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Archive for August, 2012

During an argument with his father, a rebellious student named Shotaro who likes to carry a flick knife on him accidentally hurts his mother who is rushed to hospital. Sitting in the hospital corridor and waiting for his mother’s condition, he gets into an argument with a rival from another school who has had his ribs taped up for fighting. It ends up with both boys connecting with a punch to each other’s face. However, the punches also create a crack in the fabric of time and space hurtling the 2 boys from the hospital and landing up in a field. They have some idea where they are but on going into town they find they have arrived in the year 1981 when Shotaro’s parents were still at school. Whilst his future mother is a model student, Shotaro sees that his father is a yankee who rides a motorbike. Shotaro’s arrival in the past has come in a pivotal moment in his future parent’s relationship as they are due to take a photo together in a tower later in the day. This photo takes pride and place in Shotaro’s household. Nothing must interfere with this moment or Shotaro might never exist in the future. When a small gang of thugs kidnap and threaten Shotaro’s future mother – Shotaro, his rival and future father must team up to defeat them. Somehow Shotaro’s girlfriend and friend also arrive back in 1981 determined to help things out as well but Shotaro’s rival begins to fall for his future mother which complicates matters…………………

TSY: Time Slip Yankee is a comedy time travelling movie which shares a lot in common with other titles in the same genre. It’s fair to say it doesn’t have much of an original script. The story has been done countless times in movies and this one is OK but nothing special. Whilst the method of time travel is different (whoever heard of a punch sending a person into the past!) it’s never explained just how something like this can create a crack in the fabric of time and space and how Shotaro’s girlfriend and friend can follow them to the exact time period. It’s got some funny moments as Shotaro meets his future parents and even has a scrap with his father but it’s only right at the end when things start to get interesting as the plot takes a bit of a twist but even then this kind of thing has been done in other time travel movies before. There are a couple of good fights in the movie including a lengthy rumble between our three heroes and some hoodlums near the climax. The filmmakers have been a bit careless with mistakes as there are modern cars in some shots that is supposed to be back in the early 80’s. Those kind of silly mistakes should have been edited out. It wouldn’t have been that much of an effort to erase them out. As for the cast, they’re pretty decent in their roles. The movie just about held my interest but to be honest I don’t think it’s worth your time. Average.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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Following the death of his scientist father at the hands of the evil Sigma organisation, secret police officer Yutaka Daimon pairs up with his mighty robot friend and partner Zaborgar who is armed with weapons, an expert in karate and also able to transform into a motorcycle. When Daimon finds out about a plot by Sigma to steal the DNA of politicians and scientists and use it in a robot weapon, he and Zaborgar square off against the robotic Miss Borg, the female sidekick of Dr Akunomiya, the brains behind Sigma. However, an interesting development occurs as Daimon and Miss Borg fall in love with each other and have a passionate moment in a cave. Zaborgar who isn’t happy with this sacrifices himself and Miss Borg which results in their destruction. During the explosion a big egg appears with 2 babies inside. Fast forward 25 years into the future and the threat of Sigma rears its ugly head again this time in the form of Daimon’s son and daughter which resulted from his sexual encounter with Miss Borg all those years ago. His daughter Akiko transforms into a tall skyscraper robot and starts smashing up a city. Can Daimon and the newly resurrected Zaborgar save the day?

From the warped mind of Noboru Iguchi comes this parody and remake of a 70’s tokusatsu show which is set up as a 2 part episode. You’ve got our two heroes facing flying heads, a kissing samurai robot, a trio of American football fembots with demon heads coming out of their breasts and arses, bulldog tanks and other weird creatures. It’s a typical Japanese wacky movie from Iguchi! Zaborgar himself is quite a cool robot as he has remote control car feet and a helicopter coming out of his head for surveillance duties. It’s quite a fun movie to watch but I don’t think it’s as funny as some of Iguchi’s other works. It is entertaining though and it will make you smile. The gore content is surprisingly low which was a disappointment to me. Iguchi has made this movie as realistic as possible to the original Zaborgar series and has made a commendable effort as you’re able to see clips of the 70’s show during the end credits to see how uncannily accurate he got this movie right.

Depending on what you find funny, you might find this movie rather annoying and childish. It was OK in my opinion but nothing more. It’s silly, cheesy and rather corny and it did make me laugh a bit but I’ve seen better from Iguchi.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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Riding The Metro (2006)

Shinji Hasebe is a salesman for a small underwear company who travels on the Tokyo metro every day to work. On stepping off the train one day he receives a call from his brother to say his father is seriously ill and dying in hospital. Shinji’s father is a very successful businessman and in the same line of business as Shinji but has gotten involved in many corruption scandals recently. He isn’t a nice man at all – he’s frequently drunk and hits his wife. Father and son haven’t really got on for many years with Shinji blaming his father for causing his older brother’s death in 1964. Shinji has even legally separated from his family and taken his mother’s name instead. One day he meets his old school teacher on the metro station platform who remembers Shinji and his brother and reminds him of the circumstances of his brother’s death (the anniversary of which is today). As Shinji says goodbye to his teacher and heads up the stairs for the exit he thinks he sees his dead brother in exactly the same clothes he wore on the night of his death. He follows him up to the exit and outside to the street and finds himself back in 1964 just as the Tokyo Olympics are starting. He tries to change the past by meeting his brother and telling him not to go out of the house that night in order to prevent his death but on returning to the present day he realises that nothing has changed. Shinji is warned however that there will be a ripple in time because of his actions. Subsequent trips to the past sees Shinji in other eras (post and pre WWII) with his mistress also finding herself being involved in his time travelling journeys. What is the reason for Shinji to go back in time and is it for him to sort out the only real problem in his life – his father?

