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Archive for February, 2012

Site Update

Over the next couple of months I’ll be creating an index for this site – putting the movies I’ve reviewed into alphabetical order on a new page which will make it easier for site visitors who want to click on a specific movie review rather than trawl through the whole site. Whilst I’m doing that I’ll revisit most of my old reviews and expand on them. I know a lot only had a couple of lines about a movie so I definitely want to improve them. Also some of the trailer links have expired so I shall update them also. I can’t say when the new page will be up – juggling a full time job and also updating my other website will take up most of my time but I’m hoping at the end of Spring/beginning of Summer it’ll be ready.

EDIT: The alphabetical movie index with links is now 100% complete.

EDIT 2: There’s about 200 or so Asian movies which I’ve seen during the past couple of years but haven’t written a review for them yet so in addition to updating the rest of the reviews already up on this site, I’ll try and do them as well.

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Paradise Kiss (2011)

Yukari Hayasaka is a teenage girl who isn’t too bright but with hard work and determination has managed to fight her way through into one of Tokyo’s most prestigious high schools. One afternoon whilst shopping in Omotesando, she is scouted by a young man called Arashi Nagase, a student who attends Yazagaku fashion school. He wants Yukari to be a model for the school’s 3rd year fashion graduation assignment which will see a participating group and their model of choice parade up and down the catwalk in their design. Arashi is a part of an independent fashion label called Paradise Kiss which is made up of 4 members. It is led by flamboyant rich boy fashion designer George Koizumi, transsexual Isabella, Arashi and his girlfriend Miwako. Yukari takes much persuading to become their model but she relents in the end. But Paradise Kiss have a battle on their ends in the assignment. With the label’s clothes failing to sell on the open market, the only hope for the label to survive is to win the assignment competition otherwise they will have to break up. George’s female rival is determined to win with her group. Fate doesn’t seem to be smiling for the group as during rehearsals, Yukari botches her catwalk appearance – strutting up and down like a robot. George isn’t happy at all. As the clock ticks down to the fashion parade proper, can the team overcome the odds and win the assignment competition or will Paradise Kiss close it’s doors forever?

Paradise Kiss is a very popular manga by Ai Yazawa. She was also behind the hugely successful Nana manga which spun into 2 movies so it was only a matter of time before Paradise Kiss was going to be turned into a movie. The story isn’t that original but it’s competently done. The character of Yukari is torn between carrying on studying in high school or ditch it for the glamour and fame of the catwalk. Having had to study hard by her mother from a young age, this is Yukari’s chance to forge her own path in life. I guess this is the message of the whole movie – do you live your life on your own accord or through other people. A lot of the fans who enjoyed the manga/anime version of Paradise Kiss have said that the movie is so disappointing. Without reading and watching either I can’t judge whether the movie is inferior or not but I liked it. There’s some comedy of sorts, drama, romance – something that the target audience of the movie which was young teenage Japanese girls would like.

Keiko Kitagawa makes for a great Yukari Hayasaka though I can see many viewers disliking her pouty, icy attitude at times. I thought she fitted the role pretty well. She’s a very appealing actress and one that I’ve enjoyed watching for many years. The supporting cast was fine apart from Osamu Mukai who I didn’t think was that good as George Koizumi. He was quite dull from the get go (a stereotypical rich kid of the likes I’ve seen in other movies) but at least the others especially Isabella were better. Seeing her backstory in a small flashback sequence was nicely done. I felt sorry for the very young boy actor that had to wear a dress for that! The characters are unique and highly likeable. For fashion fans, there’s plenty of interesting fashion creations for them to enjoy. Paradise Kiss should appeal to those that this movie was intended for but as for the rest I’m not too sure. I enjoyed it nevertheless.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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Harakiri (1962)

It is the early 1600’s in Japan during the reign of the Tokugawa shogunate. Starving and jobless samurai warriors roam the country after the end of the civil war. Many are turning up on rich people’s estates asking to commit harakiri (ritual suicide) as they find it too humiliating to go around begging for work like peasants. The only honourable thing to do is commit harakiri. One such samurai Hanshiro Tsugumo turns up on the doorstep of Lord Kageyu Saito asking for assistance in killing himself but the Lord is suspicious of his intention thinking he’s trying to ask for a job or money. He tells the story of what happened to the last samurai who turned up asking for the same request – a young man called Motome Chijiiwa who was made to perform harakiri by using a blunt bamboo sword. The Lord thinks that what happened to Chijiiwa will persuade other samurai warriors not to come calling at his place. Tsugomo tells his own story whilst waiting for for his own death and how he was associated with Motome Chijiiwa.

