Monday, 9 December 2013

Asian Christmas Films

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!

A popular question I often see on message boards and forums is "Are there any Asian Christmas films?". Well there are... Some. Not a lot that I have found, but I have found some over the years. Here are my favourites.


聖誕快樂
Merry Christmas (1984) (Hong Kong)
Genre: Comedy
Director: Clifton Ko Chi-Sum
Writers: Clifton Ko Chi-Sum, Raymond Fung Sai-Hung
Producer: Nansun Shi Nan-Sheng
Cast: Karl Maka, Paula Tsui Siu-Fung, Danny Chan Bak-Keung, Rachel Lee Lai-Chun, Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing and Cyrus Wong Ka-Ming


This is arguably my favourite Asian Christmas Film. It's just so damn entertaining. It's a light hearted comedy that you can't help but laugh at. The jokes are so simple and visual that they translate to any language, and I'm actually quite shocked it never made a bigger impact in other countries.

The film is about a family, the dad Baldy(Karl Maka) and his 3 children. Baldy lost his wife years ago but has fallen for literally the girl next door Paula(Paula Tsui). His children see this as a chance to fix his dads happiness by setting them up. The oldest son Danny(Danny Chan) offers him plenty of advice to help him get the girl, even while he is having his own girl troubles with a young lady who is smitten with him going by the nickname Jaws. His daughter Jane(Rachel Lee/Loletta Lee) has met a guy John(Played by the late great Leslie Cheung) who wants to take her out but after a hilarious meeting earlier between John and her father, Baldy really doesn't approve of his daughters new love interest. And just to mix it all up, there is also a hell-raising baby called Baldy Junior(Cyrus Wong) who Paula often babysits. Now with Paula thinking of immigrating and with another man fighting for her affection, Baldy and his family must act quickly to try and win his true love.

This is a great comedy filled with many jokes which everyone will laugh at, no matter your age. It's also got some seriously good pranks, the scene with Baldy and his family trying to make Paula's other love interest look like a pervert and get photographic evidence is comedy gold!

Baldy and Baldy Junior with their 1980s 3D specs!

But the star of the show is the baby, Baldy Junior. I can't believe how good this kid is when he is only 2. His facial expressions and movements are hilarious, I'll never know how they managed to get him to do some of they scenes. You'll never believe he is only 2 years old.

My favourite film on the list! But ironically, it's possibly the least Christmassy of the films. It does feature Christmas music, Trees, festive knitwear. But it seems to just blow past Christmas and go up to New Year. With that being said, this is a classic, and will put a smile on your face from ear to ear.

8.5/10






해피 에로 크리스마스
Happy Ero Christmas (2003)(South Korea)
Genre: Comedy
Director: Lee Geon-dong
Producer: Kim Seung-beom
Cast: Cha Tae-hyun, Kim Sun-a, Park Yeong-gyu Hong Kyung-in


Happy Ero Christmas is somewhat of a bizarre Christmas Movie, but then the name probably gives that away?

A village patrolman Byung-ki(Cha Tae-hyun) spends his day doing meaningless work such as dressing up as mascots and handing out leaflets. He meets a girl Min-kyong(Kim Sun-ah) who works at the local neighbourhood bowling alley. Byung-ki falls in love with her at first sight. But in a desperate attempt to woo her he ends up trying to fight off competition for her affection from the local gang boss Sang-doo.

If this was all the plot was, the film might flow much better. But there are also extra characters and sub-plots added to the film which seem unnecessary. One being the bowling alley attendant's friend who is desperate to win a beauty pageant. Another being 2 teenage boys who are desperate to get girls. And I can't fail to mention the film crew who are attempting to make a Christmas themed porno film titled Happy Sexmas. Ha!

Although, these sub-plots do offer a few good laughs, the Beauty Pageant contestant's trick with the egg, and the 2 Teenage boys talking about Fisherman easing their sexual frustration at Sea made me laugh out loud. As did Byung-Ki spying on a scene being filmed for the erotic Xmas film. But I think Happy Ero Christmas could have probably done without these scenes and would have been at a more appropriate length at 90 minutes rather than 110.

A lovely winter scene with Cha-Tae-Hyun and Kim Sun-ah

Even with those little problems, this is still a very fun film. The main love story and rival for Min-kyongs affection are told and acted very well. Cha Tae-Hyun plays his character brilliantly, although it is extremely similar to the character he played in My Sassy Girl... But hey, if it's not broke, don't fix it.

Happy Ero Christmas does offer the festive cheer and comes across as a Christmas flick. It also has some great comedy, and likeable characters. And it's pretty original, can you name another Christmas film that combines the holiday with adult film making? And it's also better than a lot of the Christmas Movies we get on TV.

7/10







7 gatsu 24 ka dori no Kurisumasu
7月24日通りのクリスマス
Christmas on July 24th Avenue(2006)(Japan)
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Director: Shosuke Murakami
Writer: Shuichi Yoshida (novel), Arisa Kaneko (screenplay)
Cast: Miki Nakatani, Takao Osawa, Ryuta Sato, Juri Ueno


If you don't know that July 24th Avenue is a place(I didn't) then this movie might have a very strange yet unique name. But it's a real place, in Lisbon. So I guess it's a clever pun on "Miracle on 34th Street" and 'It Happened on 5th Avenue"... Right?