This is a very interesting and intriguing movie about fractured family relationships which uses time travel as an aid for the main character to confront his past especially his difficult relationship with his father. It’s not really explained what sets off these time travel jumps for Shinji and how he is able to go back to the past – it’s my theory that his old school teacher isn’t what he seems to be – perhaps an angel of sorts? All we are shown is a shot of a metro train speeding through a subway tunnel and when he wakes up he is back in the past. It does make the viewer wonder at times if Shinji is actually dreaming the entire scenario. It’s a nice plot device for Shinji to gain a better understanding of how his father turned out the way he would be in the present and as Shinji’s mistress Michiko tells him he’s not really that much different from his father in that he is distant and cold to his own wife and son. The only difference as such is Shinji isn’t as ruthless as his father and definitely not as abusive. Gradually though through his travels in the past he comes to understand, admire and even love his father which is enough to spark a reconciliation between the two in the present day before he passes away. He sees a side to him during his time travelling he didn’t know before. That’s not to say that his father has miraculously changed his behaviour for the better by this time but Shinji knows the reasons why he is the way he is and so he changes his feelings for him. I did find it difficult to believe that he forgave his father as easily as he did considering the deep hatred Shinji had for him. There is a tragic aspect to the storyline as we come near the climax involving a secret about Michiko which affects her relationship with Shinji.

From my own personal experience of riding the Tokyo metro I loved the shots inside the stations and the platforms which made me long to be back in Tokyo itself. As with the Always trilogy which lovingly recreated the past so the filmmakers in this movie need to be congratulated for bringing the streets and metro trains of Tokyo before, during and after the war to life again. You really do believe you’re back in the past.

I enjoyed this time travel story which has a couple of unexpected twists along the way. Great acting by the cast.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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This movie charts the rise and fall of the United Red Army terrorist group which grew from students protesting in the late 60’s about the US-Japanese security treaty and the Vietnam war to wanting to take down the Japanese government to bring about a world revolution. Two communist left wing factions decided to merge. By the early 70’s most of the group’s leaders had been arrested by the police but those that were still on the run had small bases up in the Japanese Alps where they held training camps for their members. During the evening they would hold ‘self-critique’ sessions where a member would be asked what they had done wrong and how they could improve themselves. Any wrong answers would result in a beating by the rest of the group and for some it would also lead to their death. Some members decided that they didn’t want to hang about for their own ‘self-critique’ and fled the camp. With the net closing in by the police, the group decide to split up. One group is arrested by the police, the last 5 members armed with weapons hole up in a snowy mountainside lodge and take the female proprietor hostage. The lodge is eventually surrounded by the police but the terrorists refuse to give in. How will the situation end?

Based on a true story, controversial director Koji Wakamatsu’s acclaimed docudrama is a fascinating account of a turbulent period in Japan’s history in which many left-wing organisations sprung up in Japanese universities across the country in the late 60’s outraged at the interference of the US in their country’s affairs and involving them in the Vietnam war. Wakamatsu had friends in the URA (United Red Army) during the early 70’s and even joined them in Palestine as a trainee in which he made the movie ‘Red Army/PFLP: Declaration Of World War’ which was released in 1971. That movie was probably biased towards his friends’ ideals but in this movie he insists he is sitting firmly on the fence and only wished to educate the youth of today about something that they might not know about. This 3 hour plus movie is basically split into 3 parts: the first hour gives us the background to the URA on how they formed from news documentary footage, still photographs and re-created incidents. The second hour takes place in the URA’s camp up in the mountains in which we see their training methods and their self-criticism sessions. Just the most trivial of things like not cleaning guns properly would start these sessions off and would usually end in beatings, torture and killing fellow members if their answers weren’t good enough for the URA’s leaders. 12 members would eventually die from these sessions including an 8 month pregnant female. The final hour highlights the February 1972 incident at the Asama Mountain Lodge and the stand-off between the last 5 remaining URA members who had barricaded themselves inside and the 1,500 police/security forces deployed.

