With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Friday, May 31, 2019

New York Japan CineFest 2019 returns to Asia Society on June 5th and 6th

New York Japan CineFest, the annual mini-festival of recent shorts by emerging Japanese and Japanese-American filmmakers, will return to Asia Society NYC for the eighth time next Wednesday, June 5th and Thursday, June 6th. There will be separate programs each day beginning at 6:30 PM. The Day 1 Program on Wednesday will be followed by a reception.

Information about the Day 1 Program can be found here; Day 2 Program info is available here.

Asia Society NYC is located at 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street. (Click here for map.)

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

BIG BROTHER reviewed; debuts on Blu-ray and DVD today, May 21st

Well Go USA
Big Brother
Directed by Kam Ka-Wai
Hong Kong, 2018, 101 minutes

Big Brother, a rather different film vehicle for action star Donnie Yen, debuts on Blu-ray and DVD today, May 21st from Well Go USA Entertainment. (It's been available on digital since April 16th.) My review is based on watching the Blu-ray version.

Here Yen stars as Henry Chan, a former soldier who manages to secure a position teaching a class of problematic teenage delinquents. His unconventional approach, which includes caring involvement with his students' lives outside the classroom, proves surprisingly effective. The reasons for his taking the job and caring so much become apparent as Chan's back story is gradually revealed over the course of the film.

Think of the movie as a Chinese version of the 1967 film To Sir, with Love, which starred Sidney Poitier as a teacher of troubled white students from the slums of London's East End. Only Big Brother, since it stars Donnie Yen, has a couple of ass-kicking action sequences that feature Yen taking on both multiple and individual opponents.

Disc Specs:
-- Audio
  -- Cantonese DTS-HDMA 5.1
  -- Cantonese Stereo
-- Subtitles
  -- English
  -- Chinese
  -- Off
-- Bonus
  -- Trailer A
  -- Trailer B
  -- US Trailer
-- Previews
  -- Master Z: Ip Man Legacy
  -- Golden Job
  -- Triple Threat

AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; while not your typical Donnie Yen film, it's a touching "feel-good" film with some nice action scenes.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Record-making women-centric Chinese drama SOULMATE will arrive on DVD on June 14th, 2019

Cheng Cheng Films
SoulMate / Qi yue yu an sheng
Directed by Derek Tsang
Starring: Zhou Dongyu and Ma Sichun
China/Hong Kong, 2016, 110 minutes

SoulMate, a highly regarded drama from director Derek Tsang, will be coming to DVD in the USA and Canada on June 14th, 2019.

Featuring unforgettable performances from Zhou Dongyu and Ma Sichun, who made history by tying for "Best Actress" at the biggest Chinese film award, the film portrays the decades-long friendship between two disparate women who both struggle to find positions for their real selves in the modern world. The poignant drama is a heartfelt tribute to everyone's best friend and an honest examination of the evolving gender role in fast-changing China.

SoulMate's accolades include:
Winner-Best Actress, Film of Merit, Hong Kong Film Critics Society
Opening Film-Hong Kong Asian Film Festival
Opening Gala-Reel Asian Film Festival
Official Selection-New York Asian Film Festival
FILM OF THE YEAR-Weibo Film Night
12 Nominations at Hong Kong Film Awards
7 Nominations at Taiwan Golden Horse Film Awards Awards
2 Nominations at Asian Film Awards
4 Nominations at Chinese Directors' Guild
Winner, Best Director, Hong Kong Directors' Guild
Winner-Outstanding Young Filmmaker of the Year-Motion Pictures Association

THE UNITY OF HEROES to debut on digital, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD on May 28th from Well Go USA

Well Go USA
The Unity of Heroes
Directed by Lin Zhenzhao
China, 2018, 104 minutes

Vincent Zhao (Once Upon A Time in China) reprises his role as legendary folk hero Wong Fei Hung in The Unity of Heroes, debuting on digital, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD on May 28th from Well Go USA Entertainment. In this action-packed adventure, a highly toxic drug has permeated the country and Wong Fei Hung and his students must stop the invasion.

The film also stars Vini Li Lubing (Fascinated Love), Chen Chen, Li Bingyuan (Defying Chase, Tomb Robber), Wei Xiaohuan (The Grandmaster), Xu Zhengguo and Michael Tong (God of War, Tomb Robber).

A shipment of a narcotic more dangerous than opium is about to be distributed across the country by a corrupt pharmaceutical company. In the face of foreign and domestic enemies, can Wong Fei Hung stop the spread of this dangerous narcotic and save lives in time?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Dates announced for Japan Society NY's annual JAPAN CUTS film festival

Japan Society NY
When: July 19–28, 2019
Where: Japan Society 333 East 47th Street, NYC

Japan Society NY has announced this year’s dates for JAPAN CUTS. The 13th iteration of the largest festival of contemporary Japanese cinema in North America will run July 19-28, 2019 . With a wide range of the best and hardest-to-see films made in and around Japan today — from blockbusters to independent productions, documentaries to avant-garde works, and short films to new restorations — JAPAN CUTS is the place to experience Japan’s dynamic film culture in New York City.

Japan Society Members: Tuesday, June 11
General Public: Tuesday, June 18

The full schedule will be announced in early June. Sign up for the Film enewsletter for updates!

TICKETS: $15/$12 seniors, students & persons with disabilities/$10 members

3-FILM PASS: $2 off each ticket when you purchase tickets for at least three different films in the same transaction! (Offer not valid for Opening Night and Centerpiece Presentation.)

