A strangely beautiful and violent thriller from cult classic director Miike, who, in recent years has slowed down and mellowed a little but swinging back with this sophisticated drama with slick fighting scenes and the odd touches of animation and quirkness really elevates an already brilliant story that’s acted out to perfection.
Miikes track record of outlandish movies really made a huge impact, and after a short stint of re rebooting iconic Japanese cinematic pieces such as Seven Samurai and Hara Kiri, his approach to bigger and bolder cinema has been fine tuned. This charming little piece follows Leo, an emerging boxer who is facing the darkest chapter of his life after he passes out in the ring and his doctor warns him that he might have a brain tumor. On his way home he rescues a screaming woman who’s being chased by an unknown man and the two catch feelings.
Director: Simon McQuoid Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Hiroyuki Sanad, Chin Han, Nathan Jones, Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamara, Josh Lawson, Joe Taslim, Mechad Brooks, .USA. 1h 50m
Despite the long running time, just shy of 2 hours, McQuoid and his team didn’t managed to fill in enough story to fully rewrite the Mortal Kombat universe, however they did manage to cobble together a film just entertaining and intriguing enough to keep a viewer or two entertained for the duration.
AKA Mortal Kombat, The Return of the Five Deadly Venoms
Director: Chang Cheh Starring: Philip Kwok, Chen Kuan Tai, Chiang Sheng, Kuo Chui, Lo Mang, Lu Feng, Wang Lung Wei .Hong Kong. 1h 40m
Just when I was positive that the Five Deadly Venoms was the best 70’s martial arts film, it turns out that the (lose) sequel actually outdoes the cult classic. In a similar vein the film runs through a deadly storyline featuring a diabolical jaded kung fu master and a group of unlikely heroes.
When a brilliant wealthy fighter’s family is brutally attacked, his wife left slaine and his son now armless, the Tiger expert finds a way to restore his son’s arms with mechanical extensions but now with a blackened heart he bullies and terrifies his hometown. Finding pleasure in crippling those to cross his pat, Four of his latest victis form a bond and seek revenge, A hawer, who has been blinded, a blacksmith, made mude and deaf and a drifter whose legs are cut off all attempt to band together with a fighter who is known as tier “idiot friend”. While finding ingenious ways to overcome their disabilities they conjure a cunning plan to take on the evil gang and the four are tested time and time again and demonstrate strengths and abilities.
Director: Sam Firstenberg Starring:Mark Dacascos, David Bradley, Valerie TRapp, Rex Ryon, John Fujioka. USA. 1h 34m
This movie arrived during the height of the American cinematic takeover of the eastern martial arts. For many years Hong Kong cinema had released a number of powerful Kung Fu movies, winning over the hearts of millions if not billions of die-hard fans, with such prestigious names as the Shaw Brothers, Wu-Tang, and the Iconic labels such as Golden Harvest, a non-stop line of some of the best and most questionable martial arts movies have been released reaching cult classic limits.
Somehow during the late 80s early 90s the American market started the whole new basket of shenanigans, attempting to suggest that some of the the top of the range martial artists were in fact American born, initially this kicked off with a number of American ninja movies, and this delightful side step into the world of the Samurai features a number of faces that were normally seen as ninjas.
Director: Takashi Miike Starring: Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki, Sota Fukushi, Hayato Ichihara. Japan. 2h 20m
Miike’s career has turned into a long line of massive remakes of Japanese Classic cinema for some time now. I’ve been racking my brain why, but I’m still unsure what he’s trying to achieve, but it’s working out for him and I wonder what’s next? He’s making some solid and faithful remakes but I do wonder if we really need them all despite their powerful impact? This just seems to be another one, however even while watching the series after the film.. I found it’s expressionary style and character depth on a different planet entirely, and yet each are ridiculously impressive but in their own way.
Director: Fruit Chan Starring: Jin Zhang, Anderson Silva, Kevin Cheng, Suet Lam .Hong Kong. 1h 25m
The UFC is an absolute goldmine not only does it make super fighters, but it and generally if you can nurture a dynamic Hong Kong action movie with at least one big name you’ll take in cash.. But blend the two poorly and you’ll end up with this disjointed mess, that feels as if the producers knew what they wanted to do, but wrote any bull in to make it happen.
What starts as a really engaging crime thriller following a determined gun happy cop, Officer Kowloon (Jin) who opens the film boiling in a cooking pot, in a seedy backstory restaurant, Lam Suet taunting him as the two compare Dragon tattoos, fortunate that our hero has a better back story featuring an adorable (brightly coloured cgi) Dragon that he met as a child…after the bonding he shoots Lams hand off in a function room and gets suspended, this becomes a trend with Kowloon even while investigating a spate of murders targeting female police officers he manages to fudge the operation, not only letting the only suspect go, but losing his fiancee\fellow officer. Continue reading The Invincible Dragon (2019)→
I’ll start my review by saying that I adore everything about this quirky film, even the bad bits, so buckle up for a fangirl review of what is commonly thought of as a bad movie.
