With MOON So-ri at Asia Society NY

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

Monday, September 15, 2014

FRIEND II: THE LEGACY available tomorrow, September 16th on DVD

CJ Entertainment
Friend II: The Legacy / Chingu 2
Directed by KWAK Kyung-taek
South Korea, 2013, 121 minutes
Korean language with English subtitles

Friend II: The Legacy, director KWAK Kyung-taek's long-awaited follow-up to his 2001 cult phenomenon Friend, will be available on a single-disc DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, September 16th from CJ Entertainment. The original was a huge hit about four close friends who grew up in the 1970s and the course their lives took under the influence of gang life. It garnered over 8 million domestic admissions, making it the most successful Korean movie to that time. The 2013 sequel had 1.06 million admissions over its first weekend in release in South Korea, topping the local box office despite its "Restricted" rating.

Also known as Friend: The Great Legacy or Friend 2, the film begins with a flashback of LEE Joon-suk (actor YOO Oh-sung reprising his role from the first film) confessing in court that he ordered the murder of HAN Dong-su, one of his childhood friends.

The film then moves into the cinematic present, set seventeen years later as Joon-suk is about to be released from prison after serving his sentence. Before he gets out, however, he's visited by YEON Hae-ji, who requests that he use his influence in the prison to protect CHOI Sung-hoon (KIM Woo-bin), her 27 year old son who is just starting to serve a brief sentence. Joon-suk agrees and thereby saves Sung-hoon, who was marked for death because he and his gang had attacked a temple that was under the control of members of Lee's gang.

YOO Oh-sung as LEE Joon-suk

Upon his release,  Joon-suk finds that he has lost status in the gang that was founded by LEE Chul-ju (JOO Jin-mo) his father. (Chul-ju's founding of the gang in 1963 is shown in one of several flashbacks to various time periods that punctuate the film.) While Joon-suk was incarcerated the Chairman of the gang had health problems, and nefarious gang member Eun-gi essentially seized the power to which Joon-suk was rightly entitled. Joon-suk becomes a mentor to Sung-hoon after he too is released from prison and enlists him and his friends in the upcoming battle with Eung-gi.

I  must admit that I have not yet seen Friend (though I hope to before long), but thatdidn't prevent me from understanding and enjoying Friend II: The Legacy. I do know that the first film was centered on the friendship between the four main characters. The sequel differs in that there is no focus on any friendship between equals or cohorts. Rather it is the relationship between Joon-suk and Sung-hoon, who are basically a generation apart in age, upon which the narrative revolves.

Joon-suk (left) and CHOI Sung-hoon (actor KIM Woo-bin)

DVD Stats:
- Audio Options
  - Korean 5.1 with English subtitles
  - Korean 2.0 with English subtitles
  - english 5.1
  - English 2.0
- Extras
  - Characters
  - Making of Friend IIL The Legacy
  - Cast and Crew Intrviews
  - Trialers (for other CJ Entrtainment offerings; there's no Friend II trailer)

Sung-hoon (left) and Joon-suk
Friend II: The Legacy is a crackin' good gangster flick, in the vein of Coppola's Godfather movies, which KWAK has acknowledged admiring.

ACF Rating: 3.5 out of 4 star; highly recommended.

I also highly recommend the Korean Cinema Today podcast, which is also available at iTunes. The November 22, 2013 initial episode has host Pierce Conran talking with director KWAK Kyung-taek about Friend 2.

U.S. theatrical run of ICEMAN to begin on Friday, September 19th

Well Go USA
Iceman / Bing Fung: Chung Sang Chi Mun
Directed by Law Wing Cheong
Starring Donnie YEN, WANG Baoqiang, Eva HUANG,
Simon YAM, Mark WU, Gregory WONG
China/Hong Kong, 2014, 100 minutes 
Original Language: Cantonese

This Chinese action adventure starring Donnie Yen will open theatrically in select U.S. cities on Friday, September 19th. Locations and showtimes here.

