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

Film Reviews and Release Comparisons
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (HK, 2010) - first time watch: 3/5

It was OK I guess, but Fist of Legend (1994) was much better, This movie felt more like a period drama (though it is well acted) with some action, Donnie Yen dresses up as a Kato-like superhero which is a bit odd, and Shu Qi is lovely.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Exodus from Japan (Young Oh! Oh!) (ヤングおー!おー! 日本のジョウシキでーす) (Japan, 1973) [VoD] - 1.5/5
"There is porno, there is gambling, there is action!" Toei sure knew how to advertise family entertainment to movie goers. This is essentially a 79 minute sketch marathon, a theatrical side-product of the popular TV variety show Young Oh! Oh! that ran 1969 to 1982. Toei brought it to the big screen with comedians from the show's early years. There’s almost no plot beyond a bunch of comical twats wanting to escape Japan in search of a better life. Lots of stupid sketches follow. Some of the silliness might be considered action. And what about porno? That would be Harumi Tajima and her frontal assets doing a couple of comedy nude scenes at the end. Needless to say the word "porno" was and still is used a lot more loosely in Japan than elsewhere, often as a synonym for any kind of “erotic” content, with even G-rated family entertainments like this promising to fill the screen with “porno”.

Fancy Man (ダニ) (Japan, 1965) [VoD] - 3/5
Umemiya is a young yakuza who has to find a new way to support himself after his gang disbands. He sets up various scams where he blackmails adulterous husbands with the help of his girlfriend who serves as bait. When one wealthy businessman refuses to pay, Umemiya proceeds to seduce his wife… This was the 3rd film in the Youth of the Night series. It's again a small step down in terms of visual breeze (largely shot indoors in small apartments) and character development, although directed by Hideo Sekiguchi who also did The Procurer. But the film is saved by a terrific ending, a superb musical score, and small bits of riveting drama here and there. Once again Umemiya is in his element, perhaps more so than ever before, as a charismatic scum who delivers destruction and misery to everyone he encounters until his luck finally runs out.

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

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The Dupe (かも) (Japan, 1965) [VoD] - 2/5
Another nocturnal melodrama, this time with asshole Umemiya as a hostess club manager bringing in new girls and taking advantage of them behind his wife's (who is a hooker in a Turkish bath) back. His latest recruits include naive Ohara and overly eager but inexperienced Midori. This was already the 4th Youth of the Night film made in 1965, and the third one for Sekigawa & Narusawa. This one brings very little new to the table and fails to reach the level of nihilism, style or atmosphere found in its predecessors. But it does feature a scene where Umemiya gets his arse kicked by a bunch of karate practitioners, so it's not entirely without merits.

The Dump Truck Rascal (ダンプ渡り鳥) (Japan, 1981) [VoD] – 2.5/5
Toei producer Shigeru Okada and Kanji Amao's failed attempt at creating a follow-up series to the hugely successful Truck Yaro (1975-1979). The focus is now on dump truck drivers instead of those flashy 70s dekotora vehicles and their drivers. And here lies the main difference between the two. We're now well into a new era, the decade of human drama and grey everyday reality, aimed men and housewives alike, and long past the outrageous action/comedy/melodrama roots of the Suzuki/Sugawara series. Also, director Ikuo Sekimoto does not have Suzuki’s skill at mixing fast action with genuinely touching drama, hence we end up with a long funeral / sobbing scene for someone we never cared much for. Toshio Kurosawa is the titular dump truck wanderer (of the film’s Japanese title) who takes dead pal's ashes back to wife Junko Miyashita in the snowy Hokkaido, then feels some inner need to abandon his truck and temporarily settle down in Hokkaido. Along came mentally unstable half-girlfriend Mieko Harada. Not bad, but regrettably 80s in the usual lacklustre ways. The best thing about the film is the extensive Hokkaido scenery (with constant snow storms) and 70s relic Tatsuo Umemiya as gun toting rival who goes hunting for bears alone! Also features a silly (Truck Yaro esque) Takeshi Kitano comedy bit in the beginning before the heavy drama takes over.

