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H-Man's Countdown to 200 Japanese Movies 
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Since I posted this, the last two movies I've seen were jidai-geki movies that I reviewed in the mini-review fórum. I'll move them here so you can all better see my progress.

#136 - Samurai Rebellion (1967) (original title: Jôi Ichi: Hairyô tsuma shimatsu) - Produced by Toho Studios. Toshiro Mifune plays Ishiburo Sasahara, a renown swordsman in the employ of the Aizu clan. He has a shrewish wife and two sons, one of whom, Yogoro, is reaching the age of marriage. Things start going south for the family when the daimyo orders Ishiburo's son to marry his ex-lover/concubine. Sasahara's wife is against the idea, but you don't really say no to your feudal lord. The wedding goes forward and Yogoro's new bride is actually a great wife and the two have a happy marriage. But then the daimyo declares that the son he had with Yogoro's wife is to be his heir, and it would not look good to the other feudal lords if the successor's mom was married to a vassal. Ishiburo, who has never known a happy marriage, puts his foot down and tells the Lord and their lackeys to go screw themselves. Things go to hell from there.

Very fascinating jidai geki that makes an interesting commentary on the plight of women within Japan's old feudal system, as they were nothing but objects to be bartered at the whim and will of the feudal lord. It was bad enough that Ichi, the girl in question, had to give up her fiancé to be the daimyo's concubine. Then he passed her onto to another, only to rescind on that AFTER the two had fallen in love and had a child together. Actually, the feudal system was a hideous b**** goddess to everyone who wasn't a daimyo or shogun, when you get right down to it. The action doesn't kick in until the 100-minute mark, so be patient. The first hour is set-up, the next 40 minutes build up the tension as the two sides spar with words and threats, and finally Mifune cuts loose. Worth a viewing or two.

#137 - Kill! (1968) - (original title: Kiru!) - Very complex tale of two men--one a farmer wishing to become a samurai, another a disillusioned samurai who wanders the country as a vagabond--who arrive at a desolate town torn apart by a violent conflict between the corrupt daimyo and the Yakuza, who in this film, are renegade samurai fighting on the side of the peasants. The two men initially take opposite sides, but eventually team up to fight for the side who's in the moral right. There's some decent action here, some nice character scenes, and an interesting story on the whole. Veteran Godzilla composer Masaru Sato channels his Morricone in the score, while Toho kaiju alumni Akira Kubo, Yuriko Hoshi, and Yoshio Tsuchiya have important supporting roles in the movie. Recommended.

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Mon Dec 12, 2016 3:17 pm
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#138 - My Neighbor Totoro (1988) (original title: Tonari no Totoro) – I sat down to watch this with my 8-year-old daughter last night. In the beginning, she asked me to turn on the Portuguese track, which I informed her wasn’t available on the disc I had purchased. Surprisingly, despite it being subtitled, her eyes remained glued to the screen for the duration of the film, which both of us really liked. One thing I like about Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, is that how intimate and personal the stories are. While films like Nausicaa and Princess Mononoke can have a larger scale, many of their stories can just as easily focus on the normal lives of a few, even when those lives come into contact with supernatural forces that defy comprehension. Here we have a movie about a dad and his two daughters moving out to the sticks to be close to their hospitalized mother, and the ginormous tree near the house just happens to house a trio of forest spirits. Like Ponyo and Kiki’s Delivery Service, there are no villains, and the internal conflicts refer to the girls’ fears regarding their ailing mother (something most of us could relate to) and the main external conflict is when the younger of the daughters runs off and gets lost (something any parent or older sibling who has had to babysit can relate to). Everyone is likable and relatable, and wuddiaknow? The father is actually a loving and supportive character, instead of a work-obsessed cynic or deadbeat that we see too often in movies. The beautiful animation just caps off the charming and low-key story that seems to have become a lost art to Hollywood.

