Archive for the ‘Comedy’ Category


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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Reiko Hosho is the daughter of a wealthy industrialist and a rookie police detective who is assisted from the shadows by her butler Kageyama who is the picture of being a model servant in front of people but quite sharp in his tongue towards Reiko in private. Reiko and Kageyama board a cruise ship which is en- route to Singapore. It isn’t long before a body is seen falling into the sea and it’s discovered that the man in question has been murdered and had many enemies. Reiko’s boss Detective Kazamatsuri decides to solve the case as he is on the ship guarding a priceless artefact to it’s new home in Singapore. Reiko and Kageyama also decide to find out who the murderer is. Soon more bodies turn up but with 3000 people onboard the ship how can she narrow the suspects down. Are the murders linked to a master criminal named Phantom Soros? Reiko and Kageyama must capture the murderer before the ship lands at its destination.

This is the spinoff movie from the popular 2011 drama series by Fuji Television. It isn’t essential that you’ve seen the series to enjoy this movie as it’s a standalone story and there’s a handy introduction to the main players right at the start. It’s easy to see that the budget has been increased from the series for this movie with part of the filming taking place in Singapore and also on a real luxury cruise liner. All the regulars from the series return to reprise their roles.

After Dinner Mysteries screenshot

The movie mixes comedy, drama and suspense but it’s the comedic aspect that stands out the most. It tends to feel at times like an Agatha Christie mystery played out like a spoof and instead of concentrating on just Reiko and Kageyama trying to solve the murders, there are other sub-plots with other characters introduced such as a pair of bumbling thieves who plan to steal the artefact guarded by Detective Kazamatsuri. These subplots all come together in the thrilling climax. I can also see some aspects of Detective Conan in the movie too – Kageyama with his glasses looks like Conan and is superior in his sleuthing skills than anybody else, Reiko plays the Ran role while the arrogant Kazamatsuri who thinks he’s brilliant at being a detective is similar to Ran’s father Mouri. The gelling of slapstick comedy and detective drama works surprisingly well. As there are so many sub-plots taking place, there is a lot of information to take in for the viewer but not too much for anybody to become lost with the story. As with many Japanese mystery movies, there are several twists and red herrings to keep the viewer on their toes and the unveiling of the murderer will keep you guessing until the end which unfortunately is rather cliché ridden.

Keiko Kitagawa plays the wealthy heiress Reiko in a goofy kind of way. She’s taken on a similar type of role before such as the dorama Mop Girl so if you like seeing her pull funny faces and be a damsel in distress then you’ll enjoy her in this movie though I suspect some might find her character a bit annoying. Arashi member Sho Sakurai is Reiko’s foil as her faithful but sharp-tongued butler Kageyama who is never afraid to put Reiko in her place in private but in public has to put on his diligent servant persona. It makes for amusing viewing seeing the bickering that goes on between Reiko and Kageyama and it’s obvious that Keiko and Sho are enjoying themselves in their roles. Both of their characters are even taken out from the ship for a while as the murderer makes sure they are put in a lifeboat and sent overboard. They eventually land on a small island before they are rescued rather conveniently by the authorities. Of course it’s all rather far-fetched but do remember that the movie is never meant to be taken seriously. One of the most notable guest stars taking part in this movie is Naoto Takenaka as a thief. I didn’t really recognise him at first, it’s his voice that gave the game away.

All in all, this is a hugely entertaining murder mystery movie. It’s got drama, moments of danger, good comedy, a fine cast and an exciting story. Fans of the drama series will have a fun time reuniting with characters they love but even those not familiar with the drama like myself can still enjoy this movie. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Journey to the west

In a small village by a river, a mysterious large demon creature attacks the father of a young child which is then killed by a fake Taoist priest. The creature is revealed to be a manta ray and is proclaimed dead by the priest. A demon hunter named Sanzang appears on the scene warning that it is not the real demon that attacked. His pleas are ignored and he is captured and tied up in ropes high above the river. The demon creature comes back and kills a number of villagers but thankfully Sanzang who is able to release himself manages to beach the creature which turns into a man. Sanzang begins a ritual by using a book of nursery rhymes and singing to the man. The man becomes agitated and attacks Sanzang. Another demon hunter, a female warrior named Duan enters, capturing the man inside a blanket and turning him into a puppet. Sanzang isn’t happy at being upstaged by Duan and complains to his master who tells him that his way of trying to pacify the demon and reforming them is good. He is ordered to try and tame the Monkey King demon who has been trapped by Buddha. During his travels he becomes entangled again with Duan after battling a pig demon in a restaurant. After days of travelling he finally finds the Monkey King but not before being captured by Duan’s gang, rejecting her advances and battling the injured pig demon again. Will Sanzang be able to tame the Monkey King or does the demon have a trick or two up his sleeve?

Those of a certain age in the UK will remember a TV programme during the late 70’s/early 80’s called Monkey. It was a dubbed version of a Japanese programme based on the Chinese novel Journey To The West. This movie isn’t a new version of that story but rather a prequel of how the main characters got together. It’s directed by Hong Kong comedy legend Stephen Chow who it seems now is content to be behind the cameras rather than in front of them. Perhaps with his movie CJ7 not being as successful as he thought it might be maybe he doesn’t want to act again? Then again I’ve heard that he has some politicial ambitions so that could be the reason for his scaling down of movie activities? Chow has covered Journey To The West before in the 2-part comedy movie A Chinese Odyssey. His trademark OTT action, romance and humour is prevalent throughout this movie – he might not appear on screen but everything from the comedy to the great action scenes is quintessentially Stephen Chow. The lead character of Sanzang would have been ideal role for him. The Journey To The West story has been done many times over the years but Chow somehow manages to make it feel fresh even though it does get bogged down in the middle section when it focuses more on Duan trying to seduce Sanzang which gets incredibly ridiculous and boring too.