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

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MONKEY KUNG FU (1979) is an odd one - it feels like an indie gatecrashing at Shaws. Much of it is shot on some beautiful countryside locations, so it feels very jarring when they belatedly start using a very fake "exterior" for the hero's hideaway. For a change, there's no overused De Wolfe music...but instead it's mostly the same Western-like cue (previously heard way back in the 1970 Shaw epic THE HEROIC ONES) played ad infinitum. And there's a stock shot of the moon previously seen in the Bruce Lee movies!

Ching Siu-tung is a very impressive lead, but his character is the usual snarky ******* who were in common use at the time...and he's an unrepentant convicted murderer to boot! The villains are surprisingly restrained - I'm not sure they get to kill anyone!

I'm not sure it speaks of market saturation or carelessness that Shaws released both this and MAD MONKEY KUNG FU within months of each other! And to make matters more confusing, there is a Taiwanese indie from the same period also called MONKEY KUNG FU! The main style practiced by the heroes is Drunken Monkey, which would belatedly be used by Shaws (of a sort) in 2003.

And I have no idea who she is, but the ultra flexible prostitute is quite impressive!

5/10
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Killer Meteor wrote: 16 Mar 2022, 15:33 And I have no idea who she is, but the ultra flexible prostitute is quite impressive!
Only credited name I couldn't account for is KONG Yuk-Lan and she's a virtual ghost.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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The Japan Derby Race (日本ダービー 勝負) (Japan, 1970) [VoD] - 1/5
Junya Sato's epic dud covering 40 years of Japanese horse racing history, based on real life jockey and trainer Tokichi Ogata. I was willing to give this film some slack because it’s obviously not one aimed at me (I couldn’t care less about the topic). But when the film climaxes with a dozen back to back horse races (shown as live TV footage), taking almost all of the film’s last third, you can't help but to wonder had Sato gone insane? Even pink films don’t have sex scenes as plenty and prolonged as this film’s horse racing parts. Tatsuya Mihashi stars, with Ken Takakura, Tomisaburo Wakayama, Bunta Sugawara, Tatsuo Umemiya and Junko Fuji in supporting bits, none of them getting nearly as much screen time as the damn horses.

Rape Frenzy: Five Minutes before Graduation (卒業五分前 群姦) (Japan, 1977) [TV] – 3.5/5
With a title like this, you think you know what you’re in for. Well, what do you know? This is one of action director gone rogue pink helmer Yukihiro Sawada’s best pictures, a youth drama following stressed-out, confused male and female students on their last day before high school graduation, facing an uncertain and bleak future. The film is far more reminiscent of Nikkatsu’s early 70s youth pictures and the following year’s Panic in High School (1978) than anything the title (which may or may not have been a commercial after-thought) would have you expect. There are several good scenes with the alienated protagonist finding himself detached from the people around him, his friend trying to escape the patronising society with a girlfriend and a shotgun, and live rock music performed in party scenes. And then some sexual assaults (half of them performed by girls or women against boys) springing from societal frustration and personal insecurity. The cinematography is excellent, with loads of those lovely ‘lonely people walking the city streets in solitude’ shots. The ending is a little underwhelming but perhaps fittingly low-key, and does not, by the way, deliver any kind of rape frenzy five minutes before the graduation. For other fine Sawada Roman Porno films see his beast cop thriller Retreat through the Wet Wasteland (1973) and the Peckinpah influenced Assault! (1976).

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

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Bad Woman of the Night (夜の悪女) (Japan, 1965) [VoD] – 1.5/5
The 5th and worst film in the Youth of the Night series. This is bad from the beginning with Umemiya, by now Toei's veteran pimp and nightlife scumbag, playing a schoolboy in the opening scene! It's impossible to take the film seriously after that. It turns out it wasn't even meant to be. The film jumps forward a few years with Umemiya now a full full-fledged entrepreneur running a paid date service he inherited from jailed boss Ryohei Uchida (he'll be back later). Midori is his eccentric, loud-mouth no. 1 girl who gets from one comical trouble to another. Umemiya's misadventures have the same humoristic undertone, with little signs of the emotional brutality seen in the earlier films. It was probably the logical next step for a series that was putting out its 5th instalment in the same year. Thankfully the series would return to form in the next film, Bitches of the Night, which even featured Sonny Chiba in a brief supporting role.

