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

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

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The Chaser (S. Korea, 2008): 4.25/5

Worth watching definitely, but why are so many Korean thrillers dark and depressing? :(
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Kwaidan (Japan, 1965) - first time (BD): 4.25/5

Collection of creepy ghost stories, beautiful colour photography. I thought one of the stories here (The Woman of the Snow) was used as the basis for an American movie but can't remember what it's called :?
Why is the last story in the movie (In a Cup of Tea) shorter than the others?
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Raped by an Angel 3: Sexual Fantasy of the Chief Executive (Hong Kong, 1998) – 2.5/5
A company boss daydreams of naked women while someone is raping his office ladies. He soon finds himself a suspect, with the last victim being a policeman's mentally challenged sister. This is quite different from the previous film. It starts out as politically incorrect comedy with brief nudity, but later turns into a crime mystery with a Basic Instinct influence. It sort of works as such, though it’s not a very good film nor a particularly exploitative one (as evidenced by the CAT II rating) beyond general bad taste e.g. rape jokes.

Brotherhood's Honor and Humanity: Loyalty Offering on Brink of Adversary (兄弟仁義 逆縁の盃) (Japan, 1968) [TV] – 3.5/5
Part 7. This entry was helmed by none other than Norifumi Suzuki during his ninkyo era (he was involved in several mid-tier projects as director, and in many top-tier films as screenwriter). It’s a very enjoyable film with perhaps lower artistic ambitions than the previous film. What it loses in art and politics, it makes back in pure entertainment. Unusually for a ninkyo film, the tale explodes into action from the first frame, with Kitajima slicing and dicing his way through an enemy gang. He then takes a hike rather than giving himself in, taking the opportunity to go looking for his long lost mother in a plot thread that is essentially a remake/adaptation of “In Search of Mother”. The road takes him to a small town that has become a battle front between industrial evil Nobuo Kaneko and noble Minoru Oki, whose clan sides with the townspeople. Tatsuo Endo is cast hilariously against type as nerdy lab rat examining water pollution levels and trying not get killed on the job. This is very much a Suzuki film, from his trademark authority jabs to silly but surprisingly funny comedic relief, and of course plenty of melodrama. It's also a pretty good ninkyo film dealing with friendship and conflicting duties between men. Tomisaburo Wakayama emerges as the film's highlight as a conflicted, lightning fast swordsman affiliated with evil Kaneko, but slowly figuring out he might be playing for the wrong team.

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

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Duel to the Death (HK, 1983): rewatch: 3.5/5
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Yakuza Wolf: Extend My Condolences (狼やくざ 葬いは俺が出す) (Japan, 1972) Amazon - 3/5
A cop turned yakuza (Mikio Narita) turns on Sonny Chiba, cheating him out of a heist, killing his partner and getting him sent to jail. There he meets Tatsuya Fuji, who can hold his own in a fight and they become friends. The yakuza have them released from prison so they can assassinate them, but Ryôhei Uchida saves them. They plan their revenge against the yakuza, but things get complicated when Chiba’s ex-girlfriend (Reiko Ike) gets caught in the middle. It seems Mikio Narita has been using her for his own needs as a club singer/girlfriend. She has a cool poster of the band Santana in her dressing room.

And initially failing in their first attempt. Chiba and Fuji recruit some underworld help - one of which is Fuji’s ex-partner Tsunehiko Watase. There’s an interesting humor in this movie, showcased by the introduction of this character - Chiba, in sizing him up, pries his mouth open and says, “Good teeth…”, then turns him around and slaps his butt and say, “Good muscles…”, at which point Watase punches him. Chiba jumps back up with a smile. “And your punch is good too!”

Jirô Yabuki (Sonny’s real life younger brother) and Shinzô Hotta (both who’d go on to be in tokusatsu superhero series work) round out the team of five. The finale is a little bit unsatisfying, but Chiba carries the movie enough to make it worth seeing.