MEMBERS-ONLY ALL-ACCESS PASS: $210 for all festival screenings! (We recommend purchasing the All-Access Pass in-person or by phone. Additional transaction fees apply when buying online.)

*Note: All pricing is subject to change.

Meanwhile, don't miss a special June 14th encore screening of Born Bone Born, winner of the JAPAN CUTS 2018 Audience Award. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

TRIPLE THREAT reviewed; available today as a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack and as DVD only

Well Go USA
Triple Threat
Directed by Jesse V. Johnson
Thailand/China/USA, 2019, 96 minutes

Triple Threat, a terrific actioner directed by Jesse V. Johnson, becomes available today, May 14th, as a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack and as DVD only from Well Go USA. (It's been available on digital platforms since the latter part of April.) The Blu-ray + DVD combo pack features a bonus interview with the cast. My review is based on watching the Blu-ray version.

As the screen capture above indicates, the film asks the question, "Why the fuck is it so hard to kill one little Chinese girl?" The female in question is Xian (actress Celina Jade), a billionaire's daughter who wants to rid a fictitious country of the influence of an immensely powerful criminal syndicate. The triple threat of the film's title consists of Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, and Tiger Chen, who come to protect her from assassins hired by the head of the nefarious organization.

The international cast of martial arts/action stars also includes Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White, Michael Bisping, and Jeeja Yanin,

Disc Specs:
-- Audio
  -- Dolby Digital 5.1
  -- Stereo
-- Subtitles SDH (English)
  -- On
  -- Off
-- Bonus
  -- Interview with the cast (Blu-ray + DVD combo pack only)
  -- Teaser
  -- Trailer
-- Previews
  -- Furie
  -- Master Z: Ip Man Legacy
   -- Shadow

Triple Threat totally delivers terrific action and is a must see for fans of the genre.

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

Watch the Triple Threat trailer here.

Friday, May 10, 2019

MISS & MRS. COPS, a South Korean Crime Comedy, Releases in Los Angeles today, May 10th and in Cities Across the U.S on May 17th

CJ Entertainment
Miss & Mrs. Cops
Directed by JUNG Da-Won
Starring RA Mi-ran, LEE Sung-kyung, YOON Sang-hyun,
CHOI Soo-young, and YEOM Hye-ran.
South Korea, 2019, 107 minutes

South Korean Director JUNG Da-Won is back with his second feature film Miss & Mrs. Cops. The film opens today, May 10th at CGV Cinemas in Buena Park and Los Angeles and will be available nationwide on May 17th.

In the film, two sisters-in-law (Mi-Young and Ji-hye) who work together at the police department find themselves in the middle of a suicide case when a young woman throws herself in front of a bus while the two are on duty. Mi-young and Ji-hye find out that the woman is the victim of a digital sex crime and her sex video is scheduled to be released online in 48 hours. When all the other departments refuse to take the case, the sisters-in-law open their own investigation into the case.

AFRAID TO DIE, starring Yukio Mishima, at Japan Society tonight

Japan Society NY
(c) 1960 Kadokawa
Afraid to Die / Karakkaze Yaro
Directed by Yasuzo Masumura
With Yukio Mishima, Ayako Wakao,
Eiji Funakoshi, and Takashi Shimura
Japan, 1960, 96 minutes
In Japanese with English subtitles

When: Friday, May 10, 2019 at 7:00 PM
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Tickets: $14/$11 seniors & students/$5 members

Clad in a black leather jacket, renowned Japanese writer Yukio Mishima struts and preens as a small-time yakuza underboss in this oddity of postwar Japanese cinema directed by Yasuzo Masumura. Fresh out of jail and hiding out above a rundown Tokyo movie theater, the unsympathetic tough is hounded by a rival gang and an asthmatic killer-for-hire as he struggles to reconcile his criminal life with a newfound love interest (Ayako Wakao).

Afraid to Die screens in celebration of a brand new English translation of Mishima's 1961 novella Star (New Directions Publishing, 2019), a fictionalized account of his experience working on Masumura's film.

There will be an introduction by Star translator Sam Bett, followed by a book-signing. Copies of Star will be available for purchase courtesy of New Directions Publishing

Monday, May 06, 2019

Hong Kong actioner VIXEN arrives on digital streaming platforms today

TriCoast Studios
Directed by Ross W. Clarkson
China, 2018, 90 minutes

Vixen, a Hong Kong a female driven take on Die Hard, arrives on digital streaming platforms (Amazon, DirecTV, AT&T, FlixFling, Vudu, Vimeo on Demand, XBOX, Sony, Google Play, FANDANGO + Sling/Dish) today, May 6th. The film stars former stuntwoman Li Ran. Also featured are such action legends and martial art experts as Bryan Larkin (Dead End, Outlander) and Jai Day (Transformers, Pacific Rim: Uprising). Africa’s most famous Chinese martial arts expert, Luc Bendza, who graduated from Beijing’s prestigious Sports University, plays the film’s Machiavellian main villain.

Vixen is a femme-centric Hong Kong action film about a Chinese security expert who fights a lone battle against a European criminal gang that has seized the world’s tallest building, where a massive, high-tech international conference is taking place. With the building under lockdown, the lone expert, Sunny Liu (former stuntwoman Li Ran) must use all her courage, intelligence and martial arts prowess to outwit, outlast and outfight the terrorists. She’s beautiful, she’s deadly, and she always knows – a woman’s work is never done.