Yagyu Chronicles 2: The Secret Sword (柳生武芸帳 夜ざくら秘剣) (Japan, 1961) [TV] - 3.5/5
A direct follow-up to the previous film. They were most likely shot back to back since both films were released in March 1961. This is an even more entertaining and action packed adventure than the first film, with an enemy ninja clan swearing to steal the Yagyu scrolls and teaming up with a high a ranking lord to plot the Yagyu's downfall. The cast is largely the same as before, but Shingo Yamashiro now plays Tokugawa lemitsu instead of a clansman. The final duel between Jubei and his ninja opponent is terrific!

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

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The Lady Assassin (Vietnam, 2013 - DVD): 3/5

A pretty silly movie, but fun. It looks like it's in 2.5D (?) It says 3D at the beginning, so maybe a trick was missed by not making a 3D blu ray at the time.
90's style wirework, slow-motion, a Shaolin Soccer esque scene with a volleyball match and fanservice with beautiful girls - plus a song and dance number for some reason :)
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Yagyu Chronicles 3: Valley of the Outlaws (柳生一番勝負 無頼の谷) (Japan, 1961) [TV] - 3/5
This is a departure from the first two films, which focused the Yagyu scrolls. This third movie is a less plot driven affair with a clan of vengeful ruffians harassing Jubei and targeting his brother who has taken an oath to refrain from the sword. While some narrative compactness is lost in the new approach, the film succeeds in creating fairly good characters, mainly Shingo Yamashiro as an easily manipulated ruffian, and Naoko Kubo as a woman unable to decide if Jubei means love or business to her.

Confessions of a Lovelace: At Lust’s End (ある色魔の告白 色欲の果て) (Japan, 1968) [TV] - 4/5
An astonishing exploitation extravaganza about a lusty hothead (Takashi Fujiki) who goes seducing and conning women until one is left dead. He then finds himself on the run from the law, handcuffed to a violent, mentally unstable half-Japanese man (Shohei Yamamoto in blackface). The two go on an incredible escape / rape frenzy through the countryside, making brief destructive stops at a guesthouse, golf court populated by gaijin women, and church. And of course they take turns bonding and punching each other in the face. Wow! This is cinematic anarchy, immoral celluloid garbage and the kind of cinema you're not supposed to enjoy. Take the guesthouse scene as an example: the escapees peek in from a window, and there’s a lesbian couple making love; they move on to the next window and witness a rape in progress; then they decide to join the fun. All this depravity was expertly helmed by Mio Ezaki, one of Nikkatsu's in-house directors here working for independent production house Aoyama Production and making sure the film is technically on par with any mainstream Nikkatsu gangster film. There’s really no other film to compare this to (that I’ve seen) than Yasuharu Hasebe's depraved action thriller Rape! 13th Hour (1977) which, despite its far more graphic nature, can't quite match the frenetic nature and 60s swing of this film.

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

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Chocolate (Thailand, 2008 - BD - rewatch): 4/5

A girl with autism uses her martial arts skills to fight bad guys so she can get the money needed for her mum's hospital treatment. The twist of the main character being autistic is an interesting one and it's done in a sensitive, yet realistic way in my opinion. I don't know if the actors had the condition in real life though.The out-takes over the final credits seem even more painful than those in classic Jackie movies
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Manji (卍) (Japan, 1983) [TV] - 1/5
Holy pretentiousness, Batman!

