A.C. Film cLUB #57 – A Penguins Memories

We look at one of the lost classics of anime “A Penguins Memories” which plays like “Happy Feet” meets “The Deer Hunter”. Here Mike a young penguin returns home from the war shell shocked and unable to deal with the experience while his friends and family want to celebrate him as a war hero, sending him on the road as he tries to find peace in his life.

We also look at Japan’s love for mascots, pumpkin carving and why “The Oily Maniac” which just be the strangest Shaw Bros. movie ever plus much more!!

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Movie Vault: Raining In The Mountain

Director: King Hu
Screenplay: King Hu
Starring: Hsu Feng, Sun Yueh, Tung Lin, Shih Jun, Tien Feng, Ng Ming-Choim, Chen Hui-Lou, Lu Chan, Paul Chun Pui, Wu Chia-hsiang
Country: Taiwan, Hong Kong
Running Time: 121 min
Year: 1979
BBFC Certificate: 12

King Hu is a director whose career peaked quite early, commercially speaking. After joining the Shaw Brothers Studio as a set decorator, actor, scriptwriter and assistant director, he eventually moved into directing and after only two years found great success with his fourth film, the martial arts classic, Come Drink With Me. He left Shaw Brothers following this and headed to Taiwan where he managed to top his previous effort, breaking box office records with Dragon Inn. Both films were hugely influential too, helping shape martial arts cinema for decades to come.

However, Hu’s next project (after making a segment of the anthology film Four Moods) ran into trouble. A Touch of Zen was a much more ambitious film, running close to three and a half hours, and took a long time to produce due to Hu’s meticulous eye for detail. During the long wait before its release, however, tastes changed in East Asian cinema. Thanks to the emergence of Bruce Lee, the public were now looking for more modern kung-fu movies with hard-hitting realistic violence, not the acrobatic fantastical period pieces Hu was making. So A Touch of Zen flopped. It did find critical success overseas when it was screened four years later in Cannes and won the Grand Prix, but it was too little too late for the Hong Kong studios.

Hu, therefore decided to go independent and started his own production company to finance a pair of films, The Fate of Lee Khan and The Valiant Ones, which he made back to back, sharing sets and cast members. These were still out of step with audience tastes, but perhaps because the settings and styles were a fitting outlet for Hu’s creative interests and strengths, he persisted in making another back-to-back pair of period wuxia films, Legend of the Mountain and Raining in the Mountain. These, of course, still failed to make much money and, disheartened and struggling to raise finances for his personal projects anymore, his work rate slowed down considerably and the quality of his later films never quite reached the heights of those he made between 1966 and 1979.

These films still exist though and have gained considerable critical acclaim over the years. I’ve been gradually working my way through them and have enjoyed every one, so it didn’t take much thought for me to request a copy of Eureka’s forthcoming Raining in the Mountain on Blu-ray to review.

The film is set in a secluded monastery during the Ming Dynasty (Hu’s favourite period). The abbot is reaching the end of his days so must choose an heir to succeed him. To aid this choice, he invites three important laymen to stay at the monastery for a short while to advise him. These include Esquire Wen (Sun Yueh), General Wang (Tien Feng) and Master Wu Wai (Wu Chia-hsiang). The latter is the abbot’s most trusted advisor, as he is an enlightened Lay Buddhist. The other two, however, have their eyes on a priceless sutra housed in the monastery. Wen has brought two expert thieves with him, White Fox (Hsu Feng) and Gold Lock (Ng Ming-Choim, one of the lesser-known 7 Little Fortunes), who plan to steal the sutra. Wang and his right-hand man Chang Cheng (Chen Hui-Lou) are suspicious of them and have their own devious plans to get the scroll.

Meanwhile, three monks vie for the title of abbot. One, Hui Wen (Lu Chan), has a sharp mind and plots with Wen in return for a recommendation, whilst another, Hui Tung (Shih Jun), is also devious and corrupt and teams up with Wang. The third monk, Hui Ssu (Paul Chun Pui), is more straight-laced and seems the main contender for the abbot position.

