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Competition Time: Win 20th Century Boys Trilogy Boxsets! May 23, 2010

Posted by Cal in : Articles , comments closed

20th-cb-2-and-3-outer-final.jpgOn May 31st the epic manga trilogy The 20th Century Boys saga is released on DVD as a box set. The box set includes a special Edition 24 Page Book with an extra disc packed full of 4 hours bonus extras making the Japanese thriller trilogy a manga fan must have. To celebrate we have a copy of boxset for 5 lucky readers.

The 20th Century Boys begins in 1969 when a young boy named Kenji and his friends write “The Book of Prophecy”. In the book, they write about a future where they fight against an evil organisation trying to take over the world and bringing about Doomsday.


Years later in 1997, a mysterious cult being lead by a man only known as “Friend” has emerged and gained a strong influence over society. A series of catastrophic events begin to occur, mirroring the prophecies made up by the young Kenji. The greatest fear is that the climax of The Book of Prophecy will become a reality: on December 31st, 2000, a terrifying giant virus-spreading robot will attack the entire city of Tokyo, leading to the end of mankind. The only people who know about The Book are Kenji and his childhood friends. Who is Friend? Will Kenji and his friends be able to save mankind and live to see the 21st Century?

This competition is now closed, but you can preorder your copy of 20th Century Boys by clicking here.

R-Point (2004) May 21, 2010

Posted by Cal in : Horror, War, Supernatural, 2000s films , add a comment

Director: Kong Su-chang  Starring: Gam Wu-seong; Son Byung-ho; Oh Tae-kyung  Territory: South Korea

In 1972, a group of South Korean soldiers go missing during a mission in the Vietnam War.  Presumed dead, Headquarters are stunned to receive a transmission from the lost battalion.  When the transmission continues sporadically, they dispatch a new squad to investigate and pick up any survivors.  The location known as R-Point where the lost soldiers were last seen is deserted when the search party investigates, but when they discover that the site is on Vietnamese holy ground, they realise they are not quite alone after all…

Watching this after Kong Su-chang’s 2008 film GP506 was initially disappointing – the premise and setting seemed too similar for my tastes.  But when it gets going, R-Point is a different and altogether more satisfying film.


Although there are a few precursors to the direction R-Point is going to go (the sign etched into some spooky rocks saying “those who have blood on their hands shall not return” being one of the more obvious), the film plays its cards close enough to its chest to make you forget you’re watching a horror movie, so that when the shocks start to come, they are genuinely effective. 

The main gripe I have about this film is the characters – there are nine (or is it ten?) soldiers, and it’s hard to really pick anyone out of the bunch.  Such is the lack of characterisation that even at the end of the film, I only noticed about two separate entities among them.  There is also a scene where US marines meet the search party, and the acting by the English speakers is predictably weak.

But I found R-Point a much better paced film than I was expecting, and while it is definitely not an innovative film in the oeuvre, it is certainly well worth checking out.  The UK release is from Tartan, and it’s clear that they were not the company they once were when the back cover blurb is full of elementary grammatical errors, typos and there are references likening it to three completely unconnected and dissimilar films.  It’s best to ignore the box and just jump straight in.  

Sanjuro (1962) May 7, 2010

Posted by Cal in : Blogroll, Action, 1960s films, Jidaigeki , 6 comments

Director: Akira Kurosawa  Starring: Toshirô Mifune; Tatsuya Nakadai  Territory: Japan

A corrupt Superintendent holds a decent town Chamberlain captive, while his nephew and eight friends plot to free him.  They are aided, whether they like it or not, by ronin Sajûrô (Mifune), who quickly proves himself indispensable to the group.

I have to admit a slight disappointment with this workmanlike sequel to the superb Yojimbo.  Mind you, coming straight off Red Beard, and with a general feeling that everything Kurosawa touched in his monochrome period turned to gold, I perhaps had unrealistic expectations.

Sanjuro It’s certainly lively enough, and I would recommend anyone new to this film to pay very close attention to the opening dialogue between the eight young men as it provides vital information.  I missed the significance of this dialogue and found myself completely lost and having to go back and watch it again.  But that’s my own fault…

The film has more of an emphasis on action and has an undeniably lighter feel than its predecessor.  The character of Sajûrô is as unstoppable as he was in Yojimbo, and watching Mifune cut a swath through his enemies is as satisfying as ever.  And when he goes undercover to find more information on the captives, the drama does increase significantly.  Also, it’s interesting that the humour in Kurosawa’s films (when present) seems to have aged pretty well, as there are a couple of comic touches (particularly a scene where our heroes are forced to celebrate a victory in silence) that are still funny. However, I missed the weight and tension of Yojimbo, and while no Kurosawa film can be said to have been hastily put together, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was going through the motions a lot with this film, which by all accounts he wasn’t.   

I do feel like Sanjuro will be a film I will appreciate better with time and repeated viewings, and despite my disappointment, I still actively enjoyed a lot of it.  Which does reinforce my unrealistic expectations theory.

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