What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Markgway
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:The Dragon Dynasty release is anamorphic (at 1:78:1), looks decent and has a Cantonese dub (and the old English one and a Spanish one.)
Despite being a Hong Kong film, the cast spoke Mandarin or English here. A Cantonese dub is useless.

Tsui Siu-Ming 'assisted' Jet Li with the direction, as the latter was out of his depth.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

Post by Masterofoneinchpunch »

Markgway wrote:
Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:The Dragon Dynasty release is anamorphic (at 1:78:1), looks decent and has a Cantonese dub (and the old English one and a Spanish one.)
Despite being a Hong Kong film, the cast spoke Mandarin or English here. A Cantonese dub is useless.

Tsui Siu-Ming 'assisted' Jet Li with the direction, as the latter was out of his depth.
Thanks for the info. I figured he was "assisted" and it makes sense that Tsui did more than just the action, but I did not find a source on that (do you have one?).

The English is still in there, but I figured it should have been a Mandarin dub. The Cantonese dub just does not look right. Would have been nice to have the Mandarin dub.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:I figured he was "assisted" and it makes sense that Tsui did more than just the action, but I did not find a source on that (do you have one?).
Try Bey Logan's Action Cinema.
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Markgway wrote:
Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:I figured he was "assisted" and it makes sense that Tsui did more than just the action, but I did not find a source on that (do you have one?).
Try Bey Logan's Action Cinema.
Thank you again. I'm looking at my copy and while the index has the movie stated on 177 it has a strange change from 177 to 178: "However these attributes became tiresome in the flood [now page 178] which was set during World War Two. The production was chaotic from the start and was suspended when Lee broke his nose during a fight scene. When shooting resumed, it was under the experienced hand of Hong Kong director, Tsui Siu Ming. The burly Tsui had, at that time, shot more footage in China than any other action director from the territory."

That is a strange transition (though funny about a flood set in WWII), though you can tell the end of page 177 is referring to Shaolin Temple, while page 178 is referring to Born to Defense.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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I recall a chunk of text missing from the copy I got out of the library.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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I'll have to check my copy, I never noticed that. :)
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The Prodigal Boxer 2/5 Decent Meng Fei flick,he plays a young Fong Sai Yuk out for revenge against Yasuaki Kurata. The uk dvd is dubbed and non-anamorphic but at least it's wide.
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Kyokotsu ichidai (Japan, 1967) [35mm] - 2/5
Another ninkyo yakuza film from the era when the genre peaked. Unfortunately this one is a pretty hastily put together programmer picture. Ken Takakura is a soldier who deserts and joins an honourable yakuza gang. Of course there's also a villain gang in the town, with leader Bin Amatsu evil as usual. Funko Fuji has a slightly interesting double role as Takakura's deceased mother and a prostitute who resembles her. Too bad the film largely lacks plot and the kind of strong 'between rock and a hard place' dynamic that a good ninkyo film should have. It simply throws in some big names, a Takakura theme song, some silly comedy, and assumes the audience will buy it. Most did, actually.


Also, I'm finally starting with my Sonny Chiba reviews. I'm gonna call this "Sonny Chiba festival" even though most of the films I watched at home and not at the Sonny Chiba festival in Tokyo (edit: fuck it, I'll just call it "Sonny Chiba Special"). More detailed reporting can be found in the Chiba review thread: https://www.bulletsnbabesdvd.com/forums/ ... f=1&t=6912

Sonny Chiba Special: Part 1

Police Department Story: Alibi (Japan, 1961) [VoD] – 2.5/5
Sonny Chiba in his first movie role. This is the 15th film in the Police Department Story series that started in 1957. Most of the films were one hour long detective tales shown as b-features in theatrical double bills. All of them were written by Kimiyuki Hasegawa. This installment kicks off with the murder of a security guard in a major company. It’s a relatively well made, although not especially cinematic story with plenty of talkative scenes at the crime scene and in the police headquarters. Chiba has a supporting role as one of the detectives. He’s not bad, but his lack of experience shows when he’s surrounded by the series’ regular cast. He sometimes looks like he's waiting for his turn to speak.

