Black Coal, Thin Ice (Review)

Black Coal, Thin Ice

aka 白日焰火 aka Bai Ri Yan Huo aka Daylight Fireworks
Black Coal Thin Ice 白日焰火
Written and directed by Diao Yinan
Black Coal Thin Ice 白日焰火
In the bleak urban atmosphere of a rapidly industrializing China, body parts begin to appear at a coal processing plant mixed in with the incoming coal shipments. Those thought responsible are found, and after a bloody conclusion, things seemed solved. Years later a new crop of body parts appear, and things get darker from there. A disgraced cop who worked on the original case must put aside his own demons long enough to figure out the who-done-it before he becomes the next set of parts showing up in coal plants.

Diao Yinan’s Black Coal, Thin Ice paints a murder mystery backdropped by the new urban China, the landscape coated in layers of snow that mask the grit below. Glowing neon signs provide an aurora of human habitation among the snow, lighting many of the key locations. But the glow doesn’t show the warmth of humanity, it’s an unnatural presence that makes the night time illumination otherworldly. The inhabitants have their own secrets and shady lives, and who did what and why makes the mystery akin to peeling onions.
Black Coal Thin Ice 白日焰火
Officer Zhang Zili is an up and coming investigator with the police, though the first sign of trouble is his wife leaving him. The investigation around the body parts in the plant yields the name of the victim, the widow confused as to why her husband was targeted. Robbery suspects are located, but thanks to one of them being armed many of the characters of the first act get wiped out, Zhang only barely escaping death by killing them.

Years later, Zhang Zili lives in an alcohol-fueled state of minimal functionality. His reintroduction is him having his motorcycle stolen while he’s too drunk to give chase. He’s burned every bridge at work, where he is a walking joke kept on because of fading goodwill over surviving the shooting incident that capstoned the murder investigation.

But then more body parts are found in coal processing plants. Dun dun DUNNN!!!
Black Coal Thin Ice 白日焰火
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - August 3, 2015 at 7:51 am

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Megaforce gets MegaRiffTraxed as the new VOD!

I can understand if you are confused, thinking Megaforce was already done by either MST3K or RiffTrax already, but that’s not the case. Only many, shockingly similar and goofy films of dubious quality. Now, Megaforce itself is the film of dubious quality that’s getting RiffTraxxed as the new RiffTrax VOD! And, yes, it is nutty and crazy. Join Barry Bostwick, Persis Khambatta, bandanas, Mad Max cars, and an unfortunate shadow as things get ridiculous with Megaforce. Buy it today at!

1982. The decade of the action hero was underway. Within years, catchphrase-mumbling sentient biceps like Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Guttenburg would come to dominate the cinemas. Audiences hungered for mayhem, bloodshed, and for a very brief period of time, Billy Zabka. What they got instead was Megaforce.

Named “Movie of the Year” by critics from a diverse array of publications including “Upsetting Jumpsuit Enthusiast,” “Dweeby Dirtbike Review,” and “Our Memories are Severely Clouded by Nostalgia Monthly,” Megaforce made film history by giving lead character Barry Bostwick both a funny headband and a funny hairstyle. They would prove to be the film’s most enduring legacy. Some viewers may criticize its paper-thin plot, tedious action sequences of no consequence, and overall cheap feel despite having a shockingly high budget for the era. To this we respond: funny headband and funny hairstyle.

Leaders of the Free World have issued denials of the existence of Megaforce, but then again, seven year old Johnny Roddy saw it on Beta it at a friend’s sleepover in 1984 and said it was “Almost as badical as Condorman!” Who are you going to choose to believe? (We would point out that there is a rumor circulating over by the curly slide that Johnny Roddy eats his boogers.) Join Mike, Kevin, and Bill (who do not) for the oft-requested RiffTrax of Megaforce!

