Wednesday, November 24, 2021

DISSOLUTION CEREMONY (1967)

This is the first of several yakuza pics by Kinji Fukasaku that bridged the ninkyo eiga he seemed to eschew in the '60s with the jitsuroku that put him on the map during the '70s. Since I prefer the former while admiring his trailblazing contributions to the latter, I find these transitional films his most interesting. Originally titled KAISAN SHIKI [DISSOLUTION CEREMONY], it opened in Honolulu on June 5, 1967 as FALLING OUT and was booked a few times at the Toei-owned Linda Lea Theater in downtown L.A. in the early to mid '70s, but has been one of Fukasaku's more sought-after films in recent years. The English-subbed version that turned up on YouTube over the summer carries the title CEREMONY OF DISBANDING.

Kimono-clad Sawaki (Koji Tsuruta) emerges from prison eight years after killing the head of a rival clan over a land dispute to find his group disbanded and all of the chiefs now wearing suits and pretending to be legitimate businessmen. Kubo (Kyosuke Machida), for example, runs a so-called talent agency that gets its clients - naive young women who want to be singers - hooked on junk so they can work off their debts stripping and hooking in Okinawa dive bars. The landfill Sawaki killed for now houses an oil complex and factories that billow pollution into the air, a deal that only benefited his friend Shimumura (Fumio Watanabe), whose construction company is presently at odds with another former yakuza chief, Sakamura (Hosei Komatsu), and a corrupt congressman (Nobuo Kaneko) over a similarly shady land deal. One of the soon-to-be-displaced tenants is Sawaki's ex-wife Mie (Misako Watanabe), who wants nothing to do with him and has kept the existence of their son a secret. Another is Dr. Omachi, who runs a free clinic on the land and once saved Shimamura's life, but is now caught between the two opposing groups.

Into this typically busy plot saunters Sakai (Tetsuro Tamba), another chivalrous sandals-and-kimono man from another era, who's out to settle the score with Sawaki for chopping off his arm during that pivotal raid eight years earlier.

“A showdown?” Sawaki says, genuinely surprised when Sakai tosses a tanto to him along with the challenge. “I haven't heard that word in a long time. I thought all the yakuza had moved on to other jobs. I didn't think there were any left.”

“I guess I'm old-fashioned,” Sakai responds, “unfortunately for you.”

A look of relief passes over Sawaki's face as he prepares to unsheathe the blade. “No – I haven't felt this happy since I got out of jail.”

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Movie Ad of the Week: VICIOUS CONNECTION (1973)

The Toho production HANGYAKU NO HŌSHŪ opened in Honolulu on June 29, 1973 under the title VICIOUS CONNECTION. The Honolulu Advertiser wrote: "VICIOUS CONNECTION, dealing with dope traffic from Vietnam to Tokyo and Okinawa, is the new movie at the Toho Theatre. Tetsuya Watari plays a photographer who uses his camera as a blackmail weapon. He is on the trail of a narcotics smuggler (Mikio Narita) and his beautiful contact (Haruko Wanibuchi). Watari meets a former gangster (Yujiro Ishihara) who is seeking revenge against Narita, his former partner. Watari and Ishihara become allies and hijack the dope shipment. But Narita threatens the life of Haruko, who turns out to be Ishihara's sister, and demands the dope in return for the girl."

Co-billed with ZATOICHI'S CONSPIRACY, it hit the Toho La Brea in Los Angeles on October 20, 1973...
...and the Kokusai in San Francisco on December 26, 1973.
The IMDb lists it as REBELLION REWARD. Anyone know where to get a copy?

Sunday, August 01, 2021

Movie Ad of the Week: THE TOURNAMENT (1973)


For those of you who read my article for the Deuce's Mubi Notebook last week, The Samurai Cinema Slaughter of '74, here's an interesting footnote: Before he made wide release action movies like DEATH MACHINES, WEAPONS OF DEATH and OMEGA COP, filmmaker Paul Kyriazi shot a handful of color 16mm karate/swordplay shorts such as BLADE OF DOOM and TRAPPED that were contemporary remakes of SWORD OF DOOM and THREE OUTLAW SAMURAI.  The last of these was THE TOURNAMENT, an hour-long period samurai movie that Kyriazi filmed in 35mm black-and-white Techniscope with a cast that includes Jennifer Ashley, later seen in THE CENTERFOLD GIRLS, BARN OF THE NAKED DEAD, PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, INSEMINOID and others. There were screenings, including the four in this ad for the Gemini Cinema in Lompoc, CA in September 1973, before the film was picked up by a non-theatrical distribution company called Threshold Films and converted to 16mm for the college circuit. Only a 3/4-inch copy of THE TOURNAMENT survives today, and it was included as a bonus feature on the Blu-ray release of Kyriazi's NINJA BUSTERS from Garagehouse Films.


Sunday, July 25, 2021

Movie Ad of the Week: WALKING THE EDGE and GHOULIES (both 1985)

The first two releases from Charles Band's Empire Pictures opened on the same day (January 18, 1985) on opposite coasts: WALKING THE EDGE in the New York tri-state area and GHOULIES in the Los Angeles area.
And don't forget, WALKING THE EDGE is now available on Blu-ray from Fun City Editions, fully loaded with exciting and informative extras including an audio commentary by Temple of Schlock's Chris Poggiali and KING COHEN producer Matt Verboys!

