20 November 2015

Parasyte: Part 2 (Japan, 2015)

Following the bloody events of the first film, high school student Shinichi (Sometani Shota) has been acting as an increasingly unfeeling lone vigilante and taking out parasites with the help of Migi, the parasite nested in his right arm. His actions have attracted the notice of both the parasite leadership and the police task force investigating the mysterious epidemic of deaths. To save humanity from the increasingly organized and aggressive parasites, Shinichi must confront the most dangerous parasite of them all.

The shapeshifting aliens of Parasyte are back, and they're more dangerous than ever before. I mentioned that Part 1 had some great action sequences, and I'm happy to say that Part 2 doesn't disappoint either. The gore is all here and when a war between the aliens and the humans are brewing there's bound to be bloodshed. It does try to be a little bit too bombastic sometimes, with epic music accompanying dramatic speeches every 10-minutes. I think it would have benefitted from a slower buildup instead of having almost a full-blown climax every now and then. But it's intense, and the effects are fantastic.  

Genre: Action/Drama/Horror

19 November 2015

Murmur of the Hearts (Hong Kong/Taiwan, 2006)

An artist reunites with her brother after the two were separated years ago when she left Liudau, an island off of Taiwan.

As soon as I began to watch Murmur of the Hearts, I knew I was going to like it. The beautiful imagery grabbed me immediately, and after realizing this film also had some powerful performances, I was sold. It oozes with quality and even though it's not a film where a ton of stuff is happening all the time, it's downright mesmerizing. Recommended for those who want a delicate romance story to fall in love with. And don't worry that it's cheesy and over-sweet, because it's thankfully not and takes itself much more seriously. 

Genre: Drama/Romance

18 November 2015

Unholy Women (Japan, 2006)

Unholy Women, is a composite of three unrelated half-hour horror movies. The first segment, "Rattle Rattle", tells the story of a young woman who is pursued by an evil other-worldly being. The second movie, "Steel", concerns a young man who agrees to take the sister of his boss out on a blind date, drawing him into a world more frightening than he ever dreamed possible. The third and final episode, "The Inheritance", is a supernatural tale of a woman and her young son, scarred by abuse and psychological trauma.

Unholy Women is an often disturbing and very creepy film, and tells three unrelated stories of horrific happenings. I rarely see this movie mentioned in horror articles about Asian films, which isn't overly surprising since it's not terribly scary, but I would at the very least recommend viewers to at least watch it once. Especially if you're starved for more Japanese horror films and think you've seen every last one of them. 

Genre: Horror

8 November 2015

The Untold Story (Hong Kong, 1993)

In 1978 in Hong Kong, a grisly murder takes place. Eight years later, on a Macao beach, kids discover the severed hands of a fresh victim. A squadron of coarse, happy-go-lucky cops investigate, and suspicion falls on Wong Chi Hang, the new owner of Eight Immortals Restaurant, which serves delicious pork bao. The hands belong to the missing mother of the restaurant's former owner; he and his family have disappeared; staff at the restaurant continue to go missing; and, Wong can't produce a signed bill of sale: but there's no evidence. The police arrest Wong and try to torture him into a confession. Can they make him talk? And what was in those pork buns?

Oh my God. It's been a long time since I saw something this gruesome. It's based on real events too so that makes it even more insane. The Untold Story (a.k.a. The Eight Immortals Restaurant) is an insanely twisted story of a murderer who's trying to outsmart the local cops, all while he's slaughtering people in his restaurant and makes pork buns of them. I couldn't believe that scene with the whole family who're captured by Wong. No wonder the film was awarded a Category III (Persons aged 18 and Above Only) rating i Hong Kong, the equivalent of the United States' X-ratings. 

Even though we got all this disgusting killing going on, the writer still manages to fit in some humor. The group of policemen who're trying to nail Wong always banter with each other and jokes around, and it's a stark contrast to laugh at them just a second before a five minute rape/torture-scene takes place. Crazy movie. 

Genre: Comedy/Crime/Drama

5 November 2015

Demon City Shinjuku (Japan, 1987)

Kyoya's father was a great warrior, killed at the hands of the diabolical psychic, Rebi Ra, who has now opened a portal to hell in the city of Shinjuku. It falls to Kyoya to finish what his father started and battle his way through demons, while protecting a young woman from harm. The only problem is that he's not exactly your classic hero type, and his powers are still latent.

Shinjuku can be a dangerous place. Especially if a demon lord hellbent on the destruction of mankind has opened up a portal to hell in the middle of the city where nightmarish creatures are spilling out like blood from an evil wound. Demon City Shinjuku is directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri whose previous works includes Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000) and Ninja Scroll (1993), and Demon City is very similar to those movies in terms of plot and graphic violence. 

Genre: Animation/Fantasy/Horror

4 November 2015

Sawako Decides (Japan, 2010)

After 5 years in Tokyo, 5 part-time jobs, 5 boyfriends, Sawako's life is going nowhere. When her father gets seriously ill she have to take over his struggling factory. Gradually she becomes the decider of her own life.

