Posts Tagged ‘Horror’

Dead Sushi (2012)

dead sushi

Keiko is the daughter of a sushi chef who runs away from home when her father’s demands to combine martial arts and sushi making proves a bit too much for her. Landing at a remote resort hotel, she finds a job as a waitress where one of her first customers is serving for a president of a pharmaceutical company and his colleagues. Unknown to all of them, Yamada, a former researcher at the company who was framed and thrown into jail thanks to the president is also in the area and living as a vagrant. He’s angry at what happened to him and thanks to his research has found a way of creating killer sushi. Soon a horde of flying killer sushi is let loose in the hotel and the only people who can fight back is Keiko and former sushi chef Mr Sawada plus an unlikely little ally named Eggy!!

To be perfectly honest, when I first saw the trailer for Dead Sushi many months ago I immediately dismissed it as a load of crap and I didn’t have any intention of watching it. However, when the opportunity arose to buy the DVD I did hesitate at first whether I was doing the right thing but seeing as Noboru Iguchi has entertained me in the past I thought what the hell and went ahead in purchasing it. I wasn’t really expecting much with this movie but I have to eat my words as this is such a fun nonsensical movie which had me laughing a lot. It’s completely insane and I didn’t expect to be entertained quite so much. Iguchi pulls out all the stops in this low budget movie to create a hilarious OTT camp gory comedy horror movie which has to be seen to be believed. So inventive with a lot of incredibly bizarre sights and great gags! If you’ve seen his other works you know by now what to expect. We get to see flying sushi with sharp teeth which have squeaky voices and start attacking staff and guests at the hotel, two sushi having sex and producing offspring, sushi rice zombies, a sushi armed with a flame thrower, a sushi battleship and even Yamada being reborn as a human sized tuna after eating sushi which has been injected with a serum. Then there’s the added pleasure of hearing an egg omelette sushi singing!!!!! As expected with this kind of movie the cheesy CG blood is spurted around like there’s no tomorrow with some eye popping, exploding facial skin, a chef hacking off his own nose and half his face with a kitchen knife, a decapitation and a woman being eaten alive by mini sushi until only her bloody bones are left!

deadsushi screenshot

I really don’t know how the cast managed to keep a straight face on whilst filming this movie but one can imagine there was much merriment going on during the production. A lot of why this movie is so good is down to the wonderful Rina Takeda as Keiko who is fantastic. She’s such a likeable, cute and endearing actress. Rina has said in the past that she’s a big fan of Jackie Chan and his movies. Here she gets a chance to demonstrate his style of comedy with her acting in this movie. I’m not sure if Rina didn’t want to be typecasted in just serious martial arts roles so that’s why she’s shifted recently to comedy? I do hope that she’ll go back to doing a serious martial arts/action movie in the future. She does have some fight scenes in this movie and even gets a chance to making fun of Bruce Lee in one scene with the climax seeing her square off against Yamada the mad axe tuna man and his secret weapon. She even gets to use sushi nunchakus!! The rest of the cast are obviously well up for the silliness of the plot with the women walking around in various stages of undress and one couple parodying a moment from the classic movie Tampopo specifically the egg kiss scene.

Those that love these kind of Japanese splatter comedy movies will find this movie very enjoyable and director Iguchi really delivers on gore and laughs. I thought Dead Sushi was hilarious. Highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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When Little Cabbage and her father fall behind on their rent, the young landlord Yang, who immediately takes a shine to Little Cabbage, offers the father a monthly wage if he’ll allow her to live in his household and work off the money owed. He agrees and she quickly makes new friends in the household as well as an enemy. One night Little Cabbage happens upon the young master’s wife having an affair while he’s away on business. In order to silence the girl the mistress arranges a marriage between for her with a villager with an infamous reputation for having the biggest dick around!! After her new husband dies from an aphrodisiac overdose thanks to his penis exploding, she and Yang are put under arrest and accused of conspiring together to murder Little Cabbage’s husband! Both are tortured within inches of their lives and forced to confess but the truth has yet to be revealed!

This is one of the most famous Cat III horror/sex comedies to emerge from Hong Kong which was a big hit there when it was released in 1994. It’s a bizarre mix of sex, comedy, and OTT scenes which unless you’re in the right frame of mind to enjoy will most likely guarantee to offend a lot of people!! When I first heard about this movie I imagined it would be all about torture but how wrong I was going to be. As I’ve seen a lot of violent and odd movies I didn’t feel shocked at all by what I saw. The plot without spoiling too much involves 2 people who are the victims of being framed and ending up in court trying to protest their innocence with a lot of the story being told in flashback of how they came about to being imprisoned. The torture scenes make you wince but aren’t too graphic. Even the penis exploding scene isn’t that bad. The opening scenes does show a naked man tied up in prison having his penis cut off though it never shows the deed being done close-up. It’s the sex scenes though that stand out in the movie because some of them are incredibly funny. Take this scene for example which is basically a parody of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. It starts out quite innocently as we witness a martial arts couple flying about and fighting amongst the treetops with swords. Then the woman challenges the man to see if he can satisfy her and if he can’t he will leave her. They proceed to have hyper gravity-defying sex in mid-air with the man using such moves as “Oral Attack”, “Invincible Wheel” and “Wonder Screw”. It is made all the more funnier with the addition of some video-game sound effects as he is banging her (sorry to be so coarse here!). It had me laughing a lot and it’s something that has to be seen to be believed. There’s also a parody from the Patrick Swayze movie ‘Ghost’ specifically the potters wheel scene which includes a Chinese instrument rendition of Unchained Melody. I won’t reveal what the woman does to the man and what eventually happens at the end of the scene but you’ll never be able to see that scene again in the original movie without laughing! The two scenes described above sums up how crazy this movie is. OK, so the humour is a little low brow but you’ll never be bored watching this movie. It is so entertaining, funny and whilst it is a Cat III movie it doesn’t contain the extreme nastiness associated with a lot of them. Be aware that there is a lot of female nudity in this movie which will no doubt please some male viewers!

