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Archive for August, 2007

Master of the Flying Guillotine (HK 1975)

Director : Jimmy Wang Yu
Cast : Jimmy Wang Yu, Kang Kam, Chung-erh Lung, Chia Yung Liu, Lung Wei Wang and Tsim Po Sham

Review
by Edward Tang

The Ultimate Uncut Version. Wow, this is a film I’ve always remembered, not because it displays the best martial arts on film, just because it is probably one of the most unique and obscure titles out there. Jimmy Wang Yu has an impressive background, a lot of his films are classic. He wasn’t the best “fighter” but he had charisma that others lacked. In this, he plays the one-armed boxer, a good fighter with good morals. Wang Yu also directed this film, and as you notice if you see it, it might just be one of the campiest films ever created. But don’t get me wrong, martial arts is truly shown in the best sequence in the film, about 25-30 minutes of pure action. All different types of fighting are shown from long swords to yoga.

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Living Hell / Iki-jigoku (JAPAN 2000)

Director : Shugo Fujii
Cast :  Hirohito Honda, Yoshiko Shiraishi, Rumi, Kazuo Yashiro, Naoko Mori, Shugo Fujii and Hitoshi Suwabe

Synopsis
Chiyo, an old woman and her granddaughter, Yuki, are the sole survivors of a horrendous crime which wipes out an entire family. They find solace under the roof of far-removed relatives. The family’s son, confined to a wheelchair, has a terrible premonition when the two women arrive, which will be verified in the most horrifying way. Because, when the house is empty, the boy is made to suffer sadistic games at the women mercy, which become more and more violent making his life a living hell.

Review
by Edward Tang

Right off the bat, Living Hell catches your attention with it’s bizarre music and of course a girl eating a dog. Yeah eating a dog. I hate horror films because most of them lack creativity and they just play with a simple idea for the length of the film. Most of the time you are given one thing, and they try to play you on it for the entire film. Then all of a sudden, some sort of a surprise occurs, which drags us into the other parallel, either something is wrong with the main character, or something is revealed to change our perception of what is exactly going on. This film is exactly what I am talking about. “Living Hell” is bizarre in the fact that they actually tried to build a story! Rather than give us one detail and run for that the entire show, they build onto what we already know. This film isn’t full of that many violent scenes, and surely isn’t a heart pounder, but it gives you enough odd moments to throw eggs at. When the truth is revealed at the end of the film, to me, if felt like rehashed material from a prior film. Whether or not you like this sort of thing, Living Hell dishes out enough odd moments to annoy any person who has a regular IQ. Being compared to genre classics such as “The Evil Dead” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is a waste and only to grab hopeful Blockbuster renters.

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Legendary Weapons of China (HK 1982)

aka 18 Legendary Weapons of China

Director : Lau Kar-Leung
Cast :  Gordon Liu, Alexander Fu Sheng, Hsiao Ho, Kara Hui Ying-Hung, Lau Kar Wing and Lau Kar-Leung.

Synopsis
During the Boxer Rebellion, gun toting foreigners invade China and begin slaughtering all who oppose them. Finding their skills no match for this deadly new firepower, Lei Kung retreats, but finds himself pursued by other kung fu schools who want him silenced. Using every Chinese weapon available, Lei takes on his informer brother in a battle to the death.

Review
by Edward Tang

Let me first start off by saying that this film is loads of fun that delivers old school kung-fu at its finest. Lau-Kar Leung shines as both director and star of “Legendary Weapons of China”, a film that has no bullshit fighting and a great cast of characters. What really impressed me about this film was that even with a basically stupid plot, they made it more of a simple message, about trying to avoid death with mindless attempts to survive bullet wounds. The cast is very impressive, going down from Lau himself to Gordon Liu, Alexander Fu Sheng, Hsiao Ho, and Kara Hui-Ying Hung. These characters all get their licks in and are very impressive in every fight scene available to the viewer. There’s something about these films that always interest me, and this one shines as one of the better Lau-Kar Leung films of all time. Of course, you can’t go wrong with one of the best fight scenes I”ve seen in a while, where the Lau brothers take each other on in classic fashion. This is a no bullshit fight either, no fancy music, just plain action.

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Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (KOREA 2005)

Directed : Park Chan Wook
Written by : Park Chan-wook and Jeong Seo-Gyeong
Cast : Lee Young-Ae, Choi Min Mik

Synopsis :
“A high school student (Lee) goes to jail in order to save the teacher (Choi) she loves. When she leaves prison 13 years later, she finds she has been betrayed and prepares to take her revenge.”

Reviews
by Edward Tang

Ah, from the moment you view the opening stylized credits you know that you’ll be in for a damn good ride brought to you by Mr. Park Chan-wook. Returning for the final time to his vengeance-themed flicks, you can bet your ass that he delivers the goods again. From the beginning to end, you are treated with a visual display that most directors couldn’t even handle if they tried. Everything in this film is up to par, whether it be the performances (I don’t think you’ll find a film that this man has directed where the actors weren’t pure goodness throughout), the plot, the awesome musical score, direction or anything in between. Perhaps the only thing people would bitch about would be the lack of “action” in between scenes like the infamous hallway fight in Oldboy or when that Green-haired douche in Mr. Vengeance smacks down the kidney-thieves. What we have here is a gift, the perfect conclusion to the GREATEST trilogy of films I’ve ever seen. Take the gift, unwrap it and enjoy.

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Lady Snowblood (JAPAN 1973)

aka Blizzard From The Netherworld / Shurayuki Hime

Director: Fujita Toshiya
Cast: Kaji Meiko, Kurosawa Toshio, Masaaki Daimon

Synopsis
A woman gives birth to a baby girl while in prison. She tells her fellow inmates that her daughter must take revenge for an attack on herself and her husband by a gang of five which resulted in her husband’s death and her own unhappy life. The baby girl, Yuki, grows up and is trained in sword-fighting techniques . Her aim in life is single-minded – she must track down the four people who destroyed her mother’s life – and
gave her the only reason for her own: to kill.

Review
by Martin Cleary

Whatever you think of Tarantino’s recent Kill Bill, its success has meant that some of the little known (in the west at least) films that ‘inspired’ that film have had some dvd releases, and Lady Snowblood is among the best of them. The films plot is fairly simple – a woman gives birth in prison and dies. Before she passes away she tells the other locked-up women that her daughter has only one reason in life: revenge. We then find out what has happened to cause this situation – the woman’s husband was murdered and she was beaten and raped by a group of five. After managing to kill one of this gang herself, she was sent to prison. In the prison she whores herself out to any man available so that eventually ends up pregnant – with the aim that he child will revenge her dead husband and her own sad demise. The film follows this daughters training and eventual attempt to revenge her parents.Of course, it all gets a bit messy.

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