999-9999 (Kâaw) (2002, THA) C-103m. **½ D: Peter Manus. Starring Chulachak Chakrabongse, Sririta Jensen, Paula Taylor, Thepparit Raiwin, Norajan Sangigern. Okay Thai horror movie about a mysterious phone number (see title), where a dark voice grants you a wish. When that comes true, it will ask for your part in the deal – your life. A couple of students die like this one after the other. Can the remaining ones figure out the mystery behind the number? A bit like FINAL DESTINATION (2000), with some over-the-top CGI effects, but hard to dislike and quite stylish. Co-written by the director.

Kadaicha (1988, AUS) C-88m. **½ D: James Bogle. Starring Zoe Carides, Tom Jennings, Eric Oldfield, Natalie McCurry. Not-bad Australian horror film about a century-old curse which kills off the local teenagers. It turns out that Carides’ dad has built an apartment complex right on an Aboriginal burial ground. Plot is often dumb, but film is well-directed and well-edited, worth a look for horror buffs. Alternative title: STONES OF DEATH.

Kaena: La Prophétie (2003, FRA/CDN) C-85m. **½ D: Chris Delaporte, Pascal Pinon. Starring (the voices of) Cécile De France, Michael Lonsdale, Victoria Abril, Francois Siener, Jean-Michel Farcy. Digitally animated fantasy adventure set on a distant planet, where girl Kaena’s tribe is threatened with extinction by another species, for which they provide frequent offerings (believing them to be their gods). Some eye-popping design, but story is not well set-up, and plot is not involving enough. Remains a bit too outlandish. English version, titled KAENA: THE PROPHECY, features voice performances by Kirsten Dunst, Anjelica Huston and Richard Harris (his last screen credit).

Kaidan (1964, JAP) C-164m. Scope *** D: Masaki Kobayashi. Starring Rentaro Mikuni, Michiyo Aratama, Misako Watanabe, Tatsuya Nakadai, Keiko Kishi, Katsuo Nakamura, Tetsuro Tamba, Kanemon Nakamura, Osamu Takizawa. Classic anthology of ghost stories made up of four separate tales: In “Black Hair”, a samurai leaves his wife for a wealthier woman, is taught a lesson upon his remorseful return. “The Woman in the Snow” is a similar story of delusion and late retribution. “Hoichi the Earless”, the longest segment, is about a blind musician who gets closer to spirits than he may wish, and “In a Cup of Tea” there’s a ghostly apparition. Often slow and ponderous, but magnificent color cinematography speaks for itself. Studio settings lend it a contained, almost claustrophobic but stylish atmosphere. Based on the book by Lafcadio Hearn. Original U.S. release omitted the second episode, DVD release restored it, but it’s still short of 20 minutes of the Japanese original version. English titles: KWAIDAN.

Kaidan Hebi-Onna (1968, JAP) C-85m. SCOPE ** D: Nobuo Nakagawa. Starring Junzaburô Ban, Yukie Kagawa, Seizaburô Kawazu, Sachiko Kuwahara. Japanese ghost/revenge story about a peasant family, who suffer greatly under stubborn landowner. When the family fahter dies, the women become enslaved, and a supernatural revenge plan takes its course. Some atmospheric sets, cinematography, but plot is hevy-handed. For fans. Written by the director. Also known as GHOST STORY OF THE SNAKE WOMAN, and SNAKE WOMAN’S CURSE.

Kairo (2001, JAP) C-119m. *** D: Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Starring Haruhiko Katô, Kumiko Aso, Koyuki, Kurume Arisaka, Masatoshi Matsuo. Fascinating tour-de-force from Japan’s master of creep Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Student Katô learns of mysterious website that shows (live?) webcam streams of ghosts and promises an encounter. People around him start behaving oddly, others commit suicide. What’s behind it all? Deliberate pace and overall vagueness make this a headtrip (and definitely not for all tastes), but Kurosawa transcends horror conventions and comes up with a philosophical ghost story like you have never seen before. Good score by Takshi Haketa. Remade as PULSE (2006). Also known as PULSE, THE CIRCUIT.

Kakashi (2001, JAP) C-86m. **½ D: Norio Tsuruta. Starring Maho Nonami, Kou Shibasaki, Grace Yip, Yoshiki Arizono, Mizuho Igarashi. Interesting chiller about a young woman who goes in search of her missing brother. Her only lead is a letter that brings her to a remote community, where everyone behaves very strangely and scarecrows play an important role. Sounds like WICKER MAN and it is. The acting isn’t very convincing, neither is the plot, but fans can give this a look anyway. Based on the comic by Junji Ito. English title: SCARECROW.   

Kalifornia (1993, USA) C-118m. Scope *** D: Dominic Sena. Starring Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, David Duchovny, Michelle Forbes, Catherine Larson, David Milford. The 1990s brought a large number of serial killer films (caused mainly by the influence and critical reception of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS), and this example is one of the best. Intending to write a book about serial killers, Duchovny starts a journey with his girlfriend Forbes to California, making brief stops at important crime scenes. To share expenses they take a couple (Pitt and Lewis) along, unaware that the combination of dumbness and aggression in them would allow Duchovny to study the phenomenon on a live person. Violent, intense, well-scripted (in spite of some redundant stretches), well-photographed and directed thriller drama with good performances. Contains elements of such cult pics as BADLANDS and STRAW DOGS; this in fact preceded NATURAL BORN KILLERS and was released shortly before TRUE ROMANCE. Written by Tim Metcalfe (not Quentin Tarantino). 

Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996, IND) C-114m. **½ D: Mira Nair. Starring Indira Varma, Sarita Choudhury, Ramon Tikaram. Naveen Andrews, Rekha. Leisurely paced drama from India about servant girl Varma, who is wooed by a prince but falls in love with an artist, which gives rise to complications. Not a sex film (as the title may suggest) but a sensuous drama that lacks the je-ne-sais-quoi to make it work. Pace is major drawback, keeps the film unfocused; overall mood is enticing.

Kamen Gakuen (2000, JAP) C-90m. **½ D: Takashi Komatsu. Starring Tatsuya Fujiwara, Maya Kurosu, Ikkei Watanabe, Yuma Ishigaki, Chiaki Kuriyama, Ren Osugi. Psycho horror drama based on the novel by Osamu Sôda set in a typical Japanese high school, where a new trend is tranforming everything. Students begin to wear masks and associate themselves in cult-like circles. A suicide is the beginning of a wave of resistance against authority. Intriguing thought, but a tad too unlikely, film is fairly interesting, but never riveting. The masks give everything a unique touch, seek it out if this appeals to you. Also known as PERSONA.

Karate Kid, The (2010, USA/CHI) C-140m. SCOPE *** D: Harald Zwart. Starring Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson, Michelle Yeoh. Remake of the 1984 hit with Chan in the Morita role. Kid Smith moves to China with his mom, cannot come to grips with new situation. What’s more, he is bullied by some other kids. Janitor Chan agrees to teach him kung fu. Basically a story well-told, never boring. Nice portrayal of everyday life in China. Chan only gets to fight some teenagers... too bad! Score by James Horner, photographed by Roger Pratt.