There’s a memorable start to the movie with a fantastic and imaginative choreographed attack on a small village by a water demon which is really exciting to watch as Sanzang tries to rescue a young girl from being devoured by the demon. It does go on for a little bit too long but it doesn’t half hook you into the story. The scene leads you to believe that the danger has been eliminated by a fake priest when a manta ray is killed so when the real demon does appear it’s more of a surprise to the viewer. The same technique of showing red herrings to the viewer is used again in the instance of the pig demon and the Monkey King. A lot of symbolism is used in the movie which is lost on myself as I don’t know a lot about Chinese mythology. It probably makes a lot of sense to Chinese people but to Westerners they won’t have a clue what they’re on about. There are a couple of excellently staged action scenes which culminates with a battle between The Monkey King and Buddha after the Monkey King tricks Sanzang into freeing him from the cave in which he’s been imprisoned for 500 years and he’s not too happy about it. Production values for the movie is quite high with plenty of money having been thrown at it as the CGI effects is very good. It matches what you might see in a Hollywood movie. It’s only right at the very end the viewer sees characters they recognise as Sanzang becomes Tripitaka the monk and he along with Monkey, Piggsy and Sandy (3 ex-demons seeking enlightenment) begin their journey to the West to recover some sacred texts for Buddha. Perhaps Stephen Chow will continue the story in a future movie?

It’s up to Wen Zhang to carry the movie as it’s leading character Sanzang and he does extremely well. Sanzang makes for an instantly likeable character with his vulnerabilities. Zhang is able to do comedy and action effortlessly, exactly like Chow used to do. I wonder if Chow showed Zhang how to play Sanzang as he would have done it? For Sanzang’s female foil, Chow employed the beautiful Shu Qi as the aggressive demon hunter Duan. Both Zhang and Qi bounce off each other so they’re a good combination together. It’s very easy to believe that Duan is an effective demon hunter with the way she dispatches them violently. She tries to get Sanzang to love her but he’s so devoted to being a monk he cannot reciprocate her feelings which leads to all kinds of troubles in their relationship. Huang Bo is superb and makes for an engaging villain as the sly Monkey King.

Overall, this was an excellent action comedy with a lot to enjoy for Stephen Chow fans. He can still churn out a good movie even though he might not be acting in it and the mix of action, drama and comedy is perfect. I only hope Chow fans like myself won’t have to wait so long for his next project and that he can be coaxed to actually appear on screen next time. We wait with baited breath! Highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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32 year old Tatsuo Fukuda otherwise known as Fuku-chan to his friends is a painter by day. He is also a kind soul who tries to help out in solving arguments between his neighbours and those in need. Fuku-chan lives alone in his apartment and his friends don’t understand why he is so shy and timid around women. What they don’t know is there’s a very good reason for that. The truth comes out when a female photographer named Chiho Sugiura enters the scene. Chiho wins a contest to meet an art photographer she’s always admired but it turns out to be a disaster as the man only has one thing on his mind and that’s to take advantage of her. This incident leaves Chiho shaken up a bit. Chiho is known to Fuku-chan as they used to go to the same school. Fuku-chan liked Chiho at the time and she knew and even encouraged his affection. However, she had no intention of being his girlfriend and as she was a part of a small gang they totally humiliated Fuku-chan. This shattered his confidence with the opposite sex so much that he has carried it into adulthood. Chiho is trying to atone for her past actions as she’s been told she’s got bad karma so she’s goes about in trying to win back his friendship but will this in turn make Fuku-chan even more unhappy or can they mend the bridge that were broken all those years ago?

Depending on your sense of humour, the opening scene of the movie will determine whether you enjoy this comedy drama movie or not but it made me laugh. It’s got one of Fuku-chan’s cheeky co-workers farting on the face of someone who’s taking a nap during a break! Despite this scene, this isn’t one of those low brow comedies full of toilet humour and it does actually got a good plot to it abut how something cruel perpetrated on an individual in the past can have a long term effect on the victim years later. In Fuku-chan’s case, his friends know he’s a nice enough person and they try and set him up with a woman but he can’t deal with any notion of romance and his friends have no idea why but it is all linked to one incident during his teen years. The movie is also a story of redemption, of a person regretting an action that may have seemed like fun at the time but now wants to correct that sin.

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Chiho and Fuku-chan’s attempt at reconciliation with each other is the heart of the story. Seeing Chiho coming back into his life brings back bad memories for Fuku-chan and with good reason but slowly and surely the barrier between them comes gradually down with Fuku-chan becoming Chiho’s muse in a series of photographs shot by her. Even though she might not see Fuku-chan as a very attractive man, he does have a sort of unusual face that shows emotion very well and Chiho capitilises on this – capturing Fuku-chan’s natural expressions on camera. Whilst the story does have some seriousness to it, there are some quite wonderful comedy scenes in the movie and for myself the highlight of the entire movie is at a curry house in a scene that is so hilariously ridiculous and absurd. If you only have to see this movie to watch this scene it’s well worth the money but I do have to say that this isn’t a movie in which jokes fly at you every 5 mins or so.

At first I thought that Fuku-chan was played by YoshiYoshi Arakawa. I know from watching movies such as Fine, Totally Fine and Survive Style 5+ how funny the guy is and he’s on form in this movie as well but the person who got the leading role of Fuku-chan might raise a few eyebrows. When I first saw Fuku-chan I did notice there was something a little bit….how can I say….out of place about the character but I couldn’t put my finger on it until I went online and found out that Fuku-chan is played by none other than a woman. Comedienne Miyuki Oshima is apparently well known in Japan for impersonating men (not that I knew anything about that). She is fantastic as Fuku-chan who is an instantly likeable, warm character and has a child-like view on life at times. Everybody can relate to Fuku-chan’s hurt that he’s been carrying around since his teenage years. I’m sure it was the scriptwriter’s joke on Miyuki that there are several references to Fuku-chan’s well endowed penis! Asami Mizukawa is also very good as Chiho and it’s nice to see how prepared she is to make amends to Fuku-chan after a long time. The supporting cast is brilliant as there are numerous oddball characters in the movie such as Fuku-chan’s neighbours who are very funny in their own right . I felt that the only ‘normal’ people in the story was Fuku-chan and Chiho.