Harakiri is a movie that critics have harped on about saying how fantastic it is but I can’t claim to be one of them. It’s a good movie but not brilliant. Beautiful to look at but it just drags on and on. The pace was just too slow and deliberate for me and I couldn’t wait for it to finish. It isn’t like your typical samurai movie. There are some sword fighting scenes but these are kept to a minimum in the 2nd half of the movie. There’s a horrific and graphic scene which features Chijiiwa performing harakiri – very painful to watch. I couldn’t fault the actors at all, they’re very good in their roles. Perhaps I was expecting something with a little bit more action which could be the reason why this movie didn’t get me excited at all. I found the first 60 mins tolerable enough but then I found my mind wandering. I just didn’t find Harakiri memorable and I certainly wouldn’t want to watch it again.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5.

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Two inexperienced female cops Grace and Ellen go undercover at a hostess club to catch a killer when a girl is found dead inside a dumpster. One of them accidentally learns that the club owner Chan is a member of a gang whose intention is to go to the very top by killing his superiors. To do this, he hires a deadly Japanese female hitman who’s very handy with a blow gun! After gaining the position he wants, he screws over the Yakuza by stealing their cache of arms. During a car chase and subsequent fight in which Ellen and Grace are chasing the hitwoman on a motorbike, Ellen loses her gun. When the Police Inspector learns about this, he suspends Ellen from duty and Grace is demoted. This leads to a rift between the two girls. Grace continues to investigate Chan and is unfortunately fatally injured by him. Ellen vows revenge but can she take down Chan and his gang alone? Is the mysterious Japanese hitwoman all that she seems?

Beauty Investigator is a very good entry in the ‘Girls With Guns’ genre with a great mix of action and humour. The action isn’t exactly top notch but it’s choreographed well enough. Moon Lee uses a nifty wrist missile launcher during the final showdown, first time for me to see anything like that being used. The only problem I had with this movie is the tone shifts from being comedic to serious after Grace is killed. As for the acting – Moon Lee and Kim Je Kee are funny together as Ellen and Grace. They constantly argue and bicker as best friends do. It’s silly stuff which I found amusing. Yukari Oshima as always is excellent as the Japanese black trenchcoated hitwoman but there’s a twist with her character near the climax. There’s one gratitious nude shower scene featuring Chan’s foreign girlfriend played by Sophia Crawford which was unnecessary in my opinion. Despite some plot weakness and the fact that the movie is low budget, this is still a thrilling and entertaining action movie which will please Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima fans especially the final fight that the two of them have with different opponents.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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This movie follows 2 female police investigators (May and Hsie Wan Chin) who are also good friends. However, that friendship turns sour when both fall in love with the same man (an instructor at the police academy). The man gets engaged to Hsie Wan Chin but continues to have an affair with May. When he breaks off the affair with May, she goes nuts and kills the man with her gun and frames Hsie Wan Chin for the murder. She escapes and teams up with Coco, a car thief to put an end to May who has gone on a murderous spree and to cap it all off has kidnapped Coco’s young son and planted a bomb on him. Can Hsie Wan Chin and Coco stop May?

Having three bad-ass women (Cynthia Khan, Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima) who rocked HK cinemas in the 90’s together in 1 movie  should have been a winner but the filmmakers botched things up big time. Moon Lee was usually cast in heroine roles but in this movie there’s a role reversal as she gets to be a nasty villainess. She plays the role of psychotic May extremely well and it’s nice seeing another side of her. I expected a lot of balls-to-the-wall action scenes but there wasn’t and that was disappointing.The action scenes in the movie are great don’t get me wrong but there’s not enough of it and they’re too short. The movie kinda lost it’s way after 60 mins but bounced back for the final fight in a warehouse between the 3 women which was fantastic. The pacing was off for a lot of the movie. This movie could have been a whole lot better than it was if I’m being honest. Fans of Cynthia Khan, Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima should find enough to satisfy them here even though you’ll find all 3 have been in much better movies.