Karisuma (1999, JAP) C-104m. *½ D: Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Starring Kôji Yakusho, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Ren Osugi, Yoriko Douguchi, Jun Fubuki. Incomprehensible mess by the director of the riveting KYUA (1997) about a police detective, who is suspended after a hostage-taking ends in two deaths. He goes out into the country and wanders around aimlessly in a forest, until he meets a hermit, who protects an unusual tree. Another character, a biologist, thinks this tree is a monstrosity and responsible for the death of all surrounding plants. Slowly paced, with a totally unmotivated and inappropriate musical score that can be heard every five minutes for 30 seconds or so, and silly story that may have some ecological relevance but is told in an frustratingly ponderous way. Do not expect to be entertained or thrilled here. Written by the director. International title: CHARISMA.

Kashin no Irezumi: Ureta Tsubo (1976, JAP) C-74m. SCOPE **½ D: Masaru Konuma. Starring Genshu Hanayagi, Takako Kitagawa, Shin Nakamaru, Naomi Tani. Classic pinku sex film drama about two women, mother and daughter, who each have their sexual (re-)awakening and have problems acknowledging each other’s desires. It all culminates in a giant tattoo created on the mother’s torso. Plot is a bit unfocused, but most of the sex scenes are done with elegance. English titles: TATTOOED FLOWER VASE, TATTOOED CORE OF FLOWER, MATURE VASE, TATTOOED VAGINA.

Kate & Leopold (2001, USA) C-123m. **½ D: James Mangold. Starring Meg Ryan, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Breckin Meyer, Natasha Lyonne, Bradley Whitford, Spalding Gray, Philip Bosco, Craig Bierko. Romantic comedy with a fantasy touch about scientist Schreiber, who’s found a way to travel back in time and accidentally takes a 19th century Duke back to New York with him. The nobleman is aghast at the modern world, but soon falls in love with Schreiber’s ex Ryan. Any movie that starts with such an overtly contrived opening that is also riddled with conincidences has a hard time getting into your heart, but this one does. The romance is believable and some of the complications funny. However, there is no need for this go on as long as it does. Director Mangold also scripted, with Steven Rogers.

Kaze no Tani no Naushika (1984, JAP) C-116m. **** D: Hayao Miyazaki. Starring (the voices of) Sumi Shimamoto, Mahito Tsujimura, Hisako Kyôda, Gorô Naya, Ichirô Nagai, Kôhei Miyauchi. Awe-inspiring science-fiction movie, director Miyazaki’s second feature, which also meant the birth of Studio Ghibli. In the world of the future, mankind has withdrawn to little settlements, most of nature has been contaminated by poisonous spores. Giant-sized beetles, so called Ohmu, are the guardians of the forest and go on rampages of destruction if man tries to fight them. Princess Nausicaä, an unusually brave girl, dwells in the Valley of the Wind with her people and roams the forests in search of building materials. Despite an ancient prophecy that promises a savior after a thousand years of suffering, other colonies are ready to wage war, at the cost of their own survival. Is the resurrection of the last remaining giant warrior the solution to all problems, or does it bring the end of the world? Complex, brilliant science-fiction movie with a noble cause is based on Miyazaki’s own manga. His characters and story are totally real and believable, his animation contains breathtaking set-pieces, making this one of the most spectacular films ever made. May have been influenced slightly by the STAR WARS films, or even MAD MAX, but transcends these films because it encompasses a valuable message for humanity, making it a true masterpiece. Excellent score by Joe Hisaishi. Followed by TENKU NO SHIRO RAPYUTA (LAPUTA: CASTLE IN THE SKY). Trivia note: Nausicaä was a character in Homer’s Odyssey. Also released in a truncated 84m. version titled WARRIORS OF THE WIND. Also known as NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WINDS.

Keeping the Faith (2000, USA) C-128m. *** D: Edward Norton. Starring Ben Stiller, Edward Norton, Jenna Elfman, Anne Bancroft, Eli Wallach, Ron Rifkin, Milos Forman, Rena Sofer. Fast-paced comedy about rabbi Stiller and priest Norton, whose lives are turned upside down when a childhood friend of theirs, beautiful Elfman, makes a stop in New York City. Runs hot and cold and misses almost too many times, but film is very hard to dislike, especially because of radiant Elfman. Funny love triangle, though THREESOME was better.

Keetje Tippel (1975, NED) C-94m. *** D: Paul Verhoeven. Starring Monique van de Ven, Rutger Hauer, Eddie Brugman, Hannah de Leeuwe, Andrea Domburg, Fons Rademakers. Verhoeven’s follow-up to TURKS FRUIT is a fine social drama set in the 1880s. Van de Ven’s family come to the big city hoping to find work, but the blond girl is the only one who manages to climb the social ladder. Might have raised more important questions, but nevertheless qualifies as a good period piece due to fine camerawork (Jan de Bont) and an excellent score. Based on the novel by N.N. Also known as KATHY TIPPEL, KATIE’S PASSION and HOT SWEAT. Verhoeven followed this with another historical drama, SOLDIER OF ORANGE.

Keizoku/Eiga (2000, JAP) C-119m. **½ D: Yukihiko Tsutsumi. Starring Miki Nakatani, Atsuro Watabe, Shigeru Izumiya, Koyuki, Raita Ryu. Big-screen version of a popular TV series is a grotesque mystery about several characters who are invited to an island by a girl who lost her parents in a boating accident 15 years ago. It turns out she wants to get her revenge. Far from being as straight-forward as it sounds, this contains quite a lot of wacky Japanese humor, outrageous set-pieces and twists. Very uneven but quite stylish, so cult fans should give it a look. English title: KEIZOKU: THE MOVIE.

Ken Park (2002, USA/FRA/NED) C-98m. **½ D: Larry Clark. Starring Adam Chubbuck, James Bullard, Seth Gray, Eddie Daniels, Zara McDowell, Maeve Quinlan, Stephen Jasso, Wade Williams, Tiffany Limos, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Amanda Plummer, Larry Clark. Suburban drama from the maker of KIDS (1995) follows a few working-class teenage kids with dysfunctional families and shows how sex pervades their (bleak) lives. Film has its lyrical moments but adds a few too many deliberate shock scenes. Its open depictions of sex will put off quite a few viewers. Cowritten by Harmony Korine.

Keoma (1976, ITA) C-92m. Scope *** D: Enzo G. Castellari. Starring Franco Nero, Woody Strode, William Berger, Donald O’Brien, Olga Karlatos, Alfio Caltabiano. One of the last spaghettis is a revisionist western with a defeatist point of view. Keoma (Nero) returns home, revisiting his foster father Berger and former slave Strode, but finds their town under control of villain O’Brien. The embittered half-breed then proceeds to protect and avenge sick prostitute Karlatos. Uneven, depressing plot but overall a powerful movie experience, film has become a cult item. Story by George Eastman (Luigi Montefiori). Uncut version runs 100m. English titles: DESPERADO, DJANGO RIDES AGAIN, DJANGO’S GREAT RETURN, and THE VIOLENT BREED.

Kid, The (2000, USA) C-104m. **½ D: Jon Turteltaub. Starring Bruce Willis, Spencer Breslin, Emily Mortimer, Lily Tomlin, Chi McBride, Jean Smart, Dana Ivey, Daniel von Bargen, Matthew Perry. Endearing Disney fare – although quite contrived – about soon-to-be 40 image advisor Willis, whose successful life is spent constantly negating his childhood. One day he befriends himself – as an 8-year-old – and learns quite a few things about his past. Willis is in good form and carries this Hollywood concoction a long way.

