ThE FiLm AnD ViDeO ReViEwS

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Jaspre Bark, Jeffrey Peacock and Marcus go goggle eyed after watching the cream of this month's film and video releases Including
Kids, Cyclo, Mary Reilly, The Juror, L'Amore Molesto, Species, Panther, Butterfly Kiss, Trial by fire, Rob Roy, Circle of friends, Nightwatch, Eurotrash, Don Juan De Marco, Three Wishes, the Infiltrator, A family divided, Dead of night, The new Avengers, Fun, Kitami, Winsor McCay Animation Legend, Immortal story, The Double headed eagle and lots and lots of Japanese Anime

Cinema releases


Kids


Director - Larry Clark
Stars - Leo Fitzpatrick, Justin Pierce, Chloe Sevigny

I hate this movie I hate it to death, and why do i hate it ? Because it's so bloody good that's why I hate it. The director and writer's first film and they come up with a barnstormer like this, especially since the writer Harmony Korine is only 19.

The film follows a day in the life of two teenagers, Telly (Fitzpatrick) and Casper (Pierce). They are the archetypal slacker kids, into skateboarding, stealing beer from the off-licence, screwing, talking shit, smoking shite and hanging. But above all they like to act like Beavis and Butthead come to life, but without (thankfully) the heavy metal and the giggles. Telly and Casper are streetwise New Yorkers not stupid kids from the suburban sticks.

The plot if there is anything that could be described as a plot, is the search for Telly by Jennie (Sevigny). She follows one step behind the virgin lusting Telly with the bad news that his policy of only screwing virgins (because they're disease free and they'll always remember you) has unfortunately given him and her aids.

The cast are all unknowns and if this is true then we may as well get rid of acting schools because these kids are brilliant. Both Pierce and Sevigny and are superb, and hopefully we should be seeing more and more of them. Sevigny has already been asked to do modelling for various NY fashion houses. The current miu miu campaign features her heavily. Fitzpatrick is such a nerd in the movie and he is so good at it that I'm not sure that whether he was acting or just being himself. If he was acting then the boys a genius .

The film is both funny and bleak and should be required viewing for anyone below the age of 18. But unfortunately due to the level of swearing and the pre-consent age sex (although all the participants are over 16 Fitzpatrick is 17, Pierce and Sevigny are both 19) Kids has been given an 18 certificate, by which time it'll be too late for some of the people who should really be watching this film.

The only real downside to the film is the horrible nasal, mostly mumbled, asinine NY drawl of both Telly and Casper. Add this to the hip kid speak and you've got a recipe for box-office disaster for the 25 and over age group. Perhaps a few sub-titles might help. Imagine what problems the LA audiences are going to have with Trainspotting's Glaswegian and translate to the UK.

10/10 MA

Cyclo


Director - Tran Anh Hung
Stars - Tran Nu Yen Khe, Le Van Loc, Tony Leung-Chiu Wai

This is a bleak bleak movie, it's the sort of movie that you finish watching and think a) God how can someone think of a plot so miserable and b) Get me a drink now.

The Cyclo of the title is a bicycle taxi driven by Le Van Loc. He's incredibly poor and works every hour of the day, partly to pay for the rent of the cyclo and partly to help feed his family. However nothing good can last - well not in this film - and the bike is stolen, and the Cyclo is forced to work for a seedy gang run by the Poet (Tony Leung-Chiu Wai). He takes to his new job with as much vigour as he had for his cycling job. The only problem with his new job is he's locked away from his beloved sister and reality, and he's only visited by Poet and his gang, who are psychotic to man. Perhaps it's a good job he's locked away because while he's away Poet puts Cyclo's sister Tran Nu Yen Khe on the game. As we said this is a bleak film.

Cyclo was voted The best film at the Venice film festival and quite rightly so. The acting is wonderful, particularly Wai as the Poet. He acts like a young Belmondo, and although he says very few words in the film he dominates the action totally. But it's not just the acting that makes the film. The main theme of the film is the way Hung uses bright colours and the images of running water as a link between the scenes and between the characters. And it's this recurring theme that helps to give a spine to the somewhat floppy plot

The film is also very violent, if you thought the ear episode in Reservoir dogs was violent then wait till you meet the Lullaby man, Reservoir kittens Tarrantino mate .

