Scroll down for the available reviews.

So what makes these movie reviews different from the norm I hear you ask?

Well, since this site is about Asian stuff, so are the movies, which are 100% only about gaijin/Asian relationships, or feature beautiful Asian babes, interesting plots related to Asia, etc. Did a movie ever turn you into AAA? did it help you get a certain girl, or inspire you to go to Asia? Then write about it dudes! Feel free to contribute, including a title picture of the movie (rip it off the net) your name and review, and send it to:



A - L


Mr.Baseball - Reviewed by Nayuta


One Night Stand - Reviewed by Kris


Rampo - Reviewed by Oscar
Rashomon - Reviewed by Oscar
Red Corner - Reviewed by Kris
Rhapsody in August - Reviewed by James
Rising Sun - Reviewed by Kris


Shall we Dance? - Reviewed by Oscar
Shogun the Movie - Reviewed by Kris
Swallowtail - Reviewed by Oscar


Tengoku no Taizai - Reviewed by Oscar
The Barbarian and The Geisha - Reviewed by Oscar
The Beach - Reviewed by James
The Beach - Reviewed by Kris
The Hunted - Reviewed by James
The Kitchen - Reviewed by James
The Mountain Road - Reviewed by James
The Pillow Book - Reviewed by Kris
The Pillow Book - Reviewed by James
The Scent of Green Papaya - Reviewed by Kris
Tokyo Joe - Reviewed by Oscar
Tokyo no Kyujitsu - Reviewed by Oscar
Tokyo Raiders - Reviewed by James


Violent Cop - Reviewed by Kris

MR.BASEBALL *** - Reviewed by Nayuta
(1992, Directed by Fred Schepisi, Starring Tom Selleck, Aya Takanashi, Ken Takakura)

This is one of those movies that critics, without the right background info, will tend to not "get". If you're a real Japanese baseball buff, though, you'll love it. (Example: when Tom Selleck's character joins the Chunichi Dragons, he's given uniform #54, with the owner's expectation that he'll hit that many homers. Followers of Japanese "yakyu" won't be surprised at all when they realize that 54 is one *less* than the record.) Anyone who's lived in Japan as a "gaijin" will be nodding knowingly at certain scenes -- doubly if you're a baseball fan. And then of course there's the subplot where Tom Selleck falls for Aya Takanashi, who just happens to be the daughter of the tough, by-the-book, hard-ass manager (played by Takakura).

Much of the movie was filmed at the delightfully-crumbling (and now defunct) Nagoya Stadium and there are some real-life places in Roppongi too. Even if you're not a baseball nut, the "gaijin in Japan" angle should be familiar ground. Definitely worth a rental.

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One Night Stand *** - Reviewed by Kris
(1997, Directed by Mike Figgis, Starring Wesley Snipes, Nastassja Kinski)

If ever a movie was indirectly aimed at relationships between races then this is one. Basically it's about Wesley Snipes (who is as black as it can get) in a slightly stale relationship with his wife, who is Chinese/American (and kind of cute BTW). However, one day on stale business trip, he meets Natasha Kinski (a Russian chick), who he defends from a mugging one night as they're walking to the car after a social gathering. Natasha's still shocked from the event later, and begs him to stay in the hotel with her that night, as she keeps seeing the mugging over and over again in her head, and in her adoration of the manly Snipes, ends up getting boned by him. Snipes needs it as much as she does, as they're both having trouble in their marriages. After the One Night Stand they don't see each other again for 6 months or so, until Wesley does business with this white dude, who, Wesley finds out, is actually married to Kinski. Henceforth the rest of the movie is about Wesley and Kinski's secretive affair, which lasts until the end of the movie only to find out that each-other's spouse's were also secretly on the go, i.e. Wesser's Chinese bit is having it off with Kinski's bloke anyway.

The movie ends with a predictable twist, when the couples are all having dinner, and after finished, you expect Wesser's to get into the car with his Chinese bird, but the scene, you find out, is some months in the future, and Wesser's has already divorced his bird and has married Kinski. Okay, and now what I thought of it. It's quite a nice little movie, I enjoyed it, but it's not one of those "Hot damn it's on the shelf!! GRAB IT!!" kind of videos. A little tame, and you don't blame Snipes for cheating on his wife, because she's an obnoxious bitch from the start, and more Linda Liu than Gong Li any day. The acting's good and everything, you know, I like Wesser's especially when he's fighting in movies and that, and the director does a good job. It's just that the movie's nothing special - plus the ending is just too obvious. This movie wouldn't even be AAA if it weren’t for the wife, and the interracial stuff..yeah..the wife's foxy (but American/Chinese so does it count??)..anwayz...next..

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Rampo **** - Reviewed by Oscar
(1994, Directed by Rintaro Mayuzumi. Starring Masahiro Motoki, Naoto Takenaka)

Edogawa Rampo actually lived and wrote creepy stories shortly before WWII. He was a best selling writer but he was edited heavily by the puritanical censors of the military government and it took a toll on his mental health. He was William Burroughs of Japan before his time. This is one of many movies to come out of his legend. This is also probably the only movie in which you can see Michiko Hada in the nude. If you like search-for-your-subconscious movies like Angel Heart, the Sixth Sense and the Fight Club, you will love this movie.

