With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

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

Friday, March 23, 2018

ALONG WITH THE GODS: THE TWO WORLDS debuting on Digital, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack & DVD on April 10

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds / Singwa hamgge
Written and Directed by KIM Yong-hwa
Starring HA Jung-woo, CHA Tae-hyun, JU Ji-hoon,
KIM Hyang-gi and LEE Jung-jae
South Korea, 2017, 140 minutes

ALONG WITH THE GODS: THE TWO WORLDS, the star-studded, action-packed fantasy epic about life, death, rebirth and the unseen forces that guide us through all, debuts on digital, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD April 10 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

After a heroic death, a firefighter navigates the afterlife with the help of three guides. Written and directed by KIM Yong-hwa (Take Off) and based on a wildly popular webcomic, the film is the third biggest box office hit of all time in Korea. ALONG WITH THE GODS: THE TWO WORLDS features an all-star cast, including HA Jung-woo (The Handmaiden), CHA Tae-hyun (My Sassy Girl), JU Ji-hoon (Asura: The City of Madness), KIM Hyang-gi (Thread of Lies) and LEE Jung-jae (Assassination). The bonus materials include behind-the-scenes footage and character intros.

Synopsis:
After dying unexpectedly, firefighter Ja-hong is taken to the afterlife by three guardians, where only after passing seven trials and proving he lived a noble life will he be able to reincarnate.

Bonus Materials:
-- Behind the Scenes
-- Character Intro
-- Teaser Trailer
-- Main Trailer

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

UGETSU will be shown at Japan Society NY on Friday, April 6th

Japan Society NY
presents
Ugetsu © 1953 Kadokawa
Ugetsu / Ugetsu Monogatari
Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
With Machiko Kyo, Mitsuko Mito, Kinuyo Tanaka, Masayuki Mori
Japan, 1953, 94 minutes
DCP, b&w, in Japanese with English subtitles

When: Friday, April 6th at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Map
Tickets: $13/$10 seniors & students / $5 Japan Society members

This new 4K restoration of Kenji Mizoguchi's towering masterpiece offers viewers an opportunity to appreciate the nuance of cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa's exquisite images. A haunting and elegant fable about the illusory nature of desire set during the civils wars of Japan's 16th century, Ugetsu seamlessly weaves reality and fantasy together with painterly images that unfurl like scenes from an emaki scroll. Among the film's many breathtaking moments, the waterfront picnic between a potter and the ghost of a noblewoman is reportedly the only scene Miyagawa shot for Mizoguchi (out of eight total films) for which the famously stone-faced director complimented him.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

ICHI THE KILLER reviewed; available today from Well Go USA

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
Ichi the Killer / Koroshiya 1
Directed by Takashi Miike
Japan,  2001, 130 minutes

Takashi Miike’s classic yakuza gore-fest Ichi the Killer becomes available today in a gorgeous all-new 4K digital transfer special edition approved by Miike himself. The film can also be seen on big screens in select cities across the country. (Visit http://wellgousa.com/theatrical/ichi-the-killer for theater and ticket information.)

Based on Hideo Yamamoto’s manga series of the same name, Ichi the Killer stars Tadanobu Asano (47 Ronin, The Taste of Tea, Party 7) as Kakihara, a sado-masochistic yakuza who is manipulated into fighting other gangs in the wake of his boss's disappearance. The titular character, Ichi, is played by Nao Ômori (R100). The film also features actor/directors Shin'ya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo, the Iron Man and Tetsuo II: Body Hammer, Gemini, Nightmare Detective), and SABU (Non-Stop, Postman Blues, Monday).

I first saw Ichi at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's "Focus on New Japanese Cinema" film series early in 2002. In my review in Asian Cult Cinema (number 35, second quarter 2002, page 62), I likened watching it to "having a powerful multi-stage rocket shoved up your ass and ignited. Imagine an incredibly gory yakuza splatterfest, done with the exuberant energy of Hong Kong Cinema at its finest and state of the art special effects; you'll begin to have an idea of what Ichi the Killer is like."

Well, the special effects still hold up and my high opinion of the film hasn't changed after subsequent viewings, including Well Go's new Blu-ray edition.

In the 15th Anniversary Issue of Asian Cult Cinema magazine (1st quarter 2008), Ichi ranked #1 in the "ACC Readers' Poll of Guilty Pleasures" (page 62). In my column in that issue (page 34) I ranked it a very close 2nd to Aachi and Ssipak, the also fabulous and mind-blowing South Korean animated feature film.

The bottom line is that Ichi the Killer is a must have and this 4K Blu-ray really does the film justice.

Bonus content:
-- Audio Commentary with director Takashi Miike & manga artist/writer Hideo Yamamoto
-- Still gallery
-- Trailer

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

[Note: This new release from Well Go USA has the title in black letters, as seen in the image at the top of this review. Previously the film was available from Tokyo Shock, with the title in white letters and a slightly different image of Tadanobu Asano.]

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Ryoo Seung-wan's THE BATTLESHIP ISLAND is available on DVD

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

The Battleship Island, a historical war film from director Ryoo Seung-wan (Veteran, The Berlin File) is currently out on DVD. The film stars Hwang Jung-min (Ode to My Father, The Himalayas), So Ji-sub (Always, Sophie’s Revenge), Song Joong-ki (Descendants of the Sun, A Werewolf Boy), and Lee Jung-hyun (Alice in Earnestland, Roaring Currents).

The Battleship Island is based on a true story during WWII when Korea was under the colonial rule of Japan. In 1944, 400 conscripted Korean civilians head out to Hashima Island. Nicknamed “The Battleship Island” after its resemblance to a war vessel, many were lured by false promises of high wages. Upon arrival, they found that workers are forced into slave labor.

As the U.S. launches a massive counterattack on Japan, the Japanese decide to blow up the island in order to bury the truth about their awful treatment of the Korean slave labors. A Korean independence activist discovers the plan and works with others on the island for a mass escape.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

RAMEN HEADS Opens in New York and Los Angeles this Friday, March 16, 2018; wider rollout to follow

Gunpowder & Sky
presents
Ramen Heads
Directed by Koki Shigeno
Japan, 2017, 93 minutes

In Ramen Heads, Japan's reigning king of ramen, Osamu Tomita takes audiences deep into his world by revealing every single step of his obsessive approach to creating the perfect soup and noodles along with his relentless search for the highest-quality ingredients.

In addition to Tomita, the film also profiles five other notable ramen shops, each with its own philosphy and flavor, exemplifying the various different aspects of the ramen world. Mixing in a brief rundown of ramen's historical roots, the film gives viewers an in-depth look at the culture surrounding the unique and beguiling dish.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles this Friday, March 16

LANDMARK NUART LOS ANGELES
11272 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

THE LANDMARK AT 57 WEST
657 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019

Also opening in:
Berkeley, CA - March 23
Santa Barbara, CA - March 23
Washington DC - March 23
Boston, MA - April 6
Lubbock, TX - April 18
Santa Fe, NM - April 20
Houston, TX - April 25
El Paso, TX - April 25
Colombus, OH - April 27
Dallas, TX - May 8
Kansas City, MO - May 23

For further information, go to the official Ramen Heads website.

South Korea’s A TAXI DRIVER coming to Blu-ray on April 17th

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
 A Taxi Driver / Taeksi Woonjunsa
Directed by Jang Hoon
Starring Song Kang-Ho & Thomas Kretschmann
South Korea, 2017, 137 minutes

Based on a true story, A TAXI DRIVER, which represented South Korea as its official entry in the 2018 Academy Awards® best foreign-language film category, debuts on Blu-ray April 17 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Described by Rob Hunter of Film School Rejects as a “powerful film set in the relatively recent past, but with messages and themes that remain every bit as relevant in today’s world,” the film follows A TAXI DRIVER from Seoul, who accidentally gets involved in a German journalist’s reporting of the events of the Gwangju Uprising in 1980.

Directed by Jang Hoon (The Front Line), the fifth-highest-grossing domestic film of all time in South Korea stars Song Kang-Ho (Snowpiercer), Thomas Kretschmann (King Kong, Wanted), Yoo Hai-Jin (Veteran, Pirates) and Ryu Jun-Yeol (The King).

Synopsis:
In this powerful true story set in 1980, a down-on-his-luck taxi driver from Seoul is hired by a foreign journalist who wants to go to the town of Gwangju for the day. They arrive to find a city under siege by the military government, with the citizens, led by a determined group of college students, rising up to demand freedom. What began as an easy fare becomes a life-or-death struggle in the midst of the Gwangju Uprising, a critical event in the history of modern South Korea.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

KICKBOXER: RETALIATION coming to Digital, Blu-ray and DVD

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
Kickboxer: Retaliation
Directed by Dimitri Logothetis
Starring Alain Moussi, with Christopher Lambert,
Mike Tyson and Jean-Claude Van Damme
USA, 2018, 111 minutes

Alain Moussi (Kill Order) returns to the role of “Kurt Sloane” in the action-packed sequel to Kickboxer: Vengeance when KICKBOXER: RETALIATION slam-bangs its way onto on digital, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD March 13th from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Directed and co-written by Dimitri Logothetis (Wings of the Dragon), the film also stars Sara Malakul Lane (King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table), legendary fighter Mike Tyson (IP Man 3), Jessica Jann (Easy A), Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (“Game of Thrones”), Steven Swadling (Kickboxer: Vengeance), Sam Medina (Olympus Has Fallen), and Miles Strommen (Wilson), with Christopher Lambert (Highlander franchise) and legendary martial arts star Jean-Claude Van Damme (“Jean-Claude Van Johnson”).

When MMA fighter Kurt Sloane (Moussi) is forced into an underground death match with a 400lb drug-enhanced killer, he seeks help from the legendary Master Durand (Van Damme) and prison fighter Briggs (Mike Tyson) to survive the fight. Bonus material includes a “Meet the Fighters” featurette.

Synopsis:
One year after finding vengeance for his murdered brother, MMA champion Kurt Sloane finds himself back in Thailand – kidnapped and imprisoned there by a powerful gangster (Christopher Lambert). His only shot at freedom is to win an underground death match against a 400lb killer enhanced with state-of the-art drugs (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson). To make it out alive, he seeks training unlike anything he’s ever endured, with the help of the legendary Master Durand (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and fellow prisoner Briggs (Mike Tyson).

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Kurosawa's YOJIMBO at Japan Society NY this Friday, March 2nd

Japan Society NY
presents
© 1961 Toho Co., Ltd.
Yojimbo
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
With Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yoko Tsukasa, Isuzu Yamada.
Japan, 1961, 110 minutes
B&W, in Japanese with English subtitles

When: Friday, March 2, 2018 at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Map
Tickets: $13/$10 seniors & students / $5 Japan Society members

In writing about Akira Kurosawa's scruffy samurai classic starring the iconic Toshiro Mifune, preeminent Japanese film historian Donald Richie matter-of-factly states, "Yojimbo is the best-filmed of any of Kurosawa's pictures." A masterclass in widescreen framing and composition, the black-and-white cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa (and second unit cameraman Takao Saito) maximizes the film's minimal set, mostly consisting of a small town's dusty main road, with ingenious use of deep focus and wide angle lenses. Hugely influential in style and subject, Yojimbo went on to inspire a number of reworkings, including Sergio Leone's career-catapulting western A Fistful of Dollars.

Related Film Series: Kazuo Miyagawa: Japan's Greatest Cinematographer, April 13–28

THE THOUSAND FACES OF DUNJIA will be coming to digital, Blu-ray & DVD on March 27th

Well Go USA
presents
The Thousand Faces of Dunjia / Qi men dun jia
Directed by Yuen Wo Ping
Written and /Produced by Tsui Hark
China/Hong Kong, 2017, 113 minutes

Legendary director Yuen Wo Ping (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny) and writer/producer Tsui Hark (Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon) breathe new life into the wuxia genre, weaving together fantasy, humor, and breathtaking martial arts action when THE THOUSAND FACES OF DUNJIA lands on digital, Blu-ray™ and DVD March 27th from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Da Peng (City of Rock), Ni Ni (The Flowers of War), Aarif Lee (Syahadat cinta), Zhou Dongyu (Goldbuster), and “King of Chinese Rock” Wu Bai (New Police Story) star in the fantastical tale about a group of misfit fighters with supernatural abilities who battle an ancient evil bent on destroying mankind.. The bonus material includes a “making-of” featurette.

Synopsis:
Dao, a naïve young constable, discovers a secret society with supernatural abilities that has protected mankind for centuries. As he’s drawn into a power struggle within their ranks, they learn that an ancient creature with the power to destroy the world is rising - and it will take all of their powers combined to stop it.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

South Korean crime caper THE SWINDLERS will be available exclusively on Digital on March 6th

Well Go USA
presents
The Swindlers / Kkun
Written & Directed by Jang Chang-won
Starring Yoo Ji-tae, Hyun Bin & Bae Seong-woo
South Korea, 2017, 117 minutes

High stakes and fast talk are the game when the crime caper THE SWINDLERS debuts on digital March 6 from Well Go USA Entertainment. Written and directed by first-time filmmaker Jang Chang-won, THE SWINDLERS stars Yoo Ji-tae (Oldboy), Hyun Bin (Secret Garden), Bae Seong-woo (No Tomorrow), Park Sung-woong (New World), newcomer Nana and Ahn Sae-ha (Will You Be There?) in the fast-paced tale of a group of con men go on a quest to hustle a Bernie Madoff-style scam artist.

Synopsis:
High stakes and fast talk are the game in this crime caper that brings together an all-star cast (Yoo Ji-tae, Hyun Bin, Bae Seong-woo, Park Sung-woong, Nana) as unlikely allies from different sides of the law. Each member of the team has their own motives, but they’ll have to work together to achieve their common goal - trapping the world’s most legendary con man.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Reminder - GODZILLA coming to Japan Society NY tomorrow!

Japan Society NY
presents
Godzilla (c) 1954 Toho Co., Ltd.
Godzilla / Gojira
Directed by Ishiro Honda
With Akira Takarada, Momoko Kochi, Akihiko Hirata, and Takashi Shimura 
Japan 1954, 96 minutes 
DCP, b&w, in Japanese with English subtitles

When: Friday, February 2, 2018 at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Map
Tickets: $13/$10 seniors & students / $5 Japan Society members

NOTE: This screening is sold out.
However a waitlist will begin at 6:00 PM at the Box Office
Being on the waitlist doesn’t guarantee a seat, of course,
but it at least gives you a chance to see this fantastic film.

The seminal classic that introduced the world to kaiju eiga and everyone's favorite city-stomping radioactive monster.

Directed by Ishiro Honda, Godzilla provided the ultimate allegory for post-war nuclear anxiety through the story of a prehistoric sea creature rampaging through Tokyo after being awakened by underwater H-bomb testing.

A domestic box office hit that went on to enrapture international audiences and spawn over two dozen sequels and countless imitations, the original film still retains the power to inspire awe in its evocation of humanity's confrontation with the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation.

Related Event:
Directing Godzilla: The Life of Filmmaker Ishiro Honda
Wednesday, February 21, 6:30 PM

Special Offer: Save $2 on the Directing Godzilla: The Life of Filmmaker Ishiro Honda talk with your ticket purchase to this screening. To redeem, add both tickets to your cart and the discount will automatically be deducted. (No code necessary.)

Friday, January 26, 2018

RV: RESURRECTED VICTIMS will become available excusively on digital on February 6th

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
RV: Resurrected Victims / Heesaeng boohwalja
Directed by Kyung-taek Kwak
Starring KIM Rae-Won & KIM Hae-Sook
South Korea, 2017, 92 minutes

Based on the novel It Is Over by Park Ha-ik., the fast-paced, nail-biting thriller RV: RESURRECTED VICTIMS debuts on digital February 6 from Well Go USA Entertainment. Directed by Kyung-taek Kwak (Eye for an Eye), RV: RESURRECTED VICTIMS stars KIM Rae-Won (Gangnam Blues) and KIM Hae-Sook (The Handmaiden) the taunt terrifying tale of the Resurrected Victims Phenomenon, where murder victims come back to life to avenge their murderer and a prosecutor is suspected of his mother’s murder when she returns from the dead ...

Synopsis:
In the near future, murder victims have begun coming back to life with the sole purpose of avenging their deaths. Jin-hong (KIM Rae-won) is a cold-hearted prosecutor who’s obsessed with catching the man that killed his mother- but when she returns home, intent on killing him, he quickly becomes the lead suspect.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

GINTAMA debuts on Digital, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack & DVD on March 6

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
Gintama
Written and directed by Yûichi Fukuda
Japan, 2017, 132 minutes

GINTAMA, the visually spectacular feature film based on the long-running manga, debuts on digital, Blu-ray™ and DVD March 6 from Well Go USA Entertainment. The live-action film adaptation of the blockbuster manga is set in an era where aliens have invaded and taken over feudal Tokyo, and a young samurai finds work however he can. Written and directed by Yûichi Fukuda (Psychic Kusuo), GINTAMA stars Masaki Suda, Kanna Hashimoto, Yuya Yagira, Hirofumi Arai, Ryo Yoshizawa, Akari Hayami, Murotsuyoshi, Masami Nagasawa, Masaki Okada, Jiro Sato, Nanao Ken Yasuda, with Kankuro Nakamura, and Tsuyoshi Domoto.

Synopsis:
Based on the best-selling action comedy manga by Hideaki Sorachi, GINTAMA takes place in an alternate Edo-period Japan, where an Alien race has taken control, forcing Samurai to lay down their swords. Once feared as the "White Demon," former samurai Gintoki Sakata now works as an everyday handyman--until a master swordsman tasks Gintoki and his friends with finding the cursed sword Benizakura to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Packed with the sword-swinging sci-fi action and offbeat humor that have made the manga a classic, GINTAMA is bound to delight both fans and anyone looking for a journey to a visually-stunning universe where fantastical action lurks just around every corner.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

All-new digitally restored special edition of ICHI THE KILLER will debut on Blu-ray™ March 20

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
Ichi the Killer / Koroshiya 1
Directed by Takashi Miike
Japan,  2001, 130 minutes

The Definitive Remastered Edition of the Cult Horror Classic
Kills It on Blu-ray™ March 20th

Takashi Miike’s ICHI THE KILLER has endured as one of the most influential pieces of genre filmmaking of the last two decades, and now it returns in a stunning all-new digitally restored special edition approved by Miike himself. It will be debuting on Blu-ray™ March 20 from Well Go USA Entertainment. ICHI THE KILLER will also be on big screens in select cities across the country. Visit http://wellgousa.com/theatrical/ichi-the-killer for the nearest theater and ticket information.

Based on Hideo Yamamoto’s manga series of the same name, the controversial and graphic tale of feuding yakuza gangs is seen primarily through the actions of a scarred and psychologically damaged man, who is manipulated into killing rival faction members.

Digitally remastered in 4k and approved by director Takashi Miike (13 Assassins), ICHI THE KILLER stars Tadanobu Asano, Nao Omori, Shinya Tsukamoto, Alien Sun and SABU.

Bonus content includes Audio Commentary with Director Takashi Miike & Manga Artist/Writer Hideo Yamamoto and a still gallery.

Synopsis:
This visceral, bloody, and often hilarious film follows Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano), a notoriously sadistic yakuza enforcer whose search for his boss’ killer brings him into the orbit of a demented costumed assassin known as Ichi (Nao Ohmori).

Monday, January 15, 2018

SECTION23 FILMS has announced its MARCH 2018 slate of releases


Home video distributor Section23 Films has announced its March slate of releases, which includes Sentai Filmworks’ popular shoujo anime series, CHIHAYAFURU SEASON 2. The Complete Collection will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and a Limited Edition Premium Box Set

Product details follow, in order of release.

Title: GIRLISH NUMBER BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 3/6/2018
Format: BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: Chitose Karasuma wants to make it big as a voice actor, but while she looks and sounds adorable, she's also self-absorbed, inattentive, selfish, and lazy. However, since her manager is also her big brother, she's still getting bit parts and dreaming of landing the big role that will make her famous. Unfortunately, karma bites Chitose in the worst way possible when her big chance finally arrives, because the producers who've hired her are even more clueless than she is! Now, she's trapped in a nightmare production where nothing goes right, the ratings are in the toilet, and swimsuit photos and live stage shows take priority over making quality programming! Can Chitose and her fellow trapped actresses turn things around and save their careers? Or will they all go down with the sinking ship in GIRLISH NUMBER?


Title: INITIAL D LEGEND 2: RACER
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 60 min.
Street Date: 3/13/2018
Format: COMBO
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $39.98

SYNOPSIS: Sometimes the only thing that beating a champion accomplishes is making you the next target for a long line of challengers, which is why Takumi Fujiwara's defeat of the RedSuns' Keisuke hasn't ended anything. In fact, it's only served to draw the reluctant delivery driver even further into the dangerous world of drift racing. Takumi's fate is sealed when his friend Itsuki accidentally accepts a challenge from Takeshi Nakazato, leader of the Myogi NightKids. Now it's a matter of honor, and Takumi will have to pit his gutter technique against the 4WD skills of a much more experienced driver! The race is on as the legendary street racing series returns in a second explosive new motion picture: NEW THEATRICAL MOVIE INITIAL D LEGEND 2: RACER!


Title: MY TEEN ROMANTIC COMEDY ~ SNAFU COMPLETE BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 650 min.
Street Date: 3/13/2018
Format: BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $79.98

SYNOPSIS: When Hachiman Hikigaya, who has no friends and believes that anyone who likes high school is either deluded or a liar, is coerced into joining the "Services Club" run by Yukino Yukinoshita, who's smart, attractive and considers everyone to be her complete inferior, it's a catastrophe just waiting to happen. But it's not until the THIRD ingredient… Yui Yuigahama, who's cute, bright, cheerful, and needs help baking cookies… is added to the combustible mix that the sparks really start to fly. Is this a recipe for romance or a prelude to a nuclear meltdown? Get ready for rom-com gone totally wrong as the barrage a trois of the Service Club is unleashed on an unsuspecting student body in MY TEEN ROMANTIC COMEDY ~ SNAFU and MY TEEN ROMANTIC COMEDY ~ SNAFU TOO!


Title: CHIHAYAFURU SEASON 2
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 625 min.
Street Date: 3/20/2018
Format: BD, DVD, COMBO
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $99.98, $79.98, $149.98

SYNOPSIS: Chihaya's determination to become a master karuta player hasn't changed, but as a new semester begins, the team's focus switches to recruiting new members for the club in order to keep their meeting space. Unfortunately, while a number of students initially express interest, few are willing to put forth the effort it takes to play on the level of the existing members. Enter Sumire Hanano, who split with her boyfriend on the first day of school. Now seeking a replacement, she thinks that Taichi might just fill the role nicely… even if it means jumping into a pool with a shark like Chihaya! Now all the cards are on the table… or, in this case, the floor… and the games are really about to start in CHIHAYAFURU season 2!


Title: THE LIFE OF BUDORI GUSUKO BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 105 min.
Street Date: 3/27/2018
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $29.98

SYNOPSIS: Budori Gusuko's life was wonderful, living in the forest with his father, mother and younger sister. Then, the weather changed, the villagers he knew moved away, and tragedy stole his sister and parents from him. Forced to wander until he found another place to live, he again settled into a peaceful existence… until the weather changed, and it was all taken from him once again. Now, as he's grown older, Budori has found a job with people who study volcanoes, and when the weather starts to change again, Budori must make the biggest decision of his life. From the classic story by Kenji Miyazawa (NIGHT ON THE GALACTIC RAILROAD) comes an all-new animated masterpiece: THE LIFE OF BUDORI GUSUKO!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

BEFORE WE VANISH arriving in theaters on February 2nd

Super LTD
presents
Before We Vanish / Sanpo suru shinryakusha
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Starring Masami Nagasawa (Godzilla: Final Wars), Ryuhei Matsuda (The Raid 2),
Mahiro Takasugi, Yuri Tsunematsu, and Hiroki Hasegawa (Shin Godzilla)
Japan, 2017, 127 minutes
Japanese Language with English Subtitles 

The Acclaimed Cannes Selection Arrives in Cinemas February 2nd From Super LTD


In his twentieth film, acclaimed horror director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Cure, Pulse) reinvents the alien movie as a unique and profoundly human tale of love and mystery. Three aliens travel to Earth on a reconnaissance mission in preparation for a mass invasion. Having taken possession of human bodies, the visitors rob the hosts of their essence – good, evil, property, family, belonging – leaving only hollow shells, which are all but unrecognizable to their loved ones. Equally hilarious, thrilling, and profound, BEFORE WE VANISH reminds audiences of the continued strength of one of Japanese cinema's most unique auteurs – and the value of the human spirit.

Friday, January 12, 2018

CITY OF ROCK will be available exclusively on Digital January 23rd

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
City of Rock
Directed by Da Peng
Starring Da Peng, Gulnazar & QIAO Shan
China, 2017, 140 minutes
Available Exclusively on Digital January 23

Acclaimed auteur Da Peng (Pancake Man aka Jiang Bing Man) directs and stars in the zany musical comedy CITY OF ROCK, debuting exclusively on digital on January 23rd from Well Go USA Entertainment. Peng plays a small-town musician who plans a benefit concert to save his town’s beloved Rock Park from redevelopment by a corporate real estate agent. CITY OF ROCK also stars Gulnazar (The Game Changer) and QIAO Shan (Some Like It Hot).

Synopsis:
Da Peng’s highly anticipated sophomore film, CITY OF ROCK, follows Hu Liang, a young man from a small town in China, who wants to protect the town’s treasured Rock Park from redevelopment by a corporate real estate agent. Hoping to save the park by organizing a charity rock concert, he partners with music agent Cheng Gong. But when he’s offered a large payout to cancel the concert, will Hu Liang choose money or will he save the beloved town park?

Thursday, January 04, 2018

KICKBOXER RETALIATION is coming to theaters and On Demand starting January 26th, 2018

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
Kickboxer Retaliation
Directed by Dimitri Logothetis
USA, 2018, 110 minutes
Starring Alain Moussi, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Christopher Lambert,
Mike Tyson, Sara Malakul Lane, Jessica Jann, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson,
Steven Swadling, and Sam Medina 

In Theaters & On Demand January 26th 

Okay, this film is not specifically Asian, but it is a martial arts action flick, and so it's probably of interest to many AsianCineFest readers. It's a sequel to Kickboxer Vengeance (2016), which was directed by John Stockwell. (Sorry, but I'm not familiar with that film, so have nothing further to say about it.)

Synopsis:
One year after finding vengeance for his murdered brother, MMA champion Kurt Sloane finds himself back in Thailand kidnapped and imprisoned there by a powerful gangster (Christopher Lambert). His only shot at freedom is to win an underground death match against a 400lb killer enhanced with state - of the -art drugs (Game of Thrones' Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson). To make it out alive, he seeks training unlike anything he’s ever endured, with the help of the legendary Master Durand (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and fellow prisoner Briggs (Mike Tyson).

