With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ACF 329: From NYAFF 2009 to JAPAN CUTS - The Transition Begins

©2008 Bandai Visual, TV Asahi, Tokyo Theatres, WOWOW / Office Kitano

Achilles and the Tortoise / Akiresu to kame
featuring Takeshi Kitano (right)
will screen twice at JAPAN CUTS

The New York Asian Film Festival has entered its second and final week. Many, many, many shows have been sold-out. Totally wonderful for all concerned.

Today marks the start of the JAPAN CUTS film series at Japan Society. Most of the film shown in this series thru July 5th are co-presented with the NYAFF. After this last co-presentation - Be Sure To Share - on Sunday, July 5th. JAPAN CUTS will continue on its own through July 12th, 2009.

For info about the remaining films being shown at the New York Asian FIlm Festival, which is presented by the terrific and dedicated members of Subway Cinema, click here.

For JAPAN CUTS info, click here. The JAPAN CUTS screenings take place at Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, between 1st and 2nd avenues, NY, NY 10017

Monday, June 29, 2009

ACF 328: Thirst

Recently Focus Features put out some info about their highly anticipated release THIRST, directed by award-winning auteur, Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance). Recently awarded the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes International Film Festival, THIRST is slated to be released in select theaters July 31st. I'm really looking forward to seeing this film, hopefully at a pre-release press screening so can review it in advance of the theatrical release. In the meanwhile, here's what the Focus folk have to say:

A priest becomes a vampire…another man’s wife is coveted…a deadly seduction triggers murder. Thirst is the new film from director Park Chan-wook (Old Boy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance). Already a boxoffice smash in Korea, Thirst was honored with the Prix du Jury [Jury Prize] at the 2009 Cannes International Film Festival.

Continuing his explorations of human existence in extreme circumstances, the director spins a tale that he conceived and then developed over several years with co-screenwriter Chung Seo-kyung.

Sang-hyun (played by top Korean star Song Kang-ho, of The Host) is a priest who cherishes life; so much so, that he selflessly volunteers for a secret vaccine development project meant to eradicate a deadly virus. But the virus takes the priest, and a blood transfusion is urgently ordered up for him. The blood he receives is infected, so Sang-hyun lives – but now exists as a vampire. Struggling with his newfound carnal desire for blood, Sang-hyun’s faith is further strained when a childhood friend’s wife, Tae-ju (Kim Ok-vin), comes to him asking for his help in escaping her life. Sang-hyun soon plunges into a world of sensual pleasures, finding himself on intimate terms with the Seven Deadly Sins.

The THIRST official site is http://www.thirstmovie.com/.

For more information and assets, become a fan of the THIRST Facebook Page here:


And follow the Focus Twitter Page here:


Saturday, June 27, 2009

ACF 327: Oishinbo: Fish, Sushi and Sashami



I recently received some news from VIZ that I'm very excited about because I loved Oishinbo a la Carte. (For my review of that volume, click here.) My review copy of this new volume is on its way, and I hope to read it and get a review online quickly. Meanwhile here's the word from VIZ:

Check out the latest volume of the acclaimed manga series about food and Japanese cuisine. This edition spotlights Fish, Sushi And Sashimi!

The critically acclaimed long-running cooking manga is written by Tetsu Kariya and illustrated by Akira Hanasaki. Published by VIZ Media under its VIZ Signature imprint, OISHINBO: FISH, SUSHI AND SASHIMI is rated ‘T’ for Teens and will become available on July 21st with an MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $15.00 CAN.

OISHINBO (or "The Gourmet") depicts the culinary journey of journalist Shiro Yamaoka, who is tasked by fictional newspaper Tozai News to create the ultimate menu. Yamaoka and his father, Kaibara Y_zan, have never enjoyed an ideal father-son relationship. In fact, it's about as far from ideal as possible, and when they start arguing about food – which they inevitably do – the sparks really fly. In this latest volume of OISHINBO the subject of dispute is fish, starting with the question of whether mackerel can ever be truly good sashimi. Later, things come to a head during the "Salmon Battle," which pits father against son in an epic contest to develop the best dish before a panel of judges. Will Yamaoka finally defeat Kaibara, or will he once again be left in his father's shadow?

Previous OISHINBO editions have focused on other popular Japanese cuisine items such as ramen, gyoza, and sake. VIZ Media has selected highlights from the epic 100+ volume series and compiled them into seven a la carte editions that can be enjoyed individually or as a series. OISHINBO also won the prestigious 32nd Shogakukan Manga Award in 1986.

“OISHINBO has sold more than 100 million copies in Japan since its debut in 1983 and is indisputably the greatest food manga of all time," says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President Sales & Marketing, VIZ Media. "The latest volume, featuring sushi and sashimi, offers all the thrills, laughs, and arcane food knowledge of a dozen episodes of Iron Chef. This is essential reading for cookbook and manga fans."

For more information on OISHINBO and other VIZ Media titles please visit www.viz.com.

Friday, June 26, 2009

ACF 326: 'Samurai Princess' @ NYAFF!

The Samurai Princess never wears this outfit, but she does get nekkid!

Samurai Princess (or Samurai purinsesu: Gedo-hime, as they say in Japanese) played at the New York Asian Film Festival as a midnight feature last Saturday, June 20th. It'll screen a second time this coming Tuesday, June 30th at 4:30 PM at the IFC Center. For the link to the Subway Cinema page on this deliciously delirious film, click here.

Yes, this film is definitely a blood-splattered gore-fest

Kengo Kaji, who wrote Tokyo Gore Police, both wrote the story for and directed this new gore-fest from Japan. Yoshihiro Nishimura handled the make-up effects, as he did for Tokyo Gore Police. So if you loved Tokyo Gore Police - which I really did - you're sure to at least like, and maybe love, Samurai Princess. It's a sci-fi kind of thing that's set in an alternative Japan.

An android Samurai Princess comes into being

The Samurai Princess (Yu Aiba) is the sole survivor of a group of young women who are raped and murdered. She becomes an android to avenge their deaths. There's also a gorgeous white-haired Buddhist nun, who has lovely white eyelashes and white fingernail polish(?!) to match, and who shows up from time to time.

Some android love makin' is always welcome

The story may not make much sense, but who really cares? It's a fun and hilarious splatter-fest of gore. Perhaps not quite up to the level of Tokyo Gore Police, which had a much better story-line, but still quite enjoyable. Some upper frontal female nudity (see image above), but not a lot.

