Archive for December, 2013

Shinjuku Outlaw dvd

Yomi is a yakuza henchman in Hiroshima. His boss is dying from cancer in hospital and the clan members are worried that his impending death will make their rivals move in on their territory. Yomi volunteers to kill the boss of a rival clan so that any idea they’ve got of trying to moving into their turf will be quashed. A plan is arranged that once the job is over Yomi will be picked up by the police should he survive. He tracks the rival boss to a bowling alley where he is having fun with his family which includes his young granddaughter. He manages to kill the boss but he isn’t so lucky in escaping and he is mown down in a hail of bullets by the boss’ bodyguards. He survives the ordeal but only just. He falls into a coma as he arrives at the prison hospital and wakes up 10 years later where many things have changed. His trusted friend Eto has moved to Tokyo and taken Yomi’s girlfriend Ayumi with him to run a Filipino prostitution ring. Eto has run himself into some debts and when Yomi comes to visit him he is kidnapped by those he owes money for. To the surprise of many people, Yomi decides he’d like to help Eto out. Everybody thought he’d kill Eto for stealing his girl. The Shinjuku yakuza hear about Yomi’s arrival in Tokyo and make him an offer that he simply can’t refuse by forcing him to work for them. In doing so, Yomi gets himself entangled in a situation which involves a corrupt cop and the Taiwanese mafia.

This is one of Takashi Miike’s earliest yakuza works and although this movie isn’t quite as extreme as what he would release later in his career, the viewer will quite clearly be able to see that some elements are beginning to come through (a yakuza is beaten up in the street by a Taiwanese mafia member who then urinates on his prone body before shooting his brains out!). If there’s one thing you can say about Miike’s yakuza movies they are entertaining as hell and so different to anybody else. Even a low budget yakuza movie such as this one by Miike is better than what many established directors can come up with in the genre. The plot is interesting about the Japanese yakuza having some issues with the Taiwanese mafia who are hoping to take over their rackets. The movie also has some quirky characters – a staple feature of Miike’s movies. The pairing of Yomi with a streetwise Filipino prostitute working for the Taiwanese mafia is a good one although there’s a twist in their relationship right near the end of the movie. You can see it coming a mile off that something is bound to happen between them.

Shinjuku Outlaw screenshot

If there’s one thing Miike doesn’t shy away from in his movies is in his depiction of violence against women. One scene features a young woman being battered in her apartment by a yakuza member. It’s a vicious prolonged assault which has the unfortunate woman being thrown down some stairs, getting her head smashed into a wooden door before it ends with her collapsing into a heap in her bathroom. It’s an uncomfortable scene to watch so be warned if you don’t like seeing violence against women. Was it necessary to have such a scene in the movie? Probably not as it doesn’t serve any purpose whatsoever but that’s Takashi Miike for you. He also ups the violence factor in the final third as the battle between the Japanese yakuza and the Taiwanese mafia spills out into the streets. The brutality of the Taiwanese gang members is there for all to see as the viewer witnesses a montage showing one member shooting one of the yakuza whilst dancing. You could only see something as bizarre as this in a Miike movie!

Hiroyuki Watanabe is great as the lead character Yomi. I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything before. He carries the role really well although all he has to do if I’m being honest is try to act tough but the same thing can be said about all of the cast members playing yakuza members. They’re not going to win any awards for their acting that’s for sure. Ruby Moreno is also solid as the Filipino actress playing the character of the prostitute that Yomi strikes up a relationship with.

Shinjuku Outlaws will never be one of Takashi Miike’s best movies but if you want to see the great man at the start of his career where he honed his skills as a storyteller and director, I’m sure this movie will more than satisfy anybody.

I’m sorry but there’s no trailer for this movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »

Demon Spies (1974)

Demon Spies

A couple are travelling through the Japanese countryside when they are confronted by a group of children wearing masks. They are soon slayed and the viewer discovers the children have been recruited by a group to become demon spies. They are forced to wear masks and if that mask ever leaves their faces during training they are more or less executed instantly. The training is long and hard and takes 10 years. Not all of them survive the tough conditions set out by their masters. Only 5 of them survive and by now they’re adults which consists of 4 males and 1 female and they are ready to continue with the next part of their training. The next part of their training is in the art of sexual skills. Eventually the lone female has had enough of what she’s gone through and decides she no longer wants to be a demon spy. One male chases after her and after a short fight both of their masks comes off. They are captured and are ready to be executed when suddenly the 3 other recruits unmask themselves ready to free the other two until their teacher suddenly praises them all and says they are now fully fledged demon spies. They are sent on a mission to try and stop the Kushu clan who are planning on overthrowing the Shogunate. They have to infiltrate the clan and destroy the armoury before their plan can come to fruition. Will they succeed in their mission?

