Tag Archives: Japanese film


2014 Japanese Calendar Sale at YesAsia

It’s that time of year… 2014 calendars are now available to order from YesAsia, with the likes of AKB48, Gackt and various Anime titles including: My Neighbor Totoro, One Piece, Sword Art Online and Attack on Titan.

YesAsia is offering a 10% off sale with an extra 5% on orders over US$100.

Click on the banner to head on over to check out their stock.


Wild 7 Trailer (Blu-ray)

Wild 7

Director Hasumi Eiichiro (Umizaru) brings to the small screen, Wild 7. Starring Eita [Hara-kiri: Death of a Samurai]), this action epic sports an all-star cast depicting a gang of reformed criminals who have been strung together by police to take down criminals that are protected by corrupt government officials.
Based on Mochizuki Mikiya‘s classic manga series from the 70′s, the film has been ported to modern day Japan and utilises blockbuster effects with fantastic results.

Continue reading


John Woo to Remake Suzuki Seijun’s Youth of the Beast

Since the 2003 film Paycheck, John Woo has been quiet when it comes to English language films. He did, however, make two epic blockbusters with Red Cliff 1 & 2, which had a limited run at our cinemas but there hasn’t been much in the way of activity on the Hollywood front. News today that he is back in the director’s chair and once again tackling an English language project. However, this project is actually a remake of the classic Japanese Gangster film Youth of the Beast. The Yakuza film, originally being released in 1963, is to be retitled Day of the Beast and is scripted by Rob Frisbee.

In a press release, Woo stated: “This remake is my salute to the great films and film makers produced by Nikkatsu’s 100 years in cinema history. It is exciting for me as well as an honour.”

synopsis from the press release:

DAY OF THE BEAST follows a western outsider with a grim past as he becomes embroiled in a global turf war between a vicious new breed of Yakuza and old school Cold War Russian mobsters. It’s an action-packed saga of loyalty, revenge and redemption which erupts in the heart of Tokyo.

Mitsuko Delivers

Mitsuko Delivers (ICA Cinema)

Mitsuko Delivers

The ICA is showing the fantastic ‘Mitsuko Delivers’ a film by Yûya Ishii (A Man With Style) and starring Riisa Naka (Summer Wars).
The story is centred around a thirtysomething woman, nine months pregnant and at a point in her life that is full of strife. Her family believes her to be living in the U.S. with her GI partner but she is in fact a working class prostitute. She lives in a dirty run-down area with other like-people but her up-beat attitude towards life compels the other residents to restore the area to its former glory.

Dir: Yûya Ishii, Japan, 2011, 109 mins, PG cert.
Japanese with English subtitles Cast: Riisa Naka, Aoi Nakamura, Ryo Ishibashi, Yukijirô Hotaru, Miyoko Inagawa, Yoshimasa Kondô

Running at the ICA Cinema from the 16 – 30 May 2012.

More information can be found on their Films website.


Ebizo Stars in Miike ‘Seppuku’ Remake

Hara-KiriWay back in March 2010, I posted about the amazing Ichikawa Ebizo as the Kabuki actor returned to London to perform ‘‘Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura’’ (Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees) at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre which ran for a short time in June of the same year. Well this time, Ebizo moves to a Silver Screen performance as he teams up with Cult Director Takashi Miike for the remake of the 1962 film Seppuku, retitled Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai. The film was presented at Cannes but was beaten in the Palme d’Or by Terrence Malick’s ‘The Tree of Life’.
The film will reach Japanese theatres at some point in the Autumn and with Miike’s recent ‘13 Assassins‘ hitting UK theatres about now (even though it was a Japanese TV production), there’s hope that we will see this latest effort at our Multiplex’s too.

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai also stars Koji Yakusho, Hikari Mitsushima and Eita. Check out the official Japanese site for more…


Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. Movie Gets 3D Makeover

Solid State SocietySolid State Society, the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex movie is getting the 3D treatment and will be hitting Japanese cinemas in March 2011. The announcement was made on Monday that the Production I.G. classic will be getting a new opening sequence and the process is being overseen by Director Kenji Kamiyama, the man whose credits include such amazing anime releases such as Blood: The Last Vampire, the Eden of the East TV and subsequent movie releases, Jin-Roh – The Wolf Brigade, Moribito – Guardian of the Spirit and Roujin Z to name but a few.