Sayuri Honda(Miki Nakatani) stars as the loveable loser. She lives in her own imaginary world based on a Manga she read and fell in love with. She often pictures her town of Nagasaki as Lisbon, and desperately wants to stroll down July 24th Avenue. During Christmas, after an encounter with her only one true love Satoshi Okuda(Takao Osawa), she decides to chase the man on her dreams and try to get her Christmas miracle.

This is a great Christmas drama, although a little predictable and not as much comedy as I was promised. There is a few good laughs though! It is a great story of love and Christmas set over 2 stunning locations of Nagaski and Lisbon, which really help and fit with the romance in the film.

Sayuri is your typical geek in this film, and right away, as soon as you see her, you know she is actually hot. Those big glasses, and that bad hair cut doesn't really disguise that fact. You are eagerly sitting waiting for her to get her "makeover" when she tries to win the guy.

Miki Nakatani being ugly... I guess.
 
Miki and Takao do have really good on screen chemistry. And you are cheering them on and hoping they can work it all out. But, for me the character I felt for was Yoshio Moriyama(Played by Ryuta Sato). Yoshio is the good friend and (I think) 4th choice for her. But he was my favourite. He had my 2 favourite moments with his Merry Christmas line and the flick animation cartoon he drew in a book for Sayuri.

Plenty of Christmas cheer in this one with lots of good Christmas music and even a Christmas countdown, which was actually done very well and in original unique ways. It tended to be a weekly countdown which built up the big event, but also helps you keep track of how much time was passing by between scenes.

7.5/10





So there you have it. There is some Asian Christmas films to watch this year if you are tired of re-watching the same films each year.
If I've missed any good ones out then let me know, either leave a comment on this post or email me.
I will be doing a Christmas Anime post as well ;)

Take care. And Happy Holidays!


Here is Godzilla as a Christmas Tree.... Just because it's Japan

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Teaser Trailer for Kiki's Delivery Service Live Action



I came across the Japanese teaser trailer for the live action adaption of Kiki's Delivery Service. From what I have read, this is an adaption of the the children's novel by Eiko Kadono. I have never read the book, I have only seen the Studio Ghibli film, and I loved it. We will see how this turns out.

Synopsis
A young girl named Kiki (Fuka Koshiba) must leave her home for a year to begin training in witchcraft. She leaves on her broom, but first says goodbye to her friends and family. Kiki then begins her new life with her trusted cat Jiji.


Kiki's Delivery Service is due for release in Japan on March the 1st 2014.



Tokyo Fist - Review

"More power, anger, energy and truth than Raging Bull" - Empire Magazine.


Action/Drama/Thriller
Director: Shin'ya Tsukamoto
Writers: Hisashi Saito and Shin'ya Tsukamoto
Stars: Kaori Fujii, Shin'ya Tsukamoto, Kôji Tsukamoto

The last release the UK recieved of Tokyo Fist was a DVD version from Manga Entertainment in 2004. Third Window Films have upped their game again with this top notch release. Available in High Definition for the first time ever, this is a brand new restoration from the original negatives from none other than Shinya Tsukamoto himself! This release should not be missed.


Synopsis

Once again Tsukamoto steps out from behind the camera and stars as Tsuda, the archetypal Japanese salaryman, a cog in the machine seemingly cut off from his own being by hours and hours of work. He's married to polite and compliant Hizuru (Kaori Fujii), the dictionary definition of an ideal Japanese wife. Their life is happy, at least on the surface, at least until Tsuda's old friend, Kojima (played by Tsukamoto's own real life brother, Kôji) shows up on the scene. As a pro boxer Kojima's business is violence and even before the proverbial sand is kicked in Tsuda's face we can already sense the wonder and jealousy with which he views his brother's transformed body; but once Kojima seduces Hizuru, revealing that he just doesn't excel at physical violence, but mental and emotional brutality as well, does Tsuda get himself to the gym and into training so he can wreak his revenge with his fists.
I read many reviews before watching this comparing it to Rocky and Raging Bull. Boxing is a part of the story, and the Boxing matches and training are incredibly shot and stunning to watch. But Tokyo Fist is not a boxing film. It's a character study first and foremost. The study of the 3 main characters who are all extremely compelling in their own way. The protagonist Tsuda is easily identifiable to many viewers, a typical white-collar worker, working long hours in a job and getting stuck in a rut with his wife Hizuru. Tsuda is a sympathetic character and one you will find yourself rooting for.

Tsuda and Kojima throwing down!


Shinya Tsukamoto does a convincing job of Tsuda and shows that the risk can pay off when you step out from behind the camera and star in your own film. A really interesting point of this film is that he cast his real life brother to play his friend/rival in his film. His brother Koji definitely looks the part of a professional boxer, he has the right look and attributes. After watching an interview with Shinya(Which is an excellent special feature on this release) I discovered his brother was actually a Boxer and is now a Boxing trainer. Well played Shinya Tsukamoto, another risky move of hiring an amateur payed off.

A battered and bruised Tsuda and his wife

As a director, Shinya Tsukamoto is most famous for Tetsuo The Iron Man. If you haven't seen this, then you might be in for a shock with the style and shock value in Tokyo Fist. But if you enjoyed Tetsuo then there is plenty in Tokyo Fist for you to admire. Tsukamoto uses the same style of Industrial music soundtrack over incredible visuals, such as the fast past training scenes, repeatitive punches and of course his signature hyper violence. Slow motion gore and extreme close ups of cuts and bruises, and the blood spray is in full effect. There is also the returning theme of self piercing and body modification from the wife Hiruzu after she becomes more and more intrigued with Kojima's animalistic ways.

