Film Review: Wicked City (1987)

Also known as: Monster City (Sweden), Supernatural Beast City (Germany)
Release Date: April 19th, 1987 (Japan)
Directed by: Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Written by: Norio Osada
Based on: Wicked City: Black Guard by Hideyuki Kikuchi
Music by: Osamu Shoji

Video Art, Madhouse, Joy Pack Film, 82 Minutes

Review:

“[chuckles, then unzips Taki’s fly] He’s a healthy one. Let me see if I can wake him… [gives him a blowjob]” – Kanako

I was a big fan of Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s work well before I realized who he was. I loved this film, as well as Demon City Shinjuku and the utterly superb Ninja Scroll, way before I learned that the same guy directed them.

This one always stuck out in my mind as the most twisted and disturbing of his films, even though they all deal with similar subject matter. Wicked City was just supremely messed up, especially for a young teen discovering this late at night on a VHS tape borrowed from a friend at school.

I love the art style, the visual and narrative tone and how this feels like a slow burn from start to finish.

That being said, this feels like it has a slow pace but a lot happens and it’s certainly not boring. In fact, it helps to build suspense as this strange, wicked world slowly reveals itself to the viewer over the course of the film.

All the action sequences in this are pretty damn cool and it’s one of the most creative animes of its time in how it uses horror and monsters. In fact, the otherworldly monsters feel like they were ripped from John Carpenter’s The Thing but they still have their own uniqueness.

My only real complaint about Wicked City isn’t about the film itself, it’s about the fact that this just exists as one entry into what I feel should’ve been developed into a larger universe. I’ve wanted more of these since I first saw this movie and I felt like it left a door wide open.

Wicked City is one of the top anime horror films of all-time and deservedly so. It’s still effective, has stood the test of time and it features incredible art, creativity and great monsters.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s other anime features: Demon City Shinjuku, Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.

Vids I Dig 140: AnimeEveryday: The Influence of ‘Akira’

Taken from AnimeEveryday’s YouTube description: In this video I discuss the influence Akira had on anime & the industry. I discuss the ’80s building up to Akira, its immediate effect in the ’90s and how its influence evolved into modern anime.

Film Review: Batman: Year One (2011)

Release Date: September 27th, 2011 (Spain)
Directed by: Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery
Written by: Tab Murphy
Based on: Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli
Music by: Christopher Drake
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Ben McKenzie, Eliza Dushku, Jon Polito, Alex Rocco, Katee Sackhoff, Grey DeLisle, Stephen Root

Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, 64 Minutes

Review:

“Twelve years. And the ache is still fresh. Like a raw angry nerve. But this isn’t about healing. I’m not looking for closure.” – Batman

This was a pretty short film, even for a DC Comics animated feature. Not counting the credits, this was exactly one hour and it played more like a pilot for an hour long Batman animated series for adult fans than it did a movie.

That’s certainly not a knock, as this was pretty solid, overall. It was a really good adaptation of the original Frank Miller story, even though these DC animated films take a lot of creative liberties.

It captures the gist of the story and the tone of the comic. Although, this does feel less gritty but I think that is due to it being very clean looking animation mixed with obvious CGI in parts. I wasn’t a fan of the CGI bits, as they stick out like a sore thumb and don’t blend well with the overall visual composition.

The plot and the script are very good though. But they are truly brought to life by a heck of a cast that boasts Bryan Cranston, Ben McKenzie (who went on to be the star of Gotham), Eliza Dushku, Katee Sackhoff, Alex Rocco, Jon Polito, Stephen Root and solid voice actress, Grey DeLisle. The voice acting was superb and it made this a better film than it would have been with a lesser cast.

I guess I actually would’ve liked this to be a bit longer. It rushes through the story, which isn’t too dissimilar from the comic it is based on, but I felt like some added context and more plot and character development could’ve put this at the level of the two-part The Dark Knight Returns animated picture.

Still, this is a good outing by Warner Bros. animation studio and it’s definitely in the upper echelon of animated Batman flicks.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other DC animated films, primarily those featuring Batman.

Film Review: Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle (1993)

Release Date: July 31st, 1993 (Japan)
Directed by: Kazuhiro Furuhashi
Based on: Fatal Fury: King of Fighters by SNK
Music by: Toshihiko Sahashi

Nihon Ad Systems (NAS), 75 Minutes

Review:

While the first movie didn’t age too well, I still wanted to watch the second one, as it bridges the gap between the first and third movies and because I remember the third one being exceptionally good for the time.

These films are based off of the fighting game series of the same name, a series that would eventually evolve into the popular King of Fighters franchise.

I would say that this chapter is a step up from the first one, as it is longer, has more story and also has more fighting and introduces fans to other beloved characters that didn’t fit in the first chapter.

The plot mostly follows the plot of the second game and introduces the villain Wolfgang Krauser, who appears to be a bigger badass than Geese Howard of the original game and film. It also brings in the matador villain Laurence Blood, as every big baddie needs a top henchman. Blood is to Krauser what Billy Kane was to Geese.

I think that the animation here is pretty consistent with the first film but it may be a hair bit better. Where I did notice improvement was in the action, especially the fighting scenes.

Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle expands the story quite a bit and it helps to set the stage for the followup: Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture, which was the finale and the only one that saw theatrical release.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: the two other Fatal Fury movies.

Vids I Dig 130: Toy Galaxy: The History of ‘Gargoyles’: Disney’s Spookiest Series

 

From Toy Galaxy’s YouTube description: On this episode Dan covers the history of Disney’s Gargoyles.

Spookier and darker than almost anything done at the time, this three season animated series lasted only 78 episodes despite some big hopes.

But even with all that, this series still has a ton of fans to this day that hope to someday see the Gargoyles return.

Vids I Dig 124: AnimeEveryday: A History of Mecha Anime

Taken from AnimeEveryday’s YouTube description: The mecha genre is one of my favorite genres, I find mecha’s long lineage and rich history fascinating. In this video I have a look through the genre’s history to see how mecha has become one of anime’s more prosperous genres.

Film Review: Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf (1992)

Release Date: December 23rd, 1992 (Japan)
Directed by: Hiroshi Fukutomi
Based on: Fatal Fury: King of Fighters by SNK
Music by: Toshihiko Sahashi, Toshio Masuda

Fuji Television Network, Nihon Ad Systems (NAS), Star Child Recording, 46 Minutes

Review:

There were Street Fighter kids, there were Mortal Kombat kids and then their were Fatal Fury kids.

I was a Fatal Fury kid and actually loved all the fighting games put out by SNK on the Neo Geo. And that’s not to say that I also didn’t play the shit out of the other two games but the style of those SNK fighters lured me in.

So when Fatal Fury animes started coming out, I bought them all and watched them almost weekly. I just dug the hell out of these films.

This one, the first of three, is the shortest and probably the worst but it’s still worth a watch for fans of the franchise that would evolve into the uber popular King of Fighters game series.

The story isn’t super exciting and it’s standard fighting game story fare. A bad guy, in this case Geese Howard, killed the two protagonists’ father. The two brothers decide to get revenge when they’re adults ten years later. They meet a Muay Thai ally and all three go to war with the scumbags ruling the city. They also kick ass in a big fighting tournament and draw the attention of the big bad guy.

The main issue I have with this film is that it’s too short. The story could have been better and richer but this just cuts to the chase, sets everything up quickly and then lets the characters duke it out.

If you aren’t familiar with these games, then this probably isn’t something you’ll give a shit about. If you are an old school Fatal Fury fan, this is worth checking out if only to build up towards the third film, which was pretty fantastic from my memory.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: the two Fatal Fury movies that follow.