However, a fourth monk enters the scene and causes all manner of problems among the devious groups of laymen and potential abbots. Chiu Ming (Tung Lin) has been convicted of theft and sentenced to military service but chose to repent and serve his time as a Buddhist monk. It seems he was wrongly convicted though, with Cheng behind the deception. Truly embracing his Buddhist faith, Ming harbours no grudge against Cheng. This, and other signs of abstinence, faith and devotion, show Ming to be the most enlightened Buddhist of all.

There’s a fairly large cast of characters then, but the story isn’t overly complicated, keeping its theme focussed on not necessarily Buddhism, but in how human vices, particularly a lust for power, could get in the way of Buddhist practises. Hu was interested in this contradiction and there are some well-constructed scenes that examine it, such as when Wai’s handmaidens are bathing next to studying monks who are either clearly troubled by their presence or sneaking a few peaks in their direction.

The film isn’t a dull study of religious adherence though. The central plot is filled with enough intrigue and treachery to keep you gripped and Hu injects the film with excitement in a handful of impressive set pieces. There aren’t many straight-up fights here, other than in the action-packed finale, but Hu makes the most of the thieves sneaking around, drawing out these tense scenes and filling them with swift and graceful movements. Influenced by Peking opera, the director has always been a master of crafting balletic motion.

Speaking of movement, Hu also likes to throw in plenty of dolly shots. Like all of his films, the cinematography is artful and carefully composed, yet rarely static. He makes wonderful use of locations too, with the monastery (actually in Korea) providing strong visual framing devices and glorious colour and detail to counter the drably dressed monks. Wai and his handmaidens are also colourfully dressed to add life to the palette.

Hu once again then proves his mastery of the medium, with a gripping yet often spiritual drama with flashes of action and intrigue. His assured direction and strong storytelling make for a near-flawless experience. So Raining in the Mountain comes highly recommended, as do all of Hu’s films made during his most fruitful period.

Raining in the Mountain is out on 24th February on dual format Blu-Ray and DVD in the UK, released by Eureka as part of their Masters of Cinema series. Unfortunately, a complete negative of the film couldn’t be found, so the remastered print is made up from several sources. This means the transfer is rather hit and miss. It’s generally sharp and detailed, but there’s quite a bit of colour fluctuation and a few sequences are badly washed out. The best seems to have been done from poor source material though and it’s perfectly watchable, but don’t expect it to look as amazing as some Blu-rays that have been sourced from an original negative.

Extra features include:

– Limited Edition O-Card (First print run of 2000 copies only)
– 1080p transfer of the film on Blu-ray, from the Taiwan Film Institute’s 2K restoration
– Progressive encode on DVD
– Optional English subtitles
– Original Mandarin audio, fully restored and uncompressed in its original monaural presentation
– Brand new and exclusive feature-length audio commentary by critic and Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns
– Beyond Description A brand new video essay by David Cairns
– Trailer
PLUS: a collector’s booklet featuring new essays by Chinese-language film expert and author Stephen Teo; and Asian cinema expert David West, news editor at NEO magazine

Rayns’ commentary is excellent as usual. His knowledge of Asian cinema is unsurpassed and he knew Hu back in the day, so has first-hand accounts to impart.

Cairns’ essay, which is thoroughly researched and informative, is like a shortened commentary, running through a largely chronological series of clips with narration over the top. There are visual comparisons with Legend of the Mountain at the start though.

As per usual, the booklet is a great source of in-depth writing on the film and is as vital as any of the video featurettes.

Rating: 4/5

Zu Warriors From The Magic Mountain

Director: Hark Tsui
Screenplay: Cheuk-Hon Szeto
Starring: Biao Yuen, Hoi Mang, Adam Cheng, Moon Lee, Brigitte Lin, Damian Lau, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung, Judy Ongg
Country: Hong Kong
Running Time: 98 min
Year: 1983
BBFC Certificate: 12

Traditional kung-fu movies were popular in Hong Kong back in the early 80s but they were, to an extent, ‘realistic’. With 1983’s Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain, director Tsui Hark tried to buck the trend, taking things in a wholly fantastic direction. In the early days, many Shenguai Wuxia (period martial arts movies featuring Gods and Demons) were produced in mainland China but they fell out of fashion over the years and Hong Kong filmmakers never quite latched onto them in the same way, so none had been made for a long time before Zu came along.

