Young Dais and Ryohei Suzuki in the hip-hop musical gang war thriller from Japan

‘Tokyo Tribe’ – gonzo gang war musical on Amazon Prime Video

The films of Sion Sono, who is fast closing in on Miike Takashi as Japan’s cinema wildman rebel, are increasingly outrageous, unhinged, extreme, and unpredictable, pushing expectations as well as boundaries, and trying anything and everything in a wildly creative (if unfocused) attempt to refresh familiar genres. Tokyo Tribe (Japan, 2014), adapted from a graphic […]

Kim Ok-bin stars in the South Korean action hit from Byung-gil Jung

‘The Villainess’ – a ferocious South Korean Nikita on Hulu

The Villainess (South Korea, 2017) is not a remake of La Femme Nikita but it is surely built from the DNA of that defining action classic. It opens on an amazing action sequence, a seemingly unbroken take from the jittery POV of some ferocious but still-unseen fighter wiping out armies of thugs with bullets, knives, […]

Fernando Di Leo’s ‘Milieu Trilogy’ on Amazon Prime Video and Fandor

Fernando di Leo was, in the estimation of genre-hound Quentin Tarantino, “the master” of the Italian crime movie, or the “poliziotteschi.” A violent action genre that picked up the escalating violence of American films like Dirty Harry and The French Connection, films where blood spattered and cops got their hands dirty, it was never as […]

Phil Karlson directs John Payne, Neville Brand, Lee Van Cleef, and Jack Elam in this B-movie film noir classic.

‘Kansas City Confidential’ free on Kanopy

Kansas City Confidential (1952), the first of three collaborations between Phil Karlson, a director who graduated from B-movies with a strong storytelling punch and a tough, two-fisted sensibility, and John Payne, a former light romantic lead and bland song-and-dance man of Fox musicals, was a career changer for both of them. Payne was already reinventing […]

Riki Takeuchi and Sho Aikawa in Miike Takashi's Dead or Alive trilogy

Takashi Miike’s extreme ‘Dead or Alive’ trilogy on Amazon Prime

Takashi Miike made his reputation as Japan’s gonzo gun-for-hire, a genre madman who pumped manic energy and wild style into films he pushed to the extremes in every way, from violence to surreal twists. He once described himself as “an arranger, not an author.” Taking a cue from one of his own film titles, I […]

Steve Buscemi stars in the HBO series of Prohibition and organized crime created by Terence Winter

The complete ‘Boardwalk Empire’ on Amazon Prime and HBO Now

Boardwalk Empire opens with Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), the treasurer of Atlantic City and the man who runs the town—and the graft—from behind the pose of public service, toasting the U.S. Congress and the new possibilities that the twenties will bring, thanks to the utterly disastrous “noble experiment” known as Prohibition. Everything changes from that […]