Police Department Story: 15 Year Old Woman (Japan, 1961) [VoD] – 3.5/5
The 16th film in the Police Department Story series marks a notable improvement over the previous instalment, even though they were most likely shot back-to-back. Sonny Chiba returns to his co-starring role as one of the detectives inspecting the case of a 15 year old girl, whose dead body was discovered floating in a river. As usual, the film runs only one hour and doesn’t depart too far from the usual formula; however, it greatly benefits from frequent outdoor locations that were missing from the previous film. It also touches far more serious topics, such as child abuse and mental insanity, and even utilises Rashomon-like storytelling techniques to some extent. The last scene especially is haunting and echoes far more talented filmmakers like Kurosawa. Chiba has also greatly improved his acting with a far more confident performance, including a lot of small gestures even when his character is only in the background.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Theatre of Life: Hishakaku (Japan, 1963) [35mm] - 3.5/5
Solid old school yakuza melodrama that is considered one of the first ninkyo films. Koji Tsuruta is an honourable gangster who goes to prison after killing an enemy boss, leaving his runaway prostitute girlfriend on his own for years. While he's away, his own boss is assassinated and the gang disbands. Some years later former gang mate Ken Takakura, now earning an honest living as a rickshaw man, falls in love with Tsuruta's girl without knowing about her history with him. Soon after Tsurura is finally released. This film has a bit more focus on the love story than most ninkyo films, but the genre elements are very much present and well used. The film also sports good performances and a charmingly old fashioned look. The story itself is very famous and has been filmed multiple times. Most adaptations, like this with its cliffhanger ending, focused on one part of the story and left the rest for a sequel (that sometimes followed, and sometimes didn't).

+ Sonny Chiba Special: Part 2

Drifting Detective: Tragedy in the Red Valley (Japan, 1961) [DVD] – 2.5/5
Kinji Fukasaku started his career with this Japanese gunplay Western set in the snowy mountains. A local farmer family is being harassed by a rich businessman and his goons who are after their land. The film was highly influenced by both American Westerns as well as Japanese watadori (drifter) films. The 21 year old Sonny Chiba stars in his first leading role as a wandering detective who takes a stand against the bad guys. It’s fun seeing the two talents together for the first time, and the action scenes and cinematography are terrific. However, the film is a bit too goofy on its own right, with constant joking, comic book style characters and comic timing that is sometimes a bit off. You can see Chiba and co-star Harumi Sone are trying a bit too hard to be fun and energetic.

Drifting Detective: Black Wind in the Harbour (Japan, 1961) [DVD] – 2.5/5
Fukasaku and Chiba are back in a sequel filmed with the same cast and released just two weeks after the first film. This time the storyline is set in a small seaside town and favours detective and watadori film influences over westerns. Like its predecessor, the film runs barely over one hour and never drags. It's a little less goofy, but doesn't have as beautiful landscapes the first movie had. Not a classic, but for fans of Fukasaku and Chiba it's an entertaining if flawed 60 minutes.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Busu (Japan, 1987) [35mm] - 3/5
Jun Ichikawa's first film, an enjoyable though not unforgettable slice of life film about an introvert girl who moves to Tokyo. It's a low key film, though there's also some cool montage set to pop music that really captures the time and place. The title means "ugly" but that doesn't refer to star Yasuko Tomita's looks: she's quite cute.

+ Sonny Chiba Special: Part 3

Police Department Story: 12 Detectives (Japan, 1961) [VoD] – 2/5
This is an unusually long episode in the Police Department Story series, which reached its 17th instalment here. At 88 minutes it runs a third longer than the previous two films which were helmed by a different director. Unfortunately the extended running time has not translated into increased ambition. Instead, it feels like a direct adaptation of the written story, with few cinematic tricks thrown in. The storyline is bigger than before, but also lacking the melancholy and sensitive themes that made the previous film so interesting. It’s still a passable movie with nothing totally wrong about, but hardly a very memorable one. Sonny Chiba is again solid in his supporting role, but his character is given little to do and gets less screen time than before. This was the third and last time he appeared in the series which would still run for another 7 films.

Invasion of the Neptune Men (Japan, 1961) [DVD] – 3/5
Sonny Chiba is Iron Sharp – a superhero who must fight alien invaders who arrive in flying saucers. The campy sci-fi adventure has a lot to be enjoyed: an awesome superhero mobile, good special effects (better than the 2014 Godzilla film if you ask me), aliens watching terrestrial TV in outer space, and of course Chiba! At 74 minutes the film never drags. The alien costumes are leave something to be desired, though: they're not even men in rubber suits, but men in plastic suits. Some of the destruction also appears to be archive footage. The film somehow ended up in the IMDb bottom 100, which probably has more to do with dubbed and cropped versions distributed in the US than the original Japanese version which is good fun.

