With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Friday, March 08, 2019

Exciting new series THE OTHER JAPANESE NEW WAVE: RADICAL FILMS FROM 1958-61 coming to Japan Society early in April

Japan Society NY
Presents
Blood is Dry © 1960 Shochiku Co., Ltd.
The Other Japanese New Wave: Radical Films from 1958-61
When: April 5-27, 2019
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Map

With its inception in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Japanese New Wave ushered in a postwar generation of politically engaged and artistically adventurous filmmakers that radically transformed the country's cinema in theory and practice. Looking beyond internationally lauded figures such as Nagisa Oshima and Masahiro Shinoda, The Other Japanese New Wave: Radical Films from 1958-61 aims to reexamine this dynamic moment in Japanese film history with the introduction of work by lesser-known studio directors, auteurs, documentarists and student filmmakers, including newly subtitled rarities imported from Japan never-before-seen in the U.S.

The series launches on April 5th with Kiju Yoshida’s debut feature Good-for-Nothing, introduced by series curator Go Hirasawa. A key figure in the birth of the New Wave at Shochiku, Yoshida is representative of the major studio’s attempt to attract Japan’s declining movie audiences by giving fledgling assistant directors a chance to make youth-oriented feature films. Also included in the series are rarely discussed Shochiku directors Eitaro Morikawa (The Tragedy of Bushido), Osamu Takahashi (Only She Knows) and Tsutomu Tamura, who simultaneously made their first films as part of the New Wave alongside Yoshida. A highlight of the series, Tamura’s exceedingly unavailable The Samurai Vagabonds will screen on an archival 35mm print with new English subtitles prepared by Japan Society. Rounding out the selection of studio films in the series are Yoshida’s overlooked second feature for Shochiku (Blood is Dry), a stark critique of capitalist consumerism, and two bold Nikkatsu titles directed by Koreyoshi Kurahara (The Age of Our Own and The Warped Ones) that build upon the themes and formal experiments of the studio’s youth-in-revolt “Sun Tribe” (taiyozoku) films.

Other series highlights include a selection of films made outside of the studio system by filmmakers, theorists and writers invested in uniting film theory with praxis. Following a free curator’s talk on April 6, Hirasawa introduces the shorts program “New Wave Rarities,” which includes a self-produced student film from Nihon University Film Study Club (Conversation Between Nail and Socks), a documentary by Shinkichi Noda (Forgotten Land), and an experimental portrait of political unrest (Anpo Joyaku) by Toshio Matsumoto (Funeral Parade of Roses). Later in the same day, Hirasawa introduces a 35mm screening of Eizo Yamagiwa’s virtually unknown independent feature The End of Love. Long thought lost until a negative was discovered only a couple of years ago, The End of Love will screen in the U.S. for the first time, presented with new English subtitles by Japan Society.

“The history of the Japanese New Wave remains largely unwritten, especially for English-speaking audiences,” says Kazu Watanabe, Deputy Director of Film at Japan Society. “While major films by canonical filmmakers are widely screened and analyzed, they only scratch the surface of this fascinating yet elusive period of Japanese filmmaking. I’m grateful to Go Hirasawa for coming up with such a deep and wide-ranging selection of titles—full of discoveries that offer new insight into the genesis and contexts of the New Wave in Japan—and I greatly look forward to sharing them with New York audiences.”

The Other Japanese New Wave: Radical Films from 1968-61 is curated by Go Hirasawa, researcher at Meiji-Gakuin University, and organized by Japan Society. In coordination with Japan Society, Harvard Film Archive will host the series concurrently (April 1-27) in Cambridge.

For further information about the full schedule, descriptions of each film and to buy tickets, click here.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

DOUBLE SUICIDE at Japan Society NY on March 8th at 7:00 PM

Japan Society NY
Presents
Double Suicide © 1969 Hyogensha/ATG
Double Suicide / Shinju Ten no Amijima
Directed by Masahiro Shinoda
With Kichiemon Nakamura, Shima Iwashita,
Shizue Kawarazaki, and Tokie Hidari
Japan, 1969, 104 minutes
35mm, b&w, in Japanese with English subtitles

When: Friday, March 8, 2019 at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Tickets: $14/$11 seniors & students/$5 member

New Wave director Masahiro Shinoda utilizes classic Japanese theatrical conventions and avant-garde film techniques to stunning effect in this brilliant modernist adaptation of Monzaemon Chikamatsu's 18th-century bunraku puppet play about the doomed romance of a married Osaka paper merchant and a courtesan. Among the first films produced by independent film company Art Theatre Guild (ATG)—whose productions from the late 1960s through the 1980s pushed Japanese arthouse cinema in radical new directions—Double Suicide features contributions by some of the era's most innovative artistic collaborators, including composer (and co-writer) Toru Takemitsu and production designer/art director Kiyoshi Awazu.

This screening is part of Japan Society NY's Monthly Classics film series.

Related Exhibition:
Radicalism in the Wilderness: Japanese Artists in the Global 1960s
March 8—June 9, 2019

Friday, March 01, 2019

TOKYO LIVING DEAD IDOL coming Tuesday, March 5th, 2019 on Blu-ray

Tokyo Living Dead Idol / Tôkyô ribingu deddo aidoru
Written and directed by Yûki Kumagai
Japan, 2018, 83 minutes

Published by: Kraken Releasing
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Street Date: 3/5/2019
Format: BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $19.98

Tokyo Living Dead Idol, a charming and delightful zombie romp, will be available next Tuesday, March 5th on Blu-ray.

