The forgotten. The underrated. The obscure. The underappreciated. The cult. There’s a million reasons why some films get consigned to a cinematic oblivion and there’s a million films that deserve it. These don’t. This is a weekly list that unearths the gems of cinemas past.
Grab your shovels and your pick axes, it’s time for Monsoon’s Buried Treasures (part. 5)
01. Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976)
Directed by: Ruggero Deodato
Plot: Fred and Tony, two elite super cops, are tasked with dealing with dangerous criminals by any means necessary.
Of all the genres and sub-genres of film, the Poliziotteschi (Italian cop film) is the only one that’s impossible to parody. Parodies work by exaggerating the cliches of a particular genre but even if you were to amplify the tropes of a Euro crime film for comedic effect, you still wouldn’t come close to the insanity of a Poliziotteschi. Each and every one of them make Dirty Harry look like Kindergarten Cop–and in the case of Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man—Lethal Weapon look like Starsky and Hutch. The show or the film. Take your pick.
Coming out relatively late in the genres lifetime, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man might not have been the first to the party or even the most popular one there but by the time it feels like leaving, your refrigerator is empty, your garage is on fire and your sister is knocked up. It leaves an impact.
02. Battlefield Baseball (2003)
Directed by: Yudai Yamaguchi
Plot: Battle Royale + Shaolin Soccer + Zombies – the battles and the baseball.
Battlefield Baseball is the kind of film that’s destined to disappoint. It’s impossible to not get excited by either it’s title or plot synopsis but sadly, both write checks the film doesn’t even attempt to cash. Oh, there is baseball and there is battling and there’s definitely zombies but–just like the amount of shrimp served with a shrimp cocktail–there’s hardly enough to satisfy.
But once you know what you’re signing up for, Battlefield Baseball is a hugely entertaining comedy that throws everything imaginable at the audience in a desperate attempt to amuse. It’s like an adorable little puppy that won’t leave you alone or to use baseball terminology, a pitcher wildly throwing every curveball imaginable at you and while they don’t all connect, the homeruns make it worth it.
03. Lesson of the Evil (2012)
Directed by: Takashi Miike
Plot: A popular high school teacher concocts an extreme plan to deal with the rise of bullying and bad behavior among the student body.
There’s a scene in the film Battle Royale* where Beat Takeshi–tired of his unruly goddamn students–throws a shuriken at one of them, killing them instantly. He broke the rules of the game, just because he couldn’t stand their shit for one more second. Now, take that scene, replace Takeshi’s character with Patrick Bateman from American Psycho and turn it into a film directed by Michael Haneke and that’s Lesson of the Evil.
The first half is all set up. It’s extremely slow not unlike Van Sant’s Elephant but where I feel that film was nothing but 90 minutes of kids walking down hallways, Lesson of the Evil is using that same foundation to build to something. It’s creating a framework of monotony to lure you into a false sense of security. The main character is annoyingly concerned with the school’s safety and based on what we’ve seen in previous films, it seems like he’s the hero that tried to warn everyone before it was too late. But that’s not this movie. This is a Miike high school movie and it might be the most violent thing he’s ever made. Well, second. Nothing beats Ichii the Killer.
*Referencing Battle Royale in two films back-to-back was unintentional. I’m drunk and it’s the only film I can think of.
Ex Drummer (2007)
Directed by: Koen Mortier
Plot: Transpotting by way of Gasper Noé.
This film is essentially Green Room but instead of having the punks stay in one room until danger shows up, the danger is already in the band. The recently hired drummer of a punk band slowly starts fucking with his band mates and eventually starts turning them against each other until they figure out what’s happening but by then, it might be too late.
The set up sounds like a suspenseful thriller but it’s actually a crazy as fuck dark comedy. There are sequences in this, I guarantee you have never seen in any other film. Once it goes to 11, it never lets up.
05. Six-String Samurai (1998)
Directed by: Lance Mungia
Plot: In the post-apocalyptic world of 1960s Nevada, a rock ‘n’ roll samurai on his way to Lost Vegas takes a young orphan boy under his protection
On the surface, this is a crazy ass road movie where everyone fights to earn the title of “the king” after Elvis dies but once you dig a little deeper, it’s actually a metaphor for rock and roll having to constantly fight with heavy metal. The main character is clearly Buddy Holly (or at the very least, is inspired by him) and the unrelenting villain that chases him throughout the film is named death. Who looks exactly like Slash (from Guns N’ Roses) but as the grim reaper.
The film is a mixed bag, with some really interesting ideas and concepts but with some elements just *cough* the kid *cough* not working at all but if you’re in the mood for a crazy riff on Lone Wolf and Cub but set in the post apocalyptic future, give it a watch.