The Samurai (1979)
aka: Love and Sword, Yao ming di xiao fang, 要命的小方
Director: Yu Kan-Ping
My Rating: 7.0
The martial world is ruled by those seeking glory through fame and greedy bountyhunters who are just in it for the wealth. A honorable swordsman who wants to become ‘number 1’ is hired by the blind daughter of a nobleman (who got assassinated) to track down a killer currently ranked ‘number 1’ in the martial world. On his mission he meets various types including a bullied kid who becomes his disciple.
Well recognizable Tien Peng in the lead on the hunt for a mysterious killer, there’s plenty of showdowns with mostly good fightscenes and a fair amount of wirework. Also there’s fantasy elements in plenty such as a scene kind of resembling a scene in particular from the masterpiece Kwaidan. Overall very enjoyable and worth of a look if you’re into the genre.
It’s funny, but I guess for a reason, that the kid (after the initial scene) is mostly for reactive shots – the reason being that if there’s a message to this story it’s about how future generations can learn from mistakes done in the past (notice that this is not the mainfocus in the story, it’s more underlined – the blind daughter for example).
Soul of Samurai (1973)
aka: Impetuous Fire, Long hu da jue dou, 怒火
Director: Chan Hung-Man
My Rating: 5.5
A small town is terrorized by a group of bandits called ‘the hooded hoodlums’, they wreak havoc in the locals and government by plunder and murder. The hoodlums are after a magic book carried by a team called ‘the deadly duo’ (the woman in the duo is named Cherry Pie). As crimerates increases, various locals are being interrogated by the government – including a roaming swordsman who seem to be the only one able to go toe to toe with the bandits.
Action is plentiful, including an almost 10 minute initial fight, but it’s mostly generic and the characters/storyline itself isn’t really fleshed out. There’s even some, sort of (as no hints of the fantastical are given until they happen), unexpected oddities like ghosts, but it never gets really interesting. An obscure one that understandably have fallen through the cracks – skippable although I always value my time when I watch certain genres from a certain timeperiod (Wuxia / Taiwan / 1970s .. der we go!).
aka: The Invitation
Director: Kurt Richter
My Rating: 8.0/10
A man named Jerry gets hired by a sleazy gangster to pick up women for his underground prostitution racket. The racket promises hot, willing and ready for anything women(!). Jerry eventually starts meeting the gangsters daughter – the forceful gangster doesn’t like this situation and threatens Jerry’s life if it happens again. Will Jerry obey the orders of will he be a prisoner of lust?
For the short runtime, the story-line still manages to unfold slowly – eventually getting you clued into what’s going on with the women in the basement of the building – a rather sadistic hag going all-in with her whip. In conjunction to the main story-line there’s two detectives investigating the operations of the gangster. The initial phase of the movie is told through flashbacks with some voiceovers – the two storylines will eventually meet in current time to deliver the movies rather savage conclusion…
Indeed things, as in imagery and story, seems familiar and to me it’s pretty obvious that this is a deconstructed, amped up, gothic hunchback tale. The hunchback being split into two where Jerry carries the good-willed traits while at the same time being blinded by love and the hag is the obedient one carrying out the sadism on the masters command (in this case the master being the gangster).
Sure this is indeed acquired taste.. but if you like it a little bit scuzzy and depraved, just like me, by all means do check this one out.. It’s something of a hidden gem
Director: Maury Dexter
My Rating: 5.5/10
A couple is enjoying some piece and quiet in their caravan when an outrageous gang of bikers turns up and initially shakes the caravan for a bit, to soon thereafter greet the the couple, and self-invited as they are they eventually start a wild party outside! The leader of the biker-gang is a chick who previously had a fling with the caravan-owner. The party rocks on, daytime turns to nighttime and the situation starts turning more hostile. On the following day the couple takes off with their caravan, but not far behind them is some of the bikers…
At this point, you pretty much know what you’re in for – the situation will escalate and things will turn violent. Will the jealous biker-leader get her man back?, will there be any casualties? Who will survive and what will be left of them? (Hopefully their morality, as that’s kinda the main characteristic of the good guys in this movie)
It’s not to bad, but definitely not great either. Lame/Catchy (your choice!) soundtracks seems to be a thing with Biker-chick-flicks, this one being no exception. It’s fun for a while, I didn’t mind the camp (some of it, a brawl in particular, even brought my mind to Russ Meyer), but I couldn’t help feeling like I waited for it to end sooner.
aka: Jiken, 事件
Director: Yoshitaro Nomura
My Rating: 8.0/10
A young man stands trial for murdering of a woman, he admits to committing the crime.. however he seems unable to recall the actual killing..
