We here at JPFmovies hear a lot about Manga—though we have never read one they seem to be the basis for a lot of Japanese films. So let’s take a look at some more Manga that have made it to the big screen. Samurai Commando Mission 1549 (2005).
Yes JPFmovie fans by your request we are going to look at some more manga books that have evolved to the big screen. This manga series focusing on the adventures of a modern-day Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (Japan’s army) unit that accidentally travels through time to the Warring States period of Japanese history.
The Japanese army unit is conducting an experiment which is meant to shield military equipment from the effects of solar flares with the use of electromagnetic shields. However, these shields open a time portal and all soldiers assigned to the test suddenly find themselves stranded on a battlefield in the Sengoku period (the year 1549) and under attack by a samurai army. Initially a number of the soldiers are killed which was not a bight move by the primitive warriors as the soldiers retaliate with modern formidable arsenal. Several hours later, a reverse effect occurs, and a wounded samurai warrior suddenly appears in the 21st century.
Following so far? Fast forward a couple of years and black holes are starting to appear all over Japan—the result of a changing timeline as the modern soldiers live and operate in the past. Well the Army needs to do something to prevent the destruction of what is modern day Japan.
Conditions are right to repeat the experiment and send a new unit back in time to bring back the stranded soldiers in an effort to stop the potential destruction of modern day Japan. Well the samurai brought forward in time has been living here for a couple of years and after suffering some culture shock is chomping at the bit to go back to his own time and resume his place as a samurai. Well we see the unit prepare to go back in time and set thing right, but some frustrating precautions are taken. For instance, the soldiers are bringing non-lethal bio-degradable bullets in an effort to minimize their footprint. Fools! They are going into one of the most violent times in history and they are worried about biodegradable bullets?
When the newcomers first arrive back in time they are ambushed by a bunch of samurai just waiting to kill them. It seems that the first bunch of soldiers have used their technology to take over with the unit commander killing the powerful warlord Oda Nobunaga and taking his place. These soldiers have used their modern technology to not only survive but to conquer and have started building things like a refinery and a bomb that will destroy half of Mount Fuji since these guys want to rewrite Japanese history. Also with their advanced technology they have been able to upkeep their equipment and weapons.
Long story short there is a struggle between the soldiers trying to conquer Japan and change history and our newcomers who want to restore the timeline. With the window for the people to return to the future closing a battle of wits and new and old technology rages. After destroying the oil refinery the base of operations for the soldiers bent on changing the timeline is destroyed and the people barely make it back to the future so to speak.
Yeah the movie is kind of predictable but it does look at one of the scenarios that probably everyone has thought at one time or another; that is, what would happen if somehow modern day military technology were transported back in time and used against primitive weapons. The JPFmovies staff is currently researching this issue but there have been several American movies that have sent modern day aircraft carriers back to Pearl Harbor for instance and how it would change the outcome of history. Besides it is also kind of fun to see modern day weapons devastate primitive “screw heads” as Bruce Campbell put it in Army of Darkness.
It is a lite film, predictable but not unwatchable.
Remember Tom Cruise and Michael Caine in Cocktail? Yeah it was an awful movie but leave it to the Japanese to produce a miniseries about bartenders and make it work! Bartender (2011).
Hello JPFmovies fans and welcome to another review of something a little different. The JPFmovies staff remembers watching Tom Cruise and Michael Caine in the 1988 film Cocktail and wondering just how low Michael Caine could go after his stellar performance in Blame it on Rio (1984) and rolling our eyes at the thin plot, predictable ending and an overall shitty film—but of course earned a ton of money. After that fiasco, members of the JPFmovies staff were certain that we had seen the last of media glorifying bartenders who, according to Michael Caine were “the aristocrats of the working class.” However, in our relentless efforts to review the good, the bad and the ugly the JPFmovies staff was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon Bartender (2011) a Japanese mini-series based on a manga of the same name.
Ryu Sasakura (Masaki Aiba) is a bar tending prodigy who won a European cocktail contest. He got into an argument with his instructor and was fired. In a state of dejection he came back to his native country of Japan. He finds work again in Tokyo and also meets Miwa Kurushima. Meanwhike, Ryu Sasakura is able to listen to his customer’s problems and help alleviate their worries with his special cocktail mixes including work and love and family troubles, one drink at a time. Our bar tending prodigy even takes on a disciple and enters him into a contest—only to have his lose magnificently!
Why is the Japanese series tolerable? Because it does not portray the bartender as some flamboyant circus performer out to land a babe, some cash or another material recompense but a person who takes his craft seriously and listens to his patrons without judgment while providing honest, simple advice. He even goes so far as to track the water used in a customer’s hometown to make the drink authentic. What more could you want in a bartender? No Ryu was not flinging glasses three feet in the air while dancing to some 80’s rock, he made his drinks with precision, attention to detail and an eye to match the booze with its drinker. A consummate professional. This is not a heavy and gritty film that makes you sweat, but a nice lite series that provides a decent respite from the world today, much like going to your favorite watering hole. Take a few hours and watch it, you will be glad you did.
