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DrNgor

The Good Doctor's Countdown to 200 Japanese Movies

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Okay, here's a list of all the Japanese movies (live action and animated) that I've seen so far. I'm open to suggestions of any kind, although that will depend a little bit on availability here in Brazil. I'll try to do this as legitimate as I can, as far as watching original copies is concerned. So, take a gander and let me know what you think is missing.

  1. Sanshiro Sugata (1943)

  2. Gojira (1954)

  3. Seven Samurai (1954)

  4. Godzilla Raids Again (1955)

  5. Half-Human (1955)

  6. Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji (1955)

  7. Rodan (1956)

  8. Warning from Space (1956)

  9. The Mysterians (1957)

  10. H-Man (1958)

  11. Varan the Unbelievable (1959)

  12. Battle in Outer Space (1960)

  13. Secret of the Telegian (1960)

  14. Gorath (1961)

  15. The Last War (1961)

  16. Mothra (1962)

  17. King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

  18. Matango (1963)

  19. 13 Assassins (1963)

  20. Atragon (1963)

  21. Godzilla vs the Thing (1964)

  22. Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (1964)

  23. Starman – Attack from Space (1964)

  24. Three Outlaw Samurai (1964)

  25. Assassination (1964)

  26. Dogora, Space Monster (1964)

  27. Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold (1964)

  28. Giant Monster Gamera (1965)

  29. Monster Zero (1965)

  30. Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965)

  31. Godzilla vs the Sea Monster (1966)

  32. Gamera vs Barugon (1966)

  33. Daimajin (1966)

  34. Return of the Daimajin (1966)

  35. Wrath of the Daimajin (1966)

  36. War of the Gargantuas (1966)

  37. The Magic Serpent (1966)

  38. Son of Godzilla (1967)

  39. Gamera vs Gyaos (1967)

  40. King Kong Escapes (1967)

  41. Samurai Rebellion (1967)

  42. X From Outer Space (1967)

  43. Destroy All Monsters! (1968)

  44. Kill! (1968)

  45. Green Slime (1968)

  46. Gamera vs Viras (1968)

  47. Godzilla's Revenge (1969)

  48. Gamera vs Guiron (1969)

  49. Latitude Zero (1969)

  50. Yog, Monster from Space (1970)

  51. Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970)

  52. Gamera vs Jiger (1970)

  53. Godzilla vs the Smog Monster (1971)

  54. Gamera vs Zigra (1971)

  55. Godzilla vs Gigan (1972)

  56. Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Hades/Lightning Swords of Death/Lupine Wolf (1972)

  57. Daigoro vs Goliath (1972)

  58. Godzilla vs Megalon (1973)

  59. Street Fighter (1974)

  60. Sister Street Fighter (1974)

  61. Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1974)

  62. Street Fighter's Last Revenge (1974)

  63. Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)

  64. Legend of the Dinosaurs (1977)

  65.  The Last Dinosaur (1977)

  66.  Shogun's Ninja (1982)

  67.  Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

  68.  Godzilla 1985 (1984)

  69.  Ran (1985)

  70.  Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)

  71.  Project A-Ko (1986)

  72.  Project A-Ko 2: The Plot of the Daitokoji Financial Group (1987)

  73.  Project A-Ko 3: Cinderella Rhapsody (1988)

  74.  The Silk Road (1988)

  75.  Bloodfight (1989)

  76.  Project A-Ko 4: Final (1989)

  77.  Peacock King: Spirit Warrior – Castle of Illusion (1989)

  78.  Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

  79.  Godzilla vs Biollante (1989)

  80.  Devil Hunter Yohko (1990)

  81.  Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might (1990)

  82.  Project A-Ko: Grey Side/Blue Side (1990)

  83.  Zeiram (1991)

  84.  Dragon Ball Z: Cooler’s Revenge (1991)

  85.  Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug (1991)

  86.  Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991)

  87.  Godzilla vs Mothra (1992)

  88.  Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler (1992)

  89.  Sonatine (1993)

  90.  Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle (1993)

  91.  Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1993)

  92.  Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture (1994)

  93.  Dragon Ball Z: Bio-Broly (1994)

  94.  Samurai Showdown: The Motion Picture (1994)

  95.  Grappler Baki: The Ultimate Fighter (1994)

  96.  Iria: Zeiram the Animation (1994)

  97.  Godzilla vs Space Godzilla (1994)

  98.  Kamen Rider J (1994)

  99.  Yamato Takeru/Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon (1994)

  100. Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn (1995)

  101. Street Fighter 2: The Animated Movie (1995)

  102. Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995)

  103. Gamera, Guardian of the Universe (1995)

  104. Rebirth of Mothra (1996)

  105. Zeiram 2 (1996)

  106. Gamera 2: Advent of Legion (1996)

  107. Princess Monoke (1997)

  108. Rebirth of Mothra 2 (1997)

  109. Ultraman Tiga and Ultraman Gaia: Warriors of the Star of Light (1998)

  110. Rebirth of Mothra 3 (1999)

  111. Kikujiro (1999)

  112. Gamera 3: Awakening of Irys (1999)

  113. Godzilla 2000 (1999)

  114. Street Figher Alpha (2000)

  115. Godzilla x Megaguiras (2000)

  116. Versus (2001)

  117. Spirited Away (2001)

  118. Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)

  119. Muscle Heat/Blood Heat (2002)

  120. Princess Blade (2002)

  121. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)