I can’t find a trailer but here’s the end showdown from the movie

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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It is 1913 China and General Yuan Shi-Kai has taken control after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty. As the General requires a load of money from Western government by a way of a loan to stay in power, he asks his 2nd in command General Tsao to help get it. What Tsao doesn’t know is his daughter is working for a group who want to start a revolution in the country and she plots to steal the loan documents from her father who has stashed them in his safe. But things don’t go to plan as several people get involved in her activities. One is the daughter of a man who runs a Chinese Opera group, another woman is a thief who has stolen some jewellery, placed it in a box which finds itself landing at the Chinese Opera house and finally we have a male spy undercover who aids the general’s daughter in trying to retrieve the all important loan documents. The four reluctantly team up together but the local law officers are on to them. The daughter has to make sure her father doesn’t know what she’s doing in order for her plan to succeed. Will the quartet manage to get the documents before the law captures them?

The mid 80’s to the early 90’s were a golden period for HK movies and this movie is one you do not want to miss. This classic HK movie has got everything you’d want in a good movie – some comedy, loads of awesome exciting action sequences and a touch of romance. I was put off for years from watching this movie due to the title thinking it was going to be a boring little drama about Chinese opera. My mistake from not reading about the plotline properly. Once I found out that the awesome Brigitte Lin was in the cast I knew I had to see this movie and I’m glad I did. This vintage movie by acclaimed director Tsui Hark is fantastic. The story and the characters are interesting. Brigitte Lin anchors the whole cast together and pulls in a fine performance along with Sally Yeh and Cherie Chung as our three heroines who are each pursuing a different goal. The three have great chemistry together. The action is fast and furious with some excellently staged gunplay. The Chinese opera scenes are vibrant and colourful. The pacing is perfect. You couldn’t ask for more from a HK movie. Definitely worth taking a look.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Zeiram – an alien biological weapon and criminal (who has a small face on the top of his cranium) escapes from his intergalactic prison after massacring an entire unit of prison guards and heads to the planet Earth. A female bounty hunter Iria along with her A.I companion Bob race ahead of Zeiram to Earth and plan on setting a trap called The Zone (a virtual reality area) in which to recapture Zeiram before transporting him back to prison. But Iria didn’t count on a pair of bumbling handymen called Kamiya and Teppei getting involved in her mission. They stumble inside The Zone and must avoid Zeiram from killing them. Iria though manages to capture Zeiram but due to the 2 idiots interfering, the alien manages to break free. Normal weapons seem to unaffect the creature. Even when Iria manages to take down the huge indestructible beast, Zeiram resurrects himself in other forms (think of John Carpenter’s The Thing). With the Zone beginning to break up around Iria and Kamiya & Teppei finding themselves at the mercy of Zeiram, is there any way of stopping the alien once and for all?

It was hard to say whether this was a straight forward sci-fi movie or a comedy at first! Probably a mix of the two genres I’d say though you’d never have thought that after the opening 10 mins. I really enjoyed it even with the stupid comedy which I think spoiled the mood of the movie – thankfully the 2 idiot characters didn’t get too damn annoying. Zeiram is a typical low budget sci-fi movie but a lot of fun to watch. It’s full of interesting gadgets, lots of weapons, explosions, monsters, stop-motion effects and talking computers. Yuko Moriyama is brilliant in her debut role as the bounty hunter Iria playing her as a determined and strong character. Without her no-nonsense portrayal, this movie would be a rather camp affair. The villain Zeiram is your usual Japanese rubber monster but looks an imposing humanoid creature thanks to his wide circular hat and cloak. I really liked the small white masked face on Zeiram’s head (the brain that controls the body) which can extend itself on a tentacle to attack which is no doubt based on H.R Giger’s Alien xenomorph. Some shades of The Terminator and The Thing also find themselves put in this movie. There’s plenty of excitement and the action is decent enough with some martial arts being used to fight Zeiram by Iria.

This is an entertaining little movie if you don’t take it too seriously. It’s not perfect by any means but it’s a good way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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Yabu no Naka no Kuroneko (1968)

AKA The Black Cat That Roams The Bamboo Grove.

