August 3, 2010
Shura: Very good, though somewhat heavy. A bit gruesome.
Gallants: A very stupid Chinese kung-fu film. Worth a miss.
Police Adjective: Meaningful. But by far the slowest film I have ever seen. And that is saying a good deal.
Cash on Demand: Great little British noire.
The Fury. Dull.
The Damned United. Amusing. Worthwhile for anyone who likes football (or doesn’t).
Love in a Puff. A decent romantic comedy.
Fortapàsc: One of the better recent Italian films.
Black Ransom. Another Hong Kong thriller. Good, but full of the usual clichés.
May 10, 2010
Ip Man 2: Good, although there is a lot of fantasy involved.
Vieni avanti cretino: Probably the best Lino Banfi films. Silly, but the scene where he mistakes a dentist’s office for a brothel makes it all worthwhile.
Air Doll: A sort of depressing Japanese film about a plastic sex doll coming to life.
Delitto al ristorante cinese: another great Tomas Milian film, this time him playing inspector Giraldi and a Chinese cook called Ciu Ci Ciao.
Mark colpisce ancora: The last of the Mark trilogy. Good action, great music.
Basta guardarla: A truly great Italian comedy.
My Sassy Girl: Thoroughly boring.
The Collosus of New York: Ok, but the colossus seems rather small.
Little Big Soldier: Good, but not as good as I had hoped.
Nove ospiti per un delitto: Beginning with a lot of naked women and ending with a lot of dead bodies.
Il Vichingo venuto del sud: A very good Lando Buzzanca film about an Italian moving to Sweden Denmark.
Luci Lontane: The only Tomas Milian film I could not sit through. Horror just isn’t his genre.
September 13, 2009
Ninja Gari (aka Ninja Hunt or Ninja Hunters): This is probably the best ninja film I have seen, shot in beautiful black and white, with the ninjas depicted much more realistically than in other films. Basically, the story is about a group of ronin hired to defend a castle against a group of ninja who want to steal a certain document. Great stuff.
Bullet Train: This was the film that the Hollywood film “Speed” got its plot from. Bullet Train is about a thousand times better though, as the terrorists are depicted in a very realistic way, and the cinematography is far superior. There are a few silly bits, but by and large this is a worthwhile way to spend a couple of hours.
Italian Secret Service: A very funny comedy staring Nino Manfredi. Apparently there is a dubbed version available in Enlgish, which I would skip, but if this is ever made available with subtitles that one should see it. The original Italian is very funny.
Zombi Holocaust: This is a really awful cannibal film. I can say, having seen a great many of these sorts of things, that this one is probably about the worst. Everything about it is bad, from the music to the acting. The jungle the adventurers are travelling through looks an awful lot like a park or a backyard in Florida. The grass has actually been cut with a lawn-mower, even though it supposed to be some island in the middle of no-where inhabited by nothing but cannibals and zombies. One would have a hard time finding a legitimate excuse for watching such a film.
Le sette folgori di Assur: Another bad Italian film. We are placed in I guess what is supposed to be ancient Babylon and introduced to Zoroaster and a boring plot line involving Howard Duff and kings and romance and gods. Worth a miss.
August 22, 2009
Ragazzi del Juke-Box: The Italian musical is a genre that has received very little attention. To my knowledge, not a single one of these films has ever been brought into English with subtitles. This one, made in 1959, is quite good, featuring a lot of footage of Adriano Celentano and subsidized by the very humorous Mario Carotenuto. The lead is played by Anthony Steffen, before he became a spaghetti western standard.
Juke box urli d’amore: This is a sort of “part 2” of the previous film. The story is totally different, but it also has Adriano Celentano and Mario Carotenuto. This one is actually superior to the previous, as the screenplay is very well done. The first film had Anthony Steffen before he turned to Spaghetti Westerns, and this one has Terence Hill before he gained fame in the same.
Hibotan bakuto: jingi tooshi masu (Red Peony Gambler 8): Being a big fan of Red Peony, I have to say I was disappointed in this entry. A lot of melodrama and not enough action.