  122. Azumi (2003)

  123. Sky High (2003)

  124. Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003)

  125. Ultraman: The Next (2004)

  126. Godzilla Final Wars (2004)

  127. Azumi 2: Death or Love (2005)

  128. Shinobi: Heart Under Blade (2005)

  129. Deep Sea Monster Reigo (2005)

  130. Death Trance (2005)

  131. Black Belt (2007)

  132. Ponyo (2008)

  133. Superior Ultraman 8 Brothers (2008)

  134. Ichi (2008)

  135. Deep Sea Monster Raiga (2009)

  136. Ultra Galaxy Legend (2009)

  137. KG: Karate Girl (2011)

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If these are available for you then:

Rashoman

Yojimbo

Straw Dogs

Ikiru

Throne of Blood

The Hidden Fortress

Paprika

Battle Royale

Youth of the Beast

Harakiri

Cold Fish

Battles Without Honor and Humanity saga

The Sword of Doom

 

If you would include drama then:

Shall We Dance

Fireworks

Miracle Apples

Confessions

Pale Moon

Fish Story

Rebirth

Tokyo Sonata

The Taste of Tea

 

@Takuma can provide some recommendations to you.

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If you can get these:

The Funeral (1984)
Tampopo (1985)
A Taxing Woman (1987)
Violent Cop (1989)
Minbo or the Art of Japanese Extortion (1992)
Sonatine (1993)
Shinjuku Triad Society (1995)
Kids Return (1996)
Fudoh: The New Generation (1996)
Shall We Dance? (1996)
Hana-Bi aka Fireworks (1997)
Rainy Dog (1997)
Bayside Shakedown: The Movie (1998)
The Bird People of China (1998)
Dead or Alive (1999)
Ley Lines (1999)
Dead or Alive 2 (2000)
Waterboys (2001)
Ping Pong (2001)
Dead or Alive: Final (2002)
Graveyard of Honor (2002)
Kamikaze Girls (2004)
Zebraman (2004)
Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)
Outrage (2010)
Beyond Outrage (2012)
Tokyo Tribe (2014)

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The more Akira Kuroswawa the better so I will second a lot of thekfc suggestions (including Battle Royale, Youth of the Beast etc...).  But you really need to see Yojimbo.  Excuse the repitition of Japan in the data (just grabbed those below from my top lists I keep on Word).

I Was Born, But … (1932: Yasuijro Ozu: Japan)
Mr. Thank You (1936: Hiroshi Shimizu: Japan)
The Only Son (1936: Yasuijiro Ozu: Japan)
Late Spring (1949: Yasujiro Ozu: Japan)
Ugetsu (1953: Kenji Mizoguchi: Japan)
Sansho The Bailiff (1954: Kenji Mizoguchi: Japan)
Street of Shame (1956: Kenji Mizoguchi: Japan)
Early Spring (1956: Yasujiro Ozu: Japan)
The Loyal 47 Ronin (1958: Kunio Watanabe: Japan)
Fires on the Plain (1959: Kon Ichikawa: Japan)
Good Morning (1959: Yasuijro Ozu: Japan)
High and Low (1963: Akira Kurosawa: Japan)
Woman in the Dunes (1964: Hiroshi Teshigahara: Japan)
Kwaiden (1964: Masaki Kobayashi: Japan)
Tora-San (Otoko wa tsurai yo) (1969: Yoji Yamada: Japan)
Double Suicide (1969: Masahiro Shinoda: Japan)
Grave of the Fireflies (1988: Isao Takahata: Japan)
My Neighbor Totoro (1988: Hayao Miyazaki: Japan)
Only Yesterday (1991: Isao Takahata: Japan)
The Cure (1997: Kiyoshi Kurosawa: Japan)
Ringu (1998: Hideo Nakata: Japan)
Twilight Samurai (2002: Yôji Yamada: Japan)
The Cat Returns (2002: Hiroyuki Morita: Japan)
Ju-on: The Grudge (2003: Takashi Shimizu: Japan)
Hidden Blade (2004: Yôji Yamada: Japan)

Edited by masterofoneinchpunch

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I've been working on a personal Top 100 Japanese Movies list. I wanted to post it once I've had enough time to attach a poster next to each entry, and some day I will. But let me just post the text list w/o pics now. Maybe you find some tips there.

1.    Taifu Club (Shinji Somai, 1985)
2.    Hana-Bi (Takeshi Kitano, 1997)
3.    Love Exposure (Sion Sono, 2008)
4.    The Lone Wolf & Cub series (1972-1974)
5.    Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)
6.    All About Lily Chou-Chou (Shunji Iwai, 2001)
7.    Ramblers (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2003)
8.    Swallowtail Butterfly (Shunji Iwai, 1996)
9.    Battle Royale (Kinji Fukasaku, 2000)
10.    Wolfguy: Enraged Lycanthrope (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1975)

11.    Red Peony Gambler: Biographies of a Gambling Room (Kosaku Yamashita, 1969)
12.    The Human Condition (Masaki Kobayashi, 1959-1961)
13.    Sonatine (Takeshi Kitano, 1993)
14.    My Neighbor  Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988)
15.    The Street Fighter (Shigero Ozawa, 1974)
16.    High & Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963)
17.    Graveyard of Honor (Kinji Fukasaku, 1975)
18.    Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (Shunya Ito, 1972)
19.    Gaichu (Akihiko Shiota, 2001)
20.    Yakuza Masterpiece (Yasuzo Masumura, 1970)

