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October 31, 2005


Ram Gopal Varma's Factory in Bollywood turns out movies by other directors that are overseen by Varma, much in the way Tsui Hark's Film Workshop churned out dozens of flicks bearing the "Tsui Hark stamp" in the 80's and 90's in Hong Kong. The latest film from the Factory is JAMES, which was supposed to be a throwback to Bollywood's "angry young man" movies of the 70's, a genre pioneered by Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan.

Reportedly, the director of JAMES, Rohit Jugraj, clashed repeatedly with Varma, chafing at the bit and trying to make his own movie...which Varma wasn't happy with. Now reviews of JAMES are appearing and they don't seem so good, so maybe Varma was right. It looks like Rohit Jugraj was trying to make a sem-send-up of the genre, whereas Varma wanted to revitalize it for new audiences.

Read a review here.

October 31, 2005 at 11:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


GameraFans are already depressed over the upcoming live action Gamera movie, LITTLE BRAVES, since it represents a return to Gamera's 1970's role as the "friend of all children", rather than Gamera's role in the 90's as "killer of pretty much everyone in Japan". But now the Cartoon Network has announced that it's licensed Little G and will be producing a Gamera cartoon series, to hit small screens in Spring 2007.

Also, LITTLE BRAVES has announced its release date as April 29, 2006.

(Thanks to the Anime News Service)

October 31, 2005 at 10:56 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)


Korean DVD cover for UninvitedPanik House Entertainment, the folks who are responsible for the upcoming "Pinky Violence Collection, have announced that their next release will be a Region 1 DVD of the Korean horror movie, THE UNINVITED, which is my favorite Korean horror flick. They're looking at a January 2006 release date.

Here's something I wrote about UNINVITED for Film Comment a while back:
"Lee Su-Yeon’s THE UNINVITED (2003) features traditional character development but it only serves to make things worse. Written and directed by yet another first-time director, the script caused an industry-wide buzz before it was released. Audiences felt let down by the movie’s refusal to hew to horror movie conventions and the movie rapidly vanished from screens.

When yuppie architect, Kang, gets off the subway at his last stop one night he notices two little girls asleep on the seats but he doesn’t tell anyone because he doens't need the hassle. The girls turn up dead the next day and before long his wedding plans are interrupted by their silent ghosts sitting at his ultra-chic dining room table. When neighbor Jung-Yung (a puffy-eyed narcoleptic who lost her baby in a grotesque accident; played by Jeon Ji-Hyun, thoroughly soiling her pert, brassy image from MY SASSY GIRL) sees the ghosts as well, he begs her to help him remember his blanked-out childhood. Big mistake.Turns out he killed some people as a kid and, of course, he’s adopted. Cue nervous breakdown.

Shot in a sterile apartment complex, full of homicidal mothers and suicidal shut-ins, THE UNINVITED gives us characters completely alienated from authentic experience. The Confucian order of the universe is totally overturned as the film builds to a harrowing final betrayal, and it becomes a statement of complete and utter emotional isolation. Although it’s immature in its one-sided depiction of a world paralyzed by grief, THE UNINVITED’s articulation of this world is passionately accomplished: its sound design, script, cinematography and acting are all of a masterfully fabricated piece. With nothing allowed to stray from its laser-guided mission to make us believe that we are utterly alone, it feels like the conclusion of a journey Korean horror’s been on for the past six years."

October 31, 2005 at 10:48 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 28, 2005


I have a lot of problems with the Best Foreign Film nominationsThe nominations for "Best Foreign Film" are in for the upcoming Oscars, and they're just as lame this year as they are every year. I have a lot of problems with the "Best Foreign Film" nominations and think that just about everything about them is broken: from the way they're chosen (countries have committees that hand-pick what film to send), to the way they're voted on. Frankly, I'd rather the voting be limited to non-English-language movies that are released in the US, but that's just me.

Here's a look at who's submitting what:

THE PROMISE (China) - it was a no-brainer that Chen Kaige's massively pretty martial arts movie would be submitted.

PERHAPS LOVE (Hong Kong) - Peter Chan's musical could be really great, but it hasn't created a lot of excitement on the festival circuit. Let's see what happens once it comes out in theaters.

PAHELI (India) - the Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee fantasy film about a woman who falls in love with a ghost/genii didn't make a huge splash, either critically or financially. Shah Rukh produced it and one wonders how political a choice its inclusion was as SRK becomes bigger and bigger. You can read a review here.

GIE (Indonesia) - a big biopic about Gie, a student activist in Indonesia back in the 60's, this movie was hotly anticipated but many reviewers considered it a disappointment.

BLOOD AND BONES (Japan) - I think Tartan has this film in the US, and I hope they release it and do some campaigning for it. It stars Takeshi Kitano and has gotten rave reviews.

WELCOME TO DONGMAKGOL (Korea) - this Korean hit has left most Western viewers cold, and folks who saw it in Pusan said it was "obvious" and "underwhelming".

THE WAYWARD CLOUD (Taiwan) - kudos to Taiwan for submitting this explicit, brutal, anti-porn Tsai Ming-liang film to the Oscars. I imagine voters trying to make it through the excruciating blow job sequence and inside I giggle a little.

THE TIN MINE (Thailand) - not much of a hit in Thailand, to put it kindly, this movie hasn't seemed to set anyone on fire, even its defenders admit it isn't earth-shattering but rather a nice, well-made movie.

BUFFALO BOY (Vietnam) - I don't know much about this film, adapted from several short stories, except that it seems like a tasteful, logical choice for Vietnam. Read a review here. It is odd that it's co-produced by France and Belgium, though.

October 28, 2005 at 10:19 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Election3_webMonkeyPeaches has this link to the Mandarin-language trailer for Johnnie To's new movie, ELECTION.

The trailer features a lot more footage from the movie, including some harsh action scenes, yet somehow they manage to finish it all up by making it look like a fun and happy buddy picture.

October 28, 2005 at 10:18 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (4)


Homesweethomejpg_webWithout any fanfare, what could be one of this year's better movies opens in Hong Kong this weekend: HOME SWEET HOME. Starring Shu Qi, Karena Lam, Alex Fong and Lam Suet the movie follows a happy family who moves into a housing estate and has their little boy abducted by a monster who lives in the building. Karena Lam plays the "monster".

I used to live in a housing estate in Hong Kong and they are creepy places at night: everyone goes to bed early and you're left in this LOGAN'S RUN graveyard surrounded by enormous monuments to institutional architecture. What gives me hope for this movie is that it's directed by Soi Cheang whose DIAMOND HILL, LOVE BATTLEFIELD, HORROR HOTLINE...BIG HEAD MONSTER and NEW BLOOD all broke new ground for Hong Kong horror. All these movies had flaws (except for DIAMOND HILL and LOVE BATTLEFIELD) but they were all attempts to carve out new ground where horror comes from character, not from long-haired, wet chicks who loiter just over your shoulder staring at you.

Click on the poster to the right for a larger view, and you can see a trailer here (courtesy of MonkeyPeaches).

October 28, 2005 at 10:17 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (5)


Tommy Cheung had a really Bad Idea for how to stop the avian fluIt's been a week of Bad Ideas, and they just seem to keep getting worse.

The lingerie company suit and counter-suit shenanigans with Maggie Cheung and Wong Kar-wai's company, Jet Tone, is slowly revealing its layers and it looks like the center of this multi-leveled litigation onion was a Bad Idea. Shanghai Bosideng Enterprise Development Co Ltd hired Maggie to appear in a lingerie ad, to be shot by Jet Tone (Bad Idea #1). Jet Tone, of course, didn't turn in the ad on time (duh) and so SBEDCL got a local company to stick Maggie's head on a model's body and aired that on CCTV instead (Bad Idea #2). Now SBEDCL is suing Jet Tone and Maggie for breach of contract, and they're suing SBEDCL for breach of contract and image infringement. And everybody's right.

Over in India, the India Times has posted a gallery of Bollywood's worst hairstyles. It loads like it's got arthritis, and some of the images are broken, but what remains is a line-up of some of the biggest Bad Ideas in hair to come along in a long time.

Also, apparently, animation is a Bad Idea in India. September saw the release of the 2 1/2 hour BHAGGMATI - THE QUEEN OF FORTUNES which features an hour of animation, starring Tabu and Hema Malini. The result: bad reviews and a box office flop. THE INCREDIBLES featured megastar Shah Rukh Khan as the voice of Mr. Incredible and his son, Dash. The result: flop. Now, HANUMAN has been released. An animated, 100 minute feature about the legendary Monkey King's misadventures, the flick opened last week against zero competition and it earned little money, bad word of mouth and poor reviews.

But the biggest Bad Idea this week came from Hong Kong lawmaker, Tommy Cheung, who had a really Bad Idea for how to stop the avian flu. Let Tommy tell it: "In other countries where you see avian flu outbreaks, most are not caused by chickens, they're caused by migrating birds. Perhaps what we should do is give each person a gun and when we see a migrating bird, we can just shoot it down, so Hong Kong would be a much safer place."

(Thanks to Jennifer Young for some of these)

October 28, 2005 at 10:06 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)

October 27, 2005


Johnnie To's sequel to ELECTION, ELECTION 2, has just wrapped and here's a link to the ELECTION 2 poster that's been appearing all over the place (including Twitch).

The flick cost US$5 million, and Celluloid Dreams is doing presales at the American Film Market next week. And here's some more photos from ELECTION for you.

(Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader and this ScreenDaily story)


Johnnie To on the set of ELECTION 2

October 27, 2005 at 09:15 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Razor Ramon, shock comedian/pro wrestler from JapanRazor Ramon is a shock comedian/pro wrestler from Japan whose parents named him Masaki Sumitami. His popular persona, Hard Gay, is a leather vest and chaps-wearing fellow who goes around on TV performing acts of charity for people, whether they want it or not, while thrusting his pelvis and screaming "It is interesting!" and "Haado Gei!" He has assisted crying children, and piggybacked the elderly across busy intersections. Truly this is a disturbing new hero for a new millennium.

