Asian Film Hall of Fame

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Daimajin (1966)

The forest scenes were my favorite aspect of the film, loved that waterfall! Though I wish I'd seen a better copy of it. I watched the YouTube video and the image quality was pretty poor. Still the forest was impressive, if that was a set (which I think it was) it sure was good looking. I'd say the escape to the mountain forest really added a lot to the film. And for me I was glad the monster didn't appear until the very end. I gather Daimajin was the equivalent of a Roger Corman B movie...and if this was indeed made on a shoe string budget then I have to say they really got a big bang for the dollar, I mean yen.

The stop motion was well done. I'm a big fan of Ray Harryhausen and I'd say the stop motion animation was comparable to Ray's movies. Very cool when the giant statue swipes it's hand over it's face, turning stone into flesh...sort of green flesh I guess. The closeups with the real actors eyes also added to the statues effectiveness. Oh, I just knew the spike was coming out of his head and going into the top bad guy.

Interesting choice and a fun watch.



Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)



Happy to report that I enjoyed this a lot more the second time around. I guess I didn't notice the gorgeous camerawork and lighting before because that's what swayed my opinion more than anything. Really loved how they essentially did zooms with 4 increasingly closer static shots, felt impactful every time and the scene with the medium was money. The story is very clever and also manages to not feel as claustrophobic as most films this narratively focused do. Only a couple notable downsides: one) the music isn't great, ranging from lame to fine and two) Mifune is kind of terrible here, just outright irritating most of the time (at least he's impossibly hot though). Overall its definitely a good film but the one thing that hasn't changed since my first viewing is that its still just not the type of film that appeals to me very much. I imagine this is winning the thing for sure now that I'm probably not gonna tank its ranking as much as I had initially thought.



Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (Yuen Woo-ping, 1978)



This is the oldest Jackie Chan film I've seen and clearly he's just always been the most charismatic performer out there and the film needed it. Not to say it would be a bad Wuxia film without Jackie in the lead, it's completely competent across the board. The choreography is really fun, it keeps the action going and the characters are all distinct. Now the fight scenes are definitely very fun and clever but there isn't really any huge moments and I think a lot of my favourite bits are in the first half. The back half isn't a huge drop off or anything but does get the slightest bit stale by the end I suppose. Another thing of note is how insane the music is. What is that electronic piece they keep using? Like, I love it but why is it here??? Anyway, yeah this mostly a fairly average Wuxia with enough charming bits to make it a worthwhile watch.




Mother

I don't really want to get into spoilers for a film like this, because it will probably always be best the first time you see it. I think a lot of these South Korean mystery/mystery types end up that way. Twists and turns and reveals and intrigue and suspense and all of that good stuff pop up.

I might mention a spoiler or two here, so you don't really need to read any of this until after you see the film. After you see the film, you don't really need to read this anyway.

The scene with the mother in the closet and trying to sneak out was very intense. The performance of Hye-ja Kim as the mother was great, she was compelling and sympathetic despite some of her quirks. The movie doesn't really go into too much depth about Do-joon's mental illness, but some of those quirks the mother displays with her relationship with her son probably come from that mental illness. Since we aren't given much about it, we also don't know if her attempt on his life caused a mental illness or if the attempt was because of the illness or none of the above, but it gives us something to think about.



I had time to write something about Paprika after all!

it will probably always be best the first time you see it
I definitely agree with this. I don't think it's the kind of story that holds up well to repeat viewings.





Paprika / パプリカ (2006)
Directed By: Satoshi Kon
Starring: Megumi Hayashibara, Akio Ōtsuka, Katsunosuke Hori


While the visuals of Paprika can often be confusing at first glance, especially during the particularly cluttered parade sequences, the vibrant colours and imaginative imagery are the perfect match for Kon's trademarked blending of fantasy and reality. There is a dark, somewhat sinister undercurrent to the film's overall light-hearted tone, which mirrors the collective dream's nightmarish qualities and generates a rather interesting atmosphere.

