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Samurai Fiction (JAPAN 1998)

Director : HIroyuki Nakano
Cast :  Morio Kazama, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Tomoyasu Hotei, Tamaki Ogawa, Mari Natsuki and Taketoshi Naito.

Synopsis
Feudal lord Kanzen Inukai receives a precious sword from the Shogun, but it is stolen by the samurai Kazamatsuri. Kanzen’s young son, Heishiro, insists on retrieving the sword himself to protect the family from the shame of losing such a precious gift.

Review
by Edward Tang

“Samurai Fiction” is basically just an older samurai film touched up with new aged music and ideas. I did have a good time during this film, but didn’t really see anything special that could grab me. I must admit that parts of it seemed to tickle the boring fancy but could be passed on because it was a nice refreshing way to look at the genre in motion. The direction was sound, from all of the black and white shots, to the beautiful country side and for the interesting shots including how when someone would die, they’d cut to a red screen. The fights in this film were probably the weakest, because they just really never amounted to anything, it was a bunch of quick movements and they’d be done. But on the other hand, there are basically no shots of blood which makes for a much cleaner film that just has to be enjoyed, rather than looked upon with harsh eyes.

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Return of the Street Fighter (JAPAN 1974)


Director : Shigehiro Ozawa
Cast :  Sonny Chiba, Claude Gannyon, Yoko Ichiji, Masashi Ishibashi, Masataka Suzuki, Ko Tanaka and Zulu Yachi.

Synopsis :
Takuma “Terry” Tsurugi returns. In this sequel, he sets out to bust up a phony charity put together by the Yukuza.

Review
by Edward Tang

Sonny Chiba STILL rules. Right after re-watching the Street Fighter and enjoying myself, I figured that what the hell. I’ll go and get the other three street fighter flicks and hopefully enjoy myself. So far, so good. In fact, I actually thought that this one was a worthless piece of crap because of all the negatives I’ve heard about how this one doesn’t live up to it’s predecessor. But looking at Street Fighter today, it had lost most of its luster because of the more graphic violence and better choreographed scenes of action anyways. Return of the Street Fighter is very much a good sequel, because it goes back to what the first one touched on, Sonny Chiba destroying as many people in his way. Being the mark that I am, when Junjo returned from the dead, I was cheering myself. (Junjo was in the first one and got his throat ripped out and had artificial vocal cords, yeah I said it). But you get the amount of fighting that is necessary to make a film in this genre watchable. There have been martial arts films that have completely tried to make a story, rather than give the action, please no. Sure the story will seem beat to death, the characters are generic, the bad guys are their typical “ruthless” self. But of course you still can get a knuckle to the back of the head, which knocks a guys eyes out.

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Red Shadow: Akakage (JAPAN 2001)

Director : Hiroyuki Nakano
Cast :  Masanobu Ando, Megumi Okina, Kumiko Aso, Jun Murakami, Naoto Takenaka, Fimiya Fujii and Shuuhei Mainoumi.

Synopsis
Aka Kage, Aoi Kage and Asuka are trio of ninjas sent to perform dangerous secret missions for their master. Although Aka and Aoi are both in love with Asuka, the friendship built from their years of training together prevents any jealousies from forming. When Asuka is killed during a mission, however, the heartbroken Aka and Aoi both go their separate ways before returning to avenge their friend’s death.

Review
by Edward Tang

Well, I guess I should start out by saying that this is a corny flick that truly never takes us anywhere special or unique. So in what aspects can this film be saved from being a horrible piece of shit that everyone should stay away from. The story? I’m afraid the story is choppy and full of holes, as we skip from scene to scene, not really getting anywhere, and ending up in a cliche-ridden shithouse with no sink.

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Purple Storm (HK 1999)

Director : Teddy Chen
Producers : Jackie Chan, Thomas Cheung, Willie Chan
Action Choreography : Tung Wei
Cast : Daniel Wu, Chow Wah-kin, Josie Ho, Kam Kwok-Leung, Joan Chen, Emil Chau

Synopsis
During a battle with the police, terrorist Todd Chow (Daniel Wu) is knocked out cold and when he wakes up in police custody and is interrogated he finds that he has lost his memory. Unable to remember who he is or who his friends are, the police decide to take advantage of the situation by trying to convince him that he was an undercover-cop. Todd is then rescued by his terrorist friends and in his confused state must decide whether to help either the police or the terrorists.

Review
by Martin Cleary

Although this film is a couple of years old now, this early effort from Daniel Wu is a pretty good thriller with a ‘memory loss’ concept which gives the plot plenty of twists. While the plot isn’t quite clever enough to make the film a classic, the high production values and good performances make this a worthwhile effort. Daniel Wu – in his first lead role – sadly comes across as a little wooden. Maybe this is partly intentional because for most of the film he is torn between its two real driving forces – the terrorist Soong, played with relish by Kwok Leung-Gan and the head of the counter-terrorist squad, played by Chow Wah-Kin. The relationship between ‘terrorist’ and ‘law enforcement’ is of course very relevant to todays political climate (although this was filmed before the events of September 11) and its subject matter definitely lingers in the mind.The film has some really good action scenes, although these are of the gunfight and explosion type of violence rather than martial arts, which seems a bit of a shame because it would be nice to see Daniel Wu show some of his fighting skills.

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Public Enemy (KOREA 2002)

Director : Wook-Suk Kang
Cast : Kyung-gu Sol, Sung-jae Lee, Shin-il Kang, Jeong-hak Kim and Yong-gu Do.

Synopsis
Ruthless cop Chul-Joong and a merciless killer in a raincoat run into each other in a small alleyway and form a fatal bond. A free-for-all fight occurs by coincidence on a rainy street. A week later, the dead bodies of an old couple are discovered…

Review
by Edward Tang

I beg of everyone today, do not compare your film to another on the DVD cover because you won’t get my business. It’s a shame that films given this added touch like this can’t sell themselves enough to generate good buzz for just being a good f*ckin’ movie by itself. This film on the other hand didn’t need anything like “The Korean Dirty Harry” because Public Enemy is a great film without any doubt. Sure, it follows the same type of role that Dirty Harry made famous (The renegade cop not following the rules bit that has been done so many times it really sucks) but thankfully this film has enough going for it to make you forget all about that tacked on marketing shit. I enjoyed myself during this film, especially for the performance from Kyung-gu Sol whom plays the role better than most of have tried the same crappy path. This film also has a nice standard, instead of relying on a SURPRISE killer at the end, we are given him in the beginning and guess what? They still get the job done at the end of the day. Sure the plot has been beat to death, but thankfully there is enough black humor and other shit to make this film worth watching again.

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