21.    Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii, 1995)
22.    Lady Snowblood (Toshiya Fujita, 1973)
23.    Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)
24.    Hitokiri (Hideo Gosha, 1969)
25.    Goyokin (Hideo Gosha, 1969)
26.    Love & Pop (Hideaki Anno, 1998)
27.    Red Angel (Yasuzo Masumura, 1966)
28.    Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988)
29.    Red Beard (Akira Kurosawa, 1965)
30.    Bohachi Bushido: Clan of the Forgotten Eight (Teruo Ishii, 1973)

31.    The Man Who Stole the Sun (Kazuhiko Hasegawa, 1979)
32.    Crazy Thunder Road (Sogo Ishii, 1980)
33.    April Story (Shunji Iwai, 1998)
34.    Tony Takitani (Jun Ichikawa, 2004)
35.    Violent Streets (Hideo Gosha, 1974)
36.    Female Delinquent: A Docu-Drama (Toshiya Fujita, 1977)
37.    Rape Ceremony (Kichitaro Negishi, 1980)
38.    Suicide Club (Sion Sono, 2002)
39.    P.P. Rider (Shinji Somai, 1983)
40.    Hokuriku Proxy War (Kinji Fukasaku, 1977)

41.    Love Hotel (Shinji Somai, 1985)
42.    Bounce ko gals (Masato Harada, 1997)
43.    Hazard (Sion Sono, 2005)
44.    Criminal Woman: Killing Melody (Atsushi Mihori, 1973)
45.    A Scene at the Sea (Takeshi Kitano, 1991)
46.    Linda Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2005)
47.    Virus (Kinji Fukasaku, 1980)
48.    Brutal Tales of Chivalry 2: The Chinese Lion and Peony Tattoo (Kiyoshi Saeki, 1966)
49.    Resurrection of the Golden Wolf (Tooru Murakami, 1979)
50.    Rolling on the Road (Tatsumi Kumashiro, 1981)

51.    Futari (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1991)
52.    No One’s Ark (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2003)
53.    Eureka (Shinji Aoyama, 2000)
54.    Black Angel Vol. 2 (Takashi Ishii, 1999)
55.    Noriko’s Dinner Table (Sion Sono, 2005)
56.    Legend of the Eight Samurai (Kinji Fukasaku, 1983)
57.    Sailor Suit & Machine Gun (Shinji Somai, 1981)
58.    Three Outlaw Samurai (Hideo Gosha, 1964)
59.    Tetsuo – The Iron Man (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1989)
60.    Tokyo . Sora (Hiroshi Ishikawa, 2002)

61.    Killing Machine (Norifumi Suzuki, 1975)
62.    It’s Only Talk (Ryuichi Hiroki, 2005)
63.    Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Deadly Fight in Hiroshima (Kinji Fukasaku, 1973)
64.    Tokyo Drifter (Seijun Suzuki, 1966)
65.    Original Sin (Takashi Ishii, 1992)
66.    Hard Revenge Milly: Bloody Battle (Takanori Tsujimoto, 2009)
67.    Third (Yoichi Higashi, 1978)
68.    Heaven’s Story (Takahisa Zeze, 2010)
69.    Roaring Fire (Norifumi Suzuki, 1980)

70.    Horrors of Malformed Men (Teruo Ishii, 1969)
71.    Shiki-jitsu (Hideaki Anno, 2000)
72.    Under the Flag of the Rising Sun (Kinji Fukasaku, 1972)
73.    United Red Army (Koji Wakamatsu, 2007)
74.    Retreat Through the Wet Wasteland (Yukihiro Sawada, 1973)
75.    Gate of Flesh (Seijun Suzuki, 1964)
76.    Preparation for the Festival (Kazuo Kuroki, 1975)
77.    Red Violation (Chusei Sone, 1980)
78.    Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal (Yasuharu Hasebe, 1970)
79.    5 Centimeters per Second: A Chain of Short Stories About Their Distance (Makoto Shinkai, 2007)
80.    Kid’s Return (Takeshi Kitano, 1996)

81.    Cash Calls Hell (Hideo Gosha, 1966)
82.    Sex & Fury (Norifumi Suzuki, 1973)
83.    Vengeance is Mine (Shohei Imamura, 1979)
84.    Tenkousei (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1982)
85.    Anatomia Extinction (Yoshihiro Nishimura, 1995)
86.    Perfect Blue (Satoshi Kon, 1997)
87.    Momojiri Musume: Pink Hip Girl (Koyu Ohara, 1978)
88.    Kyojima 3rd Street, Sumida City (Kota Yoshida, 2010)
89.    The Truck Yaro Series (Norifumi Suzuki, 1975-1979)
90.    Memoir of Japanese Assassins (Sadao Nakajima, 1969)

91.    Sword of Doom (Kikachi Okamoto, 1966)
92.    Tokyo Fist (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1995)
93.    Blue Spring (Toshiyaki Toyoda, 2001)
94.    Audition (Takashi Miike, 1999)
95.    Ohikkoshi (Shinji Somai, 1993)
96.    A Colt is My Passport (Takashi Nomura, 1967)
97.    A Narcotic's Agent's Ballad (Shin Takakuwa, 1972)
98.    Lost Chapter of Snow: Passion (Shinji Somai, 1985)
99.    Noroi – The Curse (Koji Shiraishi, 2005)
100.    Woman of the Dunes (Hiroshi Tenshigara, 1964)

