Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand, etc
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

VoD Review / Not Available on DVD

Song of the Night: Woman (夜の歌謡シリーズ おんな) (1969)
Part 8 in the Song of the Night series, a hugely atmospheric nocturnal drama about bar girl Yumiko Nogawa meeting night hustler Tatsuo Umemiya. The film opens with devastated Nogawa pulling a knife on Umemiya. "Go ahead, stab me. I'll give you a present, a worthless life" he says in a tired voice, before the film cuts back in time to show how things came to this. Turns out Nogawa used to work as hostess for a mean mama Yasuko Matsui and Umemiya, then her light-headed little sister (Teruo Ishii muse Masumi Tachibana) arrived in town to further complicate things. This is a visually intoxicating, remarkably well written (by Masashige Narusawa) and atmospheric film with great performances. Umemiya in particular is excellent as impulsive and tragic sociopath who is not in full control of himself. He is, in fact, keeping up appearances while being too weak to leave Matsui. The performance is one of his best. Director Ryuichi Takamori deserves credit for not fucking this up; in fact he does really well. The only weakness is the film’s 2nd half, which is good but doesn't quite have the momentum of the 1st. But this is still a very good film; easily the best in the series.

Umemiya and Nogiwa
Image

Yasuko Matsui
Image

Image

Image

Image

Tachibana
Image

Tachibana
Image

Image

Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Kyomaiko satsujin jiken: Kyofu no uwaki shutcho (京舞妓殺人事件 恐怖の浮気出張) (1980)
Teddy bear family man Hiroyuki Nagato visits Kyoto on business, soon has a dead geisha in his hands and the police on his tail. Annoying TV film / Kyoto travel advertisement full of "funny overacting" and "old man does silly mistakes" scenes as Nagato tries to hide from the police. Awful musical score completes the wreckage. Phenomenal waste of talent in the casting: pink hip girl Kahori Takeda as travel guide co-star (also does a tiny bit of awful karate), fellow Roman Porno star Junko Miyashita as older (alive) geisha, Escape From Reform School runaway Fujika Omori as younger (dead) geisha, Tatsuo Endo is in the film too, and even Etsuko Shihomi appears for about one minute as a lady cop. And the film is directed by bloody Yuji "Shogun's Sadism" Makiguchi! And written by Atsushi Yamatoya! Shows how Japanese TV can turn men into pale shadows of their former selves, except there's not even a shadow left here. The title translates roughly as The Kyoto Geisha Murder Case: Horrifying Illicit Business Trip. Should've been The TV Viewer Suicide Case: Horrifying Boring Movie Experience.

Takeda
Image

Nagato and Omori
Image

Image

Image

Image

Shihomi
Image

Junko Miyashita and Tatsuo Endo
Image

This is Miyashita as well
Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Lone Kanto Yakuza (関東やくざ者) (Japan, 1965)
Dir. Shigehiro Ozawa
Cast: Koji Tsuruta, Tetsuro Tamba, Junko Fuji, Hideo Murata, Saburo Kitajima, Shingo Yamashiro

A standard ninkyo film with honourable yakuza Koji Tsurura going against merciless, but not entirely rotten businessman gangster Tetsuro Tamba. There are too many talking heads scenes and a storyline that isn’t awfully interesting, but also solid filmmaking and drama that sneaks into the film almost unnoticed. Tamba is always interesting, and the bloody final sword duel against him is quite powerful. There’s also some old fashioned charm stemming from an extensive use of songs, which shouldn’t necessarily be surprising since Toei’s prominent enka singer actors Hideo Murata and Saburo Kitajima are both in the film.

This was the 2nd movie in the Kanto series, one of Toei’s early ninkyo series. Shigehiro Ozawa wrote and directed them all five of them. While I have not seen the others, it appears Tsuruta plays the same character only in the first two, and different characters in the rest.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

and a badass still
Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Woman Boss: Chivalrous Fight (女親分 喧嘩渡世) (1969)
Dir. Takashi Harada
Cast: Nijiko Kiyokawa, Shingo Yamashiro, Bin Amatsu, Bunta Sugawara, Minoru Oki, Hiroko Minami, Masumi Tachibana, Yumiko Katayama

A standard ninkyo film elevated by star Nijiko Kiyokawa. At 57 years of age, she wasn’t quite the cutie idol Toei put in their other movies. An actress since the early 1930s, she was probably best known to Toei yakuza audiences as the battle axe wife in the Tomisaburo Wakayama’s Gokudo series. This film is somewhat a derivative, with mostly the same cast (Kiyokawa, Shingo Yamashiro, Bunta Sugawara, Minoru Oki, Bin Amatsu) and a similar feel. Kiyokawa gets her gang into female wrestling, quarrels with delinquent girls (Hiroko Minami, Masumi Tachibana, and Yumiko Katayama with some amazing fashion), and shoots a bad guy in the eye! Mediocre Takashi Harada helms it with professionalism albeit without originality. But it is lovely Toei gave Kiyokawa a film of her own at this point of her career…. even if they couldn’t refuse a bunch of (non)sex appeal jokes.