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Rashomon ***** - Reviewed by Oscar
(1950, Directed by Akira Kurosawa, Starring Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo)

You cannot pretend to be a Japanophile without watching this classic just once. The movie is old and it has been copied ad nauseam, so the plot will not be fresh for most of you. This is a movie by the man who made the Seven Samurai (remade in Hollywood as the Magnificent Seven) and Yojimbo (Bad guy: "So go ahead and kill me!" Good guy: "It's gonna hurt" *SLICE!*). Rashomon is set in medieval Japan so you will see a lot of funny costumes. Machiko Kyo is a blast. This movie was released in 1950, so the rape scene is mostly suggested and not shown. But the close up of Machiko Kyo's eyes as it is happening is so erotic it kills you. You wonder how she does it from under the heavy medieval makeup. I am a big Kurosawa fan and I recommend just about any movie directed by him. I think the best ones are Yojimbo, Sanjuro (tops!), Seven Samurai, the Hidden Fortress (famous as the inspiration for Star Wars), High and Low (great!) and The Bad Sleep Well (what a lousy translation!). Kurosawa movies are mostly about guys so they really are not very good for checking out the chicks. Watch them anyway. They are good movies.

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Red Corner **** - Reviewed by Kris
(1997, Directed by Jon Avnet, Starring Richard Gere, Ling Bai)

The movie that inspired China Funny Facts..all about a gaijin who, after porking a rather stunning Chinese flower, is then framed by the killers and sentenced to death by the unfair Chinese legal system. Henceforth the movie then becomes one of those court/legal battle type's with excellent speeches and intimate conversations between Richard Gere (the defendant) and his Chinese attorney, who he ends up falling for, but who never leaves with him even after he's freed (always the way). The movie's good actually, well directed and acted, I really enjoyed it. The model girl that Gere goes for in the beginning is a majora baborous - I'd love to see her in a few more movies. There's not much else to say, it's well worthwhile watching - but nothing radical, nothing new. Just A Few Good Men done in a different time zone. Yeah, enjoyable, but it won't hit you like the Pillow Book.

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Rhapsody In August **** - Reviewed by James
(1993, Directed by Akira Kurosawa, Starring Richard Gere)

A sentimental film about an elderly Japanese woman living in Nagasaki, who takes care of her four teenage grandchildren for their summer vacation. During that time the children learn about life, each other and the atomic bomb that fell in 1945 and how it killed their Grandfather. We also get to see how some of the communities cope and towards the end Richard Gere guest stars as an American nephew of the elderly woman, bringing in the western view to the after affects of the bombing of Nagasaki. While this film may be a little slow for some of you, I found it to be a remarkable journey towards the understanding of human nature surrounding such a disastrous event in history. This is one of those films that will leave a lasting impression in your head long after the end and that's something we all need a bit more often.

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Rising Sun ** - Reviewed by Kris
(1993, Directed by Philip Kaufman , Starring Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes)

Rising Sun was one of those movies that caused a hell of a lot of controversy between Nikkei-jin (second generation Japsters) and the producers. The plot goes with Wesley Snipes (again) being sent into Japan Town somewhere (probably San Francisco again), to find out who murdered a hooker during some high-powered business event. To catch the crim, he teams up with our old favorite Sean Connery, who is supposedly the know-all of everything Japanese, and is practically Japanese himself..well, Sean, you sure made a dick out of yourself for us people who know a little bit more about Japan than the scriptwriters of Rising Sun..Anyway, the rest of the plot goes that the two who initially hate each other (because Connery's a wannabe Japster and Wes is, well, black and acts black) end up trying to find the killer through interviews and checking the videotapes from the camera's that recorded the incident. This involves trying to get information out of the Japanese businessmen and getting Sean's bird (foxy Tia Carrera) to do some digital work on the camera pictures..anyway, after that, they find out the killer is this American brown-tongue guy with a bee-hive haircut, who works for the boss of the Japanese company, who then legs it off and falls into some semi-hardened concrete, thus becoming a statue of an American with a bee-hive haircut.
AAA members who can speak Japanese will piss yourselves laughing at some of the scenes and pronunciation by poor monkey sempai Connery. I nearly choked down my Kentucky when there was the scene with Snipes talking to Connery who's just been duped and Connery replies "I am very....OKOTTA!!!"...the equivalant in English of saying "I am very....PEEVED!!!"...OOHAHAHA..good research into how Japanese talk when they're pissed off, not. I really lost respect for the guy who wrote this (Micheal Crichton, Jurassic Park, ER, other crappy famous movies). He must have done a total of 2 hours research on the Japanese, as this movie really paints them out to be snide, vicious, sneaky little bastards (which is actually the Chinese..*joke*) and as all us dudes know, they're not. In fact, the book was even more racist and condescending towards our lovely Japanese buddyies than the movie. Just goes to show that even if you do have a medical degree like Crichton does, doesn't mean you can suddenly start pretending to be a know-all in a culture that's 100% different to your own in the space of the few months it takes to write a book. I always thought Crichton was over-rated anyway, and probably only got his movies made as he had his tongue up a few of the Hollywood producers arses.