A Chinese Torture Chamber Story screenshot

The acting is surprisingly very good with several great performances from some of the cast. Yvonne Yung Hung is so beautiful and innocent as Little Cabbage and viewers will sympathise with her situation though I failed to have the same feelings for Lawrence Ng’s character who plays the young master Yang that falls for her. Although he is innocent in the murder of Little Cabbage’s husband, I disliked how he tried to rape Little Cabbage by becoming invisible thanks to piece of paper blessed by a holy man which he pins to his chest. Just because he likes Little Cabbage doesn’t give him the right to attack a woman in her home. It is only thanks to her husband that he fails to achieve what he wanted to do. The fact that Little Cabbage never finds out who attacked her because Yang escapes after knocking the husband out and she finally ends up with this despicable man at the end of the movie made me feel uneasy. I’m sure some viewers will find the rape scene perhaps humorous but I thought it was done in bad taste. Maybe that’s just my opinion mind you. The only other actor who I thought was fantastic was Elvis Tsui who provides the movie’s most memorable moment as one half of the martial arts superhero sex couple!

A Chinese Torture Chamber Story is one of the best Cat III movies I’ve seen as it pretty much doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s twisted, weird and is very much tongue-in-cheek which makes the raunchy stuff easier to watch. It certainly won’t be to everybody’s taste so those easily offended should stay away from this movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Gemini (1999)

Gemini DVD

Yukio Daitokuji is a doctor who has taken over his father’s practice and on the surface leads an enviable life but things are a little bit strained between himself and his parents due to Yukio’s new wife Rin. They disapprove of her. Yukio found his wife on the banks of a river suffering from amnesia and with no idea where she came from. He also faces anger from the poor people living in a nearby slum who are suffering from the plague. Yukio chooses to ignore treating them in order to concentrate on his wealthy patients. Soon after an odd smell begins to emanate inside his house with a dark figure spotted sneaking around at night. Yukio’s world is turned upside down when his father is found dead with a piece of earth stuck inside his mouth followed soon after by his mother. Finally Yukio is confronted by somebody who looks like him. In a struggle between the two, he is thrown down a dried up well where the doppelganger tells him he is going to take over his life. So who is this individual? It’s none other than his twin brother who has come back to claim what is rightfully his. Will Yukio manage to escape from the well as his family’s dark secret is revealed?

Shinya Tsukamoto’s creative take on the ‘evil twin’ genre based on a novel by Edogawa Rampo is fantastic. He certainly knows how to grab your attention instantly with the opening shot of the movie featuring rats and maggots crawling on a rotting animal carcass! Don’t expect any of the hyperkinetic style that was associated with the Tetsuo movies, you might say Tsukamoto is more restrained in his approach here. The story is intriguing, unnerving and well told. It is chilling, creepy and the first third of the movie is so atmospheric. There’s a feeling of dread in the air and Tsukamoto’s use of sound to highlight that something is amiss is beautifully done. The cinematography with the use of colours employed by him to contrast between the rich world of Yukio and the slums of Sutekichi shows the viewer a director on top of his game. I loved how the story unfolded and through the use of flashbacks shows us how Yukio’s parents abandoned his twin because he had a snake-like deformity on his leg. They created the monster that eventually kills them. Sutekichi was dumped outside of the slums near a river. Growing up, the only way he could survive was to become a thief and this is how he meets Rin. Together they made a formidable thieving duo. Sutekichi looks terrifying in his clothes, much like a wild animal and covered in filth. You can well understand how Sutekichi would feel to see his family carrying on with their lives without a second thought for the son they threw out and seeing his lover Rin shack up with his brother. He has studied Yukio so meticulously that he is able to slide into his life effortlessly when he strikes without anybody thinking that anything is wrong. It is only Rin that begins to question whether Sutekichi is back due to the sexual attention that he is giving her – something that Yukio never did.

Gemini Screenshot

The story also shows the viewer the circumstances of how Rin managed to become Yukio’s wife and that her amnesia is all a lie. Yukio in return is made to understand what his brother has gone through when he thrown down the dry well. He begins to turn like his evil brother in appearance and is made to contemplate the wrong choices he has made in his life. During a violent storm a plague ridden woman and her baby came to his house begging for help but also at the same time the town mayor who was drunk and who had stumbled onto a spike also came for treatment. Instead of helping both people out he decides to only help the mayor showing his contempt for the lower classes. Now with the tables turned and his creature comforts taken away from him as he’s lying at the bottom of the well, he is given a taste of what it is like to be hungry and become like an animal whilst Sutekichi is teasing him from above about how he is going to ruin his doctor’s practice and have sex with his wife. The story comes full circle as both brothers gets to know what life is like in each other’s shoes. Eventually of course thanks to a mistake by Sutekichi, Yukio does escape from the well giving us a showdown between the two brothers. Without spoiling the ending of which brother emerges victorious, a change takes place in the surviving brother as he has taken on board the characteristics of the other much like a joining of souls. As for the acting in this movie, Masahiro Motoki who plays a complex dual role as Yukio and his evil twin Sutekichi is magnificent and so is Ryo as the mysterious and beautiful Rin with her fascinating large plate-like hairstyle who knows more than what she is cottoning on to Yukio and his wary parents.

I really liked this psychological tale by Tsukamoto. It’s an unsettling and refreshing alternative to the tired and cliched Japanese horror genre. Well worth checking out, more so if you like the director’s other works.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Zombie 108

A scientist creates a deadly virus that unfortunately gets released after a tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan. The virus spreads all over the world and turns people into the living dead. In an unknown city somewhere in Taiwan, SWAT teams are called in to evacuate civilians from an infected area. They cross swords with an armed gang who are unaware of the danger they’re in and refuse to move. An armed battle commences between the two until they have to join forces when a horde of zombies arrive on the scene. In the midst of this chaos, a strange perverted man is kidnapping women and keeping them locked inside his basement cell for his own sick pleasure, a young mother who was trying to leave the city with her young daughter being his latest victim. Will she able to escape from this monster?

