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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

    Japanese Movie Mini Reviews

    High Noon for Gangsters (白昼の無頼漢) (Japan, 1961) [DVD] - 4/5 An excellent, racially and sexually charged heist thriller with gangster Tetsuro Tamba blackmailing 4 foreigners (a black G.I., a racist white American and his wife, and a Korean) into robbing an armoured vehicle with him, girlfriend and yakuza bro Sone. "$300 000 for me, $200 000 for the six of you, that's $50 000 a head" Tamba says, and remarks after being told his math is off "school math won’t do, at least two of you are gonna die, that’s $50 000 a head". There's terrific tension throughout and some witty dialogue in both Japanese and English (Tamba interpreting his Japanese lover for the American wife: "She said you're pretty charming for a pig"). The foreign cast is passable, and the white American actually speaks fluent Japanese while Tamba speaks understandable English. The heist itself is a bit rushed and there's an uninspired twist here and there, but only noticeable because the film is damn good overall! Fukasaku’s 1st full length film. - A Man's Showdown (男の勝負) (Japan, 1966) [TV] - 1.5/5 Hideo Murata was a pretty big ninkyo star in the 60s despite lacking anything resembling charisma. His enka singing career ensured his popularity. This is a co-starring vehicle for Murata and Shigeru Amachi, an actor who did better when portraying suffering, morally compromised tough guys (e.g. Yellow Line, The Tale of Zatoichi). They make a rather dull heroic duo against crooked Bin Amatsu. Young Sadao Nakajima directed this under Masahiro Makino’s supervision. The film feels more Makino than the Nakajima. Not so much a terrible film as just a boring one. The only energetic scenes are in the mid third: a duel between Murata and Amachi, and a stylishly executed sakazuki scene. Delinquent Street (不良街) (Japan, 1972) [TV] - 2.5/5 Lightweight yakuza romp with a cool Hiroki Matsukata theme song and an ultra-violent finale, where the heroes massacre at least 40 bad guys. Matsukata, Hayato Tani and a moustached, sun glassed Shingo Yamashiro make a three man punk gang. Girlfriend Mari Tsutsui hangs around in revealing tops, and Bunta Sugawara shows up in two scenes. Yukio Noda directs with a tad more seriousness than some of his other films, and Yamashiro is surprisingly tolerable, even cool. It's just regretful the film is another waste of a great title: there is no delinquent street here. - Hobo General (Kinkin no lumpen taisho) (キンキンのルンペン大将) (Japan, 1976) [VoD] - 1/5 A forgotten Teruo Ishii comedy, by far one of his worst films. Kinya Aikawa (Sugawara's co-star in the Truck Yaro series) is a silly country bumpkin in Tokyo without home or friends. Extremely tame, childish, unfunny gags and some weeping follows. Imagine the comedy segments from the Abashiri Prison series extended into a feature length film minus all the yakuza stuff and you are... still not low enough. This is a far cry from the naughty comedy genius of The Executioner 2: Karate Inferno which looks like a Stanley Kubrick picture in comparison. Taiyo no koibito: Agnes Lum (太陽の恋人 アグネス・ラム) (Japan, 1976) [TV] - 2.5/5 A Toei curiosity that misleadingly occasionally pops up in Pinky Violence context. This isn't actually a movie, but a 25 min gravure film with Hawaii beauty Agnes Lum. Japanese men had such a crash for Lum (familiar from magazines and commercials) that Toei sent action director Atsushi Mihori (Criminal Woman: Killing Melody) to Hawaii to film this piece, and unloaded it onto screens as theatrical youth triple bill with Gang of Men: Delinquent Prison and Detonation: 750cc Tribe. Difficult to evaluate from the cinematic side - it largely lacks one - but for what it's worth, Lum looks stunning and (the costume department) has impeccable taste in bikini. Includes slow-motion running in bikini, and the Hawaii locations provide additional eye candy. Lum comes off sweet and naive, and the single interview scene where they try to force her talk about her body feels nasty and exploitative (unless her reactions were scripted for the pleasure of sadist Japanese viewers). - Best Guy (ベストガイ) (Japan, 1990) [VoD] - 1/5 A miserable Top Gun derivative from Toru Murakawa. The biggest problem is that while it's as superficial as Top Gun, it's not any wilder, imaginative or exploitative, it's just duller. The characters are cardboards, the Canadian band doing the music awful, and the film goes on forever at 114 min. The action, with some decent flying clumsily mixed with cast insert shots and background projections, seems half-watchable at first but even these scenes drag to no end. The title supposedly refers to a Japan Air Self-Defense Force rank, but it conveniently also works as a Karate Kid reference (known as “Best Kid” in Japan).
  2. Takuma

