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The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Old 01-30-20, 10:37 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Paff View Post
I have three favorite eras of film. Three eras where if the film is made in that time period, in that location, and with that style, I will like it no matter what. Those eras are:
70s "gritty" NYC (usually police or crime related)
Early 70s Italian, horror/thriller
late 80s early 90s HK action. Can be martial arts, gangster, or even the Cat IIIs
Based on your list, I suggest you also try the crime, thriller, or horror from Hong Kong and Taiwan in the 70's. IMO they are as sleazy and gritty as the Italian and US stuffs. Probably start with Shaw Brothers (especially those by Kwei Chi Hung) as they are easier to find on physical media and streaming. Loads of smaller productions in the 70's and 80's are almost impossible to find (except maybe in the HK or Taiwan Film Archives).

Originally Posted by Paff View Post
You are correct, sir.

Although if I had to pick one all-time favorite Cat III, I'd go with the obvious choice: A Chinese Torture Chamber Story. It's the movie that people on message boards will post a clip of and say "What the hell movie is this?"
I remember watching it, expecting a nasty horror film set in a torture dungeon. This is me about 5 minutes into the movie. (Angry)"Hey, this isn't a horror movie! It's a Hong Kong softcore porn movie." (Happy). "Hey, it's a Hong Kong softcore porn movie!"
Also thought it was an example of bad translation on the subtitles, in that the lead character is named "Little Cabbage" in the subs. But then as I tuned my ear to the dialogue, I could tell that her name was indeed "Bok Choi"
Little Cabbage is the literal translation of "Siu Bok Choi" (Cantonese).
Old 02-02-20, 12:00 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

So my latest foray into Asian Cinema was actually a re-watch:


I can't remember exactly, but I think I last saw Ichi the Killer around 2003, and I was pretty sure I saw an edited version that was just over two hours long. Add to that the fact that the movie is now available in a remastered edition, I figured it was time to give it another go. I know there are far nastier films out there, but since I don't normally venture into extreme cinema, this was eyeball searing enough, thank you very much.

It's actually very difficult for me to rate a film like this because I don't enjoy seeing sexual violence and the story is really nihilistic. It actually reminded me of Joker because there's no one to root for. The closest thing to a protagonist is Asano's Kakihara and that's only because he's so comfortable in his own skin, not because he's a good person. I found it quite interesting that this film pre-dates the massive superhero boom we're living through right now but has a title character who dresses like a costumed crime fighter, fights criminals, but is in fact really far removed from the heroes that Marvel and DC churn out.

As subversive commentary on the superhero genre (and I'm not sure that it was intended to be), Ichi the Killer really works. It also forces you to ask questions about yourself as a viewer, with the first question being why are you watching this? The best answer I could come up with is that I like variety in the films I watch. This was a case of trying to push my boundaries, which is something I like to do every now and then.

Now that I know I've watched the uncut version of Ichi, I can move on to other titles the next time I'm in the mood for some extreme cinema. I've only seen Miike's first Dead or Alive movie and might take a crack at the second film...when I'm in the right frame of mind.

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Old 02-03-20, 12:17 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

ICHI was my second Miike film after CITY OF LOST SOULS (which initially flew onto my radar thanks to the presence of HK film star Michelle Reis -- one thing leads to another, I guess and that one really deserves a Blu SE). I saw ICHI uncut at the TIFF's Midnight Madness screening in 2001. As a gag, they handed out barf bags to everyone entering the theatre and I have to admit this pre-conditioning led to a couple of moments where I almost felt like I'd need to use my free souvenir. That didn't happen and I'm sure the bag is still mixed in with my TIFF ephemera. This wasn't my first "extreme" Asian film by a long shot, but it was probably the most extreme I'd seen up to that point. Didn't love it, but my appreciation of it grew a little more with time, although my first revisit on DVD was via the Universe import from Hong Kong that was censored with a lawnmower (maybe that's the version you saw?). It's true, I think, that by pushing the envelope past the breaking point these kinds of movies desensitize us, but not necessarily in a bad way (I hope?). I think the next one that had me close to retching was the straight-faced torture shocker GROTESQUE in 2009, but I'm sure even that pales in comparison to later stuff. It still packs a wallop, though. For those with strong constitutions, the uncut version is on YouTube (looks like the Tokyo Shock Blu/DVD is out of print)
Old 02-03-20, 12:25 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Ah yes, nothing like your first exposure to Takashi Miike being on the big screen. For me, it was Audition. I wished I could have taken a picture of the theater marquee (pre-cell phone camera days, obv), it was a single screen arthouse with the announcement of "Audition - not for the squeamish" spelled out in those removable letters. And yet, someone still got up and walked out during the more extreme sequence at the finale.
Old 02-03-20, 12:39 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Wow, I think I stand corrected. I did see AUDITION before ICHI, albeit via Hong Kong VCD as I recall, so that was probably as much of an impetus to see the latter as CITY OF LOST SOULS was. I figured, hey, if I can handle the conclusion of AUDITION, how strong could this ICHI flick be, really?
Old 02-03-20, 01:21 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Actually, one of my favorite Miike films is One Missed Call. It gets knocked as a typical Japanese ghost flick, and it certainly is one, but there are scenes in the movie that are unmistakable Miike. Shows his brilliance. He knows how to stay within the confines of the genre of film he's making, but he also knows when to break the rules too.
Old 02-03-20, 03:13 PM
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I thought ONE MISSED CALL was one of the better J-horror entries from that wave, and proof that Miike could switch genres and styles on a dime. Still haven't seen the two sequels (the 3-disc US DVD set is in the stacks), but was seriously disappointed in the American remake.
Old 02-04-20, 08:28 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Donnie Yen's new movie coming out: This actually looks pretty funny. Since it's Well Go, it's probably going to be released near me,. Comes out the 14th.





