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Takuma

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Takuma last won the day on December 23 2019

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About Takuma

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    Eternal Jade Emperor
  • Birthday 08/27/1986

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    Japan
  • Interests
    Japanese movies, Sonny Chiba, a Japanese girl

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  1. Takuma

    Are you on Letterboxd?

    I’m not, because I’m greatly irritated by the site for two reasons: 1) 25% of the movies I watch are not in their database. What’s the idea with keeping a film diary when you have to omit a fourth of the films? And it’s the rare ones that I’d most want to write about… 2) The diary / social media format encourages people to write about films they know absolutely nothing about. Fine when it’s between friends, but painful when film pages are filled with completely uneducated opinions by complete strangers. Educated opinions I can respect (even when I disagree).
  2. Takuma

    Japanese Movie Mini Reviews

    Brothers of Capones (舶来仁義 カポネの舎弟) (Japan, 1970) [VoD] – 3.5/5 Completely ridiculous, and yet superbly entertaining action comedy non-sense with Tomisaburo Wakayama as Kuriyama Capone who learned his trade under Al Capone in Chicago. The film follows his first venture to Japan with gangster brothers Frank (Shingo Yamashiro) and Joe (Fumio Watanabe). They all speak heavily American accented Japanese with bits of English here and there, sometimes complete gibberish, something that caused my brain to melt at least a dozen times. And if that isn’t enough, the film has them watching a Tomisaburo Wakayama flick in cinema (“who’s that guy, some C-grade actor!”) and being chased by gangster and the FBI, including the granddaughter of Eliot Ness (played by a blonde actress who is actually pretty good!). The whole thing is a good amount of fun, the performances especially (Wakayama, Yamashiro, Watanabe in a rare heroic role), making this one of routine director Takashi Harada’s best pictures. Capone's Younger Brother: Heart and Speculation (カポネの舎弟 やまと魂) (Japan, 1971) [VoD] – 2.5/5 Lesser, but still modestly entertaining sequel. Wakayama is wonderfully bastardly here, but has to do without Chicago bros. Yamashiro & Watanabe and the film is just that much less fun. It's also a little bogged down by an out-of-place environmental message. In return one does get Willie Dorsey (best known for losing his balls in The Street Fighter) in a rather big role as Capone's right hand man. There's a legion of other gaijin as well, Osman Yusuf among them of course. The rating could be a notch higher on a good day. Bad Girl Mako (不良少女 魔子) (Japan, 1971) [DVD] - 3/5 Koretsugu Kurahara's first and last Nikkatsu New Action - the studio went Roman Porno three months later. Though a hip gangster film, this also has the kind of low key character realism that young Nikkatsu audiences identified with. The morals are ambiguous, the characters unconfident and the gang story relatively down to earth compared to Toei's more outlandish pictures. Junko Natsu is the delinquent girl who doesn't know on whose side to be: yakuza big brother Tatsuya Fuji or small time gang leader Jiro Okazaki. Entertaining, but not particularly memorable. The scrip was penned by Yasuharu Hasebe under his screenwriter pseudonym Tahashi Fujii. Tekken (鉄拳) (Japan, 1990) [VoD] – 2/5 Old grump Bunta Sugawara takes young hothead Takeshi Yamato under his wings and tries to make a boxing champ out of him. Fate intervenes and cripples the young hope, THEN some kind of super-right pure-Japan group of karate hooligans beat him half dead because he's a cripple. This is an odd, drawn-out meditation on ultra-masculinity, ultimately more admiring than critical of its heroes and their huge balls. They get their share of almost homo-erotic love from director Junji Sakamoto via endless slow-motion images and scenes trying to accomplish “something” by constantly running 30 seconds longer than they need. And then, just when you're bored out of your head, Bunta builds a training course and boxing ring in the middle of a fucking forest (!) for his protégé who has now been enhanced with an iron fist (literally), resulting in a freaking amazing, 5 minute cyber-punkish training sequence. And then some more big balls at the end when it’s payback time! Bunta goes full-on killer boxing, too! Not a good film, but has its moments. Slum-Polis (Japan, 2014) [VoD] - 1.5/5 Ambitious but unconvincing early feature Ken Ninomiya (The Limit of Sleeping Beauty), set in 2041 when parts of Japan have become outlaw areas ruled by gangs and killers. Ninomiya's energized editing rhythms and eye for striking visual compositions are partially evident, but the young (evidently student) cast lacks any credibility in tough guy roles, and the ending is the epitome of an emotional J-film climax gone embarrassing. The characters may be crying their heart out, but the audience doesn't buy any of it. Ninomiya soon after established himself as one of the few new Japanese filmmakers worth keeping an eye on.
  3. Takuma

    Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

    Hey, Clouds! (Japan, 1965) [VoD] – 3/5 Charmingly cute and old fashioned Toei youth film with a slight musical swing and myriad of family / romance relationships. There’s the “Saijo family” with kids Jiro Okazaki, Ichiro Araki and Yoshiko Mita taking an initiative to pimp their single dad Isao Yamagata to the “Mishima family” mother Haruko Kato, who is a single parent to the super-cute daughters Chiyoko Honma and Fuemi Kashiyama. Okazaki is also friends with “Kuwabara family” rich kid Koji Ishizawa, who has begun suspecting his old man may have a bit more offspring than has been publicly announced. Perhaps the “Matsumiya orphans” Hiroyuki Ota and his sister Junko Fuji? And then, people start getting interested in patrilineage, falling in love, making friends etc. Thankfully there’s human relationship MacGyver senpai Sonny Chiba popping up every 20 minutes, always saying the right words (or grabbing a man and lifting him in the air). An entertaining, if conservative youth film, oddly enough based on a 1965 novel by Shintaro Ishihara who was better known for his rebellious work e.g. Crazed Fruit. My guess is the material may (also) have gone through a bit of a transformation in Toei and director Masaharu Segawa’s (Four Sisters) traditionally minded hands. * Original title: Ooi kumo! (おゝい、雲!) * Director: Masaharu Segawa * Chiba's role: Small (but not that small) supporting role * Film availability: VoD (Japan) (no subtitles) The “Saijo family” kids Jiro Okazaki, Ichiro Araki and Yoshiko Mita Hah, Jigoro Kano returns. Just joking. Naoki Sugiura with Araki (who btw has become of of my fav actors) Mishima daughters Chiyoko Honma and Fuemi Kashiyama Human relationship MacGyver Sonny Chiba Chiba and Junko Fuji “Matsumiya orphans” Hiroyuki Ota and Junko Fuji. “Kuwabara family” rich kid Koji Ishizawa
  4. Takuma

    Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

    Judo for Life (Japan, 1963) [VoD] – 3/5 Sonny Chiba's first martial arts film, a partially fictionalized judo biopic based on prominent judoka Shiro Saigo (Chiba), the second student of judo founder Jigoro Kano (Naoki Sugiura). Akira Kurosawa’s Sanshiro Sugata is based on the same character and shares some scenes, but Judo for Life focuses more on the martial arts philosophy and training, including scenes depicting how the protagonist learned his famous cat-like landing, coined the term judo, and trained with Tsunejiro Tomita (Hideo Mutota). There’s also a slight yakuza film influence (Theatre of Life had came out just 1.5 months prior). The port street ambush scene is found in both films, but in Judo for Life it’s not Kano but a travelling yakuza (Hideo Murata in a small supporting role) that jumps out of the rickshaw. Entertaining and beautifully old fashioned, one does however with there were more shades of gray between good and evil, and a stronger ninkyo-like moral / honour conflict. Also, the ending melee has Chiba play the second fiddle to his master and box office draw Murata, who is misleadingly given first billing in the film and advertising materials. - Note 1: the film spun off from a TV series of the same name (1962-1964) that focused on Jigoro Kano. Chiba was not in the series. - Note 2: typical to the era, the character names have been modified, e.g. Rigoro Kano = Jigoro Kano, Shiro Hongo = Shiro Saigo, Tsunejiro Toda = Tsunejiro Tomita etc. - Note 3: a sequel followed in 1964. * Original title: Judo ichidai (柔道一代) * Director: Kiyoshi Saeki * Chiba's role: Starring role * Film availability: VoD (Japan) (no subtitles) Young judo fighter Sonny Chiba encounters yakuza Hideo Murata on the street. The same scene appears in Sanshiro Sugata but without the yakuza character. Chiba enters Kano’s temple dojo. Hongo (Saigo) learns his trademark cat-like movements from this stray cat. The same cat who witnessed Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris at Colosseum? Hideo Murota as Kano's 1st student Tsunejiro Toda = Tsunejiro Tomita. Always confusing when you have Hideo Murota and Hideo Murata in the same film… Training with master Kano Hongo vs. old jijutsu master. The same scene is in Sanshiro Sugata Yoshiko Sakuma as old jujutsu master’s daughter Chiba falls in love with (but is too much of a gentleman to try any bedroom judo with). The character also appears in Sanshiro Sugata. Here in Murata’s hands. Rinichi Yamamoto as rogue assistant instructor who becomes the bad guy. Final battle against a karate-monk. Rare English language trailer, which like the film's poster and opening credits, gives Hideo Murata the top billing even though he only appears in maybe 4 or 5 scenes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO0oIPkKreQ
  5. Three Roman Porno films: Tooru Murakawa's ultra stylish youth / pickpocket drama Delicate Skilful Fingers (1972), Noboru Tanaka's existential arthouse drama Secret Chronicle: She Beast Market (1974) and Toshiya Fujita's "Tarantino style" revenge drama Girl's Pleasure: Man Hunting (1977). + Tatsumi Kumashiro's masterpiece Failed Youth (1974) and Shinji Somai's surreal youth odyssey / film gem P.P. Rider (1983) which was written by Paul Schrader btw.
  6. Takuma

    Bolo Yeung: Japanese Film & T.V work (Questions)

    I watched The Karate (Part 1) last night and no Bolo in it. The film is absolutely batshit crazy. Yamashita, the unholy crossbreeding between Goofy and Charles Bronson, looks like Sister Street Fighter villain who landed a movie of his own. His accent alone is priceless, not to mention his ridiculous moustache. But as an on-screen martial artist, he's pretty great and the film is full of fun action! The whole movie is a ton (no, make that five tons) of fun. The US and UK video versions, known as Bronson Lee, Champion, seem to be dubbed and heavily cut. The Japanese version is 86 min while Bronson Lee, Champion appears to be 79 or 81 min if online sources are to be trusted (BBFC confirms the UK video was 73 min, with 3 min of additional UK cuts and approx 3 min of PAL speedup, which would suggest the source was 79 min).
  7. Takuma

    Bolo Yeung: Japanese Film & T.V work (Questions)

    I don't recall him being in that (not a very good series anyway, the least of the mid-70s Sonny Chiba shows)
  8. Finally saw this Ankokugai no kunsho: Manila gokudo senso (暗黒街の勲章 マニラ極道戦争) (Japan, 1992) [VoD] – 2/5 Philippine set early 90s Toei V-Cinema with an amazing VHS artwork, seems not to have made its way overseas since not a word about it can be found in English, let alone an English title. “Underworld Order: Yakuza War in Manila” is what the title reads as. A Japanese yakuza in Manila gets caught in a web of double crossings with corrupt army generals, Chinese gangsters and Japanese yakuza after refusing to participate in narcotics smuggling. 70 minutes and a topless femme fatale later it’s all out war with rocket launchers, assault rifles and tanks. The problem is the video-like output that lacks cinematic punch. The camerawork is uninspired, the score sounds like a supermarket tune, and the action feels stilted. There are big explosions, and there are people running from the explosions, but rarely does one get the feeling that those two are in the same frame, which is so essential for an action film. For much better Manila action, see the Shochiku distributed, genuinely outrageous “Score” (1995).
  9. Takuma

    Bolo Yeung: Japanese Film & T.V work (Questions)