Expelled by a Man’s Rivals (男涙の波門状) (Japan, 1967) [TV] – 3.5/5
Here is a solid ninkyo film with an unusual opening and superb ending. Clansman Kyosuke Machida loses the gang’s money to a thieving friend, and is expelled by boss Kanjuro Arashi (usually playing more forgiving characters). It’s quite touching really and establishes an important supporting character. Star Koji Tsuruta doesn’t appear until 13 minutes into the film when he’s released from prison. He’s dismayed about his brother’s fate. Soon comes in the news that Arashi’s daughter (Teruo Ishii muse Masumi Tachibana) has run away to reunite with sweetheart Machida. Tsuruta immediately volunteers to go after them, eventually finding Machida in a coal mine working for benevolent boss Kenjiro Ishiyama, both of them harassed by rotten boss Bin Amatsu. Then we have the thief’s sister Hiroko Sakuramachi who falls in love with Tsuruta, and honourable nemesis Minoru Oki who saves Tsuruta so that he could kill him himself. There’s nice web of relationships and duty/honour conflicts, even if they are not as developed as in director Yamashita’s best films, and the drama runs somewhat out of steam after the first half. The musical score by Takeo Watanabe (Flower Cards Chivalry) is awesome in places and good in others. But the film really comes alive in the spectacular ending where Tsuruta kills more than two dozen men in pure rage. I’ve never seen him as deadly and furious in any other film. It’s one of the best choreographed, most exciting action climaxes in any ninkyo film.

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Yagyu Chronicles 4: One Eyed Swordsman (柳生武芸帳 独眼一刀流) (Japan, 1962) [TV] - 3.5/5
It appears the previous film's departure from scrolls was premature as the Yagyu papers are back again. It was probably for the best since this is another very enjoyable entry with solid b-film plot and a beautiful cinematic form. What's new is Hiroki Matsukata as a young, inexperienced sword master with a vendetta for the Yagyu. Similarly to Toei’s later ninkyo yakuza films, film builds net of conflicting duty and humanity obligations around this new character, who becomes both Jubei's friend and enemy at the same time (and it must be said Matsukata is a brilliant piece of casting: he is the series star Jushiro Konoe’s real life son). Another new addition is the tad more political approach to the Tokugawa rule depicted in the series.

Yagyu Chronicles 5: Jubei's Redemption (柳生武芸帳 片目の十兵衛) (Japan, 1963) [TV] - 3.5/5
Uneven but highly entertaining entry resets (only) some of the earlier plot conclusions, making it both a follow-up and partial reboot. That used to be common in Japanese cinema before continuity ruined film franchises. It may also have been due to crew and cast changes (new director and writer, re-casting several major supporting characters, etc.). Anyhow, Matsukata is back as a challenger, and villains are again after the scrolls again. Frankly, repeating the same premise yet again feels a bit forced. But the film is beautifully shot and packed with superb, bloody action sequences where blades sink into faces and limbs are cut off amid expertly choreographed sword fights. The spaghetti western style climax (before spaghetti westerns really even existed) is a stand out.

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Bitches of the Night (夜の牝犬) (Japan, 1966) [VoD] – 3/5
Part six in the Youth of the Night series. This is a return to form after the comedic part 5, despite being made by the exact same people. Umemiya is a bartender who pretends to be gay in order the approach women. He is in cahoots with another opportunist, a young woman (Mako Midori) who trying to seduce a rich married man. Their attempts at making easy money can only end tragically. This is a rather aged morality tale about sinful life in urban metropolis, but it captures the era, the cityscapes and the atmosphere quite nicely. It's also becomes rather touching when Umemiya fools a naive country girl (heartbreakingly played by Reiko Ohara) into living with him. Oh, and it should be mentioned Sonny Chiba has a very brief supporting role as a policeman looking for his sister. He only appears in two scenes.

P.S. Toei really dropped the ball not printing character posters for this film. Just imagine the taglines… “Sonny Chiba is a Bitch of the Night!”. “Tatsuo Umemiya is…”

P.S. 2 This is my old review from 2016. I slightly re-wrote it now that I’ve been watching the other films in the series for the first time. I was too lazy / busy to actually rewatch this, but thought I should post something about it rather than skip one film with my reviews.

