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

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

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Wife in Mourning: Pubic-Shaved Rope Slave (喪服妻と縄 そっと剃って!) (Japan, 1993) [VOD] - 3/5
Kazumi (Noriko Akikawa) is working as an escort and specializes in roleplay. One of her regular clients claims his wife killed herself because she couldn't deal with his sadistic tendencies. He thinks he's found a soulmate of sorts in Kazumi because she claims that she lost a baby four months into a pregnancy during an S&M session. That's not exactly the whole truth, though. The viewer is kept in the dark for a while which of the seriously damaged characters is telling the truth and who isn't. It's a seriously downbeat film that you need to be in the right mood for. The only minor levity comes from Rio Serizawa's character, a schoolgirl working for the same escort service as Kazumi, and who once correctly refers to Kazumi as a "gloomy bitch". :lol:

This film is currently available from two different streaming sites. I originally watched it on DUGA several years ago and it wasn't until Xces Film put it up on their in-house VOD site (the source for all my recent Sato reviews, since most of these films were completely unavailable until recently) that I realized that the DUGA version is actually cut! It's missing the Xces Film company credit at the beginning and a whopping 2 minutes from the end, including the film's final scene! Sheer incompetence or some odd attempt at getting away with bootlegging? I asked Xces Film and they seem to be as confused about the whole thing as I am.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Hitozuma kyofu: Jigoku doro (人妻恐怖・地獄道路) (Japan, 1973) [TV] – 2/5
“Housewife’s Horror: Hell Road”. This is another 45 minute TV film in Toei and MBS TV's Suspense Series. Sonny Chiba and Etsuko Shihomi's karate packed Kazuo Koike manga adaptation Modern Witch Tale: Murderous Love premiered in the same series 2 weeks later. This one, helmed by Yasuo Furuhata, is a lot less exciting. Housewife Yoko Nogiwa and her annoying kid are taken as hostage by criminals Rinichi Yamamoto and Nobuo Yana while her husband Tadao Nakamaru is banging another woman. Routine and clichéd all the way to the ultra-conservative ending that tells us women should be grateful to their husbands, even if they are having harmless little affairs while their family gets kidnapped.

Attack (斬り込み) (Japan, 1970) [VoD] – 3/5
Yukihiro Sawada's directorial debut. This is as much a youth film as a yakuza picture. Tatsuya Fuji leads a pack of frustrated youngsters of the Kawasaki Goda gang, whose turf is being invaded by a union of rotten old yakuza bastards, the Kanto Federation. The boys can't stand still while their gang is being humiliated, and it soon escalates into bloodshed. Chris D. praised this film as one of the finest yakuza pictures. I don't think it's quite that good, with plenty of roughness around the edges and poignant scenes followed by routine bits. But it's certainly good, and perfectly evidences the difference to Toei's old fashioned ninkyo films. There are scenes like the one where the boys abuse an innocent girl in turns due to peer pressure that wouldn’t appear in ninkyo films, and in fact their entire quarrel with the enemy seems to spring more from frustration in their own lives and doomed futures than preserving any old fashioned codes of honour. Note that the first billed Tetsuya Watari is actually a supporting character who only becomes a major character near the end.

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

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Police Department Story 13 (警視庁物語 血液型の秘密) (Japan, 1960) [TV] – 2/5
An exceptionally talkative entry with a nasty premise: a mother and a baby are found lying dead on a sidewalk. Relative newcomer director Masuichi Iitzuka (he also helmed part 12, which was one of his first film on a career that did not last long) fails to pump much energy into the film, though it’s decently written and the bittersweet climax is quite good.

* I skipped part 12 since I’ve seen and reviewed it before.

The Monster Bus (ころがし涼太 激突!モンスターバス) (Japan, 1988) [VoD] – 2.5/5
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.

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

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The Bondage (ザ・緊縛) (Japan, 1984) [VOD] - 3/5
A Yojiro Takita film with a script by Shiro Yumeno and Hisayasu Sato as assistant director that concerns the adventures of a taxi driver, who discovers a key in the broken-off heel of a shoe one of his clients leaves behind one night. That key leads him to a coin locker and a videotape of a woman undergoing some rough S&M play. As he investigates further, he discovers a yakuza gang that gets women hooked on LSD (!) and stages S&M shows for paying customers. Not Yumeno's best script but I'm always down for these noirish stories of someone investigating a sordid underworld. Kind of reminded me of Takashi Ishii's work. I mean, if you changed the names of the leads to Muraki and Nami you'd be mostly there. Some nice shots as well and the print looked great, definitely not a VHS era master but a recent one, most likely even HD. The R15 on the print probably means this was on TV somewhere first and I suspect some additional fogging may have been applied to some of the sex/bondage scenes. No way to be sure, unless I track down the ancient VHS release, though.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Female Prisoners: Brutal Treatment (女囚残酷私刑) (Japan, 1984) [VHS] - 3/5
Shuji Kataoka, clearly a director who loves the action genre, directed a lot of pink films where he just managed to squeeze in a single scene of that sort. He must have had a blast directing this film, then, because it's pretty much a 50:50 mix. The plot is quite simple and concerns a yakuza clan member who tries to pressure the police into finding and handing him a rival gang boss so he can avenge his own boss's assassination. His questionable methods include tying up a woman in an apartment building with a plastic explosive/vibrator device and eventually hijacking a police vehicle that's transporting the titular female convicts. There's just as many car chases and shoot-outs in this film as there are sex scenes, which makes for an entertaining mix.