The use of CGI does not blend well with the rest of the animation, but its jarring appearance actually works quite well within the narrative. Its ability to distort the surroundings, both intentionally and as a consequence of how much it sticks out, adds to the bizarre, dreamlike quality of the visuals. After being initially put off by that disconnect, I actually grew to appreciate it.

Paprika is not a film that provides a lot of answers to the questions it raises, but that doesn't make the conclusion feel unsatisfactory. The science of the “DC mini” is never fully explained, but its psychological implications are far more important, so I never felt like the film needed to clarify its mechanics. It's an interesting premise that asks how much of our dreams we take back with us to the waking world, and I always enjoy the kind of film that leaves things open to interpretation. It's not my favourite of Satoshi Kon's filmography, but it's still a great work of science fiction.


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I definitely agree with this. I don't think it's the kind of story that holds up well to repeat viewings.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about how much you should take into consideration your first time viewing of a film when determing your valuation of that film. A first-time vewing that blows you away is probably still worth something even if that thing doesn't hold up the next time around. Some films are meant to blow you away that first time, but obviously can't when you know what's coming the second time around. I still love Hausu, Obayashi is a king, but my repeat viewings of it could never match that first time. I had no idea what I was about to see. I watched Oldboy with my little brother the other day, I had forgotten a couple of the beats, but watching with somebody who had never seen any of it made probably as close to a first-time I'll ever be able to get again. I know us movie nerds talk about films that you can revisit and find something new every time, and that's great, but I still think there should be a level of respect put on that first-time experience. I'll always remember and cherish the first time I saw Tucker and Dale vs Evil and Black Dynamite in a double-feature on a movie night with friends. Those films deserve credit for being perfect for that atmosphere. Anyways, movies are good.



Allaby's Avatar
Guy who likes movies
I watched Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (1978) today. Directed by Woo-Ping Yuen, the film stars a young Jackie Chan as a mistreated orphan who is trained by an old kung fu master. The film is pretty entertaining and fun, with lots of elaborately choregraphed fight scenes. There are some amusing comedic moments too. A satisfying watch for fans of action/comedy kung fu films and for Jackie Chan fans. My rating is a
.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
AMEN JJ!!!
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Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?





Chocolate (2008)

Director: Prachya Pinkaew continues and expands on the same amazing martial arts as I remember with Tony Jaa in Ong Bak.
In the original, Zen (JeeJa Yanin) learns from inspirations that included Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies. Due to licensing problems, Pinkaew was only able to show the "reference styles" to them via Zen's fights.
Being autistic, she is quite the chameleon regarding technique. Shown when she battles another youth with Tourettes. An amazing encounter amid a film filled with them.

Just as I could speak endlessly on the action, I equally could upon the story and this film's characters. Though I must admit, and this totally on my dumb ole @ss. It was my own curiosity to see a martial arts film a la @pahaK. Which, I mean, I DID, and it was [email protected] AWESOME. It was me thinking there was going to be something within Zen's autism beyond that, well, THAT was the "a la" portion. Done beautifully with a realistic, positive perspective. It was, as befitting Zen's name, something that is. And within that world was an engaging and thoroughly enjoyable story about the daughter from a mob boss' "Property"/Enforcer/Lieutenants?? affair with a yakuza soldier. I loved the line the father commented on, that it was the imperfections of things that the woman he loved, Zin (Ammara Siripong), adored. Seeing Zen's autism as another beautiful aspect of the child she would do all for.
Along with a childhood friend, Mangmoon (Taphon Phopwandee). Their dynamics are equal parts warm and funny. A scene in the trailer shows him helping her train by throwing fruit, balls, and the like at her, and she'd catch them without looking up. Just as he's about to try with a knife, he has to quickly hide it as Zin steps out, demanding to know what's going on.

Culminating in an excellent martial arts film with the right mix of heart and characters who you can care about and enjoy.






