Author Archives: Ben Jennings
“These are your grandparents”, Fumiko tells her sons, Isamu and Minoru. Minoru looks about ten years old, and we gather that if he’s ever met his grandparents before, it was so long ago that nobody expects him to remember. Isamu, the younger brother, just runs away from the unfamiliar old couple. This is part of an early scene in Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story. And where better to begin reviewing one of the greatest movies ever made than with a … (read more)
Being more or less the second sequel to The Street Fighter, The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge was released in the same year, 1974… those schlockmeisters certainly didn’t mess about when they knew they were onto a good thing. And a very good thing it is, too. This immensely enjoyable entry into the 70s grindhouse hall of ill-fame benefits greatly from Sonny Chiba’s uniquely goofy charisma.
The story, which involves a gang’s extortion of a corrupt public official, tapes containing … (read more)
Phew, this is a nasty piece of work. Before Kim Ki-duk took to making lovely and serene movies like Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring and 3-Iron, he was better known for lovely, serene and sometimes downright bloody ghastly efforts such as this one. In its mercifully brief 86 minutes, The Isle runs you through the wringer like few other movies. The fact that it’s also so sad and beautiful for much of that time makes it a uniquely … (read more)
The Ghost, also known in English speaking parts as Dead Friend (its Korean title is Ryeong) isn’t just unimaginative in title: it’s an arrestingly shameless combination of Ring and Dark Water, with a cheesy M. Night Shyamalan ending tacked on for good measure. The “references” to Ring in particular are as unsubtle as the ones in Scary Movie except it seems to be played straight. You almost have to admire that.
You also have to admire that … (read more)
If the idea of one of those ponderous European romantic dramas – only Asian! – appeals to you, then look no further than Stanley Kwan’s disappointing latest effort. A woman leads her life (which is, naturally, only ever defined in terms of her relationships with men) set against the background of this event and that event; and if it sounds like I am failing to pay proper respect to the impact of World War 2 and the Cultural Revolution on … (read more)
A German/Mongolian co-production, The Cave of the Yellow Dog is, like its predecessor The Story of the Weeping Camel, a fairly cynical moneymaking exercise which should probably offend me a little more than it does. Using a whisper thin version of the classic rebellious-kid-adopts-animal storyline as a way to indulge the audience in the everyday lives of nomadic Mongolian sheep herders, the movie is aimed with merciless precision at the middlebrow arthouse audience, and should hit its target squarely.… (read more)
Action director and dedicated thigh-fetishist Kaneko Shusuke helms this second cinematic paean to the supremely photogenic and tragically vapid Aya Ueto. The sequel finds the director just as in love with his pulchritudinous starlet as was the original, but just as incapable of wringing a remotely convincing performance out of her. Whether she’s cutting chain mail clad ninjas in half, mooning over her inevitable love interest or grieving for her fallen comrades, she wears the same expression. She’s as lovely … (read more)