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Asian movie diary (2007)


#1

How about we write something about every single asian movie we see this year. No film you see should be excluded under any circumstances… Short comments on the film (tv show would be okay as well, but only one post per show/season, no episode by episode comments) and a mention on how the film was viewed (dvd, vhs, TV, theater…). Anyone (else) want to try? Sign in for the task here. I don’t want random posters to post random comments. You sign in and you agree to post comments on every asian film you see. If you want to quit later, it’s okay but then you’re out. You can’t start posting again whenever you feel like it. Okay?



List of participants (so far)

Hung Fist

Laydback

Diceman



Just let me know and I’ll, add you to the list. You can either start from next (or the last) film you see, or from the beginning of the year.


#2

My first post includes every asian film I’ve seen this year so far. The films are listed in the order I saw them.



Prisoner No. 07 Reina (Japan, 2006) - 2/5

Watchable WIP flick. A bit boring, but some enjoyable scenes here and there. Slightly more in-depth comments to be posted to the pinky thread.

  • divx, no subtitles



    Truck Yaro: Goiken Muyou (Japan, 1975) - 3,5/5

    Not as enjoyable as Dokyo ichibanboshi, but still a nice piece of japanese 70’s entertainment. It’s always nice to see Bunta Sugawara in a comedy role, but the film suffers from some not-so-original plot turns.
  • dvd, toei, no subtitles



    Tokugawa onna keibatsu-emaki: Ushi-zaki no kei (Japan, 1976) - 2/5

    Extremely vicious torture movie, but has some strange charm nevertheless. Didn’t enjoy it much, as expected.
  • divx



    Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment (Japan, 1977) - 3/5

    Very stylish although a bit hollow Chiba film. A major influence to John Woo’s The Killer.
  • dvd, Ronin Entertainment



    Three Times (Taiwan, 2005) - 4/5

    Didn’t like it much on the first time, loved it this time. Both the second and the third episode are great. The first one is cinematic perfection.
  • dvd, TF1



    Virus (Fukkatsu no hi) (Japan, 1980) - 4,5/5

    Terrific disaster movie, probably the best I’ve ever seen. Huge scale (taking place in several countries around the world in several different languages), huge cast (Sonny Chiba, Robert Vaughn, Olivia Hussey etc.), huge adventure. A movie with a capital M.
  • dvd, Ronin Entertainment



    Sex & Zen (Hong Kong, 1992) - 2,5/5

    Pretty visuals, some good humour, too much sex, too little zen. The cast is great, including such actors as Elvis Tsui, Kent Cheng, Carrie Ng and Amy Yip.
  • dvd, Joy Sales



    The Eternal Evil of Asia (Hong Kong, 1995) - 3/5

    Pretty decent Cat III flick. Not quite as outrageous as I was hoping for. Ellen Chan was (=looked) better in Fatal Love and Exiled.
  • dvd, Tai Seng



    Running on Karma (Hong Kong, 2003) - 3/5

    Very, very weird film. Andy Lau plays an ex-monk and a body builder who now works as a stripper. Filled with buddhist philosophy, supernatural elements, serious drama, romance, comedy, gore and wife-fu action, this thriller hardly falls into existing category.
  • dvd, Mei Ah



    Lethal Ninja (Hong Kong, 2006) - 3,5/5

    White ninjas, red ninjas, green ninjas, black ninjas… yeah. Very cool. Expect a topic sometime soon.
  • dvd, Joy Sales

#3

Good topic!



Marebito - 2.5/5

Original, interesting concept. But I thought the execution was lackluster for the most part. Still has it’s merits though including some uneasy bloody sequences and surprising acting chops from Shinya Tsukamoto.



Legendary Weapons of China - 3.5/5

May require a few viewings if you’re not familiar with the kung fu styles of “magic fighting” and “spiritual boxers”. Good story, although Alexander Fu Sheng seems to bring the movie to a halt whenever he appears. Everything seems to get redeemed by the last 2 battles which feature (Director and star) La Kar Leung vs Gordon Liu and La Kar Wing.


