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Best samurai/jidai geki viewed in '07
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takuan
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I must correct a misconception: Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees is not a ghost story, per se. There is a supernatural aspect to it that kicks in at the end, but really I'd characterize it as more a twisted love story about a woman who has a thing for severed heads (Shima Iwashita) and her man (Tomisaburo Wakayama), a guy who'll do anything to please his lady love. There's also a city vs. country thing going on; she's a society gal, he's a rustic bandit. Who is the bigger criminal? The one who does the chopping or the one who calls in the hits?

I doubt it
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
takuan wrote:
I'd characterize it as more a twisted love story about a woman who has a thing for severed heads (Shima Iwashita) and her man (Tomisaburo Wakayama), a guy who'll do anything to please his lady love.


I wasn't interested at first, but NOW it's on my list Laughing
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
takuan wrote:
I must correct a misconception: Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees is not a ghost story, per se. There is a supernatural aspect to it that kicks in at the end, but really I'd characterize it as more a twisted love story about a woman who has a thing for severed heads (Shima Iwashita) and her man (Tomisaburo Wakayama), a guy who'll do anything to please his lady love. There's also a city vs. country thing going on; she's a society gal, he's a rustic bandit. Who is the bigger criminal? The one who does the chopping or the one who calls in the hits?

I doubt it


Takuan,
EXCELLENT point about an EXCELLENT film! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'll go for a top 3 (no precise order).

Bushi no Ichibun
Amazing film, fitting work of art for the last in the trilogy. Close to being as good as Tasogare Seibei, but better than Hidden Blade.
The subject matter (state the main character was in)was also original.

Ninja Gari
A pleasant surprise. I was expecting another Shinobi no mono ripoff, but it wasn't the case.

Fuurin Kazan

Although we in fact barely know anything about Kansuke (historically speaking), NHK did a good job on this one. The main actor is charismatic enough to pull it off. After seeing Komyo ga Tsuji and Toshiie to Matsu, I was getting annoyed by the "women's affair of state". Less bitching and nagging, more fighting please. Fuurin, although fictional for the most part, show enough battlefield. Only watched until episode 34 though, so Gackt has yet to get on my nerves.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Here’s Bricks Picks Fer Samurai Flicks-his five faves of 2007. Sorry about the length, but most of ‘em haven’t been discussed here, and I wrote ‘em up fer another site and was too lazy to condense ‘em.

Female Demon Ohyaku is the first film in the ‘Legends Of The Poisonous Seductress’ series. Ya’d think just from a look at the covers and the descriptions on the back that these films would be little more than cheap exploitation films. Not so! While modestly budgeted, this trilogy is easily as good as most of the films in the Zatoichi or Sleepy Eyes Of Death series. Production values are good, they feature solid performances from many familiar genre vets (Wakayama Tomisaburo is in two of ‘em), and while they’re classed as ‘Pinky Violence’, they’re really not that bloody and there’s no real nudity to be seen (which ain’t to say there ain’t plenty of smokin’ hot babes along the way!). What there is, is crazy storylines and whacked out goings on along with plenty of torture, swordplay, and depravity (not always in that order). They’re from the studio near and dear to the Brickster’s heart, Toei. And they all have happy endings! Go figure. Anyhoo, Female Demon Ohyaku is in black and white and like the other two films features Miyazono Junko as the lead. Ohyaku is a female entertainer (who does a tight rope act) that falls in with a bad crowd, who in turn are set up by an even worse crowd. I can sympathize. Ohyaku’s ronin beau (who just wants to steal a large shipment of gold to show up the rich people-yeah, right) gets hisself and all his men killed (and hoses a room down with a blood geyser to end ‘em all). Ohyaku is tortured and raped by the evil magistrate and then for good measure is shipped off to Sado Island, the only female prisoner in an enclave of hardened criminals (yeah, that works out well). She manages to escape and pay back all the SOB’s that screwed her over, and along the way there’s guillotines, women strung up by their hair, lesbian tattoo artists, love quadrangles, more betrayal, sex extortion, and pretty much all the other ingredients a fine movin’ picture requires. The film is shot in black and white, givin’ it a grimmer tone than the other two which are in glorious livin’ color.

