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May 27, 2005


Tony Jaa's next project: SWORDA sneaky squirrel over at Cannes gave me a heads-up about this one. Tony Jaa and the ONG BAK crew have teamed up for movie number three: SWORD. It's a period piece and the martial art du jour is "Dab Thai", which is "Double-Handed Sword-Fighting". Yow.

Prachya Pinkaew directs, Tony Jaa stars, and Jaa's mentor, Panna Ritthikrai (ONG BAK, BORN TO FIGHT), does the action choreography. (click the image for more info)

I quiver in anticipation.

May 27, 2005 at 08:16 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (24) | TrackBack


SHA PO LANGEveryone's buzzing about SHA PO LANG, the Wilson Yip-directed Donnie Yen/Simon Yam/Wu Jing/Sammo Hung action film from Hong Kong. It's getting bought and sold, it won't be released in theaters until later this year, the stills look hot, the trailer rocks, the print caught on fire at Cannes but we've all been hurt before. So the question is: is it any good?

Yeah, it's pretty good. This is my favorite Hong Kong movie of 2005 so far, and it delivers on everything it promises, but it doesn't do it the way you're expecting. The first half of the movie feels like Johnnie To's THE LONGEST NITE: dark and dank, claustrophobic corrupt cop action. Things get coiled tighter and tighter until the hand-to-hand action begins to erupt in the final third like a lanced boil, leaving walls, ceilings and floors coated in swathes of black blood and littered with broken arms.

Things get jumping with a man-to-man grudge match getting established between cop, Simon Yam, and triad boss, Sammo Hung, many years in the past. Both actors use their first few minutes to put the bits in their mouthes and just go, working themselves up into great performances. Simon Yam can give a good performance in his sleep, but Sammo delivers the best acting I've ever seen him do. He looks like he just wandered over from the set of HBO's OZ - he's a mass of knotted muscles covered with jailhouse tats, looking like a mobile, pissed off refrigerator.

The movie jumps forward to the present, and proceeds to unfold over Father's Day night. Uh-oh, it's symbolism! Of course there is - it's a Wilson Yip movie. Yam's retiring and he wants to take down Sammo before he goes. His squad is being taken over by Donnie Yen, but that happens in the morning. Right now, he's got one long night to settle scores. I don't want to give too much away, because it's a fun movie, but expect Wilson Yip at his finest.

Director Yip has never met an ending that he couldn't ruin and, to my mind, only BIO-ZOMBIE has a decent finale. But SHA PO LANG gets to stand next to it as a movie that holds up well all the way through. Being a Wilson Yip film there's plenty of off-kilter characterization and little digressions, some of which border on the cutesy, but he never crosses the line so far that he can't come right back. It's the his most controlled, best-sustained movie to date.

Donnie Yen, despite a few weird little Donnie Yen poses, actually acts for the first time ever. He turns in a performance! And it's a good one! Usually I feel that Yen is always thinking about how he'll look in the frame, and he seems to be projecting a pose more than he's inhabiting a character, but he actually manages to act in SPL, and I was pleasantly surprised. I take back all the mean things I ever said about him.

The stand-outs here are Sammo Hung, however, who turns out to be the movie's dark heart, and Wu Jing. Playing a hired hitman with a Kid N Play haircut and with about one line of dialogue, Wu Jing does it all with his body and turns in a gonzo performance. Camera tricks and "cool" action get left in the wastebasket and Wu Jing is allowed to deliver his stuff, piping hot and as fast as he can. And that's fast. The fight between he and Donnie Yen doesn't look like anything I've ever seen before: they made a lot of it up as they went along and it's full of mistakes, missed blows, and a lot of strategy. It's interesting to see two people fighting and thinking about what they're going to do next - I would never have noticed there was a difference between that and delivering choreography before, but now that I've seen what "real" fighting looks like, I want to see more. There's something alive and calculating in their eyes that felt brand new.

Is SHA PO LANG the second coming? No, but it's the best action movie to come out of Hong Kong in a long time, and it's okay to get excited about it. You wouldn't be burned.

May 27, 2005 at 08:15 AM in Film Reviews | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack


I just heard that ZU WARRIORS has been removed from Miramax's schedule. Looks like they came to their senses.

