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Takuma

1990s Toei V-Cinema (Warning, some content NSFW)

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Back when straight to video production still had production values... of some sort! Toei launched their V-Cinema series in 1989 and it went on to become quite successful. The films covered quite a few genres from the obvious yakuza films to martial arts movies, horror and erotic films. Martial arts fans would probably be somewhat familiar with the two Fighting King films starring Sho Kosugi, and many probably don't know that Takashi Miike's Fudoh  and some English language movies with American actors, like New York Undercover Cop (1993), were actually V-Cinema productions. Crying Freeman (1995) was a Toei V-Cinema co-production as well.

For an introduction to the genre please see Midnight Eye's articles
Part 1: http://www.midnighteye.com/features/the-v-cinema-notebook-part-1/
Part 2: http://www.midnighteye.com/features/the-v-cinema-notebook-part-2-the-action-paradigm/

I wrote a bit about the topic in another thread last year, but I thought it would be better to give V-Cinema its own thread. I will copy my old post with useful trailer links and then proceed to post some more stuff whenever I see some films

 

Last year's post:

 

Here are trailers for a couple of V-Cinema films.

Manila Gokudo Senso (マニラ極道戦争 暗黒街の勲章) (1992)
Dir. Kyoshi Miyakoshi
Cast: Tatsuo Nadaka

The Fighting King (ザ・格闘王) (1993)
Dir. Sho Kosugi
Cast: Kane Kosugi, Yasuaki Kurata

The Fighting King 2 (ザ・格闘王2) (1994)
Dir. Sho Kosugi
Cast: Kane Kosugi

DOG FIGHT (野良犬たちの挽歌) (2000)
Dir. Atsushi Muroga
Cast: Show Aikawa

And a couple of VHS arts

Lady Battle Cop (1990)
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Crime Hunter (1989)
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The Fighting King (1993)
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Manila Gokudo Senso (1992)
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Lady Battle Cop, Crime Hunter and some others were released on DVD in Japan without subs, e.g. Crime Hunter (1989) (MidnightEye review here), The Hitman (Teruo Ishii, 1991), Lady Battle Cop (1990), Soshiki bôryoku: Ryûketsu no kôsô (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1999)

Vcin1_zpsa971bcbe.jpgVcin2_zpsf4906787.jpg

Vcin3_zpseb606e34.jpgVcin4_zpsd5f48248.jpg

 

 
 
Edited by Takuma
Edited thread title for for clarity/warning.

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Lady Battle Cop (1990)

Toei's semi-entertaining V-Cinema cash-in on the popularity of Robocop. Here we have a lethally wounded tennis champ (who can't play tennis) turned into battle cop in a metal suit with high heels to fight an evil multinational syndicate. Enter the good old karate villain Masashi Ishibashi (in not one of his best roles) and a CIA developed evil wrestler with psychic powers. The film borrows its theme and dystopia from the Verhoeven classic; otherwise it's more in line with Japan's own tradition of tokusatsu entertainment, which no doubt inspired Robocop as well. Too bad the film tends to be a bit mediocre for the most part, and pretty lame in the violence department as well. Cool theme song (which steals half of its melody from Sukeban Deka III) combined with metal hero on a motorbike footage provides some great moments, though, and the film is amusingly nonsensical.

The DVD also contains a very silly "Lady Battle Cop Battle Manual" feature which shows how the suit works, how some of the special effects were made etc. I forgot how long exactly it was but must have been about 15 minutes. Comes with a super-over-the-top narration.

 

The Future
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Masashi Ishibashi and the gang
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And this guy...
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Our heroine, who wouldn't even be able to beat a 5 year old in tennis
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Somehow she got the trophy anyway
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For some reason her cop boyfriend thought it would be a good idea to announce on TV how they are going to destroy the syndicate
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For which reason the syndicate decided to pay them a visit
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But before she dies...
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the clever guy comes up with a fix
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DVD extras: Battle Cop manual
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Special make up effects
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Edited by Takuma

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A fascinating piece of Japanese cinema history, for sure and I've always thought that Lady Battle Cop looks fantastic (and the bad guy is...Junjo from The Streetfighter and Return of the Streetfighter?!)

 

Takuma, do you think any of these will ever come to the West?

 

 

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(and the bad guy is...Junjo from The Streetfighter and Return of the Streetfighter?!)

Yes, that's him. Masashi Ishibashi.

 

Takuma, do you think any of these will ever come to the West?

Not likely, to be honest. Since they are all Toei films, they would probably be relatively expensive to license...
 
 

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Am half way thru Lady Battle Cop and yeah, Takuma's right - given the awesome/ridiculous premise, this should be waaaay more fun and out there then it actually is.

 

Always nice to see Junjo, though!