The GitS: S.A.C. SSS OVA that was released back in 2006 takes up the story of the Section 9 crew 2 years after Major Motoko Kusanagi has left. Togusa is now at the helm of the anti-terrorism unit and on the trail of the Puppeteer (or Puppet Master in the English release), a hacker that is believed to be behind a series of suicides.
The investigation leads the team towards high ranking officials in the Government and this is when the Major suddenly reappears. Is she connected to the events?

Real time updates will be available via Twitter from the projects Director and Producer, Tomohiko Ishii.

For more information, head on over to ANN. Anime News Network.


Aspects of Japanese Cinema (Barbican – 14 November 2010)

One of my favourite Japanese films of all time is Sakuran. This striking film, that punishes the eyes with the most amazing array of reds you’ve ever seen in one place, is a true masterpiece and an expert example of how to shoot a film.
Sakuran was Mika Ninagawa’s directorial début, coming from the world of still camera work and instead of falling into the trap of shooting something that would be pigeon holed as a ‘Costume Drama’ she crashed onto the scene with this dazzling piece of artistry that not only is a feast for your eyes but your ears too, as she daringly enrolled Jazz/Rock superstar – Shiina Ringo to do the score. Put this together with an array of stars including Anna Tsuchiya and you have a cult film even before it reaches theatres.

I was thrilled to learn that this film was part of Barbican’s Aspects of Japanese Cinema Festival, and even though there were films that I haven’t seen in the line-up, I couldn’t miss the chance of seeing this wonderful film on a big screen for myself.
The print itself had scene better days, and the soundtrack was suspiciously mono but after my initial scepticism, I got lost in the world of Geisha’s and ancient Japan for the duration and was overjoyed that I found it it be just as amazing as I hoped it would be.

I attended the two other films that were part of the festival today too, both written and directed by ‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano. The often overlooked ‘Hana-bi’ and a rare venture out of Japan in the Los Angeles based ‘Brother’.
Both films were superb choices for the festival, and together with ‘Dolls’ and the absolutely awesome ‘Zatoichi’ that play tomorrow as part of this ‘Directorspective’ of his work, it’ll be hard for me to find a reason not to travel back into the City tomorrow…

Aspects of Japanese Cinema

Aspects of Japanese Cinema – Barbican (until 19 December)

Aspects of Japanese CinemaWintertime seems pretty good for any fan of Asian Culture in London. Barbican is hosting a feast of Japanese themed activities including a Japanese Film Festival – Aspects of Japanese Cinema – which runs until the 19th of December. Highlights include some awesome ‘BEAT’ Takeshi Kitano films (Hana bi, Brother and Dolls) and also showing is one of my favourite Japanese films, the super special Sakuran from photographer turned director Mika Ninagawa and starring the amazing Anna Tsuchiya.

Full details are available from Barbican’s website, but here’s a snippet:

To complement Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion in Barbican Art Gallery, Barbican Film celebrates Japanese cinema with a showcase of modern, classic and provocative films by Japanese filmmakers.
Aspects of Japanese Cinema includes:
The Directorspective: Kenji Mizoguchi 24 Oct – 3 Nov 2010
GirlsWorld: Women in Contemporary Japanese Cinema 21 Oct – 14 Nov 2010
Japanese Halloween Shlockfest Double Bill 29 Oct 2010
The Directorspective: Takeshi Kitano 14 – 15 Nov 2010
The Directorspective: Akira Kurosawa 3 – 19 Dec 2010

UPDATE 3/11/10: I’ll be there on Sunday the 14th to catch Sakuran and two of the Kitano movies… see you there!

There’s also the London Korean Film Festival going on at the ICA, more news on that to follow…

Robo-Geisha [DVD] [2009]

Mix some dire dialogue and some awful over acting and you get?

Actually you get an hour and a half of no-brainer enjoyment.

Note: May contain spoilers!

This low budget effort struggles to get off the ground plot-wise but succeeds in an opening sequence that has some of the best choreographed camera work I’ve seen just recently. This some pretty fair sword-play and some decent martial arts work and is capped off with the appearance of the protagonist Yoshie, the “Robo-Geisha” herself.
Unfortunately from then on it’s just a little bit too slow and would have benefited from a shorter ‘origin’ plot and got straight to the end battle… however, don’t let this put you off, there is still some storming CGI and a bit of blood and gore too, so it’s not all gone to pot. And, if you like your Japanese movies to be in the traditional vein (a la Godzilla), then the Robot Castle at the end should please you no end!
I have to admit, that the funniest and most deplorable part of this film was the butt-sword fight at the end.. I was in hysterics…

The film doesn’t pretend to be a work of art, it doesn’t try to be anything other than over-the-top fun, and it succeeds at that pretty well.

