Subtitle The.Wandering.Swordsman.1970.CHINESE.W... [CRACKED]
The series was co-produced by Union Motion Picture Co, Ltd. (ユニオン映画) and Studio Ship (スタジオシップ), a company formed by manga author Kazuo Koike, and originally aired on Nippon TV in Japan. It was subsequently broadcast in the United States as The Fugitive Samurai in the original Japanese with English subtitles, and released for the Toronto, Canada market by CFMT-TV (now OMNI 1) in the original Japanese with English subtitles as The Iron Samurai. It has also been aired in Germany dubbed in German, in Italy dubbed in Italian; around 1980, a Portuguese dub was aired in Brazil as O Samurai Fugitivo (The Fugitive Samurai) on TVS, actually SBT, and in Spanish, as El Samurai Fugitivo on the American Spanish TV station Univision.
The first season was released on DVD in Japan on December 20, 2006, apparently without subtitles. Twelve of the first 13 episodes were released on DVD in Germany as Kozure Okami, with audio in Japanese and German. In the US, Media Blasters released the first season on DVD on April 29, 2008, under its Tokyo Shock Label, containing the original Japanese with English subtitles. All of these releases excluded the deleted from distribution 2nd episode "Gomune Oyuki". It is unclear as to why this episode is no longer made available.
The achievements of some of the genre's most innovative directors prior to the 1980s-names such as Zhang Che, King Hu, Lau Kar-Leung (Liu Jialang), and Chu Yuan-have gone largely unheralded beyond circles of specialists and fans, in part because there were no good prints of their films in circulation. What with faded color, panning and scanning, and atrocious dubbing, those prints and videotapes that did exist gave only the faintest impression of the films' original impact. Thanks to the curatorship of Cheng-Sim Lim, the UCLA Film and Television Archive remedies this situation by presenting as many new 35mm prints as possible; all films will be presented in their original language with English subtitles.
I originally saw Takeshi Kitano's The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (2003) in the theater without subtitles. It is essentially an action film so I think I got the main ideas and concepts, but I always thought I would go back and watch it with subtitles. This was the right timing since I have just finished watching all of the Shintaro Katsu Zatoichi films. Apparently this homage was suggested to Kitano by a colleague in the industry. The films has many of the subplots of the original stories including the subplot of the noble ronin who will be Zatoichi's 8Kitano sporting blonde hair as the sightless masseur) dueling partner. This time it Tadnaobu Asano plays Hattori Genosuke, a reluctant bodyguard who needs money to help his sick wife become cured. In another subplot there is a team of two murderous geisha that are bent on avenging the murder of their family by tracking down the murders and dispatching them after seducing them. Kitano uses CGI to enhance the bloody fighting throughout. There are familiar tropes such as Zatoichi's skill without sight such as when he helps the old woman with chores and stacks the wood without facing the pile. Then there is the obligatory fixed dice game that Zatocihi exposes. There are several incidents of comic relief throughout. Perhaps the main innovation that Kitano brings to the film is a sense of musicality and rhythm seen among the villagers working in the fields and later on a house which eventually leads to a tap-dance clog production number that closes out the film.This is probably Kitano's most successful film artistically as well as commercially.
