With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Korean naval warfare film THE ADMIRAL: ROARING CURRENTS to premiere in U.S. on August 15

CJ Entertainment America
The Admiral: Roaring Currents / Myeong-ryang - Hoe-o-ri-ba-da
Directed by KIM Han-min
South Korea, 2014, 126 minutes

Choi Min-Sik (Oldboy, Lucy) Takes on Epic Historical War
Action Film About the Naval Battle of Myeong-Nyang

The Admiral: Roaring Currents (a.k.a. Roaring Currents) will make its U.S. debut in major market cinemas on August 15, 2014. The film follows the events of a legendary Korean naval battle, Myeong-Nyang, and the Korean Admiral Yi Sun-shin (Choi Min-Sik) who leads only 12 battleships to victory against 330 Japanese ones.

A large scale production set with eight life-size ships made with authentic materials used in the actual battle was used in the filming of The Admiral. Through deep research director Lee Han-Min strived to recreate the amazing events that took place in 1597. Choi Min-Sik, most known for his lead role in the cult hit Oldboy, has made a name for himself within the international film community to be able to reinvent himself with every role. Now in The Admiral: Roaring Currents, Choi finds himself as yet another intriguing character – a disgraced leader of a small naval fleet, up against all odds.

The Admiral: Roaring Currents is presented and distributed by CJ Entertainment and produced by Big Stone Pictures. The film will premiere in major market theaters across the country. Check your local listings or visit www.cj-entertainment.com for more details.

Look for a r3eview here at AsianCineFest on or close to the release date.

There's a FIRESTORM coming on September 23rd from Well Go USA

Well Go USA
Directed by Alan Yuen
Starring Andy Lau
Hong Kong/China/Malaysia, 2013, 109 minutes

“The must-see Hong Kong action thriller of the year that’s packed with exhilarating action, a compelling plot, and a commanding lead performance from Andy Lau.”

“… a relentlessly fiery pyrotechnical spectacle, climaxing with a protracted heavy-artillery shootout that has Hong Kong's central business district literally caving in on itself.”

“…the Hong Kong equivalent of a Hollywood action blockbuster.”

Hong Kong action icon Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs, House of Flying Daggers) stars in Director Alan Yuen’s (Princess D) action-packed crime thriller Firestorm, coming on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital Sept. 23 from Well Go USA Entertainment. A hardboiled police inspector (Lau) must confront, and cross, moral lines in order to hunt down a crew of seasoned criminals. Rounding out the cast are Michael Wong (Triple Tap), Ray Lui (Transformers: Age of Extinction), Ka Tung Lam (Drug War, IP Man), Jun Hu (Bodyguards & Assassins), Chen Yao (Caught in the Web), Vincent Sze (Vengeance), Chi-yin Wong (Life Without Principle) and Shing-Ban Lam (Young and Dangerous: Reloaded).

Synopsis: A storm is heading toward the city of Hong Kong, threatening the lives of everyone in its path. As citizens scramble for cover, a crew of seasoned criminals stage a series of armored car heists in broad daylight, showing no mercy to anyone who gets in their way. Hardboiled police inspector Cao Nam (Andy Lau) has had enough. He vows to take back his city, but quickly learns that regular police tactics are no match for the thieves’ unmerciful brutality. The more Nam pursues them, the more unhinged he becomes - and the savage confrontation brewing in the streets may leave an aftermath even more horrifying than the devastating effects of nature itself.

Bonus Materials Include:
- “The Making of Firestorm” Featurette, including segments on:
  - Andy Lau
  - Yao Chen
  - Lam Ka Tung
  - The Criminals
  - Action Choreography
  - Action Scenes
  - Visual and Special Effects
  - Crossfire Scene
- Trailer

Firestorm had its New York Premiere on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at the New York Asian Film Festival. I wasn't able to catch it then, so I'm really looking forward to Well Go USA's release. Look for a review here at AsianCineFest on or shortly before the September 23rd release date.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

2014 J-POP SUMMIT Festival set new attendance record


S.F.’s Annual Japanese Pop Culture Extravaganza Attracts Huge
Crowds For Music, Anime, Film, Fashion And Ramen

The 2014 J-POP SUMMIT Festival, San Francisco’s premiere celebration of Japanese pop culture, music, fashion, games, art, food and film, broke all previous attendance records during its recent 6th annual weekend-long event. More than 120,000 people attended the two-day Festival that took place across the city’s Japantown on July 19th and 20th.

The second annual J-POP Live at Union Square concert took place on the evening of Saturday, July 19th and attracted nearly 5,000 people who filled the iconic downtown plaza and surrounding vantage points to enthusiastically welcome an array of headlining live musical performers from Japan.

The 2014 J-POP SUMMIT also kicked off the second annual Japan Film Festival of San Francisco, which ran thru Sunday, July 27th at the NEW PEOPLE Cinema, located at 1746 Post St in Japantown.

The 2014 J-POP SUMMIT presented several top Japanese artists that made their U.S. debut including pop stars and Guests of Honor former AKB48 memeber, Tomomi Itano, May’n, Una and the teen idol group, Tokyo Girls’ Style, as well as crowd favorite Kimono Cosplay pop singing duo, Yanakiku, Japanese-American pop singer Kylee, and the return of human beat box phenomenon, DAICHI. Japanese actor and star of Itazura Na Kiss, Yûki Furukawa, also appeared in-person to introduce the U.S. theatrical debut of his new film at NEW PEOPLE Cinema, "wo ai ni” (I love you) in TOKYO, as well as director Mitsutoshi Tanaka who appeared for the premiere of his new historical biopic, Ask This of Rikyu.

In addition to Japantown appearances by all of these artists, fans were treated to some J-flavored punk and alternative music from the Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass and Pinky Doodle Poodle, who were notably introduced on-stage by Robby Takac of The Goo Goo Dolls.

Kawaii-themed fashion programming was presented in partnership with ASOBISYSTEM and gave attendees and fashionistas kinetic live appearances by iconic Harajuku models Misa Kimura, Akira, Una and Ayumi Seto, who launched her new, “Aymmy in the batty girls” apparel line. Fans also were introduced to the sexy pop color explosion of the girls of Black Diamond from Shibuya and an array of other on-stage dance and fashion contests and other programming such as Baby, the Stars Shine Bright Contest, an “ODOTTEMITA” Dance Contest, Cosplay Masquerade, J-POP IDOL Contest and the Japan Discovery Stage.

Kinokuniya Book Stores of America and SEGA® of America welcomed visual artist, KEI, who designed the character of Hatsune Miku, the world’s first virtual pop star, and made his first-ever U.S. appearance to meet Miku fans and sign his art books.

Web-based Japanese cultural channel and sponsor JAPANKURU, taken from an original coined word that implies, “Come to Japan,” showcased the country’s strong influence on pop culture with a colorful JAPANKURU x J-POP SUMMIT Festival 2014 booth that offered attendees unique products unavailable in the U.S. and insights into travel to various parts of Japan.

The POP GOURMET Food Festival also returned to J-POP SUMMIT for its second consecutive year and offered new expanded attractions that included a Sake Tasting area, produced by Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco and hosted by more than a dozen premiere sake brands and brewers, as well as RAMEN Street, and a Japanese Beverage and Bites & Snacks Area hosted in-part by Takara Sake USA, which brought the festival’s official cocktail “J POP,” as well as Sapporo USA, Azuma Foods, Meiji and ITO-EN.