Indie fans watch out for Radiohead's Creep which is aptly played when the Poet pimps Cyclo's handcuffed sister to a mr big.

Hung's last film The scent of green papaya was nominated for an Oscar in '94 and we'd be very surprised if this isn't nominated for something next year.

I left the screening the person in front of me said how the hell do I write that up in 500 words. He has a point

9/10 MA

The Juror


Director - Brian Gibson
Stars - Alec Baldwin, Demi Moore

There are only a few different plots in Hollywood and one of them revolves around an average Joe Schmo who is leant on by the mob etc, and instead of doing the sensible thing which is reporting them they proceed to take on the mob single handedly. So think of two hours of this then you've got Juror. Sculptor Demi Moore chooses to be on a jury, hearing the case of a multiple murder and mob head. The inevitable happens Alec Baldwin turns up as a mysterious art buyer who buys some of Moore's work, and taking rather too much interest in Ms Moore's welfare. Why they bothered with this charade is questionable because 20 minutes into the film Baldwin admits he's a mobster and intends on threatening Moore with her child Oliver's safety (exceedingly well played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Naturally Moore falls for the "and don't tell the cops about it" line. So all she has to do is keep her head, persuade the other 11 jurors that the guilty as sin mobster is in fact the innocent party, and that the real baddie is "the teacher". No prizes for guessing who that is.

Baldwin's excellent as the psycho without a friend, and Moore is adequate as the Sigourney Weaveresque strong female role model. Although the best performance goes to a combination of Baldwin's hair, Moore's friend Juliet (Anne Heche), and Oliver.

All in all it's somewhere between 1994's awful star vehicle the Fugitive and The Firm. It's half-an-hour too long and it should have had a more attention paid to the plot, rather than payment to the stars.

4/10 MA

L'Amore Molesto


Director - Mario Martone.

This is somewhat of a disappointing movie from writer/director Mario Martone. Cartoonist Delia gets a series of mysterious and provocative calls from her mother on the night she is supposed to be coming to visit. The next morning her mother's body is found washed up on the shore wearing only kinky red underwear. After the funeral Delia goes in search of the truth about her mother's death and has to face some uncomfortable truths from her past along the way. What sounds like a very good basis for a film, inspite of some excellent cinematography, is crushed stone dead by a confused and obtuse narrative that renders the movie not only incomprehensible but tedious in the extreme. Catch it when you've got insomnia and its being shown late night on Channel 4 about two years from now.

2/10 MA

Mary Reilly


Director - Stephen Frears
Stars - Julia Roberts, John Malkovich

When I came out of the cinema after watching the preview of this film I was crying. I was crying because I've never ever seen a film as bad as this film. It stinks more than the Roquefort. It's the old Jekyll and Hyde story remade with Malkovich as the good and bad Doctor and the doe eyed one as the servant girl Mary Reilly. Malkovich is wasted on this film, he doesn't even attempt to act out of the paper bag of a script, which has more (unintentional) double entendres than a Carry on movie. Indeed it bears a striking resemblance to carry on screaming in places. The doe eyed one uses her vast repertoire of blank gazes to act her way in a sort of zombie like state throughout the picture.

Considering this was directed and written by two of Englands finest I can't understand what possibly went wrong. Did Hollywood change the script and re-edit ? I can bet they both forget to add this turkey to the Christmas CV list.

Meanwhile, in the depths of all this crud we get a group of small vignettes from the likes of Glenn Close as a Brothel running madame, Michael Gambon as Mary's drunken father, George Cole as the head servant, and Kathy Staff as the cook. Yes I said Kathy Staff, Nora Batty acts next to Mary Reilly. God save us

A well deserved 0/10 MA

Video releases


Species


Director - Roger Donaldson
Stars - Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Alfred Molina, Forest Whitaker. Natasha Henstridge

Released at the tale end of last year Species didn't last too long at the cinemas or didn't seem to. Even an alien designed by the Alien designer H.R. Giger couldn't save it.

Giger was also the designer of an Alien train sequence which was rumoured to have cost an enormous amount of money but only got a few seconds screen time.

It's one of those films that has location subtitles - Jefferson Military air force base etc which automatically makes you think x-files and made for television.

