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  • Strike of the Jaguma

    Strike of the Jaguma

    ★★★½

    KAIJU JAKUMA NO MOSHU (a.k.a. STRIKE OF THE JAGUMA) is the first of two 60-minute, black-and-white Toei productions that tell the story of the legendary samurai Iwami Jutaro, who is best known in folklore for defeating a white-haired ape-like monster known as the hihi. That confrontation is depicted in this movie, in which the hihi (an actor in a white gorilla suit) runs interference for the dreaded Jakuma and his (its?) band of thieving ninjas in demon masks as they…

  • Spike of Bensonhurst

    Spike of Bensonhurst

    ★★★★½

    Spike: And what's the Brooklyn alphabet?
    Children: Fuckin' A, fuckin' B, fuckin' C, fuckin' D...

    With winners like this, PATTI ROCKS and DA all out in the same year, FilmDallas Pictures really should've stuck around longer than it did.

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  • Karate Killer

    Karate Killer

    ★★★

    Remember the scene in THE BODYGUARD where Sonny Chiba punches through a door, rips off an assassin's arm, pulls the bloody arm through the hole in the door, then kicks open said door, charges into the room and flings the arm at another assassin, knocking him on his ass? Nothing in this sequel even comes close to that level of savage hilarity, though I'm happy to report that it is a better film overall. It certainly moves faster than the…

  • Big Time Gambling Boss

    Big Time Gambling Boss

    ★★★★½

    Mishima labeled this film a "masterpiece" when it was first released. A few years later it was called “thematically, the most complex and introspective of all the yakuza films” by Paul Schrader in his 1974 Film Comment article "Yakuza-Eiga: A Primer" (Check out the PDF on his website), and he arranged a showing of it -- under the title PRESIDENTIAL GAMBLING -- at the Museum of Modern Art soon after. Plot-wise, this is one of the simpler yakuza films I've…