A woman and her daughter in law are raped and killed by samurai soldiers who burn their house down after leaving. Returning as cat vampire spirits and making a pledge with an evil god in the underworld, the two vow revenge on any samurai that crosses the bamboo grove where the house used to be by luring into an illusory mansion and seducing them before ripping their throats out and sucking their blood. A young man Gintoki returning from 3 years of battle is made a samurai by Lord Raiko after killing an enemy leader. He goes searching for his wife and mother but only finds the burnt remains of his house near the grove. With samurai bodies starting to pile up, Lord Raiko orders Gintoki to go and kill the ghosts that lies within the grove. Gintoki encounters the ghosts and realises they are the vengeful souls of his wife and mother. He is torn apart in trying to obey his Lord’s orders as he cannot kill his wife and mother. The wife breaks her pledge to kill any samurai by spending 7 nights of passion with her husband and for that she is condemned to return to the underworld. After Gintoki sees an odd reflection of his mother in the forest, he attacks and cuts off her arm which transforms into one of a cat. Gintoki must destroy the spirit of his mother who wants to retrieve her arm back.

Probably one of the most chilling movies I’ve seen and a classic example of the Japanese supernatural horror genre made in the 60’s. Made by the director of another great ghost story Onibaba, Kaneto Shindo has created a very creepy movie in Kuroneko. The story is fascinating to watch even though the first 25 mins gets a little bogged down as we see the same scene repeated over and over again as samurai soldiers are lured to their deaths by the women. There are some truly memorable and surreal sequences on show that do manage to be frightening. A scene featuring 2 feral cats licking on the charred remains of the two women in their burnt out house is horrifying. The 3 main leads (the two spirits and the samurai warrior) are excellent. As well as being a horror movie, this is also a tragic tale of lost love. The black and white cinematography plus the special effects is awesome and the scenes inside the bamboo grove with it’s sounds of nature adds to the atmosphere. It has a haunting finale as Gintoki aimlessly pursues his mother, going mad, with winter snow used quite strikingly.

Overall Yabu no Naka no Kuroneko is a great combination of horror and fantasy and also a beautiful love story which is well worth checking out.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Hana-bi (1997)

After a stakeout in which his friend and colleague Detective Horibe is paralysed from the waist down by a gunman and another officer is killed, Detective Nishi quits the police force to look after his terminally ill wife. Racked by guilt over his what has happened to his ex-colleagues and trying to make whatever time his wife has got left in being alive to be more comfortable, Nishi borrows some money from the yakuza. When they come calling for the money back with added interest, Nishi is forced to make some questionable decisions like robbing a bank to pay them back and in order to take one final trip with his wife. The yakuza still aren’t satisfied with the money they’ve been given and send more of their gang to track down Nishi and the young cops who have replaced him and Horibe on the force are also on his tail.

This is a compelling, powerful tragic tale by Takeshi Kitano. He plays the lead role Nishi who is weak, broken and tired. It’s a dark look on a man with a life in ruins. Haunted by what has happened in the past but still possessing a violent streak when necessary in order to survive. Although Takesahi Kitano is excellent in his role as Nishi, a big thumbs up also has to be given to Ren Osugi who delivers a particularly memorable performance as Horibe, Nishi’s partner who is struck by fate and has to live in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Abandoned by his wife and children and trying to commit suicide in order to escape his lonely life. If you’ve seen Kitano’s movies before, you’ll have an idea what’s in store. He mixes stunning imagery, a beautiful score and moving performances in Hana-bi to create a stunning movie. The violence when on show is short but brutal – a typical trademark of his. His directing is superb and the supporting cast is first rate.

Han-bi is a sad, funny, violent and melancholic movie with an absolutely blinding performance by Takeshi Kitano. Kitano fans will tell you that this is probably his finest movie to date and I for one am not going to argue on that case.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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The Taste Of Tea (2004)

This movie revolves around the unconventional Haruno family who live in a rural location just outside of Tokyo in Tochigi prefecture and what they get up to in their daily lives. The mother of the household is a budding freelance anime artist, the father is a hypnotherapist, the grandfather is an eccentric person who has a tendency to sing around the house, likes to listen to a tuning fork and strike martial arts poses. There are 2 children in the household. Teenager Hajime who falls in love with a pretty transfer student and decides to join the Go (it’s a type of board game) Club as she’s in it and little Sachiko who sees a gigantic version of herself following her all the time and wondering why this is happening. Rounding off the quirky cast is Uncle Ayano, a sound mixer by trade who has come to the family home to contemplate and clear his head.