Cute blonde teenage alien escapes from a top secret air base after Fitch (Ben Kingsley) tries to poison her/it with cyanide (Well you would wouldn't you). Only the teenage is not in fact strictly an alien. She's the result of mixing human dna and a manufactured dna brewed to a recipe sent by a 'friendly' extra-terrestrial source. Only the experiment goes wrong and she starts to develop at an alarming pace, it's when she becomes a teenager after just three month's that Kingsley decides to terminate the experiment. It's also then that she decides to escape to LA ie the perfect place for any alien to hang out.

A team of four 'experts': Press (Michael Madsen), Arden (Molina), Dan (Whitaker), and Laura (Marg Helgenberger), are hurriedly mobilised by Kingsley to catch the alien. Press is a professional killer and the only non-scientist (so he gets the Bruce Willis lines), Laura is a biochemist, (she gets to say lines like "it's obvious that the DNA is mutating to form a polynatal being"), Whitaker a psychic (he gets the "she went that way" lines), and Molina is a cross-cultural studies professor (he gets the Shaggy "well if the monster went that way I'm going this way" lines)

Best line of the film is: "we decided to make it female because it would be more docile and controllable" says Fitch, "you folks haven't been out recently" says Press

She learns about life from the television including sex from the porn channel, although I'm not sure that's where she learned how to stick her tongue through the back of someone's head.

It's a bloody great movie for an evening in with a few pints of larger, or a wet afternoon in front of the telly It's got sex, it's got violence and it's got all the bits of Alien that it could possibly plagiarise. The ending is straight from alien including the dripping tunnels and the flame guns. It's also got a sense of humour soundtrack courtesy of Jellybean Benitez.

9/10 MA

Panther


Director - Mario Van Peebles
Stars - Kadeem Harrison, Joe Don Baker, Marcus Chong

The Black Panthers were a civil rights movement formed in San Francisco's Oakland area in the late 60's. The Panther movement took off in a big way from small beginnings as a group set up to get a set of traffic light on a street corner, to a nationwide group with offices in every town, and hated by the police 'pigs' and made public enemy number one by the FBI.

The film follows the Panthers and the key characters within the group from inception to the crushing of the Panthers by the FBI under orders from Hoover and Nixon in 1970. It' mostly seen from the eyes of Judge (Kadeem Harrison) who grows up in the movement and is used as a double agent by the Panthers against the Police and the FBI.

The story is riveting or rather it should be. It's a cert 18 so there's violence and swearing (including a room full of people shouting Fuck Reagan made me particularly happy) but you still get the made for TV sanitisation . Whether it's because some of the people involved in the Panthers are still alive and ie litigious or whether it's the rose tinted specs of history is uncertain.

There's some reasonable acting in the film but none of it's particularly special, mainly because the film has no real direction and the dialogue is lacklustre.

Excellent soundtrack, good politics but a lousy Hollywood sanitised product.

4.5/10 MA

Butterfly Kiss


Director - Michael Winterbottom
Stars - Amanda Plummer, Saskia Reeves

This is the lemon of the century. I'm praying that the Ren and Stimpy history erase button appears in front of me so that I can press it and forget ever having seen this pile of garbage. This is supposedly Thelma and Louise on the motorways of Northern England, But it's more like Wood and Walters meets the Thelma and Lousy Peugeot ad "What my David".

Amanda Plummer plays her stock hunny-bunny nutter role with an appalling North West somewhere (it's definitely not England) accent. Sensibly Saskia Reeves just keeps her head down and thinks of the cash. I wish I could.

Let me just say once more this is quite possibly the worst film I have ever seen in the whole of my Life.

0.00001/10 MA

Trial by Fire


Director - Alan Metzger
Stars - Gail O'Grady, Keith Carradine

A home box office true life story which is actually really quite good. Gail O'Grady plays Paulette Gill the sexy teacher of Kip who makes a quick Cobain exit from the movie in the first few minutes. Did he kill himself because of a sexual attack by Gill or did he die for other reasons ?

Gill recruits Owen Turner (Carradine) to be her attorney to fight her case against the law and the local moral majority who have something to hide.

It's a typical court room drama with good versus bad. Did she have sex with an underage teenager or was he just obsessed with his teacher. Enough to boast that he had sex with his teacher.

Good movie with some great acting from both Grady and Carradine, it had me hooked from start to finish, I wish she was my teacher.

