It was a bit difficult this week to pick what the number two movie of the week was, except for #1 no classics but for the most part all were really enjoyable views. Also switched off Japanese films for a few days as the last two watches of the week were from different countries, do watch English speaking films too but mainly my movie watching consists of Asian films.
Wrote that above after four films, while many were deserving of being the second best film of the week chose the Thai movie "Shutter" from 2004, that's truly a must watch horror flick. Above is the trailer for it along with two pics of the female lead Natthaweeranuch.... gulp..... gulp....
Rainy Dog 1997 95 minutes
Sho Aikawa, Xianmei Chan, Tomorowo Taguchi
Probably the weakest of all seven films that I viewed last week. Hadn't watched it for so many years had forgotten a bit of what the film was about, an okay movie but if I gave ratings for these then this would get about a 7/10. Your basic Yakuza film except for the fact it was set in Taiwan, the main character Yuji is an outcast from the mobsters in Japan and had fled there. Lot of killings and some good action scenes but the plot was quite thin with just a so-so ending.
This was the second film in the 'Black Trilogy Society' but none of the three films have anything to do with each other. Easily the best of the bunch was "Shinjuku Triad Society", that's a must watch and will be viewing it again in the next few weeks. However this film did star Sho Aikawa who is one of my all time fave actors, he also had the lead role in the trilogy's final film. Most know him from the 'Dead or Alive' films but what I really liked Sho in was the 'Suit Yourself or Shoot Yourself' series. There was a total of six films in the series that were released in 1995-96, definitely B-movies but quite a fun watch.
Sukeban Deka: The Movie 1997 97 minutes
Yoko Minamino, Haruko Sagara, Yui Asaka, Masato Ibu
Kind of a classic film, have never seen the TV series which did star Yoko but it's a show which is available and one of these days I'll get around to it. The first of a three part series as there are so many Japanese movies which are series of three or more movies. This was probably the best of the three but I enjoy the sequel more which didn't star Yoko. There was another remake of this movie that came out in 2006 which starred Aya Matsuura from Morning Musume, that was also a solid movie.
If you don't know the story the Sukebans are a team of high school girls who work with a man referred to as the Dark Director to protect Japan but mainly to keep the younger citizens safe. Their main weapon is a yo-yo(!), while you may laugh at the that it's a powerful weapon which could easily kill you and have seen it used to take down an airplane and a helicopter. Have never seen the third film but highly recommend the first two, the sequel is two films down.
A Taxing Woman 1987 127 minutes
Noboku Miyamoto, Tsutomo Yamazaki, Keiju kobayashi, Masahiko Tsugawa
Also goes by the name of 'Marusa no Onna'.
Films don't come much better than this one, this is truly a bona fide classic. Have never made a top ten list for my fave Japanese films as it'd be too difficult and my faves have changed often. However this film always would remain on the list, without a doubt this is either number one or two for me as far as my all time fave films go from Japan. If you haven't viewed it yet and bet most haven't stop what you're doing and get the DVD now!!!!
Lot of people have this near the top of their list for best Japanese films, it won a slew of awards such as the best picture for 1987 at the Japanese version of their Academy Awards. In the film Nobuko plays Ryoko who is an auditor for the Tokyo area tax revenue department, the equivalent of the IRS. Ryoko is one gung-ho gal when it comes to finding tax cheats, one day she stumbles across the case of a man named Gondo. She tries and tries to bag him for tax evasion but is unsuccessful.
Flash forward a year and Ryoko has now been promoted to an investigator at the main Tokyo office. There the agents are just as eager to find tax cheats as she is and what a blast it was watching them uncover how so many people try to hide their money and assets. After a while the name of Gondo arises again and Ryoko is assigned to lead the case. Won't give away any more spoilers but what an intense last half hour it was, can't recommend a movie more than this one and naturally this will be the trailer at the bottom.
Sukeban Deka 2: Counter Attack from the Kazama Sisters 1988 91 minutes
Yui Asaka, Yuka Onishi, Yuma Nakamura, Masaki Kyomoto
In the same vein as the first film but Yui is the only Sukeban to return. In this film she's joined by her two sisters Yuka and Yuma, in real life they were the three gal J-Pop group The Kazama Sisters who broke up in February 1988, this film came out as about the same time as their break up. The first film may have been the better of the two but I enjoy this film so much more and have watched it many more times.
