laeth_maclaurie (laeth_maclaurie) wrote in _moviereview,

The Tao of the Gun: Yakuza, Triads, Cops and Hitmen in

1. Fallen Angels

Intense, inscrutable, impossibly dreamlike from Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-Wai, built from the fragments of memory and loss - one of the most visually rapturous films of the last generation.

2. Sonatine

Spasmodically violent and senselessly nihilistic, yet touched with the offbeat humor and sentimentality that are Takeshi Kitano trademarks.

3. Branded to Kill

Seijun Suzuki takes his signature anti-structures to the extreme - surreal and deviant subversion from Japan's pulp-art master.

4. Stray Dog

Masterful early work from both director Akira Kurosawa and star Toshiro Mifune (here minus the trademark beard). A tightly wound neorealist thriller that makes brilliant use of the squalor of postwar Japan.

5. Youth of the Beast

More deliriously violent and blood-splattered pop art from Suzuki. Don't miss Jo Shishido's righteously sadistic performance - it is one for the ages.

6. Last Life in the Universe

Sometimes languid and lazy, sometimes frenetic and kinetic, shot beautifully by frequent Wong Kar-Wai collaborator Christopher Doyle, Thai director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang delivers a film in the spirit of both Wong and Takeshi Kitano. Neat boy meets slovenly girl, and everyone they know ends up dead.

7. Hard Boiled

Almost inconceivably violent: there are full scale wars that have had lower body counts than in this John Woo bullet ballet. Come for the most spectacular action sequences ever filmed, stay for the nuanced and sensitive performances by Chow Yun-Fat and Tony Leung Chiu Wai.

8. Goodbye South Goodbye

Stylish, smouldering and gritty, Hou Hsiao-Hsien's lyrical camera work and long takes give an elegiac feel to this tale of trapped lives spinning out of control.

9. High and Low

A masterpiece of structure, part thriller, part scathing social commentary, chalk up another triumph for Kurosawa and Mifune.

10. Shanghai Triad

Atmospheric and moody, a gangster film built more from aesthetic beauty than violent intensity. Gong Li, as usual, is brilliant and ravishing.

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