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Asian movie diary (2008)

New year, new topic. Lets forget about everybody having to post every asian movie they see here, that will just scare people away. Short comments will be enough, and you can join any time. The 2007 topic can be found here

Hung’s rating scale (1-5)

1 = Unwatchable

1,5 = Worthless

2 = Watchable

2,5 = Average

3 = Good

3,5 = Very Good

4 = Excellent

4,5 = Masterpiece

5 = Exception

Gaichu (Japan, 2001) – 4,5/5

Aoi Miyazaki gives yet another perfect performance in this shocking but captivating film. The second half is a bit less good than the first but still features some of my favourite moments. I loved the early scenes of Aoi and the homeless guy spending their days hanging around at the construction site and I was afraid that the tone change that occurs around the halfway might sink the whole movie. Thankfully that doesn’t happen as the director handles the change well, despite one notable scene lacking credibility. The ending is very strong and leaves a long lasting impact. Very surprising from Akihiko Shiota, whose earlier film Moonlight Whispers only worked on trash level, and even then by accident.

  • dvd / R2J

1/3 asia…

Eros (USA, Italy, Hong Kong etc., 2004) – 1,5/5

Wong, Sodenbergh, Antonioni. Divide by three. The Hand is Wong Kar Wai at his dryest and fakest. Gong Li has been given an uninteresting role as a high class prostitute, and Chang Chen does his best in the ‘Tony Leung role’. Only the ending is good. Sodenbergs follow up isn’t much better, mainly a long joke. Robert Downey Jr. does his usual stuff, but in this context it’s hardly a bad thing. The film concludes with Antonioni’s gorgeously photographed soft porn wich challenges the arthouse audiences to keep their cool while listening to some of the most laughable dialogue in recent memory.

  • dvd / Mei Ah

    and 3/3 asia

    Election 2 (Hong Kong, 2006) – 4/5

    Johnnie To’s ultra cold triad sequel is even better than the original. Louis Koo fares surprisingly well in the lead role, and Simon Yam is often brilliant (this time a supporting character). The film’s visual style (very muted colours) works well with the extreme realism. On the minus side, if you want to see it like that, Election 2 makes most other genre films feel very childish.
  • dvd / R3 HK

Shiki-Jitsu (Japan, 2000) – 4,5/5

The person who called Hideaki Anno God wasn’t too far off. Shiki-jitsu has a couple of scenes that don’t fully work, such as the ending, but features so much perfection that the flaws can be forgiven. The film stars a strange lead couple; Steven Seagal’s daughter Ayako Fujutani, on whose novel the film was based on, and film director Shunji Iwai. Both are terrific. Stylistically the film feels like something between Anno’s earlier live action, Love & Pop, and a Shunji Iwai movie.

  • dvd / R2J

    Rica 3 (Japan, 1973) – 4/5

    If you want Rica 3 to take you by a surprise… then stop reading this. The second sequel to the kick ass pinky violence classic is, for some reason, a slapstick comedy. It’s a rather charming film, though. Of course the upbeat comedy and romance is occasionally interrupted with shocking sexual violence but that’s a part of the package. Many of the genre twist are sure to make fans cheer, and Rika Aoki doesn’t disappoint with her ever changing outfits.
  • dvd / Exploitation Digital

Let’s see if I’m able to carry it through, this year …

Violent Cop (Japan, 1989)

Ultra-cold character study by Takeshi Kitano about a cop, who slowly loses his grip on what’s right and what’s wrong, by taking everything personal. Not a single person in here, who’s worth identifying with; you’re either a fucker, a dilletante or a sadist. Some of the most shocking twists take place as a casual footnote. I felt quite lonely afterwards, which, ultimately, is a good thing, because the depiction of sadness and violence actually affected me. Moves quite slowly, though.

  • German DVD

    Laputa: The Castle in the Sky (Japan, 1986)

    My favorite Ghibli ever. I don’t like their newer output as much, but this one is as perfect as it gets: Exciting flight-sequences, detailed animation, rich characters you care for, and a quite suspenseful and moving storyline. Plot moves around a Jules Verne/Jonathan Swift inspired utopia featuring early 19th century technology. There’s some childish humour in there, too, but it doesn’t get in the way of the drama.
  • German DVD

    Saikano: The last Love-Song on this little Planet (Japan, 2005)

