Hideo Sakaki

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Azumi Review


Very Good
When underground director Ryuhei Kitamura announced that he'd be making Azumi, his first film inside the Japanese studio system after a successful run of independent films (Versus, Aragami), fans may have had just cause to fear. Not only was he joining the mainstream machine, but he was also directing -- for the first time -- a script in which he had no hand. As it turns out, there's no need for concern.

Azumi opens in war-torn feudal Japan. A clan of assassins, raised from youth by their master Gessai (Yoshio Harada, resembling no one so much as a Japanese Burt Reynolds), endeavor to wipe out three warlords bent on waging yet another bloody struggle to rule the country.

Continue reading: Azumi Review

Versus Review


Good
Ryuhei Kitamura's cult classic Versus is a guilty pleasure full of entertainment value. The setup is beyond the pale of outrageous, confusing, and overblown: A portal to the underworld exists in a Japanese forest, where a shootout between mobsters and excaped convicts just so happens to go down. This results in much carnage but even more confusion as the dead suddenly spring back to life: The portal basically creates zombies out of the dead, and not just of those killed today but of all the dead guys the gangsters have dumped here over the years. This is an extremely convoluted way to get us into a series of gun- and swordfights, all shot with impressively overstyled arrogance.

Azumi Review


Very Good
When underground director Ryuhei Kitamura announced that he'd be making Azumi, his first film inside the Japanese studio system after a successful run of independent films (Versus, Aragami), fans may have had just cause to fear. Not only was he joining the mainstream machine, but he was also directing -- for the first time -- a script in which he had no hand. As it turns out, there's no need for concern.

Azumi opens in war-torn feudal Japan. A clan of assassins, raised from youth by their master Gessai (Yoshio Harada, resembling no one so much as a Japanese Burt Reynolds), endeavor to wipe out three warlords bent on waging yet another bloody struggle to rule the country.

Continue reading: Azumi Review

Battlefield Baseball Review


Good
As sports horror movies go, Battlefield Baseball has to be in the top two or three up there with, well, uh... something, right?

Try to imagine Shaolin Soccer with even less of a plot but with zombies mixed in. Our heroes (a Bad News Bear collection) comprise a highschool baseball team -- and they're nervous about an upcoming game -- not because the team is so good on the field, but because they're undead mutants and have a tendency to rip apart their opponents limb from limb.

Continue reading: Battlefield Baseball Review

Hideo Sakaki

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