zombie-108 screenshot

Hailed as being the first Taiwanese zombie movie ever made, perhaps the young director that made this shouldn’t have bothered in hindsight as this is one of the worst Asian movies I’ve had the misfortune of watching and I can’t believe I wasted 86 mins of my life with this piece of junk. It’s hard to even find anything positive to say about it. The trailer makes it look like a good movie but believe me it’s not. The plot is hardly new or original borrowing many elements from other zombie movies. There’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Director Joe Chien has made this movie into an incoherent mess and it feels like it’s been made by an amateur. It’s all over the place. There’s no atmosphere or a feeling of dread associated with the story, all Chien cares about is giving the viewer some nasty rapes, a little bit of gore and carnage. It’s like you’re watching two different movies which somehow ends being mashed up together in the end. There’s no structure in the story, it just moves from one random scene to the next with too many characters floating about. The director should have just focused on one main plot and concentrated on making it interesting. Is the movie also played for laughs at times? It’s hard to tell. You have to ask why did the director want to also rip off the Texas Chainsaw Massacre with his sleazy perverted female kidnapper that looks like Leatherface? The director himself plays this character. It feels like Chien made the decision to forget about the story and concentrate instead on the exploitation side. Perhaps he was aiming for a certain type of viewer with this old school Cat III style movie and not for the general masses? With the amount of nudity by the women and the sleaze on display it appears to be the case. The pace of the movie is fast but the way the movie has been shot is quite distracting to watch. The special effects given that it’s a low budget production is passable enough but if you’re after a ton of bloodletting you’re going to get disappointed. The death metal soundtrack the viewer is subjected to over the course of the movie gets annoying very quickly and worse of all the acting by the entire cast is atrocious. The script is very badly written. Chien also finds it necessary to put some anti-Japan propaganda in this movie as well which should have really been left out. Fine, everybody knows about the tension between China and Japan at the moment but politics shouldn’t have a place in a movie like this.

Do yourself a favour and avoid this movie like the plague. I can’t tell you enough how bad it is. A complete and utter failure. A disaster all round. I cannot recommend this to anybody.

Sadako’s Rating: 1 star out of 5

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Karaoke Terror (2003)

Karaoke Terror

aka The Complete Japanese Showa Songbook

In Chofu (a suburb of Tokyo), a gang of young idle slackers waste their time hanging out doing nothing. Their main passion in life is recreating their favourite Showa-era songs from the 40’s to the 80’s at an abandoned pier at night or watch their female neighbour dance naked in her apartment. Across the city a group of middle aged divorced women who go by the name of Midoris due to each of them having the name Midori are basically doing the same thing. When one of the young slackers Sugioka tries to pick up one of the Midoris whilst she’s walking home and is rejected he kills her by slashing her across the throat with a large knife. Through some detective work by the grieving Midoris as Sugioka has dropped something at the scene of the crime, they are able to track him down. Thus begins a tit-for-tat revenge war between the two gangs with each killing becoming bigger and more extreme starting with knives and escalating to a spear, guns, a rocket launcher and finally….well I don’t want to spoil that for you!! Will anybody from the two gangs survive?

This is a delightful dark satirical comedy which starts with a nasty gruesome murder that triggers a tale of revenge between two factions. The title is a bit misleading as it tends to make you think this is going to be a horror movie set in a karaoke bar. This is a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously at all because if you do I don’t think you’ll enjoy it that much. the story also offers an interesting Japanese social commentary on friendship, loyalty, divorced middle aged women and the gender gap. Although you might think these two diverse groups are different to each other they are quite similar due to the fact that they feel they’re being neglected by society. The only way they can express their feelings is by singing their favourite songs although the young boys do it better than the women as they go the whole hog and dress up like the artists whose songs they enjoy. You only have to witness the boys performing in drag which reminded me of Dr Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The acts of violence by each group gets more preposterous as the movie wears on and you keep thinking to yourself how is it all going to end. The final weapon used in the movie has to be seen to be believed! We are talking about taking revenge to the ultimate level here! Although the deaths on display are very brutal you are more likely to laugh than be shocked by it all. There’s a mixture of CG and traditional effects for the killings and there’s plenty of gore with gushing blood in the first two deaths. The second death features Sugioka being speared by one of the Midoris on a motorbike whilst he is urinating against a wall. Seeing him collapse with blood pouring from his throat but also still spurting out urine is funny. Many though will not see the humour in it all and find it a bit cruel. One of the highlights with the comedy aspect of the movie is when the boys travel across a river to buy a gun from a shop. The shopkeeper there is willing to sell a gun to them but wants to know why. When they explain the situation to him, the man goes on a tirade against middle aged women saying they are ruining the country and that in the event of an apocalypse the only ones left alive will be cockroaches and middle aged women! The main characters are all an interesting bunch but it’s two of the supporting characters that stand out the most – one being the shopkeeper and the other is a strange female university student that inadvertently helps both groups out in their quest to hunt each other down. The songs that provide the soundtrack to the movie which are sung by both groups aren’t ones that I was  really familiar with but then again I’m more into J-pop from the last 15 or so years.

Karaoke Terror screenshot.php

Those who love original off-the-wall Japanese dark comedies will find a lot to like in this movie. I know I certainly did. There’s plenty of mirth to be had in watching two groups suddenly finding meaning in their otherwise dull lives and planning out their method of revenge on each other. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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The opening scene sees an artist painting a large picture but this is no ordinary artist. This artist’ fingers is caked in blood and is using blended body parts to use on his canvas to create a masterpiece. Raita Takashima is a salaryman who works for an IT company. He moves next door to a man that’s also called Raita which both men find amusing. Raita Kazama is a slovenly private detective with his own small company which employs 2 people. Kazama tries to get to know his neighbour a little better one night when he invites himself to Takashima’s apartment for some drinks. In the early hours of the morning there’s a knock on Kazama’s apartment. It’s a young woman named Manami Inoue who’s in need of some help from Kazama. As it’s late he tells Manami to drop by his office later on in the day but Manami never turns up as she’s murdered on her way home. It’s discovered that one of her livers is missing. The police find it a bit too coincidental that Kazami has a liver in his apartment that he says he bought at a butcher’s shop. Soon after a second victim is found hanging from a tree with her kidneys missing. The police find a pen near the crime scene and the fingerprints on the pen belong to Kazama. He is immediately made the prime suspect so Kazama has to go into hiding and stays at his friends studio whilst making some investigations on his own. Meanwhile his next door neighbour Takashima has struck up a friendship with Kazama’s female assistant Mika. A date to a gallery of her favourite artist Yuki Aoyoma turns sour when Mika discovers another victim in one of the toilet cubicles at the place. The woman in question has had her lungs removed and her mouth is full of soil. A cigarette lighter is discovered in the toilet which is traced to belong to Raita Kazama. The police place Kazama on the wanted list for murder. Kazama asks Takashima to help him out as he knows he hasn’t killed the victims but who is setting him up? As Kazama delves deeper into the mystery, will he be able to find the killer before the police arrest him?

