Related Reviews

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    Humans battle carnivorous giants in a trash-horror fantasy that's a big-budget B picture.
  2. Confessions | 告白
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  3. The Eternal 0 | 永遠の0
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  12. The Torture Club | ちょっとかわいい アイアンメイデン
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Hot Japanese Genre Films in Cannes

Hot Japanese Genre Films in Cannes

By Kevin Ma

Thu, 15 May 2014, 10:00 AM (HKT)

Sales News

While Japan is represented by an art house film-maker in the Cannes competition, it is represented by a wide variety of genre films at the Marché du film. There are films with ass-kicking schoolgirls, a globetrotting thief, an alien creature nesting in a human arm, and creatures from a classic ghost story coming to life. One of Japanese cinema's greatest strengths is in its versatility even within genre borders, and that strength is clearly on display this year. Film Business Asia showcases half-a-dozen Japanese genre films searching for a global audience in this year's Cannes market.


High Kick Angels

Dir: Yokoyama Kazuhiro
Japan release date: 14 Jun 2014
Int'l sales: Nikkatsu (Riviera E18)
Screenings: None

An all-girls high school film club uses an abandon school to film their latest action adventure. Suddenly, a gang arrives and takes over the school, shutting off all exits to prevent anyone from escaping. The girls realise that they'll have to fight their way out, one minion at a time.

Continuing a series of low-budget action films featuring cute Japanese girls as action heroines, High-Kick Angels ハイキック・エンジェルス (2014) is essentially Die Hard in a High School with a martial arts twist. Most of the lead actresses hold black belts in karate, and director YOKOYAMA Kazuhiro 横山一洋 is happy to supply an endless supply of extras for them to beat up.

Like its predecessors High-Kick Girl! ハイキック・ガール (2009) and Karate Girl KG (2010), High Kick Angels eschews big-budget action spectacle and turns the physical abilities of its stars into the spectacle. This new generation of Japanese martial arts films may target a schoolgirl fetish, but they can also encourage a new generation of women that they can fight just as hard as the boys.


Lupin the Third

Dir: Kitamura Ryuhei
Japan Release date: 30 Aug 2014
Int'l sales: Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS, Riviera E19)
Screenings (promo reel): 6pm, 16 May (priority badges only)

Loosely based on Maurice Leblanc's series of novels about master thief Arsène Lupin, Lupin III is one of the most beloved manga characters in Japan with multiple anime series, animated films and video games. KITAMURA Ryuhei 北村龍平 brings the globetrotting adventure of the young master thief back to the big screen for the first time since 1974 with his live-action adaptation.

OGURI Shun 小栗旬, who played the tough high school gangster boss in MIIKE Takashi 三池崇史's two Crows Zero films, shows off his more playful side in the titular role. He is joined by KUROKI Meisa 黒木メイサ as a sexy femme fatale, AYANO Go 綾野剛 as a master swordsman, ASANO Tadanobu 浅野忠信 as the cop in pursuit of Lupin, as well as actors from Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea in supporting roles.

Shot on location in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines with an international crew that includes a Spanish cinematographer and a South Korean action director, investor Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc TBS is betting on Lupin the Third ルパン三世 (2014) (pictured) to create a successful new global film franchise that will attract new fans and please longtime fans at the same time. The pressure is equally high for Kitamura, who hasn't made an action film on such a scale in more than a decade, since period swordplay adventure Azumi あずみ (2003).


Over Your Dead Body

Dir: Miike Takashi
Japan Release date: 23 Aug 2014
Int'l sales: Celluloid Dreams (5F, 84 rue d'Antibes)
Screenings: None

Returning to the supernatural horror genre for the first time since Imprint (2006), Miike Takashi reunites with his Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai 一命 (2011) star ICHIKAWA Ebizo 市川海老蔵 in one of the prolific film-maker's three 2014 feature projects.

Written by YAMAGISHI Kikumi 山岸きくみ (Hara-Kiri, The Happiness of the Katakuris カタクリ家の幸福 (2001)), Over Your Dead Body 喰女 (2014) traces the relationship between two actors (Ichikawa and SHIBASAKI Ko 柴咲コウ) co-starring in a new stage version of classic kabuki play Yotsuya Kaidan 四谷怪談, one of the most famous ghost stories in Japan. Their stage characters' lives begin to merge with their real lives when terrifying elements from the play start appearing in reality.