MegaForce RiffTrax

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 31, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Categories: RiffTrax   Tags:

Cruel Gun Story (Review)

Cruel Gun Story

aka 拳銃残酷物語 aka Kenju Zankoku Monogatari
Cruel Gun Story 拳銃残酷物語
Written by Haruhiko Oyabu
Screenplay by Hisataka Kai
Directed by Takumi Furukawa

Cruel Gun Story 拳銃残酷物語
Cruel Gun Story is a standout entry from the Nikkatsu Noir boxed set, possibly my favorite (with A Colt Is My Passport a close second) of the set, and maybe even one of the better Japanese noir flicks out there. A criminal is hired to lead a heist, but before you can say “setup”, there is an onion farm’s worth of layers of betrayals that spiral out of control into the inevitable conclusion. Part of the drama is not if certain characters will betray everyone, but just when and how they will do so. The mix of everyone looking out for themselves while things keep hitting the worst of all possible universes for outcomes suggests the cruel object isn’t the gun, but life itself for those who choose to live by it and anyone caught in the crossfire.

Joji Togawa is fresh out of the joint, but before he even has a chance to breathe, he’s being scoped out by a yakuza boss to run and armored car heist. Togawa is what he is, and ends up agreeing, though he’s big on saying how this is his one last job. So we know things aren’t going to end well. Togawa meets his team with his old friend, Shirai (Yuji Odaka), it includes Okada (Shobun Inoue) – a former boxer, and Teramoto, a big mouth junkie (and whose girl, Keiko (Minako Kazuki), tags along). Another member is rejected immediately when it’s revealed he easily spills his guts when threatened.
Cruel Gun Story 拳銃残酷物語
The target is an armored car full of 127 million yen in racetrack money, and guarded by motorcycle cops. The plan to snag the car goes off with only a few minor hitches, but that’s when things hit the fan and fall apart at the same time. The team is betrayed from without and within, leading to the survivors behind holed up while a swarm of yakuza blast their guns at them. The scope of the crime is enough that the entire country is looking for them, and there is nowhere for Togawa to hide. Even attempts to fight against the yakuza hunting them ends worse than things were before. Yakuza Boss Matsumoto’s (Hiroshi Nihonyanagi) son is kidnapped, but the other yakuza care more about the money than the boss’s son’s life.

The only way out is to flee the country, Togawa calling in a favor of Takizawa (Tamio Kawaji), who loved Togawa’s sister before she was crippled in an accident (and still loves her). Togawa’s sister sits in a home for the disabled, and despite her pleas for her brother to be good, she knows he’s gone and done something bad again.
Cruel Gun Story 拳銃残酷物語
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 27, 2015 at 8:04 am

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A Colt Is My Passport (Review)

A Colt Is My Passport

aka 拳銃は俺のパスポート aka Koruto wa Ore no Pasupoto
A Colt is My Passport 拳銃は俺のパスポート
Based on the novel by Shinji Fujiwara
Screenplay by Hideichi Nagahara and Nobuo Yamada
Directed by Takashi Nomura

A Colt is My Passport 拳銃は俺のパスポート
Shuji Kamimura (Joe Shishido) and his protege/sidekick Shun Shiozaki (Jerry Fujio) are contract killers who are brought in to eliminate a yakuza boss by a rival family. Things go downhill after they complete the mission, getting captured, escaping, and becoming holed up in a hotel while their employer is incentivized to betray them. While in hiding, hotel worker Mina (Chitose Kobayashi) falls for Shuji and dreams of escaping her trapped existence with him, but can they make it out as the jaws of their pursuers closes in?

Director Takashi Nomura is relatively unknown in the west, A Colt is My Passport seems to be his only film that has had a subtitled release. Sort of a shame, because Colt shows a lot of creative flare that manages to use visuals to show important bits of the story without spoonfeeding it to us. Nomura seems to be a fan of Westerns, incorporating elements such as a whistling/harmonica-filled soundtrack (which also has the normal hip jazz sounds of other Nikkatsu noir flicks) and a final showdown in a dusty landfill that is the spitting image of a desolate Western desert landscape.
A Colt is My Passport 拳銃は俺のパスポート
There is a neat sequence detailing yakuza boss Shimazu’s (Kanjuro Arashi) daily routine and how everything is on a schedule and everything is bulletproof, shown to Shuji and Shun by the man who hired them to kill Shimazu. Later we go through the daily routine again, with camera pans showing no one is tailing Shimazu that day. We see Shuji has already picked when and where he will strike and it setting it up.