Synopsis:
Tokyo 27-ku's the hottest pop group around, but when singer Kamiya Miku (Nana Asakawa) gets bitten by a zombie, she goes from being on top of the charts to the top of the most wanted lists! With just 72 hours until the sizzling chanteuse becomes a shuffling zombie, Miku's only hope is finding a serum that might possibly cure her. Unfortunately, if Miku can't reach the antidote in time, she's going to transform from songbird to a dead bird singing in the middle of the night, and evading paparazzi and zealous fans is nothing compared to being pursued by teams of professional zombie hunters, the police and hordes of the living dead! From life in the fast lane to racing through the hot zone, becoming a zombie can totally bite when you're the TOKYO LIVING DEAD IDOL!

South Korean financial drama DEFAULT is now available

CJ Entertainment
Presents
Default / Gukgabudo-ui Nal
Directed by CHOI Kook-hee
South Korea, 2018, 114 minutes

Default, takes a look back at a difficult time for South Korea – the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. It is directed by CHOI Kook-hee, who was awarded the Best Debut award at the Fantasia International Film Festival for his feature debut in 2016, Split. In Default, CHOI presents an enthralling storyline and a sense of emotional connection to a time when the country was on the verge of bankruptcy. The film was recently released on Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play.

Default begins with Si-hyun (KIM Hye-soo), the monetary policy manager at the Bank of Korea, predicting a massive national financial crisis and reporting it to the Director. The Director doesn't schedule an emergency summit until 10 days later but does it without notifying the public of the situation. Si-hyun urges for the crisis to be announced in order to warn people of the looming disaster, but her plea is ignored. The summit is held behind closed doors.

Jung-hak (YOO Ah-in), a financial consultant, notices Korea is suddenly hemorrhaging foreign funds, and he learns the reason is that international finance firms have ordered an all-out investment withdrawal from the country, which has caused the credit rating to plummet. He hands in his resignation and decides to play the odds on what he’s sure is a coming crisis. He secretly starts gathering investors willing to do the same.

Gap-su (HUH Joon-ho), a family man who runs a small tableware factory, has a big break and wins a contract with a department store. The fact that the price settlement terms equal to little more than a promissory note concerns him only briefly, and oblivious to the looming financial upheaval, Gap-su signs the contract. The Managing Director of IMF (Vincent Cassel) comes to Korea just one week before the country goes bust, and that is when those who try to prevent the crisis, those who seek to take advantage of it, and those only trying to protect their livelihood are caught in the wake of a national bankruptcy.

Default stars KIM Hye-soo (Tazza: The High Rollers), YOO Ah-in (Veteran), HUH Joon-ho (Silmido), JO Woo-jin (The King), and Vincent Cassel (Jason Bourne).

This film, produced by Zip CInema, is distributed by CJ Entertainment. The cost is $15.99 to purchase High Definition (HD), $11.99 to purchase Standard Definition (SD), $4.99 to rent High Definition (HD), and $3.99 to rent Standard Definition (SD).

SECTION23 FILMS has announced its April 2019 slate of releases


Home video distributor Section23 Films has announced its April slate of releases which includes Sentai Filmworks psychological thriller series KOKKOKU, available on Blu-ray April 16th.

Product details, in order of release:

Title: IS IT WRONG TO EXPECT A HOT SPRING IN A DUNGEON?! BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 25 min.
Street Date: 4/9/2019
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $19.98

SYNOPSIS: Our band of bold adventurers has just blown through the 18th level of the world's most fearsome dungeon, so what do they do for an encore? Since the city of Orario doesn't have a theme park, the next choice for Bell, Hestia, Lilly and the gang would seem to be a trip to the hot springs… and, conveniently enough, a battle with some hellhounds has led them to an undiscovered underground oasis! However, there's something fishy about these springs, beyond the fact that Hermes happens to have bathing suits for all the ladies in their correct sizes! Will the secret be discovered before it's too late? Will Hestia finally come clean with Bell? It'll all come out in the wash when our heroes learn the answer to: IS IT WRONG TO EXPECT A HOT SPRING IN A DUNGEON?!!


Title: PRINCESS RESURRECTION BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 650 min.
Street Date: 4/9/2019
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: When Hiro Hiyorimi tries to save a beautiful young woman from certain death, he ends up a dead hero himself! However, since the drop-dead girl is Princess Hime, daughter of the King of the Monsters, his "reward" is to come back as a not-quite-living soldier in her honor guard of horror! That means helping fight off the army of supernatural monstrosities Hime's siblings are unleashing against her in hopes of moving up the ladder of succession. And if facing off with vampires and zombies isn't bad enough, how can anyone be prepared for the truly weird ones like were-sharks, pandas and killer dumplings? This sure isn't the afterlife Hiro was hoping for, but the really sad part is that Hime is the good girl in all of this. Or at least, as close to good as you can come when you're on the wrong side of the gates of Hell! Get ready for the wildest animation about reanimation ever in PRINCESS RESURRECTION - The Complete Collection!


