A bit of self-promotion here. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m also running a Sonny Chiba review blog called Sketches of Chiba with tons of reviews of classics as well as very rare films and TV shows. The blog can be found here:
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Karate Wars (Karate daisenso) (1978)
One of the few Japanese karate films made by some other studio than Toei, in this case, Shochiku. The film’s production background is actually more interesting than the movie itself. The film was produced by Ikki Kajiwara, the author of the comic books Karate Kiba and Karate for Life, which Toei had made into feature films with Sonny Chiba. It was intended as a starring project for Kajiwara’s brother Hisao Maki, who was a student of Masutatsu Oyama. The film failed to make Maki a star (for very obvious reasons) but he would later contribute to cinema as a screenwriter and novelist (e.g. Takashi Miike’s Big Bang Love, Juvenile A)
The film was shot in Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand, utilizing many local martial artists. It’s also spoken in various languages, including Japanese, English, Chinese and Thai. Unfortunately it’s a pretty poor film with an unremarkable storyline about a Japanese martial artist (Maki) who convinced to travel to Hong Kong and Thailand where he fights local fighters. It takes about half an hour before anything happens, but once the film moves to foreign locations it picks up some pace and remains watchable enough thanks to a steady delivery of action. Most of the fights happen when Maki is ambushed time after another on the streets.
Maki is amusingly wooden in the lead role, especially as an actor. His fights suffer from the (modern) Steven Seagal syndrome where he barely needs to do anything but walk around and the opponents drop dead. Although there is certain realism to the fight moves, he looks surprisingly slow compared to the likes of Sonny Chiba. While martial arts aficionados may get something out of it, the film is solely lacking in the fun department.
The film was set for a R1 DVD release a decade ago but the company went bankrupt before the disc came out. Shochiku released the film on DVD in Japan (without subs) a few years ago. The original trailer on the disc calls the movie “The 3rd film in the Chijo saikyo no karate (The Strongest Karate) series”. That’s a little confusing since the first two are documentary films, and this is a work of fiction. Also, the title of Karate Wars (Karate daisenso) makes no reference to the Chijo saikyo no karate series. I think the ad team probably came up with that connection just to sell the film. I don’t think anyone actually considers it a part of the series.
Review to be added at a later date
Review to be added at a later date
It was about three weeks ago that I was reading a review on Japan Cinema (japancinema.net) and said to myself “wow, this review really echoes my own opinions”. A moment later I realized exactly why it was so. Their reviewer, called Benjamin, had copied about 50% of his text from my review on my blog. As for the remaining 50%… let’s just say you could clearly see the reviewer has never seen the movie.
The review in question was Gun Woman, for which he copied his headline, first sentence, positives and negatives, and the entire last third of the review from my blog.
After realizing this, I sent Japan Cinema feedback. I assumed it had been the work of one unethical reviewer whose conduct had passed through their quality control. Two weeks later I had not received a reply, but instead Benjamin had posted another review, this time for the American movie Precious Find. That review was a compilation of bits and pieces from reviews by A.V. Club and several IMDb users.
I still believed it was just Mr. Benjamin who likes stealing other people’s reviews, until today I ran into their Profound Desires of the Gods review, posted four years ago by Japan Cinema’s top reviewer Marcello. This review was created by stealing from Electric Sheep Magazine, Cine Outsider, Game FAQ’s forum, and probably some other sources as well.
On Japan Cinema’s About page they describe themselves as an engagingly written life style project. Engagingly written perhaps, but by who?
Of course I never received reply to the two emails I sent or the two review comments I left.
Well done Japan Cinema, well done.
A brief look at the R2J Toei Deluxe Edition DVD release
Disc 2: Bonus Disc (DVD-5 / 4.13 GB)
– Behind the Scenes (53 min)
Billed as “Documentary”, this is almost an hour worth of behind the scenes footage from the action scenes, with optional commentary by producer / action director Fuyuhiko Nishi and action coordinator Misako Nagashima. Video footage of Richard Heselton standing on the roof with a helmet on his head while Takeda and Tobimatsu practice headkicks is worth seeing!
– Exhibition Match (9 min)
Rina Takeda vs. Kazutoshi Yokoyama. Stage event match, performing one of the film’s action scenes live.
– Shinjuku Premiere: Part 1 (19 min)
This is standard premiere until special guest Mayumi Uchida of AKB 48 shows up. Being a karate skilled girl (she practiced Kyokushin karate, that is, Sonny Chiba karate!) she and Takeda take a few rounds of jan ken pon. The winner gets to kick the loser!
– Shinjuku Premiere: Part 2 (12 min)
Discussion after the film. Takeda, Naka, Tobimatsu, Heselton,Kimura and Nishi attend.
– Ready. Steady. Go! (4 min)
KG music video using footage mainly from Angel Rina idol DVD. This may be the best extra on the disc – let’s just say Angel Rina is gonna sell like hot cakes after people get to see this.
– Poster Gallery (2 pictures)
Cast and Crew Introduction (text screens)
Disc 3: CD
Ready. Steady. Go! single, with standard and remix versions of the song. The CD appears to be limited to first press, in other words, will go out of print if isn’t already
Stylish carboard sleeve and amaray case with different artwork
note: film review can be found here
I had an interesting morning a few days ago, finding out my blog had topped its previous traffic records… at 10 am. I’m both honored and a little bit embarrassed by this visibility. Thank you Sushi Typhoon, and ありがとうございました、西村さん。ヘルドライバｰを見ることを楽しみにしています。