With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Thursday, May 26, 2016

VIZ Media is set to produce GAKKIMALS animated series


Japanese Children’s Property Combines Animals And Music
Licensed For Development Into An Original Animated Series

VIZ Media has acquired the production and licensing rights to develop an original animated series based on the Japanese children’s property, GAKKIMALS.

The series will be produced under license from ShoPro, a subsidiary of three of Japan's largest publishing houses, Shogakukan Inc., Shueisha Inc. and Hakusensha Inc., that focuses on licensing and merchandising the properties owned by Shogakukan Inc. GAKKIMALS is based on an original concept created by Japanese production duo, PecanNuts.

Welcome to the wonderful adventures of the GAKKIMALS, where madcap mash-ups of musical instruments and animals combine to bring happiness and harmony to their fun-filled world.

“The acquisition of GAKKIMALS represents an important step in our initiative to develop new and engaging global content in partnership with our creative partners in Japan,” says Brad Woods, CMO, VIZ Media. “GAKKIMALS is a truly unique children’s property that combines the evergreen appeal of music and animals into a vibrant environment that inspires early childhood learning with a fun cast of endearing characters. We look forward to working closely with our partners at ShoPro to develop this exciting new show.”

For more information on GAKKIMALS and other titles available from VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sentai Filmworks has acquired “Hanaukyou Maid Team: La Verite”

Sentai Filmworks has announced its acquisition of Hanaukyou Maid Team: La Verite.

A reimagining of 2001’s Hanakyou Maid Team, this anime delights in the way every moe title should. After losing his mother, 15-year-old Taro Hanaukyou moves to live with his grandfather in Tokyo. Despite their blood relation, Taro never knew that his grandfather was extremely wealthy, owning a mansion and maintaining a large fortune. When his grandfather leaves Taro both his riches and the manor, Taro also inherits the services of the home’s network of dedicated maids.

The series was directed by Takuya Nonaka (Fate/Zero, Ah! My Goddess). Jukki Hanada, Takashi Aoshima, and Hideaki Koyasu shared scriptwriting duties, with Jukki (Beyond the Boundary, K-On!, Steins;Gate) also handling series composition. Sound direction was overseen by Hiromi Kikuta, with art direction by Takashi Aoi. Animation production was handled by Daume (Strawberry Marshmallow, DearS, Indian Summer, Shiki).

Hanaukyou Maid Team: La Verite will soon be available through select digital outlets, with a home video release to follow.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Award winning doc MY FATHER'S VIETNAM is available today on VOD and other digital platforms

Gravitas Ventures
My Father's Vietnam
Written and Directed by Soren Sorensen
USA, 2015, 79 minutes

My Father's Vietnam, an award winning documentary by first-time filmmaker Soren Sorensen, is being released today, May 24th, on VOD and across all other digital platforms by Gravitas Ventures.

The film had its genesis in a visit the Sorensen family made to Washington, D.C. when Soren was a child. Peter, his father, made pencil rubbings of two of the names on Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial and was clearly emotionally distraught. It was not until Soren was in his thirties, however, that he was able to ask his father about his experiences while serving in Vietnam.

In the fall of 1969, shortly after marrying, Peter began his tour as a combat engineer. He was fortunate to be reassigned to the U.S. Army's 31st Public Information Office in the spring of 1970. The names he made rubbings of were of two men Peter knew well and who did not make it home: Loring M. ("Ring") Bailey, a foot soldier, and Glenn Ricker, a helicopter pilot.

The film features interviews with Soren's father, mother and sister, with Ring Bailey's father and brother-in-law, and with men who had served with Bailey and Ricker. The "talking head" shots are complimented by some never-before-seen photographs and 8mm footage of the Vietnam War, the later largely made by Ricker from his chopper.

My Father's Vietnam is a touching film that looks at the cost of the Vietnam war at an intimate and personal level. Born in 1948, I was an early "baby boomer." I was in high school and college as the war expanded and went totally out of control. Thus, along with the Civil Rights Movement and the Counter Culture, the Vietnam War was one of the defining aspects of my youth. I found Soren's approach fascinating and engrossing, since he never experienced the daily body counts on the evening news programs, nor the way the war seemed to be rendering the United States asunder.

For me the film is probably one of the three best about the Vietnam War. Hearts and Minds (1974), the winner of Oscar for Best Documentary Film, looked at it from a macro-cosmic point of view. Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) used the plot of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness to vividly bring to the fore the war's madness and incomprehensibility.

My Father's Vietnam, which won the Soldiers and Sacrifice Grand Prize at the 2015 Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF) and the Best Picture Documentary at the 2016 Flagler Film Festival, tackles the war on a micro-cosmic level, bringing home the impact of the war on the lives of one soldier who survived it and of those who knew and loved two servicemen who didn't.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very highly recommended.