Kiyokawa
Image

Image

Hiroko Minami and Yumiko Katayama
Image

Image

Image

Image

Masumi Tachibana
Image

Image

Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Sakariba Blues (盛り場ブルース) (1968)

Part 2 in the Song of the Night series, this time based on a Shinichi Mori song (he’s also a supporting actor in the film). Umemiya works for a hostess club that hires Nogawa, a woman who needs money for her husband who is waiting at home. Nobuo Kaneko plays two roles, and they are both rich pervert geezers! Spectacular production design and use of colours aside, this is pretty unmoving at first, but gains momentum from halfway on and ends up a dramatic tale of manipulation and love losing out to greed. Umemiya does his usual pimp / hustler / seducer role, which by 1968 was turning into a one man genre of its own, ala Liam Neeson revenge films. Norifumi Suzuki wrote in his book that the sexy “seducer films” with Umemiya and others were in high demand at Toei, because they made ideal B-features in Toei’s double bill system, where an overly masculine ninkyo yakuza film (void of any sexual themes) was the main audience draw. But the sexy films remained notably tame most of the time, and like this one, were often void of any graphic nudity (Mako Midori’s sex melodramas tended to be more daring and twisted, however).

Image

Image

Image

Kaneko
Image

Kaneko again
Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Song of the Night: Tearful Love (夜の歌謡シリーズ なみだ恋) (Japan, 1973)

Part 10, with Yutaka Nakajima as the heroine. Umemiya does not appear in this one. The base is an Aki Yashiro song written into a screenplay by Masashige Narusawa. Nakajima is a naïve good girl who helps young yakuza punk (Tani) who bumps into her with a gun in his hand and a bullet in his arm. She's working in her mom's hostess bar (one of the girls is played by Yumiko Katayama) populated by horny customers and the mom's boyfriend who also has his eye on Nakajima. Before the tale is over, poor Nakajima's been bullied, harassed and raped (more than once). The more subtle tones of Narusawa's better work are nowhere to be found here, but Nikkatsu Action refugee Buichi Saito helms the film with swift pace (it's only 73 min), plentiful nudity by everyone except Nakajima, and the series' trademark top notch cinematography and production design. An entertaining B-film, nothing more, nothing less (the A-film, btw, was Takakura's Third Generation Yamaguchi Gang, Toei's no.1 film of 1973).

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

Oh and here is a brief general intro to the Song of the Night series. I originally wrote it when I had seen only 8 of the films, so I've updated it slightly.

I finished watching the Song of the Night (夜の歌謡シリーズ) (1967-1974) series. The films were loosely based on hit songs about young adults, the men and women of the night. Tatsuo Umemiya was the series mainstay, appearing in almost every entry. However, he was sometimes not the lead but a supporting character giving the spotlight to Yumiko Nogawa, Junko Miyazono, or Yutaka Nakajima in the last three films. These films were programmer pictures that thrived in the B-film slot. Norifumi Suzuki mentioned in his book that there was a high demand for “sexy” and “feminine” films because they made ideal pairs for the masculine ninkyo yakuza films that were released as Toei’s A-films.

From the 11 films, the melancholic Song of the Night: Woman (夜の歌謡シリーズ おんな) (1969) is excellent, while the rest range from dull to good. Many of them capture the seedy night life districts of the 60s well, and some also do good job depicting the people spending their nights in those districts. Umemiya is usually some sort of pimp / playboy / hostess club manager, and Nogawa, Miyazono etc. either an emotionally doomed hostess or a ruthless get-rich-or-die-trying woman prioritizing money over love. Song of the Night: Nagasaki Blues (夜の歌謡シリーズ 長崎ブルース) (1968) is a particularly interesting as it has Hiroki Matsukata and Hayato Tani as two male hosts selling themselves for money. Some yakuza characters also appear, usually played by the likes of Fumio Watanabe.

Now, regarding what films belong to the series, this is where it gets complicated. Toei Video’s homepage once acknowledged Song of the Night: Even if I Die (夜の歌謡シリーズ 命かれても) (1968) as the 1st film in the “Song of the Night” series. However, the original Eiren summary calls it the 3rd film in the series. Toei’s own theatrical poster for “Woman” is consistent with Eiren, advertising it as the “8th film in the popular series” although it was only the 6th film with “Song of the Night” in the title.