Zu wasn’t necessarily made out of nostalgia though. Instead, its producers were hoping to emulate the success of Star Wars, which had brought fantasy and special-effects-driven cinema to great popularity, even in Hong Kong. Zu wasn’t the commercial success they hoped it would be though, despite being well-received critically. However, overseas it was relatively popular, reportedly inspiring John Carpenter to make Big Trouble in Little China. In later years it has found its followers in Hong Kong too and helped pave the way for more commercially successful fantasy films, such as the Chinese Ghost Story series, which was produced by Hark.

Zu is certainly well-loved among martial arts movie fans in the west and Eureka are releasing a beautifully polished Blu-ray of the film as part of their Classics series. I hate to admit it, but I hadn’t actually seen Zu prior to writing this review, so I was desperate to get my hands on the disc. Thankfully, Eureka sent me a screener and below are my thoughts on the film.

Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain is set in 5th century China, when civil wars ravaged the country. Ti (Yuen Biao) is a soldier who’s caught between one of these wars and has grown fed up with the constant fighting. He escapes one battle through a crevice in the Zu mountains and meets Ting Yin (Adam Cheng). He’s a martial arts master with magical powers and Ti is so amazed he begs to be his disciple. Ting Yin isn’t keen on this idea, but Ti tags along regardless. When they get attacked by a Blood Devil, Abbot Hsiao Yu (Damian Lau) and his pupil Yi Chen (Hoi Mang) appear and come to their rescue. With further help from Chang Mei (a.k.a. Long Brows, due to his long, powerful eyebrows – played by Sammo Hung) they manage to hold off the Blood Devil, but only for so long. They need to find the Dual Swords to destroy it once and for all.

However, Hsiao Yu was badly injured in the fight and when the group travel to the Celestial Fort to ask its Mistress (Brigitte Lin) for her healing powers, Ting Yin gets possessed by the Blood Devil. This leaves it up to the inexperienced Ti and Yi Chen to find the swords and save the day, aided by one of the Mistress’ guards (Moon Lee).

I haven’t included a handful of other key characters and subplots because, on the whole, the film is rather convoluted. It could easily be described as a mess, but somehow it all makes just enough sense to keep you engaged. The frantic plotting and strange avenues taken are all part of the charm anyway. Plus, the essence of the story is always clear. As it’s knowingly put by Yi Chen in one scene, “they’re bad, we’re good. Get it?”

Where the film truly shines is in its sheer energy. The film takes ‘fast-paced’ to another level as it races through its madcap tale of Gods and demons battling in wildly imaginative ways. The film is based on the stories of Huanzhulouzhu (actually named Li Shou-min) though Hark used these more as ‘inspiration’ rather than producing a straightforward adaptation. He and his creative team brainstormed ideas to form the script and reportedly the cast and crew were still adding bits and pieces during production. This ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach makes for a thrilling ride that is given further propulsion by Hark’s rapid-cutting style and use of energetic camera movement.

The stylish cinematography and editing are matched by lavish sets and costumes, creating a feast for the eyes. The film took around a year to shoot on a very large budget for the Hong Kong industry at the time, and this effort and expense shows on screen. The special effects are rather dated perhaps but have a certain charm in their bold use of colour. Hark hired some effects artists from Hollywood to advise, as that style of work hadn’t been done in Hong Kong prior to Zu. Many of the effects are done practically too, with a lot of wirework used in particular. You can often see the wires in this sharp 2K restoration but it doesn’t detract from the fun.

Speaking of fun, there’s a healthy dose of comedy injected into the mix to keep you entertained. Biao and his fellow Little Fortune Hung make a great double act in the opening scenes (where Hung plays a soldier from another side who ends up teaming up with Ti) and there’s plenty of slapstick and low-brow gags scattered throughout. One bizarre sequence sees Ti getting laughed at by a fish he’s trying to catch!