By the way, if you look this film up anywhere online, you will find a plot summary and cast info that originates from Thomas Weisser's Japanese Cinema Encyclopedia: The Sex Films and which goes like this:
Dirty Mary matches wits with a psycho killer who eventually hijacks a female prisoner transport bus. While the madman terrorizes the inmates, Dirty Mary and Yukijiro figure out a way to stop his reign of terror.
Of course there is no character called "Dirty Mary" in this film, with Usagi Aso actually playing a character introduced as "Detective Tate". There is also no character called "Yukijiro", though there is an actor named Yukijiro Hotaru, who plays a character called Inspector Kazama. That there is no "psycho killer" either should be obvious from what I wrote above. The only thing Weisser got right is that someone terrorizes inmates on a bus. Everything else is made-up bullshit. Not the first time he's made up plots and character names for his "reviews", obviously, since almost all the erroneous information about Japanese pink films on the internet can be traced to his abominable publication. The worst thing is that I've come to find it impossible to correct any of those errors after actually watching the films. If you correct a wikipedia article, someone will change it right back. If you contact IMDB, they will ignore you. Because obviously a print source must be irrefutable truth.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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I've seen a few of Kataoka's films and I always enjoyed the action aspect most. The first Subway Serial Rape had some nice "Charles Bronson touch" and the 4th one is a fine media satire. I do recall parts 2&3 sucking, though.
Guro Taku wrote: 08 Dec 2021, 12:42 Of course there is no character called "Dirty Mary" in this film, with Usagi Aso actually playing a character introduced as "Detective Tate". There is also no character called "Yukijiro", though there is an actor named Yukijiro Hotaru, who plays a character called Inspector Kazama. That there is no "psycho killer" either should be obvious from what I wrote above. The only thing Weisser got right is that someone terrorizes inmates on a bus. Everything else is made-up bullshit. Not the first time he's made up plots and character names for his "reviews", obviously, since almost all the erroneous information about Japanese pink films on the internet can be traced to his abominable publication. The worst thing is that I've come to find it impossible to correct any of those errors after actually watching the films. If you correct a wikipedia article, someone will change it right back. If you contact IMDB, they will ignore you. Because obviously a print source must be irrefutable truth.
This has annoyed me for years. The amount of made-up crap in that book is unbelievable. Here's an example I once wrote down:

Afternoon Affair: Metamorphosis (1973)
"Jun (Akira Takahashi) works as a delivery boy for a flower shop."
- Jun is played by Morio Kazama, not Akira Takahashi.

"He's secretly infatuated with a store salesgirl named Ryoko (Miyoko Aoyama)."
- Ryoko works for a company, she's not a salesgirl.

" At night, she secretly works as a prostitute to support her young child."
- She doesn't have children.

"The incensed young boy tells everyone at work about Ryoko's outside activities. "
- The boy doesn't tell anyone.

"She ' s fired from the job."
- She isn't fired from the job.

"And when her fiance hears the truth about his angelic bride-to-be, he cancels the wedding ."
- No wedding is cancelled.'

It's common his reviews have more errors than sentences!

There's also stuff like claiming Yuya Uchida plays the lead role in Red Violation (in reality he has a 60 second cameo in the film), giving movies fake titles (he added quite a few films into the Angel Guts series by making up new Japanese titles for unrelated films), or claiming Yoko Hatanaka was a popular singer in the early 70s and had a big hit with Ushiro kara, mae kara in 1974 before turning to Roman Porno in the 80s (in reality she didn't debut as a singer until 1978 and release the song in 1980... hell, she was still in elementary school in the early 70s)...
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Maybe we should start a website called "weisseriswrong.com" and fact-check his reviews one by one. :lol:
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Kanto Fight Challenge (関東果たし状) (Japan, 1965) [TV] – 2/5
Talkative, rather uneventful fourth entry in the Kanto series. The first 4 of the 5 films came out in 1965, making it one of the notable early works in the ninkyo genre. But you might argue the films were quite simplistic compared to some of the later, better pictures that had a more interesting obligation vs. humanity conflict in their core. This film goes some way in the right direction, with honourable clansman Tsuruta's closest friend Hiroyuki Nagato working for another gang under an evil oyabun. But not much comes out of it. Other highlights include blinded-by-dynamite Junko Fuji spending half of her scenes in black sunglasses and looking cool and ridiculous at the same time, and a dynamite packed clan-war action finale.