6.5/10 MA

Rob Roy


Director - Michael Caton-Jones
Stars - Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange, Tim Roth, John Hurt, Brian Cox

The blurb for this is as follows "honour made him a man, Courage made him a hero, history made him a legend " To this we can add just one thing "Caton-Jones made him a laughing stock". To say this is film is a lemon is a) a gross understatement and b) an insult to lemons.

The acting talents of Neeson and Lange are shamelessly wasted. Their script seems to have been written by aliens from another planet and their Scottish accents would only be recognised by aliens from another planet. The plot if you can call it a plot doesn't actually appear till the 55th minute. Rob Roy borrows a 1000 from the Earl of Montrose to pay for some cattle. The money is then stolen by the Earl of Montrose's swordsman Tim Roth and Rob Roy has to both retrieve the money and his pious do goody honour. Which frankly is about as useful to most people as a chocolate fire guard.

The good scriptwriters seem to have been reserved for the support actors. So Roth and Cox (he plays Montrose's Factor) are fed the best lines and shine like lighthouses over Neeson and Lange's one watt bulbs. it's no surprise that Roth was up for an Oscar for his role. However if he wins it means that people are going want to watch this film and they're going to be exceedingly disappointed by the rest of the film.

0/10(5/10 If you worship Tim Roth) MA

Circle of friends


Director - Pat O'Connor
Stars - Minnie Driver, Saffron Burrows, Geraldine O'Rawe, Alan Cumming, Colin Firth, Chris O'Donnell

The story of three friends benny(Minnie Driver), Nan(Saffron Burrows), Eve(Geraldine O'Rawe) , in 50's Ireland.

Eve goes out with Aidan and gets a very brief part. Benny is being trailed by Sean but she doesn't want him, he's too sly and slimy (excellently played by Alan Cumming he made my skin crawl).

The three girls are just starting at University in Dublin and are being exposed to the big wide world of boys and sex. Nan discovers upper class bastard Simon (Colin Firth), benny discovers Jack (Chris O'Donnell) rugby playing trainee doctor who doesn't really like anatomy, and

Then benny's father dies and she has to quit university and work in her fathers shop, where she's pray to the slimy Sean.

Best line of the film is "Oh dear I think this is going to be a problem" when benny kisses Jack.

8/10 MA

Nightwatch


I don't think I've ever seen a good Danish film and why not well I don't actually remember there ever being a such a thing as a Danish film industry. Well Nightwatch has changed all that.

Jens (Kim Bodnia) and Martin (Nikolaj Coster Waldau) are a pair of Law students (very old looking law students Jens looks at least 35) who have two very devoted girlfriends Lotte and Kalinka (Sofie Grasol). Martin starts a part time job as a nightwatchman in a hospital, and everything starts to go wrong for them. There's a psycho on the loose and he's cutting up woman.

The film is tense and almost Hitchcockian it's tightly edited in the action sequences and the scary morgue bits. Although the opening 20 minutes could probably have been wiped. Nice touches include the scary walk through the hospital and the Psycho violins when ... now that would be telling wouldn't it. The film has a cracking twist in the tale and it's well worth the rental. Mmmmm Danish !

I swear that on the credits there's a job title Boghholderi and administration

Classic line - Have you ever been killed before

9/10 MA

Eurotrash uncensored


"Ello my little Engerlish friends" The USP (unique selling point) that made Eurotrash such a successful programme was it's trash aesthetic, it lasted for thirty minutes and it was finished and forgotten. So a video of the best of Eurotrash seems a little silly. So how do they justify the video, well it's the best of and second it's uncensored. Good idea get Antoine and Jean-paul to do a bit of an intro snap in all the highlights and cut in some bits left around the cutting room floor, bingo a cheap video and extra cash. Wrong ! This might just sell two copies (four if the boys mothers by a spare copy). The collection of bits is far from the best bits, and the uncensored bits last about 2 seconds and they're dull as hell. A rip off.

