Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2014

R100 (2013)

R100 movie poster

Takafuni Katayama is an ordinary salaryman who joins a mysterious S&M club by the name of Bondage. In this club, a variety of “Queen” dominatrixes will surprise him in his daily routine by beating the crap out of him when he least expects it. The reason that Takafuni is doing this is he’s after a little bit of spice in his life and keeps his sadmasochism a secret from his nearest and dearest.  His wife lies in hospital in a coma and whilst he’s at work his father looks after his young son. There are certain rules that Takafuni has to adhere when joining this club: the subscription has to last for 12 months (there can be no cancellation halfway through), there is to be no touching and no violence against any of the women. He has to be completely submissive. At first Takafuni seems to enjoy the daily attacks that take place but then they start becoming more intense and his personal life becomes invaded. He is not happy with this and wants out of the arrangement. During one session at his home in which himself and his young son are blindfolded and tied up in ropes, a rotund dominatrix called the “Queen Of Saliva” comes in and starts spitting saliva and other liquidized foodstuff on him. Unfortunately though, the Queen has an accident and falls from the 1st floor veranda to her death. Takafuni is blamed with the club’s President calling the CEO who comes directly from Singapore to take personal charge of avenging her death.

R100 is the fourth movie from the warped mind of Hitoshi Matsumoto (one half of the comedy duo Downtown) and is definitely his darkest yet. It’s a movie within a movie as at various intervals throughout the story it cuts to a couple of studio execs who are watching a rough cut of the movie (just like the viewer) talking about what they’ve seen so far and finding it doesn’t make any sense. The movie has been directed by a 100 year old man (we see him sitting down in a screening area watching his work) and the only people that can understand the plot are those over 100 years old (hence where the name of the movie comes from – a movie classification restricted for those under 100 years).

R100 screenshot

I’ve seen one critic mention that this movie might be an extension of Matsumoto’s famous 24 hour no laughing batsu (punishment) games that take place every New Year’s Eve on Japanese TV. If you have no idea what I’m on about here, there are various clips on Youtube showing these punishment games which involves Matsumoto, his comedy partner and sadist Hamada and other comedians which take part in the weekly TV show Gaki no Tsukai. It has the gang being whacked on their arses with a rubber pipe by a black leather masked individual if they start laughing. This movie takes that idea a little bit more extreme. It’s an absurd, sinister dark comedy which explores one man’s sexual fantasies and seeing Takafuni being assaulted whether in a restaurant or on the street in broad daylight by these dominatrix Queens is hilarious. The opening scene which sees him being karate kicked in the head whilst eating dinner with one of the Queens and then also drop-kicked by the same woman down a flight of stairs gives you an idea of what you’re in for. When Takafuni reaches a state of sexual ecstasy, his face puffs up, his eyes blacken up and some sort of energy is given off. Things go completely nuts in the final third as the plot goes crazy and into surreal and unpredictable territory where the viewer is introduced to the Queen of Gobbling (no it isn’t a sexual term BTW) and Takafuni goes on the run from the Bondage Club CEO (a blonde haired foul mouthed American woman) and her army. If at the end of the movie you’re scratching your head and wondering what the hell you’ve just seen, don’t worry about it as I’m sure countless others will be in the same boat. Even the studio execs shown after the end credits are going through the same thing. I don’t think Matsumoto himself wants you to fully understand what is going on. A recurring joke that appears throughout the movie is several characters stopping and thinking they hear an earthquake coming.

Nao Omori is fantastic as the S&M loving Takafuni who finds himself way out of his depth as his sadomasochistic tendencies spiral out of control. Matsumoto himself has a small role in the movie as a policeman who listens to Takafuni’s complaint about his private family life being invaded by the club. In a hilarious exchange between them, Matsumoto’s character likens S&M to pro-wrestling! Out of all the actresses that portray the ‘Queens’ in the movie, I would say that it’s model-turned-actress Ai Tominaga who comes across as the sexiest. The tall 5’10 beauty is the Queen that starts the arse kicking on Takafuni in the movie. Eriko Sato (of Cutie Honey fame) comes a close second.