Old 02-05-20, 12:50 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by DJariya View Post
Donnie Yen's new movie coming out: This actually looks pretty funny. Since it's Well Go, it's probably going to be released near me,. Comes out the 14th.
Looks entertaining. Heh, I could almost imagine Sammo Hung starring in this film if it had been made when he was younger.
Old 02-05-20, 07:44 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Perkinsun Dzees View Post
Looks entertaining. Heh, I could almost imagine Sammo Hung starring in this film if it had been made when he was younger.
For a good reason heh, he was the director, choreographer and lead in the 1978 version


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Old 02-05-20, 10:33 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

One of the best thrillers since Seven. Eureka Masters of Cinema released an excellent Blu-ray about 2 years ago. It was one of the best releases of that year.

Old 02-05-20, 11:17 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by RichC2 View Post
For a good reason heh, he was the director, choreographer and lead in the 1978 version

Old 02-05-20, 11:25 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

I actually didn't know about the original but it seemed up Sammo's alley just the same.
Old 02-05-20, 11:31 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Nice to FINALLY see Donnie Yen away from Mainland China in FAT DRAGON (although I'm sure some of the money came from there as usual). Despite being a phenomenal action choreographer, stunt co-ordinator and stuntman, based on the previous lackluster directorial efforts of co-director Kenji Tanigaki -- he stopped directing in 2006 after a handful of DTV Japanese stuff -- and based on that trailer at least, there's no way he was the lead hand on this one; I'm guessing Donnie threw him a well-deserved bone, though, as the two have worked together on TONS of films since BALLISTIC KISS, and Tanigaki was in the HK industry even before that. The IMDb says Wong Jing co-directed FAT DRAGON; the HKMDB says Aman Chang. I'm tempted to believe the latter, since he's carried the weight (ahem) on a lot of Wong Jing's 'directorial' efforts over the years.

It does look good, which makes it a shame that it got released on streaming in China thanks to the coronavirus (not to mention plenty of other films being impacted hard), and boycotted in Hong Kong because of Yen and Wong King being CCP mouthpieces. There's no doubt it would've made a mint on the mainland, especially. It opened at #1 in Singapore and presumably other smaller markets, but the timing in its two key markets put huge dents in the revenue.
Old 02-05-20, 04:16 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by RichC2 View Post
I actually didn't know about the original but it seemed up Sammo's alley just the same.
Oh shit, really? I totally thought you were being sarcastic, knowing Sammo had made that movie.
Old 02-05-20, 04:51 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
Didn't love it, but my appreciation of it grew a little more with time, although my first revisit on DVD was via the Universe import from Hong Kong that was censored with a lawnmower (maybe that's the version you saw?). It's true, I think, that by pushing the envelope past the breaking point these kinds of movies desensitize us, but not necessarily in a bad way (I hope?).
I was really into HK DVDs in the early 2000s so it's entirely possible my first viewing was of that version. I have to wonder if there's an even more heavily edited cut out there because I've actually read comments from people who claim they watched the film and thought 'it wasn't all that violent'. If comments like that are coming from people who've actually watched the entire uncut Ichi and thought the violence wasn't bad (um, Anjo caving in the woman's face in the first five minutes is not violent?) then some people may have gone a little too far steeling themselves against violent images.

Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
I thought ONE MISSED CALL was one of the better J-horror entries from that wave, and proof that Miike could switch genres and styles on a dime.
I saw One Missed Call around the time that I first watched Ichi. The only thing I can remember is the bizarre tonal shift as the end credits came up. Think I'll have to revisit that one as well.

