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Ha-Meticha Ha'Gdola (1984)
This movie is basically a crime put on film. I wonder what the laws in Israel were like that this exploitative garbage could even legally be shown. I can't believe the participants would sign a waiver.
It's horrible in every conceivable way. The humor is boorish and classless, the set-ups aren't very funny or clever and the bits of real people they capture aren't interesting. The episode with the large breasted woman is sad and embarrassing to watch for many reasons. It's really hard to believe anyone ever thought this thing was funny even with the changing of attitudes since then.
Serious subject through the Nikkatsu lens
On the face of it, this is a very "violent youth" type of exploitation film but there are some very interesting social matters running through the film. It revolves around the relationship between Japanese, occupying Americans and the "half" offspring of the groups.
There are interesting contrasts. Baron's gang runs around in American military jeeps yet we see through flashback that Baron's hatred of "halfs" may spring from his sister being raped by a US serviceman. His gang sets up a "party" with foreigners but they are the most ugly and brutish types imaginable. We have these ugly stereotypes of whites on the one hand yet the soundtrack features an on-cameras role by the group "Golden Halfs", five attractive "half" japanese women.
This is all packaged in a fantastic Suzuki style "exploitation "film. Great use of color and composition mark the influence of the Seijin Suzuki style on the director Hasabe. A great film for any "Violent Youth" fans.
Mizu no onna (2002)
Heavy on visuals, light on story
This films story is not very engaging but I found myself enjoying many of it's moments purely for the visual poetry. The scenes of men and women in the bath house, the 9crazy?) woman's living space complete with chickens, the incarnations of the painting of Mt. Fuji on the wall...all these images will stay with me for awhile after I have forgotten what the film was about. UA gives a good performance as a woman haunted by the rain and Asanobu does a good job with what little is given him in the way of character. Don't expect to come away moved by the drama of the film but you may feel as if you have been to a rather good gallery showing.
YMCA Yagudan (2002)
Classic Baseball Film with a bit of History thrown in for good measure
The time is 1905, a time when Korea was in the beginning of it's annexation by Imperial Japan. Resentment was high against the Japanese and into this Era came Korea's first Baseball team. The players for the YMCA Baseball team became a national sensation and Heroes for a country suffering under Imperialism.
Director Hyeon-seok Kim (Writer for "Joint Security Area" and "The Isle" amoung others) brings us a light comedy set in an Era that has spawned mostly very serious and grim films. It's a film that any Baseball genre fans will instantly recognize with elements from "The Bad News Bears" to "The Natural" (special note to fans in San Francisco, spot the reference to Pac Bell Park!) A group of ragtag beginners play hard and win, rising to take on the Empire of Japan in the inevitable Good vs. Evil showdown.
Kang-ho Song (Shiri, J.S.A., The Quiet Family) puts in another great performance this time in a comedic role as a kind of Babe Ruth of Korea, Lee Ho-chang. Lee has the classic struggle between fulfilling his father's wishes to be a scholar and pursuing his passion for baseball. There's also a light love interest between him and Min Jeong-rim (played by Hye-su Kim) which leads to a hilarious mixup with a love poem and a will.
All in all, an enjoyable film without too many serious pretentions. Fans of Sports Comedies/Baseball Genre films will be very pleased.
Pisutoru opera (2001)
Visual Feast in color and composition
This film is not for those who are looking for a typical narrative structure. It can be very chaotic in it's visual style and you may not completely understand what is going on at all times but if you just let this film wash over you with it's vision you will be rewarded.
The plot deals with the rankings in a guild of professional killers. (It is a sequel of sorts to Suzuki's earlier film, "Yaju no seishun" (1963) aka. "Youth of the Beast".) This plot is only an excuse for Suzuki's wild and gorgeous visual style. At times I found myself forgetting the story and just smiling at a certain shot's composition and color. It's a riot of color and a pop culture landmark, do yourself a favor and look for it.
Bomnaleun ganda (2001)
This is another very quiet film by Hur about the relationship between two people. Like "Christmas in August" the direction is such that excessive dialogue is unnecessary. We know what the two people involved are thinking at all times through their eyes, the way the look (or don't look) at each other.
It's a story that anyone who has had any experience in love will immediately recognize and get that "I have been there" feeling. The film doesn't sympathize with one person or the other but you probably will empathize with one of them based on your own experiences in love and loss. Two people fall in love, one of them falls out of love (or does she?), is anyone to blame?
Lee Jae-sueui nan (1999)
Interesting history and nice cinematography, plot is slow...
This is a the story of an uprising against the Christian factions backed by France in the Cheju island region of Southern Korea. The scenery is quite beautiful and it's very educational from a historical standpoint but the storytelling leaves something to be desired. The characters were never really developed too well and you will probably be checking you watch during the last half of the film.
Boh lei chun (1999)
See it for Brad Allen's footwork alone..
The movies weak points have been well explained by other's so far. I want to mention what a great job the Australian Brad Allen does. Not only does he steal the show from Chan during the fight scenes (despite the fact that he is six inches shorter) but his acting is actually pretty good as well! Allen has been on Chan's stunt team for awhile, kudos to Chan for giving him a chance in the spotlight.
Trippy Sci-Fi sex romp that's fun for awhile
This experimental sex movie is kind of a sequel to Blade runner. It's book-ended by scenes that are a cheesy homage to the film and the sex robots are supposedly replicants. It's very funny at times and is certainly diverting with it's relentless intercutting of neo-psychedelic special effects with wild camera angles, but this soon all wears a bit thin. Mercifully the version I saw was only 73 minutes long. I enjoyed it and found it exciting but soon started looking at my watch when it was apparent that nothing was really going to happen beyond sex scene after sex scene.
Shadow Magic (2000)
Complex drama about film and east/west relations
This film is about so many things. Most obvious is the hold that film can have over an audience and how capturing life on film can be a kind of magic. There is also the tense relationship between China and the West as many Chinese saw (probably rightly so) the "Barbarians" as trying to take over and pollute their way of life. Liu even seeks to preserve their way of life on film because he sees that it will one day disappear. Their is also Liu's internal conflict between the loyalties and traditions of China versus the self-determination philosophy of the West. All these themes are woven quite skillfully into a coherent and enjoyable whole by Hu. A very enjoyable film.