Payback (1999) and Payback the Director’s Cut (2006)—the same movie but not even close. A study in how the editing of a film can completely change it.
Payback is a 1999 American neo-noir crime film written and directed by Brian Helgeland in his directorial debut, and stars Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, and David Paymer. But in 2006, Helgeland released his director’s cut that hardly resembles the 1999 theatrical version. The “original” Payback starts off with Mel Gibson (Porter—we don’t know if it is his first or last name) narrating his current predicament; that is, being operated on by some back alley surgeon who takes two bullets out of his back and uses a bottle of booze to sterilize the wound. Porter’s narration begins to tell a story of crime and betrayal showing that there is truly no honor among thieves.
Porter and another criminal named Val Resnik hit a Triad gang for $140,000.00. They made a clean get away and while they were dividing up the money, Porter’s wife shoots him in the back allowing Resnik to take the entire heist so he can buy his way back into an all-powerful organized crime outfit—for some unknown reason Resnick owed this group $130,000.00 and once paid he was allowed back in. While Porter is writhing in agony after his wife shot him, Resnick walks up to him and produces a picture of Porter with another woman which was enough to convince his wife to betray and try to kill him. Both Resnik and the wife leave him for dead.
Somehow Porter makes it to the back-alley surgeon and spends 5 months recovering from his wounds. When he is able Porter sets out to collect his ½ of the heist that was originally agreed upon by the partners in crime. The rest of the film is Porter tracking down Resnik, dealing with corrupt cops and a well-organized criminal enterprise in order to get his $70,000.00. Porter is very clever and outwits anyone that stands in his way. Including putting away two very corrupt cops, killing numerous foot soldiers of the “outfit” as well as the enterprises’ underboss and of course Resnick. Naturally after some grueling fighting and torture Porter recovers his money and gets away with Rosie, a hooker he used to drive for and who helped him in his quest for the cash.
The 1999 theatrical version did well at the box office and world wide grossed approximately $160,000,000.00. Helgeland went on to make a name for himself, writing and directing such films as LA Confidential, Man on Fire and Robin Hood. His one big mistake is a film previously reviewed by the JPFmovies staff The Postman—winner of a Golden Raspberry award because it just sucked.
Then in 2006, Helgeland releases Payback Straight Up The Directors Cut. The new release is materially different than the theatrical version and in the eyes of the JPFmovies staff much better. The Directors Cut is much darker involving an unappealing hero, little humor, some graphic scenes including one where he beats the shit out of his wife and no neat, happy ending but instead a dead dog (named Porter). It is a totally different film, gritty edgy and no one in the story is a “good guy.” But when you think about it, Helgeland was right from an economic point of view to release the 1999 version to the public. The theatrical version is funnier, easier accessible and more spectacular most of the shots show Porter with a light facial expression, almost smirking, and of course the dog survives. Unfortunately, much more appealing to a wider audience which translated into $160,000,000.00.
The Director’s Cut is a much better film, but for narrower, hardcore audience and would not have made nearly as much money. Payback is yet another example of how Hollywood has turned the art of film into nothing more than dollars and cents. JPFmovies recommends that you watch both versions of the film if for no other reason than to see just how powerful editing can be.
The JPFmovies staff and longtime contributor Tom V. discuss the current state of the American film industry.
Hello again JPFmovie fans yeah, we know our staff needs to bring some more game to the table so here is a fresh start. As anyone who has followed the JPFmovies posts over the years will tell you we have taken the position that Hollywood churns out nothing but crap. However, after a recent discussion with long time contributor Tom V., we have refined our position, what follows is our discussion with Tom V:
JPFmovies: It is nice to hear from you again. During our last meeting about potential reviews you and the JPFmovies staff were considering when you brought up some excellent points. You have a different take on why the state of the Hollywood film industry is what is it is today.
Tom V: Yes, I do on several fronts. Look at the advertising/marketing budgets of films like “Fury” an excellent film in my opinion versus some Transformers movie for example.
JPFmovies: Could you expand on that a little more. I mean it sounds like you think that Hollywood has become nothing more than a giant spreadsheet and a bunch of focus groups.
Tom V: Yes, that is exactly it. Hollywood no longer backing classics, they will reluctant will. Movies like Mutiny on the Bounty, Casablanca, Good Fellas and Reservoir Dogs. These films are either not made anymore or the studios simply don’t invest in these types of films the way they used. They seem to have a sixth-grade focus mentality because that is what seems to sell because these films are costly babysitters.
JPFmovies: Well what has happened to the talent that made some of the best movies in history like Sir Ridley Scott’s original Blade Runner, Blackhawk Down or Kill Bill?
Tom V.: Over the past couple of years you’ve seen the talent move to Netflix, Amazon Prime and other independent film outlets. What Hollywood has been regulated too are comedies with singing animals and politically correct films, action films more about the more expensive special effects scenes and other formula driven rubbish.