The Blu-Ray also comes with an all new interview with Tsukamoto were he discusses and explains parts of his film. He also talks about his other work such as Bullet Ballet and Tetsuo. There is also the original Japanese trailer, and the brand new UK trailer. As well as a music video with the Industrial Rock Band who produced the music for Tokyo Fist. The Blu-Ray comes with a cardboard sleeve, and the cover for the case is reversible with 2 stylized art sleeves. Neat touch!

8.5/10


I give this one a big thumbs up! Seek it out!
Available at Third Window Films and all good retailers.


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Japan Holiday Video


I travelled to Japan last year with 2 of my good friends. We went from Tokyo to Osaka to Hiroshima to Kyoto. It might not be about Asian films or Anime, but it's Japan, and we seen a lot relating to them both!

We seen many sights and sounds from the neon lights of Tokyo, to the Studio Ghibli museum, to Hello Kitty Land, to the temples and castles of Kyoto and Osaka, to the Atomic Bomb Memorial in Hiroshima.


I edited together all of our video footage into a highlight video. So check it out!


I will also add some photos of our journey which I think they readers will enjoy!



Enjoy, let me know what you think! And if you liked it, give it the thumbs up on facebook.

Arigato!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Eden of the East Music Video

This is my second anime music video. I used the brilliant anime Eden of the East.



Let me know what you think or give it a thumbs up on the youtube page! Thanks.

Eden of the East is available at Manga UK

Monday, 18 March 2013

Film4 showing every Studio Ghibli film over easter!



Film4 is one of those rare TV Channels that I still check every single night to see what they are showing. They still show some rare Asian cinema and Anime films which is a real treat on a non-subscription channel.

Taken from the Film4 website:

Tuesday 26th March - Saturday 13th April 2013
Witness the sorcery, discover the magic, embrace the adventure. Prepare to be spellbound by Film4's most complete Studio Ghibli Season yet, starting with the Oscar-winning Spirited Away...
Tune in throughout the Easter holidays for daily screenings of films ranging from Ponyo to Princess Mononoke, from My Neighbour Totoro to Howl's Moving Castle.


Here is a list and time slots

  • Tuesday March 26: 'Spirited Away', 6.35pm
  • Wednesday March 27: 'Princess Mononoke', 6.05pm
  • Thursday March 28: 'The Cat Returns', 11am
  • Thursday March 28: 'Porco Rosso', 4.35pm
  • Friday March 29: 'Kiki's Delivery Service', 4.45pm
  • Saturday March 30: 'My Neighbour Totoro', 5pm
  • Sunday March 31: 'Arrietty', 4.45pm
  • Monday April 1: 'Grave of the Fireflies', 1.35am
  • Monday April 1: 'Howl's Moving Castle', 4.35pm
  • Tuesday April 2: 'Pom Poko', 3pm
  • Wednesday April 3: 'Castle of Cagliostro', 2.45pm
  • Thursday April 4: 'Ocean Waves', 11am
  • Thursday April 4: 'Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind', 2.35pm
  • Friday April 5: 'Whisper of the Heart', 3.05pm
  • Saturday April 6: 'Spirited Away' (repeat), 4.35pm
  • Sunday April 7: 'The Cat Returns' (repeat), 5.15pm
  • Monday April 8: 'Only Yesterday', 2.20pm
  • Tuesday April 9: 'Tales from Earthsea', 2.40pm
  • Wednesday April 10: 'Princess Mononoke' (repeat), 2.55pm
  • Thursday April 11: 'The Little Norse Prince', 11am
  • Thursday April 11: 'Ponyo', 2.55pm
  • Friday April 12: 'Howl's Moving Castle' (repeat), 2.40pm
  • Saturday April 13: 'Laputa: Castle in the Sky', 2.20pm

No love for My Neighbours The Yamadas? Definitely worth checking out all of these, and it might even have some films that some Ghibli fans haven't seen such as Ocean Waves and Only Yesterday.



Saturday, 9 March 2013

Triad Review

Triad (2012)


Director: Daniel Yee Heng Chan

Writers: Chun Yu Kom, Si-Cheun Lee
Stars: Wai-Man Chan, Patrick Tam, Kwok Cheung Tsang, William Chan Wai-Ting, Michelle Wai
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese
Release Date: 15 November 2012 (Hong Kong)

IMDb = 4.3


Looking at the poster for Daniel Chan's new film Triad, you would assume it was a poster for the Young and Dangerous reboot. You would be wrong. However, Triad does borrow heavily from the original Young and Dangerous series. Even more weird, the director of Triad also directed the reboot Young and Dangerous Reloaded.


Triad takes place in the 90s during the hay day of the Hong Kong Triads. Set in the familiar busy neon streets of Hong Kong, the film follows 3 friends from the beginning of joining the Triads and following local boss Patrick(Patrick Tam). William(William Chan), an intelligent bookworm who has a bright future, decides to join the Triads which his 2 best friends Derek(Derek Tsang) and Edward(Edward Chui) are members of, and after the boss Patrick helps out his mother. Soon enough William is working his way up the ranks with his business smarts getting him respect and impressing the higher ups. One moneymaking scheme too far, and he ruins the activities of gang boss Ming (Lam Lei) and his wife Irene(Irene Wan). William also enters a dangerous feud with another up and comer Kin(Deep Ng). Now with trouble brewing between William and his Triad brothers, he must decide how far and how much he is willing to risk to succeed in the Triad world.

