Category: Japan

Copycat Killer

Type: Thriller, Japan 2002

Director: Yoshimitsu Morita

My rating: 3
Key actors/actresses:
Masahiro Nakai .... Koichi Amikawa
Kanji Tsuda .... Hiromi Kurihashi
Takashi Fujii .... Kazuaki Takai
Tsutomu Yamazaki .... Yoshio Arima
Yoshino Kimura .... Shigeko Maehata

Posted by Dominic
Story:
A seriel killer is on the loose, the victims are all young woman, tortured then killed. The police has no clue, the killer even calls the TV station during live shows to challenge the policy. The killer contacted an old man who's daughter was one of the victims, the old man is determined to find out who he is...

My review:
I won't spoil it by telling you the plot, the seriel killing is not so straight forward. Interesting way of telling a story, certainly non-linear and the director slowly connecting the dots for you, the movies didn't grasp my attention at all time, at points, it can be confusing to some as the story was told twice from different perspectives.

Twilight Samurai

Image from Amazon
The Twilight Samurai (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, Japan 2002

Director:Yoji Yamada

My rating: 4

Key actors/actresses:
Hiroyuki Sanada .... Seibei Iguchi
Rie Miyazawa .... Tomoe Iinuma
Nenji Kobayashi .... Choubei Kusaka
Ren Osugi .... Toyotarou Kouda
Mitsuru Fukikoshi .... Michinojo Iinuma

Posted by Dominic
Story:
Seibei Iguchi is a low-rank Samurai who suffers poverty as he spends all his money for the family,include a bed-bound wife who is sick, 2 daughters and an old mother. Wife died out of illness and put the family further in debt, but they are happy as a family. Tomoe is Seibei's long time love and childhood friend, Tomoe was just divorced from an abusive husband.Just Tomoe and Seibei may start to develop some special relationship, Seibei decided that Tomoe will suffer too much if she follows him. Until one day, Seibei's brilliant sword skill was discovered and he was sent to deal with a very strong enermy, facing a live or death situation, Seibei confessed to Tomoe that he really loves her...

My review:
The second movie that I watched directed by Yoji Yamada, simply excellent, well directed and well acted. Aduience can feel for the characteres in the movie and the sword fight was very impactful and so was the numerous scenes with Seibei and Tomoe.

Resurrection

Type: Drama SciFi, Japan 200x

Director:TBD

My rating: 3
Buy it now:
Key actors/actresses:

Posted by Dominic
Story:
In a small Japanese village, some dead people begin to return to life, some were dead for years and some died only very recently. Why is this happening? And what does that mean? What is the impact of their living friends and relatives? A young man who was from this village was being sent to investigate, something most unexpected awaits...

My review:
Interesting film, I particularly like the message. Knowing and understanding death allows us to comprehend and appreciate the meaning of living.

Touch

Touch

Type: Drama, Japan 2005

Director: Isshin Inudou

My rating: 4
Key actors/actresses:
Masami Nagasawa .... Minami Asakura
Keita Saito .... Kazuya Uesugi
Syota Saito .... Tatsuya Uesugi
Posted by Dominic
Story:
Based on the comic book by Mitsuru Adachi. Kazuya (younger) and Tatsuya (elder) are twin brothers, Minami is the girl next door, the three of them were born in the same year and grew up together. Both brothers love Minami. She has a wish which becomes the common goal of the twin brothers that is to go to Koshien Stadium to play baseball. To do so, they must represent their high school and win the regional competition. Tatsuya doesn't want to compet with his brother and quit baseball, Kazuya is a great baseball player and has led the school team to the regional final, soon Minami's dream will be realised and she is clear on who she loves. On the day of the final game, something happened and Kazuya did not turn up...

My review:
I have always loved this comic by Mitsuru Adachi, also the TV edition which has become a classic. Kazuya and Tatsuya are good and loving brothers, Minami is the kind of girl where every boy dreams about. Mitsuru has created many touching and clever plots in the story with many other interesting characters surrounding Kazuya, Tatsuya and Minami, including the star players in the other baseball teams. I think there is too much in the originally story to be put in a 2-hour movie, the film has done a good job in bringing out the essence, but if you like the movie and have not read the comic or watch the TV series, I'll encourage you to do so.

Yureru

Posted by Ryoko

Type: Drama Suspense, Japan 2006

Director:Miwa Nishikawa

My rating: 5
Key actors/actresses:
Joe Odagiri : Takeshi
Teruyuki Kagawa: Minoru

Story:
"Yureru" (literally "swing") is a story of two brothers. Minoru works for the family business, a gas station, and takes care of his father in Yamanashi, the suburbs of Tokyo. On the other hand, his younger brother, Takeshi, works as a photographer in Tokyo. However, their world got upside-down by an accidental death of a female friend of their childhood.
"Yureru" was invited to Fortnight Program at Cannes Film Festival this year.
You can see its trailer here: http://www.yureru.com/trailers/

My review:
I?m proud of those great actors in Japan: Odagiri and Kagawa. Especially as for Odagiri, he is very popular here but I was not interested in him at all until I watched this film.
Why did I watch this film? Because I heard a good reputation for ?Yureru?, in addition, happened to read Odagiri?s interview on a magazine, which made me feel curious: he mentioned that he felt so jealous toward Miwa Nishikawa, the young female director of this film because ?she is in the nearly same age but she is so talented. Amazing!?.
Last August, my friend and I watched this film at a small theater in the afternoon on a weekday, and every seat was full up with many men & women of all ages. Its story is trilling and creeps up on you. It?s not a horror movie but a psychological drama. You may feel something tense between Odagiri?s and Kagawa?s plays from the beginning to the end. There is no room for poor players for this movie.
Well, I?m really looking forward to reading Dominic?s review of ?Yureru?, and will let you know my review after watching ?Shinobi? starring Odagiri.