All in all, I was delighted by this movie because you might think it could be a formulaic romantic comedy on the surface but it’s far more than that. There are plenty of laughs to be had but ultimately it’s the drama aspect that really sets this apart. It’s a solid movie filled with great characters and a sweet story to boot. I really enjoyed this movie and I hope you do too. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Library Wars (2013)

Library Wars

During the 80’s in an alternate version of Japan, the government creates a task force called the MBC (Media Betterment Committee) which is a military unit that confiscates any books from libraries that contain offensive material. An opposition movement (Library Defense Force) is formed to protect such books and move them to their own libraries. It is now the year 2019 and rookie recruit Ika Kasahara has joined the LDF. She made the decision to join them as when she was younger the MBC tried to roughly take a book she was reading from inside a library but she was rescued by an officer of the LDF. Kasahara wants to meet the ‘Prince’ that rescued her. Tensions reach fever pitch between the MBC and the LDF when the MBC declare that they intend to storm the LDF headquarters to retrieve more books that need to be destroyed. A battle between the two groups is imminent but who will come out on top?

Based on a novel, this is a movie that doesn’t know what it wants to be – an action movie or a romantic comedy. This indecision by the director really hurts this movie. It opens very dramatically with the MBC troops entering a library and massacring the people there. I did think at this point it was going to be an all-action epic but sadly it isn’t although the final 30 mins is a big shootout between the MBC and the LDF. There are shades of Orwell’s 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 in the plotline. You’ve got two military groups with opposing views on censorship laws butting heads against each other. It tries to give a warning about civil liberties being threatened in the future if we’re not careful. Although the action scenes are well done although slow in showing up onscreen, the same cannot be said about the embarrassing comedy and the dire romantic aspect of the movie. The director Shinsuke Sato has said that the censorship aspect of the story is not the main theme for the movie. It’s the romantic will they won’t they tale between Kasahara and Dojo that’s given the honour. Fair enough if you enjoy this kind of thing and I know this movie did very well in Japan with teenagers when it was released but I felt it was too cheesy for my liking and not enough action. The characters are your usual cliched stereotypes. Besides the censorship story doesn’t really go into that much depth anyway although the viewer is given some background knowledge right at the start of the movie of the gradual changes that transformed Japan into a Big Brother society. As for the action scenes which are rather scant until the last 30 mins it’s a case of too little too late. The running time of the movie is over 2 hours long which is a tad too generous for my liking as things tend to drag until the big battle between the MBC and the LDF.

Library Wars screenshot

The first half of the movie revolves around Kasahara’s recruitment to the LDF and the hard physical training she has to endure. Kasahara shows her judo fighting skills in the gym when she manages to pin her fellow recruits until her superior officer Atsushi Dojo (who unbeknown to her is actually the man that saved her all those years ago) puts her in her place. Dojo doesn’t want Kasahara in the team as her reason for joining isn’t good enough (looking for her hero) and she tends to not listen to orders. A subplot involving Kasahara’s female colleague and a man too shy to ask her out felt to me like it was just wasting time. Thankfully things pick up during the second half as a truce agreed between both groups is broken and a full scale assault on the LDF headquarters by the MBC takes place.

Nana Eikura does OK as the lead female Kasahara. I haven’t seen her in anything since 2007 so she looks very grown up (facially and physically) from when I last saw her in the drama Operation Love when she was still a teenager. Junichi Okada plays Dojo, the commanding officer that doesn’t like Kasahara at all and tries to make her quit the LDF. Chiaki Kuriyama has only a small role as Kasahara’s colleague so if you’re one of her fans you’ll be disappointed with the amount of screentime she has. It’s like Chiaki is somewhat moving away from roles that have defined her career so far and taking up comedy roles instead. I don’t have any complaints about that as given the right script she does comedy very well.

Overall, this movie didn’t turn out as I expected it to be. I was hoping for a darker, grittier storyline BUT despite my grumbles I still enjoyed it to a certain degree. Don’t expect any deeper meaning to the plot, after all this is just a popcorn movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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Charlie Chan (not that Charlie Chan!) is a detective that is charged with protecting the Koran that is being shown at a museum. There are however people that are interested in stealing this precious artifact such as a top fighter named Ma Ju-Lung and a skilled thief called Cho with his daughter. Chan has to keep one step ahead of the two if he wants to prevent the Koran from being stolen. To complicate matters is the fact that Cho’s other beautiful daughter has fallen for Chan and her loyalty become divided. Before the trio square off against each other, they must join forces against a greater threat to their plans. Who will eventually come out on top?

During the late 80’s and early 90’s. Andy Lau starred in a number of movies – some were memorable, others were not and faded into obscurity. This movie isn’t that well known to Western fans but that’s not to say this movie is bad because it isn’t. It’s a fun action heist/comedy caper which is very entertaining. The Westernised title is rubbish to begin with as it’s not the three people teaming up to take on the world, it should be more like Three Against Each Other which is more in line with the plot. I think the proper English translation is something like Dragon Trio Fight Over Treasure. I wouldn’t say the movie is one of Lau’s best at all but there’s more than enough to entertain his fans over 90 mins. Lau is backed by a great cast such as the beautiful Rosamund Kwan, Teddy Robin and martial artist Tsui Siu Keung.

Three-Against-the-World screenshot

I believe the lavish sets and costumes for this movie were rehashed from when Jackie Chan was filming Miracles: The Canton Godfather so production values are quite high. This isn’t an all-action martial arts spectacular although the last 15 or so mins has many impressive set pieces. The fight choreography is by Yuen Wah so at least the viewer will know that his standards are usually pretty good. The story is light in tone and although it isn’t a laugh-out-loud movie there are plenty of amusing moments to make the viewer chuckle. Andy Lau also gets to take part in a bizarre piano duet with his co-star Teddy Robin half way through the movie although I’m sure the lyrics have been mistranslated as they sound stupid. It doesn’t really serve any purpose other than to showcase Lau’s talent as a singer. Double crosses and even triple crosses is the order of the day as each party tries to get the upper hand in trying to get the Koran although most times Charlie Chan has a trick up his sleeve to foil the would-be thieves. It does get a little bit ridiculous and tedious during the second half of the movie as a number of fake Korans are bandied around the characters as red herrings so you don’t have a clue who has the real one. Where the characters have gotten their hands on these fake Korans is never explained? Are they being sold at a local market and anybody can buy them??

