Japanese Sci-Fi Fantasy ‘Plan 75’ Due on DVD Nov. 21 From MVD

The Japanese science-fiction fantasy Plan 75 will be released on DVD Nov. 21 from MVD Entertainment Group and KimStim.

In the film in a near dystopian future, Japan’s government launches Plan 75, a program encouraging the elderly to terminate their own lives to relieve its rapidly aging population’s social and economic burdens.

In Chie Hayakawa’s feature film debut, the lives of three ordinary citizens intersect in this new reality as they confront the crushing callousness of a world ready to dispose of those no longer deemed valuable. Legendary Japanese actress Chieko Baishō (Howl’s Moving Castle) stars as a 78-year-old Michi who considers signing up for the program after losing her meager but fulfilling hotel job and the means to live independently. A young Plan 75 salesman Himoru (Hayato Isomura) initially believes in the program’s benefits and serves as the human face of the program. And Maria (Stephanie Arianne), a Filipino care worker living overseas, reluctantly accepts a position with Plan 75 to send money home to her ailing daughter.

On the surface, the plan and its hawkers exude a kindness that serves as the film’s chilling vision of bureaucratic indifference and our increasing loss of interconnectedness. However, these characters soon learn to fully reckon with their own lives and what it truly means to live.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The film was Japan’s entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards and the 2022 Cannes Film Festival Winner Golden Camera — Special Mention Chie Hayakawa.

The DVD includes Chie Hayakawa’s short film Niagara (2013).

‘Passion,’ From ‘Drive My Car’ Director, Due on Digital and Disc Oct. 17 From Film Movement

Film Movement will release the Japanese thriller Passion, the debut feature from Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car), on digital, DVD and Blu-ray Disc Oct. 17.

Hamaguchi, one of today’s preeminent auteurs, examines a series of intersecting love triangles, plunging headlong into the exposed-nerve confessions and unrequited attachments among a group of thirtysomethings. It begins when a couple, Kaho (Aoba Kawai) and Tomoya (Ryuta Okamoto), announce their engagement to their friends over dinner, where it’s also revealed the groom had an affair years earlier. While the two spend the evening apart, Tomoya follows his friends to the apartment of his former classmate (Fusako Urabe, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy), with whom he’s in love, and are led into ever more vulnerable and shocking exchanges of emotional honesty. 

Though it was made as his student thesis project at Tokyo University of the Arts, Passion displays Hamaguchi’s rich and nuanced insight into modern relationships while establishing the thematic foundations for his later films such as Happy Hour, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy and Drive My Car.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Bonus features include an introduction by Hamaguchi and the “From Passion to Fortune” video essay by film and theater writer Kenji Fujishima.

 

Japanese Stop-Motion Animated ‘Junk Head’ Due on Blu-ray Aug. 15 From MVD

The Japanese stop-motion animated Junk Head will be released on Blu-ray Disc Aug. 15 from Synergetic Distribution and MVD Entertainment Group.

In the sci-fi fantasy film, mankind can no longer reproduce because of gene manipulation aimed at making life longer. The clones ruling the bottomless underworld may have become fertile. Parton is selected to go on a mission through a subterranean labyrinth crawling with monsters to secure humanity’s future.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Hailed by Academy Award Winning director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water) as a “work of deranged brilliance,” the film won a 2021 New York Asian Film Festival Audience Award; a 2017 Fantasia Film Festival, Satoshi Kon Award, Best Animated Feature, Special Mention; a 2017 Fantastic Festival Best Director award for Takehide Hori; and a 2021 Festival Européen du Film Fantastique de Strasbourg Golden Stork Award.

Japanese Classic ‘Big Time Gambling Boss,’ Italian Classic ‘The Iron Prefect’ Due on Blu-ray July 18 From Radiance and MVD

The Japanese classic Big Time Gambling Boss and the Italian classic The Iron Prefect will be released on Blu-ray Disc July 18 from Radiance Films and MVD Entertainment Group.