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

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Female Yakuza Tale: Inquisition and Torture (やさぐれ姐御伝 総括リンチ) (Japan, 1973) Discotek Blu Ray 3.5/5
Directed by Teruo Ishii
As a sequel to Sex and Fury its... good in a different way. I couldn't take my eyes off of this. It's funny, it's violent, it's sexy, it's shocking, its bizarre, ...

Three middlemen are skimming heroin from the Ogi Clan's boss, all of whom are using women's vaginas as a way to smuggle it. Just that sentence there has so much MORE to it than what I've written... into this comes Reiko Ike, again as Ocho,who gets drugged, sexually assaulted and left for dead as soon as she gets to town... that's AFTER she gets naked in the opening credits, in a blood rain sword dance with multiple assailants.

A LOT happens in between that and the ending - too much to go into detail, but the finale features Reiko, Ryôhei Uchida and the Yoshimi of Christ (Makoto Aikawa - doing her best Meiko Kaji Scorpion act), the Lady Boss, and 20 Naked Girls all descending on the bad guys... it is a spectacle to be seen...

It's pure exploitation, sure, but done as close to art as possible.

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

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Forbidden City Cop (HK, 1996): 3.5/5

What would a Bond style hero be like in Ancient China? Silly fun :D
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Heroes Shed No Tears (HK, 1986): 3.5/5

War actioner from John Woo, not seen this in ages. it's quite dark and occasionally brutal :( The 88 Films release looks very good.
I read that some scenes of nudity and drug use weren't shot by Woo - but who did those scenes?
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Women’s Police: Appointment with Danger (女の警察 国際線待合室) (Japan, 1970) [TV] – 2/5
Part 3. A marginally better sequel with Yuji Tanno replacing Mio Ezaki as the director. This is not much different from the dull part 2, except for the entertaining last reel which features Kobayashi and Eiji Go kicking some gangster ass. What precedes it is the usual uninspired fare, with Kobayshi investigating the case of a kidnapped hostess in the surprisingly dull (and cinematically unexploitative) if good looking nightlife world.

New Brotherhood's Honor and Humanity (新兄弟仁義) (Japan, 1970) [TV] – 3/5
A partial reboot with Bunta Sugawara taking over the lead role. Kitajima is still on board as a supporting player. Righteous Sugawara is one of boss Ichiro Sugai’s lieutenants, who goes to prison for taking out a rival boss. His hopes of washing his feet (or going straight, as normal people would put it) go up in smoke when upon returning he is awarded the successor’s role by the elderly oyabun, much to the dismay of the boss’ corrupt son and other lieutenants Toru Abe and Nenji Kobayashi. Unsurprisingly, the three bad eggs start plotting Sugawara’s downfall. This is a pretty good ninkyo film, but it feels a little out of place in this series without Kitajima in the lead or the excessive male bonding of the early films. There may be a very logical explanation to this: unlike the previous films which were original scripts, this is actually an adaptation of a Shinji Fujiwara novel. The resulting film is pretty solid, and lacks bigger mishaps like dumb comedy, but it’s also void of true highlights. For a genre fanatic there is some fun to be had from seeing Sugawara as a very mind mannered ninkyo protagonist. Although it wasn’t by any means his only appearance or even only lead role in a ninkyo film, he was nevertheless being aggressively branded as “modern yakuza” by Toei’s marketing department ever since his first Toei lead role in 1969, and this role is quite the opposite of that.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Rashomon (Japan, 1950) - 4.25/5

Not seen this for a long time - whose story was the real true version? It's filmed in an interesting way that I can't be sure...
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Uzuku bijin tsuma: Shujin no inu ma ni (疼く美人妻 主人の居ぬ間に…) (Japan, 2001) [TV] – 2.5/5
A suicidal homeless man assumes a dead doppelganger’s identity, and to his own surprise is greeted with open arms by the latter’s wife. He eventually begins to suspect his own existence. Shinji Imaoka’s pink film about disconnected people. Interesting premise, but like many pink films of its kind it doesn’t quite feel fully realized. It does have its merits however, from interesting thematics to unusual opening (how many pink films start with the main character trying to kill himself?) and leading lady Mayumi Sawaki’s figure. Reviewed here is the R-15 version of the film, which may but is unlikely to differ substantially from the theatrical R-18 release which went under the title Nureru bijin tsuma: Hamerareta onna. Neither version seems to have an English title.

