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User Info: coolio2cool

coolio2cool
8 years ago#251
Wasabi
Grade: B+
http://japancinema.net/2010/07/06/wasabi-review/

Now here is an interesting film. Years before, Jean Reno’s character had a Japanese girlfriend that left him for no obvious reason and as a result, hasn’t been able to love since. Before you think this is some sappy love story about self discovery, let me stop you right there. Wasabi isn’t a film you see to make you think, it’s quite the opposite…no thinking, just fast paced action with some light comedy mixed in for good measure. He travels from France to Japan to witness the reading of her will after he gets word of her passing, but finds out they had a daughter together. Not only that, but the woman has also left a mystery behind not only in why she left him in the first place, but why now the Yakuza is after the daughter.

The action is pretty steady throughout, and is more of the comic book variety, like what you might see in a Jackie Chan film. Luc Besson made Wasabi in French but had the Japanese film market in mind. So, French actor Jean Reno is called in, who is very popular in Japan while Japanese popular actress Ryoko Hiroshue is cast as Yumi as his daughter. The film is mostly shot in Japan and much of the film is spent with Hubert and Yumi getting to know one another, as they uncover secrets about her mother’s past. Yet, typical of a French film, this movie doesn’t try to be artistic; it doesn’t try to be something it’s not and in that it excels. Bottom line, this is a sweet fun movie, plenty of action, humor and entertains divinely. The movie also has a wonderful soundtrack, although it is not available here in the states, but definitely worth going to the trouble to get. Ultimately, Wasabi serves as the foundation for a cinematic experience that is neither remarkable or common. Don’t expect any twisting, noir and all-french action-plot: just pretend you are reading a colorful comic book with plenty of no-brainer action. In the end you’ll be glad you watched this film.
I am Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. The first and the last ...And you shall be as gods... -Xenogears

User Info: coolio2cool

coolio2cool
8 years ago#252
Triple Tap
Grade: C-
http://japancinema.net/2010/07/08/triple-tap-review/

Derek Yee is a director that has delivered some of the most action packed scenes i’ve seen on film, but wow – I found Triple Tap to be quite exasperatingly bad. Overall, it’s a challenging movie instead of an enjoyable film. Starring Daniel Wu and Louis Koo as the leads, you would expect this to be a great HK style crime film. It follows an armored car robbery that leaves four of the robbers dead, with a policeman in coma and another robber on the run.

Triple Tap buckles under the weight of its own ambitions as a psychological thriller. There have been many films like this one in the past, where the protagonist worms his way out of increasingly sticky situations, but it isn’t handled as well as previous efforts. Also, I was very confused by the actors, It has some extraneous things in it that I don’t quite get, like why do they have to be twins? It made me think that under the hands of a better actor, Louis Koo’s character would certainly have been more convincing. In the end, Yee’s film is a decent addition to the genre, although falls short of a home run. The saving grace is surely the ending as the whole movie I was scartching my chin wondering how this mess of a storyline would wrap up. I can say with confidence that by the time the final reel came along, all the cards fell into place and I was left with a bittersweet taste in my mouth. I honestly have no qualms with Triple Tap, I just made the mistake of going in with higher expectations. I was starting to praise this year in films in Hong Kong, so I hope this isn’t a sign the HK film industry has slid into mediocrity.
I am Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. The first and the last ...And you shall be as gods... -Xenogears

User Info: coolio2cool

coolio2cool
8 years ago#253
Arang.
Grade: B
http://japancinema.net/2010/07/09/arang-review/

Arang centers around a female detective named So Young who is always experiencing nightmares and apparently haunted by a tragedy in her past. She and her partner begin to investigate a series of bizarre murders where the victims seem to have been killed by an acid eating them from within. They each receive e-mails that plays a video showing them the site of the Salt storehouse where the murder took place nine years earlier. Soon the detectives are frantically scrambling to unlock the secrets of the past and to save the surviving partners. Cookie cutter plot, but Arang isn’t so typical with its approach. Fortunately, the ghost in the film wasn’t overused, and there are some great effective scenes within the hauntings.

