aka Suay…Samurai aka Final Target
Directed and written by Manop Udomdej
The Vanquisher starts out confusing and just gets more and more incoherent until you give up and go back to that one thing…what’s it called…reading! So just read this instead of watching The Vanquisher. Director (and writer) Manop Udomdej has graced TarsTarkas.NET before with his film Lizard Woman, and a few of the stars from that one make their way into this film. Sadly, the gecko women are not going to pop up and bit random characters. The Thai title Suay … Samurai translates to “Beautiful Samurai”. Because when you think “Samurai”, you think of hot Thai women.
HELP! The slow-motion rain burns!
The Vanquisher‘s troubles began before the film was even edited, when an actress in the film named “Amy” Chotiros Suriwong wore a dress at the 2007 Thailand National Film Awards that was so revealing that the entire nation of Thailand went insane. People couldn’t stop talking about how they were shocked, shocked that women had breasts. The government was overthrown 17 times, riots filled the streets, and Tony Jaa became a monk. So executive producer Somsak Techaratanaprasert chopped her out of the film, despite the fact this film is based on the premise that you will be staring at the breasts of the actresses in it.
It was obvious that this film was made with foreign distribution in mind. The film is mixed with English, Japanese, and a smattering of Thai. Why they bothered, I am not certain, as the English is so awful I can’t believe it was actually written and spoken by anyone who has heard English before. The sentence structure was beyond awkward, and even what I could pick up on seemed to be random statements. I needed the subtitles just to understand what was being said, unfortunately that was no help as the subtitles were autotranslated from either Thai or Chinese and were nothing more than broken sentence fragments. At least until halfway through the flick, when they just gave up entirely on having subtitles. As I have said before at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles. So I made up a story about how all those chicks were lesbians and it suddenly got far more interesting. You would think the white actors who are obvious native English speakers would at least be understandable, but you would be wrong. They must have had no input on the script as to writing sentences that people would actually say, or they don’t care and were just looking for a payday. Payday may be an awesome candy bar, but it made an awful time understanding the film.
I’ll take Psycho Women for $800, Alex
That’s sexual harassment. And I don’t have to take it!
Discount Puppet Explosion 411 – Two teams battle by reviewing awful films for fabulous prizes or horrible non-prizes. In this episode, Team Jawesome reviews the Filipino film Biokids and gets caught up in its awfulness. Will this be enough for Team Jawesome to win this round of the Discount Puppet Explosion 411 competition?
aka Oppai Chanbara
Directed by Akira Hirose
Chanbara Striptease came out to capitalize on the Chanbara Beauty films, it even has the same font on the poster to further cement the relationship it is exploiting, even if the actual film has nothing to do with the Chanbara Beauty films. But that applies to Japan, while here in America few people have even heard of Chanbara Beauty films, though probably more know about the games than the films. As Chanbara Striptease was originally released in Japan as Oppai Chanbara (Oppai is Japanese for “Breast), that meant this film was originally called Breast Chanbara. Oddly enough, they thought that direct translation title wouldn’t do well here. Americans must be too dumb, they need to know that the Breasts will be naked! Keep in mind it wasn’t the Japanese production company coming up with this brilliant marketing, this was Americans. Thus, Chanbara Striptease. The American DVD release has the tagline “Blades, Babes, & Boobs…” which is accurate, except we don’t get enough of any of them. But I’m just a man who always demands more.
Despite the cheap origins, the films does make a few feeble attempts to be more than what it is. Lili’s character has to cope with the fact she’s taken life and will have to take more to make things right. She has trouble adjusting despite her years of training to prepare her for using the Sayama Hashinryu, the deadly killing martial art passed down only by women. We also get smatterings of honor, noble sacrifice, and morality tales. But eventually it must all take a backseat to half-naked chicks swinging swords around with awkward abandon. Come on, Japan, can’t you give your AV stars years of training in swordplay choreography? I thought you were cool
Revenge of Lady Fighter
“Only a hurricane can freeze the fury of her fist!”
Revenge of Lady Fighter is really well done once the fight sequences get going. In fact, the fight scenes and quality are so good the film actually made me angry. Not at the film, but because the team behind Revenge of Lady Fighter was also the team behind Batwoman and Robin and Batwoman and Robin Meet the Queen of the Vampires, two films considered holy grail lost films of Filipino cinema (though Tony Cayado directed Meet the Queen of the Vampires). Before watching Lady Fighter, I assumed these would be dumb comedies with little to no action sequences, along the lines of Alyas Batman en Robin. Instead, now I am picturing them as a fun-filled action romps, making the fact I will probably never see them stinging even more.