Flakes of Snow (ひとひらの雪) (Japan, 1985) [TV] – 3/5
Another Kichitaro Negishi x Haruhiko Arai collaboration. This is a high brow Toei literature film, an adult audience production, and a women’s film all in one, originally meant to be brought to the screen by Kinji Fukasaku and Keiko Matsuzaka before they abandoned the project. What it really amounts to is a more tolerable than usual piece of 80s greyness. A divorcing, middle aged architect (Masahiko Tsugawa) takes turns banging his semi-lolita secretary (Naomi Oki) and a noble lady ex (Kumiko Akiyoshi) while none of them seem to be having a clear idea where their lives are heading. It’s all meant to say something profound about… lives that have little profound or cinematic about them. The very essence of 80s Japanese cinema that is! This remains moderately interesting nevertheless, thanks to the Arai x Negishi pairing. But one feels they were limited by the topic matter and source material (a Junichi Watanabe novel). Negishi in particular was at his best depicting the dysfunctional youth; his films about the corporate type adults lacked the same spark. The Japanese audience and critics disagreed: the film was a financial and critical success, particularly among women.

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

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Revolver (リボルバー) (Japan, 1988) [TV] - 3/5
Toshiya Fujita's last film. A lazy-ass Kyushu cop (Kenji Sawada) loses his gun to a thieving salaryman head-butted by love life, triggering a chain reaction where the gun travels from one character to another and causes misery. But you'll have to wait 35 minutes for the gun even to go missing, and twice as long before most of the film's nearly dozen main characters (a troubled schoolboy and his non-girlfriend, a bar girl with a violent friend from the past, a duo of slacking gamblers etc.) meet in a Sapporo set climax. Also, having been made in the 80s, when action was frowned upon and non-eventful character drama celebrated in Japanese cinema, the missing gun ends up playing secondary role to all the human relationship sub-plots. The good news is that Fujita handles it better than most, keeping the viewer moderately interested in the drama, without forgetting to include dry humour, casual sex, nudity, and one brutal rape, all served in 80s mainstream film wrapping.

The Shogun Assassins (真田幸村の謀略) (Japan, 1979) [TV] – 3.5/5
Aka Renegade Ninjas. Sadao Nakajima's grand telling of Yukimura Sanada and his ninja troops taking a stance against shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in the turbulent early years of the Tokugawa shogunate, climaxing in the famous battle of the Osaka castle. To be honest, among historical epics this is a bit on the goofy side (the film opens in outer space, and there's a giant SFX comet!) yet very entertaining (the film opens in outer space, and there's a giant SFX comet!). The film's base is only partly historical, since Sanada's ninjas (including Sasuke Sarutobi) for example have their basis more in legends than in confirmed history, something very much acknowledged by the film with its comic book character introduction screens. And let us not forget there’s also ninja magic, ninja nuns, and boobs (also ninja nun boobs). Hiroki Matsukata leads the cast, Hiroyuki Sanada plays one of the fighters, but it is Kinnosuke Nakamura who is having an obvious blast playing Ieyasu at his most evil. The film could be considered a middle entry is Toei's jidai geki comeback that started serious with Fukasaku's Yagyu Conspiracy and Ako Castle (both 1978) but later went ninja football (Shadow Warriors, 1980).

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

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Memories of You (ラブ・ストーリーを君に) (Japan, 1988) [TV] – 2/5
A sappy idol film with a terminally ill 14 year old (cute Kumiko Goto) spending one last summer with her ex-tutor (heart-throb Toru Nakamura) she has a crush on. "A Love Story for You" reads the Japanese title, which pretty much summarizes it. Love, nostalgia and tears has been the formula for box office success in Japan for decades. But cinematically, one would expect more from director Shinichiro Sawai, whose earlier works include the excellent Tragedy of W with Hiroko Yakushimaru at Kadokawa. This film was made at Toei. But it's not just the studio that is different here: Tragedy of W was written by nihilist/misogynist/screenwriter extraordinaire Haruhiko Arai, while this obviously wasn't (Shoichi Maruyama is the guilty party). While it doesn’t quite descend to the deepest melodrama gutters, there really isn’t much going for it other than pretty landscapes and decent leading performances.

Four Seasons: Natsuko (四季 奈津子) (Japan, 1980) [TV] – 3/5
Lively, if slightly pretentious slice of life drama with blue collar Kyushu girl Setsuko Karasuma taking a Tokyo photographer's offer to appear in nude photos because, why not? She heads to the capital to start a new, more exciting life. There are some excellent scenes, such as the breezy relationship play between her and her boyfriend, as well as some relatively bland episodes, and an admiration of female nudity that very much smells of a man’s idea of art. Newcomer Karasuma was set to star in a Kinji Fukasaku / Yusaku Matsuda yakuza film after this, but she announced she'll have nothing to do with Toei from here on, feeling the studio had exploited her (boobs) in the film's marketing. It shouldn't have happened, but seeing her shred her clothes in the film, one can certainly understand why it did!