Angry Cobra: Kill the Witness (怒れ毒蛇 目撃者を消せ) (Japan, 1974) [35mm] – 3/5
Frequent Shaw Bros. collaborator Umetsugu Inoue was in the right place at the right time with this cop / karate actioner, which reached the theatres just two weeks after The Street Fighter had initiated the domestic karate film boom. It’s not anywhere near as great, but it is an entertaining b-class affair on its own. Former Daiei star and university karate alumni Jiro Tamiya stars as karate-skilled Dirty Harry assigned to protect a witness. What follows is a sloppily written detective tale with karate, car chases, bare breasts, and some wonderfully hammy dialogue ("You're not human. You're... you're a cobra!). Tamiya's martial arts form seems a bit off, but his kicks and punches actually look powerful, which makes it a lot of fun to watch. There's also occasional creativity to the action, such as a major martial arts sequence set on top of a snowy mountain, a villain with a blade arm, and a climax set in a hospital. Now, as mentioned Inoue spent much of his late 60s and early 70s helming films at the Shaw Brothers. However, he wasn't making action pictures but mainly musicals. And here he is back in Japan at the venerable Shochiku studios who excelled at many things, but not necessarily at modern action (Teruo Ishii has been quite vocal about this). So the time and place might have been right, but the studio and genre knowledge perhaps a bit off, explaining some of the evident but amusing sloppiness. For a more serious and karate-free take on similar topic, see Toho’s Wild Cop films (1973) with Tetsuya Watari.

P.S. There’s an English dubbed VHS print on YouTube. On a quick glance, it seems to be missing all the nude scenes from the Japanese version. It also runs 5 minutes shorter, though that might be mainly due to PAL conversion.

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

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The first film you looked at reminded me of The Face of Another (1965) where a disfigured man gets a new face and winds up seducing his own (?) wife.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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grim_tales wrote: 25 Feb 2023, 19:32 The first film you looked at reminded me of The Face of Another (1965) where a disfigured man gets a new face and winds up seducing his own (?) wife.
I haven't seen that one, but sounds interesting.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Seeding of a Ghost (Hong Kong, 1983) [BD] – 3.5/5
A slightly out of ordinary premise in this Shaw Bros. horror as it has the protagonist using black magic against adulterers and criminals rather than the other way around. This is a solid entry though it doesn’t reach heights of Bewitched or The Boxer’s Omen, or the prominent smaller studio output like Centipede Horror or Red Spell Spells Red, partly because the Hong Kong setting lacks their exotism. It is also a bit mediocre in terms of directing and editing, though it doesn’t matter too much in the end. Where this delivers is the special effects, gore, concept, and abundant bare skin. The climatic black magic ceremony, which among other things includes a rotten corpse having sex with a fresh corpse, may have the biggest gross-out factor of any of the films mentioned above. It’s another lovely relic of a bygone era to be cherished as these type of films are surely never to return again.

Chivalrous Woman: I Request Shelter (女渡世人 おたの申します) (Japan, 1971) [35mm] – 4.5/5
Kosaku Yamashita's late ninkyo masterpiece strips the genre of its trademark romanticism and leaves its characters emotionally drained. Junko Fuji plays a female gambler who travels to another town to deliver a fellow gambler's ashes to his parents - and to collect the dead man's debt from them. The father is a noble man looking after townspeople and his blind wife. They are quick to catch who Fuji really is, and that how she's directly related to their son's death (he was killed after losing to Fuji and drawing his sword in desperation), but they treat her with utmost politeness as per etiquette. Fuji sympathises with them and attempts to help the best she can against the local yakuza, however, her every attempt at doing something good results in the opposite. There's a great scene where she helps the local women by kicking some yakuza ass, but to her surprise the mindless violence she just displayed isn't met with admiration but disgust and distrust. "The yakuza are like flowers that bloom in the shadows. Try it in daylight and you will only bring misery to yourself" says honourable companion Bunta Sugawara to crying Fuji. Fuji probably delivers her best acting performance here, especially evident in the many quieter scenes where she goes through emotional despair unseen in any other ninkyo film. Kyosuke Machida is another standout as a gray area companion who might be friend or foe, as is nearly unrecognizable sex starlet Yoko Mihara as prejudiced villager. The film's only weaknesses are some unnecessary comic relief in the beginning, and a rather abrupt jump cut near the end where Yamashita probably tried to break away from genre conventions but didn’t quite nail it.