#4

Shouldn’t we make this a sticky? ;D



Shinobi - Heart under Blade (Japan, 2005)

Surprisingly solid Ninja-mainstream with lots of okay CGI and a drawn out “Romeo and Julia”-side plot. Fight scenes are short, yet effectively executed and rely heavily on various Anime-like Special Abilities of the Ninja-Protagonists. I love the flair, has quite an “X-Men”-Feeling as well, plus a tragic twist in a finale which works better than any Final Showdown Stuff would have. How perfect the ending really is, I only came to notice after having watched the movie a second time. Outstanding and moving performance by Yukie Nakama. This is “Hero” like a Playstation Gamer would have filmed it. Also pay attention for a most beautiful ballad by Ayumi Hamasaki, which is playing during the Credits.

  • HK-DVD



    Strange Circus (Japan, 2005)

    Weird, disturbing movie about Incest, Rape and it’s psychological impact on various persons. Psychedelic, dreamlike imagery makes you think you’re in a David Lynch-Movie with Takashi Miike showing up every once in a while.
  • Movie Theater



    Zeiram (Japan, 1991)

    Great Action-Movie for ultra Geeks like me. A super-tough and super-sexy bounty hunter (Yuko Moriyama) is battling a seemingly indestructible Alien, while trying to keep two gawky electricians out of harms way. Big Weapons, close combat in cool Battle-Suits. That’s it. Very linear, no surprises, very simple videogame-like plot, plus kickass oldschool effects, like stop-and-motion-madness and prosthetic splatter-effects. AWESOME!!!
  • US-DVD



    Innocent Steps (Korea, 2005)

    Very charming korean movie about dancing. Sometimes the drama gets a little bit over the top, thus pulling the otherwise rather comedic plot deep into tearful melodrama. But, after all, this is a korean movie, and they’re so damn good at manipulating the viewer, it left me breathless. Apart from the drama you’ll get great dancing scenes full of energy and contemporary musical earwigs. And the female lead is the most cute I’ve ever seen in an asian movie. Ever.
  • Korean DVD



    Fatal Contact (Hong-Kong, 2006)

    Jackie Wu Jing sure got the moves. Rather generic plot, but solid acting kept everything interesting. Theme is illegal underground-fighting with a lot of sinister Triads-Involvement. In the end there’s even an oldschool heroic-bloodshed twist to be found. The Kung-Fu is fast and authentic, featuring some of the most terrific Game-Over-Moves I’ve ever seen. If you liked “SPL”, “Fatal Contact” is right up your alley, too. On the other hand, it’s quite easy to impress me.
  • HK-DVD



    Yakuza Deka (Japan, 1970)

    Very cool Yakuza-Action-Flick. Catching seventies-vibes, lots of high flying fists, seemingly self-reloading machineguns, cars that explode when they get stuck in the mud, some laconic jokes, but the main-attraction is Sonny Chiba, the King of Cool.
  • UK-DVD

#5

Just thinking up movies I’ve already seen this year:



Godzilla (Japan, 1954)

I was seriously surprised how earnest and serious the tone of the film was. Quite convincing SFX, too. This is a classic and nothing to laugh about. And be sure to watch the original japanese cut of the movie.

  • US-DVD



    Intimate Confessions of a chinese Courtesan (Hong-Kong, 1972)

    Very elegant Shaw-Brothers-Exploitation, and the main inspiration for “Naked Killer”. This is no CAT-III-Madness, but quite an involving story about the girl Ai Nu getting sold to a brothel. There’s some WIP Thematic Elements, Lesbianism, Torture and Rape, too, but it’s all rather hinted at and not played onscreen at all. Thus it’ll be quite a satisfying experience for a wider audience as well. In the end there’s a lot of fighting with Wire-Fu and bloody Swordplay in a snow-flurried garden. Colourful costumes, beautiful hair-styles, expensive set-design, and a top-notch cinematography kept me glued to the screen. This is exploitation for aesthetes (includes titties, YAY).
  • HK-DVD

#6

Angel Guts: High-School Co-Ed (Japan, 1978)

Strong stuff, but actually more of a character-driven drama than all-out exploitation. The Rape-Stuff is quite prominent though and filmed in an almost unbearable realistic way. On the other hand there’s flashy b&w-visuals filmed through a yellow-sepia-like filter, putting emphasis on the rather artistic side of the direction. All in all I’m feeling quite depressed now. It’s a movie about a way of life, which can only lead to self-destruction to all the persons involved, whether they’re in there by choice or chance. Great soundtrack, by the way. Phew.

