Tag Archives: Japan

Fatal Beauty (1987) Tom Holland, Whoopi Goldberg, Sam Elliott, Rubén Blades, Action, Comedy, Crime

Fatal Beauty (1987)
Rita Rizzoli is a narcotics police officer with a plethora of disguises. When a drug shipment is hijacked, the thieves don’t know that the drug is unusually pure and packs of “Fatal Beauty” begin turning up next to too many dead bodies. Mike Marshak works for the original owner of the drugs and tries to tell himself that since he does not handle the drugs, he is “clean”. Mike becomes Rita’s constant companion as the drug hijackers (who are nearly psychotic and very well armed) are hunted, while more and more bodies continue to turn up.

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Fuunji Oda Nobunaga / The Lucky Adventurer Oda Nobunaga (1959) Toshikazu Kôno, Katsuo Nakamura, Kinnosuke Nakamura, Eitarô Shindô, Drama, History

Fuunji Oda Nobunaga AKA The Lucky Adventurer Oda Nobunaga (1959)
Oda Nobunaga (1534–1582) was a major daimyo during the Warring State period of Japanese history. He was the second son of Oda Nobuhide, a deputy military governor with land holdings in Owari province. Nobunaga lived a life of continuous military conquest, eventually conquering a third of Japanese daimyo before his death in 1582. Telling the story of his rise to prominence as he leads an army of 4,000 men against the 40,000 troops of Lord Imagawa Yoshimoto to prevent the arrogant daimyo from crushing the Oda clan and taking control of the entire nation. From a newly restored anamorpic widescreen print, this is the ultimate warlord movie.

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The Challenge (1982) John Frankenheimer, Scott Glenn, Toshirô Mifune, Donna Kei Benz, Action, Drama

The Challenge (1982)
Rick, a down-and-out American boxer, is hired to transport a sword to Japan, unaware that the whole thing is a set up in a bitter blood-feud between two brothers, one who follows the traditional path of the samurai and the other a businessman. At the behest of the businessman, Rick undertakes samurai training from the other brother, but joins his cause. He also becomes romantically involved with the samurai’s daughter.

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Tôkyô nagaremono / Tokyo Drifter (1966) Seijun Suzuki, Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Tamio Kawachi, Action, Crime, Drama

Tokyo Drifter (1966)
Tokyo Drifter stands with Branded to Kill as one of the best-known and most acclaimed films of Seijun Suzuki, one of Japan’s most talented maverick directors. A colorful riot of an action drama, Tokyo Drifter, like many of Suzuki’s films, transforms a standard gangster film plot into a vehicle for his own loopy brand of filmmaking, featuring gorgeous cinematography, unconventional storytelling techniques, and a dark sense of humor. This particular example centers on Tetsu, a yakuza member who, when his gang is disbanded, remains loyal to his boss and attempts to go straight. This is no easy task, however, as the yakuza are determined to get him back into the life – or kill him if he refuses. The pressure soon forces Tetsu to go on the road, becoming the “Tokyo drifter” of the title, but even this is not enough to prevent his past from violently catching up with him. The film’s choreographed action and vibrant color palette make the frequent action sequences, including one of the most raucous barroom brawls ever put on film, seem almost like musical numbers, resulting in a spectacularly entertaining and truly original take on the gangster drama.

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Goyôkiba: Kamisori Hanzô jigoku zeme / Hanzo the Razor: The Snare (1973) Yasuzô Masumura, Shintarô Katsu, Keiko Aikawa, Kazuko Inano, Keizô Kanie, Action, Drama

The Snare (1973)
Against the backdrop of the Edo treasury devaluing currency and driving many into poverty, Hanzo Itami enforces the law without regard to status. He shows inadequate respect to the treasurer, who wants him dead. He finds a young woman dead following an abortion, and he enters a temple without permission looking for evidence. He tortures and then sexually assaults the temple’s priestess to get information. He’s then assigned to protect the mint from a notorious thief. There he closets himself in the bedroom of the mint’s mistress. He waits. The thief arrives – but other crimes are afoot. Devalued currency, white slavery, and government corruption lead Hanzo to one conclusion.

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L’Homme du Train (2002) Patrice Leconte, Jean Rochefort, Johnny Hallyday, Jean-François Stévenin, Crime, Drama, Thriller

L'Homme du Train (2002)
One evening, a stranger, Milan, arrives in a small French town and enters a pharmacy to buy some aspirin. There, he meets Manesquier, a retired teacher who lives alone in a huge house. Realising he has bought soluble aspirin by mistake, Milan accepts Manesquier’s invitation to his house. Despite their differences, the two men are drawn together by a mutual respect. Milan, a world-weary gangster, would willingly swap his life for Manesquier’s calm retirement. In his turn, Manesquier fancies himself in Milan’s shoes, living a life of danger and adventure. Three days from now both men have to confront death – Manesquier in a heart operation, Milan in a bank raid. Realising how little time is left to them, the two men reflect on the other life they could have had…

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