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Why do japanese movies suck?

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RE: Why do japanese movies suck?

Postby Txkun » Fri 03.30.2007 2:57 am

Add Yasujiro Ozu to the list too!

If you didn't see any movie of the before mentioned directors, you really can't have a clear picture and you can't judge japanese movie industry.

Anime can sometimes be interesting and deep (Ghost in the Shell, Akira, some Miyazaki movies) but they just can't be compared to works by people e.g. Kurosawa that are like Japan's Kubrick. Death Note is a pure commercial work. No art in it. No need to spend much in it because otaku will go to see it anyway. No problem in that until you go around saying wrong thngs :D
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RE: Why do japanese movies suck?

Postby Frumious Boojum » Fri 03.30.2007 9:09 am

Not all Japanese films are lacking in visuals...

Casshern is probably the best example of such a movie as it was filmed on a blue screen. It also probably had a higher budget than most.

Then there's Shinobi: Heart Under Blade. Beautiful Film, and the visual effects, though not the best, were still interesting.

Both of those movies probably had better budgets than most movies.

Although, I found Opuretta Tanuki Hime to be one of the most visually interesting movies ever made and that was probably filmed on one of the smallest budgets ever.
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RE: Why do japanese movies suck?

Postby lemonaid » Fri 03.30.2007 9:36 am

debu wrote:
Instead of ripping this ignorant poster to shreds, I'd like to ask him/her to name a few specific examples.


Sigh... Too many people are missing the point that I'm talking about production quality (my fault for a misleading title).

For comparison, here are two movies that are similar in many ways... one American, one Japanese.

Death Note the movie vs. Ghost Rider... One was an adaptation of a popular manga, the other an adaptation of a popular comic book. Now, Ghost Rider was a terrible movie, but it did have high production values. The audio was crisp and clear, as was the video quality, and the special effects were reasonable. Death Note looked like it could have been filmed on hand-held camera, had bad effects, and in general had very low production values.

Now, I'm sure Ghost Rider had a larger budget, but Death Note earned some 3 billion yen, and movies based on popular anime seem to do quite well in japan, so I'm sure they could have spent enough on it to make it look nice.

Anyway, maybe that's not fair comparison... but I've been blown away by the visuals (hero) and the audio (house of flying daggers) of much lower budget foreign films, but I've yet to come across a japanese film where I've been impressed at all by those things.



Ok, this is going to be a bit long but bear with me.

First of all, you can't really compare american and foreign movie industry.
There are too many differences in how they work. In the USA you can get many investors to support the initial cost of the movie and huge companies to promote it, meaning less work for you, the person who wants to make the movie, and more money to make the movie for. You might loan some money to make it better or pay actors an initial fee and the rest when the movie brings about a cash-flow in, but at least you're not suffering like a buddhist monk without anything to his name. In most other countries, it doesn't work like that. You might have to take up a loan to cover the total cost of the movie because of the lack of investors, and because there are no huge companies behind you for support you might end up with no promotion for it -- and consequently no viewers and no cash-flow in. This makes it more risky to make a movie. High risk equals less takers, and the takers want to play it safe. So they cut back on the production cost. Since they don't want a crappy movie they hire good actors and crew, but cut back on things as microphones, lenses, cameras, sound production, mixing, mastering and so on. The result is a movie that in your eyes looks poorly produced.

Also, you mention Hero and House of Flying Daggers, but you fail to understand who the target audience for these movies was. These were movies produced mainly for a foreign audience. It was actually the american audience they aimed for, and they managed to pull it off. However, in China, I seem to remember, they didn't do as well as many other movies. Besides, the sum spent on those was gigantic -- in China. Remember the differences in wages and costs.

Wait, there is more. Despite living in an increasingly globalized world, there are still cultural and material differences separating us. I believe there are far more surround sound systems and flat screens in the U.S. than in China, so naturally, an american producer is more likely to keep this technology in mind when producing a movie he/she hopes will do well on DVD. A chinese or japanese producer on a limited budget will most likely sacrifice some of this to hire better actors, to ensure promotion or even a release.

But, perhaps most importantly, you might want to remember that japanese movies are intended for a japanese audience, just as norwegian movies are intended for norwegians, french for the french and german for germans. Movies that do big in the U.S. flop quite often overseas and movies big on this side of the ocean never get noticed in the U.S. We simply don't have the same standards or expectations to a movie, or what we require in a movie. Take my own country for example, you seldom see special effects. Why? Because we don't produce movies that require them. Why? Most likely because we don't have an economic superpower-like movie industry like in the U.S. Therefore you're also more likely to see, at least from an american standard, substandard lighting, sound and so on. Our GDP is about the same as the U.S. meaning that we're filthy rich, but we still don't have production companies like you do. Nor the investors.
Last year we had four huge releases where one dealt with pedophilia, one with consumerism and depression, another with integration problems and the last one was a plain old horror movie. They worked well here, but I think most americans would find them boring and maybe even poorly produced. We might not have the same high standards as you in certain areas, but we demand good scripts and above average actors.

Hope that helped.
Last edited by lemonaid on Fri 03.30.2007 9:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Why do japanese movies suck?