Andy Lau is great as Charlie Chan who as well as being likeable is a bit of a charming rogue with the ladies. Although Lau isn’t what people would call a martial artist he does get a chance to show the limited skills he has as a fighter. I’ve always had a soft spot for Rosamund Kwan and I enjoyed seeing her in this movie. She’s absent for the majority of the first half although you get glimpses of her. It’s in the second half she comes to the fore and takes more of an active role in the storyline. Teddy Robin surprises everybody as the character Cho during the climax. Teddy Robin isn’t that tall (not sure if you can call him a midget?) but when you see him take on Andy Lau and Tsui Siu Keung and actually gain the upper hand against the pair it’s incredible to see. The only mistake the filmmakers do is that Teddy Robin’s stunt double is noticeably taller than him and you will notice the height difference during the fight!! I got the impression that the whole cast had a ball whilst filming this movie and it shows in their performances.

Three Against The World might not be Andy Lau’s crowning glory in his glittering movie career but if you’re one of his fans you should not pass this opportunity up of watching this movie. The mix of comedy and martial arts works well and I found it a lot of fun.

No trailer but here’s an action scene from the movie

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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In a small rural village, a man (Uncle Fung) who banishes demons for a living and uses old Taoist methods lives there with his beautiful niece. A dead young girl in the village becomes a zombie and it is only through considerable effort she is stopped as even a bullet in the leg does not do anything to halt her. It is found she has been injected with a drug that makes her seem invincible. The man along with his niece heads to Hong Kong to find out who is supplying the drugs. He teams up with 2 police detectives who are only too keen to help him out as both have taken a shine to his niece. They discover that the zombie girl was in fact a drugs mule and soon the trail leads them to a powerful Japanese evil witch who is behind the drugs and using dead people as drugs couriers. Can they defeat the witch who has an endless supply of magical spells at her disposal?

Wrongly advertised in some quarters as the fifth installment of the Mr Vampire series, this movie is hugely exciting and entertaining to watch. The combination of police drama, superb action set-pieces and ghost hunting along with a fast frenetic pace employed by director Stephen Tung help make this movie one of the best HK fantasy actioners from the early 90’s. It is a highly imaginative movie which uses Chinese folklore tales to good effect. Unlike the Mr Vampire series which has traditional hopping vampires and is set in the past, this movie has a contemporary setting and uses zombies instead and one evil badass Japanese witch. Although some elements of the movie does have some humour (mostly involving a bumbling cop helping Uncle Fung), the plot is mostly serious in tone. An aspect of the story can also be taken as the old vs the new with Uncle Fung’s traditional methods coming up against the present in which Fung isn’t too impressed with modern day society especially with equipment such as fax machines etc.

The plot builds up very nicely and during the stunning climax the evil witch goes toe to toe in a long spell casting contest with Uncle Fung in a fabulous fun-filled finale on top of a building. It does get a little bit far-fetched as she is set on fire and thrown down a lift shaft but she comes back up as a flaming corpse to chase the heroes around a room by using sound to track them down as her eyes have been burnt so she can no longer see. It culminates in a satisfying ending to the movie.

magiccop screenshot

Lam Ching-ying takes the leading role as Uncle Fung. He is brilliant in this movie especially in his fight scenes when he takes on a couple of young and buff fighters in Frankie Chan and Billy Chow before taking on Michiko Nishiwaki. Lam also choreographed the slick fight scenes and instead of concentrating on long scraps he keeps them short and sweet. Seeing him kick ass on a bunch of bodybuilders in a gym is superb. It’s a shame that Western fans only recognise him for doing these kind of roles as he was unfortunately typecast as a monk in many movies. Wilson Lam plays Officer Lam who is highly skeptical of Fung’s Taoist skills and is a bit of a ladies man. Lam and Fung clash as Lam has his eye on Fung’s beautiful niece and he is very protective of her. Fung doesn’t take too kindly to the way that Lam treats his female colleagues (i.e slapping their arses) but gradually the pair set their differences aside to crack the case. Wong Mei-Wa is only in this movie to look beautiful and act in peril as Fung’s niece. Michiko Nishiwaki is superb as the leader of the drugs gang – a particularly nasty witch who seems to molest her pet white cat when she is doing some of her evil spells. Those that don’t want to see a visibly distressed cat should look away from these scenes.

There’s a lot to enjoy in this wild and unpredictable movie with a wonderful performance by Lam Ching-ying. It is well worth checking out if you can get a hold of it. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Hui is the owner of a cooked duck restaurant which has a very loyal customer base that come there regularly despite the fact that place is very unhygienic. The staff that work for him feels they are unappreciated and recieve low pay but Hui doesn’t seem to care. The dominance of Hui’s place ends when a new fast food restaurant named Danny’s Fried Chicken open right across the road. The owner of Danny’s intends to crush Hui’s restaurant so they can try and buy the place. Despite Hui thinking that Danny’s will not attract a lot of customers, he is forced to rethink when people start going in droves there and one of his trusted workers Cuttlefish is fired and leaves to find work in the new place. To try and get his old customers back to his joint, Hui is forced to try out some gimmicks in the hope that it’ll help his business and for a while it does until Danny’s owner resorts to some dirty tricks by forcing rats into the restaurant from the ceiling. The Health Inspectors come there and close the place down. What will Hui do now that his restaurant is closed and how does he intend to get his revenge on Danny’s owner?