William Chan in his Chan Ho-nam type role

William Chan suits his role perfectly as a cool intelligent gangster, the changes he goes through in the film show him going from a timid young student to a high ranking swish gangster. One flaw in the film is the time period covered of 8 years or so is squeezed into a 90 minute film. This makes the story and character development seem a little rushed, and the film comes off a little flat. Sometimes there is just too much going on that you don't have time to digest or absorb what you have seen.

One major positive of Triad was the music! If you enjoyed the soundtrack of Young and Dangerous then you will love it. Largely inspired by Y&D, the songs have the similar sound which is now associated with HK Triad flicks. Some of the slower songs in the film sound like they could have been plucked right out of any of the Young and Dangerous films.

Triad is a very appropriate name for this film as it is very Triad'y. Daniel Chan tells an all too familiar story by basically combining elements from popular Triad flicks such as Election and As Tears Go By. I can't tell if it's a nod to these popular films or if he is cashing in on their success by giving people what they want. And Triad gives you what you want... If what you want is a generic Triad flick. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this film, it was fun. But it was nothing new. Nothing different or challenging. But, if like me, you enjoy any Hong Kong Triad film then you too will enjoy Daniel Chan's "Triad".

Check it out, it's worth a watch, but I do hope Daniel Chan's next film, Young and Dangerous Reloaded is better.

6.5/10

Available on DVD and Blu-Ray on Yesasia





Friday, 8 March 2013

Hentai Kamen trailer - A New Crazy Japanese Film




Every now and then an extremely crazy Japanese film becomes popular worldwide, such as Big Tits Zombie, Robo-geisha or Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl. Well, my bet is on HK Hentai Kamen to be the next one!

The trailer has hit the internet for 'Hentai Kamen', a new Japanese flick directed by Yuichi Fukuda about a Super Hero. Based on ""Kyukyoku!! Hentai Kamen" (Ultimate!! Pervert Mask)" a manga by Keishu Ando. The film follows a high school student who gains super powers by putting a pair of women's panties on his head and taking off his clothes. This transforms him into Hentai Kamen which he uses to fight crime!

Synopsis
Kyosuke Shikijo is a high school student skilled in kenpo but slightly incompetent with girls, to the point that his interaction with them makes him get into painful situations. One day, he saves a girl named Aiko Himeno from bullies, whom he's immediately smitten with. When she is taken hostage as part of a bank robbery by a group of criminals, Kyosuke is forced to take a disguise in order to save her without being recognised by the crooks. But when he accidentally puts a pair of panties over his head instead of a normal mask, he undergoes a transformation: due to the perverted genetics of his mother (an S&M worker), he is able to awaken the full 100% latent potential of his body! Running out with nothing but the panties and a pair of underwear on a near nude body, Kyōsuke, now christening his masked self as Hentai Kamen, uses his power and perversion to defeat the criminals and save Aiko. However, his troubles have only begun...

'HK Hentai Kamen opens across Japan on the 13th April, 2013.





Friday, 15 February 2013

Akira Music Video

I still like to do a bit of video editing every now and again. And this is my first attempt at an Anime Music Video.

The Anime used is Akira which is one of the first Anime films I ever watched, and to this day, is still one of the best. The song is Stronger by Kanye West. I used this because of the similarities in his music video which is a homage to Akira.

Anyway, check out the Music Video. And if you like it, check out my Youtube page and subscribe.



Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Ip Man: The Final Fight Trailer

Another Ip Man film? ... Why not?



The trailer has been released for Ip Man The Final Fight, another film about Wing Chun master Ip Man. This time the film focuses on an older Ip Man played by the excellent Anthony Wong(Infernal Affairs) and directed by Herman Yau(Turning Point/The Legend Is Born). Also features a mega cast of Hong Kong actors including Eric Tsang, Gillian Chung, Jordan Chan and Ken Lo.

Due for release in Hong Kong in April 2013.


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Best Asian Films of 2012


2012 has been an excellent and surprising year for Asian cinema. Oddly this year Korea only has 1 film in my top 10, Korea usually dominates the best Asian films. There are also surprise entries from countries like Thailand and Vietnam. It was tough to narrow it down to 10, but here is my list. I have also included their IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes ratings when possible. Some of these films might have not been released in 2012 but they weren't released on UK DVD until 2012.



10. The Viral Factor - Hong Kong (IMDb = 5.9/RT = 56%)

Director - Dante Lam
Starring - Jay Chou, Nicholas Tse and Ling Peng

I love Jay Chou! He is one of my favorite performers(singer/actor) from Asia, I will watch anything he is in. The majority of Hong Kong films seem to get low ratings and bad reviews, especially the Action films. The Viral Factor is no different. However, this is still a very fun film. It's back to the good old Hong Kong action films with plenty of action, fight scenes and gun shoot outs.

If you are looking for an intelligent film with a great story that will make you think, then this isn't for you. If you want to sit back, relax and watch some crazy stunts, brilliant car chases, awesome shoot outs and brutal fight scenes... While 2 guys try and stop criminals releasing a virus from infecting the world... or something to that effect. Then get the popcorn and enjoy.




9. Mitsuko Delivers - Japan (IMDb = 6.2/RT = No Score Yet)

Director - Yuya Ishii
Starring - Riisa Naka, Aoi Nakamura and Ryo Ishibashi

Number 9 is a Japanese Comedy entry from director Yuyu Ishii(Sawako Decides).

