With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Friday, October 31, 2014

ONE PIECE MANGA BOX SET 2 coming November 4th from VIZ

ONE PIECE © 1997 by Eiichiro Oda/SHUEISHA Inc.

New Box Set Edition Features The Continuing Adventures
Of The Straw Hat Pirates With Vols. 24-46 Of
The World’s Bestselling Manga Series

VIZ Media delivers a special treat to fans with the latest Box Set installment for the world’s most popular manga series – ONE PIECE.

The ONE PIECE Manga Box Set 2 will be released on November 4th and is rated ‘T’ for Teens. The set contains Volumes 24-46, which comprise the series’ third and fourth story arcs – Skypiea and Water Seven – and will carry an MSRP of $185.99 U.S. / CAN. The Box Set also features a full-color poster and special ONE PIECE mini-comic.

As a child, ONE PIECE main character Monkey D. Luffy dreamed of becoming King of the Pirates. But his life changed when he accidentally ate the Gum-Gum Fruit, an enchanted Devil Fruit that gave him the ability to stretch like rubber. The only drawback? He'll never be able to swim again – a serious handicap for an aspiring sea dog! Years later, Luffy sets off on his quest to find the "One Piece," said to be the greatest treasure in the world...

“This new release from VIZ Media continues the venerable ONE PIECE saga in lavish box set form and is a pirate’s treasure for any manga fan,” says Alexis Kirsch, Editor. “Catch all the action as the Straw Hats search the exotic sky island of Skypiea for hidden gold and then journey to Water 7, a wondrous water metropolis constructed upon the ruins of a sunken city. Jump aboard for fantastic adventures with manga’s favorite band of pirates!”

ONE PIECE creator Eiichiro Oda began his manga career at the age of 17, when his one-shot cowboy manga, Wanted!, won second place in the coveted Tezuka manga awards. Oda went on to work as an assistant to some of the biggest manga artists in the industry, including Nobuhiro Watsuki (RUROUNI KENSHIN), before winning the Hop Step Award for new manga artists. His pirate adventure ONE PIECE, which debuted in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in 1997, has become one of the most popular manga in Japan and the rest of the world.

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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

ICEMAN will debut on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital on November 11, 2014

Well Go USA
Iceman / Bing Fung: Chung Sang Chi Mun
Directed by Law Wing Cheong
Starring Donnie Yen, Eva Huang and Wang Baoqiang
China/Hong Kong, 2014, 105 minutes

The Action-Packed Hong Kong Epic Comedy/Fantasy
Thaws Out on Blu-ray™, DVD & Digital Nov. 11

International martial arts icon Donnie Yen (the Ip Man franchise, Hero, Special ID) brings his trademark action to Iceman, debuting on Blu-ray™ (SLP $29.98), DVD (SLP $24.98) and Digital on Nov. 11 from Well Go USA Entertainment. A remake of the 1989 film Iceman Cometh, Yen plays a Ming era warrior who, along with his three traitorous childhood friends, are accidentally buried and kept frozen in time. 400 years later, they are defrosted and continue their battle in modern times where they left off.

Directed by Law Wing Cheong (Punished, The Wrath of Vajra), Iceman also stars Eva Huang (Kung Fu Hustle, Race to Witch Mountain), Wang Baoqiang (Lost in Thailand), Simon Yam (The Thieves, Ip Man franchise), Mark Wu (Due West: Our Sex Journey), Gregory Wong (Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen) and Yu Kang (Special ID).

Bonus materials include the seven-part featurette “The Making of Iceman,” which takes an in-depth look at the filming of the rooftop sequence and the disco scene, as well as interviews with Donnie Yen, Wang Baoqiang and Eva Huand.

Donnie Yen is a Ming Dynasty palace guard, wrongly accused of murder and hunted by three vengeful brothers. All four are accidentally buried, frozen at the height of battle. 400 years later, they are defrosted and resume their mortal struggle – while also adjusting to modern-day life.

Iceman is rated R for some violence, language and a sexual reference.

My Blu-ray screener has already arrived, so look for a review here on or shortly before the November 11th release date.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

KISS OF THE ROSE PRINCESS to debut on November 4th from VIZ


A Mystical Girl Brings Forth Four Magical Knights To Help Her
On A Quest To Save The World From The Forces Of Evil

VIZ Media announces a thrilling new paranormal shojo manga (graphic novel) adventure with the launch of Aya Shouoto’s KISS OF THE ROSE PRINCESS on November 4th.

The new series will be available for the first time digitally as well as in print under the Shojo Beat imprint. KISS OF THE ROSE PRINCESS is rated ‘T’ for Teens and will carry a print MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

A digital version of KISS OF THE ROSE PRINCESS, Vol. 1 also will debut on November 4th for $6.99 (USD/CAN) from VIZManga.com and through the VIZ MANGA App for the Apple iPad®, iPhone® and iPod® touch, Android-powered smart phones, as well as through the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks and GooglePlay stores. Future editions of the 9-volume series will be released in-print and digitally on a bi-monthly basis.

Anise Yamamoto has been told that if she ever removes the rose choker given to her by her father, a terrible punishment will befall her. Unfortunately she loses that choker when a bat-like being falls from the sky and hits her. Anise is granted four cards representing four knights whom she can summon with a kiss. But now that she has these gorgeous men at her beck and call, what exactly is her quest?!

“Aya Shouoto uses her stunning artwork in KISS OF THE ROSE PRINCESS to bring us a tale of a modern princess and her four handsome knights in this reverse-harem series,” says Nancy Thistlethwaite, Editor. “Our reluctant but fearless heroine must pledge herself to save the world from the Demon Lord, but what will happen if she falls in love with one of her knights? Don’t miss the start of this exciting new series in November!”

For more information on KISS OF THE ROSE PRINCESS, or other Shojo Beat manga titles from VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

WHY DON'T YOU PLAY IN HELL? coming to U.S. theaters November 7th

Drafthouse Films
Why Don't You Play in Hell? / Jigoku de Naze Warui
Written and directed by Sion Sono
Japan, 2013, 126 minutes

Why Don't You Play in Hell?, a genre-defying film from Japan's legendary Sion Sono, will be coming to U.S. theaters on November 7th. The film was shown at Japan Society this past July as a co-presentation of the Society's JAPAN CUTS festival of contemporary Japanese cinema and the 13th annual New York Asian Film Festival. Programmed as JAPAN CUTS' opening night feature film and  followed by a party, Why Don't You Play in Hell? was a big hit, and soon U.S. audiences will have the opportunity of experiencing for themselves the zany joy that it produces.

