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Category 'Japan'

Shogun’s Shadow (JAPAN 1989)

aka (Shôgun Iemitsu no ranshin – Gekitotsu)

Director : Yasuo Furuhata
Cast : Sonny Chiba, Ken Ogata, Hu Chien Chiang, Hiroki Matsukata and Hu Jianqiang. Written by Hiro Matsuda and Sadao Nakajima.

Synopsis
An order is given to the young shogun heir, Tachechiyo, to embark on a journey to Edo to participate in an initiation ritual that will mark his passage to manhood. Seven samurai, headed by master swordsman Igo Gyobu (Ken Ogata), are charged with the task of delivering him safely to his destitation. Along their journey, they must combat an advancing army under the command of Iba Shoemon (Sonny Chiba), a vassal of the Shogun. The seven samurai must fight to the death to get Tachechiyo to Edo.

Review
by Edward Tang

“Shogun’s Shadow” is a great thrill ride of a film that took me by surprise as a fast-paced flick that really doesn’t stop to smell the roses. Although Sonny Chiba takes top billing on the DVD box, you can’t really call it his film. The film belongs to the heroic deeds of Ken Ogata, a star in his own right, and just wasn’t as well seen as Chiba was with his Street Fighter series. Ogata with a multi-talented cast get us involved in this simple story, of a group of samurai trying to take a small boy to Edo, but are chased by ruthless assassins who want the young boy dead. The story isn’t all that impressive, and you’ve probably seen it before, but something about the characters made me really get into this film. For you “action fans”, there is a select amount of action here as well, some very good scenes and of course Sonny Chiba and Ken Ogata square off to a great fight in itself.

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One Missed Call (JAPAN 2003)

Director : Takashi Miike
Cast : Kou Shibakashi, Shin’ichi Tsutumi, Kazue Fukiishi, Renji Ishibashi, Goro Kishitani and Anna Nagata.

Synopsis
People mysteriously start receiving voicemail messages from their future selves, in the form of the sound of them reacting to their
own violent deaths.

Review
by Edward Tang

I hate horror films (I just wanted to get that off my chest). Now, I was surprised that I was at least entertained by this film, which is more or less a ripoff of Ringu. But was that the point? I’ve read recently that Takashi Miike did this fact on purpose, he did it for the fact that every new horror artist makes something that basically rips off Ringu in some fashion. So why not? Takashi Miike, still the king of obscure and utterly hilarious flicks should purposely make a ripoff of this certain type of flick that has been literally beat into the ground.

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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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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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Kibakichi 2 (JAPAN 2004)

Director : Daiji Hattori
Cast : Ryuji Harada, Mike Tanaka, Masaktsu Funaki, Yoko Kamon, and Aimi Nakamura.

Synopsis
Its about a lone swordsman from Yokai, a land of monsters that once co-existed alongside man. Raised on raw meat rations and with an affinity with the full moon as well as a blistering skill with the sword his Yokai persona is that of a werewolf. In his venture to seek out the best in mankind, he finds himself in a desolate village and in the middle of an age-old battle between good and evil. Geisha turn into giant carnivorous spiders, samurai change into werewolves and ghostly monsters and skeletons prey on humans, KIBAKICHI delivers all the grit of a spaghetti western with the violent grace of a samurai flick.

Review
by Edward Tang

Ah, not to long ago for this very website I reviewed a little film called Kibakichi. The film itself was full of monsters, spray-blood effects and entertaining action. Not a classic by any means and not really even a film that deserves to be remembered but it was fun. Now low and behold, a sequel was made and I was quite eager to check out the results. Well, not really eager because it is still a film about a bunch of stupid fucking monsters and has blood effects that are really quite hilarious if anything. But the film itself is so short and enjoyable that I didn’t really care. Yep, Kibakichi 2 is solid entertainment that has an easy story to follow and above average actions sequences that seem to take up the bulk of the 85 minute run time. There were a few things in general that I liked more than the original one that includes more action as compared to the first and the WOLF FIGHT, something that made me laugh that wasn’t suppose to be funny.

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