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003, USA/JAP/HGK) C/B&W-111m. Scope *** D: Quentin Tarantino. Starring Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Madsen, Michael Parks, Sonny Chiba, Chiaki Kuriyama, Julie Dreyfus, Jun Kunimura, Quentin Tarantino. Typically eccentric Tarantino movie (his fourth), about amazon-like blonde Thurman, who was shot in the head and left for dead by her lover Bill (Carradine) – all this on her wedding day! After lying in a coma for four years, Thurman returns to exact revenge on those that were involved. The revenge trip takes her to Okinawa and Tokyo, Japan . At its best, this mind-blowing extravaganza is a razor-sharp homage to Japanese and Chinese action cinema (parts were filmed in the Shaw Brothers studios); at it worst, it’s a drawn-out, nearly plotless indulgence, but mind: this is all part of Tarantino’s set-up. Film comes to (bloody) life in final action set-piece in the “House of Blue Leaves” (in Japan the b&w sequence was shown in color). Among the highlights is a wildly animated sequence, manga-style. Terrific choreography by old master Yuen Woo-Ping (DRUNKEN MASTER). Film is concluded in KILL BILL VOL. 2 (2004).

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004, USA) C/B&W-136m. Scope *** D: Quentin Tarantino. Starring Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Gordon Liu, Michael Parks, Perla Haney-Jardine, Chris Nelson, Bo Svenson, Larry Bishop, Sid Haig, Samuel L. Jackson. Continuation and conclusion of the story begun in KILL BILL: VOL.1. Thurman is still on a rampage of revenge, with three of her victimizers still on her death list (Madsen, Hannah and ‘Bill’ Carradine). More satisfying than VOL. 1, with some action highlights, impressive performances (especially Hannah’s) and an extensive use of a delaying, drawing out of scenes, which is not always meaningful but lends the movie a languid resonance. Tarantino again pays homage to B-movies of the 1960s and 1970s (most notably spaghetti westerns and chop-socky actioners), as well as some vintage cult films like BLADE RUNNER (1982). The soundtrack, including themes by Morricone and Bacalov, is superb. Based on characters created by Q(uentin) & U(ma), the latter seeming to have written the ending. And Q, thanks for the ‘?’.

Killer, The (1972, HGK) C-94m. Scope **½ D: Chu Yuan. Starring Chin Han, Wang Ping, Tsung Hua. A smart fighter battles a whole martial arts academy for reasons specified later in the film. Above-average eastern brings up no novelties apart from (at least in this genre) unprecedented scenes with loads of gore.

Killer, The (1989, HGK) C-111m. ***½ D: John Woo. Starring Chow Yun-Fat, Danny Lee, Sally Yeh. Kinetic action melodrama is one of Woo’s finest achievements. Plot focuses on the complicated relation-ship between a professional killer, a blind singer and a cop. Rich characterization and appropriately over-blown melodramatics, along with good direction make this a memorable, if a little hard-to-take experience. Try to see it in a theatre. Produced by Tsui Hark. Script by Woo.

Killer Elite, The (1975, USA) C-122m. Scope *** D: Sam Peckinpah. Starring James Caan, Robert Duvall, Bo Hopkins, Burt Young. Engrossing action drama with Caan an assassin who yearns for revenge on his former partner Duvall. Peckinpah has created another fine action drama, which almost fails due to a meandering script but star performances, score and direction make up for occasional slow spots.

Killer Fish (1978, ITA/BRA/USA) C-99m. ** D: Anthony M. Dawson (=Antonio Margheriti). Starring Lee Majors, Karen Black, Margaux Hemingway, Marisa Berenson, James Franciscus, Anthony Steffen. Strained adventure about a diamond heist masterminded by Franciscus and performed by Majors’ crew. They sink the loot in the sea, but Franciscus knowingly puts Piranhas there… so that nobody gets any ideas. Good location work in Brazil, but going-ons are tedious, with too many supporting characters and a plot that goes nowhere. Aka DEADLY TREASURE OF THE PIRANHA, THE NAKED SUN.

Killer Force (1975, EIR/SUI/USA) C-101m. ** D: Val Guest. Starring Telly Savalas, Peter Fonda, Hugh O’Brian, Christopher Lee, O.J. Simpson, Maud Adams. Blah actioner about former security chief Fonda, who is hired to rob a diamond mine protected by Savalas. Solidly made but talky, of interest solely because of its cast. Fonda (with beard) comes off best. Also known as THE DIAMOND MERCENARIES.

Killer Inside Me, The (1976, USA) C-99m. **½ D: Burt Kennedy. Starring Stacy Keach, Susan Tyrrell, Keenan Wynn, John Carradine. Psycho-drama about small-town cop Keach, who is suffering from a childhood trauma. Never rises above the mire, no better than passable entertainment. Keach is quite good but self-conscious narrative technique lessens effect.

Killer Meteors, The (1978, HGK) C-100m. M D: Lo Wei, Jimmy Wang-Yu. Starring Jackie Chan, Jimmy Wang-Yu, Chu Feng. One of producer-director Lo Wei’s ‘crimes’, this dud has a largely confusing, incoherent plot and was only made to feature Wang Yu and Jackie Chan in one movie. First Jackie hires Jimmy to kill his (dangerous) wife, then they become opponents. Jackie plays the villain for the first and so far only time, but don’t watch anyhow. Filmed in 1976.

Killers (2010, USA) C-93m. SCOPE ** D: Robert Luketic. Starring Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, Tom Selleck, Catherine O’Hara, Katheryn Winnick, Kevin Sussman. Thriller comedy starts out nicely with Kutcher a secret agent, who meets and falls in love with Heigl who is vacationing in France with her parents. He keeps his real identity a secret, but when they marry, it seems someone is trying to kill him, and keeping that a secret is almost impossible. The stars look good, but movie goes overboard in the end and becomes stupid.

Killer’s Kiss (1955, USA) 67m. *** D: Stanley Kubrick. Starring Frank Silvera, Jamie Smith, Irene Kane, Jerry Jarret, Mike Dana. Kubrick’s second feature length movie (after FEAR AND DESIRE) is fascinating, forcefully narrated thriller drama. Boxer Smith falls in love with Kane, who has been hustled lately by her former lover. Stylish, irresistibly well-made, an early show of Kubrick’s genius, not to be missed. Edited, photographed, cowritten and coproduced by the director.

Killer Tattoo (2001, THA) C-114m. **½ D: Yuthlert Sippapak. Starring Suthep Po-ngam, Somchai Kemglad, Sornsutha Klunmalee, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Pongsak Pongsuwan, Pailin Pichitumphol. Trashy but fun action comedy about a group of bumbling hitmen (one of whom thinks he’s Elvis), who are out to kill the Bangkok chief of police, when a rival assassin appears on the scene. He is looking for the murderer of his parents, who is sporting a special tattoo on his wrist. Lots of shoot-outs, as well as wacky comedy, this is terribly uneven, but cult movie fans will enjoy this crazy crossbreed of Cheech & Chong and Tarantino movies.

Killer Tongue (1996, SPA/GBR) C-99m. Scope D: Alberto Sciamma. Starring Melinda Clarke, Jason Durr, Mapi Galán, Mabel Karr, Robert Englund. Wild horror movie about a young woman (Clark) who is waiting for her lover to be released from a New Mexican prison. When a meteor crashes in the desert, an alien organism (the Killer Tongue) infests her and turns her into a (sexy) monster. And that’s just the beginning! Serpentine story comes up with many twists, most of them ludicrous. A pure trash movie, somewhat enlivened by stylish lighting and camerawork. Written by director Sciamma.

