Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Shintaro and me.

To continue on with mouses 'beat' Takeshi write up I too have been caught up in the joy of Asian cinema. I have always been interested in the honour and code of the samurai and Yakuza and have stumbled on a little goldmine of a producer called Shintaro Katsu. I discovered him when i bought the Lone Wolf and Cub boxset recently. Lone Wolf concentrates on the travels and history of a Master Swordsman and his young son who, since the murder of the female in their lives on the order of a shogun consumed by devils (a nutter in other words), have wandered the roads of Japan as asassins. The overall plot of the films is to get from A-B without being killed by the various ninjas, hired killers and idiots who believe they can defeat The Lone Wolf's one handed style. This is no easy job as not only is he the ex- shogan decapitator and unrivalled in the art of swordsmanship but his 'cubs' pushchair is equipped with several lethal add ons such as ankle cutting swords, bullet proof iron plates and a machine gun for those messier moments. Between him and the kid over six films the Lone Wolf has probably ended the lives of over 700 men and women though its censorship until recently only goes to show how British moviegoers blood lust has increased since its release. You can buy The Lone Wolf and Cub boxset from HMV for Thirty quid and take my word for it when i say it will be the best £30 you ever spent. Its top-class. Id also advise buying 'Shogun Asassin' on Ebay. This is a blend of the first two Lone wolf films made for a western market and has the sweet addition of the Cub acting as narrator and counting down the kills. This movie has become more popular recently due to its use as 'the sleepy time movie' in Kill Bill2 and Wu Tang Clan samples, so jump in there now before its too late. I got mine for £8 but in Virgin its £20. i would avoid the movie 'The Master and the Kid' which is a supposed chinese version of the Lone Wolf idea. I wont go into detail as its not worth it, suffice to say its a shit film that is cashing in on a great idea badly, and the kid might as well not be in it.

One group of films that i advise you check out,if you can resist the urge to buy them all, is the Zatoichi Series. I found a boxset for £25 in HMV of three movies and now have 11 of a possible 20 titles. Zatoichi is a blind man who lives a double life. One is as a masseur , travelling from village to village making pittance by briskly rubbing bad mannered aristocrats, the other is a Yakuza boss with the ability to hear his enemy and dispatch of them with stumbling grace and a hidden sword in his cane. Zatoichi is legendary around Japan and the fights and cut scenes that highlight his blind skill are beautiful to watch and inspiring to say the least. Id advise you watch the latest version of the myth by 'Beat' Takeshi which you can buy relatively cheaply anywhere. Takeshi's Zatoichi is a more polished style than the older films with debateable CGI effects (which I like but others frown upon). This film is a good introduction to the series but the original films are much better, if a little more difficult to understand. There is alot of traditional myths, songs etc that may be heritage to the Japanese but are bewildering to westerners but these are quickly forgotten when 'Ichi' pulls his sword, enforces wisdom or hears the dice at the local gambling temple. Shintaro's Zatoichi is more bumbling and mischievious than Takeshis slightly slicker version. He plays on his role as blindman more and only unleashes his deadly accuracy and dark murmers of warning when pinned down or offended which, luckily for the viewer , is quitew often.
The best Zatoichi film I have so far is 'Zatoichi meets the one armed swordsman'. Its awesome, buy it, this can be found on Ebay or in a box set at HMV if your lucky. I was excited by 'Zatoichi meets Yojimbo' but unfortunately it was a bit stale and bare in mind that if you get addicted like me you will need a region 1 DVD player for his earlier films and the cash to buy over twenty films.

Shintaro Katsu also bought out a set of films called 'The Razor' which has never been given a British Certificate. This is all I know about this mystery set of films, as I cant find it anywhere so if you know anything, let me know.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Sleepy Time

Maz, Paul & The Croot Monster on my couch after the last CULT night.......


I Watched This Last Night....

I watched this last night...

Brother (2000)


Good... but like all Takeshi Kitano Films a bit weird (well maybe not weird, just different).
Takeshi's first film made in America (I believe?), It continues his exploration of the Japanese Yakuza criminal code began in earlier films (Sontatine and the other one I cant remember the name of).
The mixture of American and Japanese cast works well but leaves the script (obviously written in Japanese and then translated) a little bit cheesy, sort of like the old Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns.
But still, the cinematography is superb and as you would expect "Beat" Takashi's acting is outstanding.

Oh yeah and its a bit violent (disembowellings, chopped off fingers, chopsticks rammed up nose etc....)

Back to work now