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Thu Dec 22, 2016 11:32 am
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#139 - Secret World of Arrietty (2010) (original title: Kari-gurashi no Arietty) - Another family movie viewing, with my wife and mother-in-law joining Susan and I. We all liked it a lot. The animation was beautiful, with all the attention given to the little details that make Studio Ghibli films such a delight to watch. My wife and mother-in-law commented that the story moved along a lot slower than Hollywood animated films, but that the story really catches your attention. The end was bittersweet, but ultimately fitting and the final encounter between Sho and Arrietty was touching. I'm thinking about picking up the book to read to my daughter now. And like My Neighbor Totoro, the father is a loving figure, even if he is a little laconic.

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Sat Dec 24, 2016 1:02 am
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#140 - Pokémon: The First Movie - Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998) (original title: Gekijô-ban poketto monsutâ - Myûtsû no gyakushû) My daughter got a whole bunch of Pokémon movies for Christmas, so some of my next movies will be those. *Sigh* I didn't see this when it came out, but I *do* remember that it made a whopping FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS at the American box office during its first weekend--probably due to good marketing and the fact that it was imported from Japan while Pokémon was still at the height of its initial popularity in the States (as opposed to, say, Dragonball: Evolution, which stayed in development hell until long after most people had lost interest in the series except the most dedicated fanboys, and then proceeded to offend them by making a horrible movie). Unfortunately, negative word-of-mouth killed the film quickly, and only earned 80 million total before leaving the box office. And when the next (and better received by critics) Pokémon movie came out Stateside, it's total haul was about 40 million only.

And yeah, this movie is not very good. The first 10 minutes shows us the creation of Mewtwo: the result of a genetic experiment on the hairs of a rare Mew Pokémon. Mewtwo is insanely powerful, and discovering that he's only an experiment, resolves to vaporize his creators. Giovanni, the benefactor of Team Rocket (who show up in big supporting roles here, but make absolutely no contribution to the plot whatsoever), tries to enslave Mewtwo to further his own agenda, but appears to meet the same fate. Mewtwo decides to whip up a massive storm to wipe out humanity, find the greatest trainers, steal their Pokémon, clone them, and create a new super race to rule the Earth. Only Ash and the power of Love can save everybody.

The script plays like a 3-episode arc and is inaccessible to anybody not familiar with the series, the games, or whatever. The take-home message of the movie is that short, friendly fights with your special powers is OK; but long, drawn-out hand-to-hand battles to the death are evil and bad...or something like that. They basically preach non-violence in a universe that revolves around conflict, as Dr. Freex put it. The whole Giovanni bit serves no real purpose but to give Mewtwo more of a reason to hate people. It takes up 4 minutes of screen time early on and is forgotten about afterward. It's reminiscente of the Yakuza subplot to Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla that way. Brock and Misty (I like how one journalist said that her hairstyle looks like an exit wound) don't seem to be all that distraught when Ash temporarily dies. The big fight between Mew and Mewtwo is this weird, Dragonball-esque showdown of two colored bubbles flying around and hitting each other to no effect. It's all very bad.

#141 - Pokémon 3: The Movie (2000) (original title: Gekijô-ban poketto monsutâ: Kesshô-tô no teiô) This wasn't as aggressively bad as the first movie, but was just sort of odd. A bunch of Pokémon who look like runes with eyes, known as Unown, transport a little orphan girl into a warped dream reality while gradually turning the "real world" into Crystal. The girl, who's protected by a new Pokémon named Entei, has her guardian Pokémon kidnap Ash's mother so that she can be her new mother. Ash leads his friends on a rescue mission, while Team Rocket follow close behind and make no contribution to the story whatsoever. The highlight is a pitched battle between Entei and Charizzard, which has some nifty animation involving Crystal spikes. The strange part is where the little girl projects herself as a well-endowed adult to have a Pokémon duel with Brock. Uh, okay.