What sets Arang apart from some of the films I’ve mentioned is the performances of the actors. Many times in movies, if the female lead is a detective, there seems to be an unwritten rule where she has to be over-the-top badass. Arang brings a more realistic appeal to the whole look & feel of the genre. Although, don’t get me wrong, this is an Asian Horror film featuring a long haired ghost, so there’s nothing here that you haven’t seen or heard before. Still, any decent image of a young white female revealing her pale, dead face from underneath her long, dark tresses of hair is going to have an element of creepiness to it. In these respects, I look at Arang as something of a work of art. Of all the long-haired ghost girl Asian films taking room up on my movie shelf, Arang is definitely one of the more interesting and fresh. Horror hounds should track this film down and give it a shot, as it comes recommended. Especially since this film was directed by a first-timer. Bravo!
I am Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. The first and the last ...And you shall be as gods... -Xenogears

User Info: coolio2cool

coolio2cool
8 years ago#254
Profound Desires of the Gods
Grade: C+
http://japancinema.net/2010/07/12/profound-desires-of-the-gods-review/

Director Imamura was a filmmaker who liked to get under the surface of Japanese society. Filmed in the late 60’s, Profound Desires of the Gods failed to make an impression at the time of its release, but has since risen in stature to become one of the most legendary albeit least seen Japanese films of recent decades. Set on the fictional island of Kurage, the film revolves around the Futori family, who by the time we meet them have already managed to socially isolate themselves from just about everyone else.

They are digging a pit to appease the gods when an engineer arrives from Tokyo. In comes, Nekichi, who is in love with his sister Uma, who is a shaman priestess at the sacred shrine, that contains the only good water close to the mill. She is also the mistress of Ryu, the manager of the mill. I’ll just stop there explaining the plot because it is a huge mess of a plotline. In Profound Desires of the Gods, sex is a primitive and unstoppable force that motivates humankind. It’s clear from Imamura’s view of Japan and its place in the world that Kurage is meant to function as an allegory of the nation’s killing of its traditional gods. Why there is so much incest and sex involved is beyond me. So after sitting through, at times, a painfully 3 hour film, I don’t really have much to say. Sure, the plot is rough around the edges, and I didn’t quite catch on to the narrative, it is also very beautiful. Shot in an otherworldly palette of peaches, burnt oranges and tropical greens, the natural world of Japan provides a fascinating backdrop to this lavish film. Profound Desires of the Gods is a complex film, and if you can sit through filmmaking that focuses more on character study then all out action, you might find a lot to like here. To the others, I would recommend not sitting through this wishing to like it since the viewer is at the mercy of Imamura’s cinematic and narrative judgment.
I am Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. The first and the last ...And you shall be as gods... -Xenogears

User Info: coolio2cool

coolio2cool
8 years ago#255
Fallen Angels
Grade: A-
http://japancinema.net/2010/07/14/fallen-angels-review/

Wong Kar-Wai has become one of my favorite directors. He explores the transitory nature of life here. It’s a little confusing, and the characters are beyond weird, but they really do have heart. The story tells of three individuals whose lives intersect. A hitman who is getting tired of the messiness of his job; his partner, who plans everything out for him in meticulous detail but would really like to cross the line with him between business and pleasure; a mute, who breaks into other people’s businesses at night and forces unwitting passersby to purchase his wares. They rarely ever meet, but they share the same spaces, and sleep the same hours.

Fallen Angel’s strength lies in the character development. He goes out at night and gets up to a range of activities such as massaging a dead pig and kidnapping a family and forcing them to eat ice cream. It’s some pretty crazy stuff. If one has a habit or likes to talks to oneself in an imaginary public sector, then one will find Fallen Angels so heartbreaking due to its prominent use of voice-over. The film is absolutely stunning on blu-ray. In Fallen Angels we travel the gritty back alleys into underworld dives, dreary dive bars juxtaposed against a brightly-lit McDonalds. We have the mute, entertaining, colorful personality character who also lurks his way with his scooter at night to run his imaginary jobs at random shops and restuarant. An interesting character but my interest always followed the hitman. Fallen Angels is a movie that combines fast moving action, slow growing relationships, and light hearted comedy. It captures the complexity of emotions with simplicity that is blunt and unrivaled. It portrays an assassin reticent to love, and a big-hearted optimist eager to please. Make sure you rush out to see this film piece of cinema.
I am Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. The first and the last ...And you shall be as gods... -Xenogears