Postby Delekii » Fri 03.30.2007 10:48 am

The very simple answer is that money does indeed make the world go around.
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RE: Why do japanese movies suck?

Postby SirFirestorm » Fri 03.30.2007 11:49 am

lemonaid wrote:
Also, you mention Hero and House of Flying Daggers, but you fail to understand who the target audience for these movies was. These were movies produced mainly for a foreign audience. It was actually the american audience they aimed for, and they managed to pull it off. However, in China, I seem to remember, they didn't do as well as many other movies. Besides, the sum spent on those was gigantic -- in China. Remember the differences in wages and costs.


Thats false. Hero was made in china like 2 or 3 years ago before came to America. It was a high budget movie with many A-list actors and did pretty well in China, maybe not so well in America. House of Flying daggers was the same premise. Take a good movie chinese movie and see if Americans will like it. Basically Quentin Tarantino got this great idea to find sucessful chinese movies and slap his name on it to appeal to American audiences. Those movies were not made for or aimed at American audiences.
More people are taking notice of asian films. Tarantino has bought rights to "Infernal Affairs" and made it into "The Departed", he didnt actually do anything but he has his name on it. "My Sassy Girl" has been rumored to be in production in America. There are probably others i dont know about but rant is over, back on topic.

Film in general is a large investment and you probably take it for granted, but in America there is Hollywood. A place where big names and a lot of money for film circulate. Where all you need is a good idea and people will invest money for your film, I think thats where the production quality you are thinking of comes from.
Japan's high budget films are only for "sure hits" movies based on anime or some other form of popular culture where there is a fanbase who they know will see the movie regardless of the quality. The rest of the films are not quite indie but they dont have the financial backing of Hollywood to give you shiny things to keep your interest. But I dont think the quality is as bad as you make it seem debu.
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RE: Why do japanese movies suck?

Postby lemonaid » Fri 03.30.2007 12:26 pm

SirFirestorm wrote:
Thats false. Hero was made in china like 2 or 3 years ago before came to America. It was a high budget movie with many A-list actors and did pretty well in China, maybe not so well in America. House of Flying daggers was the same premise. Take a good movie chinese movie and see if Americans will like it. Basically Quentin Tarantino got this great idea to find sucessful chinese movies and slap his name on it to appeal to American audiences. Those movies were not made for or aimed at American audiences.


No, it's not false. You know only half the story. I'm very well aware of Tarantino's "affiliation" with Hero. I bought that film shortly after release, long before Mr. Tarantino slapped his name on the cover. You seem to know very little about the director Zhang Yimou. This is not criticism and it's not meant to offend. Not a lot of people do this kind of research into the background of a movie.

Some of Zhang Yimou's earlier works was banned in mainland China, forcing him to "go abroad" with his movies, where he found a more profitable market. Some of his movies became very big in the art-haus scene in the west. Later he saw the fuss around Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which was a chinese/american collaboration, with american funding, intended or expected to break into the western market, so he got an internationally known lead actor and hired some of the people who worked on Crouching Tiger on his staff, followed the same formula and the ball was rolling. Foreign capital flowed in and the results are the movie we see today and mainlanders criticizing him for having "more form, less content". And so he followed up with House of Flying Daggers.
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RE: Why do japanese movies suck?

Postby lastlife » Fri 03.30.2007 12:32 pm

so, why are we talking about Tarantino? he is nothing but a fanboy and has nothing to do with Japanese cinema.
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RE: Why do japanese movies suck?

Postby lemonaid » Fri 03.30.2007 12:40 pm

lastlife wrote:
so, why are we talking about Tarantino? he is nothing but a fanboy and has nothing to do with Japanese cinema.


Have no idea. SirFirestorm brought him up.
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RE: Why do japanese movies suck?

Postby caroline » Fri 03.30.2007 12:53 pm

but did a lot to promote asian cinema, especially with kill bill 1&2... or maybe it was just a side effect, but worked great, at least here in France,

where we get to see on TV now not only Infernal affairs, but also Johnnie To's movies, Jun Ichikawa's, Naomi Kawase's (these are for this week only).

As for chinese movies, I'm partial to Won Kar Wai because there is no sequence that is not creative in his movies, and technically, they are a wonder, dear OP (even is the visual effects are obviously less costly than most US movies). And I'm not sure anyone has mastered the editing as well in a long time.

But sure, you were not saying that chinese films suck... it's just the thread that got a little carried.
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RE: Why do japanese movies suck?

Postby saraLynne » Fri 03.30.2007 1:19 pm

The western concept of what makes media good is screwed up, IMHO. This applies to more than the big screen, too. Television media, video games, children's toys... huge amounts of money are spent on advertising, packaging, and making everything pretty, the content has gone to hell.

It's becoming so deeply embedded in western culture, there were forum posts from the directors of a prominent TV series who constantly sounded APOLOGETIC that their show "has to rely on characterization and dialog" because they do not have "hollywood-level funds". The show I am talking about is Heroes, the NBC 'surprise hit' drama.