Originally released in 1968, Big Time Gambling Boss is set in Tokyo in the 1930s, where gang boss Arakawa is ill and a successor must be named. The choice falls on Nakai, but being an outsider he refuses and suggests senior clansman Matsuda instead. But Matsuda is in jail and the elders won’t wait for his release, so they appoint the younger and more malleable Ishido to take the reins. Clan honor and loyalties are severely tested when Matsuda is released, resulting in an increasingly violent internal strife. An atmospheric tale of gangland intrigue written by Kazuo Kasahara (Battles Without Honor and Humanity) and starring Tomisaburo Wakayama (Lone Wolf and Cub, “The Bounty Hunter Trilogy”) and genre legend Koji Tsuruta, Big Time Gambling Boss is a classic of the Yakuza genre. Special features include a visual essay by genre expert Chris D., author of Gun and Sword: An Encyclopedia of Japanese Gangster Films 1955-1980, on Big Time Gambling Boss‘s origins in the Toei studio’s serialized yakuza movie production and what sets the film apart; “Ninkyo 101,” a video essay with Mark Schilling, author of The Yakuza Movie Book; a gallery of promotional stills; and the trailer.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Iron Prefect (1977) is based on the true story of Cesare Mori, the Iron Prefect who was sent to Sicily for an Eliot Ness-in-The Untouchables style clean up of the mafia. Mori approaches organized crime on the island with uncompromising force even in the face of mass murders designed to scare him off. Pasquale Squitieri (The Climber) directs the period piece which won the David di Donatello award for best film and features spaghetti western icon Giuliano Gemma playing against type as the titular hero, winning him an award for his performance at the prestigious Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Alongside Gemma are co-stars Claudia Cardinale (The Day of the Owl) and Francisco Rabal (Sorcerer), screenwriter Ugo Pirro (The Working Class Goes to Heaven) and composer Ennio Morricone (Once Upon a Time in America). The released includes a 2K restoration of the film from the original negative presented with Italian and English audio options; new and improved English subtitles for Italian audio and English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for English audio; and uncompressed mono PCM audio. Special features include an archival interview with director Pasquale Squitieri and star Giuliano Gemma (2009); a new interview with Squitieri biographer Domenico Monetti (2023); a new appreciation of Giuliano Gemma and the film by filmmaker Alex Cox (2023); the original trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring designs based on the original posters; and a limited edition booklet featuring new writing by Italian cinema expert Guido Bonsaver and an original article on the real-life Cesare Mori and his Mafia raid as depicted within the film.

Japanese Stop-Motion Animated ‘Junk Head’ Due on DVD July 11 From MVD and Synergetic

The Japanese stop-motion animated Junk Head will be released on DVD July 11 from Synergetic Distribution and MVD Entertainment Group.

In the sci-fi fantasy film, mankind can no longer reproduce because of gene manipulation aimed at making life longer. The clones ruling the bottomless underworld may have become fertile. Parton is selected to go on a mission through a subterranean labyrinth crawling with monsters to secure humanity’s future.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The film won a 2021 New York Asian Film Festival Audience Award; a 2017 Fantasia Film Festival, Satoshi Kon Award, Best Animated Feature, Special Mention; a 2017 Fantastic Festival Best Director award for Takehide Hori; and a 2021 Festival Européen du Film Fantastique de Strasbourg Golden Stork Award.

Horror Flick ‘What the Waters Left Behind: Scars,’ Japanese Sci-Fi Fantasy ‘Shin Ultraman’ Due on Blu-ray and DVD July 11 From MVD and Cleopatra

The horror flick What the Waters Left Behind: Scars and the Japanese science-fiction fantasy Shin Ultraman will be released on disc July 11 from MVD Entertainment Group and Cleopatra Entertainment.

What the Waters Left Behind: Scars is available on Blu-ray and DVD. In the film, after a packed gig in the middle of nowhere and a wild night out, an indie rock band’s RV gets stuck in the middle of nowhere. The situation is tense: there is trouble within the band and member Billy Bob (Matías Desiderio, Palermo Hollywood) lives up to his reputation as the band’s black sheep when he first sleeps with a groupie and then flees. The remaining band members Jane (Clara Kovacic, The 100 Candles Game) and Mark (Juan Pablo Bishel), as well as manager Javi (Agustin Olcese, The Red Book Ritual) and companion Sophie (Eugenia Rigón, Abracadabra) go in search of the ruins of Epecuén. They soon realize not only that they are not alone, but that they are also in acute danger — and that you should also be careful with groupies. Bonus features include trailers and a slide show.