Killing, The (1956, USA) 83m. ***½ D: Stanley Kubrick. Starring Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Jay C. Plippen, Ted de Corsia, Marie Windsor, Joe Sawyer, Elisha Cook, Timothy Carey. Kubrick’s third feature is an exciting thriller about a meticulously planned robbery at a race track. Cook is perfect as nervous clerk who has a minor part in the operation but almost fouls things up by telling his wife Windsor about their plan. Carey makes a ruthless assassin. Excellent direction is always 100% on-target. Kubrick adapted the novel Clean Break by Lionel White.   

Killing Kind, The (1973, USA) C-99m. *½ D: Curtis Harrington. Starring Ann Sothern, John Savage, Ruth Roman, Luana Anders, Cindy Williams, Sue Bernard. After spending two years in prison for raping a beach girl (forced to do so by his pals), young Savage returns to his mother Sothern’s apartment house. Unable to free himself from her protection, he soon starts to take revenge – especially on the local girls. Psycho drama moves at a deadly pace which kills every spark of interest. Some good performances are lost in this muddled film. Don’t mistake this for a thriller or a slasher movie.

Killing Zoe (1994, USA/FRA) C-98m. *** D: Roger Avary. Starring Eric Stoltz, Julie Delpy, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Tai Thai, Bruce Ramsay, Gary Kemp. “When the Saints Go Marching In…” Violent, dirty, nasty action thriller, directed by PULP FICTION-cowriter Rogar Avary and executive produced by Quentin Tarantino and Lawrence Bender. Stoltz plays an American (safecracker) in Paris, who joins Anglade’s drug-pushing gang in robbing a bank on the French National Holiday – in ultra-violent fashion. Needless to say, things go awry – RESERVOIR DOGS-style. Energetic, insane, over-the-top, a cult film for the PULP FICTION generation. Special make-up effects by Tom Savini.

Kindar l’Invulnerabile (1964, ITA) C-91m. Scope **½ D: Osvaldo Civirani. Starring Mark Forest, Mimmo Palmara, Rosalba Neri, Dea Flowers, Red Ross, Giulio Tomasini. Sword-and-sandal epic about invulnarable son of a king, who is stolen immediately after birth and raised by the king’s arch-enemy, so that he can use him to conquer his city. Naïve but colorful fantasy, well-photographed by the director. Good use of Egyptian locations, above-average of its type, fine for kids. English title: KINDAR THE INVULNERABLE.

King & I, The (1999, USA) C-89m. ** D: Richard Rich. Voices of Miranda Richardson, Christiane Noll, Martin Vidnovic, Ian Richardson, Darell Hammond, David Burnham. Rather cheap animated remake of the 1956 musical THE KING & I about a female teacher who comes to live with an Asian prince in order to teach his children and finds his antics a bigger challenge than anything else. OK for children, adults may find this one a bore. Stereotype characters abound (especially the villain), the black panther is the only funny character in the cast. Filmed before as ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM.

King Arthur (2004, USA) C-140m. Scope ** D: Antoine Fuqua. Starring Clive Owen, Ioan Gruffud, Mads Mikkelsen, Joel Edgerton, Hugh Dancy, Ray Winstone, Ray Stevenson, Keira Knightley, Stephen Dillane, Stellan Skarsgard, Til Schweiger. Blockbuster bringing a new interpretation of the Arthurian legend. Arthur was in fact a warrior from Eastern Europe, fighting as a slave for the Romans in Britannia. Here, he must battle evil Saxons Skarsgard and Schweiger and rescue a Roman family from these barbarians. Slickly produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, but despite being competently made, film seems phony. The plot never catches fire, remains strangely uninvolving. Knightley is one fierce chick, though. Score by Hans Zimmer. Released theatrically at 126m.

Kingdom of Heaven (2005, GBR/USA/SPA/GER) C-145m. Scope **½ D: Ridley Scott. Starring Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Irons, Ghassan Massoud, Eva Green, Brendan Gleeson, Liam Neeson, Edward Norton, Marton Csokas, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, David Thewlis. Director Scott retreads the GLADIATOR (2000) paths with this epic-scale historical action drama set in the 12th century about blacksmith Bloom, who is reunited with his father Neeson just after his child has died and his wife has committed suicide. Bloom decides to join his father in the crusades and ends up defending Jerusalem against the Muslims. Stylishly photographed and directed, with some astounding action sequences, but plot should have been more compelling, despite Bloom’s convincing performance. Scott also coproduced. Director’s Cut runs more than 3 hours.

Kingdom of the Spiders (1977, USA) C-94m. Scope *** D: John ‘Bud’ Cardos. Starring William Shatner, Tiffany Bolling, Woody Strode, Lieux Dressler, Altovise Davis. Solid ecological horror thriller about veterinarian Shatner, who joins forces with scientist Bolling to wipe out spider plague in Arizona, where the nasty tarantulas have started to attack Strode’s cattle herd. Not for the hardcore horror freak, this PG-rated chiller is more creepy than scary and quite predictable, but well-photographed and interesting, especially when compared to George Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. A big plus for that ending. Steve Zaillian was among the editors.

King Kong (1976, USA) C-134m. Scope ** D: John Guillermin. Starring Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, Jessica Lange, John Rudolph, Rene Auberjonois, Julius Harris, Jack O’Halloran, John Agar, Rick Baker, Corbin Bernsen. Ludicrous remake of the 1933 classic has a notably lackluster plot: An expedition goes to an uncharted island hoping to find oil – instead they find the title creature, a giant gorilla, who’s worshipped by the local tribe. Lange, in her film debut, plays the maiden that is sacrificed to the monster. Big-scale production (by Dino De Laurentiis) has only the Oscar-winning effects (by Rick Baker) and John Barry’s score to recommend it. Grodin’s performance is simply annoying. Kids may find this diverting. 45 minutes of footage added for cable TV showings. Followed by a sequel in 1986.

King Kong (2005, NZL/USA) C-187m. Scope ***½ D: Peter Jackson. Starring Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Andy Serkis, Evan Parke, Jamie Bell, Peter Jackson, Frank Darabont, Howard Shore, Rick Baker. Superbly made fantasy horror drama, a worthy remake of the 1933 monster movie classic. Down-on-her-luck actress Watts agrees to join seedy movie director Black to film an adventure movie overseas, not knowing that he is running away with money from his producers. Scriptwriter Brody is equally fooled. They all end up on mysterious island harboring creatures that time has forgotten, and Watts becomes the victim of a tribe who make regular sacrifices to a giant ape. Staggering tour-de-force from the maker of the LORD OF THE RINGS movies, breathtaking action and special effects as well as carefully plotted drama make this a winner all the way. There’s real movie magic at work here. Excellent score by James Newton Howard. Director Jackson also coscripted and coproduced. Winner of 3 Oscars for Best Sound, Sound Editing and Visual Effects.

