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Kataude mashin gâru (2008)
I have always thought of Japonesse comedy as being like Shakespeare comedy; funny to the people of the time and/or place but not to the rest of us. This is the first Asian film to not only make me laugh more than just a chuckle, but to make me cry with laughter and literally smack my knee. The reason that this is so good is because it seems as if writer director Noboru Iguchi took a step or two back too get a view of the Asian film market as a whole and even seems to have looked at it with a non-Asian eye to see how the rest of us see the market.
The deliberate over-the-top cheese and "happy family beginnings" were great fun, but its the wonderfully gory scenes that you'll remember. I don't want to go into too much detail so as to avoid spoiling the fun for those who haven't seen it, except to say that the scene with the main bad guy making his son drink his blood as a right of passage to the yakuzza is the main culprit for my man tears.
The only real problem of note is that the fun starts to dry a little as time goes on, the gore occurs less and less and the deliberate cheesy acting and dialogue almost gets tiresome (though it never actually is). It seems as if Iguchi used up all his best ideas too quickly in the first half and had to run with an empty tank for the last third.
Despite this its still always superb fun, and even though it is definitely gory, I recommend most people to see it, just cover your eyes if it gets too much at times!
Itsy Bitsy (2006)
Now this is how you do a short about a gigantic spider in a suburban home! I saw this at Edinburgh's Dead by Dawn festival and this stood out of the disappointing opening night. David May seemed to be the only one who know how to pace things, how to tell a story and when to stop. Also brilliant about this short is the almost complete lack of dialogue; none is needed! A scene near the beginning simply consists of the spider and the main man staring at each other, and its hilarious! Although the dialogue that is used is still super, especially from the girlfriend who seems more interested in the diamond ring than the eight legged freak.
The temptation to simply have wacky spider scenario after another must have been tempting but its good to see that May resisted this. Therefore the film never has a chance to outstay its welcome, besides, the scenes they gave us were more than enough to guarantee the status of "fun".
The only flaw here is the ending; its simply not as smart as it thinks it is and is really more annoying and dumb than anything else. Though thats the problem with films these days isn't it? Think of a fun wacky idea for a film though realise only to late that you have to come up with an ending, and preferably an ending that is as good as the rest of the film which is really tough.
Anyway, this is great, perhaps I'm overreacting because of the other dribble I had to put up with but hey, perhaps (and more likely) not.
Ying xiong (2002)
Beautiful cinematography can't (or shouldn't) help this poorly done film
This may be a beautifully shot film,it may also be the most beautifully shot film in motion picture history, but i'd like to think that the minds of cinema goers are a bit more open than to have a few nice shots win them over. My major problem with this film is the fact that due to the storyline, all the fights seem to involve someone letting someone else win for one reason or another, so those people wanting to go and see two guys with swords trying to kill each other will feel a little cheated here.
Another problem i had was that the director/writer seemed to be trying to throw to many ideas at the screen at once, and although this did result in some good scenes (fight in desert), it did throw up some stupid CGI filled scenes (fight in forest). Which leads me to another point, it could be imagined that the country that seems to be the inventor of martial arts would like to create films that makes martial arts look real and impressive and human. But this film insists on using special effects to show a raindrop bouncing of a sword or to show a whirlwind of leaves which didn't tickle my fancy.
Finally, because the script is done badly, it creates characters that are hard to relate to or understand, so when one off them gets killed off, its hard to care. TO sum up: Good idea for a film toped up by having every scene look relatively classy, thats about all.