Kamimura and Shiozaki end up hiding out at a hotel picked for them by the boss who hired them, Tsugawa (Asao Uchida). It becomes clear from the dialogue that this is not the first time the hotel has been used to hide people, and some of those people have met gruesome fates. Hotel employee Mina was in love with one such man, who was shot by a killer named Senzaki, someone she also used to date and is one of the many goons looking for Kamimura and Shiozaki. Mina’s ability to pick bad boyfriends strikes again with her love for Shuji Kamimura, she seems more in love with the idea of escaping with someone that she sees as noble than actually being in love. And Shuji does play fair, even as he’s being betrayed. He drugs Shun so when they are attacked he won’t suffer. But Kamimura is just too good to be easily taken out, and Mina has an escape plan by ship thanks to crew members that frequent the hotel restaurant.
A Colt is My Passport 拳銃は俺のパスポート
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 20, 2015 at 8:49 am

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The Bride He Bought Online brings killer internet pranks to Lifetime!

The Bride He Bought Online Lifetime

Is there anything more scary than high school girls??? Okay, maybe the internet…

Teenagers and the internet are like gasoline and matches in the hands of Lifetime! With The Bride He Bought Online, teen girls pranking a guy into thinking he bought a woman turns tragic when the man turns out to be crazy. I know, disturbed people on the internet? What fiction! But is is real enough for our trio of heroines, who aren’t that nice either, so who are we rooting for? Blood and death, that’s who!

The Bride He Bought Online is the directorial debut of Lifetime Channel superstar Christine Conradt, who has written around forty of the channel’s most ridiculous movies, including most of the “_____ at 17” films and the “____________ He/She Met Online” movies. Conradt knows how to deliver a good script full of crazy scenes, and her connections have probably allowed her to be on set for many of these films. So I think things are in good hands, and I hope this is the beginning of a whole new slew of Christine Conradt Lifetime mania!

Driven by the growing popularity of a prank blog they’ve created, three teen girls decide to play a ‘catfishing’ joke. They create a fake profile of a beautiful woman on an international mail order bride site, and then wait to see which “pathetic losers” fall for her. One does– a lonely, unstable computer programmer named John. After weeks of being led on, John buys the fictitious woman a plane ticket to come visit him in the U.S. The girls show up at the airport to film his devastation, but when his bride doesn’t show, something snaps in John. The teens have no clue that the man they duped is deeply disturbed and will plan an inconceivable revenge that they will be lucky to survive.

Teens, a crazy guy, the Internet coming to kill you, midriffs, Baywatch alums, kidnappings, and follower count obsessions mean this Lifetime flick looks tops!

The Bride He Bought Online stars Anne Winters, Travis Hammer, Lauren Gaw, Annalisa Cochrane, Alexandra Paul, and Jamie Luner. It is written and directed by Christine Conradt.

The Bride He Bought Online premieres Saturday, July 18th on Lifetime!

via Lifetime!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 17, 2015 at 10:10 pm

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Lethal Seduction handcuffs Lifetime and demands love!

Lethal Seduction Lifetime
The cougars are out in force, and they’re coming for your son! Lethal Seduction brings crazy back to Lifetime, this time with a dangerous older woman who can’t spend two scenes without breaking out handcuffs, if the trailer is to be believed. There is even handcuffed pool sex, which promises to be the Lifetime version of the Showgirls pool scene. Lethal Seduction looks amazing, and Dina Meyers is always awesome, so let’s hope that she gets away with everything in the end. I always root for the villain when the villain is Dina Meyers!

High School senior MARK RICHARDS has never minded his overprotective widowed mother, TANYA, and is a good son to her as he prepares to go off to Princeton in the fall. However, when he comes under the sexual spell of the rapacious, manipulative older woman CARISSA BARRINGTON, he finds himself in the middle of two strong, unreasonable women–one of whom is insane…

Lethal Seduction stars Amanda Detmer, Caleb Ruminer, Dina Meyer, Brian Thomas Smith, and Sam Lerner. It’s directed by Nancy Leopardi, who directed the amazing Nanny Cam. It’s written by Roger Stigliano and Michael Waite (My Santa)

Lethal Seduction premieres Saturday, July 11th on Lifetime!

via Lifetime!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 11, 2015 at 11:08 am

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