Also, it looks like Chen Kaige's THE PROMISE is set for a 2005 release. The date I've heard is December 16, 2005.

May 27, 2005 at 07:54 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Tribeca Film Festival winner STOLEN LIFE which was heralded as being "banned in China" was not, in fact, banned in China. The director, Li Shaohong, says that she told the press the movie didn't have a permit for domestic release because she didn't have time to get one, and that they misinterpreted her words.

Yeah, right. Here's her quotes at the time:

"I hope now Stolen Life will be green-lighted so that my people in China can watch this film soon."

"This is truly important for us in the sense that the film is still banned"

I remember reading the press notes for BLIND SHAFT when it came out. They trumpeted that the movie was banned in China. It was only when you got deep into them that you found out it was banned in China because they hadn't obtained location permits from some of the mine owners in whose mines they'd filmed, and consequently they could face legal action if the movie was released in China.

(Thanks to Monkey Peaches)

May 27, 2005 at 06:41 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 24, 2005


New York Asian Film Festival 2005

Subway Cinema's NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL (June 17 - 30) has announced its line-up. I'm one of the programmers of the festival (and all five of us tear tickets, clean out trash, schmooze directors, and program the movies - along with our loyal army of volunteers) so this is pretty shameless. But I remember when we started out doing this in 1999 and no one cared about Asian film that much. Now, programming a festival is like going to war: you race into the smoke and screams and hope to emerge on the other side, intact, with a few films gripped in your hands.

- Spotlight on Tartan's Asian Extreme Line - Kim Ki-Duk's award-winning SAMARITAN GIRL; Takeshi Shimizu's follow-up to "Ju-On", MAREBITO; two Shinya Tsukamoto films; and Korea's 2004 horror hit about Vietnam, R-POINT.
- HANA AND ALICE - the latest movie from Asia's great neglected director, Shunji Iwai.
- PRINCESS RACCOON - the latest from Seijun Suzuki is a musical starring Zhang Ziyi.
- THREE...EXTREMES - the three-part horror flick from Park Chan-Wook, Takeshi Miike and Fruit Chan.

-KEKEXILI - this isn't a movie, it's an endurance challenge. A movie that actually inspires awe.
- ONE NIGHT IN MONGKOK - Hong Kong's best film of 2004, it beat Stephen Chow's "Kung Fu Hustle" for "Best Director" and "Best Screenplay" and it should have beaten him for "Best Film".
- LATE BLOOMER - a handicapped version of "Taxi Driver". You've never seen anything like this.
- UNIVERSITY OF LAUGHS - Koji Yakusho ("Shall We Dance", "Doppelganger") in a two-character movie about political censorship and bad comedy during wartime. It's the funniest and sharpest movie about post-9/11 politics and it comes from Japan.
- P - this is one to make your head spin. A Thai horror movie about a young woman who becomes a bar girl and uses black magic to seduce her clients. Things, of course, get out of hand. But the cultural whiplash starts with the fact that the director, Paul Spurrier (former child actor), is a white British guy, who spent years in Thailand learning the language in order to make this movie, and he even casts himself as a sleazy white guy looking for sex in one scene. It's about as unacceptable as you can get, but the result is one of the best horror movies of last year, and certainly one of the most heartfelt.

May 24, 2005 at 08:39 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Xiong Xin-xinXiong Xin-xin is one of Hong Kong's greatest action directors, but he hasn't done that many films. What he has done (THE BLADE, TIME AND TIDE) are movies that look different from anything else on the market. Most of us will remember him as Clubfoot in ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA 3-6 or as the bald baddie in THE BLADE. Listen to him slag on CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON and cry with frustration over his career. The guy deserves better.

(Courtesy of Wu Jing)

May 24, 2005 at 08:32 AM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Thai cinema is undergoing a renaissance, but you wouldn't know it unless you live in Thailand.

The distributors are having a hard time making sales because they're asking outrageous prices for screenings at film festivals, and then selling their movies to the highest bidder with no regard for how the movie will be treated after they cash their check. If the movies do make it into a film festival, Thai government officials, or people claiming to be Thai government officials, often pop up and object to movies that they don't think represent Thailand in a good light. Add to that the fact that gay-themed films are now officially discouraged and you've got a mess. Which is too bad, because Thailand is making some good movies right now.

TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER - one of the most acclaimed Thai films, it was sold to Miramax years ago and promptly vanished.
BANG RAJAN - played a lot of festivals and then got a release from Magnolia. It went on to gross about $25,000.
TROPICAL MALADY - won the jury award at Cannes last year, but Thailand chose not to submit it to the Oscars, supposedly because of its gay content. It's played lots of festivals in the US, but has had no real theatrical release. Apichatpong Weerasethakul's next film looks like it'll face more of the same.
ONG BAK - a giant Asian hit, and the movie that got a lot of folks excited about Thai cinema, it was released in the US on lots of screens with lots of marketing and went on to underperform with a gross of $4.5 million. Not chump change, but way under expectations.
CITIZEN DOG - the latest film by Wisit Sasanatieng, director of TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER. Europa, Luc Besson's company, picked up the rights but there are no clear plans for the film at this time.
LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE - the artsy, off-kilter flick by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang was distributed in the US and made a so-so $32,014. Of course it made more than twice that in the UK, so maybe the Brits are smarter than we are.
TOM YUM GOONG  - the follow-up to ONG BAK was sold to distributor, TF-1, for a price many times greater than what was paid for ONG BAK. A few Cannes insiders have speculated that Tony Jaa's management is more interested in making the most money they possibly can while Jaa is hot, and not strategizing to ensure that he has a long and lucrative career. Who knows?

May 24, 2005 at 08:21 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 23, 2005


Ram Gopal Varma's ekSo far we've learned that you probably won't make a lot of money if people stand a fair chance of being killed while watching your movie. We've also learned that if you make a huge movie that people want to see then it's likely that people will sell pirated copies. And we've learned that China may open its doors to more sex and violence which is a good thing if you're a film distributor. Our final lesson is that having rad publicity images still might not get your movie released.

Indian auteur, Ram Gopal Varma, was getting ready to shoot the terrorist action pic, EK, before warming relations between India and Pakistan caused him to wisely abandon this film. But check out that cool poster.

(Image courtesy of the Ram Gopal Varma Fansite)

May 23, 2005 at 11:20 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Unable to comprehend why every country in the world doesn't want Hollywood in every cinema, and Yoda Happy Meals on every table, the MPAA has been shaking with frustration over China's unwillingness to do what they're told. Now, despite praising China's efforts to battle piracy, Dan Glickman (the new, younger, unwrinkly Jack Valenti), is using piracy as a crobar to force open the Chinese market. China only allows in 20 foreign films a year, "They ought to end the quota system, period." Glickman sputtered, appropos of nothing during a diatribe against Chinese piracy, in which he uttered several vague and shadowy threats of consequences if China didn't do what he wants them to do.

The MPAA estimates that Hollywood loses $280 million each year to piracy in China. That means that most studio executives cannot supersize their fries on a regular basis and must make do with regular portions of fast food like many other Americans.

(Thanks to Jennifer Young over at Mobius)

May 23, 2005 at 11:14 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Despite some regrettable incidents like the Cultural Revolution, China has normally been a pillar of moral rectitude. They don't allow the production of movies that promote "supernatural elements" like horror flicks, and they don't let them be released either. Same with softcore porn and, presumably, hardcore porn as well. Now, however, the times are changing and they've allowed the production and release of SUFFOCATION , the first officially-sanctioned PRC horror movie, and the release of HK horror flicks like SLIM TIL DEATH (supermodels starved to death), INNER SENSES, and the organ donor fear fest, KOMA.

Seeing that there have been no ill effects reported among the general population, industry insiders suspect that China will move closer to allowing more sex and violence and implementing a consumer-guidance rating system. Soon, people in China will get to enjoy HOUSE OF WAX just like the rest of us. It almost brings a tear to my eye, because where HOUSE OF WAX goes, can true democracy be far behind?

