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Daimajin / 大魔神 (1966)
Directed By: Kimiyoshi Yasuda
Starring: Ryūtarō Gomi, Jun Fujimaki, Miwa Takada

While every now and then I do enjoy seeing a typical, action-filled kaiju flick, I've always preferred films like Shin Godzilla, which was more about government bureaucracy and ineptitude than it was about the giant monster itself. Going into Daimajin, I had no idea where on the scale it would fall, but I had seen some comments mentioning that we only see the majin in the final scenes of the film. Some viewers might be disappointed by that, but it actually made me more interested in seeing it.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a well-made samurai story about good triumphing over evil and honouring tradition, with themes warning viewers of the dangers that greed and excessive ambition bring. It's similar to a fairy tale in nature, and reminded me of the old fantasy films I watched as a kid, especially with the tyrannical antagonist. The plot is very predicable, but that didn't make it any less enjoyable.

The sets and costumes are amazing, and the visual effects are incredibly impressive. There's a clever use of angles to make the daimajin look imposing, and you can feel the weight of its steps, except in one close-up where its clearly moving but no sound effects accompany it. The performances from the human characters were great across the board as well, and they felt far more grounded in reality rather than theatrics. I doubt I would've watched this had it not been nominated, so I'm very glad that it was.


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Daimajin is, at the same time, a samurai epic, a kaiju horror, and a fantasy adventure with the most cliched plot of an evil usurper and a righteous heir in exile (sort of).
This is a samurai fairy tale with a classic good v. evil framing.
Just wanted to mention that I'm glad I wasn't the only one who got fantasy film/fairy tale vibes from Daimajin, since the reviews I read ahead of these didn't point that out and I was getting worried haha.



Allaby's Avatar
Guy who likes movies
I watched Tears of the Black Tiger (2000) today. Directed by Wisit Sasanatieng, this romantic western adventure stars Chartchai Ngamsan as Dum aka. the Black Tiger, the fastest shot in the East. I thought Ngamsan did a fine job as the main character and the supporting cast were pretty good too. I really loved the look of the film. The use of bright and vibrant colors was wonderful. The use of flashbacks was also very effective and I especially enjoyed the scenes of the two main characters as kids. The action and shootout sequences were fantastic and a lot of fun. Some of the violence was intentionally over the top, which I thought worked well. Tears of the Black Tiger is considered to be both a homage and a parody and it succeeds at both. It also is a very good western adventure in its own right. I am glad I watched it. My rating is a
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I watched Tears of the Black Tiger (2000) today. Directed by Wisit Sasanatieng, this romantic western adventure stars Chartchai Ngamsan as Dum aka. the Black Tiger, the fastest shot in the East. I thought Ngamsan did a fine job as the main character and the supporting cast were pretty good too. I really loved the look of the film. The use of bright and vibrant colors was wonderful. The use of flashbacks was also very effective and I especially enjoyed the scenes of the two main characters as kids. The action and shootout sequences were fantastic and a lot of fun. Some of the violence was intentionally over the top, which I thought worked well. Tears of the Black Tiger is considered to be both a homage and a parody and it succeeds at both. It also is a very good western adventure in its own right. I am glad I watched it. My rating is a
.
I'm very interested in watching that one. I first heard about Tears of the Black Tiger during the western countdown and it looks like a visual feast for the eyes, which I love.



Hanagatami (2017)

This was the first Ôbayashi film I've seen (I'm aware of Hausu, but I haven't seen it). I quickly glanced at some reviews when the nominations were revealed, so I knew to expect something unique. While I respect the uniqueness, it doesn't always equal good.


The most prominent things in my mind after watching Hanagatami are odd direction and shooting choices, poor CGI and green screen usage, and occasional beautiful images. Considering how experienced the director is, I must presume that the oddities are intentional, but I can't even begin to fathom why dialogue scenes reverse the character positions between cuts. Also, some of the CGI seems intentionally bad. Ôbayashi must have had his reasons, but I don't get them.

There are many gorgeous shots, too, especially outdoors. All that tomfoolery with the moon was my favorite visual detail in Hanagatami. I also loved the not-so-subtle vampire references regarding Mina (starting with the name, obviously). In many ways, she was also the only relatable character in the film. Everyone else was as all over the place as the film itself. And what's with all the gay vibes between Toshihiko and Ukai (who both definitely seemed to be into girls).

