Trout Fishing in Sicily

The utterly bizarre tale of how the creator of James Bond and the creator of the American mafia helped plan the Allied invasion of Sicily during World War II. Beyond Risico, James Bond’s forays into Italy are often little more than passthroughs. Bond spends more time in Italy in the movies — most notably Moonraker,…

Battles without Honor and Humanity II

I’ve been sitting here trying to think of an adequate way to describe exactly what it is that Sonny Chiba does and wears in this second film in Kinji Fukasaku’s highly enjoyable, highly influential Battles without Honor and Humanity series of films that delve into the world of organized crime and the role it played…

Gangs of Wasseypur

For over half a century, a small city in northern India has been the site of a seemingly endless war between rival crime families. Anurag Kashyap’s exploration of the town’s endless cycle of violence spans generations and wonders if anything can stop the flow of blood. The small town of Wasseypur is located in northeastern…

Last Tycoon

At first — and even second — glance, Last Tycoon is a movie that seems custom-made for me and based entirely on some of my favorite obsessions: Shanghai during the 20s and 30s, old-time fashion, Jazz Age decadence, shidaiqu (that unique Shanghai brand of jazz that combined American swing with traditional Chinese music), a title…

Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter

During the 1970s, Japan’s Nikkatsu Studio became famous, and yes most likely infamous, as the number one home for sleazy sexploitation, violent pink films, and just softcore porn in general. Although hardly the stuff of highbrow cocktail party conversations, the thoroughly exploitive nature of the Nikkatsu films doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot of boldness…

Showdown in Little Tokyo

Sgt. Chris Kenner is a cop on the edge who plays by his own rules. He’s also a Japanophile, which is communicated by having him wear a leather jacket with a dragon on the back.

Velvet Hustler

Eight. Nine. Three. In the Japanese card game known as hana-fuda, it’s the worst hand you can get. Eight, nine, and three — ya, ku, and sa. Japanese organized crime families adopted the name “yakuza” because of this hand. Because you need to be lucky to be a yakuza. Because you’ve drawn the worst hand…

Underworld Beauty

In the end, Underworld Beauty is perhaps not as singular a viewing experience as Suzuki’s later, more idiosyncratic masterworks like Branded to Kill, Tokyo Drifter and Gate of Flesh, but it is nonetheless noteworthy.

Hell Up In Harlem

Made in eighteen days for less than half a million dollars, Black Caesar went on to become a big hit, and AIP were quick to demand that Cohen provide a sequel as soon as possible. Adding to the time pressure on Cohen was the fact that his star, Williamson, would soon be leaving the country for some shooting overseas.

Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41

Emboldened, perhaps, by the success of the first film and the amount of creative leeway given him by Toei, Ito this time largely dispensed with genre trappings and delivered a film that was even more obviously the product of a singular directorial vision.

Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion

Female Prisoner #701 is a thrilling piece of exploitation cinema, as well as a challenging work of visual artistry. But, as great as it is, it merely set the stage for what was to come.

Terrifying Girls’ High School: Lynch Law Classroom

The Pinky Violence films of Norifumi Suzuki represent one extreme of the tendency of Japanese exploitation films of the seventies to combine a very high level of craftsmanship with an unflinching preoccupation with human behavior at its most sleazy and mysteriously perverse.