(Read more over at HK Filmart News)

May 23, 2005 at 11:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


So STAR WARS III or VI or whichever one it was got released all over the place all at the same time because "Fat Neck" Lucas wanted to strike a blow against piracy. Well, China sure showed him. Demonstrating the hard work and industry that has made them global leaders, Chinese pirates had bootleg copies of STAR WARS III out on the street within three days of the movie's release. Some people might see that three day lag as a sign that the pirates are getting lazy, but I see it as an artistic statement:  if it was part IV they would've waited four days.

It's been reported that Lucas has said, "Thanks, China! Instead of making a zillion billion dollars off my latest movie, now I'll only make a couple of hundred billion! How can I make any more quality films if you guys are cutting into my profits like that?"

If you're in China, reports have it that the bootlegs have slightly soft images, but they were taken directly from the print and not shot inside a cinema. The cost of the discs: $2.40. The cost of selling the pirated discs: possible jail sentence. The cost of causing a temporary paralysis of George Lucas' gloating gland: priceless.

(Read more over at CRI Online)

May 23, 2005 at 11:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Sunny Deol in JO BOLE SO NIHAALToday is our special "Learn About Distribution Day". We won't talk about movies, we'll talk about what happens to movies after they get released, and one of the most basic lessons to learn is that you don't want your audience to die. Sunny Deol is one of Bollywood's reliable action dudes -- like Sylvester Stallone or Jean Claude Van Damme he releases lowbrow action fare on a regular basis and occasionally demonstrates that he's not a bad actor in other films. Problem is, he really likes to bait people with his films. In HERO he plays an Indian soldier battling Pakistani terrorists (featuring the immortal line, "To make one mistake is to be human. To make two mistakes is to be Satan. To make three mistakes is to be Pakistani." Aw, we ARE the world).

Now, his new flick, JO BOLE SO NIHAAL, features him as a Sikh police officer fighting terrorists. Well, this seems to have bothered some people and rather than write sharply-worded reviews, they're bombing the theaters. So far, there have been two bomb blasts with one dead and 50 injured.

(Courtesy of India FM)

May 23, 2005 at 05:47 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 18, 2005


A STATE OF MIND trailerIt sports the most boring voice-over ever heard, but these two Quicktime trailers for A STATE OF MIND feature gob-stopping footage of North Korea's mass game, propaganda spectacles that are so humoungous you can't even think about them without getting dizzy.

May 18, 2005 at 06:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 17, 2005


It's a puzzlement as to why Miramax has chosen to release THE WARRIOR from 2001 and LEGEND OF ZU (retitled ZU WARRIORS) this summer, but they've made a career out of puzzling people. ZU is being released subtitled and uncut, not so sure about THE WARRIOR.

See their bare-bones sites, and wonder why ZU WARRIORS is being rated PG-13.

May 17, 2005 at 09:19 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Techno entrepeneur, Moby, answers questions in this week's New York Magazine. After coming close to tears when the interviewer doesn't ask him about his love of philosophy and architecture, he proclaims, "I like movies, though in the hierarchy of art forms it would be more near the bottom. I like books a lot more. Having said that, I love Takeshi Kitano. If there's any director I could work with, it'd be him."

We are all made of stars, man. We are all made of stars.

May 17, 2005 at 09:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Star salaries in Korea are so high that television dramas (one of Korea's most popular entertainment exports) are taking on huge amounts of product placement to pay the stars. You think this doesn't happen in Hollywood, too?

(Thanks to Han Cinema)

May 17, 2005 at 09:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 16, 2005


You have to hand it to some US movie reviewers: they're clinging to their cultural supremacy as hard as they can. The latest tactic: ew! Asians are violent and violence is nasty. The Hollywood Reporter gives a silly review to Johnnie To's ELECTION where there's no context given to the director's previous work (would anyone review some white director who's as prolific and accomplished as To is without mentioning the guy's previous work?) and there's that Manohla Dargis-brand "cover your eyes! the Asians are assaulting our moral sensibilities with their violence" form of phoney baloney shock and horror on display. YAWN.

Ain't It Cool reviews ELECTION as well, and while their review isn't much better, at least it drops this faux-outrage that's been infesting the precious reviews of the elderly folks who just don't get that rock n'roll the kids seem to be listening to. Dern noise!