Mitsuko Delivers tells the story of a young woman Mitsuko(Riisa Naka) who always believes that everything will be okay. Even after moving to America with her lover, getting pregnant by him then getting dumped by him she returns to Japan, nine months pregnant, broke and forced to move out of her apartment, she still feels like everything will be okay. Mitsuko decides to go with the wind, literally. After lying on a bench and watching the way the wind blows, she packs up and heads off that way.

Mitsuko Delivers is a very funny feel good film. The relationship with her parents, who still believe she is happy in California and the boy who has had a life-long crush on her makes the film interesting. And the films climax is brilliant. Definitely worth a watch and it's one to put a smile on your face.






8. Headshot - Thailand (IMDb = 6.1/RT = 60%)

Director - Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
Starring -  Nopachai Chaiyanam, Sirin Horwang and Chanokporn Sayoungkul

Headshot is a Thai crime noir which tells the story of Tul(Nopachai), a hitman who wakes up from a coma to realize that he's now seeing everything upside down. Tul wants to quit but is instead recruited to join a secret organization that gets rid of crooked politicians untouched by the law.

Seeing the world upside down and being a hitman is an in interesting idea and is explored very well. The film is told in a non-chronological order from his pre-hitman days to being a cop, and to the present where his attempts to lead a monk's life gets ruined by his earlier life of violence that come back to haunt him.

A great film with a very likeable lead character and a finale that is filled with enough gun battle to excite the casual action seeker.





7. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney - Japan (IMDb = 6.8/RT = No Score Yet)

Director
- Takashi Miike
Starring - Takumi Saitô, Mirei Kiritani and Shunsuke Daitô

Number 7 on the list is a video game adaption and also the first on the list from acclaimed director Takashi Miike.

This film is based on the popular video game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and focuses on the second and fourth case of the game. The story set in the not so distant future, where the government has introduced a bench trial system that sees trials last three days before a verdict is reached. Ace Attorney follows a rookie and likeable lawyer Phoenix Wright, who has to defend Maya Fey, the sister of his deceased friend Mia Fey. He faces against Miles Edgeworth who has a perfect win record. In his second case, after Miles is charged with murder, it falls on Phoenix Wright to defend him. This time he is up against the best prosecutor of all time, Manfred Von Karma. To solve this case Phoenix looks beyond the court room drama and searches the clues from the DL-6, a 15 year old case with clues left behind by Mia Fey.

This is arguably one of the best video game films of all time. Takashi Miike has got it spot on. He even kept the gamers happy by taking the music directly from the game and incorporating it in the film. Miike has also managed to capture the excitement of the court room battles which will leave you on the edge of your seat. A very exciting and captivating film.




6. Blood Letter - Vietnam (IMDb = 6.5/RT = No Score Yet)

Director: Victor Vu
Starring - Huyuh Dong, Midu and Khuong Ngoc


Nearly every year there is a big budget epic Chinese film, with brilliant locations and sets, stunning costumes, martial arts and wire fu. This year, it just happens to be a Vietnamese film.

Now I will be the first to admit I am ignorant to Vietnamese cinema, I can't recall seeing a lot of films from there or any that stood out. That made this film all the more enjoyable and exciting for me as I got much much more than expected!

Blood Letter begins with a massacre of Le Chi Vien, the full Nguyen Trai family are brutally murdered leaving only one survivor, a young 5 year old boy who is found by a monk. The monk raises the child and trains him in martial arts, the boy grows into an adult with great fighting skills and a new name, Tran Nguyen Vu. When Nguyen Vu discovers his family history, he sets out on a journey seeking revenge and to clear his family's name. Along the way he encounters others with vengeance on their mind, Hoa Xuan, a female sword-wielding martial artists. Together them team up and seek revenge against the ones that framed them for crimes they didn't commit... The Royal Family.

This film is beautiful to look at showcasing the gorgeous scenery of Vietnam from the mountains to the crystal clear lakes. The sets and costumes are almost on par with the likes of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Hero. And the martial arts and fight scenes are exciting and well choreographed. Blood Letter is a film you need to seek out!


5. Himizu - Japan (IMDb = 6.9/RT = 92%)

Director: Shion Sono
Starring: Shôta Sometani, Fumi Nikaidô and Tetsu Watanabe

Himizu is the latest worldwide release from Shion Sono one of the 'it' directors from Japan. With Suicide Club, Love Exposure and recently Cold Fish under his belt. And he delivers, again.

This film competed at the 68th Venice International Film Festival and Fumi Nikaido and Shota Dometani recieved the award for Best New Young Actor and Actress.

Sumida(Shometani) and Keiko(Nikaido) are 15 year olds living seemingly meaningless lifes. They have a lot in common including the fact their parents hate them and both sharing a dream of living an ordinary life. Set in Japan in the tsunami hit areas, when Sumida is abandoned by his mother and is left alone to manage a boat-rental business previously ran by his family, his classmate Keiko sees this as a chance to help out and also get close to him.

The description of this film might make it sound like a rom-com. But it is far from it. It's a gritty, violent drama with no laughs but characters who you want to fight for as you can genuinely feel their pain. Himizu is an adaption of Minoru Furuya's popular manga with the same name, the word himizu is a species of a Japanese mole.

Himizu is a grim film. Realistic and heart wrenching, it is the hardest film on this list to watch. With brilliant young actors playing provoking characters and an extremely intense ending, this film is definitely worth watching.




4. Nameless Gangster - South Korea (IMDb = 7.2/RT = No Score Yet)

Director: Jong-bin Yun
Starring: Peter Cavnoudias, Min-sik Choi and Jung-woo Ha

"The Korean mob film Scorsese would be proud of." Time Magazine

On the verge of being fired, a corrupt customs official finds a haul of drugs and teams up with a vicious gangster to become the most powerful crime partnership in Busan. Set in the 1980s and '90s when corruption and crime was so rampant that the government declared war on it on 13th October 1990.