Be ready for the big bang ending!

My recommendation is to definitely check it out if the genre is at all to your liking. It's a wild, crazy and colorful film that's a lot of fun. A very solid 3 out of 4 star ACF rating.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

ACF 325: VIZ announces August 2009 anime and live-action DVD releases


VIZ Media has announced their list of DVD titles scheduled for release in August 2009. These include the latest episodic releases of the popular BLEACH, HUNTER X HUNTER and NARUTO series. August DVD releases also include four new POKÉMON titles for the younger set. Also releasing is the live action feature film – DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd from VIZ Pictures. VIZ Media DVD titles are distributed (in English) in the U.S and Mexico by Warner Home Video and in Canada by Allegro.

NARUTO Uncut Box Set Volume 15 Special Edition · Rated 'T+' for Older Teens ·

MSRP: $69.97 US / $99.99 CAN · Available August 25

Ino faces an unusual exercise in royal etiquette when she is asked by an overweight princess to take her place and attend the first meeting with the young prince she adores. Then the Hidden Leaf Village comes under serious threat when important blueprints of the village are stolen! Naruto, Shikamaru and the others have their hands full finding and removing the massive numbers of paper bombs placed throughout the village. Can they save the Hidden Leaf Village from utter demolition?

Includes playing cards 37-45 and a collectible Mininja Gaara Figurine (5 of 6) (limited supply)

BLEACH Volume 19 · Rated 'T' for Teens · MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN · Available August 18

Attempting to rescue Uryu, Ichigo, Rukia and their diverse allies launch an attack on the stronghold of the Bounts. But the evil Bount leader Kariya is far too powerful a foe, and things are looking grim. To make things more complicated still, it appears that one of their foes fighting alongside the Bounts is a former Soul Reaper, Maki Ichinose.

Episodes: 76 thru 79

HUNTER X HUNTER Box Set Volume 3 · Rated 'T+' for Older Teens ·

MSRP: $49.95 US / $71.99 CAN · Available August 11

Gon has finally been licensed as a hunter, and things are about to get a whole lot tougher! First he has to rescue his friend Killua from the clutches of...Killua's own family?! Then it's off to Heavens Arena, home to the biggest fighting tournament on the planet, where Gon must square off against his old enemy Hisoka. Gon is committed to being the best hunter he can be, but will he have to overcome more than a few broken bones to reach his goal?

New POKÉMON Releases Include:

POKÉMON: DP BATTLE DIMENSION Box Set 2 · Rated 'A' for All Ages ·

MSRP: $24.92 each US / $35.99 each CAN · Available August 25

Ash and friends continue their Pokémon journey through the Sinnoh region, taking on new challenges like the Pokémon Summer Academy and meeting lots of new people, including a Top Coordinator, a Pokémon Ranger, and even some Poké Stylists! There are also a few familiar faces up to no good, like Pokémon Hunter J and Team Galactic – can Ash, Dawn, and Brock handle their latest threats?

POKÉMON: DP BATTLE DIMENSION Volume 3-4 · Rated 'A' for All Ages · MSRP: $14.98 each US / $21.99 each CAN · Available August 25

The episodes of POKÉMON: Diamond and Pearl Battle Dimension Box Set 2 split into two standard disc editions.

POKÉMON ALL STARS Box Set 2 · Rated 'A' for All Ages · MSRP: $39.97 each US / $57.99 each CAN · Available August 25

Over 11 hours of Pokémon adventures featuring more of your favorite Pokémon in a commemorative DVD box set! Includes: Meowth, Treecko, Psyduck, Wobbuffet, Lapras, Totodile, Skitty, Chikorita, Torchic, and Onix!

New from VIZ Pictures:

DEATH NOTE: L, Change the WorLd · MSRP: $24.92 US /$35.99 ·

Available August 18

The live action feature film -DEATH NOTE: L, change the WorLd introduces the unwritten chapter of DEATH NOTE and reveals how the legendary detective “L” spends the final 23 days of his life. The story begins as L takes on the “Kira” case, in which countless criminals are dying under mysterious circumstances. L successfully solves the case and stops Kira, but only after sacrificing his life, leaving himself with only 23 days left to live. For his final case L faces down a bio-terrorist group trying to wipe out humanity with a deadly virus ten times more potent than Ebola. As L tries to formulate an antidote with a scientist, he must also save the lives of two children who have no one else to turn to.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ACF 324: Blood: The Last Vampire

Blood: The Last Vampire
Directed by Chris Nahon
Hong Kong/Japan/France/Argentina 2009, 91 minutes
In English and some Japanese (with English subtitles)

Blood: The Last Vampire is set to open in theaters in the U.S. on July 10th, 2009. It's an English language live-action version of the original 2000 Japanese anime feature film. Gianna Jun (My Sassy Girl, Il Mare) stars as Saya, a 400-year-old demon-hunting vampire slayer working undercover in Japan for a secret organization, on a mission in the Vietnam War era.

The cast also includes Koyuki (The Last Samurai, Always: Sunset on Third Street), Michael Byrne (Beyond the Sea, Gangs of New York), Colin Salmon (Resident Evil, Punisher: War Zone, Clubbed), and Allison Miller (Kings).

The film features stunts choreographed by Cory Yuen (Transporter 3, Red Cliff), is produced by Bill Kong and Abel Nahmias, with screenplay by Chris Chow.
I'll have more on this one before the release date. In the meanwhile, here are some links well worth checking out:

Blood: The Last Vampire Official Website

Download the trailer!

Photos of Korean star Gianna Jun in Hollywood

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

ACF 323: Anime Network Online expands service - free & premium content available


Over 300 Hours of Anime Available Via the Internet

Here's some great news for anime fans from ADV Films:

HOUSTON, TX – June 22, 2009 – Today Anime Network, America’s #1 Anime Channel, formally launched its new online player at www.theanimenetwork.com. Anime Network’s new online service includes over 40 hours of free content as well as a premium package that gives users unlimited access to more than 300 hours of anime, live action films, and J-rock videos.

Every week Anime Network Online refreshes its English-dubbed and English-subtitled programming with new episodes from hit series like Clannad and Princess Resurrection as well as modern classics like Azumanga Daioh and Elfen Lied.

Anime Network Online is also expanding its High Def offerings with everything from the high-octane actioner Appleseed to the art house favorite Place Promised In Our Early Days. Content available in High Def format is delivered in a 720p H.264 encode, providing a crisp, clear picture comparable to digital cable.

