Excuse me – yes, you there…take a look at this:
Do I have your attention yet?
Need a moment to clean up?
Got a taste for revenge? Well, buckle for some of the most intense and provocative movies released around the world in the past ten years…all available on DVD, streaming – whatever your choice of collecting or accessing is, collect and access now for a journey into dark, dark places!
Cold Fish – 2010 – Director: Shion Sono
Here’s one to get you going – a crazy plot, even crazier bloodshed, and as is usual in Asian cinema – REVENGE! This time with fish!
When mild-mannered shop owner Syamoto’s teenage daughter is caught stealing, a generous middle-aged man helps resolve the situation. The man and his wife offer to have Syamoto’s troublesome daughter work at their fish store. Syamoto soon discovers the horrific truth of the seemingly perfect couple.
This is a movie where you end up shouting at the screen: DO NOT LET YOUR DAUGHTER WORK IN THAT AQUARIUM STORE! DON’T!!!
Um, but she does of course. And as the father gets deeper and deeper into the perverted, unhinged world of his supposed benefactor, things just keep taking turns for the worse.
Here’s what you need to know about the Director and the company behind “Cold Fish”: Following “Alien vs Ninja” and “Mutant Girls Squad”, “Cold Fish” is the third film to be released by Nikkatsu’s “Sushi Typhoon”, their gore-themed series.
Director and writer Sion Sono was influenced by Japanese crime cases while developing “Cold Fish”, specifically about an actual killing spree committed by a dog kennel owner in the 1980s involving a family of three that becomes entangled in a string of ongoing murders perpetrated by a tropical fish salesman in Shizuoka Prefecture. Sono also wanted to “depict a sense of total hopelessness” which he felt is “lacking in Japanese films.”
As events spiral more and more out of control, the movie gets more and more brutal – and more epic in its storytelling. It culminates in a powerful ending you will think about for days. A terrific, unsettling film!
And speaking of brutal and brilliant storytelling:
Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance – 2002. Director: Chan-wook Park
Yes, Chan-wook Park directed this, which means if you saw his brilliant movie “Oldboy”, you probably know about this movie as well. And you MUST know about “Oldboy”, right? Like this iconic image below?
I’ve posted about “Oldboy” before, and will no doubt again, because it is one of the greatest films of the 2000’s…but the year before Chan-wook Park directed “Oldboy”, he began his revenge trilogy with the haunting movie “Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance.”
The film takes place in Seoul, South Korea. Ryu is a deaf worker who has a sister – who needs a kidney transplant. He tries to donate his own kidney to his sister, but his blood type is not compatible with hers. When Ryu is fired from Ilshin Electronics, he meets illegal dealers of organs, and the criminals propose that he give them his kidney plus ten millions Won to obtain a kidney suitable for his sister.
I know what you are thinking: DON’T MAKE THE DEAL! But of course, he does…Ryu accepts the trade, but he does not have money to pay for the surgery. His anarchist revolutionary girlfriend convinces him to kidnap the daughter of his former employer, who owns Ilshin Electronics.
So now you have kidnapping added to his problems – and of course, NOTHING goes right, and revenge becomes the order of the day.
Needless to say, the deaf brother is in WAY over his head. As he says to the parents of the kidnapped child: “The bad image kidnappers get is because of kids getting killed. But we’re different. Give us the money and we’ll return the kid pronto.”
RETURNING THE KID PRONTO? NOT LIKELY.
Oh, did I say that things go horribly wrong? This is brilliant filmmaking – an audacious story that is brilliantly directed and acted, a meditation on good and evil, right and wrong, revenge and of course, VENGEANCE.
And then there is the little French film that asks the question: “do vampires need love too?”
Trouble Every Day – 2001 Directed by Claire Denis
I saw this movie at the Cannes film festival in 2001 – and there were a number of walkouts, and a hugely mixed reaction – for reasons I will get into here….
Shane and June Brown are an American couple honeymooning in Paris in an effort to nurture their new life together, a life complicated by Shane’s mysterious and frequent visits to a medical clinic where cutting edge studies of the human libido are undertaken. When Shane seeks out a self-exiled expert in the field, he happens upon the doctor’s wife, another victim of the same malady. She has become so dangerous and emotionally paralyzed by the condition that her husband imprisons her by day in their home.
Vincent Gallo plays husband Shane. It is Shane’s chance encounter with this woman that triggers an event so cataclysmic and shocking it might just lead him to rediscover the tranquility he seeks to restore for himself and his new bride.
TO QUOTE SUPERTRAMP: “RIGHT, RIGHT YOU’RE BLOODY WELL RIGHT!”
One reason the film was so controversial is that it was directed by a woman, French Artiste Claire Denis. Her debut feature film “Chocolat” (1988), a semi-autobiographical meditation on African colonialism, won her critical acclaim. Then “Beau Travail” (1999) was also an arthouse favorite…so imagine these images pop up in her next film:
The film received mixed reactions from critics. Variety wrote that it is “over-long, under-written and needlessly obscure instead of genuinely atmospheric”. The Boston Globe was more positive, but concludes by calling the film “a success in some sense, but it’s hard to like a film so cold and dead”.
Later, the film developed a following by those who admire it for its themes of existentialism and its unique take on the horror genre as well as gender roles. It was given an in depth analysis by Salon.com which looked at the intricacies of the film, particularly the metaphorical nature of the narrative.
At Film Freak Central, Walter Chaw calls it “Plaintive and sad, Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day is a rare combination of honesty, beauty, and maybe even genius.” I agree that this movie, although not perfect, is a meditation on longing, love, and loss. And it ponders those questions through a VERY bloody filter. The film has been associated with the new wave of extreme French cinema, a genre that now includes “Switchblade Romance”, “Inside” and “Martyrs”.
More on those later, but give yourself a jolt of shocking energy and try this arthouse horror film!
Categories: Action Films, Exploitation films, Extreme Asian Cinema, Film Noir, Foreign Films, Horror films, Japanese Sexploitation Movies, Movies, Obscure Movies, Paris, Revenge Movies, Sexploitation Movies, Talent/Celebrities, Tokyo!, Travel