    Rather cute and ultimately tragic love-story revolving around a schoolgirl (Aki Maeda), who has been transformed by the army to become the ultimate weapon. Cheap CGI and a very bland and uninspired, almost TV-like direction isn’t what this epic story deserves, but there you are. Some story-devices follow heavily stylized, manga-like dramatic composition, and will annoy a great deal of people who haven’t read the books. And where the fuck came those animated sea mews from? Strange, indeed. Great soundtrack, though.
  • German DVD

    Mezzo Forte: Director’s Cut (Japan, 2001)

    A total blast! Insanely detailed animation, way cool characters, sardonic wit, gory gunfights, a twisty story about cops, kidnappers and androids; add Martial Arts as a device to include as many panty-shots as possible, and last but not least, two hardcore porn scenes (one of them totally unnecessary, the other an end-in-itself rape mayhem). You may feel like a pervert afterwards, but you’ll also have to admit, that the 55 minutes of Mezzo Forte were indeed one of the most thrilling and exciting rides of your life.
  • Greek DVD

    Class Reunion Again (Japan, 2002)

    Rather pointles entry into the genre of romantic Hentai. Story unfolds like a typical Bishoujo-Game/Dating-Sim with the main character (Tatsuya) going in two seperate stories after different girls (Ayu and Mizuho). Some cute situations, though (the nosebleed-cliche is also been taken care of), and a quite silly and unexciting storyline: unfolds and ends like a typical romantic drama/comedy. The compulsory sex scene in the “finale” of each story is short and hardcore, but on gentle side of hentai and not overly kinky. If you’re the kind of guy who watches porn in order to see the couples getting married in the end, you might wanna give “Class Reunion Again” a chance, otherwise there’s not much of interest to find here. Quality of animation is only mediocre.
  • Greek DVD

    Blood: The last Vampire (Japan, 2000)

    Feels like trailer of something much bigger, which sadly never comes. Still a recommendation, because you’ll hardly find another anime with more detailed and meticulously composed imagery. Bloodthirsty demons run loose on an US army base in Tokio (set right before Vietnam War escalates) and it’s up to Saya, a tough Vampire Killer with a Samurai Sword (dressed-up in a schoolgirl uniform), to protect mankind. Action scenes are short, but very bloody and always exciting.
  • UK-DVD

Woohoo, I’m so happy you’re back. (btw, I added my own rating scale to the first post)

Touch of Zen (Taiwan, 1969) – 4/5

King Hu’s most famous film may not be the Seven Samurai of wuxia, but it comes close. The three hour movie doesn’t have a single boring moment. The characters are exceptionally interesting, with maybe one exception. The script seemed to forget to explain one plot element (the female lead’s mother) but it’s is not too distracting. The action scenes are beautifully shot, and the last 30 minutes is simply amazing. Very young (and not so fat) Sammo Hung appears briefly as one the members of the governement’s secret police.

  • TV

    Raining in the Mountain (Hong Kong / China, 1979) – 4/5

    After Touch of Zen 120 minute King Hu film feels exactly what it is: short. Raining in the Mountain is somewhat smaller scale but brilliantly written and directed. Some scenes are nothing short of heavenly. The amount of martial arts is very low but you don’t miss them a bit.
  • TV

    Seoul Raiders (Hong Kong, 2005) – 1,5/5

    A good example of a movie that doesn’t have a reason to exist. Uninspired is the key word. Tony Leung Chiu Wai is enjoying his South Korean holiday, and Shu Qi reminds us of how bad she can be when working with the wrong people. Not a good movie. Not even with the glorious 2 second schoolgirl shot.
  • dvd / HKL

    The Master (Hong Kong, 1989) – 3/5

    Another filming vacation, this time courtesy of Tsui Hark. Jet Li and Yuen Wah star in this enjoyable L.A. flick loaded with good humour, decent music and stylish, zero wire-work action scenes. The main villain looks like Michael Douglas in martial arts mode. Good stuff. There’s even a cool sequence with Jet Li running around the city and chasing the latins who stole his luggage.
  • dvd / HKL

[quote=“Hung Fist”]
Seoul Raiders (Hong Kong, 2005) – 1,5/5

A good example of a movie that doesn’t have a reason to exist. Uninspired is the key word. Tony Leung Chiu Wai is enjoying his South Korean holiday, and Shu Qi reminds us of how bad she can be when working with the wrong people. Not a good movie. Not even with the glorious 2 second schoolgirl shot.

  • dvd / HKL
    Yeah, that movie totally sucked. Jingle Ma may be good at shooting commercials or flashy cross-fades, but he should have gotten some help for the Martial-Arts scenes. And I must have blinked during that 2 second schoolgirl shot. Damn. “Tokyo Raiders” and “Silver Hawk” were superior at least in shallow entertainment value.