    "Ghost Stories Of Japan" series

    I think the series you’re talking about is Nihon kaidan gekijo (日本怪談劇場) (1970). It had 13 episodes. Amachi was in episode 13. I have not seen the series myself. It has been released on DVD in Japan several times, first in 2001 by King Records (4 DVDs, 3-4 episodes on each disc), the again by M3 Entertainment (4 Disc box set) in 2007, and finally in 2014 (6 DVDs, 2-3 episodes on each disc) by a company whose name I can’t quite figure out (it’sスバック in Japanese, maybe Svac or Sbac). All should be without subs of course.
  3. Not quite. Those figures haven't been adjusted for inflation. For example The Exorcist made over 900 million in the US theaters alone if counted in 2019 currency. The news love to report how every new hit film is the most successful ever, but that just isn't true. This list gives some perspective...Top Lifetime Adjusted Grosses (US) https://www.boxofficemojo.com/chart/top_lifetime_gross_adjusted/?adjust_gross_to=2019&ref_=bo_cso_ac Not a single film made in the 2000s fit the TOP 10
  4. Takuma

    Japanese Movie Mini Reviews

    King Kong vs. Godzilla (キングコング対ゴジラ) (Japan, 1962) [VoD] – 3/5 Fun entry with an awesome monster pairing, a more watchable than usual media satire storyline, and perhaps the most awesomely ridiculous Godzilla discovery scene in the whole series. Osman Yusuf appears for a few seconds as well. Version reviewed: Japanese. Son of Godzilla (怪獣島の決戦 ゴジラの息子) (Japan, 1967) [VoD] – 2.5/5 Godzilla teaches toxic masculinity to his son. Intelligent kaiju film was 50 years ahead of its time. The X from Outer Space (宇宙大怪獣ギララ) (Japan, 1967) [VoD] - 3/5 A pleasant surprise for a non kaiju fan. The opening half is dull as they tend to be, but then you get Guilala, the Nicolas Cage of giant space monsters! From there on it’s non-stop destruction with a wonderfully monotonic score, an exciting car vs. giant monster chase, and the infinitely charismatic antenna-headed space-bird on drugs, Guilala. - Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (ゴジラvsスペースゴジラ) (Japan, 1994) [VoD] – 2/5 The cutest minilla ever almost saves this watchable but unremarkable entry. The end fight has potential for an epic, but comes off unfocused. Megumi Okada from Hana no Asuka gumi co-stars, the score rips off You Only Live Twice. South to the Horizon (南へ走れ、海の道を!) (Japan, 1986) [VoD] – 3/5 Three Okinawa punks fuck with the yakuza and pay the price. Fast forward one month and shift gear to revenge film as combat vet older brother Koichi Iwaki comes out of the jungle for vengeance. The main target is yakuza boss Hideo Murota. Delightfully violent b-action film disguised as Shochiku studio production, by former porn director Seiji Izumi who splatters the walls with blood and can't even resist wielding some chainsaw. Plenty of bad writing, several gaijin supporting actors (mostly good, not bad guys) and music cues so bad they shouldn't suffice even for b-cinema. And it's all rather enjoyable; the kind of action cinema Japan wasn't producing anymore in the 80s. You just need to get past the deceivingly dull opening act. Director Izumi’s 80s mainstream work has been a discovery: he also did the renegade biker cop film On the Road (1982) and the gritty delinquent girl rock picture Majoran (1984), both minor cult classics. - Four Days of Snow and Blood (226) (Japan, 1989) [VoD] – 1.5/5 Dull military drama tries to humanize the men behind the infamous Feb. 26 1936 coup d'état attempt. This is of the few male-centric films by late Hideo Gosha who had switched almost exclusively to women’s cinema in the 80s. It makes no difference, the man was long out of touch. The only points of interest here are the ridiculously packed cast – stars like Tetsuro Tanba, Tatsuya Nakadai, Tatsuo Umemiya, Hiroki Matsukata and even Takuzo Kawatani popping up in 2 minute roles, sometimes without a single line of dialogue (Nobuo Kaneko) – and the perspective which is strictly with the renegade military men. The other 2/26 film I've seen, the 1962 Ken Takakura film The Escape, focuses on the prime minister hiding in the house (barely featured in this film at all) and the police trying to save him. For those who slept in their history class, the incident was about a conservative military wing trying to assassinate Western minded politicians, the prime minister being the prime target. They invaded the prime minister's house with several hundred men, but lacking smart phones and Google Image Search they committed the fuck-up of the century and killed the wrong man (the brother-in-law posing as the prime minister) without ever realizing their mistake. The real prime minister managed to hide in the house for several days and finally escape.
  5. Graduation Photo is actually surprisingly watchable. The script is by Haruhiko Arai, my favourite screenwriter of all time, and though obviously not his best work it still has a bite. Yoshihiro Kawasaki was a B-director, but he occasionally had a breezier, more energetic touch than most other late Nikkatsu directors, and this one one of those films. Sins of Sister Lucia was a complete bore IMO. It's a shame that US distributors are almost exclusively releasing standard sex flicks from the Roman Porno catalogue even though there are also real gems and cinematic masterpieces. It's as if the horror genre was covered by releasing nothing but Friday the 13th sequels, Sharknado films and Halloween flicks films while completely ignoring the films of Argento, Polanski and Cronenberg. From my Top 30 Roman Porno films only 3 have been released in the US.
  6. Takuma