This delightfully surreal, whimsical, sweet and gentle comedy is fantastic and took me completely by surprise. It’s full of strange incidents and is unlike anything you might have seen before. The movie is character-driven without a lot of plot and the pace of the movie is very leisurely. It wonderfully captures the worries and obsessions of a family which are brought to life by their minds. The ensemble cast are really good and excel in their roles. Asano Tadanobu (the king of indie Japanese cinema) is probably the stand out and steals every scene he’s in as Uncle Ayano. Tatsuya Gashuin as the grandfather is the one who provides the most laughs. All of the cast create wonderful and interesting characters which is crucial in this type of movie. The cinematography is outstanding as we see beautiful rural scenes of Japan with a soundtrack that compliments the gentle tone of the movie. Many have said this is similar to what director Yasujiro Ozu did in the past – amusing tales of a family’s ordinary life.

I fear some people’s patience might be tested with the running time (143 mins) so if you’re one who likes a movie that moves at breakneck speed this might not be something you like but if you have the time to watch a unique movie you won’t be disappointed. The sheer imagination of the character’s lives portrayed on screen is amazing. It’s original, very funny, and insightful. Just sit back, open your eyes, and enjoy the sights on screen. A must-see for anybody that wants to be surprised when they watch a movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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Junpei is a low level yakuza member with the Soryu Group in Okinawa who’s fed up of being treated like dirt by his boss. When a situation arises for him to steal 500 million yen from his boss, he takes that chance and flees. They soon catch up with him but the loot has been hidden somewhere safe. Luckily for him whilst he’s being beaten up at the group’s HQ the police turn up but not before he’s taken the opportunity to stab his boss. Junpei ends up in jail for 5 years. When he’s released he hires a tough bodyguard to escort him back to Okinawa in order to recover the 500 million yen but the Soryu Group haven’t forgotten about Junpei. It’ll be a journey with dangers hidden around every corner as they’re attacked not only by the Soryu Group but by every karate dojo in Okinawa as the bodyguard Kiba has been misinterpreted in the press saying his karate school is better than every school on the island.

This was one of Takashi Miike’s first movies as director which went straight to video and he was yet to show the extreme tendencies and visual brilliance that marks his later works apart from one small sequence right near the start when a finger is cut by a yakuza member. It’s a fun action movie with a great plot though hardly original which has some twists along the way. Plenty of martial arts and violence for the action fan to enjoy. The pacing is just right and there’s good chemistry between the two leads as well. The character Kiba is a right bad-ass who can take any number of opponents on and come out on the other side without barely a sweat on his face. A karate showdown at the end between Kiba and a tough Okinawan police detective is disappointing and ends a bit too quickly.

Whilst not one of his memorable movies, it’s got enough to entertain and make it worth watching for Miike fans.

Couldn’t find a proper trailer but did find this.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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Jigoku (1960)

Shiro Shimuzu should be the happiest young man alive after getting engaged to his pretty girlfriend Yukiko, the daughter of his university professor but Shiro’s life spirals into one disaster after another when he takes a car ride one night  with his university friend Tamura. Tamura runs over a drunken yakuza gangster who has staggered onto a dark road. He dies but not before his mother has noticed the car licence plate number. Together with the yakuza’s girlfriend they plan to find out who the two people were in the car and kill them. This is only the start of what’s to come for Shiro when Yukiko dies in a taxi crash and his mother is slowly dying in his hometown. Shiro takes a trip back home to see her at the nursing home his father runs with his mistress and who should turn up but his ‘friend’ Tamura who has an uncanny knack of knowing other people’s sins and just appearing out of nowhere. Shiro meets the daughter of his parents’ next door neighbour who looks exactly like his dead fiancée called Sachiko which confuses the young man even more. People start accidentally dying around Shiro such as the dead yakuza’s gangster girlfriend who trips on a wooden bridge just as she is about to pull the trigger of a gun on him and plunges to her death below. Even Tamura is pushed over the bridge and is seen to die. Finally everybody at the nursing home including Shiro is poisoned by the dead yakuza’s mother as they drink tainted sake. At that moment Shiro finds himself being sent to Hell itself and wakes up on the banks of the River Sanzu (the Buddhist equivalent of the River Styx) and is introduced to the King of Hell Enma who passes judgement on all that come there and to the various levels of punishment that sinners are given.

