Friday, November 29, 2013


OK folks, here’s a Hong Kong shocker so disgusting I was literally jumping out of my chair (and by literally, I mean literally, not “almost” as the word has come to mean in the minds of many). There’s a jump scare just seconds into Murderer (2009) that's so repulsive, I almost (there, see the difference?) had to look away. Nevertheless, I was standing behind my chair and that’s saying summat … I’m no babe in the woods when it comes to shocking Asian cinema, so if this flick got under my skin, chances are it’s gonna mess with you as well.

Aaron Kwok plays Ling, an amnesiac cop who’s trying to figure out who’s framing him for a string of serial killings, as well as the horrendous near-murder of his partner (the latter lies jacked-up in the hospital for the majority of the film, having been done over with a power drill and tossed off the roof of an apartment building). It doesn’t help things when Ling discovers the power drill in question (the weapon of choice in all the murders) in the pump room of the apartment building, then notices his own (same model) is missing. As the film progresses, we find ourselves deeper and deeper in “is this guy just fucking nuts?” territory. When the denouement arrives, it's so outlandish, you’re really wondering whether this is all just a weird fantasy playing out in Ling’s head.

But man, the gory bits are truly disturbing. They could have just shown the long, black hair hanging out of the oven; we would have gotten that there's a head in there. We really didn’t need to see Ling open it and look inside to find the contents cooking … Meanwhile, Ling himself is no saint, and as the pressure and paranoia grows, he winds up doing some nasty things himself. The film is a moral quagmire, and nothing is as it seems. I love it!

As in the previous post, I award no points for originality of title. But in Murderer, I sense a yearning for the good old days of 80s/90s Category III madness. Director Roy Chow (Nightfall) is just getting started, and, I predict, is one to watch.  However, Murderer is not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach, so you might want to wait ’til after the movie to order that pizza …

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Horror Stories

A couple of posts back I mentioned a Korean horror anthology, and here it is, Horror Stories (2012). I really wasn’t in the mood — it’s a screener, and I always feel obligated to watch ’n blog when someone sends me one, but then I put it off because it becomes that thing I have to do, and I’m so immature that I go into avoidance mode. So the thing has been sitting there for weeks, but I finally forced myself to watch it.

And you know what? It’s really good! No points for the title, but if you like Asian horror, you’re sure to enjoy this creepy quartet of stories (plus a somewhat disturbing frame story) directed by a half dozen k-horror filmmakers. As is often the case with omnibus horror flicks, the frame story involves someone telling scary stories that are then acted out. In this case, the teller is a teenage girl who’s been kidnapped by a serial killer.

The first tale involves two little kids who may or may not be in hell. It’s the most jump-scare heavy of the vignettes, courtesy of director Jeong Beom-sik (Epitaph). The second installment involves a serial killer on a plane. This is probably the weakest of the four, directed by Lim Dae-woong (Bloody Reunion). Number three concerns a young bride-to-be and the wealthy man who thinks she’s good enough to eat … literally. Finally, we have a mini zombie epic that takes place almost completely in a speeding ambulance.

You know, in the years since I wrote Asia Shock, I’ve found myself watching such films less and less. Seems kind of unpleasant anymore. But then I’ll watch one, and I get sucked right in all over again and wind up having a great time. Go figure. Thanks to Shade Rupe for sending the screener, courtesy of Artsploitation Films. BTW, lest we forget, I coined the term “artsploitation” in Asia Shock back in 2006. You’re welcome.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Yakuza Hunters I and II

If you’re looking for an homage to the grand old Toei exploitation pictures of the 70s, you can’t go far wrong with Yakuza Hunters I and II (2012). First off you have scrumptious Japanese cult actress and former adult video star Asami Sugiura (RoboGeisha, The Machine Girl) running around half undressed (in the first film at least), killing yakuza by the dozen. Her character (conveniently named Asami) was formerly a sukeban (girl gang) boss until her best friend betrayed her and started moving coke for the mob. Things got ugly after that and, well, the ex-friend and the yakuza gang are on her shit/hit list.

Be warned, these films contain oceans of blood and extreme gore — the second film opens with a woman being raped with a chainsaw … yeah, really. And fairly graphically. This shit ain’t subtle. There’s a vicious streak running through these films (particularly the second one) that’s rather repellant. But you can’t say they don’t go over the top. Way over!

The first film is more satirical and sexy, the latter darker and meaner (a baby is put to the sword, various horrible mutilations, etc.), so depending on your inclination, you decide which one works for you. I liked the first one better. Asami has a bunch of other girls who help her with her yakuza hunting, and they tend to run around in skimpy outfits and fight with samurai swords. Yosh!

Asami likes to chop off the pinkies of every yakuza she kills and wears them in a bandolier across her chest (see photo above, click to enlarge). Something about a strikingly hot chick wearing fingers — it’s an image you won’t soon forget. And she has superpowers! She can catch bullets and wing them back at you with the same force, and you don’t want to know what happens when she flings one of those fingers …

Supposedly these films were going to be a trilogy, but wound up condensed to two titles. However, you could be forgiven for thinking there are indeed three films, as the first one has been released with two different titles: Yakuza Hunters: Final Death Ride Battle and Yakuza Hunters: The Ultimate Battle Royale (the second picture is out as Yakuza Hunters: The Revenge Duel in Hell, as well as just plain Yakuza Hunters: Duel in Hell).

Coming soon to Netflix and available on DVD.