Hanagatami is like a definition of a mixed bag. It throws all of its highs and lows at the viewer in a seemingly haphazard fashion. There were far too many annoyances for me to really like it, but it has a unique charm to it.
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The most prominent things in my mind after watching Hanagatami are odd direction and shooting choices, poor CGI and green screen usage, and occasional beautiful images. Considering how experienced the director is, I must presume that the oddities are intentional, but I can't even begin to fathom why dialogue scenes reverse the character positions between cuts. Also, some of the CGI seems intentionally bad. Ôbayashi must have had his reasons, but I don't get them.
Can confirm the bad cgi, green screen and even the horizontal flips are staples of the last leg of Obayashi's filmography.



Black Rain... now that's a tough watch. I don't think I've ever gotten past the first few minutes of that film without being totally revolted. The dropping of the atom bomb was perhaps one of the most, if not the most, despicable of war crimes...
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Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception. How many colors are there in a field of grass to the crawling baby unaware of 'Green'?

-Stan Brakhage



rbrayer's Avatar
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Chocolate (2008)

Ok, wow, I have mixed feelings here.

The first 15 minutes were just awful. It felt like a weirdly bastardized mashup of a telenovela and a music video. The music generally throughout the film was cheesy and intrusive, but especially so in the setup. I appreciate that the director told so much of the story visually, but it was just so incoherent and gratuitous. The sex/tattoo scenes were a bit silly but the part that really put me off was the chopping-off-the-toe in front of a kid thing. I get that it was an inciting incident for Zen, but how much did we really need to see? There seemed like a lot of shock value for shock value sake.

The story itself was pretty silly as well. Autistic Zen apparently learned martial arts from watching people fight in the Muay Thai Kickboxing school she shared a residence with and from TV and videogames. Absurd. No physical practice, just some jedi mind trick and she's the best fighter on the planet. Come on. Just dumb. Also, we were never given any reason to care about her family. Only her cousin was remotely relatable. On a story and character level this film was a complete mess.

All that said, these are far and away the best, most impressive marital arts sequences I have ever seen. They were absolutely breathtaking. Admittedly, I don't watch tons of martial arts films, but the choreography here was just stunning. It looked so real that I was not terribly surprised when a 5 minute bit of outtakes at the end showed numerous actors getting injured in the process of shooting the film.

So this is a martial arts film that totally fails as a story and as to characters but succeeds beyond all reasonable expectations at the actual fighting, which is ostensibly the point. So I don't know what to do with that. 3/5. Glad I saw it but wouldn't watch again.

Btw: I couldn't find this as a movie on the site I could check off. Does anyone know if it is listed under a different title?



Btw: I couldn't find this as a movie on the site I could check off. Does anyone know if it is listed under a different title?
Just use "chocola" as the movie title and it's the second entry listed. Add in the next "t" though and it disappears from the list
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Just use "chocola" as the movie title and it's the second entry listed. Add in the next "t" though and it disappears from the list
Good catch Chyp, I wouldn't have known that if you had posted.



Autistic Zen apparently learned martial arts from watching people fight in the Muay Thai Kickboxing school she shared a residence with and from TV and videogames. Absurd. No physical practice, just some jedi mind trick and she's the best fighter on the planet.
Well we do see her practising when we was younger, against the wooden pillar. The damage done to her legs prompts her mom to wrap the blankets around it so she has something softer to kick. We don't see exactly how much she practised her moves over the next couple years, but given how martial arts became her obsession, and she was clearly commited (given how she didn't initially give up kicking that pillar despite splinters), it's safe to assume that she did it quite often from that point forward. We also know she's been practising her reflexes with those street performances. She likely hasn't actually fought anyone before, but she clearly had physical practise.



rbrayer's Avatar
Registered User
Well we do see her practising when we was younger, against the wooden pillar. The damage done to her legs prompts her mom to wrap the blankets around it so she has something softer to kick. We don't see exactly how much she practised her moves over the next couple years, but given how martial arts became her obsession, and she was clearly commited (given how she didn't initially give up kicking that pillar despite splinters), it's safe to assume that she did it quite often from that point forward. We also know she's been practising her reflexes with those street performances. She likely hasn't actually fought anyone before, but she clearly had physical practise.
I'd forgotten about that early scene as it's been a few days before I had the chance to write. Thanks for pointing this out.

However, even given the above, the idea that these activities would be sufficient to make her Bruce Lee crossed with John Wick is pretty implausible, so I stand by the sentiment.



...However, even given the above, the idea that these activities would be sufficient to make her Bruce Lee crossed with John Wick is pretty implausible, so I stand by the sentiment.
This is my take and I'm not trying to change anyone's mind...