Confession of a Girl: The Forbidden Fruit (ある少女の告白 禁断の果実) (Japan, 1968) [TV] - 3/5
A Nikkatsu youth film unrelated to Confessions of a Lovelace despite its similar title. This is a notably tamer in-house production, a youth film about the sexual awakening of teenage boys and girls. It's a solid drama spiced up with some exciting scenes, like the boys helping a prostitute escape from a yakuza run brothel, and slight sun tribe type elements although in a little different context. Meiko Kaji appears in a supporting role with a hairdo almost like an afro! Also notable for being Mitsuko Oka's screen debut, complete with a very brief topless scene at the end. Followed by one sequel.

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

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HungFist wrote: 30 May 2021, 09:30 Gunhed (ガンヘッド) (Japan, 1989) [VoD] - 2.5/5
Masato Harada's notoriously incoherent cyberpunk piece. In the year 2038, post robot war apocalypse, a bunch of space pirates land an island once controlled by an A.I. computer system that wiped out the island’s human population and then just stood idle for decades (probably). Their attempt to steal valuable tech gets a nasty turn when the A.I. wakes up and starts defending its island. Their only hope is to rebuild a battle tank called Gunhed, whose remains remain on the island. The storyline is difficult to follow, there is absolutely zero chemistry between the main characters, and even action is incoherently put together. Mickey Curtis, the only worthwhile cast member, is killed off in the very beginning. But there's no denying the film is absolutely packed with cool cyberpunk imagery, much of it derived from anime and the films of James Cameron (both Terminator and Aliens), but much of it also becoming representative of the genre by itself. The spoken language is 50/50 English and Japanese, each cast member speaking their lines in their native language save for the fully bilingual Curtis.
This is getting a 2 disc BD release from Toho Visual on June 15th:

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

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Chungking Express (HK, 1994) - cinema: 5/5

In the new restoration, I could see everything so clearly. The translation is a bit strange at times though, I was used to the cop in the 1st story being called He Qiwu (sp?) and not Ho Ching Moo, and sometimes the dialogue is less poetic, I really liked lines like "If love has an expiry date, let it be 10,000 years" but this isn't here.
At the beginning, there are gunshots on the title screen instead of a camera sound for some reason, and the end credits look vastly different to how I remember them.
Faye Wong is so cute :)
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More of a Brigitte Lin man myself...
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Glowing Red Vermin (赤い夜光虫) (Japan, 1966) [VoD] – 2.5/5
The 7th film in the Youth of the Night series, and tonally different from the rest. It begins as a straight existential adult drama, largely void of the more scandalous approach found in many if the earlier films, before finally reaching its operatic climax where everyone is left unhappy, or dead. Playboy Umemiya and cohort Tani are mere supporting characters with curious youngster Ohara getting the most screen time. She ventures into an Osaka lesbian bar and is initially attracted to short-haired man-hater Midori, but scared off when Midori has more than just harmless girls' chat in her mind. Director Murayama unfolds the story in his usual solid but somewhat unspectacular fashion, with some dead moments before the fast, bloody and even funny last 30 minutes. But the ending aside, the film looks and sounds more low-key than the other entries in the series, and also feels different for setting half of its action in a lesbian bar. That aspect could’ve been developed further since the film is stuck somewhere between exploring and exploiting its topic matter, but not really doing either one in much depth. Still, it’s an alright film overall.

Chivalrous Man (渡世人) (Japan, 1967) [TV] - 3/5
One of the few ninkyo films starring Toei's playboy hustler Tatsuo Umemiya. He was usually found in less chivalrous pictures, though, oddly enough he also starred in Toei's most poetic ninkyo picture, Flower Cards Chivalry (1967) just 4 months prior to this. Chivalrous Man is a much more standard affair, made by different people, but is not without merits. More interesting than the chivalrous Umemiya are the unchivalrous Wakamayama and Tsuruta as a villain duo, the latter in particular playing a more compromised character than usual. The two are responsible for assassinating Umemiya's decent boss, though gunslinger Tsuruta later comes to regret what he's done. The unusual villain pairing alone carries the film once we get over the sluggish first third. One sequel followed later the same year.