 

Edited by Takuma

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#138 - My Neighbor Totoro (1988) (original title: Tonari no Totoro) – I sat down to watch this with my 8-year-old daughter last night. In the beginning, she asked me to turn on the Portuguese track, which I informed her wasn’t available on the disc I had purchased. Surprisingly, despite it being subtitled, her eyes remained glued to the screen for the duration of the film, which both of us really liked. One thing I like about Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, is that how intimate and personal the stories are. While films like Nausicaa and Princess Mononoke can have a larger scale, many of their stories can just as easily focus on the normal lives of a few, even when those lives come into contact with supernatural forces that defy comprehension. Here we have a movie about a dad and his two daughters moving out to the sticks to be close to their hospitalized mother, and the ginormous tree near the house just happens to house a trio of forest spirits. Like Ponyo and Kiki’s Delivery Service, there are no villains, and the internal conflicts refer to the girls’ fears regarding their ailing mother (something most of us could relate to) and the main external conflict is when the younger of the daughters runs off and gets lost (something any parent or older sibling who has had to babysit can relate to). Everyone is likable and relatable, and wuddiaknow? The father is actually a loving and supportive character, instead of a work-obsessed cynic or deadbeat that we see too often in movies. The beautiful animation just caps off the charming and low-key story that seems to have become a lost art to Hollywood.

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#139 - Secret World of Arrietty (2010) (original title: Kari-gurashi no Arietty) - Another family movie viewing, with my wife and mother-in-law joining Susan and I. We all liked it a lot. The animation was beautiful, with all the attention given to the little details that make Studio Ghibli films such a delight to watch. My wife and mother-in-law commented that the story moved along a lot slower than Hollywood animated films, but that the story really catches your attention. The end was bittersweet, but ultimately fitting and the final encounter between Sho and Arrietty was touching. I'm thinking about picking up the book to read to my daughter now. And like My Neighbor Totoro, the father is a loving figure, even if he is a little laconic.

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There are some great Japanese movies mentioned in here. If I could make a suggestion, being that you're into anime at the moment, I'm sure you know about Akira (1988) anime masterpiece made by Katsuhiro Otomo, but what I'd really like to recommend is The End Of Evangelion (1997) by Hideaki Anno. There is a series which to be honest I didn't watch, but there are also two anime movies, first being quite hard to digest on account of the editing, it's just bits of the series compiled into a movie, but The End of Evangelion is not only the greatest anime movie I've seen, but also the most powerful anime experience of my life.

Some of my other favorite include X  (Rintaro, 1996), The Place Promised in Our Early Days (Makoto Shinkai, 2004), and Tales from Earthsea (2006) by Miyazaki's son Goro.

As for movies, I'd recommend:

Visitor Q (Takashi Miike, 2001)

Kuroneko (Kaneto Shindo, 1968)

Mission: Iron Castle (Kazuo Mori, 1970) - if you like B&W shinobi movies

Go, Go Second Time Virgin (Koji Wakamatsu, 1969)

School of the Holy Beast (Norifumi Suzuki, 1974)

Boxer (Shuji Terayama, 1977) - or anything else he made

Branded to Kill (Seijun Suzuki, 1967)

@Takuma made a great list with some of my favorites: Blue Spring, Sonatine, Street Fighter, Suicide Club, A Scene at the Sea, Eureka, Tokyo Drifter, Audition and of course Love Exposure, one of the greatest movies ever!

btw that book of yours about martial arts styles in movies looks like something I need to get asap.

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16 hours ago, Super Ninja said:

...a great list with some of my favorites: Blue Spring, Sonatine, Street Fighter, Suicide Club, A Scene at the Sea, Eureka, Tokyo Drifter, Audition and of course Love Exposure, one of the greatest movies ever!

Sonatine and Street Fighter have already been seen. Maybe for my b-day I'll pick up the Yojimbo/Sanjuro set...and maybe even Hana-Bi.

For Christmas I got:

Machine Girl

Lady Snowblood

Aliens vs. Ninja

High Kick Girl

Gotta balance out the classics with some more cult-ish stuff.

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Alien vs. Ninja is crazy enough to be well worth of your time. Sushi Typhoon is a synonym for cheap, bloody and fun with insane ideas that are enough for three movies. Since you already entered gorefest waters with Machine Girl which is pretty good, ST has a couple that should not be missed: Helldriver (2011) from the director of equally brilliant Tokyo Gore Police (2008) Yoshihiro Nishimura, and Yakuza Weapon (2011) written and directed by Yudai Yamaguchi and Tak Sakaguchi. Great stuff!

 

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#140 - Pokémon: The First Movie - Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998) (original title: Gekijô-ban poketto monsutâ - Myûtsû no gyakushû) My daughter got a whole bunch of Pokémon movies for Christmas, so some of my next movies will be those. *Sigh* I didn't see this when it came out, but I *do* remember that it made a whopping FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS at the American box office during its first weekend--probably due to good marketing and the fact that it was imported from Japan while Pokémon was still at the height of its initial popularity in the States (as opposed to, say, Dragonball: Evolution, which stayed in development hell until long after most people had lost interest in the series except the most dedicated fanboys, and then proceeded to offend them by making a horrible movie). Unfortunately, negative word-of-mouth killed the film quickly, and only earned 80 million total before leaving the box office. And when the next (and better received by critics) Pokémon movie came out Stateside, it's total haul was about 40 million only.

