Posts tagged "Japan"

Massacre Gun (Review)

Massacre Gun

aka みな殺しの拳銃 aka Minagoroshi no Kenjû aka Slaughter Gun aka Ruthless Gangster
Massacre Gun
1967
Written by Yasuharu Hasebe (as Takashi Fujii) and Ryûzô Nakanishi
Directed by Yasuharu Hasebe

Massacre Gun
A long time ago (2017!) I saw Massacre Gun at the Roxie, but despite it being some good stuff, I was far too busy to get a proper writeup completed. This is TarsTarkas.NET, after all, where the reviews are all made up and the deadlines don’t matter, so we thought we’d just watch it again and give a nice, nuanced review from multiple viewings. So thus bursts the review of Massacre Gun!

At this point the Nikkatsu borderless action films are becoming very well represented on TarsTarkas.NET, thanks in part to a large swatch of them getting wonderful restored and subtitled releases in the West, thus making watches easy. These films have a tone that make them very good watches even though too many at once can lead to bleak feelings due to the tone. Despite that, the films are largely high quality stories crafted with care, and have a clear evolution over time before the entire genre was just dropped in favor of the Roman Pornos. From the early youth/troubled youth films to the increasingly violent and dreary action pieces, the entire genre (and their inspirations and imitators) just create so many things to talk about. There is even the side journey with our slow but study dive through Seijun Suzuki’s filmography. The director here is Yasuharu Hasebe (the amazeballs Black Tight Killers!) and he might be one of the few Nikkatsu directors to give Suzuki a run for his money in regards to interesting shots and techniques (while still showing it straight enough to not anger the bosses enough to get fired!)
Massacre Gun
By now this is 1967, the genre is in full swing, Jo Shishido is owning the screen, and Yasuharu Hasebe is about to drop yet another required viewing film onto an eager audience with Massacre Gun! Three brothers get pushed too far by their Yakuza employers and decided to strike out on their own and strike back against the disrespect, but we all know things aren’t going to end happily for most of them. Ken Sanders crooning gives this film an amazing vibe (backed up by the ever-present boarderless action jazz, which seems to be extra juiced in this film. There are album collections of tracks from these films which are great to study or write movie articles too, trust me!) We also get a lot of gangsters feeling sorry for themselves sitting around smoking while he croons. If that doesn’t hammer the tragic life of the yakuza gangster into your brain then maybe Teletubbies is more your speed, leave the Nikkatsu flicks to us, thanks.
Massacre Gun
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - October 30, 2019 at 12:14 pm

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Perfect Game (Review)

Perfect Game

aka 完全な遊戯 aka Kanzenna Yugi
Perfect Game
1958
Based on the short story by Shintarô Ishihara
Screenplay by Yoshio Shirasaka
Directed by Toshio Masuda

Perfect Game
This time we are beep-beep backing the truck up to 1958, where the Nikkatsu flicks were more disaffected youth culture than the thrillers and borderless action the genre will evolve into soon enough. Perfect Game still has plenty of strong characters, bad choices, and dangerous situations even with the slow leisurely pace the film begins it’s scheme setup with. The protagonists are introduced, their want of fast and easy money and willingness to bend the rules (past the breaking point!) to get said money. Like many youth they also think themselves invincible, the next score just being another quick job that will never have any bad repercussions. But if that were the case, then we wouldn’t have a movie, now would we? The fact that the protagonists all come from affluent families but still succumb to the temptations of their excesses makes this a solid Sun Tribe feature.
Perfect Game
I love Nikkatsu’s films but I have to do them in spurts as you can only take so much bleak ruination of tragic endings before you want to watch Godzilla punch some monsters or Captain America punch some monsters (or Nazis, same thing!) Director Toshio Masuda (Rusty Knife, Red Pier) turns what could have easily been an ordinary film into a memorable tragic tale thanks to strong characters and skillfully constructed scenes that highlight the buildups to tragedy as the characters compromise their values more and more.

