Tag Archives: japan

Black Rain (1989)

Director: Ridley Scott Starring: Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, Ken Kakakura, Yusake Matsuda, Kate Capshaw, Tomisaburo Wakayama. USA. 2h 5m

Michael Douglas travels to Japan with a deadly crazy Yakuza criminal, accidently releases him to his gang but then proceeds to school the Japanese Police department!? Only in the 80’s would this have worked and only Ridley Scott would have been able to make it work so well.

It can’t be ignored that the film feels half homage to at least 3 of the greatest names in Japanese Cinema, as the two cultures class, , Ken Kakakura, Yusake Matsuda, and the badass Tomisaburo Wakayama, who play both good and evil characters throughout the film. Ken is the attentive Asst. Insp. Matsumoto, who spends his time chasing around a fiesty Douglas and Garcia, partly babysitting them and taking a lot of flak from them. There is one beautiful drunken scene in a karaoke bar when the three men finally let their guards down and realise they are on the same side but cultural differences and career prospects are all that are keeping them on slightly different paths throughout this cat and mouse chase. The legend who was the Lone Wolf and Zatiochi respectively is just a highly respected gangster but his inclusion in this stylistic movie can’t go unnoticed, and most heartbreakingly this would be the final film of cult classic actor Yusake Matsuda, who knowingly went into the project with a serious cancer diagnosis, and in order to be ferocious for his role, refused to take any medication, shortening his chances of recovering even more.

Continue reading Black Rain (1989)

Hatsukoi / First Love (2019)

Director: Takashi Miike Starring: Masataka Kubota, Nao Omori, Shota Sometani, Jun Murakami, Sansei Shiomi, Masaaki Uchno .Japan. 1h 48m

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.

Continue reading Hatsukoi / First Love (2019)

Tonkei shinjû – Pig Chicken Suicide (1981)

Director: Yoshihiko Matsui
Starring: Naomi Hagio, Takahiro Hattori, Toshihiko Hino .Japan. 1h 31m

Like a rare and obscure borja wine, the history of Yoshihiko Matsui’s film making is sporadic but filled with really unusual gems, with themes of suicide, the understanding of love blended with cannibalism and genuine strange behavior you’ll always know who you”re watching and often question why you’re still watching. For me this unreal expression is one of the blessings of cinema, seeing something genuinely new that is al altered, heightened sense of the world around you. At times you’ll almost be able to feel Matsui’s message through the combination of imagery, a feeling of an idea that doesn’t need language for expression, or you might be left scratching your head wondering what the hell is going on.

Continue reading Tonkei shinjû – Pig Chicken Suicide (1981)

Blade of the Immortal (2017)

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. 

Continue reading Blade of the Immortal (2017)

Tokyo Horror Movies (2012)

Director: Kazuto Kodama
Starring:?.Japan. 1h 4m

This collection of unrelated creepy tales seems to have been a for runner for the popular V/H/S series (despite them being released in the same year) This Japanese collection just feels like a raw pre runner to the more polished American effort, but as per usual the raw unabridged versions always have that curious edge to them, and like time and time before, Japan finds a new way to creep out the cinematic world.

A team has painstakingly recovered and viewed a number of home\hand made movies accidentally capturing spooky events, but they don’t leave it there, they track down the stories behind each video trying to get to the bottom of the mystery. Continue reading Tokyo Horror Movies (2012)

Brother (2000)

Director: Takeshi Kitano.
Starring. Takeshi Kitano,Omar Epps,Claude Maki,Tetsuya Watari USA/Japan/France/UK. 1h 44m.

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)

Wasabi (2001)

Director:Gerard Krawczyk.
Starring. Jean Reno, Ryoko Hirosue, Michel Muller, Yoshi Oida. Writer: Luc Besson.France/USA/Japan. 1h 34m.

This film is so cute and annoying! There’s so much I really adore about it but in equal parts it really grates on my nerves. I get the bigger picture of it being a charming heartwarming comedy action film but some of the characters and sets up are just too gross and I find myself not being able to cope with the overload.

Continue reading Wasabi (2001)

Piercing (2018)

Director: Nicolas Pesce Writer: Ryû Murakami
Starring: Christopher Abbott, Mia Wasikowska, Laia Costa. USA/Japan. 1h 21m

Piercing, a movie about a man who plans to kill a prostitute in his hotel room, was an instant for my to watch list, but after seeing it get run into the dirt by many reviewers I did start to question myself. A tiny bit of research renewed my passion when I realised that this thriller is based on a book by Ryû Murakami, yep, the twisted individual that wrote the novel Audition who’s film adaption comes highly rated with it’s dark surreal undertones and horrific gore scenes. Top this off with the director of The Eyes of my Mother (2016) I can’t see how this could really be so bad..

A young father, Reed (Abbott) struggles to restrain himself from stabbing his baby daughter with a skewer, the pressure forces him to find a way to get this deadly desire out of his system. He hatches an incredibly details plan to hire a hotel room, rent a hooker and play out his stabbing fantasy, once she’s dead he hopes to return to his happy normal life.Unfortunately the unhinged hooker he encounters, Jackie (Wasikowska) has her own demons to exorcise and the two of them play an destructive game of cat and mouse. Continue reading Piercing (2018)

Meglobox (2018)

Director: Yō Moriyama
Japan. 6h 30m ish

This epic mini series was made in honour of the 50th anniversary of the iconic Manga Ashita no Joe. It closely follows the often tragic story of Junk Dog, a young fighter who has been picked up by a trainer, Gansaku Nanbu who has fallen from grace and uses the kid to fix fights to raise money to pay off his debts.

In this future era there’s a classic sci fi set up, there are two distinct classes, citizens and non citizens, Junk Dog is of the lower cast, a non citizen who fights in the outskirts of a mega city but he dreams of making it into the Megloboxing ring as a citizen to fight the number one ranked fighter, Yūri. Who, through a series of unfortunate events turns up in Junk’s ring and the two battle it out, Junk Dog gets his ass handed to him but the young kid never gives up and this intrigues Yūri, who leaves the fight but urges the “Stray Dog” to com and fight him in the big ring. This really awakens something and soon he encourages Nanbu to help him fight in Meglabox. Nanbu is pretty useless but he strikes an all or nothing bargain with the man he already owes money to, the pair arrange for a fake citizen card for Junk Dog who renames himself Joe, and they enter him into the games. Continue reading Meglobox (2018)

Chi o sû nendo / Vampire Clay (2017)

Director: Sôichi Umezawa.
Starring. Kyôka Takeda , Momoka Sugimoto , Ena Fujita , Kanji Tsuda. Japan. 1h 21m.

I used to be blown away by Japanese horror, going through the Tartan Horror series with much glee as it was miles apart from the slowdown that was occurring with its Western counterpart. with the fresh of breath air that the creepy tales sprung upon me, eventually I started noticing a huge split between genuine Japanese Horror and that fringe area which incorporated their unique humor, gore, body horror and sprays of blood. After a while I let things run their course, on returning I was gobsmacked by the array of mundane items which the Japanese has found a way to make scary! Continue reading Chi o sû nendo / Vampire Clay (2017)