Overall, R100 is an original and entertaining sex comedy which will either put you off by its subject matter or have you laughing your heads off at the violence that takes place. Personally I found it extremely funny but then again I’ve always liked Matsumoto’s sense of humour and how he pushes the envelope with this movie. Good on him and I look forward to his next feature.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »

The_Legacy_of_Dracula_Vampire_Doll1

Aka Vampire Doll, Fear Of The Ghost House: Bloodsucking Doll

Coming back home to Japan after a trip abroad for 6 months, Kazuhiko Sagawa is desperate to see his girlfriend Yuko Nonomura so he travels down to her secluded home which is in a remote area. Upon arriving, he is shocked to find out from Yuko’s mother that she has died in a car accident. Staying the night, he is woken up by a storm. Walking to the closet and opening the door he is shocked to see Yuko there before he is knocked out by somebody from behind. Upon waking up again and looking out of the window he sees Yuko outside in the garden. He dresses and runs after her into the nearby woods. After catching up and questioning Yuko, he is stabbed in the back of the neck with a knife by her. Kazuhiko’s sister Keiko and her fiancée Hiroshi become concerned when they do not hear from him and head over to Yuko’s house. Her mother concocts a tale that he was fine when he left after spending the night there.  However alarm bells start ringing when they discover a cufflink belonging to him near Yuko’s grave. The pair decide to start investigating to find out what has really happened to him with Mrs Nonomura’s man servant Genzo determined to stop them from prying any further.

This was the first in the 70’s Toho Studios vampire trilogy which centred on the Dracula legend and is actually the best of the trio. Whilst the other two (Lake of Dracula/Evil of Dracula) movies focused on a Dracula-like person (not the actual count himself) and were a bit campy, this tale shouldn’t really be touted as a vampire story as nothing vampiric takes place. Whilst Yuko looks like a vampire bride (pale face and glowing gold eyes), she doesn’t have any fangs and doesn’t go around biting people’s necks. She’s more like a restless and vengeful spirit rather than a bloodsucker.

The Legacy of Dracula screenshot

As I mentioned in my reviews for the other two stories in the trilogy, Toho was trying to copy elements from the Hammer horror movies of the 50’s and 60’s and on some level it succeeds – certainly on the scares and atmosphere which this has in droves. The story plays out more like a mystery thriller than an outright horror in which Keiko and her fiancée play detective by questioning people and looking through town records to uncover a secret about a tragic event that took place at Yuko’s house 20 years earlier and the viewer is aware that Yuko’s mother is hiding something from them.

It’s a shame that the story is a little bit confusing considering it looks great visually (the gothic look is very well done especially the sets inside the spooky Western-style Nonomura house) and has fine performances from the cast. The main problem is with the character of Yuko herself – what has she turned into? If not a vampire, is she a ghost? But how do ghosts come back from the dead as Yuko’s body has been replaced in her grave by a mannequin? So she’s a vampire then? Well no as she doesn’t behave like a normal vampire. A zombie perhaps – who knows? I don’t think director Michio Yamamoto even knows but what the viewer does know is that Yuko’s mother has asked the local doctor to use hypnosis as an aid to keep Yuko alive. Everything is sort of revealed in a plot twist close to the climax though there are still questions that need to be answered such as what eventually happened to Kazuhiko after he was stabbed in the neck by Yuko and who disposed his body?

Despite the issues with the story, I would definitely ask you to check this out as it is a good movie and the blending of Asian and Western horror themes combined with the eerie/creepy atmosphere and suspense that’s generated work well. These ideas are developed further in the next 2 movies of the trilogy.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »

sister-street-fighter-hanging-by-a-thread-poster

A man that’s been attacked hands his glass eye over to Koryu Lee before dying. The eye has a small microfilm inside that has information about a diamond smuggling ring. Koryu is given an assignment of finding the daughter of a wealthy family as she is friends with them so off she heads from Hong Kong to Japan. Koryu discovers that the same diamond smuggling ring that was on the microfilm has captured the daughter along with other girls. The girls are being used by the gang to smuggle diamonds by surgically implanting them into the girls’ ass cheeks! Will Koryu manage to smash the gang and save the girls?