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

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Yagyu Chronicles 1: Secret Scrolls (柳生武芸帳) (Japan, 1961) [TV] - 3.5/5
A charmingly old fashioned samurai / ninja programmer with Jushiro Konoe as Yagyu Jubei. The famed swordsman must protect the clan’s secret scrolls that could compromise their position as the Shogun's martial arts instructor. Two other parties, an enemy clan wishing to overthrow the Yagyu, and a princess of a wrongfully accused clan travelling with loyal servant (Shingo Yamashiro in a non-comedy role) are after the scrolls. This was the first film in Toei's 9 part "Yagyu Scolls" series, preceded by two Toshiro Mifune Yagyu Scrolls films at Toho in the late 50s. It's nothing profound, but with lots of action, fast pacing, and thoroughly enjoyable performances, it does exactly what it sets out to. Very entertaining.

Tokyo Drifter 2: The Sea is Bright Red as the Color of Love (続東京流れ者 海は真っ赤な恋の色) (Japan, 1966) [TV] – 3.5/5
A surprisingly good sequel to the Seijun Suzuki classic. Nikkatsu’s youth film director Kenjiro Morinaga (of the excellent Youth a Go Go, 1966) takes helm and executes it as a more traditional Nikkatsu Mood Action. Watari plays the same character as in the original film. The opening sees him arriving in a harbour town, with a hitman on his tail. He’s come to meet an old buddy, and while waiting for him also crosses paths with local beauty Kazuko Tachibana, who likewise is waiting for someone. Watari is also offered shelter by old man Zenpei Saga, whose son is in trouble with bad guy Nobuo Kaneko and in love with cutie Chieko Matsubara. Watari of course chooses to get involved. This is a surprisingly entertaining film with 1st rate cinematography and art direction. The locale is particularly well captured. It is however missing Suzuki’s wilder pop art experimentation, and may not be what foreign audiences would expect from a Tokyo Drifter sequel. That is of course because Suzuki was something of an outlier in the genre, while this movie is a more traditional entry in the Nikkatsu Action line. It’s a shame none of the recent Blu-Ray releases of the Suzuki classic have bundled this with it.

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

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13 Steps Of Maki 3.5/5
Very short and enjoyable actioner,featuring girl gangs,yakuza,corrupt prison officers and dodgy rich businessmen. Sue Shiomi is the title character. Be a good acqusition for Arrow,this one.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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HungFist wrote: 02 Jan 2022, 14:35Tokyo Drifter 2: The Sea is Bright Red as the Color of Love (続東京流れ者 海は真っ赤な恋の色) (Japan, 1966) [TV] – 3.5/5
A surprisingly good sequel to the Seijun Suzuki classic. Nikkatsu’s youth film director Kenjiro Morinaga (of the excellent Youth a Go Go, 1966) takes helm and executes it as a more traditional Nikkatsu Mood Action. Watari plays the same character as in the original film. The opening sees him arriving in a harbour town, with a hitman on his tail. He’s come to meet an old buddy, and while waiting for him also crosses paths with local beauty Kazuko Tachibana, who likewise is waiting for someone. Watari is also offered shelter by old man Zenpei Saga, whose son is in trouble with bad guy Nobuo Kaneko and in love with cutie Chieko Matsubara. Watari of course chooses to get involved. This is a surprisingly entertaining film with 1st rate cinematography and art direction. The locale is particularly well captured. It is however missing Suzuki’s wilder pop art experimentation, and may not be what foreign audiences would expect from a Tokyo Drifter sequel. That is of course because Suzuki was something of an outlier in the genre, while this movie is a more traditional entry in the Nikkatsu Action line. It’s a shame none of the recent Blu-Ray releases of the Suzuki classic have bundled this with it.

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WTF how did I miss out on the information that the film had a sequel!?!?!?!?
saltysam wrote: 02 Jan 2022, 22:10 13 Steps Of Maki 3.5/5
Very short and enjoyable actioner,featuring girl gangs,yakuza,corrupt prison officers and dodgy rich businessmen. Sue Shiomi is the title character. Be a good acqusition for Arrow,this one.
I found a bit dissappointing after all the good press... i thought the fight choreographies were weak and the antagonists + henchmen very very uncharismatic and lacking character. The only thing i did enjoy was how girl power it was and how some of the dialogues reflected that and the fight at the strip club, nice use of a horizontal scrolling pan, a flat background and cheering crowds.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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loempiavreter wrote: 03 Jan 2022, 04:10 WTF how did I miss out on the information that the film had a sequel!?!?!?!?
Most people don't know it exists. I posted a bit more info and screencaps here:
viewtopic.php?t=3840&p=182373#p182373
saltysam wrote: 02 Jan 2022, 22:10 13 Steps Of Maki 3.5/5
Very short and enjoyable actioner,featuring girl gangs,yakuza,corrupt prison officers and dodgy rich businessmen. Sue Shiomi is the title character. Be a good acqusition for Arrow,this one.
I can never decide if this or Dragon Princess is my favourite Shihomi film. Both need a BD release. Both have new HD masters available.
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Prison Gambler (監獄博徒) (Japan, 1964) [TV] – 2/5
Part 2 in the Gambler series, set almost entirely in Miike Prison (also the setting for director Ozawa and star Tsuruta's 1973 film Three Lakes Prison). The storyline is standard fluff, but the film's setting is quite unusual, especially for a film made in 1964. While many ninkyo films included prison segments, few made it their primary setting aside some films in the Abashiri Prison series that started in 1965. There are a few other points of interest, from prison brutality to tiny outdoor humiliation cages, the sun setting behind the prison walls and the prisoner forced to work at a coal mine, sweaty and half naked. It is curious how this film, alongside the opening segments in Teruo Ishii's The Shogun's Vault (1963), pre-dated the later women in prison films in terms of more than a few elements and visual details. It is not enough to save an otherwise uninspired ninkyo picture, however.