    He could be in it, perhaps in a tiny role, but I don't see his name listed in any Japanese film database entries. I think it's more likely that IMDb is mistaken. On the other hand, he was in Fight! Dragon ep. 1&2, which aired in July 1974. The Karate was released just one month earlier. They were probably filmed around the same time, so he could have appeared in The Karate. Not having seen the film, I cannot be sure.
  10. Takuma

    Bolo Yeung: Japanese Film & T.V work (Questions)

    I think Bolo is only in The Karate 2.
  11. I was really disappointed with this one. I went in totally psyched, I mean Smith and Lawrence were gonna kick some ass, no? No. Lame story, lame direction, no punch or kick, Lawrence and Pantoliano sleepwalk through the film and the whole thing feels like it's playing at 0.85 speed. The rats aren't fucking anymore either.
  12. As promised, I managed to make it to Attack on the Sun (1970) and The Target of Roses (1972). This was playing in Laputa Asagaya at the same time with the Teruo Ishii retrospective! All I can say is... look at the line-up above, it's bloody amazing! I had actually been hoping for a Toho New Action series for years, and I was just about to start suggesting it to theatres! Attack on the Sun (白昼の襲撃) (1970) , which follows two punks and a girlfriend coming in possession of a handgun, has similar vibe to early 70s Nikkatsu new action, only with Nishimura’s trademark aggressive jazz score and international flair with G.I.s and their offspring flocking the bars in the era of ANPO controversy. It isn’t Nishimura at his best, but it’s still an interesting, politically and socially conscious action film. And I really like Noriko Takahashi, who had an exceptionally captivating presence and facial features. Unfortunately Takahashi would go on to retire soon after co-starring in Jun Fukuda’s City of Beasts later the same year following marriage at the age of 24. The Target of Roses (薔薇の標的) (1972) on the other hand is an absolutely fantastic action thriller with professional killer Yuzo Kayama hired to assassinate a foreign photographer (Rolf Jesser) and a Chinese woman (Zhen Zhen). Before soon, he falls in love with the woman and realizes his own employer is the Japanese branch of a neo-nazi organization planning to initiate the fourth reich! This features some of the most beautiful, naturalistic cinematography I've seen in any Japanese film, and very little music, which elevates the intensity near the level of Too Young to Die (1969), Nishimura's masterful debut film. Shot in Japan and Hong Kong, largely in English (thankfully, Kayama is pretty good at pronouncing English lines). Only if the otherwise badass ending had had a bit more inspired action design the film would be even better. The Target of Roses Attack on the Sun The Target of Roses Attack on the Sun Program chirashi
  13. Takuma