Now, Itoyama Eitaro, a former Parliament member has written a shocked and offended article that makes him look entirely like a chump, entitled: "Do Japanese Parents Not Have Media Literacy? Why Does Yoshimoto Theatrical Market Razor Ramon HG?" The Anime News Service has the following quote from his horrified screed: "There is a vulgar TV program proving that Japan has reached a low level. Children are pleased with the appearance in which Razor Ramon HG uses a queer voice and shakes his waist saying "It is interesting". Goods sell well too and parents are buying the child leather vests and leather pants. It is the start of a certain utterly scandalous Japanese national decline."

Child-sized leather vests and pants? Is Japan turning into Paris?

October 27, 2005 at 09:10 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Gong Li and a mojitoCherie Chung is this week's winner as far as Chinese actresses are concerned. The adorable star of PEKING OPERA BLUES has been retired since 1991, but she's back as the host of SUPER HOUSEWIVES, a South Korean/Chinese co-production that'll shoot in four cities in China for broadcast next year. It's a talk show, cooking show mutant hybrid and the producers say they chose Chung for "her extensive cooking experience gained since her marriage." Chung chose the producers because they're paying her US$10,000 per episode, the highest TV salary ever paid in China.

KUNG FU HUSTLE actress Huang Shengyi is definitely wishing she was Cherie Chung right about now. She's been caught in a dispute of (mostly) her own making with Star Overseas, Stephen Chow's production and management company, for several months now and Star has just announced the cast of KUNG FU HUSTLE 2: Yuen Wah, Stephen Chow, Yuen Chau, Hsiao Leung and Lam Tze-chung...but no Huang Shengyi. She's been replaced by Liu Jiajie, who auditioned for SHAOLIN SOCCER back in 2001 but didn't get cast. Huang's sincerely confused boyfried, Miao Sen, says, "Huang left Star Overseas long ago. She does not want to play a role in the sequel at all. Star Overseas is obviously using Huang to promote the movie!" Yes, Miao, that's exactly what Stephen Chow is doing. He's riding the coattails of your girlfriend who appeared in his last movie for exactly 10 minutes and never said a word.

I'm honestly confused about whether Gong Li is up or down with this one: but here's a link to some photos of her on the set of MIAMI VICE with Colin Farrel and Jamie Foxx. Is that a frosty mojito she's drinking in that picture? Hope so, she's going to need plenty of them to get through this shoot.

October 27, 2005 at 09:07 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 26, 2005


Johnnie To's ELECTION has opened strong in Hong KongJohnnie To's ELECTION has opened strong in Hong Kong (beating out the latest Andy Lau romance, ALL ABOUT LOVE - and ELECTION is a Category III movie...unheard of! Andy beaten by Cat III?!?), to a tidal wave of praise in all the usual places and in some unexpected ones, like Canada's newsmagazine MacLeans.

The AP is saying that it's a savvy criticism of democracy in Hong Kong and they even use some of the exact same sentences as MacLeans (see the sentence "delicately mixing scenes of intense camaraderie, extreme violence and unabashedly Machiavellian moves" - the MacLeans article came out first, but the AP article may have been on the wire first - someone's cribbing from someone here). Variety's review of the flick is here.

Adam Hartzell gives glowing reviews to GRAIN IN EAR and WEDDING CAMPAIGN over at KoreanFilm.org. And on the discussion board there's some speculation about D-WAR (the "Korean dinosaurs destroy the world" flick) looking for a US distributor and has been pushed back to Summer 2006. Also, get ready for a newly-buff Rain's highly-anticipated TV drama, THIS DAMNED LOVE, where he plays a mixed martial arts fighter who finds love. It starts to air on October 31st.

Mark Schilling in the Japan Times reviews two new samurai films: NAGURIMONO: LOVE AND KILL and SEMI SHIGURE. NAGURIMONO is a samurai flick produced by the folks who produce the Pride Fighting Championships: mixed martial arts ultimate fighting events. The movie is basically a platform for their fighters to take a lunge at the big screen. SEMI SHIGURE is a less bloody, less body-throwing, throating-locking take on the samurai's life, based on a novel by Shuhei Fujisawa whose books formed the basis for TWILIGHT SAMURAI and THE HIDDEN BLADE.

Midnight Eye has a review up of the latest samurai epic, YEAR ONE IN THE NORTH, a Ken Watanabe starring flick directed by Isao Yukisada, who did GO and CRYING OUT LOVE IN THE CENTER OF THE WORLD. There's also a review of ELI ELI LEMA SABACHTANI? directed by Shinji Aoyama (EUREKA) and starring Tadanobu Asano, about a post-apocalyptic world where noise rock might be humanity's last hope.

Over in Thailand, Wisekwai, has a less-than-impressed review of the first English-language movie produced in Thailand since 1941, THE KINGMAKER. It's produced by David Winters, a Brit who was once a child actor (just like P's Paul Spurrier, another Brit who's worked in Thailand). He's also got a full look at the TSUNAMI DIGITAL SHORT FILMS, which include new works from Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

And finally, the controversy over Sri Lanka's FORSAKEN LAND has taken another turn as the anti-war film wins the "Best Film" award at the 3rd World Film Festival of Bangkok. Congratulations to the much-threatened director, Vimukthi Jayasundara.

October 26, 2005 at 09:26 AM in Film Reviews | Permalink | Comments (2)


Sony brings high production values to the tableNot content to co-produce Chinese movies, Sony Pictures has just announced that it's going to start co-producing Bollywood movies. First up? SAAWARIYA (Beloved) directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, whose DEVDAS rocked eyeballs around the world.

While some of the movies Sony has produced in China haven't been all that great, what they do bring to the table is high production values, and if you don't believe me check out KEKEXILI one of the best looking movies from China this year, and a movie with one of the thickest, deepest sound mixes I've heard in a long time. Watching this movie in a theater with a surround system is goose-bump inducing.

And that kind of cash is what Bollywood could use a little more of.

October 26, 2005 at 09:22 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)


the rights probably cost more money than everyone reading this put together will ever make

The Weinstein Company has just signed a kajillion dollar deal to produce the first movie in a hopeful franchise: KUNG FU HIGH SCHOOL. Based on a book by a 26 year old white boy named Ryan Gattis, the script got all caught up in a bidding war and the rights probably cost more money than everyone reading this put together will ever make.

Gattis' book is about a tuff skool in the inner city where all the kids know martial arts and hit each other a lot. The heroine is a 15 year old half-white/half-Latino chick who knows martial arts, and that sound you hear is a zillion adolescent geeks wetting their pants because they just fell in love. Why kung fu in America? In this interview, Gattis says: "I've always enjoyed kung fu narratives and I wanted to transpose one from China to America." Well, the kung fu narrative thanks you, Mr. Gattis.

And why a woman? "Far gone are the days of girls being made of 'sugar and spice and everything nice.' What's interesting to me is that we're only recently seeing an increase in a more realistic look at the complex inner workings of females, especially in regard to violent tendencies." Complex inner workings?!? In regard to violent tendencies?!? Hm, interesting indeed, Mr. Gattis. Someone beat up this kid and steal his thesaurus.

You can read an excerpt from his book here, and, yes, his writing sounds just the way he talks: stiff.

October 26, 2005 at 09:19 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 24, 2005


Nick Park and Hayao MiyazakiNausicaa.net has news on three new animated shorts from Japan's God of Animators, Hayao Miyazaki, that are slated to premiere at the Ghibli Museum on January 23, 2006.

The short, BORO THE CATERPILLAR (cute!) has morphed into WATER SPIDER MONMON (super-cute!) about the underwater world seen through the eyes of a little tiny insect (apparently the caterpillar wasn't interesting enough so Miyazaki squished it and moved on to the water spider). The second movie is THE DAY I BOUGHT A STAR based on a story by WHISPER OF THE HEART background painter Naohisa Inoue. Then there's debate over whether one, or two more, projects are in production. Some folks say there's one about a girl looking for a home, and one set on a river back in the days when rivers were a big deal, and others say it's either the homeless girl or the river, not both.

Also, at the Tokyo International Film Festival, Miyazaki and Nick Park (of Aardman Animation) hooked up and Miyazaki announced that his Ghibli Museum will be holding an exhibit on Aardman soon. Then Nick Park gave Miyazaki a little clay statue of himself (of Miyazaki, not of Nick Park).

If only Pixar, Aardman Animation and Studio Ghibli could team up I bet they could totally defeat all evil in about 20 minutes and still have time left over to make some movies.

(Thanks, also, to Anime News Service)

October 24, 2005 at 10:55 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Chihiro Kameyama is the head of motion pictures at Fuji TV, and the producer of the super-successful BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN movies. Now he's turning his attention to BRAVE STORY, an animated movie based on a best-selling book about a kid whose dad ditches him and his mom for a younger mistress, his mom winds up in the hostpital and to save her life the kid has to go on a magical adventure in fantasyland.

Chihiro has previously stated that feature-length animation was in the future for Fuji TV, and BRAVE STORY is going to be its first animated film. It'll be released in Summer 2006, and you can see a good looking teaser on the official website here.

The author of BRAVE STORY is Miyuki Miyabe, who also wrote the book that Shusuke Kaneko's pyrotechnic thriller, CROSSFIRE, is based on, and she's got a bunch of mystery novels for sale on Amazon. In English, no less.

October 24, 2005 at 10:47 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Ram Gopal Varma's ekRam Gopal Varma is hitting the big time, for shizzle. The Percept Picture Company, part of the Indian holding group, Percept Inc., has announced they'll be producing WITHIN, an international supernatural thriller shot in Manhattan, budgeted at about US$6 million, and director by Varma himself. It's slated to begin production in 2007. More info is here.

The Corporate Gobbeldygook Quote of the Day comes courtesy of Shailendra Singh of Percept Holdings:

"We have identified universality of Indian cinema and its extensions. Our vision combined with our high value network gives us an edge in recognising opportunities and exporting resources globally within the entertainment space."

Varma has this to say: ""I am sure these ventures spearheaded by Percept will result in a highly rewarding experience for all concerned." Try not to get too excited, Ramu!

