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JAPANORAMA - SF WASABI RICE BANNERBranded to Kill 01, Jô Shishido, Kôji Nanbara, Isao Tamagawa, Anne Mari, Mariko Ogawa, Hiroshi Minami, Goro Hanada, No. 1, 殺しの烙印, Koroshi no rakuin

Branded to Kill (殺しの烙印, Koroshi no rakuin): when a hitman fumbles his latest job he is soon a marked man. To say that this is “fairly non-sensicle” is probably over-selling the story – it’s like someone took a 5 hour movie and edited it so hard that only the absolute key dialogue and scenes were left in – leaving no time for characterisation, backstory, or context for anything happening on the screen. It’s quite explicit for the time; with an abundance of sex and violence. Stylistically, it’s got very rich visuals, some of which are as trippy and absurd as you can imagine – but overall it manages to remain a chic, kitsch, sexy 60s spy thriller. It’s undeniably B-Movie in nature, but boasts more stye and directorial flair than 99% of all films. Unfortunately, the story surrounding the film is actually more interesting (and makes more sense) – it flopped so badly that the director Seijun Suzuki was blacklisted by the Nikkatsu studio from making films, until, 10 years later, he successfully sued and got his career back on track. Branded to Kill is ridiculously hard to follow, but surprisingly easy to watch.

Score: 5.5/10

Branded to Kill 02, Jô Shishido, Kôji Nanbara, Isao Tamagawa, Anne Mari, Mariko Ogawa, Hiroshi Minami, Goro Hanada, No. 1, 殺しの烙印, Koroshi no rakuinBranded to Kill 03, Jô Shishido, Kôji Nanbara, Isao Tamagawa, Anne Mari, Mariko Ogawa, Hiroshi Minami, Goro Hanada, No. 1, 殺しの烙印, Koroshi no rakuin

A View To A Kill: After recovering a unique computer chip from a dead 003 in the USSR, Bond traces it back to Zorin industries, and soon discovers that Mad Max Zorin plans to flood silicon valley and monopolise the computer microchip market.

Recent studies blame 007 for global warming!

The film opens with a Zorin disclaimer, the first time this has been done, and strange given the number of characters ‘borrowed’, based or impersonated from the real world through the years. It also opens with one of the best theme songs: Duran Duran’s a View to a Kill. This is an unrivaled 1980s pop song!

The method of transportation that best suits the complex life of a modern villain

It’s usually crazy science and physics that push the James Bond plots forward (lasers, death rays, nukes…) but this film’s all about super-crazy geology, which for some reason feels harder to debunk – it could be more ridiculous than pew pew laser fights in space but who knows?!?

Moneypenny's last outing too - she got drunk at the races! Good on her.

As with any Bond film, A View To A Kill plays to the trends of the era, taking place in Silicon Valley, we have some new-age computers, and it’s essentially about one man becoming the king of microchips. Finally moving on from the ridiculous tone of the 70s movies this feels like a true stepping stone on to the darker Bond vibe; with people being killed right, left, centre, and literally getting machine gunned down in their dozens!

A cheeky sparring session with May Day and Zorin

In saying that, there’s still time to make the police look like buffoons in a token ‘wreck a police car’ scene on the raising bridge. The  renault cut-down-car-chase through Paris feels like Moore putting his final stamp on the film before he leaves. You kind of get the feeling that this was more of a goodbye Roger party at time, with everyone turning up and having a laugh on set.

Heads up!

Zorin/Walken is great as a bad guy – first out and out “genetic experiment” baddie and looks intense and insane throughout – usually laughing and at his happiest when he’s inflicting fear, desperation and murder on someone! Not many of the scenes or action set pieces are overly memorable; however, the appearance of Zoro now and then is really when this one comes to life.

Score: 5.5/10

The sound of retirement beckoning Roger

TOP TRUMPS
Villain:
Zorin – rogue KGB agent, computer chip cartel, nasty man with a nasty plan! 8
Henchmen: Grace Jones and her black arse. Scarface chap – lame. 6
Bond Girl: Jenny Flex & Stacey Sutton. Classic 80s Golden Girl look. 8
Action: Snow chase / Paris cut-down-car chase / horse race / Cty hall / Firetruck chase / Mine / Golden gate 8

So long Roger... you horny ol' dawg!

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The American: after a failed attempt on his life a master gunmaker accepts one final high-profile job, but must lay low and avoid other assassins. The plot’s a stripped down spy/thriller; almost like a bare-bones bond film – action, girls, locations… Clooney is fantastic for such a one-man show; all about the physical acting, but resists exaggeration – a massive pitfall when dialogue’s this sparse. The story and script are water-tight, every single line is spoken for a reason or explained later. The film’s extremely well-made, with lots of striking, bold and memorable shots/scenes and what little action unfolds is skillfully executed. It’s hard to miss the European style – down to the awesome nudity! – although the side-effect of such slow pacing is something that will alienate some viewers. it’s a great character piece, and Clooney keeps reminding us that he’s one of the finest, and most diverse, actors out there at the moment. Everything about the film is minimal, clean and genuinely believable – very enjoyable and rewarding.

Score: 7/10

The Air I Breathe: Four separate stories of characters based on the emotions Happiness, Pleasure, Sorrow and Love are linked by a ruthless gangster. A somewhat tired idea these days that lands in the Crash / Amores Perros / Babel genre. For the most part the casting is unadventurous, Garcia, Bacon, Whitaker all play bread and butter roles. Hirsch is chronic. Michelle Gellar is really good but the real standout was Brendan Fraser; especially given how unconventional his character is. He pulls off an awesome performance; gruff, grim and interesting. FAO his agent, sack shit like Furry Vengeance and get him more roles like this, pronto! The cheesy voiceovers give the film a bizarre aftershave commercial feel and ‘Fingers’ is such a terrible name for a baddie. The big problem was that the four individual segments were too short and broad to build on the characters effectively. Towards the end the story comes together nicely (albeit quite cheesily) but just doesn’t quite have the full effect. Overall this has good intentions but just fails to rock you. A decent effort by any standards but could have been a real tour de force.

Score: 6.5/10