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Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:45 pm
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#142 - Fatal Fury: The Legend of the Hungry Wolf (1992) - (original title: Battle Fighters Garou Densetsu) - I've seen the second and third films, but I didn't see this one, mainly because most of the reviews I read were negative. Now I know why. The animation is not very good; the character design is inadequate, with most characters looking overly tall and lanky (with the exception to villain Geese Howard, whose hyper-muscular body paired with a teensy head makes him look silly), Andy Bogard sporting *blue* hair, and Billy Kane looking more goofy than intimidating; the story is woefully undeveloped--it tries to do far too much in 45 minutes and everything from the romantic-but-tragic subplot to the fighting tournament feels perfunctory; and the fight sequences are over before they even begin, with bad animation (close-ups, quick cuts) obscuring even the special moves and rendering many of the fights unintelligible. The final showdown lasts about two or three special moves and is done. Is that it? Is that *friggin* it??? If you want good fight action, watch Fatal Fury 2, which also introduces Mai "I'm more male fantasy than developed character" Shiranui to the story.

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Sun Jan 01, 2017 10:19 pm
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Hman wrote:
#142 - Fatal Fury: The Legend of the Hungry Wolf (1992) - (original title: Battle Fighters Garou Densetsu) - I've seen the second and third films, but I didn't see this one, mainly because most of the reviews I read were negative. Now I know why. The animation is not very good; the character design is inadequate, with most characters looking overly tall and lanky (with the exception to villain Geese Howard, whose hyper-muscular body paired with a teensy head makes him look silly), Andy Bogard sporting *blue* hair, and Billy Kane looking more goofy than intimidating; the story is woefully undeveloped--it tries to do far too much in 45 minutes and everything from the romantic-but-tragic subplot to the fighting tournament feels perfunctory; and the fight sequences are over before they even begin, with bad animation (close-ups, quick cuts) obscuring even the special moves and rendering many of the fights unintelligible. The final showdown lasts about two or three special moves and is done. Is that it? Is that *friggin* it??? If you want good fight action, watch Fatal Fury 2, which also introduces Mai "I'm more male fantasy than developed character" Shiranui to the story.


What makes this particularly inexplicable is that the original game had a surprisingly well-told story for the time. Unlike M. Bison, who just waited in Thailand until someone beat their way through the rest of the World Warriors, Geese Howard is always watching you, getting updates on your progress and going increasingly frustrated as you beat his subordinates. You get a sense of danger from the guy well before he abducts you from the winner's circle and fights you himself.

All you need to make a decent animated film out of that is the flashback scene showing Jeff's murder and then have the Bogards and Joe fight their way through the roster, with Geese monitoring it. How do you botch that?

...oh, right. Throw in a useless romance subplot. There are reasons Terry never has a romantic undercurrent until the ill-regarded third game.

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Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:21 pm
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#143 - Pokémon 6: Jirachi Wish Maker (2003) - (original title: Gekijōban Poketto Monsutā Adobansu Jenerēshon Nanayo no Negaiboshi Jirāchi) So, suddenly between films 5 and 6, Misty left the group and was replaced by May and her little brother, Max. The story itself is about a comet that passes Earth every 1,000 years, which leads to the reappearance of a Pokémon called Jirachi, who is able to grant wishes (to a certain extent). A Magician performing at a big Pokémon fair is in possession of the stone that houses Jirachi, who calls out telepathically to Max. Jirachi eventually appears, befriends Max, and the gang has to go on the run to protect it from the Magician, who wants to use its wish-granting power to tap into the comet's energy and call forth a nigh-indestructible (aren't they Always) Pokémon called Groudon. While we shouldn't expect too much creativity here, I do wish that the writers of these animated movies would stop making the Pokémon introduced in these films to be more invincible than the one from the previous film. It gets boring and silly after a while. I like that Groudon comes across as being the Godzilla of the Pokéverse, but then the writers pulled some nonsense about it not being Groudon, but some previously unmentioned being of pure evil who takes on Groudon's form and then uses tentacles to absorb everyone into his own body. Uhh...okay.

