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Monthly Archives: May 2017

Let’s get back to some quality Asian entertainment: Ogon no Buta a/k/a The Golden Pig (2010) a 9 part Japanese T.V. series. Any show named after swine has got to be interesting.

Lately the movie reviews posted here at JPFmovies have been western entertainment—something we typically take a dim view of given the current state of the (mainly) American entertainment industry.  So, our dedicated reviewers embarked on a search for some Asian media worth taking a look at.  We found an often overlooked Japanese T.V. series entitled The Golden Pig—intrigued by the show’s title we couldn’t resist taking a look.

First a quick discussion of the genre The Golden Pig and many other well-liked Japanese series embody.  In Japan, many shows/movies are based on “manga.”  For those who don’t know, a manga is a style of Japanese comic book or graphic novel, aimed at adults as well as children.  Manga covers the entire spectrum of topics from super-heroes to business to adult themed sexuality.  When a manga becomes popular enough it is often made into an animated series or a live T.V. show and maybe even a movie.  One subset of the manga world is a variation of westerns and samurai ronin genre where the protagonist gets “transferred” into a corrupt environment and brings about change.  This story-line is termed the “extended transfer student” genre and is a staple of J-drama which serves as a channel for social commentary and criticism while Japanese society stagnates through political corruption and social rigidness.

The Golden Pig is an “extended transfer student” Japanese drama series set in the government’s internal auditor agency (the equivalent of the U.S. Inspector General’s Office).  The Board of Audit’s Special Investigations Division hunts down civil servants that cheat and waste the tax payer’s money.  The Golden Pig’s main character, Shinko, is a former con artist that is hired by one of the Division’s maverick commissioners.  When we say Shinko is a former con artist we mean it-she has spent several years in prison and the terms of her parole are quite strict.  Hardened by her time in the joint, she is not intimidated by power or influence and mercilessly pursues corrupt officials.  When she is brought into the agency’s fold, Shinko is paired up with an elite rookie who is a graduate of Tokyo University and comes from a distinguished family of government officials.  Naturally, the friction between the savvy and street-smart Shinko and her blue-blooded colleague provides some great entertainment as Shinko is able to use her criminal experience to quickly sniff out scams while her partner’s head is often stuck in an ivory tower so to speak.

The series also examines the politics of power within the civil service itself.  The episodes explore the rough waters that career civil servants must navigate in order to be promoted or else they can end up in a “window” position; that is, the unlucky civil servant is essentially stuck in a room looking out of the window with nothing to do.  The potential for the career civil servants to be passed over for promotion can lead them to back-off or otherwise close their eyes to corruption if the investigation involves a very politically connected or powerful person.  Again, this conflicts with Shinko’s scorched earth policy and her idealistic partner’s naivete with respect to the blow-back that happen when someone too powerful is provoked into taking action to save their own skin.

While the viewer may think that the formula for each episode is the same i.e. after some maneuvers by both the division investigators and the cheaters, the good guys win in the end you would be sorely mistaken.  While each episode ends with exposition of the case, if you are paying attention, the penalties for embezzling millions of dollars’ worth of Japanese yen is quite lite.  In truth, it is the government white washing the whole thing so it maybe a relief when the gang does not always go for the big shots involved with the central government which is actually mentioned in the series.  This is usually when Shinko pulls out her trademark big shiny blinged out calculator to sum up the total amount of money embezzled.

In sum, “Ogon no Buta” is a great and fun series.  It has great characters, interesting cases, and over the top villains that everyone loves to hate.  But don’t take our word for it, JPFmovies reviewer at large SJ thinks:

JPFmovies:     SJ so what is your overall opinion of The Golden Pig?

SJ:       It is excellent!

JPFmovies:     What do you think of the series main character being a convicted swindler?

SJ:       It is cool to compare how a thief would do things versus fancy people in suits.

JPFmovies:     Is this your favorite Japanese T.V. series?

SJ:       Yeah.

JPFmovies:     Why?

SJ:       Spaghetti squash (a character nick named by Shinko).

JPFmovies:     Who is your favorite villain?

SJ:       The scientist lady because she wasn’t actually a bad person but they had to punish her anyways because that is their job (Note a famous scientist who misuses government grant money).

JPFmovies:     Does The Golden Pig remind you of any American T.V. series?