Originally Posted by Why So Blu? View Post
One of the best thrillers since Seven. Eureka Masters of Cinema released an excellent Blu-ray about 2 years ago. It was one of the best releases of that year.
Cure was one of the first movies I can remember watching without entirely understanding everything that happened but still walking away and thinking, 'Wow, that was a damned good movie.' IIRC that's the one where you see
Spoiler:
through a window a person plummet to their death in real time by jumping off a silo or tower.

I have to think there was some extremely skilled editing used in that scene because it looked totally convincing. My jaw was on the floor when I saw that bit.

I tracked down a few Kurosawa titles afterwards and discovered that Cure was actually pretty straightforward when compared to Charisma (I think I understood exactly one scene in that movie) and Doppelganger (don't remember much from that one other than a feeling of puzzlement after watching it).

Kairo is far and away one of the creepiest Japanese films I've ever seen. I didn't bother with the American remake as it would've been physically impossible for anyone to match the atmosphere Kurosawa created.

Seance had me guessing for a good while how it was going to play out. But with it being a Kurosawa joint, I figured that things weren't going to work out for everyone.

The most recent Kurosawa film I caught was Tokyo Sonata, which I thought was going to be a straightforward family drama until things started getting slightly surreal in the middle.

Creepy is available through my local library's online service, and I have it on my to-watch list. Just need to carve out some time for it.

Last edited by L Everett Scott; 02-05-20 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 02-05-20, 05:36 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

^ I need to watch more his stuff. Cure is a masterpiece and it was based on the novel. In the book it was explicitly stated that the guy that was influencing people to kill and kill themselves was
Spoiler:
The Devil

.
Old 02-05-20, 07:43 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott View Post
Cure was one of the first movies I can remember watching without entirely understanding everything that happened but still walking away and thinking, 'Wow, that was a damned good movie.' IIRC that's the one where you see
Spoiler:
through a window a person plummet to their death in real time by jumping off a silo or tower.








I have to think there was some extremely skilled editing used in that scene because it looked totally convincing. My jaw was on the floor when I saw that bit.
Actually, that's a scene in KAIRO, but now I'm wondering if there was one in CURE as well? Been too long . . .


Originally Posted by L Everett Scott View Post
Kairo is far and away one of the creepiest Japanese films I've ever seen. I didn't bother with the American remake as it would've been physically impossible for anyone to match the atmosphere Kurosawa created.
The remake is awful and removes a lot of the mystery in favor of making it something more akin to the SCREAM rip-offs that were proliferating at the time. "Who's gonna get it next!" Oy . . .

For me the creepiest thing I'd ever seen in a horror film up to that point was the scene in KAIRO where the guy goes into the room protected by the red tape and encounters that spectre dressed in red that walks and >shudder< wobbles toward him in slow motion. Didn't see that coming, and watching in a dark room just made it ideal. Kurosawa is definitely an auteur; most of his movies feel just a little off in ways that make them truly unsettling experiences, and I find that many of them have aged extremely well, at least thematically (the FX are sometimes very much of the period). Maybe just me though.

At TIFF a couple of years ago he debuted his first non-Japanese film, a French language (!) ghost thriller called DAGUERROTYPE, so I had to see it. It felt like a modest misstep even though it featured many of his signature touches and even repeated (in a roundabout way) the ambling spectre from KAIRO mentioned above. To those that have seen his other work it might seem like he was resting on his laurels, only in an alien language, which certainly makes it worth watching at least.


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Old 02-06-20, 11:25 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Brian, can you check your PMs?

(If anyone is like "Ooohh he's in trouble", that's not the case, just wanted to continue a conversation with him in private)
Old 02-06-20, 03:28 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Why So Blu? View Post
^ I need to watch more his stuff. Cure is a masterpiece and it was based on the novel. In the book it was explicitly stated that the guy that was influencing people to kill and kill themselves was
Spoiler:
The Devil

Cure is definitely peak Kurosawa. I don't know if I've enjoyed any of his other work as much as I did Cure, but Kairo (I believe the US release calls it Pulse) is pretty awesome.

That's an interesting bit about the novel. I'm not convinced that the inclusion of that fact would've worked in the film.

Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
Actually, that's a scene in KAIRO, but now I'm wondering if there was one in CURE as well?
This thing about getting older isn't improving my memory for some strange reason. I doubt Kurosawa would go to the same well twice in so short a span, so if you say it's in Kairo then it's probably only in that film.

I watched that and Cure within months of one another almost 20 years ago and probably have them confused. Again, I really need to revisit these movies blah blah blah.

Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
At TIFF a couple of years ago he debuted his first non-Japanese film, a French language (!) ghost thriller called DAGUERROTYPE, so I had to see it. It felt like a modest misstep even though it featured many of his signature touches and even repeated (in a roundabout way) the ambling spectre from KAIRO mentioned above. To those that have seen his other work it might seem like he was resting on his laurels, only in an alien language, which certainly makes it worth watching at least.
I think Daguerrotype is on Kanopy or one of the other services available through public libraries. I didn't hear too many good things about that one and have left it off my to-watch list. I might give it a go, but I found the Shokuzai/Penance miniseries on one of those services so that's going to take up five hours of my time.

