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Archive for February 13th, 2012

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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Set in an alternate future 4 years after the end of the series in which KR Blade sealed the enemy Joker, the characters have gone into retirement and moved on with their lives. Suddenly the Undead return and a band of new Kamen Riders (Glaive, Larc and Lance) appear on the scene to tackle the threat. But why have the Undead been rereleased? It appears there’s a new albino Joker on the scene but the old Kamen Rider heroes cannot transform to help their new counterparts. When Amane, the niece of one of the old Riders (Kotaro) is kidnapped and deemed to be the key to releasing the ultimate Undead power, the old Riders and the new Riders team up to destroy the threat that is facing not only them but humanity itself. However not all is at it seems with the new Riders.

Perhaps I made a mistake in not watching the series first as I was unfamiliar with the characters and their dynamics whilst viewing the movie. It’s the first time for me to see a KR series which features a female Rider. That was quite a nice touch to see. Despite not knowing the overall story arc of the series, I really enjoyed this movie. It’s full of action and pyrotechnics that we’ve come to expect of the new Heisei KR franchise and I found the storyline to be exciting. I loved seeing the reaction of the old KR characters to their new counterparts and the tension that developed between them. Having watched the movie it’s definitely made me have the urge to watch the series from scratch.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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The first in a trilogy spanning 9 hours in total. The story is set during the latter part of World War II and centers around 28 year old Kaji, a civil servant who doesn’t want to go and fight on the front line. In order to go around this problem, he reluctantly marries his sweetheart Michiko and is sent to Northern Manchuria to be a supervisor at a mining complex which has Chinese POW’s as a slave labour force. Kaji wishes the POW’s to be treated fairly as he thinks they will work better but several of his Japanese co-workers disagree with his methods and set about to sabotage his plans by making several of the Chinese prisoners escape through the electric fence surrounding the mine by switching off the power. As the Japanese military intervene in the affairs of the mine after the prisoner escapes, Kaji finds his authority being undermined even more and the Chinese POW’s with whom he hoped would trust him now beginning to suspect he’s like the rest of their Japanese tormentors. With Kaji’s anti-war feelings coming more and more to the surface, his mutinous approach is likely to see him drafted to the front line – the place where he does not want to go.

The first part of The Human Condition trilogy is a powerful anti-war movie that deserves to be called an epic. Tatsuya Nakadai is just superb as the tormented good-hearted Kaji – trying his best to do what’s best for the prisoners and not the cruel brutal ways his Japanese co-workers wants to treat them. His idea of treating them well which he thinks will increase production clashes badly with the rest of the Japanese regime at the mine who seem to think beating the workers so that they get the job done is the way forward. You can feel the inner turmoil that faces Kaji with backstabbers plotting his downfall – thinking he’s far too soft on the prisoners for their liking. It’s just one obstacle after another preventing Kaji from running the mine the way he wants. As much as he tries to get the Chinese prisoners to like him, he is still after all the enemy in their eyes.

This is of course only Part 1 and I’m eager to watch the other 2 movies to see how the story advances. This is definitely a masterpiece in everything from the wonderful story, the acting, production and cinematography. A spellbinding movie which will grip you from start to finish. The 3rhs 20 mins running time might just be too much for some people but stick with it.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

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