Only a couple of things again this week. First up is Samurai Marathon. It’s a Japanese period flick about a marathon run by samurais. One ninja is actually a spy from a family of spies and he thinks the marathon will be a rebellion. Once he realizes it’s just a test of strength, it’s too late and some men have already been sent to stop the rebellion. Mix in a local princess who takes off and wants to prove her worth in the marathon as well. The Tokyo Marathon exists now because of it. Overall the movie is good for one viewing, I’m not sure if I’d want to watch it again. I wanted a bit more action although the few action sequences are solid. It’s your standard period piece with great costuming, set design and it has a score by Philip Glass. I did learn why samurai run a certain way which was kinda cool. If you like Asian period pieces with a bit of action, you might like it.
Sticking with Asian action, next is The Wild Goose Lake. It’s about a small-time mob boss who accidentally kills a cop and is on the run with a woman who may be trying to help him or get him caught. The film has a ton of style and you never quite know where it will go. I’m not 100% sure if I understood the exact ending, maybe something was lost in translation, but overall I enjoyed the film. We’ve seen thousands of gangster/dramas over the years, but this separates itself with its style, coloring, and indie film vibe. It doesn’t look cheap, but it does have an edge to it with a level of grittiness. There’s one scene in a boat with a spit I did not expect to see in a movie like this. I don’t think I’m familiar with the leads but both are good. If you want a gritty street drama with a great vibe and look, check it out.
Third we have Secret Weapon which is based on a true event during World War II. A secret Soviet rocket launcher is left behind when Soviet troops retreat and a group of special ops is put together to retrieve it or destroy it before the Nazis can figure out its tech. It’s a pretty solid WW2 flick from a different perspective we don’t get here in the States. It’s usually us Yanks who are the heroes of the film, but this being a Russian film, the Russians are the ones you root for to get their launcher back and kill the Nazis! Like with Hollywood films about World War II, you get different characters in the group. You have the sharpshooter, the fighter, the leader, etc. Each has their specific job, each you root for to survive. Some do, some don’t, it is war after all. The special effects aren’t bad. There isn’t any over the top post production muzzle flash or ridiculous CG fire/bombings which are usually staples of new war flicks. I don’t think I’m familiar with anyone involved in the movie, but they all serve their purpose. I watched it in its native language with English subtitles because I loathe bad dubbing, but if you prefer not to read (and hear bad dubbing) it has that option. It won’t wow too many people, but for a movie I had never heard of it, it’s good and gives you a different point of view of war.
Last we have Target: Philadelphia. This documentary takes a look at a targeted explosion in Philadelphia in 1985 during civil unrest. An organization called MOVE was in a building and the mayor wanted them out by any means necessary. I wasn’t familiar with the event or the MOVE organization. People will call this timely because of all that’s happening nowadays. It’s not something I’d watch again but I can say that about most documentaries. If you consider yourself a social justice warrior or want to learn more about this event, the film is full of interviews with members of the organization, archive footage of the mayor, police and other politicians. It’s pretty quick and those interested in the subject will enjoy it.