SJ:       Yeah “Psyche” because they are both a “commoner” who has to work with officials to fight crime.

JPFmovies:     Very interesting.

JPFmovies:     Is there anything you would like to add?

SJ:       Um . . . make sure you calculate the conversion rate from yen to dollars so you know how much was stolen.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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Co-founder DT said we need to get back to hard reviews of crappy movies. Upon hearing this the JPFmovie crew immediately thought of Leonard Part 6 (1987). Written and produced by Bill Cosby himself. Some material for this review was provided by contributor at large SJ.

During a recent telephone conference, DT emphatically stated that we needed to take the reviews up a notch and come down hard on some really crappy movies.  Did someone say crappy movie?  Well Leonard Part 6 fits the bill period.  Winner of three Razzi Awards (Worst Actor (Cosby), Worst Picture, and Worst Screenplay (Jonathan Reynolds and Cosby).  The film was nominated for two more Razzie Awards, for Worst Supporting Actress (Foster) and Worst Director (Weiland).  The film was so bad the Cosby went on the talk show circuit denouncing the film telling people to save their money.  Cosby went so far as to personally buy up all of the television rights to Leonard Part 6 so it could not be shown on T.V.  Wow, that really says something.  However, even these facts never really prepares the viewer for the soul draining Leonard Part 6 experience.  Even the normally benign movie critics Siskel and Ebert were as hard on this film as I have ever seen (see review below).

Anyone who lived through the 1980’s remembers the Cosby Show (1984-1992) which was constantly at the top of the Nielsen ratings.  The Cosby Show was so popular in fact that they moved the airing of the World Series so that it didn’t run against it.  That’s pretty god damn popular no matter how you cut it.  We all know that actor Bill Cosby is mortal and like so many actors he must have let his ego out of the cage and into the wilderness.  In fact Leonard Part 6’s director in an interview said “It was a terrible mistake. … When anyone gets into that position (Bill Cosby’s position of power in the 1980s), they are surrounded by sycophants and no one tells them the truth.  But Cosby just wasn’t funny.  I couldn’t tell him directly.  I’d say it feels slow, and he’d say, ‘You worry about construction, let me worry about funny.’” For his part Cosby did try to shift some of the blame to the films first time director, but he had nowhere to go there as not only did Cosby act in this movie, but he also wrote and produced it.

Let’s try to summarize the plot—this is very difficult because there is so much crap you have to sift through.  Our hero, Leonard Parker, is a former secret agent turned San Francisco restaurateur forced out of retirement by the CIA to retrieve some sphere that makes animals, insects etc. kill humans.  In addition to this “storyline” his daughter is engaged to a septuagenarian black Italian, and his estranged wife, who, after seeing him for the first time in seven years, dumps soup all over him.

Leonard uses his daughter’s engagement to the old director as an excuse to call his ex-wife.  For the next 20 minutes or so we are treated to a montage of Cosby getting ready for the dinner with his ex-wife (who he could only bear live across the street from)—doing everything from getting a petty cure to exercising with Jane Fonda to get in shape.  According to SJ “this was the worst part of the movie.”  After getting soup dumped on him, Cosby decides to return to the spy business and stop the evil vegetarians.  First, he goes to see some gypsy fortune teller that he doesn’t understand who eventually gives him sticks of butter (to ward off attacking lobsters). All beef patties (to use against the vegetarian henchmen), a queen bee to distract a hive of bees protecting the sphere, a hotdog that makes the evil woman’s side kick explode and we don’t even know what else!

Then the film really starts to move when Leonard infiltrates Medusa’s lair and must fight an army of dancing bird-men in bikini briefs for god’s sake who try to dance him to death, but Leonard outsmarts him by putting on a pair of ballet slippers he got from the gypsy.  He then dances his way out of trouble and foils his attackers. We could not make this shit up!

Next, we see him riding an ostrich on the roof of a building, through a neon sign, then turning into some obvious puppet while there’s an explosion behind him.  Cosby also performed surgery on himself, drove his Porsche 928 with a turret on top through the streets of San Francisco (of course jumping through the hilly streets), throws alka seltzer into vats of dish soap to stop the liquid from contaminating the Bay area and Christ who knows what else.  Don’t call us liars, this is the actual film!

