films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog

2004 / 100m - Japan
Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog poster

Doing Time

Keimusho no Naka
2002 / 93m - Japan
Comedy, Drama
Doing Time poster

A different kind of prison drama. There are no fighting inmates here, no smuggling, no rape, no protests. Instead, Sai serves a weird OCD-like prison utopia, where life is pretty good for the prisoners, even though they have to follow a plethora of rules, and they're obviously still robbed of their freedom. The result is a very agreeable drama with light comedy touches.

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Hanawa is something of a weapon nut. He isn't exactly dangerous, but he does own a couple of illegal firearms. When he is found out, he's given a three year sentence. Life in prison is different for Hanawa, but as he grows accustomed to the prison rules and his quirky cellmates, Hanawa rediscovers the beauty of the smaller things in life.

There isn't much of a plot here, instead Doing Time is a slice of life about a tightly run prison facility. Performances are great, the mix of drama and comedy is on point, it's just that the presentation is a little dry. Doing Time used to be a personal favorite, a good 15 years later I found the film has a bit more trouble distinguishing itself from its peers. It's still a lovely little drama though.

The Glorious Asuka Gang!

Hana no Asuka Gumi!
1988 / 100m - Japan
Action, Crime
The Glorious Asuka Gang! poster

Not what I expected from Yoichi Sai, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Not that I dislike Sai's work, I just didn't know he used to make badass punk films in the vein of Sogo Ishii. The Glorious Asuka Gang is a sprawling genre flick that doesn't fully deliver on its punk premise, but certainly doesn't skimp on the entertainment value.

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Asuka is by far the coolest chick in school, but she's looking for a new challenge. She looks up to Yoko, a member of the Hibari gang. When she tries to get involved with Yoko's gang, things turn sour and Asuka suddenly finds herself with tons of drugs, a big stash of money and an angry punk gang on her tail. Not exactly what she had in mind.

Sai has a lot of fun with the punk elements. The sets look surprisingly accomplished, Asuka comes off as a female Akira, and the film is teeming with peculiar characters. It's nothing you haven't seen before and the true anarchic punk spirit is missing from this film, instead Sai offers lots of genre fun in a neat little package. A lovely find.

Blood and Bones

Chi to Hone
2004 / 140m - Japan
Blood and Bones poster