1/10 MA

Don Juan De Marco


In this movie we have two of the sexiest men ever to come out of Hollywood. Johnny Depp has probably never been so drop dead and debonair, in a swashbuckling and sexy Spanish aristocrats outfit, complete with Zorro style mask and rich Spanish accent. Marlon Brando, on the other hand, has probably never looked so repulsive. Grotesquely obese he judders and wobbles throughout the whole movie as though he's about to o.d. on prozac, slurring his words sometimes to the point of incomprehensibility. The plot and the movie start off extremely well and sort of slowly peter out until we get to the sadly naff ending. Depp is the eponymous world's greatest lover, who after attempting to kill himself for unrequited love, is placed under the care of psychiatrist Brando. Due to retire in just ten days, the aging and jaded Brando finds his whole life enriched and enlivened by the healthy imagination and passionate fantasy life of his young patient. Well worth watching for all its faults.

7/10 JB

Three Wishes


This is Frank Capra with a nineties sensibility. Jeanne, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is a single mother left to raise her two sons alone, Joseph Mazzello and Seth Mumy, when her husband is killed in the war. She lives in the suburbs in the heart of middle American middle class land, at a time when non conformity of any sort was practically a federal offence. When she takes an itinerant Jack McCloud, Patrick Swayze, into her home to assuage her conscience after running him over, she crosses the boundaries of social respectablity into a territory where the deepest hopes and fears of her family may be realised. The strength of this movie is that it manages to function entirely as a weepy feel good movie, without ever stooping to the tired and hackneyed Hollywood cliches or giving in to the most obvious and expected tried and tested plot contrivances

7/10 JB

The Infiltrator


This is a rather worthy offering from the Odyssey label, a company dedicated to bringing out on video every 'based on true story' TV too crap to make it to British TV screens. In this case Oliver Platt plays American Jewish journalist Yaron Svoray, who infiltrates a neo Nazi circle in newly unified Germany. What might have been a fascinating and shocking story, for all its importance and need to be told still ends up unfortunately rather bland.

5/10 JB

A Family Divided


Another offering from Odyssey, this time Fay Dunaway stars as a mother who discovers her son was instrumental in a college fraternity prank which lead to the gang rape and subsequent death of an underage girl. Her husband has helped to cover their son's tracks and our heroine is faced with one dilemma does she protect her child or follow the dictates of her conscience. Good script, acting and direction are nowhere in evidence but like all these crappy schlock dramas you become completely engaged inspite of yourself.

5/10 JB

Dead of Night


To my mind this is still one of the greatest and most terrifying horror films ever made, and the best in a batch of classic British films now being released on video by Lumiere. Walter Craig is an architect who is summoned to Pilgrim's farm by its owner, a stranger to him who wishes him to do some work on his house. When he arrives Craig is gripped with a premonition, he has been to this house before and met all of its occupants in his dreams. Startled by the intensity of his conviction the other guests in the household, try to bring him round by exchanging ghost stories. But Craig is intractable in his belief that an unspeakably grim and sinister fate awaits him at the farm. Terror, suspense, humour this movie has it all. Brilliantly acted directed and written it still remains one of my most favourite films and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that British film making at it's best still pisses on everyone else.

Also included in the Britain's Finest Films series from Lumiere are Front Page Story with Jack Hawkins on top form as a harassed news editor who's major stories begin to parallel his own life more and more. And the bitter black comedy of class and manners Nothing But The Best with an elegant and achingly well observed script by Fredric Raphael and inventive direction from Clive Donner.

1000/10 JB

The New Avengers Vols I & II


When, after an eight year absence from our screens, The Avengers were resurrected with the perennial sexy Joanna Lumley and the addition of Gareth Hunt (to undertake those splendidly choreographed fight sequences for which Patrick Macnee was getting too old), ITC hit paydirt once again. In volume one missing secret agent Irwin Gunner regains his memory after a blow to the head (oh those convenient memory prompting blows to the head, where would MI5 be without them) and resumes his mission to expose the double agent the white rat in To Catch a Rat. And in the slightly improbable Cat Amongst the Pigeons, an evil genius Zacardi has invented a special flute that can turn ordinary birds into bloodcrazed killers, ooer. In volume two pretty boy Midas is infected with a virus which can kill on contact giving him a drop dead touch to go with his drop dead good looks, and it's Purdey he wants to drop in The Midas Touch. In House of Cards foreign agent has infiltrated thirteen double agent assassins into MI5 and Steed is top of his hit list.