RAMEN Street was a brand new attraction for J-POP SUMMIT this year and was co-presented in cooperation with the Ramen Yokocho Association. The scrumptious event drew tens of thousands who cued in hours-long lines throughout the entire weekend for a taste of authentic hearty, made-from-scratch Japanese ramen from some of the best purveyors of the dish in the world. Many of the local restaurants, merchants and other businesses in the Japantown area also benefited from the massive attendance.

“The record setting attendance for the 2014 J-POP SUMMIT affirms the tremendous popularity that Japanese pop culture has across a truly wide cross section of people of all ages, from all walks of life, and it is a direct result of the support of our sponsors, the City of San Francisco, the Japantown community, and the passion and hard work invested by our Festival staff as well as legions of dedicated volunteers that so generously contributed their time before, during as well as after this year’s event,” says Seiji Horibuchi, J-POP SUMMIT Festival founder and chairman of the J-POP SUMMIT Festival Committee. “Each J-POP SUMMIT strives to present a unique composite of the latest pop culture trends happening in Japan right now. Many of the artists and content that has been featured goes on to become globally popular. As we look forward to 2015, we reflect on lessons learned and also the energy that J-POP SUMMIT has brought to Japantown and the fun and excitement it has given to so many attendees year after year.”

2014 J-POP SUMMIT Festival sponsors included: JAPANKURU, ASOBISYSTEM, TAKARA SAKE USA, SEGA, Biken International, MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON, the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco, SAPPORO, Ma Chére Cosette?, Crunchyroll, United Airline, Kinokuniya USA, Meiji, Azuma Foods, JVTA, and the Japan Foundation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

THE PROTECTOR 2 is now available

Magnet Releasing
a division of
Magnolia Home Entertainment
The Protector 2 / Tom Yum Goong 2
(a.k.a.  Warrior King 2 in the United Kingdom)
Directed by Prachya Pinkaew
Starring Tony Jaa, RZA,  Phetthai Vongkumlao,
Marrese Crump, and Ratha Phongam
Thailand, 2013, 104 minutes

The Protector 2 is Prachya Pinkaew's sequel to his 2005 film The Protector. (Pinkaew also directed the original Ong Bak film.) Starting today, Tuesday, July 29th, it's available in North America as either a 3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray combo pack ($39.98), a Blu-ray ($29.98), or a DVD ($26.98). I watched the regular Blu-ray version for this review.

Once again Tony Jaa stars as Kham and again he loses his elephant and must rescue it. And again he is assisted by Mark (Phetthai Vongkumlao), an Australian policeman. This time his main adversary is LC (the RZA), an arms dealer with a yen for brutal martial arts contests.

The 3D roots of the film are evident even in the 2D Blu-ray version. For example, at one point Jaa, who has been on top of a vehicle, is hurled off of it when it crashes into the side of a bridge, and his body comes flying straight at the camera.

The following shots make use of safety wires, as is made explicit in an extra feature and which no doubt will turn off some Jaa fans. I had no problem with the occasional use of wires and some CGI. I mean, no one in their right mind is going to send Jaa off of the tallest bridge in Souteast Asia without using a safety harness and wires.

A bit less easy to understand or excuse is the recycling of certain stunts from the original Ong Bak film. Here I'm thinking of two scenes in particular. One has Jaa running, then sliding under a table on the fronts of his lower legs with his body leaning backwards, almost horizontal to the ground. Another is a fight scene in which his feet and lower legs are on fire, although The Protector 2 does up the ante here in that the lower extremities of his multiple opponents are also on fire as is the room in which they're fighting. This scene, in which the room essentially is a furnace, uses both practical and CGI fire, again a point made explicit in an extra.

For me the film's biggest fault is a matter of casting. I think that RZA is sincere in his love for and appreciation of Asian martial arts movies. I also think he's talented. Unfortunately, his talents don't include an ability to convincingly act nor to engage in serious martial arts combat, most particularly him going one-on-one against Jaa. Their climactic fight is perhaps as well choreographed as it could be, given RZA's limitations, but it's pretty much hollow and unconvincing.

Disc Special Features:
- Behind the Scenes Featurettes:
  - Cast & Characters
  - Speaking with the Director
  - Action & Stunts, Working in 3D
- AXS TV: A Look at The Protector 2
- Trailers

AsianCineFest Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars. A fairly good film. Definitely of some interest, but with some serious flaws. Maybe not well-worth-watching, but definitely worth-watching. Give it an extra 1/2 star if you don't mind RZA's performance.

If you're going to buy The Protector 2 and have a 3D television, I think that the 3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray combo pack is probably the way to go. No 3D TV? Then go for the Blu-ray for just $3 more than the DVD, at least in terms of the SRPs.

For more info:

Official Site: www.protector2.com

Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Protector2TonyJaa

DRAGONWOLF available today

Well Go USA
Directed by Raimund Huber
Thailand, 2013, 122 minutes
Blu-ray SLP: $29.98
DVD SLP: $24-98

Dragonwolf is a Thai martial arts film that comes out on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital today from Well Go USA. My review is based on watching the Blu-ray version, which was no mean feat. Not that it looked bad; no the video transfer on Blu-ray was top notch, as one has come to expect from Well Go. The problem was that the movie is terrible.

So, for those who might at all be inclined to think about buying Dragonwolf in any form, and who don't care to read further, let me just offer two words of advice: "Don't bother."

In fact I would have stopped watching sometime well before the film reached its one hour mark, but the good people at Well Go had provided me with the screener, and I felt it only proper to watch the entire movie for this review.

My first thought that Dragonwolf might be a turkey came before I even inserted the disc in my player. Raimund Huber, the director, has also made Bangkok Adrenaline (2009) and Kill 'em All (2012), both very mediocre films that I watched on Netflix Streaming. (I imagine that at some point Dragonwolf will be available there also. Streaming is the only way I can even remotely recommend viewing the film, unless you have some other no-extra-cost option available.)

Mozart (standing) about to confront a trio

The story concerns two friends, Mozart (Kazu Patrick Tang, who's had small rolls in such films as Ong Bak 2, BKO: Bangkok Knockout, and Chinese Zodiac) and Julius (Johan Kirsten, here in his film debut). They live in Devil's Cauldron, which is supposedly "the vice and bloodshed capital of the world" though there's no real evidence in the film that it's really all that exceptionally bad a place.

Mozart (a.k.a. "Mo") and Julius (a.k.a. "Dragon") work for Brutus, the head of the organization that controls Devil's Cauldron. They are his best "sweepers," effectively handling the toughest, dirtiest and most violent work he needs done.

The two, friends since childhood, are practically brothers. Unfortunately they meet a lovely young thing named Mary at a charity event. She and Julius become an item, but she lets Mozart know that she's interested in him.  Naturally this puts a "strain" (to put it mildly) on the guys' friendship.

The convoluted story unfolds using a great many flashback scenes, far to many as far as I'm concerned. The dialog tends to range between trite and stilted. For example, who really would say, "Had he told me the truth, I'd not have killed him"?

Julius seems uninterested in the sushi or the "platter" on which it's offered

As for the action, I'll grant that a few of the moves are okay. But must of the "combatants" come across like mediocre students who just managed to pass "Stuntman 101" at a community college. And far too often the camera angles reveal that the punches or kicks were never intended to come even remotely close to connecting.

