“Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade” – Chris Luedtke

While films often feature wolves stalking under the guise of man, those of wit and quality are a bit more difficult to come by. Be it the newest reference-driven comedy schlock or aimless chick flick, flicks are more quick to grab a piece of the wolf theme’s revenue than do something to really set itself apart from the rest. At least Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade tries throwing its viewers for a loop, but is it a true beast in anime’s clothing, or is it fodder worthy of Wal-Mart’s $5 Halloween bin?

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“The Professional: Golgo 13″ – A.J. Hakari

For years, I thought Zatoichi was Japan’s answer to James Bond, if only for the character’s longevity. But some would say that mantle truly belongs to Duke Togo — a.k.a. Golgo 13. Twice as brutal and just as lucky with the ladies, Golgo’s hard-boiled escapades rival even 007’s darkest days. Now I can’t vouch for the source manga, but this man of action’s first animated feature, The Professional, seems to think that coolness can be bought instead of earned. Gunplay and gratuitous screwing alone do not a badass flick make, a notion you realize The Professional will never take to the further you explore it.

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“The Castle of Cagliostro” – A.J. Hakari

Every genre has its face. Hitchcock is synonymous with suspense, Chaplin with comedy, and so on. At the moment, Hayao Miyazaki’s visage represents the world of anime, which is a plus and a minus. The man’s fantasies have given anime more exposure than ever, but that also means misguided viewers assuming Japan is only good for feline transportation and sentient scarecrows. Luckily, we have Miyazaki-san’s feature debut, The Castle of Cagliostro, to show that he wasn’t always trying to out-funky Guillermo del Toro. There’s no message or trademark reverence to nature here, just a heist flick as free-spirited as its protagonist.

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“Sword of the Stranger” – Chris Luedtke

I’ve grown weary of films carrying the dreaded “action” stamp. The genre, whether animated or flesh-and-blood, tends to come with a voice that whispers, “Don’t worry! We’ll get by on destroying stuff!” What should get my pulse pounding or adrenaline flowing usually results in a yawn that makes mountains crumble. But Sword of the Stranger doesn’t rely on its ability to devastate so much as its style, and for its efforts, I couldn’t tear my eyes away.

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“Coco Before Chanel” – Chris Luedtke

Like reality television, the fashion industry is something I’ve managed to avoid my entire life. The idea of someone spiffing themselves up because a small collection of superfluous individuals say it’s cool is preposterous. Coco Before Chanel documents the life of fashion design’s arguably biggest name but with a twist maybe only her devoted fans can completely appreciate. Still, those ignorant to her life can enjoy its aesthetic quality like any other work of fiction.

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Date Title Rating
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Sep 21, 2010 "The Seventh Seal" - Chris Luedtke ★★★★
Sep 14, 2010 "Visitor Q" - Chris Luedtke ★★★☆
Sep 7, 2010 "Spirited Away" - Chris Luedtke ★★★½
Aug 31, 2010 "Paprika" - Chris Luedtke ★★★½
Jul 27, 2010 "Izo" - Chris Luedtke ★★☆☆
Jul 13, 2010 "Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade" - Chris Luedtke ★★½☆
Jun 28, 2010 "The Professional: Golgo 13" - A.J. Hakari ★½☆☆
Jun 19, 2010 "The Castle of Cagliostro" - A.J. Hakari ★★★☆
Jun 15, 2010 "Sword of the Stranger" - Chris Luedtke ★★★½
Jun 15, 2010 "Coco Before Chanel" - Chris Luedtke ★★★☆
Jun 7, 2010 "Vampire Hunter D" - A.J. Hakari ★★☆☆
May 12, 2010 "Nang Nak" - A.J. Hakari ★★★☆
May 12, 2010 "Ichi the Killer" - Chris Luedtke ★★★☆
Apr 28, 2010 "Sleepy Eyes of Death 2: Sword of Adventure" - A.J. Hakari ★★★☆
Apr 4, 2010 "Nana" - Chris Luedtke ★★½☆
Apr 4, 2010 "Slaughter Night" - Chris Luedtke ★★☆☆
Mar 3, 2010 "Tokyo Gore Police" - Chris Luedtke ★★☆☆
Jan 25, 2010 "Visitor Q" - A.J. Hakari ★★★☆
Jan 20, 2010 "Princess" - A.J. Hakari ★★★☆
Jan 20, 2010 "I'm Not Scared" - Chris Luedtke ★★★☆