User Info: coolio2cool

coolio2cool
8 years ago#256
Assault Girls
Grade: B
http://japancinema.net/2010/07/16/assault-girls-review/

The latest from Mamoru Oshii is a great little film entitled Assault Girl which stars three cute women hunting huge sandworm-like monsters. I’m sure the movie will divide opinions. There are many slow paced moments with “nature-gazing” and walking around in the barren sand, but I liked that too. Also unique about Assault Girls is the tone of the film is much more colorful and broken up into chapters ala Kill Bill style. Too add to the uniqueness, the film is 95% percent in Engrish. Each chapter features a Japanese language text introduction, plus there’s one Japanese language dialogue scene between Meisa Kuroki and Yoshikatsu Fujiki.

Unique is sometimes not good however, as I had a hard time understanding the language, especially the parts were the four actors speak poorly pronounced English while wearing masks, and then there are some Japanese spoken parts, though not very many of those. Fans of the director will immediately recognize his traits: deliberate pacing, cerebral storytelling, and a haunting score by Kawai Kenji. What I wasn’t used to seeing from this director was the ending (or lack thereof). Perhaps the most infuriating thing is the absence of an ending. Judging from this film, I can tell Oshii enjoys the potential for surprises inherent in live-action filmmaking. Unlike other films in this particular genre, if you’ve seen the trailer (and if you haven’t, check it out above), you haven’t pretty much seen the best/most exciting things. It is a nice change of pace to encounter an action film that isn’t all about repetition and boredom. Even though this is a live action film, the action, main characters and their weaponry derive from anime influences. It all comes together in a neat package that I couldn’t help but be entertained by. After all, the whole movie contains awesome women with awesome guns!
I am Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. The first and the last ...And you shall be as gods... -Xenogears

User Info: coolio2cool

coolio2cool
8 years ago#257
Takut: Faces of Fear
Grade: C+
http://japancinema.net/2010/07/19/takut-faces-of-fear-review/

Another one of those horror films that consist of smaller stories filmed by different directors, except this time around it is a film entitled Takut and is extremely scary. The stories range from a young man who is forced to cover up a crime after he accidentally kills his girlfriend’s young daughter, to a vengeful ex-girlfriend who hires a witchdoctor to punish the man who hurt her. Takut: Faces of Fear does tend to swim in the supernatural waters a bit and it does get to be silly at times.

The reason I don’t enjoy the stories with magic and CGI are because they had to be compressed into a short film because there were so many interesting elements and details. Rest assured though, that the six stories are pretty engrossing, suspenseful and interesting. However, in fairness they all have their own strengths and weaknesses so it is hard to grade films like these. There always seems to be one story about food and cannibalism and this one is no exception. The tension within this particular story was pitch perfect throughout the entire short and the beautiful Shareefa Daanish was impeccable as the psychotic Dara. It really opened my eyes to discover that there are very beautiful women in Indonesia! Almost all actresses in this film are gorgeous. After finishing Takut I was left with the distinct feeling that I paid more attention to the beauty of the actresses and their acting abilities then the actual scares of the film. Whether or not this is a bad thing can only be decided by you. I’m glad the mediocrity of the film was consistant because it built the illusion that the whole film’s short stories as a collective group were on an even scale.
I am Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. The first and the last ...And you shall be as gods... -Xenogears

User Info: coolio2cool

coolio2cool
8 years ago#258
Plastic City
Grade: B-
http://japancinema.net/2010/07/21/plastic-city-review/

The story of Plastic City revolves around an aging Chinese gangster who built himself up from selling cheap trinkets on the streets in Paraguay to running one of the largest counterfeit goods operations in Brazil. In recent years, however, globalization has seriously hurt Yuda’s business. The corrupt city official who always made sure to look the other way is getting visits from people in government. Needless to say, things turn ugly. The movie gets really bizarre however and made me question if they were going for style over substance.

