“Vampire Hunter D” – A.J. Hakari

Don’t you get a special tingle when cultures are filtered through an outsider’s perspective? You’ll get something enlightening once in a while, but mostly, you’ll see just how woefully misinformed we are of one another. I wouldn’t suggest that Vampire Hunter D made bloodsuckers into the 98-pound weaklings we see them as now, but as one of the first impressionable anime features, it sure helped. In a style that the latter-day “Castlevania” games would refine, this flick casts the undead as a sullen lot, which itself is fine. But teamed with a story that plays tug-of-war with its characters, Vampire Hunter D’s tale of eternal suffering comes across like an overblown case of the Mondays.

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Anime Month Begins

Greetings and salutations, dear readers. Updates have been sparse over the past few months, for which Chris and myself have no other excuse to provide but life. Things happen, and they’ve been happening to us in great doses in recent times. All I can say is that we will be doing our best to provide consistent updates from now on, beginning with Passport Cinema’s inaugural Anime Month. The festivities were actually supposed to begin last week, had it not been for my being sick as a dog and our first review such a beast to nail down. But please enjoy my take on Vampire Hunter D, as well as the other reviews we’ll have for you throughout June. Stay classy!

-A.J. Hakari
Creator and lead film critic, Passport Cinema

“Nang Nak” – A.J. Hakari

Since the glory days of classic horror, we’ve seen that some monsters are misunderstood. Frankenstein’s creature didn’t ask to live again, and Boris Karloff’s Imhotep just wanted to rekindle a millennia-old crush. But the sympathetic and the supernatural have co-existed for ages in legend, which is where Thai director Nonzee Nimibutr found the source of his breakout picture, Nang Nak. It’s one of several films based off the same tale, and while I can’t say for sure that it’s the best, it is the most internationally-known of the bunch. Nang Nak emerged during the Asian horror renaissance, and like its finest graduates, it knows that a simple story told well can be as satisfying as a shiver down the spine.

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“Ichi the Killer” – Chris Luedtke

Sweet bleeding hell. There’s no other way to describe Ichi the Killer, a piece of work that’s been praised by gorehounds, sadists, masochists, and experimental enthusiasts alike. It’s a film that takes me and assaults my senses to such a degree that I wanna ask for more — but I’m still left wondering what the hell just happened.

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“Sleepy Eyes of Death 2: Sword of Adventure” – A.J. Hakari

Swords are for killing. Nothing less, nothing more.

With this attitude, it’s no wonder Nemuri Kyoshiro (Raizo Ichikawa) doesn’t send out too many Christmas cards. As distrustful of his fellow man as they are of him, sword for hire Kyoshiro has left a cynical swath in our concept of the noble samurai. There is no honor where this guy’s concerned, and if the first Sleepy Eyes of Death picture wasn’t evidence enough, along comes a follow-up to hammer it home just a bit more. Granted, Sword of Adventure does feature a protagonist who’s less “anti” and more “hero.” But ice water still flows through Kyoshiro’s veins, allowing him yet again to be one of the meanest mothers to ever bust out a blade.

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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 ★★★☆