8/10 JB

Fun


Winner of two special jury prizes at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994 Fun is an exceptional movie. It tells the story of two slightly disfunctional teenage girls, Bonnie and Hilary who meet, fall platonically in love and have one glorious day of unparalleld 'fun' which culminates in their murdering a defenceless old lady. The day is related in a series of technicolour flashbacks which are juxtaposed with the black and white present Super 8 sequences set in the correctional institute where the two girls are now housed. Their special counsellor and a reporter from a glossy lifestyles mag are entrusted with the task of unravelling the truth about events of the day, the girls themselves and their very special relationship. Everything about this movie excels, the direction by Rafal Zielinski is superbly innovative and the script by James Bosley from his play of the same name is both poignant and insightful. Marry this with faultless performances from the whole cast and you have an unmissable movie on your hands. Go and watch this at all costs.

10/10 JB

Kitami


This latest offering from gay label Dangerous To Know, proves once again that not all gay video companies are merely porn merchants. A Japanese pyschosexual thriller set in the sinister and sleazy SM underworld this is a unique piece of cinema destined for cult status. Former editor of the body building magazine Muscle, Ryuzaki is sent to prison after severing the arm of his beautiful but utterly sadistic lover Kitami in self defence. Upon his release Ryuzaki is presented with the arm of his former lover and goes in search of his lost love, becoming inextricably entangled in a hidden and exotic underworld of sexual deviancy along the way. Director Sato Hisayasu's tortured vision has fashioned a unique and violent movie that manages to be bizarre, perverse and extremely erotic all at the same time. Recommended.

8/10 JB

Winsor McCay Animation Legend


The term genius, as has often been said, is greatly over used, but if ever it was applicable, cartoonist and pioneering animator Winsor McCay would be a prime example. Like his famous cartoons creations Little Nemo and Dreams of the Rarebit fiend, these animations are so inventive and so rich in multiple layers of imagination that they are not just as fresh today, in many instances they are unsurpassed and still ahead of their time. To invent and or define a genre and still remain one of its leading practitioners nearly a hundred years later probably one of the best proofs of genius that there is. While the quality of the film stock from which these pieces were taken is sometimes uneven, the quality of the work never is. And with the exception of a trace of jingoism in The Sinking of the Lusitania, all of them hold their own against the best of contemporary animation. Anyone with the slightest interest in cartoon of any sort cannot afford to be without this beautiful and enthralling collection.

10/10 JB

Immortal Story


Written and directed by a mature Orson Welles this adaptation of Isaak Dinesen's novel is an essay in understated and perfectly crafted film making. I tells the story of Mr Clay a fabulously wealthy Macao merchant whose wealth and splendid surroundings have done nothing for his failing health or peace of mind. Interested only in facts and not fiction or prophecies, he becomes obsessed with an old an oft told seaman's tale about a wealthy merchant who pays a young sailor to impregnate his wife. Determined that at least one sailor must tell the tale with the conviction of truth he hires a woman to act as his wife and sets about bringing the story to life. Intelligent film making, fine acting and a good script make this an entertaining, enlightening and rewarding movie. Not to be missed.

9/10 JB

The Double Headed Eagle


This unique experimental documentary by Lutz Becker charts the rise of Hitler to power from 1918 through 1933. What makes this documentary completely different from any other is its lack of any commentary, preferring to let the juxtaposition of authentic footage make its own comment on the events being documented. The footage used, much of which has never been seen before attempts to show the specific economic, cultural and political climate that Hitler was to so successfully manipulate in his ascendancy. The lack of any contemporary voice over tends to bring you closer to the footage and the increase in the size of the crowds attending party rallies shows how implicit a society can become in an evil that history has attributed to the deeds of just a few men. If it maybe could have done with losing about 15 -20 minutes of its running time this is still an extremely important and completely invaluable document.

7/10 JB

Anime


Urusei Yatsura TV Series 1

The Anime Projects label along with its American sister company AnimEigo has long been providing an intelligent alternative to Manga's range of full on sex and violence titles. Urusei Yatsura is one of the jewels in their crown. Roughly translated the title means 'Those Obnoxious Aliens', the aliens in this instance are the Oni a race of super powered magical horned beings bent at the beginning of the series on invading the earth. they give us one sporting chance however, if an earthling can beat the supreme Oni commander's daughter Lum, in a game of tag we'll be let off the hook. The opponent chosen at random to go against Lum is the lecherous and unlucky Ataru Morobishi. Promised the hand of Shinobu, his girlfriend, if he wins, Ataru cheats. but his victory cry of 'now I can be married' is mistaken by Lum as a proposal. And so begins a legendary love triangle that ran for 196 episodes and six films in Japan, making its creator Rumiko Takahashi a very successful woman.

