[adrotate banner=”1″]A trailer has dropped for Kabukicho High School (歌舞伎町はいすくーる), a live-action adaptaion of the manga series Teijisei Kabukicho Koukou by Masahide Motohashi. The story follows a real estate guru who enlists in a vocational high school out of boredom (in an area notorious for rough crowds and sex clubs) and hijinks ensue among all the different students. It looks like it might be interesting, filled with a bunch of silly stuff that suddenly turns all science fiction by the end. Of particular note is Sonny Chiba showing up! Besides that, there is little in English about the manga, so I have no real idea whether it’s considered good or not.
The film is directed by Shinichi Karube and written by Machiko Nasu. It stars Shun Shioya as Ken Haine, Ainosuke Kataoka as Kikumasa, and Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba as Chief Director Hakkaisan. There’s also an actress named Nagisa Oshima, which is the same name as a very famous Japanese director.
Ken Haine (Shun Shioya) is the president of a real estate company and he is known as the “King of Kabukicho”. He becomes sick and tired of making money. Ken then begins to say that he wants to go to school to look for some excitement. General Manager Masamune Kiku finds a vocational school located in the center of Kabukicho. Ken illegally enrolls in the vocational school. At the vocational school, the school is full of unusual people including a professional wrestler and a gay student.
aka 黄金バット aka Ogon batto 1966 Written by Susumu Takaku
Directed by Hajime Sato The Golden Bat is one of the best movies of all time. The Golden Bat is one of the craziest movies of all time. The Golden Bat is one of the funnest movies of all time. The Golden Bat is the reason movies were invented. You will watch The Golden Bat, or he will beat the tar out of you with his cane, laughing all the while!
A dreamlike haze of crazy costumes and duplications and maniac villains and monsters, The Golden Bat drags the tokusatsu genre to a surreal edge, pushing the boundaries of what a sane child would accept as proper plot progression while making great use of the black and white cinematography to give a gothic noir flavor. Sinister characters get shadows cast over them unnoticed by the good heroes. The set design is a wild 60s psychedelic take on pulp science fiction while using the light and dark contrasts to make the alien seem alien. Director Hajime Sato would later go on to direct the Bava-esque Goke – Bodysnatcher From Hell. Sato can take a straight scenario and bend it into a warped world, He would later put this pulp science fiction experience to work as a television director on Captain Ultra, which also features crazy surreal aliens that would be right at home in The Golden Bat.
Ogon Bat/Golden Bat was created in 1930 by writer Ichiro Suzuki and artist Takeo Nagamatsu for use in Kamishibai, a storytelling device where an entertainer would narrate a story for children as sequential wooden cards illustrate the exciting things that are happening. The Kamishibai merchant would make money by selling candy to the children who attend his shows. Kamishibai declined after World War 2, but a few story tellers still exist in tourist zones. The practice is said to date back to Buddhist monks in the 12th century, but the modern version used to entertain kids has it’s roots during the depression as a cheap way to entertain and make money.
Golden Bat is considered the first Japanese super hero due to these tales, and many more were created over the years (including adaptations of American heroes) Some of the art is collection in a few Kamishibai books, and slides are available for download on specialty Kamishibai sites. Ogon Batto would then appear in manga tales.
Golden Bat made his first film appearance with 1950’s Ogon bat: Matenro no kaijin (Golden Bat: Frankenstein Skyscraper). After thisThe Golden Bat film, 1967 saw an anime series, and the last official film adaptation was 1972’s Ogon Batto ga yattekuru (Golden Bat Shows Up), where a fat and stupid Golden Bat does presumably unfunny things. Neither of the other two films are easily available for watching, probably due to the lack of Sonny Chiba. There is an unofficial Korean Golden Bat film called Yong Gu and the Golden Bat (영구와 황금박쥐 – 1992) which is one of those awful awful Korean children’s films that you should never watch.