    Japanese Movie Mini Reviews

    Fukasaku x 2 Rampaging Dragon on the North (北海の暴れ竜) (Japan, 1966) [VoD] – 3/5 A fishermen vs. yakuza pot-boiler similar to many others (e.g. North Sea Chivalry, 1967) made around the same time. An evident pay-check job for Fukasaku, yet more energetic and entertaining than most of its kind. There are some overly clichéd plot developments, but also a delighting little twist at the end that I've never seen in any other yakuza film. Good performances as well: back in hometown punk Tatsuo Umemiya full of energy, villagers Yoko Mihara & Toru Yuri (in a less comedic role than usual!), opponent gambler Joji Takagi (a typical ninkyo role that always tends to be good), Hideo Murota looking literally dirty, etc. Ceremony of Disbanding (解散式) (Japan, 1967) [DVD] - 3/5 "What are we, the yakuza, without honour and humanity?" A rare ninkyo effort from Fukasaku, one that embraces the genre's old fashioned form to the point of becoming unrecognizable in the director's filmography. There are several lyrically melancholic scenes with Tsuruta witnessing his old yakuza pals consumed by greed and abandon the traditional way of the yakuza, a beautifully depicted honour/duty play with rival clan ex-bodyguard Tamba, and mature performance by Junko Miyazono as a woman from the past. It’s a shame the scrip as a whole isn’t quite as accomplished, failing to give some wonderful scenes the context they deserve. Note: not to be confused with Gambler: Ceremony of Disbanding (1968), also directed by Fukasaku. Nishimura x 2 Attack on the Sun (白昼の襲撃) (Japan, 1970) [35mm] – 3.5/5 Two punks and a girlfriend come in possession of a handgun in Kiyoshi Nishimura’s politically and socially conscious Toho action film. This has similar vibe to early 70s Nikkatsu new action, only with Nishimura’s trademark aggressive jazz score and international flair with G.I.s and their offspring flocking the bars in the era of ANPO controversy. An interesting film, though one of the lesser works by fascinating director Nishimura, mainly because of some slower patches and poor acting by the foreign enforcements. The Japanese cast does better, especially lead Toshio Kurosawa and girlfriend Noriko Takahashi (who had an exceptionally captivating presence and facial features. Unfortunately Takahashi would go on to retire soon after co-starring in Jun Fukuda’s City of Beasts later the same year following marriage at the age of 24). The Target of Roses (薔薇の標的) (Japan, 1972) [35mm] - 4/5 Superb Kiyoshi Nishimura action thriller with professional killer Yuzo Kayama hired to assassinate a foreign photographer (Rolf Jesser) and a Chinese woman (Zhen Zhen). Before soon, he falls in love with the woman and realizes his own employer is the Japanese branch of a neo-nazi organization planning to initiate the fourth reich! This features some of the most beautiful, naturalistic cinematography I've seen in any Japanese film, and very little music, which elevates the intensity near the level of Too Young to Die (1969), Nishimura's masterful debut film. The almost documentaristic attention to detail and observation, together with a rather outrageous (but cleverly down-played) plot ensure there is not a single boring scene in the film. The movie was shot in Japan and Hong Kong, the 1st half mainly in Japanese with some English, German and Chinese whereas the 2nd half is mainly in English, which isn't a problem because Kayama almost never butchers a line beyond understanding (something that was/is not a given with Japanese actors). His delivery does tend to go stiff when delivering English dialogue (as if he was looking at cue cards?) and the dialogue isn't exactly award winning stuff, but small flaws shall be forgiven when the rest of the film is so damn good. Only if the otherwise badass ending had had a bit more inspired action design the film would be even better. Others Rising Dragon's Iron Flesh (昇り竜鉄火肌) (Japan, 1969) [35mm] - 3/5 Teruo Ishii somehow found time initiate this ninkyo series at Nikkatsu in 1969, the year he helmed no less than 6 movies at Toei. A bit of a routine production, Ishii nevertheless elevates several scenes above the film's level with his personal injection of the perverse: there's an unexpected 30 min prison segment complete with a gratuitous bathing scene, a super violent fight where Hideki Takahashi's sword causes someone's face to explode, and a cool final massacre with the heroes repeatedly aligning their tattoos into one big dragon as they proceed in the midst of the action. Not a great movie, but features enough stand-out scenes to warrant a viewing. The series was a vehicle for singer gone actress Hiroko Ogi (best known in the West as the older prisoner who helped Meiko Kaji in the 1st Female Prisoner Scorpion film) who does alright in the lead. Ishii skipped the 1st sequel (he was busy, no shit) but was back on board for the 3rd and best known instalment, Blind Woman's Curse, which traded Ogi for Kaji. Ichi the Killer (殺し屋1) (Japan, 2001) [Netflix] - 3.5/5 Never been a huge fan of this, but I've grown to like it. Miike has always been good at location work and this, too, captures the threatening 90s anguish Tokyo much like Shinya Tsukamoto films. The violence seems surprisingly tame by today's standards; in a world where Hostels, Saws and Night Comes for Us pass for mainstream entertainment, Ichi could almost be downgraded to a “15”.
  14. The Vengeful Beauty (Hong Kong, 1978) [VoD] - 3/5 A less focused semi-sequel to the Flying Guillotine films, with a storyline that doesn’t know if it wants to be a revenge film, an escape film, a straight kung fu film or a flying guillotine film. It ends up being a bit of everything – but remains entertaining. Plus, it has a female lead, a pretty strong finale, and one topless kung fu fight. That’s got to count for something!
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