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Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:51 pm
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# 144 - High-Kick Girl (2009) - High-Kick Girl is a sad case. It’s one of those movies that I’d really like to recommend, but I just can’t bring myself to do so. After all, the lead actress, Rina Takeda, is the successor to Fist of Legend’s Shinobu Nakayama in terms of sheer adorable. You know, the type of girl whom you just want to give a giant bear hug and pinch her cheeks until the cows come home. She also is an honest-to-mergatroy martial artist, and not some AV Idol who trained for a few weeks with the fight choreographer after coming home from the set of some movie with a title like Spit-Swap Seduction. Moreover, Tatsuya Naka seems to be a real martial artist as well and sells his karate and fight philosophy quite well throughout the film. This is good.

But then you get to everything else about the movie and it all goes to hell. Production values, plotting and script, photography, editing…there’s nothing about this movie that works beyond the cuteness of the actress and her inspired ability to kick a**.

The story goes like this. Takeda plays Kei Tsuchiya (no relation to actor Yoshio Tsuchiya, who always played a bad guy in old sci-fi films—just claiming my film geek prize here), a brown belt in karate who’s upset that her sensei refuses to give her a black belt. In order to prove to him and to herself that she’s strong enough for a black belt, she goes around challenging other black belts to fights, which she handily wins. However, her sensei is more of a kata, or forms, person. He feels that mastering the forms is the best way to understand the essence of karate, and constantly points out that Kei’s forms work isn’t up to snuff.

So what does Kei do? She tries to join a band of martial arts assassins known as the Destroyers. What she doesn’t know is that their leader (or one of them—the film fails to explain the hierarchy of this organization) has just gotten out of jail after 15 years and wants revenge against Kei’s teacher, who practically took down the organization back in the day. The Destroyers—who are a bunch of a losers, considering that they couldn’t find the guy in 15 years, despite the fact that he’s training a regular high school girl and a bunch of other students—use Kei’s initiation fight as a way to get the sensei’s attention. Things are ripe for a final confrontation.

The movie runs about 76 minutes, although I’m sure that there’s probably barely over an hour of actual footage, but we’ll talk about that in a moment. The premise of the movie is pretty dumb, but as a fan of martial arts movies, I’m used to that. But the execution of said premise…that where things really get sticky. As I mentioned before, the characters constantly hint at something that happened 15 years before, but we never find out exactly what happened. What brought the sensei into conflict with the Destroyers? Who’s actually in charge—the big guy who’s always talking, or the guy with a goatee who just got out of prison? Does it actually matter? None of it makes much sense.

Nor can we make much of sense out of Kei’s involvement with the Destroyers. These people are walking around beating people to death with their bare hands, including innocent bystanders, but where are the police. Moreover, how does Kei get a hold of them in the first place? Do they advertise on the internet? And how could she possibly think that joining a team of karate assassins is a good way of proving herself to her master? Participating in an underground martial arts tournament, I could at least imagine that. But karate killers? Uh…yeah. And there’s that part at the end where it seems like the leader of the Destroyers is trying to egg on Kei’s sensei by telling him that his dear pupil has joined the Dark Side, but Kei’s lying face down on the ground with a Destroyer’s foot planted on the base of her neck, ready to break it. I think a smarter script would actually had Kei perform a few hits for the Destroyers before being tricked into facing her master, instead of “You passed the test to join us, but actually it’s a ruse. Hey sensei, look, this girl we’re about to kill joined us!”

So that really just leaves the action to salvage the film. For the most part, the fighting doesn’t disappoint. Rina Takeda looks excellent in her several fight scenes and the girl can kick. She doesn’t quite get as flashy in her moves as, say, the girl who plays her sister in KG: Karate Girl, but I don’t think that’s the point. Her kicks are high, fast and crisp and that’s all that matters. Her best fight is her initiation duel, which pits her against a bunch of school girl assassins and some other random thugs. My only complaint about Takeda’s performance is that she takes a back seat for a good part of the finale, leaving the fight in the hands of her sensei, played by Tatsuya Naka. It would’ve been cool if they had Takeda throwing down with that female Destroyer, Choka, who showed up in an earlier fight sequence, tearing a** with her front flip heel smashes. Sadly, Choka disappears from the movie after that neat fight.

