crewmates. Nami and Robin seem to have grown more in the chest department as well!! Chopper’s voice has changed as the original voice actress was on maternity leave. Luffy and the crew have to use their brains (for a change!) as well as brawn to solve the mystery of Mecha Island.

This is a fun outing for the Going Merry crew and the story is well paced. A very entertaining anime movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Eureka (2000)

On what seemed to be a normal morning in southwest Japan, a crazed killer, apparently without motive, hijacks a city bus. In the ensuing carnage only three people survive – the driver, a schoolgirl and her older brother. After a long period away, the traumatized bus driver returns to his family only to find his wife has left him. The two students have withdrawn further into silence since their mother left home to begin a new life elsewhere when their father died in a car accident. Upon the driver’s return to town, he reacquaints himself with the orphaned children. He moves into their house, filthy from neglect, and together with the orphans’ cousin, they begin a new life. Once the victims have adapted to new lives together, police find the brutally murdered corpse of a woman and suspect the driver. After being cleared of the crime, he buys an old bus and invites the young people to travel with him. The killings seem to follow them until each finds some way to come to terms with the horror they once shared.

This is a wonderful 3 hours and 40 minute slow burner of a movie. It tells an enormously soul searching and moving story about three people’s attempt to find meaning and purpose after experiencing a grizzly “busjacking”. Director Shinji Aoyama lets the story and the characters unfold / develop at a very deliberate and slow pace. The cinematography is outstanding with the movie shot in a sepia tone until the very last scene when it changes to colour. The long running time will no doubt put people off from watching it. The performances of the cast, camera, director, and sound designer are all genuinely flawless. Two of the main characters (real life siblings Aoi and Masaru Miyazaki) don’t say a word throughout the running time except Aoi’s character who does manage to say something right at the end. Aoi Miyazaki was just 14 years old at the time of filming and embarking on the start of her successful movie career. She is fantastic in this movie. Overall, Eureka is a brilliant movie and even though it does drag at times I was never bored. Those that have the patience to watch all of it will find the movie a very rewarding experience.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Based on a Japanese manga, this debut from Katsuhito Ishii is a road movie about a young woman on the run from her domineering and perverted uncle who meets up with a young man on the run from the yakuza he’s ripped off. The yakuza are the funniest, most outrageous, coolest bunch of baddies I’ve ever seen. Their dialogue is great, their costumes are incredible and they’re all so enjoyable to watch. The uncle also sends someone after the pair on the run, a diminutive little freak who would totally steal the show in any other movie. Here, he just adds to the mix.

I can’t really describe how much I enjoyed this movie. The great thing about this movie is that it’s so over-the-top that you know it’s a parody, and it’s so much fun that it actually works as a straight “cool lovers on the run movie,” and not just a parody of one. In fact, I thought it worked so well that it is now one of my favorite movies of this genre. Simply delightful!

No trailer but this clip:

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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2046 (2004)

2046 is Wong Kar-Wai’s follow-up to his acclaimed movie ‘In The Mood For Love,’ which I haven’t seen. In both movies, the character of Chow Mo Wan is played by Tony Leung, and he is brilliant in this. The title of the movie refers to the year to which many time travelers return to recapture lost memories. Politically, the year 2046 represents the final year before Hong Kong’s self-regulatory handover status comes to an end. This, of course, is no accident. This is essentially a story of Chow Mo Wan’s love life, and how he uses his science-fiction writing to understand things about his own existence. Various beautiful women enter and exit his life, brief but meaningful entries into Chow’s memories. He wishes to fall into love with these women, but there is already a women that he loves, and he can’t have her. The acting is very good in this movie. Tony Leung, as mentioned earlier, is brilliant in his role. The three beautiful women who form the emotional core of the movie are played stunningly by Gong Li, Faye Wong and Ziyi Zhang.

Not very much happens in ‘2046.’ The movie is deliberately slow-paced and most scenes are set indoors under soft lighting. Any outdoor scenes play out at night, under harsh neon lighting, or perhaps amidst a downfall of rain. I did not find this to be an uplifting movie, by any means. It tells a story of ups and downs, and of a constant pursuit for answers and happiness that may (but probably won’t) be discovered. It’s still an intriguing movie nevertheless.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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This is one big chase movie in which a teenage boy crosses over to a parallel universe and finds that everybody with the same surname that he’s got “Sato” is targeted to be killed by government forces in a deadly game. He has to stay alert and run for his life in order to survive.

The chases for the story are spectacular as the empty streets of Tokyo provide a great backdrop for the running duel between hunter and prey. Although the hunters are dressed silly with their black leather masks, they’re also eerie at the same time. I thought this movie was quite enjoyable although it does have a couple of glaring weaknesses. The acting was decent enough. If you’re after a fast paced thriller, you could do no worse than give this a shot.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Dead Or Alive 2: Birds (2000)

The 2nd in Takashi Miike’s DOA trilogy finds 2 childhood friends now assassins for hire bumping into each other after a hit. Recalling the past and catching up with old friends on the island they grew up, they decide to team up to kill some bad guys and donate all the money they get to the poor. It’s not too long, however, that the yakuza notice that some of their own are being offed and they want whoever is responsible dead.

This sequel has nothing in common with the first and perhaps has a more powerful storyline about lost innocence and rediscovered friendship. It’s also lighter in tone but don’t think for a second that it’s violent free – it does have sudden bursts of graphic violence. The main characters are portrayed wonderfully, and we come to care for them though we know what they do as well as their fate. DOA2 lacks the anything goes insanity of the first but makes up for it in other ways. There IS action to be found, it’s just not the main attraction. Instead it’s a weird, poignant, touching, occasionally violent film aimed more at the heart and soul than the gut.