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Chinese Hercules 2/5 ok basher with Chan Wai Man in the lead as the dock worker lackey who refuses to fight anymore because he believes he killed a man.Frustrating that he doesn't engage till the climax and spends most of the movie being humilated.good cast including a couple of WOTD actors and a decent role for Bolo as the title character.the rarescope dvd has a mandarin soundtrack option but dips into english sporadically throughout,assume the mandarin was missing for these sequences.
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Question on Don't Give a Damn: a few sites like IMDB and Hong Kong Cinemagic that this film was supposed to reunite Jackie Chan along with Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. Usually Rumble in the Bronx is mentioned as why Jackie could not be in it. I am having trouble finding a primary source that states this. Was this even true? I'm suspecting it was wish fulfillment either on the part of fans and/or Sammo. I've found some interesting facts from Robert Samuels on the film, but nothing dealing with Jackie. I thought Jackie and Sammo were not on great terms in 94/95.

Also Clyde Gentry III (in Jackie Chan: Inside the Dragon) states that Sammo had some gambling problems that got worse during the mid-90s. Any information on this?
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Jackie was circled several times in the 90s for a Three Brothers reunion, any DAMN may have been one of those projects, but how close he came to actually being on board is highly debatable. I personally think Jackie was on his own career path, still going strong at Golden Harvest, and that it didn't involve Sammo or Biao, whose respective careers were on a downward spiral. Jackie just didn't need them anymore and knew their box office appeal had dwindled. They needed him (badly). Also, it's hard to imagine Jackie signing on for that script. Not sure I buy into the tales of bad blood between Jackie and Sammo at this point -- if that were true Jackie wouldn't have employed Sammo to choreograph Thunderbolt (1995) or direct Mr. Nice Guy (1997). There's always been competition and friction between those two, but not acting together was I believe a purely commercial consideration on Jackie's part. DAMN wasn't actually a flop (it was a low budget pic for starters) but the fact that Rumble and Thunderbolt made respectively ten and nine times the box office speaks volumes.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Markgway wrote:Jackie was circled several times in the 90s for a Three Brothers reunion, any DAMN may have been one of those projects, but how close he came to actually being on board is highly debatable. I personally think Jackie was on his own career path, still going strong at Golden Harvest, and that it didn't involve Sammo or Biao, whose respective careers were on a downward spiral. Jackie just didn't need them anymore and knew their box office appeal had dwindled. They needed him (badly). Also, it's hard to imagine Jackie signing on for that script. Not sure I buy into the tales of bad blood between Jackie and Sammo at this point -- if that were true Jackie wouldn't have employed Sammo to choreograph Thunderbolt (1995) or direct Mr. Nice Guy (1997). There's always been competition and friction between those two, but not acting together was I believe a purely commercial consideration on Jackie's part. DAMN wasn't actually a flop (it was a low budget pic for starters) but the fact that Rumble and Thunderbolt made respectively ten and nine times the box office speaks volumes.
Thanks. So much questionable material on this movie. But I'm in agreement with Jackie not needing them, them needing Jackie. I agree with your summation and I just realize that Sammo's son is in Thunderbolt as well. I've read of "bad blood" between the two that would wax and wane (like many friendships though often I read about issues during Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars and later because of the plot of Once Upon a Time in China and America (1997)), but I do wonder the timeline of the up and downs. I read an interview today where Sammo stated he would not want to do an autobiography so I would love to see an indepth biography of him.

Did you see DAMN and what did you think of it if you did?
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DAMN stank.

Jackie was upset about OUATC&A and it's interesting that they've worked together only once since (Sammo choreographed The Medallion).
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Why was Jackie angry with Sammo about OUATIC&W? Because he felt it was HIS idea to mix martial arts and a western? Was he afraid Jet could become a major international star because of this movie?

I really wish they hadn't fallen out. They were there together on their rise to the top in Hong Kong, and I absolutely believe that IF they had stuck together when Jackie was having his international breakthrough, they could have made far more interesting and better movies TOGETHER, instead of the crap they have churned out separately since then. Yeah, Jackie became a success and made lots of money, but that success was mostly because of the stuff he had shown he could do before he jumped to Hollywood, and I feel Yuen Biao & Sammo would have kept him a lot more ambitious and sharp, instead of the Hollywood-lame-O's who just wanted him to do comedic buddy-action movies with B-stars.

Some of his best directors and choreographers have been Sammo and Yuen Biao. Jackie almost never looked faster and more intense than he did in the fight-scenes in Heart of the Dragon. And Jackie hasn't REALLY made a great movie ever since the early-mid 90's, where he did some fantastic stuff with Drunken Master 2, Crime Story, etc.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Zatoichi the Fugitive (Japan, 1963) [BD] - 3.5/5
A very entertaining and character driven 4th film in the Zatoichi series. Zatoichi encounters a woman he once loved, who has now hooked up with a desperate swordsman. Good story, good characters, and an emotionally powerful climax. This is a better movie than many of director Tokuzo Tanaka's other films.

