Monday, May 24, 2010

Operation: 101010 – Japan and Yakuza

As much as I liked the idea of my 999 Challenge last year I had promised myself not to get involved in such a project again this year as I sucked so awfully in it. When Final Girl, however, unveiled that she is going to have a similar Operation: 101010 I decided to give it another try with the proviso that I would not necessarily be blogging about the movies (errrghh, too much work) but instead may also just be allowed to tweet about them.

Five months in I have watched a number of movies in some of my chosen areas and now finished the first complete category: 10 Japanese movies (apart from Kaiju Eiga).

So if you have followed me on Twitter you would have noticed me referencing the following Japanese productions:

Yakuza Graveyard
Street Mobster
The Yin-Yang Master
The Street Fighter
Return of the Street Fighter
The Street Fighter's Last Revenge
Cops Vs Thugs
The Hidden Fortress
Graveyard of Honour
Japan Organized Crime Boss

Some of my tweets vanished into thin air, others generated some interesting discussions. What is quite clear from this list is that I may nearly have called this category “The Kinji Fukasaku Challenge” as this director clearly predominates the list and was quite a discovery for me.

I had previously only seen a few modern Yakuza movies by Takashi Miike and now wanted to familiarise myself with the classics of which I knew pretty much nothing about. So I borrowed Yakuza Graveyard and Street Mobster not knowing that they were from one and the same guy. Being absolutely wowed over by their very unusual styles it didn't take much to figure out that they were shot by the same director.

Imagine my surprise when I then also learned that Fukasaku was also behind the likes of The Green Slime and Battle Royale, two films I have always admired. I was absolutely stunned by the fact that Battle Royale, a production that feels like it was shot by a vigorous, highly talented, up-and-coming young film maker, was indeed made by a guy in or around his 80s at the time!

Needless to say I needed to learn more about his films and subsequently hired a couple more.

If I learnt a bit of a new director (for me at least) during that challenge, I also learnt a sad truth about myself that will likely expel me from the University of Movie Snobs forever and that is.... I really don't take to Akira Kurosawa. There, I said it. And it feels good.

Don't get me wrong: I am actually in awe of Rashomon and quite like The Seven Samurai, but over the last couple of years I noticed that it feels like quite a slog for me to make it through his other films. I never even made it through Kagemusha. And it now took me nearly two weeks and a handful of small attempts to make it through The Hidden Fortress. At that stage then I felt that I had cheated myself for far too long and needed to stand up and openly proclaim that, yeah, Kurosawa is really not my thing. (Give me Fukasaku over him any time.)

What else was there?

I pretended I was Christian Slater and watched the Streetfighter trilogy in the space of just 24 hours. I had seen the first one before but in a God awful copy and as a result wasn't all too impressed, but seeing the trilogy in all its goresome Martial sequences was a lorra lorra fun. Now how all I need to do is to get a hold of the Sister Streetfighter movies.


Aaron said...

Glad to see you're still participating in OP:101010. I had to quit about a month after I started because I had other stuff going on, but I just re-started it a week or so ago. I plan on reaching my goal by the end of the year. Good luck!

Holger Haase said...

Yeah, I noticed your blog post about it. Watching 100 movies in a year as such is a walk in the park for me, but watching a number of specific categories (and then write/tweet about them) is something different altogether. Blogging about those is quite a challenge, so I'll keep looking out for your posts.