Based on a manga by Kazou Koike (who also created Lone Wolf & Cub/Lady Snowblood), this is a blood soaked exploitation action movie about a group of kids that are secretly trained to become demons in order to destroy any threat against the Shogunate. I’m not sure if the 16 selected kids right at the beginning are orphans or not but it’s quite uncomfortable seeing them attack and kill an innocent couple. The bizarre plot features a premise that these trained demons are supposed to kill anybody that threatens the peace of the country. They are forced to forsake their humanity and put on a traditional Japanese mask they have to wear on their faces at all times (punishment for taking the mask off whether intentionally or otherwise is death!) They are different from ninjas as what sets them apart is the masks they wear which is supposed to strike fear into their enemies. It’s pretty strong stuff in the first third for the viewer and sets the tone for the rest of the movie. The plot starts out as an ninja-like adventure but soon turns into a survival horror movie as the 5 are captured and tortured by the Kushu clan who want to know their plan.

DemonSpies screenshot

If you’ve seen movies based on the writer’s other works ,you’ll be familiar with the fact that major bloodletting is a common theme in all of them and this movie has gallons of the red stuff being sprayed about like there’s no tomorrow. Every cut from a blade results in a spray of blood being splattered everywhere with limbs even cut off.  Hell, in one gruesome scene the lead teacher kills himself as a graduation gift to his students by cutting off his own demon face with a sword! The action bloody as it is only comes in short spurts, this isn’t an all-out action extravaganza. In fact I was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t as action packed as I hoped it would be.  It moves along at a good pace though so it never becomes boring. There’s a very disturbing scene early on in the movie during the training the 5 are having when they have to learn some sexual skills and the lone female is gang raped by the other 4 students on orders by their teacher. It was a rather unnecessary scene as this sexual training they’ve gone through isn’t even used in their mission.

Even though it’s enjoyable , I didn’t think it was half as good as say the Lone Wolf & Cub movies which was far more interesting, creative with a lot more carnage but I would think that anybody that has seen the Lone Wolf movies will like this one as well.

No trailer I’m afraid.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »

Merry Christmas!

May I wish everybody that visits this site a very happy Christmas!


Read Full Post »


Female HK police inspector Rachel Yeung is looking forward to seeing her cousin David who has served in the military overseas. They haven’t seen each other for a while and she hopes they can spend some time together. A fellow officer in the military Alan arrives in HK with David and he’s involved in some shady dealings with some people in the intelligence community about selling secrets to foreign buyers. When Alan is murdered by some thugs by accident, David is framed for the crime. He tries to clear his name but this only makes things worse as people from the CIA to the local crime organisation are either trying to kill or kidnap him! The only person that can testify to David’s innocence is May, a teenage girl. Rachel is convinced of her cousin’s innocence but her job is not helped by her superiors wanting to bring David in for questioning. Rachel has always been one to do her job by the book but this time she might have to break the rules if she’s to save her cousin’s life which means going all the way to South Korea to sort the mess out.

Coming off the back of ITLOD 4 which was one of the very best in the franchise, there was a lot of expectation that this movie might be just as good but sadly it isn’t. This movie is the point at which the franchise gradually went down. It does have it’s moments but it just doesn’t stand out from any other generic action movie that was coming out of HK at the time. The uninteresting espionage plot doesn’t help things either. The movie does start off on a bang as Rachel Yeung is chasing after a suspect in a car park and she does a flying kick through a windshield of a moving car before the pair continue scrapping through an alleyway and onto a couple of other moving vehicles. Sadly though, apart from a couple of other good fights this movie is lacking in any real excitement.

In the line of duty 5 middleman screenshot

The fight choreography whilst competent enough isn’t as good as previous entries because Corey Yuen and Yuen Wo Ping wasn’t involved. Still, I will watch anything with Cynthia Khan and she performs well as Rachel Yeung – dodging bullets and kicking ass. She takes part in a couple of good stunts, one of which has her dangling off the side of a skyscraper! Another sees her chasing after a speedboat at a container terminal which ends with the bad guys’ boat being smashed to pieces by a falling cargo container. The highlight of the movie has to be the girl-on-girl fight between Cynthia and the Australian blonde Kim Maree-Penn (a stuntwoman) in a room full of breakable glass which turns into a swordfight.  She also has a good fight with Billy Chow.  Thankfully even though the plot is a bit dull, there’s enough action sequences to keep this movie from being boring – one of the stunts to watch out for is a man falling from height and destroying a car roof. The word ouch springs to mind when you see it!!  Taiwanese actor David Wu is rather lacklustre as the soldier on the run and I noticed a lack of chemistry between himself and Cynthia Khan.  Alvina Kong is wasted as May as she doesn’t have a lot to do in the movie. The same goes for Kim Maree-Penn and Billy Chow.