HD content is just one of the benefits of Premium Membership with Anime Network Online, which costs just $6.95 per month. Three month packages are available for just $18.95, and an annual subscription costs just $69.95.

Anime Network recently added hundreds of hours of new anime programming to its library and is adding hundreds more in the months to come, including new shows never before available in North America on broadcast or DVD. Meanwhile fans are encouraged to test out the new online player and the network’s extensive library by registering at www.theanimenetwork.com. Registration is free and can be upgraded to a Premium Membership at any time.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

ACF 322: Lee & Takai's "Ultimo" featured in July issue of Shonen Jump - available now!


Running Action-Packed New Series
Created By Two Legends Of Comics And Manga
Begins With July Issue Of Monthly Manga Anthology

VIZ Media has announced the debut of the serialization of the ULTIMO series (KARAKURIDÔJI ULTIMO) in SHONEN JUMP magazine. Originally announced to a packed house at a Press Conference at New York Comic Con in 2008, the serialization begins in the July issue of SHONEN JUMP magazine, which is on sale now at retailers and newsstands nationwide.

ULTIMO represents a historic collaboration between comics legend Stan Lee, co-creator of many iconic superheroes including Spider-Man™, the Fantastic Four™, and the X-Men™, and Hiroyuki Takei, the creator of the popular SHAMAN KING manga series, published in Japan by Shueisha and in North America by VIZ Media.

The ULTIMO back-story: High above Farmless City, citizens are stunned by the sudden appearance of two floating figures. Are they human boys, monolithic robots, or something much more strange? As the battle ensues between them, destruction and devastation falls on the hapless city. One figure is Vice, and seems to be as evil as his name implies. The other is Ultimo, intent on trying to stop Vice from wreaking more havoc. But who are Vice and Ultimo really? Where did they come from? Find out in the first chapter of ULTIMO!

“The addition of ULTIMO to SHONEN JUMP magazine marks this as a great time for both manga and comics, and we are very excited to be able to deliver this bold new story to fans every month,” says Grant Lowery, Editor-In-Chief of SHONEN JUMP. “The captivating character designs and action-packed story blend the best aspects of Western and Asian comic book traditions and will delight fans of both genres. We invite fans of both comics and manga to seize the opportunity to explore this groundbreaking new series!”

For over half a century, Stan Lee has been synonymous with superhero comics. In addition to co-creating countless memorable series and characters, including Spider-Man™, the Incredible Hulk™, and Daredevil™, he served as the former president and chairman of Marvel Comics. Lee remains a hugely respected and dynamic figure in the entertainment industry and continues to develop a variety of film, television and video game properties.

Unconventional author/artist Hiroyuki Takei began his career by winning the coveted Hop Step Award (for new manga artists) and the Osamu Tezuka Award. After working as an assistant to famed artist Nobuhiro Watsuki (RUROUNI KENSHIN), Takei debuted in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1997 with Butsu Zone, an action series based on Buddhist mythology. His multicultural adventure manga series SHAMAN KING debuted in Japan in 1998 and has been adapted into a popular animated television series The SHAMAN KING manga series is published in North America by VIZ Media and to-date has sold more than 400,000 copies in the U.S.; for many years it was also serialized in English in VIZ Media’s SHONEN JUMP magazine.

Lee’s own company, POW! Entertainment, worked with Jump SQ. parent company Shueisha and with JEA and Dream Ranch to facilitate the development of ULTIMO.

For more information on ULTIMO, SHONEN JUMP and VIZ Media visit www.shonenjump.com or www.viz.com.

Friday, June 19, 2009

ACF 321: K-20: The Fiend With Twenty Faces


Director Shimako Sato Combines A Top Cast With Stunning Visual Effects To Depict A Story Of A Ninja-Like Thief Who Lives In A Very Different Version Of Feudal Japan Where World War II Never Happened

The New York Asian Film Festival starts today, and I'm sure it's going to be outstanding. I've already put up some reviews about films that will be showing and will continue to do more. Hope to see several in person.

Here's some info from VIZ about K-20 which will be shown tomorrow, Saturday, and again on Tuesday, June 30th.

San Francisco, CA, June 19, 2009 – VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media, LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, has licensed the new action film, K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces, and announced two special theatrical screenings at the New York Asian Film Festival 2009, which takes place June 19-July 2 at the IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue, at West 4th Street, New York, NY.

The New York premiere of K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces (The Japanese title: K-20: Legend of the Mask) will take place on Saturday June 20, at 8:15pm, with a second showing scheduled for 1:45pm on Tuesday, June 30. More information on this film and the New York Asian Film Festival is available at www.subwaycinema.com. VIZ Pictures will be releasing the DVD of K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces in 2010 through their distributor, VIZ Media.

Director Shimako Sato brought together a strong cast and cutting edge special effects to bring K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces to life. Set in the fictional city of Teito in the late 1940s, it is a world where World War II never happened and the nobility system established in the Meiji Era still exists. An extreme divide exists between the upper and lower classes, with 90 percent of the country’s wealth being held by the upper class. The capital of Teito is in crisis with the emergence of a menacing phantom thief known as "The Fiend (Kaijin) with Twenty Faces" or simply "K-20." The film is based on The Story of Nijyumenso, a novel written by Soh Kitamura, and also features the mesmerizing rock theme song, Shock of the Lightning, by the British band OASIS.

Heikichi Endo (played by Japanese leading man Takeshi Kaneshiro) is a circus acrobat who is deceived by K-20 and is framed to take the fall for the phantom thief. Using his incredible physical dexterity, Heikichi wages war against K-20 in order to clear his name and fights alongside K-20's next wealthy target, Duchess Yoko Hashiba (Takako Matsu) and her fiancée, the brilliant detective Kogoro Akechi (Toru Nakamura). But what is the ultimate decision Heikichi has to make?

Actor Takeshi Kaneshiro is internationally renowned and made his screen debut in the film Executioners (1993) followed by the critically acclaimed Wong Kar-Wai film Chungking Express (1994). More recently he has starred in films including House of Flying Daggers (2004) and The Battle of Red Cliff (2008).