The editing is what undermines the action. About 85% of the action on display gets an instant replay, either in slow motion, from another camera angle, or both. And we’re not talking just the flashier aerial kicks and stuff like that. We’re talking entire patches of choreography, which gets really distracting. Takeda will take out two or three opponents, and then a fourth opponent attacks her, and suddenly we’re back to where she fought the previous three lackeys. It’s jarring and gets old very, very quickly. Instant replays are good for “money moves” like whirlwind kicks and Legendary Superkicker Hwang Jang Lee’s signature moves, especially when you have a good editor behind the camera. Look at the whirlwind kick that Jackie Chan (or Yuen Biao or Chin Kar-Lok) performs at the end of Dragons Forever. It’s shown in slow motion and immediately again at normal speed. It’s edited in a way that it looks like the greatest kick ever delivered in cinema and packs a punch almost 30 years later. But to do entire sequences of hits, kicks and blocks on instant replay feels like unnecessary padding.

In the end, your ability to filter out plot holes the size of Sabrina Boing Boing’s chest, look past the static camera work and limited sets that suggest that the filmmakers had one or two dojos and a high school after hours to film in, and generosity regarding abused editing techniques during the fighting will determine how much you’ll get out of the admittedly strong action sequences. Takeda does great for a freshman effort, but this feels like a freshman effort for everybody behind the camera, which really shows. KG: Karate Girl, this film’s follow up, felt more like a real movie, even if the production values were still a little low. That said, I praise the filmmakers for their sincerity: they honestly want to make an entertaining martial arts movie for fans, and not a cynical cash-grab to serve as sleazy fan service for Western otakus. Perhaps that alone should be enough for many besides the action itself.

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Tue Mar 07, 2017 2:58 pm
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#145 - The Machine Girl (2009) – Produced by Tokyo Shock and Nikkatsu. I felt that I could not reach 200 Japanese movies without watching at least one example of these recent Troma-esque fan service films made for Western male viewers. So I went with this one, which is one of the first and most infamous and had an awesome trailer to boot. When I started watching it, the fact that it was produced by Tokyo Shock, a fairly well-known distributor of Japanese movies in the USA, not to mention the opening credits being entirely in English, hinted at the fact that despite it having an all-Japanese cast speaking Japanese, the movie was literally made for people like me. The cynicism meter went up a few notches at that moment.
The premise is simple: there’s a brother/sister pair who go by the name of Yu and Ami Hyuka, respectively. They both appear to be high school students and have lived on their own ever since their parents were accused of some crime and committed suicide. This fact becomes a frequent source of prejudice throughout the movie. In any case, Yu owes money to one of his colleagues who not only happens to be the son of a Yakuza boss, but is also a direct descendant of the famous ninja Hattori Hanzo (his mother is arguably more violent and sadistic than his father is). One day, Yu and his friend Takeshi fail to raise the money that the Yakuza kid, Kimura Sho, is extorting from them. So Kimura and his flunkies throw Yu and Takeshi out the window of an abandoned building, causing them to fatally crack their skulls on the pavement below.