Harry and His Geisha Girls (生贄の女たち) (Japan, 1978) [TV] - 3/5
The film that brought Harry Reems to Japan! The titular character arrives in Japan to have his peanut sized willy replaced with a more respectable member, as persuaded by his lovelorn Japanese wife. The medical operation is successful, but there are side effects, namely, a personality change (now there's an interesting research topic for some curious academic). This is a bizarre, but surprisingly funny addition to Toei's line up of erotic films with imported leads. They first brought in Sandra Julien, Christina Lindberg and Sharon Kelly in 1971-1974 for 1-2 films each, and now, Harry with his big... moustache. It probably had something to do with Toei having distributed Deep Throat theatrically in 1973, and produced its Japanese follow-up Deep Throat in Tokyo in 1975. Anyway, here we have Harry in Japanese yukata and headband serving customers in a restaurant, running for his life from mad women, and running afoul with yakuza who want to cut off his new sausage because they believe it was formerly used for smuggling diamonds from Hong Kong. And let’s not even talk about a couple of hilarious (dick) twists the plot comes with. It’s all quite amusing, and frankly more entertaining than most Japanese erotic comedies, even by Toei. Oh, and isn’t that Osman Yusuf doing the (highly amusing) English/Japanese dubbing for Harry? No one is credited for it, but it sure sounds like him.

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Police Department Story 14 (警視庁物語 聞き込み) (Japan, 1960) [TV] – 2.5/5
This entry has one of the more powerful openings in the series. An elderly woman walks into the police station to inquire about her missing little brother, of whom she is dependent on. The detectives find him in no time... in the file of dead bodies. The rest of the film follows their attempts to trace his movements and contacts prior to his death, uncovering a murder plot behind it. This is another not-bad entry with a tight 52 minute running time.

Student Yakuza (学生やくざ) (Japan, 1974) [VoD] – 3/5
A hugely interesting yakuza / karate / school gang mash-up that doesn't live up to its full potential. Tsunehiko Watase is a schoolboy gangster armed with fast fists and karate kicks who, after beating a fieldful of local rivals, gets sent to Osaka by his family (incl. gray-haired Bunta Sugawara). Immediately upon arrival he runs into a schoolgirl gang (lead by Rika Aoki of Toho's Rica series) lynching a fellow sailor suit on the street. He later lands work at a construction site whose workers are being harassed by Kenji Imai's Osaka yakuza, but also defended by a violent student radical group (echoing the real the early 70s student unrest in Japan). What a premise! This was helmed by Toei's assistant director since 1962 Akira Shimizu (his only other directorial effort was Rugby Yaro in 1976) but perhaps more importantly written by Takayuki Minagawa, the AD on The Street Fighter (released 2 weeks prior to this) and the writer / AD on the Girl Boss series. They deserve criticism for the lack of strong plot and above average execution, but there's lot of fun to be had here: a fair bit yakuza stuff, a little bit of sukeban thrills, and way more karate than you'd expect, in the usual mix of violence, nudity and anti-social mayhem. University karate club alumni Watase does well-enough in the action scenes (fresh off Bodyguard Kiba 2, and to soon star in Wicked Kempo later) and looks like a Watase-version of Tomisaburo Wakayama's Gokudo-series protagonist.

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

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Rashamen (らしゃめん) (Japan, 1977) [VoD] - 1.5/5
Yuji Makiguchi's (Shogun's Sadism) final theatrical film is a tame melodrama based on a novel. The heroine (Haruko Wanibuchi) is a woman married against her will to an American diplomat during the early years of Meiji Restoration. She is to serve as his temporary wife in Japan. She spends the film's first third crying and panicking. Thankfully we also have ATG director and Return of the Street Fighter villain Claude Gagnon as raging sex crazy gaijin in the house. But the fun is over before the film has run 35 min, with the American sent back home and the lady trying to go on in life with a tarnished reputation. Geisha house melodrama ensues till the film calls it quits at 77 minutes. This isn't as much a terrible film (it has its moments, a decent musical score, and an uncredited Takuzo Kawatani role as a waiter abused by Hideo Murota!) but the further it gets, the duller it becomes. Makiguchi would earn his bread on TV from here on, directing shows like Sonny Chiba's Shadow Warriors.

