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Hollywood mourns as James Shigeta, star of Die Hard, dies aged 81


James Shigeta

Actor James Shigeta, star of many Hollywood movies including Die Hard and Flower Drum Song, has passed away at the age of 81.

James Shigeta Flower Drum Song
James Shigeta, seen here (r) in 1961's Flower Drum Song, has died aged 81

In a statement to E! News on Monday, his agent said "It is with great sadness that I report the loss of my long-time friend and client James Shigeta… James passed peacefully in his sleep, July 28, 2014, at 2 p.m. The world has lost a great actor. Sadly, I lost a dear friend”.

Continue reading: Hollywood mourns as James Shigeta, star of Die Hard, dies aged 81

Actor James Shigeta Dies at 81

James Shigeta - Flower Drum Song (1961) Directed by Henry Koster Shown from left: Jack Soo, Nancy Kwan, Miyoshi Umeki, James Shigeta - Tuesday 29th July 2014

Actor James Shigeta Dies at 81

James Shigeta - Flower Drum Song (1961) Directed by Henry Koster Shown: James Shigeta, Reiko Sato - Tuesday 29th July 2014

Actor James Shigeta Dies at 81

James Shigeta - The Crimson Kimono (1959) Directed by Samuel Fuller Shown: James Shigeta, Victoria Shaw, Glenn Corbett - Tuesday 29th July 2014

Actor James Shigeta Dies at 81

James Shigeta - The Crimson Kimono (1959) Directed by Samuel Fuller Shown: James Shigeta,Glenn Corbett - Tuesday 29th July 2014

James Shigeta

Actor James Shigeta Dies at 81

James Shigeta - Flower Drum Song (1961) Directed by Henry Koster Shown: Miyoshi Umeki, James Shigeta - Tuesday 29th July 2014

The Yakuza Review


OK
In 1974, the advertisements for Sidney Pollack's Americanized Japanese gangster movie The Yakuza stated, "A man doesn't forget. A man pays his debts." Well, not in today's economy. But in 1974 paying debts meant something else. It meant honor and obligation and a code of duty among hired killers and thugs. The Japanese yakuza action movie was a staple of Japanese cinema in the 1970s, the films packed with high energy, low budgets, and gratuitous violence. Pollack's westernized version of the genre tamps down the action and examines the yakuza film like an English literature grad student, looking for subtext as characters engage in slow and ponderous dialogues about honor and duty before they erupt and pull out swords and shotguns and turn rooms into abattoirs. Neither a Japanese nor an American action film nor really a philosophical discourse over tea and sushi, The Yakuza doesn't know what it wants to be.

Robert Mitchum plays Harry Kilmer, a retired detective, called back into service by old World War II army pal George Tanner (Brian Keith), who asks for his help in rescuing his daughter, who is being held in Japan by the yakuza. Tanner knows Kilmer is owed a debt of honor by ex-yakuza member Tanaka Ken (Ken Takakura, the big Japanese star of all those '70s yakuza films) and convinces him to travel back to Japan to see if Ken will honor his obligation to Kilmer by infiltrating the yakuza gang holding his daughter and bringing her back home (significantly, the daughter is no more than a unconscious blip on the radar in The Yakuza). Once there, events spin out of control, and Kilmer and Ken become embroiled in ritual obligations and mayhem.

Continue reading: The Yakuza Review

Brother Review


Weak

Japan's king of the artistically extra-violent yakuza flick, Takeshi Kitano (aka "Beat" Takeshi), makes his English language debut in "Brother," a heavy, moody L.A. gangland drama that has all the bloody shootouts the writer-director-actor is known for, but loses its grip as it tries to grab for an emotional hook.

Kitano stars as a hunted Tokyo mob enforcer who escapes to Los Angeles after a turf war that left his clan decimated and his own brother acquiescing to the enemy. He muscles in on the operation of another, younger half-brother (Claude Maki) who is scraping by as a petty thug, and quickly organizes the brother's shabby crew into a merciless force poised to take over the local territories of both street and Mafia gangs.

There's a vicious circle, rise-and-fall element to Kitano's story in "Brother," as he rapidly builds a minor empire with his brother and another fiercely distrusting lieutenant, played by Omar Epps ("In Too Deep," "Love and Basketball") at his side. Just the gang's move from a small room in the back of a warehouse to a swanky office in a converted gymnasium (complete with leather couches, a redwood conference table and an accountant) should be enough to signal impending and violent storm clouds on the horizon in the minds of savvy moviegoers.

Continue reading: Brother Review

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