This classic animated movie takes place in a the futuristic Neo-Japan. Two of the main characters in the movie are Kaneda a bike gang leader and his best friend Tetsuo. While rivaling another gang they get involved in a secret government project known as Akira. As the story evolves and the pair are faced with corruption and greed Tetsuo’s supernatural abilities that liken him to Akira ultimately lead to a final battle in the Tokyo Olympiad where Akira’s secrets were buried 30 years ago.
The 2003 movie Azumi is an extremely violent movie based off of a popular Japanese manga series. Orphaned because of the war Azumi is raised with a group of other orphans by a master assassin with just one purpose: to kill upon command, anytime, anywhere, without question. In a bid to restore peace to a war-torn nation, the master assassin orders Azumi and her fellow orphans to eliminate several rival warlords. As she carries out her assignment, Azumi begins to question her task and her fate.
This movie is awesome fun and has some fantastic fight scenes. The acting is good and overall it is a very watchable movie, but be forewarned this movie is long! like 2 1/2 hours long… So invite some friends over, make some popcorn and enjoy a totally kick ass movie!
The 1998 movie The Bird People in China (also known as Chûgoku no chôjin) by director Takashi Miike, is about a young Japanese businessman sent by his company to evaluate precious Jade found in a remote Chinese village. One his way there he meets a yakuza who was sent to tail him to protect his bosses interest in the company. When the men finally arrive their mission becomes sidetracked by their interest in a mysterious young village girl and the secret that makes men fly like birds.
The 2002 film The Twilight Samurai (also known as Tasogare Seibei) is a Japanese film that takes place in mid-19th century Japan (a few years before the Meiji Restoration). It follows the life of Seibei Iguchi, a low-ranking samurai employed as a bureaucrat. While he is poor, he is also very content. He comes to realize true happiness in life with his daughters, senile mother and an old childhood friend. While the film is based on a samurai, it severely lacks action scenes and instead chooses to focus on the emotions of a samurai.
The movie was directed by Yoji Yamada and won many Japanese film awards. It even received a nomination for the 2002 Academy Awards for best Foreign Language Film (although it did not win).
I just recently watched Ponyo A Cliff By The Sea (aka Gake no ue no Ponyo), a fantastic animated movie by famous director Hayao Miyazaki. The story follows Ponyo, a goldfish princess, and a young boy named Sosuke. Ponyo’s dream is to become human and the entire story follows the struggles she has with her father as she attempts to make those dreams come true. This is a very cute story and was enoyed by my entire family.
I highly recommend the original with subtitles, however the kids might enjoy the English dubbed version. Disney controls the movie rights in the US and has an official movie website available at http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/ponyo/
Time for a confession; Battle Royale (aka Batoru rowaiaru) was the movie that really provoked my interest in Asian cinema. While I had watched many various Kung Fu/Samurai flicks it wasn’t until watching Battle Royale that I started appreciating all of the amazing cinematic art coming from Asia. I was trying to come up with a quick and easy summary of the story of Battle Royale, but it is best told by the movies website: “(Battle Royale) tells the story of a dystopic future in which each year, a randomly-selected 9th grade class is kidnapped and sent to a deserted island where they are equipped with weapons and are forced to kill each other until one survivor is left”. I have watched this movie at least a dozen times and I can’t express just how much I love this movie. It has been around a while (it premiered in December 2000) and there is even a Battle Royale 2.