The movie had several production problems, as heaps of Nikkei-jin who'd read the book placed protests that prevented smooth filming. Even the Nikkei-jin actors began to join in by the end. This is a tragedy of a movie if you know even a little about Japanese culture, but it's fun to watch if you don't. What I'm interested in knowing is that will Spielberg make the same kind of screw up in the forth-coming Memoirs of a Geisha, which is based completely in 16th century Japan, but, knowing Hollywood will undoubtedly pull some American influence into the script, which will piss me off to no end.

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Shall We Dance? **** - Reviewed by Oscar
(1996, Directed by Masayuki Suo. Starring Koji Yakusho, Tamiyo Kusakari, Naoto Takenaka)

This is an intelligent, subdued, Woody Allen type of comedy about life in Japan. If you like squishy little comedies like Brass Off and the Full Monty, I guess this movie is for you. Tamiyo Kusakari is very beautiful and Naoto Takenaka steals the show as the comic co-star. I have met a lot of gaijins who loved this movie but may not be quite "Young Dudes".

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Shogun **** - Reviewed by Kris
(1980, Directed by Jerry London, Starring Richard Chamberlin, Yoko Shimada, Toshiro Mifune, John Rhys-Davies)

Basically a rough stringing together of the 10 hour mini-series into a full-length feature film, Shogun stars Richard Chamberlain as the butch Anjin-san (Ship pilot) John Blackthorne, in a story adapted from the best-selling, Emmy award winning James Clavell (who, like myself, was educated in Portsmouth, hohoho <---snobbish laugh). Everybody knows Shogun, if one movie is the most famous gaijin-oriental love story it's gotta be this one. Hands up who wasn't just a little bit cut-up when poor Mariko was killed by the door crushing her, just after Blackthorne and her had truly fallen in love? A lot of people think the story is fiction, but actually is loosely related to the true story of Will Adams, the first Western gaijin ever to officially marry a Japanese (I didn't say shag!!) and become a 'gaijin samurai' (much, much cooler than being 'knighted'). And he was a British bloke..yeah, don't take it from me, check it out The story of Will Adams..Anyway, Chamberlain lands in feudal Japan and is captured, but the Shogun of Japan soon discovers Anjin-sans great knowledge of ship building amongst other foreign techniques, and so is eventually to become the Shogun's right hand man.

Now, although this movie is very good, if you've read the book beforehand, you may be slightly disappointed, as many of the books finer points are lost in the translation. Despite that, the director did a good job. Another fact is, although Richard Chamberlain is supposed to be portraying some tough guy, he's actually a great flaming homosexual in real life, which, ummm, makes it a little less believable, even though he's a fine actor. "Now there's a waste of a handsome man..", my old dear used to say. As usual, the dude from Rashomon (Toshiro Mifune) as Tokugawa is excellent and always looks like a tough b*stard in any movie he's in (anyone he reckons there's no 'real' men in Japan only has to look at this bloke or Beat Takeshi in action to change their mind). The movie is well worth a viewing regardless of whether or not you did actually read the book, and in the end it's still highly entertaining - almost a classic in some people's minds. At least it's well researched compared to other movies I won't mention..oh, excuse me I'm gonna sneeze..aaaaacCHOOO RISING SUN OOOO...bless me.

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Swallowtail **** - Reviewed by Oscar
(1996, Directed by Shunji Iwai. Starring Chara, Mickey Curtis, Yoriko Douguchi)

Now this is more like it! Check out the chicks in this movie! Show me one AAA who will look at the likes of Nene Otsuka, Ayumi Ito and Tomoko Yamaguchi and say that they are dogs! The main plot too, is somewhat gaijin oriented. Here is somebody's recount of the movie ripped off from somewhere else on the net: "While I'm particularly fond of Japanese films, I must admit quite a few of them are enjoyable only because of their unique style, not because of their actual content. Films like Shark Skin Man And Peach Hip Girl are fun to watch, but that's all there is to them. Yentown (Swallowtail's original title), on the other hand, is a prime example of Japanese cinema at it's finest. Combining music and politics, drama and action, social commentary and humor, art film and popular film, Yentown is a true post-modern experience, rich both in style and in content. The film takes place in the Tokyo of near future, in a ghetto inhabited by immigrants from all over Asia. The status of immigrants is a touchy subject in Japan, and it has been widely covered in many of the recent Japanese films. What separates Yentown from them is that it uses the ghetto only as a starting point, and although the hardships of the immigrants (and outsiders in general) are a major theme, it is only one of the numerous subjects the film explores. Basically, Yentown is about dreams. The story revolves around a group of poverty-stricken immigrants, to whom a sudden twist of fate gives the opportunity to literally make money and thus realize their dreams. Unfortunately, their luck is not without it's consequences, and even if they get what they've always dreamed of, they may realize they've chosen the wrong dream. This may not be the most original of ideas, but the story is told with such energy and originality, and with such sympathetic characters, that the viewer soon forgets the familiarity of the basic plot. Yentown is a type of film that gets even better on multiple viewings. The story is told in a non-linear way which can make the film seem a bit confusing, at least when seen for the first time. There are elements (and even characters) in Yentown used mainly as metaphors, and to careless viewer it may appear that the film doesn't quite properly tie up it's threads. But if the viewer has the courage and patience to watch a film quite different from our Western tradition, Yentown will reward him/her with a unique blend of emotion, wit and beauty. "