9/10

Urusei Yatsura TV Series 2

In volume two our luckless hero Ataru runs into two more magical femme fatales in the shape of a Sorceress Sakura who attempts to exorcise him after he tries to flee the clutches of Lum. And Oyuki, the ice princess of Neptune who is using Atau's wardrobe as an interdimensional portal to offload some excess snow. And in addition Ataru unleashes a horny (in all senses of the word) little demon by placing two mirrors opposite one another at 12am on Friday 13th and flies through a time warp racing Lum and her cute little cousin Ten. Finding himself in an age of dinosaurs.

9/10

Urusei Yatsura TV Series 3

Volume three has Ataru waking a sleeping beauty with a kiss. The beauty is Kurama princess of an alien race who mates once every hundred years to produce the next generation of her people, the man who kisses her becomes her mate. Disgusted by Ataru she determines to mold him intoa real man before doing the dirty duty. Ataru's school mates plot to break up he and Lum and a special New Years episode presents a parody of Japan's oldest novel, Tale of the Genji.

9/10

Urusei Yatsura TV Series 7

Released this month, volume seven starts with a picnic but soon goes astray. A pair of alien earmuffs prove to be a personality exchange device and Ataru swaps bodies with cute but sinister Ten and finds to his delight he can be hugged to as many bosoms as he desires. An avaricious little caterpillar lands Ataru in big trouble and Ten goes out on a date with the sultry sex goddess soceress Sakura. This series is utterly addictive, I recommend you buy the whole load immediately.

9/10

Goku Midnight Eye Part 2

Brilliantly directed by Yoshiaki Kawairi this hi tech private eye thriller will have you on the edge of your seat. Ex cop turned private eye, Goku has been granted the power of a god by a mysterious benefactor. The power manifests itself in the form of a cybernetic eye implant which connects him to and gives him control over every computer on a totally computerised planet, add to this this a cybernetic staff which expands and contracts to any given size and you have a mean mother with whom you don't want to mess. Ignoring this wisdom is the evil Colonel Zenzo and his genetically enhanced soldiers. Sadly this is the last one in the series and the fun was only just beginning.

8/10

Mad Bull 34 Part 2

More of the same from everyone's favourite fascist bully boy with a heart of gold and his little Japanese American sidekick. For some reason (maybe it's the closet macho schlub in me, or maybe I wasn't so uptight) this time around I didn't find this episode as irritating as last month's and was actually quite entertained. Plenty of sex, plenty of violence, plenty of creative swearing (remember kids it is big and it is clever) as our two heroes are joined by a police babe as they attempt to smash a drugs ring headed by a revenge crazed, cybernetic paraplegic (no joke). Funny how the disabled never seem to live simple normal lives in this kind of anime isn't. Still it's good dirty gratuitous fun none the less.

6/10

Vampire Princess Miyu

The first two episodes of a four episode story, this tells the tale of a demon hunting vampire and her silent demon stooge whose paths cross with a beautiful female exorcist. The stories are actually a perfect marriage of Lovecraftian eldritch horror and classic Japanese folk lore, inventive and quite chilling. The animation is quite good and the general tone manages to be poetic, gripping and unsettling by turns.

7/10

Giant Robo Part 2

More classic retro mecha manga anime (no I don't know what that means either but I'm paid to pretend I do). The legendary Experts of Justice, backed up by the fearsome metal behemoth Giant Robo battle the evil Big Fire and try to thwart Dr Franken Von Folger's attempts to plunge the world into eternal night. Though this episode has enough plot for two entire series, the animation is superb and the story line is great fun.

7/10

Bubble Gum Crisis (Dubbed) 5

Fifth in the redubbed, revamped and re-released series. Bubblegum Crisis is the classic cyberpunk anime. Moonlight Rambler sees those (and I quote) 'techno glamourpusses' the Knight Sabers go up against some major cybernetic hardware and leader Priss has to face the dilemma of either killing her oldest friend or watching a future Tokyo go up in smoke. It's out on the Anime Projects label, don't miss it.

8/10

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