Tinkering with a formula can play havoc in a successful franchise and that certainly did happen in this movie. The humour that was present in the previous movies has disappeared completely and they go for a deadly serious story instead with more emphasis on the drama. It just doesn’t work out as well as the filmmakers thought it would be.

Overall, this is a movie that will appeal more to Cynthia Khan fans more than anyone else. There’s nothing that really stands out and the plot doesn’t really grab you at all. By all means take a look if you’ve seen the previous 4 movies but I’m sure like myself you’ll end up feeling a little disappointed by the end.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »


A former army officer Tsudo is seeking revenge on his former greedy comrades who tried to kill him during the war. He targets them one by one by murdering with a bayonet, the same method they tried to kill him. The first of his victims is stabbed to death at an amusement park ‘Cave Of Horrors’ attraction with the killer leaving a dog-tag behind as his calling card. Tsudo has been working as an assistant to a scientist who has created a brilliant machine called the Cryotron. This is a machine that allows a person to teleport themselves anywhere and Tsudo has been using the machine without his boss’ permission to help him in his revenge. He can appear and disappear at will. A reporter, his friend who’s a police detective and many officers start investigating the mysterious murders. Clues lead them to a military themed cabaret club run by a man who is trying to hide something that took place many years previously which involved stolen gold bars. Will the police be able to capture Tsudo?

This is an interesting movie by Toho Studios which can be lumped in the same category as The H-Man and The Human Vapor which was released around the same time. It is played out like a police murder mystery/thriller which was directed by Jun Fukuda in only his 2nd feature and his first special effects movie. He would later go on to direct several Godzilla movies. It’s an exciting and suspenseful movie with an intriguing premise about a man who uses secret technology to gain revenge. You could argue that there’s a bit of a film noir feel to the movie as well. I just wished the movie would have focused more on Tsudo rather than the police investigation. Whilst the method of how Tsudo appears isn’t as cool as the criminal in The Human Vapor (a misty cloud), there is something very creepy about Tsudo’s form when he teleports. His body is enveloped by electricity and he appears almost like a holographic image.  The viewer is shown via a flashback sequence why Tsudo has taken to carrying out his mission of vengeance in which he was nearly killed inside a cave and left for dead.

Secret of the Telegian screenshot

The special effects are done brilliantly by Eiji Tsuburaya (a veteran of creating special effects for Toho kaiju movies) and it still looks decent even 50 years on. Add to that a really effective and eerie score by Sei Ikeno and you have the ingredients of a good movie. It is well paced and the story never lags. Fukuda builds up plenty of tension and delivers a couple of good shocks. You can sense the frustration by the police as they have no idea at first how the killer manages to escape from the crime scenes. Tadao Nakamura is menacing as Tsudo, a bitter person who is itching on gaining revenge on his former war colleagues.

Despite the claim by many kaiju movie fans that this is one of Toho Studios’ weakest efforts (even though it isn’t technically a kaiju movie), I enjoyed it. Those that have watched Toho’s other 2 titles that I’ve mentioned above might want to check this one out too so that you can compare between the three which is the best.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »

The King Of Pigs (2011)


Two men who haven’t met in 15 years get together over a drink. Kyung-min and Jong-suk who are going through some problems reminisce about their high school days and the boy that changed their lives forever. In their youth, the two were constantly bullied by the gang in their class. The gang consisted of boys that had rich parents and the teachers allowed them to do as they pleased. They called themselves The Dogs. Everyone else was deemed lower than them and were called Pigs. The gang loved to humiliate their fellow pupils. Then one day somebody challenged their authority. Chul was a boy in their class who resorted to violence in order to stop the gang. He befriends Kyung-min and Jong-suk and says the only way to beat the gang is to even more violent and evil. To demonstrate to the pair how to combat the gang, he meets them up at the place where he is staying. He pulls out a knife and stabs an angry cat that he has chained up and tells them this is the only way to get them back. He offers them his knife and to go ahead with stabbing the cat. Jong-suk is fine about this and takes out his frustrations on the animal but Kyung-min isn’t quite so sure. The tit-for-tat violence continues at the school until Chul goes too far and he is expelled. With Chul out of the way, the gang continue to attack Kyung-min and Jong-suk. They still meet Chul outside of school.  He proposes a plan to the pair that will mean The Dogs will never be able to remember their school days with any joy or happiness. Will Chul go ahead with his plan and why has Kyung-min mysteriously asked to see Jong-suk after all this time?