“There is great familiarity and love in Japan for the story of K-20,” says Seiji Horibuchi, President and CEO of VIZ Pictures. “The character of K-20 originated in the best-selling 26-volume Boy Detectives series written by Japanese literary master Rampo Edogawa in the 1930s and has been read by more than 100 million people. The film, which we are proud to present at this year’s New York Asian Film Festival, is filled with breakneck action and speed as Director Shimako Sato uses extreme camera angles, computerized effects. For fans of historical drama as well as action cinema, K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces is a definite must-see on this year’s festival roster!”

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

ACF 320: Yoroi Samurai Zombie - another NYAFF 2009 preview review

Yoroi Samurai Zombie
Directed by Tak Sakaguchi
Starring: Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Issei Ishida, Tak Sakaguchi,
Airi Nakajima, and Shintaro Matsubara
Japan, 2008 , 90 min

Horror of horrors! A nuclear family - pa, ma, sis, and younger brother - get kidnapped in a remote rural area by a pair of gun-weilding criminals. Their van breaks down, natch, and papa goes off to get help at a nearby village. Instead he encounters the dreaded Samurai Zombie. Pretty soon heads are flyin' way up in the air and blood's a-gushi' somethin' fierce!

I'm not the biggest fan of horror films, but I enjoyed watching the DVD screener I got in advance of the upcominng New York Asian Film Festival. I'm pretty damnn sure the film'll be even more fun to watch on a big screen and with a live audience of Asiancinemaniacs present.

The film will be shown twice at NYAFF 2009: on Friday June 19th and Friday, June 26th at the IFC Center. On the 26th, writer/director/actor Tak Sakaguchi and stuntman Isao Karasawa will be in attendance.

For more info and to order tickets, click here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

ACF 319: 'A Public Cemetary of Wol-ha' at The Korea Society

A Public Cemetery of Wol-ha / (월하의 공동묘지)
Directed by Kwon Chul-hwi
Cast: Kang Mi-ae, Park No-sik, Do Geum-bong
Korea, 1967, 88 min
In Korean with English Subtitles

The Korea Society's current film series, When Japan Ruled Korea: Movies Set in the Colonial Era, continues this Thursday, June 18 at 6:30 PM with this tale of ghostly revenge.

Beautiful kisaeng Wol-ha returns from the dead to wreak a terrible vengeance on the stepmother and housemaid who opposed her marriage. A tremendous box-office success when released in 1967, A Public Cemetery of Wol-ha (also known as The Public Cemetery Under the Moon) inspired a generation of filmmakers who emulated this horror classic by director Kwon Chul-hwi. The film is a fascinating forerunner to Nakata Hideo's Sadako and the raven-haired female ghosts that haunt contemporary East Asian cinema.

The film will be screened at The Korea Society in midtown Manhattan at 950 Third Avenue, 8th Floor. The building is located on the south-west corner of 3rd Avenue and 57th Street, and the entrance is on 57th.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

ACF 318: Latest NYAFF 2009 News!

The 8th annual New York Asian Film Festival will be upon us in just over a week!

The NYAFF 2009 site is now online here.

Info about purchasing tickets online or at the box offices of the IFC Center and Japan Society (for joint NYAFF/Japan Society screenings only), the Subway Ten Ticket Pack and the Matinee Screening Pass available here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ACF 317: 3 Popular Anime Series from VIZ available on SONY PlayStation Network

Three Of North America’s Most Popular Anime Series Come To The PlayStation® Network’s Video Delivery Service

San Francisco, CA, June 9, 2009 – VIZ Media is launching as a VIZ Media channel in the new Anime category on the PlayStation Networks video delivery service. The launch features three of the most popular and successful anime series in North America – BLEACH, DEATH NOTE and NARUTO and is available on the PlayStation Network, which is accessible for download via PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™) and PSP® (PlayStation Portable®) systems in the United States. The episodes are available for $1.99 each via the Network’s new VIZ Media Channel page.

NARUTO UNCUT is launching with 13 episodes, BLEACH will debut with 20 installments and the DEATH NOTE series will be available immediately with all 37 episodes. Episodes will be English dubbed and presented in Standard Definition.

“NARUTO, BLEACH and DEATH NOTE are compelling additions to the PLAYSTATION Network and an ideal complement to the dynamic library of content, games and applications available for the PS3 and PSP,” says Ken Sasaki, Vice President of Strategy & Business Development, VIZ Media. “Together, these series have set a new standard for anime throughout the world and the ease of download, combined with portability and interoperability between many media devices, will allow fans to watch their favorite ninjas in training, Soul Reapers and Shinigami Death Gods whether at home or on the go, wherever and however they want.”

NARUTO (Uncut): Rated T+ for Older Teens

NARUTO has become the hottest animated series across North America and is one of VIZ Media’s most successful manga and animated properties in terms of sales. Created by Masashi Kishimoto, the series depicts the adventures of a young boy named Uzumaki Naruto who trains to become a ninja. The boy is cursed with the spirit of a nine-tailed fox demon and is forced to live a bullied life discriminated against by his fellow villagers. Naruto is resilient and undaunted in his quest to become a master ninja and his determination often inspires those around him. Through amazing adventures, the young ninja learns the importance of friendship, teamwork, loyalty, hard work, creativity, ingenuity, and right vs. wrong. Dedicated website at www.naruto.com.

BLEACH: Rated T for Teens

BLEACH, an animated, hyperkinetic, ghost-busting action series is the story of a 15 year-old named Ichigo Kurosaki who was born with the ability to see ghosts. When his family is attacked by a Hollow – a malevolent lost soul – Ichigo encounters a Soul Reaper and absorbs her powers. Now he has dedicates his life to protecting the innocent and helping the tortured souls find peace. Dedicated website at www.bleach.viz.com.

DEATH NOTE: Rated T+ for Older Teens

DEATH NOTE is based on the manga series of the same name and is currently one of the hottest animated titles in Japan. The series depicts the adventures of Light Yagami, an ace student with great prospects but who is bored out of his mind. All of that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals mysteriously begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to investigate, and he is soon hot on the trail of Light, who must now reevaluate his one noble goal. Dedicated website at www.deathnote.viz.com.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

ACF 316: VIZ Announces Its 3rd Quarter Manga Releases


VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) is previewing nine new manga series covering a variety of genres set to debut throughout the Third Quarter of 2009.