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

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E-Cup Real Action Take Two: Rich & Ripe (鍵のある風景 Eカップ豊熟) (Japan, 1989) [TV] – 2/5
Late 80s existential pink cinema with a bit of auteur touch by Toshiki Sato, one of the Four Heavenly Kings of Pink. He’s here working on his only second film, but already dealing with the same human relationship themes and societal focus that would be found in many of his later films. Unfortunately the film doesn’t have quite enough storyline to carry over the excessive sex scenes, despite interesting thematic and some inspired moments like the opening and closing shots. The E-cup breasts promised in the title admittedly deliver. “Landscape with a Key” was Sato’s original title for the film, but that obviously got changed for something more commercial by the studio. Reviewed here is the R-15 version Kagi no aru fukei: E-kappu hojuku, which doesn’t seem to have an English title and which may, but is unlikely to, differ substantially from the original theatrical R-18 version.

Brotherhood's Honor and Humanity: Chivalry (関東兄弟仁義 仁俠) (Japan, 1971) [TV] – 3/5
Part 9. This movie basically pretends the previous entry never happened by dropping the “Shin / New” from its title and reinstating Saburo Kitajima in the lead role. However, the film still feels a little different from the older entries. Kitajima is a quieter, more cynical and almost blood-thirsty hero who takes a long time to come to realize that his foe Kyosuke Machida isn’t actually a bad man. Machida, who gets the film’s meatiest role, plays a dishonest gambler whose conman tactics are actually a way to feed a child and a mother whose father/husband he killed in front of their eyes several years earlier. The film benefits from a solid script by Koji Takada (his only for the series) and plenty of gambling (oddly enough, this not a given in many gambler films), even if director Buichi Saito doesn’t have the style and characterization skills of Kosaku Yamashita. It makes for a pretty satisfying ending for what is, perhaps surprisingly, one of Toei’s most consistently good yakuza film series. Oh and as a side note, here we finally have it, a Toei ninkyo film that put the word “ninkyo” into its title (Kanto kyodai jingi: Ninkyo).

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(yes, I accidentally attached these screencaps to part 8 a few post earlier. Fixed now.)
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HungFist wrote: 07 Mar 2023, 16:26Reviewed here is the R-15 version Kagi no aru fukei: E-kappu hojuku, which doesn’t seem to have an English title and which may, but is unlikely to, differ substantially from the original theatrical R-18 version.
What's the running time of the TV broadcast version? The one on FANZA runs 59:44.

I completely slept on Toshiki Sato for the longest time (while obsessing about the other Sato) and have only last year started to dive into his filmography. I should probably type up some reviews sometime.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Guro Taku wrote: 11 Mar 2023, 09:51
HungFist wrote: 07 Mar 2023, 16:26Reviewed here is the R-15 version Kagi no aru fukei: E-kappu hojuku, which doesn’t seem to have an English title and which may, but is unlikely to, differ substantially from the original theatrical R-18 version.
What's the running time of the TV broadcast version? The one on FANZA runs 59:44.

I completely slept on Toshiki Sato for the longest time (while obsessing about the other Sato) and have only last year started to dive into his filmography. I should probably type up some reviews sometime.
Reviews would be most welcome!

I already deleted my recording of this one, but there didn't seem to be any difference in the running time. At least not in minutes. Any cuts would have to be in seconds. I forgot if there was any mosaic.