Master filmmaker Sono, whose previous films include Suicide Club (2001), Noriko's Dinner Table (2005) Love Exposure (2008), and Cold Fish (2010), describes his frenzied, gleeful new masterpiece as “an action film about the love of 35mm.” Based on a screenplay he wrote nearly fifteen years ago, Why Don't You Play In Hell? is among Sono’s very best works, as his trademark excess and outrageousness is infused with an affection for the previous century of Japanese cinema. This is Sion Sono with his talent and unique vision completely unleashed.

Synopsis: There's a war going on, but that won't stop the inexperienced but eager wannabe film crew The Fuck Bombers from following their dreams of making the ultimate action epic. Ten years ago, yakuza mid-boss Ikegami led an assault against rival don Muto. Now, on the eve of his revenge, all Muto wants to do is complete his masterpiece, a feature film with his daughter in the starring role, before his wife is released from prison. And The Fuck Bombers are standing by with the chance of a lifetime: to film a real, live yakuza battle to the death...on 35mm!

Endlessly irreverent and wildly, hilariously visceral, Why Don't You Play In Hell? is an  ode to the yakuza films of yore and features an over-the-top, blood-soaked finale.

Why Don't You Play In Hell? will be reviewed here at AsianCineFest sometime during the week preceding it's theatrical opening on November 7th.

Monday, October 27, 2014

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL omnibus edition is coming on November 4th

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL © 2014 by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, yoshitoshi ABe, Takeshi Obata/SHUEISHA Inc. 

Sci-Fi Action Manga By Takeshi Obata, Creator Of DEATH NOTE,
Adapts The Award-Winning Japanese Novel That Inspired
The Summer Blockbuster Film Edge Of Tomorrow

VIZ Media announces the print launch of famed manga artist Takeshi Obata’s latest manga (graphic novel) masterpiece with the release of ALL YOU NEED IS KILL as an oversized omnibus edition on November 4th.

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL collects both volumes into this complete edition and features color inserts, is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and will be available under the Shonen Jump Advanced imprint with a print MSRP of $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN.

Digital editions for the pair of individual volumes are also available for $6.99 each across all platforms serviced by VIZManga.com and the VIZ Manga App, and are similarly available on the storefronts for the Kindle, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, ComiXology, and Nook. The free VIZ Manga App continues to be the top application for reading digital manga and features a massive library of the most popular series in the world. With the dynamic platform, fans can explore and enjoy a massive catalog of classic manga series that spans more than 2,200 volumes across more than 200 different series.

Takeshi Obata’s ALL YOU NEED IS KILL originally premiered in VIZ Media’s WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP digital manga anthology earlier this year and is the stunning manga realization of the popular Japanese sci-fi novel, written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. In this rousing action story, when the alien Mimics invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor called a Jacket and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On his 158th iteration, he gets a message from a mysterious ally – the female soldier known as the Full Metal Bitch. Is she the key to Keiji's escape or his final death?

The bestselling ALL YOU NEED IS KILL novel also inspired the live-action summer blockbuster – Edge of Tomorrow – which starred Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton.

The original novel also was the launch title in 2009 for Haikasoru, VIZ Media’s unique literary imprint dedicated to publishing the most compelling contemporary Japanese science fiction and fantasy for English-speaking audiences. VIZ Media also published a special movie tie-in version of the ALL YOU NEED IS KILL/EDGE OF TOMORROW novel over the summer to support the release of the live-action film.

“Coming just after Takeshi Obata’s first-ever U.S. appearance at the recent New York Comic Con, we are very excited to announce the print debut of his action-packed manga treatment of ALL YOU NEED IS KILL,” says Mike Montesa, Editor. “Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s award winning novel comes to life with tense and engrossing characters and plenty of visceral battle scenes, all wonderfully depicted with Obata’s signature highly detailed style. The alien Mimics are bent on destroying humanity but they are about to meet their match in this exceptional new release from VIZ Media!”

Manga artist Takeshi Obata was born in 1969 in Niigata, Japan, and is the artist of the wildly popular SHONEN JUMP title HIKARU NO GO (available from VIZ Media), which won the 2003 Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize: Shinsei "New Hope" award and the 2000 Shogakukan Manga award. Obata is also the artist of the smash hit series, DEATH NOTE (also published by VIZ Media), as well as Arabian Majin Bokentan Lamp Lamp, Ayatsuri Sakon, Cyborg Jichan G. ALL YOU NEED IS KILL is his latest work following the hugely successful series BAKUMAN。 (also published by VIZ Media).

For more information on ALL YOU NEED IS KILL or other manga and/or anime titles published by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Free double header at this Tuesday's Korean Movie (Afternoon and) Night

Korean Cultural Service New York
Korean Movie Night 2014
Series Five: Blown Away by Korean Blockbusters!

At the Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal, NYC
Near the A, C, E @ #1 Canal Street subway stops
Admission: FREE!!!

Due to a technical hiccup at the October 14th screening of the Korean gambling action thriller  The Divine Move, it will be shown again this Tuesday, October 28th, at 4:00 PM. (The July 25, 2014 AsianCineFest review of The Divine Move can be found  here.)

Then, at 7:00 PM that same night, there will be the regularly planned screening of the hilarious comedy Miss Granny (The January 31, 2014 AsianCineFest review of Miss Granny is here).

So, depending on where you're coming from, get over, get down, or get up to the Tribeca Cinemas on Tuesday for a free double-dose of great Korean movie magic!

Taiwan's TOUCH OF THE LIGHT is coming to DVD & Digital on Nov 25th

Well Go USA Entertainment
Touch of the Light / Ni guang fei xiang
Directed by CHANG Jung-chi
Taiwan, 2012, 110 minutes
DVD SLP: $24.98

Based on an inspiring true story, the award-winning and crowd-pleasing musical drama Touch of the Light will debut on DVD & Digital November 25th. The film is about blind pianist (HUANG Yu-siang, playing himself) who leaves his rural home to attend college in Taipei. There he befriends Jie (Sandrine Pinna), a young aspiring dancer, and encourages her to follow her dream.

A heart-warming tale based on HUANG Yu-siang's actual life, the first feature film by director CHANG Jung-chi (Partners in Crime) is a remake of his 37-minute short The End of the Tunnel (2008), which starred the same two leads. The critically-acclaimed film won Best New Director for Chang at the Golden Horse Awards, as well as being selected as Taiwan’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 85th Academy Awards®.