And yeah, this movie is not very good. The first 10 minutes shows us the creation of Mewtwo: the result of a genetic experiment on the hairs of a rare Mew Pokémon. Mewtwo is insanely powerful, and discovering that he's only an experiment, resolves to vaporize his creators. Giovanni, the benefactor of Team Rocket (who show up in big supporting roles here, but make absolutely no contribution to the plot whatsoever), tries to enslave Mewtwo to further his own agenda, but appears to meet the same fate. Mewtwo decides to whip up a massive storm to wipe out humanity, find the greatest trainers, steal their Pokémon, clone them, and create a new super race to rule the Earth. Only Ash and the power of Love can save everybody.

The script plays like a 3-episode arc and is inaccessible to anybody not familiar with the series, the games, or whatever. The take-home message of the movie is that short, friendly fights with your special powers is OK; but long, drawn-out hand-to-hand battles to the death are evil and bad...or something like that. They basically preach non-violence in a universe that revolves around conflict, as Dr. Freex put it. The whole Giovanni bit serves no real purpose but to give Mewtwo more of a reason to hate people. It takes up 4 minutes of screen time early on and is forgotten about afterward. It's reminiscente of the Yakuza subplot to Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla that way. Brock and Misty (I like how one journalist said that her hairstyle looks like an exit wound) don't seem to be all that distraught when Ash temporarily dies. The big fight between Mew and Mewtwo is this weird, Dragonball-esque showdown of two colored bubbles flying around and hitting each other to no effect. It's all very bad.

#141 - Pokémon 3: The Movie (2000) (original title: Gekijô-ban poketto monsutâ: Kesshô-tô no teiô) This wasn't as aggressively bad as the first movie, but was just sort of odd. A bunch of Pokémon who look like runes with eyes, known as Unown, transport a little orphan girl into a warped dream reality while gradually turning the "real world" into Crystal. The girl, who's protected by a new Pokémon named Entei, has her guardian Pokémon kidnap Ash's mother so that she can be her new mother. Ash leads his friends on a rescue mission, while Team Rocket follow close behind and make no contribution to the story whatsoever. The highlight is a pitched battle between Entei and Charizzard, which has some nifty animation involving Crystal spikes. The strange part is where the little girl projects herself as a well-endowed adult to have a Pokémon duel with Brock. Uh, okay.

Edited by DrNgor

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#142 - Fatal Fury: The Legend of the Hungry Wolf (1992) - (original title: Battle Fighters Garou Densetsu) - I've seen the second and third films, but I didn't see this one, mainly because most of the reviews I read were negative. Now I know why. The animation is not very good; the character design is inadequate, with most characters looking overly tall and lanky (with the exception to villain Geese Howard, whose hyper-muscular body paired with a teensy head makes him look silly), Andy Bogard sporting *blue* hair, and Billy Kane looking more goofy than intimidating; the story is woefully undeveloped--it tries to do far too much in 45 minutes and everything from the romantic-but-tragic subplot to the fighting tournament feels perfunctory; and the fight sequences are over before they even begin, with bad animation (close-ups, quick cuts) obscuring even the special moves and rendering many of the fights unintelligible. The final showdown lasts about two or three special moves and is done. Is that it? Is that *friggin* it??? If you want good fight action, watch Fatal Fury 2, which also introduces Mai "I'm more male fantasy than developed character" Shiranui to the story.

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@DrNgor I actually haven't seen nearly as many Japanese movies as you, but still, I'd like to recommend some of my favorites that you haven't seen:

Akira (1988; One of my all time favorite movies, possibly in my top 5)

The Castle of Cagliostro (1979; Also one of my all time favorites)

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Harakiri (1962)

House (1977)

Rashomon (1950)

Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954)

Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955)

Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956)

Samurai Cat (2014)

Summer Time Machine Blues (2005)

Swing Girls (2004)

Tampopo (1985)

Yojimbo (1961)

Edited by KenHashibe

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10 hours ago, KenHashibe said:

@DrNgor I actually haven't seen nearly as many Japanese movies as you, but still, I'd like to recommend some of my favorites that you haven't seen:

I do plan on watching Akira, Yojimbo and House.

I've been hesitant to watch Grave of the Fireflies, since it sounds awfully depressing to watch a cartoon about orphans starving to death.

Rashomon, Hara-Kiri and the Samurai trilogy are available here in Brazil, so I might track them down.

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5 hours ago, DrNgor said:

I do plan on watching Akira, Yojimbo and House.

I've been hesitant to watch Grave of the Fireflies, since it sounds awfully depressing to watch a cartoon about orphans starving to death.

Rashomon, Hara-Kiri and the Samurai trilogy are available here in Brazil, so I might track them down.

Akira is a great movie to rewatch. There are so many visuals and details that I missed the first and second time seeing it. Also most people find Akira confusing when seeing it for the first time and get a better appreciation for it the second.

If you're looking for a good cry, Grave of the Fireflies is the way to go. I remember it being a great movie, but I'll probably never want to rewatch it.

Also, definitely track down those samurai movies. They're fantastic.

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On ‎1‎/‎2‎/‎2017 at 2:11 AM, DrNgor said:

I do plan on watching Akira, Yojimbo and House.

I've been hesitant to watch Grave of the Fireflies, since it sounds awfully depressing to watch a cartoon about orphans starving to death.

Rashomon, Hara-Kiri and the Samurai trilogy are available here in Brazil, so I might track them down.