2003 Pusan International Film Festival Reportby Darcy PaquetOpening ceremony, Oct. 2, 2003. The 8th edition of the Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) opened on October 2, 2003 -- in contrast to the past couple years, when it has been held in November. The festival clearly prefers an October opening (with warmer weather allowing for screenings on PIFF's massive outdoor screen), however in 2001 and 2002 there have been conflicts with events such as the Busan Asian Games that have pushed the event back to November. Festival organizers now say they have secured an early October opening for the next several years, and intend to keep this time slot.Early October is one of the nicest times of the year in Korea. The leaves have not yet begun to change color, but temperatures are warm and the sky is as clear as it ever gets. The festival's new hub is alongside the beach in the Haeundae (pronounced "HAY-oon-day") tourist district, and though it's a bit too cold to swim, the beach is a perfect place to take a respite from the frenzy of the festival.This year the festival reserved 17 screens for the 242 films in its program: the outdoor venue, 10 smaller screens in the Megabox Cineplex in Haeundae, and 6 screens in the central district of Nampo-dong, where the festival was originally launched. The long distance between the two areas (about 50 minutes by subway) always produces a lot of complaints and places pressure on the festival to choose one district or the other. This is difficult, however, because Nampo-dong doesn't have enough hotels, and Haeundae doesn't have enough screens. The issue is likely to brew on until PIFF finishes building its own theater complex, due to be finished in 2007. Both Nampo-dong and Haeundae are lobbying hard to have the new theater built in their district, and a decision will be made by early 2004. Haeundae is almost certain to win out.In recent years PIFF has started attracting more and more guests from abroad, as it has gained the reputation of being the most important film festival in Asia. Its main competitors, the Hong Kong International Film Festival and the Tokyo International Film Festival, are both seen to be in decline, and PIFF has capitalized on this by focusing strongly on Asian cinema. The recent surge in Korean cinema's international reputation has also given the festival a big boost (and vice versa).PIFF's burgeoning status can also be seen in the increasing number of premieres that it screens, such as the opening film, Japanese director Kurosawa Kiyoshi's Doppelganger (director and stars pictured right). Whereas in past years the opening and closing films had often screened before in other festivals, this year they secured the international premiere of this rising director's latest work.(A note about terminology, since sometimes people ask me about this, and this seems as good a space as any to explain it... A "world premiere" is the first time a film is screened in front of a public audience. An "international premiere" is the first public screening of a film outside its home country. Doppelganger opened in Japan a week before the festival, so PIFF had the international premiere. PIFF also screens a lot of Asian premieres -- the first time a film has screened in Asia. Premieres are considered prestigious for festivals, and they result in a lot of publicity. If the international press wants to review the film, they have to come to Pusan, and they often mention the festival in their review. For local audiences it probably makes little difference, however. People seemed just as excited about Kitano Takeshi's Zatoichi -- which premiered at Venice -- as they were about Doppelganger) With PIFF's rising popularity, however, came one problem. With a record number of guests, and smaller theaters this year in the Haeundae Megabox, a severe ticket shortage for festival guests occurred. EVERYBODY I talked to was having trouble getting tickets. The seats reserved for guests for the film The Road Taken were all taken 30 seconds after the ticket booths opened one morning. I spoke to many programmers and journalists who had flown halfway across the globe to see films, only to discover that they couldn't get in to the shows they most wanted to see. The festival staff did their best to accommodate people, and some extra screenings of Korean films were added, but nonetheless this was the major overwhelming complaint that everybody had about this year's event.Opening ceremony / Doppelganger (Japan, 2003), dir. Kurosawa KiyoshiI arrived in Pusan (or "Busan", if you want to use the official spelling) early on Thursday, October 2nd. There was a press screening of Doppelganger in the early afternoon, but I waited to watch it during the opening ceremony. The event is held at a spacious yachting center near the water, and they have 5000 chairs set up outside in front of a huge screen.