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  1. Dawn of the Felines (2017) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Dawn of the Felines (2017) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Maue Satsuki (Actor) | Ibata Juri (Actor) | Michie (Actor) | murata hideaki (Actor)
    Dawn of the Felines is another in the Roman Porno Reboot Project, five films commissioned by Nikkatsu to celebrate the 45th anniversary of its series of popular pornographic dramas from the 1970s and 1980s. The film was written and directed by Kazuya Shiraishi, known for the likes of Twisted Justice and The Devil's Path, and who has also worked as television director, joining perhaps better known project luminaries Isao Yukisada, Akihiko Shiota, Hideo Nakata and Sion Sono. The film is an ensemble piece revolving around the experiences of a trio of prostitutes working in Tokyo's seedy Ikebukuro district, a young homeless woman called Masako (voice actress Juri Ihata, in her first major role... [read more]
  2. Aroused by Gymnopedies (2016) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Aroused by Gymnopedies (2016) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Yukisada Isao (Director) | Okamura Izumi | Ashina Sumire | Itao Itsuji
    Named after a series of piano pieces composed by Erik Satie in the 1880s, Aroused by Gymnopedies is one of the five films commissioned by Nikkatsu as part of the Roman Porno Reboot Project, marking the 45th anniversary of the studio’s classic pinku films that were released back in the 1970s and 1980s. The film was directed by Isao Yukisada, best known for his 2004 melodrama Crying out Love, in the Center of the World, who also scripted along with Anne Horiizumi, writer of his 2014 work Five Minutes to Tomorrow. The film follows Itsuji Itao (also in Sion Sono's Why Don’t You Play in Hell? and Hirokazu Koreeda's Air Doll) as Shinji, a director in his 50s whose past glory as an arthouse... [read more]
  3. Tokyo Ghoul (2017) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Tokyo Ghoul (2017) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Kubota Masataka | Shimizu Fumika | Murai Kunio | Ishida Sui
    The latest Japanese big-screen live-action manga adaptation arrives in the shambling form of Tokyo Ghoul, based on the best-selling fantasy series by Ishida Sui. The film was directed by Hagiwara Kentaro, a marked departure from his 2016 feature debut, the drama Anniversary, and stars Kubota Masataka (familiar with manga after appearing in the Death Note TV drama) as a student who becomes half-human, half-ghoul after an attack. Set in a Tokyo where attacks by lurking hyper-ghouls are an accepted part of daily life, the film follows dweeb college student Kaneki Ken (Kubota Masataka), who thinks his luck is in when he manages to catch the eye of his dream girl Rize (Aoi Yu, recently in the... [read more]
  4. The Long Excuse (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) The Long Excuse (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Fukatsu Eri | Horiuchi Keiko | Takehara Pistol | Ikematsu Sosuke
    Acclaimed writer, director and novelist Miwa Nishikawa, known for the likes of Dreams for Sale and Dear Doctor, returns with The Long Excuse, based on her own book. The film won attention for featuring in the lead role actor Masahiro Motoki, widely praised for his role in Yojiro Takita's multiple-award winning international hit Departures. Like that film, The Long Excuse also deals with grief, though in a different way, following the experiences of two men trying to deal with loss after their wives die, and won a number of award nominations as well as playing a list of international festivals. Masahiro Motoki plays Sachio Kinugasa, an arrogant writer who has left his lowly roots behind and... [read more]
  5. Night's Tightrope (2016) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Night's Tightrope (2016) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Yamamoto Mizuki (Actor) | Honda Tsubasa (Actor) | Inagaki Goro (Actor) | Arata Mackenyu (Actor)
    The novels of Kanae Minato have inspired a number of big screen adaptations, including Confessions, A Chorus of Angels and The Snow White Murder Case, all dark tales dealing with themes of immorality and human weakness, painting bleak pictures of Japanese society. It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise then that Night's Tightrope, based on her second book Shojo, is a resolutely grim affair, following two high school girls as they come of age by experiencing the harshness of the adult world, becoming obsessed with death in the process. Opening with shocking scenes of bullying as girls chant for their victims to die, the film follows Mizuki Yamamoto (Sadako vs Kayako) as Atsuko, whose... [read more]