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Tengoku no Taizai * - Reviewed by Oscar
(1992, Directed by Toshio Masuda. Starring Sayuri Yoshinaga, Omar Sharif)

If "Rising Sun" is a poorly made anti-Japan movie, "Tengoku no Taizai" is a poorly made anti-gaijin movie. It explores the same territory of lawless illegal aliens and sets its stage in the same quasi-futuristic immigrant-infested Tokyo as "Swallowtail". But, while "Swallowtail" is sympathetic to the aliens, this movie is anything but. It tries to balance things by casting Japanese star Toshiyuki Nishida as a Chinese mob but it is a transparent subterfuge. Besides, Toshiyuki Nishida (Pigsy in the first season of "Saiyuki" aka "Monkey Magic" if you know that TV show.), whose performance usually shines, doesn't cut it as a Chinese gangster. It is a stark contrast to Hiroshi Mikami who does a convincing performance as a Chinese slumdweller in "Swallowtail". (Since I do not speak Chinese, I can't really tell if his lines were any good, though.) This movie casts Sayuri Yoshinaga beside Omar Sharif, which was its main selling point when it opened. Omar Sharif is the Arab guy in "Lawrence of Arabia" who also appeared in "Doctor Zhibago", "The Message" and other great epics as well as a ton of cult junk and a cameo appearance in "The Pink Panther Strikes Again". Sayuri Yoshinaga is the actress who should be caste for the leading role in "Memoirs of a Geisha". She is the most refined actress in Japan and one who can play the subtle nuances of a classic Japanese woman. In fact she has already made Memoirs of a Geisha. It was called "Yumechiyo Nikki" or "The Diary of Yumechiyo" produced by the public broadcasting service NHK for TV. Although she must be past fifty now, she is still quite beautiful and is a great actress. She also has a great fandom. I read that Hiroki Matsukata nearly got his ass kicked in for doing a sex scene with her at the opening sequence of this movie. Unfortunately, this movie fails to utilize her appeal. Yoshinaga and Sharif would have made a interesting mix for a passionate love story, but the script skips the first two years of their dalliance so all we see is Sharif reading a bedtime story to Yoshinaga?s son. Heart warming, but devoid of intensity. And the story sucks. The shootout scene is the most improbable series of missed shots since John Wayne walked through a hail of bullets in Iwo Jima. By all means see other movies by Yoshinaga and Sharif, but not this one.

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The Barbarian and the Geisha ** - Reviewed by Oscar
(1958, Directed by John Huston, Starring John Wayne, Eiko Ando)

This movie has surprisingly few historical errors considering that it was made in 1958. Except for the fact that too many Japanese seem to be fluent in English and there are too few daily crashes and misunderstandings, this movie has fewer flaws than any movie I have seen. None other than John Wayne plays Townsend Harris, the first consul-general to Japan. Commodore Perry had opened Japanese ports at gunpoint, but a trade treaty had yet to be signed. So Harris is sent to negotiate with the last Shogun. He establishes an informal consulate in a small house, to which the local residents send in a geisha to live with him, no doubt as a hedge against some barbarous acts he might commit to local women. (So we know that it was easy for gaijins to score from the very start.) In the end, the treaty is signed and Harris goes home to fame and glory, while the geisha, like a good docile woman of the mystic orient, quietly disappears into the masses, never to be seen again.
OK, so the movie has its merits. Why the two stars? For one thing, it lacks fun. There is no derring-do. There is no swashbuckling. The relationship between Harris and the geisha had been legitimized by everyone from the very start, so there is no obstacle to romance there. If there is any appeal to this movie, it is that anybody would like to have a beautiful geisha given to him as a present with the license to do anything he wants to her. But this is the Duke in a 50's movie and not, say, Marlon Brando in a 60's movie, so we cannot expect much tension in that area either. This picture is mainly an entertaining history lesson and not much else. Also a reflection of what Americans thought about themselves and how they behaved as the benign foreigners in occupied Japan.

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The Beach **** - Reviewed by James
(2000, Directed by Danny Boyle , Starring Leonardo Di Caprio)

Is this really an AAA film? Well it is set in Thailand but the main reason I'm reviewing it is because of the premise behind the story. A young American, not ready to join normal mainstream society and the responsibilities it brings, travels to Bangkok in a bid to escape and discovers that he is not the only one to possess these feelings. Does it sound familiar already? How many of us thought the same thing when we went to Japan for the first time? While staying at a hotel he finds a map, left by his whacked-out and suicidal neighbor, which supposedly points the way to a mysteriously hidden island where some other wayward souls have settled. After making the dangerous journey with some of his fellow travelers, he arrives at the beach, an exotic paradise for the lost and the adventurous. They are gradually accepted into the local community but all is not what it seems in this Lord Of The Flies for the new millennium. The Beach is the type of story that you'd read in adventure comics when you were a kid. The ones that would keep you awake at night and make you late for school the next morning but you'd still be thinking about them in class, great stuff.