This film is just plain cool! The look is very stylish with a nice score to match it. And the characters are all likeable and bad ass. Especially the leads Choi Min-sik(Oldboy, I Saw The Devil) and Jung-woo Ha(The Chaser, Breath).

Definitely one for fans of gangster films especially if you enjoyed films like Goodfellas, which this film draws a lot of comparisons.




3. Hara Kiri - Japan (IMDb = 7.2/RT = 80%)

Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Kôji Yakusho, Eita, Munetaka Aoki

The second film by Japanese cult director Takashi Miike to make this list!

Miike had a worldwide hit in 2010/11 with 13 Assassins with critics and fans a like. So it seems safe for him to release another Samurai flick... However, Takashi Miike doesn't do playing it safe. Hara-Kiri goes in a completely different direction from 13 Assassins. Take the action and blood fest out and replace it with a compelling story, brilliant acting and a lot of drama.

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai is a remake of the 1962 film Harakiri by Masaki Kobayashi, widely regarded as one of the greatest Samurai films of all time. Miike also shot this film entirely in 3D, which is a touchy subject. So it's actually quite surprising to see it receive mostly positive reviews. The 3D wasn't used as a gimmick in this film, it was used more to add depth and layers to scenery and surroundings, such as with falling snow flakes. Another exciting point of Hara-Kiri is the original score which was composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, it fits perfectly with the story, setting and dramatic themes of this movie. This makes it not just visually stunning but also audibly beautiful.

For fans of Miike's films, there are a few violent/bloody scenes, however they serve a purpose and are a little tough to watch. There is also an extremely memorable, well choreographed fight scene that will satisfy martial arts and action fans.

Watch Hara-Kiri, I highly recommend it. But don't go in expecting an action film. Except a very well told story with likeable characters, drama galore and gorgeous cinematography and music.



2. We Were There (Bokura Ga Ita) - Japan (IMDb = 7.7/RT = No Score Yet)

Director: Takahiro Miki
Starring: Tôma Ikuta, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Sôsuke Takaoka

This was the surprise film of the year for me. I knew nothing and hadn't heard anything about this movie before I watched it. I was actually 35,000 feet high when I watched We Were There. Sitting on a plane on the way back from Japan, scrolling through the in fight films I noticed We Were There parts I and II. I stuck it on to kill 4+ hours of the flight... And I tried my hardest not to cry like a baby.

The film is based on the manga Bokura ga Ita and the anime of the same name. The manga was released in 2002 and has currenlty sold over 10,000,000 copies. Released as 2 separate films in the cinema with a one month wait between them.

We Were There is the story of a romance between Nanami Takahashi(Yuriko Yoshitaka) and Motoharu Yano(Toma Ikuta). Motoharu is the most popular boy in highschool, Nanami falls in love with him but doesn't know about his past relationship were his girlfriend died in a car crash and his ability to not let go of her.

Filmed across Japan in Hokkaido and Tokyo, which is where I had just left, there was another love story going on. The love story between me and my favourite country which made this film even more emotional for me, especially with the great locations Takahiro Miki used in his film.

We Were There is the only romantic drama in this list. It is not usually the type of film I would go out of my way to watch, it was either just luck or fate I got to see this film. But i'm glad I did. Gripping and emotionally moving, it sucked me in for over 4 hours and told me a brilliant story. Hankies at the ready.




1. The Raid - Indonesia (IMDb 7.6/RT = 84%)

Director: Gareth Evans
Starring: Iko Uwais, Ananda George, Ray Sahetapy

Was there really any doubt what number 1 would be?

I don't even have to say anything about The Raid. It is one of the greatest action films of all time.

Needs to be seen by everyone! Now!









And there you have it. My list of the best Asian films of 2012. There is a bunch of films that I had to cut out to make this list. And a lot of thinking and chopping and changing went into making this list complete. I'm happy with the finished 10.... I just hope I haven't missed anything out!

Sorry if I have...

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Grandmasters English Subtitled Trailer

Finally! The day we have all been waiting for!


Since the trailer hit the Internet last year for The Grandmasters, I have constantly been searching for an English version of the trailer. And finally, thanks to a kind youtube user(who translated it himself) there is now one available.

The Grandmasters is the highly anticipated new film from hit director Wong Kar Wai(Chungking Express). It is an action drama based on Ip Man's(again) life, this time starring Tony Leung(Infernal Affairs) as the Wing Chun Grandmaster(hence the name). Also starring the incredible Zhang Ziyi(Memoirs of a Geisha).

The film was released in China on the 8th of January 2013 and it will be the opening film at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival in February. Wow! Hopefully that means a quick worldwide release.




Asian Film Awards 2013 Nominees

www.asianfilmawards.asia/


The nominees for the 7th Asian Film Awards have been announced. The ceremony will be held on 18th March in Hong Kong. And the Nominees are...