Percept is also helping RGV get his long-delayed terrorism flick, EK, back on track. Budgeted at US$20 million this movie looks like it will star Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, and pretty much every other star in Bollywood. That's the hard rockin' poster on the right.

Go, Ramu, this is how you get ahizzead!

October 24, 2005 at 10:45 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (6)


Banner poster for EK AJNABEE

Bollywood's living legend, Amitabh Bachchan, has been having a good year: BLACK, SARKAR, BUNTY AUR BABLI and now EK AJNABEE. Shot in Bangkok, the movie is an action flick about a burnt-out bodyguard who takes a job protecting a little girl. When she gets kidnapped he has to pick up guns (a lot of guns) and use extreme violence to ensure that the little innocent lamb is brought to safety.

Hitting theaters on December 9 (all over the world, it looks like) EK AJNABEE has guest appearances by Amitabh's son, Abhishek; former Ms. Universe, Lara Dutta; at least one big song n'dance sequence, and stunt choreography by Thailand's very own Kawee Sirikhanaerat, also known as Seng. His stunt team is the one that did the tuk-tuk chase in ONG BAK, and I believe Kawee was involved in Panna Ritthikrai's BORN TO FIGHT (he's one of Panna's proteges), and he's in BATMAN BEGINS.

It's been a lousy year for Westerners interested in Bollywood movies, but this right here looks like the payoff.

Go to the official site to check out a slick trailer.

October 24, 2005 at 10:40 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (7)


If a geisha was tea she'd taste like a dirty cherry?Mmm...the refreshing taste of MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA tea. Yes, from Republic of Tea we get the first tie-in product from the upcoming Zhang Ziyi movie: tea. From their catalogue:

"Behind the rice paper screen of the tea room the geisha masters the moment, serving with a respectful heart, a cup of green tea. The rich ripe essence of cherries, combined with the sweet earthen taste of green tea leaves is inspired by the movie."

So if a geisha was tea she'd taste like a dirty cherry?

October 24, 2005 at 10:32 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 21, 2005


God! Let the door open for the sacred fertilizationIf you've ever wondered what a manzai/disco human sexuality class would look like, D.K. Hollywood has cleared it up for you with WE ARE THE SPERM CELLS a show running at the Theater for the New City in Manhattan through this Sunday. D.K. Hollywood is the brainchild of Japanese 80's TV star, Daisuke Koshikawa, a comedian who gave up TV for independent theater. He and the cast of 10 (including one very sexy midget) have saved their own money to come to NYC and perform and their determination is just like the determination of the human sperm.

As the program says: "The sperm cells that land on a woman's belly will not give up their mission of fertilization. As they race towards her womb, they join forces while fighting off fatal enemies such as Kleenex, Body Soap and White Blood Cells. Could they accomplish their mission within the limited time? This is a spectacular, heart-warming battle adventure in the world of 60 microns."

Performed in Japanese with occassional, English-language voiceover that is absolutely priceless ("If you fall into the anus, you will lose all self-respect.") this is a slightly-too-long dance/theater spectacle bringing war movie conventions to the life and death struggle of the lonely sperm cell. The actors are ferocious in their commitment to be totally ridiculous, and during a manzai sequence towards the end they were cracking each other up.

You can read more about the show here (this is an encore engagement for D.K. Hollywood in NYC).

I leave you with the last cry of the last sperm, begging the universe for justice:
"God, why do we always have to be runabout by this cruel fate by the name of Love?
We are born for some one's new life and go only for the destination.
We neither fight nor hurt anyone.
Now, I date to go forward for our colleagues who got tired, hurt, lost the dream and ended their life being caught in the torrent called destiny.
This glorious misfortune ejaculated on the belly. Le me accomplish my destiny by giving the birth of your child.
God! Let the door open for the sacred fertilization."

October 21, 2005 at 12:53 PM in Film Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0)


MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA is going to be a 900 lb monsterA sharp-eyed reader has pointed out that MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA is already giving off all the signs that it's going to be a 900 lb monster this Christmas Season (the movie opens Dec. 9). There's been word of a very positive second test screening and taking that as a sign that they could have an Oscar gobbling monster on their hands, Columbia and Sony Pictures have cleared the deck. Their other big movie, ALL THE KING'S MEN, with Sean Penn, has been unceremoniously punted from a Dec. release to a 2006 date, effectively scuttling its Oscar ambitions. Which either means it's a real stinker, or they want to commit their resources to GEISHA, or both.

I didn't see this coming, but it looks like pretty soon everyone's going to be talking about heading down to the mall and checking out that Koji Yakusho/Gong Li/Michelle Yeoh flick.

GEISHA has been rated PG-13.

October 21, 2005 at 12:51 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Bad day to work for a studio in the US today - Hollywood folk who just want to make the world a better, happier place woke up to find that UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) had voted 191-2 to approve The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. That all sounds nice, but what made the American suits drop bricks was Article 8 which says that countries are authorized to identify "situations where cultural expressions ... are at risk of extinction" and take "all appropriate measures" to preserve them. This opens the doors to countries basically banning whatever they want in terms of movies, television and film if they feel like it endangers their homegrown culture.

MPAA head crybaby, Dan Glickman, is going to give a speech later today about how bad this is for peace in the Universe, and they had already sent a letter to Condoleeza Rice back on Sept. 9 about what a blow this is to fluffy puppies, cute kittens and all good and lovely things. Their bone of contention seems to be that "cultural expression" isn't defined in enough detail so that it could be applied to...anything!

Read the full story here.

Voting Fun Facts: the crafty French and Canadians initiated this vote (guess the Canadians are sick of MPAA puppet organizations trying to tell them what they can and can't broadcast) and the only two "no" votes came from the US and Israel. Four countries abstained, including Australia.

October 21, 2005 at 12:47 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 20, 2005


TKO HIP HOPStauffen has a link to Japanese movie that looks like it just came out at the beginning of the month called TKO HIP HOP. Check out that trailer for WARRIORS-looking street gangs, 8 MILE-looking rap battles, and YOU GOT SERVED-looking dancing.

Please to get jiggy with it.

October 20, 2005 at 11:59 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Shim Eun-Ha got marriedShim Eun-Ha got married. Who? Shim Eun-Ha, Korea's most popular, thought about, and much-loved actress. Starring in three big TV series in the 90's, she appeared with Han Suk-Kyu in CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST, a movie you should see if you haven't. That same year she also tore up the screen in ART MUSEUM BY THE ZOO a so-so romantic comedy in which she gave a teeth-shatteringly good performance. One or two movies went by and then she reunited with Han Suk-Kyu in the hit, TELL ME SOMETHING.But in 2000 she starred in INTERVIEW and that was it. No more. She retired.

Korean papers have kept her flame alive by speculating over whether or not she'll ever return to movies, but she's been busy living in France and studying painting. Her new hubby is a university professor and, please note, she says he's a good listener. It's nice to see a geek marry up. Congratulations to the hopefully happy couple.

October 20, 2005 at 11:54 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Updates! Updates! Get your piping hot updates right here:

LEFT HAND OF GOD, RIGHT HAND OF THE DEVIL - Shusuke Kaneko's of GAMERA fame's next project is in production, and it's a slasher film. Fangoria is covering it and here's their first set report. "This film turned out to be fairly grisly, by Japanese standards." I'll say. It's looking at a Summer 2006 release date. (Thanks to Twitch for the info)

THE HANGING GARDEN - busted for possession director, Toshiaki Toyoda, has been let out of movie jail by Asmik Ace, which almost dumped his latest film when Toyoda was arrested. The flick's at AFM right now, and you can see a trailer here (scroll down) and read a glowing review from the Japan Times here. Apparently the movie even got its Japanese release on October 8. (Another tip of the hat to Twitch)

NANA - the manga-based hit film about the friendship between two women named Nana has been doing such great box office that, according to Hoga, the producers have announced a sequel. With 13 volumes of the manga to choose from they don't risk running out of stories.

October 20, 2005 at 11:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 19, 2005


PradaLincoln Center is kicking off its 32 film celebration of 100 years of Chinese cinema this weekend (Oct. 21), and the most surprising news: Prada is responsible for 10 newly restored digital prints. Yep, that's right, the fashionable shoe and clothing house has moved into art preservation with their Fondazione Prada. Below are nine of the ten (I couldn't find the tenth):

NEW WOMAN (1934) - Ruan Lingyu's last movie. A few weeks after it was released, she committed suicide. If you came in late, Ruan Lingyu is the Chinese actress heartbreakingly portrayed by Maggie Cheung in CENTRE STAGE.

STREET ANGEL (1937) - this classic flick stars Zhou Xuan, the actress who is the focus of the young woman's obsession in the 2005 Chinese movie, ELECTRIC SHADOWS (which is being released theatrically in the US this December).

PRINCESS IRON FAN (1941) - China's first full-length animated film is a motion picture version of part of the classic Chinese novel, JOURNEY TO THE WEST.

THE PEREGRINATIONS OF THREE HAIRS (1949) - the movie adaptation of the famous comic character, "Three Hairs", from whom Sammo Hung took his name (Sammo).

CROWS AND SPARROWS (1949) - a much-loved Chinese classic, it started production during the KMT reign, and was released in the first year of the People's Republic of China. The bad guy? A KMT official, of course.

THE BIG ROAD (1934) - pals build a road to help the fight against the Japanese, who - in 1934 - had taken over much of China.

PLUNDER OF PEACH AND PLUM (1934) - sexual harrassment! Workplace safety! School principals sentenced to prison! This downbeat tale is one of China's first sound films.

CROSSROADS (1937) - another Zhao Xuan movie, this one a dark tale of workplace struggle, and disappointed lives.

SPRING IN A SMALL TOWN (1948) - this much-loved Chinese melodrama was remade by Tian Zhuangzhuang in 2002, and both versions of this movie (often called "the classic Chinese film") are in the line-up.

Oddly enough, for some reason Lincoln Center has chosen to illustrate its webpage for the Chinese films with a still from Masahiro Kobayashi's HARAKIRI.

