The easternKicks.com Podcast

A regular magazine programme about East Asian film, with the latest news, reviews and interviews

Episode 38 – Spotlight on… Zatoichi

May 3rd, 2022

This time Jonathan Wroot, senior lecturer in film studies, joins James and Andy to chat in detail about the topic of his new book, Zatoichi! As well as the various influences and successors. And yes, we chat Rutger Hauer too!

This episode’s handy timecodes

00:00:44 - Episode introduction
00:02:12 - Before we start, how did our guest get into Asian film?
00:06:05 - Kitano's Zatoichi, was it a remake?
00:13:10 - Let's go back to the start 
00:17:08 - How star Shintaro Katsu's previous work fed into the film series
00:20:22 - Zatoichi begins
00:25:05 - A minor diversion on Shintaro Katsu's brother
00:29:09 - Something for everyone, the Daiei way
00:30:23 - How wacky did the films get?
00:32:46 - Are there roots to disabled swordsmen?
00:38:14 - The Marvel connection
00:40:45 - Good ol' Westerns
00:45:34 - Zatoichi The Last
00:47:54 - The female versions
00:52:13 - Let's talk about Rutger (and other influences)
01:07:26 - Recommendations on where to start
01:15:43 - Outro

Jonathan's book, The Paths of Zatoichi, is available now from rowman.com/lexington. Use discount code LXFANDF30 and get 30% off!

Music played on the show: 
Zatoichi’s Lullaby, sung by Shintaro Katsu. The most commonly known version of the Zatoichi theme song, which first turned up in Zatoichi and the Fugitives (#18).

Festivo – the musical number from the end of Zatoichi 2003, written and composed by Keiichi Suzuki.

Episode 36 - The End of the Year Show

December 23rd, 2021

This episode is a real meeting of minds, as Panos Kotzathanasis of Asian Movie Pulse joins James and Andy to chat about the trends and topics of the year, all bizarrely summed up by titles of soul and funk songs (?) Meanwhile easternKicks regulars Niina and Theo share thoughts on their favourite films of the year. 

This episode's handy timecodes   

00:00:44 – Episode introduction
00:02:39 – What's in Santa's hat (don't ask!)
00:03:33 – Smoke.Netflix.Chill
00:18:26 – (Get on the) Partyline 
00:34:55 – Niina on Howling Village
00:37:43 – Sitting in Limbo
00:45:07 – East West Shuffle
00:53:54 – Theme For "Five Fingers Of Death"
01:05:03 – Spice Of Life (Oh Yes, You're the Best)
01:06:21 – Theo on Drive My Car
01:19:56 – Outro

Episode 31 – Spotlight on… Daimajin

August 25th, 2021

Phillip O'Connor joins Andy and James for a detailed look at everyone's favourite diminutive kaiju, Daimajin, recently restored and on Blu-ray. Okay sure, he's tall, but he's definitely no Godzilla...

This episode's timecodes   

00:31 - Episode introduction
02:05 - Daimajin's origins
06:28 - Shall we talk about the, erm, plot?
12:27 - Some of the different elements of the films
22:08 - Daimajin's design and special effects
31:20 - Production and shooting
33:45 - Obligatory Steven Segal cameo
36:40 - Original release and popularity
39:38 - Where'd the wee fella go?
43:52 - Godzilla composer Akira Ifukube's film scores
47:57 - Masks and cleft chins
49:27 - The three directors
52:10 - What next?
56:59 - easternKicks Picks
59:06 - Outro

The Daimajin Trilogy is available now on Limited Edition Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

Episode 30: The best of NYAFF 2021

August 17th, 2021

In this episode, we turn our eye to some picks from the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), including an extended chat about Benny Chan's final film Raging Fire. Meanwhile Maja Korbeca chats to the "Grandmother of Hong Kong Cinema" Ann Hui, recipient of the NYAFF 2021 Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award.  

This episode's timecodes   

00:31 - Episode introduction
02:16 - Back to live festivals with NYAFF and Raging Fire
15:36 - Hand Rolled Cigarette and Limbo
22:59 - Shadows and more from Hong Kong
28:59 - Maja interview with Ann Hui
41:41 - Some picks screening from  South Korea, including Spiritwalker, The Prayer and Midnight
49:38 - More picks including Three Sisters and Escape from Mogadishu
51:50 - Picks from Japan, including Last Of The Wolves and Junk Head
52:10 - Picks from Taiwan, including As You Like It, The Silent Forest and My Missing Valentine
58:13 - Outro

The New York Asian Film Festival continues with both in-person screenings and online until 22 August. 

Episode 24: Spotlight on… Battle Royale

April 16th, 2021

We revisit Kinji Fukasaku's classic Battle Royale and its sequel in honour of the new 4K UHD release. Why is it such a classic, even after 20 years? 

This episode's timecodes   

00:01:14 - Episode introduction
00:02:50 - Ready to rumble? It's time for Battle Royale
00:34:07 - Battle Royale II: Requiem. Why?
00:54:54 - easternKicks picks
00:55:54 - Outro

Battle Royale is released on Limited Edition 4K UHD Blu-ray 5-disc boxset from Arrow Video from 26 April 2021, with a brand new 4K UHD restoration of the theatrical and director's cut, two cuts of Battle Royale II on separate Blu-rays, and the soundtrack CD.