I also have Bright Future sitting in a box somewhere and need to get to that eventually.
Old 02-06-20, 03:59 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

I'll have to track down KAIRO and watch the original One Missed Call.
Old 02-06-20, 04:41 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Kairo is creepy. It doesn't explain much, but still gets progressively hopeless.
Uzumaki not so much, but that movie was memorably ridiculous.
Old 02-06-20, 05:14 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott View Post
This thing about getting older isn't improving my memory for some strange reason. I doubt Kurosawa would go to the same well twice in so short a span, so if you say it's in Kairo then it's probably only in that film.

I watched that and Cure within months of one another almost 20 years ago and probably have them confused. Again, I really need to revisit these movies blah blah blah.
Originally Posted by RichC2 View Post
Kairo is creepy. It doesn't explain much, but still gets progressively hopeless.
Uzumaki not so much, but that movie was memorably ridiculous.
You can see the tower fall in most of the trailers (none of which I'd seen when I first got the HK DVD import back when it was new), so I suppose it's something of a spoiler for those who haven't seen it (then again, we've talked about it enough )


I've always thought the explanation, beyond the whole "ghosts using the internet" thing, was that
Spoiler:
there was no more room in the afterlife, so the spectres were essentially invading the world of the living and wiping us out


Old 02-09-20, 12:55 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Finally caught Magic Cop...



Mr. Vampire easily makes my list of all-time best comedy horror movies, so I'm a bit jaded when it comes to the bazillion spin-offs and sequels it spawned. From what I understand, the follow-ups to Mr. Vampire (which was made with a fairly small budget) were shot for even less than the original. I've caught bits of a few of those movies and found they were going through the same motions and the comedy was a bit too broad for me.

I'd always been curious about Magic Cop, though, because the reviews have been very positive. So having finally watched it, I have to say that it's no Mr. Vampire, but it is quite entertaining.

It was directed by Tung Wai (aka Stephen Tung) who worked primarily as fight choreography, stuntman, and bit player, so this was only one of four films for which he was credited as the director. I was slightly more familiar with his directorial work than I thought because I discovered after watching Magic Cop that he also helmed Hitman with Jet Li and Eric Tsang, which means I've now seen half of Tung's output as a director.

He definitely keeps things moving in Magic Cop and spreads out the action pretty evenly. Some of the gags landed for me, but I don't think it'd be fair to give all the credit to Tung for the ones that worked or blame him for the ones that didn't since the actors played no small part in how well the comedic bits came off (more on this in a second).

In terms of the cast, Lam Ching Ying does his standard stoic taoist priest shtick as Uncle Feng, and he does it well. The film doesn't exactly do a good job of making him out to be a cop as he's more priest than anything else, but that's a minor quibble.

As far as his team goes, I enjoyed Michael Miu as Sergeant 2237 since he knows he's in a comedy but doesn't overdo the mugging. I'm guessing that Miu's character always being referred to as 2237 is a gag, but it could very well be the writers just didn't bother giving him a proper name. Wilson Lam's Detective Lam, meanwhile, goes a bit over the top for my liking and was the part of the film I really didn't care for. Like Miu, he also knows he's in a comedy but tends deliver everything at level 9 when a 6 would do just fine. Wong Mei-wah (who plays Feng's niece, Lin) gets the short shrift with little to do. She's primarily window dressing and is there for Lam to lust after.

What really worked for me was the sorcery and black magic. The techniques used in spellcasting are quite creative as are the magic battles involving Feng and the Big Bad in the movie. The use of the undead is pretty original (it actually involves criminal activity, which is how the cops get involved), and I appreciated that it wasn't the typical vampire/zombie threat. In fact, the threats in this film come from the evil magic user, not from getting bitten and turned into the undead, which is a big move away from the other Mr. Vampire-spawned follow-ups.

It's just a shame that the film has all the good magic-based duels take place before the finale. It makes sense not to keep going back to the same well, but the choice to have a Terminator-style climax didn't cut it for me.

Still, Magic Cop was pretty solid. I'm guessing that I laughed at every third or fourth joke, but I'm not a fan of broad comedy to begin with, so that's probably on me. This is not a classic piece of HK cinema by any means, but I was never bored by the film. I don't know if I'd sit through the whole thing again, but given the chance, I'd definitely re-watch the magic battles.
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Old 02-13-20, 07:13 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Wow, this looks freakin' amazing!

Jackie and Ahnuld together onscreen for the first time! The visuals and production design look gorgeous.

It's very possible that at next year's Oscars, this movie could make it two in a row for Asian films.

Definitely a day one viewing for me.


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