This is one of Hong Kong’s most celebrated and highly acclaimed comedy movie. It was a big crowd pleaser at the time of it’s release. Considering it was made over 25 years ago, it has aged remarkably well. It’s a satire movie of a traditional restaurant taking on a large corporation which use cut throat methods to destroy their opposition. It was written and directed by the main star of the movie – Michael Hui. If you don’t know who Michael Hui is then you know nothing about the HK film industry where he’s seen as a bit of a national treasure in the province. Along with his two brothers (one of whom stars alongside him in this movie), Michael revived the HK film industry during the 70’s which was in a bit of a doldrums due to it being dominated by the Shaw Brothers for so long. This very funny comedy was made at the height of Hui’s popularity. I’m usually wary when critics give praise to a movie so much and I was prepared to be disappointed. However, after viewing this movie I can say that the plaudits that have rained down on this movie is quite rightly justified.

Chicken and duck talk screenshot

This hilarious movie has many laugh out loud moments and most of the laughs are due to Hui’s performance as the grouchy boss of the duck restaurant who doesn’t give a toss about keeping his place neat and tidy and uses cheap tactics to try and win back his customers from Danny’s but fails. Even though he’s not a nice character, you can’t help but like him. He comes to his senses near the end and tries to change his ways. He even has to swallow his pride at accepting money from his mother in law to spruce up the restaurant. I can’t tell you the numerous amount of times I laughed over the course of the movie. Hui dresses up as an Indian woman in one funny sequence in order to infiltrate Danny’s but is discovered by the owner when the polish he’s used to blacken up his face starts to come off!! Another example of the superb humour which is seen in this movie comes in a scene in which some hygiene inspectors come to Hui’s restaurant after reports of rats there. Hui and his staff use soup bowls to try and hide the live rats that are dropping from the ceiling and they come up with a variety of excuses such as doing exercises and dancing in order to lie to the inspectors. This ruse however is eventually found out by them.

Kudos has to go to Michael Hui who is quite simply brilliant in this movie. Everything from his performance to the way he’s co-written the script is great. The interplay between Michael and his brother Ricky is fantastic. You only have to see their famous fight/chase on a ledge of a building in chicken/duck costumes to appreciate the chemistry they have with each other and another scene in which Ricky tries to find out Michael’s secret duck recipe by using saucepans and mirrors to spy on him. There is a message in this movie in that shiny flash new fast food restaurants by corporations might look good on the outside but to savour the taste of proper HK food you have to go to a traditional outlet instead.

Overall, Chicken And Duck Talk is an amazing movie. It is definitely one you should track down if you enjoy laugh out loud comedies. I really enjoyed myself watching this thoroughly entertaining movie. Definitely recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Monster (2014)


Lowlife Ik-Sang is hired by his uncle to retrieve a mobile phone which contains evidence of him assaulting a woman. She has threatened to blackmail him for money. If he was prosecuted by the police it would stop his demolition schemes from taking place. Ik-Sang hires his adopted brother Tae-soo to carry out the job. Tae-soo is a cold and ruthless assassin who promptly murders the woman in her apartment but fails to find the mobile phone. The woman’s 10 year old sister Na-ri who has seen everything escapes from the apartment with Tae-soo in hot pursuit. Na-ri comes across Book-soon who runs her grandmother’s vegetable stand in the street. Book-soon has a reputation for being a bit of a local nutcase where she lives with her cleverer younger sister Eun-jung out in the country. Book-soon takes in the scared Na-ri. During a walk in the nearby woods, Eun-jung who is with Na-ri is murdered by Tae-soo. When Book-soon finds her sister has been murdered, it puts her on a collision course with Tae-soo. She’s not the only one who wants to settle things with Tae-soo. Ik-sang dispatches a number of thugs to kill Tae-soo. Will Tae-soo catch up with Na-ri and Book-soon and kill them both or will Ik-sang’s thugs get to Tae-soo first?

This is a great Korean serial killer thriller which is slightly odd in that in between the nasty brutal murders and bloodshed that takes place there is also some dark humour. Personally I thought the humour looked out of place within the context of the plot and it should have been left out altogether. Perhaps the Korean viewing public likes this type of genre mashing but it didn’t sit too well with myself.

The plot of this fast paced movie is pretty straight forward in that it pits a cold and ruthless killer against a grieving family member who is out for revenge but also wants to protect a terrified little girl from being murdered as well. The viewer gets some background on how the young Tae-soo began his descent into darkness after witnessing his violent father beating up his older brother as he hid in the attic. He makes a deal with his brother that if he kills his father Ik-sang will play with him. When their axe wielding father is killed by Tae-soo whilst trying to attack Ik-sang again, a monster is born. There’s a scene at a bar which shows how emotionless and efficient the adult Tae-soo is as a killer when a noisy patron bothers Ik-sang. Tae-soo without any prompting from his brother kills the person. As the viewer learns later on in the movie Ik-sang and even his adopted mother doesn’t really want anything to do with Tae-soo. He may be useful in helping Ik-sang out at times but he wants him out of the way permanently because he is basically scared shitless of what he is. On the other hand Book-soon might not be a murderer as Tae-soo but she does has some issues with her temper. Dropped on her head by her mother when she was a child, the viewer soon discovers that she’s one card short of a full deck and flies off into a rage at times. Her tag of being called a “psycho bitch” by the neighbours is justified! Get these two to confront each other and you have a death match made in hell!!

Monster 2014 screenshot

After numerous chases which are really tense involving Book-soon and Na-ri with Ik-sang planning Tae-soo’s death, the climax of the movie has all parties concerned converging on Tae-soo’s mothers’ restaurant in Seoul in which Ik-sang has prepared a surprise for his brother but he’s not as stupid as they think he is. At the same time Book-soon also arrives there to rescue Na-ri. It culminates in a messy and blood splattered finale. Those who have a hard time with bloody scenes may have to turn their heads away from the screen such is the amount of gore that’s involved.