  • US-DVD

#7

Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Police Tactics (Japan, 1974) - 2/5

Fukasaku’s highly acclaimed yakuza epic is getting weaker by every entry. The original film was a great start, the next two were light on story but had some great supporting performers like Shinichi Chiba, Meiko Kaji and Reiko Ike. This fourth instalment is like an empty shell, mainly a collection of violent gang fights with some politics thrown in. The first 30 minutes is miserable, thankfully the rest fares a bit better. I quite liked the arrest scene.

  • dvd, HVE



    Magic Cop (Hong Kong, 1990) - 4,5/5

    Lazy opening scene but the rest is pure gold. Filled with genuine HK movie essence. Action is nice, the soundtrack is excellent, the girls are cute, special effects are great (there isn’t much of them, this isn’t a trick fest like some other films in the genre), a few words of japanese is spoken, Billy Chow kicks ass and Lam Ching Ying proves he is the coolest guy on planet earth. One of the best HK movies of the early 90’s.
  • dvd, Megastar



    Double Vision (Taiwan, 2002) - 3,5/5

    This is something new: a serial killer film that stands out. Sure, it borrows from several other films (Se7en, Silence of the Lambs, The X-Files, Black Rain… to mention a few) but somehow the old ingredients have been blend together so that they create something fresh and exciting. The outcome is unusually stable, with the film getting better and better little by little so that you don’t even pay attention the developement until after the movie when you realize how much the movie grew during its 113 min running time. It probably won’t blow you away, but it’s an impressive film nevertheless. Too bad there’s one half-fatal misjudgement by the director that brings down the entirety by a small degree.
  • TV, unrated 113 min version

#8

Killzone a.k.a SPL (Hong-Kong, 2005)

I fucking love this movie. Very tight and suspenseful crime-plot, nihilistic characters, great visuals, fast and violent action-scenes, and constant athmosphere of an ever-lurking danger. Sammo Hung is one of the scariest villains I’ve ever seen in a Triads-Movie. And the fight between Donnie Yen and Wu Jing must be one of the most awesome Kung-Fu-Duels in movie-history; it works very well, despite the modern setting, because you really think they’re actually hurting each other. And, yeah, hit mit, but I love the german dub. Finally I’m able to relax, sit back and appreciate, what a great director Wilson Yip actually is, without being distracted by reading subtitles.

  • German DVD

#9

The Tesseract (UK/Thailand/Japan, 2003)

“Memento”-like movie about the colliding fates of different people in a sleazy Hotel in Bangkok with a drift into the Gangster-Genre. As usual with the Pang-Brothers “The Tesseract” is stockful of sometimes stupid, sometimes brilliant camera-tricks. In the end you’ve got a movie that promises a lot but delivers nothing; it’s all style and no substance, but it works fine until it starts explaining itself and putting in a human message. Goes downhill from there, final scene has some impact, though. Somewhere in between “quite cool” and “quite dull” this movie is a mixed bag. Some way annoying characters, too.

  • German DVD

#10

A chinese Ghost Story (Hong-Kong, 1987)

Wild and romantic Wu-xia Fairytale with lots of funny, creepy and sometimes pretty weird ideas. Add athmospheric SFX and subtle erotic subtext, which is kinda always present, though. Furthermore beautiful and dreamlike imagery, expensive set-design and lots of flying robes and colourful sheets of silk. I like that a lot. Just in the second part it was a bit too much of the Ghost-Stuff, while at the same time offering too less romantic involvement. But otherwise a true classic and an almost archetypical example of everything that HK-Cinema once was about.

  • German DVD (HD-remastered picture)

#11

Dog bite Dog (Hong-Kong, 2006)

One of the most nihilistic and brutal films I’ve ever seen, but also one of the most tragic and moving ones. This is an action-melodrama like the world has never seen it before. Sometimes the plot got me close to tears, while in the next moment delivering shocking revelations like a bone-crunching blow to the guts. Chilling performance by Edison Chen. The story of a HK-Cop and a Cambodian killer hunting each other down, while bit by bit losing their humanity, is a strong one. Featuring very little dialog in favor of haunting imagery and gritty camera-work, “Dog bite Dog” is pure HK-Bloodshed without the Heroism.