  6. An (2015) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong  Version) An (2015) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Nagase Masatoshi (Actor) | Asada Miyoko (Actor) | Mizuno Miki (Actor) | Uchida Kyara (Actor)
    Acclaimed Japanese director Kawase Naomi tries her hand at something a little different with An (also screened variously as Sweet Bean and Sweet Bean Red Paste), shifting from the arthouse abstractness of her Cannes-winning The Mourning Forest and last outing Still the Water, to life-affirming sentimentality. Adapted from a novel by Durian Sukegawa, the film is certainly the most accessible of Kawase's career so far, and was chosen as the opening film of the Un Certain Regard strand of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival before going on to play a long list of prestigious international events. Its title referring to the sweet bean red paste filling of dorayaki pancakes sold in a small shop run by... [read more]
  7. While The Women Are Sleeping (DVD) (Limited Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) While The Women Are Sleeping (DVD) (Limited Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Wayne Wang (Director) | Kitano Takeshi | Nishijima Hidetoshi | Kutsuna Shiori
    Chinese-American director Wayne Wang has had a very interesting and varied career, from his award-winning 1982 indie breakthrough Chan is Missing through to Hollywood schlock like the Jennifer Lopez vehicle Maid in Manhattan and the big budget China – US coproduction Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. For his latest he takes on something different again in the form of Japanese psycho drama While the Women Are Sleeping, adapted from Spanish writer Javier Marias' short story of the same name. Having screened in the Panorama section of the 66th Berlin International Film Festival, the dark film has a top-drawer cast, headlined by Kitano Takeshi (Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen), Kutsuna Shiori (125... [read more]
  8. A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (2016) (Blu-ray + DVD) (Special Director's Cut Edition) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (2016) (Blu-ray + DVD) (Special Director's Cut Edition) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Iwai Shunji (Director, Writer) | Kuroki Haru (Actor) | Ayano Go (Actor) | Cocco (Actor)
    Japanese director Iwai Shunji has tried his hand at a variety of styles during his career, from features to documentaries and even animation, films like Love Letter, All about Lily Chou-Chou, Vampire and most recently The Case of Hana and Alice winning him acclaim as one of Japan’s most individual helmers. Adapted from his own novel, Iwai’s latest offering A Bride for Rip Van Winkle sees him returning to themes of loneliness, isolation and the struggle to form human connections in the modern age, starring Kuroki Haru (The Little House), Ayano Go (Shinjuku Swan) and singer Cocco (Kotoko). Kuroki Haru plays Nanami, a part-time teacher who loses her job due to being too quiet and meek with her... [read more]
  9. Bakuman (2015) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Bakuman (2015) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Kamiki Ryunosuke (Actor) | Satoh Takeru (Actor) | Sometani Shota (Actor) | Komatsu Nana (Actor)
    Bakuman is another Japanese live action manga adaptation, in this case one which actually takes place in the manga industry, following the fortunes of two high schoolers trying to win places on the staff of the top Weekly Shonen Jump publication. Based on the manga by Ohba Tsugumi and Obata Takeshi, creators of the incredibly popular Death Note series, the film reunites Rurouni Kenshin stars Sato Takeru and Kamiki Ryunosuke in the lead roles, and was directed by One Hitoshi (Love Strikes), boasting an impressive supporting cast including Komatsu Nana (The World of Kanako), Sometani Shota (Parasyte), Yamada Takayuki (Crows Zero), Kiritani Kenta (Outrage Beyond) and Lily Franky (Like Father,... [read more]
  10. The Emperor in August (Blu-ray + DVD) (Deluxe Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) The Emperor in August (Blu-ray + DVD) (Deluxe Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Motoki Masahiro | Yakusho Koji | Matsuzaka Tori | Harada Masato (Director)
    Although Japan's unconditional surrender to the Allies in August 1945, as announced by Emperor Hirohito via a radio broadcast, is a well-known historic event, not so well-known is what happened in the days beforehand in which the decision was debated and contested by the country's politicians and military. Directed by Harada Masato (Chronicle of My Mother), The Emperor in August focuses on this short but crucial period of time, based upon Hando Kazutoshi's 1965 book Japan's Longest Day, which had previously been adapted for the screen in 1967 by Okamoto Kihachi. Very much a prestige production, while it didn't set the box office on fire, the film pulled in a long list of nominations and... [read more]
  11. A Courtesan with Flowered Skin (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) A Courtesan with Flowered Skin (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Adachi Yumi (Actor) | Koshino Ena (Actor) | Fuchikami Yasushi (Actor) | Kamimura Shuhei (Actor)
    Directed by Toyoshima Keisuke (Moriyamachu Driving School) and based on the award-winning 2006 novel Hanayoidochu by Miyagi Ayako, A Courtesan with Flowered Skin is a Japanese historical drama focusing on the rough life experiences of an oiran entertainer. In the challenging lead role the film stars actress and former singer Adachi Yumi (also in Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2005 Loft), with support from Fuchikami Yasushi (Platinum Data), Koshino Ena (Chigasaki Story) and (Takaoka Saki, Lesson of Evil). Set in the Edo period of Japan in the 1860s, the film takes place in the Yoshiawara pleasure district, where Asagiri (Adachi Yumi) works as an oiran, a higher-class entertainer position than the other... [read more]
  12. Parasyte Part 2 (2015) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Parasyte Part 2 (2015) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Sometani Shota (Actor) | Fukatsu Eri (Actor) | Hashimoto Ai (Actor) | Abe Sadao (Actor)
    Director Yamazaki Takashi (The Eternal Zero) returns with Parasyte Part 2, following hot on the heels of the first chapter of the big screen blockbuster adaptation of Iwaki Hitoshi's popular manga. Shot back to back, the second instalment sees all the (surviving) cast members on hand again for more of the same, with the flesh-eating alien invaders pressing on with their plan to conquer the human race, resulting in more gore, special effects and bouts of ponderous philosophising. The film picks up immediately where its predecessor left off, with high school student Shinichi (Sometani Shota, Tokyo Tribe) and Migi, the alien parasite living in his hand (voiced by Sadao Abe) continuing in their... [read more]
  13. Undulant Fever (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Undulant Fever (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Ikematsu Sosuke (Actor) | Ichikawa Yui (Actor) | Miura Masaki (Actor) | Nakamura Kumi (Actor)
    Ando Hiroshi, one of the latest Japanese directors to make the jump from softcore pink cinema to the mainstream, doesn't stray too far from his former path with Undulant Fever, a drama focusing on sexual obsession and strained intimacy. Headlined by former swimwear model turned actress Ichikawa Yui (Tokyo Tribe) in the challenging lead role, the film was adapted from Nakazawa Kei's award-winning first novel Umi wo Kanjiru Toki (I Sense the Sea), written when she was just eighteen years old. Ichikawa Yui plays Emiko, a high school student in the newspaper club and with a bright future ahead of her, who meets and falls for the older Hiroshi (Ikematsu Sosuke, Love's Whirlpool). Although he... [read more]
  14. Kabukicho Love Hotel (2015) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Kabukicho Love Hotel (2015) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Lee Na Ra (Lee Eun Woo) (Actor) | Sometani Shota (Actor) | Maeda Atsuko (Actor) | Tsuji Ayano (Actor)
    Japanese director Hiroki Ryuichi has had a fascinating career, having started off in soft-porn pink cinema before recently making a successful move into mainstream melodrama with the likes of Nobody's Perfect and manga adaptation Strobe Edge. Reteaming him with Arai Haruhiko, writer of his amazing 2003 drama Vibrator, his latest effort Kabukicho Love Hotel is a mixture of his different styles, offering both a searching exploration of modern relationships and plenty of steamy sex. Featuring a mammoth cast made up of young and veteran talent, the film has enjoyed a run at festivals around the world, playing at the likes of Busan, Toronto and Udine. The film kicks off focusing on Toru... [read more]
  15. Over Your Dead Body (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Over Your Dead Body (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Ichikawa Ebizo (Actor) | Miike Takashi (Director) | Ito Hideaki (Actor) | Miho Nakanishi (Actor)
    Nearly 200 years old and having been adapted for the screen some 30 times, kabuki play Yotsuya Kaidan is arguably the definitive and most influential Japanese ghost story. Such a history obviously also makes for a great deal of familiarity, and so it's hard to imagine a better choice for a new version than Miike Takashi, a director as unpredictable as he is prolific, equally known for big budget stately samurai dramas and insane, off the wall gore. Real life kabuki performer Ichikawa Ebizo, who also starred in Miike's Hara-kiri: Death of a Samurai, plays Kosuke (or Lemon, as the subtitles refer to him), a lowly actor who lands a top role in a new theatrical version of Yotsuya Kaidan thanks... [read more]
  16. My Man (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) My Man (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Asano Tadanobu (Actor) | Nikaido Fumi (Actor) | Fuji Tatsuya (Actor) | Kora Kengo (Actor)
    As with all Lolita themed films, Japanese director Kumakiri Kazuyoshi's My Man generated a fair amount of controversy at home and on the festival circuit – unsurprisingly, given that it deals with the unsavoury subject of the obsessive sexual relationship between a father and his adopted daughter. Based on a serialised novel by Sakuraba Kazuki, the film stars Asano Tadanobu (Ichi the Killer) and Nikaido Fumi (Himizu) in the difficult lead roles, and despite its potentially off-putting subject matter won various awards, including the Golden George at the 36th Moscow International Film Festival. Set on the island of Hokkaido, the film begins with the ten year old Hana being adopted by Jungo... [read more]
  17. Parasyte Part 1 (2014) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Parasyte Part 1 (2014) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Sometani Shota (Actor) | Fukatsu Eri (Actor) | Abe Sadao (Actor) | Hashimoto Ai (Actor)
    Iwaki Hitoshi's popular manga Parasyte makes it to the big screen for the first of a two-part adaptation, directed by Yamazaki Takashi, a solid choice for the task given his background in special-effects heavy blockbusters like The Eternal Zero, Space Battleship Yamato and Returner. A genre blending mix of coming of age comedy and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with plenty of gore and weirdness thrown in along the way, the film premiered as the closing film of the 2014 Tokyo International Film Festival before going on to play at several other events around the world. The film quickly gets down to business, opening with a horde of parasites arriving on earth and taking over human hosts by... [read more]
  18. As The Gods Will (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) As The Gods Will (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Fukushi Sota (Actor) | Yamazaki Hirona (Actor) | Kamiki Ryunosuke (Actor) | Hallie Shepherd (Actor)
    Fans of Japanese auteur Miike Takashi who were overjoyed in 2012 to see him returning to his gory, far-out ways with the crazed and controversial Lesson of the Evil should have much to celebrate with As the Gods Will. An adaptation of the popular manga by Kaneshiro Muneyuki and Fujimura Akeji, the film has been described by many as a successor to Fukasaku Kinji's now classic 2000 high school bloodbath Battle Royale, though while the two do share some obvious similarities, Miike here if anything only ups the general insanity in an outing that's at once impossible to describe and ruthlessly simplistic. Fukushi Sota (Library Wars) takes the lead as high school student Shun, the film opening... [read more]
  19. Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends (2014) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends (2014) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Satoh Takeru (Actor) | Aoi Yu | Takei Emi (Actor) | Iseya Yusuke (Actor)
    Picking up directly after the cliff-hanger finale of Kyoto Inferno, Otomo Keishi's Rurouni Kenshin trilogy comes to a close with The Legend Ends, seeing the eponymous swordsman gearing up for an almighty showdown with his evil nemesis. Shot back to back with its predecessor, the film has the series regulars all returning to complete the manga's popular "Kyoto Arc" and was another big hit, ruling the Japanese box office for an impressive four consecutive weekends. Unsurprisingly, this review contains major spoilers for anyone who hasn't yet seen either the 2012 Rurouni Kenshin or Kyoto Inferno. The film opens with Meiji government assassin turned pacifist Kenshin (Sato Takeru) washing up on... [read more]
  20. Snakes And Earrings (2008) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Snakes And Earrings (2008) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Kora Kengo (Actor) | Iura Arata (Actor) | Sonim (Actor) | Oguri Shun (Actor)
    Originally released back in 2008, Snakes and Earrings is an adaptation of Kanehara Hitomi's Akutagawa-winning and massively popular 2003 novel Hebi ni Piasu, marking the film debut of Ninagawa Yukio, an acclaimed theatre director known chiefly for his Shakespeare productions. While Japanese counter-culture exposes and tales of wayward youth are common enough, the film goes a step further in its graphic depiction of piercings, tattooing and sex of various kinds, following a young girl who gradually slides into angst and malaise. Young actress Yoshitaka Yuriko (Adrift in Tokyo) takes the lead as the 19-year-old Lui, who one day meets the tattooed and pierced Ama (Kora Kengo, The Woodsman and... [read more]
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