Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Mihiro, Sakae Yamazaki, Katsuya Naruse, Yusuke Iwata, Miho Funatsu
Director: Koji Kawano
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Animation
Studio: Adv Films Release Date: 12/02/2008 Run time: 75 minutes
So dumb, but so funny.
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 02/08/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Cruel Restaurant (Koji Kawano, 2008)
Kawano gave us the best-named movie of 2007 with Attack Girls Swim Team vs. the Undead, and now he's back with a similarly stupid, but kinda fun, movie that covers ground that we've seen about a dozen times before (assuming you like this sort of black comedy). There's Delicatessen, there's The Untold Story, there's The Green Butchers, there's Dumplings, etc., etc., ad nauseam, and now there's Cruel Restaurant. What is it about dumplings, in particular, that causes Asian filmmakers to think "cannibalism"? (Maybe that's why I'm so fond of the stupid, delicious little things...)
Rising softcore star Mihiro (Yo-Yo Sexy Girl Cop) stars as Ms. Lin, the owner of a hot new dumpling restaurant. The restaurant's patrons keep coming back for more, to the point where some of them start acting strange. And then the strange ones begin disappearing... when two reporters meet at the restaurant by chance, they compare notes and come to the conclusion that Lin is using the meat from the missing patrons in her dumplings. The rest of the movie alternates between the reporters (and a friendly cop) trying to prove this to be true and Lin's own hassles, which include (but are not limited to, don't want to spoil the surprise) a very persistent would-be apprentice and every man she sees wanting to sleep with her.
Yes, you've seen it all before, but the script is witty (in that softcore sort of way), Mihiro is easier on the eyes than anyone I can recall seeing in a softcore film since Laura Gemser, and the twist at the end? I'm not one for calling the Japanese "staid", but there are some places they just don't go. And they go at least one of them in the second-to-last scene. I just about fell out of my chair laughing. It's not deathless cinema by any means, but it's a fun little flick, and at just seventy-four minutes, it won't even take too much time out of your day. ***
2 ½-Stars: Just What is the Best Ingredient to Make the Best
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 12/31/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"If you've seen Daniel Lee's and Herman Yau's "Untold Story" and Fruit Chan's 90 minute version of "3 Extremes: Dumplings", you might have an idea as to what "CRUEL RESTAURANT" (aka. Zankoku Hanten, 2008) is all about. Directed/written by Koji Kawano (Attack Girls Swim Team vs. the Undead, I reviewed before) with screenplay by Satoshi Owada, the film is a wild blend of Japanese "pink" elements, horror, comedy and well, some blood and gore. If you think this is just another cannibal film, well, you will be very surprised--it`s not as simple as that. Oh, it also stars ex-AV star Mihiro Taniguchi (Yo-yo Sexy Girl Cop)--so do I have your undivided attention now?
Ms. Lin (Mihiro) is a young woman who has attained minor fame because of her "Tougen Dumplings" in a city in Japan. Food critics such as Hoemi Masumoto (sexy Chihiro Kaganezaki) and magazine reporter Toshika Shirizawa (Miho Funatsu) are very curious as to what the secret ingredient is in the delicacy; even a renowned cook even wishes to apprentice under the beautiful Ms. Lin. When people started disappearing along the parameters of the restaurant, Detective Goro (Katsuna Naruse) and Detective Iwanomoto (Yusuke Iwata) try to unravel the mystery.
The film is insanely goofy and full of comedic elements. The soundtrack like a rip-off from "Jaws", "Friday the 13th", "The Exorcist", "Shaolin Soccer" and even "Mission Impossible". While it does have its aura of mystery, there is a killer on the loose and it is no secret as to who but the motivations all point to a certain ingredient, until it catches you by surprise. Count on the Japanese to make a film like this, the so-called protected and "juicy" secret of the "Tougen dumplings" may likewise disgust and amuse you, but no doubt the secret is very titillating and ORIGINAL. The film isn't at all scary or suspenseful but rather feels more like an erotic comedy.
Lin (rightfully portrayed by Mihiro) is a woman who masters the "cooking" of the "Tougen dumplings" under the tutelage of a master Hoi (Kesuke). Her training is quite amusing as to how it all relates to cooking--she is taken advantaged of, and taught how to play with herself. Yes, the film does have a fair share of nudity and sex--there are actually two scenes. Also, Mihiro is in the nude for almost half of the time, she bathes and undresses for most of the film`s entirety. Chin (Sakae Yamazaki) is her right-hand man and the film doesn't waste time singling him out as the primary suspect. If you saw "Perfect Blue", then you may have an idea as to how his character goes into play. Not to worry, the film isn't a mind-bending affair and pretty much straight forward. The detective work to uncover the mystery isn't immersive or gripping but rather quite silly and goofy, as it was meant to be.
There is some gore and a lot of blood in the film's proceedings. There is no use of CGI so the effects have that old-fashioned style that utilizes prosthetics and red ink. There are scenes of animal mutilation in the sequences but not entirely offensive. The acting of the film isn't going to win any awards and truth be told, it feels very mediocre. Then again, you're not here for the acting but rather to see sexy Japanese actresses Mihiro, Miho Funatsu, Chihiro Kaganezaki, and Mina Arai (who plays a chick who can really eat a LOT).
"Cruel Restaurant" has all the elements of horror, exploitive eroticism and comedy. The film isn't going to win any awards but will definitely succeed more because of its "pink" elements than its plot. The secret of Mihiro's dumplings is very original and not at all disturbing--it may feel a little perverted but I liked the way it was executed. The film is just an excuse so Mihiro can get to show her great attributes, and being an ex-AV star, she is not shy at all and fits this kind of role. I am still rather impressed that the Japanese never seems to hold back in their exploitive ideas, its like they just go out drinking sake and then write a screenplay. While the film itself may be rather poor because of the poor acting and a "direct-to-video" atmosphere, the film's final scene although not exactly surprising was very sexy, titillating--even bizarre and a first of its kind.
Recommended ONLY to fans of Japanese cinema and a RENTAL for everyone else. [2 ½ Stars]
Note: Stick around after you think the end credits are about to roll, there is an added scene.