With MOON So-ri at Asia Society NY

With MOON So-ri at Asia Society NY
With MOON So-ri at Asia Society NY

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

An Evening With JIMMY WONG YU at Lincoln Center on November 11

in association with
Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York
WONG-YU (Photo courtesy Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival; photographer: Liang Su)
on November 11 with the presentation of the
New York Asian Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award
and screening of Wong Yu’s grindhouse masterpiece

The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema, in association with Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York, announce An Evening with Jimmy Wong Yu on November 11 at the Walter Reade Theater. The legendary Taiwanese actor will be presented with the New York Asian Film Festival’s esteemed Lifetime Achievement Award and participate in an on-stage conversation prior to the screening of his 1977 grindhouse masterpiece Master of the Flying Guillotine, in glorious 35mm!

In the 1960s the Shaw Brothers were looking to expand from their more traditional dramas and romances to martial-arts films, and one of their hires was a former water polo champion, horse rider, and car racer: Jimmy Wong Yu. Appearing in films like Temple of the Red Lotus, Twin Swords, Magnificent Trio, and Tiger Boy at the beginning of his career, his true breakthrough came in Chang Chen’s landmark The One-Armed Swordsman (1967), the film that launched Wong Yu’s career as well as the martial-arts sword-fighting movie (wuxia pian) craze. With all the fury and intensity exploding from the screen, Jimmy Wong Yu became the prototype for the tough stoic masculine characters that this new wave of sword-fighting films brought to the screen.

WONG YU Tribute Poster by Jerry Ma

If The One-Armed Swordsman launched Wong Yu into stardom, it was The Chinese Boxer (1970) that cemented his legendary status by igniting the kung-fu fever that was to become a global phenomenon. Written and directed by and starring Wong Yu, The Chinese Boxer was the first major movie to devote itself entirely to the art of kung fu. It established the basic conventions, such as revenge as a motive, Chinese martial arts versus Japanese martial arts, and strong nationalistic feeling, all of which later found their way into the films of Bruce Lee. Following this movie, Wong Yu broke his contract with Shaw Brothers and started making films in Taiwan with Golden Harvest, including his masterpiece Beach of the War Gods (1973), described by scholar Stephen Teo as “the sword-fighting movie to end all sword-fighting movies.”

Wong Yu is currently enjoying an Indian Summer in his long career, with juicy roles in Peter Chan’s Wu Xia (aka Dragon, 2011), and Andrew Lau’s The Guillotines (2012). Most recently, he starred in Chung Mong-hong’s arty slasher Soul (2013), turning it into a showcase for his acting talent—with hardly a change in facial expression, he’s able to summon up a whole range of emotions (sadness, paternal love, madness).

With a career spanning over five decades, he has acted in over 80 films, directed 12, and left an indelible mark on the history of martial-arts cinema.

An Evening with Jimmy Wong Yu will be held at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater (located at 165 West 65th Street, between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway).

Tickets will go on sale this Thursday, October 23rd. Admission is $25; $20 for students, seniors, and Film Society members. For more information visit www.filmlinc.com.

5:30pm Reception
7:00pm Master of the Flying Guillotine, preceded by Lifetime Achievement Award presentation and an on-stage conversation with Wong Yu

Master of the Flying Guillotine (Image courtesy-Pathfinder-Pictures)
1976, 93min, 35mm, in Mandarin with English subtitles

Wong Yu writes, directs, and stars in this massively entertaining grindhouse masterpiece. A blind lama assassin employed by the Qing Emperor goes after the righteous “One-Armed Boxer” (Wong Yu). Intent on avenging his two disciples, whom Wong Yu killed, the imperial assassin packs his monk robes, his unbeatable flying guillotine, and soon he’s keeping the clashes coming, the blood flowing, and the heads rolling. His killer quest ends at a kung-fu tournament full of freaky martial artists who employ ponytail-strangling, yoga-magic-stretching, and kickboxing, but they’re no match for the killer lama and his one-armed foe! Featuring extravagant choreography by brothers Lau Kar-leung and Lau Kar-wing, Master of the Flying Guillotine set the ultimate template for martial-arts video games, and the fireworks of its final showdown (set in a booby-trapped coffin shop) have yet to be equaled.