Shin Ultraman, due on Blu-ray and DVD, is a reimagining of one of Japan’s classic superheroes, full of cosmic twists, villains, and giant Kaiju. The 37th film in the “Ultraman” franchise and the second reboot of a tokusatsu series to be adapted by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi — after the success of Shin Godzilla — it was the sixth highest-grossing domestic Japanese film of 2022, earning ¥4.44 billion (roughly $33.5 million). In the film, there’s never a dull day on Japan’s newly established SSSP Kaiju defense taskforce, led by Kimio Tamura, (Hidetoshi Nishijima, Drive My Car). After a particularly challenging encounter, a silver giant descends from the sky to rescue the planet. Dubbed Ultraman, the giant’s identity and purpose are a mystery. Nominated for eight Japan Academy Film Prize Awards (2023), including Best Picture and Best Director, the film also stars Hideaki Anno (Shin Godzilla) as Ultraman, Takumi Saitoh (13 Assassins) and Masami Nagasawa (Before We Vanish). Special features include trailers and a slide show. The Blu-ray features a bonus English-language version.

‘Battle Kaiju Series 01 — Ultraman vs Red King’ Due on Blu-ray June 27 From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment will release Battle Kaiju Series 01 — Ultraman vs Red King, the first installment from a newly curated collection on the most popular Ultra foes, on Blu-ray Disc June 27.

The release comes from Mill Creek’s license of the “Ultraman” back-catalog via international distribution company Indigo Entertainment from Tsuburaya Productions Co. Ltd.

The “Skull Monster” Red King has been a fan favorite since he was introduced back in 1966. Incredibly strong but none-too-bright, the monster is a classic bully who loves nothing more than pummeling other kaiju and fighting Ultra heroes. The Battle Kaiju Series 01 — Ultraman vs Red King set collects 16 Red King episodes from across the “Ultraman” franchise, starting with their first appearance in the original “Ultraman” series and continuing through to 2019’s “Ultraman R/B.”  Alongside the original Red King, the collection presents multiple versions of the monster, including an animated Red King, a Red King controlled by the mind of a teenage girl, and the powered-up, Popeye-armed EX Red King.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Included in the two-disc Blu-ray release is the bonus special The Birth of Ultraman, a live stage show that introduced Ultraman, the Science Patrol, Red King and other monsters to Japanese audiences. Rounding out the set is a slipcase featuring Marvel Comics artwork, plus a 12-page collectible booklet and episode guide. 

The release features DTS-HD Master Audio of the original Japanese soundtrack with English subtitles.

 

Film Movement Brings Two Films From Acclaimed Director Naomi Kawase to DVD and Digital June 13

Film Movement is bringing two films from acclaimed Japanese director Naomi Kawase — Radiance and Still the Water — to DVD and digital June 13.

In the romantic drama Radiance (2017), Misako (Ayame Misaki) is a writer of audio descriptions of films for the visually impaired. At a screening, she meets Nakamori (Masatoshi Nagase), an older photographer who is slowly losing his eyesight following an illness. Misako soon discovers Nakamori’s photographs, which will strangely bring her back to her past. Though hesitant to start a relationship, feelings soon arise between a man who has lost the light and a woman who pursues it. Following its world premiere in competition at Cannes where it received the Ecumenical Jury Prize and was also nominated for a Palme d’Or, Radiance was also nominated for the Netpac Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Krzysztof Kieslowski Award for Best Film at the Denver Int’l Film Festival and the Golden Spike for Best Film at Spain’s Valladolid Int’l Film Festival.

Still the Water (2014) is a coming-of-age story set on the subtropical Japanese island of Amami, where traditions about nature remain eternal. Following a typhoon and during the full-moon night of traditional dances in August, 16-year-old Kaito (Nijirô Murakami) discovers a dead body floating in the sea. His girlfriend, Kyoko (Junko Abe), will attempt to help him understand this mysterious discovery. Together, Kaito and Kyoko will learn to become adults by experiencing the interwoven cycles of life, death and love. The film captured awards for Best Director and Best Cinematography at the 2015 RiverRun International Film Festival.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The youngest filmmaker to be awarded the Cannes Camera d’Or for her debut film Suzaku in 1987, Kawase has become one of Japan’s most celebrated contemporary directors. Winner of numerous additional prestigious festival awards such as the Cannes Grand Prix for The Mourning Forest (2007) and the Carrosse d’Or in 2009, Kawase also served as one of the jurors for the competition in 2013. In 2015, she was bestowed with the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French Minister of Culture.