Chocolate / ช็อคโกแลต (2008)
Directed By: Prachya Pinkaew
Starring: Yanin Vismistananda, Ammara Siripong, Taphon Phopwandee

After being excited by what I read about the film's premise, the opening scenes of Chocolate worried me quite a bit. Mediocre acting in a martial arts film is completely forgivable, but the awkwardly cut montage set to a strange and inappropriate score was a huge turn off for me. The overall quality seemed poor, and based on what I had seen so far, I was concerned about how the eventual action sequences would be framed.

Zen's introduction restored some faith in the film, because I was quite impressed by how realistically an autistic character was portrayed. The tantrums, and reliance on signals or short vocalizations to communicate felt particularly genuine. It's almost a stereotype for films and television to have autistic characters, particularly children, turn out to be savants, but having Zen's skill be physical in nature was a pleasant change that kept the film from feeling cliché.

Despite my early reservations, I actually really enjoyed Chocolate, and that's entirely thanks to Yanin Vismistananda's performance, and the fantastic martial arts choreography she and the stunt team performed. The warehouse fight scene was probably my favourite, because I loved seeing Zen slipping into narrow places the men she was fighting couldn't fit through. Every action scene was impressive, and a joy to watch. They more than made up for the film's weaker elements.



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It's a physical brand of film-making that's often at its best when you can feel the actors hurting. That's what generally separates western films from Far Eastern ones; the crazy stunts where people put their health and life at stake.
Yeah, you can see and feel a lot of hits actually connecting, rather than the editing just making them look like they are. The injuries shown during the credits prove that as well, and a couple of them looked quite serious.



I don't have any links, but when looking for anything related to Mother, I found I got better results looking for Madeo instead, due to how many films have the same or similar titles.

Our movie search feature is a great example of that. You get a giant drop-down list if you type in "Mother", but "Madeo" leads to Bong Joon-ho's film.

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I don't have any links, but when looking for anything related to Mother, I found I got better results looking for Madeo instead, due to how many films have the same or similar titles.

Our movie search feature is a great example of that. You get a giant drop-down list if you type in "Mother", but "Madeo" leads to Bong Joon-ho's film.

Thanks that's a good tip! Luckily Cricket found a couple links for me so I should be good to go



Allaby's Avatar
Guy who likes movies
I watched Daimajin (1966). I really liked the look of the film. The sets and costumes were very good and the cinematography was quite nice. I do wish that the statue would have come to life a little earlier in the film. He looked great when he did start moving, but I wanted at least a little more of him and more scenes of him stomping around destroying things. The parts of the film without him were fine and reasonable well acted, but I still wanted more of him, sooner rather than later. Overall though it was a good film and fairly enjoyable. My rating is
.



羅生門 (1950)
aka Rashomon

Telling the story repeatedly from different points of view is a gimmick that rarely works. In Rashomon, this storytelling decision doesn't even feel like a gimmick. The narrative flows naturally from one version of the truth to another, and what really happened remains shrouded by the lies. There are no reliable narrators in Kurosawa's world.


All four retellings of the confrontation have a lot going on (certainly more than I can catch on one viewing). Every narrator wants to make themselves look good: Tajomaru paints himself as a great warrior and honorable bandit; the wife gives herself the only honorable response to the crime; samurai makes himself a victim of betrayal and gives himself the only honorable ending; woodcutter wants to hide his theft and make all the subjects of his envy look bad. We never get to know what really happened. Maybe the truth can be pieced together from all four stories?

Kurosawa's films often have over-the-top acting, and Rashomon isn't an exception. Mifune's animalistic behavior and chimp-like laughter surely fall under this category. The woodcutter is also exaggerated as a simple and fearful peasant. Other than slight over-acting (which is likely a stylistic choice), the cast is doing a splendid job. The film also looks beautiful. Overall, a much stronger entry in the legendary resume than Drunken Angel. Didn't like the ending, though (kinda undermines the rest of the film).
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