The action is decent too. It’s heavily reliant on magic powers and wirework, so those looking for authentic moves or sustained hand-to-hand combat might be disappointed, but Biao and Hoi get to show off their skills here and there.

Overall then, it’s a breathlessly exhilarating ride whose wild excesses are dizzying. Its endless mayhem may prove tiring for some, but those that can keep up will be swept away by its exuberance.

Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain is out on 20th April on Blu-Ray in the UK, released by Eureka as part of their Eureka Classics series. The transfer looks great, with rich colours, a nice natural grain and a detailed picture. Audio is solid too. I opted for the Cantonese track, but there’s an English dub if you prefer.

You get plenty of special features included in the package:

– Limited Edition O-CARD with new artwork by Darren Wheeling [2000 units]
– PLUS: A collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film [2000 units]
– 1080p presentation on Blu-ray from a brand new 2K restoration
– Cantonese and English soundtrack options, original monaural presentations
– Newly translated English subtitles
– Brand new and exclusive feature-length audio commentary by critic and Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns
– Brand new and exclusive interview with Tsui Hark a lengthy and in-depth interview with director Tsui Hark filmed in 2020 exclusively for this release
– Zu: Time Warrior [93 mins] the export cut of the film produced for European theatres, featuring a wraparound segment with Yuen Biao as a modern-day college student who is transported, Wizard of Oz style, to 10th Century China
– Tsui Hark episode of Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show originally aired on British television in 1989
– Alternate opening credits, restored to their original Western presentation
– Archival Interview with Yien Biao [12 mins]
– Archival Interview with Mang Hoi [20 mins]
– Archival interview with Moon Lee [20 mins]
– Deleted Scenes
– Trailers

Tony Rayns’ commentary is as informative and engaging as ever. There are a lot of illuminating facts and stories about Tsui Hark’s career in particular. Speaking of whom, the interview with the director is extensive and well worth a listen. The archival interviews with the cast are decent too, each fairly in-depth and honest, talking about how long and occasionally ‘free-form’ the process was. My favourite feature though is the Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show episode. As well as another interview with Hark, there are clips from his early work and other crazy Hong Kong fantasy movies. We also catch a glimpse of a young Tony Rayns!

The Zu: Time Warrior version of the film is a real gem too. I was expecting just a brief tacked on intro and coda to set up the film, but the alternative opening is 26 minutes long, making for a wholly different experience. I must admit I didn’t watch all of the mid-section as it’s just a trimmed-down version of the original film once it gets going. With such a long opening before getting to the original footage, there is a lot cut out, so I imagine it’s a bit of a mess, but it’s definitely worth watching the alternative intro and ending. Neither was directed by Hark so it has a totally different style which is much more pedestrian, but it’s interesting to see this new spin on the material.

The booklet is great as always too, so I’d recommend buying this limited edition version before they release it without the booklet further down the line.

A.C. Film Club #56 – A Moment of Romance


Elwood and Stephen pay tribute to Benny Chan as they check out the first film in the A Moment of Romance trilogy in which a chance encounter between a getaway driver and a rich heiress leads to an unlikely romance.

We also check out Crunchyroll’s first podcast Anime In America and how anime managed to sneak into our lives without us even realising. We also look at Disney’s problematic Mulan, Japanese Mascots and much more!!

Further Viewing

A Moment of Romance 2
A Moment of Romance 3
The Classic
As Tears Go By
Chungking Express

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A.C. Film Club #54 – Mobieus

On this episode we look at one of our more random film sections with Kim Ki Duck’s Mobieus in which a wife’s desire for a revenge on her husband soon has him on a much darker journey of self satisfaction.

Further Viewing

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A.C Film cLUB #52 – eLECTION

Elwood and Stephen correct a great oversight by finally looking at a Johnnie To movie as they check out the Traid thriller “Election” as Simon Yam and Tony Leung Ka-fai star as two gang leaders battling to become chairman of the Wo Luen Shing.

Also on this episode Food Wars, Japanese game shows and the changing face of anime plus more!!