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KickboxerRetaliationOfficial

Official Site & Theaters: http://wellgousa.com/tw/theatrical/kickboxer-retaliation

Monday, January 01, 2018

SECTION23 FILMS announces its FEBRUARY 2018 slate of releases


Home video distributor Section23 Films has announced its February slate of releases, which includes Sentai Filmworks’ otherworldly adventure series, FLIP FLAPPERS! The Complete Collection will be available on Blu-ray and a Limited Edition Premium Box Set.

Product details follow, in order of release.

Title: FOOD WARS! ~ THE SECOND PLATE
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 2/13/2018
Format: BD, DVD, COMBO
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $99.98, $79.98, $199.98

SYNOPSIS: At the Tohtsuki Culinary Academy, the first rule is survival of the fittest, and if you don't have what it takes to become a master chef, you need to get out of the kitchen before you get burned. With the wheat of first-year students separated from the chaff, cocky former diner cook Yukihira Soma is one of the handful of kitchen whizzes still standing. As the next round of the Autumn Elections gets underway, can he survive a brutal bento boxing match with the chemistry-obsessed granddaughter of the Academy's director? And which of the other contenders; Megumi, Ryo, Akira, Hisako, Takumi or sinister dark-horse Subaru; will advance to fight for the gold medal? Get ready for another cut-throat season of eat, beat, and defeat in FOOD WARS! THE SECOND PLATE!


Title: GARO: KIBA - THE DARK KNIGHT! BLU-RAY
Published by: Kraken Releasing
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 50 min.
Street Date: 2/20/2018
Format: BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $19.98

SYNOPSIS: He was born the child of a Makai Knight and a Makai Priestess. He trained to become a Makai Knight and fight the nightmarish creatures known as Horrors. Everything changed when the forces of evil intervened and stole everything he loved, the man who was once named Barago turned to a darker path. Learning to hate everything he once cherished, and twisting his oaths and armor to a new, sinister purpose, he makes a monstrous bargain with the ultimate Horror and betrays the Makai Knights! Now, in a spectacular stand-alone side adventure, the dark Genesis of one of GARO's most formidable villains is revealed in GARO: KIBA - THE DARK KNIGHT!


Title: NON NON BIYORI COMPLETE BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 600 min.
Street Date: 2/20/2018
Format: BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $79.98

SYNOPSIS: When Hotaru moves from Tokyo to a tiny town in the rural countryside, she's in for some serious culture shock: the nearest place that sells comics is 20 minutes away, the nearest video store is ten train stations down the line, and there are only three other girls and one boy in her entire school! Even though everything's so different, there's something about the laid-back atmosphere that makes her feel strangely comfortable. While she'll certainly miss parts of her old life, there's a whole lifetime of experiences waiting to be enjoyed with her new friends Renge, Komari, Natsumi, and Suguru! In the end, it's who you're with, not where you are, that makes a place your home in NON NON BIYORI and NON NON BIYORI REPEAT!


Title: FLIP FLAPPERS! COMPLETE COLLECTION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 2/27/2018
Format: BD, PBS
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98, $149.98

SYNOPSIS: As a middle school student, Cocona has been trying to decide what to do with her life. Magical Girl, however, wasn't a career path that she'd ever considered. When suddenly a strange girl named Papika thrusts her into a secret organization called Flip Flap, Cocona's outlook does a radical flip-flop. Her views start to change when she is dragged into an alternate dimension called Pure Illusion where she's charged with gathering crystal shards and fighting strange creatures. Now, between running missions and facing off against a rival organization, Cocona doesn't have much time to consider alternate career choices. What are these shards, and why is gathering them so important? There's a mystery to be solved and multiple worlds to be saved in FLIP FLAPPERS!