This is a superb drama/horror which is split up into 2 parts. Jigoku has garnered a reputation over the years as being the first gore movie ever released. The 1st half gives us a picture of how Shiro and other characters become candidates destined to enter Hell such as his university professor who stole water from a dying army comrade during the war. It lulls the viewer into a false sense of security as we do not know what is to come later.  The movie springs into life during the 2nd half when we enter Hell itself – it’s quite a memorable depiction of the place and looks fantastic. A barren featureless world where the sky is black not the fiery kingdom that Christians believe in. We all imagine what hell looks like but if it’s anything like in this movie I’d rather stay out of there! The tone and cinematography of the first half disappears completely. In comes torment and pain. We witness what happens to sinners once they come to Hell itself. It’s a grim place to be. The severity of the sin determines which level of Hell you will be sent (144 levels in all). This is where the gore factor is ramped up. Teeth are smashed, feet impaled, eyes gouged out, hands chopped off and that’s just for starters! Truly horrific. One unfortunate thief for example is cut to various pieces by a massive serrated blade whilst he is lying on the floor.  Unlike the hell depicted in Christian mythology where we are made to suffer for all eternity, the Buddhist version in this movie grants the person who has atoned to move on to a higher state of existence. Although it is never stated in the movie itself, it’s obvious that Tamura (a demon who pops up unexpectedly to Shiro marked by the sound of an aircraft or train) who is clearly an associate of King Enma, has been sent to manipulate events in the real world so that all the characters have no other destination but hell itself when they die.

Director Nobuo Nakagawa has to be congratulated for creating a very interesting movie. It’s a genre masterpiece that’s a product of it’s time but still manages to be terrifying even today. The gore which wouldn’t be seen as really shocking nowadays due to the glut of blood soaked movies available was seen as ground breaking when it was first released in 1960. The visuals on display in Hell is brilliant such as a boiling green river where sinners are made to wade in their own pus and shit. For many viewers, the slow pace of the first half might seem boring and they’ll only be interested in the scenes in Hell but overall I was impressed with the whole movie. Definitely a movie that should be checked out by horror afficianados.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Hanzo Itami is a radical police officer in the time of the samurai. Refusing to sign a policeman’s blood oath as the police accepts gifts from brothels and lords, Hanzo refuses to protect the rich or the samurai but instead is willing to protect the ordinary farmer and townspeople. When a criminal called Kanbei who is supposed to be in jail on an island is seen in Hanzo’s territory, he sets out to find the truth by interrogating his mistress the only way he knows how – by raping her in order to make her confess. In doing so, he finds out something about his own superior who is trying any excuse to get rid of Hanzo. What will Hanzo do once he catches up with Kanbei?

Those expecting this to be full of action are going to be slightly disappointed as there’s only a couple of sequences (though they are rather bloody) and even then they don’t last very long. This focuses more on Hanzo’s special techniques in interrogating female prisoners and the methods beforehand in how he gets himself prepared for interrogation. Hanzo has a need to experience the pain of what the prisoners being tortured are feeling and to do this he requires the help of his 2 ex-con servants. With Hanzo kneeling down on a triangular wooden board and tied to a pole, both servants place several stone slabs on top of his knees until he starts bleeding. Another interesting technique after a hot bath is Hanzo pouring hot water on his rather large penis. With his erect penis, he starts beating it with a bamboo stick onto a wooden board (we see that from previous sessions his penis has made an impression on the board itself!!). Finally he has sex with a rather large bag of rice.Why does he do this? Apparently to make his penis tougher and harder when erect!!

