Takashi Miike – Dead or Alive 2: Tôbôsha AKA Dead or Alive 2: Birds (2000)

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From the ashes of Dead or Alive’s apocalyptic ending comes Dead or Alive 2, both a continuation of the series and a stand-alone film on par with its predecessor. Serving up shockingly graphic violence, sincere character nuance, engaging humor and transcendent magical realism with equal mastery, Dead or Alive 2 offers definitive evidence of why the New York Post hailed director Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) as “one of the most exciting, versatile directors working today.” Continue reading

Ki-duk Kim – Bin-Jip AKA 3-iron (2004)

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Plot Summary (Taken from IMDb): A young drifter enters strangers’ houses – and lives – while owners are away. He spends a night or a day squatting in, repaying their unwitting hospitality by doing laundry or small repairs. His life changes when he runs into a beautiful woman in an affluent mansion who is ready to escape her unhappy, abusive marriage. Continue reading

Robert Houston – Shogun Assassin (1980)

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A sort of remake of Lone Wolf and Cub for the western market condensing the series in one film. In 1980, Americans David Weisman (producer) and Robert Houston (director) stumbled upon the Japanese Lone Wolf and Cub films (in turn based on a hugely successful manga comic book), and realised that while Western Audiences at the time would lap up the violent battles, they might not be ready for the Chanbara genre’s comparatively slow pacing and period politics. They decided to take the best bits of Lone Wolf and Cub parts 1 and 2, and add their own dubbing and simplified plot. Shogun Assassin was born, and is probably responsible to this day for the Chanbara movie’s arrival in the West. Best approached as an introduction to the Lone Wolf and Cub legend. Continue reading

Kôji Wakamatsu – Jitsuroku Rengo Sekigun: Asama sanso e no michi AKA United Red Army (2007)

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In a stark depiction of the dissatisfaction that followed the demise of 60’s idealism, United Red Army follows the story of the titular leftwing Japanese terrorist group that came together in 1972 as two pre-existing groups merged. Interspersed with large amounts of archival footage and employing a semi-pseudo-documentary style, the film visits upon the key historical figures and events that led to the United Red Army eventually purging much of its membership, leading five student radicalists to hole up in the Asano mountain lodge in Nagano Prefecture in a standoff against the police. Continue reading