Golden Bat (voice of Osamu Kobayashi, performer unknown) – Hero of Atlantis, Golden Bat took a nap because one day humanity would need him. It turns out they did, and thus he wakes up just in time to fight Nazo. Golden Bat beats people with his cane because that’s what cool people do.
Akira Kazahaya (Wataru Yamagawa) – Amateur astronomer who discovers that planet Icarus has gone off it’s course and will smash into the Earth. This is all you need to do to suddenly become invited to join the Pearl Research Institute and fight evil with science. Which Akira joins and does.
Bat (Himself) – Golden Bat’s bat, who lives as a pendant on Emily and acts as a calling device and spy for Golden Bat.
Nazo (Koji Sekiyama) – the self-proclaimed ruler of the universe, this four-eyed lunatic wants to destroy all other life in the universe so he will be the only life. Somehow that has given him followers who can’t put 2 and 2 together. Nazo’s latest target is the Earth. He hides out in his base, Nazo Tower, which can shoot lasers. Nazo can shoot lasers from his eyes and has a flying claw hand. In the pulp series, Dr. Erich Nazō (ナゾー) runs a crime syndicate based on world domination and wears a mask that resembles this alien form.
Keloid (Yoichi Numata) – Giggling maniac with a burnt face who likes torture. Is the chief goon of Nazo. At one point he impersonates Dr. Pearl. Yoichi Numata also appears in Female Prisoner #701 Scorpion and the first two Ring movies.
Piranha (Keiko Kuni) – Female goon of Nazo who impersonates Naomi for an extended period in an attempt of sabotage. She fails and is killed by Nazo. Keiko Kuni appears in Female Prisoner #701 Scorpion
Jackal (Keiichi Kitagawa) – A wolf man complete with hairy uniform, he is more of a shock troop of Nazo.
Nazo’s goons (various) – Dressed in all black, these faceless goons are disposable troops sent in service of their evil master.
A classic Japanese tale gets a reworking and then is dubbed and imported into America. Like many Asian epics, there are a lot of characters and a complicated plot, which is made more confusing with the bad dubbing. Even worse, this is an adaptation of an epic tale that is condensed into a film so huge chunks of back story are either disregarded or glossed over in less than a sentence. Any movie boasting giant centipedes is worth a look. Unfortunately, the 80’s soundtrack does a wonderful job of dating the film, despite it being a period piece. Originally I thought that the songs were added by the American importers, but with the release of the Japanese language original since I originally wrote this review over a year ago, it has become known that the songs where already added in the original version. It’s a deadly blow, imagine the worst of hair bands and love ballads, more deadly than any martial art. The film loses some of the fun factor as the emotion turns to hating the soundtrack. This version of Legend of Eight Samurai that we are recapping is the full screen original American dub, one day we will try to get a hold of the Japanese widescreen version for comparison.
The story is a Japanese mythology that originated in China (like many things Japanese, including the Japanese writing scripts (the kanas are simplified versions of the kanji they “borrowed” from China.) The story of a princess, the last of her clan, given eight warriors to protect her, selected without their knowledge. Magic crystals are found by those selected, the crystals created by a dog (thus giving the story its name:Hakkenden or “Dog Warriors.”) Each crystal has a different Confucian virtue, which is only used in this film as the kanji symbol on each crystal (we have gone through the trouble of translating each one.) Takizawa Okikuni (also known as Kyokutei Bakin or Takizawa Bakin) created the version used in this film from 1814 to 1842 (Edo era) a 106 volume story called Nanso Satomi Hakkenden that took 28 years to complete. Almost as long as the Wheel of Time series is taking. The serial was then updated in 1982 by Toshio Kamata in a novel called Shin Satomi Hakkenden. Many of the stars are part of the Japanese Action Squad, a group founded by Sonny Chiba that practiced martial arts and seemed to star in many movies together. In fact, they previously starred in a futuristic version of this very same tale called Message From Space over here (Uchu kara no messeji in Japan) that even featured the same director!