    Immoral Sisters (Japan, 2001)

    As close to total pornography, as Anime could possibly ever get: the plot employs one of the oldest (and lamest) story telling devices ever invented for porn, and that’s Blackmail: Unable to pay a settlement after a car-crash, housewife Yukie offers Takato (son to the owner/president of Nogawa Industries) her body in return, while Nogawa himself plots an evil scheme to get into the panties of Yukie’s two daughters. Almost everyone gets raped, but ultimately ends up enjoying it. Duh. There’s a lot here to find disgusting or even disturbing, but you can equally take a lot of enjoyment out of utterly hillarious and absurd situations. Most of the time I was simply too amused (or eagerly awaiting the next bizarre twist) to get actually horny. Animation is crisp and clear, fluid and detailed, plus it has something that real porn hasn’t: a great soundtrack and a catchy theme-song during the credits. Because of it’s over-the-top staging it’s hard to take “Immoral Sisters” seriously at all, but don’t get all featherbrained about it: this is the all-out perverted stuff that gave Hentai it’s name in the first place, and the fact that some of the girls are sketched quite young (although there’s nothing mentioned about their real age), doesn’t help that either.
  • US-DVD


Immoral Sisters (Japan, 2001)

this is the all-out perverted stuff that gave Hentai it’s name in the first place, and the fact that some of the girls are sketched quite young (although there’s nothing mentioned about their real age), doesn’t help that either.

Uhhh Isaku respect is perverted… Blackmail 2 is distrubing… On average in hentai… Immoral Sisters is a cute romp… I think ill mention them here again later with little reviews…

Into the Mirror ( 2003 ) I found this to be pritty colorful… Ji-Tae Yu seems to be a flexible actor… very different to Oldboy… it was interesting seeing this not long after Prince of Darkness… 2.5 / 5

Luv Wave (Japan, 2000)

Cyberpunk meets Hentai: after a global Network-crash caused by some mysterious, godlike AI called “Xinn” the planet earth suffered major damage both in human capacity and infrastructure. Somewhere in there were fragments of a good story to be found, about androids discovering emotions, then there’s a dangerous cyber-drug called “Ninth Heaven”, similar in effect and application like that brain-stimulating device from “Strange Days”, but overall “Luv Wave” was a disappointment. The story needed a lot more space to unfold itself, instead precious time is wasted by means of lengthy, unnecessary sex-scenes. Lot’s of random twists, confounded dialogue, crucial characters popping out of nowhere, and not enough fluency/agitation during action-scenes. Plus there’s one really sick rape-scenario, something I’d not like to go into detail here, because it was just plain disturbing. These are the kind of recommendations you’ll get, when people jerk off while reviewing a movie. Really a shame, because the finale contained some very visionary and apocalyptic ideas, stuff you’d normally expect from a Mamoru Oshii/Masamune Shirow feature.

  • US-DVD

Mystery of the Necronomicon (Japan, 1999)

Plotwise that was actually a good one, considering it’s a Hentai-feature. Inspired by the Lovecraft-Mythology (not the tentacle-infested Cthulhu-stuff, mind, but the Herbert West “I’ll resurrect the Dead” kind of story), I found myself entangled in an adventurous detective-mystery full of nasty (in a suspenseful way) flashbacks and dream-sequences. But you’ve got to wait until the third episode (out of four), until the really good stuff starts: zombies, virgin sacrifices and the like. Of course there was some “Ecchi” fan sevice going on - thankfully not at the expense of precious story-telling time; a bit of rather kinky lesbian love-making, but nothing overly disgusting. Animation could’ve been more fluent, though.

  • US-DVD

Heroes Shed No Tears (Hong Kong, 1984/1986) – 4/5

John Woo’s Vietnam film manages to be both a lot fun and a more impressive as a war movie that 10 Private Ryans put together. There’s something touching about Woo’s old fashioned (male) hero myths. Yet the film has everything a good Vietnam adventure needs; lots of violent gunplay, a crazy village leader with gambling addiction, pretty jungle girls, sadistic villain (Lam Ching Ying) and pot smoking. The music and cinematography are impressive, and Eddy Ko is the embodiment of a John Woo hero.