For example, if you decide to watch this film you will be introduced to an insane street fight so bloody you’ll forget what kind of film Plastic City really is. The look of Plastic City, the cinematography, the lighting, art direction, etc. almost reminded me of City of God, so if you liked that film, this one will be right up your alley. It really is all about the small details because the actual film makes about as much sense as the plot description I gave in the first paragraph. There really isn’t anymore to provide you other then tell you there is a weak love interest sub plot that you can easily overlook. Spiralling into certain doom, the team have to fight their way out of jail, gang wars, blackmail and assassination attempts. Needless to say, there are a lot of elements to keep you engaged in this crime drama. There are some striking, original visuals and one or two intriguing scenes, but keep in mind that it is handled very poorly in execution. It is a dark and mesmeric piece and has moments of fantastic CGI which is enough for me to expose and recommend that you all go out and see this film.
I am Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. The first and the last ...And you shall be as gods... -Xenogears

User Info: coolio2cool

coolio2cool
8 years ago#259
Battle League Horumo
Grade: B
http://japancinema.net/2010/07/22/battle-league-horumo-review/

One day on his way home with a friend, they meet a senior who invites them to a party. They decide to go for the free food, and there, Abe meets Kyoko Sawara, the girl he falls head over heels for her. At first, the party appears to be an ordinary social club but the new members soon find out about the 1000 year-old tradition upheld by the four universities of Kyoto and the “Horumo” battle. Based on the popular fantasy novel of the same name, the film combines the bizarre, outrageous antics and high energy that I love in Japanese comedy with authentic folklore and solid acting with an all-star cast.

Try to keep up because the plot gets a bit weirder. Basically, from what I could grasp, members are trained to lead their own squad of of small demons to fight for their respective universities. The four schools then meet in tournaments in which the demons fight to determine which is the champion and if any regiment loses its battle, its leader must face divine punishment. For me, this was a live action teen anime. It was over dramatic when it wasn’t ridiculous. If this sounds pretty silly, it is, and the battles between the demons are really goofy. They are fully 3D rendered animation, done by Studio Gonzo who is well known for their CGI work. Although it is billed as an action flick, the emphasis is far more on the comedy than the action. In addition, the love triangle part of the story is unnecessary and has also been done before and drags the story down at times. Battle League Horumo features stunning visual effects and some quirky sound effects and I can honestly say I wasn’t turned off by the uniqueness of the film. Again, the actors commit to these roles and convincingly sell their relationships, and that is really the glue that holds this film together. All in all a fantastic film that I completely enjoyed. There are plenty of surprises in the film too, so see this movie with as little foreknowledge as possible, as it would spoil the movie if you knew too much about it.
I am Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. The first and the last ...And you shall be as gods... -Xenogears

User Info: coolio2cool

coolio2cool
8 years ago#260
Instant Swamp
Grade: B+
http://japancinema.net/2010/07/23/instant-swamp-review/

Instant Swamp follows an editor at a Japanese women’s magazine which is seeing its circulation numbers fall. This is jsut the beginning of her bad luck stream as it looks like her life seems to get worse and worse. After her mother falls ill, she finds out that her family might not be everything she assumed it was. At first glance you would think this is just another run of the mill ‘down on your luck’ type of story yet Instant Swamp succeeds in delivering another original and creative story.

Things turn especially interesting when she receives an old letter, revealing that her father isn’t actually her father. Not that he was a good man of any sorts, since he ran out on her mother and the rest of the family when she was 8 years old. I touched breifly on why this film is especially different and it’s because unlike most films, this film doesn’t paint her as a pure and innocent free spirit whom the audience must love. Director Satoshi Miki makes this point within the first few minutes, and fills the rest of the film with funny situations. Luckily, Miki’s humor is a little more direct then an American comedy would be. In the characters defense, however, they are just following the script which is too blame mostly. Performance wise the entire cast does a fantastic job bringing the little oddities to life. Like I stated, Instant Swamp is hit or miss. When it hits, it really hits and there are some genuine quirky gems scattered throughout. Third Window Films presents Instant Swamp in a anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. They did a bang up job bringing this film to the masses and I recommend the film as much as I recommend the transfer. Instant Swamp is an acquired taste but if what you’ve read has you thinking you might be interested, then this is a film I have no doubt you will enjoy. It does lack in contrasts to its weirdness, but more then makes up for it by tieing up loose ends and bringing a smile to your face by the end credits.
I am Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. The first and the last ...And you shall be as gods... -Xenogears
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