These are the eight who have Confucian Virtue Jewels:
Daikaku (Minori Terada) – (Gi – Duty or Justice.) Loyal sidekick to Dosetsu, hides Princess Shizu at his mother’s house, only to find his mother has been replaced. Killed in the final battle.
Dosetsu (Sonny Chiba) – (Chuu – Loyalty.)Sonny Chiba gained massive fame from the original Streetfighter film, and had a long career before and after, with many ups and downs. His recent inclusion in the first Kill Bill rocketed him back to fame, and lead to many of his films being released again in better editions. Has been seen here before in Sister Streetfighter, which also stars another of this movie’s actors. Killed in the final battle.
Shino (Masaki Kyomoto) – Brother of his sister (well, duh!) who just happens to be in love with his sister (not blood sister) but as she is getting married it is impossible for him. Until her groom-to-be is killed, but then their forbidden love results in her death and his revenge upon his family. Eventually given a crystal and ends up dead in the final battle. (Kou – Filial devotion/piety.) Played Ryo in Cutie Honey.
Female Assassin Keno (Etsuko Shiomi) – An assassin who disrupts Shino’s sister’s wedding in order to kill the groom. Eventually gets a crystal as well. (Rei – Knowledge traditional/proper form. I think they may have altered her kanji character.) Killed in the final battle by a killer who was hounding her the entire movie. Etsuko Shiomi became famous after the Sister Streetfighter films, and was Japan’s only all-around female action star. She retired after marrying singer Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi and now runs marathons under her married name, refusing interviews about her action star career.
Soldier (Kenji Oba?) – A servent of the demons who kills for them, before given a crystal because of his disgust for what he is forced to do. Killed in the final battle. I believe the soldier is played by Kenji Oba (who is credited as Genpachi in the credits.) Kenji Oba was another Japanese Action Club member who also starred in Kill Bill recently. (Shin – Faith.)
Kid (??) – Some kid who lives in a cave with a Big Dude. He gets a crystal, making him awfully close to Kenny territory. Luckily he doesn’t say or do much at all. Killed in the final battle. (Chi – Wisdom.)
Big Dude (??) – A Big Dude who lives in a cave, where there is also a kid. Both he and the Kid are basically tacked on and don’t do much. Not much except die in the final battle. (Tei – Brotherly affection.)
Shinbei (Hiroyuki Sanada) – Shinbei is a punk kid who goes around pretending he is a swashbuckler until he finds out the Princess has a reward on her head, then tries to capture her repeatedly. Eventually forced to be evil, then gets his own crystal after he dies but returns to life and has sex with Princess Shizu. You’ve heard of STD? Well, that was STC, Sexually Transmitted Crystal! Not killed in the final battle. (Jin – Sympathy, inclusive of all virtues. Jin is the top virtue in Confucianism, thus the main hero gets it.)
Etsuko Shiomi (Sue Shiomi) as Tina Long (Sister Street Fighter)
Sonny Chiba as The Street Fighter
Hiroshi Miyauchi as Lee Long
Emi Hayakawa as Emi Kawasaki (I Think)
Eva Parrish as Eva Parrish, Karate Champion of Australia
This is the third Street Fighter Movie, and Sonny Chiba returns, if but briefly, and not as The same character. The movie is really an Estuko “Sue” Shiomi showcase, and she deserves it, as Sister Street Fighter kicks the butt of anyone who stands in her way. Besides her popping up in most of the other Street Fighter movies as various other characters, this movie is supposed to have spawned a few sequels of it’s own featuring Sue Shiomi’s character, Tina Long. Or at least they are just other films that were labeled as sequels to this when released in America, I’m still tracking some down before I can find out. This is a very enjoyable romp, the action is continuous, the plot is as good as you can expect from a revenge flick, especially female revenge. Rescuing your brother also plays well, it beats the often used “wronged woman” cliché. The only downfalls are little Sonny Chiba screentime, and many of the villains are more cartoonish than Skeletor. Plenty of Sue Shiomi beating the crap out of dozens of men more than makes up for it, as does the random nudity thrown in by the supporting female characters.