(Thanks to The Reeler for first pointing this out)

October 19, 2005 at 12:15 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (6)


Like a savory stew with lots of nice, tasty bits, Wu-Jing.org is chock full'o news and updates.

- Jet Li's FEARLESS has been given a release date: Jan. 16, 2006.

- Andy Lau's period epic, BATTLE OF STRATEGY, officially commenced filming on Oct. 7 and the action is by Tung Wei. It's already shot a gargantuan battle scene in China.

- And they link to an extensive interview with Nansun Shi, Tsui Hark's wife and a major film force in Hong Kong, that's over at HKCinemagic. It's an interview from 2003, but I haven't seen it before.

October 19, 2005 at 12:08 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Golden HorseThe Golden Horse nominations are in, and Johnnie To's ELECTION is leading the pack with 11 (count 'em - eleven!) nominations. KUNG FU HUSTLE is the runner up (10 nominations) and Hou Hsiao-hsien's THREE TIMES got nine noms.Jackie Chan, on the other hand, was totally dissed with THE MYTH, HOUSE OF FURY (which he produced) and EVERLASTING REGRET (which he also produced) nominated for nothing. For a full list of nominations, go to Screendaily here. Below is an abbreviated list, with commentary:

Best Feature Film:
Election (dir. Johnnie To)
Kung Fu Hustle (dir. Stephen Chow)
Three Times (dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien)
The Wayward Cloud (dir. Tsai Ming-liang) nice to see this getting some respect
A World Without Thieves (dir. Feng Xiaogang) I have no idea why this is here. A decent movie, but nothing that would have raised eyebrows in the past. Is this Taiwan showing some love for Andy Lau, the one remaining totally bankable Hong Kong box office star?

Best Director:
Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle)
Hou Hsiao-hsien (Three Times)
Johnnie To (Election)
Tsai Ming-liang (The Wayward Cloud)

Best Leading Actor:
Chang Chen (Three Times)
Chen Kun (West Lake Moment)
Aaron Kwok (Divergence) I have no idea why this is here.
Tony Leung Ka-fai (Election)

Best Leading Actress:
Cheng Shiang-chyi (The Wayward Cloud)
Michelle Krusiec (Saving Face) hey! This guy's Asian American! It is a small world after all.
Shu Qi (Three Times)
Miriam Yeung (Drink Drank Drunk)

Best Supporting Actor:
Alex Fong (Drink Drank Drunk)
Anthony Wong (Initial D)
Wong Tin-lam (Election)
Yuen Wah (Kung Fu Hustle)

Best Supporting Actress:
Hsiao Shu-shen (Love's Lone Flower)
Lu Yi-ching (Blue Cha-Cha)
Teresa Mo (2 Young)
Yuen Qiu (Kung Fu Hustle)

Best Action Choreography:
Election (Wong Chi-wai)
Kung Fu Hustle (Yuen Wo-ping)
Seven Swords (Lau Kar-leung, Stephen Tung, Xiong Xinxin)
A World Without Thieves (Benz Kong)
It's like a world in which Jackie Chan doesn't exist. Weird.

Best Original Film Score:
Blue Cha-Cha (Cin Cin Lee)
Divergence (Anthony Chue)
Election (Lo Ta-yu)
The Heirloom (Jeffrey Cheng) This is the only nod I could find for Taiwan's horror hit.

October 19, 2005 at 12:05 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


CatLike a scene out of a Takashi Shimizu movie, only with more action and less staring, a cat in a Japanese nursing home has EATEN SOMEONE'S TOES! Earlier this month an elderly patient buzzed in the middle of the night, an attendant raced to her room...and discovered all the toes on her right foot had been chewed off...and swallowed! There were bloody paw prints on the windowsill and the next day, a "fat" black cat that was a regular in the nursing home was arrested when authorities discovered bloodstains around its mouth.

The cat is being held in police custody because now a bunch of vets are saying that a cat couldn't possibly do this.

"Cats get bored really easily. There's no way it could have chewed off all five toes, even if it was close to starvation. To have chewed them off, it would have had to have chomping away for ages. Your average cat's attention span will absolutely not hold for that long," says Sengoku Kasai, a Tokyo vet.

Oh yeah? Look at that cat on the right. Tell me that isn't a cat that's capable of anything. People, the animals have thrown down the gauntlet. This means WAR!

October 19, 2005 at 11:59 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 18, 2005


Korean 'let's kill the president' movie THE PRESIDENT'S LAST BANGYou were up all night, tossing and turning, wondering if you won THE PRESIDENT'S LAST BANG giveaway.

Not if you weren't Rob Smith. Rob won the big prize (four Korean DVDs, a signed poster of the movie, and two tickets to catch the film at Cinema Village or the ImaginAsian). Now, Rob sent in two emails for the contest. I don't know if it was an accident or an attempt to increase his chances, but just so the wrong moral isn't learned here: I took out Rob's second entry. So Rob won without having his two entries in the magic hat. He had one entry, just like everyone else, and he still won. So if you're the kind of person who enters giveaways twice, the lesson to take home is that you only have to enter once to be a winner.

Congratulations, Rob!

October 18, 2005 at 11:30 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Andrew Lau's new movie, DAISYAndrew Lau's new movie, DAISY, starring Korean actors Jyeon Ji-Hyun (MY SASSY GIRL) and Jung Woo-Sung (MUSA) has finished its shooting and showed footage at this year's Pusan. The movie is about a hitman (played by Jung) who falls for a street artist (Jyeon) in Amsterdam. That's two of the movie's posters on the right, and your question is: where did I get this information? From this insanely detailed, photo-licious site all about the shoot in Amsterdam.

There's tons of behind the scenes photos of Jyeon and Jung, as well as juicy tidbits, like the day a suicide killed themselves near the set and shut down production for half an hour (and freaked out Jyeon). You even get details like: "They committed suicide by jumping off a nearby bridge,landing right smack in the crossroads and being run over by an oncoming car. The result was gruesome."

You can't beat this site with a stick, folks. Check it out.

October 18, 2005 at 11:28 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (4)


KOFIC, Korea's film commission, is the gold standard for Asian countries looking to help out their film industries, and Hong Kong filmmakers have been gagging to get back to the cash-rich old days and revive their much-reduced industry. And so...a committee was formed.

There was already the relatively useless Film Services Advisory Committee, but last year an emergency task force was thrown together and it came up with the idea for the Film Development Committee. Yesterday, the HKSAR Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, announced the eleven members of the FDC:

Jack So – Deputy chairman and group managing director of PCCW
Chan Wing-mei – Director of exhibitor Newport Entertainment
Felix Fong – Solicitor and vice-chairman of the Liquor Licensing Board
Crucindo Hung – General manager of distributor Delon International
Bill Kong – Executive director of Edko Films
Terry Lai – CEO of distributor-exhibitor Intercontinental Group
Peter Lam – Chairman of Media Asia Group
John Sham – Executive secretary of the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers
Nansun Shi – Executive director of Film Workshop
Suen Kwok-lam – Executive director of Henderson Land
Raymond Wong – Chairman of Mandarin Entertainment

The goal of the FDC? To study and develop a plan for a film committee. That's right: this isn't the organization filmmakers have been begging for for the last six or seven years. This is a committee to study how to put together that committee.

October 18, 2005 at 11:27 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


EYE 2 is getting the remake green light via New LineIt's not just the Pang Brother's EYE that's getting a remake, now it looks like their THE EYE 2 is getting the remake green light via New Line. Vertigo (Roy Lee, the remake king's company) and Gold Circle are producing the movie and New Line is distributing.

Gold Circle is the company that has brought box office winners like THE WEDDING DATE, WHITE NOISE and JIMINY GLICK IN LALAWOOD to the silver screen. The only box office hit I can find their fingerprints on is MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING.

Gold Circle president, Paul Brooks, is so excited by THE EYE 2 that he erupts in a barrage of cryptic corporate speak, “We think this takes the Asian sub-genre in a whole new direction. It is a chilling and surprising experience.” I have no idea what he's talking about.

Todd Stein is writing the movie and he's the only name attached to the project so far. But who is Todd Stein?

According to his bio, Todd Stein has "...been living and working at Pema Osel Ling, a Tibetan Buddhist Retreat Center in the Santa Cruz mountains, devoting his time and energy in helping to preserve the spiritual and cultural heritage of Tibetan Buddhism."

He won a 2003 Monterey County Film Commission’s “Hollywood Connection 2003 Screenwriting Contest” Award for a spec script called UNBOUND with the logline: " A successful businessman’s life is turned inside out after meeting a mysterious stranger who predicts that he will kill someone…by the end of the week."

Then he got all metaphysical with his script 2:22 - "A frustrated artist starts to realize that the casual events that happen in his life repeat themselves on a daily basis.  He begins to connect this to a murder that took place on the day he was born."

This movie was bought by Gold Circle's Paul Brooks in 2004, and now he's on THE EYE 2. Yay.

October 18, 2005 at 11:26 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Sitges International Film Festival Green Cine has been flinging regular dispatches from the Sitges International Film Festival, which closes today, up on the internet, and the festival looks like it was Asian heavy this year (A BITTERSWEET LIFE, ONE MISSED CALL 2, and so on).

The prizes have all been announced and a bunch went to Asian flicks:

Best Director
Johnnie To for ELECTION (this link also features an English-language transcript of a press conference about the movie with To, Simon Yam and Lam Ka-tung).

Best Actor
Lee Kan-cheng for his performance as the buff porno playboy in Tsai Ming-liang's A WAYWARD CLOUD.
WAYWARD CLOUD also scored a special jury award.

Best Actress
Lee Yeong-Ae for her titular performance in the head-scratching, unsettling, deeply cryptic SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE.

Best Cinematography
SEVEN SWORDS dp Keung Kwok-man.

Best Original Score
Jang Yeong-Gyu for A BITTERSWEET LIFE.

Best Short Film
Taiwan's RESPIRE directed by Wi Ding-ho, a flick influenced by SARS which won two awards at this year's Cannes.