(Thanks to Monkey Peaches)

May 16, 2005 at 06:39 AM in Film Reviews | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack


Peter Chan (of COMRADES: ALMOST A LOVE STORY fame) started shooting his musical, PERHAPS LOVE, earlier this year. Then he took a few weeks off and picked up the shoot again. Now it looks like Celestial Pictures (the folks with the Shaw Brothers library) are going to be distributing it worldwide. Chan's Applause Pictures will release it in Hong Kong and then Celestial will probably sell it territory by territory.

Why should anyone care? Well, Peter Chan is directing, Takeshi Kaneshiro (HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS) and Korea's Jin Ji-Hee, as well as Jacky Cheung (one of Hong Kong's best actor/pop stars who has been absent from the screen lately). Action director Tung Wei and Bollywood's best choreographer, Farah Khan, will do the physical stuff, and Peter Pau (who won the Oscar for "Best Cinematography" for CT,HD) will take the pretty pictures.

This is the kind of international co-production that Chan is famous for (most recently with the horror omnibus films THREE and THREE...EXTREMES) and he seems excited and confident that this will be something unique. Plus, Chan says that Takeshi Kaneshiro will be singing and has a "sexy and low voice."

May 16, 2005 at 06:32 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


For those who were dreaming that the Bob and Harvey Weinstein would keep their mitts off Asian films after leaving Miramax, your wake-up call is here. The snazzily named The Weinstein Group, B&H's self-titled post-Miramax company, picked up the rights  to Jackie Chan's NEW POLICE STORY in a collaborative purchase with Lion's Gate.

NEW POLICE STORY is a movie that Chan said he made for his Asian fans only, and didn't want to make a US sale. It's also his best movie in a long time. So, does that mean that Americans are losers? Kinda.

Then they trundled over to the Chateau de la Napoule to watch 12 minutes of Chen Kaige's CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON wannabe: THE PROMISE. After claiming that it's poetry in motion and a major work from a major director (and apparently saying they'll give it a big Oscar push) the Weinsteins signed a check for the rights to the $35 million production (the most expensive Chinese production to date).

Not to be a nay-sayer, but isn't this the same kind of hype that Chen Kaige's under-performing THE EMPEROR AND THE ASSASSIN got, as well?

May 16, 2005 at 06:25 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 12, 2005

DANNY THE DOG (aka Unleashed)

and UNLEASHED star Jet LiAn unleashed Westie... It's good. That's about all anyone wants to know: is it KISS OF THE DRAGON again? Is it ROMEO IS BLEEDING? Or is it an actual, real life good movie?

Let me be the one who says it: it's a good movie. Bob Hoskins is terrific, but not very original. Morgan Freeman needs to do something new or retire. But Jet Li actually turns in a performance and it carries the movie.

The action is very Hong Kong in that combatants exchange multiple blows in each shot, rather than things getting chopped and spliced and CGI-ed every which way. There's problems aplenty, and a great "This is my happening and it freaks me out!" moment in an underground gladiator club, but overall this is one of the best action movies to hit the screen in a long time.

May 12, 2005 at 03:13 PM in Film Reviews | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Writing is Hard

The guy who wrote that classic for the ages, GLADIATOR, has taken it to the next level. Desiring to make a movie about the US/Mexican border, but finding it difficult to come up with an idea, he has bought the remake rights to Park Chan-Wook's near-classic JSA, a movie about the border between North and South Korea.

This is the first deal where an individual has bought the remake rights to a Korean movie by approaching the company directly. Think about how this would be like a writer buying the rights to THE LONGEST DAY because he wants to make a movie about the invasion of Iraq. Smile to yourself as you imagine the Korean production executives laughing all the way to the bank.

(Thanks to Twitch)

May 12, 2005 at 09:14 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 10, 2005

Stop the Badness

Ajay Devgan looking coolSo Dustin Hoffman won an Oscar for playing an autistic guy in RAIN MAN. If only scientists could go back in time and kill him before he accepted that role perhaps we'd be safe from the avalanche of actors playing retarded characters in movies right now. I know "retarded" isn't the most sensitive word to use, but what other way is there to describe what Rosie O'Donnell did on TV last week?