Made very quickly after the success of the first Sister Street Fighter movie, this is basically a rehash of the first movie but instead of looking for her missing brother, Koryu this time round is looking for a missing family friend. The same production team all returned for the fast turnaround in completing this movie. Director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi sticks to the same tried and tested formula that worked before. The only difference is there more fast and furious action, more exploitation and more sadistic gore. I would say it’s better than the first movie which is rare usually for a sequel. There’s no cameo by Sue Shiomi’s mentor Sonny Chiba in this movie, instead she gets Yasuaki Kurata who plays a man named Tsubaki as her backup who brings his own intense and frenzied high kicking/brutal style of fighting to the table. Together the pair take on the smuggling ring and proceed to destroy their operations once and for all.

sister-street-fighter-hanging-by-a-thread-screenshot

There’s hardly any pause for breath in between the action that takes place. Koryu takes on an assortment of colourful villains with their own fighting techniques which includes a zulu spearman and a weird pairing of a mad doctor with his transvestite assistant who has razor sharp fingernails. The story is completely OTT so you expect to see characters like that in this type of movie! It culminates in Koryu and Tsubaki entering a place full of ninjas and some assassins sparring where the pair kick the merry shit out of all of them with a classical composition by Mussorgsky as the soundtrack!! I did mention that the gore content has been increased in this movie and the viewer will see a couple of eyeballs being pierced, an armpit stabbing and Koryu slicing off an opponent’s arm! I did wince at seeing a woman’s ass cheek being cut open by a surgical knife to retrieve some diamonds – all done without any anesthetic. Poor woman – that must have hurt! Other women are seen being tortured by flame. The only thing I felt let down was the need to copy an aspect from Bruce Lee’s Enter The Dragon by the chief villain Oh and a ludicrous aerial battle.

Sue Shiomi had a great debut in the first Sister Street Fighter movie and in this movie she looks settled and fights better than ever. It helps that she’s easy on the eye . She even handles a nunchuka which I imagine is a difficult weapon to master with ease. Shiomi may be small in stature but she more than makes up for that in her martial arts skills and holds her own against anybody – a mistake many of the baddies make in this movie is they assume she’s weak just because she’s a woman. You wouldn’t want to make her angry at all – she’s as tough as she comes! It becomes a personal mission to smash the smuggling ring for Koryu when she finds out her sister is involved and has been tortured. Her male co-star Yasuaki Kurota wasn’t a fresh faced newcomer to this genre as he had previously performed in a couple of Hong Kong productions before this movie. He is very impressive in this movie.

Overall, the 2nd Sister Street Fighter movie is a lot of fun and very entertaining to watch. If it’s non-stop action you desire you’ve certainly come to the right place. There are still 2 more sequels that I need to see sometime in the future and if they’re anything like this movie I know I’ll enjoy them. Give this movie a go if you’re into crazy martial arts/action movies.

No trailer but here’s a clip of Sue Shiomi beating up some trees!!

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »

eternal evil of asia

Four friends from Hong Kong travel to Thailand to have a good time. They have an altercation with some triads at a casino and flee for their lives. After losing them, the gang stumble upon a practicing warlock Laimi and his pretty young sister Shui Mei. They become friends with the pair and Shui Mei falls in love with one of the men named Bon. Bon rebukes her advances as he already has a girlfriend back in Hong Kong. After they return back to their hotel, Shui Mei asks Laimi for a love hex on Bon which will be delivered to his hotel room. Unfortunately when the package is delivered, Bon’s friends open it and become hexed instead. All 3 find their way to Laimi’s place and have a three-way orgy with Shui Mei who imagines it’s Bon she’s having sex with. In a freak accident after the sexual encounter when the magic wears off, Shui Mei finds herself impaled on a knife and dies. Laimi comes back to find Shui Mei dead and vows revenge on the men who return back to Hong Kong by cursing each one of them that they’ll die in horrible circumstances.