The explanation is that the series actually started with Yanagase Blues (柳ヶ瀬ブルース) in 1967, but it wasn’t until the 3rd film that Toei started attaching the “Song of the Night” moniker into the title. Fast-forward 50 years and even Toei themselves don’ remember which movie started the series.

Fast-forward a few more years to 2020, and Toei Channel starts broadcasting the whole series on TV, this time calling “Yanagase”the 1st film in the series.

More than anything, this is a good example of how marketing worked like in the 60/70s Japan. Selling films was the 1st, 2nd and 3rd priority, consistency was the 57th. Movies could be attached into a successful series posthumously, or sequels could be advertised as openings of a new series if they saw commercial potential there. The 60s Teruo Ishii ero films are a perfect example.

Note that the last film in the “Song of the Night” series was actually called Ballad of the Night (夜の演歌)! Don’t get the series mixed up with the “Youth of the Night” (夜の青春シリーズ) series. Also don’t get them mixed up with “King of the Night Life” (夜遊びの帝王) (1970) which was a part of the “King” (帝王) series. Or get if you will, even Toei struggles to understand what was part of which series.


1. Yanagase Blues (柳ヶ瀬ブルース) (1967)
2. Sakariba Blues (盛り場ブルース) (1968)
3. Song of the Night: Even If I Die (夜の歌謡シリーズ 命かれても) (1968)
4. Song of the Night: Isezaki District Blues (夜の歌謡シリーズ 伊勢佐木町ブルース ) (1968)
5. Song of the Night: Nagasaki Blues (夜の歌謡シリーズ 長崎ブルース) (1968)
6. Song of the Night: Harbor Town Blues (夜の歌謡シリーズ 港町ブルース) (1969)
7. Song of the Night : Villain Blues (夜の歌謡シリーズ 悪党ブルース) (1969)
8: Song of the Night: Woman (夜の歌謡シリーズ おんな) (1969)
9. Song of the Night: Street Woman (夜の歌謡シリーズ 女のみち) (1973)
10. Song of the Night: Tearful Love (夜の歌謡シリーズ なみだ恋) (1973)
11. A Blood Stained Love Affair (夜の演歌 しのび恋) (1974)

Part 1: Yanagase Blues. The poster actually says "From 9 to 5 Night Series". No "Song" to be found.
Image

Part 6: Song of the Night: Harbor:Town Blues. The poster now says "popular series part 6" even though it was only the 4th film with "Song" in the title.
Image

Part 8: Song of the Night: Woman. The poster also says "part 8 in the popular series".
Image

Part 10: Song of the Night: Tearful Love
Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

I'm not gonna pretend I understood half of this, but since the film doesn't even have an IMDb page, I'll try to provide a basic intro / review and screencaps.

Circuit Nurse (サーキット・ナース) (Japan, 1988)

An extremely dated sci-fi / computer thriller scripted by young Yuji Sakamoto (he would later become a successful TV drama writer). The setting is post apocalyptic future where a “computer nurse” (idol Keiko Hirata) stationed in an industrial complex is trying to keep a computer system free of viruses. She will have to engage in battle against viruses like Amiga 6000, a vicious online attacker hacking into her soul, and faceless cyborgs! She also strips down to black bra and panties for no apparent reason. Shot on video, made for TV, running less than an hour, and full of extremely primitive CGI graphics used throughout the film, it’s a film that sounds more fun than it is. It may offer a few nostalgic laughs for computer nerds, but little else. The musical score sounds like it was composed by 80s AI, too. For better similar films, see Noboru Tanaka’s computer thriller Monster Woman '88 (1988), Masato Harada’s industrial mecha sci-fi Gunhed (1989) and of course Ghost in the Shell (1994), which cover most of what’s on display here.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Kaibyo Saga sodo (怪猫佐賀騒動) (1981)
Reiko Ike faces feline vengeance in a minor late career highlight, a jidai geki horror movie made for TV. It may have been her last starring role, following career decay after the mid-70s (her drug and gambling arrests didn't help) and a minor comeback in the late 70s, mainly on TV. This film was loosely based on Nabeshima sodo, one of the many kaibyou (monster cat or cursed cat) tales, which are a subgenre of their own in Japanese horror. Ike is the jealous lover of Saga lord Sawashima (Kimiyuki Araya) who's laid his eye on a new girl (Sanae Takada), the recently engaged sister of a local daimyo. The lord's power-hungry retainer (Akira Nakao) sees his opportynity to plot the lord's downfall, and together with partner-in-crime Sawanoi (Moeko Ezawa) feeds Ike with lies about the girl until jealousy takes the murderous better of her. But then a black cat licks the victim's blood and absorbs the vengeful spirit. This is a little tamer than some the wilder Japanese TV entertainments of the time (e.g. Nihon meisaku kaidan gekijo, 1979), drawing the line to butt, side boob and a few severed limbs in brief action sequences. It's nice to see Ike in a lead role, even if she's now assigned to the jealous, murderous lover part, and overacts the hell out of it. Japanese ghosts aren't a genre of my experience or enthusiasm, for which reason I cannot give a fair assessment, but the film should not be too bad among its kind.

