The UHF of the film world.
Latest news

rochefort [Celluloid 10.02.12] horror action thriller adventure

Hey folks! This year's Fantastic Fest was probably my favorite to date and I was extremely fortunate to have the time and opportunity to check out even more films than usual. So to cap off our coverage on QE, I figured I'd put together a collection of quick thoughts for the rest of the movies I saw, starting here.

Cold Steel
Directed by: David Wu

In this World War II-set action pic, Mu (Peter Ho) is a young, crack-shot farmer who is recruited by the Chinese army into the 204th, a sniper team charged with killing Japanese officers and Chinese traitors. A psychotic Japanese general corrals his own group of snipers to take the 204th out, tracking Mu and his comrades back to Mu's hometown.

Director Wu has a massive filmography as director, producer, writer and director, has edited everything from "Hard Boiled" to "Brotherhood of the Wolf", and he keeps things moving fast in this pulpy action romp. But as much as the period detail tells your eyes you're watching a gritty story set in the 1940's, the kinetic and occasionally over the top pace feels very early 90's indeed. What promisingly starts off feeling like an epic Chinese take on "Enemy at the Gates" turns into just another hammy exercise in chasing and shooting.

Dead Sushi
Directed by: Noboru Iguchi

Keiko (Rina Takeda), the daughter of a famous sushi chef who wishes she'd been born a boy (he believes girls can't master the cooking arts), runs away to a rural inn that is playing host to a group of corrupt businessmen from Komatsu Pharmaceuticals. A disgruntled ex-employee of Komatsu, Yamada (Kentaro Shimazu), has also arrived, bent on exacting his revenge on his former bosses by unleashing a serum that turns ordinary sushi into flying, teeth-lined chunks of deadly rice and salmon. There's everything you'd expect on display here from director Noboru Iguchi ("Zombie Ass", "Robogeisha"), from martial arts battles to gory death by sushi to sword-fights with fish-headed mutants, and every frame feels like a panel from one of the zanier manga, every performance delivered with multiple exclamation points.

If you're the kind of person who gets into this sort of intentionally uber-outlandish, ultra-gory stuff, then "Dead Sushi" will probably hit all the right buttons. I'm kinda burnt out on these, though, so I found it to be mostly obnoxious, but I have no doubt that that's intentional, too. Probably the greatest movie with sushi-infected zombies spitting rice into each other's mouths you'll see all year.

The Big Gun/Henge
Directed by: Hajime Ohata

This two-parter features a short early work, "The Big Gun", and a longer piece "Henge" from one of Japan's emerging directing talents. In "Gun", a broke gunmaker is coerced by the Yakuza into making cheap handguns. When it becomes clear that he's never going to get paid for his efforts, he constructs a massive weapon and goes to war with the mob. In "Henge", a married couple grow more and more distant as the husband becomes convinced that he has been possessed by all the spirits of the earth except Man. After he is taken away for study and then later escapes, his wife rekindles her love for him once he begins to physically transform into a grotesque monster. She hides him in their home and brings him daily fresh, human food.

Both stories fuse two staples of Japanese cinema, the Yakuza film and the Kaiju movie, with a generally low-key tone, each becoming full-on pulp only in their last few moments. "Henge" in particular nicely transitions from psychological relationship drama to horror to monster movie, but once the monster's rubber fingers start flopping around some of the mystique and momentum is lost. Worth a look, though.

You might also like

Leave a comment