It's lamentable that western society has hit a point where entertainers say, "I'm sorry that I have to tell a good story." T_T

The "bigger, better" mindset is also the reason why most major movie production companies are basically making movie versions of comic books, classic novels, and remaking old movies.

I know the OP keeps saying "I'm not talking about content" but you can't talk one without the other. It's a matter of WHERE the money is spent. I think that you should spend the bare minimum on what's needed to get the film made, and dump the rest into writers and actors. I don't care if you have a five billion dollar budget, you better have really awesome writers and really awesome actors..... not Waterworld. ^_^
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RE: Why do japanese movies suck?

Postby SirFirestorm » Fri 03.30.2007 3:07 pm

lemonaid wrote:
No, it's not false. You know only half the story. I'm very well aware of Tarantino's "affiliation" with Hero. I bought that film shortly after release, long before Mr. Tarantino slapped his name on the cover. You seem to know very little about the director Zhang Yimou. This is not criticism and it's not meant to offend. Not a lot of people do this kind of research into the background of a movie.

Some of Zhang Yimou's earlier works was banned in mainland China, forcing him to "go abroad" with his movies, where he found a more profitable market. Some of his movies became very big in the art-haus scene in the west. Later he saw the fuss around Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which was a chinese/american collaboration, with american funding, intended or expected to break into the western market, so he got an internationally known lead actor and hired some of the people who worked on Crouching Tiger on his staff, followed the same formula and the ball was rolling. Foreign capital flowed in and the results are the movie we see today and mainlanders criticizing him for having "more form, less content". And so he followed up with House of Flying Daggers.


I only brought up Tarantino because it looks like you already know, his "affiliation" with Hero was only by name. He didnt have anything to do with directing or production of the movie, but it was an example of the power of Hollywood, all you need is a name. Funding comes from big names, content comes second. I only bring this up because the OP wanted to discuss production quality of japanese films and it went way off topic with that misleading title. Its not japanese movies, but the real life example of American directors taking popular foreign films, noteably from China, and using Hollywood's funding and investors can make films with much higher quality and production value. I dont think Japanese films are that much lower quality, but the reason you might think so is because the majority dont have the public of private investors in films like Hollywood does. Doesnt mean the films are any less good.
Fresh stories are hard to come by so recently the trend of taking foreign films and remaking them for American audiences is prevalent. Movies based on comic books are also gaining popularity, Spiderman, Sin City, 300, they are american comic book artists, the great stories were always there, but now people are interested in these films not for the cgi or actors, but for the story. It might pave the way for Japanese movies to break into the American market, since I think generally in Japanese cinema the story is more important.

I might not know as much as lemonaid about Zhang Yimou but i know he had some of his earlier works from the 1980s or something banned because it was critical of communism and the government, not all his films were, and I dont think any of his recent works have been banned in China. Im not really sure if he was "forced" abroad to make movies because he continues to make movies in China. He did Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and most recently, Curse of the Golden Flower, and although they were shown in international theatres he did not make it specifically for international audiences, like I said, but I could be wrong. Its a Chinese movie, brought to America, not the other way around. I saw Hero when it came out in mandarin, the cantonese and subtitled versions came out way later. It was a pretty good movie, I was suprised when I saw it years later in US theaters. It seems american audiences are only interested in martial arts movies from asia, so Japanese films might not be recieved as well. Which means no funding.
Another example of that, Martin Scorsese created contraversy during the 2006 academy awards because although he won best director for his movie "The Departed", he never made any mention of Sui Fai Mak or Felix Chong, the people that wrote the original story of Infernal Affairs on which The Departed was based on. Hollywood is money, moviemaking is a means to an end.
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RE: Why do japanese movies suck?

Postby kawaiicat » Fri 03.30.2007 5:57 pm

I think they do a great job with horror movies! Japan of course ;)
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RE: Why do japanese movies suck?

Postby lastlife » Fri 03.30.2007 9:01 pm

You should all do yourself a favor and check out a film by the name of 茶の味 (The Taste of Tea)

I think this is a good film for anyone just getting into Japanese cinema. I love Japan's film industry, the reason being there's lots of variation (compared to China, S.Korea films) and this film's taste is definitely sweet.
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RE: Why do japanese movies suck?

Postby ghosthacker » Sat 04.07.2007 3:15 pm

Japan makes some very good movies and in these "better" films you see some excellent production values.

I am not sure which movies you are watching that give you this negative idea about their production tech, but a dog is a dog no matter which country produced it.

Mabey you need to watch better films :)
Last edited by ghosthacker on Sat 04.07.2007 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Why do japanese movies suck?

Postby ruisu81 » Sat 04.07.2007 3:52 pm

Actually I was shocked by how well made Japanese movies are. In the last month, my collection has grown from zero to dozens. I actually haven't seen an American film since I started watching Japanese ones. I've long felt like good American films are rare, but I'm finding quite the opposite to be true in Japan.

Of course I've seen a few really bad Japanese ones, mostly having to do with a high school related theme or something "fluffy and kawaii," but for the most part the plots and story telling are unique.

I'd take a look at some more...it turned out that wanting to be able to watch these flicks without subtitles has become a major motivator for my learning.
Last edited by ruisu81 on Sat 04.07.2007 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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