South Korea isn’t renowned for it’s anime movies having only released a handful of them so far. This is a violent and hard hitting award-winning anime on bullying. The story is mostly told in flashback and returns every now and then to the 2 men talking in the present day. It is certainly not an anime for kids and even though it is about two boys reminiscing about their high school days it has a dark and depressing storyline which doesn’t shirk away from portraying the brutality that takes place in Kyung-min and Jong-suk’s school. A school which turns it’s back on vicious bullying and lets students who have rich families to do as they please. The pair are humiliated several times during the course of the movie by a gang of rich boys in their class. It is obvious that the violence the pair were subjected to has haunted and shaped how their lives are run in the present as adults. It is assumed but never confirmed right at the start of the story that Kyung-min has killed his wife by strangulation and as for Jong-suk – before heading out to meet Kyung-min he beats up his wife so the 2 men have a lot of issues stemming from their past.

The king of pigs screenshot

This isn’t the easiest of anime to watch because of the raw violence that’s shown which only gets worse once Chul comes on the scene. Chul is a loner who decides that enough is enough and he dishes it out to the bullies with a ferocity that’s unflinching. His doling out of pain to the bullies provides a respite to Kyung-min and Jong-suk who becomes friends with him but seeing them aligned with Chul gives the bullies an even more reason to target them. Chul’s reasoning to combat the bullies is to fight fire with fire and even take it a step further! It’s disturbing to see Chul showing the pair on getting their own back by killing his chained pet cat with a large kitchen knife. Although Kyung-min runs out of Chul’s place after witnessing Jong-suk copy Chul in stabbing the cat, he comes crawling back and vents his fury on the poor defenceless creature. It’s all fine for the pair when Chul is around but once he’s expelled that protection is gone and the bullying goes from bad to worse for them. This bullying mirrors allegedly what really takes place in South Korean schools where this type of behaviour is rife.

Just when you think that this anime movie is about to conclude without anything major happening, there’s a huge twist which takes the viewer by surprise. Chul has a plan to make the bullies never forget their schooldays. It involves him going to the school roof and jumping off but he chickens out at the last minute until Kyung-min sees Chul’s body falling from the roof and hitting the ground in front of the whole school. Everybody thinks it’s suicide until Kyung-min notices a familiar figure pushing Chul off the roof. He never mentions anything to anybody but this secret that he’s kept for 15 years is about to be unveiled and it is the main reason why he has tried to seek Jong-suk after all this time.

Unlike Japanese anime, the style of animation in this movie especially on the faces of all the characters is different and whilst a lot may not like it, it made a nice change. This movie only had a small budget so the backgrounds are quite limited and simple. It was good enough for me.

This anime won’t be for everybody’s taste and makes for unsettling viewing because of the grimness of the storyline but I liked it’s depiction of harsh real-life situations and hierarchical Korean school society where the downtrodden and weak are targeted mercilessly. Debutant director Yeun Sang-Ho has done a remarkable job on this anime. It’s well worth checking this anime out if you’re after a realistic storyline.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »

Iron Angels 3

AKA Iron Angels 3

Moon is a secret agent working undercover in Thailand who joins a suicide assassin organisation as a Japanese bodyguard called Yoko. Her evil boss is a foreign lady who has a small pet crocodile she carries around on her arm. When Moon has to ditch her secret transmitter on the way to her boss’ mansion, she loses contact with the rest of the team which includes a Thai agent named Kharina, a foreign computer geek and 2 male HK agents. They don’t seem to be overly concerned as they know that Moon can take care of herself.  As Moon tries to get some information from inside the organisation about the mission they are about to undertake in assassinating a group of top government officials at a garden party, the other agents from outside try and stop their plan.

Billed by many as the weakest in the Angel (or in some cases it’s called Iron Angel) trilogy, this is certainly the wildest movie of the lot. The high-octane action is incredible and the finale contains some crazy shit going on with a huge body count which sees well over 100 people being slaughtered but I’ll get into that later on in the review.  I thought this movie had Moon Lee as the central character but she disappears from the movie for a large portion and is not present in the climax at all. For a person like myself who is a huge Moon Lee fan I was really disappointed about this. The plot is paper thin but the action that unfolds onscreen is some of the best I’ve seen in a ‘Girls With Guns’ movie so it doesn’t really matter. The action gets going in the opening scene as Moon Lee is in disguise acting like a ditzy woman on a train who gets inside a carriage with a Japanese female passenger and a man. After getting the guard to remove the man thanks to a false accusation that he touched her up, the viewer finds out that the Japanese woman is really an assassin and a brilliant fight ensues inside the carriage. There’s a nod to 007’s From Russia With Love as the Japanese woman has a blade hidden inside her shoe which springs out ala Rosa Kleb. It ends with Moon Lee shoving the assassin’s head through a window which knocks her out and she assumes her identity! There’s even a first for myself in seeing Moon Lee strip off and change clothes. Moon has probably some of the best fights you’ll ever see her get involved in (barring her scraps with Yukari Oshima from other movies). She single-handedly takes on a mansion full of killers with only her martial arts skills, a sword and a nunchaku when her cover is blown.