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Tsukamoto: Killing/Haze/The Adventure of Denchu-Kozo

The Japanese director, writer and actor (among other roles in his productions) Shinya Tsukamoto is a fiercely independent filmmaker whose unique, often quite ‘extreme’ visions and styles might not be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s hard to argue about his originality or authorship over his work (give or take a couple of ‘director-for-hire’ jobs). His most famous film is the 1989 twisted cyberpunk masterpiece Tetsuo and he’s got several other well-regarded, if challenging, titles to his name. Third Window Films have been championing Tsukamoto for a while, releasing a number of his films in the UK, and now they’re spoiling us with not only his latest work, Killing, but a box set containing that and two short-feature titles spanning a wide range of his career. These are The Adventure of Denchu-Kozo (1987) and Haze (2005).

The Adventure of Denchu-Kozo

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto
Screenplay: Shinya Tsukamoto
Starring: Kei Fujiwara, Nobu Kanaoka, N. Senba, Shinya Tsukamoto, Tomorô Taguchi
Country: Japan
Running Time: 45 min
Year: 1987

The Adventure of Denchu-Kozo (a.k.a. Adventures of Electric Rod Boy or Denchû kozô no bôken) began life as a stage play Tsukamoto devised and put on with his theatre company. After it had finished its run, Tsukamoto didn’t want to waste the effort that had been put into making the sets, so decided to shoot the play as a film. It went on to win the Grand Prize at the PIA Film Fest in Japan, helping lead him onto his next film, his true breakthrough, Tetsuo.

There’s a bit of Tetsuo in The Adventure of Denchu-Kozo (or the other way round I should say), as it has a similar cyberpunk aesthetic and explores the idea of metal fusing with human flesh to form a weapon. In Denchu-Kozo, our young hero, Hikari, suffers from having a utility pole growing out of his back. He’s bullied about it before being saved by a girl named Momo. Hikari is enamoured by Momo and shows her his new invention, a portable time machine. He activates it, which sends him hurtling forward 25 years in time to a post-apocalyptic Earth. Here, vampires are keeping the world shrouded in darkness and Hikari bumps into a gang of these creatures, who set after him. Hikari soon comes across Dr. Sariba, an older woman who is trying to put an end to the vampires’ reign. She tells Hikari that she has been expecting him and believes he is the only one that can save the world.

Like Tetsuo, Denchu-Kozo has an intense, energetic style with frantic editing and shaky handheld camerawork. It’s also filled with imaginative low-budget practical effects and inventive visual tricks such as human stop-motion. The film is a feast for the senses and a great example of what can be achieved on a minimal budget.

Although it can be dark and has elements of body-horror throughout, Denchu-Kozo is more outwardly humorous than Tetsuo, with some slapstick and wacky, surreal gags keeping the tone from getting too heavy.

Overall then, it’s a wild and attention-grabbing film that helped pave the way for what was to come. More blatant comedy makes it sillier than what I’ve seen of the rest of Tsukamoto’s work, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Rating: 4 / 5

Haze

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto
Screenplay: Shinya Tsukamoto
Starring: Shinya Tsukamoto, Takahiro Murase, Takahiro Kandaka
Country: Japan
Running Time: 48 min
Year: 2005

Haze has a simple but nonetheless puzzling premise. A man (played by Tsukamoto himself) wakes to find himself in a dark, highly constricted concrete maze. He can’t remember how he got there and has no idea why he’s there either. He has a serious stomach wound so is slowly bleeding to death. He keeps trying to claw out of the space but doesn’t really get anywhere, frequently blacking out and waking in a new area of this bizarre prison. He eventually comes across a woman in the same situation and they ponder what to do next.

This was Tsukamoto’s first digitally-shot film, commissioned by a film festival as a short but later extended into this semi-feature. He continued to use digital cameras in the films he made after Haze, so must have been drawn to the experience. Given that HD cameras were relatively young at that point, the picture quality doesn’t quite hold it’s own against film as it can these days, but the crisp focus and heavy digital grain add a sense of naturalism to the experience.