I see Chocolate as a fantasy type movie that requires a lot of suspension of disbelief to enjoy. Most marital arts films I've seen (and I ain't seen many) are completely impossible in the real world. With Chocolate's broad pallet & colorful and zany characters I don't see how it could be held to the same standards as a serious, real world film would be. That's just how I view it.



rbrayer's Avatar
Registered User
This is my take and I'm not trying to change anyone's mind...

I see Chocolate as a fantasy type movie that requires a lot of suspension of disbelief to enjoy. Most marital arts films I've seen (and I ain't seen many) are completely impossible in the real world. With Chocolate's broad pallet & colorful and zany characters I don't see how it could be held to the same standards as a serious, real world film would be. That's just how I view it.
That's fair, but even in fantasies, internal story logic is important. If she had some magical powers from an amulet or something, fine. If she was genetically modified to learn at some incredible clip, fine. But autistic+movies+self-practice=warrior of death is incoherent and the movie invests significant time in giving us this explanation, so I think it's reasonable to challenge it.



Marital arts sounds like a cool way to describe porn
Ha! It took me a while to figure out your post, then I got it

That's fair, but even in fantasies, internal story logic is important. If she had some magical powers from an amulet or something, fine. If she was genetically modified to learn at some incredible clip, fine. But autistic+movies+self-practice=warrior of death is incoherent and the movie invests significant time in giving us this explanation, so I think it's reasonable to challenge it.
Yeah, that's true that all movies, even fantasy films need to be true to their own universe.



The trick is not minding
Regarding martial arts film, even though I’m not a huge fan of the genre, I have enjoyed a handful. One thing to keep in mind is many of them do in fact have a fantasy elements to them, especially the wuxia genre (think Hero and Crouching tiger, Hidden Dragon). They’re meant to be somewhat over the top, much like John Wick is, or many of the US action films that was prevalent in the 80’s.
During the Hong Kong New Wave of the 80’s, in fact, they embraced the silliness and added a heavy dose of comedy to make the martial arts seem less so. Think A Chinese Ghost Story, which admittedly had a fantasy elements.
Jackie Chan was an exception to this, as his films martial arts were more realistic, considering the style. At least from what little I have seen anyways.



The trick is not minding
Mother


The story of a women’s somewhat creepy, always complicated and definitely caring relationship with her son. A son who suffers from a intellectual disability (I had to look up exactly how to describe it correctly without using the “r” word”), named Do-Joon. (Also had to look that up to properly spell it)
Prone to fits of anger when he called the “r” word, and easily manipulated, he is arrested for the murder of a young girl. His memory can’t always be trusted, as it is easily twisted, including his supposed best friend. Yet he can accurately recall past events with such clarity it can be a bit of a paradox.
His mother takes it upon herself to find the killer, and it’s amazing the lengths she will go to to prove his innocence.

Bong Joon-Hoo is the director, and as most South Korean films are, has a deliberate pace set to it. But it’s never slow or boring. It’s somewhat methodical. Especially when the truth is discovered, and who really committed the murder. It reminded me of the reveal in Rudderless.
The acting accomplished what it needs to, with the mother and her son both doing quite well in their roles. And of course the direction is great as one would expect.
And all the while the mother, never named, is the guiding force to this film. We go where she goes. Her discoveries are ours. We feel for her and her son. Almost like a burden at times, even to her at her weakest moments. But she never gives up her determination in proving her sons innocence.
It ends as it begins......with her dancing.





Tears of the Black Tiger / ฟ้าทะลายโจร (2000)
Directed By: Wisit Sasanatieng
Starring: Chartchai Ngamsan, Stella Malucchi, Supakorn Kitsuwon

Being equal parts parody and homage to genres I don't particularly like, Tears of the Black Tiger is a film that I have mixed opinions about. It features a fantastic visual style, but the over-satured colours often bleed together, making many scenes look blurry instead of vibrant. I assume this was done intentionally to help emulate old film stock, but I feel as though sharpening the film up just a tiny bit would've made the aesthetics really pop.

The first shoot-out at the start of the film is ridiculous and over-the-top, and for a brief period I thought I might actually end up loving this film. I found the opening quite amusing, and seeing a Western in a lush forest was a pleasant novelty. However I never laughed again afterwards, not even once the absurdity returned with a vengeance for the climactic finale. I wasn't particularly engaged, so the action didn't entertain me as much as it otherwise would have.

I think my mood soured during the scene I've featured as the header image. Instead of the soap opera-esque performances the rest of the film exhibited, both Chartchai Ngamsan and Supakorn Kitsuwon seemed to be acting in a grade school play here. The obviously painted backdrop and fake tree didn't help that perception either. Perhaps this was a reference I didn't understand, but I disliked it so much that I couldn't get back into the film afterward.

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