Iron Angels 3 screenshot

It’s the pair of Alex Fong and Ralph Chen that takes the majority of screen time in this movie and they make for a good pairing. Ralph Chen plays an agent that gets in constant trouble. If he’s not attracting the attention of a suicide bomber who is selling drinks from a mobile stand and has placed bombs inside fake pineapples, he’s annoying the hell out of Thai agent Kharina who he likes very much but she’s not too impressed by him! The story even goes off tangent when the two male agents go to see a Thai boxing match. After Fong’s character interferes in a match when he saves a man from being killed in the ring, his irate opponent challenges him to a match. The viewer is then treated to an extended and very brutal match between the two.

The best action sequence is saved for last as the evil organisation carries out it’s nefarious masterplan and sends a group of assassins on motorbikes armed with machine guns to gatecrash the important garden party. The Thai army manages to repel this raid until a massive truck smashes through a wall and when the side of the truck opens there’s a whole army of assassins ready to attack. As the Thai army begins to get hammered by the onslaught of the assassins, from out of nowhere who should appear on jet-packs which have twin machine guns inserted in the handles but the 2 male HK agents. It’s one of the craziest things I’ve seen in a HK action movie as the pair destroys the assassins. It’s literally carnage within the grounds where the garden party is taking place which is completely littered with dead human bodies!! After taking care of business on the outside it’s time for Alex Fong to have a fight with the head of the evil organisation played wickedly by the blonde haired Saskia Van Rijswijk who enjoys torturing her underlings if they don’t perform to her high expectations. It’s hard to say whether there was a joke involved in having Saskia’s character having a pet baby crocodile, it seemed to me like a parody of a Bond villain. I kept waiting and hoping for Moon Lee to appear and perhaps have a one-on-one encounter with Saskia’s character but it doesn’t happen. I have no idea why she was left out of the finale?

For an action movie this delivered on everything I expected and more besides. Moon Lee is still as cute as a button even when she’s kicking ass. A great ending to the trilogy. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »

Wicked City (1987)

Wicked City dvd

For centuries there has been a peace treaty between the demon world (called the Black World) and the human world although there are many from both sides who have tried to break it. It is now time for the treaty to be renewed and a gang of demons called The Radicals is determined that it will not be signed. Taki is a human who is a part of an elite special squad named the Black Guards. He is assigned a demon Black Guard partner, a sexy female one named Makie. Their task is to protect the person that will sign the treaty – a 3 foot tall, 200 year old pervert who goes by the name of Guiseppe Maiyart. The Radicals will do anything to kill Maiyart. Will Taki and Maki be able to stop them?

This anime in some quarters has been labelled as the adult version of Men In Black and you can’t argue with that fact. The two heroes charged with protecting a pint sized pervert who is more concerned about hiring prostitutes than signing a treaty are dressed completely in black so it makes you wonder if anybody in Hollywood saw this anime and it gave them an idea? The big difference though between this anime and the Hollywood movie is this isn’t a kid friendly production! If you’ve seen director Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s other works such as Demon City Shinjuku you’ll know that he likes to put a good dose of sex and action into his stories and it’s no different in this one. The characters in this anime are no different to what we’ve seen before from him as well. I must warn some viewers that there are numerous scenes which make for some uncomfortable viewing and the majority is centred on the female demon Makie. She is captured by a gang of demons who use rape as a form of torture. Another thing to take notice is if some of you out there has seen the movie Tokyo Gore Police you will remember that one of the ‘Engineers’ was a woman who had rather peculiar genitals if you know what I mean! When I saw a similar person in this anime it did make me think whether that idea was lifted from here and put into that movie? The animation even though it is old school is good and the demon designs are imaginative. One demon even gives Taki a bit of a fright. Taki who’s a bit of a playboy takes a woman home for some action one night until she gives him the shock of his life by transforming into a spider demon! I thought that was rather cool.