The upcoming releases feature titles that will appeal to a wide range of readers ranging from mature adult fans to adolescents, tweens and kids. New romantic debuts from the popular SHOJO BEAT imprint include KIMI NI TODOKE: FROM ME TO YOU, and BLACK BIRD, while new science fiction/fantasy manga releases will feature ÔOKU: THE INNER CHAMBERS, TEGAMI BACHI: LETTER BEE, W_QW_Q and CHILDREN OF THE SEA. A special trio of all-ages titles includes CHOCO MIMI, the first VIZ Kids manga series aimed specifically at young female readers, fun reptilian adventures with DINOSAUR KING, and the official film comic from the forthcoming Studio Ghibli film, PONYO, set to debut later this summer from famed director Hayao Miyazaki.

New Science Fiction/Fantasy Titles Include:

ÔOKU: THE INNER CHAMBERS, Vol. 1 Rated ‘M’ for Mature Audiences / MSRP: $12.99 US; $15.00 CAN / Available August 18

In Edo period Japan, a strange new disease called the Redface Pox has begun to prey on the country’s men. Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has fallen to a quarter of the total female population. Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to men, even that of the Shogun. The men, precious providers of life, are carefully protected, and the most beautiful of the men are sent to serve in the Shogun’s Inner Chambers.

ÔOKU: THE INNER CHAMBERS was created by Fumi Yoshinaga and won a special prize at the Japanese Association of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy’s 5th Sense of Gender Awards in 2005. Yoshinaga has won numerous other prestigious awards for her work, including the 2002 Kodansha Manga Award for her series ANTIQUE BAKERY and the 2006 Japan Media Arts Festival Excellence Award for ÔOKU. She was also was nominated for the 11th and a winner of the 12th Osamu Tezuka Award also for ÔOKU, and also nominated as Best Writer/Artist for the 2008 Eisner Awards.

Announced at 2009 Book Expo last week, ÔOKU: THE INNER CHAMBERS was chosen as one of the Hot Fall Graphic Novels for Libraries.

CHILDREN OF THE SEA, Vol. 1 Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens / MSRP: $14.99 US; $17.50 CAN / Available July 21

When Ruka was young, she once saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works. Now she feels inexplicably drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora, who both have the ability to breathe underwater. They were raised by dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea that she does. Ruka’s dad and the other adults who work at the aquarium are only distantly aware of what the children are experiencing as they get caught up in the mystery of the worldwide disappearance of the ocean’s fish.

CHILDREN OF THE SEA was created by award-winning artist Daisuke Igarashi. His series, WITCHES received the Excellence Prize at the 2004 Japan Media Arts Festival while LITTLE FOREST was nominated for the 2005 Ozamu Tezuka Cultural Award. CHILDREN OF THE SEA is currently serialized in IKKI magazine, which has established itself as the home of some of the most innovative, bold, and compelling series in the world of contemporary manga. VIZ Media’s VIZ Signature imprint and IKKI magazine have partnered to bring free previews of CHILDREN OF THE SEA and other stories to North American fans via a new web site at www.sigikki.com.

W_QW_Q, Vol. 1 Rated ‘T’ for Teens / MSRP: $7.99 US; $9.50 CAN / Available August 4

Living in constant fear of attack from machines, mankind depends on the cyborg Protector corps known as the Guardians to keep them from harm as they await the arrival of the Kami, a godlike savior with mythical red blood. One day, Shio, who is the son of a Guardian, finds a red-blooded girl! Could she be the Kami they've been waiting for?

W_QW_Q is a new science fiction series by Ryu Fujisaki, who also created the mythology-based manga series HOSHIN ENGI. W_QW_Q and HOSHIN ENGI both originally debuted in Japan’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine and Fujisaki has also been nominated for the prestigious Osamu Tezuka Manga Award.

TEGAMI BACHI: LETTER BEE, Vol. 1 Rated ‘T’ for Teens / MSRP: $7.95 US; $9.50 CAN / Available September 1

In Amberground, a dangerous terrain where a man-made star casts a permanent twilight, young Lag Seeing aspires to become a Letter Bee, a postman entrusted to deliver the hearts of people separated from the ones they love.

TEGAMI BACHI: THE LETTER BEE features detailed and lush artwork by creator Hiroyuki Asada that brings to life a fantastic alternate world filled with innovative “steampunk” technology and imagery. The new series will further be highlighted in VIZ Media’s SHONEN JUMP magazine this summer.

Announced at 2009 Book Expo last week, TEGAMI BACHI: LETTER BEE was recently chosen as one of the Hot Fall Graphic Novels for Libraries.

New SHOJO BEAT Titles Include:

KIMI NI TODOKE: FROM ME TO YOU, Vol. 1 Rated ‘T’ for Teens / MSRP: $8.99 US; $10.50 CAN / Available August 4

Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine – for a horror movie! With her jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor, she’s often mistaken for the haunting movie character Sadako. But behind her scary façade is a very misunderstood teenager. Too shy to fit in, all she wants to do is make some friends. But when the most popular boy in class befriends her, she's sure to make more than just that--she's about to make some enemies too!

KIMI NI TODOKE: FROM ME TO YOU was created by Karuho Shiina who was born and raised in Hokkaido, Japan. Though KIMI NI TODOKE is only her second series following many one-shot stories, it has already racked up accolades from various "Best Manga of the Year" lists. Winner of the 2008 Kodansha Manga Award for the shojo category, KIMI NI TODOKE also placed fifth in the first-ever Manga Taisho (Cartoon Grand Prize) contest in 2008. An animated series is also in production in Japan. Bonus stickers are included in limited editions of Vol. 1.

Announced at 2009 Book Expo last week, KIMI NI TODOKE: FROM ME TO YOU was recently chosen as one of the Hot Fall Graphic Novels for Libraries.

BLACK BIRD, Vol. 1 Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens / MSRP: $8.99 US; $10.50 CAN / Available August 4

There is a world of myth and magic that intersects ours, and only a special few can see it. Misao Harada is one such person, but she wants nothing to do with magical realms and just wants to have a normal high school life and maybe get a boyfriend. But all that changes one day when Misao is attacked by a demon. Her childhood friend Kyo suddenly returns to save her and tend to her cuts – with his tongue! It turns out Misao is the bride of prophecy, whose blood gives power to the demon clan who claims her. But most demons want to keep her power for themselves – by eating her! Now Misao is just trying to stay alive and trying to decide if she likes it when Kyo licks her wounds.

BLACK BIRD, winner of the Shogakukan Manga Award (2009) for Shojo, is the latest shojo series from Kanoko Sakurakoji. Sakurakoji’s debut title, Raibu ga Hanetara, was serialized in Bessatsu Shojo Comic magazine (currently called Betsucomi) in 2000. Her other shojo series, BACKSTAGE PRINCE, is also published domestically by VIZ Media.


PONYO FILM COMIC, Vols. 1-2 Rated ‘A’ for All Ages / MSRP: $9.99 US; $11.50 CAN / Available August 4 / Vols. 3-4 Available September 1

From the Academy Award®-winning director and world-renowned Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki comes PONYO, a story inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale “The Little Mermaid.” Already a box-office success in Japan, the story of a young and overeager goldfish named Ponyo (voiced by NOAH CYRUS) and her quest to become human features an outstanding roster of voice talent, including CATE BLANCHETT, MATT DAMON, TINA FEY, CLORIS LEACHMAN, LIAM NEESON, LILY TOMLIN, BETTY WHITE and FRANKIE JONAS as Sosuke, a young boy who befriends Ponyo.

The film from Walt Disney Studios will release on August 14, 2009. The official 4-volume film comics of PONYO re-tells the film’s story with vivid full-color frames.

New VIZ Kids Titles Include:

CHOCOMIMI, Vol. 1 Rated ‘A’ for All Ages / MSRP: $7.99 US; $9.50 CAN / Available July 7

Meet Choco and Mimi, best friends in eighth grade. Choco is serious and reliable, while Mimi is silly and spoiled rotten--but they both have a flair for fashion! A new boy transfers into the girls' class, and he just might be Choco's type! Will a crush damage the girls' friendship?! Or will Mimi's crazy antics scare him away?

DINOSAUR KING, Vol. 1 Rated ‘A’ for All Ages / MSRP: $7.99 US; $9.99 CAN / Available September 1

Max Taylor is obsessed with dinosaurs. He knows his Tapejara from his Pteradon and can find fossils better than a trained paleontologist. When he discovers a stone tablet that transports him to the age of dinosaurs, it’s a dream come true—until it becomes a nightmare. An evil genius named Dr. Z has enslaved the dinosaurs so he can use their hidden powers to take over the world! Now Max has to defeat Dr. Z and his Alpha Gang to save the ancient beasts and life as we know it.

DINOSAUR KING is the official manga tie-in for the top rated animated series seen on 4KIDS TV. The DINOSAUR KING property captivates millions of kids across North America and has spawned a variety of related video games and trading cards.

For a limited time Volume 1 will include an Upper Deck Dinosaur King trading card.

Monday, June 08, 2009

ACF 315: NYAFF schedule and guests announced!

Scene from Yoroi Samurai Zombie

Subway Cinema
has just released the schedule for this years New York Asian Film Festival. Included are planned guest appearances and those films being co-presented with Japan Society's JAPAN CUTS film series, which dove-tails with NYAFF.

IFC Center:

Friday 6/1912:00

Empress & the Warriors (95)2:00

Eye in the Sky (90)3:45

Gehara / Monster X (115)

- followed by a presentation by Tokyo Shock about their upcoming kaiju production, DEATH KAPPA

6:30 Warlords (110)

9:00 Written By (89)
- Lau Ching-wan and Wai Ka-fai in attendance

11:30 Pink Film Program 1 (126)

12:00 Yoroi Samurai Zombie (90)

Saturday 6/20
11:30 Dream (97)

1:30 Comrades in Arms (91)

3:30 Plastic City (92)

5:30 The Longest Nite (85)
- Lau Ching-wan and Wai Ka-fai in attendance

8:15 K-20 (138)

11:15 When the Full Moon Rises (108)

12:00 Samurai Princess (83)

Sunday 6/21
11:30 20th Century Boys (143)

2:15 20th Century Boys 2 (141)

5:00 Magazine Gap Road (89)
- director Nick Chin in attendance

7:20 Written By (89)
- Wai Ka-fai and Lau Ching-wan in attendance

9:45 Dachimawa Lee (99)

Monday 6/22
11:00 Cape No. 7 (129)

1:25 Antique (112)

3:35 Eye in the Sky (90)

5:20 Comrades in Arms (91)

7:15 Ip Man (106)

9:30 The Clone Returns Home (111)

Tuesday 6/23
11:00 Old Fish (108)

1:05 High Noon (106)

3:10 Equation of Love & Death (93)

5:10 Quick Gun Murugan (97)

7:15 Warlords (110)

9:30 Rough Cut (114)
- actor So Ji-Seob in attendance

Wednesday 6/24
1:25 Children of the Dark (138)

4:00 If You Are the One (125)

6:30 Rough Cut (114)
- actor So Ji-Seob in attendance (and Rising Star of Asia award presentation)

9:15 Crush and Blush (102)
- actress Kong Hyo-Jin in attendance

Thursday 6/25
11:00 Plastic City (92)

1:00 Old Fish (108)

3:10 Magazine Gap Road (89)
- director Nick Chin in attendance

5:00 Crush and Blush (102)
- actress Kong Hyo-Jin in attendance

7:15 Breathless (131)

10:00 House (88)
- Yoshihiro Nishimura & Noboru Iguchi introduction, and video message from the director (and his daughter)

Friday 6/26
11:00 Rainbow Troops (120)

1:15 Snakes & Earrings (124)

3:40 MSFF short Program 1 (89)

5:30 Dachimawa Lee (99) + intro by actress

7:30 Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (85)
- Yoshihiro Nishimura and Tak Sakaguchi in attendance, followed by a party for the audience

9:45 Yoroi Samurai Zombie (90)
- Tak Sakaguchi in attendance

11:55 Pink Film Program 2 (132)
- director Daisuke Goto in attendance

12:15 Hard Revenge Milly (120)
- Yoshihiro Nishimura in attendance

Saturday 6/27
11:00 Exodus (95)

1:00 Fish Story (113)

3:15 MSFF Short Program 2 (95)
- director Lee Su-Jin in attendance

5:40 Antique (112)

8:00 Be a Man! Samurai School (111)
- director Tak Sakaguchi in attendance

11:00 Tokyo Gore Night (170)
- almost every Japanese guest in attendance, plus director Noboru Iguchi’s 40th birthday party

12:00 The Forbidden Door (111)

Sunday 6/28
11:00 Gehara / Monster X Strikes Back(115)

1:15 Five Deadly Venoms (99)

3:20 Pride (127)5:50 The Forbidden Door (111)

8:10 Rainbow Troops (120)

10:30 Lalapipo (119)

Monday 6/29
11:00 Written By (89)

12:50 Exodus (95)

2:50 Ip Man (106)

5:00 Be a Man! Samurai School (111)
- Tak Sakaguchi in attendance

7:40 Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (85)
- Yoshihiro Nishimura and Tak Sakaguchi in attendance

9:40 Children of the Dark (138)

Tuesday 6/30
11:30 Go Go 70’s (118)

1:45 K-20: Legend of the Mask (138)

4:30 Samurai Princess (83)
- Yoshihiro Nishimura in attendance

6:30 Hard Revenge Milly (120)
- Yoshihiro Nishimura in attendance

9:15 Climbers High (145)

Wednesday 7/11
1:00 The Clone Returns Home (111)

1:15 The Equation of Love & Death (95)

3:15 When the Full Moon Rises (108)

5:30 Quick Gun Murugan (97)

7:30 Dream (97)

9:30 If You Are the One (125)

Thursday 7/21
1:15 Climbers High (145)

2:00 Breathless (131)4:30 Cape No. 7 (129)

7:00 Snakes and Earrings (124)

9:30 Go Go 70s (118)

Scene from Love Exposure

Wednesday 7/1
6:30 Vacation (112)

9:00 The Magic Hour (136)

Thursday 7/2
6:15 Fish Story (112)

8:45 All Around Us (140)

Friday 7/3
4:00 Vacation (112)

6:15 Love Exposure (237)
- Sion Sono in attendance, followed by a party for the audience

Saturday 7/4
11:45 20th Century Boys (142)

2:30 20th Century Boys 2 (139)

Sunday 7/5
12:00 The Magic Hour (136)

2:45 All Around Us (140)

5:30 Pride (126)

8:15 Be Sure to Share (109)
- director Sion Sono and actor Eiji Okuda in attendance

NYAFF Schedule @ Subway Cinema News, click here.

NYAFF Guest List @ Sbway Cinema News, click here.

For Subway Cinema News post on If you Are The One!!! from director Feng Xiaogang and starring Shu Qui, click here.

For info about the New York City Air Sex Finals this Friday, June 12th, 2009, which is co-sponsored by Subway Cinema/NYAFF and organized by the folks behind the Alamo Drafthouse and Austin's Fantastic Fest, click here.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

ACF 314: 'Soi Cowboy' being released in London on June 11th, 2009

The 2008 Thai film Soi Cowboy, directed by Thomas Clay will have an exclusive run at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London from Thursday, June 11 through Thursday, June 25th. There will be a Q&A with producer Joseph Lang, hosted by Rebecca Jameson, after the screening on Friday, June 12th.

Link to trailer

No word yet, at least none that I've come across, on whether or not the film will have a theatrical release here in the States.

Here's some very interesting info, courtesy of Network Releasing, holder of the U.K. and Ireland rights:


In Bangkok, a corpulent European man and a young, pregnant Thai woman live together in near silence. His large body stands out in marked contrast to her tiny frame. He gives her presents – she has a growing collection of stuffed animals – and takes viagra pills. She is looking for security and he is the best way to stay out of Soi Cowboy, the red-light district where they met. She likes him but sleeping with him is a duty. Meanwhile, in the countryside, a teenage mafia enforcer is employed to deliver his older brother’s head.

Born in Brighton, England, 1979, Thomas Clay studied 16mm film production as a teenager at the CFU, London. At the age of 19, he made his first medium-length film, Motion, together with
producer and co-writer Joseph Lang. This was followed by his feature debut, The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael, which made a deep impression at Critics’ Week in the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.

2008 Soi Cowboy
2005 The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael
2001 Motion (CM)

After The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael, how did you get the idea, the subject of Soi Cowboy?

The remnants of my fee on another screenplay went towards Soi Cowboy, along with some private equity and receipts from Robert Carmichael. The script for Soi Cowboy I wrote in two days, but I’d been living in Thailand for close to a year and these thoughts and images had been growing inside me for some time.

How did you cast and choose the actors and actresses? The main actor is a professional. Are the Thai ones professional or amateur?

First of all, you have to understand the difference between the Bangkok Thais, the urban elite who are benefiting from the economic prosperity, and the people of Isaan who are the largest ethnic group in Thailand and the protagonists of my film. These people are an underclass in the Dickensian sense of the word, subsistence farmers, street sellers, sex workers. They have
different features, darker skin and they also speak a dialect that is closer to Lao than Thai. The only time you will hear Isaan in a Thai cinema is on the dub track for Mr. Bean. Our only option, therefore, was to do open casting calls, to scout and street cast. Mo (Pimwalee) won the lead role due to her enthusiasm, her intelligence and her ability to take direction.

Of course, it was a tougher shoot for Mo than for Nicolas, being her first time in front of a camera, but she gave everything she had and I think it’s an excellent performance. In the finale, we are then transported into a different kind of arena, one that requires a certain exaggeration and largess, so this is where I decided to use some Thai personalities. There is Thai boxing gold medallist Somluk Kuamsing, accompanied by his real life business associates: Pornthip Papanai, co-star of last year’s Ploy, singer and soap opera star Art Suppawat and also Amporn Parnkratoke, the Oliver Reed of Thailand.

How did you prepare the shooting on location? How many days have you shot there? How were the working conditions?

I had most of the locations in mind whilst writing the script. Only in the finale did we have to go through a pretty radical design to create the correct atmosphere and colour scheme. I also had my shot list and compositions worked out in advance and spent a fair amount of time rehearsing with Nicolas and Mo. The shoot lasted for three weeks, completely out of sequence, with three and a half days of dolly work and the rest either on a tripod, or with a handheld rig in the case of
the second narrative. We used high speed S16mm stock to be able to adapt and compliment the available light, both indoors and out.

P’Song’s total lighting kit for the film comprised of a bag of domestic bulbs and fluorescents, two redheads and one kinoflow. We had no safety net, no contingency and no insurance against negative damage or scheduling disruptions. We did pay Thai commercial rates to the crew and received a very high level of dedication, so that helped to keep things moving. Perhaps, technically, we weren’t able to be quite as perfectionist as on my last film, where we had four times the budget and twice as much time, but I feel I was lucky to achieve most of what I wanted and bring everything in on schedule.

Have you some special films or artistic, cultural references for Soi Cowboy?

Antonioni remains an enduring inspiration, both as a filmmaker and a world citizen. No-one else captured the 20th century with the same degree of precision, insight, texture and depth of feeling and his passing was a sad moment for cinema. There are a couple of scenes in Soi Cowboy that may be accused of homage, although I’ve tried to exclude anything that is not internally justified by the material.

Why have you chosen to shoot the first part of the film this way (black and white, in a contemplative manner and well-composed, precise frames) and switch after that to saturated color and a handheld camera?

The phase of script development that I went through following Robert Carmichael certainly had an impact, having to think at the same time about many different kinds of film, each constrained by a particular style or genre. With Soi Cowboy, I quickly decided to approach the material from two different angles, two distinct narratives with differing cinematic approaches. This was also a
response to Thailand itself - the stark divide between rich and poor, urban and rural, that is such a defining feature of the social, political and visual landscape.

The first part of Soi Cowboy is thus a depiction of surface reality, the minutiae of the day-to-day. Danger lurks beneath the surface yet never shows its face. I was aiming for stylistic consistency and, unlike my debut feature, there is an intended closeness to the protagonists. Ebbing away amidst the intangible ruins of Ayutthaya, the house lights could rise after 85 minutes and the job would seemingly be done. Yet, to rest here would leave the picture incomplete. Tobias’ western perspective still lacks context. The omnipotent power-structures that shape and govern this society, this relationship, remain elusive, undefined. A different approach is needed to get to grips with the underlying, hidden nature of things.

The second part thus begins with a quasi-docu naturalism, but the picture is then transformed through a sieve of genre familiarity, narrative into fable, character into archetype, all moving inexorably towards a point where stasis is achieved, when the camera returns to the dolly and these have ceased to be characters at all, just as the narrative has drifted away in a puff of gun-smoke and we are left with only essence.

How would you describe the relation between Tobias and Koi?

For me, what is interesting about the relationship is that it is founded on a commercial exchange, with the inevitable problems this entails and yet, at the same time, they are trying to overcome
those problems and make the relationship work, for the good of their offspring, for the future. This resembles the struggle that I believe we all have to go through if we are to retain our humanity in a world so driven by competition and avarice. As Michel Piccoli says in Le Mepris, everything has been commodified, our bodies, our minds, our happiness. But I’m a father now myself and I think we have to try to overcome this situation somehow, if we are not to be
thrown to the winds as a civilisation and as a species.

How were you cast in Soi Cowboy?

I met Joseph Lang (producer of Soi Cowboy) at a film festival in Spain some years ago when I saw there The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael. I was totally blown away by the film and
very passionately discussed it with Joseph. At the same festival, Joseph Lang saw me in Dagur Kari’s Dark Horse and I think he liked my acting. We enjoyed each other’s company for the rest of the festival. Then I made a film called Offscreen by Christoffer Boe. It was at the London Film Festival and Joseph Lang saw it there. At that time, he and Thomas Clay were casting for Soi Cowboy. Thomas saw the movie and decided to cast me as Tobias in Soi Cowboy. I really loved the script.

How did you work the part?

I think Thomas Clay wanted me to be his alter ego, so for me it was about making a mix between me and Thomas.

How would you describe the relationships between your character Toby and Koi?

I think he is deeply in love with her, and she needs him. They have two very different views on love through their own culture. It’s a clash between Thai and Western ideas of love and security.

What did you think of the script?

I really loved the script. And I think the movie is everything the script was.

Nicolas Bro was born in 1972 in Copenhagen. He has become one of the most famous actors in Denmark, with Mads Mikkelsen and Ulrich Thomsen. He studied at the prestigious Danish National Theatre and Contempory Dance School, and has since played in many Danish films inclunding Kira’s reason – A Love Story (2003), Old, New, Borrowed and Blue (2003), The Green Butchers (2003), Reconstruction (2003), Stealing Rembrandt (2003), King’s Game (2004), Adam’s Apple (2005), We Are The Champions (2005), Murk (2005) Sky Master 2006). He recently appeared in Dark Horse by Dagur Kari. He is acting in numerous plays at the Danish Royal Theatre.

Friday, June 05, 2009

ACF 313: Ip Man - a NYAFF preview review

Ip Man
Directed by Wilson Yip
Starring Donnie Yen, Simon Yam
Hong Kong, 2008 , 106 min
North American Premiere

Got a screener of this very fine, old school martial arts actioner that'll be shown at the New York Asian Film Festival, which starts in just two weeks. (Yeah!!!)

Director Yip (SLP, Flashpoint) does a fine job telling the story of Ip Man (played with great dignity by action vet Donnie Yen). Ip Man was a master of Wing Chun and is probably best known for being Bruce Lee's teacher.

The movie opens in 1935 in the town of Fushan where Ip Man is happily married with one young son, obviously is financially secure, and is far and away the greatest martial arts master around. He demonstrates his skill against both an honorable teacher and a crude dude from the sticks who wants to set up shop in Fushan, but gets his come-uppance instead.

Then the Japanese move in , and life in Fushan goes all to hell. Ip Man ultimately has to perform menial labor so that he and his family can survive. And of course, there's the inevitable face-off with a Japanese officer.

Sammo Hung served as action director and Tony Leung Siu Hung was the martial arts coodinator. Both did terrific jobs. Kenneth Mak did the art direction, and I can only assume that he deserves the credit for the magnificent set designs and decoration. If not him, kudos to whoever was responsible.

Ip Man is not quite as virulently anti-Japanese as Bruce Lee's Jing wu men (Fist of Fury is its Hong Kong English title, although it was released in the U.S. as The Chinese Connection) or Jet Li's Jing wu ying xiong (Fist of Legend). The ranking Japanese officer,for example, is not particularly vilified, although the same cannot be said for his second-in-command or for the despicable way the Japanese occupiers treated the Chinese.

The bottom line is that Ip Man is a terrific action movie, one of Hong Kong's best in some time. It's definitely one you should see at the festival if you can. Check back here or at the Subway Cinema website for info about the festival schedule.

And if you can't see it at the NYAFF, keep the title in mind. Hopefully, someone will at least pick it up for distribution on DVD, if not wider theatrical release.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

ACF 312 : Trailer for NYAFF 2009!

Only two weeks and two days remain until the start of this year's New York Asian Film Festival!

And now the festival trailer for it is online. Check out the brain-cell-vaporizing madness we've come to love, expect, and, yeah, even demand each year from the NYAFF, by clicking here.