We got ourselves a quartet of young college students who want a bit of excitement in their lives, and gambling away the meager allowance their parents give them just ain’t cutting it. Mastermind Toda (Yasukiyo Umeno) is a straight-faced liar and owes his girlfriend Meiko (Mari Shiraki – Underworld Beauty) – the Mama of a hostess club – a large sum of money. There is also Soji Oki (Akira Kobayashi – in so many films he has a tag), who is usually called So-chan, he is the pretty one that makes the girls swoon. Jiro Akitani (Shirô Yanase) lies to both of his parents about his money issues but can manipulate his successful father into coughing up dough as needed. And finally Toshio, who I’m struggling to remember anything significant about beyond just being part of the gang. Sorry, buddy, get a personality!
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - May 7, 2019 at 12:19 pm

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Red Pier (Review)

Red Pier

aka 赤い波止場 aka Akai Hatoba aka Crimson Seaport aka Red Quay aka The Left Hand of Jiro
Red Pier
1958
Written by Ichirô Ikeda and Toshio Masuda
Directed by Toshio Masuda

Red Pier
It’s Nikkatsu Action time again! The film genre is so consistently entertaining that it will be a constant reoccurring theme here (or at least the films that have gotten releases on digital media are the entertaining ones, as there are piles of films that still don’t seem to have any sort of legitimate release even with 20 years of cinephiles screaming about it. But we work with what we got, and what we got is Akai Hatoba, aka Red Pier, but also known as Crimson Harvest as well as a few other titles. It’s supposedly a reworking of a French film called Pepe le Moko, but everyone who claims this also mentions they haven’t seen that film, and I’m afraid I have to add myself to that total, so who knows? What I do know is director Toshio Masuda revisited this story a few years later with Velvet Hustler in glorious color. But this is the OG yakuza on a pier outwitting his enemies while also being in love with a lady whose brother he helped kill film.
Red Pier
Lefty Jiro (Masuda regular Yujiro Ishihara, I Am Waiting, Rusty Knife) hangs at Kobe Harbor running the joint for his gang. He was formerly from Tokyo, but due to some trouble he’s been hiding out here “keeping a low profile”, in that he’s still involved in people being killed but never with enough evidence for the cops to do anything about it. A cool local policeman, Detective Noro (Shiro Osaka), spends most of his spare time hanging out at the harbor determined to catch Jiro doing something bad, but also sort of likes him as a friend. Noro is always snacking on something, and is around so much the other criminal elements tolerate his presence even if they know they have to do extra work to snark around behind his back.
Red Pier
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 15, 2019 at 6:20 am

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Ghost Squad (Review)

Ghost Squad

aka ゴーストスクワッド aka Gôsuto Sukuwaddo
Ghost Squad
2018
Written and directed by Noboru Iguchi
Ghost Squad
G-g-g-g-g-ghost Squad!! Sorry, just getting the “g-g-g-ghost” joke out of the way early! Ghost Squad is the latest from splatter auteur extraordinaire Noboru Iguchi, who has been covered by TarsTarkas.NET many times and will be covered many more times, as his films are usually filled with fun dumb energy and lots of ridiculous effects and plots that manage to entertain and occasionally comment on various aspects of society in the warped way that only exploitation cinema can. Ghost Squad joins the pantheon of his fun films, with plenty of crazy action and weird effects. Splatter fans might find little to be excited about, as the gore is subdued for a Iguchi film. But there are ghost ladies beating a guy in the junk with a meat hammer arm, a ghost with a dog for an arm, a ghost with a Machine Girl-style gun arm, and a gun with a baby face. So embrace the ridiculousness of a squad of murdered ghosts coming together to get their revenge with Ghost Squad!

Rika (Anna Yanagi) is your normal teen girl with an abusive father (Iguchi regular Yûya Ishikawa) who also sees ghosts. She explains this to her scoffing boyfriend Yosuke while also observing a ghost named Keiko Furukawa (Sumire Ueno) who struggles to write a letter to her father while slipping between being aware and unaware that she is dead. Rika goes to work as a waitress, but Yosuke follows her to harass her. But he didn’t count on Keiko also following along, as well as another ghost named Akari (Minori Mikado), who soon spring to action just as Yosuke is slashing Rika’s wrist. They beat him down and give him a few extra holes due to impalements, but let him survive enough to be in the hospital later.
Ghost Squad
Rika awakens at home with her wrist bandaged, and soon learns from the ghosts that they can only interact with the physical world when she is close to death (she learns this as she tries to hang herself from depression and guilt!) She quickly makes friends with Keiko and Akari, and also a third ghost named Yoshie who at first is a story telling framing device but quickly joins the main story as a fellow ghost. The three ladies need to get revenge on the men who attacked them in order to pass on to Heaven. It’s the law, Ghost Law. As we see later when Naomi Ohishi (Asaka Nakamura) shows up, it actually is the law and there is a whole bureaucracy set up to make sure they get revenge on everyone. Biggest critique here seems to be only lady ghosts have to get revenge, as we see a male character murdered later who goes directly to Heaven. That is totally unfair, we need to reform our Ghost Laws!
Ghost Squad
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - December 11, 2018 at 6:51 am