No trailer but I do have a clip from the movie:

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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The Last Supper (2005)

This low-budget Japanese movie is a clinically weird, demented and often tasteless (but some might find it amusingly laughable) cannibal story about a plastic surgeon who goes from a zero to being popular after starting to eat a woman’s liposuction fat and then progressing to eating human female flesh.

The movie is perversely shocking and humorously twisted! Vegetarians keep clear. The camera likes to focus on the bloody, juicy meat at every opportunity and there’s a scene that will have animal lovers in an uproar. You could say that this movie actually promotes cannibalism and to be honest you’re left wanting to eat some meat at the end credits!!!

The acting is pretty good and the director doesn’t hold back on the gore complete with disgusting sound effects of bones being broken, skin peeling, blood dripping, body parts sliding out and flesh chopping. The Last Supper is a stylish and twisted serial killer movie, though one that doesn’t necessarily break a lot of new ground. It’s well made, well acted, and beautiful to watch.

SSadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Otakus In Love (2004)

This is an eccentric romantic comedy. Romantic comedies are predictably rubbish, but this Japanese effort is surprisingly good. It’s about a down on his luck rock manga artist Mon Aoki who runs into Koino Akashi who likes her cosplay a lot. After a heavy night of drinking at her place, he wakes up the next day in Koino’s bed dressed up like a character from the game Soul Calibur! After the initial shock and Mon trying to understand Koino’s passion for her hobby, they decide to try and have a proper relationship but the path of true love never runs smoothly even for otakus like Koino and Mon.

I really enjoyed this oddball comedy. It’s very funny as well. The characters are funny, and the situations are funny. It’s full of odd, quirky moments that Japanese directors do so brilliantly. The humour hits its mark so well and if you’re an anime/manga fan then you’ll have fun spotting the references to certain series.The two main leads works wonderfully well, both in their own performances. Ryuhei Matsudo looked the part as the gormless rock artist Mon and I just adored Sakai Wakana as Koino – beautiful with a tiny hint of insanity in her personality.

Overall, this is a fantastic movie that pokes fun into the manga fan culture and I heartily recommend it.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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I have seen nearly all “Guinea Pig” movies and “Android of Notre Dame” is surely nothing special. It’s definitely not as shocking as “Devil’s Experiment” or “Flowers of Flesh and Blood”.There is a reasonable amount of blood and gore, but for the majority of the time it’s pretty dull. The movie is neither funny nor disgusting. Anyway “Android of Notre Dame” is about a Japanese dwarf who is trying to cure his sister’s cancer by trying to bring a dead female body to life by inserting various machine parts into her body. So if you’re a fan of the “Guinea Pig” series give this one a look, just don’t expect anything too nasty.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 stars out of 5

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Samurai Chicks (2004)

Located on one of Japan’s southernmost islands (Okinawa), the Orion Dancers Academy is not what it seems in this female martial arts extravaganza from director Mari Asato. Instead of training singers and dancers, the school is actually indoctrinating girl warriors in hopes that they’ll one day win independence for the island. As the girls study music videos to crack the codes hidden in the dance moves, a rival organization prepares to take control.

Very low-budget movie. The movie title doesn’t really help as it is so inaccurate. The 4 girls aren’t samurai at all but dancers. Samurai Chicks is a cute action/black comedy movie but it is certainly not among the best low budgeters I’ve seen from Japan. It starts out well, goes a bit off the rails in the middle but picks up once more as one by one our 4 heroines are picked off by the evil government who want to kill them. Overall, it’s only average at best and doesn’t bring anything new or different to the Japanese low budget splatter genre. Give it a whirl if you’ve got 75 mins to waste.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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The Going Merry crew face their most dangerous opponent yet in Baron Omatsuri as they face the Ordeal Of Hell challenge on his paradise island that harbours a deadly secret which might spell the end for Luffy and his nakama.

What many will notice about this movie is the animation has changed, it’s not in the usual One Piece style. Not that it made an ounce of difference to me. The movie storyline which is darker doesn’t contain half as much action as the other 5 movies I’ve seen either which many annoy fans but I did feel that in Baron Omatsuri the Going Merry crew had met their match and was a worthy opponent for Luffy who was ready to die for letting down his nakama. The strong bond that exists between the 6 friends also breaks down which is very unusual. This is probably my favorite One Piece movie so far because it dares to be different and we see a new side to the Going Merry crew. For One Piece fans this is a must see.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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There is no real plot in this movie so it’s best to come to watch this with no knowledge about it at all so you can sit back and enjoy the weirdness of it all!

One of the most bizarre Japanese comedy movies I’ve ever come across and it’s so funny. It’s a series of strange stories which loosely inter-connect with each other involving various characters who say and do the oddest things. I was particularly fond of the three female co-workers who visit a spa and take turns telling each other hilariously inane stories. The After School Club with a bloodsucking alien is also another highlight. The movie is wild, so creative, and filled to the brim with amazing wackiness. Believe me, you’ll think you’re on an acid trip whilst watching it. There is some truly mad stuff going on, but there doesn’t appear to be any deeper meaning or message to any of it… in fact I’m not sure what the “purpose” of the movie is at all, except for the film-makers to go nuts. Running for 2 hours and a half it does go on a bit too long for my liking but I still enjoyed it for it’s random weirdness. If you’re into surreal movies then this movie is definitely for you.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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