    Japanese Movie Mini Reviews

    Cat Girl Gambling x 3 Cat Girl Gambling (賭場の牝猫) (Japan, 1965) [BD] - 3/5 Early female gambler film, surprisingly not by Toei or Daiei, but the hip Nikkatsu. Yumiko Nogawa is very good in the lead, extremely beautiful and determined yet somehow fragile in a way most Toei heroines were not. The fact that she does not fight in the film translates to character realism rather than conservatism. The gambling scenes are excellent as well, with the course of the game depicted in detail, which is vital for sustaining suspense and not always done right in yakuza films. There's even the fun game tactic laid out for all the wannabe cat girl gamblers out there: show some thigh and the players are less likely to notice you are cheating! And finally, the film is lower key and void of the pathos of many Toei films. A richer storyline and more focus on the modern milieu would not have hurt, however. As it stands, the film is good but not especially memorable. - Cat Girl Gambling: Naked Flesh Paid Into the Pot (賭場の牝猫 素肌の壷振り) (Japan, 1965) [BD] - 2/5 A direct follow-up with Nogawa now working in a bathhouse where gangster runaway Nitani (different role than last time) seeks shelter. Nogawa’s detective uncle is again investigating the case with young partner Tatsuya Fuji. Nogawa is her usual electrifying self, but the story is dull as dishwater with no gambling until the second half and only about 45 seconds of action in the entire film. Nikkatsu fans may get more out of it than I did. Cat Girl Gambling: Game of Sharpened Fangs (賭場の牝猫 捨身の勝負) (Japan, 1965) [BD] – 2.5/5 The last in the trilogy, notably better than part 2. Nogawa gets acquainted with an honourable gang boss running a strip joint (!) (no nudity, however) who is being harassed by a crook boss. The enigmatic Nogawa dominates the screen, especially whenever someone tries to fuck with her - she's really fantastic, like Meiko Kaji but cuter and spicier. And she wears tattoos perhaps better than any other female star. She also gets to do a bit more action here, in addition to the great dice matches. But as usual, the storyline isn't especially dynamic and doesn't always even feel much like a gangster picture with the softer Nikkatsu drama touches. - Sister Street Fighter x 3 Sister Street Fighter: Hanging by a Thread (女必殺拳 危機一発) (Japan, 1974) [BD] - 3.5/5 Fun Shihomi flick suffers from some shaky cam excess, something that director Yamaguchi invented in late '74 (probably a Fukasaku influence) but gradually let go off in 75. It's still a lot of fun with guest star Kurata, Hideo Murota in rare main villain role, sleazy smugglers operating jewels into girls' arses, that awesome apocalyptic shot near the end, and some kiddie porn (is that Eva Ionesco? She seems to have been big in Asia... her Playboy photos are in one of the Shaw Bros.'s Criminals films too) that EVERYONE had forgotten was in the film until BBFC made it front page news. - Return of the Sister Street Fighter (帰ってきた女必殺拳) (Japan, 1975) [BD] - 3.5/5 The most excessive film in the series. Shihomi goes through her entire Chinese wardrobe, wheelchair villain Rinichi Yamamoto organizes a fight tournament reminiscent of Wang Yu films (one fighter is a fucking Zulu!) and my idol Osman Yusuf appears for 10 seconds as strip joint customer. Only a notch away from overly goofy, it still remains on the cool side and is mostly well paced at lovely 77 minutes. Shunsuke Kikuchi's score rocks the socks off as usual, and Yamaguchi thankfully does away with the shaky cam. But the storyline