The Beach **** - Reviewed by Kris

Ack, pipped at the post by my friend James here, but I was in fact going to review this one myself..Never mind, anyway, here are just some of my own private thoughts on the movie if you're interested. The thing that sets this movie aside, is that it appeals to the traveler inside every one of us. I guess a lot of people who read Young Dudes think that this site sprung up as a kind of a dedication to The Beach, but no, Young Dudes was up way before it came out. The only difference was, Sapporo was my Beach, full of interesting foreigners, that were all starting a new life in a relatively unpopulated place (gaijin wise). So that's why a shiver of deja vu went straight up my spine as I watched that movie in the cinema, munching my popcorn. Even in the first scene, it was just spelled out what this movie was about:

"Hey, you wanna drink snake blood??"
"No thanks"
"Just like another god-damn traveler, all the same.."
"Okay, did you say 'snake blood?'...alright then"

People, this is the essence of Young Dudes. I was like, bloody hell, here is Di Caprio, playing a character exactly like myself, a traveler who spits on 'packaged holidays' and has never bought a fixed-date return ticket in his life, would rather risk his balls going to places no man has seen before and sleeping wherever it don't stink than live the lap of luxury in a 4 Star hotel, only to be back in the office 2 weeks later, whinging heart-breaking crap like 'Oh it was so fantastic, I'd love to live there, well, Tenerife next eh?'..Oh hell no, Di Caprio's character heard about 'a mysterious beach few have ever seen' and he was on it like a shot. Screw going back.

Admittedly the movies not AAA, like James said, but Young Dudes is quintessentially a travel site, else why the hell would I write about going to Amsterdam and the USA. Hell, I even liked the music in the Beach. Here are some facts about it BTW. The book was pretty different in the way, in the book:

A. Di Caprio doesn't end up with the girl at all,
B. There's other scenes like one were Di Caprio is trapped under a rock alcove and ends up surfacing in a gas bubble.(not interesting anyhow).
C. Di Caprio was a Brit, in fact, the book was written and directed by Brits.
D. The leader of the group was an American.
E. The book is pretty whacky, with references to comparing life to Streetfighter, and Mario (yeah I can relate to that).

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The Hunted **** - Reviewed by James
(1995, Directed by J.F. Lawton, Starring Christopher Lambert, John Lone, Joan Chen, Yoshio Harada)

Hands up those of you who have ever dreamed of getting involved with a beautiful woman and a ninja assassination plot while on a trip to Japan. This typical Young Dudes fantasy is brought to reality by Christopher Lambert, who while on a business trip in Japan, meets a mysterious Japanese woman (ironically played by Chinese actress Joan Chen) and ends up spending the night in the hot tub with her. After getting some sweet n' sour loving he does the normal thing of walking out while she's sleeping (so true) but returns after forgetting his keys (or something like that). Unknown to Lambert, the Japanese woman has been marked for death by a ninja clan and he returns just in time to witness her execution before fleeing from the ninja assassins. What follows is a chase through the streets of Japan with the ninjas killing anyone and everyone who gets in their way of killing Lambert before he can reveal the identity of the clan leader. Luckily help comes in the form of a martial arts instructor (and samurai clan leader, must look good on his CV) and his wife who use Lambert to lure the ninjas to their island fortress where the final battle can take place. No great acting or an Oscar winning script but it does have some great action sequences and turns out to be a great film anyway, probably because we've all wanted to be in the same place as Lambert some time or another.

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The Kitchen ** - Reviewed by James

Make sure your sitting comfortably boys and girls because we're going to enter the wonderful weird world of Asian art house films, please leave your brain at the door and enjoy the flight. It's been awhile since I've seen this film so excuse the lack of exact plot details and character names for the review, it shouldn't really matter that much anyway, as long as you get a the basics. The Kitchen is about a young girl (she's played by a sexy Japanese model but I can't remember her name) whose been living a sheltered life with her grandmother since she was a child. When the grandmother dies the girl somehow ends up living with a boy and his transsexual mother. The mother (or should that be father?) and son combo are a pretty dysfunctional family, always arguing and bickering at each other and this causes the girl to becomes a recluse to the world around her. Any attempt made by the boy or his mother to talk to the girl fail miserably until one day she cooks them a meal in the apartment kitchen. This seems to bring them all together, its like they've been lacking any good homely social contact for years and the three of them start to become a family. Though it doesn't end there, the boy, even though he has a very sexy girlfriend, takes a liking to the girl and she does to him but never really admits it. But this being Japan, its impossible to have a normal relationship and the girl runs away to become a world class cook in Europe, I guess she just wasn't content to working behind the counter in Burger King or something. Back in Japan mother/father is killed when she/he confesses to her/his boyfriend that she was once a man and son, now with nothing going for him, tries to track down the girl in the hope of sorting out their feelings for each other. I know they find each other in a stinking hotel somewhere but I can't remember how it ends, sorry guys you'll just have to rent it yourselves.