Even though I did find the movie rather interesting I just thought it was way too long which made it hard to watch and the middle section of the movie was rather repetitive especially the ‘self-critique’ sessions which forced members to confess their shortcomings and then have other members beat them to death. It just goes on and on. The two main URA leaders Mori and the female Nagata are basically making things up and handing out death sentences to anybody they please. Nagata who is a picture of hatred throughout the movie is seen to particularly pick on other females who she doesn’t like or is prettier than she is. She takes delight in making sure their faces is a mass of bruises and destroying their looks before killing them. I was also disappointed with the mountain lodge stand-off. It was a bit of an anti-climax. We only get to see small glimpses of what’s going on – a tear gas canister through a window or a water hose being aimed at one of the terrorists shooting at them. There’s hardly any shots of the so-called 1,500 police/security forces outside the lodge. The siege is all told from the inside of the lodge. Perhaps this movie only had a small budget so that’s why the final battle was only shown to a minimum or director Wakamatsu wanted to make it a bit claustrophobic and tense as seen from the terrorists’ viewpoint?

Despite it’s faults and the long running time, I still found it at times a gripping and uncompromising movie. It was an interesting history lesson about something I had no knowledge about. Even though the siege at the lodge fails, the ending gives us more information about what happened next with the formation of yet another left-wing group called The Japanese Red Army which would carry out terrorist atrocities for nearly 30 years before dissolving itself in 2000.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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Maborosi (1995)

A 12 year old girl called Yumiko witnesses her grandmother running away from home saying she wants to go back to her hometown to die. She is never seen again by her. Fast forward years later and we find Yumiko as an adult and she’s settled down in Osaka and is happily married to Ikuo and they have a young son. Yumiko’s happiness comes crashing down when her husband fails to come home one night and a policeman comes knocking on her door. Ikuo has committed suicide with a train killing him instantly. Yumiko doesn’t understand why he would do this as he gave no indication that anything was wrong. As time moves on, Yumiko’s neighbour matches her up with a nice man (also a widower) and she marries him. Yumiko and her young son move from Osaka to a beautiful and quiet fishing village. She is happy again with her life with a wonderful and caring husband. But a trip back to Osaka for the wedding of her brother brings back unpleasant memories of Ikuo’s suicide and when she comes back home to her husband her mood has changed to being sombre and depressed. The thoughts of the suicide weighs heavily on her mind once again, trying to understand the reason behind it. Then she disappears from home and her husband searches frantically for her………

Maborosi is a movie all about overcoming grief and what it can do to a person especially when the death of somebody close is sudden and unexplained. The story plays out slowly and delicately by director Hirokazu Kore-eda. Having watched and enjoyed several of his other movies I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed. We follow the main character Yumiko first in Osaka and then in a small fishing village around her daily life – doing normal things that other young mothers would do – preparing food in her home, cleaning, picking up her son from neighbours etc. The movie is filled with dramatic pauses, minimal dialogue, plenty of long shots and is full of atmosphere. I liked the overall look of the movie. Emotions are portrayed through facial and bodily expression so you don’t see Yumiko being hysterical or crying after the loss of her first husband. Some viewers might say that Yumiko should cry her grief out of her system so she can move on with her life? Before she moves to the fishing village there are too many reminders of Ikuo to haunt Yumiko and the way he died around her home such as the bike that he stole and repainted green, the train tracks right outside her front door and the emptiness inside her home. But not even a change of location can entirely remove the painful memories from the deepest corners of her mind. Grief affects people in many different ways and the way that Yumiko tries to bury it at first but has to eventually get over it is what this movie is all about.

In every sense you could call this an “art movie” because some of the long shots are like living paintings. The cinematography and lighting is outstanding. The scene featuring two kids running around the edge of a lake which gives a reflection of their figures is stunning but that’s only just one I can point out. There are many beautiful images to make you sit up and admire them. Excellent performances from the cast but especially by debutant Makiko Esumi who plays Yumiko. The way she portrays her grief is brilliant by the way she looks wistfully at the sea from her home. Although only in the movie for the first 30 minutes, Tadanobu Asano gives a good account of himself as Yumiko’s first husband Ikuo.

A very good and brooding movie but it won’t be for everybody. I imagine a lot will find it boring and uninteresting but for the patient viewer it is very rewarding and the ending is very moving. It also explains the title of the movie for you. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Tough no nonsense girl Kitty is on the police wanted list in HK after avenging the murderers of her father. Traumatised cop Tinam who has a problem with handling a gun (he spews his guts out every time) due to accidentally killing his brother is charged with his partner of trying to track Kitty down. Before she can get arrested by the cops, Kitty is recruited by mysterious assassin Sister Cindy who trains her up to becoming a professional killer and gives her a new identity.  They become a formidable duo in offing the bad guys. When Tinam’s investigation leads him into Sister Cindy’s house and he sees Kitty, they begin a relationship although Sister Cindy warns Kitty that falling in love with affect her as an assassin. Danger lurks though when Sister Cindy’s former student – the psychotic Princess sets her sights on taking Kitty as her lesbian lover. Princess has been leaving a trail of blood soaked male corpses in the city by mutilating their private parts. Sister Cindy is fatally poisoned by Princess and it’s up to Kitty and Tinam to settle the score with her in an explosive finale.