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Yagyu Chronicles 6: Yagyu List (柳生武芸帳 片目水月の剣) (Japan, 1963 [TV] – 2.5/5
The shogunate, fearful of conspirators, has abolished several small clans and ordered the remaining ones to have family members reside in Edo, essentially holding them hostage. Jubei must stop the ones rebelling against the rule. This entry has a bit darker political frame, in which the heroic Jubei is serving a not entirely decent shogunate, at its core. But the film soon reverts back to the usual scroll hunt. It's action packed, but somehow lacking the style, charm and brutality of the earlier films. It's still entirely watchable, though.

Seishun no kaze (青春の風) (Japan, 1968) [VoD] – 3/5
One man Roman Porno factory Shogoro Nishimura made many movies about girls, but here he made one for the girls. This is one of his roughly dozen pre-porno mainstream films from the 60s (nearly all of which are better than almost any of his roman features), this isn't quite among his best, but still has certain cheerfulness personified by lead Sayuri Yoshinaga that makes it fun to watch. Yoshinaga is young woman who becomes a maid for an American family (of three gaijin actors who all speak surprisingly decent Japanese) while also (sort of) chasing sweetheart Mitsuo Hamada who is getting little too intimate with friend Yoko Yamamoto. Yes, this at least partially a romantic comedy, but above all it’s a girl film. There’s very little in terms of men (besides Hamada) in the film. Some of Yoshinaga's interactions with the gaijin family (timid mother, silly womanizing husband and a lonely kid) are pretty funny and, Yoshinaga (with a very common look here, as opposed to the screen beauty appearance you’d expect) is highly likeable.

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

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A Haunted Turkish Bathhouse (Japan, 1975) Digital File - 3/5
When the laws change and Japan bans prostitution, Yukino (Naomi Tani) decides she wants to get out of the business. Her boyfriend sets them up with a house, and her younger sister, Mayumi (Misa Ohara) comes to live with them. Cue obligatory scene of the sister waking in the middle of the night and peeking through a crack in the wall to see them having sex.
But the boyfriend turns out to be a piece of shit, working for her former boss, and he rapes the sister and forces Yukino back into working at the brothel. After breaking the rules, she’s beaten to death by her boyfriend as all the other whores (and the house mom) gleefully watch.
SPOILER ALERT!
Unfortunately for them, Yukino’s soul comes back as her black cat, before she…becomes a weird cat-person thing and reins holy hell upon them all!
Mayumi of course goes to work in the Bathhouse - she’s become an expert sex worker - and figures out pretty quickly who the cat is. Lots of nudity and violence, Hideo Murota plays an especially vile character as the boyfriend.
Yeah, the last ten minutes are a bit goofy, but Director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi gives us what we want and revenge is served.
Not great, but a little better than not bad.

Indeed!
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Hideo Murota and Naomi Tani
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Misa Ohara strattling a happy fella
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Terumi Azuma sporting a maebari
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Ghost Master (ゴーストマスター) (Japan, 2019) [TV] - 1.5/5
What is it with these modern kids who can't make a genre film without burying it under five layers of apologetic, self-ironic meta? Ghost Master is a potentially fun tale of a film crew in the middle of a shoot when the assistant director's horror script comes alive and starts slaughtering the crew. There are some great practical splatter effects. Less CGI than expected. Some fun jokes too (the Tarantino jab especially). Lots of references, particularly to Evil Dead and Tobe Hooper. And then we have characters commenting how dumb and unreal it all is, on behalf of viewers and filmmakers who sort of like it, but are embarrassed to admit it, hence trying to strike a balance between laughing at films and laughing with films. It gets progressively worse with more and more idiotic post-modern scenes to assure viewers it's really just a self-aware joke, and can be enjoyed without losing credibility in one’s social circles. And then there’s a typically (for modern Japanese cinema) drawn-out drama anti-climax. Unlike the similarly themed but sincere One Cut of the Dead, this is fundamentally spoiled goods by apologetic filmmakers too afraid to commit to their craft.