Director Jun Aristorenas was born Juanito Aristorenas in 1933 in the Philippines. By the late 1950s he was a regular on the Filipino vaudeville circuit (known as Bodabil), which lead to a few walk-on roles in films. By 1965, he was a headliner, starring in flicks such as Dugong Tigre. In 1967, he started his own production company – Junar Productions – Junar being his nickname and the name he is credited as director of this flick.
Jun Aristorenas was nominated as best actor for his performance in Elias, Basilio at Sisa (1972) by the Film Academy of Movie Arts & Sciences (FAMAS). His 1970 film Dimasalang scored him the Rajah Soliman award for Best Director at the 1970 Manila Film Festival. He became a regular in western films such as Johnny West (1966) and Dimasalang, but also starred in other action genres such as war or even samurai films like Samurai Master (1969) and The Samurai Fighters (1969). Cult movie fans might recognize him from She Devils in Chains (1976) Jun Aristorenas continued to act in films up to his death in 2000, his last appearance being 2000′s Pag Oras Mo, Oras Mo Na.
Aristorenas married female action star Virginia (aka Virginia Gaerlan then Virginia Aristorenas) who then starred in several of his films. By the 1970s, Virginia had assumed the mantle of the Action Queen of Filipino Cinema, the successor of 1950′s action queen Celia Fuentes. Virginia debuted in 1971′s Ang Mababangis and started out doing dangerous stunts from the start. She appeared in films such as Bandolera (1972), Apat na Bagwis (1972) – “Three men and a woman, undercover agents, blast the hell out of Devil’s Island”, Kumander Erlinda (1972), and The Panther (1973). Two of their sons, Robin and Junar, also appeared in some of the films. In fact, Robin Aristorenas played Robin in Batwoman and Robin and Batwoman and Robin Meet the Queen of the Vampires along with a long career as a child actor. Virginia has passed on, but I have been unable to find out when and why.
Lady Fighter suffers from being a film of the 1970s and thus has some of the flaws of the era, including long drawn out scenes that would be cut much tighter now. Is someone walking up to a village? Well, we’re gonna see every single step he takes. Yay!!! Uh…
The Eighteen Jade Arhats
aka Shi ba yu luo han
Directed by Cheung Git
The Eighteen Jade Arhats goes by many many many titles besides its original Shi ba yu luo han. You might find in on video under titles such as Eighteen Claws of Shaolin, Eighteen Deadly Arhats, or The Eighteen Jade Pearls. We’re watching a widescreen print released somewhere that speaks Spanish, where the film was titled Bruce Le y El Secreto del Saolin. Someone overlayed the widescreen print with the English dubjub by that company that dubbed hundreds of Kung Fu films (so you’d recognize many of the voices.) Why would we watch such a weird hybrid? Because, at the time, it was the best way to see it. It might still be, I haven’t kept up with the latest DVD releases of 18 Jade Arhats, but I don’t know if there is a good widescreen print in English or Chinese.
My first experience with the film was still pictures from the book Deadly China Dolls that featured Polly Shang Kuan battling some sort of multi-armed statue. That was awesome so the film jumped way ahead in my search queue. Too bad for me the actual statue fighting happens for less than a few seconds, and is just a flashback and an immobile statue.
Director Cheung Git only directed two other films, and I haven’t seen them, so I can’t tell if this is a typical Cheung Git film. Maybe one day…
“What the hell is an “arhat”?” I hear you asking. Well, guy who can’t use Google, an arhat signifies a spiritual practitioner who has realized certain high stages of attainment. The Chinese word for arhat can be written as “Lo Han” which become Lohan when subtitle people are at work. And thus, the Lindsay Lohan jokes that will be in the film, because if I don’t do it some commentor will. But now I probably will prevent all potential comments! That’s what I get for shooting myself in the foot…
Polly Shang Kuan is awesome enough we’ll give her a better biography when reviews of some of her weirder films are completed. As the time of this reviews publication, there are four other films of hers in my review pipeline, showing how I just get reviews 90% done and then wander off to watch something else. She was a queen of action cinema during her day, and some of her films are too awesome for words and are just experiences you have to have.