On the positive side, such as it is, the film has some nice female breasts on view and most of the few comedic touches are actually decent. If Huber were to make a sexploitation action comedy, it just might be a decent watch. But there were neither enough tits & ass nor enough laughs in Dragonwolf to redeem it.

I usually don't notice film ratings at IMDB, but I happened to see that Dragonwolf currently has a dismal 3.4/10 rating from 203 users. That sounds like about what it deserves in my opinion.

AsianCineFest Rating: 1 out of 4 stars; poor. (Note: this overall rating is based on 1/2 star for the titties and another 1/2 star for the action.)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Free screening of THE FATAL ENCOUNTER tomorrow night in NYC

Korean Cultural Service New York
Korean Movie Night 2014
Series Four: EPIC ACTION!
The Fatal Encounter / Yeok-rin
Directed by LEE Jae-kyoo
South Korea, 2014, 135 minutes
When: Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 7:00 pm
Doors open: 6:30 PM
Where: Tribeca Cinemas 54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal, NYC
Near the A, C, E @ #1 Canal Street subway stops
Admission: FREE!!!

Synopsis (courtesy Korean Cultural Service): Given the seven assassination attempts on his life in his first year as king, young King Jeongjo was known by all as “The King of Misfortune” – a title he constantly hoped to escape from. Based on Jeongyuyeokbyeon, one of the many assassination attempts on his life in 1777, the film follows the 24 hours leading up to that incident.

Jeongjo and his court servant Sang-chaek do everything they can to stay safe from assassins, but the king’s defense can only do so much against a constant barrage of attacks. In one such encounter, an orphan-turned-assassin has been ordered to execute the king, unaware that the king’s only friend and confidant – court servant Sang-chaek – was his own life-saving childhood companion!

The Fatal Encounter had a North American theatrical run that began this past May 23rd. My review at that time can be found here.

The ONG BAK TRILOGY available tomorrow in Blu-ray and DVD box sets

Magnolia Home Entertainment
and Magnet Releasing
Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior 
Ong Bak 2: The Beginning 
Ong Bal 3: The Final Battle

The ONG BAK TRILOGY will be available as either a 3-disc Blu-ray box set ($29.98) or a 5-disc DVD box set ((26.98) tomorrow, Tuesday, July 29th from Magnet Releasing, a division of Magnolia Home Entertainment. Both sets include all three movies and loads of great extra features. While I've seen all three films previously on DVD, I watched the Blu-ray versions for this review. (For a look at the DVD versions, see Neil Koch's article at hkfilm.net.)

The original Ong Bak brought worldwide recognition to the Thai action film industry and made a star of Tony Jaa. The following films in the trilogy form a two-part prequel of sorts to the original. All three films are available with either the original Thai or with English-dubbed soundtracks Each film also offers optional English or Spanish subtitles.

This release is especially timely in that Panna Rittikrai, who worked in the Thai film industry for three-and-a-half decades as actor, stuntman, action choreographer and director. He gained international recognition as Tony Jaa's mentor. He was stunt coordinator for Ong Bak, and co-rwrote and co-directed Ong Bak 2 and Ong Bak 3 with Jaa. Seeing him on the extras is heart-wrenching given his recent and untimely death at age 53.

Before providing brief synopsis and ratings for each of the film. let me first be clear that the whole package is greater than the sum of its parts. That is, my rating for the trilogy box set is slightly higher than the average of my ratings for the three individual films.

AsianCineFest Rating for the ONG BAK TRILOGY box set: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very highly recommended.

I also want to suggest that for those who already own some, or even all three, of the films on DVD, the pricing and quality of the Blu-ray package makes it worth considering an upgrade. For those who do not yet own any of these films, or only one of them, the Blu-ray set is a must have, unless you're still hung up on DVDs, in which case go with the DVD set. Give your duplicate discs to a needy friend.

Now, a few words about the individual films.

Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior 
Directed by Prachya Pinkaew
Thailand, 2003, 105 minutes

This is the film that started it all off. The title is somewhat misleading in that Ong Bak is not a Thai warrior at all. It is the name of the sacred Buddhist statue in the Thai village where Ting (Tony Jaa) lives. When the head of the statue is cut off and taken to Bangkok to be sold as a relic, Tien is selected to retrieve it. There he meets up with Humlae (Petchtai Wongkamiao) a fellow villager. Humlae is an incorrigible gambler who only answers to the name of George in his new life in the big city. The film is filled with incredible stunts and Muay Thai martial arts moves.

AsianCineFest Rating: 4 out of 4 stars; an absolute must-have.

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning
Directed by Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai
Thailand, 2008, 98 minutes

As I indicated earlier, this is the first of two films that provide a prequel to Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior. It is set nearly 600 years ago and tells the tale of how the Ong Bak statue came to be cast.

Tien (Natdanai Kongthong) is the young son of a military commander in what is now eastern Thailand or western Cambodia. He ends up living with a group of bandits led by Chernung (Sorapong Chatree) and is trained in a variety of martial arts, both unarmed and weapons-based. When he demonstrates mastery of all he has learned, Tien (now played by Jaa) becomes a leader of the bands raids. But trouble awaits him when he goes up against the man who killed his parents.

There are some incredible stunts involving elephants and, as one might expect given the preceding description, a great variety in the martial arts action scenes.

An alternate cut of Ong Bak 2 is also included, as well as the usually plethora of fine extras.

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

Ong Bak 3: The Final Battle
Directed by Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai
Thailand, 2010, 99 minutes

The final film in the trilogy picks right up from the end of Ong Bak 2, with Tien captured by his adversary and facing torture and death. But through a convenient intervention, he escapes this fate. However he is in bad shape and only slowly manages to regain his health.

Therein lies the main problem with the film. The middle section is devoted to a lengthy training session. Actually, two training sessions. The first involves Tien retraining his broken body to function once again. The second involves him delving deeply into Khon, traditional Thai dance. He will incorporate these dance moves into a new martial art for the film's final ultimate showdown.

AsianCineFest Rating 2.5 out of 4 stars; fairly good. Certainly of interest, but somewhat flawed in terms of pacing. While it does have some fine stunts and combat scenes, it's still  bit of a letdown in terms of the amount of action one would expect.

Sentai Filmworks licenses MONTHLY GIRLS’ NOZAKI-KUN

Tales of unrequited love are as old as time itself, but there’s never been a tale drawn out quite like this in Sentai Filmworks' latest acquisition, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun. This romantic comedy series is directed by Mitsue Yamazaki (Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East, Kampfer) with series composition by Yoshiko Nakamura (Hiiro no Kakera – The Tamayori Princess Saga, Junjo Romantica), art direction by Jirou Kouno (AMNESIA, Sacred Seven) and animation production by Dogakobo (Majestic Prince, Natsuyuki Rendezvous).

Synopsis: Love is the spirit that motivates an artist’s journey. Or, rather, it can and should be. Of course, for mangaka artist Nozaki… he’s clueless when it comes to those special feelings of love coming from his own classmate. It’s the age-old tale: the girl’s into a guy that barely knows they exist.

And it’s no different for Sakura. While all she can think about is him, all he cares about is the publication deadline looming over his head. Unfortunately, this all came about because Sakura didn’t share her true feelings with Nozaki. This all leads to a huge misunderstanding – and, as a result, Sakura becoming his assistant. Little did she know, but she now works for one of her favorite mangakas. Only she’s a he!