The film plays out like a nightmare though, regularly fading to black then coming back into another horrific situation for our protagonist, with no explanation for the sudden shift. It’s painfully tense and claustrophobic with a couple of scenes that border on unwatchable, they’re so squirm-inducing. The pipe between the teeth scene had me hiding behind a pillow!

The meaning or theme of the film isn’t clear, leaving it up to interpretation and adding to the slightly surreal nightmarish atmosphere. Tom Mes suggests the film could be a modern depiction of Buddhist hell (a.k.a. Naraka). That analogy fits with the series of torments our ‘hero’ is faced with and, depending on how you take the ambiguous ending, the idea of karma sending you there works too.

Speaking of the ending, the final half of the film doesn’t quite have the impact of the first, but it’s still disturbing at times and the actual conclusion, though initially coming across as ‘happy’, could be taken in numerous ways, on reflection.

Overall though, it’s a refreshingly spare horror film that’s unbearably tense and uncomfortable for a good portion of the time. It lacks the wild energy of some of his better-known work but still has quite an impact.

Rating: 4 / 5

Killing

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto
Screenplay: Shinya Tsukamoto
Starring: Shinya Tsukamoto, Yû Aoi, Sôsuke Ikematsu, Kohji Katoh, Tatsuya Nakamura
Country: Japan
Running Time: 79 min
Year: 2018

Killing is set during the end of the Edo period in Japan, when the Tokugawa shogunate ruled and the warrior class (i.e. the samurai) were the top of the ‘food chain’, leaching off the hard-working lower classes whilst the closed-off country was at peace. The country was on the cusp of change though as Western warships were invading and demanding trade. Rice merchants were starting to make a lot of money, so the merchant class was rising in power. Whilst many samurai gave up, some clung on to their power and formed militia groups.

In the film, we open with a young masterless samurai (a.k.a. ronin) named Mokunoshin (Sôsuke Ikematsu) helping a farming community during the harvest. A skilled ronin named Sawamura (Tsukamoto again), who is passing through, sees Mokunoshin sparring with a young farmer (Ryûsei Maeda) and asks them both if they will join him on his way to Edo to make an honourable living as a samurai. They both agree and prepare to leave. The farmer’s sister Yu (Yû Aoi), however, doesn’t want either of them to go. She clearly loves Mokunoshin and her brother is nowhere near as skilled as the others in swordsmanship and knows nothing of killing or the code of the samurai. She tries to stop them and, fortunately for her, Mokunoshin falls ill, delaying their departure.

During this time, a tough-looking band of ronin show up on the outskirts of the farm. The farmers are afraid and want their samurai friends to get rid of them. Mokunoshin (prior to his illness) approaches the group and finds they’re more friendly than they appear, so thinks nothing of it. However, when the fiery young farmer/samurai-wannabe gets caught up with them he’s beaten up. With Mokunoshin out of action now to smooth things over, the old-fashioned Sawamura instead wanders over to the unsavoury samurai and butchers most of them. This leads to a cycle of violence and death that Mokunoshin is tormented by. You see, though he’s skilled with a blade, he’s never killed anyone. He’s torn between an innate desire to do so and his conscience telling him he shouldn’t.

Though my synopsis seems long, this is another sparse, pared-down affair, like Haze, though not quite to the same degree. The anti-violence theme is clear, though different interpretations can be made from it and it never feels as straight-forward or preachy as many films with a similar message.

Killing is Tsukamoto’s first jidaigeki (period) film so at first seems out of place within his filmography, but there are similarities to his previous work to be found. The fusion of steel and flesh (here holding a sword) to create a deadly weapon links to the Tetsuo films and others. Fires on the Plain (from what I’ve heard, I haven’t seen it yet) is a similarly brutal indictment of violence too.

Speaking of which, the violence in the film is very well handled. There’s a mixture of the slow, build-up-heavy minimalism of traditional samurai duels and fast, frenetic fights shot with a handheld camera and sharply edited. Both styles (other than in sparring) end showing us the gruesomely detailed result of the action too. Tsukamoto doesn’t hold back on the gore, portraying violence as vicious and painful, not beautiful or stylised. The sharp, clean digital cinematography reflects this too, though night scenes are quite atmospherically lit.