Title: KOKKOKU BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 4/16/2019
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: Juri Yukawa needs a timeout from her life. She's failed 19 job interviews, she's stuck living with her crazy family, and her chances of escaping to a life of her own are becoming increasingly remote. Suddenly, all of that becomes unimportant when her brother and nephew are kidnapped and held for an impossibly high ransom. That's when Juri's grandfather reveals an incredible secret: a mystical stone that allows Juri, her father and her Grandpa to enter the state of Stasis, where everyone else in the world is frozen in time! That should make rescuing their family easy, right? Wrong, because there's a sinister organization working against them who also can literally beat the clock! It's not a race against time, it's a race outside of time and the dangers are increasing with every non-second in KOKKUKO!


Title: DOREIKU: THE ANIMATION BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 4/23/2019
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: It's an insidious invention, originally created to control animals. Now it's the ultimate rush for a dark cult of jaded thrill seekers. Place one SCM in your mouth and your opponent does the same. Then play a game… any game… and the winner literally takes control of the loser, binding them to their will and turning them into a personal plaything until the winner decides to set them free - if they ever chose to free them at all. And as the use of SCMs snakes its way through the undercurrents of society, with increasing numbers of unfortunate players bound into submission as drones and harems, the even more terrifying discovery of SCMs that can take over anyone, at any time, threatens to enthrall the rest of the population in DOREIKU - THE ANIMATION!


Title: GATCHAMAN COLLECTORS EDITION
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 2880 min.
Street Date: 4/30/2019
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $149.98

SYNOPSIS: Using amazing weapons powered by super-science, the international terrorist organization known as GALACTOR is out to steal all of Earth's resources for itself and its inhuman masters. Mankind's only hope? The International Science Organization and their elite strike force, the Science Ninja Team! But these five young heroes will have their work cut out for them as they take on the seemingly impossible task of defeating GALACTOR's horrific arsenal of mechanized weapons of mass destruction and endless armies of henchmen. Can costumed commandos Ken the Eagle, Joe the Condor, Jun the Swallow, Jinpei the Sparrow and Ryu the Owl really overcome such overwhelming odds? Utilizing the incredible technology and fighting techniques created by Dr. Nambu, and with the mighty ship the God Phoenix at their command, they just might! It's time for the bad guys to get old-schooled science-ninja style as Japan's original super team defeat evil, one flying kick at a time, in the legendary, one and only GATCHAMAN!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

LADY DETECTIVE SHADOW is available on several U.S. digital streaming platforms

TriCoast
Presents
Lady Detective Shadow
Directed by Si Shu-Bu
Starring: Qi Jing-bin, Zhang Pei-yue, and Zhang Ren-bo
China, 2018, 90 minutes

Previously released in China in May of 2018, Lady Detective Shadow was recently released by TriCoast Worldwide onto various U.S. digital streaming platforms. These include: Hoopla, Vimeo on Demand, Amazon, Vudu, iTunes, Google Play + Fandango, with other platforms to stream later.

Synopsis:

Written by Hu Rong, Lady Detective Shadow sees its protagonist embark on a dangerous journey through the badlands of Ancient China, which is governed by the imperial houses and bandits alike. After several inexplicable brutal murders plague a remote desert area, the fierce and famous Lady Detective Shadow, Sima Feiyan, (Shang Rong) must use all her wit, wisdom and kung fu skills to find the murderers and instill justice. But as she delves deeper into the mystery, she soon discovers there is much more at stake than just another renegade killer.

With its Holmes-esque heroine, Lady Detective Shadow introduces an intuitive, sly and cunning woman, who never sacrifices her femininity or sense of self. Stitched together with high-quality mystery, suspense and an intriguing storyline set against the historical and cultural backgrounds of ancient China, Sima Feiyan never misses a clue, proving herself a match for literature’s other great detectives.

Watch the trailer here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

SECTION23 FILMS has announced its March 2019 slate of releases


Home video distributor Section23 Films has announced its March slate of releases which includes Sentai Filmworks fantasy adventure series Hakumei & Mikochi, available on Blu-ray March 19th.

Product details, in order of release:

Title: TOKYO LIVING DEAD IDOL BLU-RAY
Published by: Kraken Releasing
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 83 min.
Street Date: 3/5/2019
Format: BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $19.98

SYNOPSIS: Tokyo 27-ku's the hottest pop group around, but when singer Kamiya Miku (Nana Asakawa) gets bitten by a zombie, she goes from being on top of the charts to the top of the most wanted lists! With just 72 hours until the sizzling chanteuse becomes a shuffling zombie, Miku's only hope is finding a serum that might possibly cure her. Unfortunately, if Miku can't reach the antidote in time, she's going to transform from songbird to a dead bird singing in the middle of the night, and evading paparazzi and zealous fans is nothing compared to being pursued by teams of professional zombie hunters, the police and hordes of the living dead! From life in the fast lane to racing through the hot zone, becoming a zombie can totally bite when you're the TOKYO LIVING DEAD IDOL!