Which brings us to the second ‘Poisonous Seductress’ entry-this time Miyazono plays the rootin’ tootinest, fastest shootinest, Quick-Draw Okatsu! But don’t be misled-Okatsu don’t use guns-nope, she’s the adopted daughter of master swordsman Makabe and an instructor at his dojo. Makabe’s black sheep son is fleeced at the local gambling den but manages to escape and run off. Okatsu and her dad are held responsible by the thugs and the dishonest local magistrate (were there ANY honest magistrates in the Edo Period?), who is squeezing the locals for extra rice tax and pocketing just about everything. Poor ‘ol dad is beaten to death by his turncoat dojo assistant and Okatsu is forcibly taken by the lustful magistrate. Once again, she manages to escape and later turn the tables, slicing her way through an entire army of bodyguards. Along the way there are forced abortions, sexual slavery, multiple eye gougin’, treacherous behavior from everyone and their brother, and Wakayama Tomisaburo as an Old West style bounty hunter complete with white chaps, lasso, and wanted posters. What more could ya want? This is my favorite entry in the series. For one, the director-Nagagawa Nobuo, one of the Brickster’s faves (Jigoku, Ghosts Of Yotsuya, Snake Woman’s Curse). There’s an incredible extended shot of a brothel where all six rooms with their inhabitants are on screen at the same time-the action moves from room to room. It’s a lot like watchin’ an elaborate stage play, and it’s done with no cuts despite lastin’ several minutes. Nobuo drops several unique bits like this into each film, includin’ the next entry in the series. Miyazono Junko turns in a great performance-whether she’s the ladylike, cultured Okatsu early on or the later snarlin’, vengeful she-devil, she’s completely believable. But the real reason I love this film is the incredible Oshida Reiko, who plays Rui. Rui is a government agent in a black mini skirt who shows up at opportune moments throughout the film to pull Okatsu’s butt out of trouble. And she is HOT. I mean rrrrrreaaallllly HOT! This Christmas Eve, I fully expect to have visions of Reiko dance in my head. Maybe if I’m nice (fat chance), Santa’ll leave me a sack full ‘o her other films.

Lastly, we gots Okatsu The Fugitive. Miyazono Junko returns as Makabe Okatsu-but not THAT Makabe Okatsu. Nope, this is a whole ‘nother character and situation. Again, tomboy Okatsu is a mistress of the sword, the best student at the local dojo. This time around, Okatsu’s dad pulls the age old boner of informin’ the bad magistrate that he’s plannin’ on turnin’ him in for his evil deeds (fer enslaving the peasants and producing the forbidden weed-tobacco leaves). It don’t take long for him to end up trussed to a water wheel and his wife thrown into a cage full of horny criminals. Dad and mom commit suicide, but not before dad gives Okatsu the location of the document condemnin’ the evil magistrate. Treachery hits an all time high in the series, with even Okatsu’s dojo instructor and fiancé turnin’ on her. Okatsu is raped by the evil magistrate but allowed to escape in order to lead them to the incriminatin’ document. Some of the best swordplay in the series takes place here-Miyazono looks like a breakdancin’ porcupine at times as she spins around the floor slicin’ up lackeys. Okatsu finally finds some help at the stereotypical temple full of kids orphaned by the rat bastard magistrate. A ronin who gave up teaching the sword to ‘stupid samurai’ like Okatsu’s fiancé is headin’ up the crew there. And even better, Oshida Reiko plays one of the orphans. No swordplay from her here-she spends her time actin’ all coy and adorable in hot pants, and swingin’ from tree to tree on a rope. Really. Nagagawa Nobuo directed this one, too.

