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Archive for December 11th, 2013

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

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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

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