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Archive for February 6th, 2015

Blind_Beast_vs._Killer_Dwarf_

Detective Akemi teams up with his friend, a novelist called Monzo after the disappearance of two women. Although reluctant at first to accept one of the cases, Akemi decides to help Monzo out in trying to locate the missing daughter of his female acquaintance. The other case has the two trying to solve the disappearance of a dancer Ranko Mizuki who vanishes suddenly after a show. Ranko has been kidnapped by a blind masseur who has imprisoned her in his art studio which has walls lined up with plaster cast impressions of body parts. Ranko fails to escape from the madman’s lair and actually starts to enjoy his sexual perversion. Monzo also sees a dwarf carrying what appears to be a human arm in a park at night. Soon after other female body parts begin to appear in some public art displays, one of which is attached to the famous statue of Saigo Takamori in Ueno Park, Tokyo. Will Akemi and Monzo be able to find Ranko and also capture the dwarf who is murdering people for all the abuse he has endured over the years?

This was maverick Japanese director Teruo Ishii’s final movie before his death in 2005. Whilst he directed many exploitation classics during the 60’s and 70’s, this movie unfortunately is terrible. The story is a combination of 2 novels by Edogawa Rampo. Everything about this movie is awful. Ishii in the past had been able to use of the limited budget at his disposal to his advantage and make his movies look good and professional. I hate to say this but this movie looks very amateurish and to make things worse the directing is inept and I’m sure a university film student could have done better.

BBvsKD screenshot

Ishii sticks to his favourite genre of violence and sex (ero-guro) for the story. The movie title makes you think that both the antagonists fight each other but the truth is there is never a confrontation between the blind masseur and the killer dwarf. The storyline is confusing and doesn’t make sense even though the premise could have been interesting. I felt they were making the plot up as they were filming. Whilst I can understand why the dwarf was going around killing people as the world has been mocking him for his size, the same cannot be said for the blind masseur. There is some nudity and a tiny amount of gore involved…….well this is an Ishii movie after all so it’s to be expected from him. You’d think in his twilight years he might have toned down the content of his movies but no, he didn’t do that at all!!

The acting by nearly all involved is horrible and it’s a shame to see a star such as Tetsuro Tamba having to perform in such an abysmal movie. The majority of the cast were complete unknowns. Only a couple of positives can be said about the whole production. Hisayoshi Hirayama is repugnant as the blind masseur who is looking for the perfect female model for his work. His whole look is disgusting. One critic has said he looks like a naked mole-rat and I have to agree that the description is spot on. Some of the bizarre things on display include a human hand being attached to a balloon which is seen floating about in the sky after a female victim is dismembered! I did like the imagery inside the blind masseur’s studio which is like a cave decorated with plaster casts of female body parts.

I cannot recommend this for anybody except for Ishii completists. It’s not a great swansong for such a talented director. One to avoid I’m afraid and certainly not a movie to watch with the family!!

Sadako’s Rating: 1.5 star out of 5

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the-kung-fu-cult-master-cover

Chang Mo-kei’s parents are the owners of a pair of magical swords and some clans are desperate to get their hands on them. In the process of this struggle, they are forced to commit suicide by rival clan leaders and young Chang Mo-kei is given the Jinx Palm curse which prevents him from being able to practice martial arts. He is taken in by the Wu-Tang clan leader but a young rival manages to cast him out. He is released of his curse by a crazed monk he comes across who is strapped into a rock and teaches him the Great Solar Stance. Chang Mo-kei vows to take revenge on the clan leaders responsible for the death of his parents. Two rival clan sects are also fighting each other for ownership of the 2 magic swords and Chang Mo-kei also sets out to sort this feud out not realizing that it is a ruse by the government led by a woman who looks very much like his dead mother. The government wants to reduce the amount of power that the martial arts clans have. Will Chang Mo-kei be able to deal with everything on his own?

This martial arts fantasy epic which is packed full of spectacular action sequences was supposed to be the first of a 2-part movie series but unfortunately due to it being a flop the 2nd movie was cancelled which is a big shame as I really enjoyed it. You’d think with such a distinguished cast which included Jet Li, Sammo Hung, Chingmy Yau, Richard Ng and Sharla Cheung, this movie should have been a runaway success so I’m not really sure why that wasn’t the case? It leaves the story dangling on a bit of a cliffhanger at the climax of the movie. The story has been adapted from a long running TV series called Dragon Sword & Heaven Sabre and trying to cram around 60 hours of the TV series plot into 90 mins was always going to be a struggle for the scriptwriter. There are apparently 2 Shaw Brothers movies from the 60’s (not sure of the movie’s titles) that more or less follows the plot of this movie and continues with what would taken place in the proposed sequel.

kung fu cult master screenshot

I think part of the reason why this movie divides so many martial arts fans and didn’t do too well is because of it’s overly complicated plot but thankfully this is balanced out by the wildly choreographed fight sequences which was directed by Sammo Hung. Don’t expect any standard kung-fu antics here as there is a lot of wire involved. It’s fast and frenetic stuff but always great as expected by Sammo. It will take a viewer with a lot of concentration to understand the plot completely from start to finish. I’m sure to many it will make no sense at all but don’t worry because the numerous action sequences that litter the movie will take your mind off the baffling plot. You never have enough time to digest what is going on before another fight or skirmish happens. All the famous martial arts schools you may have heard about is featured in this movie plus some fictional ones thrown in such as the Ming Sect which is depicted as being evil and led by magical people with OTT names as Green Bat (a vampire) and Gold Lion. I’m quite amazed at the rather offensive dialogue that I come across in some Asian movies. In this movie you have 2 cowardly comic characters who disguise themselves as Red Cross workers and jokingly say they are going to rape a woman. I’m not sure how joking about a serious offence as rape can be considered funny.

Jet Li is rather good in the leading role and he is given the very gorgeous Chingmy Yau as his partner in crime and love interest. Always pleasing on the eye, she looks fabulous in her costume but so does Sharla Cheung who pops up in 2 roles in this movie. First as the mother of Jet Li’s character when he’s a child and then as the government official behind the clans fighting each other. Sammo and Richard Ng don’t have that big of a part in this movie.

Despite the convoluted plot, I loved this fantasy movie and thought it was a lot of fun. If you’re into a movie with fast and furious action set-pieces and not that bothered if the plot goes above your head then you may perhaps enjoy this movie. Give it a go and see what you think.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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