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The Mountain Road *** - Reviewed by James
(1960, Directed by Daniel Mann, Starring James Stewart, Lisa Lu)

This golden oldie is a road movie, romance story and human drama all wrapped around a basic plot for a World War 2 film. The film follows a rag-a-tag American demolition squad who have been given orders to travel across the Chinese countryside and to blow up strategic access points that will be used by the advancing Japanese army. Any more similarities with the countless other World War 2 movies ends there as the film drops the main conflict and focuses more on the interaction between the American officers and the different Chinese villagers that they encounter along the way. Lots of stereotypical attitudes here, the Americans are portrayed as being innocent trigger happy guys who are just out to do an honest job, the Chinese as being dirty back stabbing beggars and the Japanese as being the all evil advancing enemy force. The Americans try to adapt to the Chinese culture but get a good beating when the Chinese use American culture to get back at them, this film continuously tries to point out that west and east don't mix, even in desperate situations. A love interest comes in the form of a Chinese woman who travels with the squad but at the end of the movie can't be with the main man simply because he's an American and she's a Chinese and neither culture would accept them. On top of that she's also a little pissed that the American troops relieve some stress by demolishing an entire Chinese village towards the end of the film because a few bandits stole one of their trucks. Kind of makes you wonder who the real enemy is. The budget for this film must have been pretty big as there are huge explosions every few minuets but like I said before, the action is second place to the drama of human conflict between different cultures at wartime. Best scene is probably when a pack of hungry villagers maul a young American soldier to death over a few cans of beans, guess they don't have a 7-11 in the China countryside then.

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The Pillow Book **** - Reviewed by Kris
(1997, Directed by Peter Greenaway, Starring Ewan McGregor, Vivian Wu)

Well, well, this is the one that gave many a normal man the yellow fever after watching it. It's one of those slightly surrealistic movies done by the guy who did The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover - Peter Greenaway. It stars Ewen McGregor and Vivian Wu, and it's just one of those movies that you'll love or you'll hate. Ask yourself this, did you watch and enjoy the movie Brazil?? No?? skip this then. If the answer was a yes, you'll probably enjoy this slightly queer little number. I don't suppose many watch this for the plot, but rather the visual hit the extremely delicious Vivian Wu gives off as the star. The movie's extremely beautiful and aesthetically pleases - it's in some ways more like a working piece of art than a film. Dudes, if any of you out there like Asian girls, Vivian Wu is the one to look out for. You'll be jealous of Ewan McGregor for the rest of your life after watching him get her into the sack in what looks like a 'very' realistic sex scene. The Wuster looks so damn good in this movie that's it hard for me to recall another movie which features such a good looking Asian babe. To top that, the character she plays is about as mysterious and as erotically sensual as it gets. I swear, if you were only slightly AAA before, you'll be fully assimilated after watching the Pillow Book. Besides I like Ewan McGregor, and I see a lot of myself in him, his confident character does the movie good..it's just too bad that Wu's acting sure does suck, as the movie would be much more enjoyable if she'd only played out some of the scenes with a little more emotion, esp when Jerome dies, and she's supposed to have loved him and all that. I'll just cut out the plot from somewhere else off the net, okay, here you go. The film is inspired by the text of a traditional pillow book (the Japanese equivalent of a diary) written at the end of the tenth century by a female courtier who recorded all her sensual reminiscences. One thousand years later, Nagiko (Vivian Wu), a beautiful young model whose mother once read to her from the erotic manuscript decides to write her own pillow book. She, however, has a peculiar fetish--she likes her lovers to use her skin as writing paper. After a succession of compliant bedmates, Nagiko meets Jerome (Ewan McGregor), a bisexual English translator who suggests that she invoke her literary muse by using his body as a scroll. When she changes from being the paper to the pen, Nagiko embarks on a passionate but fatal collaboration with Jerome. The end result is a bizarre love triangle in which Nagiko and her older gay publisher (Yoshi Oida), who seduced her father when he was a child, compete for the affections of the amorous Brit.
Messed up eh??..you definitely wonder what the script-writer was thinking when Ewan leaves Nagiko to go and get rectum-rimmed by the dirty old Japanese guy, but it certainly makes this movie less run-of-the-mill. Just stop reading this and watch it!! or if you already have it then send me a copy!! assholes!!

The Pillow Book ***** - Reviewed by James

Back in the old days when I was just starting to see the light and getting a taste for Asian women, long before the AAA and Young Dudes, I came across this film at my local video store. It was in those usually tacky bargain bin deals but seeing a sexy oriental woman with a westerner on the cover made me think that this film had potential and oh boy was I right! I'm not going to explain the plot, Kris already does a good job at that with his review but I am going to confirm what he said, if you were only slightly AAA before, you'll never look back after watching The Pillow Book. Your going to be green with envy after seeing what Ewan McGregor gets to do with the stunning Vivian Wu (yes they do look realistic) and you'll be cursing him for days when he gets stuck into that old man's ass instead. Wu seems to look sexy every second that she's on screen and her accent is, well just you wait and see. If there was ever a perfect woman then Wu's portrayal of Nagiko is probably it. On top of that the film is also a visual treat and your eyes are going to enjoy the ride, I'd say it's a bit of an art house film but don't let that put you off. The next day after seeing this film I plucked up the courage to ask out my first Chinese girlfriend and it was this film that convinced me that the path of the AAA was for me. Show it to your friends and it'll probably convert them to the cause, it really is probably the best film for the AAA.