King Lear (1970, GBR/DAN) 137m. **** D: Peter Brook. Starring Paul Scofield, Irene Worth, Jack MacGowran, Alan Webb, Cyril Cusack, Patrick Magee. Excellent adaptation of William Shakespeare’s most brooding, most fatalistic (and most fascinating) tragedy. Scofield excels as dignified but ultimately foolish King, who bans his youngest daughter and lays the fate of his realm into the hands of her two elder sisters. Soon he has to realize upon the irreverence they display that his days as an authority are over. A parallel plot concerns the Earl of Gloucester (no less impressive: Jack MacGowran), who like Lear banishes the wrong child and has to suffer for it. Like in MARAT/SADE, Brook’s direction is very immediate, the actors almost seem to address the audience with their speeches. Earthy performances by the supporting characters add to the already fascinating approach to the play. Brook omitted several passages and rearranged some scenes, but his work must still be seen as one of the best film adaptations of a Shakespeare text. Filmed in Denmark.

King of Comedy, The (1983, USA) C-109m. ***½ D: Martin Scorsese. Starring Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, Diahnne Abbott, Sandra Bernhard, Shelley Hack, Ed Herlihy, Victor Borge, Tony Randall, Martin Scorsese, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Rupert Pupkin (De Niro) is a dreamer, a loser, setting all his hopes and dreams towards meeting his favorite star, TV talkshow host Jerry Langdon (Lewis) and persuading him to let him perform in one of his shows. When Langdon does not respond to his wishes, Pupkin teams up with neurotic Bernhard, herself a fan, to force the showmaster to acknowledge them. Intelligently handled psycho drama is incredibly bitter and realistic, kudos to a bravura performance by De Niro and Paul D. Zimmerman’s thoughtful script. Another quiet, absorbing film from master director Scorsese.

King of the Ants (2003, USA) C-102m. ** D: Stuart Gordon. Starring Chris McKenna, Kari Wuhrer, Daniel Baldwin, George Wendt, Timm Sharp, Ron Livingston, Vernon Wells. Aimless youth McKenna takes up surveillance job, gets himself in deeper than he should by agreeing to kill the guy he’s been observing. Then nobody wants anything to do with him, let alone pay him the money they promised. When he insists and refuses to give them the files they need, they subject him to torture and almost kill him. Almost. Strangely low-key crime drama with horror touches becomes a DAY OF THE WOMAN for the slacker generation. Kudos to director Gordon for trying to make this thoughtful, but Charles Higson’s adaptation of his own novel seems contrived and ultimately pointless.

Kingu Kongu Tai Gojira (1962, JAP/USA) C-82m. Scope *** D: Ishirô Honda. Starring Tadao Takashima, Kenji Sahara, Yu Fujiki, Ichirô Arishima, Jun Tazaki. After two GOJIRA / GODZILLA movies of the 1950s, this was the first color movie about the monster. Here, it escapes from inside an iceberg to wreak havoc on Japan and must battle King Kong along the way (with special permission from RKO!), who has been abducted by Japanese businessmen from his Pacific island! Engaging pulp fiction, with rousing fights between the monsters, especially during the finale. Edited from original 98m. version. Followed by MOSURA TAI GOJIRA (GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA) in 1964. English title: KING KONG VS. GODZILLA.

Kiss Daddy Goodbye (1981, USA) C-89m. *½ D: Patrick Regan. Starring Fabian Forte, Marilyn Burns, Jon Cedar, Marvin Miller, Nell Regan, Patrick Regan III. Two children with psychic powers must witness the killing of their single-parent father by the hands of a motorcycle gang. When they resurrect him, he goes on a rampage as a zombie. Starts interestng but turns out to be slow-moving and very unconvincing, especially the scenes involving the children (director Regan’s own offspring). Burns, of T.C.M. fame, remains unscathed. Also known as CAUTION, CHILDREN AT PLAY, REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIE, VENGEFUL DEAD.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005, USA) C-102m. Scope ** D: Shane Black. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan, Corbin Bernsen, Dash Mihok, Larry Miller. Off-the-wall thriller comedy that provides countless twists instead of a coherent plot. Thief Downey Jr. comes to L.A. and gets mixed up with bisexual private eye Kilmer, who’s working for rich guy Bernsen. Then there’s dead bodies everywhere. Supposed to be an homage to (or spoof of) 40s noir mysteries, but plot is paper-thin and often annoying. Some funny dialogues make this mildly entertaining. First-time director Black wrote the original LETHAL WEAPON (1987).

Kiss of Death (1995, USA) C-101m. **½ D: Barbet Schroeder. Starring David Caruso, Nicholas Cage, Samuel L. Jackson, Helen Hunt, Kathryn Erbe, Stanley Tucci, Michael Rapaport, Ving Rhames, Philip Baker Hall. Caruso plays an ex-crook turned family father, who has sworn to lead a straight life. One night he is asked by a friend (Rapaport) to help him out in stealing some trucks, and when he does - naturally he is caught. In prison he prepares for revenge. Well-cast thriller paints a credible picture of the underworld, but its pace slackens after an hour and never recovers. Still worth a look. Caruso is not very convincing in his first starring role. A remake of a 1947 film by Henry Hathaway. Photographed by Luciano Tovoli.

Kiss or Kill (1997, AUS) C-96m. *** D: Bill Bennett. Starring Matt Day, Frances O’Connor, Chris Heywood, Barry Otto, Andrew S. Gilbert, Barry Langrishe, Max Cullen. Lovers Day and O’Connor have specialized on robbing married men after seducing the them and putting some sleeping pills into their drinks. When their latest victim dies accidentally, their left with a lot of troubles and have to take it on the lam. The events are spiced up when they find a pornographical video in teh dead man’s suitcase, which proves that a former football star is a child molester. Thriller is off to a slow start due to conventional plotting, but picks up in the last third, which throws up some intriguing questions about the characters. An impressive, if flawed debut for writer-director-coproducer Bennett. The unconventional editing makes excessive use of the jump-cut technique.

Kiss the Girls (1997, USA) C-116m. Scope **½ D: Gary Fleder. Starring Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Cary Elwes, Tony Goldwyn, Bill Nunn, Jeremy Piven, Roma Maffia, Jay O. Sanders. Conventional but well-made thriller about police psychologist Freeman, who is on the trail of a brutal serial killer. He is spurred on in his search when the man abducts his niece. Above-average direction, good acting by the two leads, but ordinary story line won’t make you overlook occasional lapses in logic. Based on James Patterson’s bestselling novel.

Klansman, The (1974, USA) C-112m. Scope **½ D: Terence Young. Starring Lee Marvin, Richard Burton, Cameron Mitchell, O.J. Simpson, Lola Falana, David Huddleston, Linda Evans. Southern melodrama, solidly filmed by Bond director Young, about righteous sheriff Marvin and his difficult position trying to mediate between affiliates of Ku-Klux-Klan and eremite Burton, who helps black people on his farm. Racial tension is what this rather trashy film depicts, but comments are often pretentious. Marvin singlehandedly elevates this drama with a towering performance. B-movie veteran Mitchell makes a detestable villain. Cowritten by Samuel Fuller (who was also scheduled to direct), from a novel by William Bradford Huie. Alternative titles: KKK, THE BURNING CROSS.

Klute (1971, USA) C-114m. Scope ***½ D: Alan J. Pakula. Starring Donald Sutherland, Jane Fonda, Charles Cioffi, Roy Scheider, Dorothy Tristan, Rita Gam, Jean Stapleton. Fascinating, intelligent psychological thriller drama about private eye Sutherland, who goes in search of lost businessman and meets callgirl Fonda, who may have known him. A superbly acted, absorbing thriller, sensitively handled by producer-director Pakula. Fonda won an Oscar for her brilliant performance. Excellent score by Michael Small, stylish cinematography by Gordon Willis.