And that’s the strange part; Nozaki is the creator of the popular shojo manga, Let's Have a Romance!, under the alias of Yumeno Sakiko. So, how could such a stubborn numbskull such as Nozaki be so in touch with a girl’s wants and needs to create such inspiring stories that Sakura loves? And will she spoil their working relationship to finally admit how she really feels about him?

Time can only tell as this rom-com tale unfolds in Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun.

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun will be available soon through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Happy Birthday, Donnie Yen!

Donnie unleashes a high-flying kick in Dragon (2011)

Donnie Yen was born on July 27, 1963 in Canton, China. His birth-name is Zhen Zidan. He is currently one of Hong Kong's most active action stars, quite probably the most active. He has starred in many great films, including Wing Chun (1994), Seven Swords and Kill Zone - S.P.L. (both 2005), Painted Skin and Ip Man (both 2008), Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster (2010), Special ID (2013) and Iceman (2014) to name but a few.

He had a brief but brilliant cameo in Matt Chow's comedy Golden Chickensss (2014) in which he played Ip Man, only he was dressed like Tony Leung Chiu Wai's Ip Man in Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster! The bit was hilarious!

He'll be starring in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny, which is currently filming and has a 2015 planned release date. For his complete filmography at IMDB, click here.

In 2012, Donnie received the Star Asia Award at the New York Asian Film Festival, an accolade well-deserved.

So happy 51st birthday wishes, Donnie, from AsianCineFest and your many fans around the world. Keep the action comin'!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sentai Filmworks licenses MOMOKYUN SWORD

Big things come in small packages, but no one expected anything quite like Momo in Sentai Filmworks' latest acquisition, Momokyun Sword. This comedy adventure series is directed by Shinsuke Yanagi (A Certain Scientific Railgun, Ro-Kyu-Bu! SS) with series composition by Tsuyoshi Tamai (Ladies Vs. Butlers!, Strike Witches), art direction by Chikako Shibata (Azumanga Daioh, KINMOZA!) and animation production by Project No. 9 (Ro-Kyu-Bu!) and Tri-Slash (Yowamushi Pedal).

Synopsis: It was written in the stars the day Momoko came down the river, floating inside a giant peach found by an old childless couple. Although her fate might not yet be known to her, she was brought to this village to defend it. Now that she is all grown up, Momoko is prepared to fight. And while she might not be the sharpest sword in the sheath… what she lacks in smarts, she makes up for with her unwavering determination! Evil lurks in the distance as an army of ogres are planning to invade.

Along with her talking pet dog, monkey, and peasant – who just happen to also be gods – Momoko must protect and recover the Michimi Peach Fragments that are scattered all over Japan before its pieces fall into the wrong hands. Fragments of a holy peach of incredible powers, these powers could be harnessed and used for evil - - and exactly why the army of ogres are coming to invade.

Luckily for our she-ro, Momoko has teamed up with a bevy of beauties that call themselves the Celestial Maiden Squad. Maron, Suika, Ringo, and Karin, too, have a bone to pick with the menacing monsters. Together, the girls join forces as loli-warriors in order to stop the pillaging. Will they have what it takes? And will Momoko get the “on the job” training she needs, or fail in the process?

Either way… prepare for a battle like no other as beautiful babes must battle in a Feudal Japan fantasy world in Momokyun Sword.

Momokyun Sword will be available soon through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

Happy Birthday, Yuen Biao!

Yuen Biao in Tai Chi Hero

Yuen Biao was born on July 26, 1957 in Hong Kong. His birth-name is Hsia Ling-Jun. He trained at the same school as Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan and starred in several films with them (including Project A in 1983 and Wheels on Meals the following year).

One of Yuen's most memorable starring performances was in The Prodigal Son (1981), directed by and starring Sammo. And in Sammo's Shanghai Express (a.k.a. Millionaire's Express, 1986), Yuen Biao performs an incredible flip off the roof of a three story building, as well as several other terrific stunts and fight sequences.

Most recently he appeared in Tai Chi Hero (2012) as Li Qiankun. In it his character squared off against Yang Lu Chan (Yuan Xiaochao), the star of the planned trilogy, in the final, fantastic fight sequence which takes place on the edges of narrow partitions within in a royal kitchen.

So happy 57th birthday wishes, Yuen Biao, from AsianCineFest and all your many world-wide fans.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Korean gambling action flick THE DIVINE MOVE reviewed; opens today

CJ Entertainment
The Divine Move
CHO (a.k.a. JO) Beom-gu
South Korea, 2014, 118 minutes

South Korea’s highly anticipated gambling action film The Divine Move (a.k.a. God's One Move) opens in 15 theaters in the U.S. (including Hawaii) and Canada today, Friday, July 25th. (Click on the button on the film's webpage at CJ Entertainment for locations and showtimes.)

SONG Tae-seok (JUNG Woo-sung) is a professional GO (a.k.a. baduk) player. SONG Woo-seok, his older brother, entices him into a "Guidance Game" whereby Tae-seok "guides" Woo-seok's play from a remote location by using a hidden camera and communications devices. Things go horribly wrong, Tae-seok is framed for a murder and sent to prison. Through a fellow convict, for whom he's done a "solid," Tae-seok learns how to fight like a highly trained martial artist.

Tae-seok (seated left) and "Drinking Christ" (seated right)

Once released, Tae-seok seeks revenge. He enlists the aid of "Drinking Christ" (veteran actor AHN Sung-ki), a blind GO master, "Carpenter" (AN Kil-kang), a one-handed electronics expert, and Cheater (KIM In-kwon), another professional GO player.

Killer (LEE Bum-soo), left foreground, with cell phone

Tae-seok's target is Killer (LEE Bum-soo), the professional gambler who'd framed him. Among his gang are Player (CHOI Jin-hyuk), the manager of Killer's GO gambling house, and Kwon (actress LEE Si-young, the only female lead in the cast), a former professional GO player who runs the Goddess Bar and who is indebted to Killer.

Kwon (LEE Si-young)

Certain terms pertaining to GO are explained on occasion throughout the film. I happen to know a bit about the game, but think that just about anyone can enjoy this movie even without any familiarity with it.

Tae-seok in action

The director does a good job of keeping things interesting and moving along; I found myself really engrossed in the storyline and plot development. And the action scenes, of which there are several, are very well done.

The Divine Move is a really intelligent, sharp and well-paced action-thriller.

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

THE PROTECTOR 2 is now available in 3D Blu-ray, standard Blu-ray, and DVD versions

The Protector 2 / Tom Yum Goong 2
(a.k.a.  Warrior King 2 in the United Kingdom)
Directed by Prachya Pinkaew
Starring Tony Jaa, RZA,  Phetthai Vongkumlao,
Marrese Crump, and Ratha Phongam
Thailand, 2013, 104 minutes

The Protector 2 is Prachya Pinkaew's sequel to his 2005 film The Protector. (Pinkaew also directed the original Ong Bak film.) It will be available in North America from Magnet Releasing, a division of Magnolia Home Entertainment as either a 3D Blu-ray and regular 2D Blu-ray combo pack, a 2D Blu-ray, or a 2D DVD next Tuesday, July 29th.

Once again Tony Jaa stars as Kham and again he loses his elephant and must rescue it. And again he is assisted by Mark (Phetthai Vongkumlao), an Australian policeman. This time his main adversary is LC (the RZA), an arms dealer with a yen for brutal martial arts contests.