Wicked City screenshot

The storyline whilst interesting and exciting with all it’s violence and mayhem starts to fall apart though as we approach the end after Makie and Taki who have an obvious attraction as they spend more time in each other’s company have sex and she falls pregnant. It turns out that Guiseppe Mayart’s grand plan after all this time was for the two to become closer, fall in love and have a half human half demon child who will bring peace between the two worlds.  And this is the reason why Mayart has been acting like a sex-mad loon for the majority of the movie and getting himself in dangerous situations in order for this to happen. This is the so-called twist in the plot! To me it was a bit lame. Seeing as this is a dark and serious anime, it is Mayart that also brings some much needed comic relief as he gives Taki and Makie a lot of trouble by sneaking away from locations which are protected by powerful magic to look for some female company. If there’s a stereotype for a quintessential dirty old pervert it’s Guiseppe Mayart alright!

Overall, this was an entertaining movie so if you like your anime dark, a little bit edgy, bloody and you don’t mind if the plot gets rather stupid by the climax you do no worse than giving this a try. There is a live action movie based on this anime which was made in Hong Kong during 1992 which I’m keen to see. Having taken a look at the first couple of minutes, it did seem to match the anime scene by scene.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »

licence_to_steal dvd

Hung is a female acrobatic thief who is double crossed on a burglary job by her partner Ngan (they have a bit of a rivalry). The result gets Hung jailed. When Hung is released several years later, she finds out that Ngan is now one of the biggest criminals around with a gang of her own. Hung sets out with a  new partner to get her revenge on Ngan and retrieve the valuables she stole before she was arrested all those years ago. What Hung doesn’t know is that her activities are being watched by 2 policemen as they think she will break the law once more. The senior policeman’s young nephew gets involved as he seems to think he’s a hero after reading too many heroic novels. After a number of confrontations, they eventually decide to team up in order to take Ngan and her gang down.

Hong Kong cinema has a long list of incredible female actresses who has taken part in action movies over the years such as Michelle Yeoh, Moon Lee, Yukari Oshima, Cynthia Khan and Sibelle Wu. This movie features the talents of Joyce Godenzi and Agnes Aurelio who also played rivals in She Shoots Straight – but rather than offer one fight between them this movie delivers four!  Both women are very good fighters. They tear up the screen in this brilliant actioner which was produced by Sammo Hung. What prompts Ngan to betray Hung during a robbery is explained right at the beginning of the movie as the viewer sees both women spar against each other but Ngan always comes up short and can never beat Hung as she isn’t good enough. This rankles with Ngan so it’s obvious she was going to get some payback and this she does by setting Hung up to be arrested by the police. After she’s released she sets about waging a psychological game against Ngan which makes her angry and frustrated. This isn’t just an action movie as there is some comedy involved as well which is mostly provided by a goofy character called No.1 played by Richard Ng (a regular of the Lucky Stars movies). The movie looks like it’s been put together very quickly with just a flimsy plot which just about holds together as an excuse for some awesome girl-on-girl fights. You won’t find any complaints from myself as the intense fight sequences are amazing to watch. The athletic Godenzi and the glamazon Aurelio even pick up a couple of chainsaws and fight with them during their last bruising encounter at a warehouse. It’s not just the two women battling each other in this movie as every now and then Yuen Biao pops up as an eccentric character who thinks he’s a mythical swordsman and interferes in his uncle’s police business.

licence-to-steal screenshot

Former model Joyce Godenzi is on top form in this movie and shows what a graceful fighter she was. Considering that she never trained as a martial artist, the way she manages to perform in the fight sequences is a testament to her abilities in following instructions from her martial arts teacher who was probably Sammo Hung himself. Sammo had cast her in several of his movies previous to this one (Eastern Condors is one example) and she obviously caught his eye as he eventually married her in 1995! Not long after the wedding she made the decision to stop her acting career which is a shame but the movies she made prior to the wedding are a testament to what a great action female she was. Her rival in this movie Agnes Aurelio only had a short career in HK movies but she left a legacy which has left an indelible mark in the minds of action fans due to her impressive physique and the tough characters she portrayed.  Although Yuen Biao is only a supporting character in this movie he does have a superb vicious fight with Billy Chow and Aurelio. I’ve always found Richard Ng to be good at portraying comedic characters and he generates some good laughs in this movie too.

This is an underrated martial arts actioner which deserves to be seen by more people. There’s a good balance of action and comedy and the martial arts sequences are choreographed very well.  Definitely go and seek this out if you want to see an entertaining old school HK action movie.