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Fighting Delinquents (Review)

Fighting Delinquents

aka くたばれ愚連隊 aka Kutabare Gurentai aka Go to Hell, Hoodlums!
Fighting Delinquents
1960
Screenplay by Iwao Yamazaki
Based on the novel by Kenzaburo Hara
Directed by Seijun Suzuki

Fighting Delinquents
Before Seijun Suzuki was making full-bore fever dreams, he was fully bored making B pictures, which lead to him beginning the creative flourishes that he became known for. While Fighting Delinquents is still early in his filmography, it is his first film in color and already shows hints of his use of color to set moods and scenes. Beyond his experiments, Fighting Delinquents isn’t really that special, outside of some goofy scenes and a conflict that spans generations, class, clans, modern Japan vs. old school Japan, and the meaning of family. That’s probably ascribing more than the story pulls off, but it is all there even if only parts of it are actually addressed.
Fighting Delinquents
The story is pretty straightforward, a lost heir is brought back into a clan on Awaji Island to help them stand against a crooked developer. He faces slack due to basically being raised as a street orphan in the city, the rougher personality clashing with the clan-based traditionalists he’s brought to, while his in grained sense of righteousness and justice puts him at odds with the developers. His mentor in the city who plucked him out of an orphanage to learn a trade (along with some other kids) is struck down in the opening scene by a drunken businessman, and we all know he’s going to end up being the businessman who is trying to take the clan’s land, so this isn’t even a spoiler. Sadao Matsudaira (Koji Wada) doesn’t take his crap then, when he tries to buy off the kids in mourning with a pittance offering. Nor does he take it lightly when he finds out who is responsible for his new family’s misery.
Fighting Delinquents
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - October 9, 2018 at 6:35 am

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Go! Godman: Godman vs. Stegojiras and Akumon (ゴッドマン対ステゴジラス・アクモン)

March of Godzilla Godman

Go! Godman: Godman vs. Stegojiras and Akumon

aka ゴッドマン対ステゴジラス・アクモン その1 – その6 aka Goddoman Tai Sutegojirasu – Akumon
Stegojiras Akumon Godman
Week of April 5 – 11, 1973

Godman’s one weakness — bullets!

Stegojiras and Akumon are among the most pathetic designs of the monsters Godman faces. These monsters aren’t even monster suits, just two idiots in slightly oversized masks. One interesting thing is they are more successful than many of the actual monsters at fighting Godman, even though they still lose. Another interesting thing is that they seem to worship an active volcano, and that volcano gives them orders. Just who or what this volcano is, is never explained. Even the accompanying material treats the volcano monster as a mystery. Is this the dark force behind all the other evil monsters Godman fights? Is it just some random underground fire that a couple of brain-dead monsters decided to worship after far too many bong hits? Mysteries forever, that’s what this episode is full of!

Stegojiras has a big blue-green head with giant horns on the top and some other random horns popping out of the bottom. He appears to have big red fish stapled to his shirt, and appears to be slightly more competent than Akumon. Akumon is the red masked monster whose vocals are chicken squawks and he has a gold glitter swastika symbol on his chest, white symbols on his arms. Stegojiras and Akumon vaguely resemble the Chinese legendary creatures With-the-Wind Ear/順風耳/Shunfeng Er and Thousand Miles Eye/千里眼/Qianli Ya, both of whom were seen in The Legend of Mother Goddess and The Ginseng King. Both of them work for some sort of volcano deity mystery monster that lives in the volcano or who knows what, that even the Godman DVD files just refers to as “???”. It is a mystery to never be solved, because no one will ever care to solve it. If you need any other Godman information, be sure to check out the Ike! Godman Splash Page!

Once there were two monster idiots named Stegojiras and Akumon. They worshiped a burning volcano in a forest, which commanded them to steal children. The monsters attempt to steal a young girl from a group of kids at an amusement park, but these monsters are so terrible that one of the teachers accompanying the group chases them down. This teacher manages to hold his own while fighting both of them, despite being an obvious older hippy type who should be more about the free love and peace instead of monster violence. Eventually the teacher is defeated, and the rest of the kids call in Godman after their other teacher asks them to. Hmmm, does that mean only children can call in Godman to fight their battles for them? I guess that’s why Godman is never called upon to do taxes or clean the gutters.