  • HK-DVD

#12

Su-ki-da (Japan, 2005) - 4/5

Some of the best movie making of all time ruined with some very unfortunate slip ups during the second half. Reviewed here: <LINK_TEXT text=“http://www.tarantino.info/forum/index.p … 086.0.html”>http://www.tarantino.info/forum/index.php/topic,7086.0.html</LINK_TEXT>

  • dvd/R2J



    Fantasy Mission Force (Hong Kong, 1982) (dvd/BCI) - 3/5

    Hong Kong’s first attempt on Dirty Dozen (the second being Sammo’s Eastern Condors). The main cast is excellent (Jimmy Wang Yu, Brigitte Lin, Jackie Chan), the production values are not. The director doesn’t seem to have any idea of movie making basics. There’s no continuity, scenes often cut out absurdly, sometimes the story even seem to be moving back and forth in time judging by the equipment used. The villains ride horses one day, the next day they arrive in 80’s sports cars… But in all its incomprehensibility the movie is more fun than three average kung fu flick put together. There’s dangerous female tribe members skilled in kung fu, evil japanese soldiers, machine guns, swords, gyonsi, ghost houses, gang members, you name it. Only some early parts seem to drag as they don’t have as much insanity going on as the second half. As a final conclusion a quote from a conversation between me and a friend while I was halfway through the film:
  • “What are you doing?”.
  • “I’m watching a film”
  • “What film?”
  • “Fantasy Mission Force”
  • “ok, what genre?”
  • “I don’t know”

#13

A War named Desire (Hong-Kong, 2000)

Revival of the glorious Heroic-Bloodshed-Era with a Triads/Thailand-Theme and an almost nostalgic feel to it. Superior acting, one very emotional and affecting death-scene which I will not be forgetting that easily, and a kick-ass showdown bringing back all the goodness from 80s/90s HK-Action-Cinema with a vengeance. Expect bullets, bloody Slow-Mo-Dying, gritty Car-Crashes and Ultra-Violence. Plot moves a bit slow sometimes, but good stuff nevertheless.

  • HK-DVD

#14

Eagle Shadow Fist (aka Fist of Anger / Ding tian li di) (Hong Kong, 1973) - 2/5

A Jackie Chan movie without Jackie? No, wait, there’s Jackie. I just couldn’t recognize him when I first viewed the film. Maybe it had something to do with less than great picture quality and the fact that the back cover claims the movies was made in 1979 when it was actually made in 1973. I was looking for Dragon Fist Jackie, when I should’ve been looking for Enter the Dragon Jackie. Anyway, without being able to give a deep analysis on Jackie’s performance I think it’s safe to say he didn’t do anything very remarkable in this movie. Eagle Shadow Fist is a veeery basic kung fu film. Although never terrible, there’s very little to get exited about. Everything has been seen a million times before… and after. It’s a bit of a shame actually because there isn’t anything terribly wrong and the physical performances are somewhat impressive.


#15

Raped by an Angel (Hong-Kong, 1993)

"My girlfriend kicked his dick with no mercy, isn’t it great?"

The good thing about a movie starring Chingmy Yau is, it still may be as bad as it gets, but it has at least one redeeming factor, and that is, uh, Chingmy Yau. This “Naked Killer” Follow-up is colorful mainstream Exploitation including borderline Bad Taste and an action-packed finale with an insanely satisfying solution. Add a fellatio-technique called “Ice-Fire-Stance”, Milk-Advertisement featuring female mercenaries blowing things up in the jungle, Simon Yam, a chainsaw and excessive rape: typical Wong-Jing-Madness. Surprisingly suspenseful thriller-plot, though.

  • HK-DVD

#16

[size=80]before somebody asks, no, we did not watch the movie together.[/size]



Raped by an Angel (Hong Kong, 1993) - 3,5/5

Ah, the golden age of Hong Kong Category III cinema. Wong Jing’s Workshop has churned out another quality production starring the ever so hot Chingmy Yau. Supported by Simon Yam’s show stealing badass performance as well as something you might call an actual movie script, this enjoyable smut piece by Infernal Affairs director Andrew Lau is definitely worth the effort. Plenty of morally dubious fun that even turns into a romantic comedy at one point. Loved that. Only the first 15 min or so wasn’t so hot. The english title is very clever, too. It gets quite amusing once you get the joke during the court room scene. I can’t recall any other movie creating such connection between reality and fiction by redefining film’s title in the middle of the film and also giving that specific scene a boost by indirectly referring to the sarcastic connection between the film’s title and what’s going on in that scene. Pretty damn clever if you as me, even though most likely unintentional. Near the end I also started thinking how cool it would’ve been to see this film in cinema in Hong Kong back in 1993. Sitting there surrounded by weirdos and old guys in their rain coats… ah, nothing beats fictional nostalgia…