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The Scent of Green Papaya * - Reviewed by Kris
(1997, Directed by Anh Hung Tran , Starring Tran Nu Y?-Kh· Lu Man San)

Oh man!! Do not watch this movie!!. When I rented this out for the first time I read on the front. Cannes Award 1998. So naturally, I was rubbing my hands in glee thinking this was gonna be some top AAA material. Expecting to be fully entertained I turned it on, and after a slow start in the beginning, I began to wait until it got good, still rubbing my hands. And I waited, and waited, and then the movie ended. Oh, I realised, that was it..The movie was in fact, shit. Damn, not just that, but there were no babes dude!! Rule no.1 of Hollywood states spefically that if the script sucks, hire babes. Why do you think people watch Baywatch? For the tense action scenes and RADA style acting?...damn, I'm not even gonna bother explaining the pathetic plot of TSMOGP to you guys..just don't bother watching this because it's so bad that you would be better off spending those 2 hours taking a dump. Buy it for your worst enemy. No, that would be too cruel actually.

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Tokyo Joe *** - Reviewed by Oscar
(1949. Directed by Stuart Heisler. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Sessue Hayakawa)

"Years ago, I decided to make Tokyo my home town. I had it all fixed up. I had everything I need." A quote of EvilKris? No. These words were spoken by none other than Humphrey Bogart. Yes, that's right. There is a movie in which the Sam Spade guy plays a Japanophile. Did you ever wonder what it would be like if there was a sequel to "Casablanca"? That is one of the most talked about what-ifs in movie history. What is often overlooked is that there was a sequel to "Casablanca" in the form of "Tokyo Joe". Rick is now Joe, Casablanca is changed to Tokyo, the Scandinavian girl is replaced with a Russian one, the fat man is no longer fat, "As Time Goes By" is traded with "These Foolish Things" (which, incidentally, has become a standard jazz number in spite of the obscurity of the movie) but beyond that the basic elements are the same. Joe owned a bar-cum-gambling-joint in Tokyo before WWII which looks suspiciously like "Rick's Cafe Americaine". He returns after the war on an invitation from a friend to a potentially profitable business a la The Third Man. Once there, he is reunited with his former flame whom he thought had died but was alive and well, not to mention married to a high ranking American diplomat. He soon discovers that she is seriously in deep shit. Thus he bends his principles and kow tows to her asshole husband to save her skin and cuts a deal with a sleazy Japanese baron without really knowing what kind of a mess he is walking into. The Japanese in this movie are as phony as the Arabs in Casablanca. The whole thing was probably shot on a set in Hollywood with a few newsreel footage cut into it. Sessue Hayakawa (who is the colonel in "The Bridge Over River Kwai") appears as Joe's sidekick and speaks bungled Japanese. I always had the impression that he was a first generation Japanese but I must have been wrong. This guy clearly has no idea what Japanese is supposed to sound like. All the same, it was fun watching Bogey as a Japanophile. (He even initiates a conversation with a long lost friend by telling him that he has gained some weight.) The last person you would expect to see in this genre. A solid three stars.

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Tokyo no Kyujitsu ** - Reviewed by Oscar
(1991, Directed by Naoki Nagao, Starring Kaori Kawamura, Eddie Constantine)

I would not have even thought of reviewing this movie if Kris had not told us to review *gaijin* movies. Well, this forgotten stinker is the only Japanese movie I know which was filmed almost entirely in English. It also features the oddest Asian-Gaijin duo in the history of film. An English speaking Japanese teenage girl and an American septuagenarian. The girl is played by Kaori Kawamura, who is half Japanese and half Russian and speaks fluent Russian as well as English. She is short but she is really cute and has great tits. The only time she speaks Japanese in the whole movie is when she is talking to herself, and she talks to herself in *poetry*! The old man is played by Eddie Constantine.
Eddie Constantine, in case you want to know (and normal people do not), appeared in a lot of worthless movies (at last count 91) most notably the cult junk-a-piece "Broadway Jungle" (1955) which can be summarized as "Phil Tucker does Ed Wood". If you do not know what that means, it means "Moron does Dickhead", "Incompetent movie director does Brainless same", "Tasteless does Revolting", "Shemp does Moe" .... He also starred in "Passport to Shame" whose only notable feature was that it was banned in Finland. (Why did they bother?) Also "SOS Pacific", "It lives Again" (aka "It's Alive II"), "The Long Good Friday" and "Alphaville". In short, this man has been in the Twilight Zone of cult genres all his life.
The plot is so stupid it is not even worth mentioning. An old robber-baron in a stretch limo driven by a punk guy with pink Mohawk hair, is prowling the streets of Tokyo in search of "Tokyo no Kyujitsu", or "Tokyo Holiday", which is said to be the next big thing in the world of designer drugs. (The title is a play on "The Roman Holiday") He has come all the way from New York on the strength of a story in a tabloid full of reports on UFO sightings and such. Unable to find his way around Tokyo, he enlists the help of a lonely displaced girl with whom he forms something of a bond.
There is utterly no action throughout. The story gets nowhere. The ending is pointless ... or is it?
You would be bored to death with this movie until you realize that the point of this movie is not to tell any story, but to stream the MTVesque picture-scape. The nightlife of bored Tokyo teens was never more surreal or real. This is not a movie to sit and watch. This is something to keep on the TV screen as visual background music when you are doing something else. This is an Objet d'Art to have around in your apartment when you are feeling as lonely and displaced as Kawamura or Constantine. When Japan around you is a MTVesque picture-scape just streaming away.
All told, this movie fits in the mold (or the non-mold) of an Eddie Constantine movie. Here is something someone said about one of his movies somewhere else on the internet. "If one had to use just one word to sum up this movie that word would have to be weird. It is a film that constantly challenges our preconceptions, our expectations, and, as a result, manages to be both deeply disturbing and very funny at the same time." That, of course, is just about the definition of a cult movie and the description fits just about every Constantine movie, including this one.
All Gaijin-Asian romance movies are exercises in artistic weirdness. (ex. The Pillow Book, Hiroshima mon Amour) But this movie challenges our preconceptions of the already anti-mainstream genre. It is a lousy movie and a pain to sit through, but just for pulling the rug from under my feet, I give it a charitable two stars.