Monday, October 20, 2014

KUNDO: AGE OF THE RAMPANT coming tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 21

Directed by Yun Jong-bin
Starring Ha Jung-woo, Kang Dong-won,
Lee Sung-min and Ma Dong-seok

KUNDO: AGE OF THE RAMPANT, the international box office hit and Asia’s answer to Robin Hood, debuts on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital tomorrow, Tuesday, October 21st from Well Go USA Entertainment. Set in mid-19th century, the tongue-in-cheek historical comedy-action film depicts a power struggle between the unjust wealthy noblemen who run society and a group of righteous outlaws who steal from corrupt officials to give to the downtrodden and starving.

Directed by Yun Jong-bin (Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time), KUNDO: AGE OF THE RAMPANT stars Ha Jung-woo (The Berlin File), Kang Dong-won (Haunters), Lee Sung-min (The Good, the Bad, the Weird) and Ma Dong-seok (Quick). When the film opened this summer, it broke all existing opening day box office records in South Korea.

Synopsis: 1859. The last days of the Joseon Dynasty, where the wages of greed bring poverty and death. A pack of bandits – calling themselves KUNDO - rise against the tyrants, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. In an era where status is decided by birth, this band of thieves risks their lives for honor, in the name of the poor and oppressed. But for one man, a debt of bloody revenge is owed to the aristocrat who robbed him of his family and his name.

KUNDO: AGE OF THE RAMPANT has a runtime of approximately 138 minutes and is not rated.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

VIZ Media to launch RESIDENT EVIL manga series on November 18, 2014


Discover The Source Of The Outbreak Of The Deadly
C-Virus In The Gritty Manga Prequel To CAPCOM’s
Popular Resident Evil® 6 Game Property

VIZ Media gives gamers and action fans a special FREE sneak preview of its forthcoming RESIDENT EVIL: THE MARHAWA DESIRE manga (graphic novel) series as part of the company’s participation in 2014 Halloween ComicFest.

The terrifying 5-volume apocalyptic action thriller was created by Naoki Serizawa and serves as a prequel to the storyline of CAPCOM’s bestselling Resident Evil® 6 game property. The manga series is rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers and will launch on November 18th under the VIZ Signature imprint. RESIDENT EVIL: THE MARHAWA DESIRE Vol. 1 will carry a print MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $14.99 CAN.

Held each year, Halloween ComicFest is celebrated at scores of comic shops and retailers nationwide on the Saturday before Halloween. On this day, participating shops offer fans and visitors a special FREE Halloween ComicFest sampler filled with previews of scores of exciting upcoming titles. For additional information and a list of participating retailers, visit www.halloweencomicfest.com.

The highly virulent C-virus became a global disaster, but where did the outbreak start? In the series’ opening volume, at the prestigious and elite Marhawa Academy in Singapore, a female student suffers a horrifying transformation. Called in to investigate, Professor Doug Wright and his nephew Ricky find themselves caught up in a deadly and growing tragedy. As things get rapidly out of hand, Chris Redfield and his team from the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance arrive on the scene, while behind it all a mysterious figure looms.

“Discover the sinister beginnings of the Resident Evil story in the first-ever manga series based on the smash hit game property,” says Michael Montesa, Editor. “Along with tracing the source of the deadly viral outbreak, the manga series also presents the debut of Piers Nivans, who appears in the Resident Evil 6 video game as Chris Redfield's new partner. Readers will not want to miss a special advance preview of RESDIENT EVIL as part of Halloween ComicFest. Catch the full launch of this spine tingling new series from the VIZ Signature imprint next month!”

Since the landmark release of Resident Evil in 1996, the CAPCOM franchise has firmly established itself as a truly worldwide entertainment brand and mainstay of contemporary culture with a series of live action movies, CG anime, manga, novels and numerous merchandising lines. To date the Resident Evil series of videogames has achieved global sales of over 50 million units, while the live action movies starring Milla Jovovich have grossed in excess of $525 million dollars at the box office.

RESIDENT EVIL artist/author Naoki Serizawa is a multi-talented photographer and cinematographer as well as a manga artist and writer. His other series Saru Lock was developed into a TV drama in Japan in 2009.

For more information on RESIDENT EVIL: THE MARHAWA DESIRE or other manga and/or anime titles published by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands (c) 1967 KOKUEI
 Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands / Koya no Datch Waifu
Directed by Atsushi Yamatoya
Japan, 1967, 85 minutes
When: Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
(Between 1st and 2nd Avenues)

Tonight at 7:00 PM, Atsushi Yamatoya’s Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands will kick off Japan Society NY's new monthly film series, The Dark Side of the Sun: John Zorn on Japanese Cinema. (For Mike Hale's overview article at the New York Times, click here.)  Tonight's screening will be followed by a reception.

At an isolated spot, a hitman named Sho (Yuichi Minato) meets with Naka (Masayoshi Nogami), a rich real estate agent. Naka had a minor misunderstanding with someone that escalated into the kidnapping of Sae (Noriko Tatsumi), who worked in Naka's office, several months earlier. Sae has been raped by her kidnappers, and Naka shows Sho the film of her being violated that he was sent. Naka hires Sho to get Sae back.

This job reminds Sho of the kidnapping and murder of Rie (Mari Nagisa), his girl, five year earlier by a man named Koh. Sho has dreamed -- or is it hallucinated? -- about shooting Koh every day since then, always at 3:00, the time Rie died.

There's some campy hard-boiled dialogue, such as "Cheap girls are a dime a dozen" and "Get outta Dodge." The compositions within the frame can be rather unusual at times; for example, a face being partially cropped in the upper left corner of the frame. Personally I think these "choices" may have been dictated by the size of the available sets and lenses. In any case, these strange croppings can be  unsettling. The often hand held and shaky camera work also contributes to a sense of unease.

There are a number of sex scenes, with quick flashes of bare female breasts. The film also has a cool jazz score by pianist and composer Yosuke Yamashita that's reminiscent of some contemporary works by John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.

The film also brings to mind Seijun Suzuki's Branded to Kill , which was released a few months earlier in 1967. This is not surprising in that director Yamatoya was one of the uncredited writers on the script of  Suzuki’s film.

Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands  has been selected as one of "The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week" at The L Magazine.

Note that at IMDb the film is listed as Dutch Wife in the Desert, with Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands as an a.k.a.

AsianCineFest Rating: I'm going to have to go with a 3.5 out of 4 star rating; very highly recommended. For the film itself, I'd probably assign 3 out of 4 stars, solidly recommended. The extra 1/2 star is warranted because there simply aren't going to be many opportunities to see it, which makes tonight's screening a very special event. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ann Hui's THE GOLDEN ERA opens tomorrow in the U.S. and Canada

The Golden Era / Huang jin shi dai
Directed by Ann Hui
China/Hong Kong, 2014, 177 minutes

The Golden Era is an epic biography of Xiao Hong, one of China’s most famous essayists and novelists. Helmed by the renowned Hong Kong director Ann Hui, it will open tomorrow, Friday, October 17th in the United States and Canada. (It opened today, September 16th, in Australia and New Zealand.) For cities and theaters, click here.

Mainland Chinese actress Tang Wei (who had the lead role in Ang Lee's Lust Caution and in last year's hit Finding Mr. Right, which was also released by China Lion) stars as female novelist Xiao Hong, whose given name was Zhang Naiying. In a brief opening monologue, Hong tells us that she was born on June 1, 1911 in Manchuria and died on January 22, 1942 in a makeshift hospital in Japanese-occupied Hong Kong.

Details of her short, unconventional and rather unhappy life are frequently recounted by such narratives, sometimes spoken by her, sometimes by the people -- mainly literary figures and others from the world of publishing -- who knew her. Thus the film's dramatic narrative is frequently broken by brief scenes of "talking heads." The author's own writings are also quoted to illustrate what was happening to her during this turbulent period.

Xjao Jun (Feng Shaofeng), left, and Xiao Hong (Tamg Wei)

Feng Shaofeng (Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon ) co-stars as Xiao Jun, the writer with whom Hong had a long and troubled relationship. It was his family name that Hong used in her nom de plume.

Personally, at a nearly three hour running time, I found The Golden Era to be a bit overlong. Compare its length with Center Stage (1991), Stanley Kwan's biographical film about Ruan Ling-yu, the actress (played by Maggie Cheung) who killed herself in 1935 at the age of 24. Both Ruan and Hong were unconventional figures and victims of gossip, but Kwan's multi-award winning film is a conventional 126 minutes long. I never thought I'd say this, but The Golden Era is an Asian film that might actually have benefited from some cuts mandated by Harvey "Scissorhands" Weinstein.

On the other hand, it is highly respected in Hong Kong, which has chosen it as the autonomous region's official selection for consideration by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for its Best Foreign Language category.

AsianCIneFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended. Irregardless of its length, this film is well-worth seeing for its detailed depiction of a very talented woman whose free-thinking was most unconventional during the all-too-brief period of her life.