In UK film distributions continue their conspiracy to take all my hard-earned money, Radiance have announced some rather enticing releases for March 2024.
First up is Tomisaburo Wakayama in pre-Lone Wolf and Cub series: The Bounty Hunter Trilogy, which sounds like it should be catnip to fans of that series (and if I didn't rewatch it recently, oh, yes I did).
The second is Kiju Yoshida's first foray into indepedent cinema: A Story Written With Water (a reminder I really, really do need to get to his Arrow boxset in my to-watch film pile).
Want to know more? I thought you did. (Caveat: synopses shamelessly borrowed, but when Radiance have done such good work, wheels need not be reinvented)
The Bounty Hunter Trilogy:
Before he made his name in Lone Wolf and Cub Tomisaburo Wakayama starred in this triptych of violent samurai spectacles that draw on James Bond and Spaghetti Westerns for inspiration yet feature the familiar style and blood-spattering action of the period. Wakayama stars as Doctor and spy-for-hire Shikoro Ichibei who in Shigehiro (The Streetfighter) Ozawa's Killer's Mission is hired to prevent the sale of firearms to a hostile Shogun. In Eiichi (13 Assassins) Kudo's follow-up, The Fort of Death, Ichibei is hired on a Seven Samurai-style mission to protect a village of farmers from a ruthless Lord. The final film sees Ozawa return for Eight Men to Kill, in which Ichibei is hired to recover a cache of stolen gold from the government's mine. Featuring an array of weapons and gadgets that would make Q proud with Ichibei supported by a band of helpers including fellow spies, ronin and female ninjas, the Bounty Hunter films deliver action thrills galore and deserve to sit alongside the celebrated action epics that followed.
A Story Written With Water:
One of the leading lights of the Japanese New Wave, Kiju Yoshida (Eros + Massacre) broke with studio filmmaking for A Story Written With Water, his first independent production and the start of his signature style. Telling the story of a man torn between his fiancee and the familial bond of his mother, Yoshida creates a dazzling narrative that uses flashbacks to tell its story of obsession and desire. With the luminous Mariko Okada as the mother, the celebrated star of such masterpieces as Floating Clouds and Late Autumn, she would become Yoshida’s muse across a series of the director’s ‘anti-melodramas’. Yoshida's singular visual flair and revolutionary exploration of film codes place him as one of the finest Japanese filmmakers of the postwar period.
And for your additional delight, enjoy the trailer for The Bounty Hunter Trilogy:
Long-time anime dilettante and general lover of cinema. Obsessive re-watcher of 'stuff'. Has issues with dubs. Will go off on tangents about other things that no one else cares about but is sadly passionate about. (Also, parentheses come as standard.) Looks curiously like Jo Shishido, hamster cheeks and all.