Image

Ike
Image

Ike again
Image

Her enemy, sweet new girl Sanae Takada
Image

Akira Nakao and Moeko Ezawa
Image

Image

Image

Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

35mm Review / Not Available on DVD

Sunset, Sunrise (陽は沈み陽は昇る) (1973)
Koreyoshi Kurahara's road movie / hippie epic, with a (good, not amazing) score by Nino Rota! A stripper (Rosemary Dexter), a race driver (Takeshi Kobayashi) and an American (Glenn H. Neighbour) meet by chance as each of them try to escape the suffocating modern society, heading from Paris towards Nepal in search of a better world, through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and India on car and two bikes. An evident follow-up project to Kurahara's earlier, grand Safari 5000 (though by different studio, Nikkatsu this time), this one isn't quite as good a film, with plentiful dated ideological hippie silliness and not always stellar acting. It is nevertheless a fascinating documentation of time and place, full of incredible footage shot in authentic locations. Spoken in English, Italian, French, Japanese and a few other languages, roughly 75% of the dialogue is in English, however. Sadly the film has never been released on home video or streaming.

Image Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

VoD Review / Not Available on DVD

The Monster Bus (ころがし涼太 激突!モンスターバス) (1988)
A pretty obscure comic book action comedy partly elevated to its minor cult status because almost no one has seen it. Young Riki Takeuchi stars (in his first leading role) as a live action anime buffoon bus driver who will crash through any and every obstacle while chasing his new crush (Naomi Akimoto). The girl, however, is also chased by a mysterious shadow man (Shun Sugata) wheeling a black, armoured monster bus straight out of a post apocalypse adventure. The hero has also made countless other enemies, being an ex-boso zoku and also because he battered / ran over / otherwise hurt them with his bus, usually without realizing it. There's some fun to be had here, from a visual overdrive to constant gags, some family friendly sex and nudity, over-the-top yankii characters, and probably the only bus vs. bus action finale in any film, served in a 97 minute pack that lacks a proper storyline to hold it together. The film then feels longer than it is. Naosuke Kurosawa, who debuted in 1980 with the supremely stylish pink giallo Zoom In: Rape Apartments, helms it in his usual ‘style first, everything else third’ method. The film comes out much like a live action anime, or a Nobuhiko Obayashi film minus the substance.

Yep, that's Riki Takeuchi
Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Confessions of a Lovelace: At Lust’s End (ある色魔の告白 色欲の果て) (1968)

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, discriminated and 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.

Note that Nikkatsu’s website claims this is the 2nd film in the Nikkatsu honno series / route (日活本能路線), but there is no mention of what is part 1. It is not either one of the Confessions of a Girl films, which only premiered after this movie. My guess is it’s Tokyo Bath Harem aka Sadistic Violence to 10 Virgins aka Onna ukiyoburo (女浮世風呂) (1968), an earlier Aoyama Pro film made for Nikkatsu by the same producer.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

TV Review / Not Available on DVD

Expelled by a Man’s Rivals (男涙の波門状) (1967)

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.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

VoD Review / Not Available on DVD

Women's Cruel Double Suicide (残酷おんな情死) (Japan, 1970)
Shogoro Nishimura’s grimy, docudrama esque film about lesbian lovers in yakuza infested Shinjuku. A suicidal call girl (Annu Mari) and a temperamental gold-digger (Sanae Ohori) meet by chance and eventually decide they are better off without men. But the former’s yakuza guardian / boyfriend (Jiro Okazaki) and his gang disagree. This was the last film Nishimura did before Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno switchover in the following year. It coincidentally became a bit of a transitional work, a much gloomier and fleshier picture void of the breeze and colourful art direction of his 60s pictures. It's also worse acted and edited with some jarring cuts, making it feel more like an independent picture than a Nikkatsu film. But it has its own charm, from authentic Tokyo locations to smutty atmosphere and even a brief cult lesbian orgy scene where Ohori is made love by white-hooded Ku Klux Clan types. It’s an interesting picture, though ultimately less bizarre and more low-key than some of the above-mentioned plot points might suggest. Also known as “Midnight Virgin”.