Ami is crushed, obviously, which is compounded by the fact that the (unseen) police dismiss the deaths as suicide, taking her parents’ fates into consideration. She then discovers Yu’s journal and finds out that he had made a To-Kill list with the names of the Yakuza boys who were extorting money from him. She goes to the home of one of the boys, Ryota, to find out the name of the leader of the gang. This turns into a confrontation in which Ami’s arm is placed in tempura batter and stuck in hot oil. Later that night, Ami sneaks into Ryota’s bedroom and gets the info out of him before slicing off his head with a kama, or sickle. She then rams a knife into the back of Ryota’s mother’s head, causing her to go all Lucio Fulci on us and puke out her entire digestive track into the pot of soup on the dinner table. She takes her vengeance to the Kimura household, but ends up getting captured and tortured. Sho’s father slices off her arm and lets one of his men try to rape her. She fights back and is able to escape, ending up at the doorstep of Takeshi’s house. Takeshi’s parents, both auto mechanics, nurse her back to health and build her a new prosthetic arm, which is actually a large machine gun. The mother also teaches “karate” to Ami, so when Kimura’s ninja buddies storm the garage, they’re both ready to take on their loved ones’ killers.

Rating a movie like this is hard. It has few ambitions, those being a) put as much over-the-top gore onscreen as possible, and b) have cute Japanese girls doing crazy action things. It succeeds on both fronts. The movie is insanely gory, being chock-full of blood geysers, severed limbs and heads, drawn-out torso splittings, gut puking, a man being force-fed his own fingers, and a man getting nails hammered into his head. Then you have ninja battles, people dodging CGI shurikens, catfights involving chainsaws and drill bras, and an evil ninja Yakuza wielding the Fatal Flying Guillotine. If reading those last two sentences gets your blood pumping, then you might have fun with this, although choreography nuts will find said action lacking.

But I didn’t have fun…well, not much. There are a few blackly comic moments, although the bit where a schoolgirl gets a knife jammed into the top of her skull and then the Yakuza boss urges his men to violate her yanked me out of the movie. Even in a film as exaggeratedly violent as this, the necrophiliac rape of a minor is just too much, even if it’s not actually shown. But beyond that, there’s something too calculated about the carnage. It suffers from the “Trying too hard” syndrome that took me out of the third and fourth Sharknado movies. If you look at ultraviolent movies like The Evil Dead, Lucio Fulci’s zombie movies, and later pastiches like Versus and Kill Bill vol. 1, there’s something organic about the gore. It flows naturally from the story, from the action onscreen and from the film’s internal logic. When a girl can shrug off getting her own breasts mutilated and shredded just minutes after another character dies from blood loss after getting her leg severed, then all the buckets of blood onscreen just fail to have any impact. It feels like less of a film, less of a story, and more of an exercise in what the make-up artists and special FX artists could come up with and put onscreen. It’s a soulless exercise, in spite of all the technical effort of the crew.

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Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:24 pm
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One part that I liked, but which fits nicely into the "Where were they going with this?" problem, is after Ami disposes of the mooks sent after her... at which point we cut to their grieving parents being recruited by the villains.

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Wed Mar 08, 2017 6:21 pm
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#146 - Alien vs. Ninja (2010) - Another Sushi Typhoon/Nikkatsu co-production (didn't Nikkatsu go out of business after the failure of 1993's Setting Sun with Diane Lane and Yuen Biao?), or in other words, from the same studios who gave us The Machine Girl. So color me surprised when I actually had fun with this one, despite it having much of the same sensibilities as TMG. This one has more of a sense of humor about itself, and while some of these movies tend to be better when they're pretending that they're not absurd, this one plays well with our expectations and thus makes us laugh out of sheer surprise. My favorite scene is when the Odious Comic Relief finally bites it. The alien (which looks like a xenomorph with dolphin genes) cocks it's claw back, ready to deliver the death blow. It lingers for a few moments, making us think that the other ninjas will suddenly jump in and save him. Nope. His head goes flying off and lands on a decorative shrine, where a bird immediately starts pecking his eyes.