Lee Min-ki plays the role of the icy killer Tae-soo extremely well. The handsome character seems to enjoy his killings and likes his red wine. He does look rather cool. Tae-soo does have to get physical a couple of times in the movie resulting in some tough bone-breaking quick fights and not all of these scraps are easy for him to overcome either. Kim Go-Eun takes on the role of Book-soon in quite a manic performance which sees her screaming and crying a lot. It’s a bit off-putting to say the least and I’m sure other viewers will perhaps get annoyed of Book-soon as well. The only likeable character the viewer comes across is that of the little girl Na-ri. She’s played by the adorable and cute Ahn Seo-hyun. You do begin to care for her and hope she comes through this traumatic experience unscathed. I hope to see more of this promising young actress in the future.

Monster is a movie I found to be entertaining despite the strange bouts of humour and the strong bloodletting. It’s got a good storyline and great performances from the cast. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes though especially with the violence inflicted on women which runs throughout the movie and is rather unpleasant. Still worth taking a look if you enjoy your Asian revenge thrillers.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Tales of the unusual

Tales of the Unusual is a 4 story anthology movie which are linked by a group of people stuck together at a train station during a heavy rainstorm. A creepy man in a black suit and sun glasses played by Japanese TV legend Tamori recounts stories to the group. The stories are:

ONE SNOWY NIGHT – a plane crashes in terrible weather on a snowy mountain. Only 5 manage to survive the ordeal with one female Mari having broken her leg. They decide to leave the confines of the plane as it is likely to fall off the mountain but having to carry Mari proves to be a hindrance to them. The best course of action is to make a bivouac and cover her with snow before the rest try and find shelter. They find a hut nearby and make a fire in order to keep warm. When the survivors go back to Mari they find she has tried to dig herself out with her head popping out of the snow. In trying to get her body out of the snow with a shovel they accidentally kill her. Back at the hut, the survivors are picked off one by one until only Mari’s friend is left alive. Has Mari’s vengeful spirit come back to get revenge?

SAMURAI CELLULAR – Oishi is a samurai chief clan in 18th century Japan who is a bit of a coward. Instead of leading his clan against his enemy Kira who killed his master, he prefers to fool about in bed with his mistress. One day whilst walking down a path he hears a mysterious ringing from a small silver box. Poking it with his sword, he hears a voice coming from it. He begins to talk to the voice who tells Oishi that he is from 300 years in the future and he wants confirmation from him if certain historical events are true. The voice tells Oishi that he is a famous Japanese person and that he will lead his clan into battle and become victorious even though he is a coward. Will Oishi do as history says he will do?

CHESS – Chess champion Akira Kato loses his crown to the computer Super Blue. This loss forces Akira to disappear from the chess competing circuit for a number of years. A rich businessman seeks out Akira and forces him to play a game of chess against him but this is a game with a difference. All the moves he makes on the chess board are real and involve real people who will be sacrificed which includes Akira’s wife. Can Akira win the game?

MARRIAGE SIMULATOR – Yuichi and Haru are a couple that met outside a cinema under a year ago and now they are planning the next step in their relationship by getting married. A wedding company has an offer in which the couple can try out a wedding VR simulator in which they are hooked up to a machine that can show them how their marriage pans out in the future. The simulator does not turn out as planned for the couple and it shows the two eventually getting divorced. After seeing this, they decide to cancel the wedding and break up. Sometime later they find out that they still love each other and become a couple once more…..until they wake up and discover they were still playing the wedding simulator.

Tales of the unusual screenshot

This is a spin-off movie from a TV series of the same name that was shown on Japanese TV – it is similar in tone to The Twilight Zone. It’s very rare for an anthology movie to have all stories that are strong and there’s usually got to be a weak one involved and this one is no different. The stories are really diverse encompassing 4 genres (horror, comedy, psychological drama and romance) so if you’re somebody expecting to see just horror stories then you will be disappointed. It makes for great viewing because of that as it should appeal to people across the board. Each creative tale directed by 4 different directors lasts 30 mins and they are completely unrelated.

The ones that I enjoyed the most was stories 1 and 2 with 3 being the one that didn’t do a lot for me. Story 1 is a brilliant horror tale of 4 people trapped in a hut during a blizzard after a plane crash. It’s effective in being really creepy and it even parodies The Blair Witch Project in one scene. There’s not a lot of blood involved but it does deliver in scares. The second story is more of a comedy tale than anything else. I did find it rather amusing with the character of Oishi being coerced by the person from the future on the mobile phone in carrying out certain actions that follow historical events and that his character does actually change because of this interaction. It is through this interaction that Oishi becomes the man that people in the future will remember him. There’s a bit of a twist right at the end of the story which I really found interesting. I’m not going to say what it is as I don’t want to spoil it for anybody but it was really clever. I don’t want to say a lot about story 3 as I found it to be a bit dull and uninteresting although I am sure some people will like it. The only thing I did like about it was the life sized recreation of a chess board. The last story about the couple has a good concept behind it. It’s rather sweet and touching. I was glad that things worked out for the pair by the time the story finished. As far as the Storyteller that links the stories is concerned, there’s no explanation where he comes from. He just appears all of a sudden with a creepy smile on his face. I’m not sure if he’s an employee of the train station whose job it is to entertain people with his stories if they find themselves having to stay there for a while? I thought there might have been a twist involving the Storyteller at the end but nothing happened.

Overall, I found this movie to be a bit of a pleasant surprise as I was really expecting this to be something akin to Creepshow (i.e horror stories). Those wishing to see a slick Japanese slant on The Twilight Zone will enjoy it. Definitely worth your while in checking out.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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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

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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.