This movie is somewhat controversial due Hanzo’s unconventional interrogation methods on females. All in the name of justice mind you! He rapes 2 women in this movie but after a while they start to enjoy Hanzo raping them so both end up being his mistresses! Hanzo is a typical bad ass cop – using any means necessary to get the truth out of prisoners, even if his ways are unlawful. If it gets results then it’s no problem for him. Shintaro Katsu is excellent as Hanzo, he has this intensity about him but you get to see that he’s a fairly sympathetic lawmaker as well  such as when the storyline moves onto 2 kids whose father is dying from terminal cancer in a house. He’s in pain and wants the kids to free him from the pain by doing a mercy killing. This they are about to do until Hanzo steps in. Sparing the kids from being arrested and probably crucified, he tells them to go outside whilst he takes a rope and makes it appear that the father took his own life by hanging. It’s a win-win situation for all – the father is freed from more suffering and the kids haven’t done anything wrong.

This 70’s slice of exploitation is rather fun to watch. It’s hard to tell whether this movie is a little tongue-in-cheek or not due to the dry humour, OTT violence and ridiculous funky soundtrack. This movie is a part of a trilogy so I’m looking forward to seeing the exploits of Hanzo once again soon.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Dr Lamb (1992)

The Hong Kong Police led by Inspector Lee arrest a taxi driver who’s accused of murdering several women after disturbing pictures are found at a photo processing lab. At first the suspect acts tough and even after getting roughed up by the police refuses to confess to anything. Then his family gets involved after they find dodgy pictures that the suspect took of his young niece. They then start to beat him up in custody. Finally the man relents and begins to recount to the police the terrible tale of why and how he killed the women.

At first you would be led to believe that there’s nothing remotely nasty to have given this movie a Cat III rating as the opening 45 mins is just a straight forward story of the cops arresting a suspect of murder and trying to get a confession out of him. But once he starts telling the cops what happened, the red stuff starts getting shown on screen. But even then it’s not terribly shocking. You do see a scalpel being plunged into skin around the breast of one unfortunate murder suspect and see blood being spurted around a room when a victim gets cut up with a buzzsaw. I’ve seen far worse in other Cat III gorefests such as Ebola Syndrome or The Untold Story (shot by the director and star of this movie Danny Lee the following year). Lee took some of the best aspects of Dr Lamb and upped the gore level in The Untold Story. Dr Lamb was the catalyst for a slew of Cat III grisly horrors to come out of Hong Kong. Believe it or not, the movie is also based on a graphic real life murder case.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – Simon Yam is excellent whenever he plays a psychotic insane maniac just like the taxi driver in this movie. He portrays the killer as an OTT nutjob who howls like a dog, twists and contorts his face whenever he has killed a victim. Apart from Danny Lee as Inspector Lee who has nailed playing a cop to a tee due to similar roles in other movies, the rest of the actors who play the C.I.D officers are only average in their roles. I don’t understand why there was a need to inject some silly slapstick comedy into this serious movie. It just looked out of place and stupid.

Naturally this movie will disgust some people with it’s content and it’s certainly not for the squeamish. As for myself, I enjoyed this sleazefest especially Simon Yam’s menacing performance. I’m sure this movie would not have been half so good if he wasn’t in it.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5.

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Kamen Rider X (1974)

A little girl named Sayoko witnesses the murder of an Interpol agent by the G.O.D monster Hercules at Haneda Airport. Jin Keisuke saves the girl before Hercules tries to kill her. In the hospital recovering from her ordeal, Sayoko tells Keisuke that G.O.D is targeting an important official called Kibara. Kamen Rider X has his hands full when G.O.D abducts Kibara and takes Sayoko and her mother hostage in a junk yard with their intention to kill both by crushing them inside a car. Can Kamen Rider X save the day?

The 3rd incarnation of Kamen Rider appeared on Japanese screens in 1974. This is the re-edited theatrical version of Episode 3 from the series and is quite short running at only 31 minutes. Apart from the obvious difference in the quality of the action from modern day KR movies, this is still an enjoyable and entertaining blast from the past. The action comes thick and fast beginning with G.O.D’s lackeys launching a surprise attack on our hero in a deserted warehouse and doesn’t let up for the rest of the movie. There’s no time for any character development as it is assumed the viewer is already familiar with our hero. Whilst the old KR movies may seem to be somewhat cheesy to some people, there’s definitely a certain charm attached to them which I find rather appealing so I can recommend this to those that like Kamen Rider.

No trailer but I found the subbed opening to the series.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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