Troops of Darkness (悪の親衛隊) (Japan, 1971) [VoD] – 2.5/5
A little seen Kazuhiko Yamaguchi film released between the last Delinquent Girl Boss and the first Wandering Ginza Butterfly. Tokyo boss Tetsuro Tamba brings a trio reckless hoods lead by Tsunehiko Watase to Shinjuku to fight a turf war for him. This is a programmer inside out, with plenty of semi-comical mayhem eventually leading to something resembling a plot thread (two in fact). It's obvious no one had much of a winning idea for a film here, but one had to be produced anyway. That didn't stop Toei from throwing in everything and the kitchen sink in terms of star power: beside Tamba, Watase and Jerry Fujio, there are supporting turns by Fumio Watanabe and Bunjaku Han, cameos by Tatsuo Umemiya and Shingo Yamashiro, and a whole bunch of musical /club performances by The Mops. There was a (Toei) audience for this kind of lightweight yakuza / action / comedy mayhem, and it is at the very least intermittently entertaining, but certainly not among Yamaguchi's best films.

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

Post by Guro Taku »

HungFist wrote: 25 Jan 2022, 14:00 Rashamen (らしゃめん) (Japan, 1977) [VoD] - 1.5/5
Agree with everything you say about this one, including the rating. A massive box office failure that destroyed Makiguchi's career as a feature film director and had Toei bosses demote him to TV work, something he talked about a bit in interviews I have read. I actually loved the opening credits scene, which plays over old Buddhist scolls depicting the tortures of hell, only to then be annoyed almost to death by weepy melodramatics.

Molester and the Peeper: Gynecology Ward (痴漢と覗き 婦人科病練) (Japan, 1994) [VoD] - 2.5/5
Another minor entry in Hisayasu Sato's filmography, released just 3 months after Rental Love (若奥様 太股びらき), and sharing most of that film's cast and crew. A wacky sex comedy about a gynecologist, his unusual treatment methods and the similarly oddball patients and staff at his clinic. Having been written by Kyoko Godai, maybe it's no surprise that the main redeeming factors of the film are the female characters, including a tsundere nurse, who starts the film by gaping the good doctor's asshole with with speculum and a carcinophobic patient who reads books about suicide until she gets cured of her fears with some Chinese sex tonic. Neither visually nor thematically recognizable as a Hisayasu Sato film, though.
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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13 Assassins (十三人の刺客) (Japan, 1963) [TV] – 4.5/5
The original tale, better known to modern audiences via Takashi Miike's dull, CGI-enhanced remake. The shogun's advisor (Tetsuro Tamba) creates a secret plan to assassinate the shogun's out-of-control brother, a daimyo who is executing men, women and children left and right for his personal pleasure. He brings together a dirty bunch of Toei tough guys (Chiezo Kataoka, Kanjuro Arashi, Ko Nishimura etc.) to send on a suicide plan. Their biggest adversary however is not the target himself, but his bodyguard (Ryohei Uchida), a strategic mastermind sworn to protect the boss whose guts he hates. This is a terrific film with a charismatic cast, incredible tension throughout the picture, and a well drawn strategic aspect with both parties trying to anticipate each other every move. The latter makes the action scenes particularly exciting since every move, attack and withdrawal aims to serve a bigger strategic plan, which the opponent in turn tries to sabotage with each move they make.

A Record of Love and Death (愛と死の記録) (Japan, 1966) [TV] - 4/5
Printing shop worker Tetsuya Watari and record shop clerk Sayuri Yoshinaga fall in love in once nuclear devastated Hiroshima. But the romance comes with a heavy baggage when it turns out he, exposed to nuclear radiation as a little boy, has no guarantees of growing old. Objectively speaking, this isn't so different from the box office smashing tear jerker garbage that has infested Japanese cinema for decades. But somehow this is so much better. Perhaps it's because of Watari and Yoshinaga's charming performances. Maybe it's because of new wave director Koreyoshi Kurahara, whose energetic helming is equally romantic and gritty. Perhaps it’s because there’s a real, living city in the background captured with an almost documentary like touch. Or maybe the story just seems more poignant than some purely fictional setting with a schoolgirl / boyfriend / uncle / dog dying from cancer. Probably it's all of that. The film has also been distributed under the title The Heart of Hiroshima.

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

Post by Killer Meteor »

My thoughts on some of the titles in Eureka's excellent Joseph Kuo box-set

Shaolin Kung Fu - a bit on the underwhelming side. As with some of the early Taiwanese bashers, it's held back by repetetive fights and a drab look. The unintentional deaths of the hero's loved ones gets a bit silly after a while.