Robo-Geisha is available from:

Yes Asia
Amazon: Robo-Geisha [DVD] [2009]

New Tetsuya Nakashima film

NakashimaTo celebrate the upcoming release of the Tetsuya Nakashima film “Kokuhaku,” starring Takako Matsu, a movie festival was held this week to screen Nakashima’s other works. On hand were actresses Kyoko Fukada, 27, and Anna Tsuchiya, 26, who appeared in the film “Kamikaze Girls,” and Miki Nakatani, 34, of “Memories of Matsuko.”

Fukada joked about the filming of “Kamikaze,” saying, “The director was always getting angry, Anna would suddenly get pissed off. It was really rough.” Tsuchiya commented critically about “Kokuhaku,” a film about juvenile delinquency, saying, “The film is really dark and completely different from Nakashima’s past works.”

“Kokuhaku” opens June 5.

Source: JapanToday

Assault Girl: Kentucky no Hinako / ケンタッキーの日菜子 [2007] Trailer

Just uploaded this to YouTube, thought you might like to take a gander.
This short film directed by Mamoru Oshii (Patlabor, Ghost in the Shell, Avalon, The Sky Crawlers) is taken from Shin-Onna Tachiguishi Retsuden (真女立喰師列伝?) is the sequel to Onna Tachiguishi-Retsuden consisting of six loosely connected short stories.
The Kentucky in the title has something to do with everyone’s favourite fried fowl… as does the lead characters handle of ‘KFC‘… I find the ending of this short both weird and cool … just can’t figure out why…

Assault Girl: Kentucky no Hinako is the forerunner to the recently released Assault Girls, also directed by Mamoru Oshii which is out on DVD on the 26th of June. Check out the trailer below.Trailer source: Nippon Cinema

cdJapan have a wealth of goods for this film:

Assault Girls Blu-rayAssault Girls [Blu-ray]
Assault Girls Special Collector’s Edition [Blu-ray + DVD] (includes a bonus DVD featuring making-of, press conference, interviews with the casts, Q&A, short version of “Assault Girl” and “Assault Girl 2.” Also includes a 92-page storyboard script written by Mamoru Oshii, and 16-page colour instruction manual)
Assault Girls [DVD]
Assault Girls T-ShirtAssault Girls Special Collector’s Edition [DVD] (includes the bonus DVD mentioned above in the Blu-ray release)
There are also T-Shirts and a soundtrack too

Kitano’s Standing Ovation – OUTRAGE at Cannes

Takeshi Kitano’s OUTRAGE was shown at the Cannes Film Festival yesterday and the Actor/Director received a standing ovation when the film finished.

On leaving Japan for France, Kitano was quoted as saying,

I expect to see how many people leave the film in the middle

- as it is extremely violent. It hasn’t had the greatest of reviews from home spun critics, but that was all put aside with the reception at Cannes.

The film is due for its Japanese release on June 12.

The soundtrack of Takeshi Kitano’s fifteenth work “OUTRAGE“, composed by Keiichi Suzuki, is available from cdJapan:

Format CD
Release Date 2010/06/02
Availability Usually ships within 1-4 days following release
Catalog No. MUCD-1229
JAN 4582114156317
Number of discs 1
Label/Distributor Sony Music Entertainment

Price 2667yen (2800yen Tax incl.)


Todanobu Asano the Peeper – Ranbou to Taiki Trailer

Todanobu Asano is laying in wait, peeping through that little hole in the floor … just waiting to take revenge…

Ranbou to Taiki is the new film based on a 2005 play by Yukiko Motoya and is directed by Masanori Tominaga (Pandora’s Box).
Asano plays Hidenori, a man living with a woman named Nanase (played by Minami of Sakuran and Tomie fame), for the sole purpose a exacting revenge on her. This has been a long drawn out event going on for ten years.
When new a couple move into the area, Hidenori catches the husband cheating on his wife with Nanase, and the whole thing is set up nicely for his revenge to finally happen…


Air Doll

Nozomi (Bae Du Na) is an inflatable air doll, nothing more than a sex object for her lonely, doting owner Hideo (Itao Itsuji), but she gradually develops self-awareness. One day, while her owner is at work, she steps out of the apartment for the first time. Leaving the grasps of her owner, the wide-eyed doll ventures out into a poetic new world full of curious personalities and adventures, and falls head first in love with dour video store clerk Junichi (Arata).

