A lady-friend of mine is real keen on Andy Lau, and this influenced my first decision in choosing the Filmzilla MSM. I also have to admit that Takashi Sorimachi is more man-pretty than 20-something Johnny Depp. The winner is “Fulltime Killer” (2001).
Hong Kong cinema produces two kinds of action movies: Kung Fu and over-the-top-shoot-’em-up. Fulltime Killer is of the gun play genre, and so much more. Because I can’t reference IMDB enough, they call Fulltime Killer an “existential action thriller.” I call it a sexy, intense, neatly-produced, interesting-time-of-a-movie. Sexy, crazy, cool.
My roommate asked me: “What kind of movies do you really like?” Without hesitation I said: gangsta movies. I like the story of the anti-hero, the flavor of danger that film affords me. I like to watch the guy who is willing to think and act outside of the corporate-rat-race-box. The guy who is not afraid to stick it to the man. Bad boys/girls move in silence.
I can’t help but think of the explanations of the cultural and psychological attraction to these kind of films. Go back to Howard Hawkes’ “Scarface: Shame of the Nation” (1932). Ok, lets look at some context. In 1932, people were financially depressed and couldn’t legally drink. (Prohibition of alcohol was 1919- 1933.) The great depression started about 1929 and ran through 1942. The USA is currently experiencing a recession/depression & people are definitely unhappy. Film is an outlet for people to momentarily escape the stress and bullshit of life. Modern hip-hop borrows heavily from this culture: the names of old gangsters (Scarface, Capone & Noreaga, Godfather, Luca Brassi, Bugsy,) catch phrases and movie quotes (Nas: The world is yours, and too many others to mention here.) Much like hip-hop, (and professional athleticism,) people saw crime/rock-stardom/sports-contracts as a quick way out of poverty, out of the ghetto, out from under the thumb of the man, forever.
In any low income neighborhood, the man who works every day of his life lives and dies on the same block as the guy that couldn’t ever quite hold a job. It clearly illustrates the futility of chasing the American dream. People live poor and die poor just the same. Better to live with some dignity and take charge of your own destiny. The gangster fantasy is the rags-to-riches underdog story. Gangsters circumvent the system. Gangsters don’t have to participate in a oppressive society that doesn’t give a shit about them. Gangsters don’t earn their American dream, they make moves and take it.
Excess always comes with a price. Both “Fulltime Killer” and the original “Scarface” had such a violence-positive message that alternate endings were shot. In “Scarface” Tony is caught by the police, tried and hung. Hawkes didn’t release the weaker ending. Fulltime killer released an alternate ending in Malaysia, because the Malaysian government wanted a clear message that crime does not pay.
Both of these movies are so intense that the milquetoast moral moderators tried to censor them. Funny, by today’s “Saw” (2004) standards, these movies aren’t even mean-spirited. If you like movies about mobsters and hit men, I highly recommend “Fulltime Killer.”
If you like the weird Asian action party, I am sure you’ll also like Japan’s:
“Battle Royale” (2000). 9th grade kids and a crazy Asian-elaborate game… I’m afraid I already said too much. Gory, over-the-top, yet somehow sexy. Oh yes. It’s damn good. Chiaki Kuriyama, who played Gogo Yubari in Tarantino’s “Kill Bil: Vol. 1,” (2003) is also in a schoolgirl outfit for Battle Royale. And I almost forgot, the master, “Beat” Takeshi, aka. “Bito” Takeshi (cute!) aka. Takeshi Kitano, has a small role in Battle Royale. Not to be confused with Takashi Miike, who also makes crazy-awesome, mind-bending, challenging films, Beat Takeshi is known for films like “Violent Cop” (1998) Brother” (2000) and “Sonatine”(1992). Tarantino liked “Sonatine” so much, “Rolling Thunder Pictures,” one of his production companies, released a version in 2000. An endorsement from Q is worth it’s weight in Kobe beef. Beat Takeshi is Japan’s (pre-comedy) Di Niro. A bad-ass, a man of respect, a man of honor. Sometimes he’s just a rabid nut-job. Kitano’s always fun to watch, and you should check this movie.
“Suicide Club” (2001) won a jury prize at Montreal’s Fantasia Festival, (a genre film fest,) for what that’s worth. It’s named after the Japanese book it was based on: “Suicide Circle.” Explained to me as a movie about: “The Japanese underground being run by a group of grade-school girls.” I just couldn’t resist. I can’t say anything else besides: You must see this movie. Probably twice. It’s not for the weak of heart, it’s not for the weak of stomachs. Awesomely fuct, gory and funny, and full of schoolgirls. There’s a rated “R” version and there is an “unrated” version. I only recommend the latter. In for a penny, in for a pound. Right? Enjoy the film as the director intended it. Take a chance. Do it.
All of the above are available for pocket-change at:
Filmzilla, 2701 East Franklin Ave, Mpls. (612) 813-0079
Free membership with cc deposit. Tell them the Scriptdoctor sent you.