Synopsis: When Boss Suchart is murdered in his own home – the killer delivered three fatal blows on his body – all evidence points to Kham (Tony Jaa), who was present at the crime scene and was seen with the victim the moment before he died. Kham is forced to run as the police launch a pursuit. Meanwhile, the twin nieces of Boss Suchart (Jija Yanin Wismitanan and Teerada Kittisiriprasert) are out for revenge. But luck is on Kham’s side when he again runs into his friend Sergeant Mark.

As Kham is hunted by several parties, he’s also desperately searching for Khon, his elephant, whose disappearance is involved with Boss Suchart’s death. In another twist, Kham is drawn into an underground fighting ring run by LC (RZA), a crime lord who’s obsessed with collecting top-class martial artists from around the world. LC’s fighters are branded only by numbers, such as the lethal, beautiful Twenty (Ratha Phongam) and the diabolical No.2 (Marrese Crump). These fighters are ordered to defeat and capture Kham for a special mission that LC has in mind.

Look for a review here at AsianCineFest on or close to the July 29th release date.

For more info:

Official Site: www.protector2.com

Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Protector2TonyJaa

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Korean gambling action film The Divine Move opening in over 13 North American theaters tomorrow

The Divine Move
CHO Beom-gu
South Korea, 2014, 118 minutes

South Korea’s highly anticipated gambling action film The Divine Move (a.k.a. God's One Move) is set to be released in over 13 North American theaters tomorrow, Friday, July 25th.

Synopsis: Professional GO (a.k.a. baduk) player Tae-seok loses a high-stakes game to infamous underground gambler Sal-soo, and ends up framed for the murder of his own brother and locked up in prison. He vows revenge and trains ferociously. After serving his seven-year sentence, he gets in touch with his brother's former associate "Tricks," hermit and blind master player "The Lord," and skillful junkyard owner Mok-su; together, they begin formulating a plan to get back at Sal-soo and his men. Tae-seok slowly penetrates Sal-soo's inner circle and his gambling joint, and eliminates Sal-soo's men one by one. But Sal-soo discovers Tae-seok's true identity and engages him in one final game that will seal the fates of the two men involved.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ONG BAK TRILOGY coming July 29th

Magnolia Home Entertainment
and Magnet Releasing

The ONG BAK TRILOGY will be available on Blu-ray and DVD next Tuesday, July 29th. Both 3-disc box sets contain Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior, Ong Bak 2: The Beginning, and Ong Bal 3: The Final Battle. Each disc is loaded with great extra features.

This release is especially timely in that Panna Rittikrai, who worked in the Thai film industry for three-and-a-half decades as actor, stuntman, action choreographer and director. He gained international recognition as Tony Jaa's mentor. He was stunt coordinator for Ong Bak, and co-rwrote and co-directed Ong Bak 2 and Ong Bak 3 with Jaa. Rittikrai. Seeing him on the extras is heartwrenching given his untimely death at 53 a few days ago.

The original Ong Bak brought the Thai action film industry worldwide recognition and made a star of Tony Jaa.

Look for a review here at AsianCineFest on or just before the July 29th release date.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

VIZ's Perfect Square imprint announces fun events for 2014 Comic-Con International

HELLO KITTY © 1976, 2014 SANRIO CO. LTD. Used under license.

All-Ages Imprint Celebrates The Launch Of CATBUG And The HELLO KITTY
Brand’s 40th Anniversary With In-Booth Artist Appearances, Photo
Opportunities, Advance Copies Of Forthcoming Titles And Much
More At The Nation’s Largest Comics And Pop Culture Event

VIZ Media is preparing to delight the young and young at heart with a variety of engaging activities, in-booth artists signings and other fun events presented by its Perfect Square imprint and aimed at fans of all ages at the 2014 Comic-Con International.

Comic-Con International is the nation’s biggest comic book, science fiction and pop culture event, and takes place July 23rd-27th at the San Diego Convention Center, in San Diego, CA. VIZ Media will be located in Booth 2813. Complete details on Comic-Con are available at: www.comic-con.org.

Perfect Square will present a range of activities and attractions each day throughout Comic-Con. Fans will also be able to purchase advance copies of several forthcoming Perfect Square titles ahead of their scheduled release dates later this summer. Notable titles that will be available during Comic-Con at the VIZ Media booth include BRAVEST WARRIORS: THE SEARCH FOR CATBUG ($30.00) a special Comic-Con limited edition with foil-accented cover and gilded pages - only 250 made - don’t miss the chance to have it autographed by many of the CATBUG artists, including official Bravest Warriors comics artist Ian McGinty, Codename: Kids Next Door creator Mr. Warburton and Ben 10 Omniverse artists Jon Chad and Corin Howell (and more!) at exclusive in-booth signings; BRAVEST WARRIORS: CATBUG'S TREASURE BOOK ($13.00), a pictures-and-words journal, will be sold with a limited edition poster; HELLO KITTY, HELLO 40, a commemorative art book ($50.00) a special Comic-Con limited edition with foil-accented cover and gilded pages - only 250 copies printed - don’t miss the chance to have it signed by HELLO KITTY artists at the exclusive in-booth signing. Fans can also catch a variety of freebies and promo item giveaways throughout the convention along with manga samplers, posters, temporary tattoos, posters, postcards, buttons and more. Also don’t miss the return of the VIZ MEDIA convention tote bag, FREE with any purchase and available in four amazing colorful designs, including HELLO KITTY and UGLYDOLL!

Perfect Square Comic-Con Panels & Special Events:

Thursday July 24th

VIZ Media Booth #2813
Drop by the VIZ Media booth for a photo with an UGLYDOLL pal!

Friday July 25th

10:00AM & 1:00PM CATBUG VOICE ACTOR SAM LAVAGNINO In-Booth Signing & Personal Appearance
VIZ Media Booth #2813
Meet the voice of Catbug, the breakout star of YouTube hit Bravest Warriors, and receive a signed art card!

BRAVEST WARRIOR  © 2014 Frederator Networks, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

VIZ Media Booth #2813
Meet talented artists including Stu Livingston, Mr. Warburton, Ian McGinty, Jon Chad and Inori Fukuda Trant for their brand new book, a seek-and-find style artbook featuring Catbug, the breakout star of the YouTube smash-hit BRAVEST WARRIORS series and get your VIZ Media BRAVEST WARRIORS book or sampler signed!

Saturday July 26th

VIZ Media Booth #2813
Join Hello Kitty and a team of talented artists from the forthcoming HELLO KITTY: HELLO 40 commemorative art book including Eisner-Award winning team Art & Franco, Babymouse creators Jennifer and Matt Holm and Long Tail Kitty creator Lark Pien for a special signing and photo opportunity!

Sunday July 27th

VIZ Media Booth #2813
Join Hello Kitty and her artist friends for a special second signing and photo opportunity. Fans can meet artists including Brianne Drouhard, Stephanie Gonzaga, Martin Hsu, and Chynna Clugston Flores. Copies of the forthcoming HELLO KITTY: HELLO 40 art book will also be available for sale and fans can have it autographed by the appearing artists.

VIZ Media Booth #2813
Meet talented HELLO KITTY, HELLO 40 contributors Corin Howell, Susie Ghahremani, Debbie Huey and Jacob Chabot, and get your limited edition copy signed!

Panel Discussion Room 32AB
Bring your kids and join creators and editors from across the industry for a lively roundtable. What are the challenges of entertaining different age levels at the same time? Kids can also try their hand at pitching ideas, and hear how the panelists would craft those ideas into real comics, during a one-of-a-kind interactive Q&A. Featuring as moderator writer Tom Pinchuk (MAX STEEL) and as panelists, writer/artist Katie Cook (My Little Pony), writer Jenni L. Holm (Baby Mouse), editor Shannon Watters (kaBOOM!, Adventure Time), editor Sarah Gaydos (IDW Kids Comics) and writer/editor Joel Enos (BEN 10, Perfect Square).

VIZ Media’s Perfect Square imprint focuses on delivering original comics, manga (graphic novels) and other children’s books with an emphasis on strong storytelling, eye-popping graphics, empowering themes, and a dash of irreverence, that captures the imagination of a whole new generation.

Additional information on titles published by Perfect Square is available at www.PerfectSquare.com.

For more information on other manga titles from VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

THE SUSPECT is available today

Well Go USA Entertainment
The Suspect / Yong-eui-ja
Directed by WON Shin-yeon
South Korea, 2013, 138 minutes
SLP: $24.98

South Korean spy action-thriller The Suspect becomes available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital today, July 22, 2014 from Well Go USA Entertainment. This review is based on my watching the Blu-ray version.

JI Dong-chul, played by rising South Korean star GONG Yoo (Silenced, 2011), is a defector from North Korea who works as a hired driver for Chairman Park. His employer is the CEO of a powerful corporation and is deeply involved in North-South relations. When Park is murdered just before an important visit to Pyongyang, Dong-chul is the chief suspect.

Given a pair of glasses by Park just before he died, Dong-chul is a man-on-the-run who not only must save himself but also discover what is so important about the glasses. His situation is complicated by the fact that he is a former North Korean agent, one of the elite few who completed training at Ryonggang Base west of Pyongyang. He's also seeking to find who murdered his wife and daughter.

Further complicating the situation are several characters. KIM Suk-ho of the NSIA (National Security Intelligence Agency, South Korea's equivalent of the U.S.'s CIA) is in overall charge of effort to capture Dong-chul. Colonel MIN Se-hun, South Korea's best counter-intelligence officer, is specifically tasked with capturing Dong-chul. And CHOI Kyung-hee is a female documentary filmmaker who's doing a piece on North Korean defectors; Dong-chul is one of her subjects.

As one might expect, there are lots of back-stories, back-stabbings, and various forms of betrayals at work. Director WON (A Bloody Aria, 2006) does a fine job of keeping maintaining excitement, moving things along, and keeping the story sufficiently coherent.

Near the end, I thought the film was heading for a conclusion almost identical to that of The Berlin File, but that did not prove to be the case.

All-in-all, The Suspect is a well-made and welcome addition to the large number of South Korean spy film action-thrillers.

Disc extras are limited to the film's trailer and those of other Well Go USA releases.

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

Monday, July 21, 2014

SAILOR MOON Season One (Subtitled Episodes 1-23) available from VIZ


Episodes 1-23 Of The Iconic Original Girl Power Action
Anime Series Now Available For High Definition Download
From Leading Content Partners In The U.S. And Canada

VIZ Media invites fans to catch the launch of the first part of season 1 of the legendary and beloved SAILOR MOON anime series for digital download from a range of top media content providers.

SAILOR MOON Season One (Subtitled Episodes 1-23; rated ‘TV-PG’) is available directly from digital partners, including Apple iTunes, GooglePlay, Amazon Instant Video, PlayStation Network and the Xbox Marketplace for $16.99 in Standard Definition, and $34.99 in HD. Individual episodes are also available, and carry an SRP of $0.99 each in Standard Definition and $1.99 each in High Definition format.

VIZ Media also features SAILOR MOON (subtitled) on its FREE NeonAlley.com anime streaming platform and also via the subscription-based Hulu Plus in High Definition. Visit www.NeonAlley.com and Hulu.com/sailormoon for more information.

The smash hit SAILOR MOON anime series is inspired by the bestselling manga (graphic novel) series created by Naoko Takeuchi (published in North America by Kodansha). In the series, Usagi Tsukino is a clumsy but kindhearted teenage girl who suddenly finds out her destiny involves transforming into the powerful guardian of love and justice, Sailor Moon. Meeting allies along the way who share the same fate, Usagi and the team of planetary Sailor Guardians must fight to protect their universe before villains destroy it all!

VIZ Media has licensed all 5 seasons of the original SAILOR MOON anime series (rated ‘TV-14’), spanning 200 episodes, as well as three feature films. Included in the release slate is the long-running show’s climactic 5th and final season “Sailor Stars,” which has never-before been licensed for North American release. VIZ Media is producing an all-new, uncut English dub featuring a fresh voice cast, and will present SAILOR MOON for the first time digitally and also plans DVD and Deluxe Blu-ray box set editions for Holiday 2014 release.

For more information on SAILOR MOON, or other anime titles from VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

VIZ will be offering special products at 2014 Comic-Con International

Exclusive NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Figure from GECCO

The VIZ Media Booth At The Nation’s Biggest Pop Culture Events
Is The Only Place To Score Items For ONE PIECE, RANMA ½,

VIZ will be delighting convention going collectors and manga and anime fans with a vast array of exclusive and limited edition products, as well as special pre-sale and advance copies of select forthcoming titles. A specially curated collection of pre-sale manga, as well as convention exclusive art books, high-end collectable figures and limited edition manga production art prints, exclusive apparel, plush toys, trading card games and more will be offered at North America’s most prominent pop culture fan event –Comic-Con International.

Comic-Con International is the nation’s biggest comic book, science fiction and pop culture event, and takes place July 23rd-27th at the San Diego Convention Center, in San Diego, CA. More details on Comic-Con are available at: www.comic-con.org. VIZ Media will be located in Booth 2813.

On-site purchases made from the VIZ Media Booth at Comic-Con will come with a free shopping bag (while supplies) featuring fan favorite titles! Purchasers may choose one of 4 tote bag designs: RANMA ½; SAILOR MOON; SHONEN JUMP featuring ONE PIECE and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN; and PERFECT SQUARE featuring UGLYDOLL and HELLO KITTY.

Exclusive & Limited Edition Items:

NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Figure from GECCO (Exclusive)
High-end Japanese collectable figure manufacturer GECCO Corp. will unveil a limited edition 1/6 scale statue of the world’s most popular ninja, to be offered exclusively in the VIZ Media booth at Comic Con 2014. This super-detailed figure depicts Naruto Uzumaki rendered in high quality full-color PVC, standing approximately 27cm tall and wearing the 4th Hokage’s famous coat. Additional information is available at: www.gecco.co.jp/naruto.html. Price: $150.00

Limited Edition Eiichiro Oda Reproduction ONE PIECE Art (from Japan)
High quality replica prints of original production art from ONE PIECE Volume 34 with editor comments – hand numbered and limited quantity – only available from VIZ Media this summer. Price: $15.00

A one-of-a-kind art book in the style of a classic seek & find features contributions from over 25 artists. Can you help the Bravest Warriors find Catbug as he careens through multiple dimensions? Get the exclusive special edition, with a hand-numbered slipcover and blue foil gilded edges, only available at Comic-Con! Price: Price: $35.00.

