I have recently taken some heat for my blanket dismissal of anime – it sucks! – but don’t get me wrong… I just dislike Japanese cartoons, not all Japanese – or Asian, for that matter – film. I’ll prove that to you by sharing how excited I am about this summer’s line-up at the New York Asian Film Festival, which includes the new Park Chan Wook film, I’m A Cyborg (But That’s Okay)!
Here are the announced films to date (along with the very humorous descriptions provided in the press release… I think this is all Grady Hendrix, of Subway Cinema). I’m particularly excited about the Park Chan Wook, Exiled, the new Miike, that screening of Hard Boiled and maybe some wacky Pakistani movies. Expect some coverage of these films on CHUD in the weeks to come!
Keep updated by visiting the Subway Cinema site here.
The New York Asian Film Festival 2007 thunders back into town with a herd of rowdy movies that are ready to blow your mind and cleanse your soul. A seventeen day orgy of new films from Park Chan-Wook, Johnnie To, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Takashi Miike this year's festival will introduce you to buffalo-busting action flicks from Thailand, cartilage-cracking gangster films from Korea, and the first gore flick ever made in Pakistan!
We're also the official launch site for "John Woo Presents STRANGLEHOLD," a videogame sequel to HARD BOILED, from Midway Games, featuring Chow Yun-fat's Tequila character. A 15th anniversary screening of HARD BOILED, possibly the world's most influential action movie, will also be held, with special giveaways.
We'll spend the first fourteen days at the IFC Center (323 Sixth Avenue, between 3rd and 4th Streets) and the final four days up at the posh Japan Society (333 East 47th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues) where we'll be co-presenting several films as part of their "JAPAN CUTS – Festival of New Japanese Films" (which runs from July 5 – July 15).
There will be outdoor screenings, special guests, video game booths where the audience can play "John Woo Presents STRANGLEHOLD," a special night of rare Pakistani exploitation madness, Fourth of July screenings where you'll see fireworks and hear church bells, and movies, movies, movies, movies! Movies you want to see! Movies that no one else is brave enough to show! Movies that will free your mind and fill you with the feeling of peace and contentment that comes from knowing that all over the world cyborgs are falling in love, two-gun heroes are sliding down banisters, teenagers are hula dancing, convicted murderers are singing, moms are strong, ghosts are scary, wizards are cool and Muslim zombies hunger for the flesh of the living.
It's a big, wild, wonderful world out there. Come and see it in all its mixed up, romantic, bloody, funny, insane glory.
THE BANQUET (China, 2006) – starring Zhang Ziyi and with the team that made Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon behind the camera (Tan Dun on music, Yuen Wo-ping on action, Tim Yip on design) this Chinese adaptation of Hamlet is highbrow brain candy.
CITY OF VIOLENCE (Korea, 2006) – festival fave, Ryu Seung-Wan (Arahan, City of Violence), directed and co-stars in this pulpy, two-fisted noir flick with Korea's greatest stuntman and action choreographer, Jeong Du-Hong. It's a shout-out to Hong Kong action cinema of the 80's and features death by breakdancer.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON (Korea, 2007) – fresh outta Cannes comes this Korean hit that stars Song Kang-Ho (The Host) in a bravura performance as a low level gangster trying to manage his family and his failing criminal career. Director Han Jae-Rim will be attending.
AFTER THIS OUR EXILE - (2006, Hong Kong) Wong Kar-wai's mentor, Patrick Tam, returned to directing after 17 years and swept the Chinese film awards with this emotional epic about a marriage that falls apart and the damage a single dad inflicts on his son. This is the closest you'll get to an Asian Ingmar Bergman movie.
I'M A CYBORG, BUT THAT'S OKAY – (2006, Korea) Park Chan-Wook abandons Mr. Vengeance, Lady Vengeance and his Oldboy to make a sweet, loopy romance set in a mental hospital between a girl who thinks she's a cyborg and a kleptomaniac, thus proving that all you need is robot love.
EXILED – (2006, Hong Kong) Imagine every action movie made in the last 20 years compressed into a hyper-condensed, super heavy particle that's shot into your eyes at 24 frames per second and you'll have a pretty good idea of what watching Johnnie To's latest film is like. Feel your testosterone start pumping as this spaghetti Western fills the island of Macau with enough lead to sink it.
DASEPO NAUGHTY GIRLS (Korea, 2006) – EJ Yong's musical about a high school full of perverted students is a cleansing blast of surreal smut that mixes Bollywood musical conventions with, well, porn. Director E. J-Yong will be attending.
BIG BANG LOVE: JUVENILE A – (2006, Japan) Takashi Miike's homoerotic prison story is trying to freak you out! Modern dance, sci fi, abstract sets and a love story between two murderers are the tools in his psychedelic arsenal. You thought you'd seen it all? Think again. (Co-presented with Japan Society as part of their JAPAN CUTS – Festival of New Japanese Film)
DEATH NOTE and DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME - (2006, Japan) Japan's massive 2006 blockbusters based on the best-selling manga, are epic horror thrillers that move so fast you'll finish them both before you remember to breathe. A disaffected law student discovers the Devil's notebook that gives him the power to kill anyone he wants just by writing down their name. He sets out to clean up society but winds up leading a death cult and being hunted by the strangest twist on Sherlock Holmes to ever hit the big screen: a sleepy-eyed, genius teenager constantly noshing on junk food. (Co-presented with Japan Society as part of their JAPAN CUTS – Festival of New Japanese Film). Director Shusuke Kaneko will be attending.
NEVER BELONGS TO ME (Korea, 2006) – from the director of Teenage Hooker Becomes Killing Machine in Daehakroh this advanced art object is inscrutable, bizarre and head-scratchingly hilarious. Featuring a mutant offspring of a union between lady and tiger, a penis machine gun, ballet dancer fetishism and a robo-hooker built by Dr. Hell.
HELL'S GROUND (aka ZIBAHKHANA) – (2007, Pakistan) A gang of teenagers heads out into the countryside to see a rock concert but their detour around a political protest takes them into giant marijuana fields where midget zombies and other, less savory, characters dwell. It's THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE meets the Taliban.
HULA GIRLS – (2006, Japan) a coal-mining town in rural Japan falls on hard times in 1965 and the only thing they can think of to save themselves is to open a “Hawaiian Village” theme park. And that means they need hula dancers. Which means they have to import an alcoholic hula teacher and round up a gang of misfits to learn how to shake it Hawaiian style.
MEMORIES OF MATSUKO – (2006, Japan) CITIZEN KANE meets MOULIN ROUGE in this eye-popping, toe-tapping musical about one of life's little losers, from the director of KAMIKAZE GIRLS. Matsuko is a teacher who falls on hard times and winds up virtually homeless and the movie breaks your heart – hard – as the story of her rough life is told in music, dance and candy colored sets. (Co-presented with Japan Society as part of their JAPAN CUTS – Festival of New Japanese Film).
TRACES OF LOVE (Korea, 2006) – the opening film from 2006's Pusan Film Festival is a beautiful, wrenching melodrama about a man longing for his lover who died in the real-life Sampoong Department Store collapse in 1995.
DYNAMITE WARRIOR – (2006, Thailand) Panna Rittikrai (Tony Jaa's teacher and mentor) does the action on this jaw-dropping hunk of kuh-razy action set in ancient Thailand. A plot to increase tractor sales by destroying all the water buffalo runs afoul of a high-kicking hero who rides wooden rockets. A wizard is hired to defeat him, then a giant enters the scene, and finally everything comes down to the magical powers of a virgin's menstrual blood. This is the most fun you'll have in a movie theater all summer.
CRUEL WINTER BLUES (Korea, 2006) – a rabid gangster heads to a small town to wait for the man who killed his best friend to show up so he can stab him to death. A three-way acting showcase that is exhilarating in its emotional intensity.
AACHI & SSIPAK (Korea, 2006) - 8 years in the making, this sci fi animated action extravaganza about a totalitarian future where the government controls its citizens' bowel movements is refreshingly obscene and totally offensive.