October 18, 2005 at 11:24 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 17, 2005


PERHAPS LOVE, has set its official Chinese release date as December 2Peter Chan's musical, PERHAPS LOVE, has set its official Chinese release date as December 2.

This is two weeks before Chen Kaige's sumptuous-looking THE PROMISE makes its bow, so the strategy looks like it's to own those two weeks before getting squashed like a bug by Chen's fashion forward mega-epic.

On a separate note, PERHAPS LOVE is also Hong Kong's official submission for "Best Foreign Film" in next year's Academy Awards.

October 17, 2005 at 10:35 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


Danwei is reporting that China's State Administration of Film, Television and Radio has issued new regulations about language, mainly that all TV series have to use Mandarin from now on. No regional dialects, no funny accents, just straight up "official" Mandarin. They read, in part:

"...addressing current problems that exist in language use in television series, the following stipulations are reiterated:
1. Language in television series (excluding local traditional opera) should be mainly Mandarin. Under normal circumstances, dialects or non-standard Mandarin are not to be used.
2. Major revolutionary and historically-themed television series, children's series, and series promoting educational content are to use Mandarin.
3.Leaders portrayed in television series are to use Mandarin."

The use of Mandarin as China's official language is nothing new, but these regulations mean several very weird things: the elimination of Taiwanese and Hong Kong language influences on TV hosts; the fact that actors portraying revolutionary heroes, many of whom didn't speak proper Mandarin, will now sound like modern day Beijing residents; and TV series, like Vicki Zhao Wei's much-delayed MOMENT IN PEKING, will have to dub in the dialogue from any Taiwanese actors who appear, in order to avoid their regional accents (there's three actors in MOMENT that require dubbing before it can be aired).

It's a little bit like the bulldozing of the old neighborhoods in Chinese cities, except this time it's on a cultural level. It's modern, it's new, and it destroys the past.

October 17, 2005 at 10:32 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


torture/horror flick, HELL, screening at AFMDespite continual warnings that it's in a state of "crisis," the Thai film industry keeps popping up all over. Here's the yin and yang of the matter: you've got art films that underperform at home (THE TIN MINE) and gutcruncher horror flicks that look like a throwback to the 80's Ho Meng-hua movies usually set in Thailand (ART OF THE DEVIL 2):

THE TIN MINE - Screen Daily's review of Thailand's submission for "Best Foreign Film" at next year's Academy Awards, calls the film "Devoid of any meaningful social, racial or sexual context..." and says it's "pleasant matinee fare."

ART OF THE DEVIL 2 - an ultra-gross trailer for ART OF THE DEVIL 2 is hosted by Twitch as a downloadable WMV file here. You have been warned: there's some "AUDITION with a blowtorch" footage that is genuinely nauseating in this trailer.

Also, there's a still on the right for another torture/horror flick, HELL, that's screening at AFM. Thanks to WiseKwai for that one.

October 17, 2005 at 10:31 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (9)


GRAIN IN EARBigger and better, this year's Pusan Film Fest is counting the tickets sold, looking back on good times, and cleaning up the discarded tissues soaked with tears of joy from hordes of teenaged girls who camped outside hotels to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars. People slept in theaters in order to grab a ticket to the next day's early films, Sammi Cheng showed up looking healthy and ate some ginseng chicken with Stanley Kwan, and Japanese heartthrob, Satoshi Tsumabuki, dashed out of a panel discussion with A BITTERSWEET LIFE star, Lee Byung-Hun, only to return moments later, apologizing profusely and saying that nerves had caused him to take an emergency bathroom break.

The festival had a record 307 movies, sold 192,970 tickets, and had 7,647 media and celebrity guests (almost every celeb attending was Asian). On the other hand, people were pretty dismissive of the quality of films and couldn't name a single stand-out Korean film. The independent Korean film, THE UNFORGIVEN, about the dehumanizing experience of joining the army, was the big winner (four prizes) and the Chinese/Korean co-production GRAIN IN EAR, about a woman operating an illegal kim chee stand, won the "New Currents" prize. Although everyone calls it GRAIN IN EAR, and the poster reads GRAIN IN EAR, could the actual translation of the title be "AN EAR OF GRAIN" as in "an ear of corn"? Dunno, but that's what Xinhua is calling it, in a rare moment of insight. (Of course, they're also repeating the shaky rumor that Michelle Yeoh is going to be in INDIANA JONES 4, a rumor sourced to an idle two-sentence exchange between Steven Spielberg and Yeoh. The rumor is popping up everywhere, but folks: the movie hasn't even been written yet.)

Western festival folks (from Toronto, Cannes and Sundance) are sick and tired of schmoozing and voice their admiration for Pusan's fan-driven festival, while poo-pooing Pusan's intentions to start a market as part of the festival in 2006.

Finally, CJ Entertainment has picked up the local rights to five Asian movies to be part of "The CJ Collection": BE WITH ME (Eric Khoo, Singapore); CITIZEN DOG (Wisit Sasantieng, Thailand); MIDNIGHT MY LOVE (Kongdej Jaturanrassamee, Thailand); MONGOLIAN PING PONG (Ning Hao, China) and POET OF THE WASTES (Iran, Mohammed Ahmadi).

Set pic from DAISYAnd, finally, people are saying that what caused the most excitement at the festival was the trailer for Andrew Lau's (INFERNAL AFFAIRS) next film: DAISY. Starring Jeon Ji-Hyun (MY SASSY GIRL) and set in Amsterdam you can find a zillion set photos for the movie here, as well as detailed production info.

Last but not least, and on a related note, a sharp eyed reader just informed me that Lau's last movie, INITIAL D, which ate up the Asian box office all summer, has finally found an America buyer: Tai Seng. Nothing wrong with Tai Seng, but they usually get movies that every other Western distributor has passed on. Ouch.

October 17, 2005 at 10:27 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 14, 2005


Kino opens THE PRESIDENT'S LAST BANG today in NYC and they've given us a hell of a prize package to give to a lucky reader. Just send in your name and address and I'll put you all in a hat and randomly select a winner on Monday morning.

The prize? A PRESIDENT'S LAST BANG poster signed by Director Im Sang-Soo! Four DVDs of Korean films from Kino (UNTOLD SCANDAL, TELL ME SOMETHING, CHIWAESON, and TAKE CARE OF MY CAT)! And two tickets to see THE PRESIDENT'S LAST BANG in NYC! You can't beat that with a stick.

Just send in your info and wake up early on Monday morning to see who won.

10/18: CONTEST CLOSED! And the winner is...

October 14, 2005 at 01:21 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Johnnie To is currently shooting ELECTION 2An eagle-eyed reader sent me word that Johnnie To is currently shooting ELECTION 2.

Louis Koo's role will be expanded in the second installment of his triad epic. Mark Cheng will also be added to the cast.

A new, less-compelling trailer is up here in Windows Media format.

October 14, 2005 at 01:18 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


Teruo Ishii's SCREWEDApparently NINE SOULS director, Toshiaki Toyoda, is out of the doghouse. Back in August he was busted for possession and his just-completed film, THE HANGING GARDEN, was put on ice by the distributor. Now, the movie has shown up in the AFM catalogue, so it looks like Pony Canyon is ready to start shopping it around. The film is a family drama starring Kyoko Koizumi and Anne Suzuki (A TASTE OF TEA).

Also, Panik House is bringing out a DVD of SCREWED, a freaky-looking movie by Teruo Ishii (the recently-deceased cult director of HORRORS OF MALFORMED MEN) according to Stauffen.de.vu. Go to that link for a really aggravating trailer of this 1998 film featuring an extremely young-looking and dewy-eyed Tadanobu Asano. And click on the poster to see a larger version.

October 14, 2005 at 01:12 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


American Film Market is comingThe American Film Market is coming from November 2-9 and it's the week when distributors pinch, squeeze, weigh and check the teeth of potential new acquisitions. Movies preen and turn on the runway, stand on their pedestals and strike a pose. Everyone gets excited about things like the US premiere of SHA PO LANG, or the screening of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's LOFT, or the 30-minute Thai reel that'll contain footage from the new Tony Jaa film, SWORD. But what about the other movies? The ones no one's heard about? The ones that'll turn up on the shelves at Blockbuster in eight or nine months? For your reading pleasure, here's a listing of what looks weird, cheap, off-beat and potentially fun:

DEEP SEA MONSTER: REIGO - a Japanese WWII, giant monster movie with a very, very long trailer featuring lots of silly hats. The plot description: "A heartrending love story that sinks into the beautiful blue south seas ... the battleship Yamato is confronted with a monster." Stick around for the end of the trailer when Kabukiman shows up out of nowhere.

1942 - THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT meets R-POINT in a Japanese movie about soldiers left behind in the haunted Malaysian jungle with one cameraman filming it all on scratchy old 8mm film. Check out some of the direct shot lifts in the trailer.

IN THE POOL - just what everyone needed: a neurologist who took lessons from Patch Adams. See the wacky trailer that almost makes it look good.

INNOCENT SEVEN - this one actually sounds good: mean parents take their kids to a summer camp where the brats will be sold to the black market for their organs...and it's a comedy.

TOMIE: BEGINNING & TOMIE: REVENGE - numbers 5 and 6 in the Tomie series...nuff said.

THE WIG - a Korean movie about, you guessed it, a haunted wig. As the B-52's would say, "What's that on your head?"

SCARED - a Thai flick whose catalogue synopsis speaks for itself: "A group of freshman are required to undergo a series of tests and games before they can enter the University. One by one the students begin to die. The price of their education is death. Pay to learn. Learn to pray. They're dying to get a good education."

HELL - Thai documentary filmmakers go to Hell. Let's hope they stay there.

Sorry to pick on the Japanese movies so much, but there were more of them there than anything else. Of course, some of these may be undiscovered classics, so prepare to have my opinion change when I actually see them.

October 14, 2005 at 01:09 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


One of the bugbears of Asian film fandom in the US over the past ten years is why Miramax bought so many titles only to never release them. The answer's out, and it ain't pretty. Everyone's linked to this story, but I had to comment on it.