Sort of the same plot as the first film as the Sukebans have to thwart the evil intentions of a maniac to save Japan which they naturally did. Best scene was the final one that involved the mastermind fying a plane to drop a bomb at a concert. Yui had arrived at the airport via a blimp(!) and with her powerful yo-yo dropped the plane out of the sky, it has to be seen to be believed. Yui was quite the pop star in those days and the DVD has a nice feature called 'Yui's Diary' which showed her on the set but better then that were the concert clips of her in 1987-88.
Tomie 1998 95 minutes
Miho Kanno, Mami Nakamura, Yoriko Douguchi, Tomorowo Taguchi
Have to admit I've been a huge Tomie fanatic over the years and the films are what really got me hooked to Japanese movies. There aren't many fans of the films out there but I love almost all of them, have seen the first eight and bet the total times viewing them is over a hundred. Also have the two mangas that were written by Junji Ito, he's a manga horror worth checking out and also have a few other books by him.
This was the first of the films and bought it in a box set that had the first four films along with the TV movie. I was hooked after watching them and after that couldn't obtain DVD's of Japanese movies fast enough, especially horror ones. Miho played Tomie in this first film, each one has a different actress play the part. Thought she was the best of all of them yet we didn't see her face until the fifty minute mark. Miho was also in the superb 'Eko Eko Azarak' film, she's been one of my faves for a while but has really slowed down on her activities the past few years.
Tomie is an eighteen year old girl who cannot die. You can kill her and that's been done to her too many times to count yet she keeps coming back to life. Doesn't matter if her head has been cut off or she's been set on fire, as long as one part of her body is still living she can regenerate. In this film my fave character was the detective played by Taguchi, the detective's main purpose for living is to find Tomie. He's deduced she's been around since the early days of the Meiji era and there have been many killings of Tomie Kawakimi throughout history but there's no pics of her until he finally discovers a new one of her yet he never did meet her in the flesh. Tomie does get killed in the final scene but seeing as how there's eight more films the only way for her ever to die is for them not to make any more films in this series and one hasn't been made since 2011.
The Sword of Swords 1968 110 minutes
Jimmy Wang Yu, Tien Feng, Shu Pei-Pei
After viewing about twenty Japanese films in a row needed a break, a Shaw Brothers movie is always a solid alternative. Not a huge fan of martial arts films but these somewhat cheesy ones from the 60's and 70's are usually quite enjoyable, this one was no exception. The sword is the most powerful one in history, this film was set back a few centuries ago. With it one can rule a country and it was imperative that it shouldn't fall into the hands of evil doers. The master that owned it is on his deathbed, he entrusts it to his best student Ling so he can deliver it to the the country's ruler.
However it gets stolen by his dastardly rival Fang, during their skirmish Ling is blinded and remained that way until the end of the film. But Ling's hearing was now second to none, with that amplified hearing he was able to get back the sword from Fang in a duel that had Ling taking down over a hundred men though he was blind.
These posts aren't reviews so don't go into too much detail but that's the main plot of the film. Must have close to twenty Shaw Brothers movies which are easy to obtain, most aren't classics but all are definitely action packed and a lot of fun. Star of the film was Jimmy who played Ling. Another movie which is even better with him is "The One Armed Swordsman" that needs to be watched. If your DVD collection doesn't have that film then it can't be considered a collection....
Shutter 2004 95 minutes
Ananda Everingham, Natthaweeranuch Thongmee
That second name doesn't roll off the tongue so well. Have seen a little over ten films from Thailand, all have been horror ones and all have been quite good. Need to hunt down more of them though sure they wouldn't be as terrific as this 2004 movie which just may be in my top ten of all time for horror films. Won't give away too much of the plot but it dealt with a spirit that was still hovering around, a camera was the only thing that could pick up it's image.
Superb plot, lot of creepiness with enough blood and killings to make this a must watch, it's also a film that's easy to find. Few other horror films from Thailand that I've really enjoyed are "The Sisters, Bangkok Haunted, Art of the Devil, Sick Nurses" and a few others. I'm such a fan of this film that it ended up being my second fave film of last week and the trailer for it is above, Natthaweeranuch is definitely a gal worth checking out.
Really no contest on what the best film of the week was, as mentioned it's first or second on my list for all time Japanese films. Juzo Itami was the director and he's got a bunch of other films worth checking out such as "The Funeral, Tampopo and Supermarket Woman". Nobuko, who was the star of "A Taxing Woman" was also his wife in real life.