(Despite the large number of seats available, the screening sold out only 30 minutes after going on sale in early September) A red carpet stretches from the yachting center's entrance through the sea of seats up to a stage in front of the screen. Foreign and local celebrities walk down the carpet to a group of reserved seats in front. International press are also given reserved seats, so I also got a chance to "walk the carpet," so to speak. The mood that night was electric -- flashes were popping everywhere, and each celebrity that arrived resulted in screams from the audience. Directors Kwak Kyung-taek, Im Kwon-taek, Hong Sang-soo, Lee Chang-dong (now Korea's Minister of Culture and Tourism), Kim Ki-duk, Lee Jang-ho, Yu Hyun-mok and others were there, in addition to stars like Jang Jin-young, Park Hae-il, Moon So-ri, Ahn Sung-ki, and Kang Su-youn (pictured left is fashion guru Andre Kim). When actor Lee Byung-heon showed up, there was mass hysteria. Actor Park Joong-hoon and actress/soon-to-be director Pang Eun-hee presided over the ceremonies. After several speeches, a nice performance on the gayageum (a traditional Korean instrument) and an impressive fireworks display, the screening of Doppelganger began. Starring actor Yakusho Koji (Shall We Dance), the film is an eccentric horror/black comedy about a robotics engineer whose life is disturbed by an evil twin of sorts, who tries to help him out by getting him fired and seducing his assistant. Changing tone from time to time throughout the course of the plot, director Kurosawa Kiyoshi (who made one of my personal favorites, Cure, in 1997) likes to keep his audience guessing. Often we don't whether the person on the screen is the engineer or the evil twin, and the movie is given further tweaks with split screens, strange plot detours and unexpected bursts of violence. Personally I found the ending to be a bit baffling and disappointing, but it's an interesting enough film that it would be worth going back for a second watch. Most of the people I talked to said they enjoyed it better than Bright Future, the director's previous film which screened at Cannes and which is supposedly quite hard to figure out.The night ended with the opening party, held in the upscale Paradise Hotel near the beach. Many of the celebrities who showed up for the opening screening were there, together with festival guests and packs of TV reporters with cameras.Chung Chang-hwa retrospectivePIFF's Korean cinema retrospective section focuses on older films, usually from the 1950s and 1960s. On most years the festival has chosen to highlight a particular director, such as Kim Ki-young (1997), Yu Hyun-mok (1999), Shin Sang-ok (2001), or Kim Soo-yong (2002). Other retrospectives have focused on the Korean New Wave (1996), cinematographer Yoo Young-kil (1998), and film adaptations of the folktale Chunhyang (2000).This year's retrospective was on a director that most people had never heard of. Chung Chang-hwa made his debut in the film industry in 1953 and became known for his commercial, rather than his artistic success. In particular, PIFF introduced him as "the man of action", who pioneered the genre of action movies in Korean cinema. He is also known for having served as a mentor for filmmakers such as Im Kwon-taek and Kang Dae-jin who first worked as assistant directors under Chung.After finding success in Korea and making several Hong Kong-Korean co-productions, Chung (who had studied Chinese in school) was invited to a meeting with producer Run Run Shaw in Hong Kong and given a three-year contract to make films for Shaw Brothers. While in Hong Kong from 1969 to 1977, Chung made eleven highly successful films at Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest, including the classic Five Fingers of Death which became the first Hong Kong movie to become a commercial success in the U.S. A Bonanza (1961, Korea)Sunset on the Harbin River (1965, Korea)Dangerous Youth (1966, Korea)Swordsman in the Twilight (1967, Korea)Wandering Swordsman and 108 Bars of Gold (1968, Korea)Temptress of a Thousand Faces (1969, Hong Kong)Valley of the Fangs (1970, Hong Kong)Five Fingers of Death (1972, Hong Kong version)Five Fingers of Death (1972, censored Korean version)The Devil's Treasure (1973, Hong Kong)Watching films from this retrospective was one of my highest priorities for this festival; unfortunately time conflicts and sold-out shows meant that I only caught four of them: Dangerous Youth (1966), Swordsman in the Twilight (1967, pictured above), Wandering Swordsman and 108 Bars of Gold (1968), and Valley of the Fangs (1970). My personal favorite -- and most of the people I talked to held the same opinion -- was the youth romance/revenge film Dangerous Youth. Starring Shin Sung-il (the biggest star of the 1960s, and a current representative at Korea's National Assembly) and actress Moon Hee, the film is about a man who sets out to take revenge on the rogue who made his sister pregnant by doing the same thing to that man's own sister. Quite an evil deed, to be sure, and the film makes it hard to identify with this angry and hotheaded young protagonist. Nonetheless, the film's brisk pace and dialogue (not to mention Moon Hee, my favorite actress of that generation) make it highly entertaining to watch. Swordsman in the Twilight and Wandering Swordsman and 108 Bars of Gold are both period swordplay films made in Korea. Many foreign guests who had seen a large number of similar films from Hong Kong seemed to feel that these two titles offered little new. Nonetheless