I'll echo what Ken stated above (I do think you glean more from a rewatch on Akira; Grave of the Fireflies is indeed depressing though a fantastic work of art), though I'm just not the biggest fan of the Samurai Trilogy even seeing it several times over the years (I have it on Criterion.)   Rashomon and Hara-kiri I feel are heads above in terms of cinematography, story and pretty much everything else -- though to be fair Toshio Mifune acting in Rashomon has had me perplexed over the years -- is it overacting or does it fit the part?  House (also a nice Criterion version) is a trip, but the less said the better (even though my overall opinion on it has been less than most of the fans I have discussed it with.)  In many ways I like Jigoku (1960) over House.

 

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On 02/01/2017 at 10:11 AM, DrNgor said:

Rashomon, Hara-Kiri and the Samurai trilogy are available here in Brazil, so I might track them down.

Can I butt in and third what @KenHashibe & @masterofoneinchpunch have said about Rashomom and The Saurai Trilogy. Rashomon has to be one of the most visceral movies Ive ever sat through. I caught this at university whle a friend was on a big Kurosawa kick and watched it late one night. Cant recall the moment I watched every film but this is one of those movies. Ran is another Kurasawa movie I'd recommend even though its a very heavy and emotionly charged movie. Not a film I'd revisit just due to the nature of it, but certianly one I wont forget anytime soon. Akira and The Samurai Trilogy are also well worth your time too. Cant commnet on the other movies as Ive never watched them. Currently have Yojimbo recorded on my T.V, its one I should have watched years ago. Especially being a big fan of Sergio Leone who borrowed a lot from this movie for his first collaboration with Clint Eastwood.

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Not sure if they're mentioned but I'd add some of the great older Ninja movies in there, the Shinobi no Mono series, Castle of Owls, 3rd Ninja, 17 Ninja, the last 3 you'll have to get fan subbed but are very well worth it.

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#143 - Pokémon 6: Jirachi Wish Maker (2003) - (original title: Gekijōban Poketto Monsutā Adobansu Jenerēshon Nanayo no Negaiboshi Jirāchi) So, suddenly between films 5 and 6, Misty left the group and was replaced by May and her little brother, Max. The story itself is about a comet that passes Earth every 1,000 years, which leads to the reappearance of a Pokémon called Jirachi, who is able to grant wishes (to a certain extent). A Magician performing at a big Pokémon fair is in possession of the stone that houses Jirachi, who calls out telepathically to Max. Jirachi eventually appears, befriends Max, and the gang has to go on the run to protect it from the Magician, who wants to use its wish-granting power to tap into the comet's energy and call forth a nigh-indestructible (aren't they Always) Pokémon called Groudon. While we shouldn't expect too much creativity here, I do wish that the writers of these animated movies would stop making the Pokémon introduced in these films to be more invincible than the one from the previous film. It gets boring and silly after a while.  I like that Groudon comes across as being the Godzilla of the Pokéverse, but then the writers pulled some nonsense about it not being Groudon, but some previously unmentioned being of pure evil who takes on Groudon's form and then uses tentacles to absorb everyone into his own body. Uhh...okay.

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#145 - The Machine Girl (2009) – Produced by Tokyo Shock and Nikkatsu. I felt that I could not reach 200 Japanese movies without watching at least one example of these recent Troma-esque fan service films made for Western male viewers. So I went with this one, which is one of the first and most infamous and had an awesome trailer to boot. When I started watching it, the fact that it was produced by Tokyo Shock, a fairly well-known distributor of Japanese movies in the USA, not to mention the opening credits being entirely in English, hinted at the fact that despite it having an all-Japanese cast speaking Japanese, the movie was literally made for people like me. The cynicism meter went up a few notches at that moment.

The premise is simple: there’s a brother/sister pair who go by the name of Yu and Ami Hyuka, respectively. They both appear to be high school students and have lived on their own ever since their parents were accused of some crime and committed suicide. This fact becomes a frequent source of prejudice throughout the movie. In any case, Yu owes money to one of his colleagues who not only happens to be the son of a Yakuza boss, but is also a direct descendant of the famous ninja Hattori Hanzo (his mother is arguably more violent and sadistic than his father is). One day, Yu and his friend Takeshi fail to raise the money that the Yakuza kid, Kimura Sho, is extorting from them. So Kimura and his flunkies throw Yu and Takeshi out the window of an abandoned building, causing them to fatally crack their skulls on the pavement below.

Ami is crushed, obviously, which is compounded by the fact that the (unseen) police dismiss the deaths as suicide, taking her parents’ fates into consideration. She then discovers Yu’s journal and finds out that he had made a To-Kill list with the names of the Yakuza boys who were extorting money from him. She goes to the home of one of the boys, Ryota, to find out the name of the leader of the gang. This turns into a confrontation in which Ami’s arm is placed in tempura batter and stuck in hot oil. Later that night, Ami sneaks into Ryota’s bedroom and gets the info out of him before slicing off his head with a kama, or sickle. She then rams a knife into the back of Ryota’s mother’s head, causing her to go all Lucio Fulci on us and puke out her entire digestive track into the pot of soup on the dinner table. She takes her vengeance to the Kimura household, but ends up getting captured and tortured. Sho’s father slices off her arm and lets one of his men try to rape her. She fights back and is able to escape, ending up at the doorstep of Takeshi’s house. Takeshi’s parents, both auto mechanics, nurse her back to health and build her a new prosthetic arm, which is actually a large machine gun. The mother also teaches “karate” to Ami, so when Kimura’s ninja buddies storm the garage, they’re both ready to take on their loved ones’ killers.

