With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Thursday, February 28, 2019

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

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

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


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

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

Watch the trailer here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

SECTION23 FILMS has announced its March 2019 slate of releases

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

Product details, in order of release:

Published by: Kraken Releasing
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 83 min.
Street Date: 3/5/2019
Format: BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $19.98

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

Published by: Maiden Japan
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Run Time: 1630 min.
Street Date: 3/12/2019
Format: BD
Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
SRP: $49.98

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

STILL HUMAN receives several 38th Hong Kong Film Awards nominations

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

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

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

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

The trailer is available here.

Monday, February 18, 2019

ICEMAN: THE TIME TRAVELER will be available tomorrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North American Premiere

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

Sunday, February 03, 2019

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 01, 2019

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

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

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

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

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