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

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Hentai Kamen (2013)


Kyosuke is a shy but kind teenager born of the union of a s&m loving mother and a masochist father (he was a police detective that was going to arrest her when they first met but she tied him up and he enjoyed the whipping she gave him!!). When a new female student Aiko joins his class at school, Kyosuke immediately starts to like her and they hit it off as friends. She in turn becomes the president of the school’s martial arts club that Kyosuke is a member (and not a very good one at that!). When Aiko is taken hostage at a bank by three gun wielding individuals, Kyosuke simply can’t stand by especially when they threaten to kill the girl he likes. He manages to get inside the building and thinks he must put on a mask if he wants to confront the hostage takers. He finds a pair of used panties and puts it on his face. Kyosuke finds a ‘pervert power’ (inherited from his mother’s side) from within which transforms him into Hentai Kamen (Masked Pervert). His bizarre look involves him wearing only white trainers, fishnet stockings, a pair of skimpy white underwear twisted into a mankini which barely hides his penis and testicles and used (they have to be used!) panties on his head! Nevertheless he manages to save the day and foil the bad guys. He vows to use his new superhero moniker for justice but there’s something that bothers him about his alter-ego and that is Aiko starts to like the perverted superhero. Kyosuke doesn’t want to admit that he is Hentai Kamen or she will think he’s a pervert. An evil karate club tries to take over Kyosuke’s school and whilst Hentai Kamen initially manages to defeat the individuals, the leader of the group sends in a mysterious teacher to aid him in his task by trying to steal Kyosuke’s beloved Aiko away from him as a fake masked pervert. Will Masked Pervert save the day?

This is a wacky and hilarious take on the superhero genre that only the Japanese could have invented – I mean where else but Japan could come up with a hero that wears practically next to nothing and who uses his genitals to combat the bad guys! I did think that this could have been one of those awful Japanese b-movies but thankfully it turned out to be funnier than I imagined it to be. It is also one of the most original superhero movies I’ve come across recently. It is based on a popular manga series from the early 90’s that I wasn’t really aware of. The description of the movie’s plot above should give you ample warning if you’re easily offended by this type of humour. The makers of the movie poke fun at Spiderman throughout the story from the mask used by Hentai Kamen to the bondage ropes that he uses to swing between buildings. I did a double take at the beginning when I thought I was going to see a familiar movie studio logo coming up but this is yet another joke directed at Marvel. The movie is a lot of fun to watch and I was giggling from start to finish.

hentai kamen power max

This is more than just a comedy superhero movie, it’s also a coming of age story about a boy trying to win the heart of the girl he likes but finds out that she’s more interested in his perverted alter-ego so he has to keep it a secret because he is afraid of what she would think if she discovered that Hentai Kamen is him! The way that Hentai Kamen defeats the bad guys is unusual (but hilarious) to say the least by using a deadly combination of sexual poses and thrusting his crotch into their faces through some high kicking aerial karate move. The villains he faces are all OTT characters such as the camp evil karate club leader Ogane Tamao who goes around with twin pigtails in his hair. I don’t know how actor Muro Tsuyoshi who plays Ogane managed to complete one scene where he thinks he is kissing Aiko as a ploy to defeat our hero but is seen to be kissing Hentai Kamen’s genitals several times (covered up in his underwear thankfully) instead. Ogane sends in a series of colourful assassins to try and defeat Hentai Kamen: Gay Guy, Very Serious Guy, Extremely Slim Guy and Cool Guy! Our hero meets his match though in the fake Hentai Kamen (disguised as a school teacher) who loves lifting women’s skirts up and manages to strip away Kyosuke’s power to transform by claiming he isn’t really a pervert at all. It’s up to Kyosuke to overcome his insecurities as a person and rediscover the power that can change him back into Hentai Kamen once more.

Yuichi Fukuda does a great job in directing a fresh superhero comedy that should manage to raise more than a smile on people’s faces if they view the movie in the right frame of mind. I was surprised to hear that popular male idol Shun Oguri helped out on the script. I did think the comedy would begin to run out of steam during the second half but it still delivers on the laughs right until the end and never gets tiring. Ryohei Suzuki performs really well as Kyosuke/Hentai Kamen considering he has to switch between two different personalities in the movie – the awkward teenager and the loud brash superhero. The young man has an impressive physique as Hentai Kamen (it really is him and not some body double). It should please some female viewers!! Fumika Shimizu who played a supporting role in the Kamen Rider Fourze series and spin-off movies is suitably cute as Aiko.

I really liked this highly amusing movie. It made me laugh a lot and the bizarre story and ridiculous characters made it a winner in my eyes. The movie most of all is entertaining so if you’re open-minded and into perverse humour this will be right up your street.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Deadful Melody dvd

A little girl and her brother are forced to flee with the family’s magic lyre when their parents are massacred although they are split up during the pursuit by their enemies. The magic lyre has the power to kill and certain people are desperate to get their hands on it. 16 years on and the little girl named Snow has grown into a woman. She is the current owner of the lyre and hasn’t forgotten about what happened to her parents. She sets out to seek vengeance on those that wronged her. Snow has a plan which will draw out her enemies by asking a courier Lui Lun to transport the lyre to a certain person. She knows that if her enemies find out about the lyre, they are certain to attack the courier in order to steal it. Lui Lun’s father is killed by the villains only for him to discover that he wasn’t his real father. He was adopted when he was a child and that he is really Snow’s sister. Although angry with Snow at first for getting him involved with her plans of revenge, he is eventually reconciled with his sister. They team up together to fight off their enemies once and for all.

This HK wuxia movie isn’t that well-known over in the West but it has all the ingredients of what makes the genre so much fun to watch (which includes people fighting through the air, a ludicrous plot, some OTT characters and plenty of swordfights). The story starts out very promisingly with an exciting action-packed sequence and this sets the pattern for the rest of the movie with the energetic and inventive action scenes coming thick and fast with hardly a pause in between them. At least nobody will be able to complain that the movie is boring!! Viewers could get confused with the complex plot as there is so many characters and trying to fathom which side each of them are on might make your head spin!!  Then again this isn’t a movie to be taken seriously so let the plot go over your head and just enjoy the spectacle that unfolds onscreen.