This is one of the most famous and notorious Cat III productions to come out of HK and is a huge cult favourite in the West. It’s not hard when you watch it to understand why it’s such a memorable and special movie in the eyes of many HK movie fans. It’s an erotic action packed movie with plenty of OTT violence, stunning and deadly femme fatales, girl-on-girl sex scenes and some sick humour as well. Some have said this is like La Femme Nikita mixed with Basic Instinct. It rifles along at a fast pace leaving you breathless by the time the end credits show up on the screen although I did find the movie ends rather abruptly. It’s a very entertaining and enjoyable movie with a great plot. This was the movie that propelled actress Chingmy Yau to becoming a big star in HK and it’s probably the only movie that director Wong Jing will be remembered for which isn’t a bad thing.  Some people may be offended by what they’ll see in this movie such as Kitty’s training in the basement of Sister Cindy’s house which involves her being locked in a room with a salivating rapist and having to kill him first before he can rape her. There’s also a sick gag involving the police searching for a man’s penis in his house after Princess has killed him and hacked it off and one of the stupid detectives accidentally eating the penis thinking it’s a sausage!! You do get a little bit of gore when Princess kills a man by smashing two barbells on the side of his face resulting in blood being sprayed on the camera.  I suppose some shots of testicular stabbings will have some men wincing! No wonder this movie was cut in the UK for many years but thankfully the version I saw was uncut.

Brilliant acting from the cast with Chingmy Yau at her sexy best as Kitty with Carrie Ng so cool and vicious as her rival Princess. Even though she has a minor role I also liked Japanese actress Madoka Sugawara as Princess’ lesbian lover Baby who gets jealous when Princess turns her amorous attention on Kitty. Kelly Yao is fantastic as Kitty’s mentor Sister Cindy plus there’s the presence of the delightful Simon Yam. The four woman are drop dead gorgeous and that’s what I imagine is part of the appeal of why hot blooded men love the movie so much……..although the insane well-constructed kickass action sequences, dark comedy and hot steamy sex scenes certainly add to the charm of this movie too! It was interesting to note that Anita Mui and Michelle Yeoh turned down the part of Kitty due to the nudity.

Overall, Naked Killer is a fun filled and stylish wild action rollercoaster ride from start to finish with a bevy of beautiful strong women that light up the screen. Highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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This is the first in the popular Joy Of Torture anthology movie series which is split into 3 different stories each featuring some nasty torture scenes being performed on mostly women. It is set during the Tokugawa shogunate era. The first story concerns a brother and a sister. The brother has an accident and they cannot pay for the medical bills so the sister comes to a sexual arrangement with the local kimono shop owner who will pay the bills for them. This sparks off jealousy from the brother who professes his love for his sister. The doctor finds out about their incestuous relationship and all hells breaks loose. The second story is about a new Mother Superior who comes to a convent and finds herself aroused when she looks at one of the priests working there. The priest is caught having an affair with one of the nuns who is brutally tortured by the Mother Superior. The only way to stop the torture is if the priest confesses his love for the Mother Superior or if the nun says she will forget about the priest. When the local magistrate hears of what is happening at the convent, he goes with a large team of soldiers to arrest the Mother Superior and punish her for her crimes. The third and last story is about a master tattooist Horicho who creates an interesting creation of a woman in agony on the back of a local geisha. The locals are impressed with his work except Lord Nambara who says it’s not realistic as the pain on the woman’s face is wrong. Disappointed with the criticism, Horicho searches for another woman to make the perfect tattoo. When he finds the woman, she refuses his request to make a tattoo on her back so Horicho drugs and takes her to his place. To shame the woman, he tattoos her private parts. Not wanting to make a mistake with the facial features on his new tattoo, Horicho begs for Lord Nambara to take him to Nagasaki where he can watch him torture Russian female Christian missionaries. Horicho manages to capture the agony of their faces perfectly for his tattoo but he can’t quite get the torturer’s face right but he has a plan on how to achieve that……

If you read my review for the sequel to this movie (Oxen Split Torturing) a while ago you’ll have an idea what to expect here. Whilst the opening scene has nothing to do with the three stories, it does set the tone for what you’ll be witnessing: a woman tied up in rope and left dangling whilst an executioner chops off her head and slices her body in half with another woman being burnt at the stake! This movie isn’t as bloodthirsty as the sequel although there are many unspeakable atrocities on show. The violence towards women is disturbing which makes you wonder just why did the Japanese public enjoy these kind of movies? Who in their right mind likes watching women being abused? This movie paved the way for the pink violence/exploitation genre that flourished during the 70’s. The 3 stories vary in quality. The first tale is relatively tame with no bloodshed although it is quite depressing. The second is better with some spearings and crucifixion but it’s in the final story that the more brutal acts takes place: waterboarding, whippings, torture rack usage and women being burnt akin to meat being barbequed on a spit. Production values are high so this isn’t a low budget movie at all. The acting is very good and the stories are interesting and sound in structure. It’s not like the filmmakers cobbled together the 3 stories on a whim just so they could highlight the graphic torture scenes.

If you like these type of movies and expect to see a lot of gore on display then you’ll be disappointed but those with an interest in the history in cinema and who want to see how the exploitation genre began it’s worth a look. It just isn’t for me I’m afraid.