is a rehash of the first two films (how many relatives / friends / friends' relatives to be kidnapped does she have?) and Ishibashi is again denied the finale he deserves, which slightly hamper the enjoyment. - Sister Street Fighter: Fifth Level Fist (女必殺五段拳) (Japan, 1976) [BD] - 3/5 The least in the series, yet packed with small pleasures. Shihomi in a hippie costume, future ATG director Claude Gagnon as a US drug lord, and ATG talents Ken Wallace & Michi Love as half-blooded siblings in a ridiculously manipulative yet sympathetic sub-plot. Shigehiro Ozawa helms it as pg-rated affair, which is a stumbling point for many fans. The real problem: a conservative doubt whether girl power goes all the way after all, given in Watase's speech about a woman's place and later verified when he needs to save Shihomi, something unheard of earlier in the series. -
  7. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (USA, 2019) [DCP] – 3/5 Fun, but with a downwards trend. The best stuff is in the beginning. The knife room fight is fabulous, with Keanu in career best form, filmed with very long (but not overly long takes). and choreographed mad creativity. The final fights are less imaginative, and also use quicker edits. Some good bits here and there, like the battle dogs, but also failed opportunities like the motorcycle chase which packs so much movement that none of it ends up having an impact (still way better than the same scene in The Villainess). Cinematography and editing remains acceptable throughout, far above the mess that was John Wick 2, but they could still learn from the 180 degree rule. Oh and why did they have Mark Dacascos speak random lines in clumsy Japanese? There was no need for that, just stick to English, please. Overall, better than Wick 2, not as good as Wick 1 that had more interesting world building. At first when I saw Dacascos in the film, I was like "oh, cool, Kenji Oba".
  8. I'm a little late to the party... saw this three times last month. Breezy ride through L.A. is best Tarantino since Kill Bill Vol. 2. Lovely period depiction with endlessly re-watchable scenes of Brad and Leo cruising up and down those Hollywood Hills, and I’m still in awe of the ending. Thematically closest to Jackie Brown, though not quite on the same level. Could have done with a bit less of Leo in the film sets; some of that doesn’t hold up on repeat viewings and needed tighter editing. Also gotta love the Bruce Lee scene. I can understand the fan concerns, and I can't argue the points Bob raised above, but the little anarchist in me cannot help but to be overjoyed that finally there is a movie that doesn’t have its tongue up Lee’s arse but instead dares to poke a bit of fun of him. How unexpected! And, isn’t Brad much sexier that Leo? No complaints about his topless scene
  9. Agreed. I think it’s interesting as a mirror of its time, Joker being very much the archetype of an incel school shooter, but I don’t think the film is all that deep. The story and the character downfall is extremely derivative, cinematically calculated and superficial. I keep thinking about the film, but not its contents, but the social relevance of it as a product. That being said, I think Joker is the most watchable thing Hollywood's super hero trend has produced since Nolan's Batman films... So that's certainly something!
  10. Also saw this today Joker (USA, 2019) [DCP] – 3/5 Scorsese by Phillips, for super hero audiences. Socially relevant, but too slick to have grit, too superficial to be genuinely challenging.
  11. Takuma