This is a strange but thoroughly entertaining Cat III movie which mixes comedy and horror. It is full of surreal images and when I mean surreal I mean that sincerely!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a weirder scene than having a man’s head turning into a giant penis after calling the warlock a ‘dick head’!! What makes this scene all the funnier is some urine comes out of the top of the head when the man gets frightened!! The movie is low on shock value compared to other Cat III productions but where it lacks in that it delivers on OTT scenes, sleaze and stupid humour instead. So if you’re somebody that expects to see tons of gore and sex then you may want to skip this movie. It’s the craziness that makes this movie so much fun, you just don’t know where this movie is heading and what will happen as the story wears on.

eternal_evil_of_asia_dickhead

As well as the penis head scene, you’ll see such delights as a man so hungry he starts to eat his own hand, another who thinks he sees ghosts in his own home so he hacks away at them with an axe only to discover that he has killed his family instead, another man getting nails forced into his face (ala Pinhead from Hellraiser), an aerial sex scene which has been copied from A Chinese Torture Chamber Story and a ghostly blow job by Bon’s girlfriend May on Laimi who has made himself invisible!!! If that list of visual treats doesn’t get you interested in watching this movie I don’t know what will!!!!

What I enjoyed most about this movie is it was so imaginative, outrageous and it never took itself seriously. Naturally if you’re offended by some softcore sex scenes especially during the final third as Bon’s girlfriend May battles Laimi in a sexual encounter to the death then you shouldn’t watch this movie but then again you should know what you’re in for when viewing a Cat III movie. There are 2 beauties in the enchanting Ellen Chan and Lily Chung for the men to enjoy during the story. One can only imagine the mirth that took place between the male castmembers when Elvis Tsui first came out as penis head!

This isn’t the best HK Cat III movie you’ll ever see but due to the crazy nature and creativity of it all I guarantee you won’t see anything quite like it in any other movie so it’s worth checking out just to see how off the wall it is.

No trailer unfortunately but here’s the intro to the movie

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »

Laundry (2002)

Laundry 2002

Teru is a 20-something young man who works for his grandmother at a coin laundry. His job is basically sitting right outside the place and looking out for anybody that tries to steal people’s underwear. Teru is rather simple but there’s a reason for that. When he was a child, Teru fell down a manhole and sustained a brain injury. One day a beautiful woman by the name of Mizue comes into the coin laundry and forgets one item of clothing in a washing dryer. Teru rushes after her to return the clothing and a friendship starts between them. Mizue is going through some problems of her own having been dumped by her postman boyfriend on her 25th birthday. Since that time she’s been doing some petty thieving but she doesn’t keep the items. She usually puts them in postboxes. In time the pair begin to depend on each other and an unlikely love story begins…….

It’s refreshing to see a love story which doesn’t dispense any of the saccharine aspect of a relationship between two people. Basically this is a portrait of two lonely people with problems finding happiness in each other and living a simple life. The pacing of the movie is rather slow but as I was so absorbed in the wonderful story that unfolds it didn’t bother me one bit and the 2 hour running time flew by. Apart from the two leads, the movie features some quirky characters that appear every now and then such as a boxer who is confident of winning his next fight but when he doesn’t he oddly climbs inside one of the washing dryers at the coin laundry and looks out through the window!! The supporting character who has the most screentime though is a kind hearted and sometimes angry man named Sally who gives Teru a ride to find Mizue in her hometown somewhere in rural Japan. Sally takes a shine to Teru and promises him that should he ever want any help in the future to come and look for him. That opportunity comes round when Teru is made an orphan after his grandmother passes away suddenly after losing her laundry business to a swindler. Sally makes Teru a helper in his business in which he raises white doves that are then used in weddings. He also gives Teru and Mizue a place to stay in his pad. Suddenly Sally makes an announcement that he is leaving everything to Teru and Mizue (his house, car and his business) as he has a desire to find a foreign wife abroad as he hasn’t had any luck with a woman in Japan. I liked his farewell scene when he stops a car full of young people outside his house and forces himself inside it before it drives off. Teru and Mizue are left to just get on with it and for a while things look good for the young couple until Mizue’s sticky fingers habit comes back to haunt her and shatter their lives.

