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Archive for April 28th, 2012

Young Rantaro is sent to learn the ways of being a ninja by his parents (they themselves were ninjas) by sending him off to ninja school. They have high hopes for him and he promises to be the best ninja ever. At the school he meets his classmates such as the boy with a very runny nose who dozes off in his class and gets his arse beaten by a teacher and an orphan who babysits 2 young kids whilst studying. Each lesson brings a new skills for Rantaro to master such as throwing shuriken stars to climbing a mountain with metal claws. His class teacher is Mr Doi who has a habit of falling in some dog shit when he’s dodging some shuriken stars thrown awkwardly by his students. Ranataro begins to take in what the other grades at the school are doing and realises the effort they put in is making them quite good. But there’s a dark cloud on the horizon as some bad ninjas try to kill some friends of Mr Doi (a couple of camp hairdressers) which is thwarted by his students. To settle the case once and for all, the bad ninjas must have a race with the 1st graders to ring a bell on top of a mountain.

Based on a very popular kids anime called Rantaro the Ninja Boy, this is a first for me – a Takashi Miike movie that I don’t really like. He fails miserably with this slapstick comedy and to be honest I couldn’t wait for it to finish. It just dragged on and on and I was bored which I usually never get whilst watching any of his movies. Miike can do some subtle comedy as we’ve seen from previous movies but something was amiss in this, his first outright comedy. I’m not sure if Miike was trying to make fun of Harry Potter or not as the lead character looks like a young version of the boy wizard. The opening 10 mins gives you an idea of what you’re letting yourself in for moving from sight gag to another sight gag and I somewhat liked the first half but I don’t know what happened in the 2nd half as the movie just fell to pieces completely. Perhaps I didn’t like it as the target audience for the movie was young kids and I’m sure the wacky comedy appeals very much to them.

Seishiro Kato does well in his role as Rantaro. He’s a very likeable little lad who will charm the pants off you. The other young cast members exude their lively personalities to the audience too. You cheer for them and want them to succeed as ninjas. At times I thought the movie was like a Christmas panto with men in drag popping up.

A big disappointment from a director I admire very much. I know from reading people’s views online that I’m not the only Miike fan to be let down by this movie. Kids will lap it up and enjoy the humour but I just couldn’t get into it at all. After about 40 minutes it got stale and boring. There is some fun to be had but it’s scarce.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 stars out of 5

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A former gang member returns from Los Angeles to Hong Kong to present to the Justice Department, in exchange for immunity, a list of members of the Shadow triad gang operating in Hong Kong. The gang member (unfortunately named Jackie Chan!) is placed under the protection of the Blue Angels, an all-female special operations unit of the HKPD. The Angels’ mission is to identify the head of the Southeast Asian Shadows. Chan and his list are to be used as bait to apprehend the Shadow triad gang leaders Don Chu and Chico. The leading Blue Angel, Yau Li  goes undercover by working as a singer-dancer at Don Chu’s night club. Her performance leads Chu’s bodyguard Michael to become infatuated with her but this does not go down well with his girlfriend who is seething with rage. A new member to the Blue Angels team goes ballistic when she finds that Jackie is working with them as he had a part in the murder of her little boy 3 years ago when he and his mother found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Michael’s girlfriend is convinced that Yau Li is a policewoman and sets out to kill her but she’s saved by Michael. When Don Chu finds out that Jackie has no list he orders Chico to kill him. Chico himself is also killed before he can tell everything to the Blue Angels by Michael. The stage is set for the ultimate confrontation as the 3 policewoman head to the Shadow HQ to arrest Don Chu.

Killer Angels has been touted around as being one of the best Girls With Guns movies ever so who am I to contest that claim as it is a brilliant action packed and thrilling ride. It’s got an incredible cast led by Moon Lee and Gordon Liu plus the superb Nadeki Fujimi as a mean, cold, ruthless, unforgiving and efficient shotgun shooting killer. The plot is nothing special and it doesn’t give you anything new and unexpected (just the usual betrayals and double crosses) but did I care about that? Not really, I watched this movie for the action and it delivers big style with many frenetic and hyper kinetic set pieces which I loved from dramatic shootouts to full on martial arts scraps. Moon Lee’s fight with Nadeki Fujimi at the Star Ferry terminal is one of the highlights after Lee has been pursued by Fujimi on a motorbike but the climatic 3 pronged assault on the triad HQ by the Blue Angels team who are loaded up with machineguns is awesome and very exciting to watch. Just a shame it’s so damn short, I wanted the ass kicking to go on for longer.

Moon Lee displays both her cute and sexy side in her role as Yau Li. She looks stunning in her nightclub singing scene all dressed in black leather and you can see why Gordon Liu’s character becomes drawn to her. Hell, I would too!! Surprisingly she’s got quite a good singing voice as well (if that was her voice singing that is?). Lui doesn’t get to display any of his martial arts skills, he just shoots people instead. I thought he would have been given a chance to have a fight with one of the Blue Angels team. He gave as good a performance as any of the cast. Even though Moon Lee’s character is the main focus of the movie, it’s probably Nadeki Fujimi that stands out from everybody. She is excellent in what is a bit part role.  She looks so cool in her motorcycle outfit and dark glasses. Her whole menacing demeanour is so bad-ass. The way she angrily tells Michael that she will cut Yau Li’s tits off gives you the impression that this lady isn’t somebody you want to cross!

Killer Angels is a worthy movie that deserves to be watched by HK action junkies. The fast pace means you’re never far from a set-piece which just gets better as the movie goes on. Highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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