Yagyu Chronicles 7: The Buried Conspiracy (柳生武芸帳 剣豪乱れ雲) (Japan, 1963 [TV] – 3.5/5
Another moderately political entry with the nobles (proponents of the emperor) vs. the shogunate (officially below the emperor but in practice the real ruler of the country) at its core. The former discover a 33 year old conspiracy that if revealed could restore their power and send the shogunate into chaos. Jubei must stop that... and find some scrolls once again. This is a good entry with solid story, good action and some highly unorthodox cinematography, including a horse chase filmed just like a car chase and a POV assassination scene. We also get Junko Fuji in a delightfully strong early role, beautiful and armed if not quite a full-fledged fighter.

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

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The Yagyu Chronicles 8: The One-Eyed Ninja (柳生武芸帳 片目の忍者) (Japan, 1963) [TV] - 3.5/5
Yaguy Jubei tries to curb a rebellion against the Tokugawa shogunate after a weapons shipment goes missing. He gathers together all the Yaguy ninjas, but among them comes in a young impostor (Hiroki Matsukata playing a different character again). This is one of the best entries in the series: a stylishly filmed ninja suspense tale full of action, including something you might describe as a ninja version of the Battle of Normandy in form of a massive 25 minute action climax. Another cool idea is the concept of there being various Yagyu ninjas who have been living in the hiding and need to be brought together for one mission, adding an almost mythical layer to the plot.

P.S. this is another rewrite of an older review, without having rewatched the film, for the sake of not skipping one review.

The Blazing Continent (燃える大陸) (Japan, 1968) [VoD] – 3/5
Another breezy Shogoro Nishimura film from the years before he went pervert. Tetsuya Watari plays a painter who is dispatched to Australia for a work gig, then fall in love with Chieko Matsubara. She is however (about to be) engaged to Aussie man Masumi Okada. At one point Watari becomes hostage / getaway driver to short fuse kid Ken Sanders who had used a little too much force in defending his sister's honour. There's plenty going on in this stylish and entertaining film, to the extent it can't quite decide what it wants to be. It can also get a bit too travelogue in places, but not as bad as many other Japanese films shot in foreign locations. The biggest stumbling block here is the English dialogue. Watari does ok with short lines only, and Sanders doesn't have any command of the language (despite his name, he is of course Japanese). Conversely, the French born, internationally educated Okada speaks English effortlessly. Meiko Kaji appears for a few seconds as well. She had much bigger roles in two other, superior Nishimura films: Goodbye Mr. Tears (1966) and Burning Nature (1967).

