Posts Tagged ‘death’

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Keep Swinging That Sword, Ito! — Shogun Assassin 2: Lighting Swords of Death

December 8, 2008

SHOGUN ASSASSIN 2 : LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH (1972)
d.  Kenji Misumi

Finally, after many many years, the Lone Wolf movies are making it to the states. While Parts 1 (Sword of Vengeance) and 2 (Baby Cart at the River Styx) of the Japanese movie series were spliced together into Shogun Assassin (1983), Part 3, Baby Cart to Hades, has been released as the sequel.

So, Which Movie Are We Watching?

So, Which Movie Are We Watching?

Lone Wolf and Cub, based on a manga, are an ex-Shogunate executioner and his son who have been wrongly disgraced and stripped of their titles; they wander Japan hiring themselves out to those in need, maintaining the Samurai code while slow-burning their way to vengeance against those who wronged them.

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Belgian Upstart Solves Murder: Death on the Nile

November 23, 2008

DEATH ON THE NILE (1978)
d. John Guillermin

A very amusing mystery from Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile features Herecule Poirot, the Belgian detective, and a cast of characters all revolving around a rich woman, Lynnette (Lois Chiles), her sister Jacqueline (Mia Farrow), and Simon, who is stolen from Jacqueline to become Lynnette’s husband.

The action takes place mainly on a steamer as it chugs its way down the NIle, and in classic Christie fashion, we are introduced to a bevy of characters who all have a reason for hating Lynnette, and when she turns up dead, all have a motive for killing her. It’s up to Herecule Poirot, ably assisted by David Niven’s character, to solve the crime before more killings take place.

When I was younger and first saw this film, I confess to not being impressed by it; seeing it now, I cannot help but be dazzled by the assemblage of star power. It seems as if there were a lot of movies done back in the 70s that had all-star casts (The Towering Inferno, the Airport series, et al), and here we get a great collection: Bette Davis, Maggie Smith, Angela Lansbury, Jane Birkin, George Kennedy, Olivia Hussey, Jon Finch. Each character has their peculiarity (Bette Davis covets pearls, Angela Lansbury is an over-sexed Romance author, Jon Finch is a Communist) and all get a chance to shine.

And while it’s fairly easy to figure whodunnit, most of the pleasure is seeing how theydunnit when Poirot gathers everyone together to reconstruct the crime. I was surprised at the high body-count and took pleasure in seeing all these actors share scenes, though George Kennedy all but disappears toward the end.

The music is very grand, like the Nile, and once I found out that Nino Rota was responsible, it made sense.

So overall a very effective mystery — even if the solution is transparent early on — that is made interesting by the excellent cast and the memorable humane and humourous performance by Peter Ustinov.

*** stars.

I meant to see Albert Finney in Murder on the Orient Express, but the disc I received was cracked. So while I await a replacement, I should have Lady in the Water next.