A blind piano prodigy. A waitress who dreams of being a dancer. A story of passion, determination, and believing in yourself. Touch of the Light fictionalizes the amazing true story of HUANG Yu-Siang and the journey of discovery from his rural village to a prestigious university where he must find his own way among the other, sighted students. Jie (Sandrine Pinna) chases love and a career in the face of poverty and adversity. Their unlikely friendship provides inspiration and courage, resulting in a joyous final performance that will inspire the heart.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Add cap©2014 Pokémon. ©1997 Nintendo, Creatures, GAME FREAK, TV Tokyo, ShoPro, JR Kikaku. TM, ® Nintendo.tion

Classic Animated Series Debuts In A Substantial New DVD Box
Set Containing More Than 27 Hours Of POKÉMON Fun

VIZ Media announces the release, for the first time ever, of the entire POKÉMON INDIGO LEAGUE animation in one comprehensive DVD set.

POKÉMON Season 1: INDIGO LEAGUE - THE COMPLETE COLLECTION contains all 78 episodes (more than 27 hours) of this legendary POKÉMON season on 9 DVDs and will be released on October 28th. POKÉMON Season 1: INDIGO LEAGUE - THE COMPLETE COLLECTION will carry an MSRP of $54.98 U.S. / $63.99 CAN.

Take a trip back to the very beginning, when the adventures were just getting started! In POKÉMON INDIGO LEAGUE, Ash Ketchum celebrates his tenth birthday and he's ready to do what many 10-year-olds in the Kanto region set out to do - become a Pokémon Trainer! Things don't go exactly the way he planned when he ends up with a Pikachu instead of a different partner Pokémon, and winning Gym Badges turns out to be much tougher than he thought. Luckily, he's got Gym Leaders Brock and Misty at his side, along with a bevy of new Pokémon friends, including Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charmander.

Pokémon is one of the largest entertainment franchises in the world, selling more than 260 million video games, shipping more than 21.5 billion Pokémon TCG cards, and featuring a library of more than 700 animation episodes and 16 full-length animated films.


VIZ Media also publishes a wide array of POKÉMON manga (graphic novel) series titles under its Perfect Square imprint. Additional information on POKÉMON or other graphic novel titles published by Perfect Square is available at www.PerfectSquare.com.

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

Friday, October 24, 2014


"MONONOKE HIME" (1980 nen Shoki Settei Ban)
By Hayao Miyazaki
© 1993 Nibariki
All rights reserved. 

Oversized Hardcover Storybook Contains Miyazaki’s
Watercolor Illustrations And The Original Fable That
Inspired The Groundbreaking Animated Feature Film

VIZ Media delivers a treat to readers and fans of famed director and pioneering creative visionary, Hayao Miyazaki, with the release of PRINCESS MONOKOKE: THE FIRST STORY, available now.

The oversized (11¾ x 11¾ inch) hardcover release is published under the Studio Ghibli Library imprint and carries an MSRP of $34.99 U.S. / $39.99 CAN. The beautifully illustrated storybook features Hayao Miyazaki’s original watercolor artwork, which complements his thoughtfully written fable about man’s need to maintain ecological balance with nature that became the origin for the 1997 feature film. An afterward written by Miyazaki lends further context and insights to the Mononoke story and its deep and lasting impact upon the director.

This is the original Princess Mononoke story, created by Hayao Miyazaki in 1980 while he was first conceptualizing the landmark animated film that would be released to universal acclaim seventeen years later. As an initial version of the tale, it offers a new and significantly different perspective from the final version presented in the film. After a long, exhausting war, a samurai lost in a forest encounters a giant wildcat – a mononoke. The beast saves his life, but at the price of his daughter's hand in marriage...

“Princess Mononoke was a historic release for Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli and propelled the animation auteur to an entirely new level of international fame,” says Masumi Washington, Senior Editorial Director. “But few know of THE FIRST STORY, the imaginative fable that was the genesis for his groundbreaking film. This premium storybook fittingly presents it for the very first time in English and prominently displays his expressive watercolor characters and landscapes. We look forward to readers discovering Princess Mononoke in a whole new way in this unique release!”

VIZ Media also invites fans to also explore the imaginatively conceived world of Princess Mononoke in THE ART OF PRINCESS MONOKOKE (MSRP: $34.99 U.S. / $39.99 CAN). The substantial hardcover edition from the Studio Ghibli Library imprint features an all new translation and contains a trove of insightful interviews, original concept sketches, character art and finished animation cels, and a look at the computer graphics technology used in the film’s production.

The Studio Ghibli Library imprint is exclusively devoted to the work of iconic Japanese film director Hayao Miyazaki and his famed animation studio. The imprint has collected a substantial catalog of full-color art books, film comics, children’s picture books and other releases celebrating Studio Ghibli films such as Princess Mononoke, The Wind Rises, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Secret World of Arriety, Ponyo, Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, and Pocco Rosso.

Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan's most beloved animation directors. In 2005 he was awarded the Venice International Film Festival's Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement, and his Studio Ghibli received the festival's Osella Award for overall achievement in 2004. Miyazaki's films include Spirited Away, winner of the 2002 Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature Film, as well as The Wind Rises (nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film in 2014), Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle, and Ponyo, all of which have received tremendous acclaim in the U.S.

Miyazaki's achievements also include the highly regarded manga series, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and a pair of memoirs, Starting Point: 1979-1996, a collection of essays, interviews, and remembrances chronicling his early career and the development of his theories of animation, along with Turning Point: 1997-2008, which details his rise to unprecedented international notoriety. All of these titles are published in English by VIZ Media.

For more information on VIZ Media’s Studio Ghibli imprint, or other published manga titles, visit www.VIZ.com.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

40th anniversary anthology HELLO KITTY, HELLO 40 is available now

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

A Vanguard Of Comic Artists, Muralists, Toy Creators And Authors
Pay Homage To The Global Icon In A Special Release; Also Catch
Perfect Square At The First-Ever Hello Kitty Con In Los Angeles

VIZ Media joins the global celebration to mark the 40th Anniversary of global pop icon Hello Kitty® with the release of HELLO KITTY, HELLO 40, available now.

The hardcover full-color anthology features a notable line-up of some of Hello Kitty’s biggest fans paying tribute in the best way they know how: through their stories and art. HELLO KITTY, HELLO 40 is published under VIZ Media’s Perfect Square imprint, and carries an MSRP of $29.99 U.S. / $34.99 CAN.