KM 31: Kilometro 31 (2006, MEX/SPA) C-103m. SCOPE **½ D: Rigoberto Castaneda. Starring Iliana Fox, Adrià Collado, Raúl Méndez, Luisa Huertas, Fernando Becerril, Mikel Mateos. Mexican-Spanish horror film about twins (both played by Fox), who are ‘separated’ when one of them falls into a coma after a road accident at ill-fated kilometer 31. Her sister investigates along with two friends, and they find out there may be a curse behind it. Darkly atmospheric chiller takes its cue from movies like JU-ON or other Spanish efforts of late and delivers some great shocks in unrelentingly eerie settings, but plot itself is rather weak. Still, worth watching for horror fans. Written by the director.

Knack, and How To Get It, The (1965, GBR) 85m. ***½ D: Richard Lester. Starring Rita Tushingham, Ray Brooks, Michael Crawford, Donal Donnelly. Outstanding comedy focusing on the lives of several twens in London. One is a lady-killer, the other is trying hard to get the ‘knack’, with newcomer Tushingham spicing things up. Witty, imaginative film is full of brilliant ideas, and Crawford gives a sensational performance as the shy Colin. Fine score by John Barry is a further plus.

Knights of the Round Table (1953, USA) C-115m. Scope **½ D: Richard Thorpe. Starring Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer, Anne Crawford, Stanley Baker, Laurence Harvey, Desmond Llewelyn. In the Middle Ages, the title characters gather to bring Arthur to the throne but meet fierce resistance in evil Modred. Well-known chivalry epic has too many dialogue sequences and a direction that does not really know what to make of new CinemaScope process. In fact, this was the first film the MGM studios made in widescreen (2.55:1). The flat IVANHOE (1952), also photographed by Freddie Young, was better.

Knight’s Tale, A (2001, USA) C-132m. Scope D: Brian Helgeland. Starring Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Shannyn Sossamon, Paul Bettany, Laura Fraser. Just what the title says: Ledger plays a hayseed who pretends to be a knight (in the Middle Ages), finds help in Bettany, who fakes his family history… and off they go to the next tournament, where there’s action and romance waiting for the neo-knight (and the viewer). Starts at a medieval tournament, with the crowd clapping their hands in the rhythm of Queen’s hit song ‘We Will Rock You’. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Director Helgeland keeps writing crap.

Knocked Up (2007, USA) C-133m. **½ D: Judd Apatow. Starring Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Joanna Kerns, Harold Ramis, cameos by Jessica Alba, Steve Carell, Andy Dick, James Franco, Eva Mednes (as themselves). Heigl works for television and is moving up on the career ladder, when an unfortunate(?) one-night-stand with slacker Rogen makes her pregnant. She tries to make the best of the situation and keep the child, even if Rogen has no outlook at all. Some laugh-out-loud scenes and bitter truths about relationships, but overlength takes some of the movie’s edge away. From the director of THE 40-YEAR OLD VIRGIN (2005).

Knowing (2009, USA/GBR) C-121m. SCOPE *** D: Alex Proyas. Starring Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rosy Byrne, Lara Robinson, D.G. Maloney, Nadia Townsend, Ben Mendelsohn. In 1959 an elementary school class buries a time capsule with drawings inside. One odd girl has scribbled numbers all over her paper. Fifty years later astro phycisist Cage’s son gets this drawing, and the numbers turn out to identify every major disaster of the past fifty years... leading to a chilling prophecy that goes beyond the present day. Suspenseful, creepy, highly atmospheric mystery thriller from the director of THE CROW (1994) and DARK CITY (1998) doesn’t completely do without Hollywood contrivances, but remains riveting all the way. Excellent score by Marco Beltrami. Proyas also produced.

Knuckle Draggers (2009, USA) C-89m. *** D: Alex Ranarivelo. Starring Ross McCall, Paul J. Alessi, Amie Barsky, Omar Gooding, Danielle Nicolet, Jennifer Alden. Refreshing indie movie offers a look at thirty-ish director McCall, whose girlfriend leaves him because of lack of success. His brother then takes up the task of introducing him into being the way women want him to be, though it seems everybody in his circle of friends is having problems of their own. Romantic comedy drama marks director Ranarivelo’s feature debut, for which he creates a believable universe of characters, though some performances and situations are still slightly pretentious. All in all a telling slice-of-life, well worth-watching. Good score includes a song by McCann’s ex-fiancee Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Kôfuku No Kane (2002, JAP) C-87m. ** D: Sabu (=Hiroyuki Tanaka). Starring Susumu Terajima, Naomi Nishida, Itsuji Itao, Ryoko Shinohara, Seijun Suzuki. Another grotesque comedy drama from writer-director Sabu about middle-aged Terajima, who wanders through the city, completely alienated from his surroundings. He becomes witness to a suicide, is arrested, set free again, meets all kinds of desparate characters, but cannot interact with any. A comment on modern urban culture perhaps, this movie is awfully slow, and deliberately so. Sabu devotees should give this a look, others will be put off by long sequences, where nothing at all happens. English title: BLESSING BELL.

Kôkaku Kidôtai (1995, JAP/GBR) C-82m. **½ D: Mamoru Oshii. Starring Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Otsuka, Tamio Oki, Iemasa Kayumi. One of the best-known anime of the 1990s is a BLADE RUNNER-like thriller set in the future, where a female cyborg and her partner must hunt down a terrorist called the Puppet Master. Nicely atmospheric, well-animated manga adaptation with a second-rate plot. The impressive action animation is undermined by static dialogue scenes, where only the mouths move. Still, has a cult following. Followed by a TV series, a 2004 sequel (the Ghibli-produced INOSENSU: KOKAKU KIDOTAI aka GHOST IN THE SHELL 2) and a 2006 spin-off. International title: GHOST IN THE SHELL.

Koma (2004, HGK) C-88m. **½ D: Lo (Law) Chi-Leung. Starring Lee Sinje (=Angelica Lee), Karena Lam (=Kar Yan Lam), Andy Hui. Stylish thriller about a young woman (Lee) with kidney problems, who seems to be stalked by a killer that removes women’s kidneys. That stalker may be troubled Law, who turns out to have an affair with Lee’s lover, doctor Hui. Well-made, well-acted, but takes a few unlikely twists and turns and relationships between the characters are not very credible. The elaborate score is so over-bearing at times, it seems pretentious, because it tries to make the scenes appear more suspenseful than they actually are. Still, this uneven thriller-drama combination is worth a look for fans. Cantonese title: JIU MING.

Kommissar X – Jagd auf Unbekannt (1966, GER/ITA/YUG) C-84m. Scope **½ D: Frank Kramer (=Gianfranco Parolini). Starring Tony Kendall, Brad Harris, Maria Perschy, Christa Linder, Nikola Popovic. Kendall is a suave private detective, who has all the qualities of James Bond. He is hired to find an abducted scientist, realizes that it’s villain Popovic, who is planning evil things on an island. Sometimes enjoyable, sometimes dull, this Bond imitation suffers from low production values but remains a nice view for adepts. Kendall is a fine Connery substitute. Based on a novel by Paul Alfred Müller (writing as Bert F. Island). Followed by six sequels. English title: KISS KISS, KILL, KILL.