According to this article by Edward Jay Epstein in Slate, after Miramax was sold to Disney, Harvey and Bob's personal bonuses were tied to Miramax's annual performance. If a movie was bought, it wasn't counted as an expenditure until it was released, so the $20 million they reportedly spent on HERO didn't actually show up on the books until 2004, when the movie was released, two years after they actually bought it.

It's high level creative book keeping that means movies like TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER probably never showed up on the ledger sheet at all, because they never released it.

Now that Disney's stuck with a much-less-profitable-than-anticipated Miramax that no one cares about, one wonders if they'll start dumping movies from the archives onto the market in an attempt to make a buck off the dead duck they bought.

October 14, 2005 at 01:07 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Andy Lau has been turned into a comic book characterThe latest Hong Kong trend? Turning actors into cartoons. First up is Andy Lau, who has been turned into a comic book character in Chung Meng-shun's ALL ABOUT LOVE, which is also a radio play (yes, they still do those in Hong Kong) and an album.

Then, in 2007, Edward Yang (YI YI) will release THE WIND, his animated, martial arts feature film which has a main character modeled on Jackie Chan and stunts designed by Jackie's stunt team.

October 14, 2005 at 01:03 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 12, 2005


TOM YUM GOONG will be re-edited for the Western marketWiseKwai has it from reliable sources that TOM YUM GOONG will be re-edited for the Western market. Director Prachya Pinkaew is supposedly involved in the re-editing which will take out Thai "in jokes" and maybe tone down some of the bone-crunching sound effects.

TOM YUM GOONG was picked up by the Weinstein Company (the new outfit run by Miramax's Bob and Harvey Weinstein) who, presumably, asked for the re-edit. This comes as no surprise to anyone who's familiar with the Weinstein's treatment of movies in the past.

October 12, 2005 at 12:46 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (7)


Pusan International Film Festival keeps growing biggerThe Pusan International Film Festival wraps up this Friday, and like a giant monster that keeps growing bigger, it's announced that it will feature a mega-sized film market in next year's festival. Can nothing stops it from taking over the world? Pretty soon this will have to be called the "Pulgasari International Film Festival."

Here's a run-down of what's been happening while you've been napping and while the folks at the festival have been drinking each other under the table and signing deals:

- Concert promoters, Click Stars, have snapped up the US rights to APRIL SNOW, the Korean melodrama that did so-so in Korea but raked in $21 million in Japan in just three weeks. They plan on releasing it in Hawaii in November, and then releasing it to the rest of the US shortly thereafter. Click Stars wants to rapidly reach the Korean and Japanese audience in the US, much in the same way that Tartan had a very successful, rapid release of an unsubbed SILIMIDO in the US a few years ago.

- SPRING IN MY HOMETOWN director, Lee Kwang-Mo, has won the top prize of the Pusan Promotional Plan: $20,000 for his next movie, FAIRY TALE OF A PICTURE TREE, about families divided between North and South Korea. He actually shared the prize with the Thai project, HEARTBREAK PAVILLION, directed by Thunska Pansittivorakul and Sompot Chidgasornpongse about heartbroken people trapped in a boat. Like the POSEIDON ADVENTURE, but with more crying and less Shelley Winters.

- Kim Ki-Duk's next project, BEAUTIFUL, received the most number of meeting requests from people, demonstrating that THE BOW aside, Kim Ki-Duk is still the big daddy of Korean arthouse film overseas.

- LJ Films, which is looking to expand into the US market, released the next movie by Lee Yoon-Ki, the director of the acclaimed THIS CHARMING GIRL, called LOVE TALK, but Adam Hartzell found it underwhelming and has some choice words for the subpar Western talent in the movie.

- SAD MOVIE, another Korean melodrama, was sold to Japan for a price that covers 80% of its budget.

- Tartan bought the Taiwanese horror flick THE HEIRLOOM, as well as CELLO from Korea, and PRAYER and BOOTH from Japan.

- Andrew Lau (INFERNAL AFFAIRS) has a new movie called DAISY set partially in Amsterdam, and it's sold the Malaysian and Singaporean rights for $10 million

- BORN TO FIGHT, the Panna Ritthikrai, action flick from Thailand, and MIDNIGHT MY LOVE, the serious movie with Thai comedian Mum Jokmok, were both sold to CJ Entertainment in Korea (well, BORN TO FIGHT went to CJ, I'm not sure who MIDNIGHT went to, exactly).

You can read Darcy Paq's deep coverage of the festival over here and there's also an essay about the reception of the retro screenings of thriller director Lee Man-Hee's movies there as well. Also, you can read Adam Hartzell's reviews of a lot of what he saw here, here and here.

October 12, 2005 at 12:44 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Lee Myung-Se's THE DUELIST has divided fans like a meat cleaver. Some people walk away shaking their heads and saying, "It's pretty but I hated it," while the others do things like start an on-line fan club where every member has seen it at least 20 times, and one fellow claims that he's watched the candy-colored brain-fryer 73 times.

(Thanks to Goran in Pusan for the tip)

October 12, 2005 at 12:41 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 11, 2005


Director Im Sang-SooOn October 14, Kino will release THE PRESIDENT’S LAST BANG, the new movie from director Im Sang-Soo about the 1979 assassination of Korea’s President Park by his Chief of Intelligence. The movie has caused huge controversy in Korea and there has been a legal injunction filed to remove footage from the movie. Director Im gave this interview when he was in New York recently to attend the New York Film Festival where his movie premiered.

Why did you make this movie now?
Mr. Park was assassinated when I was in high school and, coincidentally, the safe house where he was murdered was also very close to my high school. When it happened, everyone was sobbing about the president’s death, but my father was very happy. That’s my family tradition.

Currently the political party is a liberal party, so I thought this was the right moment to bring the matter up.

Actually, Western people sit back and laugh and enjoy this film, but in Korea nobody laughs, they are very sincere about it because they feel very close to the assassination of Mr. Park. And they feel a kind of pain, because maybe many of them were weeping at his funeral. But that time is gone, and our views on it have changed, and some people feel confused by this. So they can’t enjoy it like you Western people.

What kind of research did you do for this movie, especially the characters played by Baek Yoon-Shik (the Chief of Intelligence, Kim Jae-Gyu) and Han Suk-Gyu?

Actually, it was easy to research this. I used original documents, trial documents mostly, because the trial was open to the public. What you saw in my film is what happened. Right now, there is surviving historical footage but it is only of the facts: the trial and the investigation. But, of course, I think the trial documents were first worked out in the basement torture rooms, so maybe you cannot completely trust them. So the documents remain but nobody knows what really happened that night.

Baek Yoon-Shik and Song Jae-Ho who plays President Park Chun-Hee, are from an older generation and they’re more Republican than Han Suk-Gyu. But Baek Yoon-Shik gave a very famous quote saying that he is not doing this movie for political reasons or to make a statement, he’s doing it as an actor to be in the best film.

**Spoiler Question**

The ending of the movie is very disappointing for the audience. Why do you think Kim Jae-Gyu bungled things so badly?
The problem is that the Chief of Intelligence, Kim Jae-Gyu (Baek Yoon-Shik), went to the military headquarters, not the KCIA (Korean Central Intelligence Agency) headquarters. If he had gone to the KCIA headquarters he would have been able to grab power and his coup would have been successful.  Nobody knows why he went to the military headquarters instead, but there is one conspiracy theory about this: maybe he was led to believe that the American CIA would support his actions. But I think maybe they deceived him about that.

Why wasn’t that portrayed in the film?

It’s just a conspiracy theory – I have no proof and I have to pretend to be objective in my films. Although I did include some lines referring to this. 

**End Spoilers**

Director Im Sang-Soo on the set Was President Park’s love of Japan and Japanese culture widely known while he was president?
It was widely known to intellectuals, but not to the general public. He was a Japanese officer when Korea was a colony of Japan and his job was to hunt members of the Korean Independent Army in Manchuria. He loved Japanese culture, and thought of himself as half-Japanese, but for political reasons he pretended to bash Japan in public. That this kind of guy became president of Korea is the most tragic thing in Korean history.

There are parts of this movie where people act ridiculously. What did you think the value of treating the assassination this way was?
I think my film is very serious film, but you may find very silly thing or comic things in it. But I would say that our serious lives contain such stupidity.

Who is giving the voiceover at the end of the movie?
The actress who was with the President that night.

Was she the only survivor?
No. The singer and the actress are alive, and the mother and daughter at the start of the film are fictional. The butler is still alive but he disappeared. He must still be in Korea, but no one knows where.

While researching the movie did you talk to anyone from that night?
No one.

Did anyone get in touch with you?
Yes. The son of the president’s secretary called me, and he wanted to meet me and say something on behalf of his father. But I rejected his invitation. Very politely.

Did you change anything in the movie from what happened that night?
I changed some very small things. But I say again that what you saw in my film is what really happened. Because I say that, that’s the reason why they are very furious with my film and sued it and why CJ Entertainment [the distributor] abandoned it. Because I say it’s true.

During production were you aware of the potential difficulties the movie would face?
No. In Korea we have the constitutional right of free expression. We’ve accomplished many things in our recent history.

So during production, with the media’s help, there was no article about the film, and the content wasn’t released to the public. But one reporter got a copy of the script before the movie was finished and he wrote an article saying that this movie was bashing President Park. Then Mr. Park’s son saw the film a week before the premiere, and two days before the film’s release we got the injunction saying we can’t include the documentary footage in the release print.

Was the injunction politically motivated?
Frankly speaking, the judge in the case is a strong candidate for the Supreme Court so he needs to play the game, save face and do what’s good for him.

The person behind the injunction is Park Geun-Hye, the daughter of the president and the leader of the right opposition party. In the funeral footage at the end of the movie, she appears in the footage and I think it personally hurt her feelings, and it would have hurt her politically.

Have you spoken with her?


Are you appealing the decision?
Yeah. The trial is ongoing. It’s a very silly judgement. It was tremendously painful to me when I saw the re-edited film. The right of final cut is not mine, it’s my producers, so I couldn’t help it. But the trial is ongoing and someday my director’s cut will be shown.

After the injunction, CJ Entertainment abandoned the movie as well. Were you disappointed?

Definitely. I can say that any time. I can say that to the head of CJ Entertainment. You have to understand Korean society. CJ is a kind of chaebol, and the chaebols were created by Mr. Park, so in a way they are partners. So how can they release this movie about their partner?

But why didn’t it occur to CJ earlier that this might be a problem?
Because they are stupid. They read script but they don’t know how powerful this film will be. When they saw the edited footage they were shocked and they had many meetings at CJ headquarters and finally abandoned it.

Will this film hurt your career?
We will see. I don’t know. I’m a little bit worried because the ultra-wing press hates me. But hey, I’m a brave man. I’ll continue.

Many recent Korean movies, like JSA, have talked about Korean politics and they always seem to face trouble. Do you think Korea is still living in a fantasy about its recent history?
Maybe, but a few are struggling for the truth. You know, I don’t see JSA as political. I don’t think it’s close to my film at all.

Did you feel responsible to history and the people involved in the assassination when you made this movie?
Personally I really enjoyed making this film because all the actors were very professional and they did a very good job. As I said, Korean people could not enjoy this film because they don’t want to face the facts. They’re too close to it in their own lives. But as a film director I think that’s my duty, to make them face the facts of what happened.

I don’t want to frame or blame Mr. Park - it was 25 years ago. I just want to depict a certain mentality in which every human relationship is based on hierarchical power, and every problem is solved by violence. I want to depict that kind of mentality. I saw “The West Wing” on TV recently and all the characters are so politically correct, so decent, so sincere, it’s just a fantasy about politics. I ask you Americans whether you believe politics are closer to the way they are on “The West Wing”, or closer to the way they are in my film.

(THE PRESIDENT'S LAST BANG opens in New York on October 14)

October 11, 2005 at 05:25 PM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (3)


The classic DRAGONS FOREVERIt's been 17 years since the martial arts three musketeers - Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao - have worked together but now Jackie says they're all going to be part of his upcoming PROJECT BB (scroll down the page for the info). The movie about three thieves who steal a baby had announced a cast of Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Eric Tsang, but at the Pusan Film Festival Jackie said that his two martial arts "brothers" would be cast, and that he might even add a Korean star to the mix as well.

Jackie, Sammo and Yuen all learned Chinese opera under Master Jim Yuen when they were kids, and Sammo is the older brother of the three. Originally Sammo was the bigger star and the first to make it in movies, but a series of flops and a divorce damaged his celebrity status and he was eclipsed by Jackie's meteoric rise to fame. Yuen Biao was the younger brother and he has been plagued by gambling debts and lousy movies for the past ten years and fallen further than either Sammo or Jackie ever has. The three reportedly fell out in 1988 after making their classic DRAGONS FOREVER, and although Sammo has worked with Yuen since then and Jackie has worked with Sammo, the three haven't teamed up since that 1988 film.

Of course, Jackie says a lot of things, but let's all hope this one is true.

October 11, 2005 at 05:23 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Jackie Chan's outburst about the Hong Kong film industry not being all it can be has already earned some choice words from Johnnie To. But now, leading man Tony Leung Chiu-wai has spoken out publicly to take Jackie down a peg or two. "You [Jackie Chan] are not a myth. You can't count on a few people's powers to create a myth and save the film market." It's a little cryptic, but you can bet he's ticked off. Tony never says anything bad about anybody, so his steam-o-meter must really be in the red to say something now.

October 11, 2005 at 05:13 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (6)

October 10, 2005


Chen Kaige's fantasy martial arts spectacular, THE PROMISE, already has two titles: THE PROMISE, in English, and WU JI (which means, roughly, "limitless") in Chinese. The Weinstein Brothers are releasing it in the US in December, and MonkeyPeaches is reporting that they may have changed the English name to MASTER OF THE CRIMSON ARMOR. Which isn't a very good name at all.

October 10, 2005 at 10:40 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (4)


THE PRESIDENT'S LAST BANGIt's THE PRESIDENT'S LAST BANG week here at Kaiju Shakedown. The controversial, Korean, President popping movie opens on October 14 and I love it. Not only is it a fun flick, but seeing it is a poke in the eye to thin-skinned politicos who won a legal injunction to have footage removed from the movie on the grounds that "audiences couldn't tell what was real and what was not." Isn't this what people wanted to do to JFK when it came out?

The removed footage is documentary footage at the front and back of the film, and what remains is still great but come on - when did the courts start holding the hands of moviegoers? The injunction has a lot more to do with the political ambitions of the assassinated President Park's daughter than it does with any concern for easily confused and slightly stupid ticket holders, as you'll read in an interview with Director Im Sang-Soo later this week.

Meanwhile: you can see the movie's trailer here. And read the Variety review here. And my review here.

October 10, 2005 at 10:39 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Korean 'let's kill the president' movie THE PRESIDENT'S LAST BANGIn 1971, President Park Chun-Hee rescinded the Korean constitution and assumed the powers of a dictator. In 1979, Kim Jae-Gyu, his Chief of Intelligence, assassinated him during a dinner party at a Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) safehouse. THE PRESIDENT’S LAST BANG is a blow-by-blow account of the president’s last night, his brain getting blown out, and what happens before dawn as the pieces of the power puzzle are reassembled into a new government. It’s all a kinky, historical thrill ride with teeth.

Despite being the leaders of their nation, the president and his cabinet are more concerned with what’s in their pants than with what’s happening in their country, and they have all the prejudices, stubbornness, and blindness to the facts around them as any group of old dudes in power. By the time Kim Jae-Gyu blows away President Park you don’t know if he’s pulling the trigger because he believes in democracy, or because he’s been driven crazy by stress-related constipation. And that’s the sick genius of this movie: it makes the political personal. This isn’t a sanctimonious, animatronic Hall of Presidents but a orgasmatronic political whorehouse.

The camera slides and glides all over the shadowy set, insinuating itself into conversations and then slipping back into the murky darkness on little cat feet.

Baek Yoon-Shik (the kidnapped CEO from SAVE THE GREEN PLANET) turns in a phenomenal performance as Kim Jae-Gyu, the tormented, dying Chief of Intelligence. He’s not a very likeable guy to be the hero of a movie, and with his eyes constantly fixed on some kind of tortured Hell Dimension that only he can see, and his mouth continually spewing morbid non-sequitor transmissions from the bowels of his fevered brain, it’s hard to get a handle on him, but if he’s anything he’s deeply watchable, a change agent on crystal constantly throwing a wrench in the works.

The big acting surprise in the movie, though, is Han Suk-Gyu as a foul-mouthed, inherently decent, bubble-blowing bully boy bodyguard who doles out punishment in the basement and struggles to grab glory wherever it presents itself upstairs in the moonlight. Normally Han Suk-Gyu is a matinee idol, but here he comes across as a character actor, attacking his role in an incandescent blaze of profanity.

The only problem with this movie is an ending that lets the audience down. I suppose it’s what happened historically, but all this suffering and bloodshed for this?!? The movie takes such pains to present history as drama and not as a gallery exhibition that when history pokes its grizzled old nose into the finale and wraps everything up for us it’s bone jarring. But once you get over your initial revulsion for the change of gears you’ll walk out of the theater thinking that history pretty much sucks. Too bad we’re living in it.

October 10, 2005 at 10:34 AM in Film Reviews | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 06, 2005


Filmbrain: a wildlife preserve for the brainiacsSometimes I feel like all message boards sound the same:

"i think sammi rox...so kool :))"

"du u no where more movie with the ROCK!!!?????"

"u r stupid...die!"

But then I stumble onto a wildlife preserve for the brainiacs, like Filmbrain, where everyone drinks tea with their pinkies in the air, and no one pees on the carpet. Current conversation: does the world need to be saved from Park Chan-Wook? I even chime in for a moment, only to be slapped down like a redheaded stepchild seconds later.

October 6, 2005 at 09:36 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (6)


Although he's announced enough movies to keep himself busy for the next ten years, Prachya Pinkaew (ONG BAK, TOM YUM GOONG) has announced another new project. This time, according to WiseKwai, it's a movie about love between a Thai guy and a Laotian woman. He says he's seen too many problems between Thailand and Laos and the only solution is a love story that will bring these Southeast Asian Montagues and Capulets together and seal their friendship with a kiss.

Read the full story here.

October 6, 2005 at 09:34 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Johnnie To is never one to mince wordsJohnnie To is never one to mince words, and he has a few, choice, unminced ones for Andy Lau and Jackie Chan.

These days, everyone has an opinion about why Hong Kong doesn't make as many movies as it used to. Jackie thinks it's because the movies aren't as good as they were, and because the film industry isn't as united as it was.

Here's what To thinks about Jackie: "He usually isn't so good at talking and doesn't understand how the market operates ... films are made only when bosses are willing to invest. Where there are audiences, bosses would keep investing their money."

These days, everyone has a plan to save the Hong Kong film industry. Andy Lau heard Jackie's plea for unity and said he wants to make a movie with himself, Stephen Chow, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-fat and Tony Leung Chiu-wai. If no one will put up the budget, he'll back it himself. He thinks this supermovie will be unbeatable.

To thinks this plan has a few problems: "How are we going to get the five people together to make a film? How long would it take to organise it? Why doesn't he invite Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise?"

Go, go, Johnnie To!

October 6, 2005 at 09:33 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (8)

October 05, 2005



It's a crazy mixed-up world we live in, and loving someone is an invitation to trouble. Open up your heart, and you're letting in killer comedian gatekeepers, thousands of identical souls that turn into flying head sperm things, the chance that mushrooms may grow out of your face while you sleep, Master Hot and his eternally lost assistant, elephants with tasty fins and poisonous eyebrows, Arata (PING PONG) tending a bar for dead people that only exists in the dreams of their lovers, and Excalibur, King Arthur's DNA splitting sword. Once you realize that this is all true, YAJI AND KITA: THE MIDNIGHT PILGRIMS is actually a reasonable film. If you have trouble with any of these concepts, then this movie will spin your head right off.