It's hard to explain the difference between this and TMG. The Machine Girl, while absurd and gory, treated the gore like an end in itself and felt like it introduced bizarre situations as an excuse to show more gore. This one is extremely gory, but it also follows a consistent internal logic in how the violence is portrayed and how the characters are affected. Moreover, the end is to be bizarre and fun, and the violence is one of the means to that end. The other means include well-choreographed fights courtesy of Yuji Shimomoura, a protégé of Donnie Yen. There are lots of "ultimate ninja antics" and macho ninja posturing, like when a ninja throws a shuriken at the main protagonist from behind, and the latter slightly unsheathes the sword on his back, which deflects the iron star into the former's head. The climatic fight with the ninja zombies (shades of The Hidden here) has the best choreography and should leave most fight fans pleased.

Finally, some moments of subverting genre clichés help achieve a level of fun weirdness. Few people will argue that the facehuggers in the Alien films have a rape-y subtext to them. Future rip-offs like Galaxy of Terror and the Shaw Brothers' Inseminoid transformed that subtext into real text. So this movie subverts that by having a fight between the resident kunoichi (who's pretty hawt in her skin-tight ninja garb) and one of the aliens, who desperately wants to grope her boobs. The entire fight revolves around the girl using acrobatics and fisticuffs to avoid that scenario, ending with her defeating her attacker by stabbing it in the crotch. That is far more entertaining than The Machine Girl with its raping a dead minor bit.

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Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:13 am
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#147 - Godzilla Resurgence (2016) - (original title: Shin Gojira) - Produced by Toho Studios. This is a hard movie to talk about, because it's something of a departure from the other movies and the plot can easily be summed up as "Godzilla attacks, the government trips over its own feet as they try to deal with the problem." And yet, the political intricacies are many as the film is a satire of Japanese government and the whole Fukushima Plant fiasco. There's more than enough reviews who have covered the same material more intelligently than I ever could, so I'll leave that alone until I can watch it again and get a better grasp of my own feelings.

Godzilla's portrayal has gained the ire of some fans, not so much because of his appearance, but because he displays little personality and is actually subject to harm from conventional weapons (well, some of the more powerful ones--Keith Allison once talked about why rockets, bullets and the like were used instead of 500-pound bunker busters). There are threads in some forums talking about the hypocrisy of fans who denounce the changes that Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin made, while being more accepting the changes made here "just because Toho did it." From a purely visual perspective, Godzilla and the film as a whole looked great. The city destruction sequences and military showdowns were among the most realistic we've ever seen in a Toho film. It fits the tone of the movie and puts it comfortably alongside the Gareth Edwards film, even the aims of both films couldn't be farther removed. Moreover, the fact that Godzilla only roars when hurt, especially in its fourth evolution form, has been pointed out by one fan as being closer to real animals than the usual Godzilla who roars indiscriminately.

All in all, it's a good-looking, intelligent Godzilla movie with a solid score, excellent FX and some nice political jabs. It's been highly successful among Japanese audiences and critics, making over 70 million dollars on a 15-million-dollar budget and winning several Japanese Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Lighting, Best Sound, Best Art Direction and Best Editing. I think after the box office and critical disaster that was Godzilla Final Wars (2004), I'm glad to see that the hiatus ended so successfully.

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Mon Mar 27, 2017 3:45 pm
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I don't see The Human Vapor -- a forgotten Ishiro Honda classic -- or Tampopo in there. Or even Matango, another Honda classic which MUST. BE. SEEN. by all the movie lovers on this earth.

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Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:56 pm
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Cliffie wrote:
I don't see The Human Vapor -- a forgotten Ishiro Honda classic -- or Tampopo in there. Or even Matango, another Honda classic which MUST. BE. SEEN. by all the movie lovers on this earth.


Tampopo just got a Criterion edition announced, by the way. Which is nice because I think it's been out of print in the States for a good long while.

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Mon Apr 03, 2017 10:20 am
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Cliffie wrote:
I don't see The Human Vapor -- a forgotten Ishiro Honda classic -- or Tampopo in there. Or even Matango, another Honda classic which MUST. BE. SEEN. by all the movie lovers on this earth.


Matango is at #18. I have Human Vapor ready to watch, though.

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Mon Apr 03, 2017 3:34 pm
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