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  • A Legend of Turmoil

    A Legend of Turmoil

    ★★★★★

    What a triumph! A (Toei) masterpiece, A LEGEND OF TURMOIL has it all: the relentless action and bloody violence; the quieter, more emotional moments (that scene in which Jinnai Takanori leaves prison, for example, and the scenes featuring the note and letter of Kobayashi’s daughter); some great music; a Kitano appearance (among other heavy-hitters) and an absolutely awesome finale. In short: a perfect yakuza eiga. It all comes together in the commanding performance of Kobayashi Akira who seems to take…

  • A True Story of the Private Ginza Police

    A True Story of the Private Ginza Police

    ★★★★½

    In the same year (1973) Fukasaku popularised the jitsuroku eiga with the first instalment in his BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY series, came Sato Jun’ya’s PRIVATE GINZA POLICE. From the very disturbing first scene the relentless violence kicks in, never to leave the screen. As in the aforementioned Fukasaku films and typical for the genre, there’s the use of voice-over and freeze frames to mark important story events and the action is filmed with a shaky camera. Umemiya Tatsuo’s performance…

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  • I'm Really Good

    I'm Really Good

    ★★★★

    Watanabe Hirobumi’s I’M REALLY GOOD, which I watched as part of this year’s edition of Nippon Connection, is cinema in its most simple form. Indeed, there’s a certain pureness to be found here, far removed from the Tokyo skyscrapers or, for instance, the bloody gang wars so typical for the Yakuza genre I’ve come to appreciate so much. Registered in I’M REALLY GOOD is a different Japan. Unobtrusive camerawork makes for soothing images, capturing the stillness of everyday life. 

    The…

  • Tora-san's Cherished Mother

    Tora-san's Cherished Mother

    ★★★½

    After my deontology exam today, I decided to go the extra mile and write a review. TORA-SAN’S CHERISHED MOTHER is the second installment in the Tora-san series. This installment follows Torajiro’s quest to track down his mother who appears to be still alive. Sato Orie is the film’s Madonna. She plays the role of Natsuko, the daughter of Tora’s old sensei (the great Tono Eijiro). It’s this teacher who’ll impress Tora-san deeply. Fellow fans of Japanese cinema will also recognise…

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  • Woman's Trail: Wet Path

    Woman's Trail: Wet Path

    ★★★★

    WOMAN’S TRAIL: WET PATH, a Nikkatsu Roman Porno film, is surprisingly poetic. Wide-angle shots of snowy seaside towns, harbors and the sea itself are no exception. The film opens up with protagonist Mikami Kan walking alongside his girlfriend; the destination: Shimako’s home, where her yakuza husband awaits her arrival. The mood evoked is one of melancholy, with various characters drifting through life and not rarely worn down by it. A scene that stayed with me pertained to a perceived suicide…