    Japanese Movie Mini Reviews

    Heaven Sent (Kamisama ga kureta akanbo) (神様のくれた赤ん坊) (Japan, 1979) [VoD] - 3/5 A surprisingly good road movie drama/comedy with careless Tsunehiko Watase finding out he's a dad to a small kid - maybe. The mother took off and left a list of 5 potential dads. Watase of course figures it must be one of the other 4. Companion Kaori Momoi isn't all too happy but stick along for a road trip to dump the kid to the real dad (the others can be blackmailed out of some money, they figure). One of the funniest segments features Watase catching one of the potential dads… in the middle of his wedding ceremony! Jidai geki & yakuza veteran Kanjuro Arashi (in his last role at 76 years old, he died the following year) is in the film too, in a bit that's bound to bring a smile to any genre film fan's face. Also, the child (child, not baby despite the erroneous Japanese title) is not irritating at all, in fact, he barely does anything but sit silently). Honest crowd pleasing entertainment, but also well made with good pace and script. Haruhiko Arai is credited as contributing writer, but the main credit should no doubt go to writer-director Yoichi Maeda. - Play it, Boogie-Woogie (スローなブギにしとくれ) (Japan, 1981) [VoD] - 3/5 A slice of life picture with a bar / semi-drifter girl, an angry youngster with a bike, a divorced asshole, and a middle aged woman living with him. There's no plot, just one year of gritty life. And it works. Yoshio Harada (the asshole's friend), Hideo Murota (bar owner) and Kahori Takeda (teenage mom) have supporting roles, Kenji Sawada, Akira Takahashi and several others cameos. Toshiya Fujita directs. Time and Tide (時代屋の女房) (Japan, 1983) [VoD] – 2/5 Nice guy antique store owner Tsunehiko Watase meets idiosyncratic girl Masako Natsume, then later another odd girl (also Natsume). A rather dull and very Shochiku-like drama co-scripted by Haruhiko Arai, whose usually identifiable touch is barely visible here, save for the normal guy / strange girl premise. Watase is very good (he's hugely under-rated, with solid performances one after another in both action pictures and dramas), the score is alright and there's some good use of cat-cam, but the film lacks bite. Downtown Heroes (ダウンタウンヒーローズ) (Japan, 1988) [VoD] - 1/5 Deadly Yoji Yamada boredom. Even Hiroko Yakushimaru can't save this as she is barely in it despite being the 1st billed. Yamada is more interested 1940s boy’s boarding school drama and nostalgia than her or, well, anything of interest. Had I had a rope, I would’ve probably hanged myself watching this. Sting of Death (死の棘) (Japan, 1990) [VoD] – 2.5/5 An unfaithful family man and a ‘jealous to the point of mental illness’ wife face each other in a series of heated but unnaturally formal dialogues only interrupted by occasional surreal visions and scenes of almost horror film like dark atmosphere. Not an easy watch at 114 min, nor am I sure if this is good cinema, or just pretentious art. But it is, at least partly, oddly captivating and somewhat memorable, and that's something. 1990 Cannes Grand Prize of the Jury winner. Director Kohei Oguri releases films very sparsely: he has directed only six movies in 34 years, from 1981 to 2015. The Lowlife (最低。) (Japan, 2017) [VoD] – 3.5/5 Exceptionally unbiased examination of women involved in the Japanese AV industry, based on a book by the AV superstar Mana Sakura. The film follows a young AV actress (Kokone Sasaki) whose narrow minded mother keeps putting blame on her over her career choice, a high school girl (Aina Yamada) bullied over her mother’s AV past (the same moral composition as the 1st story but in reverse), and a 34 year old woman (Ayano Moriguchi) who tries AV due to her husband’s lack of commitment to family life. This must be one of the most female centered films I have seen, not only all main and most supporting characters being women, but every scene focusing on how they feel as opposed to what they do. Rather than focusing on the industry; the film deals with people involved in the industry. Thoroughly well acted (with Kokone Sasaki way above her usual level) and directed with unexpected finesse by the frequently disappointing Takahisa Zeze. That is, before the film becomes a crying fest towards the end. Somehow I feel like forgiving that. And no, the film doesn’t shy away from the sex and nudity that naturally accompanies the subject despite being a mainstream film with major female audience appeal. -
  12. Takuma