Title: ARMORED TROOPER VOTOMS TV BLU-RAY
Published by: Maiden Japan
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 1630 min.
Street Date: 3/12/2019
Format: BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

SYNOPSIS: VOTOMS (Vertical One-man Tanks for Offense & ManeuverS) units are light and maneuverable on the battlefield, but in the hundred-year war between Gilgamesh and Balarant, they've essentially become expendable cannon fodder and pawns to be sacrificed. The right pawn in the right place can change the course of the game forever, and when VOTOMS pilot Chirico Cuvie is mysteriously transferred from his elite unit to a top secret mission behind his own side's lines, he quickly learns that something is very wrong. Betrayed and branded a traitor, Chirico finds himself on the run from both sides as he seeks to unravel the truth behind the conspiracy and learn the secret behind the beautiful woman who seems to hold the key. Universally hailed as one of the greatest anime of all time, this is the launch of ARMORED TROOPER VOTOMS!


Title: DAMEPRI ANIME CARAVAN BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 3/19/2019
Format: BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: Diplomatic relationships can often be trying, but when Princess Ani of Inaco is sent to the signing of a peace treaty, she finds more parties at the negotiating table than expected…. and since the others are all princes (or other high-ranking members of the male gender), it seems that one of the major assets in play in this game of thrones is her royal self! What makes it worse is that despite the lopsided Prince to Princess ratio, none of the misfit peerage involved are exactly Prince Charming her off her feet! Between dealing with the Prince who won't come out of his room and the one who's already passionately in love (with himself), and her mother's apparent matchmaking machinations, this Princess may soon be hoping for a dragon to rescue her in DAMEPRI ANIME CARAVAN!


Title: HAKUMEI & MIKOCHI BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 325 min.
Street Date: 3/19/2019
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: Hakumei and Mikochi are two small girls who live together in a tiny house in the great big forest. In fact, their house is so tiny that it all fits inside just one tree! But that's fine because Hakumei and Mikochi are only 3.5 inches tall, so their tree is as big to them as a skyscraper is to normal people! They're not the only tiny people living in their community either, and when Hakumei and Mikochi aren't out exploring, they like to spend their time visiting their neighbors, some of whom are other small folk like the inventor Sen and Konju the songstress, while others are beetles, squirrels and even a big scary owl who is definitely not friendly! For a whole new perspective on life, come look at the world from a different angle with HAKUMEI AND MIKOCHI!


Title: MITSUBOSHI COLORS BLU-RAY
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 300 min.
Street Date: 3/26/2019
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: This world has lots of problems, but after doing grown-up things all day, adults never have the time or energy to fix them! Kids, on the other hand, have LOTS of energy and lots more free time as well. That's why Yui, Sat-chan and Kotoha, three elementary school girls who live in Ueno, have formed COLORS, a secret organization that protects their town from whatever real or imagined menace happens to catch their attention. A monster cat who's also a cat burglar? They're on the case! A horrible surplus of bananas? They'll sell the case! And a bomb that needs diffusing? Well, they might need a little help on that one, just in case! The local cop might think they're a nuisance, but everyone else can sleep better tonight knowing these three heroines are saving the world in MITSUBOSHI COLORS!


Title: SAIYUKI BLU-RAY
Published by: AESIR Holdings
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 1250 min.
Street Date: 3/26/2019
Format: BD
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $59.98

SYNOPSIS: Once demonkind and man lived together in harmony. But when a band of rogue demonic forces seeks to resurrect a diabolical monster, a dark spiritual energy begins to cover the land. Now, it's up to a renegade priest, a monkey king, a lecherous water sprite and a sympathetic demon to stop the resurrection and return harmony to a dangerous land. Enter the world of Saiyuki! A unique universe of beauty and betrayal. Where sacred scrolls battle enchanted weaponry and where dragons can transform into jeeps. A land where four reluctant heroes are just as concerned about having a good time, a stiff drink, and a beautiful woman as they are about saving the world.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

STILL HUMAN receives several 38th Hong Kong Film Awards nominations

Golden Scene
Presents
  Still Human
Written and directed by Chan Oliver Siu Kuen
Starring: Anthony Wong, Crisel Consunji, Sam Lee, Cecilia Yip, Himmy Wong
Hong Kong, 2018, 111 minutes
In Cantonese, English and Tagalog

Still Human, director Chan Oliver Siu Kuen's feature film debut, has received eight nominations at the 38th Hong Kong Film Awards (coming on April 14th), including noms in all four major categories: best film, director (Chan), actor (Wong) and actress (Consunji).


The film and cast have already received four award wins, including the NETPAC award at the 38th Hawaii International Film Festival, and another four nominations. (Details of those wins and nominations can be found here.)

Synopsis:
A paralyzed and hopeless divorcé, Cheong-wing (Anthony Wong) is in need of a caretaker. He meets his new live-in Filipino domestic helper, Evelyn (Crisel Consunji), who has put her dream on hold to come to Hong Kong to earn a living. Living under the same roof, these two strangers develop an unlikely relationship. As they get to learn more about each other, they also rediscover themselves -Cheong-wing begins to reconnect with his estranged son; Evelyn reignites her dream of being a photographer. Together, they help each other through ups and downs, twists and turns, love and loss and experience the different seasons of life. Just when they think they have lost all hope, little do they know, life still has a lot to offer.

The trailer is available here.

Monday, February 18, 2019

ICEMAN: THE TIME TRAVELER will be available tomorrow

Well Go USA
Presents
Iceman: The Time Traveler / Bing feng: Yong heng zhi men
Directed by Raymond Yip
Hong Kong/China, 2018, 88 minutes

Iceman: The Time Traveler, the sequel to the 2014 fantasy-adventure Iceman, debuts tomorrow, February 19th, on digital, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Not that you should care, because the film is a near total dog.