 

But don’t take JPFmovies word for it here are some live comments from critic at large SJ:

“Isn’t this a spy movie?  It’s been 20 minutes of no spying.”

40 minutes into the film: “what is happening?”

“Whose Idea what this?”

“Why is there narration?”

“Shaving the dancing chicken—I am not sure that is really necessary.”

“Aren’t her attacks supposed to be animal based?  Why is there a machine gun and why is she so sparkly?”

SJ hand on forehead pulling back her hair.

“What’s with the fortune teller having a queen bee?”

“That is definitely not how bees work?”

“This is a terrible idea.  Why is he operating on himself?  Why can’t this guy do surgery (butler) why can’t he go to a hospital?”

“Why doesn’t he train the butler to be a surgeon?”

The Play “why is any of this part of the movie?”

“Any good villain should know that you don’t monolog.”

“Stop screaming; they’re lobsters!”

“Really? They had that made of glass?  That’s just poor planning.”

“Really?”  (Beef patties thrown on vegetarians)

“Oh god.  Who approved this?”  (Cosby riding ostrich)

“That is not how ostriches work.  Nobody taught Bill Cosby that the ostrich is a flightless bird?”

What if I told you that this movie cost 51 million in adjusted dollars to make?  “Jesus Christ!”

So, you want to torture a movie lover?  Just make them watch Leonard Part 6—it works every time.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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Kung-Fu the Legend Continues (1993-1997). What the Hell?

We here at JPFmovies previously reviewed “Kung Fu” the 1970’s cult classic which branded David Carradine as Kwai-Chain-Kane the Asian priest wandering the old west.  Decades later Kung Fu the Legend Continues (1993-1997) was aired also starring Carradine.  So let’s take a look at the Kung-Fu reboot “Kung -Fu he Legend Continues.”

We here at JPFmovies (in case you didn’t notice) are big fans of the 1970’s T.V. series Kung-Fu (1972-1975) starring a young David Carradine, Keye Luke, Philip An and an assortment of guest stars including Jody Foster and Harrison Ford.  However, 1975 was not the end of Kung Fu as Warner Bros. tried a few times to bring it back.  First was Kung Fu: The Movie, a made-for-TV special that aired on CBS in 1986, with Carradine as Caine, and co-starring Brandon Lee (yes, that Brandon Lee) as his heretofore unknown son.  That was followed in 1989 by another TV movie, again on CBS, entitled Kung Fu: The Next Generation, set in the present day and again starring Lee, but this time as Johnny Caine, the great-grandson of Carradine’s Caine (who doesn’t appear).

Kung Fu: The Next Generation didn’t go anywhere past the pilot stage, but four years later, Warner Bros. tried again for syndication, this time bringing Carradine back as well as preserving the contemporary setting.  As a result, in 1993, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues was born, made in Toronto, Canada, it was truly a strange conglomeration of various plot devices/and ideas.  The show’s premise had Carradine again playing Kwai Chang Caine, this time the grandson of the original Caine, who tries to keep the old ways of the Shaolin alive — all the while solving crimes with his police detective son Peter (Chris Potter, also the voice of Gambit on Fox’s X-Men, appearing in Silk Stalkings and Queer as Folk) and a motley assortment of supporting characters.

Throughout the show, Caine dispenses aphorisms like “I am Caine, I will help you” while his son gushed clichés like, “I’m a cop! That’s who I am, that’s what I do!”  Not sure what demographic they were going for with this series.  The show used the slow-motion martial arts device that the original Kung Fu pioneered as well as the truly tired cop stories and low budget production values, while Toronto as an obvious stand in for San Francisco to reduce costs.  That said, The Legend Continues made it 88 episodes after 4 seasons and was not canceled due to low ratings but the studio Prime-Time Entertainment Network, simply going out of business.

We here at JPFmovies believe that is why the enigmatic Legend Continues series remains off most people’s radar.  The bastard child of the original Kung Fu and the tired cop themed shows that have plagued our airwaves for decades.  Most of the writing was done by Michael Sloan, the show’s producer, who obviously found many of the scripts on the internet or via outright copyright infringement of other media.  Some of the lines are so contrived that you wonder what they were thinking.  If you don’t believe us just take a look at the clips we’ve provided.