So, it’s an admirably stripped-back, intense examination of what it means to kill. Like Haze, it’s less ‘in-your-face’ in terms of style than Tetsuo and similar, but still has the power to grab you and hold on tight.

Rating: 4 / 5

Tsukamoto: Killing / Haze / The Adventure of Denchu-Kozo is out on 27th April, released by Third Window Films on (region B) Blu-Ray. Killing will also be available on various VOD platforms. Haze and The Adventure of Denchu-Kozo are available only in the set. The picture and audio quality on Haze and Killing is immaculate, aided by the digital format of the source material. Haze is grainy but reflects the camera technology of the time when used in such a dark setting. The Adventure of Denchu Kozo looks a bit washed out and faded in places and is quite soft but it was shot on 8mm on a minuscule budget so I imagine this is as good as it ever looked. The audio on the film is solid too.
Here is everything included in the set:


BLURAY DISC 1
– Killing feature (80 min)
– Audio Commentary by Tom Mes
– Interview with Shinya Tsukamoto
– Trailer

BLURAY DISC 2
– The Adventures of Denchu Kozo (45min)
– Haze (48min)
– Audio commentaries on both films by Tom Mes

Mes’ commentaries are excellent. He has a great knowledge of Tsukamoto’s work, so has much to add, and I found his potted history of Japan on the Killing track particularly fascinating. The interview with Tsukamoto is great too. He’s a passionate filmmaker and comes across as quite approachable and honest about his work.

An excellent package then, that comes highly recommended.

Overall Rating: 4 / 5

Check out more of David’s reviews at Blueprint: Review

A.C. Film Club #51 – Snowpiercer

It’s a change of pace on this episode as we celebrate the UK release of Bong Joon-Ho’s english language debut Snowpiercer with Em from Verbal Diorama

We look at it’s problematic distribution to the UK, the clashes with Harvey Weinstein aswell as the deeper themes at play throughout the film.

Further Viewing

The Wandering Earth
Sunshine
Event Horizon
Train To Busan
The Bullet Train
Duet
Children of Men

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David’s Top 25 Asian Cinema

As we are celebrating 50 episodes with our top 50 asian cinema we put it out to the rest of the team here at the Asian Cinema Film Club to share thier own top 25 lists.
First up is David who you will no doubt know already from movie vault reviews while he can also be found writing about film for Blueprint: Review.

25 – Ninja Scroll
24 – Fist of Fury (a.k.a The Chinese Connection)
23 – Memories
22 – Iron Monkey
21 – Grave of the Fireflies
20 – Memories of Murder
19 – Akira
18 – Magnificent Butcher
17 – Kwaidan
16 – The Killer
15 – The Sword of Doom
14 – After Life
13 – The Ballard of Narayama
12 – The Raid: Redemption
11 – Drunken Master
10 – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
9 – Hero
8 – The Vengeance Trilogy (Sorry couldn’t pick a favourite!)
7 – Sansho the Bailiff (a.k.a. Sanshô dayû)
6 – A Brighter Summer Day
5 – Late Spring
4 – Harakiri
3 – Yojimbo
2 – In The Mood For Love
1 – Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

A.C. Film Club #50 – Seven Samurai


What better way to mark such a milestone than checking out Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai which would not only be remade in the west as The Magnificent Seven but also layed the foundations for many of the action movie tropes so commonplace now.

Also check out our new sponser Yes Please Vintage for a great selection of hand picked and highly curated vintage, second-hand and upcycled housewares & clothing.

Note: Sorry for any audio issues due to a synch issue.

Further Viewing

Rashomon
Yojimbo
High and Lo
Samurai 7

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Also check out our new sponser Yes Please Vintage for a great selection of hand picked and highly curated vintage, second-hand and upcycled housewares & clothing.

Further Viewing

 

Listen To The Show

Anchor

Google Podcasts

Itunes

Spotify

Sticher