No trailer but here’s a short taster of a fight featuring Yuen Biao.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »


Aka The Scorpion King

Fai Yuk-Su is a school pupil who constantly gets into trouble for daydreaming in class that he’s a hero and for drawing manga. One evening he manages to rescue a young maid Siu-Yu from being sold into prostitution by the sinister Mr Wang and his offspring Sonny. Fai’s father sends him to work with his uncle at his noodle restaurant where Siu-Yu is hiding from Mr Wang. In between working for his uncle, Fai is being taught kung-fu at a local school run by muscle bound Jean-Paul in how to build up his strength. Sonny and some of Wang’s goons soon come and trash Fai’s restaurant when he is away from the premises and hurt his father who is visiting. Fai wants revenge and so his uncle who reveals he was a top Triad assassin until he changed his ways teaches him his kung-fu knowledge. The bad guys again visit Fai’s restaurant when Fai is out and Siu-Yu is left in charge. This time they torch the place and kidnap Siu-Yu. Fai and his uncle decide that enough is enough and pay a visit to Wang’s place for the ultimate showdown…….

Not to be confused with the movie starring The Rock, this brilliant period kung fu actioner is chock full of awesome martial arts fights and features a memorable villain with an unusual and unique fighting style, the like of which I’ve never seen before in another movie. The story isn’t original at all and it’s the usual theme we see in numerous martial arts movies of revenge. I know for some people seeing the same plot being rehashed over and over again could be a bit boring but this movie stands out above the rest thanks to the young villain Sonny. Seeing him dropping down on two arms and one leg with the other leg arching back exactly like a scorpion waiting to strike its victim is so impressive that it’s worth just watching the movie for that. The movie on the whole is a bit slow to start off but after the half-way point it gathers pace and it ends in a thrilling 2-on-1 fight between Sonny and Fai/his uncle. By the time the end credits come onscreen most viewers will be getting their breath back after witnessing one of the greatest fights in a martial arts movie.

operation-scorpio screenshot

The majority of the storyline revolves around Fai Yuk-Su which is fairly amusing though the pointless romance aspect between himself and Siu-Yu just distracts the viewer from the main plot. Fai’s antics at Jean-Paul’s kung-fu school where his weedy body looks out of place compared to the rest of the students there generates a few laughs. The training Fai receives from his uncle in the restaurant is reminiscent of The Karate Kid but instead of wax on wax off you have Fai washing woks instead!  It’s all light hearted stuff before things become serious. You can see it coming a mile off that Jean Paul and his muscular students will not be a match for an effective fighter such as Sonny who can think on his feet.  Whilst Jean-Paul does get the upper hand in the initial stages of his fight with Sonny, the tide soon turns. Brains will always triumph over brawn! Now if you think Sonny’s scorpion style is fantastic, Fai comes up with a fighting style of his own – the eel style although it’s more like the breakdancing move The Worm! I thought it looked ridiculous but the technique works remarkably well against the scorpion style.

Korean Taekwondo master Kim Won Jin is simply incredible as Sonny, one of the most agile martial artists I’ve seen. This was his debut starring role in a movie.  For some reason many people think he’s been dead for a number of years (I’m not too sure as to the background of that story) but he’s still alive and kicking. Why he isn’t as famous as other great martial arts movie stars such as Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung or even his fellow countryman Hwang Jang-Lee I don’t know? He should be a superstar that’s being talked about by martial arts fans but he isn’t. The climatic fight his character has with Fai and his uncle is jaw dropping.  Veteran Lau-Kar Leung performs well in his role as Fai’s uncle especially when he uses a 3 section staff/normal staff during a fight against numerous opponents while Frankie Chin doesn’t do that much apart from flexing his muscles and showing his chiselled body in front of the camera! Chin Kar Lok was OK as Fai Yuk-Su though I think they should have picked somebody with a better screen presence than him.

Overall, Operation Scorpio would have been just a generic martial arts movie if it wasn’t for Kim Won Jin and his skills. He’s the one that shines the brightest and is easily the best thing about this movie. The story does retread old ground but it is still very entertaining, has got some good characters and the martial arts is amazing. Definitely catch this movie for the final 20 mins.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »

The Bow (2005)

The Bow

On a large fishing boat floating in an unnamed ocean lives a sixty old man and a young teenage girl. They are not related. He found (or maybe kidnapped?) the girl 10 years previously when she was 6 years old. She is now 16 years old and the man is counting down on his wall calendar until she hits 17 when he plans to marry her. They seem to live a happy, isolated and peaceful existence together. They make a living by inviting men over to his boat to fish. The men like to leer and even touch the young girl when she’s serving them beer but this is usually stopped when the old man takes his bow out and fires a warning arrow shot towards them. The bow has another strange use for telling fortunes – the method used is for the girl to be put on a swing whilst the old man fires 3 arrows at a Buddhist painting on the side of his boat. The girl’s loyalty to the old man is put to the test when a young man comes to fish on the boat and he falls for her. She too seems to be smitten by him and this makes the old man insanely jealous. The young man accuses the old man of keeping her prisoner on the boat and tells him that her parents have been looking for her. He vows to take her away so that she can see the world. Tensions begin to escalate between the girl and the old man as the wedding day comes closer. Will their wedding go ahead or is the young girl destined to leave with the young man?