Kommissar X – Drei Gelbe Katzen (1966, GER/ITA/...)

Kommissar X – In den Klauen des Goldenen Drachen (1966, GER/ITA/AUT/YUG/SGP) C-80m. ScopeD: Frank Kramer (=Gianfranco Parolini). Starring Tony Kendall, Brad Harris, Barbara Frey, Luisa Rivelli, E.F. Fürbringer, Gisela Hahn, Nikola Popovic, Frank Littlewood (=Gianfranco Parolini). Third entry in the spy series has Kendall and Harris travelling to the Far East (Singapore), where a physics professor has an assignment for them. Hardly any plot and action in this low-budget bore. English titles: AGENT JOE WALKER: OPERATION FAR EAST, and SO DARLING, SO DEADLY.

Kommissar X – Drei Grüne Hunde (1967, GER/ITA/FRA/LEB/HUN) C-92m. Scope D: Rudolf Zehetgruber, Gianfranco Parolini. Starring Tony Kendall, Brad Harris, Olga Schoberová, Christa Linder, Dietmar Schönherr, Herbert Fux, Rudolf Zehetgruber, Samson Burke, Sal Borgese. One of the weakest KOMMISSAR X movies, this one sends Harris and Kendall to Istanbul, where criminals intend to flood the world with LSD. Plot is without appeal whatsoever, only some motorcycle chases, Turkish settings are of note. English title: DEATH TRIP.

Kommissar X – Drei Blaue Panther (1968, GER/ITA) C-83m. Scope ** D: Frank Kramer (=Gianfranco Parolini). Starring Tony Kendall, Brad Harris, Corny Collins, Hannelore Auer, Siegfried Rauch, Erika Blanc, Franco Fantasia, Gianfranco Parolini. Fifth Joe Walker installment starts nicely, with Kendall and Harris chasing criminal Fantasia during the 1967 EXPO in Calgary, but film pretty much falls apart after that. Still, not bad, one of the better films of the series. Followed by two more KOMMISSAR X movies. Italian title: GANGSTERS PER UN MASSACRO.

Kommissar X – Drei Goldene Schlangen (1969, GER/ITA/THA/USA) C-88m. ScopeD: Roberto Mauri. Starring Tony Kendall, Brad Harris, Monica Pardo, Loni Heuser, Hansi Linder, Herbert Fux. Walker and Rowland meet in Bangkok, Thailand, where a young American tourist was abducted. On their search, they encounter a secret cult that deals with drugs. Typically clichéd, typically cheap spy adventure with a tendency towards exploitation. Score by Francesco de Masi is not bad, but film lacks any suspense whatsoever. English titles: ISLAND OF LOST GIRLS, THREE GOLDEN SERPENTS.

Kommissar X Jagt die Roten Tiger (1971, GER/ITA/PAK) C-93m. *½ D: Harald Reinl. Starring Tony Kendall, Brad Harris, Gisela Hahn, Mohd Ali, Zeba, E.F. Fürbringer, Rainer Basedow. Last entry in the generally weak spy/crime series brings the boys to Pakistan, where the drug business has been flourishing (again). The same old tired nonsense. The only remarkable thing is how the hairdos and clothes changed since the last installment.

Konga (1961, GBR) C-90m. **½ D: John Lemont. Starring Michael Gough, Margo Johns, Jess Conrad, Claire Gordon. Scientist Gough returns from Uganda, Africa, with some new ideas how to mutate plants and animals and uses this method on his little chimp, who turns into a gorilla(!). He forces the ape to dispose of any rivals to his fantastic ideas. Gough’s delicious, completely convincing performance buoys this uneven monster horror. Starts flat, then improves in the second half. Worth a look for aficionados. Photographed by Desmond Dickinson.

Kon Raruek Chat (2005, THA) C-75m. *½ D: Mona Nahm. Starring Andrew Gregson, Piyada Akaraseni. Weak supernatural thriller about young entrepreneur Gregson, who is saved from drowning by Akaraseni, who falls into a coma as a consequence. He finds himself strangely contacted by her through suicidal people. Obviously he must do some good to save her life. Interesting underlying philosophy is a bit confusing, but as a movie this sucks anyway. Gregson is dull, and the direction only so-so in this low-budget film. Story by Oxide Pang Chun, who also coproduced. English title: THE REMAKER.

Kontroll (2003, HUN) C-110m. *** D: Nimród Antal. Starring Sándor Csányi, Zoltán Mucsi, Csaba Pindroch, Sándor Badár, Zsolt Nagy, Eszter Balla, Gábor Herendi. Original black comedy drama from Hungary about a group of ticket controllers in the subway system of Budapest, whose job is crippling them physically and mentally. Main character is Csányi, who spends his entire life underground. Now, mysterious suicides begin disquieting the passengers and authorities. Somewhat aimless, underdeveloped, but peopled with likable, funny characters, a nice debut feature for director Antal. Also known as CONTROL.

Kôrei (2000, JAP) C-97m. ** D: Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Starring Kôji Yakusho, Jun Fubuki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Hikari Ishida, Kitarou. Sound recordist Yakusho and his wife Fubuki, a troubled medium, get mixed up in a kidnapping case, which they want to use to their advantage. Story set-up is too long and despite some eerie scenes involving hautings, film ends up being much too conventional. Even the trademark chills seem constructed. A slight disappointment from the director of CURE/KYUA (1997). Based on a novel by Mark McShane, which was also the basis for the British classic SÉANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON (1964). Made for television. Also known as SÉANCE.

Koritsi Vomva, To (1976, GRE) C-81m. ** D: Nico Mastorakis. Starring Jessica Dublin, Maria Aliferi, Peter Winter, Christos Nomikos. Greek curio about two scam artists, who get involved in a hunt for two ladies with a special gift: they can use their eyes to kill (among other things). Quite stupid but somehow engaging mixture of spy, action, sex and fantasy elements. A silly movie for rabid trash fans. English titles: DEATH HAS BLUE EYES, THE PARA PSYCHICS.

Koroshiya 1 (2001, JAP/HGK/KOR) C-112m. ** D: Takashi Miike. Starring Tadanobu Asano, Nao Omori, Shinya Tsukamoto, Alien Sun (=Paulyn Sun), Susumu Terajima, Jun Kunimura, Sabu (=Hiroyuki Tanaka). Perhaps director Miike’s most infamous film is a grotesque action horror film about a yakuza group whose boss vanishes one day. Scar-faced deputy Asano employs unusual, ultra-violent methods to find out where he went (with yakuza money). We, the audience, know that responsible for the disappearance is Ichi, a kind-of nerdish, neurotic superhero with an insatiable bloodlust. Meant to be satirical, with over-the-top digital and traditional special effects, but this sado-masochistic fantasy comes across as cynical and doesn’t really have a point, let alone entertainment value (unless you are a gorehound). Uncut print is even more violent and runs 129m. English title: ICHI, THE KILLER. Followed by a video prequel in 2003.