Genre fans waiting for Miike's return to his exploitation roots will likely be happy by this creepy suspense drama. Its 40-second teaser trailer already promises blood, long-haired ghosts lurking in the shadows and at least one instance of decapitation. With Ichikawa – a renowned kabuki actor in his own right — also credited with the film's concept, Miike and Yamagishi seem to be aiming for more than just pure horror with its intriguing real-life-imitates-art concept.


Parasyte Part 1 & 2

Dir: Yamazaki Takashi
Japan Release date: Dec 2014 (Part 1), 2015 (Part 2)
Int'l sales: Toho (Riviera A14)
Screenings (promo reel): 3:30pm, 18 May (Lerins 1)

After war drama The Eternal 0 永遠の0 (2013), one of the highest-grossing live-action Japanese films in history, director/special effects wizard YAMAZAKI Takashi 山崎貴 adapts IWAAKI Hitoshi 岩明均's Parasyte into a two-part film.

A VFX supervisor-turned-director who places as much emphasis on his film's special effects as the story, Yamazaki returns to the sci-fi genre with the story of a high school boy (played by Himizu ヒミズ (2011)'s SOMETANI Shota 染谷将太) whose arm has been taken over by an alien creature called a Parasyte. After failing to take over its host's brain, the Parasyte stays in his arm and become his partner in a fight against other parasytes.

Having adapted classic sci-fi anime series Space Battleship Yamato SPACE BATTLESHIP ヤマト (2010) into a blockbuster, Yamazaki could be a good choice to tackle the film's odd sci-fi concept, which was attractive enough that Hollywood attempted to adapt it in 2005. With the promise of explosive action and eye-popping effects, the live-action version of Parasyte: Part 1 寄生獣 (2014) could match the success of other sci-fi manga adaptations like 20th Century Boys 20世紀少年 (2008) and Gantz GANTZ (2010).


The Torture Club

Dir: Yoshida Kota
Japan Release date: 19 Jul 2014
Int'l sales: Kadokawa Corporation (Palais 21.02-04)
Screenings: 6 pm, 20 May (Palais C)

Based on the four-cell manga strip by FUKAMI Makoto 深見真, writer-director YOSHIDA Kota 吉田浩太's sadomasochistic lesbian youth romance is likely to raise more than a few eyebrows as it makes its market debut at this year's Marché du Film.

Set in a prestigious all-girls high school, The Torture Club is about a first-year student named Yuzaki who is introduced into the school-approved sadomasochistic club, in which girls practice the art of torture. Not only do some of the girls begin to find pleasure in the club's SM acts, but Yuzaki falls for an older club member, breaking the "no romance" rule.

Featuring scenes of bondage, lesbian sex and shower spankings – all committed by high school girls played by adult models — The Torture Club ちょっとかわいい  アイアンメイデン (2014) is likely to be one of the most controversial films of the market. However, Yoshida, who honed his career with character-based sex comedies like Coming With My Brother お姉ちゃん、弟といく (2006) and Come as You Are ソーローなんてくだらない (2011), may be the key to making The Torture Club more than just the extreme fetishism that its concept is promising.


The World of Kanako

Dir: Nakashima Tetsuya
Japan Release date: 4 Jul 2014
Int'l sales: Gaga Corporation (Riviera B12)
Screenings: None

It's been a long wait for NAKASHIMA Tetsuya 中島哲也's follow up to Confessions 告白 (2010), which Michael MANN described as his 11th favourite film of all time in a Sight & Sound poll. After an aborted attempt to adapt manga Attack on Titan 進撃の巨人, citing "creative differences", the maverick Japanese director returns with The World of Kanako 渇き。 (2014).

Suggesting that he's itching to make up for lost time and return to the darker universe of Confessions — in which a teacher plots revenge on the schoolchildren that she suspects killed her daughter — Nakashima said, "My goal is to make a violent fantasy never before seen in Japanese cinema".

Helping Nakashima take the gloves off are veteran YAKUSHO Koji 役所広司, in the role of a rundown former cop, and fresh-faced newcomer KOMATSU Nana 小松菜奈, as his seemingly perfect missing daughter. The film co-stars some of the most exciting actors working in Japan, including TSUMABUKI Satoshi 妻夫木聡, NIKAIDO Fumi 二階堂ふみ, HASHIMOTO Ai 橋本愛, KUROSAWA Asuka 黒沢あすか and — another regular — NAKATANI Miki 中谷美紀.

The Japanese title of the film, appropriately, means "thirst".

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