Best Film
'Drug War' (Mainland China)
'Gangs of Wasseypur, Part 1 & 2' (India)
'Mystery' (Mainland China)
'Outrage Beyond' (Japan)
'Pieta' (South Korea)

Best Director
Anurag Kashyap, 'Gangs of Wasseypur, Part 1 & 2' (India)
Abbas Kiarostami, 'Like Someone in Love' (Japan/France/Iran)
Kim Ki-duk, 'Pieta' (South Korea)
Takeshi Kitano, 'Outrage Beyond' (Japan)
Lou Ye, 'Mystery' (Mainland China)

Best Actor
Joseph Chang, 'GF*BF' (Taiwan)
Choi Min-sik, 'Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time' (South Korea)
Eddie Garcia, 'Bwakaw' (Philippines)
Tony Leung Ka-fai, 'Cold War' (Hong Kong)
Liu Ye, 'The Last Supper' (Mainland China)

Best Actress
Nora Aunor, 'Thy Womb' (Philippines)
Cho Min-soo, 'Pieta' (South Korea)
Golshifteh Farahani, 'The Patience Stone' (Afghanistan)
Gwei Lun-mei, 'GF*BF' (Taiwan)
Hao Lei, 'Mystery' (Mainland China)

Best Newcomer
Chien Man-shu, 'When a Wolf Falls in Love With a Sheep' (Taiwan)
Masahiro Higashide, 'The Kirishima Thing' (Japan)
Huang Yu-siang, 'Touch of the Light' (Taiwan)
Kim Sung-kyun, 'Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time' (South Korea)
Qi Xi, 'Mystery' (Mainland China)

Best Supporting Actor
Ha Jung-woo, 'Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time' (South Korea)
Ryo Kase, 'Like Someone in Love' (Japan/France/Iran)
Nawazuddin Siddiqui, 'The Answer Lies Within' (India)
Chapman To, 'Diva' (Hong Kong)
Rhydian Vaughan, 'GF*BF' (Taiwan)

Best Supporting Actress
Jun Ji-hyun, 'The Thieves' (South Korea)
Kim Hye-soo, 'The Thieves' (South Korea)
Li Lieh, 'Together' (Taiwan)
Qin Lan, 'The Last Supper' (Mainland China)
Makiko Watanabe, 'Capturing Dad' (Japan)

Best Screenwriter
Anand Gandhi, 'Ship of Theseus' (India)
Kohei Kiyasu, Daihachi Yoshida, 'The Kirishima Thing' (Japan)
Mei Feng, Yu Fan, Lou Ye, 'Mystery' (Mainland China)
Wai Ka-fai, Yau Nai-hoi, Ryker Chan, Yu Xi, 'Drug War' (Mainland China)
Yun Jong-bin, 'Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time' (South Korea)

Best Cinematographer
Touraj Aslani, 'Rhino Season' (Iraqi Kurdistan/Turkey)
Choi Young-hwan, 'The Thieves' (South Korea)
Rajeev Ravi, 'Gangs of Wasseypur, Part 1 & 2' (India)
Katsumi Yanagijima, 'Like Someone in Love' (Japan/France/Iran)
Zhang Li, Ma Cheng, 'The Last Supper' (Mainland China)

Best Production Designer
Cho Hwa-sung, 'Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time' (South Korea)
Bahman Ghobadi, Ali Daryai, 'Rhino Season' (Iraqi Kurdistan/Turkey)
Wasiq Khan, 'Gangs of Wasseypur, Part 1 & 2' (India)
Man Lim-chung, 'The Silent War' (Mainland China/Hong Kong)
Yee Chung-man, Eric Lam Chi-kiu, 'The Last Tycoon' (Mainland China/Hong Kong)

Best Composer
Pritam Chakraborty, 'Barfi!' (India)
Jo Yeong-wook, 'Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time' (South Korea)
Peyman Yazdanian, Johann Johannsson, 'Mystery' (Mainland China)
Keiichi Suzuki, 'Outrage Beyond' (Japan)
Koji Ueno, 'The Floating Castle' (Japan)

Best Editor
Takeshi Kitano, Yoshinori Ohta, 'Outrage Beyond' (Japan)
Mototaka Kusakabe, 'The Kirishima Thing' (Japan)
Valerie Loiseleux, 'Rhino Season' (Iraqi Kurdistan/Turkey)
David Richardson, Allen Leung, 'Drug War' (Mainland China)
Shin Min-kyung, 'The Thieves' (South Korea)

Best Visual Effects
Chas Chau, Lewis Chan, Benson Poon, Johnny Lin, 'When a Wolf Falls in Love With a Sheep' (Taiwan)
Kwak Tae-yong, Hwang Hyokyun, Lim Jung-hoon, 'Doomsday Book' (South Korea)
Farbod Khoshtinat, 'Rhino Season' (Iraqi Kurdistan/Turkey)
Lee In-ho, Je Young-ho, 'Soar Into the Sun' (South Korea)
Katsuro Onoue, Tetsuo Oya, Atsuki Sato, Minami Tsujino, 'The Floating Castle' (Japan)

Best Costume Designer
Chen Xue-bing, Zhong Jia-ni, 'The Last Supper' (Mainland China)
Jessie Dai Mei-ling, Chan Chi-man, 'The Last Tycoon' (Mainland China/Hong Kong)
Kwak Jung-ae, 'A Werewolf Boy' (South Korea)
Man Lim-chung, 'The Silent War' (Mainland China/Hong Kong)
Mitsuru Otsuka, Kazuta Matsunaga, Akihiko Inamura, 'The Floating Castle' (Japan)



Friday, 18 January 2013

Young And Dangerous: Reloaded trailer

Well we all wanted it. We asked for it. And they gave us it... Kind of!

The Young And Dangerous films didn't need a reboot. It could have been a continuation. Some new Triads join the Hung Hing and work their way up through the ranks. Chicken and Chan Ho Nam could have had cameos or even just been mentioned by name. But instead we got a remake.