The continuation of the story revolves around the trial. The dynamic of judge, jury, prosecutors and witnesses – with brief throwbacks to flesh out the backstory. Is the charged man guilty(?), or is he covering up for someone else – through given information, external motives can pretty much be established towards the persons (with a relationship to the charged man or murdered woman) taking the stand.
As it turns out the murdered woman was the older sister of a woman the man had a relationship with (also the two are expecting a child). She also had a relationship with a local blackmailer. Playing off both potential jealousy but also a negative social status, just as an example of how things are kept non-generic and interesting.
The norm of japanese mysteries (around the time-period – in my experience so far) is usually more old fashioned (nothing negative about it!) for example a Kosuke Kindaichi mystery (like The Inugami Family or The Devil’s Flute) or something like Tai Kato’s The Beast in the Shadows.. but here’s an equally great/or better one in current time setting.
My now second (and second review on here) Yoshitaro Nomura movie, this one to me is more focused then the previous and to me the ending has a big payoff (rather low-key but unusual) and the way there is kept interesting. In other words a slow burner that is well worth seeking out!
aka: Xue zhan wu ying quan, 血戰五形拳
Director: Godfrey Ho, Kim Si-Hyeon
My Rating: 7.0/10
A feud between two clans is settled with a showdown between two masters. One master is trained in the snake fist style, the other in the crane fist style. Whoever looses must leave the area and allow the other to teach it’s style in peace – the snake fist master is victorious… 25 years later, Dragon (Dragon Lee), a disciple of the snake fist style leaves the area to get married but also to teach in a territory where the crane fist clan resides – inevitably the old rivalry is once again started..
A classic showdown between good and evil. There’s not really any questions on which one will come out on top – to me it doesn’t really matter, as this type of story is mostly about the ‘hero journey’ – Jammed with non-stop action, spectacular physics, a stereotype japanese guy (with a bandana, wielding a really small samurai sword), eyegouging and a unusual amounts of gore (for the genre).
With high entertainment value, this doesn’t fall that far behind other Godfrey Ho greats like Duel of the Tough and Golden Dragon, Silver Snake and is indeed well worth checking out.
aka: Onna Jigoku: Mori wa Nureta, 女地獄 森は濡れた
Director: Tatsumi Kumashiro
My Rating: 7.5/10
A woman is on the run accused of murdering her mistress. Eventually, after three days, she starts regaining her senses and thinks she can forget about the murder if heading back to town. On the way back she gets picked up by a Noble Lady, eventually, offering her to stay at her mountain hotel for a couple of days. Upon arrival the Noble Lady ques the woman in on her cruel husband and her unhappiness but also she is willing to share her legacy and servants with her – however, the situation quickly takes a turn as the husband knows about the woman’s identity.. Blackmail and depravity ensues..!
To me one of Kumashiro’s better efforts (after Pleasure Campus, Secret Games and Lovers are Wet). I like the where it starts, it’s kind of brief but the backstory is enough to make the movies one major set-piece work and, atleast to me, that’s really what it’s all about (for it’s time – this scene, and the following one, is really something in the depravity scales, even in todays standards!).
I’ll have to say I appreciated the movie more this time around, I have small gripe with the setting – there’s kind of a cultureclash where the european inspiration feels partly embraced. The major negative (which supposedly is a statement of censorship) is the black bars used to censor nudity, impossible not to be distractive. One of the many great things about Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno series though is it’s diversity, even threading into Sadean territory – it’s no Eugenie… the Story of Her Journey into Perversion but still a pretty good one that easily goes recommended.
Director: Peter Malota
My Rating: 6.0/10
A nurse is being interrogated by two FBI agents about a classified case regarding the Russian mafia and a certain injured hit-man…
Starting of with a prologue briefing the backstory into an action-packed flashback sequence showing how ‘our hero’, Van Damme, survives a shootout ending up in a hospital. The rest of the story is from the interrogation point of view told through flashbacks regarding what happened in the hospital.
It’s fairly easy to cherry pick the negatives seeing as there’s a first time director effort falling into some of the usual pitfalls. To me there’s to much half n’ half, with no real main focus in the story-line – there’s the good cop / bad cop (Peter Stormare) interrogation , the flashbacks.. but also vignettes introducing the “bad guys” even if the only have about one scene each (pointless if you ask me). The main negative would be the locations – they’re just to every-daily.
Without spoiling anything, the ending is borrowed from a very well know movie from 1995 with a film-noir variation to it. (Spoiler →: The Usual Suspects)
The positives being if you end up searching up a movie like this in the first place then your ambition is probably not the highest either, and this is fairly well invested pass time. Having seen everything available (as far as english-language-friendly goes) with Van Damme so far, of course I have to watch this – and id say that it’s slightly above average and worth a look.