Laundry screenshot

The two leads are brilliant in their roles. Yosuke Kubozuka in particular delivers a wonderful performance as the sweet and innocent Teru. Even though Teru is mentally handicapped it’s nice to see that he is never tagged as being that. He doesn’t seem to have a bad bone in his body and he has this slight smile on his face all the time whilst wearing a beanie hat on his head (presumably to hide the childhood wound). The only time the viewer sees any outpouring of emotion from him is surprisingly not when his grandmother dies but when Mizue is arrested after trying to steal one too many a time from a shop and she is given a jail sentence of 12 months. To be fair on Teru, he doesn’t abandon Mizue at all and he uses an ingenius way of capturing her attention when she is finally released from jail 12 months on and uses the bus to come back home. Koyuki is also very good as the brooding Mizue. Even though she has a problem with thieving you sympathise with what she’s going through and can sense that the acrimonious breakup with her former boyfriend has affected her badly. She is really hurting inside but thanks to her interaction with Teru the viewer feels that being with him has a healing effect on her. You’ll grow to like the pair as the story wears on and hope for a happy ending for them. I thought that Kubozuka and Koyuki had great chemistry together and were suited to their roles.

I really liked this touching and uplifting romance movie. It’s got a sweet storyline about two vulnerable people which I really got into. It’s directed extremely well by Junichi Mori. The acting, cinematography and soundtrack combine nicely to give the viewer an amazing experience. If you ever have an opportunity to watch this movie, I’m sure you’ll grow to love it as well as I have. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »

Angel 2 (1988)

Angel-II-1988

Aka Iron Angels 2/Fighting Madam 2

After the Angel team complete their latest mission to save a kidnapped businessman, they go on holiday to Malaysia where they meet Alex’s old college friend Peter who is a successful businessman. Alex doesn’t know that Peter harbours an ambition to overthrow the government and has amassed a small army in the jungle where they are awaiting orders. When he’s not training with his army, Peter enjoys watching footage of his idol Adolf Hitler! One of the Angel team Elaine has fallen big time for Peter and when she stumbles upon his plan she hides underneath his private helicopter to see what’s going on in his jungle hideout. She witnesses a CIA agent Marco being murdered by Peter and unfortunately is discovered in the process before being captured. Alex and Moon call up fellow agent Karina (and her 2 male helpers) to aid them in a frontal assault on Peter’s hideout to rescue Elaine.

This is great sequel to the first Angel movie which was released in 1986 after it proved to be popular and the leading trio of Alex Fong, Moon Lee and Elaine Lui return to reprise their roles. It can’t strictly be classed as a ‘girls with guns’ feature because instead of focusing strictly on Moon and Elaine, this movie is more about Alex Fong’s character and his association with the villain of the story. It opens with a fantastic action packed rescue of a businessman from a group of killers. After dispatching the majority of them, one of the baddies puts a grenade in the mouth of the kidnapped man. Alex shoots the baddie in the head but in falling down dead he pulls the pin out of the grenade. Alex quickly kicks the grenade out of the businessman’s mouth before Moon catches it and throwing it quickly out of a window before it explodes. It’s a fast paced and action packed start to entice viewers to the movie.

Iron Angel II screenshot

The plot slows down in the middle section for the viewer to be introduced to Alex’s friend Peter in Kuala Lumpur and his plans to dominate Asia. There’s a big brawl in a bar to interest action fans as Peter and Alex take on a transvestite gang and a small car chase through the jungle! After Elaine is captured by Peter and his associates, it gears up for the superb finale as Alex, Moon and Karina load up with a variety of weapons (machine guns, grenades, crossbow, blowguns etc) and head off to take on Peter and his army in the jungle. The introduction of Karina is a good one as she’s one bad-ass lady. All manner of explosions go off as everything in Peter’s camp is blown up. Moon Lee gets to do an incredible stunt from a look-out post up a tall tree when it explodes after a small missile is launched from a rocket launcher and she falls from a great height before crashing through the roof of an explosive store. She also has a brief fast and furious fight with one of Peter’s henchmen played by the action choreographer Yuen Tak before the movie finishes with a bloody and brutal fistfight between Alex and Peter near a waterfall. I wished the scenes would have been swapped about as Moon’s scrap is much better than Alex’s one and would have made for a far better ending for the movie. Although Alex is a capable enough fighter, he doesn’t come close to what Moon Lee was able to achieve. The movie makes you wonder how this small army hoped to overthrow the Malaysian government if they couldn’t deal with 6 people as they are completely decimated! I thought the movie suffered a little bit by not having a strong enough villain. The first Angel movie was blessed with having Yukari Oshima and Hwang Jang Lee as the evil bad guys. Ting Wai-Chin is OK as Peter but he’s just not threatening enough. There’s also less intense action but that’s only a minor quibble. The movie is still very entertaining and I enjoyed it.

