• This is the most interesting song and music video about the coronavirus pandemic so far:

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  • Powerful Passion Podcast

    Fifth episode: Scream for Me Sarajevo (2018)

    Download it right here: Powerful Passion Podcast V

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  • Ladies and gentlemen!

    In times of prolonged confinement and quarantine, it's not a bad idea to watch some truly entertaining movies. With 104 movies under his belt, legendary Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike has lots to offer. I have already reviewed some of his most famous films such as Shinjuku Triad Society (1995), Audition (1999), Family (2001), Gozu (2003), Shield of Straw (2013), As the Gods Will (2014), Yakuza Apocalypse (2015), Terra Formars (2016), Blade of the Immortal (2017) and First Love (2019) - to only name a few. However, I wanted to explore this director's early years. Here are three reviews of some of his obscure early movies that already include some of his unique trademarks. This creative, diversified and straightforward director deserves even more attention and recognition than he has gotten so far. Today, I would go as far as calling him my favourite movie director. There are other excellent directors such as Sergio Leone, David Lynch or Park Chan-wook but they have released about a dozen feature films or less. Even though a few select movies by Takshi Miike were slightly underwhelming, I have never known a director as prolific as him and his work ethic is second to none.

    Toppuu! Minipato tai - Aikyacchi Jankushon / Eyecatch Junction (1991)

    Quirky, entertaining and diversified directorial debut for Takashi Miike

    Eyecatch Junction is the first official movie made by famous director Miike Takashi. Just like many of his later works, this obscure V-cinema flick from the early nineties vividly combines genres that seem to be incompatible for Western audiences. This film features slapstick comedy, martial arts action sequences, serious crime investigation parts, mild pornography and even dance choreographies to conclude. If you are a Western twenty-first century feminist, you will despise this movie but if you like quirky Japanese gangster flicks from the nineties that are a product of their time, you certainly can't go wrong here.

    The story revolves around an ambitious traffic cop and her tough weightlifting colleague who become involved in their police station's fitness club organized by a pretentious but dedicated trainer. The three women soon become friends and feel that their talent is misused as being eye candy as they want to take on some serious investigations. The movie starts on a lighthearted tone as they investigate a case of expensive stolen underwear from a women's college. However, things take a more sinister turn when one of the college girls gets brutally murdered. The three cops soon realize that some college girls are involved in a prostitution ring and get killed when they want to get out or talk to the police. With the help of the mayor's daughter who creates experimental weapons, the quartet confronts the Yakuza boss behind the crimes.

    This movie convinces on many levels. The four female protagonists are quite different, energetic and unique and make for unusual protagonists. The story comes around with quite a few turns and balances brutal scenes with humorous elements in a refreshing way. The film has a perfect length of ninety-two minutes and gets more and more entertaining as it progresses.

    On the negative side, some of the slapstick humour is silly, repetitive and predictable. The fight scenes look fake and should have been shot with a more realistic vibe. The movie was obviously made on a very low budget and it shows as the quality rather recalls Hong Kong action cinema from the early eighties than Japanese gangster movies from the early nineties.

    Still, Eyecatch Junction is entertaining and foreshadows Miike Takashi's unique blend of genres that would define his career. If you are looking for a quirky potpourri of Japanese culture from the early nineties, take your time to find a copy, grab something to drink and to eat and switch your brain off for ninety-two highly entertaining minutes. However, this certainly isn't a film for the whole family as you should be aware that this film includes nudity and violence.

    Final rating: 70%

    Redi hantaa: Koroshi no pureryuudo / Red Hunter: Prelude to Kill (1991)

    Fast-paced action spectacle with a reasonable budget and some unique directorial trademarks

    Red Hunter: Prelude to Kill is the first film directed by Takashi Miike but only the second to be released. This action film tells the story of a young boy whose mother mysteriously disappears and doesn't show up at the daycare centre. The two educators decide to keep the child for the night but suddenly get attacked by a group of thugs. Thankfully, one of the educators is a former soldier and manages to save the boy while his colleague gets injured but manages to flee. The former soldier shows up at his former girlfriend's place. She had been an elite soldier working for the Americans in Nicaragua and has been suffering from nightmares and paranoia since coming back home. Her numerous weapons and precautions come in handy when thugs start attacking her isolated house to kidnap the boy. The female protagonist soon realizes that the attacks seem to be coordinated by the boy's father who is a member of a royal family with powerful connections. She realizes that she cannot trust authorities and decides to protect the boy and bring his father down with a small team of close allies.