It’s hard to know what Takashi Miike was trying to do with this movie as it’s a mishmash of genres – gory horror, comedy and a whodunnit drama. I didn’t know whether to take it serious or not because there are some very funny scenes throughout the movie. Whilst the plotline might sound like your typical crime drama, you should know by now that with Takashi Miike at the helm of a movie it’s never going to be as straightforward as it seems. It’s a wild ride from the start. The movie has a good plot and there’s plenty of gore to satisfy horror fans but strangely enough some of the scenes in which the bloody victims’ corpses are shown there’s a blurring effect on the part of the bodies in which their organs is missing which I thought was odd. No idea if Miike did this on purpose as he hasn’t shied away from showing the viewer some disgusting horror shots in the past? He nabs an idea from The Silence Of The Lambs when Kazama visits a psycho killer who he helped to arrest 15 years earlier when he was a cop. The psycho who is strapped to a chair in a straight jacket with a mask on his face tells Kazama to place himself in the mind of the killer. Only then will he able to join the pieces of the puzzle together and solve the crime. There’s also some random weird stuff going on in this movie such as Takashima spacing himself out when he stares at Kazama’s assistant Mika’s legs constantly or Mika wetting herself in Aoyoma’s gallery as she can’t hold it in who then proceeds to build a make-shift clothes line in the toilet in which she can hang her underwear to dry after washing! What’s even more odd is a scene at an onsen in which a nude young boy is seem coming into frame twice for no reason whatsoever. But even that is nothing to what happens near the climax which is so surreal and bizarre you just have to laugh at the absurdness of it all. The final scene will either have you be scratching your head and saying ‘WTF was that all about?’ or laughing at the ingenious talent of Takashi Miike and the crazy ideas he comes up with. This movie has got a little bit of everything in it even a child murderer. That’s why I like Miike. He is never predictable like other directors which is why he stands out so much and you’ll always be entertained by his movies even when some of his work is rather uncomfortable to watch.

detective story screenshot

The cast are excellent in their roles from the leading characters to the supporting ones. Kazuya Nakayama is fantastic as the detective Kazama. He is played mostly for laughs. For some reason Kazama puts on a wig sometimes when he’s out on duty (perhaps as a kind of disguise?) which he only takes off when he’s back at his apartment. I guess that’s a part of the eccentricity associated with the character. What happens to Kazama as he confronts the killer at the end is hilarious although many will see it as being gross.

Detective Story might not be up there with Miike’s greatest works but with it’s warped sense of humour and high gore content it’ll no doubt please his fans. I really enjoyed it.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Lesson of the Evil

High school teacher Seiji Hasumi is the most popular teacher at his school who has earned the respect of his colleagues and the affection of his pupils. When rumours of exam cheating using mobile phones rears up one day in the staff room, Hasumi suggests using body searches and signal jammers but that idea is swiftly put down. However there are other numerous problems in the school that Hasumi uncovers such as bullying and secretive student teacher relationships. When one of his pretty female students comes on strongly to him, Hasumi responds back in a very unteacherlike manner! The mask that Hasumi is putting on that he’s a kindly saviour to his pupils and a model teacher to his colleagues begins to slip. He blackmails 2 colleagues who are having affairs with students but soon turns to murder to cover his tracks. Then Hasumi explodes into an orgy of violence against his class during a festival they are preparing at their school one evening. Trapped with the doors to the outside locked, will any of Hasumi’s students manage to survive the carnage that ensues?

With Takashi Miike at the helm, viewers should know by now to expect the unexpected with the movies he directs and this one certainly managed to shock me with the brutal and relentless violence that takes place during the 2nd half. It doesn’t start out that way although we are given a taster that Hasumi may not be quite the nice guy we think he is by showing a flashback sequence to when he was a teenager when he grabbed a large knife and quietly crept upstairs to confront his parents in their bedroom who were thinking of turning him in to the cops after discovering he’s responsible for a string of murders. The first half of the movie is relatively sedate introducing us to the teachers and students but showing us that life at the school that Hasumi is employed isn’t so cosy and there are impending signs of Hasumi’s dark side coming to the fore by showing us that he lives in a ramshackle house out in the wilds listening to the song Mack The Knife. Two crows (linked somehow to Norse mythology) seem to be watching the teacher’s every move at his house and we can clearly see that Hasumi is a sick man when one of the crows is fried as he has electrified a contraption he has rigged up outside. Gradually we are shown some of Hasumi’s past when he went to study abroad in New York where his violent impulses came to the surface once more and he murdered one of his so-called friends. The urge to kill is never far from his mind but the way he manages to surpress his evil thoughts from the pupils that adore him is quite sinister. In a way Takashi Miike lulls the viewer into a false sense of security because what happens next after the first hour is a tour-de-force in excessive bloodshed as Hasumi turns psycho, grabs and loads his trusted shotgun and begins a systematic slaughter of his entire class. No one is spared and the way he goes about blasting his charges at point blank range may be repetitive but it is ever so shocking. Seeing Hasumi’s twisted and bloodied face as he loads his shotgun over and over before firing into the helpless and defenceless bodies of his class with some begging for mercy is something I won’t forget in a hurry. Perhaps it was the cinematic experience that made the shotgun blasts ring out loudly because at times it made me jump in my seat. From taking a quick peek at the rest of the audience in the cinema it seemed everybody was numbed by the horror that unfolded on the screen, one or two people had their mouths gaping open not believing what they were seeing. I’m sure the excessive shooting that takes place in this movie will make it unwatchable for some viewers. Miike shows us during the orgy of violence that Hasumi is so mentally ill that he believes the shotgun is seen to have a human face of sorts on it and it talks back to him!

Lesson of the Evil screenshot

Hideaki Ito turns in a fine performance as Hasumi and the way he charms his way into his pupils’ lives by not being just their teacher but also their friend just makes his turn to the dark side all that more disturbing to watch. A couple of the teenage cast are given fairly substantial roles but for the majority we are not given any background to them at all. That would have taken too long to establish in the movie so don’t expect any kind of character development apart from that of Hasumi.

It looks likely that Miike will be making a sequel to this movie judging by the ‘to be continued’ sign that came up before the end credits. With Hasumi arrested by the cops and two of his class miraculously surviving, my guess is that the story will perhaps take place a couple of years later with the two survivors at university and Hasumi somehow escaping from prison and wanting to finish off the job he couldn’t do before but that’s just my idea of what the sequel could be. We will just have to wait and see what Miike will come up with. Takashi Miike’s movies don’t usually make me wince at the violence but this one did. Maybe it was because the victims were all young? Despite the carnage of blood I still enjoyed this movie but it definitely won’t be for those easily offended or the squeamish so be aware of that before you decide to see it in the future.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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Byung-Gu is an ordinary young man living in Korea. He believes that all of the earth’s social ills are the evil doings of aliens. That’s why he knows that unless he can meet the prince from Andromeda before the total lunar eclipse, Planet Earth will be in grave danger. In order to meet the prince, he must find an extraterrestrial living on earth. So Byung-Gu kidnaps the most logical suspect, Kang Man-shik, the president and CEO of Yoojae Chemical Company. Thus starts the battle between Byung-Gu who’s trying to uncover a secret alien plot to destroy the earth and CEO Kang Man-Shik, who thinks Byung-Gu’s nuts and is trying desperately to escape. Only four hours until the total lunar eclipse. When the eclipse is over, the time will run out for Planet Earth. Can Byung-Gu singlehandedly save the planet?

This is a very interesting Korean movie which combines many genres into a potent mix all of it’s own. It’s one of those movies that only comes along every once in a while which is so unusual and unique that it just impresses you. The blend of comedy, psychological thriller, horror, police drama and satire works brilliantly. It never fails to surprise you and the movie easily switches from comedy in one scene to a nasty torture moment in a dank basement with a lot of blood in the next. The first 15 mins will give you an idea whether this movie is something you like or not. It might seem a little strange but once you get into the plot and the characters you’ll immerse yourself into this fantastic movie. Don’t let the DVD cover lull you into thinking this is some kind of wacky comedy because it is far from being that. The thrill in watching this movie lies in where it’s going to take you. It’s best to come in with an open mind, sit back and just enjoy the wild ride that unfolds. There are many surprises, some twists and original ideas thrown in. It isn’t a movie for everyone though and it’s certainly not to be seen by families. Some people will be turned off by the graphic violence and situations that take place but if you’re used to watching anything by Takashi Miike or Park Chan-wook then you should be fine with this movie. Director Jang Jun-Hwan paces this movie perfectly and the ‘is he or isn’t he an alien’ question is finally resolved at the conclusion. You’ll never be able to hear the song ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ in the same way again after watching this movie.

The acting is incredible with an amazing performance by Ha-kyun Shin as Byung-Gu. Here we have an individual who is convinced that aliens have infiltrated this planet and have changed their genetics to resemble a human being that it consumes him. The aliens can apparently communicate back to their home planet telepathically by their hair strands! He sees it as his quest to thwart and overpower these aliens as he believes they were responsible for making his mother ill who is lying comatose in a hospital. He has kidnapped many individuals before because he believed they were aliens (13 before targeting Kang Man-shik) and taken them back to his mountain top lair where he straps them into a chair and begins torturing them for information on their true origins. Byung-Gu thinks the aliens will be able to withstand the punishment he gives them. It will be easy for the viewer to tag Byung-Gu as being mentally unstable. Given his violent behaviour towards Kang Man-Shik, you will still gradually begin to like and sympathise with Byung-Gu.

Funny, tense, horrifying and inevitably tragic,  Save The Green Planet is a thought provoking, challenging, disturbing but ultimately a very special and outstanding movie that shouldn’t be missed out by Asian movie fans. Highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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Man Hunting (2010)

A teenage schoolgirl is kidnapped by a mysterious figure, and then taken to a cabin in the forest. The kidnapper, his face hidden under a hood, then pushes the girl to escape as he plays a sadistic game with her. He stalks her like prey with a crossbow. After being cornered and shot in the shoulder, the girl is patched up by her attacker and the game is replayed the following day. However, the injuries she sustains in this game is far worse than the previous day – she puts her foot straight through a tree stump as she attempts to escape. She still manages to elude capture but only for a short time. Patched up once more, she escapes for a 3rd time and manages to get to a road but is hit by a car. The couple in the car decide to take the girl to a nearby hospital but there’s only one problem – one of the tyres has a flat. As day turns to night, the couple are still trying to fix the tyre with the injured girl safely inside the car. However, the kidnapper manages to find her and kill the couple. The girl is forced to flee the kidnapper once more. Will she eventually manage to escape once and for all?

I must have been stupid to have expected this to be a good horror movie from the trailer I saw months ago because it isn’t that good. It rips off several movies such as SAW in an attempt to justify torture scenes on the young schoolgirl. I don’t mind other movies being copied if it’s done correctly but the movie suffers from poor execution with a half-baked plot. The story is linked to the opening scene with the girl getting pregnant by her boyfriend and she has to go to the hospital to get an abortion. The twist in the final scene relates back to this but it still doesn’t make any damn sense. Some parts of the movie defy logic such as the couple in the car with the flat tyre sequence which is ridiculous. Who in their right mind can believe that it takes a couple of hours to change just one tyre!!! The viewer can easily see that it’s early afternoon when they discover the flat tyre and by the time the kidnapper strikes at them it’s pitch black. Are they that incompetent at changing a tyre? It’s things like this that annoy me about this movie. There is a also distinct lack of tension or suspense when the girl is on the run from her captor. Thankfully it only runs for 65 mins and considering the horrible acting from the cast that was more than enough for me.

I felt the filmmakers got round to having a discussion around a table and decided ‘well if we copy this scene from this movie, we take this from another and we throw together a flimsy plot I don’t think anybody will notice how bad it is’. An example of a scene being copied from SAW is that of the key in the stomach. The girl’s brother and boyfriend are introduced to the plot. The kidnapper has chained them up and they have to find the key in each other’s stomach if they want to be released. The only choice they have is to kill each other to do that. To be honest the only feature about this movie which is OK is the horror effects. Plenty of blood is spilt, the kills are somewhat brutal and there is one nasty scene right at the end as the girl is slashed relentlessly across her chest and abdomen by the kidnapper whilst she’s tied up to a tree. I’m sure the director is maybe a fan of American 80’s slasher movies as this movie has that distinct feel to it.

I’ve seen worse low budget horror movies from Japan over the years I suppose. I wouldn’t really recommend this to any Asian horror fan. I was surprised to read that this movie was given a sequel – Man Hunting: Redemption and judging by how useless this movie is I don’t think I’ll be watching it. Avoid.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 stars out of 5

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In the aftermath of the earthquake that strikes Kobe in 1995, psychic Yukari Kamo comes to help the victims who are living in shelters. She is tormented by the fact that she can read people’s minds and wishes she didn’t have the ability as it has driven her to try and committ suicide on many occassions. Medication has alleviated some of the voices she hears in her head but she fears that in the future they will prove ineffective. Staying at the house of the woman running the shelter, she is shown a collection of tree drawings which have been drawn by one person – a schoolgirl named Chihiro who is suffering from multiple personality disorder ever since she survived a car crash which claimed the lives of her parents. Chihiro has 13 people living inside her head and she’s been shunned by her peers at school. Yukari’s arrival in Kobe coincides with the start of a rash of mysterious deaths which includes a schoolgirl drowning herself in a toilet bowl!! Could the deaths be linked to Chihiro – perhaps one of the personalities she has is a killer or is it linked to a sensory depravation experiment which went horribly wrong as the Kobe earthquake struck?

Despite being hammered by some critics when it first came out, I thought this J-horror was a fairly interesting movie even though the plot shifts from being about a girl with a personality disorder to one about a soul that was released during an experiment with no body to return to about half way through. It’s a suitably atmospheric movie about spiritual possession and the plot whilst some might say is ridiculous was plausible enough. The characters are well rounded and the movie is nicely shot with newsreel footage of the devastating images of the Kobe earthquake at the beginning. And the best thing about the movie is it doesn’t have a long haired dressed in white antagonist!! Unlike other J-horror movies, this story isn’t driven by gore or cheap shocks but by the characters. As much as it is a story about spirits, it’s also about two people who are outcasts of society and lonely due to their condition. There’s a rather stupid romantic sub-plot involving Yukari and a male doctor which was pointless and went nowhere. I felt the plot was building up to what I hoped was going to be a great climax but it just fell flat on its face. It was a disappointing end to a movie that had promised much. Another downside to the movie is that character development is minimal. There were many opportunities where the director could have expanded more about the history of the characters especially Yukari and her background as a psychic but it didn’t happen.

As for the acting in the movie, Akira Kurosawa’s granddaughter Yu plays the role of Chihiro and whilst I wouldn’t say her acting is that good, she is quite creepy as the girl with various personalities inside her. The shame about it all is we only get to see a couple of the personalities. She might have have a chance to extend her acting range had she been given a chance to act out all 13 personalities. Yoshino Kimura who plays the psychic Yukari is a sympathetic character to the viewer. Here is a person who would rather lead a normal life than hearing the overwhelming thoughts of people around her running through her head. Her performance was OK, not really that special. If you’re a rather observant viewer, you might catch a very quick cameo of Takashi Miike in this movie too.

Isola Persona 13 isn’t too bad and if you’re a fan of possession movies you might even enjoy it. J-horror fans better look elsewhere for their kicks as you’re not going to find anything with gore and scares in this movie.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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Junk (2000)

In a top secret US military facility situated in an old abandoned factory on the island of Okinawa, an American doctor is dabbling with a chemical called DNX which is supposed to bring the dead back to life but with some horrific side effects in that they come back as flesh eating zombies. A distress signal is picked up by the US military top brass from the secret base and Dr Nakada who once worked on developing DNX is called in by them to go to the base and shut the place down by activating a bomb which will blow the whole facility. Meanwhile, across town a gang of thieves stage an outrageous heist at a jewel store and steal more than 100,000,000 million yen in jewellery. The gang have set a deal up with the local yakuza so that in exchange for the jewellery they will get some cash. The location for the deal is unfortunately in the same abandoned factory where a zombie outbreak has started. It’s now a battle of survival for the thieves as the zombies start attacking them but they also didn’t count on a female zombie who is displaying far more intelligence than your average undead person. Will any of the thieves manage to escape and can Dr Nakada destroy the base before the local town is overrun by zombies?

A lot of zombie movies made during the past 10 years or so have had their formula tweaked a little bit so that they appear to be different from other generic undead flicks (fast zombies, zombie comedies etc) but sometimes it’s just nice to watch a good old fashioned zombie movie which more or less sticks to the vision that George Romero came up with (with just a little dose of Re-Animator) and Junk is one such movie. Unfortunately Junk had the misfortune of coming out in the same year as Versus. Versus had zombies but they weren’t the slow shuffling zombies of old and anyway Versus was more of a fighting movie than a proper zombie splatterfest. Not that there’s anything wrong with Versus (I loved it) but a lot of people including the critics ignored this movie and showered all the praise on Versus instead. Thankfully over the past decade, Junk has garnered a bit of a cult following and is now starting to be appreciated by J-horror fans. If it’s blood and guts you want, this movie has it in droves and it feels very much like what the Italians such as Lucio Fulci were producing during the late 70’s/early 80’s. Add some gun-play and nudity and you have the ingredients for Junk. Director Atsushi Murogi makes sure the action comes thick and fast with plenty of gory effects which is well done e,g brilliant brain splatter from gun shots and organs dangling from wounds. For a low budget horror the special effects personnel excelled themselves. It’s only during the final third that things get a little bit silly when you have a super intelligent female zombie on the rampage and no matter how many times she gets offed (yes she even shot in the head which should kill your average zombie) she comes back for more!

The storyline whilst not exactly groundbreaking is pretty simple and the acting is decent enough with two strong female characters. Once again it’s the Westerners in the movie that lets the side down. In nearly every Japanese movie I’ve seen which features American actors they just can’t seem to act properly and this movie is no exception. The couple of men here who play American soldiers are unbearably bad. It might have been better to replace them with Japanese actors! Even so the Japanese guy playing Dr Nakada also get in on the act and fails badly with his English dialogue. I had a hard time trying to understand what the hell he was trying to say!

It was a shame that Junk was such a short movie (82 mins) as I wanted to see more. As a zombie movie it doesn’t fail to entertain and Asian gorehounds will find a lot to like in this movie. I could’ve been really picky and mention the many plotholes I saw in the movie but I wasn’t really too bothered about them. All I wanted to do was sit down and be entertained by a fun zombie movie and it did just that. It delivers what zombie fans would expect. I really enjoyed it. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Sadako 3D (2012)

At a high school where Akana Aikawa works as a teacher, a rumour exists of an online video. The video is purported to show someone committing suicide. Then Akane Aikawa’s student Noriko kills herself. During that time, more suspicious deaths occur one after another. The police concludes that the deaths are suicides. What the police miss is that a key element exists in all of the students’ deaths. All of them watched the video before they died. Akane Aikawa now holds the key to the revival of Sadako and must defeat her once and for all …

It’s been 14 years since Sadako, the long haired girl in the white dress was tossed down a well and crawled out of a TV screen to frighten us all. Ringu which is quite rightly a classic revitalised the Asian horror genre but in the process other copycat movies would come out with the same dark long haired woman as it’s antagonist during the late 90’s/early 2000’s. Over time people would become bored as the same old crap would get churned out. So how would this, the 5th entry in the series fare? I’d like to say that it’s a great entry in the Ringu franchise and judging by the promising trailer I saw months ago I had high expectations but I’m afraid the end result is far from good and it’s in fact an insult to the original movie. Ringu worked so well as the dread, tension and suspense was built up slowly throughout the movie until the climatic pay-off but Sadako 3D doesn’t do that and relies on useless cheap scares and overuse of CG effects. I didn’t even find this version of Sadako scary at all. This Sadako is a pale shadow of the one that scared everybody in 1998 and tarnishes the memory of why she was such a frightening entity in the first place. The death scenes in the movie are laughable. Are we to believe that Sadako’s hand coming from a small mobile phone screen can push somebody through a window – I think not! There’s worse to come as Sadako now has an army of deformed spider-like clones that chase after Akane through an abandoned building. The spider-like clones disperse into moths when struck! Go figure! But by then the movie had completely lost my interest.

I wasn’t impressed at all with Satomi Ishihara as the heroine Akane. She is given the unusual power to break windows and computer screens with her powerful scream which made her an outcast at high school. Now as an adult, her screams comes to her aid when Sadako stalks her through the internet. To be honest the acting by everybody was awful. Koji Seto better known to Western fans as Kamen Rider Kiva plays Akane’s boyfriend like a wet blanket. The main problem with Ai Hashimoto as the iconic Sadako is she’s just too cute, something which the character shouldn’t be. We are meant to fear her. Is the viewer supposed to be frightened of a girl with superimposed red eyes?

The signs weren’t good with the director that was chosen for the project but it’s not entirely Hanabusa Tsutomu’s fault. A lot of the blame has to go with the shitty direction the screenwriters went at. I still can’t believe that this movie did well at the Japanese box office as it’s terrible with a storyline that was probably written quickly and thrown out to capitalise on the franchise. Unfortunately due to the movie’s success, it has just been confirmed that a sequel is scheduled for release in Summer 2013. If I had my way I’d seal the well that Sadako came from and stop any further sequels until somebody can come up with a fresh and original approach because frankly this movie is a joke. It had potential but the people that have put this together have really ballsed it up big time.

Even if I say this movie is useless, I can still see the majority wanting to watch this but don’t blame me if you find it disappointing and such a big letdown. You have been warned!

Sadako’s Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5

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Baptism Of Blood (1996)

Matsuko Uehara is a successful actress who hides a blue birthmark on her face with plenty of makeup. She quits acting as she finds it hard to hide the mark. The story shifts many years ahead as Matsuko is now older, is seen limping and has a 15 year old daughter Sakura who is a talented pianist under the tutelage of a man called Tanigawa. He is trying hard not to lust after Sakura despite the fact that his wife is about to give birth to his child. Matsuko and a mad doctor have created a machine down in the depths of the mansion where she lives which can transplant brains from one person to another. Matsuko has plans to transplant her own brain into the body of her daughter. Although Sakura tries to escape when she finds out, she is eventually caught and goes through the horrific ordeal of having her brain removed. Matsuko wakes up in Sakura’s body and sets about seducing Tanigawa who doesn’t take that much resistance to fall for her charms. Matsuko plans on emptying her account and running away with Tanigawa to France but then strange things start happening to her. Sakura’s forehead starts developing a small blue birthmark (the same on Matsuko’s old face) and the police start snooping around………..

This is a very strange mid 90’s J-horror about a disfigured woman on a quest for wanting an unblemished and young body which isn’t that good if I’m being honest. The title is somewhat misleading as there’s no baptism as such. The ludicrous plot which has elements from movies by David Cronenberg has some awful acting, crappy pacing and a ridiculous ending with a twist which comes from nowhere. It’s like the scriptwriters couldn’t think of a way to finish the movie so they came up with a lame excuse of a climax. It’s also quite dull. The only saving grace of the movie is a marvellous bloody scene featuring the brain surgery which is performed by a big machine. It’s gory, extremely graphic and very well done. A pity the rest of the movie is a bit of a mess. Rie Imamura who plays Sakura is a very stunning young woman who you think that butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth if it wasn’t for the fierce angry looks she makes at times. Even though she makes for some good eye candy, it doesn’t hide the fact that her acting is terrible. The story does have some eroticism and perverse themes. When you think about it – seeing a minor sleeping with her piano tutor is just plain wrong even if it’s an adult brain in her body! Is it any surprise that director Kenichi Yoshihara hasn’t made any more movies after this clunker. I suppose the criticism he got for this movie put him right off from directing anything else.

Despite a plot which I thought would be interesting, this was a major disappointment in my books which only got worse by the mediocre ending. Give it a go if you want to watch something which has some unitentional hilarity about it. Poor.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 stars out of 5

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The Guard Post (2008)

Aka GP506

In the heavily fortified DMZ between the two Koreas, the South’s Guard Post 506 has experienced mystifying events on a cataclysmic scale. 20 soldiers are reported dead, leaving one sole survivor at GP 506. Higher level military authorities scramble to uncover the mysteries behind these deaths and appoint Sergeant Noh, considered the best in the military, to lead the investigation. The deaths are particularly sensitive, because one of the victims is thought to be Lt. Yoo, the son of the Army’s Chief of General Staff. Making things more difficult for Sergeant Noh is that the Army has given him until 6 AM to finish his investigation. The investigation group arrive at GP 506 under torrential rains, resulting in the investigative group becoming trapped within GP 506 themselves. They find a comatose Corporal Kang with an axe in his hand. A video tape is also discovered of Corporeal Kang stating his intentions to kill the entire unit at GP 506. Then, Lieutenant Yoo is found alive but severely traumatized. The minutes tick away, 6 AM is quickly approaching , while the investigation team at GP 506 uncover even more startlingly secrets.

From the director of R-Point comes another army platoon in peril horror movie. Although I found R-Point to be rather muddled, this movie is a lot better and far more entertaining although the running time has been pushed too far at 2 hours long. It could have been cut by a good 30 mins and it wouldn’t have affected the movie at all, in fact it would have made the story run more smoothly. Don’t be misled by some people or the trailer into believing this is a zombie movie because it isn’t. The movie starts with a bang as the soldiers find the lone survivor of a massacre at GP506 all bloodied and holding an axe. From the opening frame, the story is tense and nerve racking as the viewer is gradually shown the horrifying secrets of the base and what is happening to the soldiers. The story is well written and cleverly structured with some flashbacks weaved into the main plot that keeps the viewer enthralled. There’s an oppresive and menacing air to the guard post location and the director uses light and darkness to create an atmosphere of dread to the viewer. Thankfully there are no cheap scares included and while some Asian horrors build up to a somewhat disappointing conclusion, I can safely say that nobody will be disappointed by the suspense filled and gripping finale in this movie. The second half of the movie is just an unrelenting trip into terror. As this is a horror movie there’s a fair amount of blood spilling with many unpleasant situations that make this quite a visceral experience. It has a very good balance of using psychological scares and gore to create one of the best Asian survival horror in recent times.

Director Kong Su Chang has come up with a great horror movie which delivers good acting from the cast, nice direction and a solid atmosphere. Asian horror fans will definitely find much to enjoy here.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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Young-Gun is a virgin who always tries to do the right thing. He wanders around the city every night as protector of the people. Nobody asked Young-Gun to do this and he doesn’t get paid, but he risks his life for the common good and also picks up trash along the way. One evening, he hears a woman screaming. After fighting with 3 mysterious men, Young-Gun saves her and takes her back to his house. Her name is Ha-Monica. Young-Gun has a crush on her, but she is an alien who has been sent to Earth to increase her species although he doesn’t know that. Before dawn, she has to find the best sperm and become impregnated. Young-Gun has taken a vow of chastity until marriage, so he can’t give the alien what she wants. Throughout the long night the beautiful alien tries to get his sperm. Can the thirty something virgin Young-Gun overcome tempation from the alien? Can Young-Gun save Planet Earth?

Before I do the review let me just say that there is no alien bikini in this movie at all. An alien female in some underwear maybe but no bikini! Got it, OK let’s get on with the review! I came into this movie thinking it was some kind of comedy and whilst the first half of the movie has some comedy it moves into darker territory by the 2nd half with some blood being spilled. You may have read the movie summary thinking this is like the sci-fi horror movie SPECIES and you’d be right about that except there’s no nudity, nasty horror or any action. The movie is a bit of a mixed bag and considering it only runs for 75 mins that may have been a blessing in disguise. The majority of the movie is set in Young-Gun’s apartment. Both Ha-Monica and Young-Gun are quite awkward around each other at first with Young-Gun really shy as he’s never had a woman in his apartment before. A game of jenga soon settles their nerves. The by-now flirty behaviour by Ha-Monica on Young-Gun progresses into something very sexual as she uses her feminine ways to try and get him to have sex with her. It’s quite funny seeing Young-Gun being sexually tormented by Ha-Monica. Which hot blooded male wouldn’t get turned on by the very beautiful alien but Young-Gun is adamant not to break his vow of chastity. The tone of the movie so far had been lightweight and fun but then it veers dramatically into a battle between the two as Ha-Monica resorts to various torture methods by tying Young-Gun up to extract the sperm she requires. She tries to rape him and even attempts a blowjob which results in her mouth being bloody. It goes even further into the dark side when Young-Gun breaks free and repeatedly punches Ha-Monica in the face thanks to a flashback sequence which showed that Young-Gun had suffered abuse at the hands of his father when he was younger. The torture by Ha-Monica has triggered something inside Young-Gun reminding him of the past and he snaps. It’s quite disturbing seeing this young woman being smacked about and badly treated. I don’t know if seeing the flashback sequence is supposed to make us feel sorry for his violent behaviour but I thought it was a bit too much. What’s more strange is after Young-Gun comes to his senses and sees the bloodied face and unconscious body of Ha-Monica on the floor of his apartment he decides to have sex with her triggering her pregnancy. The movie ends on a weird note with the alien offspring which has grown into a male adult and looking like a younger version of Young-Gun in the space of a few hours somehow managing to change Young-Gun into an old man who dies. There’s no resolution of any kind and I just found it all a big cop-out.

There’s no denying that Ha Eun-jeong as Ha-Monica is a very attractive woman and the fact that she spends around half of the movie in her underwear will no doubt find many men enjoying this visual treat. Young-Gun as played by Hong Young-Guen on the other hand is a strange little character. Why he goes around the city being a vigilante crimefighter is never explained or why he has to don a silly Mario moustache on his face. It can be said that he’s a card short of a full pack in the head! There are two quite good fight sequences featuring Young-Gun kicking the crap out of 3 secret service agents who are after Ha-Monica.

Overall I found this movie to be a bit flat, unbalanced and very deceiving for people who might come into this movie thinking it’s a comedy when it becomes a nasty exercise in violence during the 2nd half. It does raise a few chuckles during the first 30 mins but that tone quickly evaporates soon after. It had the potential to become a great little comedy movie had it not been for the story changing from light to dark.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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