Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/4


Battle Royale (2000)
(3rd viewing) d. Fukasaku, Kinji (Japan) 122min
Due to its taboo subject matter (organized competition featuring kids killing kids killing kids), it’s unlikely we’ll see a legit North American release of Fukasaku’s astounding futuristic vision anytime soon. Too bad, as this stellar thriller is a superb arterial spray flick as well as a haunting social satire. A random class of 15-year-olds are chosen to battle each other to the death on an island fortress, armed with an assortment of weapons ranging from AK-47’s to crossbows to tazers to pot lids, forming alliances and magnifying adolescent rivalries to their natural, lethal conclusions. A winner from start to finish.

Battle Royale II (2003) (1st viewing) d. Fukasaku, Kinji/Fukasaku, Kenta (Japan) 134min
Having the Japanese hambone equivalent of Steven Seagal (in place of the cool menace of “Beat” Takashi) laying out the BR rules to our new band of juvenile delinquents is the first misstep of this muddled follow-up. The contestant’s new objective is to seek out and kill the sole survivor of the original film’s competition, who has declared open terroristic war on all adults, and whose stronghold is, coincidentally enough, on an island much like the original film’s. The kids are recruited into combat, using the same explosive electronic necklaces with a co-ed tag-team setup, such that if one competitor dies, so does his/her corresponding partner (which seems like a rather impractical handicap to place on one’s fighting forces). While rich in bloodshed, it lacks any bite or subtlety, with the 2-hour-plus running time further wearing out its welcome.


Chinese Ghost Story, A (1987)
(2nd viewing) d. Ching, Siu-Tung (Hong Kong) 98min
A stunning medley of genres (slapstick comedy, supernatural tale, wire-fu action, romance) culminate in a hugely enjoyable cinematic stir-fry from Hong Kong director Siu-Tung Ching and producer Tsui Hark. Bumbling tax collector Leslie Cheung stumbles into a world of otherworldly goings-on when he encounters an enticing female ghost (the luminous Wang Tsu Hsien aka Joey Wang) luring lustful men to their deaths, reducing them to shriveled-up stop-motion zombies. The brief musical interlude where gruff hermit Taoist swordsman Wo Ma busts a move in the forest is a surreal highlight, and the heroes’ final confrontation with a matronly tree demon – sporting possibly the deadliest tongue ever displayed onscreen – is among the more imaginative and energetic finales one is likely to find. While some elements are less successful than others, the “spirited” originality and panache of the presentation carries the day.

Chinese Ghost Story II, A (1990)
(1st viewing) d. Ching, Siu-Tung (Hong Kong) 104min
Not really a ghost story or a sequel, though its three leads return to the fray to battle evil spirits, demons and man-in-suit monsters. However, the real adventure lay in the actual viewing, as the DVD I had possessed no English subtitles – the "English" selection happened to be in French. Since I don't read French, so I'm thinking, "Okay, this’ll be like the good ol' bootleg days where you try to figure out what the hell is going on just from the visuals." I try to find an English audio dub, but turns out the "English" option is a guy providing commentary. But while very well informed, I soon realize that he keeps referencing shots that aren't on screen...until about a minute later. This continues and I realize that, yes, the audio commentary track is a full MINUTE ahead of the onscreen action. He'll say, "Like here, where the giant centipede shows up," and I'm like, "Okay, get ready for the giant centipede, I guess." All that said, the giant monsters, wild magic and wizardry made the experience more than enjoyable – since the intricate storylines are hardly the point here anyway.


First Time Views: 9
Repeats: 8
Total Films: 17

1 comment:

  1. I can burn you a copy of ACGSII with english subs if you like. It'll be from a VHS source, unfortunately, and probably not any better than a bootleg, but at least the subs are timed right.