HELLO KITTY © 1976, 2014 SANRIO CO. LTD. Used under license.
HELLO KITTY, HELLO 40 (Exclusive)
Celebrate Hello Kitty’s 40th Anniversary with this hand numbered Comic-Con exclusive special edition as some of her biggest fans – from comic artists to muralists to toy creators – pay tribute to this pop culture icon in story and art. Features a hand-numbered slipcover and red-foil gilded edges. Price: $49.00

BRAVEST WARRIORS PRESENTS: CATBUG’S TREASURE BOOK (Presale with exclusive gift-with-purchase)
Grab a presale copy of CATBUG’S TREASURE BOOK and receive a Comic-Con exclusive color poster featuring Catbug and the Bravest Warriors! Price: $35.00

DORAEMON Plush Toys (Exclusive)
Collectible DORAEMON plush toys available in 5 different designs, only from VIZ Media! Price: $7.00 each

Presale, Gifts With Purchase, and More:

NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Deck-Building Game from Cryptozoic (Presale)
An exciting new NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Deck-Building Game from leading board game and collectable trading card manufacturer Cryptozoic Entertainment. Fans can play as world most popular ninja, Naruto, or as one of his comrades. Gather and use mysterious Chakra power to confront and defeat S-rank criminals such as Orochimaru and members of the Akatsuki and explore distant lands to become the greatest ninja ever! Additional details available at: www.cryptozoic.com/games/naruto-shippuden-deck-building-game. Price: $50.00

Weekly Shonen Jump’s Jump Pack Vol. 3 (Presale with exclusive gift-with-purchase)
Get your advance copy of WSJ’s Jump Pack Vol. 3 and receive a summer 2014 convention exclusive game mat (while supplies last)! New issue also includes a Limited Edition YU-GI-OH! trading card “Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Evening Twilight.” Price: $20.00

This t-shirt features a stylized design showing Sasuke and Itachi in a pivotal moment! Price: $20.00

BLACK ROSE ALICE Vol. 1 (Presale)
Pick up out the new vampire horror romance from Setona Mizushiro before it hits retailers! Price: $10.00

FOOD WARS Vol. 1 (Presale)
Be among the first to get a taste of the action-packed, saucy new food comedy about one boy’s determination to become a top chef! Price: $10.00

The latest in the perennially popular line of Studio Ghibli art books, which include interviews, concept sketches, and finished animation cels from classics such as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. Price: $35.00

RANMA ½ Limited Edition Blu-ray Sets 1 and 2 and Gift with Purchase
Rumiko Takahashi’s famous RANMA ½ anime series is now available on Blu-Ray for the first time! Each set will include a limited edition Genma keychain with every purchase. DVD Sets 1 and 2 are also available. Special convention-only price: Blu-ray $44.00; DVD $36.00

VIZ Media “Live Right-to-Left” Shirts
Proclaim your love of manga with these shirts! Available in Gray, Burgundy, and Blue. Price: $15.00

TIGER AND BUNNY Keychain and Strap Set
Four different character options available! Each set contains both a cell strap and keychain. Price: $15.00

K Limited Edition DVD/Blu-Ray Combo Pack and Gift with Purchase
Exclusive K decal set included with every purchase! Price $44.00

K Blind Box Figures: Collectible K Mini Figures
Can you collect all 9 character designs? Price: $7.00

K Clear File Set: Includes 5 clear-file character designs. Price: $20.00

K Poster Set: Set of 2 full-color K posters. Price: $10.00

Additional information on these and other titles available from VIZ Media is available at www.VIZ.com.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

FRIEND 2: THE LEGACY coming to DVD on September 16th

CJ Entertainment America
 Friend 2: The Legacy / Chingu 2
Directed by KWAK Kyung-taek
South Korea, 2013, 121 minutes

FRIEND 2: THE LEGACY, the long-awaited sequel to the Korean cult phenomenon, will debut on DVD Sept. 16 from CJ Entertainment. The cast includes YOO Oh-seong (Happy Killers), JOO Jin-mo (The Warrior) and Korea’s hottest young TV star KIM Woo-bin (Heirs, School 2013).

Director KWAK Kyung-taek (Friend, Typhoon) sets his tale of “power corrupting all” 17 years after the events of the first movie with LEE Joon-seok (YOO) preparing to complete his prison sentence for ordering the hit on his best friend turned rival gang boss. Joon-seok still has the affection of the crime boss and is the rightful heir, but must face the reality that the intervening period has significantly eroded his mentor’s health and power as well as his own standing.

To regain power he starts to round up his old lieutenants, but also turns to his protégé Seong-hoon (KIM), who considers Joon-seok a father-figure for his protection while in prison. Merging gangster wisdom with fresh blood, the two are on track to take over leadership of Busan’s most powerful crime organization – if their bond can survive the knowledge that Joon-seok had a role in the death of Seong-hoon’s father.

Exploring the relationships of fathers and sons, FRIEND 2: THE LEGACY delivers an enlightening sequel to a film that was declared an immediate classic and hard-boiled coda to an iconic gangster film that changed the meaning of the word “Friend” in Korea. This cultural phenomenon which was named the “Friend Syndrome,” elicited commentators of all stripes examining the sociological influence of the film and its musings on friendship, men, the gangster code, Korea’s post-war history, fashion and whatever else the film even touched upon.

Synopsis: The explosive sequel to the Asian action hit of 2001, FRIEND 2: THE LEGACY picks up 17 years later as Joon-seok is discharged from prison to find his gang has been taken over by a treacherous new leader. As he plots to regain power, he is confronted with younger, more ruthless gangsters in what has become the region’s most powerful crime organization, as well as a rival gang whose blood-drenched violence knows no bounds. This stylish, noir thriller is a classic addition to the annals of gangster filmdom.

Bonus Features Include:
- “The Making of Friend 2: The Legacy”
- Cast & Crew Interviews
- Characters
- Trailers

Look for a review of the FRIEND 2: THE LEGACY DVD here at AsianCineFest on or just before the September 16th release date.

Friday, July 18, 2014

TRIAD to debut on DVD and Digital on August 26 from Well Go USA

Triad / Jat jik
Directed by Daniel Chan
Starring William Chan, Michele Wai & Derek Tsang
Hong Kong, 2012, 92 minutes

Director Daniel Chan (Young and Dangerous: Reloaded) assembles an up-and-coming young cast for the Hong Kong crime thriller TRIAD, debuting on DVD and Digital Aug. 26 from Well Go USA Entertainment. William Chan (As the Light Goes Out), Michele Wai (Hardcore Comedy) and Derek Tsang (The Thieves) star in the story of three childhood friends who join the Hong Kong Triads, only to discover that fame and fortune will ultimately break them apart as only one can become the leader of the gang.

Synopsis: Three childhood friends join the Hong Kong Triads, only to discover that fame and fortune will ultimately break them apart as only one can become the leader of the gang.

Bonus Materials Include:
- “The Making of Triad” featurette
- Trailer

Look for a review here at AsianCineFest on or just before the August 26th release date

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Japanese cultural channel JAPANKURU to present special events at 2014 J-POP SUMMIT Festival


JAPANKURU x J-POP SUMMIT Offers Information On Traveling To
Japan And Highlights A Special Array Of Apparel, Cosmetics, And Pop
Culture Products From Arazou Watanabe, CANMAKE, Kotobukiya And
Manga Series NIJA & JANI About The Japanese Spirit Of Hospitality

The 2014 J-POP SUMMIT Festival, San Francisco’s premiere celebration of Japanese pop culture, music, fashion and film, is proud to partner with web-based Japanese cultural channel JAPANKURU to present JAPANKURU x J-POP SUMMIT Festival 2014, a special way for Festival-goers to learn more about what awaits them in Japan.