A digital version of HELLO KITTY, HELLO 40 is also available for $14.99 U.S. / CAN from the Perfect Square App, which has titles available for the Apple iPad® and iPad® Mini. The Perfect Square App is available from the iTunes store. Fans also will be able to find digital versions for the NOOK, Kindle Fire, and Kobo eReaders, as well as in the iBooks and GooglePlay Stores.

VIZ Media will also take part in the very first Hello Kitty convention. Hello Kitty Con 2014 will take place in Los Angeles October 30th – November 2nd at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Downtown LA's Little Tokyo district. VIZ Media's Perfect Square booth will offer a convention exclusive edition of HELLO KITTY, HELLO 40 along with a variety of other HELLO KITTY original graphic novel titles for purchase. Additional information on Hello Kitty Con is available at: www.sanrio.com/hellokittycon.

In 1974, Hello Kitty stepped on the scene, and she's had the world wrapped around her red bow ever since. In Perfect Square's Hello Kitty, Hello 40, an array of acclaimed comic artists, muralists and toy creators pay tribute to Hello Kitty in story and art. Contributors include the award-winning creators of the Tiny Titans series, Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani; Brian Smith, co-creator of the New York Times bestselling series Stuff of Legend; Gene Luen Yang, award-winning author of American Born Chinese and Boxers and Saints, and Uglydoll co-creator David Horvath. Everyone has a tale to tell about the cute little girl who speaks from her heart. The hardcover edition will also include a special introduction by Matt and Jennifer L. Holm, award-winning creators of the Babymouse series.

“Hello Kitty has inspired and influenced artists the world over, and we've invited some of them to pay tribute and share their Hello Kitty memories," says Traci Todd, Perfect Square’s Senior Editor. “This anthology of wordless comics is truly for Hello Kitty fans of all ages. You'll recognize many of the artists from our main Hello Kitty series, and others from the worlds of comics, pop culture and children's literature. It's our small gift to Hello Kitty for 40 years of big smiles!"

Perfect Square publishes an acclaimed collection of HELLO KITTY original graphic novels including, HELLO KITTY: WORK OF ART, HELLO KITTY: JUST IMAGINE, HELLO KITTY: HERE WE GO!, HELLO KITTY: DELICIOUS!, and HELLO KITTY: SURPRISE! These books will be featured as part of the first ever Hello Kitty Reading Day on October 25th. Hello Kitty Reading Day is a multi-publisher event with programming at bookstores and libraries across the country. See http://www.sanrio.com/hellokittyreading for more information. Sanrio® is the global company behind classic iconic characters Hello Kitty®, Little Twin Stars®, My Melody®, and many more.

Sanrio® was founded in the 1960's in Japan by Shintaro Tsuji, whose simple dream of bringing smiles to people's faces grew into the brand's "small gift, big smile" philosophy. This philosophy has served as the inspiration for the broad spectrum of products bearing the likeness of endearing characters that have helped to skyrocket the brand into a $8 billion-a-year business.

VIZ Media’s Perfect Square imprint focuses on delivering original pop culture 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 HELLO KITTY and other titles published by Perfect Square is available at www.PerfectSquare.com.

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


™, ® and © WEP, LLC 

Charts The History And Impact of The Iconic Franchise On Pop Culture

VIZ Media takes readers on an exciting journey to explore the history and legacy of VOLTRON®, the legendary giant robot anime series that marks the 30th Anniversary of its original North American broadcast premiere.

VOLTRON: FROM DAYS OF LONG AGO, A 30th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION examines the entire VOLTRON universe and the property’s notable impact on pop culture and will be released in-print on October 28th from the company’s Perfect Square imprint. The hardcover oversized edition will carry an MSRP of $29.99 U.S. / $34.99 CAN.

A digital version of VOLTRON: FROM DAYS OF LONG AGO, A 30th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION also will launch on October 28th for $14.99 U.S. / CAN from the Perfect Square App, which has titles available for the Apple iPad® and iPad® Mini. The Perfect Square App is available from the iTunes store. Readers also will be able to find a digital version for the NOOK, Kindle Fire, and Kobo eReaders, as well as in the iBooks and GooglePlay Stores.

Thirty years ago, Voltron: Defender of the Universe hit the airwaves, and the world hasn't been the same. Now, VOLTRON: FROM DAYS OF LONG AGO chronicles the story of VOLTRON and its cultural relevance, taking a detailed look at the story behind the show and the many related toy releases, the mythology of both Lion Force and Vehicle Voltron (with a nod to Albegas), and concludes the exciting Voltron Force saga. This new book is truly for fans, by fans: authored by Brian Smith, a former Marvel Comics editor and writer for Perfect Square's VOLTRON FORCE® series of original graphic novels, Marc Morrell, co-host of the official "Let's Voltron!" podcast, and Joshua Bernard, founder of CollectionDX, a popular website devoted to covering the world of Japanese toys, action figures and pop culture; with a bonus VOLTRON comic written by Smith and illustrated by Jacob Chabot, artist on the VOLTRON FORCE series; with a foreword by Jeremy Corray, former Creative Director of World Events Productions, the company behind the classic Voltron TV series.

“Voltron premiered on North American television in 1984 and the media landscape changed forever. There are so many VOLTRON fans, and we wanted to both honor their devotion and invite them to be a part of this project,” says Traci Todd, Senior Editor. “VOLTRON: FROM DAYS OF LONG AGO, A 30th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION offers fans a treasure trove of insights, history, and little-known facts about the evolution of the series and the show’s lasting pop culture impact.”

Additional information on VOLTRON FORCE and other titles published by Perfect Square is available at www.PerfectSquare.com.

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Korean action film KUNDO: AGE OF THE RAMPANT is now available

 Well Go USA
Kundo: Age of the Rampant / Kundo: min-ran-eui si-dae
Directed by Yun Jong-bin
Starring Ha Jung-woo, Kang Dong-won,
Lee Sung-min and Ma Dong-seok
South Korea, 2014, 138 minutes

Kundo: Age of the Rampant (also known simply as Kundo) debuts on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital today, Tuesday, October 21st from Well Go USA Entertainment. This review is based on a screening I went to this past September and on watching a Blu-ray screener.

Kundo: Age of the Rampant is another great action film from South Korea. It delivers not just exciting action, but also has a great story, fine acting, and a delightful sense of humor. It's a terrific period film set in the 1860s, near the end of the Joseon Dynasty. Commoners are beset by famine and plague as well as unrelenting exploitation by corrupt official and noblemen. The Chusal Clan, a large group of righteous bandits, have set up a base on Mt. Jiri,  From there they steal from the rich and powerful and give to the poor and weak. The story line clearly bears a strong resemblance to Robin Hood.