No trailer but here’s a clip from the second story. For those that are easily offended do not watch.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 stars out of 5

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Beat Takeshi is a famous actor who has a nice lifestyle travelling in his Rolls Royce cars from job to job. One day he meets a man who looks exactly like him except he has blonde hair called Kitano – an aspiring actor who works in a convenience store. His personality is the exact opposite– quite meek and unassuming. He finds difficulty in getting acting jobs because he looks too similar to Takeshi and because of his quiet personality.  A dying blood soaked gangster comes into his convenience store one night and asks for the toilet. Kitano finds a bag full of guns on the gangster and takes them. Suddenly he finds the confidence he sorely lacked before as people start thinking he’s the real Beat Takeshi when he’s waving his gun around. He even finds that those that looked down on him before have a new found respect for him. Not that it matters as Kitano uses the guns to kill the people he found annoying in his life. Then things begin to get even weirder…….

This funny and at times strange satire comedy movie has Takeshi Kitano parodying his acting career to date (well to 2005 anyway at the time this movie came out) and making fun of himself if he wasn’t an actor. He plays 2 characters and it’s hard to say which is the real Takeshi Kitano as reality begins to blur. The plot is all over the place and it’s hard at times to keep up with what’s going on. Is Kitano dreaming about being Beat Takeshi or are there two people with the same name running around at the same time? After a while you’ll find its best not to try and make sense of things and it’s better to let it go over your head and just enjoy the wild and fun ride. Perhaps it was Takeshi Kitano’s intention for the movie not to make any sense for the viewer? It could be that he is trying to tell us all that even with the serious yakuza movies he’s done, he is deep down but a clown judging by several scenes incorporating Kitano as a clown. By the climax it gets too surreal that the story goes absolutely nowhere and I did think that it got a little bit boring as well. I still don’t understand what the WWII scene at the beginning and the end of the movie is all about? I believe even Takeshi Kitano questioned himself what the hell he had made when viewing this movie. People with no previous experience of his movies will have a hard time with this one. It would be best to watch some of his classics and then come back to this movie. Whilst the references to his movies and cameos are amusing to watch, the movie did get too weird (and dare I say very David Lynch-like) and repetitive for my liking by the end.

Takeshi Kitano is always great to watch and the rest of the cast who play the supporting characters are regulars from his previous movies. By the end, the character of Kitano has blown them all away several times over with his array of weapons which did get a little bit annoying.

Takeshis’ does entertain  and there is plenty of humour involved but it’s just too random, bizarre and isn’t cohesive enough for the casual viewer. It’s a very creative, almost arty movie from Kitano. One for open-minded people and his die-hard fans only.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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Mt Tsurugidake (2009)

The year is 1907 and Mt Tsurugidake remains the only Japanese mountain that hasn’t been conquered which the Japanese military finds rather embarassing. Many have tried but have ultimately failed to hit the summit due to the harsh weather conditions and severe terrain encountered. The military order a cartographer named Shibasaki to chart the elevation and distances around the peak and ultimately to set foot on its peak. With Russia and France threatening Japan’s very shores, it’s a matter of pride for the military that Shibasaki beats an amateur climbing club which uses new Westernised climbing methods and place triangulation stones on Mt Tsurugidake’s summit to help create a new accurate map of the area. A local mountain guide aids Shibaski on his initial reconnaissance mission before he assembles a team that’s ready to hit the mountain. Will Shibasaki and his team succeed in their task or will the amateur climbing club beat them to it?

The first thing that strikes you when you watch this movie is the fantastic cinematography on show. The shots of the scenery and the mountains is just incredible and very beautiful . In case you’re wondering they’re not fake and created on a computer. The crew really went up Mt Tsurugidake and the surrounding area to make the mountain shots as real as possible. No wonder that veteran cinematographer Daisaki Kimura won a Japanese Academy Award for his work in this movie. It’s a visual experience like no other. The movie itself is a brilliant story about a journey by a group of people overcoming the odds to reach their goal and pushing themselves to the limit against an unforgiving mountain that had already claimed lives. It charts the problems encountered over time with the weather and other factors hindering the team’s progress. It’s easy these days for any climber to reach any peak with the equipment that’s available but imagine what it was like for a mountaineer 100 years ago with only a rope and other basic tools to help them. That’s the scenario faced in this movie.

Although I was impressed with the movie in general, I was disappointed with the scene when the team are about the hit the summit. It doesn’t show the first steps on the peak at all. Instead it goes to a freeze frame just as they’re about to make the final push before the next shot has the team on the top surveying the panorama view which is breathtaking. I expected something far more dramatic to highlight the sheer effort they’ve done to reach their goal but I guess it’s in keeping with the tone of the rest of the movie which isn’t a bad thing. The supposed rivalry between the two climbing teams never really materialises either. I thought we’d get some kind of conflict but there never is other than the amateur team declaring that they’re going to make it to the summit of Mt Tsurigidake first. You can see that there’s a kind of a mutual respect between Shibasaki and Kojima, the leader of the club.