Koyaanisqatsi (1983, USA) C-89m. **** D: Godfrey Reggio. Completely unconventional, absolutely spellbinding film, a documentary without narrative that captures beautiful pictures of nature (most of it in slow-motion), juxtaposing it with time-lapse clips of our lives and civilization. At times dizzying, this collage inquires into the nature of mankind and accuses it of taking too little heed of the really important issues of life. Brilliant score by Philip Glass makes this an experience you are not likely to forget. Film relies a great deal on the ability of the audience to elaborate its meaning. The hypnotic images probably carry an even bigger impact in movie theaters. A must-see, if only to lean back and think about your life. ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ is Hopi-Indian for ‘Life in Decay’, or ‘Life out of Balance’. Presented by Francis Ford Coppola. Allen Ginsberg and Roger Spottiswoode are among those who receive special thanks in the closing credits. First part of an unfinished trilogy, followed by POWAQQATSI in 1988.

Kronos (1973, GBR) C-91m. **½ D: Brian Clemens. Starring Horst Janson, John Carson, Ian Hendry, Caroline Munro, Shane Briant, Wanda Ventham. Strange Hammer production about a sword-wielding vampire hunter (Janson), who is called to eradicate vampire plague somewhere in British countryside. Unfocused plot takes away much of film’s effect, atmosphere, occasional eerieness are its assets. Interesting, to say the least, and regarded to be a Hammer classic by some. This was writer-director Clemens’ only directorial effort, and it shows. Also known as CAPTAIN KRONOS, VAMPIRE HUNTER and VAMPIRE CASTLE.

Kronvittnet (1989, SWE) C-107m. ** D: Jon Lindström. Starring Marika Lagercrantz, Per Mattson, Gösta Ekman, Emma Norbeck. Murder mystery about biochemist Mattson and his secret affair with a mysterious woman, who disappears and leaves him unable to explain that he didn’t kill her. His frustrated wife starts investigating in order to prevent him from being convicted. Potentially intriguing premise falls flat due to sluggish pace which barely keeps the viewer interested. Based on the novel De Kroongetuige by Maarten Hart, who made many classic mistakes in transferring the work to the screen.

Kumo no Hitomi (1998, JAP) C-84m. *½ D: Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Starring Sho Aikawa, Dankan, Ren Osugi, Shun Sugata, Susumu Terashima. Crime/revenge drama about a businessman-turned-hitman Aikawa, who avenges the murder of his daughter after six years. Then (or before?) he gets involved with a crime syndicate and starts killing people for them. Depressing examination of a life thrown out of balance, slowly paced and not at all interesting. Kurosawa made this right after his cult hit CURE (KYUA), back to back with HEBI NO MICHI (THE SERPENT’S PATH). English title: EYES OF THE SPIDER.

Kumonosu Jo (1957, JPN) 109m. ***½ D: Akira Kurosawa. Starring Toshiro Mifune, Isuzu Yamada, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki. Impressive, atmospheric adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, cowritten and coproduced by director Kurosawa. Mifune plays the main character with frightening intensity, Yamada is his pale, scheming wife, who drives him to murder in order to gain the throne. Beautiful scenes in the cobweb forest, where Mifune receives two predictions by a witch, memorable finale. Close to the source, a must for the educated cineaste. Also known as THRONE OF BLOOD.

Kumo no Yôni, Kaze no Yôni (1989, JAP) C-79m. **½ D: Hisayuki Toriumi. Starring (the voices of) Ryoko Sano, Junko Takahata, Ikuko Tani, Yôko Asagami, Yô Inoue. Historical anime about a country girl, who is chosen to become one of the new emperor’s concubines and finds the transition from country life to life in the palace really difficult. First, she has to endure six months of training and is rivalled by many beautiful girls. Not bad, quite well-animated Ghibli-style (some of their animators and designer worked on this), but plot lacks momentum and drama. Based on a novel by Ken’ichi Sakemi. English title: LIKE THE CLOUDS, LIKE THE WIND.

Kung Fu-Killer (1972, HGK) C-97m. D: Cheng Chang-Ho. Starring Chen Hsing, Tuty Kirana, Shin Il-Lung. Seemingly endless Kung Fu film about young fighter Hsing who has sworn to avenge the death of his father. He is after a druglord. Settings (Bali, Singapore, Hong Kong) and score (by Joseph Koo) save this uneventful film from the scrapheap. Produced by Raymond Chow. Title is the German video title.

Kung Fu On Sale (1979, TIW) C-90m. Scope **½ D: Su Jen-Ping. Starring Cheng Fu Hung, Chiu Tsang, Fung Seung. Entertaining Kung Fu comedy about an unemployed young man who keeps being pushed around by everybody. He joins a group of clochards, trying to earn some money by letting people hit him(!). Then he meets an old man who teaches him the art of Kung Fu. One of the films made in the wake of the success of DRUNKEN MASTER (1978). Eastern with interesting characters does not offer enough action.

Kung Fu Panda (2008, USA) C-92m. Scope **½ D: Mark Osborne, John Stevenson. Starring (the voices of) Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Randall Duk Kim, James Hong, Dan Fogler, Michael Clarke Duncan, Wayne Knight, Kyle Gass. In China, an ordinary panda bear (Black) with a penchant for martial arts becomes the famed dragon warrior and must defend the village against an escaped bad guy. Can he learn the art of kung fu in time – or even at all? Mild comedy with tons of clichés, only the action sequences stand out.

Kunyonga – Mord in Afrika (1986, GER/KNY) C-90m. ** D: Hubert Frank. Starring Ron Williams, Julia Kent, Christoph Eichhorn, Andràs Fricsay, Paul Breitner, Werner Kreindl. Quite obnoxious comedy about down-on-his-luck reporter Williams, who travels to Kenya, Africa, to investigate a kidnapping. Low-brow humor, lackluster plot, this action comedy hits its stride too late. Relatively competent direction saves it. Also known as BLACKBUSTER, and MURDER IN AFRICA.

Kuro no Tenshi Vol.1 (1997, JAP) C-107m. **½ D: Takashi Ishii. Starring Riona Hazuki, Reiko Takashima, Jinpachi Nezu, Kippei Shiina, Miyuki Ono. Stylish and violent action thriller about a six-year-old girl whose (Yakuza) parents are killed before her very eyes. She is saved by a hitwoman who calls herself the Black Angel. After 14 years in Los Angeles, she returns to Japan to seek revenge on her parents’ killers, also calling herself the Black Angel. Visually arresting movie that loses some of its momentum and impact in drawn-out finale. A major inspiration on Quentin Tarantino’s KILL BILL films. Written and coproduced by director Ishii. English title: THE BLACK ANGEL. Followed by VOL.2 in 1999.

Kyuketsuki Gokemidoro (1968, JAP) C-84m. SCOPE *** D: Hajime Sato. Starring Teruo Yoshida, Tomomi Sato, Eizo Kitamura, Hideo Ko, Kathy Horan. Outrageous science-fiction horror movie, the stuff cult movies are made of: The crew onboard a continental flight in Japan is in shock when they learn of a possible bomb on board, then the plane is attacked by suicidal birds and crashes when a UFO-like object almost hits them. At the mountainous crash-site an alien organism soon starts preying on the surviving passengers. Plays like a psychedelic Star Trek-episode for adults, colorful, trashy, a lot of fun, a must for cult movie fans. Contains an incredible array of themes: disaster, vampirism, sci-fi, war, greed, lust, apocalypse, everything you always wanted to see combined in one movie. Melodramatic score by Shunsuke Kikuchi. Alternative titles: BODYSNATCHER FROM HELL, GOKE THE VAMPIRE, VAMPIRE GOKEMIDORO.