Dae-ho (Lee Sung-min)

The bandits are led by Dae-ho (Lee Sung-min). The other significant members are:
- a fearsome monk (somewhat analogous to Friar Tuck in the Robin Hood saga)
- Tae-gi - who is good at impersonating a nobleman
- Chan-bo -  a heavy-set and fierce fighter
- Ma-hyang - she is skilled fighting both unarmed and with a bow and arrows

Dolmuchi (Ha Jung-woo)

The protagonist of this tale, however, is Dolmuchi (Ha Jung-woo), a lowly butcher. After tragedy befall his mother and sister, he joins the clan, where he is renamed Dochi, meaning "inversion." After a lengthy period of training, he becomes the most feared fighter in the clan. He's particularly adept at wielding two short and broad swords, which he spins in his hands much like a cowboy twirling a pair of six-shooters.

Jo Yoon (Kang Dong-won)

The villain of the film is Jo Yoon (Kang Dong-won). His mother, a courtesan in a brothel, sold him as a child to his father Jo Won-suk, a corrupt former governor of Jeloa province. Won-suk's wife had produced only four girls, and he desperately wanted a male heir. Jo Yoon is a natural born martial artist and fanatically determined to be named family heir, despite the belated and unexpected birth of a son, Jo Su-in, his step-brother, to Won-suk and his wife.

Disc Stats:
 - Audio Options:
   - Korean 5.1 DTS HDMA
   - Korean 2.0 Stereo
Subtitle Options:
   - English
   - Off
   - Kundo: Age of the Rampant trailer
   - Preview trailers for three other Well Go USA releases

Kundo: Age of the Rampant opened in theaters in the U.S. this past August 29th, and there was a free screening of it at the Korean Cultural Service's Korean Movie Night this past September 9th, which is where I first saw it. The film is set to open this year's London Korean Film Festival on November 6th. (Read about the LKFF here.)

Having seen it twice, I can attest to its repeat viewing value. If anything, I enjoyed it even more the second time I watched it, and I look forward to seeing it again. It's got great action and real heart. The combination of the Robin Hood-like theme regarding the Chusal Clan's acting on behalf of the poor and Dolmuchi's personal quest for revenge for what had befallen his mother and sister dovetail perfectly.

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

An Evening With JIMMY WONG YU at Lincoln Center on November 11

in association with
Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York
WONG-YU (Photo courtesy Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival; photographer: Liang Su)
on November 11 with the presentation of the
New York Asian Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award
and screening of Wong Yu’s grindhouse masterpiece

The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema, in association with Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York, announce An Evening with Jimmy Wong Yu on November 11 at the Walter Reade Theater. The legendary Taiwanese actor will be presented with the New York Asian Film Festival’s esteemed Lifetime Achievement Award and participate in an on-stage conversation prior to the screening of his 1977 grindhouse masterpiece Master of the Flying Guillotine, in glorious 35mm!

In the 1960s the Shaw Brothers were looking to expand from their more traditional dramas and romances to martial-arts films, and one of their hires was a former water polo champion, horse rider, and car racer: Jimmy Wong Yu. Appearing in films like Temple of the Red Lotus, Twin Swords, Magnificent Trio, and Tiger Boy at the beginning of his career, his true breakthrough came in Chang Chen’s landmark The One-Armed Swordsman (1967), the film that launched Wong Yu’s career as well as the martial-arts sword-fighting movie (wuxia pian) craze. With all the fury and intensity exploding from the screen, Jimmy Wong Yu became the prototype for the tough stoic masculine characters that this new wave of sword-fighting films brought to the screen.

WONG YU Tribute Poster by Jerry Ma

If The One-Armed Swordsman launched Wong Yu into stardom, it was The Chinese Boxer (1970) that cemented his legendary status by igniting the kung-fu fever that was to become a global phenomenon. Written and directed by and starring Wong Yu, The Chinese Boxer was the first major movie to devote itself entirely to the art of kung fu. It established the basic conventions, such as revenge as a motive, Chinese martial arts versus Japanese martial arts, and strong nationalistic feeling, all of which later found their way into the films of Bruce Lee. Following this movie, Wong Yu broke his contract with Shaw Brothers and started making films in Taiwan with Golden Harvest, including his masterpiece Beach of the War Gods (1973), described by scholar Stephen Teo as “the sword-fighting movie to end all sword-fighting movies.”

Wong Yu is currently enjoying an Indian Summer in his long career, with juicy roles in Peter Chan’s Wu Xia (aka Dragon, 2011), and Andrew Lau’s The Guillotines (2012). Most recently, he starred in Chung Mong-hong’s arty slasher Soul (2013), turning it into a showcase for his acting talent—with hardly a change in facial expression, he’s able to summon up a whole range of emotions (sadness, paternal love, madness).

With a career spanning over five decades, he has acted in over 80 films, directed 12, and left an indelible mark on the history of martial-arts cinema.

An Evening with Jimmy Wong Yu will be held at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater (located at 165 West 65th Street, between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway).

Tickets will go on sale this Thursday, October 23rd. Admission is $25; $20 for students, seniors, and Film Society members. For more information visit www.filmlinc.com.

5:30pm Reception - open to all ticket holders
7:00pm Master of the Flying Guillotine, preceded by Lifetime Achievement Award presentation and an on-stage conversation with Wong Yu

Master of the Flying Guillotine (Image courtesy-Pathfinder-Pictures)
1976, 93min, 35mm, in Mandarin with English subtitles

Wong Yu writes, directs, and stars in this massively entertaining grindhouse masterpiece. A blind lama assassin employed by the Qing Emperor goes after the righteous “One-Armed Boxer” (Wong Yu). Intent on avenging his two disciples, whom Wong Yu killed, the imperial assassin packs his monk robes, his unbeatable flying guillotine, and soon he’s keeping the clashes coming, the blood flowing, and the heads rolling. His killer quest ends at a kung-fu tournament full of freaky martial artists who employ ponytail-strangling, yoga-magic-stretching, and kickboxing, but they’re no match for the killer lama and his one-armed foe! Featuring extravagant choreography by brothers Lau Kar-leung and Lau Kar-wing, Master of the Flying Guillotine set the ultimate template for martial-arts video games, and the fireworks of its final showdown (set in a booby-trapped coffin shop) have yet to be equaled.

