The Devil’s Path 凶悪 (2013)

The Devil’s Path     The Devil's Path Film Poster

Japanese Title:  凶悪

Romaji: Kyouaku

Release Date: September 21st, 2013

Running Time: 128 mins.

Director: Kazuya Shiraishi

Writer: Kazuya Shiraishi, Izumi Takahashi (Screenplay),

Starring: Takayuki Yamada, Pierre Taki, Lily Franky, Chizuru Ikewaki, Kazuko Shirakawa, Yu Saito, Nozomi Muraoka

The events depicted in The Devil’s Path detail a series of shocking crimes that occurred in a mundane town in Japan. Thugs targeted isolated elderly people or each other to extort for money, often using violence. The police missed the seriousness of the situation due to the surrounding circumstances of the victims. It was not until a journalist at the Shincho45 editorial department made these crimes public in the nonfiction novel “Kyoaku-Aru Shikeishuu no Kokuhatsu” that the police arrested the culprits.

Continue reading “The Devil’s Path 凶悪 (2013)”

Japan Cuts 2014 Preview

Japan Cuts Logo

New York, New York, what a wonderful town. I have never wanted to live in New York as much as I did after reading the line-up for Japan Cuts 2014.

The Japan Society will host a series of awesome Japanese films from July 10th to July 29th with titles like Sion Sono’s ultra-violent black comedy Why Don’t You Play in Hell? coupled with crime thriller The Devil’s Path and recent (controversial) World War II blockbuster The Eternal Zero. These are just some of the headline titles, there are even more listed, many of which were released in the last few weeks and some of which are crazy and bizarre and speak to the sharp and unique sense of cinema that the curators have – respect has to be paid for the programming of the documentaries on this list. There’s definitely something for everyone! Here’s a trailer:

I am blown away by the titles and the guests that have been announced with many actors coming over for Q&As (FUMI NIKAIDO!!!). For a fan of cinema in general and Japanese cinema in particular, this is a festival rich with great films and events!

Here’s a list of the films and trailers with comments from me. Click on the title for more info such as times and buying tickets. Tickets are already on sale!


Thursday July 10th, Opening Night


6 P.M.

The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji   The Mole Song Film Poster

Japanese Title: 土竜の唄 潜入捜査官 REIJI

Romaji: Mogura no Uta Sennuu Sosakan REIJI

Running Time: 130 mins.

Director: Takashi Miike

Writer: Kudo Kankuro (Screenplay), Noboru Takahashi (Original Manga)

Starring: Toma Ikuta, Ren Osugi, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Riisa Naka, Takayuki Yamada, Mitsuru Fukikoshi

This is based on a comedy manga by Noboru Takahashi and directed by Takashi Miike (For Love’s Sake). The film has a great cast of characters like Shinichi Tsutsumi (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?), Ren Osugi (Exte) and Mitsuru Fukikoshi (Cold Fish). It seems like a great way to open the film festival since it looks absolutely funny.

Reiji Kikukawa (Ikuta) has a strong sense of justice but graduates at the bottom of his class from the police academy. He is so useless his superiors send him on what should be a suicide mission. First the police chief fires him for disciplinary issues and then sets him up as a mole in the Sukiyaki gang, the largest crime group in the Kanto area. His target is Shuho Todoroki, the boss, and so Reiji goes through hell to get his man!


8:30 P.M.

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?
Why Don't You Play In Hell Film Poster

Japanese Title: 地獄 で なぜ 悪い Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Romaji: Jigoku de Naze Warui Why Don’t You Play in Hell?

Running Time: 126 mins

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono (Screenplay),

Starring: Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Fumi Nikaido, Tomochika, Hiroki Hasegawa, Kotou Lorena, Gen Hoshino, Tak Sakaguchi

Sion Sono blew my mind with this one. After a short run of issue films like the critically lauded Himizu and The Land of Hope, he made this hilarious and blood-thirsty film which was both entertainment and a love letter to cult films and yakuza classics. I found it absolutely hilarious and one of the best films of last year.

Muto (Kunimura) and Ikegami (Tsutsumi) are rival gangsters who despise each other especially since Muto’s wife Shizue (Tomochika) butchered a boss in Ikegami’s gang. She gets sent to prison which jeopardises her daughter’s acting career. Ten years later and days before Shizue is due to be released, Muto is desperate to make his daughter a big-screen star as a reward for Shizue’s loyalty and kidnaps Koji (Hoshino), a timid passer-by who is mistaken for being a film director.

When dealing with gangsters you don’t mess about so Koji recruits the help of a mad-cinephile Hirata (Hasegawa) who dreams of being a movie director and has a ragtag film crew named The Fuck Bombers. Hirata seizes his chance and loses his mind as he casts Mitsuko in a fictional gang war but it soon goes wrong when it turns real.

Introduction and Q&A with actress Fumi Nikaido (I so want to be in her presence!!!)

Followed by the LET’S PLAY IN HELL Opening Night Party!

Continue reading “Japan Cuts 2014 Preview”

Sweet Whip, The Devil’s Path, Precious Stone, White Witch School: Innocent Lilies, Last Days of Summer, Tomorrow we’ll be Angels and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Bad EducationIt’s the countdown to the Raindance Film Festival and London Film Festival! Okay, it may sound like I’m jumping the gun but the festival is only two weeks away and I have been scheduling things like interviews!!! As I wait I watched lots of British television like the BBC mini-series Peaky Blinders (take a look at the review by Novroz) and the trashy comedy Bad Education. I’m surprised at how funny I am finding Bad Education this because it’s full of jokes I’d normally find dull, cheeky and cheap jokes and dodgy slapstick. Perhaps it reminds me of my school days in an comprehensive full of crazy people who weren’t all that witty either…

The week began with a post about the Japanese films at the Vancouver International FilmJacopetti Festival. That was quickly followed up (literally the next day!) by a review for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s existential yakuza comedy Eyes of the Spider. The Kurosawa season continued with a review for a slasher film from 1992, The Guard From the Underground. The season will conclude next week with a review of License to Live. Now… If only I could find a reasonable affordable version of Charisma!

Sweet Whip                                   Sweet Whip Film Poster

Japanese Title:  甘い 鞭

Romaji: Amai Muchi

Release Date: September 21st, 2013

Running Time: 118 mins.

Director: Takashi Ishii

Writer: Takashi Ishii (Screenplay), Kei Oishi (Original Work)

Starring: Mitsu Dan, Yuki Mamiya, Tsuyoshi Nakano, Takashi Nakayama, Taro Suwa, Naoto Takenaka, Hiroko Nakajima

I’m here for the drama, not the whip wielding leather-clad Mitsu Dan, honest. Takashi Ishii (The Black Angel, Flower and Snake, Gonin) adapts Kei Oishi’s original novel for the big screen and casts gravure idol Mitsu Dan (Be My Slave – actual film title, not some perverted wish of mine) in a sexy role oozing with trauma.

Seventeen-year-old Naoko (Mamiya) was kidnapped when she as a freshman in high school. The kidnapper was her neighbour and she was tortured and abused for an entire month before she killed him and escaped. Thirty-one-year-old Naoko (Dan) has seemingly overcome her trauma and is now a fertility expert but she has a darker side… she is part of an S&M club…

  Continue reading “Sweet Whip, The Devil’s Path, Precious Stone, White Witch School: Innocent Lilies, Last Days of Summer, Tomorrow we’ll be Angels and Other Japanese Film Trailers”