    This movie is a short and entertaining action film with sympathetic characters and a generic story line that could have been released anywhere else in the world. However, Takashi Miike still manages to leave his unique traces in several scenes throughout the movie. First of all, one of the protagonist's former partners whose life she saved in Nicaragua gets sexually aroused by killing people in violent ways and explicitly tells two prostitutes about this. One of the thugs gets caught in four bear traps before getting his male sexual organ shot by the protagonist. There is also a recurring disturbing scene of a screaming naked woman tied to a hospital bed. The film's ending is also unconventional but you will have to discover this by yourself.

    Overall, Red Hunter: Prelude to Kill convinces with a better budget than Eyecatch Junction, includes very good action scenes, features interesting characters and is entertaining from start to finish in seventy-eight concise minutes. While the movie itself isn't particularly memorable, it features some of Takashi Miike's trademarks that make it stand out among other conventional direct-to-video action films. Fans of the director should give this film a try without any hesitation. On a closing side note, the movie poster doesn't represent the film very well as excellent lead actress Yoshie Kashiwabara convinces as tough and intelligent woman without ever impressing with stylish looks or unnecessary nudity. It's a pity that her acting career never really took off as it would have been great to see her in other movies later on.

    Final rating: 68%

    Shinjuku autoroo / Shinjuku Outlaw (1994)

    Classic V-cinema Yakuza flick

    Shinjuku Outlaw is a direct-to-video gangster movie directed by legendary Takashi Miike. This is only his eighth movie early in his career and the film doesn't have the content, effects and flow of later Yakuza masterpieces such as Shinjuku Triad Society one year later. However, it's obvious that some of the director's trademarks such as complex ties between gangster families, the feeling of alienation regarding immigrants and ultra-violent action sequences are already present in this film.

    The movie revolves around the son of a dying Yakuza boss who decides to kill the boss of another family to prevent a possible attack on his own group. The young man brutally murders the man in front of his grand-daughter in a bowling alley but gets shot multiple times himself and falls into a coma. He awakes ten years later in a prison hospital and realizes that quite a few things have changed in his absence. Rejected by former colleagues and friends and controlled by a corrupt police officer, he is forced to work for two elderly gangster bosses and must defend himself against foreign mobsters as well. The protagonist plans on starting a new life with a prostitute from a foreign country but he must steal money and deal with those controlling his destiny to break free.

    This gangster movie convinces on several levels. The story has a few interesting twists and turns that keep it interesting throughout its running time of ninety-four minutes. The film convinces with gloomy atmosphere and the feeling of alienation. The action scenes are brutal, emotional and visually stunning.

    However, the film also has a few flaws. The story is quite complex and it's at times complicated to understand who is doing what and why. Lead actor Jun Jung-il, also known as Hakuryu, only seems to have one facial expression which some people might find cool but which seems rather limited to me. The chemistry between the male and the female protagonists is weak and their partnership and relation simply isn't believable.

    Despite a few flaws, Shinjuku Outlaw is a typical V-cinema gangster film for genre fans. It's entertaining from start to finish but doesn't leave a deeper impression. In times of confinement and quarantine however, this movie is quite a treat.

    Final rating: 62%

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  • Powerful Passion Podcast

    Fourth episode: Tomb Raider (1996 - 2018)

    Download it right here: Powerful Passion Podcast IV

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  • Discover a true piece of German musical culture - this is my favourite band from Germany!

    Set list on September 4th 2015:

    1. Two Söstra

    2. Erdbeermund

    3. Frei zu sein

    4. Stetit puella

    5. Krummavisur

    6. Herr Mannelig

    7. Nymphenzeit

    8. Loreley

    9. Vollmond

    10. Die Gier

    11. Wind

    12. Vänner och Frände

    13. Werd ich am Galgen hochgezogen

    14. Miss Gordon of Gight

    15. Ave Maria

    16. Palästinalied

    17. Hiemali tempore

    18. Küss mich

    19. Rotes Haar

    20. Omnia sol temperat

    21. Spielmannsfluch

    22. Albtraum

    23. Ai vis lo lop

    24. Merseburger Zaubersprüche II

    25. Liam

    26. Villeman og Magnhild

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