If I remember, I can record it again next time just to check the exact running time.

This and several others are airing on Nihon eiga senmon channel's Momoiro Cinema slot. I probably missed a few since I ignored the program for a long time but I started catching up now. Most of what I've seen so far have neither mosaic, nor any other censorship that you could instantly spot. So I'm actually not bothered by them being R15 version since I can't even figure out what's been censored. I wonder if it could be something like sound effects, or perhaps re-framing...
https://www.nihon-eiga.com/osusume/momoiro-cinema/
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HungFist wrote: 11 Mar 2023, 14:20Reviews would be most welcome!
I'll see if I can overcome my general laziness in that regard. Having finally exhausted all available films by Hisayasu Sato and realizing that I'm unlikely to bully either Nikkatsu or Toei into releasing what's missing, I decided to give the other 3 Heavenly Kings a shot and definitely discovered some gems on that journey. It might also be cathartic to shit on some truly awful mainstream flicks I was unfortunate enough to sit thorough late last year.
HungFist wrote: 11 Mar 2023, 14:20This and several others are airing on Nihon eiga senmon channel's Momoiro Cinema slot. I probably missed a few since I ignored the program for a long time but I started catching up now. Most of what I've seen so far have neither mosaic, nor any other censorship that you could instantly spot. So I'm actually not bothered by them being R15 version since I can't even figure out what's been censored. I wonder if it could be something like sound effects, or perhaps re-framing...
https://www.nihon-eiga.com/osusume/momoiro-cinema/
They list the film at 59 minutes so it's probably identical to what's on FANZA. Except that this looks to have been given a HD remaster, which is always nice to see for such niche titles. We're still stuck with 30 year old VHS quality transfers for so many of these films, and that is if we're lucky enough to have any sort of access to them at all. From my experience, additional optical censorship (fogging/pixelation) is much more likely with these R-15 TV versions than any outright cuts. The only film I can think of that was definitely cut was Takahisa Zeze's amazing debut work Extracurricular Activity: Rape! (課外授業 暴行), which runs about 3 minutes longer on its DVD release from UPLINK than it does on either the recent R-15 TV broadcast or the ancient FANZA/DMM VOD file. All the cuts are during sex scenes but since none of the cut stuff is in any way more explicit or "worse" than what remains, my personal guess is that these cuts were made to trim the film down to 60 minutes, whereas the uncut DVD version runs 63 minutes.
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A Cheerful Yakuza (愉快な極道) (Japan, 1976) [Streaming] – 2/5
A loose follow-up to Tomisaburo Wakayama's popular but not particularly good action comedy series “Scoundrel”. This was a theatrical release, but feels more like a television film which may have been a symptom of the era: by 1976 the days of no holds barred genre films were starting to be over. Perhaps most baffling is that this isn't really a yakuza film at all, but instead a humoristic human relationship drama about taxi driver Wakayama whose daughter is about to get married. It is said Toei president Shigeru Okada was trying to go after the success of Shochiku’s Tora-san series, and this film was the result. It’s not until halfway into the film that Renji Ishibashi walks into the picture as blackmailing yakuza scum and introduces a bit of conflict leading up to an action scene near the end. And there lies another key point: “near the end”! The film does not end after that action set piece, like any 60s Scoundrel film would, but instead goes on for another 10 full minutes with family drama. Now, the most insane thing about the film was its release: it seems to have premiered as part of a triple bill with Female Ninjas: In Bed With the Enemy and Virgin Breaker Yuki II: Western Licensed District making a completely mad mix one coffee table drama and two adult films into a triple bill that no one under the age of 18 could see.