Air Doll (DVD) (Normal Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version)

Miike’s Zebraman 2 [Trailer] and 13 Assassins

Looks like Takashi Miike is a busy boy again. This year sees the long awaited sequel to his 2004 Cult Classic ‘Zebraman‘.

It’s 2025 in Zebra City but our hero seems to have lost his memories… and his powers! The Zebra Queen has called martial law (Zebra Time) and is controlling the city, it’s down to Zebraman to regain control and save the day once again… if only he could get his powers back… Starring Shô Aikawa as the inimitable Zebraman with Abe Tsuyoshi, Inoue Masahiro, and Naka Risa as the Zebra Queen.

Check out the official website here.

Also coming this year sees Miike’s Samurai Epic -13 Assassins. A group of hired Samurai are employed to assassinate a corrupt lord. More details to follow about this one, hopefully a trailer of sorts will appear soon…

[Trailer] SHOCHIKU to release BECK Live Action

One of the best (IMHO) anime’s of recent years has been BECK: The Mongolian Chop Squad. Based on the manga ‘BECK‘ by Harold Sakuishi published by Kodansha in Monthly Shōnen Magazine from February 2000 until it went on hiatus from May 2008.
The story is based around a high school boy that learns to play guitar and ultimately joins a rock band, along the way befriending Ryosuke, an enigmatic musician that has a dog called BECK.

SHOCHIKU Co., Ltd. has announced that 2010 will see a live action version directed by the one and only TSUTSUMI Yukihiko (20th Century Boys series) and will star Hiro MIZUSHIMA as Ryusuke, Takeru SATO as Koyuki and Shiori KUTSUNA.
Information about the project including the above trailer can be found on the SHOCHIKU English web site.

Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl DVD

Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl
Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl

The official release date for the Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl DVD is approaching. Pony Canyon are pushing it out on the 26th of this month and there’s a treat for those people who jump on it now as the first pressing comes with the OST included.

Valentine’s Day chocs arrive for high school student Jugon, Monami has made these tasty treats herself and they have a secret ingredient… the recipe for turning people into Vampires!! Jugon’s girlfriend Keiko, is not at all impressed by the other girls actions and follows them to the roof of the school to confront them. However, in a bizarre twist she falls to her death only to be reborn as Frankenstein Girl by her Mad Scientist Dad! Who will be victorious in the deadly battle that ensues?

This is one of those film’s I harped on about when I was keeping the sight a little more up-to-date than I have been doing recently. Unfortunately this release looks as though it’s lacking an English subtitle track, it’s also single sided/single layered with a 2.0 soundtrack – I’m hoping for a better second pressing. However, if you can’t wait then cdJapan are offering this one for ¥4700, which is around the £30 mark. Pricey indeed…

japanese movies CDJapan

[Trailer] Third Window Acquires Rights to Fish Story

Fish Story
Fish Story

Back on the 11th of January, I wrote about one of the better films to be played at last years Terracotta Film Festival in London -Yoshihiro Nakamura’sFish Story‘. A film about a Punk Rock band’s final album recording, a song on it that has a strange gap in and the outcome that it causes.
1975 Japan sees the hapless bunch get a recording contract but for it to go nowhere fast, they decide to go out in a blaze of glory and record their last album as they want to, rather than their appointed producer. They include on the album a song inspired by a book that their manager leaves on the table called Fish Story.
Fast forward to 2012 and the world is doomed, a massive meteor is due to arrive and all attempts at destroying it before it gets here have failed. What can save the day? Surely not that song, Fish Story???

Third Window have picked up the rights for the film and will be releasing it soon – stay tuned for updates.
In the meantime, check out the trailer that Nippon Cinema has with English subtitles here.

Kitano’s Outrage

Pretty much my last ‘real’ post of sorts was back in September when I mentioned the long awaited return to the Yakuza genre for Takeshi Kitano. Well, an official web site has been set up for the film over at Office Kitano and it has a teaser trailer to boot. This trailer only really highlights the many stars that are in the film rather than any decent clips but it’s worth checking out for the stellar cast that’s involved.

Slated for release on June 12, 2010, Outrage is the story of a Yakuza syndicate that needs to have a particular matter with a rival gang dealt with, however getting someone to step up to do the job is a little more difficult that it seems. The task is handed down through the ranks until it ends up with Otomo (Kitano) who, for some reason, always gets the crappy jobs.

Source: Official Website via Nippon Cinema