  • dvd / HKL

    Kairo (Japan, 2001) – 1,5/5

    Time to give up on Kurosawa’s ghost movies. Kairo is hardly better than the rest of the recent Japanese genre production. Visually it’s pleasing, but every attempt to create something even remotely scary fails miserably. The use of audio is especially embarrassing. A couple of nice moments and ideas, such as themes of loneliness, have found their way into the movie, but are effectively butchered in the director’s hands. Maybe if the scrip didn’t feature a single super-natural element Kurosawa might be able to deliver a good film.
  • dvd / R2J

    Gate of Flesh (Japan, 1964) – 4,5/5

    A band of take-no-prisoners prostitutes fight for their turf in Seijun Suzuki’s mid 60s pulp masterpiece. The post WWII Tokyo is shown as a battlefield where humanity is a shortcut to death. Suzuki’s brutal and dazzling mix of colour, camp and sex is like an early but no less ballsy version of the concept later re-used by several pinky violence directors in the 70’s. Gate of Flesh however has an extra advantage with its excellent script. Jo Shishido gives a good performance in the film’s only remarkable male role. Just the fact that he doesn’t get ripped into pieces in this company is an achievement.
  • TV

Killzone a.k.a. Sha Po Lang (Hong-Kong, 2005)

Watched it for the fifth time. Still convincing on both a stylistic and energetic level, with some genuine moments of sentimentality thrown in. You’ve gotta wait until the last 20 minutes for the real action to start, though, but when it’s a go, you’re in for at least one of the most hard-hitting and exciting fight-sequences you’ll have ever seen (Donnie Yen vs. Wu Jing).

  • German DVD

Behind Closed Doors (Japan, 2001)

I won’t write much about this, since, concerning Hentais, I already took enough heat in a certain thread to last me through another cold season; lets just leave it at, that this didn’t had a lot of story and was about the, uhm, darker side of Love. Animation was certainly nicely done (reason enough for some people to lavish it with Top-Reviews), but some of it was simply too much for me; found parts of it extremely repulsive and irritating. There are titles like “Bible Black”, which are nasty AND fun, and there’s movies like “Behind closed Doors”, which are nasty and just plain disturbing. I remember one funny thing, though, and that’s when the main-character had a hard-on (and he had lots of them), they always had this particular weird X-Ray Shot of his crotch.

  • US-DVD

The Killer (Hong-Kong, 1989)

My most favorite movie of all times, the movie that started it all (my on-going craze with Asian Cinema, that is) and the one and only Action-film that has ever managed to make me cry. Seriously. Must have watched it at least for the 15th time, I think, and still that uncompromisingl “Farewell”-Scene between Sydney and Jeffrey has had some emotional impact. Perfect.

  • German DVD

Fudoh: The new Generation (Japan, 1996)

Children wih guns, schoolgirls killing with their vaginas, twisted Sexuality, insanely violent disposal of enemies; one of the more fascinating Yakuza-movies, but (I didn’t know if this was an intended reaction by director Takashi Miike) especially during the first half, I found myself repeatedly in laughing fits due to the sheer outrageous Over-The-Topness of some of the splatter-effects, while the second half became slightly more dramatic, nastier and even tragic (poor Mika). Found myself thoroughly entertained; while it didn’t work on a suspense-level, “Fudoh” still managed to engross me with sheer Wonder. Although sometimes very bizarre, I didn’t found it as shocking or unamendable as “Dead or Alive” or “Ichi: The Killer” might be.

  • Dutch DVD

Welcome to Dongmakol (South Korea – 2005) – 2,5/5

Three North and two South Korean soldiers get stuck in a small village during the war. Welcome to Dongmakol has a real lousy first 50 minutes. Appart from the beautiful landscapes everything from screenplay to acting and special effects goes more or less wrong. Around halfway there’s laughable cgi boar scene, which I recall hating on the initial viewing, but now it turned out the most enjoyable scene in the film so far. The second half isn’t exactly great movie making but it’s so ridiculously hearwarming (despite the stone cold calculation on the screenwriter’s behalf) that I can’t help myself with the rating. 2,5/5 is probably more than this movie deserves, but the aftertaste is good enough grant such decent rating.

  • dvd / R3K

    Sono otoko, kyobo ni tsuki (Japan, 2003) - 3/5

    This is a weird film from Nobohiru Yamashita. In fact, I’m not sure if this 38 minute fake documentary should be called a film at all. Yamashita himself, although spending most of the time â€

The Invincible Armour (Hong-Kong, 1977)

While this may not be the best Kung-Fu-Movie ever done, it sure is one one of the more memorable ones. Although there were a lot of scenes where people kinda randomly walked through the wilderness, when suddenly some bad guy jumped over a wall and said something like: “If you wanna pass, you first gotta defeat me”, I found the storyline surprisingly complex and engaging; also look out for one of the most hillarious and effective finishing move in movie-history. Uh, did I mention that the Soundtrack has boldly been ripped off from various Spaghetti-Westerns, including “Day of Anger”? Good stuff.