Lascivious Nurse Uniform Diary: Two or Three Times, While I'm Wet (白衣の告白 新人看護師日記) (Japan, 1997)[TV] – 4/5
Mitsuru Meike's absolutely delightful theatrical debut film is 90s Japanese micro-philosophical indie drama at its near-best, hidden under a completely ridiculous pink film title. The film follows lone, limping nurse Mariko Yoshioka who has little interest in men until he meets a geeky movie sound recorder guy (sort of like John Travolta in Blow Out, except less cool and instead of capturing an accident on tape he himself stumbles over a bridge railing and breaks his leg). What ensues is a cute semi-romance that constantly steers away from pink clichés. There's a scene, for instance, where the guy shows up in front of her house at night and sees her dancing (fully clothed) in her room. But instead of barging in and ripping her clothes off, he just starts dancing on the street alone (very badly, I might add). When she finally notices him and invites him in, he misunderstands and leaves like a gentleman. There are several more charming little scenes showing the heroine doing her everyday things, often accompanied by narrator voice. The storyline isn't the only thing this film excels at, though. The music is at times wonderfully off-beat, the movie looks beautifully filmic and grainy, and it's damn well edited. The cast is also good, there's no sex in hospital, and the ending is the biggest feel-good send-off I've seen in a long, long time. On the negative side the film cannot escape some excess sex, but thankfully even those scenes are very tolerable and unsleazy.

Reviewed here is the R-15 version Hakui no kokuhaku: Shinjin kangoshi nikki, which doesn’t seem to have an English title and which may, but is unlikely to, differ substantially from the original theatrical R-18 version Hakui inran nikki: Nureta mama nido, sando. There is no mosaic or noticeable cuts that I could spot, but some sex scenes may have been re-framed.

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

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Everything Everywhere All at Once (USA, 2021): 4.25/5

In a different universe ( ;) ) what could have been a straight worthy drama movie about a dysfuctional, broken family is given a wacky entertaining sci-fi twist. I enjoyed it :D
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I'm glad Michelle got her oscar but wow that film was shite. Barely finished it.
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saltysam wrote: 14 Mar 2023, 21:34 I'm glad Michelle got her oscar but wow that film was shite. Barely finished it.
I caught the first 25 minutes of it during a flight, but it was so annoying I turned it off and watched something else instead.
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Biyoshi no koi (美容師の恋) (Japan, 1998) [TV] – 3/5
Mitsuru Meike’s 2nd theatrical pink film isn’t quite as charming as his 1st, but it’s still a quirky relationship drama with solid acting and several uplifting scenes. The unusual premise sees a socially inept fireman (Yoji Tanaka) save two drunken one-night lovers (Yumeka Sasaki and Yota Kawase) from a burning love hotel. The fireman falls in love with the girl, who has no memory whatsoever of the night or her hotel partner. The guy on the other hand tries to track her down and contacts the fireman, leading to an unexpected friendship, only the fireman can’t tell him he knows the girl since he doesn’t want to break up with her. Compared to Meike’s previous film, this movie has more sex and a less cute female cast, but it’s still a somewhat heartfelt film where you genuinely care for the characters. It’s worth noting leading actors Tanaka and Kawase would both go on to extremely prolific mainstream careers, while Sasaki would remain an in-demand pink actress for directors who needed someone who could actually act. Reviewed here is the R15 version Biyoshi no koi, which doesn’t seem to have an English title and which may, but is unlikely to, differ substantially from the original theatrical R-18 version Gushonure biyoshi: Sukebena kahanshin. There are no noticeable cuts, though I did spot two subtle instances of blurring which may or may not already have been in the R18-version.