A solid series where I was just expectin’ some schlock. The producers of the DVD’s (Synapse Films) did ‘em up right, too-there’s galleries of Nagagawa’s film posters and an extensive bio along with trailers of all three films. The transfers are great and have clear, well done removable English subtitles. There are short essay booklets for each. Heck, there’s even commentary tracks on the first two.

Ugetsu is an extremely well done, low key ghost story-morality play. It’s been covered elsewhere in detail so I’ll just say that the scene near the end of the film when the wayward potter reunites with his wife is one of the most touching scenes in cinematic history. Heck, it even brought a tear to the Brickster’s eye.

That brings us to The Ghost Of Yotsuya, the Brickster’s fav’rit of the year. As Patrick Galloway points out in Asia Shock, there are multiple versions of this film based on the story Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan (not as many, as say, Chushingura-but Ghosts Of Yotsuya is a lot more realistic). I’ve seen four, and the one I liked best is the 1959 version directed by (once again) Nagagawa Nobuo. The story is nothing new-poor ronin kills off loving wife to marry into rich family. The difference is, The Ghost Of Yotsuya does it with style. Wife Iwa doesn’t just get sliced up-nope, she’s poisoned, disfigured, disgraced, and tied to a shutter with her supposed ‘lover’ and dumped into the nearest swamp by her husband Iemon. It’s difficult and horrible to watch as the poor sick thing pitifully tries to comb her hair only for it to fall out in clumps. But, she gets her revenge-hoo boy, does she ever! This is one angry, pitiless, scary as hell ghost-a forerunner to what’s seen in films shot much later like Ringu and Juon (The Grudge). Coming along fer the ride is the spirit of the framed lover, Takuetsu. Notable scenes include the famous ‘shutter rising from the swamp’ sequence, and a moment also involving the shutter that has to rank among the best scares ever. It sent cold chills up the Brickster’s spine! For best results, watch this baby in the early morning hours with the lights off. If you like this one, you might want to look for the ’56 version with Wakayama Tomisaburo (who is in everything) as Iemon, or the color ’66 version Illusion Of Blood.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:

1) Always Sanchome no Yuhi - not quite a jidaigeki in the traditional sense of referring to something premodern, but definitely a film set in a romanticized past. Follows a number of people in a closeknit community in central Tokyo across a single year of their lives in the early postwar, as Tokyo Tower is built.



I watched the movie last week.
It was the best J-movie in 2007.
http://www.always3.jp/
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:

Shiki,
What do you think of "Furin"? I think there has been too much "foolin" around and it kind of became a bit boring after Chiba-san (Itagaki) went down fighting. Gackt is really starting to annoy me. I do have to say last week's episode was good with Imagawa Yoshimoto getting bumped off by Nobunaga and Kansuke trying in vain to warn Yoshimoto not to go after the little upstart. Ah, such entertaining non-historical rubbish!


I'm not anti-Gackt.
I respect NHK's new challenge.
Remember, Jidaigeki is an entertainment.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Brick McBurly wrote:

Which brings us to the second ‘Poisonous Seductress’ entry-this time Miyazono plays the rootin’ tootinest, fastest shootinest, Quick-Draw Okatsu!


I just watched this one the other night. Brutal! Poor Ko Nishimura gets the worst of it as Okatsu's father, tortured to death as she's raped in the next room. Not for the squeamish -- the cruelty in this film made me far more uncomfortable than anything in those Hostel/Saw flicks.

Brick McBurly wrote:
... there are multiple versions of this film based on the story Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan ... I’ve seen four ...


Who was in the fourth one? Release date?
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
takuan wrote:
Who was in the fourth one? Release date?


Hard to say (that's why I didn't mention it)-I saw it on Japanese TV a few years ago. Based on the movie poster for the 1981 version, it was probably that one.
The one I'd REALLY like to get my hands on is the 1949 version, or even some of the silents.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Brick McBurly wrote:

That brings us to The Ghost Of Yotsuya, the Brickster’s fav’rit of the year. As Patrick Galloway points out in Asia Shock, there are multiple versions of this film based on the story Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan (not as many, as say, Chushingura-but Ghosts Of Yotsuya is a lot more realistic). I’ve seen four, and the one I liked best is the 1959 version directed by (once again) Nagagawa Nobuo. The story is nothing new-poor ronin kills off loving wife to marry into rich family. The difference is, The Ghost Of Yotsuya does it with style. Wife Iwa doesn’t just get sliced up-nope, she’s poisoned, disfigured, disgraced, and tied to a shutter with her supposed ‘lover’ and dumped into the nearest swamp by her husband Iemon. It’s difficult and horrible to watch as the poor sick thing pitifully tries to comb her hair only for it to fall out in clumps. But, she gets her revenge-hoo boy, does she ever! This is one angry, pitiless, scary as hell ghost-a forerunner to what’s seen in films shot much later like Ringu and Juon (The Grudge). Coming along fer the ride is the spirit of the framed lover, Takuetsu. Notable scenes include the famous ‘shutter rising from the swamp’ sequence, and a moment also involving the shutter that has to rank among the best scares ever. It sent cold chills up the Brickster’s spine! For best results, watch this baby in the early morning hours with the lights off. If you like this one, you might want to look for the ’56 version with Wakayama Tomisaburo (who is in everything) as Iemon, or the color ’66 version Illusion Of Blood.
I only saw about the last 35%-40% of this flick--it was on one of the Japanese cable/satellite channels--unsubbed, of course! But wow, this movie, from what I could tell, had it all! I really want to see this from start to finish, but I'll hold off until next August, which, in my opinion, is the best month to watch these kind of movies. There's nothing like watching a good and frightening jidai-geki horror flick around O-bon with the lights off and a huge bowl of popcorn! Tell me when it's over
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
There's nothing like watching a good and frightening jidai-geki horror flick around O-bon with the lights off and a huge bowl of popcorn! Tell me when it's over


Ain't that the truth! Have you ever been to one of the 'haunted houses' put on by shrines and temples during O-bon (the ones that use traditional Japanese ghosts and creatures)? That's one of my fav'rit activities, and not just because it's a great way to be the human pillow for a bunch of scared chicks.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Brick McBurly wrote:
Have you ever been to one of the 'haunted houses' put on by shrines and temples during O-bon (the ones that use traditional Japanese ghosts and creatures)?


My favorite is the haunted house at Eiga Mura in Kyoto (or wherever). Cool and creepy.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
My favorite is the haunted house at Eiga Mura in Kyoto (or wherever). Cool and creepy.


Yeah, that's the best (and it's located 50 feet away at Toei!). Looks like somethin' straight out of Onimusha, with zombie ashigaru, floating heads, butchered samurai, a destroyed village, a cave, an earthquake-and even better, they change it around every year.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
In no particular order:

1. Sakuran --interesting, artistic movie. I really disliked the main actress, though. But wonderful use of color and the story was good. The ending felt weird to me, but maybe that's because I expect period films to end in tears.

2. Fuurin Kazan-- I'm only about halfway through on this one. Interesting topic, but I've been rather bored with it. However, I really enjoy watching Uchino Masaaki (the guy who plays Yamamoto Kansuke). He's really talented and I hope to see him in more dramas.

3. Chosyu Five -- Finally got to see it! A bit choppy in the script, but very good acting. Fascinating portrayal of the five Choshu students who went to study in England in 1863. The writers did very well, I think, in their portrayal of Victorian England as well, showing not only the good side, but the appalling poverty as well.

4. Byakkotai--a two-part TV drama about a squadron of boys from Aizu who get decimated while fighting in the Boshin War. Many of the boys committed ritual suicide when they realized the defenses of Tsuruga Castle had been breeched. Acting was only so-so (idols, what can you expect?), but there were some really touching moments in the movie, especially during the second half when the battle was being portrayed.

5. Izumo no Okuni -- a 6-part NHK drama about the famous female Kabuki dancer, back in the days when women performed kabuki. Uneven (they probably could have easily scaled it back to 3 or 4 hours), but good acting throughout. Alas, I don't know much about kabuki, so I can't tell if the music or performances were any good. It was almost a cautionary tale about a woman who performs her art, but loses her child, lover and home. Nice costumes.

Really looking forward to next year's taiga drama, Atsuhime!

--Maria
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Good list, but I wasn't that impressed with Byakkotai. I saw the very begginning of the first night and the last 30 minutes of the second night. I think I saw everything that I need to see, and I'll leave it at that. Wink

I would definitely like to see Choshu Five and Izumo no Okuni. Atsuhime has potential. It could be a very interesting taiga.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
shikisoku wrote:
1) Furinkazan
2) Irohanihoheto
3) Wachigaiya Itosato
4) Kagerou no Tsuji
5) Dororo

New Sanjuro may rank in next month.


Let me change the list.

1) Furinkazan 風林火山
http://www.nhk.or.jp/taiga/

2) Irohanihoheto いろはにほへと
http://www.irohanihoheto.jp/

3) Tsukigami 憑神
http://tsukigami.jp/index.html 

4) Wachigaiya Itosato 輪違屋糸里
http://www.tbs.co.jp/itosato/

5) Kagerou no Tsuji 陽炎の辻
http://www.nhk.or.jp/drama/archives/kagerou/
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I saw a very good film yesterday called Okami yo rakujitsu o kire which is known oddly enough by the English title "The Last Samurai". This film was released in 1974 and was directed by Misumi Kenji. It stars Takahashi Hideki as Sugi Toranosuke, Ogata Ken as Nakamura Hanjiro, Kondo Masaomi as Iba Hachiro and Saigo Teruhiko as Okita Soji.

The film takes place in the hectic years of the Bakumatsu and proceeds into the first decade of the Meiji period, ending in 1877 with Saigo's Satsuma Rebellion. It is pure fiction, but a lot of fun, as it tells about Sugi, a master swordsman, and his relationship with other historic notables who were skilled with the katana during these troubled years.

A friend of mine sent me the disc and I am very grateful. A fun flick and a good, sweeping drama that is heavy on sword play and action. Ogata Ken is just awesome as the "potato head" Nakamura Hanjiro. He steals the film and kept me belly laughing.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2007 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo-san, I got this Musumi version of (English title) "The Last Samurai" a couple of years ago. It's one of the best films. This, to me, is the TRUE -- albeit fictional -- "Last Samurai" film. It's a great film. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yep, Misumi's Last Samurai is awesome, a sprawling epic jam-packed with action, emotion and bushido. A must-see.

Modern Sammyrai Thumbs up
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees is on its way. Thanks, guys and gals.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Let us know what you think of it.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 3:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Final

1) Furinkazan 風林火山
http://www.nhk.or.jp/taiga/

2) Tsubaki Sanjuro 椿三十郎
http://www.tsubaki-sanjuro.jp/index.html

3)Irohanihoheto いろはにほへと
http://www.irohanihoheto.jp/

4) Tsukigami 憑神
http://tsukigami.jp/index.html 

5) Wachigaiya Itosato 輪違屋糸里
http://www.tbs.co.jp/itosato/
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I can't recall the title of the film (from Yamada Yoji, director of Taso Gare Seibei (Twilight Samurai) but it stars Kimura Takuya as a blind samurai...

It was good and worth watching, not even close in my opinion to the craftmenship shown in Taso Gare Seibei but still entertaining.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Dash101 wrote:
I can't recall the title of the film (from Yamada Yoji, director of Taso Gare Seibei (Twilight Samurai) but it stars Kimura Takuya as a blind samurai...

It was good and worth watching, not even close in my opinion to the craftmenship shown in Taso Gare Seibei but still entertaining.
That would be Bushi no Ichibun, which has popped up on several lists within this thread. Just Kidding
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
That's the one... Very Happy
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