Here is the problem JPFmovies has.  We are Kung Fu junkies so we are having a really hard time complaining about the show since it stars David Carradine as Caine—albeit a distant character altogether.  On the other hand, if it were any other show we would have come down pretty hard on it.  You see our dilemma?

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

As everyone knows we here at JPFmovies love our guest reviewers. So here is our latest guest reviewer Tom V. looking at Maximum Overdrive (1986) written and directed by Stephen King. Don’t watch it sober.

“The video game says “play me”
Face it on a level but it takes you every time on a one on one
Feeling running down your spine
Nothing gonna save your one last dime ’cause it own you
Through and through

The data bank know my number
Says I gotta pay ’cause I made the grade last year
Feel it when I turn the screw
Kicks you round the world, there ain’t a thing that it can’t do to you”

AC DC Who Made Who (1986)

The concept of this movie was truly extraordinary.  Artificial Intelligence and the Revolt of the Machines.  Starring Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle and Laura Harrington, directed by Stephen King and featuring an exclusive soundtrack by AC DC what could possibly go wrong?  Well, pretty much everything.  There is no logical explanation why anyone would want to stay sober during the viewing of this film.  From a stunning lack of directing, to editing which seems to string together scenes that vaguely relate to one another, to laughably abysmal acting — Maximum Overdrive provides a cornucopia of disappointment. Aside from cocktails and good company, why watch this movie?  This is the first and last attempt at directing by Stephen King.  Who can pass up that kind of milestone?

The Plot:

As the Earth passes through the tail of a comet, previously inanimate objects suddenly spring to life and turn homicidal. In a pre-title scene, a man (King in a cameo) tries to withdraw money from an ATM, but it instead calls him an “asshole”, and he whines to his wife (King’s real life wife Tabitha). Chaos soon begins as machines of all kinds come to life and begin rampaging and murdering all available humans.

The machine carnage spreads as humans and even pets are brutally killed by lawnmowers, chainsaws. Our gang of actors gather at a roadside truck stop called “The Dixie Boy Dinner” just outside Wilmington, North Carolina, where a waitress is stalked and then badly injured by an electric knife.  Classic video games electrocute another victim. Employee and ex-convict Bill Robinson, played by Emilio Estevez, begins to suspect something has gone very wrong with the machines.

Robinson’s belief is reinforced by the marauding big rig trucks, which have formed a gang.  The Big Rig Truck Gang is led by a Western Star 4800 Rig sporting a giant Green Goblin mask on its grille.  Apparently, Stephen King bet bank that the Green Goblin would induce fear in the viewer.  Honestly put, the Green Goblin looked like something Carnies use to promote small block parties with machines of questionable repair and safety.  No matter how many times Green Goblin goes around the truck stop or chases down a hapless survivor, it’s just not invoking the fear factor.  Truth be told Carnies are typically much more scary.

At any rate, as if being menaced by the Carnie-like Green Goblin wasn’t enough, Robinson rallies the truck stop survivors; they use a cache of firearms and M72 LAW rockets stored in a bunker hidden under the Dixie Boy Diner and destroy many of the trucks. The Big Rig truck gang fights back in the form of both a Caterpillar D7G bulldozer, which drives through the Dixie Boy Diner and a M274 Mule, which fires its post-mounted M60 machine gun into the building, killing several of the Truck Stop Survivors.  The Mule then demands, via sending Morse Code signals through its horn, that the humans pump the truck’s diesel for them in exchange for keeping them safe; the survivors soon realize they have become enslaved by their own machines.

Reneging on the fueling operation, Robinson sneaks a grenade onto the Mule vehicle, destroying it, then leads the party out of the diner via a sewer hatch to the main road just as the trucks demolish the entire truck stop. The survivors are pursued to the docks by the Green Goblin truck — which manages to kill one more trucker after he steals a ring from a female corpse in a car — before Robinson destroys the truck once and for all with a direct hit from an M72 LAW rocket shot. The survivors then sail off to safety.  Oddly with all the machines revolting, from electric carving knives, transistor radios to video games to big rigs, the movie gives no explanation as to why the expensive motor boats have not also become blood thirsty man killers.

As Robinson and the survivors sailed off into safety, I began to realize that I would never get that time back in my life.  Fortunately, Brandy Old Fashioned(s) made the entire experience, using the recently released 30th Anniversary edition, palatable.  Oddly enough, the trailer doesn’t contain any AC DC Music, the one redeeming quality about this movie.

This film was nominated for a Razzi award—and rightly so.  It was also Stephen King’s only foray into directing films—again rightly so. Maximum Overdrive is the Sharnado of 1980s films. Speaking of which, JPFMovies will soon be reviewing Sharnado–stay tuned.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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John Carpenters’ “They Live” (1988). Sort of a Sci-Fi Film but Definitely a Cult Classic.

Well JPFmovie fans here is a blast from the past that’s been under the radar for most of the population: John Carpenters’ They Live (1988).  Despite its age, this film was recently in the news because neo-Nazis and anti-semites took to claiming on various white power websites that Carpenter’s paranoid sci-fi action flick was an allegory for “Jewish control of the world.” When we here at JPFmovies read this nonsense, we had the same reaction as director Carpenter who said in a tweet ““THEY LIVE is about yuppies and unrestrained capitalism.  It has nothing to do with Jewish control of the world, which is slander and a lie.” The morons who believe the film was created for some white power fools are possibly the stupidest people alive.

That said, They Live reached cult classic status more than a decade ago because that is exactly what it is—a cult classic.  The film stars the recently deceased Roddy Piper (1954-2015) (the former WWF professional wrestler) as a no-name wonderer who is down on his luck living on the street while looking for any kind of work.  As the wanderer arrives in Los Angeles (arriving from Colorado) he is initially rebuffed by an employment agency but his luck changes a little when he stumbles onto a construction site and after a little groveling is given a job.  After a hard day’s work, the wanderer is approached by another laborer who directs Piper to a shanty town located in some vacant lot.  During his stay in the shanty town, the T.V. shows are hacked by some bizarre person talking about the masses staying asleep and the population is being breed as “livestock.”

 

The wanderer realizes that the man on television is in a local church where he discovers that the church it is actually the headquarters of an underground organization.  The shanty town is subject to a violent police shakedown and Piper starts to believe that something is rotten in the state of Denmark so to speak.  To learn more, he re-enters the church and finds a box full of sunglasses that allows his to see the world as it is. Though sunglasses found by Piper appear to be worthless, they actually provide him with the greatest gift of all: The Truth and the truth is shocking.  After discovering the truth, Piper gets really pissed off and grabs a shotgun and starts shooting aliens.

After the aliens realize that the wanderer can see through their disguise, they immediately alert the authorities saying “I’ve got one that can see.” Being able to “see” is obviously frowned upon by the aliens – they do not like to be exposed.  Piper says the profound and timeless words: “I don’t like this ooooooooone bit.”

 

Upon learning the shocking truth about the world, the wanderer needs to get others to see the truth as well and shares this vital information with his friend Frank Armitage.  However some people do not want to hear about it.  When Piper asks Frank to put on his sunglasses so he can see what he sees, Frank firmly refuses and calls him a “crazy motha…”  But Piper replies with another classic line “Either you put these sunglasses on or start eating that trash can.” What comes next is arguably the longest one-on-one fight scene consisting of eight minutes of punching and kicking, which is dragged out for so long that it becomes comical.

 

After convincing his friend that the world is not what it seems to be, a shooting spree ensues.  While at a bank, Piper says the famous line “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum” and then starts shooting every alien he sees.  During his shooting spree, he meets Holly Thomspon, a Cable 54 network executive that always somehow brings trouble.  During a resistance meeting she poses as a sympathizer and claiming that where she works–Cable 54–“was clean” and not the source of aliens’ signal, which was false and misleading.  The wanderer and his friend Frank however attack Cable 54 anyways where Holly appears again, claiming that she wants to help him. However, she is simply trying to kill him before the mission is accomplished.  She is simply another human that sold out to the aliens being used to disrupt non-corrupted humans attempting to liberate themselves and others.  Despite the odds against him Piper manages to take down the aliens’ transmitter and saves humanity.  His heroics get him killed, however, as a policeman inside a helicopter shoots him dead, but while dying, the wanderer gives the alien/cops the proverbial finger!

What a film!  Aliens, statements about America’s consumer culture, shotguns classic one-liners and flipping the police the bird before dying—frankly it doesn’t get much better than this.  This is a JPFmovies must see film that will hopefully make you part of its “cult.”

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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