The acting is excellent all round. Tadanobu Asano plays Shibasaki as a softly spoken and refined Edwardian gent who makes a perfect foil for his climbing partner Uji as he’s a more vocal character who has lived around the mountains all his life. He’s probably the best character in the movie. The Japanese military characters are as close as you get to some villains in the movie. They are seen to be evil people who practically force Shibasaki to conquer Mt Tsurugidake – not really caring if he dies or not in the attempt. Not a bunch of characters you like at all.

Overall, this wonderful story of a team of mountaineers risking their lives and triumphing over overwhelming odds is both touching and humbling for the viewer. Coupled with the cinematography, acting and the superb choice of classical music soundtrack – this movie comes highly recommended.

I can’t find a trailer I’m afraid

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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Set in 1969, Riichi is a 10 year old tough youngster who lives in a rough part of Osaka with his ever suffering mother, grandfather and his good for nothing father who abuses his mother constantly. When he comes home all day covered in bruises after clashing with his arch-enemy Sada and his gang, his grandfather throws a party to celebrate as he thinks Riichi has beaten Sada to a pulp. At school, his pretty teacher Miss Ito becomes concerned and decides to visit Riichi’s family to find out what’s going on. Although his grandfather is smitten with Miss Ito, his father starts hitting his wife and Miss Ito in his drunken state. Miss Ito and Riichi becomes good friends and he even begins to fall for her. He’s obviously jealous when he finds out that she has a boyfriend. With the imminent landing on the Moon by Apollo 11, Riichi and his friends start building a replica model of the Lunar Module to win a prize. All seems to be going well until Sada and his gang destroy his pride and joy. Riichi’s seething anger at this destruction will see Sada being punished to within an inch of his life….

This is apparently Takashi Miike’s favourite movie. I’ve no idea why? It could be that it reminds him of his own childhood perhaps? This is the prequel to Young Thugs: Innocent Blood and it sees the characters in that movie as children rather than adults. If you’re primarily looking for some of Miike’s hyper-violent, ultra-cool, and beyond-bizarre happenings in this movie you’ll only get them in very minor and subdued doses. It’s a great coming-of-age story full of the joys, heartbreak and wonder of childhood with some dollops of humour (witness Riichi’s grandfather punishing his own son for hitting Miss Ito by ramming a brush handle up his arse or Richii throwing up into his recorder during music class!!) interspersed with lightweight violent scenes. It’s certainly not as violent as Innocent Blood though we do see various scrapes between Riichi and his nemesis Sada. The storyline is very episodic with many different plots in which the movie jumps from one to the other but it all comes together nicely with a brilliant ending that sees Riichi becoming a man and kicking his dad’s arse (which is deserved by the way!) This isn’t the only change happening in his life by the end as his own neighbourhood is also changing rapidly and being industrialised. Miike’s directing is wonderful and he delivers this story without it being too overly sentimental. He seems to have captured the era at the back end of the 60’s pretty well.

Excellent acting by the child actors and they do a perfect job in trying to match the personality of the characters that we see in Innocent Blood. In fact the youngsters perform better than the adults! We see Riichi develop throughout the movie from an innocent and dare I saw weak character and transforming gradually into the tough leader that he’d become as an adult. I usually enjoy Naoto Takenaka’s acting but I really dislike his character so much in this movie. He’s just a loud and idiotic drunk who goes around shouting at people and treating his wife like dirt. No wonder she leaves home when he brings a stripper home with him one night. A revolting character indeed.

With a well written and compelling script, believable performances from the young cast and an awesome soundtrack, Takashi Miike hits the jackpot once more with this cool movie about childhood. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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A lawyer with a history of violent sex becomes obsessed with wanting to rape a woman named Yau Yuk-nam after seeing her in a milk commercial on the TV. At a party he tries to hit on her but is given the brush off but he’s not going to give up that easily. He finds out where she lives and moves next door to her apartment. As part of his game, he befriends her flatmate Chu and after being let into the apartment by the janitor waits for her to come home at night and rapes her. She calls in the police but he tells them they are lovers. The case goes to court where he is acquitted after he pays off a witness to give false evidence. He gets his revenge by drugging Chu and cutting her into pieces with a chainsaw. Yau Yuk-nam in the meantime has started to date a Triad boss. She is furious that the lawyer has dodged a bullet by not going to jail and plots her revenge by playing mind games and starting to dress provocatively at home knowing that the lawyer has made a hole in his wall to her apartment to spy. Yau Yuk-nam intends to drive him so wild he’ll make a mistake. Then one night after Yau Yuk-nam comes home to her apartment, the lawyer strikes………..

This Cat III exploitation movie has been advertised as a sequel to the famous HK movie Naked Killer (review coming soon) just because it has Simon Yam, Chingmy Yau and the director Andrew Lau Wai-keung reuniting again but in reality it has nothing to do with it. The title of the movie gives a false impression as well as the villain of the piece is certainly no angel although it could refer to the hockey mask he wears on his face at the beginning of the story. This is a formulaic and dull sex revenge movie (the first of 5) with a thin plot and hardly any suspense. I don’t understand why the director feels he needs to inject some stupid humour into this kind of movie. The story picks up slightly during the courtroom scenes and whilst you might think it might build up to a dramatic and exciting conclusion it doesn’t. There’s even a brief action scene at a hairdresser salon as Simon Yam’s character is attacked by a gang of hoodlums and has to escape on a motorbike. I was surprised by how tame this Cat III movie was. There is no explicit rape scenes as such and the climax of the movie is very tasteless. I won’t spoil that for you. Simon Yam is great in his role as the Triad boss though I do prefer him playing villianous roles and the delightful Chingmy Yau is at her most beautiful. There are some semi-naked shots of her body for all you hot blooded males out there to enjoy.