Il bandito dagli occhi azzurri: A pretty good Franco Nero heist film. Worth a watch.
Squadra antifurto: Another Nico Geraldi entry, starring the great Tomas Milian. Not the best in the series, but certainly with some laughs.
Madamigella di Maupin: Another Tomas Milian film. This is a historical piece based on the book by Gautier. Definitely watchable.
Pelle di Bandito: A great film about bandits in Sardinia by director Piero Livi. The cinematography is outstanding and there are some moments that really raise this one to world class cinema. The strange thing is that the same year this came out (1969), another film by Carlo Lizzani starring Terence Hill called Barbagia was issued, which has almost the exact same plot. One was clearly ripped off whole sale from the other, and I am inclined to think Lizzani was the one who took Piero Livi’s film and made a more popular version. In any case, Livi’s film is superior.
July 16, 2009
I ragazzi dell’Hully Gully: This is a film that is in Italian but go ahead and watch it if you don’t speak Italian. No subtitles needed as the film has about 10 lines of dialogue. The rest is music. Some good, some awful.
The Ghost Cat of Otama Pond: When I started watching this I kept wondering if I had already seen it without realising. No, I hadn’t. It is just so much like other Japanese ghost/ghost cat films of the early 60’s that it is hard to tell the difference. Some good stuff all the same though, with very dream like sets and the usual ghost cat agitations.
Brüno: Saw it, liked it.
Crystalbrain, l’uomo dal cervello di cristallo: This is a Spanish film that I saw dubbed into Italian. The original, and more appropriate title is Trasplante de un cerebro. For brain transplant enthusiasts only. It has Frank Wolff in it, and when one thinks that he committed suicide only a year after making this film, a certain amount of sadness comes along with a viewing: seeing such a talented actor having to make a living by being in such a truly bad film.
Quest for the Mighty Sword: This is the 4th film in the Ator series, though IMDB mistakenly says it is the third. Anyhow, all Ator films are bad, but this one is just miserable. That director Joe D’Amato managed to take time off of his busy schedule of making porn in order to indulge in these fantasy epics is not really a good thing.
Dieci italiani per un tedesco: A good but very heavy film. The story is about a group of partisans killing 32 nazi soldiers with a bomb. The Germans decide that 10 Italians need to die for every German.
June 17, 2009
I think the English title of this film would be “Battles Without Honour and Humanity: Aftermath”
On IMDB it gets the absurdly low rating of 3.4.
Some arbitrary number. Because this is certainly a very great gangster film. From the excellent score to the superb cutting. Lots of bullets. Characters you actually care about. Japanese criminals fully loaded in white suits.
January 6, 2009
This is the seventh number in the series.
I found this one to have a much more interesting plot than the others I have seen, as the story is centred around a factory that is polluting the local water supply and therefore destroying the local rice crop, the livelihood of the villagers. The Imperial Army is backing the factory, as they are preparing for war with Russia and castigate those who complain as anti-patriotic.
Though a bit slow to begin with, the last thirty minutes or so are quite good, with the finale being one of the bloodiest and most interesting in the series.
December 18, 2008
Original title: Hibotan bakuto: isshuku ippan
This is the second entry into the series, and begins with Oryu, the Red Peony Gambler, stationed before a bright red background, asking for our patience. We then descend into the usual story of gangsters and gambling, honour and love.
The film is good though, with plenty of whirlwind knife-fighting, a bit of gun play, and some crazy humour by Tomisaburo Wakayama in his recurring role as Torakichi Kumasaka, the Chaplinesque yakuza boss.
October 18, 2008
I just watched this film. Definately one of the best ninja films I have seen, with very nice black and white cinemetography and some nifty realistic ninja tricks.
October 5, 2008
An uncompromisingly stupid film about a group of small town, 1979, teenagers playing pranks on the local police officer that has little to offer beyond slick cinematography and a few mild chuckles.
The only actor really worth mentioning is Naoto Takenaka, who has a minor but amusing part.