Now, Ajay Devgan (see photo - looking cool) is playing "a mentally retarded man who has the brain of a seven year old" in Bollywood movie, MAIN AISA HI HOON. As if that wasn't enough to make you turn on the gas and seal up the windows, Leon Lai in Hong Kong is doing the same dern thing in a movie with Chapman To. Granted, it's being directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, who did INFERNAL AFFAIRS, but still...could we declare a global moratorium on this before we make the actually mentally retarded men with the brains of seven year olds pissed off enough to do something about it? They're going to want a percentage of the back end gross and merchandising, and there's just not going to be enough profit points to go around.

(Thanks to Hong Kong Entertainment News in Review and TVgasm)

May 10, 2005 at 07:41 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Animals Leave Korea for Own Safety

First there was the fish that got sliced up alive in Kim Ki-Duk's THE ISLE. Then there was the octopus that got eaten alive in OLDBOY. Now it's five chickens who get their heads chopped off  in the Christian revenge film, BLOOD RAIN. Lars Von Trier cruelly exposes innocent audiences to Nicole Kidman doing "serious acting" in DOGVILLE and no one raises a stink. But chop off some chickens' heads and wait for the fur to fly.

(Thanks to Twitch  and KoreanFilm.org)

May 10, 2005 at 07:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

RUSH HOUR 3 may be coming *sigh*

Chris Tucker, star of RUSH HOUR 2Chris Tucker has been busy since 2001's RUSH HOUR 2. When he's not getting busted for speeding, or being named as a potential witness in the Michael Jackson trial, he's been working out a solution for world peace -- or, as we mere mortals call it, working out a deal for RUSH HOUR 3. Yes, the tired franchise that you'd think has run out of "Chinaman" jokes by now, yet somehow made a bazillion dollars at the box office, is back for a third installment. You know, the Bible only has two parts, yet somehow Tucker and Co. feel that RUSH HOUR needs three.

Dear god in heaven. What have we done to deserve this? Even Jackie Chan has said that he doesn't like the franchise but will do a third film "for the fans." Please, Jackie, don't worry about us.

May 10, 2005 at 07:25 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 05, 2005


New stills from Tsui Hark's epic, SEVEN SWORDSThere's new stills from Tsui Hark's epic, SEVEN SWORDS, up on the official site (which isn't in English, so you'll need Monkey Peaches' handy guide to navigate it), but the most fun you can have is to read the news and interview clips about the movie over on Goro's Asian Film Blog. This is going to be the Chinese LORD OF THE RINGS? And it's going to unfold in six movies? Sure, if it's good. Lots of movie series have six parts, like STAR WARS, and ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA, and...um, I can't think of any more.

There's also going to be a TV series of SEVEN SWORDS, probably produced by Tsui Hark, same as the TV series of ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA.

I want Tsui Hark to make a good movie as much as the next guy, but let's face it: he hasn't done anything really great since 1996's THE BLADE. The implied spin is that he's just been biding his time before unleashing SEVEN SWORDS, the greatest movie the world will ever see. My fingers are crossed, too, but my money isn't on it. He's blown too many recent chances (BLACK MASK 2, the Jean Claude Van Damme movies, TIME AND TIDE, LEGEND OF ZU) to be a sure thing anymore.

May 5, 2005 at 06:09 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

ASIA: you are Mary Stuart Masterson

Mary Stuart MastersonFace it, Asian film industries, Hollywood will always be the rich cad just out looking for a good time, and you'll always be the ugly girl from the wrong side of the tracks. It's like a John Hughes movie except this time, after he gets what he wants, Eric Stoltz runs off with Lea Thompson and leaves Mary Stuart Masterson pregnant and sobbing disconsolately in her mobile home.

But delusional nuts with the personalities of punching bags are good at rationalizing even the worst case scenarios, and the web is humming with rationalizations today. Xinhua, China's official news agency, has this non-story on the release of STAR WARS III - REVENGE OF THE SITH and how tied in it is with China. Why do they think China should be proud of this movie? Well, it will open on May 20 in China, the same time as everywhere else! Also, Bai Ling is in it! And the director decided not to use any kung fu! And the scenery is based on Yunnan Province!