This is another beautiful movie by Korean director Kim Ki-Duk and it follows his other movies about human nature but without the sadistic side of things.  The story takes elements from another one of his movies The Isle and some aspects of Buddhist theology. Symbolism is a big part of this movie but that’s the norm with Kim Ki-Duk. It explores the complex relationship that exists between the old man and the young girl. I’m sure many viewers will think this movie borders on being very offensive considering the girl is a minor and the obvious large age gap between herself and the old man. There is no hint that the old man has or is having sex with the young girl in case somebody is thinking that and besides they sleep in separate bunk beds though the old man feels the need to hold her hand every night. The old man is more like a protector in that he bathes, feeds and tries to stop the perverted fishermen from hitting on her. What’s more surprising about the relationship is neither speaks to each other. The dependence that exists between the two is never in doubt due to the knowing looks and gestures that they give and it’s obvious they do care for each other so when the young man appears on the scene that balance is tipped over. I did find the relationship to be a little disturbing if I’m being honest, I mean what kind of man raises a young girl for the purpose of marrying her when she comes of age. There’s definitely some awkward questions that can be raised by viewers who watch the story but anyway I won’t ramble on about that!


The viewer is made to judge who is right to take the young girl’s affection – the young man who feels he can give her more of a life or the old man? Is it morally right for the old man to keep her on the boat? Does she want to be rescued? Things do come to a head and the climax has an almost supernatural feel to it which I don’t want to spoil but it’s open to interpretation to viewers.  This movie has that kind of story which makes you want to ask questions because so many things can be interpreted in a certain way by one person but it could be read differently by another person. That’s what I like about Kim Ki-Duk and his movies. The cinematography is exceptional and the ocean landscape in this movie is beautiful, tranquil and peaceful.  Visual poetry at it’s finest. The soundtrack by Eun Il-Kang is wonderful and suits the story well. When it comes to his movies, you can never say that Kim Ki-Duk isn’t original and the style and flair he uses in his works makes them so interesting even if the storyline is rather simplistic. One of his strengths is how he manages to tell a story which has only minimal dialogue. Not many directors could pull something off like that but Kim Ki-Duk can. On saying that, his movies do not appeal to everybody but I certainly find them appealing. He is very much a maverick and visionary director in my eyes.

Han Yeo-Reum is captivating in her debut role. There’s something quite alluring and cute about the young girl, a magnetism that draws people towards her and you can understand why the fisherman that come onboard the old man’s boat can’t take their eyes away from her. Maybe it’s the naïve innocence about her that does the trick? Seong Hwan-Jeon is also brilliant as the old man. It’s quite sad seeing him trying to cling on to the girl when her mind is set on leaving with the young man. In his heart, he knows he can’t compete with him. The chemistry between the two of them is superb.

The Bow is another excellent masterpiece by Kim Ki-Duk with some striking imagery, an evocative soundtrack, brilliant acting with a simple and powerful story. If you love his past work you’re bound to enjoy this one too.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »

So here’s the latest Asian movies I’ve watched during last month:

Sailor Moon Super S movie

Sailor Moon Super S: Black Dream Hole
2.5 stars out of 5

Death Bell 2: Bloody Camp
3 stars out of 5

Rape In Public Sea
3 stars out of 5

Professor Layton And The Eternal Diva
3 stars out of 5

3 stars out of 5

Journey To Japan
2.5 stars out of 5

Just Heroes
Just Heroes
3.5 stars out of 5

Fire Dragon
Fire Dragon
3.5 stars out of 5

Once A Thief
Once A Thief
3.5 stars out of 5

King of Beggars
3.5 stars out of 5

Fist of Fury II
Fist Of Fury Part II (Chinese Connection 2)
3 stars out of 5

Inspector Pink Dragon
3 stars out of 5

weathering continent
The Weathering Continent
3 stars out of 5

Danger Has Two Faces
3.5 stars out of 5

detective-conan -the-eleventh-striker-poster
Detective Conan: The Eleventh Striker
3 stars out of 5

Giants And Toys
4 stars out of 5

Gamera vs Jiger
2.5 stars out of 5

A Lonely Cow Weeps At Dawn dvd
A Lonely Cow Weeps At Dawn
3 stars out of 5

Fancy Dance
3.5 stars out of 5

3 stars out of 5

Project A-Ko Versus Battle 1 Grey Side
Project A-Ko Versus Battle 1: Grey Side
3 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »