With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Thursday, November 15, 2018

THE HOUSE THAT NEVER DIES: REAWAKENING

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
The House That Never Dies: Reawakening
Directed by Joe Chien
Starring: Joan Chen, Julian Cheung, Gillian Chung
China, 2017, 98 minutes
Mandarin with English subtitles

The sequel to the 2014 hit film The House That Never Dies and based on true events that took place at the spookiest of Beijing’s Four Oriental Haunted Houses, The House That Never Dies: Reawakening
debuts on digital and DVD December 4th from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Starring Joan Chen (The Last Emperor, Judge Dredd), Julian Cheung (The Grandmaster), Mei Ting (Blind Massage) and Gillian Chung (Ip Man: The Final Fight), the story takes place a hundred years after a mutiny by warlords in Beijing when an expert in cultural relics encounters supernatural phenomena at the mansion on 81 Chaoyangmennei Street.

Synopsis:
A hundred years after the mysterious murders of the entire Zhisheng household, a cultural relic restorer Song Teng experiences strange events at the ancient mansion. After discovering baby skeletons and weird spells, the intricate weaving of the past and present begin to emerge and reveals a haunting tale of the wrongly deceased still seeking justice from the living world.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Tsui Hark's DETECTIVE DEE: THE FOUR HEAVENLY KINGS coming to multiple formats November 13th

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings / Di Renjie zhi Sidatianwang
Directed by Tsui Hark
China/Hong Kong, 2018, 132 minutes

Director Tsui Hark (The Taking of Tiger Mountain) brings back the popular hero in the smash hit wuxia fantasy franchise for Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings, will be coming to digital, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD on Tuesday, November 13th from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Set during the Tang dynasty, the third film in the action-packed, martial arts franchise finds the intrepid detective defending himself from the Empress while looking to recover a magical weapon. Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings has Mark Chao (Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon) returning in the title role, with Feng Shaofeng (The Monkey King franchise), Lin Gengxin (The Taking of Tiger Mountain), Ethan Juan (The Guillotines), Ma Sichun (Goldbuster) and Carina Lau (Detective Dee franchise) rounding out the cast.

Synopsis:
A bold and exciting new entry into the smash hit wuxia fantasy franchise from master action director Tsui Hark, Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings sees the detective embroiled in his most difficult case yet. Accused of wrongdoing by Empress Wu, Detective Dee must defend himself against this formidable foe, all while investigating a crime wave that has engulfed the city, marked by strange and seemingly supernatural occurrences.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

BELIEVER coming to Digital, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack & DVD on Oct. 30

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
Believer
Directed by LEE Hae-Young
South Korea, 2018, 124 minutes

Directed by Lee Hae-Young (The Silenced), Believer, the stylish, action-packed remake of Johnnie To’s Drug War, hits digital, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD October 30th from Well Go USA Entertainment. While technically a remake, Cary Darling of The Houston Chronicle notes that “Lee Hae-Yeong’s gripping retelling ... stands on its own and is different enough from the original to make it less a clone and more of a genuflection.”

The story follows an investigator who, in an effort to bring down the boss of Asia’s biggest drug cartel, conspires with a lowly member of the gang seeking revenge against the boss. BELIEVER, stars Cho Jin-woong (The Handmaiden), Ryu Jun-yeol (A Taxi Driver), Kim Joo-hyuck (The Servant), Kim Sung-ryoung (The Target), Park Hae-jun (Unforgettable) and Cha Seoung-won (Man on High Heels).

Synopsis:
A low-level drug dealer facing prosecution conspires with a dangerously ambitious cop to bring down a major cartel’s psychotic kingpin in this electric crime thriller, based on Johnnie To’s critically-acclaimed Drug War.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Umetsugu Inoue: Japan's Music Man, a three film series, coming to Japan Soceity December 15th and 16th

Japan Society NY
Presents
 Umetsugu Inoue: Japan's Music Man
When: December 15-16, 2018
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Map
Tickets- $14/$11 seniors & students / $10 members

"A director who had a big impact on Japanese and Hong Kong pop cinema... Inoue's mix of music, action, and hot young talent became a template for a new genre, called Nikkatsu Action."
— Variety

A prolific and versatile filmmaker who worked across a wide range of genres throughout his long career, Umetsugu Inoue (1923-2010) made his mark at Nikkatsu Studios in the 1950s with a series of highly entertaining, genre-blending musical films that captured the explosive energy of Japan's jazz fueled youth culture.

For this weekend film series, Japan Society is proud to present three of Nikkatsu's newly-subtitled, full-color Inoue classics starring heartthrob (and so-called "Japanese Elvis Presley") Yujiro Ishihara, the biggest male singing film star in postwar Japan.

Each film will be screened twice, once each day of the weekend film series:

- The Winner
- The Stormy Man
- The Eagle and the Hawk

Special Offer: Purchase all 3 Umetsugu Inoue films in the same transaction and receive $2 off each ticket!

Friday, October 19, 2018

U.S. Premiere of UNTIL RAINBOW DAWN in New York on Monday, October 29th

Until Rainbow Dawn
Directed by Mika Imai
Japan, 2018, 63 minutes

When: Monday, October 29, 7:30 PM 
Where: LGBT Community Center
208 West 13th Street, New York 
Buy Tickets

U.S. Premiere  

Hana Takahashi (Eri Nagai) and Ayumi Hoshino (Haruka Kobayashi), both deaf girls, meet through a sign language group and they fall in love. Hana goes back to her parents and comes out about dating a girl, Ayumi. Her parents ask her to leave. Hana is shocked, lost and feels rejected. Ayumi decides to take Hana to an event in Tokyo, a gathering of deaf LGBTQ. Will Hana find like-minded people, will she open her heart and finally accept herself?

Directed by Mika Imai who is also deaf, the film is told through sign language.

This screening is part of NewFest: New York’s LGBT Film Festival and is presented in partnership by Japan Society NY, NewFest and ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

GIRLS VS. GANGSTERS coming to digital on October 2nd and to DVD on November 6th

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
Girls vs. Gangsters / Gui mi 2
Directed by Chun-Chun Wong
China, 2018, 138 minutes

Here's the low down on this comedy coming to digital on October 2nd and to DVD on November 6th from Well Go USA Entertainment:

After a drinking contest with some questionable local spirits at an out-of-control bachelorette party, five friends wake up naked on a beach to discover one of them is handcuffed to a locked suitcase, one has a strange new tattoo, and none of them have any clue what happened the night before in Girls vs. Gangsters, the fun-filled sequel to the over-the-top 2014 romp Girls. They soon become the target of local gangsters as they try to retrace their drunken steps and make it back home and to the alter on time.

Directed by Barbara Wong (Break Up Club, Girls), the film stars Fiona Sit (The Midnight After), Yihan Chen (Spider Lilies) and Ning Chang (Black & White: The Dawn of Justice), with a special appearance from Mike Tyson (Ip Man 3, Kickboxer: Retaliation).

Synopsis:
A wild bachelorette weekend in a foreign city spins hilariously out of control in this over-the-top sequel to the box office smash Girls. After a drinking contest with some questionable local spirits, three friends wake up naked on a beach to discover two are handcuffed to a locked suitcase, one has a strange new tattoo, and none of them have any clue what happened the night before. When they soon find themselves pursued by local gangsters, their only shot at making it home - and to the altar - is to piece together the previous night’s events while on the run.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

CURE coming to Japan Society NY on October 26th

Japan Society NY
Presents

Cure © 1997 KADOKAWA
Cure / Kyua
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
With Koji Yakusho, Masato Hagiwara, Tsuyoshi Ujiki, Anna Nakagawa
Japan, 1997, 11 minutes 
35mm, color, in Japanese with English subtitles

When: Friday, October 26th at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Map
Tickets- $14/$11 seniors & students / $5 members


An international breakout hit that firmly established director Kiyoshi Kurosawa as a master of fear, Cure follows detective Takabe (the great Koji Yakusho) as he investigates a series of gruesome Tokyo murders in which a large X is found carved into the base of each victim's throat. When Takabe confronts the only link to every crime scene, a mysterious drifter who possibly possesses hypnotic powers, he is pulled into an unsettling mind game that risks his own sanity. Utilizing an ingenious visual style that evokes horror in every frame, Kurosawa's deeply unnerving twist on the police procedural suggests modern society's unknowing capacity for unspeakable evil.
 
18+ This film is unrated, but is not recommended for persons younger than 18 years of age due to violent imagery.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

DETECTIVE K: SECRET OF THE LIVING DEAD will debut on digital on September 25th

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
DETECTIVE K: SECRET OF THE LIVING DEAD
(Jo-seon-myeong-tamjeong: Heupyeolgoemaui bimil) 
Directed by KIM Suk-Yoon
South Korea, 2018, 119 minutes

DETECTIVE K: SECRET OF THE LIVING DEAD, the third film in the popular action-mystery franchise, debuts on digital only on September 25th from Well Go USA Entertainment. KIM Myung-min and OH dal-su reprise their roles as bumbling sleuths investigating a string of strange murders that suggest the work of vampires.

This hilarious outing follows the hugely popular Detective K: Secret of the Virtuous Widow (2011) and Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island (2015) and also stars Kim Ji-won (Horror Stories), Lee Min-ki (Tidal Wave) and Kim Bum (Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon).

Synopsis:
When a series of unusual murders occurs, Detective K (KIM Myung-min) and his partner (OH Dal-soo) are once again called upon to solve the case. Along the way, he teams up with a beautiful woman (KIM Ji-won) with amnesia and together they discover Vampire bite marks on all of the bodies. As they investigate further, they begin to realize that the woman is somehow closely connected to the deaths.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

South Korean Crime Thriller THE NEGOTIATION opens September 20th in L.A. and Buena Park; wide release to follow on September 28th

CJ Entertainment
Presents
The Negotiation
Directed by LEE Jong-suk
South Korea, 2018, 114 minutes

South Korean crime thriller, The Negotiation, hits the big screens this Fall in Los Angeles and Buena Park on September 20th, followed by a wider release in cities across the U.S. and Canada on September 28. Starring the biggest hit-makers of Korean films, SON Ye-jin and HYUN Bin go head-to-head in this nail-biting movie surrounding a hostage crisis.

HA Chae-youn (SON Ye-jin) is the top police negotiator who keeps a cool head in any situation. However, she spirals into shock when a hostage situation she responded to ends in disaster as she witnesses the hostages getting killed in front of her eyes. Just 10 days after the incident, MIN Tae-gu (HYUN Bin), a notorious arms dealer wanted by the police, kidnaps a Korean reporter and police officer and picks Chae-youn as the negotiator. Tae-gu creates an unprecedented hostage situation for unknown reasons and Chae-youn cannot back down.

The Negotiation is Director LEE Jong-suk’s directorial debut. He previously worked as an assistant director on Ode to My Father, and took part in the screenwriting of The Himalayas. The film is presented by CJ Entertainment and produced by JK Film.

For more information and a list of theaters, click here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

GONJIAM: HAUNTED ASYLUM coming September 18th, 2018

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum / Gon-ji-am
Directed by Jung Bum-Shik
South Korea, 2018, 93 minutes

Here's the info I have about this upcoming offering from Well Go USA:

The crew of a horror web series travels to an abandoned asylum for a live broadcast. They soon encounter much more than expected as they move deeper inside the nightmarish old building in the horror thriller Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum, terrorizing on digital, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD September 18th from Well Go USA Entertainment. An updated take on the “found footage” genre of thrillers, Director Jung Bum-Shik (Epitaph, Horror Stories) assembled a cast of mostly newcomers for Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum, including Wi Ha-Jun, Park Sung-Hun, Lee Seung-Wook, Oh Ah-Yeon, Park Ji-Hyun, Yoo Je-Yoon and Mun Ye-Won.

Synopsis:
Based on the local legends and stories of people who’ve visited the real-life abandoned hospital, GONJIAM: HAUNTED ASYLUM follows the crew of a horror web show who plan to stream live from inside the asylum. To attract more viewers, the show’s host arranges some scares for the team, but as they move further into the nightmarish old building, they begin to encounter much more than expected.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Beloved classic Japanese youth film LINDA LINDA LINDA coming to Japan Society on September 7th

Japan Society NY
Presents

Linda Linda Linda © "LINDA LINDA LINDA" Film Partners
Linda Linda Linda
Directed by Nobuhiro Yamashita
With Doona Bae, Aki Maeda, Yu Kashii, Shiori Sekine
Japan, 2005, 114 minutes
35mm, color
In Japanese with English subtitles

When: Friday, September 7th at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Map

When two members of a five-girl band call it quits days before their high school's music showcase, the remaining members scramble to reorganize in time to perform. They find inspiration in the 1987 single "Linda Linda" by Japanese punk band The Blue Hearts and decide to cover it as a new group. For their lead singer, the girls spontaneously enlist Korean exchange student Son (Doona Bae, Cloud Atlas), who speaks just enough Japanese to memorize the lyrics.

One of the most beloved Japanese films of the 21st century, director Nobuhiro Yamashita's low-key teen comedy is a pitch-perfect ode to youth, female friendship and rock music.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

BROTHERS coming to Digital and DVD on September 4th, 2018

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
Brothers
Directed by Kiefer Liu
China, 2016, 94 minutes

Here's what Well Go has to say about this upcoming release:

The close relationship between two brothers is ripped apart during the 1936 Chinese civil war when they end up on opposite sides of the conflict in the action drama Brothers, debuting on digital and DVD September 4 from Well Go USA Entertainment. Directed by Kiefer Liu (Don Quixote), the film fetures a striking visual look with black and white images interspersed with random flashes of color and pared-down CGI backgrounds. Brothers stars Ethan Li (The Blue Cornflower), Peter Ho (The Monkey King) and Xia Zitong (The Monkey King).

Synopsis:
Once a poor vagrant, Chen Tiejin has risen through the ranks of the Red Army and is now a brave and experienced company commander. During a dangerous rescue mission, Commander Tiejin and his Red Army troop are locked in heated battle with the Kuomintang soldiers. Raising his weapon to deliver the final blow, he stops dead – the solider is none other than his brother he lost five years before, now working alongside the enemy. In a time of hardship and war, can brotherly love bridge the divide to find peace? 

I've watched my review screener and will be posting my review on, or just before, the September 4th release date.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

RAMEN SHOP reviewed; opens JAPAN CUTS tomorrow

Japan Society NY
Presents
Ramen Shop © Zhao Wei Films/Wild Orange Artists
Ramen Shop / Ramen Teh
Directed by Eric Khoo
With Takumi Saitoh, Seiko Matsuda,
Mark Lee, and Jeanette Aw
Singapore/Japan/France, 2018, 89 minutes
DCP, in English, Japanese. Mandarin and Cantonese with English subtitles

When: Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 7:00 pm
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC

SOLD OUT:
A waitlist will begin at the Box Office one hour prior to the screening.
Being on the waitlist does not guarantee admission.

Feature Slate | Opening Film
North American Premiere

Intro and Q&A with director Eric Khoo and star Takumi Saitoh,
followed by the OPENING NIGHT PARTY

Masato Yamamoto (Takumi Saitoh) is a young man of mixed ancestry. His emotionally distant father, a ramen cook for whom Masato works in the city of Takasaki, is Japanese; his long-deceased mother was Chinese. His parents had met and fallen in love in Singapore, where his father had gone to work in the 1980s and where Masato was born and lived the first ten years of his life.

A major life-changing event leads Masato back to Singapore to learn about his roots and his parents' unusual early relationship. Back in the city of his youth, Masato encounters Miki, a Japanese expat food blogger (pop idol Seiko Matsuda), and reconnects with his maternal uncle (comedian Mark Lee) and other relatives. Through them he learns of the obstacles his parents encountered to realize their love and the long held bitter feelings of some against his father because of Japanese atrocities during World War II against the Chinese. He also learns about Singaporean cuisine and secret family recipes.

Director Eric Khoo, who was born in Singapore, is a major figure in that country's film industry. His films were that country's first to be invited to major international festivals, and he has been nominated for and has won several awards. With Ramen Shop, he has crafted a well structured and a touching tale. Masato's return is interspersed with flashback scenes that gradually reveal vital information about his heritage. It's a wonderful movie about family relationships, reconciliation, and forgiveness. And, oh yes, it's also about food, most particularly Bak Kut Teh, or pork rib soup.

As an aside, let me mention that, having grown up at a time when double-features were common, I enjoy "fantasy programming" them. Ramen Shop would be prefect with either Jûzô Itami's 1985 ramen western Tampopo or with Koki Shigeno 's 2017 documentary Ramen Heads.

AsianCineFest Rating of Ramen Shop: 3 out of 4 stars; a solid, good film.

Part of JAPAN CUTS 2018

Thursday, July 12, 2018

RAMEN SHOP to open 2018 JAPAN CUTS Festival of New Japanese Film

Japan Society NY
Presents
Ramen Shop © Zhao Wei Films/Wild Orange Artists
Ramen Shop / Ramen Teh
Directed by Eric Khoo
With Takumi Saitoh, Seiko Matsuda,
Mark Lee, and Jeanette Aw
Japan, 2018, 89 minutes
DCP, in English, Japanese. Mandarin and Cantonese with English subtitles

When: Thursday, July 19, 2018
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC

SOLD OUT:
A waitlist will begin at the Box Office one hour prior to the screening.
Being on the waitlist does not guarantee admission.

Feature Slate | Opening Film
North American Premiere

Intro and Q&A with director Eric Khoo and star Takumi Saitoh,
followed by the OPENING NIGHT PARTY

Masato (Takumi Saitoh) helps run a ramen shop in Takasaki, Japan with his emotionally distant father. Upon his father’s sudden death, a suitcase of old family photographs and journals that belonged to his long-deceased Singaporean mother motivates Takumi to learn about his roots and the mystery of his parents’ relationship in Singapore. With the help of a Japanese expat food blogger (pop idol Seiko Matsuda) and his maternal uncle (comedian Mark Lee), Masato undergoes a journey of discovery that unlocks secret family recipes, reveals painful pasts and begins a process of reconciliation that bridges national histories and generations. Filled with delectable scenes featuring Singaporean cuisine, this moving drama by Singapore’s leading auteur Eric Khoo celebrates the power of love, family and good food.

"Handled with a sincerity that could commend it to incurable romantics and insatiable foodies alike."
— Screen Daily

Part of JAPAN CUTS 2018

Monday, July 02, 2018

Japan Society NY
Presents
Image © Nobuyoshi Araki
Arakimentari
Directed by Travis Klose
Japan, 2005, 85 minutes
In English, Japanese

When: Tuesday, July 10th at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Tickets: $15/$12 members, seniors & students

Followed by a discussion with director Travis Klose and independent curator
Christopher Phillips, moderated by Yukie Kamiya (Director, Japan Society Gallery)
and focusing on Araki's practice and his relationships with his subjects.

Arakimentari focuses on Nobuyoshi Araki (b. 1940, Tokyo), Japan's most famous and notorious photographer, both acclaimed and condemned for his photo books and exhibitions which often focus upon women, typically nude and in bold poses. This documentary provides a glimpse into the professional and personal sides of Araki, including his background, his relationships with his subjects, his less well known portraiture and landscape work, and how he spends his spare time. Also included are interviews with several friends and contemporaries, including musician Björk, photographer Richard Kern, and actor/filmmaker Takeshi Kitano.

Araki's work has been featured in two recent Japan Society exhibitions, For a New World to Come: Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968-1979 (2015) and In the Wake: Japanese Photographers Respond to 3/11 (2016).

Arakimentari has won the following awards:
Best Documentary, 2004 Brooklyn International Film Festival
Best Music Score, 2004 Brooklyn International Film Festival
Best Editing, 2004 Honolulu Film Festival

Sunday, July 01, 2018

GATAO 2: RISE OF THE KING reviewed; playing at 2018 NYAFF on Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

Gatao 2: Rise of the King
Directed by Yen Cheng-Kuo
Taiwan, 2018, 126 minutes
In Taiwanese and Mandarin with English subtitles

When: Wednesday, July 4th at 5:15 PM 
165 W 65th Street, NYC 
Tickets

North American Premiere  

Gatao 2: Rise of the King is nominally a sequel to Gatao, the 2015 Taiwanese film directed by Joe C. Lee Wan-Kit. But, as the film is described in NYAFF publicity materials, it is a "stand-alone gangster saga." ("Gatao", by the way, means gang leader.) The director this time around is Yen Cheng-Kuo; Rise of the King is his directorial debut. Yen is a former child star (his first screen credits were two films that came out in 1980 when he was approximately six years old). Later he "narrowly escaped the death penalty and instead served 10 years in prison for kidnapping." The cast of "2" also appears to be largely, if not entirely, different from the original.

The film centers on the conflict between two former friends. Ren (Shih-Hsien Wang) is old school, believing in integrity and loyalty, while Jian (Collin Chou) will do whatever it takes to get to the top. The bulk of the story takes place three years after an introductory segment which ends with Jian being arrested and taken away the police. After getting out of prison, he somehow manages to become the head of Jian Corporation. Just how this happens is never explained; the viewer has to take it on faith that he has managed to make the most of his criminal skills to amass connections, wealth and power.

Jian seeks out Ren, wanting him to become an associate in his illegal endeavors. But Ren is loyal to his boss, President Gui (Jack Kao) and rejects Jian's offer out of antipathy to the nature of Jian Corp's business. Consequently, a gang war breaks out between the two sides. Large-scale street battles result that involve the criminals' weapon of choice, bats, although fists, feet, knives and even the occasional gun are also employed. The latter is used to great effect by one of Jian's henchmen, the white-haired nut-job appropriately known as Syko (Samuel K).

I have not seen the original Gatao, but didn't feel that fact in any way significantly diminished my enjoyment of Gatao 2: Rise of the King. Overall it's a interesting, well-structured and -filmed action movie. It proves that Taiwan can produce a gangster flick on a par with those of Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, and that Yen should have a promising future as a director.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; solidly recommended.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Full Lineup Announced for the 17th Annual New York Asian Film Festival

The Film Society of Lincoln Center
and
Subway Cinema
present
The 17th Annual New York Asian Film Festival
When: June 29 - July 15, 2018
Where: Film Society of Lincoln Center
& SVA (School of Visual Arts) Theatre

The full lineup for the 17th New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) has been announced by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema, joint presenters of the event. The festival begins this coming Friday, June 29th and continues through July 15th. Films, Q&As, and award presentations will take place at two venues: the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the SVA (School of Visual Arts) Theatre.

The announcement is here.

An alphabetical listing of the films, including dates, times, and location can be found here.

Friday, June 22, 2018

THE GREAT BUDDHA + plays in Seattle on Sunday July 1, 2018

Cheng Cheng Films
Presents
THE GREAT BUDDHA +
Written and directed by HUANG Hsin-Yao
Producer by YEH Jufeng and CHUNG Mong-Hong
Starring CHUANG Cres, CHEN Bamboo, and DAI Leon
Taiwan, 2017, 104 minutes

THE GREAT BUDDHA +, a wonderful drama from Taiwan, will be playing in Seattle on Sunday, July 1, 2018 at SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave N.

Synopsis:
Provincial friends Pickle and Belly Button idle away their nights in the security booth of a Buddha statue factory, where Pickle works as a guard. One evening, when the TV is on the fritz, they put on video from the boss’s dashcam—only to discover illicit trysts and a mysterious act of violence. Expanded from a short, Huang Hsin-yao’s fiction feature debut The Great Buddha + (the plus sign cheekily nodding to the smartphone model) is a stylish, rip-roaring satire on class and corruption in contemporary Taiwanese society. (New Directors New Films)

I saw the film this past April in conjunction with its New York Premiere at the New Directors New Films series jointly presented by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

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

Monday, June 18, 2018

THE PRINCESS AND THE MATCHMAKER to be released on Amazon, iTunes and Google Play on June 19th

CJ Entertainment
Presents
The Princess and the Matchmaker / Gung-hab
Directed by HONG Chang-pyo
Starring beloved actress SHIM Eun-kyung,
K-Drama Star LEE Seung-gi, and more
South Korea, 2018, 110 minutes

The Princess and the Matchmaker, a South Korean historical romantic comedy, will warm audiences’ hearts with laughter. Produced by the team of The Face Reader and Train to Busan, the film is HONG Chang-pyo’s directorial debut and stars Korea’s prized actress, loved by all ages, SHIM Eun-kyung (Miss Granny) and Korea’s all-around actor/entertainer, LEE Seung-gi. It also stars KIM Sang-kyung, YEON Woo-jin, KANG Min-hyuk, CHOI Woo-shik, and JO Bok-lae.

The Princess and the Matchmaker will release on Amazon, iTunes and Google Play on June 19, 2018. The cost is $14.99 to purchase High Definition (HD), $9.99 to purchase Standard Definition (SD), $4.99 to rent High Definition (HD), and $3.99 to rent Standard Definition (SD).

Synopsis:
In The Princess and the Matchmaker, during the wake of the country’s prolonged famine, the Palace arranges Princess Songhwa’s (SHIM Eun-kyung) marriage in hopes to improve the country’s misfortune. A renowned diviner, Seo Doyoon (LEE Seung-gi), is brought in to find the perfect husband that will have the best marital harmony with the princess. Choosing from candidates from all over the country, four prospective husbands with different fate signs are shortlisted. The princess refuses to accept that her life partner will be chosen solely based on fortune reading. She takes it upon herself to meet the candidates before the final decision is made.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

THE ACCIDENTAL DETECTIVE 2: IN ACTION in limited North American release starting June 22nd

CJ Entertainment
Presents
The Accidental Detective 2: In Action / Tam jeong 2
Directed by LEE Eon-hie
Starring: KWON Sang-woo, SUNG Dong-il, and LEE Kwang-soo 
South Korea, 2018, 116 minutes

South Korean Action Comedy
Releases in the U.S. & Canada on June 22

The Accidental Detective 2: In Action, South Korea’s newest detective comedy to premiere in North America, will make audiences laugh this summer. The film is a limited release and will be showing in select theaters beginning June 22, 2018. For the full theater list, please visit: www.cj-entertainment.com.

Synopsis:
A comic book storekeeper, Dae-man (KWON Sang-woo), and the legendary homicide detective, Tae-su (SUNG Dong-il), who met on a previous case quit their jobs to open the very first private detective agency in Korea. Despite their high hopes, they soon find themselves with only trivial cases such as spouse infidelity, unpaid debt, and missing cats. Then one day, a woman walks into the office, wanting to find the truth behind the death of her fiancé. Not only that, she also offers them a handsome reward of 50,000 dollars. Dae-man and Tae-su see it as an opportunity to put their true detective skills to work. They bring onboard a third member, Hopper (LEE Kwang-soo), a Mensa genius and a small-time online private eye, and together they launch a full-fledged investigation on the case. As they dig into what initially appeared to be a straightforward case, disturbing new evidence turns up.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Encore screening of "Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High" to be held on June 15th, 2018 at Japan Society NY

Japan Society NY
presents a
Monthly Classics · Japan Cuts Encore
Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High / Teiichi no Kuni
Directed by Akira Nagai
Starring Masaki Suda, Shuhei Nomura, Ryoma Takeuchi, Shotaro Mamiya
Japan, 2017. 118 minutes
Blu-ray, in Japanese with English subtitles

When: Friday, June 15, 7 PM
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Map
Tickets: $13/$10 seniors & students / $5 Japan Society members

Teiichi Akaba has a singular dream: crush the competition, become prime minister and rule his own country. But first he just has to get through high school. An absurdist satire of Japan's elitist pathways to the seats of power, Akira Nagai's adaptation of Usamaru Furuya's manga finds Showa-era teens battling for the student council presidency through sabotage, bribery, fisticuffs and the manipulation of more than a few unspoken crushes.

Winner of the JAPAN CUTS 2017 Audience Award, this comedic crowdpleaser returns to Japan Society for an encore screening in anticipation of the upcoming 12th edition of JAPAN CUTS (July 19–29).

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

FIRST SAMURAI IN NEW YORK reviewed; screening Wednesday night at Asia Society NY

YK Well Enterprise
presents
A Forerunner Films Production
In association with Fuzz on the Lens Productions
First Samurai in New York
Written and directed by Justin Ambrosino
Starring Maho Honda, Kyo Kasumi, Mike Houston, and Gabe Fazio
Based on a story by Yuki Arai (also executive producer)
Fight coordinator: Kyo Kasumi (TATE Hato Ryo NY)
USA, 2017, 13 minutes, color


First Samurai in New York is the latest film from Justin Ambrosino. His wonderful The 8th Samurai, a black-and-white 28 minute short, was shown at the 2012 New York Japan CineFest.

First Samurai in New York had its New York premiere screening at the New York International Shorts Festival on Saturday June 2nd. It will also be shown as part of this year's New York Japan CineFest: Program 1 on Wednesday, June 6th.

The movie takes place in 1883, approximately fifteen years after the Meiji Restoration, which restored practical rule to the emperor and led to the end of the shogunate and the samurai class. The location is Staten Island, where the family of a former samurai, and later a firefighter - has completed their long and arduous journey to America.

Izumi Naito (Kyo Kasumi), the mother, leaves for a few days to find a better and permanent place to live in Manhattan. Eldest daughter Chiyo Naito (Maho Honda) is a young woman who is left in charge of her two younger siblings: Ken, a boy and the middle child; and Fuji, the second daughter and youngest child.

When a violent situation concerning a male neighbor arises, the titular character comes to the rescue.

There's a delightful twist on the expectations one might have from the movie's title, and though it becomes evident fairly on, I don't want to say more and spoil this little treat.

Suffice it to say that, as in The 8th Samurai (which he also wrote and directed) Ambrosino demonstrates a deft hand and a marvelous flair for storytelling. An  incredible amount of drama, action and heart are contained in this outstanding short. All of the performances are highly commendable, with Maho Honda's particularly so.

Wednesday night's program of this year's New York Japan CineFest runs from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue, NYC. (Click here for map and directions.) I haven't seen any of the other five films in the program, but past offerings have all been worth seeing.

I highly recommend catching First Samurai in New York tomorrow night, even if you were at Saturday night's New York premiere. It's a terrific film and further evidence of Ambrosino's considerable talents.

AsianCineFest Rating: 4 out of 4 stars; most highly recommended.

[P.S. - New York Japan CineFest 2018: Program 2 will take place at Asia Society on Thursday, June 7th, again from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.]

Thursday, May 31, 2018

South Korean Action Thriller GOLDEN SLUMBER Releases on Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play on June 5, 2018

CJ Entertainment
presents
Golden Slumber / Gol-deun seul-leom-beo
Directed by NOH Dong-seok
South Korea, 2018, 108 minutes

Golden Slumber is a South Korean action thriller packed with twists, turns and deception as a man fights to stay alive after being framed for murder. It will release on Amazon, iTunes and Google Play on June 5, 2018. The film, based on the novel Golden Slumber by Isaka Kotaro, is directed by award-winning director NOH Dong-seok (My Generation).

After getting his start with two critically acclaimed indie features, Golden Slumber is director NOH’s first mainstream action film. He previously received the Special Jury Award from 2004’s Busan Film Critics Association Awards for My Generation. His second feature film, Boys of Tomorrow won International Competition from 60th Festival del Film Locarno. Golden Slumber stars GA NG Dong-won (Romance of their Own), KIM Eui-sung (Train to Busan), KIM Sung-kyun (The Neighbors), and KIM Dae-myeung (Insignificant Life).

In Golden Slumber, Gun-woo (GANG Dong-won) is an honest and hardworking courier who even won a Model Citizen Award for saving a singer from a robbery incident. Out of the blue, his old friend Moo-yeol comes to visit him at work. With just a short moment to enjoy the pleasant surprise, Gun-woo witnesses a bombing incident that kills a presidential candidate right before his eyes. Moo-yeol tells Gun-woo that he is responsible for the bombing and that everyone will come after him as it is the agency’s plan to make him the prime suspect.

Gun-woo manages to flee from the scene but all evidence, including security camera footage, witness testimonies and fingerprints point toward him as the suspect. Teaming up with former secret agent Mr. Min (KIM Eui-sung), who is an old friend of Moo-yeol, they work to clear Gun-woo’s name as he fights with all his strength to stay alive.

Golden Slumber is distributed by CJ Entertainment. The cost is $14.99 to purchase High Definition (HD), $9.99 to purchase Standard Definition (SD), $4.99 to rent High Definition (HD), and $3.99 to rent Standard Definition (SD).

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

BELIEVER opening in select North American theaters on June 8, 2018

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
Believer
Written and Directed by Hae-young Lee
Starring Kim Joo-Hyuk, Cho Jin-woong, Ryu Jun-yeol,
Kim Sung-ryung, and Park Hae-joon
South Korea, 2018, 123 minutes

Believer, an action/crime/thriller from South Korea, follows an investigator who, in an effort to bring down the boss of Asia's biggest drug cartel, conspires with a lowly member of the gang seeking revenge against the boss.

Believer will be playing at the following theaters:

ATLANTA (LAWRENCEVILLE) AMC - Sugarloaf Mills 18
BOSTON - AMC Loews Boston Common
BUENA PARK, CA - CGV Cinemas Buena Park
CALGARY - Cineplex Westhills
CHICAGO (NILES) - AMC Showplace Niles 12 DALLAS AMC Grapevine Mills 30
DENVER - AMC Arapahoe Crossings 16
EDMONTON - Cineplex Movies 12
HONOLULU -  Consolidated Pearlridge 16
HOUSTON - AMC Studio 30
MONTGOMERY, AL - New Vision Chantilly 13
NEW YORK - AMC Bay Terrace 6
NEW YORK - AMC Empire 25
NYC (EDGEWATER) - National Amusements Edgewater Multiplex
NYC (RIDGEFIELD PARK, NJ) - AMC Starplex Ridgefield Park 12
PHILADELPHIA - AMC Plymouth Meeting 12
PHOENIX - Harkins Arizona Mills
SAN DIEGO - AMC Fashion Valley 18
SAN FRANCISCO - AMC Van Ness 14
SEATTLE (LYNNWOOD) - AMC Loews Alderwood Mall 16
SAN FRANCISCO (CUPERTINO) - AMC Mercado 20
TORONTO -  Cineplex Empress Walk
VANCOUVER - Cineplex Cinemas Coquitlam and VIP

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WellGoUSAhttps://www.facebook.com/WellGoUSA
Facebook: www.facebook.com/WellGoKoreanCinema
Trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jopY1WkXKdo

Monday, May 28, 2018

12th annual edition of JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film to run July 19 to 29 at Japan Society NY

Japan Society NY
presents
JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film
When: July 19 to 29, 2018
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Map
Tickets go on sale to Japan Society members June 11 and to the public on June 18

Now entering its 12th year, JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film returns to present the best new movies made in and around Japan and the filmmakers and performers who made them, with new titles never before seen in New York and many screening for the first time outside Japan or in North America.

Set for July 19 to 29, the 2018 edition will feature an exclusive premiere roster of nearly 30 feature films, ranging from big budget blockbusters to powerful shoestring indies, and includes spotlights on documentary cinema, experimental films, shorts and recent rediscoveries and restorations of classic Japanese favorites.

With the full schedule to be announced in early June, first highlights include:

Mori, The Artist’s Habitat – Centerpiece Presentation – North American Premiere: A warm, comical portrait of artist Morikazu Kumagai and his wife Hideko, starring Tsutomu Yamazaki and featured festival guest Kirin Kiki. Directed by Shuichi Okita (Mohican Comes Home, The Woodsman and the Rain).

KUSHINA, what will you be – International Premiere: A strikingly original debut by promising new filmmaker Moët Hayami, in attendance. Recipient of the 2018 JAPAN CUTS Award at the 2018 Osaka Asian Film Festival.

Night Is Short, Walk on Girl – East Coast Premiere: A highly original and visually astounding animated comedy about unrequited love and a wild night on the town from acclaimed animation director Masaaki Yuasa (Devilman Crybaby, Mind Game).

Sennan Asbestos Disaster – North American Premiere: A ten-years-in-the-making epic about victims of asbestos-related diseases by influential documentarian Kazuo Hara (The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On), in attendance with producer Sachiko Kobayashi.

Yocho (Foreboding) – New York Premiere: Internationally renowned director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s follow-up and companion piece to Before We Vanish (2017) is a darker and scarier apocalyptic sci-fi thriller about alien invasion.

Also this year, the festival will award the 2018 CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Performance in Film to Kirin Kiki (After the Storm, Sweet Bean) — a veteran film and television actor who started her career in the 1960s, best known to international audiences for her memorable work in recent films by leading Japanese directors Hirokazu Kore-eda and Naomi Kawase.

“Kirin Kiki is a legend, and we are so honored to present her with this well-deserved award this year,” says Aiko Masubuchi, Senior Film Programmer at Japan Society. “Despite being on screen for over 50 years, she only continues to impress us with her nuanced, true-to-life performances that elevate every film in which she appears.”

Masubuchi continues, “We still have a lot up our sleeves, but we are so excited to share these first few JAPAN CUTS 2018 titles and guests. It’s a perfect slice of what the festival is all about: bringing the latest in both established and fresh new voices in Japanese cinema and celebrating the diversity it has to offer."

In the run-up to this year's festival, the 2017 JAPAN CUTS Audience Award winner Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High receives an encore screening on Friday, June 15, 7:00 pm as a "JAPAN CUTS Encore" within Japan Society’s Monthly Classics programming.

Friday, May 11, 2018

EVERYTHING GOES WRONG at Japan Society NY this evening

Japan Society NY
presents
© 1960 Nikkatsu Corp
Everything Goes Wrong / Subete ga Kurutteru
Directed by Seijun Suzuki
With Tamio Kawachi, Sayuri Yoshinaga,
Yoshiko Yatsu, and Shinako Nakagawa

Japan, 1960, 71 minutes, 35 mm, b&w
In Japanese with English subtitles

When: Friday, May 11th at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Map
Tickets: $13/$10 seniors & students / $5 Japan Society members

This lesser known early Seijun Suzuki film was produced by Nikkatsu studios in an effort to relaunch the taiyozoku ("Sun Tribe") youth in revolt films that sent shockwaves through Japan in the mid-1950s. Released the same year as Nagisa Oshima's Cruel Story of Youth, Suzuki's film about a rebellious teen who tries to break up his mother's affair with a married man similarly tapped into the restlessness, frustration and violent energy of Japan's postwar youth with a pronounced visual style that signaled the emergence of the Japanese New Wave. Screening in commemoration of star Tamio Kawachi, who passed away earlier this year.

Friday, May 04, 2018

THE MIMIC coming to digital and Blu-ray on June 12th

WELL GO USA
ENTERTAINMENT
presents
The Mimic / Jang-san-beom
Written and directed by Huh Jung
South Korea, 2017, 100 minutes

Following the acclaim for his first feature film Hide and Seek, writer/director Huh Jung returns to the genre that made him famous with his sophomore horror-thriller THE MIMIC, generating terror on digital and Blu-ray™ June 12th from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Based on the mythological “Tiger of Mt. Jang,” where a legendary ghost that mimics humans, a woman takes in a lost girl she finds near the mysterious Mt. Jang and mystifying things begin to happen to her frightened family. The Mimic stars Yum Jung-Ah (Tell Me Something), Park Hyuk-Kwon (A Taxi Driver), Shin Rin-Ah (Ode To My Father), Heo Jin (The Wailing), Kil Hae-Yeon (Missing) and Lee Yool (Hello Murderer).

Synopsis:
A classic Korean ghost story gets a horrifying new spin in THE MIMIC, as the mother of a missing child takes in a lost girl she finds in the woods and soon begins to wonder if she is even human.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Korean period drama THE FORTRESS to be released on Amazon, Google Play and iTunes on May 1, 2008

International Poster Courtesy CJ Entertainment
The Fortress / Namhansanseong
Directed by HWANG Dong-hyuk
Starring LEE Byung-hun
South Korea, 2017, 140 minutes

CJ Entertainment will be releasing The Fortress, a period drama featuring popular South Korean actor, LEE Byung-hun, best known for Magnificent Seven and Terminator Genisys on Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes on May 1, 2018. This title played in 18 cities across the U.S. and Canada last Fall. It was the main feature of Korean Film Days at the Asian World Film Festival in Los Angeles, and also opened at the London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF) in London last year. The cost is $14.99 to purchase High Definition (HD), $9.99 to purchase Standard Definition (SD), $4.99 to rent High Definition (HD), and $3.99 to rent Standard Definition (SD).

The Fortress is set in 1636, when the Chinese Qing Dynasty has invaded Korea with 150,000 troops. The Korean court flees the capital to take shelter in the Namhan Fortress, located in treacherous mountains outside the city. The Qing army, led by General Yong Gol Dae, quickly surrounds the fortress, leaving the king and the court stranded in a prolonged standoff. For a truce, the Qing general makes a humiliating proposal that they send the Crown Prince out as hostage. Unable to move forward or fight the enemy they are outnumbered by, the people of the fortress start dying from cold and hunger. The king now faces an impossible choice between protecting his people and standing up to those looking to destroy them.

This film is directed by esteemed director HWANG Dong-hyuk (Miss Granny, Silenced, My Father). His 2014 hit Korean comedy, Miss Granny (Chinese version) reached $55M in the box office and has been remade for Japan, Vietnam, and several other countries. It was remade in English with Tyler Perry’s 34th Street Films and in Spanish with Eugenio Derbez’s 3pas Studios.

HWANG’s new period drama also stars KIM Yoon-seok (Will You Be There?, The Priests, Haemoo), PARK Hae-il (The Last Princess, Eungyo, War of the Arrows) and GO Soo (The Royal Tailor, Way Back Home, The Front Line).

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

THE SPY GONE NORTH invited to the 71st Cannes Film Festival; will be released in the U.S. Summer 2018

Official Poster courtesy CJ Entertainment
The Spy Gone North / Gongjak
Written and directed by YOON Jong-bin
Starring HWANG Jung-min, LEE Sung-min,
CHO Jin-woong, and JU Ji-hoon
South Korea, 2018

CJ Entertainment has announced that its highly anticipated espionage film, The Spy Gone North (Gongjak), is releasing in the U.S. this Summer. The film has been invited to the Midnight section of the 71st Cannes Film Festival, which is taking place May 8-19. Directed by YOON Jong-bin, this is his second invitation after The Unforgiven in 2006. Starring HWANG Jung-min (“The Battleship Island, The Wailing), LEE Sung-min (The Sheriff in Town, A Violent Prosecutor), CHO Jin-woong (“The Handmaiden,” “Bluebeard), and JU Ji-hoon (“Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds, Asura: City of Madness). This is HWANG and CHO’s second invitation to the festival as well. CJ E&M now has a total of nine titles that have been invited to the Cannes Film Festival.

Director YOON (Kundo, Nameless Gangster) delivers a gripping, fact-based spy saga about a loyal South Korean agent caught in the political vortex plotted by the ruling classes of two Koreas. In 1993 Korea, the only country where the Cold War continues, tensions surrounding the development of nuclear weapons escalate. Seok-young Park, an army major in the South Korea military intelligence with the code name 'Black Venus' is assigned a mission to infiltrate the North Korean nuclear facility. Seok-young disguises himself as a South Korean businessman working on a collaborative project with North Korea, and approaches Myung-woon Lee, a North Korean high official based in Beijing. After laying down groundwork for years, Seok-young finally manages to win the North Korean ruling class' trust and secure a contract for joint advertising. However, Seok-young soon discovers that both North and South Korea are making secret deals for their own interests in the 1998 South Korean presidential election.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Kazuo Miyagawa retrospective begins tonight at Japan Society NY

Japan Society NY
presents
Kazuo Miyagawa: Japan's Greatest Cinematographer
When: April 13-28, 2018
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Map

Japan Society NY's spring film series opens tonight with a brand new 4K restoration of Yasujiro Ozu’s Floating Weeds (above), introduced by Ichiro Miyagawa, eldest son of Kazuo Miyagawa, and Masahiro Miyajima, Miyagawa's longtime camera assistant. Followed by an opening night reception with food, drinks and live music. Limited tickets remain. [UPDATE: This event is sold out. A waitlist will begin at the box office at 6 PM.]

Opening Night Tickets  


Japan Society will screen 10 more of Miyagawa's greatest works over the next two weeks, including Rashomon (1950), The Rickshaw Man (1943), and Ballad of Orin (1977). Advance ticket purchase is recommended.

Full Schedule & Tickets

Note that co-organizer The Museum of Modern Art will host repeat screenings and additional Miyagawa retrospective titles from April 12-29. Preceding the retrospective, new 4K restorations of Mizoguchi's A Story From Chikamatsu and Sansho the Bailiff, both shot by Miyagawa, will run at Film Forum from April 6-12.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

THE MONKEY KING 3 debuts on digital, Blu-ray™ & DVD May 15th

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
The Monkey King 3/ Xi you ji zhi nü er guo
Directed by Cheang Pou-soi
China/Hong Kong, 2018, 116 minutes

Director Cheang Pou-soi (Accident) and Aaron Kwok (City Under Siege) reunite for THE MONKEY KING 3, the highly-anticipated third installment in the international blockbuster Monkey King franchise, debuting on digital, Blu-ray™ and DVD May 15 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

A small portion of the epic 16th-century Chinese 100-chapter novel Journey to the West again provides the story, picking up where the previous films left off with the Impish magical primate and his motley crew of colorful followers accompanying a monk on a mission to retrieve sacred scriptures. In this installment, they find themselves trapped in a land inhabited only by women.

In addition to Aaron Kwok, returning castmenbers include Feng Shaofeng (White Vengeance), Gigi Leung (Turn Left, Turn Right), Xiao Shenyang (The Grandmaster) and Chung Him Law (Eye in the Sky), along with franchise newcomers Zhao Liying (Eternal Wave), Lin Chiling (City of Rock) and Kingdom Yuenc (Last Hero in China).

Synopsis:
The third installment of the blockbuster fantasy series sees the return of the Monkey King (Aaron Kwok) in his most action-packed adventure yet! While continuing their epic journey to the West, the Monkey King and his companions are taken captive by the Queen of an all-female land, who believes them to be part of an ancient prophecy heralding the fall of her kingdom. With a lot of sorcery and a little bit of charm, the travelers devise a plan to escape. But, when their trickery angers the mighty River God, they realize they might just bring about the foretold destruction - unless they can find a way to quell her wrath.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Retrospective of renowned Japanese cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa

Japan Society NY
presents
Kazuo Miyagawa: Japan's Greatest Cinematographer
When: April 13-28, 2018
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Map

In celebration of the 110th anniversary of his birth, Japan Society will present an 11-film retrospective surveying the work of Kazuo Miyagawa (1908-1999), the most influential cinematographer of postwar Japanese cinema. Working intimately with directors like Yasujiro Ozu, Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi and Kon Ichikawa on some of their most important films, Miyagawa pushed Japanese cinema to its highest artistic peaks through his lyrical, innovative and technically flawless camerawork. This career-spanning selection displays his great versatility, including major masterpieces and rarely shown titles, screening in 35mm and new digital restorations.

For further information, a complete list of the films that will be shown at Japan Society and to buy tickets for screenings there, click here.

Note that co-organizer The Museum of Modern Art will host repeat screenings and additional Miyagawa retrospective titles from April 12-29. Preceding the retrospective, new 4K restorations of Mizoguchi's A Story From Chikamatsu and Sansho the Bailiff, both shot by Miyagawa, will run at Film Forum from April 6-12.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

PARADOX, the third installment in the SPL series, will be available on digital, Blu-ray & DVD on May 8th

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
Paradox / Sha po lang: taam long
Directed by Wilson Yip
Hong Kong, 2017, 100 minutes

Director Wilson Yip (Ip Man franchise) reteams with legendary action coordinator Sammo Hung (Ip Man, Tai Chi Zero) and star Louis Koo (The White Storm) for the third instalment of the SPL martial arts franchise PARADOX, exploding on digital, Blu-ray™ and DVD May 8 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Koo stars as a tough police negotiator who gets in over his head when he travels to Bangkok to search for his missing teenage daughter. PARADOX also stars Gordon Lam (Ip Man, Infernal Affairs), Tony Jaa (xXx: Return of Xander Cage), Wu Yue (God of War), Chris Collins (Gen-X Cops), Ken Low (Rush Hour), Vithaya Pansringarm (Operation Mekong) and newcomer Hanna Chan.

PARADOX is the third installment of the SPL film series, following the 2005’s SPL: Sha Po Lang and 2015’s SPL II: A Time for Consequences.

Synopsis:
Hong Kong cop Lee (Louis Koo) goes on a search in Thailand for his missing daughter Chi (Hanna Chan). Thai Chinese police officer Chui Kit (Wu Yue) lets Lee join the investigation, having no idea that Lee is going to use the mass media to hunt for clues. A short clip which accidentally filmed Chi’s capture is uploaded to the police website, but subsequently deleted. Chui Kit and colleague Tak (Tony Jaa) tracks down the clip owner, but the evidence is destroyed before they can stop it. The duo begins tracking down the culprit. As they get closer to the truth, they realize that the case is more complicated than they expected, and the mastermind behind the scene is not someone they can deal with...

Friday, March 30, 2018

ONCE UPON A TIME is available on digital now; debuts on Blu-ray May 1st

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
Once Upon a Time
Directed by Zhao Xiaoding and Anthony LaMolinara
China, 2017, 108 minutes

Based on the best-selling fantasy novel Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, ONCE UPON A TIME is a story of epic battles, deep passion, and the powerful forces that drive mortals and gods alike toward revenge, loyalty, and eternal love. The film is available on digital now and debuts on Blu-ray™ May 1st from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Dubbed “intense and passionate” in the Los Angeles Times, this visually spectacular fantasy adventure follows an immortal woman who reconnects with a love from her past life. First-time feature film directors Zhao Xiaoding (Academy Award®-nominee for Best Achievement in Cinematography, House of Flying Daggers, 2004) and Anthony LaMolinara (Oscar® winner for Best Achievement in Visual Effects, Spider-Man 2, 2004) co-directed the lush and romantic film starring Liu Yifei (White Vengeance, next starring in the title role in Disney’s live action version of Mulan), Yang (Joyful Reunion), Yikuan Yan (The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom), Jin Luo (Shaolin) and Chun Li (Guilty of Mind).

Synopsis:
Bai Qian, a goddess and monarch from the Heavenly Realms, is sent to the mortal world to undergo a trial to become a High Goddess. There, she meets Ye Hua, with whom she falls in love and marries. When an old enemy reappears in her life, everything she holds dear is threatened.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

THE GREAT BUDDHA + will be shown at the NEW DIRECTORS/NEW FILMS festival in New York

Cheng Cheng FIlms
presents
The Great Buddha +
Written and directed by HUANG Hsin-Yao
Starring Cres CHUANG, Bamboo CHEN, and Leon DAI
Taiwan, 2017, 104 minutes

Taiwanese director HUANG Hsin-Yao's feature film debut The Great Buddha + will have its New York Premiere at the 47th New Directors/New Films festival. It will be shown on Tuesday, April 3rd at 8:45 PM at MoMA's Titus 2 theater and on Wednesday, April 4th at 6:30 PM at the Walter Reade Theater of the Film Society of New York. For venue information and to buy tickets, click here.

Synopsis:
Provincial friends Pickle and Belly Button idle away their nights in the security booth of a Buddha statue factory, where Pickle works as a guard. One evening, when the TV is on the fritz, they put on video from the boss’s dashcam—only to discover illicit trysts and a mysterious act of violence. Expanded from a short, Huang Hsin-yao’s fiction feature debut The Great Buddha + (the plus sign cheekily nodding to the smartphone model) is a stylish, rip-roaring satire on class and corruption in contemporary Taiwanese society.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

THE BATTLESHIP ISLAND reviewed

CJ Entertainment
presents
The Battleship Island / Gun-ham-do
Directed by Ryoo Seung-wan
South Korea, 2017, 132 minutes

The Battleship Island is a historical war film from director Ryoo Seung-wan (Veteran, The Berlin File) that is currently out on DVD.

During World War II, when Korea was still under Japanese colonial rule, several hundred Korean civilians were conscripted to work in the coal mines on Hashima Island. Known as “The Battleship Island” because of its appearance in silhouette, the site was a scene of virtual slave labor.

Hwang Jung-min (Ode to My Father, The Himalayas), stars as Lee Gang-ok, a band leader who is sent there with his troupe, including his young daughter So-hee (played by the extremely talented Kim Soo-an), who sings in the band. Other Koreans on the island include: Mallyon (actress Lee Jung-hyun of Alice in Earnestland and Roaring Currents) who is to "work" as a "comfort woman"; Yoon Hak-chul, a revered resistance leader; and Park Mu-young (Song Joong-ki, Descendants of the Sun and A Werewolf Boy), a resistance fighter who has been sent to get Yoon off the island.

As the end of the war approaches, things take an unexpected turn for the worst -- even under the already deplorable conditions -- when the Japanese who run the coal mining operation determine that they must kill all the Koreans to destroy any evidence of their war crimes.

The set for the mining operation was the biggest one ever built in Korean, having taken six months to complete. It recreated about 2/3rds of the actual island, lending an extremely high air of authenticity to the film. The actin scene near the movie's end is quite energetic and graphic, one to rival the Normandy invasion scene at the beginning of Saving Private Ryan.

The film was based on actual historical events. The Hashima coal mine began operation in September, 1890, contributed significantly to Japan's military industrial sector from the 1937 invasion of China to the end of WWII, and finally closed in January, 1974. The island became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. One condition of this designation was that the Japanese were to post notices about the island's forced labor and other historical facts. However, by December 2017, the Japanese had not yet complied with this oblation.

Disc Specs:
-- Audio
  -- English 5.1
  -- English 2.0
  -- Korean 5.1 with English subtitles
  -- Korean 2.0 with English subtitles
-- Bonus
  -- Main Trailer (1:56) 
  -- Behind the Scenes: Set Production (3:36)
 
AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; solidly recommended