Official Website of MY FATHER'S VIETNAM

Monday, May 23, 2016

RISE OF THE LEGEND reviewed; available today on Blu-ray & DVD

Well Go USA
Rise of the Legend / Huang feihong zhi yingxiong you meng
Directed by Chow Hin Yeung
Hong Kong/China, 2014, 132 minutes

Rise of the Legend is the latest entry in the huge filmography of movies about the martial artist folk hero Wong Fei Hong. The film will debut on Blu-ray™ and DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, May 24th from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Over a roughly thirty year period, Hong Kong actor Kwan Tak-hing starred as Wong in over 70 films. Jet Li portrayed him in several films in the mid- and late-1990s. In this new origins story, Eddie Peng (Unbeatable) has the honor of playing Wong, and he acquits himself quite well.

Eddoe Peng as Wong Fei Hong

Hong Kong action legend Sammo Hung stars as Wong's nemesis Master Lei, the leader of the Black Tiger Gang who seeks to defeat the rival North Sea Gang for control of the Hunagpu Doc in Guangzhou in the late 1860s. While the foreign tade at the pier is lucrative, of equal or greaater importnace are the Black Tiger Gang's opium dens, gambling houses and brothels, each controlled by one of Lei's three adopted sons.

Wong, a supremely righteous martial artist, infiltrates the gang to bring back to his native town. Aiding him are friends from his childhood: Fiery (actor Jing Boran, The Guillotines) and Chun (actress Wang Luodan, The Continent). Angelababy (Tai Chi Zero) plays Orchid, a courtesan who also provides assistance.

Sammo Hung as Master Lei

Rounding out the cast are Tony Leung Ka-Fai (Tai Chi Hero) as Wong's father, a doctor, who seen in some flashback scenes, and Jin Zhang (Kill Zone 2) as Wu Long, the son of the boss of the North Sea Gang.

There are numerous, fine action scenes. In separate scenes both Peng as Wong and Jing as Fiery each have one-against-many battles. The opening fight is one of these, as Peng fights many opponents in a narrow street. (This scene takes place in the rain and reminded me of the opening fight in Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster, although that one took place at night and this one occurs in daylight.)

Angelababy as Orchid

Corey Yuen served as the film's action director and the only thing that I was a bit unhappy about was his rather excessive use of wire-work. This especially was the case with Sammo Hung's fight scenes. Now I love Sammo, but his girth has only increased in recent years, and I find it a bit upsetting to see him flying through the air as he often does here.

Still, this is a minor complaint and doesn't change the fact that Rise of the Legend is a very satisfying and well-crafted film overall.

Blu-ray & DVD Disc Specs:
-- Audio
  -- Mandarin DTS 5.1 HDMA
  -- Mandarin 2.0 Stereo
  -- English DTS 5.1 HDMA
  -- English 2.0 Stereo
-- Subtitles
  -- English
  -- Off
-- Bonus Features Include:
  -- Five part “Making of” Featurette
    -- Characters (2:11)
    -- Eddie Peng (1:51)
    -- Injuries (2:11)
    -- Cinematography (2:19)
    -- Special Effects (2:10)
  -- Trailer
-- Previews
  -- Kill Zone 2
  -- Ip Man 3
  -- Kung Fu Killer

AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; a solidly recommended martial arts action film.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

THE RETURN OF GODZILLA to be released on September 13th

You can’t keep a good giant monster down, especially when he’s being very, very bad! Kraken Releasing will continue the tradition of releasing the very best in kaiju (giant monster) entertainment with the first U.S. release of the complete and uncut The Return Of Godzilla®! Available on both Blu-ray and DVD, and featuring both the original Japanese version with English subtitles, as well as an English dubbed version, this special release is the Godzilla® epic that fans and collectors have been waiting for.

With a higher budget and more advanced special effects than any previous film in the series, The Return Of Godzilla returns Japan’s greatest monster to his intended role as an epic force of destruction and the film’s spectacular success re-launched the Godzilla® franchise after nearly a decade in suspended animation. Unfortunately for North American audiences, this direct sequel to the original 1954 feature film has previously only been available in a highly edited version that cut over twenty minutes of original footage and effects, changed key plot points and altered the dark dramatic tone and narrative by inserting additional scenes and humor in an attempt to “Americanize” the film. But now, at long last, the acclaimed kaiju masterpiece finally hits American shores in all its uncut original glory! Get ready for the biggest Godzilla® epic that you’ve never seen as Kraken Releasing unleashes the complete and unedited The Return Of Godzilla!

The Return Of Godzilla will be released on September 13th.

About Kraken Releasing:
KRAKEN RELEASING is a new international video distribution label specializing in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror genre entertainment for mainstream audiences. Together with sister labels MAIDEN JAPAN (DEN-NOH COIL, PAT LABOR, ROYAL SPACE FORCE) and SWITCHBLADE PICTURES (CORPSE PARTY, IRON GIRL 1& 2, ATTACK GIRLS SWIM TEAM VS. THE UNDEAD) Kraken’s goal is to bring the best filmed entertainment from around the world to our customers.

About Section23 Films:

Section23 Films provides home video marketing and distribution services for a variety of companies, including Sentai Filmworks, Switchblade Pictures, Maiden Japan and AEsir Holdings. With its special focus on genre entertainment, Section23 Films distributes some of the very best anime, martial arts, and horror titles on the market today.