Deadful Melody screenshot

The plot as you’d expect from this genre is totally bonkers and the lyre in question when played properly can kill a person (in fact they explode in a cloud of multi-coloured dust!!). It seems to me like the filmmakers went in with an ‘anything-goes’  approach to the action scenes. I’m glad they did as that what makes this movie a joy to watch. You just never know what the hell they’re going to come up with next. The special effects and the wirework scenes are exhilarating. The humour in the plot is funny at times as well – some of the colourful dialogue in particular will make you smile! Unfortunately there isn’t a resolution to the story which suggested to me that there was a sequel being planned (which obviously didn’t take place after all).

Some might say that Brigitte Lin is typecast once again in a cross-dressing role but I thought she was great in it. You can always count on Brigitte to give a good performance which came a year before she quit the movie business. Her character isn’t quite so straight forward as you think – her mind has been so consumed by revenge she’s close to becoming just a cold hearted murderess and not somebody that’s out for justice for her parents. Yuen Biao holds his own with Brigitte Lin but he sure looks his age in this movie. He also doesn’t get to show a lot of his usual acrobatic martial arts skills because it’s more about sword-fighting so I felt a bit let-down because of that. Biao and Lin complement each other quite well in this movie. Although she’s not in a lot of scenes, Siu Wing-Sang is stunning as a witch who is deadly with a whip and the reliable Carina Lau is also funny as a feisty woman. The actors playing the clan leaders who are after Snow and her lyre also give good performances

If you’re a fan of OTT wuxia movies you should find this enjoyable enough. It’s far from being a classic but it will hold your interest due to the enthusiastic action scenes. I had fun watching it.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Castaway on the Moon poster

Seong-geun is ready to kill himself by jumping off a brudge into the Han River. His life has fallen apart – everything has gone wrong. He has lost his job when his company went bankrupt, he has a huge debt and his girlfriend has also left him. He jumps off the bridge but doesn’t die. Waking up, he finds himself on what he thinks is a desert island but in reality he is only a few hundred yards from the bridge he jumped and he can see buildings from across the river. He tries to swim to the other side but he’s not very good at it and has to turn back and even signalling for help to the passing pleasure boats doesn’t help his situation. To make things even worse, his mobile phone battery has died so he can’t call anyone. He is well and truly stuck on an island in the middle of Seoul! He tries to kill himself again but he fails once more. The only thing he can do is try and survive on the island by using whatever resources he can find which is a lot as a ton of rubbish has been washed up. To try and attract attention he writes HELP in the sand, not that he’s confident that anybody will see it. Meanwhile in an apartment, a young woman Jeong-yeon who has locked herself in her room for 3 years and whose hobby is taking photos of the Moon spots Seong-geun’s message on the island using her camera. In her mind she thinks he’s an alien. Wanting to respond to his plea for help, Jeong-yeon ventures out of her apartment in the dead of night to deliver a message in a bottle by throwing it from a bridge.  Seong-geun responds by writing more messages in the sand and Jeong-yeon writes back every time. How long can Seong-geun stay on the island? The answer may not be too long as a typhoon threatens to destroy the shelter and everything Seong-geun has built on the island. Will he also manage to find out the identity of his mysterious messenger?

I’d heard some rave reviews for Castaway On The Moon a couple of years ago but because I had so many other movies to check out first I put watching it on the backburner until now that is. Hands down, this is one of the best Korean movies I’ve ever seen and I can understand why it’s been wowing viewers all over the world. Let’s get one thing straight as I’ve seen many people saying this is some kind of rip-off of Tom Hanks’ Castaway. Yes, there are a couple of similar things between the two movies in that it’s about a man cut off from society on an island but as far as I’m concerned they’re two completely different movies because Tom Hanks’ character is stuck on an island far away from civilisation and you can’t say that about Kim’s situation as he’s just stuck on a small island in the middle of Seoul! I think this movie is far superior to Castaway as well.

This is an original romantic comedy about isolation and loneliness between two people at their lowest ebb and how they connect with each other through the strangest of circumstances. In turn they begin to learn about enjoying life once more. You’ll never be able to look at black bean noodles again without thinking about Seong-geun’s experience on the island and how he manages to change from being a loser to somebody that is able to adapt in his environment and create his own little paradise by using things that regularly washes up on the shore. A discarded pedal duck boat for example is used as his sleeping shelter. Gradually he learns new skills such as ploughing a small patch of land to grow black beans from a discarded seed packet and catching fish from the Han river. Soon enough all thoughts of wanting to be rescued disappear from Seong-geun’s mind. On the island he is King and free from society that pushed him to the edge of despair he is content with himself.

Castaway on the Moon screenshot

Jeong-yeon’s story is equally as brilliant as Seong-geun. Here we have a young woman who in Japanese terms is a ‘hikikomori’ (not sure if there’s a Korean term for people like that?). Everything she needs is supplied by her mother who drops it next to her bedroom door. Why Jeong-yeon has shut herself from the outside world is never explained but it could be something to do with the burn mark that is on one side of her face. Perhaps she didn’t like people staring and commenting about it whenever she went outside. Although I may have seen some Japanese movies with people such as Jeong-yeon changing for the better, I don’t think I’ve seen a more interesting portrayal of a ‘hikikomori’ before. You instantly feel for her and don’t even think for one instance that she’s a weirdo but of a vulnerable person that’s been hurt by the world.

The relationship between Seong-geun and Jeong-yeon is very unique and I liked how they came to rely on one another and overcome their fears and issues but you have to ask yourself why did they communicate in English – maybe Jeong-yeon thinks he’s a foreigner! There is some wonderful comedic moments that take place such as the take-away delivery man who brings some food over to the island to Seong-geun after Jeong-yeon has ordered them for him. The last third brings more drama than comedy to the movie as Seong-geun’s time on the island draws to a close. You sort of hope that both characters will eventually meet up with each other and start a proper relationship as they are so likable but does that happen? You’ll just have to watch this movie won’t you to find out!!

Overall this movie is very funny, charming, full of wit and depth with excellent acting and a perfect script. You don’t know what you’re missing until you’ve seen this movie. It’s easily one of the best movies I’ve had the pleasure of watching. Truly amazing. Go see it now. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

Sadako’s Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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