There isn’t a lot to recommend here but if you’re a fan of sleazy rape/revenge movies there might be something to interest you.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 stars out of 5

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The story is set in post WWII Tokyo amongst one of the city’s slums which has a pool full of diseases close by. Dr Sanada is a gruff alcoholic doctor who is keen to make sure his patients are kept as healthy as possible which is difficult as medical supplies are scarce. A young hothead yazuka named Matsunaga calls at his surgery one day to remove a bullet from his hand. The doctor notices that he has a nasty cough and soon discovers he has TB and that Matsunaga should go and get it treated but Matsunaga refuses. As his condition worsens, he tries to change his lifestyle which is what Dr Sanada advised him to do in order to make his illness better. It doesn’t help that his boss Okada is back on the scene after a spell in prison and intends to reclaim the territory he had before Matsunaga took it over. Okada makes it clear that he intends to get rid of Matsunaga by making him confront a rival gang. Even though the TB in Matsunaga’s body is taking its toll, he cannot let his condition make him appear weak and he sets out to confront his boss……..

This was the first collaboration between Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune which would result in a long and fruitful relationship between the two spanning nearly two decades and 16 movies. Although not one of his classics, it’s still a very good movie and you can see Kurosawa’s flair as director coming to the fore even though its a little rough round the edges – the dream sequence on the beach with Matsunaga being chased by himself is one scene which looks out of place with the rest of the movie. Drunken Angel is also an underrated film noir movie which is sadly overlooked by many people. Kurosawa himself stated that this was the first movie he could call his own due to some interference before and after the war by the studios. In this movie he was free to do as he pleased. It’s a simple and straightforward drama about an uneasy relationship between an angry yakuza man dying of TB and a drunken doctor who is trying to save his life. Their story is set against a background of harsh postwar conditions shown in realistic detail by the festering disease ridden pools in the city. The cinematography is excellent but it’s the two main leads that makes this such a great movie to watch. They work really well together. I would say it’s Shimura more than Mifune that stands out the most in this movie. Their interaction with each other which is full of conflict is also tinged with affection. The highlight for me in this movie is Matsunaga’s fight to the death against Okada who has made everybody turn against him – it is really gripping. Despite the rather short running time compared to his other movies, there’s still some impressive character development on show.

Kurosawa’s brilliant directing along with the fantastic acting of Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura make this a must-see movie. Recommended.

No trailer but here’s a small clip from the movie:

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Tekkonkinkreet (2006)

Acrobatic street orphans Kuro and Shiro (Black and White) known as The Cats live in an old abandoned Fiat car in Treasure Town, a violent city where various factions are vying for control. The two kids support each other with Kuro acting more as a protector to Shiro. Kuro believes that he owns Treasure Town and must confront the people that he believes are going to ruin it whilst Shiro wants to make enough money so that they can both buy a house by the sea. Things turn dark for the pair when slimeball company boss Mr Snake wants to demolish Treasure Town to create a massive theme park. He intends to stamp out any troublemakers in his way and sends 3 powerful assassins to kill Kuro and Shiro. Shiro is seriously injured by one of the assassins and is taken into care by a kindly gangster. As Kuro is now separated from Shiro, he grows more and more violent with the other gangs in his Treasure Town.

Based on the manga by Taiyo Matsumoto and directed a Westerner – Michael Arias, this is a brilliant anime which looks at 2 characters’ dependence on each other and their fight against an organisation intent on destroying their habitat.  The story blends crime, humour and fantasy to make an absorbing adventure filled with beautifully detailed urban landscapes, exciting action and chase sequences plus a touching tale about friendship. It has bouts of violence alongside moments of tenderness. The animation though it looks different from normal anime movies you may have seen is unique and wonderful to the eye and the shots of Treasure Town which have apparently been modelled after Osaka looks a sight to behold and is so full of details as the camera swoops through alleyways, buildings, nooks and crannies. Not a pixel it seems has been wasted on the canvas. The story touches on the Chinese aspect of ying and yang in that Kuro and Shiro need each other to survive. When the two are separated, their mental stability begins to break down. The symbolism of their dependence on each other is clear when Kuro is struggling to come to his senses and we get images of a Minotaur and a pack of black crows with a white dove leading from the front to signify the balance coming back into Kuro’s mind after dark inner demons of hatred has temporarily taken over his life. The story can also be interpreted as a clash between old and new traditions. The directing by Arias in which he uses rich vibrant colours is fantastic and the action set pieces are excellently crafted.  Quite a few of the characters’ names in the movie have some duality attached to them including the assassins (Dawn and Dusk) sent to kill the two kids.