  • dvd/Universe

#17

Raped by an Angel 2: The Uniform Fan (Hong-Kong, 1998)

Nowadays filmmakers slowly seem to lose their touch, how to shoot truly engaging and entertaining Exploitation. It’s all gritty and low-budget now, where has all the colour gone? The second part is a boring rape-slasher with cheap backyard-visuals, full of dubious old-guys Fetish Fantasies and embarrassing voyeurism, which makes you feel kinda dirty. And no Exploitation in the second half, just a bleak run-off-the-mill Thriller plot and one tasteless torture-scene with a driller. Takes itself way to serious.

  • HK-DVD

#18

The little Girl who conquered Time (Japan, 1983)

I expected a light-hearted romantic comedy, and what I got was quite an original story about Time-Travel with a Coming-of-Age twist, but I was right about the Romance: beautifully shot, slow-moving but never dull, this movie rushes by like a wonderful daydream. Despite the SF-Theme it honours a way of life bound to tradition. The ending made me feel a little sad, but an insanely kawaii Credits-Sequence made up for it: Tomoyo Harada re-acting memorable scenes while singing a catchy 80s-style pop-song.

  • HK-DVD

#19

Angel Terminators (Hong-Kong, 1990)

Heroic Bloodshed with women and maybe the only one ever to take seriously. No rating on the imdb yet? Well, fuck them, what do they know. I dare say, this may be one of the best all-out-Action-Movie from Hong-Kong besides “Hard Boiled”. Evil Triads, ferocious gun-battles, exploding cars, fast and authentic Kung-Fu with some incredible leg-work by the female lead Sharon Yeung: “Angel Terminators” delivers with interest. Lots of CAT-III Ultra-Violence, which is always a good thing and one very strong exploitive scene. The rest is hard-hitting action-entertainment without lags or boundaries.

  • US-DVD

#20

Fearless: Director’s Cut (Hong Kong, 2006) - 4/5

What a surprise, a director who actually keeps his promise. Ronny Yu’s director’s cut is finally here, and it restores over 35 minutes of footage and also changes the films structure a bit. Whether Michelle Yeoh’s modern day opening scenes are needed can be argued, but the inclusion of the thai fighter scene + some additional village scenes greatly improve the middle part. The Thai fighter scene actually a turning point for the whole film. The first half (including the village scenes) is somewhat average, but the everything following that (including the village scenes) is great.

  • dvd/Edko/141 min



    Shimotsuma monogatari (Japan, 2004) - 3/5

    Not quite as enjoyable as I remembered. Too much “lets make something hip and hope people will think we’re cool” attitude. All those “whooh” sound effect whenever someone nods his head and the cliche scenes of a bystander commenting the film’s events… God, you must really be proud of yourself. But there’s a lot of good, too. Anna Tsuchiya is still wonderful, and we absolutely need a film where the main character walks around looking like this. They should’ve done this film with a straight face, that would’ve been cool. It’s really a shame how much potential is wasted, like that shot of Kyoko in the train, it’s like 7 seconds when it should’ve been 2 minutes. The close up shots at the end are wonderful, and so is the idea of borrowing music from Fukasaku’s yakuza epic during the early scenes.
  • dvd/IVL



    Police Woman aka Young Tiger aka Heroine aka Rumble in Hong Kong aka Police Woman Against Jackie Chan aka Nui ging chaat aka Ru jing cha (Hong Kong, 1974) - 2,5/5

    On the surface this is a very basic and average mid 70’s modern day Hong Kong actioner. The story is as simple as it gets, and none of the movie makers were of high profile. Action scenes are decent, the camera half accidentally captures some nice Hong Kong landscapes and there’s bit of 70’s groove here and there. Young Jackie Chan playing the villain is the main reason to watch this film. It’s a supporing role, but it’s a rather big one and it’s very interesting to see how Jackie handles it, especially as he’s given a little bit more freedom than in his most other movies of the era.
  • dvd/BCI