It continues the story of Ying (Donnie Yen), a general of the Ming Emperor's royal bodyguards who was buried and frozen in time by an avalanche during a fierce battle in the first film. Brought back to life in the present day, he embarks on a quest to correct the wrongs of history.

In addition to Donnie Yen, Iceman: The Time Traveler features a returning cast that includes Baoqiang Wang (Kung Fu Jungle), Shengyi Huang (Kung Fu Hustle), Kang Yu (Ip Man 3) and Simon Yam (Operation Red Sea), with the legendary Yasuaki Kurata (God of War) joining the sequel. Raymond Yip (Bruce Lee My Brother) takes over directing duties from Law Wing-Cheong.

The film was not so bad that I was unable to watch it all the way through, but it really doesn't have much going for it. The story jumps all over the place in time, the acting is rather perfunctory, the action sequences often seem "undercranked" so that they play super-fast and unnatural, and the digital effects are often pathetic.

My suggestion is that you save your time and money. At IMDb the film carries an average score of 3.8 based on 307 user ratings (as of when this review is being posted). I hardly ever make reference to IMDb scores in my reviews, but in this case I was really curious to see if it was just me who was woefully unimpressed. Obviously that's not the case.

Also you just might want to check out Edmund Lee's November 17, 2018, review at the South China Morning Post. He describes it as "a film so lacking in coherence, common sense and the most basic character arcs throughout its 87-minute runtime as to be an insult to the paying public." Although I reached my opinion of the film before reading Lee's article, it pretty closely echoes my thoughts.

Disc Specs:
-- Audio
   -- Cantonese DTS-HDMA 5.1
   -- Cantonese 2.0 Stereo
   -- English DTS-HDMA 5.1
   -- English 2.0 Stereo
-- Subtitles
   -- English
   -- Off
-- Trailers
   -- Trailer A
   -- Trailer B
-- Previews
   -- Shadow
   -- Big Brother
   -- Golden Job

AsianCineFest Rating: 1 out of 4 stars; dismal, even worse than the disappointing original.

POLICE STORY/POLICE STORY 2 coming April 30th from Criterion!


Police Story (1985) and Police Story 2 (1988), two of Jackie Chan's finest films, will be available from The Criterion Collection on April 30th, 2019, on Blu-ray (two discs) and DVD (3 discs).

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

The jaw-dropping set pieces fly fast and furious in these breathtakingly inventive action comedies, two smash hits that made Jackie Chan a worldwide icon of daredevil spectacle. The director/star/one-man stunt machine plays Ka-Kui, a Hong Kong police inspector whose methods are, ahem, unorthodox; the phenomenal Maggie Cheung, in a star-making role, plays his much-put-upon girlfriend, May. (Police Story, it's worth mentioning, also features the fabulous Brigitte Lin.) Packed wall-to-wall with astoundingly acrobatic fight choreography, epic explosions, charmingly goofball slapstick, and awesomely 1980s electro soundtracks, Police Story and Police Story 2 set a new standard for rock-’em-sock-’em mayhem that established Chan as a performer of unparalleled grace and daring and would influence a generation of filmmakers, from Hong Kong to Hollywood.

Special Edition Features include:
- New 4K digital restorations of Police Story and Police Story 2
- Alternate 5.1 surround and English-dubbed soundtracks for both films
- 35 mm subtitled theatrical print of the condensed Hong Kong version of Police Story 2, presented in 2K for the first time
- New programs on Chan’s screen persona and action-filmmaking techniques featuring author and New York Asian Film Festival cofounder Grady Hendrix
- Archival interviews with Chan and actor and stuntman Benny Lai
- Television program from 1964 detailing the rigors of Peking-opera training, akin to the education that Chan received as a child
- Chan stunt reel
- Trailers
- New English subtitle translations
- An essay by critic Nick Pinkerton

For years I've owned DVDs of each of these fantastic films in both their import and their Dragon Dynasty versions. Still, I can't wait to get my hands on the Criterion releases. Will certainly be reviewing them as soon as possible.

Three screenings of TOMOYASU MURATA: STOP MOTION MASTER at Japan Society next weekend

Japan Society NY
Presents
© TMC
Tomoyasu Murata: Stop Motion Master
Written, directed and animated by Tomoyasu Murata
Japan, 2000-2017, 84 minutes

When: Saturday, February 23, 3 PM,
Saturday, February 23, 5 PM, and
Saturday, February 23, 7 PM 
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC

North American Premiere

One of Japan's most prolific independent animation artists, Tomoyasu Murata (b. 1974, Tokyo) has created breathtaking, boundary-breaking stop motion animated films over the last two decades. Initially inspired by the expressive power of traditional Japanese bunraku puppet theater, Murata's films—at once tender, whimsical and mysterious—deal with themes of memory, absence and mujo (the Buddhist concept of impermanence) through the cinematic manipulation of his meticulously handcrafted puppets and fantastical miniature sets. The eight short films in this program range from the artist's award-winning student work to recent projects that respond to the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Imamura's THE BALLAD OF NARAYAMA coming to Japan Society NY next Friday, February 8th, 2019

Japan Society NY
Presents
The Ballad of Narayama © 1983 Imamura Production/Toei Co., Ltd
The Ballad of Narayama / Narayama bushikô
Directed by Shôhei Imamura
With With Ken Ogata, Sumiko Sakamoto,
Tonpei Hidari, and Takejo Aki
Japan, 1983, 131 minutes
DCP, color, in Japanese with English subtitles

When: Friday, February 8th at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Tickets: $14/$11 seniors & students/$5 members

Shohei Imamura's Palme d'Or-winning masterpiece is set in a remote mountain village in 19th-century Japan wherein tradition dictates that those who reach the age of 70 must be carried to the top of Mount Narayama and left to die. Despite her hardscrabble surroundings, Orin (Sumiko Sakamoto) is still sprightly at 69, working the fields and managing her family's affairs. Even so, when winter returns to the valley, she demands that her eldest son (Ken Ogata) carry out her fate. A film full of mud, lust, sweat and death, Narayama is a grand culmination of Imamura's career-long interest in "the lower part of the human body and lower part of the social structure," presented in a brand-new 4K restoration.

Friday, February 01, 2019

South Korean zombie horror film RAMPANT to debut on February 26th

Well Go USA
Presents
Rampant / Chang-gwol
Directed by Kim Sung-Hoon
South Korea, 2018, 127 minutes

From the creators of Train to Busan, comes a fresh new take on the zombie-horror genre when Rampant debuts on digital, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD February 26th from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Set in ancient Korea, the story follows Prince Ganglim, who after returning from a long imprisonment, discovers a bloody rampage spreading across the nation by murderous creatures known as Night Demons. He soon realizes that it will take the strength of his fellow countrymen to stop the Night Demons from overrunning the kingdom. Rampant was directed by Kim Sung-Hoon (Confidential Assignment) and stars Hyun-Bin (The Swinders), Jang Dong-Gun (The Warriors Way), Jo Woo-Jin (Inside Men), Man-Sik (Man of Will) and Kim Eui-Sung (Train to Busan). Bonus features include making-of and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Synopsis:
A darkness looms over ancient Korea: murderous creatures known as Night Demons have overrun the country. Returning from a long imprisonment abroad, Prince Ganglim discovers that it will take the strength of his entire kingdom to stop the bloody rampage spreading across the nation in this fresh new take on zombie horror from the studios that brought you Train to Busan.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

SHAW BROTHERS’ KUNG FU MOVIE MARATHON to stream exclusively on TWITCH

GAMMARAY AND CELESTIAL PICTURES TO STREAM
SHAW BROTHERS’ KUNG FU MOVIE MARATHON
EXCLUSIVELY ON TWITCH

44 Full-Length Classic Kung Fu Features Make Their
Twitch Debut to Global Interactive Audience

GammaRay and Celestial Pictures have announced they will stream a Shaw Brothers movie marathon on Twitch (twitch.tv/gammaray_tv) from February 4th to February 8th, 2019. The marathon will include 44 full-length features from the Shaw Brothers’ extensive library of kung fu titles, including iconic films such as King Boxer, Crippled Avengers, and Five Deadly Venoms. This viewing event will be streamed globally and exclusively on Twitch, the leading service and community for multiplayer entertainment, and marks the first time Twitch has featured kung fu films.

After the marathon airs from February 4-8, there will be double feature movie nights on Thursdays and Fridays at 5:00 pm PT for four weeks. The marathon is also the first time GammaRay has hosted full-length features on Twitch.

“We’re excited to introduce cult classic movies from the 70s and 80s to our fans on Twitch for the first time,” said GammaRay COO Do Duong. “Kung fu has influenced filmmaking, hip hop music, and pop culture, so we’re thankful to Celestial Pictures for access to their Shaw Brothers action titles, and to Twitch for using their service to introduce a larger audience to the kung fu phenomenon.”

"The Twitch community has lots of interests, with martial arts and film-based marathons among them," said Jane Weedon, Director of Business Development at Twitch. "We've seen it in the games they play, their cosplay outfits, and the programming they watch, with the Shaw Brothers' kung fu films being the perfect pop culture combo of these fandoms. Thanks to GammaRay, we get to livestream over 40 of the Shaw Brothers' seminal movies with an interactive global audience."

Celestial Pictures is the owner of the Shaw Brothers library of over 760 digitally remastered classics. The custodian of the Shaw Brothers legacy, Celestial Pictures continues to keep the love for peak kung fu cinema alive by presenting it to loyal enthusiasts and new-found audiences across the globe.

“We’re thrilled to bring the quintessential Shaw Brothers films to a new generation of fans through this collaboration with GammaRay,” said Agnes Cheung, Executive Vice President of Celestial Pictures. “Interactive streaming will open up a new horizon for the passionate fandom of kung fu cinema. The marathon will allow the audience to be immersed without interruption in the everlasting Shaw Brothers magic.”

44 titles will be featured during the Twitch livestream including the following kung fu classics:

King Boxer (1972): A student (Lieh Lo) of kung fu meets resistance on his way to a major Chinese tournament.

Crippled Avengers (1978): After the death of his wife, warlord Dao Tian-du (Kuan Tai Chen) turns evil and holds a town in thrall to his reign of fear with the help of his sadistic son. Four of the villain's victims -- a blind man, an amputee, a deaf-mute, and an insane fighter -- seek the help of a wise kung fu master as they train to eliminate the tyrant for good.