Monday, October 20, 2014

KUNDO: AGE OF THE RAMPANT coming tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 21

Directed by Yun Jong-bin
Starring Ha Jung-woo, Kang Dong-won,
Lee Sung-min and Ma Dong-seok

KUNDO: AGE OF THE RAMPANT, the international box office hit and Asia’s answer to Robin Hood, debuts on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital tomorrow, Tuesday, October 21st from Well Go USA Entertainment. Set in mid-19th century, the tongue-in-cheek historical comedy-action film depicts a power struggle between the unjust wealthy noblemen who run society and a group of righteous outlaws who steal from corrupt officials to give to the downtrodden and starving.

Directed by Yun Jong-bin (Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time), KUNDO: AGE OF THE RAMPANT stars Ha Jung-woo (The Berlin File), Kang Dong-won (Haunters), Lee Sung-min (The Good, the Bad, the Weird) and Ma Dong-seok (Quick). When the film opened this summer, it broke all existing opening day box office records in South Korea.

Synopsis: 1859. The last days of the Joseon Dynasty, where the wages of greed bring poverty and death. A pack of bandits – calling themselves KUNDO - rise against the tyrants, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. In an era where status is decided by birth, this band of thieves risks their lives for honor, in the name of the poor and oppressed. But for one man, a debt of bloody revenge is owed to the aristocrat who robbed him of his family and his name.

KUNDO: AGE OF THE RAMPANT has a runtime of approximately 138 minutes and is not rated.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

VIZ Media to launch RESIDENT EVIL manga series on November 18, 2014


Discover The Source Of The Outbreak Of The Deadly
C-Virus In The Gritty Manga Prequel To CAPCOM’s
Popular Resident Evil® 6 Game Property

VIZ Media gives gamers and action fans a special FREE sneak preview of its forthcoming RESIDENT EVIL: THE MARHAWA DESIRE manga (graphic novel) series as part of the company’s participation in 2014 Halloween ComicFest.

The terrifying 5-volume apocalyptic action thriller was created by Naoki Serizawa and serves as a prequel to the storyline of CAPCOM’s bestselling Resident Evil® 6 game property. The manga series is rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers and will launch on November 18th under the VIZ Signature imprint. RESIDENT EVIL: THE MARHAWA DESIRE Vol. 1 will carry a print MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $14.99 CAN.

Held each year, Halloween ComicFest is celebrated at scores of comic shops and retailers nationwide on the Saturday before Halloween. On this day, participating shops offer fans and visitors a special FREE Halloween ComicFest sampler filled with previews of scores of exciting upcoming titles. For additional information and a list of participating retailers, visit www.halloweencomicfest.com.

The highly virulent C-virus became a global disaster, but where did the outbreak start? In the series’ opening volume, at the prestigious and elite Marhawa Academy in Singapore, a female student suffers a horrifying transformation. Called in to investigate, Professor Doug Wright and his nephew Ricky find themselves caught up in a deadly and growing tragedy. As things get rapidly out of hand, Chris Redfield and his team from the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance arrive on the scene, while behind it all a mysterious figure looms.

“Discover the sinister beginnings of the Resident Evil story in the first-ever manga series based on the smash hit game property,” says Michael Montesa, Editor. “Along with tracing the source of the deadly viral outbreak, the manga series also presents the debut of Piers Nivans, who appears in the Resident Evil 6 video game as Chris Redfield's new partner. Readers will not want to miss a special advance preview of RESDIENT EVIL as part of Halloween ComicFest. Catch the full launch of this spine tingling new series from the VIZ Signature imprint next month!”

Since the landmark release of Resident Evil in 1996, the CAPCOM franchise has firmly established itself as a truly worldwide entertainment brand and mainstay of contemporary culture with a series of live action movies, CG anime, manga, novels and numerous merchandising lines. To date the Resident Evil series of videogames has achieved global sales of over 50 million units, while the live action movies starring Milla Jovovich have grossed in excess of $525 million dollars at the box office.

RESIDENT EVIL artist/author Naoki Serizawa is a multi-talented photographer and cinematographer as well as a manga artist and writer. His other series Saru Lock was developed into a TV drama in Japan in 2009.

For more information on RESIDENT EVIL: THE MARHAWA DESIRE or other manga and/or anime titles published by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands (c) 1967 KOKUEI
 Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands / Koya no Datch Waifu
Directed by Atsushi Yamatoya
Japan, 1967, 85 minutes
When: Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
(Between 1st and 2nd Avenues)

Tonight at 7:00 PM, Atsushi Yamatoya’s Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands will kick off Japan Society NY's new monthly film series, The Dark Side of the Sun: John Zorn on Japanese Cinema. (For Mike Hale's overview article at the New York Times, click here.)  Tonight's screening will be followed by a reception.

At an isolated spot, a hitman named Sho (Yuichi Minato) meets with Naka (Masayoshi Nogami), a rich real estate agent. Naka had a minor misunderstanding with someone that escalated into the kidnapping of Sae (Noriko Tatsumi), who worked in Naka's office, several months earlier. Sae has been raped by her kidnappers, and Naka shows Sho the film of her being violated that he was sent. Naka hires Sho to get Sae back.

This job reminds Sho of the kidnapping and murder of Rie (Mari Nagisa), his girl, five year earlier by a man named Koh. Sho has dreamed -- or is it hallucinated? -- about shooting Koh every day since then, always at 3:00, the time Rie died.

There's some campy hard-boiled dialogue, such as "Cheap girls are a dime a dozen" and "Get outta Dodge." The compositions within the frame can be rather unusual at times; for example, a face being partially cropped in the upper left corner of the frame. Personally I think these "choices" may have been dictated by the size of the available sets and lenses. In any case, these strange croppings can be  unsettling. The often hand held and shaky camera work also contributes to a sense of unease.

There are a number of sex scenes, with quick flashes of bare female breasts. The film also has a cool jazz score by pianist and composer Yosuke Yamashita that's reminiscent of some contemporary works by John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.

The film also brings to mind Seijun Suzuki's Branded to Kill , which was released a few months earlier in 1967. This is not surprising in that director Yamatoya was one of the uncredited writers on the script of  Suzuki’s film.

Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands  has been selected as one of "The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week" at The L Magazine.

Note that at IMDb the film is listed as Dutch Wife in the Desert, with Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands as an a.k.a.