There is a lot for anime fans to enjoy in this movie. It’s a visual feast with a fantastic and interesting tale of hope and friendship at its core. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Pretty high school student and karate expert Megumi decides to take a camping trip to the countryside with her friends Tak, Aya, Maki and Naoi after the death of her sister who was bullied by her peers at school for farting. Near where they are camping, a mad scientist Dr Tanaka is experimenting with zombies in his mansion and trying to find a cure for his sick daughter Sachi by inserting a large alien tapeworm up her ass! Megumi and her friends do a spot of fishing on a river and catch a fish with an unusual living tapeworm inside its guts. The slutty Maki who thinks that it will help keep her skinny pops it in her mouth and eats it. Maki soon finds herself farting like a trojan and has to go to a toilet due to stomach pains. She finds an outhouse with a hole for a toilet in the grounds of Dr Tanaka’s house which the gang have stumbled into. As soon as she tries to take a dump, there’s an odd noise coming from the bowels of the hole below which is filled with faeces/urine and a pair of zombie hands emerges which fondles Maki’s ass!! The gang come under attack from a horde of zombies who emerge from the outhouse all covered in crap!! Maki soon turns into a zombie thanks to the parasitical tapeworm inside her which likes to pop out of her ass every now and then! The gang are saved by Dr Tanaka and Sachi but when Megumi finds out the truth of his evil experiments she tells her friends and they try and escape but not before they’re all infected with the alien tapeworm thanks to a meal of spaghetti they all thought they were eating but was in fact something else! It’s now a battle of survival for the gang against the zombies and the knife wielding Sachi but will they succumb to the tapeworm growing inside them and is Megumi’s karate skills good enough to save them?

When you decide to see something with a title such as this, I think most people will already know what kind of movie it’s going to be! From cult director Noburo Iguchi who created The Machine Girl comes this tongue-in cheek, low brow comedy movie which is chock full of toilet humour and I mean that quite literally. From exploding heads, parasite tapeworms emerging from asses, nudity, bodies cut in two by an axe to panty shots, eyeball popping and heads blown off by shotgun – this has got it all with a lot of splatter effects. This movie is an ass fetishist’s dream with many beautiful rumps displayed and it contains every imaginable shit and fart joke that you can think of! The zombies in this movie do not have red blood in their bodies but shit flowing through their dead veins so when their heads and limbs are cut off or stamped upon the brown stuff is seen gushing out like a geyser. Director Iguchi knows how to handle this kind of material well. He has one hell of an imagination and delivers a ridiculously insane fun movie that he knows the audience will have a good time watching it although it does get a little absurd right at the climax with a fart fuelled aerial duel between Megumi and the alien parasite queen/Sachi. The story as always in these kind of movies takes second fiddle to the violence that is shown as that’s what the viewer wants to see. Judging by how many lingering shots of asses there is in this movie, I think we can take for granted that the director loves the female bottom! The cast seem to be having a blast working on this movie and the female actresses which includes Arisa Nakamura as the heroine Megumi are stunning. It’s very much a unique and original movie that only the Japanese could make and you have to thank them for that.

If you find fart jokes funny or you like Japanese splatter gore comedies then this movie will be right up your street. It’s silly and disgusting and a good laugh. It’s definitely not for the easily offended! It’s not Iguchi’s best movie as The Machine Girl takes a lot of beating but I did enjoy this extreme horror romp.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Akira is a teenager who is haunted by a “bouncing ball” song his mother used to sing to him when he was a child. He is desperate to find the origins of the song and in his ‘journey’ he comes across a nymphomaniac who’s lost in her mansion and other odd characters.

This surreal 40 minute avant-garde erotic experimental feature by director Shuji Terayama is a strange but interesting movie about a young man’s dream that turns into a nightmare. The story defies logic but from what I can gather Akira is just about starting to get sexually active in his life and he’s constantly smothered by his mother who doesn’t want to see her son growing up, he is then seduced/raped by a female neighbour seemingly lost in her own house and his mother gets angry at this. She ties him up to a tree and paints kanji characters on his body and clothes so that the woman can’t use her ‘devil’ powers to tempt him. In addition there’s something about a bouncing ball which gets bigger as the story progresses and a fertility stone which makes a woman pregnant if she touches it. As if the tale wasn’t bizarre than it already was, there’s a group of odd people (some of which have been painted all over in white) which start to jeer Akira and chase him around. Perhaps the nightmarish vision that Akira is experiencing is some sort of sign of him wanting to break free from his overbearing mother and it has manifested itself in his dreams? That’s only my interpretation and somebody else could say something completely different. Even though nothing makes any kind of sense, I did like the way the movie has been shot as it’s very colourful with great cinematography. There’s some tasteful nudity on show as well. Terayama had a habit of making movies that only certain people seem to understand. I wasn’t too keen on Throw Away Your Books, Rally In The Streets but thankfully this was better.

Too weird for mainstream viewers, this will only appeal to those that like a taste for bizarre movies.

I can’t find a trailer.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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