The screencaps are from Amazon's stream, which appears to be an ancient TV or VHS master

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

TV Review / Not Available on BD / DVD

Loss of Innocence (処女喪失) (Japan, 1965)
A stylishly filmed but awfully conservative Nikkatsu studio feature based on “sexual activity surveys” conducted with a 1000+ unmarried women. It’s essentially a condescending docu-drama about how pre-marital sex and particularly becoming a victim of sexual abuse is the end of all. The film follows investigative reporter Tamio Kawachi as he is contacted by a young man whose girlfriend had committed suicide after being forced to prostitution. The film then unfolds in episodic fashion as the reporter meets more victims or sexual abuse / violence (including several women who proposed to marry their rapist since that was supposedly the only option they had left). Some of the film’s extremely outdated views on sexuality can be quite jarring and the message is to make sure to keep your virginity until marriage if you want any happiness to ever come your way. The film should therefore be taken as a zeitgeist curiosity that was already out of date when it came out. Perhaps it was just an excuse for the filmmakers to dwell in sensationalism under the guise of condescending everything that’s on screen. As such, it is of some interest. The cast is pretty good as well, the tech credits are top notch, and surprisingly enough there’s a bit of nudity at the end by a very cute one-time actress whose name is probably Hitomi Mayama.

Screencaps from Neco Channel's TV broadcasting. Beautiful HD master.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

VoD Review / Not Available on BD / DVD

Lost Virgin (BG・ある19才の日記 あげてよかった!) (1968)

Yuji Tanno made his directorial debut with this "shocking" true account exploration of the modern youth. The film sets out to uncover the sex lives of 19 year old “business girls” (the BG of the Japanese title, an old term later made obsolete by OL), based on a women's magazine whose readers’ segment served as the film's inspiration. It was another one in a line of such b-film productions by Nikkatsu, who were better known for romantic youth films and gangster movies (this movie premiered as the supporting feature for Outlaw: Heartless). Keiko Nishi, a new Nikkatsu face whose career never really took off, stars in her debut role as an innocent 19 year old typist who falls for a married senior executive (Hideaki Nitani) after he saves her from a morning train molester. Her co-workers are a bunch of straight-talking modern gals (Meiko Kaji as the meanest of them) about as far from the traditional Japanese idea of a decent woman as possible. Then there's a wannabe boyfriend Koji Wada whose charms can't compete with the married playboy. Of course, the film is very tame by modern standards and even compared to many other films that came out in 1968 that featured more graphic scenes. But it's also a charmingly old fashioned zeitgeist and a lot less judgemental than some other films of its kind (e.g. Nikkatsu’s 1965 film Loss of Innocence). It also packs a good cast, a nice musical score that grows on you, and a lot of stylish black & white cinematography. The club scenes are particularly cool. Call it low-key groovy.

Screencaps from Amazon Prime. This film really needs an HD master.

Image

Image

Keiko Nishi and Hideaki Nitani
Image

Kaji on the right
Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 11746
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Rare Japanese Cult Cinema reviews (No DVD / BD)

Post by HungFist »

Streaming Review / Not Available on DVD / BD

Red Flowers of the Harbour Mist (霧の港の赤い花) (1962)

Journeyman Shinji Murayama isn’t particularly well remembered among Toei directors, but he made a number of good films especially during the early years of his career. This atmospheric romantic noir is probably his best movie. Koji Tsuruta is a yakuza who falls in love with married woman Kyoko Kagawa, whose husband is away on a trip. The relationship starts out platonic, but Tsuruta wants to take it a step further, much to the confusion of Kagawa who is not quite sure of her feelings. This being nominally a gangster tale, the pistols, back stabbings and drug dealings eventually find their way into the tragic tale; however Murayama is more keen on following the doomed lovers, staging visually lyrical scenes full of lights and shadows, and drawing from Tsuruta's slightly melancholic, tortured persona. A particular stand out is a small French bar where some of the film's most atmospheric and romantic scenes take place. There’s a bit of a evident Nikkatsu Action feel to the picture, though one feels the picture owes more to American and European noir. Tsuruta is terrific in the lead and this film is also a prime example of how he was always more of a “lover” whereas his younger colleague, the stoic Ken Takakura who would soon challenge Tsuruta as Toei’s no. 1 yakuza film star, would be difficult to imagine in a role like this.

Screencaps from a U-Next stream. Let's pray for an HD upgrade some day.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
Post Reply