AsianCineFest Rating: I'm going to have to go with a 3.5 out of 4 star rating; very highly recommended. For the film itself, I'd probably assign 3 out of 4 stars, solidly recommended. The extra 1/2 star is warranted because there simply aren't going to be many opportunities to see it, which makes tonight's screening a very special event. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ann Hui's THE GOLDEN ERA opens tomorrow in the U.S. and Canada

The Golden Era / Huang jin shi dai
Directed by Ann Hui
China/Hong Kong, 2014, 177 minutes

The Golden Era is an epic biography of Xiao Hong, one of China’s most famous essayists and novelists. Helmed by the renowned Hong Kong director Ann Hui, it will open tomorrow, Friday, October 17th in the United States and Canada. (It opened today, September 16th, in Australia and New Zealand.) For cities and theaters, click here.

Mainland Chinese actress Tang Wei (who had the lead role in Ang Lee's Lust Caution and in last year's hit Finding Mr. Right, which was also released by China Lion) stars as female novelist Xiao Hong, whose given name was Zhang Naiying. In a brief opening monologue, Hong tells us that she was born on June 1, 1911 in Manchuria and died on January 22, 1942 in a makeshift hospital in Japanese-occupied Hong Kong.

Details of her short, unconventional and rather unhappy life are frequently recounted by such narratives, sometimes spoken by her, sometimes by the people -- mainly literary figures and others from the world of publishing -- who knew her. Thus the film's dramatic narrative is frequently broken by brief scenes of "talking heads." The author's own writings are also quoted to illustrate what was happening to her during this turbulent period.

Xjao Jun (Feng Shaofeng), left, and Xiao Hong (Tamg Wei)

Feng Shaofeng (Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon ) co-stars as Xiao Jun, the writer with whom Hong had a long and troubled relationship. It was his family name that Hong used in her nom de plume.

Personally, at a nearly three hour running time, I found The Golden Era to be a bit overlong. Compare its length with Center Stage (1991), Stanley Kwan's biographical film about Ruan Ling-yu, the actress (played by Maggie Cheung) who killed herself in 1935 at the age of 24. Both Ruan and Hong were unconventional figures and victims of gossip, but Kwan's multi-award winning film is a conventional 126 minutes long. I never thought I'd say this, but The Golden Era is an Asian film that might actually have benefited from some cuts mandated by Harvey "Scissorhands" Weinstein.

On the other hand, it is highly respected in Hong Kong, which has chosen it as the autonomous region's official selection for consideration by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for its Best Foreign Language category.

AsianCIneFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended. Irregardless of its length, this film is well-worth seeing for its detailed depiction of a very talented woman whose free-thinking was most unconventional during the all-too-brief period of her life.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

THE LAST SUPPER is available today

Random Media
 The Last Supper / Wang de Shengyan
Directed by Lu Chuan
China, 2012, 116 minutes
Mandarin with English 

The Last Supper is a Chinese historical drama from Lu Chuan, the director of City of Life and Death (2009). It becomes available today, Tuesday, September 14th, on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. This review is based on watching the Blu-ray version.

The film is an historical drama concerned with the founding of the Han Dynasty. It begins in 195 B.C. when Emperor Liu Bang (mainland actor Liu Ye), who founded the dynasty, is 61 years old and rather mentally enfeebled. In a flashback set fourteen years earlier, when Liu was forty-eight, we learn that he and Xin (Taiwan born Chen Chang), who would become a leading general, were just "street rats." At that time, Liu first saw Lord Yu (Daniel Wu), who was then twenty-four and leading the rebellion against the  Ziying, the Qin Emperor. Yu was of noble birth, but "blind to the ambitions of others." The film depicts the rivalries, shifting alliances and betrayals among these three characters.

A sub-theme concerns the jealousy of Liu's wife (actress Qin Lan, the director's wife) toward his concubines, particularly Qi, and their offspring.

Many of the scenes take place in Liu's dark, heavily draped quarters. There he recalls events from the past and is plagued with nightmares.

The film appears to have been made on a rather modest budget. There are references to armies numbering in the hundreds of thousands; however we usually see perhaps a few dozen soldiers at most. There is just one CGI scene depicting a large force, but the computer figures in the background are largely stationary. There is only one actual battle scene and it's rather limited in terms of the number of combatants involved.

There are no extras on the Blu-ray or DVD. The only option is watching the movie with English subtitles on or off.

The Last Supper, which was shown at the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival, may be short on action, but it is replete with intrigue.

AsianCineFest Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars. Give it 3 stars if you're after the drama, and the lack of action (and extras) doesn't concern you.

Sentai Filmworks has acquired GUGURE! KOKKURI-SAN

A forgotten spirit goes from scare-maker to caretaker to an odd little girl with a serious love of junk food in Sentai Filmworks' latest acquisition, Gugure! Kokkuri-san. This dark comedy series from original creator Midori Endo is directed by Yoshimasa Hiraike (Wagnaria!!, AKB0048) with character designs by Miwa Oshima (Koihime Muso, Baka and Test – Summon the Beasts) and animation production by TMS Entertainment (Yowamushi Pedal, Hamtaro).

Enter Ichimatsu Kohina— an unusual young girl with an even more unusual diet. Living off of nothing but cup ramen, the emotionally-detached Kohina spends her spare time attempting to summon ghosts in her giant home. But when Kohina actually does manage to summon a spirit, she finds herself face-to-face with a handsome young fox ghost named Kokkuri. Although Kohina wants nothing to do with this white-haired weirdo, this determined ghost refuses to take “no” for an answer. And when Kokkuri witnesses Kohina’s deplorable dietary decisions, he has no choice but to go from haunting her to taking care of her!

But where there’s one ghost more are sure to follow, and soon Kohina goes from living alone to living with an assortment of handsome supernatural entities. Underestimating his powers and undermining his authority as her new caretaker, a new life is about to begin for a strange girl and a fox ghost in Gugure! Kokkuri-san.

Gugure! Kokkuri-san will be available soon through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Free screening of Korean gambling movie THE DIVINE MOVE tomorrow

Korean Cultural Service New York
Korean Movie Night 2014
Series Five: Blown Away by Korean Blockbusters!
The Divine Move
Directed by CHO (a.k.a. JO) Beom-gu
South Korea, 2014, 118 minutes
When: Tuesday October 14, 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!!!

The next film in Korean Cultural Service NY's free Korean Movie Night is The Divine Move, a really intelligent, sharp and well-paced action-thriller. It will be shown tomorrow night, Tuesday, October 14th at 7:00. As always, admission is free. These Korean Movie Night screenings are always very well-attended, so get there as early as you can to maximize your chance of being admitted and getting a seat.