  • German DVD

    Bride of Darkness (Japan, 1999)

    One of the most tastefully executed Hentais I’ve seen so far; at times the animation even reached a level, where you would speak of Art: some athmospheric compositions with Sepia colours made for an extremely esthetic vintage-quality. The story took place in late 19th century in England, a haunted mansion, dark secrets, forbidden passions, three-dimensional characters you cared for; could’ve done without the halfway fantasy-twist, though (demon-hunters and all). The sex-scenes were rather short, contextual, and despite some hardcore-details I found them unmistakeably erotic. Also girls didn’t had those over-inflated breasts, which sadly have become a rather common trademark in Hentai. There were some darker aspects of intimate togetherness, too; stuff like bondage and candle-wax, but in an eerily, quite sensual and not overly exploitive way (mild tentacle-alert, though). With a total running-time of 55 minutes there was definetely more plot than sex. Did it turn me on? In a way yes, but without dragging my mind into the gutter. And it even comes in 16:9, oh yeah.
  • Greek DVD

Spider Lilies (Taiwan, 2007) – 3/5

This is sad. I saw Spider Lilies on big screen last year and loved it. But unfortunately second viewing, this time from dvd, couldn’t re-create that feeling. It’s partly because television set doesn’t come even close to doing justice to this film’s visuals, but also because I made a misjudgement with the film. I still love the use of color, tattoo, webcam and terrific theme music, but the film is just too conventional and the flashbacks are once again out of place. Rainie Yang’s character is interesting but the girl isn’t much of an actor. Isabella Leong isn’t especially good (although good looking) but not downright terrible either. The director doesn’t get close enough to the characters… although my memories from the last time were claiming so. I really wanted to love this film, enough to split the viewing over two nights, just to make sure it wasn’t anything temporary with my mood that was distracting me from the film, but no. It’s a good popcorn drama, a lesbian love story in fact - that should earn the film a few more viewers - but it’s not great. Maybe next time.

  • dvd / Deltamac

Legendary Courtesan Hwang Jin-Yi (Korea, 2007)

The story of the world’s most famous Kisaeng (Korean complement of the Geisha), who lived during the 16th century, and ultimately the tale of a doomed love. It’s a long movie, very long indeed, and quite short on action and all kinds of exciting events. But surprisingly it managed to grab my attention throughout; there were lots of fascinating things to learn, about traditions, ancient virtues and all; also the acting was excellent, to say the least (if you don’t mind a rather Hollwood way of dramaticising things). Although it was a really pretty movie to look at (costumes, set-design etc.), there weren’t a lot of memorable scenes, but especially the last half hour made up for it with some very strong drama and genuine display of emotion and affection. For a Korean Movie it had a surprisingly honest and non-manipulative way of handling the tragic fates of it’s characters. And the last shot was of such utter beauty it made my heart ache.

  • Korean DVD

Moon over Tao (Japan, 1997)

Pretty cool, yet incredibly random Fantasy-Flick by Keita Amemiya, the unrivaled King of Otaku-Entertainment. Storyline felt like straight out of a Videogame-RPG: People form a party (one of them Hiroshi Abe as a slightly miscast, yet sympathetic Samurai dude, another a little girl, so cute she made Turkish candy seem inedibly sour), update their Quest-Log, and move out to kill the Uber-End-Boss, with some pointless magical hanky-panky in between, and even more random enemy encounters just for the sake of a few extra Experience-Points. All the settings looked cheap and bland, but because there was always some awesome oldschool visual-effects blurring the view, I didn’t mind. Enter a pair of Power Rangers-like Alien-Creatures (Yuko Moriyama and Yuko Moriyama) with some cool mechanical spiders in their inventory, fighting Ronin-Bandits (and each other) with Samurai-Swords. Sounds ludicrous, yeah, but somehow Keita Amemiya managed to pull this off in a surprisingly stylish and cool way. Action-choreography looked like straight out of a Ninja-flick (a.k.a. nothing to drool over), but spiced up with lots of cool sparkling effects; there were even some cool 70s-like arterial bloodsprays to be found. Last but not least one of the coolest monsters I’ve ever seen, moving around by means of oldschool CGI, kickass Stop-and-Motion technology and Prosthetic Model Goodness. Now that’s six times “cool” in one review, I think you’ll get the meaning. Not half as cool as “Zeiram”, but still cool enough to make for an entertaining one-time viewing.

  • US-DVD