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

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Sex Up And Down (Kigeki sex kobo-sen) (喜劇セックス攻防戦) (Japan, 1972) Amazon Prime Japan 2.5/5
Shingo Yamashiro is a masseuse, who seems more interested in sleeping with his clientele than helping them. He meets up with Toru Yuri, an adult toy salesman. They team up to treat troubled men and women by opening a sex consultant store. Ha ha ha. Yeah, right. They’re chasing women. The whole movie is just an excuse to make sexual situations and show boobs. That's ok! Business booms, thanks to the arrival of three 'nurses', including Miki Sugimoto, and Yayoi Watanabe. Lots and lots of nudity. Miki Sugimoto is fully nude (minus pubes of course) within the first 30 seconds of the movie. Free for all girl fight near the end, though Sugimoto and Watanabe seem to have disappeared by then. I've seen Reiko Ike listed as being in this film but she is nowhere to be seen.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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chazgower01 wrote: 04 Jan 2018, 14:06 The Insatiable aka Modern Porno Tale (Japan, 1972) DVD 2/5
Reiko Ike goes from Catholic School (Where she has a lesbian relationship with Miki Sugimoto) to moving back home with her mom (and getting raped by her mom’s creepy boyfriend -devirginizing her) to working in a hostess bar and making some big money from an older fat Japanese business man who has sex with her during an orgy. And this is all in the first 15 minutes!
Why does she do these things? Because she’s…Insatiable!
She keeps searching, sleeping with every man she meets, until Sandra Julien shows up and they sleep with each other…but somehow the air gets let out and it just sort of limps along to a very violent finish. Nothing wrong with Sandra Julien (there for just a couple of scenes), and I could probably watch a full Norifumi Suzuki movie of Reiko Ike being sexually insatiable…maybe it would’ve worked better as a comedy?
It’s got some style, and plenty of sex…just no substance to sustain it.
I recently rewatched this and..
Even though Suzuki had already set the mode for the path girl gang movies would go, he rushed this (release dates between this and Queen Bee's Counter Attack were only 51 days!), and I think it shows. There's a LOT going on here and it almost feels like two (three?) different movies.
Most everything leading up to Ike meeting Hiroshi Miyauchi, runs at a fast and entertaining pace. And then it tries to be a romantic movie for a bit... and then Sandra Julien is thrown in! Which I mean... isn't a BAD thing. But what movie was I watching?
And later we get the mom's boyfriend's wife thrown in and what her deal is because it helps move the story along in a way it previously couldn't...
But the most annoying thing is that Ike goes through all of this and in the end....
The guy saves her.
In hindsight obviously, knowing the way the Girl Gang movies would mostly go, we just EXPECT Ike to pull out a samurai sword and start hacking everyone to pieces but... it's more a manipulation thing here and...
And even the guy saving her ends up down beat.
Maybe a 2.5 out 5.
It's worth it for the first half of the movie, which is VERY Suzuki like, the Ike/Sugimoto scene, the Sandra Julien stuff (which I'm not as big on as some, but still), the 70's Japan culture, Yoko Miharaa who I always find entertaining (in general it has a very talented cast)... it HAS it's positives.
It just tackles too much for 86 minutes.

I photoshopped a Mike Sugimoto picture from a pan shot in the movie, I thought you all might appreciate:
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and a funny exchange between Reiko and Miki:
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Gendai Yakuza: Blood Sakura Three Brothers (現代やくざ 血桜三兄弟) aka Gendai yakuza: Chizakura san kyodai aka Modern Yakuza - Three Cherry Blossom Bloodbrothers (Released in Japan 11/19/1971) PPV You Tube - 92 minutes - Toei Studios

I watched this without subtitles, so... An older yakuza comes to town (Asao Koike) and starts rubbing a club (strip club) owner (Bunta Sugawara) and his two associates (Goro Ibuki, Tsunehiko Watase) the wrong way, by under tipping them, showing them no respect and sleeping with their women. Miki Sugimoto has a small non-nude part, though her character does have sex with the Asao Koike’s yakuza character. The tension builds up, until Bunta, who remains pretty subdued through most of the movie goes berserk in the last 5 minutes. Japanese Singer Ichiro Araki plays a nerdy bartender at the club who ultimately plays a big part in the outcome of things.

It's supposedly the 5th installment of THIS series. I decided to rent it upon discovering that Miki Sugimoto had a small part in it. That's TWO new movies she's been in (albeit small parts) that I didn't know about in the last week.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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The Women’s Bath You Only Go to Once (いちどは行きたい女風呂) Amazon Japan (1970) 1.5/5 - Watched this without subtitles - Goofy comedy about three guys who are desperate to spy on a women’s public bath - One of the friends is a hippie who dresses like Jimi Hendrix and lives right next to some kind of expressive naked group performance art studio. Junko Natsu, as one their girlfriends, remains heavily clothed throughout. Also includes a cross dresser who constantly confounds their sense of horniness. The ending, where they let a pack of dogs loose in the Women’s Public Bath has a lot of butts, and a few boobs, but is shot with a hand-held camera that will make you dizzy. With Mitsuo Hamada and Jiro Okazaki. Directed by Mio Ezaki.
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