Rating a movie like this is hard. It has few ambitions, those being a) put as much over-the-top gore onscreen as possible, and B) have cute Japanese girls doing crazy action things. It succeeds on both fronts. The movie is insanely gory, being chock-full of blood geysers, severed limbs and heads, drawn-out torso splittings, gut puking, a man being force-fed his own fingers, and a man getting nails hammered into his head. Then you have ninja battles, people dodging CGI shurikens, catfights involving chainsaws and drill bras, and an evil ninja Yakuza wielding the Fatal Flying Guillotine. If reading those last two sentences gets your blood pumping, then you might have fun with this, although choreography nuts will find said action lacking.

But I didn’t have fun…well, not much. There are a few blackly comic moments, although the bit where a schoolgirl gets a knife jammed into the top of her skull and then the Yakuza boss urges his men to violate her yanked me out of the movie. Even in a film as exaggeratedly violent as this, the necrophiliac rape of a minor is just too much, even if it’s not actually shown. But beyond that, there’s something too calculated about the carnage. It suffers from the “Trying too hard” syndrome that took me out of the third and fourth Sharknado movies. If you look at ultraviolent movies like The Evil Dead, Lucio Fulci’s zombie movies, and later pastiches like Versus and Kill Bill vol. 1, there’s something organic about the gore. It flows naturally from the story, from the action onscreen and from the film’s internal logic. When a girl can shrug off getting her own breasts mutilated and shredded just minutes after another character dies from blood loss after getting her leg severed, then all the buckets of blood onscreen just fail to have any impact. It feels like less of a film, less of a story, and more of an exercise in what the make-up artists and special FX artists could come up with and put onscreen. It’s a soulless exercise, in spite of all the technical effort of the crew.

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#146 - Alien vs. Ninja (2010) - Another Sushi Typhoon/Nikkatsu co-production (didn't Nikkatsu go out of business after the failure of 1993's Setting Sun with Diane Lane and Yuen Biao?), or in other words, from the same studios who gave us The Machine Girl. So color me surprised when I actually had fun with this one, despite it having much of the same sensibilities as TMG. This one has more of a sense of humor about itself, and while some of these movies tend to be better when they're pretending that they're not absurd, this one plays well with our expectations and thus makes us laugh out of sheer surprise. My favorite scene is when the Odious Comic Relief finally bites it. The alien (which looks like a xenomorph with dolphin genes) cocks it's claw back, ready to deliver the death blow. It lingers for a few moments, making us think that the other ninjas will suddenly jump in and save him. Nope. His head goes flying off and lands on a decorative shrine, where a bird immediately starts pecking his eyes.

It's hard to explain the difference between this and TMG. The Machine Girl, while absurd and gory, treated the gore like an end in itself and felt like it introduced bizarre situations as an excuse to show more gore. This one is extremely gory, but it also follows a consistent internal logic in how the violence is portrayed and how the characters are affected. Moreover, the end is to be bizarre and fun, and the violence is one of the means to that end. The other means include well-choreographed fights courtesy of Yuji Shimomoura, a protégé of Donnie Yen. There are lots of "ultimate ninja antics" and macho ninja posturing, like when a ninja throws a shuriken at the main protagonist from behind, and the latter slightly unsheathes the sword on his back, which deflects the iron star into the former's head. The climatic fight with the ninja zombies (shades of The Hidden here) has the best choreography and should leave most fight fans pleased.

Finally, some moments of subverting genre clichés help achieve a level of fun weirdness. Few people will argue that the facehuggers in the Alien films have a rape-y subtext to them. Future rip-offs like Galaxy of Terror and the Shaw Brothers' Inseminoid transformed that subtext into real text. So this movie subverts that by having a fight between the resident kunoichi (who's pretty hawt in her skin-tight ninja garb) and one of the aliens, who desperately wants to grope her boobs. The entire fight revolves around the girl using acrobatics and fisticuffs to avoid that scenario, ending with her defeating her attacker by stabbing it in the crotch. That is far more entertaining than The Machine Girl with its raping a dead minor bit.

 

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#147 - Godzilla Resurgence (2016) - (original title: Shin Gojira) - Produced by Toho Studios. This is a hard movie to talk about, because it's something of a departure from the other movies and the plot can easily be summed up as "Godzilla attacks, the government trips over its own feet as they try to deal with the problem." And yet, the political intricacies are many as the film is a satire of Japanese government and the whole Fukushima Plant fiasco. There's more than enough reviews who have covered the same material more intelligently than I ever could, so I'll leave that alone until I can watch it again and get a better grasp of my own feelings.

Godzilla's portrayal has gained the ire of some fans, not so much because of his appearance, but because he displays little personality and is actually subject to harm from conventional weapons (well, some of the more powerful ones--Keith Allison once talked about why rockets, bullets and the like were used instead of 500-pound bunker busters). There are threads in some forums talking about the hypocrisy of fans who denounce the changes that Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin made, while being more accepting the changes made here "just because Toho did it." From a purely visual perspective, Godzilla and the film as a whole looked great. The city destruction sequences and military showdowns were among the most realistic we've ever seen in a Toho film. It fits the tone of the movie and puts it comfortably alongside the Gareth Edwards film, even the aims of both films couldn't be farther removed. Moreover, the fact that Godzilla only roars when hurt, especially in its fourth evolution form, has been pointed out by one fan as being closer to real animals than the usual Godzilla who roars indiscriminately.