Episode 22: Tokyo Dragon Chef vs Crazy Samurai

April 13th, 2021

James and Andy are joined by Life Of Action and action co-ordinator Mike Fury to chat about Tokyo Gore Police director Yoshihiro Nishimura similarly-titled (but somewhat less gory) Tokyo Dragon Chef, as well as looking back on the career of Japan's 'Tom Savini'. We also discuss the latest from frequent Nishimura collaborator Tak Sakaguchi, Crazy Samurai: 400 vs. 1, aka Crazy Samurai Musashi, featuring a 77-minute one-take.

This episode's timecodes

00:00:31 - Episode introduction
00:02:00 - Tokyo Dragon Chef review
00:17:10 - Yoshihiro Nishimura's career and previous work
00:32:22 - What happened to the Japanese 'splatterpunk' scene?
00:44:26 - What are the chances of online or Blu-ray releases?
00:53:44 - Crazy Samurai: 400 vs. 1 review
01:11:13 - Outro

Tokyo Dragon Chef is available now on digital and DVD from Terracotta Distribution. Crazy Samurai: 400 vs. 1 is on Well Go USA's streaming service Hi-YAH now, with a Digital, Blu-ray and DVD from March 2.

Episode 17: Into the Leijiverse!

October 20th, 2020

This episode we have the pleasure of chatting to Helen McCarthy, well-known author of so many of our favourite books on anime, on her latest work about the life and work of manga artist Leiji Matsumoto. Creator of some of the biggest franchises in anime, including Space Battleship Yamato (Star Blazers), Space Pirate Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999, but still criminally overlooked in the UK and USA. A collaborative effort with co-editor Darren-Jon Ashmore, with various contributors including Jonathan Tarbox, Ed Hoff and Stefanie Thomas. (You can pre-order the book at https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/leiji-matsumoto.) Meanwhile, members of the easternKicks team pick their favourite animes!

This episode's timecodes

00:00:31 - Episode introduction
00:02:10 - Phillip on Giant Robo: The Day The Earth Stood Still
00:06:07 - A chat with Helen McCarthy (pt 1)
00:13:54 - Star Blazers opening theme
00:14:27 - A chat with Helen McCarthy (pt 2)
00:26:50 - Space Pirate Captain Harlock opening theme
00:28:02 - A chat with Helen McCarthy (pt 3)
00:37:58 - Theo on Ping Pong
00:39:55 - A chat with Helen McCarthy (pt 4)
00:55:24 - Yonah on Hunter x Hunter
00:57:04 - A chat with Helen McCarthy (pt 5)
01:04:48 - Outro

Episode 13: Supersized Kaiju special

August 16th, 2020

Ant Gates and  Phillip O'Connor join us for an appropriately monster-sized discussion to celebrate the Arrow Video release of Gamera: The Complete Collection. We take in the history of Kaiju, while considering the important questions. Like what does Mothra drink? And exactly what is the deal with Godzilla's son? Stephen Palmer tells us more about the original hero in a half shell, and Helen McCarthy, author of many of our favourite books on anime, tells us How she got into easternFlicks

This episode's timecodes

00:00:31 - Episode introduction
00:02:35 - The origins of Kaiju
00:22:27 - Stephen on Gamera
00:29:47 - Godzilla's enduring popularity
00:42:58 - Just what is it with Godzilla's son?
00:47:35 - So who's number 2?
00:56:30 - Non-Japanese Kaiju
01:04:41 - Helen McCarthy: How I got into easternFlicks
01:06:06 - What next for Kaiju films?
01:31:55 - What would they drink?
01:36:15 - Outro

Episode 9: BFI’s Japan 2020

May 27th, 2020

In this bumper edition episode, writer, curator and filmmaker Jasper Sharp joins James and Andrew to select some highlights from the BFI's Japan 2020 season. A celebration of over 100 years of Japanese Cinema, including titles from Third Window Film and Arrow Video. While in a very connected way, our very own Kaj van Zoelen tells us How he got into easternFlicks!

BFI's Japan 2020 is currently available on BFI Player and continues throughout the year. 

This episode's timecodes

00:00:32 - Introduction
Jasper's choices:
00:03:29 - 1) Rashomon (Kurosawa, 1950)
00:17:24 - 2) Good Morning (Ozu 1959)
00:30:59 - Kaj van Zoelen: How I got into easternFlicks
00:34:27 - 3) Hana-bi (Kitano, 1997)
00:47:40 - Wildcard – Black Rain (Imamura, 1989)
James's choices:

00:51.33 - 1) The Woodsman and the Rain (Okita, 2011)
01:00.28 - 2) Audition (Miike, 1999)
01:09:25 - 3) Pulse (Kurosawa, 2001)
01:17:01 - Wildcard – Sion Sono, various
01:17:51 - Wildcard – House (Obayashi, 1977)
01:23:07 - Outro

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