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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Rough Cut (2008)–Since Bonnie Can’t get her act together on Hero.

I apologize to all of our family here at JPFmovies for falling down on the job but I was trying to force bonnie to get her Hero review done before I put anything else up.  That was six months ago and just can’t take her inability to post a simple movie review anymore.

Su-ta (Kang Ji-hwan) is an aggressive, arrogant and spoiled movie star who not surprisingly routinely plays yakuza type gangster-roles and has a tendency to throw a punch in real life to increase his fame, but he seriously injures another actor on the set of his new film and the production is suspended as a result no other actor is willing to fill the role of his adversary.

Gang-pae (So Ji-sub) is a real, smooth gangster who despite his youth has risen to No. 2 in his organized crime ring.  He is the gang’s troubleshooter and top fighter.  He is also a big movie fan, often sneaking off alone to watch flicks.  One night, Gang-Pae hears that Su-Ta is drinking in the same bar and he orders one of his men to get Su-ta’s autograph.  The short-tempered Su-ta refuses and this leads to a confrontation between Gang-Pae and Su-Ta.

A few days later, Su-Ta critically injures yet another actor while filming a fight scene.  Filming now comes to a halt, because no other actors will work with the short tempered and spoiled movie star.  Su-ta then thinks backs to his confrontation with Gang-Pae and recalls Gang-Pae mentioning he performed as an extra in a film before.  He then contacts Gang-Pae and offers him the co-starring role.  Gang-pae agrees, but with one condition: instead of simulated blows, they will fight for real in front of the cameras.

As production of the movie moves forward, Gang-Pae starts falling down on his day job as the deputy chief gangster (as  well as kicking Su-Ta’s ass in the scenes).  The “chairman” of the gang loses patience and eventually refuses to see him (he is in jail awaiting trial).  This is not good news for Gang-Pae and his men are forced to take emergency action to protect themselves and their organization.  I am not going to spoil the ending to encourage you to watch the film, but I will say that it concludes with a punch to your nose, and its final image will linger in your memory.

Rough Cut’s interesting premise delves into parallel stories involving Gang-pae’s gangster life, the filming of the movie within a movie, and Su-ta’s shallow personal life.  If the story seems convoluted don’t worry, it is linear and doesn’t bother to delve more than skin deep examining those issues.  The film’s focus is rather on two men and their violent confrontations on screen.  Ji-seob So becomes an incredibly charismatic figure.  Using his calm, cool demeanor that houses a monsoon of emotions underneath, Ji-seob So quickly takes over the film until it is literally his movie.  His counterpart (and good friend in real life) Ji-hwan Kang, performs satisfactorily as “Su-ta,” but there is a mile difference between their screen presence.  Rough Cut has what it takes to win you over with ease.

Watch it, it has all of the elements of a good JPFmovies film—which is hard to come by.  And yes Dangerous you will like the choreography of the fights scenes in this film.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

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A Certain Killer (1967) Starring Ichikawa Raizo

Since I am STILL waiting for Bonnie to do her review here is a little known movie starring Ichikawa Raizo, A Certain Killer (1967).

A Certain Killer is a dark film in the “Le Samourai” vein, with Ichikawa Raizo playing a former kamikaze, now a restaurant chef and owner, who is slowly revealed to be working on the side as a cold, perfectionist hit man for two yakuza clans.  The main character (Raizo) is from the WW2 generation and has seen his dreams die in post-war Japan.  The movie opens with Raizo getting off a plane and hopping into a cab that takes him to the middle of what looks like an abandoned industrial field.  After looking around for a few minutes he begins to walk until he spots an obviously run down inn with rooms to rent.  Raizo (now wearing an eye-patch) rents the dirty, empty room from a nearly deaf lady and sits down to read the paper.  At this point the film begins to flash back to various scenes that lead up to his stay in the room.

First we Raizo eating along in a noodle shop while a young harlot is trying to sell her body in exchange for a bowl of noodles.  The cook wants nothing to do with her so when Raizo gets up to pay the bill he puts her meal on his check because he “does not want to see a woman sell her body that cheaply.”  While he is paying, the harlot sees the amount of cash he carries and begins to follow, nag and sell him out to her pimp.  He dispatches with the pimp but she continues to follow him to his restaurant where she chases off a nice young hard working Japanese girl by pretending to sleep with Raizo.

Then we get our first taste of his killing abilities.  He is hired to kills a Yakuza-boss who is constantly surrounded by 4 competent bodyguards.  Raizo manages to use a razor sharp needle to cut the obi of his target’s wife and when the bodyguards go to help her he inserts the tatami-needle at the base of his victim’s skull, killing him without a sound.  Raizo is paid twenty million yen for the job (in today’s currency about 2.1 million dollars) by the rival clan.

The harlot who will not leave him alone ends up sleeping with one of the clan’s henchmen that he just did the killing for.  He tells her about the twenty million yen and in their greed, they devise a plan to use Raizo to steal a drug shipment that the henchman knows about as well as to take his twenty million yen.

At this point we are pretty much caught up as Raizo looks out the window and we see the harlot running through the rain to get to the inn and meet up with Raizo.  While running, the harlot picks up the henchman and they both enter the room to wait.  Raizo the perfectionist scolds them for coming in together and makes them take the dinner garbage out separately so that no one will know that three people have been there.  Raizo gives the henchman a gun and they prepare for the heist.

At 3:00 am Raizo wakes up the harlot and the henchman and they set off to the place where the drug deal is going to take place.  Meanwhile the henchman has already dug Raizo’s grave in a garbage pit.  After they snatch the drugs, the henchman and the harlot make their move and try to shoot Raizo.  The gun is empty and Raizo asks if they think he is a fool knowing they would pull a stunt because when he was working as the junior on several jobs he thought of the same thing but never acted on it.  When they go outside to leave, they are confronted by the henchman’s clan, and the henchman is told that he now has a big problem because he is doing deals behind his boss’ back.

Our three robbers get into a good fight with their opponents but win out.  However, during the fight, some of the drug canisters are kicked into the stream and you sort of lose track of the rest.  Once they defeat the yakuza-clan the henchman is so impressed with Raizo that he wants to be his pupil.  Raizo declines and when pressed for an explanation, states “he doesn’t like a man who can’t tell the job from the romance,” whereupon he unzips his bag and pull out four canisters of the drugs, tells the henchman to split them with the harlot and then walks off.  The henchman, still standing there, is asked by the harlot if she can go with him and the answer is no because “women don’t know the difference between the job and the romance” — and he proceeds to walk away without the drugs as well.  The harlot then exclaims that she does not need him because she is going to find a new partner and makes lots of money anyway walking off—also leaving the drugs (it looks like she didn’t see them in plain sight).=320

Raizo gives a memorable performance in a role outside of his usual traditional historical film – he can ordinarily be found as a wandering ronin/antihero in (for instance) the Sleepy Eyes of Death series or the Shinobe No Mono movies (he was in 7 out of 8 of them) playing the famous ninja Goemon Ishikawa.  This story was good and based on a hard-boiled crime novel, “The Night Before,” by Fujiwara Shinji.  With little, but pointed, dialogue, sparing use of color, and an interesting penchant for objective longshot, A Certain Killer is an important rediscovery by one of Japanese cinema’s “kings of the Bs,” Kazuo Mori (1911-1989), who inspired Nagisa Oshima with the inherent rebellion of his daring constructions. Oshima said, “I was shocked to discover that the rage and hatred the world inspired in me at the time could be expressed so beautifully and powerfully by the cinema.”

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

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