+ Sonny Chiba Special: Part 4

Hepcat in the Funky Hat (Japan, 1961) [35mm] – 3.5/5
Sonny Chiba plays a happy-go-lucky son of a detective, who always manages to get himself in trouble, but comes out saving the day. It’s the third directorial effort by Kinji Fukasaku – the first two also starred Chiba – and already full of that madcap energy and camerawork he’s famous for, but without any of the nihilism. In fact, this one of his most positive films, a shameless celebration of youth, where the old men are left eating the dust. At 53 minutes the film moves at lightning speed, though in the hands of any other director it would have ran at least 20 minutes longer. It’s packed with youthful energy, groovy jazz, cute girls, and early 60’s pop-cinema, and comes with a very enjoyable performance by the young Chiba.

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Hepcat in the Funky Hat: 200 000 Yen Arm (Japan, 1961) [DVD] – 3/5
A solid sequel which however put more emphasis on plotting than the 60’s youth culture. This time the plot is about a young baseball player whose market value is more important for the greedy adults than his health. It’s a nice piece of entertainment by Fukasaku and Chiba, but more conventional than the first film. Cute and energetic female lead Hitomi Nakahara also returns, playing a different but similar role as last time.
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Yi-Long wrote:Why was Jackie angry with Sammo about OUATIC&W? Because he felt it was HIS idea to mix martial arts and a western? Was he afraid Jet could become a major international star because of this movie?
Apparently, it was because Jackie told Sammo some of his ideas for upcoming projects (e.g. a kung fu western, an amnesiac in a foreign land) and Sammo pilfered them for OUATIC&A. I seem to remember Sammo admitting as much and feeling bad about it. That didn't stop Jackie who turned the ideas into Shanghai Noon and Who Am I?, respectively.
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Markgway wrote:DAMN stank.

Jackie was upset about OUATC&A and it's interesting that they've worked together only once since (Sammo choreographed The Medallion).
Actually, both are in Around the World in 80 Days.
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Ivan Drago wrote: Actually, both are in Around the World in 80 Days.
I forgot about that one. Gee, thanks for reminding me. :icon_suspect: :D
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I haven't seen it in ages!
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Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold (Japan, 1964) [BD] - 3/5
Zatoichi meets Chuji Kunisada, a famous Robin Hood like character who has appeared in dozens of his own films, in the 6th film in the series. Director Kazuo Ikehiro had nice grittiness to his style, but Daiei was one of the most conservative studios in Japan, which set limits to what he could do. This film has nice sets and locations, but it does feel a bit conventional with its "stolen tax money" plot. One also wishes there was a bit more character depth to the menacing villain Tomisaburo Wakayama.

+ Sonny Chiba Special: Part 5

The Escape (Japan, 1962) [35mm] – 3/5
An entertaining military / "caper" mix based on the February 26th Incident in 1936, which saw a large number of rebel soldiers attempting a coup d'état in Tokyo. The film shows the raid on the prime minister’s house and follows the military police’s attempts to rescue the minister, whom the enemy thinks is already dead, without anyone realizing a rescue operation is being carried out. It’s a dialogue driven film with some exiting action in the beginning and end. Sonny Chiba has a small role as one of the soldiers. Ken Takakura is the real lead as the head of the military police.

The Kamikazes (Japan, 1962) [VoD] – 2.5/5
The 1960s saw Japanese war movies becoming popular mainstream hits, and subsequently drifting towards more nationalistic tones after a number of pacifist classics that had played to international recognition in the 1950s. The output ranged from harmless adventures to patriotic melodramas. The Kamikazes leans towards the latter, but it’s still a pretty decent movie most of the time. The film follows both kamikaze pilots and human torpedo pilots – the latter being a less commonly discussed but highly interesting topic. Some of the nationalistic emphasis drags the film down, but the battle scenes, both air and underwater, are highly effective. Sonny Chiba has a pretty big supporting role as a kamikaze pilot. It’s a solid performance, but not especially memorable.

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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of

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Deadly Strike (1978)

Director: Wong Fei-lung
Cast: Bruce Li, Chen Sing, Lung Fei, Tsai Hung, Sham Chin-bo, Lee Keung

Lame movie wasting an ace cast, but redeemed by some decent drama in the last reel. Fights frequent but unremarkable, BBFC hacked out the nunchakus from the tape master used for the DVD.

