Ninja Kids!!! 忍たま乱太郎 (2011)

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Ninja Kids!!!                                         Ninja Kids!!! Film Poster

Japanese Title: 忍たま乱太郎

Romaji: Nintama Rantaro

Release Date: July 23rd, 2011 (Japan)

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Soubee Amako (manga), Yoshio Urasawa (Screenplay),

Starring: Seishiro Kato, Roi Hayashi, Futa Kimura, Mikijiro Hira, Susumu Terajima, Anne Watanabe, Takahiro Miura, Arata Furuta, Koji Yamamoto, Renji Ishibashi, Yusuke Yamamoto, Rei Dan, Akira Emoto

Ninja Kids!!! was the second film that I saw at the Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Festival 2013 and there was an audience made up equally of adults and kids. I felt everybody was engaged and laughed at all the comedic moments and even sniffed at the more emotional ones thanks to its good natured handling by director Takashi Miike.

Ninja Kids takes place in 16th Century Japan during the Sengoku period. We first see Rantaro (Kato) at home with his parents in a farm house. He is from a low-class ninja family. Things will change because Rantaro, upon his father’s recommendation, is heading to the ninja academy to train to be an elite ninja and raise his family in terms of status. “I’ll do my best” he cries before setting off.

The academy is somewhere deep in the mountains of the Kansai region. His journey is long and we see him running through blossoming cherry trees, a town and a forest and even in between a samurai battle but he eventually makes it to the academy which is a spectacular and colourful vision of fun packed with eager, fresh-faced children and CGI ninja shimmying up and down ropes and other obstacles that look like a lot of fun.

Ninja Kids Classroom 2And this is how most of the film continues. Rantaro makes a lot of friends like Shinbe (Kimura), the son of a wealthy merchant family who has a nose that constantly runs and a case of narcolepsy, and Kirimaru (Hayashi), an orphan who lost his parents in the war who now has a job babysitting to pay his way.

Indeed we get to meet nearly all of the students as we see their training like throwing grenades, fighting, evasion and deception through disguise and all sorts of ninja gadgets but these kids will soon prove their worth when assassins from the Usetake clan target a fellow student named Takamura (Mizoguchi) who want to kill his father Yukitaka (Kaga) for leaving their clan to become a hair stylist.

A hair stylist? Yes. What makes ninja kids a comedy is the sheer absurdity of the situations.

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Tetsuo: The Iron Man 鉄男 (1989)

Tetsuo Metal Fetishist Header

Tetsuo: The Iron Man                     Tetsuo DVDBluRay Cover    

Japanese Title鉄男 Tetsuo

Romaji: Tetsuo

UK Release Date: 08th October, 2012

UK Distribution Label: Third Window Films

Original Japanese Release Date: 01st July 1989

Running Time: 67 mins.

Director: Shinya Tsukamoto                                                                       Tetsuo Japanese Poster

Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto

Starring: Tomorowo Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Shinya Tsukamoto, Renji Ishibashi, Nobu Kanaoka, Naomasa Musaka

When I first watched this I was left stunned. I had no idea what I had just watched but it left me marked. Tetsuo: the Iron Man is considered one of the defining titles in the ‘body horror’ movement and a cyberpunk classic. While it may have been shot in black and white 16mm, the creative force in this film is near overwhelming and totally absorbing and it is easy to see why this became an international cult hit and why many hail this as a classic. Now, thanks to Third Window Films, we get to see why this is so highly regarded in a DVD package which is of brilliant quality.

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One Missed Call 2 着信アリ 2 (2005)

The One Missed Call 2 Review BannerIf the first One Missed Call owed a debt to Ringu’s haunted technology concept this one follows Ringu 2’s widening of the original mystery and gives an exploration of a convoluted back story and the expansion of the curse into an urban legend.

year after the events of One Missed Call the story has become a new urban legend. Kyoko Okudera (Mimura) is dining at a Chinese restaurant with her friend Madoka (Chisun) and her boyfriend Naoto (Yū Yoshizawa). Unfortunately the cursed ring tone is heard on a mobile phone but the restaurant’s owner answers and hears his daughter dying in the near future. His daughter Mei-Fang (Shadow Liu) comes back and takes the phone off him then meets Kyoko and Madoka for the meal. After the restaurant closes they swap contact details. Naoto discovers Mei-Fang’s father is dead in a method similar to the one he heard on the call and it looks like the curse is going to strike Madoka and Kyoko. In an effort to discover the cause of the curse and avoid dying Kyoko teams up with a detective (Ishibashi) and an investigative journalist named Takako Nozoe (Seto).

One Missed Call 2 Asaka Seto as the Journalist Takako Nozoe

The film begins with a father dying after receiving his daughter’s missed call which was a great spin on the original concept! I want to see a version of this film where people send calls to each other within time periods. Just imagine the variety of deaths, betrayals and twists as people furiously forward messages as they try to avoid whatever fate a ghost has in store.

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