Saturday, June 14, 2008


Here is the trailer for the new Japanese low budget indie Bakabakance. The title roughly means stupid dance. Baka (stupid) is a great overused Japanese word. Apparently the movie's about a road trip a guy takes with his co-worker and the ex-girlfriend who left him for another guy. Read about it at Nippon Cinema.

And here's one with English subtitles for The Good The Bad and the Weird. I mentioned it earlier here.

More trailers here.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Kung fu film's wholesale use of vengeance as a plot device borders on self-parody. When the boom first went global in the early 70's vengeance was to wrong the evil doings of greedy oppressors. The Japanese were often targets, painted as the devilish scourge of modern China. Eventually films with higher production values, slightly more complex structures and less racially inspired themes would emerge, largely from the famed Shaw Brothers studios. Vengeance still ran rampant but style and choreography improved hand in hand. Directors like Liu Chia Liang, Chang Che and Chu Yuan defined the sensibilities of the kung fu film goldmine that came out of the 70's and 80's.

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978): This is the quintessential kung fu film. Its aboutness is the meaning of kung fu itself. The bare bones political plot was inspired by what would become a preferred storyline in the films of Chang Che and other kung fu period directors: the struggle of native Chinese rebelling against the evil Manchus that ruled over them during the Qing dynasty. The Manchu's kill young would be rebel San Te's father. San Te, on a vengeance fueled quest to depose the Manchu's, escapes to the Shaolin temple to learn martial arts. But the film concentrates on what it means to gain high martial skills and the ideal way those skills should be used. Vengeance is a given, but is superseded by greater principles. The idea of fighting for the good of society as a whole ends up taking precedence over individualistic motives and desires.

5 Superfighters (1978): This enjoyable kung fu yarn is stripped down to its bare elements. An evil kung fu expert comes to town challenging anyone he deems to be of lesser skill. His mission, he claims, is to 'correct bad kung fu.' He beats the hell out of an elder teacher. The teacher's 3 young disciples each find another teacher and learn new techniques to teach the evil kung fu guy a lesson and serve retribution to their master. Minimizing the structures of an already formulaic genre renders 5 Superfighters a trope-driven comic book. Yet it also, believe it or not, offers one of the most existentialist kung fu movies ever made. Every character in this films exists by and for kung fu only. This of course allows for a lot of fun and interesting displays of martial arts. Some highlights include the female kung fu master and the exhibitions of monkey kung fu. The archetypical villain is excellent and defined completely by his pure, immoral, yet principled quest for 'perfect kung fu.'