Although there isn't much if any Shaolin kung fu, the hero does appear to do what can best be described as Dolphin Kung Fu!

4/10

Shaolin Kids - I tried this in 2007 courtesy of the Mei Ah DVD, but the shoddy picture and pitiful subs caused me to bail out early. Thanks to Eureka, I can now enjoy what is a visually and aurally sumptuous production (I always enjoy a bit of Ming Dynasty intrigue with traditional Chinese music!) and the fight choreography is varied and exciting.

Not for the first time in my 20 years of kung fu fandom am I baffled by the idea that Polly Shang Kuan Ling Feng can pass off as a boy, but it's only here I noticed Cliff Lok's uncanny resemblance to Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory!

8/10

The Old Master


Well, this was a hoot. In the grand tradition of Way of the Dragon, it has people loudly yelling at each other that they don't understand the other, which is totally negated by the fact everyone in the English dub just speaks English. And Yu Jim-Yuen is doubled more than Bruce Lee was in Game of Death...but he does his own disco dancing.

And, this is a reccomendation!

6/10


World of Drunken Master
- Poor Yuen Siu-tien was probably at death's door where he staggered across the beach for the title sequence of this, so it's no wonder he's replaced by two other actors for the remainder of the film! Which I guess makes this the kung fu version of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

Written by Ting Shan-hsi, the author of Come Drink With Me (which also features a drunken hero called Fan Da-pei), the plot finishes a good couple of reels before the movie does, resulting in endless fights that serve no purpose at all (and it appears Ghostface Killer from Mystery of Chess Boxing is back), which is a shame as the romantic story that prompts the rivalry between the two heroes is potentially interesting.

And the very metallic sound effects for the fights really did my head in after a while.

5/10



Return of the 18 Bronzemen - I know Carter Wong is supposed to be the evil Emperor and all, but damn, these Shaolin monks are bloody sadists! The poor sap getting repeatedly pummeled on the head with a large weight for failing the coin test was hilarious! This mostly feels like an afterthought to the original to take advantage of the sets and costumes, but has excellent fights, and Wong is very impressive.

6/10
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Post by Killer Meteor »

And some titles from Arrow's Shawscope set...

CHINATOWN KID is a revelation, I'd only seen an upload of the UK VHS about 15 years ago and avoided the Celestial DVD for obvious reasons. I wish Chang Cheh had done more modern day actioners with the Venoms in his latter years (well, there is DANCING WARRIOR, but let's pretend that never happened) as this feels quite the large-scale novelty compared to his usual increasingly theatrical-looking offerings. I especially love the funky electronic music that plays whenever Tsai Hung appears (a character totally missing from the edit remastered by Celestial for DVD)!

The UK VHS trailer is interesting, as I get why WB would go for this and THE KILLER, but FIVE SUPERFIGHTERS seems really out of left-field!



BOXER FROM SHANTUNG - this was the first Shaw film I ever saw. Back in 2004, I was on a summer course at Brighton Film School and found the Warner VHS in a second hand shop. I actually watched it like a serial, using the VHS player in the editing suite when it was free, which helped to disguise the overlength of the movie!

This definetly feels like Shaws racing to beat Golden Harvest to the post. As the two companies both had competing Thailand set actioners in October '71 (DUEL OF FISTS and THE BIG BOSS), here we have two Shanghai-set early 20th century features (BFS and FIST OF FURY) with real-life but slightly out of time historical figures (Ma Yong-zhen and Huo Yuan-chia respectively) and a fight with a Western boxer.

And Shaws have suddenly promoted a bona-fide martial arts expert, Chen Kuan-tai, from extra to stardom, probably the only sign they gave at the time that letting Bruce Lee slip through their fingers had spooked them. And David Chiang's clumsy antics here, visibly struggling to keep up with Chen with their fight, suggests that even James Tien probably unnerved Sir Run Run a bit!

There are two credited directors here, and I think it's likely one or the other did all of David Chiang's exterior scenes. There's a lot of tight close-ups not seen elsewhere, and no-one seems to have realised that Chiang's chauffer, Fung Hark-on, is also playing rival gangster Chiang Nan's teapot toting goon in the epic finale!

And I have to laugh at the film constantly bigging up Wong Ching's bodyguard, only for him to finally fight in the finale and be as useless as the rest of them! And I suspect the film was laughing too.


DIRTY HO (the most audience disapointing title since BRUCE LEE FIGHTS BACK FROM THE GRAVE!)

This is the one film in the new Arrow set I'd not seen before, and despite the high praise it's recieved from distinguished critics in some circles, I was wary going in as the trailer didn't make it look like my cup of tea - Shaw comedy, Wong Yue, crudely chosen De Wolfe music...gulp

...Well, for the most part it's exquisit. Exceptional comedy, beauty production values, genuine laughs. The music is rather odd for classic horror/sci-fi fans as familiar cues like the love theme from WITCHFINDER GENERAL and various stings from the DOCTOR WHO story "The Invasion" crop up at times, but the use of traditional Chinese music in the showboat scenes is very welcome.