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Am half way thru Lady Battle Cop and yeah, Takuma's right - given the awesome/ridiculous premise, this should be waaaay more fun and out there then it actually is.

 

Always nice to see Junjo, though!

The good news is it gets better towards the end.

Though Junjo's final scene really wasn't one of his career highlights :laugh
 

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I believe the term V Cinema is still used for some direct to video productions in Japan.The only series i"m aware of nowadays that are still referred to it would be The Super Sentai series V Cinema films and Kamen Rider V Cinema Films.

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V-Cinema is still being made, but the term only refers to Toei's films. When Toei started making direct-to-video films they titled the series as V-Cinema. It's like Roman Porno is a Nikkasu genre and you can't use the term to refer to other studios' output. Of course other companies make similar films too, but those shouldn't be called V-Cinema.

 

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I finally found time to see this:

Crime Hunter (クライムハンター 怒りの銃弾) (1989)
The very first V-Cinema production; a stripped to the bone action film about a cop avenging his partner's (the very young Riki Takeuchi) death. Running only 60 minutes, there isn't much other than action and a tiny bit of sex in the film. Most of it is mediocre, but the grande finale is a stand out with our heroes blasting bad guys away with grenade launchers and heavy machine guns - first grade weapons pornography. There's a decent bit of pleasant V-Cinema nostalgia to be had - they don't 'em like this anymore. Star Masanori Sera makes a surprisingly uncharismatic hero, though; bad guy Seiji Matano fares much better with his Yoshio Harada looks, and the real Yoshio Harada is in the film too! One interesting thing about the film is that it's not clear where it is set. The main characters are Japanese, the clubs are filled with Caucasians, the signs are in English and "Little Tokyo" is written at the side of the main character's patrol car.

Riki Takeuchi
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Masanori Sera
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cr4.jpg

Seiji Matano
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cr9.jpg

cr10.jpg

Edited by Takuma

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I finally watched Toei's V-Cinema 25th Anniversary Movie "25". Sad to say it's a boring dud.

The plot is simple. Everyone is after a bagful of money. Gangsters, detectives, and so on.

Unfortunately nothing much happens for the first 80 minutes. It takes an eternity before action begins, and once it does, it's surprisingly dull and poorly staged.

One of the major problems in is that the film has a constant comedic undertone, and is acted in a "tongue in the cheek" and "don't give a shit" manner. This was supposed to be badass trash for male audiences, but it's more like a bunch of 50 year old V-cinema stars fooling around and looking intentionally unconvincing.

It's such a shame, since Toei gathered just about every major V-Cinema star (minus Riki Takeuchi), and even allowed to filmmakers to go practical with real guns, explosions and (mostly) practical effects.

vci1.jpg

Edited by Takuma

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Count me as another who'd like to see Lady Battle Cop. Her costume looks like a cross between Robocop and the Knightsabers from Bubble Gum Crisis. And Masashi Ishibashi? I'm in!!

Edited by JimPV

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The Hit Man: Blood Smells Like Roses (ザ・ヒットマン 血はバラの匂い) (Japan, 1991) [DVD] - 1.5/5
Teruo Ishii's only V-Cinema film. "Violence and Eros" was printed on the VHS cover. That was true enough, but there's little of the style and excitement of Ishii's better films to be found. The dull storyline is about an avenging hitman going Yojimbo on two gangs. The scene where he loses his suitcase and gun because he leaves it in a cafe when he goes to bathroom, and then has to chase the (irritating) girl who took it, sums up how the film's plot (does not) function. But it's not all bad: the closing credits sequence, which plays like a photo collage from a high quality porn magazine, paired with a rock song, is superb. This film was, btw, Ishii's return to films after more than a decade of TV work.

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hit8a.jpg

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Distant Justice (DISTANT JUSTICE 復讐は俺がやる) (Japan/USA, 1992) [TV] - 3/5
Vacationing cop Bunta Sugawara goes to USA and within 24 hours his car has been hijacked, daughter kidnapped and wife killed. And those are two unrelated incidents! George Kennedy is the useless police chief buddy, David Carradine a rotten politician in green knickers. Relatively good Toei V-Cinema by Toru Murakawa, who also helmed the slightly slicker New York Cop (1993), another one of Toei's mid 90s America ventures. The build up is slow, but the film is fun in a B-way with old man Sugawara (aged 59 here) punching and shooting people, occasional boobs, wooden acting and a score cheaper than a cheese burger. Sugawara's role is almost entirely in English and he does alright. He's trying too hard and doesn’t sound natural, but he remains quite understandable.

Sugawara!
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John F. Kennedy!
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Carradine!
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"No, it wasn't me!" Some beautiful acting here
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dis4.jpg

dis5.jpg

Now I have an uzi. Ho ho ho
dis6.jpg

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