    Sonny Chiba Mega Review Thread

    Hokuriku Proxy War (Japan, 1977) [35mm] – 4/5 This would be one of Fukasaku’s best movies if it wasn’t for the inconsistent tone. The problem is Ko Nishimura and Hana Hajime overdoing their cowardly boss roles to a comedic effect, an example of Fukasaku’s trademark authority hate materializing as comic goofiness instead of nihilism. It’s a shame as the film is otherwise terrific with chaotic violence as shocking as ever, another mother fucker score by Toshiaki Tsushima, and most importantly the snowy Hokuriku locations as a truly freezing backdrop for the action. Hiroki Matsukata is great as a psychotic, opportunistic yakuza (based on real life Kawauchi-gumi leader Hiroshi Kawauchi) and Sonny Chiba appears briefly as an Osaka yakuza boss (based on gangster Jiro Yanagawa). Chiba has two or three scenes, though his mullet is the most memorable part of his appearance. Tsunehiko Watase was also cast, but replaced by Goro Ibuki after he suffered a car accident on the snowy roads during filming. The film was Fukasaku’s swansong for the jitsuroku genre (Sadao Nakajima put of a few more in ’78 and ’79). The same year also saw the final Toei entries in the karate and pinky violence genres. The end of an era. * Original title: Hokuriku dairi senso (北陸代理戦争) * Director: Kinji Fukasaku * Chiba's role: Minor supporting role * Film availability: Toei DVD (Japan) (no subs) Chiba
  13. Attack on the Sun and Target of Roses lack DVD releases in Japan. The rest are available. These being Toho, I don't really see them putting them out, although the recent Kumashiro announcement (Failed Youth and Africa's Light coming in December) gives me some hope. Lets hope for the best. The film I most wish would be released is not in this series: Nishimura's absolutely amazing debut film Too Young To Die (1969).
  14. A pretty great Toho New Action series coming up at Laputa. Dying to see Attack on the Sun (1970) and The Target of Roses (1972) by Kiyoshi Nishimura. And maybe Bullet Wound as well. The others I've seen. The whole program: 11/09(土)~11/15(金) 「狙撃」(Sun Above, Death Below) (Hideichi Nagahara, 1968) 11/16(土)~11/25(月) 「弾痕」(Bullet Wound) (Hideichi Nagahara, 1969) 11/26(火)~12/02(月) 「白昼の襲撃」(Attack on the Sun) (Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1970) 12/03(火)~12/12(木) 「豹(ジャガー)は走った」(The Creature Called Man) ()Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1970) 12/13(金)~12/19(木) 「野獣都市」(City of Beasts) (Jun Fukuda, 1970) 12/20(金)~12/26(木) 「ヘアピン・サーカス」 (Hairpin Circus) (Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1972) 1/06(月)~1/12(日) 「薔薇の標的」(Target of Roses) (Kiyoshi Nishimura, 1972) 1/13(月)~1/19(日) 「野獣狩り」(Beast Hunt) (Eizo Sugawa, 1973) Hairpin Circus The Creature Called Man
  15. Takuma

