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JAPANORAMA - Feast BANNER JAPAN-O-RAMACold Fish Megumi Kagurazaka, Fukikoshi Mitsuru, Denden, Asuka Kurosawa, Hikari Kajiwara, Tetsu Watanabe, Masaki Miura, Taro Suwa, Jyonmyon Pe, Makoto Ashikawa, Lorena Kotô, Suwaru Ryû, Masahiko Sakata, Sion SonoCold Fish (冷たい熱帯魚, Tsumetai Nettaigyo) (mild spoilers): a mild-mannered fish-shop owner crosses paths with a larger competitor who at first seems like an ideal business partner – but that veneer doesn’t last long. It feels like the director started out with two completely separate film ideas; the first 1-hour 45 contains a pretty credible, low-key, tense, but slow-burning con-man drama – with an off-kilter / black comedy undercurrent. The final act transforms the film into a full-blown slasher – which dwells on depraved sex, violence, gore and some body disposal scenes for a little longer than would be deemed comfortable (or necessary), peaking in a hyper-messy crimson-soaked blood ‘n’ guts finalé – shock cinema at it’s best; or perhaps worst! This wouldn’t usually be a big deal, but at 2.5 hours you could have cut two (better, and) entirely different 90-minute movies out of it – an Evil Dead style gore-romp, or Coenesque black comedy. There are glimpses of superb direction and storytelling, straight off the bat, but they end up getting lost in the bigger-picture. Acting is also solid (the runaway star being leading man Mitsuru Fukikoshi’s full-bodied transformation) – although, along with everything else, it all gets watered down and lost within the superfluous runtime. This would, by normal standards, be anything but an ordinary film – particularly because it’s littered with gropey and sensational sex scenes – but when you’re following up from an epic like Love Exposure, this feels lukewarm in comparison.

Score: 5/10

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Fast and the Furious 5 - Rio Heist, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Dwayne Johnson 01Fast and the Furious 5: Rio Heist: Initial stand-alone review here – only difference is that this paragraph holds Fast Five in the context of the box-set, and now knowing what happened in the previous movies. The Blu Ray ‘Extended Cut’ is hardly worth it, with just over an added minute’s runtime, only a rapid neck-snapping that felt new. The action scenes are absolutely outstanding: the train heist, safe chase, rooftop / favella footchase, convoy ambush – it’s all seat-grabbing, fist-pumping, adrenaline-rushing, and cooler-than-cool. It feels like an 80s throwback genre film with such big-budget action, the archetypal super-bad mega-villain, and more oiled-up machismo than you could shake a packet of beer soaked beef jerky at – with guys continually in-fighting, shouting and flexing their rippling muscles at any opportunity. That moment when the two action stars fight, and later when Vin picks up The Rock… it’s just action-movie gold! I really enjoyed Fast Five in the cinema, but having seen all of the films recently, I have to give an extra point to the such fantastically executed car-based mayhem.

Score: 8/10

Fast and the Furious 5 - Rio Heist, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Dwayne Johnson 03The Fast and the Furious
2 Fast 2 Furious
Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Fast & Furious
Fast Five (Old review)

Fast and the Furious 5 - Rio Heist, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Dwayne Johnson 02

Fast and the Furious 5: Rio Heist – Various characters from the past four films unite for one big job in Rio. Being brutally honest, I’ve never bothered with this series as it’s just not my thing… That being said, the films are brutally honest and up front; Fast cars, Furious stunts. The action in this is 100% gravity and logic-defying nonsense but the last, huge, set-piece is worth the ticket price alone – it’s absolutely stupendous and wouldn’t surprise me if it had swallowed over 50% of the total budget. Character-wise, there’s a troupe of broad catch-all societal stereotypes, headed by the mumbling charisma vacuum Vin Diesel and a bread-and-butter Rock performance – nobody else is noteworthy. The story is bog standard and merely a vehicle to set up the next action scene; the Rio setting was ridiculous as it could have been anywhere; and the post-script was groan-inducing. Doing what it says on the tin, Fast Five is nothing more than cars, babes and stunts so ridiculous that it’s impossible to not enjoy or appreciate. Guilty pleasure of the year so far.

Score: 7/10