 

Japanese Classic ‘Warm Water Under a Red Bridge’ Due on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital May 23 From Film Movement

Japanese filmmaker Shohei Imamura’s final film, Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (2001), will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally May 23 from Film Movement.

Brimming with magical realism, sensuality and humor, the Palme d’Or-nominated classic tells the story of Yosuke Sasano (Koji Yakusho), an unemployed salaryman who arrives in a remote fishing village following a rumor of hidden treasure. Instead, he meets Saeko Aizawa (Misa Shimizu), a charming and unusual woman with a unique problem: a well of warm water inside her longing for release. Saeko faces both shame and adoration for her condition, which the local anglers believe feeds the river and its fish. Intrigued and enamored, Yosuke decides to take up a new life as a fisherman. Through their passionate affair, Imamura paints a picture of longing, fantasy, and the search for true happiness.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Bonus features include the “Messy and Juicy” video essay by author and film curator Tom Vick and a 16-page booklet with a new essay by film scholar and writer Hwang Kyunmin.

 

Director Hideo Gosha’s ‘Samurai Wolf 1’ and ‘2’ and ‘Violent Streets’ Headed to Blu-ray in May From Film Movement

Three films by acclaimed 1960s and ’70s Japanese genre filmmaker Hideo Gosha — Samurai Wolf 1, Samurai Wolf 2: Hell Cut and Violent Streets — are arriving on Blu-ray (plus digital) for the first time in North America this May from Film Movement.

Hideo Gosha began his studio career in 1964 and quickly emerged as a specialist in chambara (samurai) films. A few years later, a contemporary twist on the chambara formula appeared in the form of the yakuza film, and Gosha proved equally adept with modern dress action. Whether the weapons of choice were swords or snub-nose revolvers, few could match Gosha at his best for economic storytelling and sheer velocity. 

Samurai Wolf 1 and Samurai Wolf 2: Hell Cut, Gosha’s gleefully anarchic, spaghetti Western-informed samurai adventures, are included in one complete Blu-ray set due May 16. In Samurai Wolf 1 (1966), Isao Natsuyagi stars as Kiba, a charismatic ronin who wanders into a small town and ends up ensnared in a local conflict that’s more than meets the eye. After dispatching a pair of highway criminals seen robbing a courier wagon, Kiba agrees to assist a beautiful blind woman who runs the local shipping company. Double- and triple-crosses ensue, illustrated with savage but economical violence courtesy of Gosha’s striking black and white filmmaking. In Samurai Wolf 2: Hell Cut (1967), charismatic ronin Kiba (Natsuyagi) returns, once again entangled in a complex web of intrigue, involving a crooked goldmine owner, a cynical swordsman, and an arrogant dojo master. Bonus features on the set include “Outlaw Director,” a Hideo Gosha featurette with Tomoe Gosha; audio commentary by Chris Poggiali, co-author of These Fists Break Bricks; and a 20-page booklet with a new essay by Robin Gatto, author of Hideo Gosha, cinéaste sans maître.

The yakuza film Violent Streets (1974), available May 23, is a brutal, kinetic action yarn in which legendary gangster-turned-actor Noboru Ando plays Egawa, a retired yakuza underboss, now nightclub owner, who gets pulled back into the life when his old comrades demand control of his club. Meanwhile, a gang war quietly roiling behind the scenes erupts into open violence in response to a high-profile kidnapping, lending unimaginably high stakes to Egawa’s reemergence onto the yakuza scene. Bonus features include “Tattooed Director,” a Hideo Gosha featurette with Tomoe Gosha; “A Street That Can’t Be Beat” video essay by TokyoScope author Patrick Macias; and a 16-page booklet with a new essay by Japanese film expert Mark Schilling.

The films are 2K digitally restored from original broadcast elements.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!