All in all, it's a good-looking, intelligent Godzilla movie with a solid score, excellent FX and some nice political jabs. It's been highly successful among Japanese audiences and critics, making over 70 million dollars on a 15-million-dollar budget and winning several Japanese Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Lighting, Best Sound, Best Art Direction and Best Editing. I think after the box office and critical disaster that was Godzilla Final Wars (2004), I'm glad to see that the hiatus ended so successfully.

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#148 - The Human Vapor (1960) - (original title: Gasu ningen dai 1 gô) - Produced by Toho Studios. This is the last movie in Special FX maestro Eiji Tsuburaya's so-called "mutant series" that I hadn't seen. The other three are Secret of Telegian, Matango and H-Man, which are pretty good movies, especially the later. All these movies explore the effects of modern Science on people themselves. Steven Scheuer, his Movies on TV and Videocassette, dimissed this film as a low-rent Invisible Man clone. That's not entirely fair, although it's probably my least favorite of the mutant films.

I know there are some structural differences between the Japanese and American versions of this movie, and I saw the American dub. The bulk of the story is told in flashback, as a former test pilot-turned-librarian named Mizuno (Toho sci-fi film regular Yoshio Tsuchiya) is telling some reporters his story. We learn that he had aspired to become an astronaut, but due to some "shadows on an X-ray", was committed to a sanitarium for some time, which ultimately killed his career. One day he's approached by a scientist from the Japanese aerospace commission who wants to perform some experiments on him that may allow him to pursue his dream once more. The experiment gives him the power to transform his body into a gaseous state and go anywhere it likes (sort of similar to The 4-D Man, but without the aging bit). He immediately descends into megalomania, with the Nietzschean notion that the laws of mortals no longer apply to him, because he has ascended above all. He begins robbing banks in order to finance the comeback of a dancer, Fujichiya (Kaoru Yashigusa), whom he fell in love with while she was spending time in the sanitarium herself--I wish the film was more explicit as to why both of them would have to go to the booby hatch, but alas, we never find out (in this version). While he stand in no danger of being caught...or incarcerated, when Fujichiya starts spending the stolen Money, it'll for sure attract the attention of dedicated detective Okumura (Tatsuya Mihashi, High and Low) and his feisty repórter girlfriend, Kyoko (Keika Sata).

The special FX sequences are sporadic, brief and considerably lower on ambition than Tsuburaya's kaiju eiga and space operas. Most of the FX are optical effects of Mizuno transforming into mist and occasionally a vapor surrounding someone, thus asphyxiating him. They're fine, as far as it goes, but people expecting another Tsuburaya extravaganza will be let down by the smaller scale. Thus, the film becomes more dependent on its characters than on the FX scenes themselves. That's where the dubbing lets this film down, especially in the glacially-paced first act. While a number of Asian actors provide the characters with accents that help things feel authentic, the fact that the story is told in flashback means that we often have to sit through minutes of top-heavy narration from Mizuno at a time, instead of hearing what the characters have to say to each other. This becomes less of a problem as the film goes on, but I honestly considered turning the film off by the 32-minute mark. Once the story picks up the pace as the police close in on Fujichiya, whom they think is behind the robberies, then the story becomes a lot more compelling. I can't quite recommend this the English language version, but I won't write the film off entirely. On the same token, I'm not sure that I'll be in a huge hurry to check out the original Japanese cut, either.

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#149 - House (1977) - (original title: Hausu) - Produced by Toho studios. The set-up is pretty simple. Seven teenage girls (named Gorgeous, Fantasy, Kung Fu, Mac, Sweet, Melody, and Prof) go to the former's aunt house to spend their summer vacation from school, after summer camp with their male teacher (whom Fantasy obviously wants to nail) falls through. The aunt has been a bit of a recluse ever since her fiancé, a fighter pilot, was killed in WW2 decades before. At the woman's mansion, strange things begin to occur and the girls start disappearing one by one, dying if the most surreal ways possible. We learn that the aunt is something of a cannibal, but that the house itself is impregnated with her spirit and so the people-chomping occurs in wackadoo and offbeat ways, like a person getting eaten alive by a piano!

I think a lot of movies, especially horror movies, have a certain bag of tricks about it. After watching it once, all those tricks are used up and there's no reason to go back and watch it again. That isn't the case here. The film's refusal to play by the rules of other haunted house movies, its bizarre visuals that rival the best moments of Dario Argento, and its cryptic denouement invite repeated viewings, both to admire the beauty of the film and to try to figure out just what the hell you just saw. Yes, the optical FX might've looked fine in an Eiji Tsuburaya film made 20 years before, but that just adds to the whole "What if Salvador Dali and René Magrite made a haunted house movie?" vibe. But beyond those, there are some wonderful photographic compositions, such as a shot of the main character, Gorgeous, through the glass panes of a door. In certain panes, the character/shot is completely frozen, while in others, she's moving and doing stuff.

I still haven't made complete sense of the movie, and I plan on watching it again to try to figure it out, but I have a theory about the last 15 minutes or so that draws a parallel to the whole Harry Potter horcrux subplot that Works its way into the last two books. I'll save that discussion for people who have already seen it.

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