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: 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: 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.
aka: L’Osceno Desiderio
Director: Giulio Petroni
My Rating: 4.5/10
A newlywed middle-aged couple moves into the mans large mansion, it is soon known that there is a crooked-eye servant working at the mansion. During a romantic moment the man lets the woman know that perhaps she really don’t want to fully get to know him and soon we get to see the man (presumably – through point-of-view shots, it’s never established if it’s him or not – it might aswell be the servant) picking up hookers and killing them in some type of torture room within the mansion (again presumably him through POV). The woman starts meeting a local pastor.. as the pastor phones the mansion the servant who is picking up the call and attempts to deny any further contact by telling she is not there.. Now… – What is the reason for all this secrecy and what else is going on within the mansionwalls?
First I have to mention that i watched the ~90min version, supposedly there is a 100min version somewhere (according to imdb) but to no avail (afaik) – this might clear out some of what’s unclear – I mean fine things kinda make sense eventually, but it feels like a straightforward enough story to not have to have any confusion.
I like where things starts, there’s implications that something is going to happen, a certain mood is set with the haunting soundtrack, even some vouyerism going on (not just through POV but also through peeping and observatory shots) – This however is quickly left of and it is almost as if the man dissapears and the woman just ponders around in the mansion for the majority of the runtime.
There’s a certain degree of sleazyness and ventures into occult seances that makes the story interesting. But for me it just feels incomplete and lackluster. I can imagine appreciating this more on a second viewing.