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Tokyo Raiders ***** - Reviewed by James
(2000, Directed by Jingle Ma, Starring Tony Leung, Ekin Cheng, Kelly Chan, Cecilia Cheung)

One of the big Hong Kong crowd pleasers released during the Chinese New Year, Tokyo Raiders is an excellent James Bond style chase through the streets of Japan's capital city. It starts with HK babe Macy (Kelly Chen) being left waiting at the altar when her Japanese groom Takahashi doesn't show up. Worried that he's in some sort of trouble, she goes to his strangely empty apartment only to find an irritating interior designer (Ekin Cheng) waiting for his payment. The two team up and head off to Tokyo in search of Takahashi and along the way meet up with a private eye (Tony Leung) and his gang of sexy Japanese assistants who are also looking for the mysterious man. It doesn't end there though, also in search of Takahashi are the Japanese Mafia and American CIA with everyone using Macy to get to him first. In the midst of so much pursuing and running this movie manages to pack more twists and turns than a hundred flights of spiral stairs yet it's a great action packed film. With guns, car chases, kung fu and a collection of babes (both Japanese and Chinese), Tokyo Raiders is a perfect example of how Hong Kong cinema is often superior to its western counterparts (IMHO).

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Violent Cop ***** - Reviewed by Kris
(1987, Directed by Takeshi Kitano, Starring Takeshi Kitano)

Starring Beat Takeshi (he looks like a twat on TV but boy can he act a hard-man when he wants to) as a copper chasing a Yakuza all over Tokyo. Takeshi's got this daughter (or is it his sister) who's hooked on crack given to her by the Yaksters, who make her pay for it by repeatedly raping her (submissive Japanese woman getting raped scenes anybody? anyone??). Kitano's made quite a few of these hard-bastard against hard-bastard movies, and this one's the golden crust on top of the pile of shit let me tell you. The scenes are what make this movie, like, the one where Kitano chases the big boss guy into the street, only to be stabbed up by the bad guy. Well, Kitano's like holding onto the knife so that it doesn't go any deeper, whilst his hands are getting cut to crap, and then he nuts the bad guy. So the bad guy's on the floor trying to pull out his gun, whilst these two innocent O.L's are watching the whole thing in shock. Kitano run's over and kicks the gun just in time out of his range, which only results in one of the O.L's getting her head blown off..That scene was just so wicked and hard-hitting, you see this O.L screaming her head off at her mate on the floor in a pool of blood with bits of brain and stuff hanging out..dude.. And what about this scene if that hasn't tickled your fancy. Kitano's younger copper buddy and some other's go to this crimes house to nick him, and when they get there, the crims still humping his girlfriend and is half-naked when they kick his door in, so naturally, the coppers think they're gonna batter him easily, so they all go for him one on one. You think they're beating him down, but all of a sudden he has a come-back and starts actually kicking them all in, before dashing out the window. Shocked, the young copper runs after him, judo-throws him to the ground, but gets knocked down himself. As the cops getting up, the villain picks up a baseball bat and SMACK, dude, you see the cops head just CRACK right open..I was staring at the screen for 5 minutes after, like, where has this movie been all my life?? needless to say, the other pissed off copper's chase after the criminal and crush him against the wall with their car at full speed..the whole film's like that from start to finish. Like Pulp Fiction but without the comedic element. Oh and you just gotta see what Kitano does to himself and his daughter at the end!!
Do yourself a favor and seek this movie out, it can't be that hard to find. You'll worship Beat Takeshi after this movie, despite himself making a prick of himself every night on J-TV. The movie's amazing, honestly, and anyway, it'll improve the way you usually say "Get that f*king piece of shit and kill him!!" in Japanese eh?? good one to try in your Japanese class next time!!

By the way, is it just me or do the rest of you also think Beat Takeshi looks like what Harvey Keitel would if he was Japanese?

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