The 2014 J-POP SUMMIT Festival will take place across San Francisco’s historic Japantown district over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, July 19th and 20th. “POP is Our Tradition” is the theme of this year’s event that has become one of the largest events in the United States dedicated to celebrating the many sides of Japanese pop culture and fandom. Attendance in 2013 exceeded 80,000 people. Festival details are available at: www.J-POP.com.

JAPANKURU x J-POP SUMMIT Festival 2014 will also host a display in San Francisco’s downtown Union Square throughout the day (beginning at 11am) on Saturday July 19th and leading up to the FREE J-POP Live at Union Square concert on the evening of Saturday, July 19th at 6:30pm that will present major Japanese pop stars including Tomomi Itano, Tokyo Girls’ Style, Una, DAICHI, May’n and more.

JAPANKURU is an original coined word that implies, “Come to Japan,” and will showcase the strong influence of pop culture with a colorful booth located on Post Street that will be open from 11:00am to 6:00pm on both days of J-POP SUMMIT. It will offer information about traveling to Tokyo and other cities in Japan, including notable sightseeing spots, shopping information, affordable hotels, dining and other valuable information not contained in ordinary guidebooks. Attendees can also hear from JAPANKURU members that have travelled to Japan and share their experiences. Additional information on JAPANKURU is available at: http://cometojapankuru.blogspot.jp/.

JAPANKURU will also offer free samples and product sales of many specialty items that are unavailable in the U.S. from premiere Japanese brands including apparel company, Arazou Watanabe, cosmetics company CANMAKE, and collectable manufacturer and retailer Kotobukiya. JAPANKURU also will present NIJA & JANI, a special manga series created by the Tokyo-based Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Store and based upon the concept of “OMOTENASHI” or the spirit of hospitality.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

San Francisco's ROXIE THEATER launches “NIPPON NIGHTS”

The Roxie Theater in San Francisco is presenting NIPPON NIGHTS, a new monthly series dedicated to Japanese cinema. The first season, titled “Neon Tokyo”, throws the spotlight on the popular genre of Anime. The series opens tonight, July 16 with SHORT PEACE, a program of four shorts that includes the 2013 Oscar nominated short “Possessions” and Katsuhiro Otomo’s latest work “Combustible”. Nippon Nights is scheduled to continue in August and September, with AKIRA (on 35mm) directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, on Thursday, August 21st, and TAMALA 2010: A Punk Cat in Space & WAKE UP!! TAMALA directed by t.o.L on Thursday, September 25th.

“The Nippon Nights series was conceived in response to Roxie audience requests for Japanese cinema - particularly Anime films such as Akira and Tamala" said programmer Fuyumi Saito. "It was logical to kick off the series with a sampling of animated films that represent the Japanese mastery of this genre. In a wider sense, Nippon Nights is an effort to shine a light on the richness of Japanese cinema" Saito said. "We will dramatically bridge different styles, genres and generations throughout the series, giving local cinephiles the opportunity to further engage with Japanese cinema, history and culture."

Nippon Nights is curated by Japan native programmer Fuyumi Saito. The series is endorsed by the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco and co-presented by CAAM. The promotional partner is btrax.

Admission: General $10, Senior $7.5 Shows start at 7:00 pm, except for AKIRA, on August 21st, which starts at 8:00pm. Tickets will be available at the door and online at roxie.com.

Schedule and Lineup

JULY. 16th (WED) 7:00pm

Omnibus of animations including Oscar nominated short film “Possessions” and the one by the creator of “AKIRA”, Katsuhiro Otomo “Combustible”. Four amazing directors have created four astounding animated films.

In 1995, Katsuhiro Otomo’s epic anthology MEMORIES showcased the work of upcoming superstars of the anime world. Now, Otomo’s spotlight shifts to a fresh generation of master creators with an all-new anthology of visionary films: A lone traveler is confronted by unusual spirits in an abandoned shrine in the 2013 Academy Award® nominated POSSESSIONS (TSUKUMO), directed by Shuhei Morita (COICENT, KAKURENBO). A mysterious white bear defends the royal family from the predations of a red demon in the brutal GAMBO, directed by Hiroaki Ando (FIVE NUMBERS!) from REDLINE’s Katsuhito Ishii’s original story with character designs by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (NEON GENESIS EVANGELION). The focus shifts from supernatural to science fiction for the action packed A FAREWELL TO WEAPONS (BUKI YO SARABA),as MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM designer Hajime Katoki helms Otomo’s tour-de-forcesaga of men battlingrobotic tanks in apocalyptic Tokyo, while grandmaster Otomohimself assumes the directorial reigns for a spectacular tale of love, honor and firefighting in ancient Japan with the multi-award winning COMBUSTIBLE (HI-NO-YOUJIN). Prepare your senses for these animated films that are taking the critical world by storm as a new era in anime is ushered in with Katsuhiro Otomo’s SHORT PEACE!

“COMBUSTIBLE” directed by Katsuhiro Otomo (“AKIRA”)
“POSSESSIONS” directed by Shuhei Morita (Oscar nominated)
“GAMBO” directed by Hirokai Ando

AUG. 21st (THU) 8:00pm
AKIRA 124min (35mm print)
Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo

Clandestine army activities threaten the war torn city of Neo-Tokyo when a mysterious being with powerful psychic abilities escapes his prison and inadvertently draws a violent motorcycle gang into a heinous web of experimentation. As a result, a biker with a twisted mind embarks on a path of war, seeking revenge against a society what once called him weak.

The film depicts a dystopian version of Tokyo in the year 2019, with cyberpunk tones. The plot focuses on teenage biker Tetsuo Shima and his psychic powers, and the leader of his biker gang, Shotaro Kaneda. Kaneda tries to prevent Tetsuo from releasing the imprisoned psychic Akira. While most of the character designs and settings were adapted from the original 2182-page manga epic, the restructured plot of the movie differs considerably from the print version, pruning much of the last half of the manga. It became a hugely popular cult film and is widely considered to be a landmark in Japanese animation.

Sep. 25th (THU) 7:00pm
TAMALA 2010: A Punk Cat in Space 92min
Wake Up!! TAMALA 17min
Directed by t.o.L

“TAMALA 2010: A Punk Cat in Space”
“TAMALA”, Japanese animated film about kitten from the Planet of Cats, who sets out to solve the mystery of her birth. With large eyes and a cherubic face she is cute enough to make you go crazy for her (until she opens her mouth, that is!) Don’t be fooled by her innocent face; TAMALA is a real hell-on-wheels, bitter-sweet punk cat.

“Wake Up!! TAMALA”
In 2010, the new “TAMALA” film project started in cooperation with one of the world's most famous environmental preservation funds, WWF Japan. Wakeup!! TAMALA depicts a vision of a crisis which has seen biodiversity destroyed by human civilization during poetic time travel with TAMALA. The subject of death and rebirth, as the place of origin of its concept, has been set in this film with the perspective of the nature conservation.”

The Roxie is the country’s oldest continually operating theater; turning 100 in 2009. It has been functioning as an independent art house theater since the 1970s, showing the best of art, music, foreign and documentary films. In 2009, the Roxie became a certified 501c (3) non-profit. The Roxie is deeply committed to providing diverse audiences with affordable access to cutting-edge new works, vital and forgotten older titles, and fiercely independent and socially conscious programming in an inspiring environment.