Sawako Decides is a typical drama with a good balance of funny scenes and also sadness, with quirky Japanese humor thrown in. The good story makes it a treat to watch and sometimes I don't need anything more complex than a woman who is trying to get her life together.

Genre: Drama

3 November 2015

The Golden Cane Warrior (Indonesia, 2014)

The Golden Cane: a relic of incomparable force, coveted by all. And with it, the training of a technique so unrivaled, it vanquishes all who dare oppose its power. As Master Cempaka and her four disciples - orphans of her enemies, now heirs to the Cane - prepare for the new warrior guardian to ascend, an act of villainous betrayal threatens to destroy the clan and destabilize the realm. Their only hope to restore order lies in finding the elusive White Dragon, the only remaining pupil still equipped to unlock the mysteries of the Golden Cane.

I'm so glad that Indonesia has become a country of which I really can trust on making some great films, Killers (2014) and The Raid 1 & 2 just to name a few. The Golden Cane Warrior draw inspiration from Chinese wire-fu films and contains a lot of beautiful fighting choreography, though it holds back a lot of the action and tells an emotional story of four disciples who're in a power struggle. Superb cinematography also.

Genre: Action/Drama

2 November 2015

Fist of the North Star (Japan, 1986)

After a nuclear holocaust tears the world apart, mankind is forced to the harshness of not only the oppression of others who are much more powerful, but the dead earth which seems to be getting worse with every passing moment. But a savior has risen from the ashes, a man who will defeat those who would torment the weak and make the world a livable place once more. A man named Kenshiro.

Fist of the North Star began as a manga series, then turned into an animated show and during its run a film was made due to its popularity. The story takes place in a Mad Max-inspired world where nuclear war has made the earth a dead and desolate place, and extravagant villains roam the wasteland preying on the weak. Amongst the ruins of cities long gone, warriors with extreme power are rising up to fight for their right to rule. 

The amount of gore in this film is nothing less of astonishing. The creators even studied anatomy to get the exploding of bodies more correct, which says a lot of what they were trying to do with the film. Fist of the North Star is known for being a testosteron bomb like few others, and the majority of its runtime is dedicated to brutal fights between muscle mountains. Trust me, it gets pretty crazy.

Genre: Animation/Action/Drama

1 November 2015

Wicked City (Japan, 1987)

There has been peace between the worlds of the mortals and the supernatural for centuries, but the balance is now being threatened. The Radical elements from the Supernatural world are crossing over into the mortal universe for the purpose of destroying the peace forever.

They really don't make 'em like they used to. I hope you're ready for some R-rated demon slaughter, because Wicked City is some serious sh*t. Full frontal nudity, explicit sex scenes, bodies which get blasted apart with laser revolvers and love songs under the Tokyo night sky, all put together with that distinctive 80's animation style รก la Vampire Hunter (1985). Super cool and ultra violent, this film should not be missed by anyone!

Genre: Animation/Fantasy/Horror

25 October 2015

Yakuza Apocalypse (Japan, 2015)

In the ruthless underground world of the yakuza, no one is more legendary than boss Kamiura. Rumored to be invincible, the truth is he is a vampire-a bloodsucking yakuza vampire boss! Among Kamiura's gang is Kageyama, his most loyal underling. However, the others in the gang view Kageyama with disdain and ridicule him for his inability to get tattooed due to sensitive skin. One day, assassins aware of boss Kamiura's secret arrive from abroad and deliver him an ultimatum: Return to the international syndicate he left years ago, or die.

Yakuza vampires? That's a first for me I think. Takashi Miike is back yet again with his taste for overtop violence and tough yakuza's. It's crazy how he manages to direct 2-3 films every year, but that's a number which also comes with a hit-or-miss price. Looking at his filmography I could single out a few stinkers released just in the most recent years, but I could also name just as many excellent films from the same time period. 

Yakuza Apocalypse falls into the latter category. Sure, it isn't exactly top-quality cinema with Shakespeare on top, but it's wildly entertaining nonetheless and contains so many bloody bone-crushing fights that you'll almost fall over. 

Genre: Action/Comedy/Horror

23 October 2015

Macabre (Indonesia, 2009)

Two newly weds Adjie and Astrid, along with 3 of their best friends decided to have an interstate road trip as a last attempt to reconcile Adjie with his estranged little sister Ladya. Their trip is however abruptly interrupted when they run into Maya, a strange girl out of nowhere, who wanders aimlessly into their path. "I've been robbed" is all she has to say. The friends unanimously decided to give her a ride to her isolated house by the end of the woods. Maya introduces Adjie and friends to her blue-blooded mother Dara, a woman of ageless enigma and few spoken words.

Macabre draws a lot of its premise and chock horror straight from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and when the chainsaw is coming out you'll giggle at the resemblance. Nonetheless, Macabre is filled to the brim with blood and gore. People are getting butchered, stabbed and shot left and right. I haven't checked up on it, but Macabre is said to be the first Indonesian slasher flick which sounds terribly late considering it was released in 2009. More originality would have done wonders but for now we'll just have to settle for Indonesia Chainsaw Massacre, which of course isn't bad at all.

Genre: Horror