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Mystery Movies Solved! The Kung Fu Edition Pt. II


In the past year we've identified a number of martial arts movies that played in the U.S. under alternate titles, but the last time we did one of these 10-title Mystery Movie posts was back in 2018. Here's another 10-pack to hold you over until These Fists Break Bricks by Grady Hendrix & Chris Poggiali hits the streets this September!

HUANG SE SHA SHOU (1972) a.k.a. THE YELLOW KILLER and FROM BANGKOK WITH ORDERS TO KILL, was first released in the U.S. by Joseph Green Pictures as KUNG FU-RY. It resurfaced on the action track as MAD DOG DRAGON in 1983.

CHUNG KUO REN (1972) a.k.a. THE CHINESE, was released twice by Howard Mahler Films in the '70s, as THE DRAGON'S VENGEANCE and THE DRAGON'S EXECUTIONER. Unifilm International put it out in the '80s as THE IRON-FIST REBEL, with this poster that recycles photos of Barry Chan from Unifilm's MEAN STREETS OF KUNG FU poster.

GOLDEN RAIDERS OF KUNG FU is another Unifilm release, this one titled BU BU ZHUI ZONG (1974) a.k.a. CHASE STEP BY STEP.

HEI BAO (1973) a.k.a. THE BLACK PANTHER was released in the late '70s by Cinema Shares as BLACK CAT OF KUNG-FU.

LEE'S CHALLENGE is really CHIU CHOW (1974) a.k.a. SUPERGIRL KUNG FU CHIU CHOW and BRUCE LEE'S SISTER.

DO REN TOU (1975) a.k.a. GAMBLING FOR HEAD, was released as SAVAGE BARBARIAN soon after the box-office and home video success of CONAN THE BARBARIAN.

We're pretty sure BRUCE VS. HIS BLOOD BROTHER is ZHEN JIA GONG FU (1977) a.k.a. THE INSTANT KUNG FU MAN, starring John Liu and Hwang Jang-lee.

YU QING TING (1978) a.k.a. MURDER OF MURDERS, was first released by Ark Films circa 1979 as RETURN OF THE 5 FINGERS OF DEATH. Unifilm International reissued it as JADE-WINGED DRAGON in 1984.

THE SHAOLIN FIGHTERS (1978) a.k.a. PA-CHUN MARTIAL ARTS and THE 7 DISCIPLES OF SHAOLIN, was unleashed to action theaters in 1984 as MAGNIFICENT SEVEN OF KUNG FU.

And finally, since OCTOPUSSY did bang-up bucks at the box-office in the summer of 1983, someone at L&T/Ark thought OCTOFIST would be a good title for the U.S. release of XIE QI BIAN (1982) a.k.a. THE BLOODY MISSION.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

WALKING THE EDGE now available on Blu-ray from Fun City Editions!

Hey everyone! WALKING THE EDGE is now available on Blu-ray from Fun City Editions, fully loaded with exciting and informative extras including an audio commentary that Temple of Schlock's Chris Poggiali recorded with La-La Land Records' Matt Verboys (producer of the excellent Larry Cohen documentary KING COHEN).

Cult movie icons Robert Forster and Joe Spinell star with Nancy Kwan in this gritty action drama. Jason Walk (Forster), a down on his luck cabbie and numbers runner, has a chance at redemption when he crosses paths with revenge-seeking Christine Holloway (Kwan). She’s after the gang of violent criminals, led by Brusstar (Spinell), who her murdered her husband and son. Jason unwittingly drives Christine to their lair and when she is unable to finish the job, a hellbent Brusstar and his goons hunt the pair with a vengeance.

Jason Walk’s cab prowls the seedier, grimier locales of early ‘80s Los Angeles and picks up passengers—gamblers, prostitutes and addicts—who match this environment. As such, WALKING THE EDGE is both a sleazy urban thriller and a valuable visual record of an L.A. that has long since been scrubbed clean and redeveloped. And like Max Cherry in JACKIE BROWN, Jason Walk is the kind of everyman-turned hero that Forster excelled at playing throughout his career.

WALKING THE EDGE has been restored in 4K from its original camera negative and now makes it worldwide Blu-ray debut.

Directed by: Norbert Meisel
Starring: Robert Forster, Nancy Kwan, Joe Spinell, A Martinez, Aarika Wells, Wayne Woodson, James McIntire, Russ Courtney
1983 / 94 min / 1.85:1 / English Mono

Additional info:
• Region Free Blu-ray
• New 4K restoration from its 35mm original camera negative
• “Scoring the Edge,” a new video interview with composer Jay Chattaway
• “Det. Jurgensen Remembers Forster and Spinell,” a new video interview with “French Connection Cop” Randy Jurgensen
• “Breaking Point,” a new video essay by filmmaker Chris O’Neill
• Theatrical trailer
• Image gallery
• Booklet with a new essay by filmmaker and writer Jim Hemphill
• Newly recorded audio commentary by film historian Chris Poggiali and film producer Matt Verboys
• Archival audio commentary by director Norbert Meisel and stars Robert Forster and Nancy Kwan
• Reversible cover artwork

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Movie Ad of the Week: ESCAPE THE FURY (1982)

WU XING BA QUAN (1977) a.k.a. SECRET OF CHINESE KUNG FU, chopped and kicked its way into two theaters in Fort Myers, FL under the title ESCAPE THE FURY on July 9, 1982. Ark Films was the distributor.