Reality sez: it's opening on then because George Lucas is terrified of scary Chinese video pirates. I don't know if Yunnan will be recognizable. And Bai Ling has been cut from the movie. (Thanks IMDB.com)

And then there's this non-story about the Bollywood remake of THE EYE, NAINA, screening at Cannes. Wow! What a great thing for Bollywood! Except the movie's screening in the market section, where anyone can drop in a film for a fee. And there's going to be full-page adverts in top movie magazines! Sure -- along with full-page ads for every el cheapo, straight-to-video production you can think of. I'm a little confused about when THE EYE became a Hollywood movie, however, although I sort of get their point.

May 5, 2005 at 05:58 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 04, 2005


UNLEASHED Chinese DVD coverThe Jet Li/Bob Hoskins/Morgan Freeman buddy movie, UNLEASHED, hit the streets in China with an official DVD release on April 30.

It features a Mandarin dub track, and it seems to prove that UNLEASHED (known in non-American countries as DANNY THE DOG, and known in China as THE TIGER IS OUT OF THE CAGE) will not be getting a theatrical release in the PRC.

The movie will be theatrically released in the US on May 13.

I haven't heard of this happening before.

(Thanks to Monkey Peaches)

May 4, 2005 at 09:16 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bollywood Actress' Life Threatened

Ashmit Patel, and Pakistani actress Meena star in NAZAR, a Bollywood version of THE EYES OF LAURA MARSNAINA, the Bollywood version of THE EYE, is being released on May 20, the same day as the release of NAZAR, a Bollywood version of THE EYES OF LAURA MARS. This one stars Bollywood actor Ashmit Patel, and Pakistani actress Meena. He hunts serial killers, she sees bad people. Unfortunately, she also kisses her co-star, and it's resulted in an uproar in Pakistan. She's been fined by the Pakistani government for immoral behavior and she's received death threats. Now that's good publicity. The kissing taboo in Bollywood is mostly a thing of the past, but not so in Pakistan, I guess.

May 4, 2005 at 09:14 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 02, 2005

"BANNED" Film Wins Tribeca

Li Shaohong's television movie, STOLEN LIFE, won "Best Narrative Feature" at the Tribeca Film Festival.  The director, whose thrillingly good BAOBER IN LOVE still hasn't made it onto the film festival circuit despite doing big business in China in 2004, shot this flick as part of ABSOLUTE PRIVACY, a 10-episode television project based on the best-selling 1998 book "Absolute Privacy" written by Beijing Youth Daily journalist, An Dun, who based the book on young people's oral accounts of their lives.

STOLEN LIFE doles out the typical mainstays of Chinese art films: female suffering and lower class misery. At the awards ceremony, Li Shaohong claimed the film was "banned" in China. I'm not sure what this means (Chinese directors often claim their films are banned, even when they're not being shown for non-political legal reasons, such as they didn't clear their location permits). If anyone has some info on how or why this film is banned, I'd be keen to know.

(Thanks to Monkey Peaches for the info)

May 2, 2005 at 12:59 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kim Ki-Duk Sez: Bring It On!!!

Official poster for Kim Ki-Duk's THE BOWThe Korean press hates Kim Ki-Duk and he's not taking it lying down. Or laying down, either. His new movie, THE ARROW - THE BOW, will hold no press screenings. Not only that, only one image from the film will be released to the public before the movie opens on May 12. Cinema Janus, the promotional company, says they want people to be able to watch the movie without prejudice. But the real reason is probably more likely to be the fact that everyone in the world seems to love Kim Ki-Duk movies except the Korean media, who loathe him and refer to him in print as "an animal".

(Read more here, poster courtesy of Kung Fu Cult Cinema.)

May 2, 2005 at 12:55 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


NAINA, the Bollywood remake of THE EYELearn all the things you ever wanted to know about the Bollywood remake of THE EYE. It's called NAINA and you can go here to see RealPlayer trailers, stills and read a li'l plot summary. The star is Urmila Matondkar, who has become the Bollywood go to gal for psycho roles (KAUN?, EK HASINA THI, BHOOT), but the spookiest thing of all is the inexplicable international need to remake what was, in the first place, a pretty mediocre movie.

(Thanks to Twitch for the poster and link.)

May 2, 2005 at 12:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack