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Takuma

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Takuma last won the day on May 5

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About Takuma

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    Eternal Jade Emperor
  • Birthday 08/27/1986

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    Japan
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    Japanese movies, Sonny Chiba, a Japanese girl

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  1. Takuma

    Miscellaneous Japanese Cinema Thread

    All time best Japanese screenwriter Haruhiko Arai about modern Japanese cinema: “You have people who don’t know the history making the films and people who don’t know the history watching them. In other words, idiots make films and idiots watch them. That’s where we are now.” - https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2019/08/28/films/still-pushing-boundaries-40-years-film/?hootPostID=fdcaa1789f0bb2cb8ecc258b7fb22eac#.XXtyjmaRWUl
  2. Thanks. More to come soon. btw, Tokyo is screening Failed Youth this year like it's the end of the world. Shin bungeiza just announced they will be screening it a dozen times next month in a Kazuhiko Hasegawa appreciation, following Jimbocho's 1 week run (the Saturday screening I attended sold out 25 minutes before the screening) and two showings in National Film Center's R.I.P. series...
  3. Takuma

    Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

    Resurrection of the Golden Wolf BD vs. DVD comparison Top: Kadokawa BD (2009 master) (not the 4K mastered new version) Bottom: Adness DVD For uncompressed caps, see here: https://www.bulletsnbabesdvd.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=5316&p=136339
  4. Takuma

    Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

    Resurrection of the Golden Wolf(Japan, 1979) [35mm] – 4/5 A toxic, overly contrived and positively astonishing anti-hero spectacle with badass Yusaku Matsuda an office worker at day and a villain climbing the underworld ladders at night. Haruhiko Oyabu’s source novel delivered 2½ films worth of gangster plotting and action crammed into 131 minutes, filmed by Toru Murakawa with his trademark one-shot action bravuras and mindboggling sexism. Matsuda is 6'0" of toxic masculinity, groping women, dealing drugs, blasting inferior men (“got kids? They’ll be happier without you!”) and going bananas over the sense of power after he has turned villainous corporate bosses into his slaves. And who could forget the strange ending. Sonny Chiba ventures into the film as nerdy, glass-wearing extortionist about an hour in and stays on board for 30 minutes – he’s one of the big names in the incredibly packed cast alongside Mikio Narita, Asao Koike, Koichi Iwaki, Toru Abe, Shin Kishida, Kenji Imai, Yutaka Nakajima, Kyosuke Machida and others. Frankly, a bit of an epic mess, but a tremendously entertaining one with style to spare. And the ultra-funky score is superb. Matsuda’s best action film. * Original title: Yomigaeru kinro (蘇る金狼) * Director: Toru Murakawa * Chiba's role: Major supporting role * Film availability: Kadokawa BD (4K remaster) (Japan) (no subs), Kadokawa BD & DVD (digital remaster) (Japan) (no subs), Kadokawa DVD (old master) (Japan) (no subs), Adness DVD (USA) (old master) The screencaps below are from the old Kadokawa Blu-Ray. There is a more recent 4K remastered BD also, but I never bothered getting it because the old disc looks fine. The Adness DVD is from an older master and looks notably inferior. Chiba Chiba
  5. Present from the gf
  6. My adventure continued in the afternoon. I headed to National Film Archive who were celebrating dead people with their once-in-two-years R.I.P. retrospective (no, it’s not really called that, but that’s what I call it). It was a massive series with mostly two films per corpse, approx 80 flicks in total. The film I went for was The War of the 16 Year Olds, a lesser known film by Toshio Matsumoto. I haven’t seen any of his films so I wasn’t sure if I was making the right choice, especially since I was sacrificing a Tetsuya Watari Nikkatsu Action flick (The Judgement of Youth, 1964) at Jimbocho… Well, the gamble paid off big time: The War of the 16 Year Olds was bloody excellent! The War of the Sixteen Year Olds (十六歳の戦争) (Japan, 1973/1976) [35mm] – 4/5 Funeral Parade of Roses director Toshio Matsuda's bloody excellent youth film set in rural Japan. This has one of the best opening scenes I've seen since Kiyoshi Nishimura's Too Young to Die (1969), with a young man arriving a town, and falling in love with a 16 year old girl as they watch the police pull two dead bodies from a river, all against a great rock song (the film's soundtrack is absolutely stunning!). Pure cinema! The film then follows their relationship as WWII traumas begin to surface in the town and lead the film down a far darker - and ambiguous - path. There are some jarring cuts and imperfections that make the film no less fascinating, and an amusingly gratuitous topless scene for Akiyoshi who looked pretty stunning at 19. Filmed independently in 1973, but not released until 1976. This became instantly of one my favourite 70s youth films! (the film is also available on Japanese DVD, but long OOP and incredibly expensive... 15 000 yen at Amazon right now) There was no poster for The War of the 16 Year Olds, but here are photos of some other posters from the screening series that NFA had decorated their walls with. Before someone panics, no, Shihomi is not dead! Oh, and my visit to a convince store lead to the second brief Etsuko Shihomi discussion of the day (the 1st one was in the taxi / see previous post). The reason: I was wearing my beloved Return of the Sister Street Fighter T-shirt, and the old guy behind the counter recognized her!
  7. I dropped by in Tokyo for some extreme movie watching again last week. First up was a race Jimbocho Theater, with first screening at 12:00. I had booked an early as motherfucker flight, only for it to be 30 min late. I missed the cheap Keisei train as a result, and had to ride an expensive Narita Express... which was also late because of some "trouble" (probably train suicide). Finally arriving Ueno, I made a desperate run to the metro even though I was one train behind my schedule, only for the train doors close right in front of my face. With Plan A and Plan B down the sewer, I improvised a taxi drive to Jimbo. The driver didn't know where the theater was so I just told him to drop me off at the station, and proceeded to talk about Tsunehiko Watase and Etsuko Shihomi with him for 15 min. Finally I did a 300m run to the theatre and sat down 11:59! I was wondering if it was worth it at all, the film in question being Crazed Beast (1976), which I hated when I fist saw it on DVD. This time I enjoyed it almost thoroughly, seeing it as the amusing action farce it is, rather than the action thriller I expected upon my first viewing. Favorite line in the film (an old woman to scared children in a hijacked bus): "Don't worry, that uncle will be caught and get death penalty". Jimbocho is not a theatre I visit awfully often because they focus on 50s and 60s dramas, comedies and musicals, but this time they had a dynamite program: Japanese Hot-Blooded Men 2 (にっぽんのアツい男たち2, which I'd love to translate as Japanese Hot Guys 2! ). - https://www.shogakukan.co.jp/jinbocho-theater/program/fervent2_list.html#movie01 Battles Without Honor and Humanity Misumi and Katsu's Tomuraishi tachi (1968), Oshima's Cruel Story of Youth (1960) Lost Love (1978) and The Mosquito on the Tenth Floor (1983) Kumashiro double: Africa's Light, which I saw in Jimbo a few years ago, and Failed Youth (1974) I finally got to see Failed Youth after missing it so many times. I plays in Tokyo in 35mm at least once every year. Below is my mini review: Failed Youth (青春の蹉跌) (Japan, 1974) [35mm] – 4.5/5 Tatsumi Kumashiro's legendary youth film. This was his first movie for Toho, a departure from Roman Porno. The politically conscious script by Kazuhiko Hasegawa (The Youth Killer, The Man Who Stole the Sun) follows indecisive university student Ken'ichi Hagiwara and hopelessly in love younger girlfriend Kaori Momoi in the midst of young confusion, violent student radicalism and an era where modern and traditional clashed. It's a slow-burner, but excellently acted by Hagiwara and Momoi (also look out for Meika Seri as a street beggar) and filmed with loads of meaningful long takes, including an amazing love scene in the snowy mountains near the end. And the score is just beautiful! Kumashiro's masterpiece, no doubt! The film's obscurity shows just how little Toho cares for their own catalogue titles: chosen by the nation's best known film journal Kinema Junpo as the 21st best Japanese film ever made, Toho has not even bothered putting the film out on DVD (though it’s finally coming in December 2019). I also caught The Mosquito on the Tenth Floor (1983), which I still thought was a pretty dull and boring life-is-shit picture despite a convincing Yuya Uchida performance as a policeman in debt (to the bank, not the yakuza, unfortunately), and the much more fun, if messy action epic Resurrection of the Golden Wolf (1979), which is my favorite Yusaku Matsuda film. Some of the other films in the 16 movie program (all 35mm) included Kitano's Sonatine, Gosha's Four Days of Snow and Blood, Suzuki's Fighting Elegy and Ichikawa's The Wanderers.
  8. Takuma

    Japanese Movie Mini Reviews

    Daiei time! Took a free trial for Amazon Prime's Kadokawa Channel. Yakuza Priest (やくざ坊主) (Japan, 1965) [VoD] – 2/5 Messy ‘fallen monk opens a business’ picture in which nothing interesting happens. Shintaro Katsu, still half in Zatoichi mode, plays the hoodlum monk who gambles, brawls and womanizes his way through the uneventful non-story. It even lacks exploitative or technical edge. But it does have one saving grace (in addition to Katsu): the underused Mikio Narita as Katsu's ronin opponent. Typecast to the point of boredom in the 70s yakuza films, Narita’s 60 swordsman roles have been a real discovery. A watchable film, but criminally weak considering the potential and talent involved. Followed by one sequel. - Bloody Shuriken (赤い手裏剣) (Japan, 1965) [VoD] – 2/5 Dagger throwing anti-hero Raizo Ichikawa rides into a spaghetti western town full of crooks and a hidden treasure everyone wants to locate. Watchable yakuza / jidaigeki / western hybrid is occasionally stylish, but too superficial to make you care about what's going on. Woman Gambling Expert (女の賭場) (Japan, 1966) [VoD] – 2.5/5 Part 1 in the 17 film Daiei series. An old man commits suicide after being accused of cheating in gambling den by a crooked yakuza (excellent Fumio Watanabe in a routine role). His restaurant owner daughter (Kyoko Enami) becomes the next target. Conservative Daiei surprisingly initiated this series two years before Toei took reign of the female gambler genre with Red Peony Gambler. But the origin is still evident. This is mainly a Daiei woman drama with yakuza elements until the electrifying last 15 minutes when Enami decides to learn the trade and get even. In a Toei picture, that scene would have played after the opening credits, or even before them, and served as the starting point for the story. Love for an Idiot (痴人の愛) (Japan, 1967) [VoD] – 3/5 A couple goes domestic World War III in Masumura's exceedingly 60s gender satire. A pre-otaku era salaryman (excellent Shoichi Ozawa) gets a young wildcat (Michiyo Yasuda) as his pet, a role she goes along with for a while till she gets bored with the old geezer trying to fit her into his idea of what a woman should be like. There are some crazy outfits and amazing still photos, wickedly funny observations about desperate men, and fine performances too, but the lack plot can make all the rage a bit numbing at times. Michiyo Yasuda, who is better known as Daiei’s late 60s action Duracell Bunny (Lady Sazen and the Drenched Swallow Sword, Bamboo Leaf Omon) does a surprisingly daring role, however, there is doubt whether it’s really her or a body double in the numerous nude photos. Oh, and the English title is a bit different from the Japanese “An Idiot’s Love”, the idiot being the salaryman. Based on a 1924 novel by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki - bit ironic considering how unmistakably 60s Masumura's film is. There had been at least 2 earlier film adaptations as well, in 1949 and 1960. - A Certain Killer's Key (ある殺し屋の鍵) (Japan, 1967) [VoD] - 3.5/5 Refined, stylish action thriller with professional killer Raizo Ichikawa hired to assassinate a businessman. Ichikawa, with his handsome looks integrated into a character who immerses in traditional arts when not assassinating people, doesn't look much like a hired killer, but that's one of the film's charms. From story to stylistic touches, the film does most things a bit differently, without becoming overly quirky. Captivating, even when nothing in particular is happening. A sequel to A Certain Killer, also a stylish film, but this sequel is even more focused and low key, better. - Electric Jellyfish (The Hot Little Girl) (しびれくらげ) (Japan, 1970) [VoD] - 3.5/5 A drunken dumbfuck father Ryoichi Tamagawa falls in yakuza debt trap after drawing attention by bragging about his sexy model daughter Mari Atsumi. He figures he can get the money from her jerk boyfriend Yusuke Kawazu, who just sold her body to a sleazy American to advance his own career. Meanwhile she's growing determined to tell everyone to go fuck themselves. An angry little Masumura film with dynamite Mari Atsumi on fire. Half of the dialogue is yelled, and the classical influenced score is overwhelming. For modern audiences the film may be a bit of an eye opener: this is where Sion Sono got his drama dynamics. A follow-up of sorts to a less exciting Masumura / Atsumi picture Electric Medusa (1970). -
  9. Takuma

    Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

    The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (USA, 2006) [VoD] – 2/5 An American guy moves in with his American father, falls in love with an Australian girl, and makes friends with a Korean. What country was this film set in again? A nonsensical Hollywood foreign vacation only utilizes Japan as a superficial visual backdrop; the script could've been filmed in any country with minor modifications. Sonny Chiba shows up in three scenes as a yakuza boss, and beats everyone else with his... Japanese language skills! In a typically ignorant move, the film is cast almost exclusively with Americans and people of random Asian descent, including the Japanese villain Drifting King who really struggles with his Japanese dialogue! And who the hell were those Japanese bit characters who help this white twat hero challenge a yakuza-backed gangster? "White boy fantasy" as Spike Lee would say. Also, Lucas Black makes Paul Walker and Vin Diesel look like character actors in comparison. And in 2019, you can't help but notice the film opens AND closes with a race where a woman in the main prize! All that being said, it's still watchable teen garbage, somehow. The mix of stupidity and action with ok tech credits is to thank. Also, keep your eyes open for future martial arts star Mitsuki Koga as yakuza henchman. * Japanese title: Wild Speed X3: TOKYO DRIFT (ワイルド・スピードX3 TOKYO DRIFT) * Director: Justin Timberla, no, I mean Justin Lin * Chiba's role: Minor role * Film availability: Easy Two yankees in Tokyo Two yankees in... A Korean-American, an Australian and an American of Korean-Japanese descent in... "Monkey didn't have his banana today" Holy shit, a Japanese! Mitsuki Koga before Hard Revenge Milly and Bushido Man Chiba
  10. Takuma

    Japanese Movie Mini Reviews

    Kinji Fukasaku x 5 Blackmail is My Life (恐喝こそわが人生) (Japan, 1968) [DVD] - 3/5 One of the films Kinji Fukasaku helmed for Shochiku instead of his native Toei. The breezy youthful touch found in his film indeed fits Shochiku better than gangster heavyweight Toei, though one also feels this could’ve been a Nikkatsu film. The cast and crew are largely Toei people, though. Hiroki Matsukata is the titular blackmailer heading a very Nikkatsu esque youth gang gradually moving on to bigger fish to blackmail. Hideo Murota gets one of his best roles as Matsukata's pal, for once playing a good guy (if a blackmailer can be described as such). This was actually the 2nd time the source novel was adapted; it was preceded by a 1963 Toei film Life of Blackmail starring Tatsuo Umemiya and Sonny Chiba in a very different kind of rendering of the storyline (Chiba's policeman/former best friend character does not even appear in Fukasaku's version). Fukasaku's film is the more rebellious and faster paced one with frantic cutting between past and present to explain ongoing scenes on the fly. There’s a flashback overkill but it's an interesting way to tell a story anyway, and unmistakably Fukasaku. Violent Panic: The Big Crash (Japan, 1976) [35mm] - 4/5 An utterly insane action film that is one of Kinji Fukasaku's lesser known movies, despite featuring one of the greatest car chases of all time. Tsunehiko Watase is a bank robber trying to escape the country with his girlfriend while being chased by the police and his dead partner's maniac brother (Hideo Murota) who wants his share of the cash. Fort the first 60 min it's an enjoyable heist drama set to Toshiaki Tsushima's (Battle without Honor and Humanity) terrific score and with excellent turns by Watase and Sugimoto (her best performance was in the previous year's ATG film Preparation for a Festival), followed by an incredible 20 minute demolition derby car chase. Imagine The Blues Brothers directed by Fukasaku as an ultraviolent crime film and you'll get the idea. Also features a hilarious Takuzo Kawatani performance as policeman whose girlfriend (Yayoi Watanabe) has constant trouble remaining faithful. - Lovers Lost (道頓堀川) (Japan, 1982) [VoD] - 3/5 A Kinji Fukasaku Shochiku drama about two young blokes in Osaka. The origin is a novel by Teru Miyamoto, whose Muddy River was filmed by Kohei Oguri a year before. Fukasaku’s film is a bit of an acting showcase for relative newcomers Hiroyuki Sanada and Koichi Sato, a JAC talent and Rentaro Mikuni’s son, playing a wanna-be painter and a pool player respectively. It is spare-part Ken Ogata Tsutomu Yamazaki as the latter’s hated father who is brilliant, though, while Keiko Matsuzaka steals the first billing just because her face had most marketing value. Maki Carousel, Mariko Kaga, Tsunehiko Watase and Megumi Saki (from Red Violation and Rape Ceremony) are in it too. Slow at first, but eventually electrifying with strong drama and a great pool duel at the end, followed by a totally over-the-top death scene. The 80s also brought a little pervert out of Fukasaku with remarkable nude scenes in one film after the other. Here we get, among other topless scenes, a crazed two minute nude dance for the camera, all in the name of serious drama narrative! Legend of the Eight Samurai (里見八犬伝) (Japan, 1983) [35mm] - 4/5 An extremely entertaining samurai fantasy based on the Satomi hakkenden story, which Kinji Fukasaku had already adapted into a disappointing sci-fi film Message from Space a few years before. It's unmistakably a Kadokawa production, with fine production values and superstar cast starring Hiroko Yakushimaru and JAC sweetheart Hiroyuki Sanada at the height of their idolhood. Sanada was in terrific physical shape at the time and Yakushimaru, one of the cutest girls ever to grace Japanese cinema, had the kind of freshness about her performances that other idols couldn't even dream of. Sonny Chiba and Etsuko Shihomi are an added bonus. The sets are wonderfully over the top, the film is colourful and there is a genuine feel of a fantasy adventure. Special effects vary between great and amusingly cheesy. The soundtrack, with songs by Dan O'Banion, contains more greatness than is humanly possible to express in words. An utterly enjoyable (and enduringly popular in Japan) piece of pop samurai cinema for boys; only a notch below Fukasaku's finest films. - House on Fire (火宅の人) (Japan, 1986) [DVD] - 3/5 80s novel adaptation of the stormy private life of a novelist, thankfully directed by Kinji Fukasaku. It's quite long at 132 min and feels even longer with Fukasaku cramming 3 hours worth of drama into 2, but not boring thanks to Fukasaku's sparkling direction and drama that is both believable and a bit outrageous. Ken "I am the best actor of the 80s" Ogata is his usual great self in the lead and so are all the actresses playing wives and mistresses, including Mieko Harada and her heavenly breasts.
  11. Takuma

    Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

    A couple of cool stills for Yakuza Deka: No Epitaphs for Us (やくざ刑事 俺たちに墓はない) (1971)
  12. Takuma

    Japanese Movie Mini Reviews

    Keiko Sekine x 6 With Laputa Asagaya running a Keiko Sekine / Daiei Lemon Sex series in Tokyo soon, but me not being there, I gave myself a quick introduction to Daiei's early 70s youth film star at home since most of these films are streaming on Amazon Prime (also out on DVD). Btw, Sekine now goes by the name Keiko Takahashi... ever since she married Banmei Takahashi. High School Affair (高校生ブルース) (Japan, 1970) [VoD] – 2/5 Daiei youth eros with a school girl (cute Keiko Sekine in her debut role) getting accidentally pregnant after a tender moment with a boyfriend. Charmingly innocent with an old fashioned score, sweet characters and amazing metaphors (the love scene cross-cut to a basketball match has to be seen) until suffocating conservatism kicks in and robs it of all the joy. Sekine's character turns into an irritating drama queen in the process. The lesson is: sex is a filthy thing and will destroy a youngster's life. This was the opening film in Daiei’s Lemon Sex line, which was quite a bit tamer than what other studios were putting out. The theatrical poster, however, is surprisingly daring for Daiei, with Sekine in a wet see-through shirt... at 15. - Child Bride (おさな妻) (Japan, 1970) [VoD] - 2.5/5 High school girl Keiko Sekine part-times as kindergarten teacher and falls in love with the young single father of her favourite student. She becomes his wife and the child's mother. Expectedly sweet and tame, but also a curious contrast to High School Affair with its pro shagging-minors narrative. But then again, shagging minors has always been a popular activity among the conservatives and this movie doesn't stray far from its conservative roots. Quite watchable nevertheless, not least because of Sekine, who had a lot of charm to her. This was supposed to be her debut film, but became no. 2 when Daiei used her as a replacement star in High School Affair a few months earlier. The Forbidden Fruit (新・高校生ブルース) (1970) [VoD] – 2.5/5 More Daiei conservatism, this time disguised as sex comedy. A group of boys makes a pledge to lose their virginity. One of the targets is ultra-chaste Keiko Sekine who preaches in class "sex without love is for wild animals, not for human beings". This is actually moderately entertaining despite of, or because of, its American style hypocrisy that simultaneously preaches about love and morals but can't resist being a bit naughty (or perhaps it's the other way around, doesn't really make a difference). A sequel to High School Affair. The Awakening (成熱) (Japan, 1971) [VoD] - 2/5 A barely disguised 'Keiko Sekine and pretty scenery` concept film set in various small towns during summer festival season. The story excuse aka plot centres on two rival high schools competing in photography. Tension and romance ensues. Quite watchable, but ultimately unrewarding (save for the "let's raid the agricultural high school" line that surely can't be heard in any other film). For some reason Sekine doesn’t get naked this time, and there's nothing even discreetly erotic in the movie, which is greatly at odds with the Lemon Sex Line billing. - Love for Eternity (高校生心中 純愛) (Japan, 1971) [DVD] – 3/5 High school lovers and part-time runaways Keiko Takahashi and Saburo Shinoda try to escape the conservative world that won't accept their relationship. A real rollercoaster, emotionally and quality wise. Sekine hits career low in a hysteric crying scene, then climaxes in a love scene in the clouds (which is awesome)! The adults are all toxic cunts, which gets your blood boiling because you really care for the young protagonists and wish they'd have the upper hand. Play (Asobi) (遊び) (Japan, 1971) [VoD] - 3/5 Keiko Sekine gets the Yasuzo Masumura treatment. Shy girl Sekine from shitty home hooks up with unconfident youngster Masaaki Daimon who is revealed to be a yakuza under peer pressure. The story is told with frequent flashbacks to be past putting present moment scenes into an emotional context. This is Masumura in Electric Jellyfish mode, only the spark isn’t quite on the same level. There an overload of misery (especially with the bad parents) and characters feel like they’re on rails towards doom. But it comes alive big time when they decide to fight the destiny, with a very rewarding and touching last half an hour of gritty youth escapism. Easily Sekine’s most rebellious Daiei film. -
  13. I may not be qualified to answer because I’m probably the dick pointing out mistakes 😄 But… I agree it depends on the tone. Personally I’m always fascinated by film history, so details like how something was marketed, what year it was released, by what studio, with what kind of edits etc. are always interesting to me. Of course, that doesn't excuse give anyone the right to act like a dick, unless the original poster him/herself is an arrogant dick (e.g. makes strong statements or long analysis without even bothering to check the basic facts, or has this "crazy Asian movies" approach that is mainly based on cultural ignorance). Not related to kung fu, but as a Japanese film fan I’m pretty quick to correct people when they confuse pink films and roman porno. There’s a whole different history, company culture, production values, distribution venues etc. that have influenced on their general and critical perception and how the films shaped up… In the lack of a better example, the mistake is somewhat similar to confusing Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest. If you evaluated individual films on their own merits, I think it may not matter, but if you’re looking it from film historical perspective as a whole as I try to do, these details can become very noteworthy.
  14. Takuma

    First Love (2019) - Takashi Miike's Latest

    I remain hopeful that the film is (a lot) better than that teaser. Not a single interesting shot there.
  15. Takuma

    Japanese Movie Mini Reviews

    The Tale of Zatoichi (座頭市物語) (Japan, 1962) [BD] - 4.5/5 Zatoichi meets honourable but enemy gang affiliated samurai Shigeru Amachi in the beautifully written and directed opening film. It's curious how ninkyo'ish the storyline is (before the genre even existed), with Katsu and Amachi's meetings and discussions being old fashioned romanticized male honour/duty/friendship cinema at its best (you don't find anything quite like this in modern cinema, except maybe in 80s John Woo films). At the same time it steers away from the dull evil gang vs. good gang yakuza film pattern by making both gangs rotten. And the entire movie is funny and touching, with both elements beautifully integrated into the narrative rather than slapped on top of it. Also Amachi, an actor I've sometimes dismissed in his Toei films, is extremely good here. One of the all time best yakuza films. The Tale of Zatoichi Continues (続・座頭市物語) (Japan, 1962) [BD] - 3.5/5 Part 2. Zatoichi meets a man from the past (Katsu's brother Tomisaburo Wakayama). Enjoyable, wonderfully short (72 min) sequel nevertheless feels slightly superficial compared to the amazing original. The score (by Ichiro Saito instead of Akira Ikufube) dates the film, the storyline is built on back-story threads intentionally left loose in part one, and the Katsu-Wakayama pairing isn't milked to the full until the fantastic last 15 minutes. Still very good, but there was potential for even more. New Tale of Zatoichi (新・座頭市物語) (Japan, 1963) [BD] - 4/5 Part 3. The first colour entry and a return to top form with comparable honour/duty/respect play as the original film. Zatoichi is about to leave the yakuza life behind when he encounters a man who isn't evil, but must kill Zatoichi because his brother was slain by him. Effective and very touching. Three further points of notice: the film contains one of Akira Ikufube's most beautiful scores, features stunning framing throughout, and intensifies the action with powerful sword action sound effects (something that, typical to older chambara and yakuza films, was largely absent from the first two Zatoichi movies). - Zatoichi's Flashing Sword (座頭市あばれ凧) (Japan, 1964) [BD] - 3/5 Part 7. Evil yakuza Tatsuo Endo tries to obtain a riverside area from a decent boss who is harbouring Zatoichi without knowing his true identity. Standard entry with a routine storyline. Katsu is lovable as usual and Endo has a great evil laugh. Adventures of Zatoichi (座頭市関所破り) (Japan, 1964) [BD] - 3.5/5 Part 9. Sometimes you can do without a good plot. The characters, scenery and the hugely atmospheric final duel, all handled with finesse, make the uninspired `yakuza scheming with corrupt officials to extort villagers` plot surprisingly unobtrusive. Smooth sailing with the world's most lovable movie character. Zatoichi's Conspiracy (新座頭市物語・笠間の血祭り) (Japan, 1973) [BD] - 3.5/5 Part 25. The last of the original run before the 1989 one-time revival. This one is better than the previous few entries, more in line with the classic 60s films than some of the cruder 70s entries. Nothing unique, but there's a nice atmosphere and the film makes a satisfying closing for the series.
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