Godman fights Akumon first as we jump to tsuzuku…

The next episode begins with Akumon making chicken noises as he fights Godman. He’s punched out and Godman wakes up the kid, then shoves her away. She yells “Thanks” as she runs, but him shoving her is funny. But the other children are being menaced by Stegojiras, the noise of which distracts Godman enough that Akumon is able to recover and punch him in the back!

Stegojiras and Akumon tie up the female teacher and rekidnap the girl from earlier, taking her to their super sweet ginormous 1970s car. I guess these guys got to wear normal people clothes instead of full costumes because the monster suits couldn’t really fit in the car.

Godman stands in front of their moving car, and as this series doesn’t have the budget to have Godman get hit by the car, the monsters stop and get out of the car again to fight him. The rekidnapped girl escapes again, but…. (Tsuzuku)

Akumon rerekidnaps the girl by punching her in the gut while Godman is busy fighting Stegojiras. Stegojiras pulls out his tiny whip, so out comes Godman’s flail. They fight so hard that a hair gets stuck to the camera for several shots, the action sequences so exciting the cameraman didn’t even look through the camera to see the obvious hair! Godman is then shot in the leg by a drug dart, and Akumon drives away with the girl.

Godman tosses a bunch of explosives at the car that’s speeding away with the innocent girl in it. Luckily for her, he misses the car and she doesn’t die a violent death from being inside an exploding car. Tsuzuku.

We start the next episode with Akumon and Stegojiras arriving at their hidden compound by car and running inside with the kidnapped girl. The car vanishes, because of course it does! Does this mean the car went invisible? Teleported? Never existed? Answers, I hope you like not having them!

The monster hideout is a bunch of creepy abandoned buildings. Godman arrives and looks around the area, only to be ambushed by Akumon! Finally, Godman shows some basic competency and starts to get the upper hand in fighting Akumon, but then Stegojiras points a gun at Godman’s head!

Godman surrenders (!) Except he doesn’t surrender, he pretends to long enough to kick the gun out of Stegojiras’ hand. Godman battles the two monsters some more, until Stegojiras gets his gun again and starts firing at Godman. Luckily for Godman, Stegojiras is worst shots than a Stormtrooper and hits nothing but trees. Tsuzuku.

Godman scares the two monsters off by tossing more explosives. Akumon retaliates by grabbing a Tommy gun and firing it at Godman while Stegojiras drives. Yes, the monsters are doing a drive by on Godman!

They drive to the mysterious Volcano and then Godman shows up so there is more fighting. The monsters rarely remember they have guns in their hands, and when they do, Godman just does a quick tumble to dodge the bullets. Godman rescues the kidnapped girl again, tossing her into a ditch so he’s free to fight the monsters once more. Yes, the hero just threw a small child into a ditch. Tsuzuku.

The monsters fire the Tommy gun at Godman, but that brilliant plan fails when Godman fires bullets back our of his fingers! Godman remembers he has an ultra-strong finishing move, and fires his Godman Supersonic Wave, first at Akumon and then at Stegojiras. At this point, the monsters flip, and then se wee just their masks on the ground, which explode.

So were they monsters, or a fiendish cult straight out of True Detective wearing masks? Mysteries! Godman also defeats the volcano monster by destroying the monsters, as the smoke then goes in the opposite directing, sinking back into the volcano.

The day is saved, Godman returns the now probably traumatized forever child to her teachers and friends and flies away, a hero to those who need heroes named Godman. Which means the kids who need Godman to satiate their bloodlust or enjoy the weirdly sexual wrestling between Godman and the monster of the week.

Akumon and Stegojiras are legit creepy monsters in that they look like they could be your freaky neighbors dressed in ridiculous costumes and kidnapping your child. In this case, the cheapness enhances the scary, because it brings it to a real level.

This was the last series of original Godman shorts. Though some of the monsters would return in Ike! Greenman, Godman himself was not seen again until 2008’s Go Forth! Godman. Which might just get some attention here sooner than later…

Until then, we’re all Godmanned out! Expect these entries to get random updates over the years when I track down different missing pieces and have time to write them up in future Marches of Godzilla. For now, March of Godzilla: Godman has completed its life cycle. You might say we blew up the volcano! But there is always the Godman Splash Page if you want to catch back up with Godman, for some reason.
Stegojiras Akumon Godman
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - December 22, 2016 at 8:05 am

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