Delinquent Boss: Blues in Prison (不良番長 練鑑ブルース) (Japan, 1969) [Streaming] – 3/5
Part 3 in Toei’s long running biker gang comedy series that produced 16+1 films. There's a common misconception that these films are hard-boiled exploitation movies. The series started that way, but soon descended to farcical comedy. Most of the sequels were nothing more than a string of astonishingly childish comedy sketches followed by one action scene at the end. There were a couple of more serious films in between, however, such as this one. What this entry does fairly well is depicting a lower echelon gang in the dog-eat-dog underworld. Tatsuo Tatsuo Umemiya’s Capone gang is against Hirohisa Nakata’s rival biker gang, both small-timers inhabiting the same Shinjuku area. This is not left unnoticed by a bigger and far more rotten yakuza gang lead Asao Uchida, who has the smaller street gangs compete for job gigs from the big gang, which they do no matter how demeaning it may be. That aside, this is a light, but fast moving and entertaining gang tale with decent performances. There’s some good brotherly character interaction between Umemiya and guest star Bunta Sugawara, all the way to an unexpectedly ninkyo-like ending that however comes with a fun modern twist. Another highlight is Hayato Tani and biker chick Tamami Natsu’s cross-gang Romeo & Juliet sub-plot. And then there’s a rather amusing segment with the boys managing a gentlemen’s gambling den for foreigners (who all speak decent Japanese, for once!). Good stuff! This would be an even better film if not for the slow start filled with lame comedy. Oh, and he title is misleading: there are no prison scenes in the film.

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

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Delinquent Boss: Wolf Escort (不良番長 送り狼) (Japan, 1969) [Streaming] – 2/5
Part 4. It would be incorrect to say that this is where things started to go wrong for this series (after all, the abysmal part 2 had already been made), but there are a number of unfortunate firsts to be found in this entry. Toei's former assistant director Makoto Naito (also AD in part 1) takes over from Yukio Noda and opens the film with silly, nonsensical comedy routines that have nothing to do with the biker gang premise. This is something that would become increasingly common later on in the series. The little plot this film has deals with the boys running escort services and other night life ventures, a theme that Naito would revisit in several other (mostly poor) films with Umemiya. Now, there are a couple of genuine highlights in the film, including Umemiya grabbing a mic and performing at a club, and a decent machine gun action finale that makes it all feel at least somewhat worth it. But a good film this is not.

Hitozuma boutique: Joji o tanoshimu onnatachi (人妻ブティック 情事を楽しむ女たち) (Japan, 2002) [TV] – 3.5/5
Director Osamu Sato's debut film. This could've been another pink film to be dismissed and ticked off the list after the first 15 minutes, but instead it ended up being an almost thoroughly engaging affair. The film follows a young working wife (lovely Mayumi Sawaki) who married a monster suit actor (think of small size Godzilla) who lost his working ability soon after marriage and she now has to support the two of them by herself. She's also got a younger bed partner, though she hasn't stopped loving the slacker husband either. There are some terrific scenes in this one, particularly those detailing the pre-marriage romance between her and the man in the monster suit, as well as a solid enough present day narrative that you’ll want to stay till the end to see what happens to these two people. The best scene comes near the end, an absolutely wonderful rainy day encounter that echoes of 1990s Takeshi Kitano magic, and also features Sawaki delivering the most heartfelt bit of acting that you’d never expect from an AV performer gone soft core actress. Of course the film also has some supporting character sex thrown in to meet the shagging quota, but it's handled with a light and humoristic touch that makes it less intrusive than usual. Reviewed here is the R15 version Hitozuma boutique: Joji on tanoshimu onnatachi, which doesn’t seem to have an English title and which may, but is unlikely to, differ substantially from the original theatrical R-18 version Hitozuma boutique: Furinna mashitagi. There is no mosaic or noticeable cuts that I could spot.

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

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The Mole Song: FINAL (土竜の唄 FINAL) (Japan, 2021) [DCP] - 1.5/5
Takashi Miike's wholly unnecessary third film in what somehow became a trilogy. I actually kind of enjoyed the second entry in the series, so that's how I ended up in a screening for this one. Terrible idea, even if the film starts somewhat entertainingly with lead Reiji (Toma Ikuta) getting his junk pecked at by seagulls after having been caught by the Italian mafia. It's just a shame about the following two hours, which sees the writers magically bring back literally everyone who died in the last two films for rematches in a story that's about drugs being smuggled into Japan in the disguise of noodles. In case that last bit wasn't indication enough, the slightly darker tone of the second film is completely gone, replaced by two hours worth of grade school level "humor". The final showdown, which features the villain riding a giant manta ray into battle is again somewhat entertaining but after everything that preceded it it's too little too late.
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