Five Deadly Venoms (1978): A dying master sends his last student to check up on five former pupils, who each know a special style of kung fu.

Twitch streamers will also be able to co-stream the marathon. Co-streaming is a feature unique to Twitch which allows a streamer to share another channel’s video feed, but with their own commentary and community. The result is a more personalized, social experience.

For more information including the full marathon schedule and movie times, visit GammaRay’s Twitch channel page and follow them on Twitter.

Monday, January 28, 2019

ICEMAN: THE TIME TRAVELER debuts on February 19th, 2019

Well Go USA
Presents
Iceman: The Time Traveler / Bing feng: Yong heng zhi men
Directed by Raymond Yip
Hong Kong/China, 2018, 88 minutes

Iconic action star Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, IP Man franchise) gets defrosted for the sequel to the fantasy-adventure Iceman when Iceman: The Time Traveler debuts on digital, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD February 19 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Iceman: The Time Traveler tells the story of warriors from imperial China who after being buried alive and kept frozen in time for 400 years, are defrosted and must continue the battle they left behind. Directed by Raymond Yip (Bruce Lee My Brother) Iceman: The Time Traveler features a returning cast including Baoqiang Wang (Kung Fu Jungle), Shengyi Huang (Kung Fu Hustle), Kang Yu (Ip Man 3) and Simon Yam (Operation Red Sea) with the legendary Yasuaki Kurata (God of War) joining the sequel.

Synopsis:
During the Ming Dynasty, a palace guard, Ying (Donnie Yen), is buried and frozen in time by an avalanche during a fierce battle. Brought back to life in the present day, Ying embarks on a quest for the only thing that can correct the wrongs of history – The Golden Wheel of Time. Ying sets out on his dangerous journey, never knowing every step he takes is leading him closer to a deadly trap.

Friday, January 25, 2019

LEE Chang-dong's BURNING coming to digital on January 29th, Blu-ray Combo and DVD on March 5th

Well Go USA
Presents
Burning / Beoning
Directed by Lee Chang-dong
Starring Steven Yeun
South Korea, 2018, 148 minutes

One of the year’s most acclaimed films and South Korea’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2019 Academy Awards®, Burning debuts on digital January 29 and on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD March 5 from Well Go USA Entertainment. (Burning was the first Korean film to make it to the Foreign Language Film shortlist, although it sadly did not make the final cut of five contenders.)

Based on the short story "Barn Burning" by Haruki Murakami, Burning is a psychological tale of all-consuming jealousy that tells the story of three individuals and a mystery that shows no one is truly as they seem. The film is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with an impressive score of 95% and an average score of 8.7 from over 100 outlets. A special bonus is the behind-the-scenes featurette “About the Characters” where viewers will take a deep dive into the characters in Burning and the actors who portray them.

The film stars Steven Yeun (Okja, “The Walking Dead”), Ah-in Yoo (“Six Flying Dragons”) and Jong-seo Jun, making her big screen debut.

Synopsis:
Burning is the searing examination of an alienated young man, Jongsu (Ah-in Yoo), a frustrated introvert whose already difficult life is complicated by the appearance of two people into his orbit: first, Haemi (newcomer Jong-seo Jun), a spirited woman who offers romantic possibilities, and Ben (Steven Yeun, “The Walking Dead,” Sorry To Bother You), a wealthy and sophisticated young man who returns with her from a recent trip. When Jongsu learns of Ben’s mysterious hobby and Haemi suddenly disappears, his confusion and obsessions begin to mount, culminating in a stunning finale.

Addendum, January 31, 2019 - Burning, like each of LEE's previous films, has received several award wins and nominations. It received the Best Foreign Language Film Award from the French Union of Film Critics earlier this month. Info here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

WHO KILLED COCK ROBIN, Taiwanese psychological crime thriller, available on January 31st as VOD, and at select theaters starting in February

Cheng Cheng Films
Presents
Who Killed Cock Robin / Mu ji zhe
Directed by Cheng Wei-hao
Taiwan, 2017, 118 minutes

Who Killed Cock Robin, a psychological crime thriller directed by award-winning Taiwanese filmmaker Cheng Wei-hao (The Tag-Along franchise) starring Taiwanese-American actor Mason Lee (Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, The Hangover II) will hit VOD on January 31th and open in select theaters in North America during the next few months.

Who Killed Cock Robin follows an ambitious journalist’s investigation into a hit-and-run he witnessed years ago. As he beats the clock to rescue the disappeared news source, layers of unimaginable dark truths about a corrupted system start peeling.

Known for The Tag-Along, a ghost folklore-inspired horror franchise that broke the genre’s box office record in Taiwan once held by Hollywood's The Conjuring, director Cheng Wei-Hao is currently among the most sought-after Taiwanese talents. A passion project he had been working on for six years, Who Killed Cock Robin continues Taiwan New Cinema's legacy of exploring human conditions and reinvigorates it with gripping suspense and dazzling gore.

The film has received nominations including Best Picture at Taipei International Film Festival, Best Director at Shanghai International Film Festival and Best Actor at Taiwan Golden Horse Film Awards, the Oscars of the Chinese-speaking world. It's rated on Chinese movie review site by viewers as one of the top Asian thrillers of all time.