Inochi

Type: Drama, Japan 2002

Director:Tetsuo Shinohara

My rating: 3

Key actors/actresses:
Makiko Esumi .... Miri Yu
Etsushi Toyokawa .... Yutaka Higashi
Toshio Kakei .... Kamata

Story:
Based on a best-selling autobiography.
Miri was unexpectedly pregnant through an affair with a married man with whom she had just broken up. Having made the difficult decision to keep the baby, she reunited with an old friend (her ex-boyfriend), Yutaka who was suffering from terminal cancer and was struggling to stay alive. Miri gave birth to a health boy, and Yutaka has developed a deep fatherly relationship with the baby boy. Through facing life and death everyday, Miri and Yutaka learn the deeper meaning of life.

My review:
A rather heavy movie that attempt to offer some views on life and death. Life is a miracle and should be treasured.

Shinobi - Heart under blade 甲賀忍法帖

Image from Amazon
Shinobi Heart Under Blade (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, Japan 2005

Director:Ten Shimoyama

My rating: 3

Key actors/actresses:
Yukie Nakama .... Oboro (Iga)
J? Odagiri .... Kouga Gen-no-suke (Kouga) (as Joe Odagiri)
Tomoka Kurotani .... Kagerou (Kouga)
Erika Sawajiri .... Hotarubi (Iga)
Kippei Shiina .... Yakushiji Tenzen (Iga)

Story:
During the Tokugawa era, the two ninja clans Iga and Kouga have existed for over 400 years, always been opposing each other and separately have been helping different regimes in power. Under a cease-fire agreement, the two clans have not been fighting each other. The two future leaders of the clans, Oboro (Iga) and Gen-no-suke (Kouga) are in love with each other. Little did they know that the cease-fire has been uplifted by the Tokugawa regime because, he wants to exterminate the two clans by asking them to fight one another, because during the peaceful time, Tokugawa feels that the ninjas are themselves a threat to him. Each clans has to send 5 people to fight, Oboro and Gen-no-suke are the leaders of each team. Can the lovers escape their destiny or would they have to fight each other to save their own clan?

My review:
Even more tragic than Romeo and Juliet, a very sad story. Ninja stories are always facinating, Hollywood has tried to make its own version of Japanese ninja movies, but never quite capture the essence and its mystery. Glad to see a well film ninja movies from Japan, the land of ninja itself. However, I don't think there was enough, ninja fight scenes in the movie and the actions go so fast, leaving the audience the feeling of wanting more. Each ninja has their own secret weapon and it gets better and more powerful as the story unfolds.

It has an unexpected twist in the end! But I won't spoil it here.

Swallow tail Butterfly

Type: Drama Thriller, Japan 1996

Director:Shunji Iwai

My rating: 2
Key actors/actresses:
Hiroshi Mikami .... Feihong Chara .... Glico Ayumi Ito .... Ageha Yosuke Eguchi .... Ryou Ryanki

Story:
This is a story about "Yen Town", the name given to illegal immigrants in Japan who view Japan as a country of to earn big and fast money, they call Japan "Yen Town" and they themselves are being called "Yen Town". The film describes this illegal immigrants as criminals, gangsters who engage in various crimes.

My review:
The movie has multiple threads which was hard to follow. All in all, this is not my cup of tea.

Hypnosis (Saimin)

Image from Amazon
The Hypnotist (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama Thriller, Japan 1999

Director:Masayuki Ochiai

My rating: 3
Key actors/actresses:
Goro Inagaki .... Toshiya, Saga
Miho Kanno .... Yuka, Irie
Takeshi Masu .... Jissoji

Story:
Several incidents resulted in numerous horrific deaths: a groom choked himself to death during his wedding; an athlete ran herself to death out of exhaustion and bone fracture; an old man jumped off the window on his birthday. The only clue the police had obtained was the connection to the "green monkey" which was linked to a TV hypnosis show. As the investigators were homing in to the people involved, more victims killed themselves, the signs now all pointed to a girl as the centre of the ordeal. Could the investigators solve the mysteries or would they fall victims themselves? What's the role of this poor, helpless girl?

My review:
I always find hypnosis a fascinating topic. Movies on crimes involving hypnosis have been made many many times. But "Saimin" is certainly one of the most scary ones. The director is able to grab your attention from the start and keep pumping fear and curiosity into your mind. At points you will find yourself breathless. The thought that you can be programmed to killing yourself is scary.

Bayside Shakedown


Type: Comedy Thriller, Japan 1998

Director:Katsuyuki Motohiro

My rating: 4
Key actors/actresses:
Yuji Oda .... Shunsaku Aoshima
Toshir?Yanagiba .... Shinji Muroi
Eri Fukatsu .... Sumire Onda

Posted by Dominic
Story:
Aoshima, a police detective working in the Bayside Precinct, is continually frustrated by the hierarchy and red tape that plague the system. His friend Muroi is climbing the ladder of the police bureaucracy. Muroi has made a pact with Aoshima that while Aoshima looks after the streets, Muroi would make life easier for the cops on the beat. One day in Bayside, a series of events turns the small station upside down. A corpse is found in the river, then the Police Commissioner is kidnapped, leading to the Metropolitian Police Department to take over the investigation which is led by Murai. Will he be true to his pact with Aoshima and co-operate with the local police? In the meantime, the murder investigation leads to a morbid web page and a deadly chat room in cyberspace...

My review:
This is an interesting film in which it made an action comedy out of crisis. The director made no attempt to hide his sarcasms towards authorities and high rank officials. The various incidents happened at the small station turned out to be all connected in someway. A movie that really grasps your attention from the very beginning and the sense of humour and suspense are well maintained through to the very end.

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