    Japanese Movie Mini Reviews

    Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman (新座頭市・破れ!唐人剣) (Japan, 1971) [35mm] – 3/5 This is the only film in the series where Zatoichi farts! On someone's face, even! The reason I bring this up is that that fart in descriptive of the film: funny and functional, but rather unambitious, which is a shame for this being Zatoichi vs. the One-Armed Swordsman, Katsu vs. Wang Yu. Pitting the two giants against each other is only right, but doing it on the excuse of cultural and linguistic misunderstandings is just lazy writing. There was potential for more. Also, you’ve got to wonder how smoothly the filming went? Neither one of the two stars are known as the easiest people to work with, and this has them playing their most beloved characters in a Japan vs. China death match. Reportedly an alternative cut was released to HK audiences with additional and altered footage. 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! 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). Crazed Beast (狂った野獣) (Japan, 1976) [35mm] – 3.5/5 Sadao Nakajima's outrageous action farce that is essentially one 78 min action sequence. Punks Takuzo Kawatani and Ruyji Katagiri highjack a bus which, unbeknownst to them, is already carrying a bigger bad guy Tsunehiko Watase. This is an obvious production follow-up to Kinji Fukasaku's car chase film Violent Panic: The Big Crash (1976), with largely the same cast but more hysterical approach. The bus is loaded with quite some characters and the cops chasing the bus are the most self-destructive bunch I've ever seen. Watase, who had already starred in Violent Panic, got a bus driver’s license and proceeded to do his own stunts, including flipping the bus on its side (the other actors who remained inside the bus were the expendable Piranha Corps. Kawatani, Katagiri and Takashi Noguchi, the rest of the passengers were replaced with dolls) despite Nakajima trying to stop him! I hated this film upon my first viewing about 10 years ago when I expected a serious action drama à la Violent Panic, but found it quite amusing this time. The funniest scene: an old woman consoles children who are scared of Kawatani’s character: "don't worry, that uncle will be caught and get death penalty". Mosquito on the 10th Floor (十階のモスキート) (Japan, 1983) [35mm] – 2/5 Yoichi Sai's debut, a depressing life-is-shit picture with Yuya Uchida as a cop in debt (to the bank, not the yakuza, unfortunately). He proceeds to do... very little. I first saw this on DVD and found it largely a bore; a 35mm screening a decade later did not change my mind. Flat filmmaking and a non-eventful story that Uchida's convincing performance can't save. The Miracle of Joe Petrel (海燕ジョーの奇跡) (Japan, 1984) [VoD] – 3.5/5 Toshiya Fujita's gangster film loosely based on the 4th Okinawa Yakuza Conflict (also the base for Okinawa Yakuza War, 1976) where a Kyokuryu-kai president was shot dead by a hitman. The film starts out a bit dull, but gains momentum when the titular killer flees to Manila (fully fiction from here on) where he hooks up with Japanese small time gangster (Yoshio Harada) who deals anything from women to VCRs. Fujita uses the foreign location expertly, capturing the corruption, dirt, sleaze and beautiful nature, while steering away from the travel show / tourist filmmaker approach that plagues many similar Japanese productions. Leading man Saburo Tokito could be more charismatic and there are a couple of misfire clichés in the action, but overall the film is impressive. Trivia: Toei originally acquired the rights to the novel the film is based on, and intended to make it with Kinji Fukasaku and Yusaku Matsuda. It went into pre-production and reportedly had a sales poster ready, but after various problems (it seems first Matsuda insisted on re-writing the script, then heroine Setsuko Karasuma dropped out because she felt Toei had exploited her in her previous film The Four Seasons: Natsuko (四季・奈津子) (1980) and she wanted nothing to do with the studio, and the release date was closing) the production was cancelled.
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