4/10
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Authentic Account: Osaka Shock Tactics (Jitsuroku gaiden: Osaka dengeki sakusen) (Japan, 1976) [35mm] - 4/5
A very entertaining jitsuroku yakuza film by Sadao Nakajima, who spent most of his career contributing to genres other directors had made popular. Here he manages to create some badass scenes of violence escalating on the streets, somewhat similar to some Italian crime films from the same era, all set to a kick-ass score by Toshiaki Tsushima. Hiroki Matsukata and Tsunehiko Watase are at the top of their game as ugly and brutal gangsters. The pretty boys that populate modern Japanese gangster films would piss in their pants if they came across these guys. There are some slow parts in the beginning, and the film lacks characterization, but it's so entertaining most of the time that it doesn't really matter.

+ Sonny Chiba Special: Part 6

Gambler (Japan, 1962) [DVD] – 2/5
Meiji era set gambling/family melodrama – not a yakuza film like Toei’s better known gambler films – by veteran Daisuke Ito, who started directing films in the 1920s. The film looks and feels charmingly old fashioned: especially the beautiful sets seemingly built on a mountain or a big hill facing Osaka are atmospheric. Solid execution all-around. However, it’s also very much a teary melodrama – a genre not made for this viewer – with crying scenes coming in ever increasing pace towards the end. Sonny Chiba has a relatively small role as the protagonist’s (Rentaro Mikuni) apprentice. Most of his scenes are during the last 20 minutes and don’t give him much to do.

Love, the Sun and the Gang (Japan, 1962) [DVD] – 2.5/5
The second film in the Gang series, which is linked only by theme and title. Ken Takakura, Tetsuro Tamba and a bunch of other crooks plan on robbing a casino run by foreigners. Of course, most of the gangsters are merely looking for a chance to double-cross their partners. A decently made but unremarkable, jazz-tuned, highly noirish caper by Teruo Ishii. Takakura stars in one of his early “punk roles”, as opposed to the stoic hero roles he later became famous for. The middle part is quite talkative, but there’s some energy to the visual style. Sonny Chiba appears in a small supporting role as a helicopter pilot. He has a couple of good scenes near the end, but his screen time is limited to a couple of minutes.

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Nobuhiro Yamashita Early Works: Part 1

Night Imitate Summer (Japan, 1996) [DVD] - 1/5
Amateurish 8mm short film gives no indication of Yamashita's talent. The 11 minute film follows a salesman who finds himself in a building full of crap and crappy people. Yamashita's trademarks are nowhere to be seen, and the film is not really worth a watch even as a curiosity.

Rotting Woman (Japan, 1997) [DVD] - 3/5
This must be the most unusual thing Yamashita has ever done: a gruesome zombie film dedicated to Lucio Fulci. Shot on 16mm, the film shows one woman's slow transformation into a zombie after being fatally bitten. It's simple film, but the short running time (10 min) makes it work and the gore effects are great. The film was shows on quite a few international festivals, where audiences probably labelled Yamashita a rising horror talent. How ironic for a director who, in reality, became known as the Japanese Aki Kaurismäki.

+ Sonny Chiba Special: Part 7

Gang vs. G-Men (Japan, 1962) [DVD] – 4/5
The young Sonny Chiba is fabulous in this wildly entertaining Kinji Fukasaku film. It’s the 4th movie in the very loosely related Gang series. This instalment sees former gangster (Koji Tsuruta) brought back to action when the police needs his help to bring down a dangerous gang lead by Tetsuro Tamba. Chiba plays an enthusiastic young man who goes undercover even though it's obviously more than he can handle. Critic Mark Schilling aptly described his character as "the seventh samurai" of this story. Though not an all time classic like some of Fukasaku's later movies, it's a very stylish and entertaining film full of 1960s cool. Chiba, bursting with youthful charm and energy, is the film’s biggest asset. This is one of his best performances, often leaving superstars like Tamba and Tsuruta in his shadow, and marked the beginning of his best era as an actor.

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Tale of A Company Boss: Part 5 (Japan, 1963) [VoD] - 2.5/5
The 5th (or 6th, depending on how you count) part in a series of salaryman comedies. Old man Eitarô Shindô, young fella Katsuo Nakamura and future pinky violence comic relief Toru Yuri run a travel agency whose latest customer turns out to be bunch of mischievous elementary school kids. They end up travelling the country with the singing and goofing kids while Nakamura falls in love with their teacher (Hitomi Nakahara from Hepcat in the Funky Hat) and Shindô and Yuri have the hots for a geisha. It's not a bad film for what it is: fans of the genre should be entertained, even though the film is hardly exceptional. Fans of Chiba should be warned, though: his role as Nakamura's old student pal is only about 45 seconds.
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