they are well made, and they certainly stand out within the context of 1960s Korean cinema. Swordsman in the Twilight focuses on peripheral characters during the historical period when Jang Hee-bin was named queen of the Chosun Dynasty. Though the backdrop is a well-known story in Korea (Chung himself shot the film Jang Hee-bin in 1961, and it is available on DVD), it effectively expresses outrage at the corruption of people in power. Wandering Swordsman is more eccentric, with a loner hero who kills people for money and who gets wrapped up in a quest for hidden gold.All in all, people seemed to enjoy his films, and the retrospective successfully highlighted a distinctive filmmaker who had been almost completely overlooked in the standard histories of Korean cinema.Panel on big-budget Korean filmsEach year as part of the Pusan Promotion Plan (PPP), there are special panels devoted to timely issues in Korean or Asian cinema. One of the more interesting discussions this year was a "Case Study on Korean Big-Budget Films" (defined as productions costing over $5 million, which although tiny for Hollywood is huge by Korean standards). With all the expensive flops of the past couple years, such as Resurrection of the Little Match Girl, Yesterday, and Natural City, the question on everyone's mind was, "Does the Korean blockbuster have a future?"The panel featured four producers with experience making big-budget films in Asia, pictured below from left to right: Kim Seung-beom (Korea, Natural City), Iseki Satoru (Japan, The Emperor and the Assassin), Tcha Seung-jai (Korea, Musa) and Philip Lee (Hong Kong, Hero). Kim Seung-beom of Tube Entertainment was in some ways the "star" of the event, having distributed or invested in a remarkable number of expensive films that flopped at the box-office, including Resurrection of the Little Match Girl, Tube, and Natural City in addition to the better-performing 2009 Lost Memories. Discussion was centered around two types of films. One was the type of Korean big-budget genre film that has performed so badly over the past couple years. Kim Seung-beom noted that virtually all of these projects started out with a budget of around $3 million, but that production costs eventually grew out of control due to delays in production, technological problems, and general inexperience in making films of this scale. Korea, for example, does not have technicians who know precisely what kind of special effects are needed for a certain situation, because the Korean film industry never made this kind of film until recently. Tcha Seung-jai of Sidus Corporation agreed with this, noting that productions costs for Musa and Volcano High rose higher than expected due to overseas locations or special effects. "We've learned a lot, and I think now we probably have enough experience to produce a large-scale film on budget," he noted. From his perspective, Philip Lee from Hong Kong suggested that Korean films might be able to achieve slightly higher production values with the same amount of money, if producers gain more experience and expertise. Tcha Seung-jai then estimated that budgets for Korean films should have a ceiling of about $4 million, above which a production becomes dangerously unlikely to earn a profit. Unless, that is, the film is able to make strong sales in the international market. Almost all Korean films are sold to other Asian countries these days, but only films with special appeal can expect to earn a significant amount of money outside of Korea. Japan is by far the most important market, Tcha said, as it accounts for up to 70% of all the money that Korean companies earn from overseas sales. If a film is able to be pre-sold to Japan for a large amount of money, then this could justify budgets of over $4 million. Which brings us to the second kind of film discussed at the panel: films with international financing that are targeted at the international market, such as the Chinese titles Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Korea has yet to produce a film of this kind, with the possible exception of Kang Je-gyu's $13m Korean War drama Taegukgi. Japanese producer Iseki Satoru, who produced the Chinese film The Emperor and the Assassin, said that if you want to make this kind of movie, you have to pre-sell it to other countries before entering production. "We were able to pre-sell The Emperor and the Assassin because director Chen Kaige's name is well-known, and most importantly the script was well-written and well-translated. A good script is essential," he noted. Apart from pre-sales, it is important to get international financing, argued Philip Lee. Rather than put down the $35 million needed to make Hero out of their own pockets, the producers of the film received loans from international banks (mostly in the United States). They then signed a contract known as a "completion bond" which means that they take responsibility for finishing the film. If they can't complete the film, then they must pay back the amount they borrowed, or else the bank can assign someone else to take over the production. Korean companies are largely blocked off from this kind of financing; people who want to invest in Korean films must su