Overall, Angel 2 is a competent action movie which would have been better had it not been for the middle section (although I’m sure the sight of seeing Moon Lee and Elaine Lui in black bikinis by the swimming pool is a welcome sight for a lot of people!). The first and last third of the movie will be enough though to satisfy most HK action fans. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of Moon Lee.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »

Puella Magi Madoka Eternal

With Sayaka having turned into a witch in the previous movie after her soul gem darkened into a grief seed, the rest of the magical girls become aware of the threat of a powerful witch named Walpurgisnacht who is capable of destroying the city they live in to rubble. One magical girl isn’t enough to combat this witch alone and even two girls that combine together might not be able to stop Walpurgisnacht. Madoka is still torn between agreeing a contract with Kyubey into becoming a magical girl especially now with this huge threat looming. With everything she holds so dear might very well be destroyed, will Madoka give in to temptation and sacrifice her normality as a human being into becoming a magical girl to save the world?

The 2nd Puella Magi Madoka Magica movie covers the last 4 episodes of the anime series and I thought it was even better than the first movie. It’s certainly more dark and heavy. It carries on directly from where it left off at the end of the first movie. Whilst the previous movie sort of gave away some teasers as to what was really going on, a lot more is revealed in this one especially concerning the characters of Kyubey and Homura. The manipulative Kyubey reveals to Madoka that it is a member of an alien species called the Incubators. The Incubators have been ‘aiding’ mankind for thousands of years. Their ultimate aim is seeing the magical girls turn into witches as when their soul gem goes dark a tremendous energy is released and this is something the Incubators need as the very fabric of the universe is at stake so basically the magical girls are being used (not that we didn’t know that already!). Mankind has been toyed about by the Incubators for centuries. Kyubey explains how superior his race is by comparing human beings to cattle in that we use them as a resource and the Incubators are using humans in the same way. In his arrogance, Kyubey also says that the Incubators treat human beings far better than humans do with livestock.

Puella Madoka-Magica-Screenshot

It is Homura’a arc in the movie that I found to be the most compelling. Naturally the viewer had made an assumption from the first movie that she’s not a nice person, can’t be trusted and is a nemesis to Madoka. Well that couldn’t be further from the truth as the viewer discovers that Madoka and Homura are very good friends. I like how the writers has made the viewer judge Homura without knowing the circumstances of why she’s acting the way she is. Homura uses the powers of time travel that was given to her when she entered into a contract with Kyubey to make sure that Madoka never turns into a magical girl by trying to fight Walpurgisnacht on her own. However, each time she’s defeated she tries once more but with a different tactic but by doing this she drifts further away from Madoka. Homura goes through her own Groundhog Day experience, not giving up until she can come up with a scenario that can save Madoka. In the end, it’s futile as Madoka sacrifices her life to save the other girls despite their pleas as she wishes to transform not just into a magical girl but to a god on a higher plain with the universe shaped into how she wants it to be in which Kyubey has no control over. Part of her powers as a god sees her take away grief seeds from all previous magical girls throughout the ages so that they can return to becoming human beings again and free from the burden placed upon them by Kyubey.

I loved this movie. As I’ve said before in my review for the first movie this is nothing like those cutesy magical girl anime you’ve may have seen before. The story flows at a quick pace with some great action sequences and revelations to keep the viewer glued to the screen. The visuals are incredible with a fantastic soundtrack to accompany the plot. Having not seen the anime series, I’m not sure what’s been lost in trying to condense the series into this and the previous movie (though I’m sure that some things have had to be left out). Everything is set up nicely for the final movie in the trilogy ‘Rebellion’ which I’ll be watching very soon. That story is new, original and goes beyond what takes place in the anime series. I’m totally hooked on the whole storyline at the moment and can’t wait how everything all pans out in Rebellion. If you’ve seen the first movie and have not had a chance to see the second yet, don’t delay and try and watch it at your earliest opportunity. Highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »