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JAPANORAMA - Seven Monkey BANNER JAPAN-O-RAMA.jpg01 Baby Cart to Hades Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa , Go Kato, Yuko Hamada, Isao Yamagata, Michitaro Mizushima, Ichirô Nakatani, Akihiro Tomikawa, Sayoko Katô, Jun Hamamura, Daigo KusanoLone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades (子連れ狼: 死に風に向う乳母車, Kozure Ôkami: Shinikazeni mukau ubaguruma): Ogami Itto saves the honour of a prostitute, which leads to more work as a hired assassin. It’s yet another film that’s packed with effortless cool – slicing down the bamboo trees, ninjas fall down, Bish! Bash! Bosh! Corpses everywhere! This is definitely more wordy than the previous two outings, and the first half is overly similar to a previous story (protecting prozzies honour). The second half isn’t that memorable either, at least not until the absolute bloodbath of a finale. Wakayama plays his character with far more grit than before, he’s colder, and his dialogue is delivered with the most authoritative growl you could imagine. Poor kid though, how much bloodshed should one child be exposed to!?!? Another big game-changer is that this is the first movie in the series to feature guns, which takes the edge – and part of the appeal – from the sword fighting / showdowns. Whilst it’s not a bad film, Baby Cart to Hades isn’t really in the same league as the first two movies, and feels like it’s re-treading some plotlines.

Score: 5.5/10

02 Baby Cart To Hades Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa , Go Kato, Yuko Hamada, Isao Yamagata, Michitaro Mizushima, Ichirô Nakatani, Akihiro Tomikawa, Sayoko Katô, Jun Hamamura, Daigo Kusanom03 Baby Cart to Hades Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa , Go Kato, Yuko Hamada, Isao Yamagata, Michitaro Mizushima, Ichirô Nakatani, Akihiro Tomikawa, Sayoko Katô, Jun Hamamura, Daigo Kusano04 Baby Cart to Hades Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa , Go Kato, Yuko Hamada, Isao Yamagata, Michitaro Mizushima, Ichirô Nakatani, Akihiro Tomikawa, Sayoko Katô, Jun Hamamura, Daigo Kusano05 Baby Cart to Hades Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa , Go Kato, Yuko Hamada, Isao Yamagata, Michitaro Mizushima, Ichirô Nakatani, Akihiro Tomikawa, Sayoko Katô, Jun Hamamura, Daigo Kusano06 Baby Cart To Hades Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa , Go Kato, Yuko Hamada, Isao Yamagata, Michitaro Mizushima, Ichirô Nakatani, Akihiro Tomikawa, Sayoko Katô, Jun Hamamura, Daigo Kusano07 Baby Cart to Hades Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa , Go Kato, Yuko Hamada, Isao Yamagata, Michitaro Mizushima, Ichirô Nakatani, Akihiro Tomikawa, Sayoko Katô, Jun Hamamura, Daigo Kusano

The5ObstructionsBlogathon1This post is part of the The 5 Obstructions Blogathon over at MyFilmViews; a series where Nostra challenges film reviewers by issuing limitations and rules for five film reviews over five months. The first month’s challenge is to “write a positive review of a movie you don’t like, or write a negative review of a movie you love.” Here goes.

Barb Wire Pamela Anderson Lee Xander BerkleyBarb Wire: It’s 2017, the 2nd American Civil War rages on – this film shows how everyday people struggle to make ends meet – by mixing lapdancing and bounty hunting. When people talk about culturally important movies you never hear Barb Wire – this pisses me off. This story is a re-telling of one of cinema’s finest: Casablanca, which sets a high bar for this film – although Barb Wire vaults over that daunting monument with ease. Pamela Anderson, bounces seamlessly from TV and into the movies, cashing in on her trademark look – and transforming herself into a cinematic icon with bodacious curves, blonde hair, skimpy leather outfits and gallons of water for that signature ‘wet look’. The director further complements this by making every single shot about her (and ensuring she flashes a tit every 10 minutes) – not to mention casting Pam as the only sexy person in a world full of freaks and mutants: she truly stands out, and delivers her lines with the cold, jaded authenticity of a bounty hunter that really has seen the horrors of war first hand. She’s supported by some big names, including Udo Kier, Xander Berkley, and Steve Railsback – not to mention a talented Bon Jovi lookalike – who all fit right in with this calibre of movie. The movie is crammed with bold striking imagery and iconography, creating a totally believable futuristic landscape by fusing together the visuals from distinctive eras like WWII, the American Civil War, and Cyberpunk classics, which are expertly stitched together with a Noir look and feel. Despite being 1996, this has the explosions and action of an 80s blockbuster. Barb Wire is a film that has it all: a sexy, dangerous leading lady, on-form supporting cast, action, plot, direction, and most of all re-watch-ability. A criminally overlooked studio classic that will hopefully be seen for the cultural masterpiece that it is within my lifetime.

Score: 9/10
Real score: 1/10

Barb Wire Pamela Anderson Lee Xander Berkley2

JAPANORAMA - Cheng Cheng BANNER JAPAN-O-RAMAThe Duel Project started out as a drunken bet, when Japanese movie producer Shinya Kawai challenged two up-and-coming directors to each make a film that had only two actors, who would fight to the death, in a single location – it also had to be shot in less than a week, and stick to a tiny budget. The results were Aragami and 2LDK (2LDK REVIEW HERE)

Duel Project 0Duel Project AragamiAragami: two wounded soldiers collapse at the door of a monastery, but when one wakens up the hospitality doesn’t last long. This film couldn’t be more different to 2LDK. The dialogue feels slow and padded out. There’s continual talk of magic, immortality, demons, goblins and such fantasy staples – bit of a turn-off for me. The film’s soundtrack is OTT porno music / thrash metal, and the tone is equally unusual – slapstick/manga. All familiar territory for Ryuhei Kitamura who’s biggest film to date was Versus, and was using this as a ‘dry run’ for Azumi – unfortunately the film only finds its stride in the last 10 minutes. My favourite aspect was how much the film was steeped  in a history of swordplay and swordfighting movies yesteryear – from intricate/complex katana flare, down to some lovely, old school, ‘Shing! Ching!’ metal-clashing sound effects. Aragami isn’t a bad film, but watching it after 2LDK really takes the sting out it’s tail: whereas you enjoy the pressure-cooker buildup in 2LDK, Aragami’s set-up feels flat and uninteresting, you just want to see these guys battle it out, and when it does roll round, it feels much shorter and less innovative/satisfying than the other movie. The Duel Project is definitely worth checking out, but I’d recommend watching this first, building up to the superior 2LDK.

Score: 5.5/10

Aragami 01 - Takao Osawa, Masaya Kato, Kanae Uotani, Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki

“Ninja Stars are for losers”

Aragami 02 - Takao Osawa, Masaya Kato, Kanae Uotani, Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki

Chatroom: London teenagers meet up online in a ‘Chelsea Teens!’ chatroom where they discuss their problems and bring out the worst in each other. At the centre of the film are five teens, overdramatized and riddled with angst, hatred & depression to the point of stereotype. There’s the least likable central character for as long as I can remember, and the other four people/plot-lines are picked up and dropped when convenient – and not properly explored or concluded. Unsurprisingly, it’s a very wordy film, but that creates the small problem that every word comes from 5 depressed teenagers all burdened with issues. When a story is driven through these characters manipulating and bringing the worst out in each other it doesn’t really make for inspired viewing. The best idea in the film is representing online chatting through a discussion with real people in a physical room, but it’s only novel for about 10 minutes. This is propped up by a few good tongue in cheek ‘online LOL‘ moments like the paedo entering, sex chat rooms and clay-mation skits. It’s shot well (Ringu series / Dark Water director) and the ‘chatroom’ sets are as seedy, sleazy, strange and twisted as your mum’s opinion of the internet. This film is to the internet use, what Requiem for a Dream is to drug use. Apparently nobody online does anything positive these days, and everyone’s up for egging on a suicide etc. There are a few neat ideas scattered throughout, but nothing sustainable for +90 minutes. Emo teen drama.

Score: 3/10