JPFmovies: OK so you see all of the talent migrating (both actors and writers) to the new business models like Netflix and Amazon—do this that Hollywood with adjust to these changing times?
Tom V.: It will never happen Hollywood seems to be stuck in a holding pattern of mediocrity.
JPFmovies: Ok why don’t proven directors like Scott, Tarantino or David Lynch get the resources they deserve?
Tom V.: Because it doesn’t sell as many tickets as a formulaic Transformers movie despite the obvious merit of films like of Blade Runner 2 because their focus groups projected lower profits. That film for instance should have been made by Netflix or Amazon because it would have been funded and promoted much better.
JPFmovies: So, you believe that the free market has allowed companies like Netflix, Amazon, AMC and others to think outside of the box and make great entertainment for far less money.
Tom V.: Yeah sure. Amazon and Netflix are on the cutting edge but don’t have the resources to go toe to toe with a company like Paramount—yet. For instance, the Netflix series Marco Polo was an amazing series had to be canceled because of the $100,000,000.00 price tag for another season—which for a company like Netflix or Amazon which could have probably handled the costs, but they wisely spread those resources to other programs.
JPFmovies: What are your favorite series to date from Amazon and Netflix?
Tom V.: Marco Polo for sure from Netflix and Man in the High Castle from Amazon. And even these films sucked, at least I would have avoided robots beat the crap out of each other yet again.
JPFmovies: Do you have any predictions for the upcoming Raspberry Awards?
Tom V.: Too early to call.
JPFmovies: What can we expect your next review to be?
Tom V.: I think it will be Brad Pit’s 2014 film Fury—which cost $68,000,000.00 and took in approximately $211,000,000.00, so these good movies can in fact be profitable. This film defied the odds of the Transformer garbage.
JPFmovies: Any closing remarks you want to tell the audience.
Tom V.: The only way you can change the mediocrity of Hollywood is with your pocketbook.
JPFmovies: Thank you for your time. And we look forward to your next review.
Just what the doctor ordered–another early 1990’s action packed Stallone film: Demolition Man (1993), What the hell was going on in the 1990’s?
No joke here JPFmovie fans we are slumming again. Either the JPFmovie machine is craving punishment or the inmates have taken over the asylum. We’ve previously seen Sly in Tango and Cash (arguably one of the ten worst Hollywood films made) and in this 1993 relic he teams up with convicted tax cheat Wesley Snipes and a very young Sandra Bullock to make this thing.
In the effort for full disclosure and transparency, the JPFmovies editorial staff must inform you that they are big fans of Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World which this film attempts to take elements from the novel i.e. Sandra Bullock’s character, Lieutenant Lenina Huxley was named after Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, and Lenina Crowne, another character in Brave New World also appears in the film. Huxley was either laughing his ass off or spinning in his grave.
In 1996, we have apparently developed the technology to incarcerated criminals in a “Cryo-Penitentiary”, where they are cryogenically frozen and exposed to subliminal rehabilitation techniques. Yeah that’s right three years after the film was released. That said, super-villian Simon Phoenix (Snipes) is thawed in 2032 for a parole hearing and he escapes. Huxley has John Spartan (Stallone) thawed to help stop Phoenix–both characters were frozen as a result of their initial duel having leveled about 2/3rds of LA. She explains to Spartan that San Angeles—a metropolis that combines the former Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Barbara—is a peaceful utopia, and the police are no longer equipped to deal with the likes of Phoenix. Naturally the barbaric Spartan finds the new future depressing and oppressive: human behavior is tightly controlled, physical contact and swearing are illegal, and anything else deemed “bad” is also banned. Likewise, others on the police force find Spartan’s behavior brutish and uncivilized.
And the hits keep on coming. Apparently toilet paper has been replaced by clam shells and Taco-Bell is the only restaurant to survive the “franchise wars.” However, there is a glimmer of hope as an underground movement exists (headed by Dennis Leary) trying to restore freedom to the highly regulated humans. Lot’s of explosions, bad jokes and both Snipes and Stallone flexing their muscles easily summarizes the rest of the film. Naturally Stallone wins in some ultra pyrotechnic scene and for the cherry on top Spartan suggests that both sides work together to combine the best aspects of order and personal freedom. Then he kisses Huxley and the two go off together.
Now this movie made almost Sixty Million Dollars. Moreover it was largely plagiarized from the novel Holtak Harca (Fight of the Dead), published in 1986. In the novel, a terrorist and his enemy, a counter-terrorism soldier, are cryogenically frozen and awakened in the 22nd century to find violence has been purged from society. Nemere (the author) claimed that a committee proved that 75% of the film is identical to the book. He chose not to initiate a lawsuit, as it would have been too expensive for him to hire a lawyer and fight against major Hollywood forces in the United States. So not only did the viewer get screwed watching this movie but so did the original author.
Was the 1990’s truly the worst decade in film history?