A Ming Dynasty palace guard - wrongly accused of a murder - is being hunted by his three sworn brothers and all four get accidentally buried and kept frozen in time during a battle. 400 years later, they are defrosted and continue the battle while adjusting to modern day life. A Ming Dynasty palace guard - wrongly accused of a murder - is hunted by three sworn brothers bent on revenge. All four are accidentally buried, frozen in time at the height of battle. 400 years later, they are defrosted and resume their mortal struggle…while also adjusting to modern-day life.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sci-Fi & Fantasy story anthology PHANTASM JAPAN coming September 16th from Haikasoru


Sample The Fantastic, The Strange, And The Surreal In A
Stirring New Anthology Of Sci-Fi And Fantasy Stories
Inspired By Japan From An Array Of Noted Authors

VIZ Media’s Haikasoru literary imprint brings a fantastic anthology of short stories inspired by the Land of the Rising Sun to readers across the English-speaking world with the release this Tuesday. September 16th of PHANTASM JAPAN: FANTASIES LIGHT AND DARK, FROM AND ABOUT JAPAN.

Co-edited by Haikasoru’s Nick Mamatas, a noted sci-fi author and Bram Stoker Award-winning anthologist, and Masumi Washington, Haikasoru’s Editor-in-Chief, PHANTASM JAPAN presents more than 20 works by a stirring collection of some of today’s most compelling fiction authors, including New York Times best-seller Zachary Mason, horror master Gary A. Braunbeck, the Hugo Award-winning Tim Pratt, and others. PHANTASM JAPAN also features works by several highly acclaimed Japanese authors such as Project Itoh (HARMONY, GENOCIDAL ORGAN), Miyuki Miyabe (BRAVE STORY, ICO: CASTLE IN THE MIST, APPARITIONS), and Sayuri Ueda (THE CAGE OF ZEUS), whose works have been published in English by Haikasoru.

PHANTASM JAPAN: FANTASIES LIGHT AND DARK, FROM AND ABOUT JAPAN will be available in print from Haikasoru for $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN. An eBook edition will also be available for $8.99 (U.S. / CAN) for the Amazon Kindle, Apple’s iBooks Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Book Store, the Kobo eBooks Store, and the Google Play store.

Haikasoru publishes some of the most compelling contemporary Japanese science fiction and fantasy stories for English-speaking audiences, and is the first imprint based in the U.S. dedicated to Japanese science fiction and fantasy in translation.

The secret history of the most famous secret agent in the world; A bunny costume that reveals the truth in our souls; The unsettling notion that Japan itself may be a dream; The tastiest meal you’ll never have; A fedora-wearing neckbeard’s deadly date with a yokai; and the worst work shift anyone – human or not – has ever lived through. Welcome to PHANTASM JAPAN!

“PHANTASM JAPAN seeks to use the fantastic not to mystify, but to demystify, to bring the English-speaking world not only traditional stories of tanuki (raccoon dogs) and kitsune (foxes), of ghosts and yokai (supernatural monsters), but the bleeding edge of the Japanese fantastic,” notes Nick Mamatas in the introduction to the book. “Japanese fantasy is in a dialogue not only with Japan’s spiritual traditions and modern experiences, but also with Western ghost stories and science fiction. Japanese fantasy is in dialogue with virtually everything, from the New Weird to real life horror.”

Haikasoru’s previous short fiction anthology, THE FUTURE IS JAPANESE, was published in 2012. It included Ken Liu’s “Mono No Aware”, which won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story. The anthology itself was nominated for the Locus Award, and other stories nominated for the Sturgeon, Shirley Jackson, and SF&F Translation Awards. Five pieces from THE FUTURE IS JAPANESE were also reprinted in various “year’s best” science fiction anthologies.

For more information these titles and the Haikasoru imprint, visit the dedicated website at www.haikasoru.com.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sentai Filmworks announces acquisition of FATE/KALEID LINER PRISMA ILLYA 2WEI!

The Fate universe will once again “kaleid” with an extra dose of magical girl misadventures in Sentai Filmworks' latest acquisition, Fate/Kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei! This magical girl action series is directed by Shin Oonuma (Dusk maiden of Amnesia, ef: a tale of memories) with art direction by Ken Tateishi (Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, Kotoura-san), sound direction by Masanori Tsuchiya (Brynhildr in the Darkness, Five Numbers!) and animation production by SILVER LINK (WATAMOTE, Penguindrum).