However, it doesn't look too bad. Judging from the trailer, Reloaded looks to be more gritty and realistic than the original series.

But will it be as good as the originals? Only time will tell.

HK release date is 01/03/2013









Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Kim Jee-woon directs Schwarzenegger in The Last Stand

That's right, Arnie is finally back in Hollywood doing his first leading role since Terminator 3 in 2003. From what I have seen/heard it will be a typical Schwarzenegger no nonsense action film. And who has directed it? None other than one of the best Korean directors Kim Jee-woon!

Jee-woon is one of the most appreciated and acclaimed directors in recent Korean cinema history. Not only has he shown his diversity with the wide variety of genres he can direct but he has also had a string of hits.

The Quiet Family.
A Tale of Two Sisters.
A Bittersweet Life.
The Good, the Bad, the Weird.
I Saw the Devil.

Yes. He directed all of these classic Korean films which really shows his versatility as a director.


Synopsis;

Sheriff Ray Owens(Schwarzenegger) is a man who has resigned himself to a life of fighting what little crime takes place in sleepy border town Sommerton Junction after leaving his LAPD post following a bungled operation that left him wracked with failure and defeat after his partner was crippled. After a spectacular escape from an FBI prisoner convoy, Gabriel Cortez(Eduardo Noriega), the most notorious, wanted drug kingpin in the hemisphere is hurtling toward the border at 200 mph in a specially outfitted car, a Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1, with a hostage and a fierce army of gang members. He is headed, it turns out, straight for Summerton Junction, where the whole of U.S. law enforcement will have their last opportunity to make a stand and intercept him before he slips across the border forever. At first reluctant to become involved, and then counted out because of the perceived ineptitude of his small town force, Owens ultimately accepts responsibility for the face off.

This might not sound like a typical film for Kim Jee-woon to choose as his first American production. But he has definitely shown his skills at directing brilliant action pieces with A Bittersweet Life and The Good, the Bad and the Weird. Jee-woon is possibly playing it safe, with this being Arnie's big return it is almost guaranteed to be a hit. And with a budget of $50 million it is sure to make a large profit, which will give Kim Jee-woon a lot more freedom with his next Hollywood outings.

If you still aren't excited yet then hopefully the fact Johnny Knoxville is co-starring will change that! I have always thought he is a decent actor and has buckets of on screen charisma! Plus he will provide comedy which can be a nice little break in between all the action.

Does this make anyone think of The Walking Tall 2?

The Last Stand sounds like it will be a lot of fun, a typical guys action film, and the trailer looks pretty bad ass! So check it out when it's released on 18th January(USA) and 25th January(UK). For a list of more release dates, click here.

And if you haven't seen the trailer, then check it out below;



Thursday, 3 January 2013

Lady Vengeance and Oldboy Remake


Is Hollywood remaking Park Chan Wook's Vengeance Trilogy?


Oldboy

Oldboy has been getting the Hollywood treatment for a long long time. But it is now finally in production, after a slew of line up changes. And now, before Brolin has even graced our cinema screens wielding a hammer.... Lady Vengeance has went into pre-production.

If you haven't heard about the Oldboy remake, the film has been in limbo since 2008. Brief History: Justin Lin was attached as director, then Universal and DreamWorks decided they were getting the rights with Spielberg directing and Will Smith(shudder) starring. Smith then announced Spielberg wasn't remaking the film, he would be adapting the original manga(eh?). In June 2009 a lawsuit was launched against the Korean film producers by the original comic publisher for giving the film rights to Steven Spielberg without their permission. In november Speilberg, Smith and DreamWorks pulled out of the remake. The project was announced dead.

Fast forward to July 2011 when Mandate Pictures issued a press release with the intriguing information that Spike Lee would direct and Josh Brolin would star in the remake! Also attached to the project are Samuel L. Jackson, James Ransone and the brilliant young Elizabeth Olsen. The villain has been cast as Sharlto Copley, who played Murdock in the A Team reboot.

Now the Oldboy remake sounds a lot more promising than we all originally thought.


In South Korea, born and raised. With this hammer is how I spent most of my days...


The cast are all well suited especially Brolin as the lead who has always impressed! And Spike Lee as director is an interesting choice, he is definitely more about the art of film and not about a quick cash in, which can only be a good thing!

There will still be people who hate the remake no matter what. But for more assurance read this very interesting interview with the excellent Josh Brolin at Collider.com were he talks in detail about how much he respects the original Oldboy and Park Chan Wook's work as a director.

Oldboy has a US release date of  October 11, 2013.



Lady Vengeance

It was a shock to most when the Lady Vengeance remake was announced. Charlize Theron's production company Denver & Delilah Films actually purchased the rights to the Lady Vengeance remake 4 years ago! And now Charlize has been confirmed to play the lead role. The script writing duties is going to William Monahan who did a fantastic job adapting the Hong Kong Thriller Infernal Affairs into the Academy Award winning The Departed.

This remake news has made fans of the original Vengeance trilogy a little happier than they are with Oldboy. Charlize Theron can definitely act, and she can go to that dark place like she did in Monster. As for Monahan, his script for The Departed was spot on, and it pleased the majority of fans of the original Infernal Affairs flicks. In an interview Monahan said  "This will be very American ­ and very unexpected. Park is a genius; it's the Everest of adaptations and I've got blood in my teeth to do it."

Sounds convincing to me! Watch this space for more news as it surfaces!



What? No love for Sympathy For Mr Vengeance?