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.

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

Sunday, October 12, 2014

INFLATABLE SEX DOLL OF THE WASTELANDS to kick off Japan Society NY's latest film series

Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands (c) 1967 KOKUEI
 Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands / Koya no Datch Waifu
Directed by Atsushi Yamatoya
Japan, 1967, 85 minutes
When: Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society NY
333 East 47th Street, NYC
(Between 1st and 2nd Avenues)

The Dark Side of the Sun: John Zorn on Japanese Cinema, Japan Society NY's new monthly film series, will begin this coming Saturday evening with a screening of Atsushi Yamatoya’s Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands.

Taking some hints from Ambrose Bierce’s celebrated short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” it's a deliciously delirious cult film about a hitman (Yuichi Minato) who is hired by a rich real estate agent to find an abducted woman (Noriko Tatsumi). This simple setup gives way to a hip and chaotic worldview full of hard-boiled characters, sexy action, and hallucinatory imagery.

A close collaborator with the likes of Koji Wakamatsu, Yamatoya was part of the group of anonymous writers who worked on Wakamatsu Productions and was also one of the anonymous writers on the script of Seijun Suzuki’s Branded to Kill. Though considered a “pink film,” Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands has surprisingly few sex scenes. Nevertheless, the film remains incredibly sexy through creative montage and innuendo. In his book Behind the Pink Curtain, Jasper Sharp calls the film “probably the most idiosyncratic work the genre has ever produced.”

A feast for the eyes as well as the ears, the sparse and cool music was provided by jazz pianist and composer Yosuke Yamashita.

Commemorating the life of writer, producer, and director Koji Wakamatsu, who passed away on October 17, 2012, this screening of Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands will be followed by a reception..

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sentai Filmworks announces acquisition of CROSS ANGE RONDO OF ANGEL AND DRAGON

A once powerful princess who had the world at her fingertips will join a group of warriors to defend it from destruction in Sentai Filmworks' latest acquisition, CROSS ANGE Rondo of Angel and Dragon. This fantasy adventure series is directed by Yoshiharu Ashino (Tweeny Witches, Thundercats [2011]), with series composition by Tatsuto Higuchi (Phi Brain Puzzle of God, Toradora!), mecha design by Junichi Akutsu (My-HiME, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion), and animation production by SUNRISE (Gintama, Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere).

Synopsis: Mankind has acquired a highly advanced information technology known as "Mana." Thanks to this almost magical force war, hunger, pollution, and every other problem on the face of the earth have been conquered. Finally the world is a utopia of peace and luxury.

Angelise is the First Princess of the Empire of Misurugi. She also lives a life of luxury, is celebrated by the citizens, and is expected to wear the crown. However, the truth becomes known that she herself is a "Norma."

A "Norma" is someone who cannot use Mana. They are called "Irregulars" and are considered anti-social "things."

With everything taken away from her, she is sent into isolation on a secluded island. There she meets Norma girls who know of nothing but fighting. They spend their days piloting transforming humanoid weapons called "Para-mails" to hunt giant aggressive life forms called "Dragons" which have invaded from another dimension.

Having lost her name, "Ange" becomes a warrior. But what will she see at the end of her battles?

What is to be trusted?

What is to be gained?

The story of one girl and her determination begins here.

CROSS ANGE Rondo of Angel and Dragon will be available soon through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

Encore screening of HONG Sang-soo's HILL OF FREEDOM tomorrow

Kwon (Seo Young-hwa) and Mori (Ryo Kase)
Hill of FreedomJayuui Eondeok
Directed by Hong Sang-soo
2014 South Korea, 2014, 66 minutes
Korean and English with English subtitles
When: Sunday, October 12 at 12:30 pm
Where: The Walter Reade Theater

Hill of Freedom, the most recent film from Korean director Hong Sang-soo, had its U.S. premiere at the 52nd New York Film Festival on Tuesday, September 30th and was also shown on Wednesday, October 8th, which was when I saw it. A third screening has been added as part of the NYFF52 Encore Screenings series. That screening will take place at 12:30 tomorrow afternoon at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater.

With a 66 minute running time, the film is too short to qualify as a feature film (85 minutes or more), but too long to be a short (30 minutes or less). I'd be inclined to call it a featurette, but in our age of DVDs and Blu-rays, that term has come to refer to a short documentary film about the making of a feature-length film. And I don't think mini-film sounds right.

Youngsun (Moon So-ri), her boyfriend, and Mori

So, while I'm unsure how to technically characterize it in terms of its length, I will say it's a smart, well-made movie that departs from the kind of film for which Hong is typically known. Hong is frequently described as a director who makes the same film over and over, but with slight variations. Thus he can be regarded as a "one-trick pony," although this may or may not have a pejorative connotation, depending on the commentator's viewpoint. Most of his films rely heavily on repetition, of scenes and/or dialogue. What keeps his films interesting are the variations he employs.

Hill of Freedom for me was very different from the other films by Hong that I have seen, and I've seen a fair number of them. Here there really isn't much of the repetition for which he's known. In fact, the film is really a linear story -- no going back to visit the same scene from different perspectives -- although the elements of which it is comprised are not told in chronological order. (More on that in a moment.)

The film also employs the surprise of having the characters speak the vast majority of the dialogue in English. This device seems to have been used because one of the main characters is Japanese and doesn't speak any Korean, the language of all the other characters. English gives them a common language by which they can communicate.

Mori and his landlady

The story begins with Kwon (Seo Young-hwa), a young woman who has just returned to Seoul, being given a packet of letters left for her by Mori (Ryo Kase), a Japanese who fell in love with her during a previous visit and has returned after two years to see her again. The letters were written while Mori was trying to find her after he returned to Seoul.

While walking down a flight of stairs, Kwon drops the letters, destroying the order in which they were packaged. Since they apparently bear no dates, she can only read them in the random order in which she's picked them up. The film thus presents the various experiences Mori has had since his return in whatever order Kwon has arranged the letters. His experiences include his encounters with Youngsun (actress Moon So-ri) who works at the café whose name gives the film its title, as well as with the landlady of the guest house where he is staying and with other guests.

The viewer is thus left with the same challenge as Kwon: trying to figure out what happened when. Fortunately, this is a non-critical task; knowing the precise order of every event depicted is not crucial. It's sufficient to have a general sense of the order in which things probably took place.

I found Hill of Freedom to be one of the most enjoyable of the films by Hong that I've seen. And I've liked several of them a lot. It's funny, light-hearted and intriguing.

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