Synopsis: The magical girls are back, and ready for another round of adventure! After successfully recovering the Class Cards, eighth graders-turned magical girls Illya and Miyu think they can finally take it easy. But as fate would have it, the girls are once again called back into active duty when they find out that the Cards have left some very nasty side effects on their world. However, their seemingly easy mission goes totally awry with the appearance of a dark stranger who looks just like Illya! Who is this new but familiar face, where did she come from, and what does she want from Illya? With the arrival of this new foe, it seems like Illya’s finally met her match when her everyday life takes one dark turn.

Fate/Kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei! will be available soon through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

RANMA ½, Volume 3 Blu-ray & DVD box sets available September 16th

© Rumiko Takahashi / Shogakukan

Latest Home Media Edition For Legendary Martial Arts Comedy
Presented In Beautiful High Definition In A 3-Disc Set Filled With
Special Bonus Features; Standard Edition DVD Also Available

VIZ Media has announced the latest installment of digitally restored RANMA ½ episodes with the release this coming Tuesday, September 16th of Set 3 of the classic anime series in new High Definition Limited Edition Blu-ray as well as a Standard Edition DVD Set.

The RANMA ½ Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set, Set 3 contains Episodes 47-69 of the venerable gender-bending martial arts action comedy based on the celebrated manga series created by Rumiko Takahashi. The RANMA ½ Limited Edition Blu-ray Box Set, Set 3 will carry an MSRP of $54.97 U.S. / $63.99 CAN and features 23 episodes on 3 discs, presented for the first time in full 1080p High Definition resolution with the series’ original, un-cropped 4:3 aspect ratio. The Standard Edition DVD will be available with an MSRP of $44.82 U.S. / $51.99 CAN. The series is rated ‘TV-14.’

The latest RANMA ½ home media editions continue the series’ premium presentation with the Limited Edition Blu-ray version packaged in a high quality chipboard box with gold foil stamping, beautifully illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi, along with a 32-page booklet, complete episode guide, and a collectable full-color RANMA ½ art card. Notable bonus features offered exclusively on the Blu-ray edition include, ’We Love Ranma Part 3 – The Appeal Of Ranma ½,’ the newest installment of an ongoing series of insightful interviews tracing the legacy and impact of the groundbreaking anime property.

The RANMA ½ Standard Edition DVD set contains 23 remastered episodes presented with the original, un-cropped 4:3 aspect ratio and bonus features that include clean openings and endings and trailers.

Dialogue options for both DVD and Blu-ray formats include original Japanese with re-done English subtitles or dubbed English audio, along with a secondary subtitle track for signs and songs.

In this acclaimed anime series, Ranma Saotome never thought a martial arts training mission to China would turn out like this! An accidental dunk in a cursed spring changes boy Ranma into a young girl, every time he is splashed with cold water. Hot water reverses the effect - but only until next time.

In the latest collection of episodes, things just can't stay quiet at the Tendo Dojo. After a morning ruckus, Ranma hits his head, falls into water, and turns completely into a girl. Now, even when Ranma transforms back into a boy, he still thinks he's a girl! Things become even more complicated when Shampoo, still in love with Ranma, gets a surprise visit from Chinese Amazon twin sisters Ling-Ling and Lung-Lung, two of her protégées who have it in for Ranma. Then, after Soun and Genma's master, Happosai, uses maxihustion to weaken Ranma, he must master a new legendary technique and defeat Happosai to become strong again. Everything culminates in a final battle against Happosai as Ranma fights to regain his strength.

RANMA ½ manga creator Rumiko Takahashi is one of Japan’s most prolific and respected manga artists and is the creator of several long running series including MAISON IKKOKU, RANMA ½, and INUYASHA – all published in North America by VIZ Media. The spotlight on her prolific career began in 1978 when she won an honorable mention in Shogakukan's annual New Comic Artist Contest for Those Selfish Aliens. Later that same year, her boy-meets-alien comedy series, Urusei Yatsura, was serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday. This phenomenally successful manga series was adapted into anime format and also spawned a TV series and half a dozen theatrical-release movies, all incredibly popular. Takahashi followed up the success of her debut series with one blockbuster hit after another— MAISON IKKOKU ran from 1980 to 1987, RANMA ½ from 1987 to 1996, and INUYASHA from 1996 to 2008. Other notable works include MERMAID SAGA, RUMIC THEATER, ONE-POUND GOSPEL, and RIN-NE (all also published in North America by VIZ Media).

For more information on RANMA ½ and other Rumiko Takahashi titles published by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.