The New York-based distributor specialized in Chinese language cinema Cheng Cheng Films is handling its release in North America. Viewers in US and Canada will be able to stream the film at VOD platforms below starting on 1/31/2019. Opening theaters will be updated at its official North American website: whokilledcockrobin.com.

Available on 1/31/2019 at these VOD platforms:
DISH, Verizon FiOS, DirecTV,
Spectrum/Time Warner, Cox, Optimum/CableV,
Comcast, Sling, iNDemand
Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, Vimeo on Demand

Monday, January 21, 2019

EXTREME JOB, a South Korean Comedic Action Film, opens January 25th, goes wide on February 1st

CJ Entertainment
Presents
Extreme Job
Directed by LEE Byeong-heon
Starring RYU Seung-yong, LEE Hanee, JIN Sun-kyu,
LEE Dong-hwi, and Gong-myoung
South Korea, 2019, 111 minutes

South Korean director LEE Byeong-heon (“Twenty,” “What a Man Wants”) returns to the big screen with his newest comedic action film, Extreme Job. Director LEE tells the story of five narcotics cops who run a fried chicken restaurant by day and an undercover operation by night. This title releases at CGV Cinemas in Los Angeles and Buena Park on January 25th and in cities across the U.S. and Canada on February 1st. Theater information is available here.

The narcotics team works hard day and night, but their performance remains at an all-time low, leading them to become the ugly duckling of the police department and potentially face dismantlement. Captain KO (RYU Seung-yong) gets intel about an international drug deal and embarks on a risky undercover mission with his entire team. In order to establish around-the-clock and up-close-and-personal surveillance, the team takes over a rundown chicken joint across the street from the drug gang’s safe house.

But things take an unexpected turn when Detective MA’s (JIN Sun-kyu)yet unrevealed culinary talents begins to shine, turning the chicken restaurant famous overnight. Should we chase chickens or criminals? When customers begin to flock in, undercover work gets pushed to the back burner so the detectives can focus on frying chicken. As a result, the team misses the big drug deal, even though it happens right under their nose. Now, with nowhere to go, the detectives launch a desperate mop-up operation.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Romantic actioner ONE NIGHT ONLY coming to VOD on January 31st, 2019

Cheng Cheng Films
Presents
One Night Only / Tian liang zhi qian
Directed by Matt Wu
Starring: Aaron Kwok and Yang Zishan 
China, 90 minutes, 2016

Chinese romantic actioner One Night Only will be coming to VOD on 1/31/2019. It will be available at these platforms: Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, Vimeo on Demand Comcast, Sling, iNDemand Spectrum/Time Warner, Cox, Optimum/CableV DISH, Verizon FiOS, DirecTV

Synopsis:
Mixing high-octane actions with moving romance, One Night Only starring Hong Kong's legendary Aaron Kwok (Cold War, The Monkey King) follows a gambler and a hooker's suspenseful night together as they race through Bangkok's underground world trying to win their fortune and dignity back. With style and energy, Matt Wu's debut wins as an emotional rollercoaster that contemplates love and fate.

View the One Night Only trailer here.

One Night Only Official Webpage: 1nightonlymovie.com

All six LONE WOLF AND CUB films coming to Japan Society NY

Japan Society NY
Presents
The Complete Lone Wolf and Cub
When: January 25th and 26th, 2019
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Map

When he is wrongly accused of treason and stripped of his position as the Shogun’s executioner, Itto Ogami (Tomisaburo Wakayama) becomes an itinerant sword for hire with his infant son Daigoro in tow. Pushing around a wooden cart equipped with an arsenal of hidden weapons, the iconic father-son duo embark on the revenge-driven road to Hell. Adapted from the mega popular manga series, the Lone Wolf and Cub films are Japanese genre filmmaking at its bloody best, each entry replete with bold visual style and brilliant action choreography. For this two-day marathon presentation, Japan Society screens recent restorations of all six original films in sequential order.

Tickets: $14/$11 seniors & students/$10 members
2-Film Pass: $2 off each ticket when you purchase tickets for two different series films in the same transaction!
All Access Pass: $36 for all six films!

For the Full Schedule and to Order Tickets, click here.

Special Offer: Ticketholders are invited to participate in an onsite raffle for a chance to win manga prizes courtesy of Dark Horse Comics. Two winners will receive copies of the Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus Vol. 1, 2 & 3, and one winner will receive a copy of the newly published Lone Wolf and Cub Gallery Edition, which features illustrations reproduced at original size on heavy-stock art paper. Winners selected at random. Limit one raffle entry per customer. To order Dark Horse’s Lone Wolf and Cub titles visit DarkHorse.com.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

THE SPY GONE NORTH now available for digital download or rental

CJ Entertainment
Presents
The Spy Gone North / Gongjak
Directed by YOON Jong-bin
South Korea, 2018, 137 minutes

The Spy Gone North, a South Korean espionage film inspired by a true story, releases on Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play today, January 8th, 2019. Director YOON Jong-bin (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.

The Spy Gone North stars HWANG Jung-min, LEE Sung-min, CHO Jin-woong, and JU Ji-hoon. It was featured in the Midnight section of the 71st Cannes Film Festival last year.

This film is distributed by CJ Entertainment. The cost is $15.99 to purchase High Definition (HD), $11.99 to purchase Standard Definition (SD), $4.99 to rent High Definition (HD), and $3.99 to rent Standard Definition (SD).

The official movie trailer can be seen here.