It’s never easy when a foreign director attempts to break into different cinematic style, for me John Woo totally struggled with his western movies, Jean-Pierre Jeunet didn’t get much applause for Alien Resurrection but was made a god for any of his French movies, (it goes both ways) and Kitano seemed to have been lost in translation while still maintaining his signature cool style, and I think he made a wise choice in starring in the movie to try and hold on to whatever he could from his previous great titles. One of Kitano’s strong facets is that you can kinda link his character throughout his movies, growing and becoming tougher and cooler each time, if you thought he reached his peak, you’ll be mistaken he’ll level up forever. Continue reading Brother (2000)→
Director: Michael Pearce Starring: Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James .UK. 1h 46m
Director Michael Pearce has constructed a commanding movie with a complex layered story, this deeply psychological drama/thriller is a shouldering beauty with lots of eerie undertones. The films flaming lead Jessie Buckley gives an excellent lead performance who’s beauty gives the film a touch of piercing clarity, as Pearce builds mystery with intense fascination, often revealing big scenes with fine balance as he grips the viewers attention with climatic stages.
Set in Jersey while a serial killer has murdered several young girls, the village tries to solder o while there’s a giant elephant in the room. In among the normies is Moll (Buckley) a 27 year old who’s a deeply unhappy woman and put upon daughter by an extremely domineering mother (James) she lives out her days under the total control of her mother and carrying out a soulless job as a tour guide. There is a reason for the watchful eye of Moll, she has a dark secret that manifested in her past school girl days, and in turn she’s still basically treated as a child while her siblings are on their own pedestals. Her sister manages to upstage her at her own birthday party while announcing her pregnancy, Moll, having enough of the family antics storms out abandoning her family and Cliff, a stuffy young police officer who wanted to make Moll his new girlfriend. Into the night she runs and joins another party, meeting the mysterious and alluring Pascal (Flynn).Continue reading Beast (2017)→
The makers of this slightly underpowered Anime are responsible for much more adored favourites such as Ninja Scroll(1993) and Wicked City (1987), so it’s got a high standard to live up to. The story is somewhere between Supernatural adventure and a Romantic horror, and at times seems to be a missing link between the two.
Opening mid way through a battle between good and evil, two men, former friends Rebi Ra and short lived hero Genichirou are doing cool battle shit when one hits a limit break and kinda sparks off a huge explosion which opens a gateway to hell and this envelopes the Shinjuku area.(as you do) Cut to the modern day and only a few years after this “event” and the city has been become a no go area. The military had tried to control the nasty creatures that reside there but failed miserably but despite this an underground of people still live in their beloved district. Continue reading Demon City Shinjuku (1988)→
I’m not sure which came first, Golden Queen or Pink Force as they were both made in 1982(?) but these explosive action adventure Commando movies often have each other’s scenes spliced into one another. Personally I found Pink Force to be way more thrilling with its stronger western themes and total kookiness, but that doesn’t mean that this prison based flick is worse, but it has very different themes with an almost identical cast.
Golden Queen Commando opens with some Visual Kei gang leader playing cards with some street gangster types when a fight breaks out despite her fast shooting the police crash the party and she’s sent to prison, other short vignettes for other criminal women (Black Fox, Clack Cat, Dynamite, Sugar Plum, Amazon, Brandy and Quick Silver (our stunning card shark)), each with their own special skill and extreme costume all end with them being sent to the same nazi war prison.
Things being to heat up when one of the women starts to antagonise the others while getting a feeling for their strengths and weaknesses. And they slowly hatch a plan to escape and to kill the vile fat nazi warden and his henchmen and then head out to destroy a WWII nazi chemical lab. But not before they being total chaos and mayhem with their unique fighting skills, and all looking totally beautiful within the prison walls..
Control of tone is essential to any film but this is kicked into the wind and blasted to pieces, the film had no formula and that’s what makes it a marvellous and highly entertaining bonkers exploitations flick. The final act is highlighted with a soundtrack from Ennio Morricone which makes this a hash up of the Dirty Dozen (1967) / Magnificent 7 (1960)a la psychotronic style. Obviously there is a stunning finale and the scene which sees a spy outed is straight out of an X-Japan music video. All round fun and frolics that’s hard to ever forget.
R – Pink Force Commando (1982), Love Massacre (1981), L – A-Z of Taiwan Cinema Vol 1. A – Pink Cinema Vs – Pink Force Commando Vs Golden Queen Commando.