Two debits: The utterly bizzare and freakish scene where our heroes must contend with a female impersonator leading a gang of HK cinema's ugliest faces pulling ugly faces goes nowhere and feels like a bizzare invasion from a Jodorowsky film. And then there's the awful abrupt ending, even by Shaw standards...did Lau Kar-leung go over-budget and Mona pulled the plug?
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

Post by Killer Meteor »

Monkey Kung Fu (not the Shaw film, this is AKA Monkey Fist, Floating Snake)

Although this is a fairly annoying kung fu comedy with ugly leads that appallingly wastes Chen Sing and Yueh Hua, it is notable for the unusual way that the second half has the villain sitting by a river contemplating how to improve after a defeat and then getting a Rocky-ish training montage.

3/10


Legendary Weapons of China

This starts out potentially interesting, but loses its way with all that bizzare Dean Shek stuff...oh wait, that's not Dean Shek, it's Alexander Fu Sheng! What the bloody hell...?

thankfully, the final confrontation between the two Lau brothers is phenomenal. Just wish the whole movie could have been that good!

6/10
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Re: What asian film/series have you just seen.. marks out of 5

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Three Wives: Wild Nights (妻三人 狂乱の夜) (Japan, 1972) [TV] - 1.5/5
An early Masaru Konuma film that fares a little better than the title would suggest. This is actually a lightweight family satire / comedy about a rich man, his son, and their women / wives / housekeepers, all of whom have trouble keeping their pants on. Modestly entertaining for a while, and relatively restrained compared to the later Roman Porno sleaze fests, I nevertheless lost interest (and count of the wives) after the first 35 minutes. There appeared to be no reason to care, really.

The Procurer (ひも) (Japan, 1965) [VoD] - 3.5/5
Naive, penniless teenager Mako Midori falls under the charms of big city playboy Tatsuo Umemiya, who treats her till she's in love, and then dumps her in a hostess bar he’s associated with. A week later he shows up begging for help, as he has supposedly burned all his money on her and can't pay back to the yakuza he borrowed money from… unless she'd be willing to lend her young body for earning some cash. This was the first film in the Youth of the Night series (1965-1968), sometimes indistinguishable from the later Song of the Night series (1967-1974). Both consisted of loosely linked entries. This specific film is grittier than most however, and better written (by Masashige Narusawa). It gets particularly interesting after Midori has had her falling out with Umemiya, which sends her drifting in the night and leaves Umemiya alone with his abusive yakuza buddies. She grows stronger, he gets progressively weaker. The film does quite a good job at capturing the neon lit, jazz tuned night that crushes dreams, feeds people with glimpses of hope, and then poisons them with opportunism.

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

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Devil's Flute (悪魔が来りて笛を吹く) (Japan, 1979) [TV] - 1.5/5
Toei’s time machine to the future: an annoying, pretentious 80s murder mystery made in 1979s. This is actually an adaptation of a 1950s mystery novel of the same name, featuring the famous fictional detective Kosuke Kindaichi. He is trying to solve a murder case in a large, remarkably off-putting European-style mansion inhabited by a family of rich cunts. 135 minutes of hysteric characters, confusing plotting and pretentious artistic references to demons follow. This was a Toei film with Haruki Kadokawa serving as the executive producer. His own company would have been a more fitting home for this, having already made The Inugami Family, another Kindaichi tale, two years prior for Kadokawa.

Night Hunter (いろ) (Japan, 1965) - [VoD] - 3/5
Part 2 in the Youth of the Night series. Umemiya is a son of a bitch bartender who bangs anything that moves, and then proceeds to cheat them out of their money. Midori is a naïve girl who walks into his bar with her best friend and falls in love, not realizing Umemiya is taking turns sleeping with them both as well as Midori's little sister Reiko Ohara. Umemiya then figures he could make money by selling Midori to rich geezer Nobuo Kaneko, only not telling her about it... This is another stylishly filmed nocturnal noir in black & white, with excellent performances by Umemiya and Midori. There are quiet little moments that are surprisingly powerful, as well as other good bits like the one where Takakura's Abashiri Prison theme is playing in a bar. But the film is not as good as The Procurer. Masashige Narusawa's scrip is less complex, and gun for hire director Shinji Murayama fails to reach the same level of cinematic dynamics, even if he does otherwise fine.

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

Post by grim_tales »

Heart of Dragon (HK, 1985): 4.5/5

Great movie. Jackie and especially Sammo play their parts well and (in Jackie's case) it seems a slightly more mature role than what he was usually doing in the period. Some excellent fights, moments of drama, touching and sad.
I watched the longer version with Japanese songs and thought the lyrics to the China Blue song sounded a bit suspect :icon_suspect: :oops:
I know Jackie's character doesn't mean it in a nasty way, and it may have been accepted as a medical (?) term back then I wouldn't have used the 'r word' to describe Sammo's chracter
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