The directorial debut of Kudo Kankuro (who wrote PING PONG and GO) YAJI AND KITA: THE MIDNIGHT PILGRIMS is based on the 1958 film, YAJIKITA DOCHU SUGOROKU about two samurai, Yaji and Kita, who go on a pilgrimage to Ise Temple to get away from their wives for a little while. YAJI AND KITA tells the exact same story, except it's a anachronism-drunk musical about the gay samurai, Yaji and Kita, who are going to Ise Temple because Kita is hooked on drugs and Yaji wants to help him get the monkey off his back. Their journey starts in a dream about Death Tetris and the movie is clotted with dreams, trances, drug-induced fantasies, and imaginary sequences. Give up trying to keep it straight as to which world you're looking at because you won't be able to tell the difference. Yaji and Kita kick off their journey with a musical number celebrating their exciting trip where they won't have to deal with any women because they're, "BORN...BORN TO BE GAY!" then they hop on board a giant motorcycle (right out of EASY RIDER) and roar off to Ise, before getting pulled by a traffic cop who sends them back to the Edo Era. And this is the reality part of the movie.

A knockabout comedy, heavily influenced by Monty Python and unhealthily obsessed with drugs, stand-up comedians, singing and stupidity, YAJI AND KITA: THE MIDNIGHT PILGRIMS is one of those flicks that makes the serious amongst us get headaches. The acting style is broad one second, before switching back and becoming lethally underplayed, and the fantasy sequences sometimes feel like something you dreamed just last night, but they sometimes look like something you've never thought of (and in the case of a painful scrotum-stretching scene, something you've never wanted to think of) but there's a method to all this madness.

Stick with this movie, because everything winds up making a funny kind of sense. There's a third act dive into seriousness (in a metaphysical, "I'm trapped in a bathhouse in limbo" kind of way) and while you may not quite follow exactly what's going on at every second (there were several times when I was laughing but not quite sure what I was laughing at) that's the message of this movie, delivered with reality-shattering skills: the world's a mess, but at least we've got each other.


October 5, 2005 at 02:29 PM in Film Reviews | Permalink | Comments (1)


I've been giving Bangkok's World Film Festival a hard time, but it looks like they're doing something right with Vimuk-thi Jayasundara's movie FORSAKEN LAND. The movie won the Camera d'Or at Cannes this year (sharing the prize with ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW) which seemed like a victory for the director who had been threatened by the Sri Lankan military while making his "unpatriotic" movie.

Winning the Camera d'Or gave the movie a high profile and it was released in Sri Lanka, but almost immediately the country's National Film Corporation pulled it out of 5 major theaters, and the producer canceled the rest of the engagements to protest this treatment. No reason was given by the Film Corporation for pulling the film.

Director Vimuk-thi Jayasundara claims he's worried he might be arrested, and has reportedly gone to France before appearing at the World Film Festival in Bangkok to present his movie.

The synopsis for the movie:
"Neither war nor peace, just the wind blowing
God is absent, but still the sun rises
Over a lonely home between two trees in a forsaken land
A hand emerges from the water, begging for help
A legendary woman searches for love
A soldier kills a stranger, and is burdened by guilt"

Which sounds pretty deadly, and this Variety review says it's pretty but boring. However, no one should be stopped from making a movie (unless it stars Martin Lawrence), and no one deserves the barely literate criticisms appearing on this message board.

October 5, 2005 at 02:28 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Missasia Missasiawinner_web_1Ladies and Gentlemen...meet the newest woman to wear the high, pointy crown of Miss Asia: Kitty Wang (see left).

Yes, this Chinese contestant defeated 18 other contenders to take the crown. pictured right is Hong In-Young from Korea, in the strange pose that may have cost her her shot at the coveted crown.

Kitty Wang owns you. It's Kitty Wang's world, you just live in it. Hello Kitty...Wang. And so on.

More photos here.

October 5, 2005 at 02:25 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


In a world where two DVD formats fight for supremacy, one format comes from somewhere no one expected: China.

Yes - forget about your Blu-Ray and your HD-DVD squabbling...China has announced that it will develop its own high definition, fancy, new DVD format in an effort to "shake off their previous dependence on foreign technologies." And, of course, to shake off their royalty payments to foreign companies.

Snicker if you will, but with 2/3 of the world's DVD players bearing the "Made in China" stamp, you too may soon be familiar with the EVD (Enhanced Video Disc) format.

October 5, 2005 at 02:15 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)


Recent Bollywood comedy NO ENTRY was a surprise hitThe recent Bollywood comedy, NO ENTRY, was a surprise hit, pulling in way more money than anyone expected. A lot of that money may have come from Jaikumar.

Jaikumar lives in Aurangabad, and he has taken in the 6pm NO ENTRY show at his local cinema every day for the past five weeks. When Indians love movies, they really love movies - SHOLAY ran, I believe, for 5 years; and DDLJ is the longest running movie in Bollywood history, it's still running 10 years after it was first released.

Jaikumar is celebrating the sixth week of NO ENTRY's release by...continuing to take in the 6pm show every day.

October 5, 2005 at 01:50 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 04, 2005


We've been tracking the developments in the  Yan Yi/Snow White debacle where Lydia Shum and Adam Cheng's daughter, Cheng Yan-yi, who lost a lot of weight, sang and danced while dressed as Snow White to celebrate the opening of Disney Hong Kong. This generated a record-breaking 350 complaints from viewers who found the dance "disgusting" and "likely to scare children".

Now, Hong Kong's Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority has investigated and found...no cause for complaint!

They said the comments were directed at Yan Yi, not the broadcast, and we all know Yan Yi isn't very popular in Hong Kong.

So why do people hate Yan Yi so much? Television Stephen Sze Man-hung tries to explain it:

"The reason for all these complaints might be because most people's perception of a princess is an innocent, elegant and beautiful western woman. Using somebody [Cheng] who did not have a beautiful face or the perfect body to portray a princess may have offended people and ruined their perception of a princess."

The article that reported the result also mentions that Yan Yi lost 45 kg in the past two years.

October 4, 2005 at 03:16 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


Hoga Central reports that SHINOBI is sitting at number 4 at the Japanese box office and has been approached for remake rights by a company called Offroad Pictures. I can't find any info on Offroad, so chime in if you know anything further.

October 4, 2005 at 03:14 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


Kenta Fukasaku has announced his next projectKenta Fukasaku, the son of Kinji Fukasaku and the director of the much-maligned BATTLE ROYALE 2, has announced his next project on the sly. He's in Tokyo at the Tokyo Project Gathering, looking for money for ELLE IS BURNING! a big-budget action movie written by GHOST IN THE SHELL's Mamoru Oshii. The catalogue description reads:

"A big-budget action movie about a battle between the refugee and the armed forces of Tokyo Metropolitan Police in the near future."

(Thanks to Anime News Service for the tip)

October 4, 2005 at 02:50 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


MARRYING THE MAFIA 2 opened on September 8 and now, less than one month later, it's hit the 5 million viewer mark. It's the third movie this year (WELCOME TO DONGMAKOL and MARATHON are the other two) to hit 5 million viewers. Seeing that in the previous history of Korean film only 7 movies have hit five million viewers, and in the first half of 2005 three movies have hit or passed that mark, I think it's safe to say that Korean movies are on a roll.

October 4, 2005 at 02:36 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


A savvy reader has pointed my nose towards AIN'T IT COOL which has the American trailer for THREE...EXTREMES, now with differences. (Go here and see it, in Windows Media format)

Lion's Gate is releasing the movie and they've changed the name to THREE EXTREMES (ellipses removed, which makes sense) and reshuffled the order of the sequences (which doesn't). Originally, the movie started with Takashi Miike's BOX, which left viewers confused; continued with Park Chan-Wook's CUT, which was a little bit more exciting but still didn't hit the sweet spot; and finished with Fruit Chan's DUMPLINGS, which pretty much blew folks away.

From what I remember, the Lion's Gate version starts with DUMPLINGS, then finishes with CUT, then BOX (or is it BOX then CUT - I'm not quite sure, but I know it starts with DUMPLINGS). The problem here is that the movie starts on a high note, and then doesn't have a lot of places to go, rather than finishing on a high note.

Not that DUMPLINGS is better than BOX or CUT (although I much prefer it) but it is the most shocking and memorable of the three, so it's weird to start with it.

Also, notice in the trailer that most of the footage comes from BOX and then CUT with almost no footage from DUMPLINGS. I'm pretty sure Lion's Gate is nervous about how DUMPLINGS will go over. Which may be reasonable, my standards are so warped I'm not sure anymore.

October 4, 2005 at 02:33 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 03, 2005


Jackie Chan doing the English language dub for NEW POLICE STORY Jackie Chan's NEW POLICE STORY looks set for a US release - possibly theatrical.

Chan's website reported that Jackie was in LA with his dialogue coach doing the English language dub for the movie (and they even have the pictures to prove it).

Screen Daily is saying that Miramax, the Weinstein Company, and possibly Lion's Gate (?!?) will be jointly releasing the movie theatrically.

October 3, 2005 at 11:50 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


A photo the world thought it would never seeA photo the world thought it would never see: Hong Kong superbad superstar Anthony Wong shares screen space with yesterday's "next Robert DeNiro" Edward Norton.

Both men star in upcoming THE PAINTED VEIL, directed by John Curran (WE DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE) and also starring Naomi Watts. The movie is about a doctor's wife, ignored by her husband, whose road to self-discovery involves messing about in a cholera epidemic in 1920's Shanghai. The whole movie (including London scenes) is being shot in China.

(Thanks to MonkeyPeaches)

October 3, 2005 at 11:44 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


There's not just an Indian Spiderman in the Indian Marvel comic book, now there's one in movies. The upcoming comedy SHAADI NO. 1 was supposed to star Sanjay Dutt as Spiderman, but now Zayed Khan is playing the part.

One wonders if anyone contacted the currently very litigous Marvel comics about this.

October 3, 2005 at 11:42 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Jackie Chan, looking cranky and stressed outJackie Chan, sounding cranky and stressed out, launched into a tirade against Chinese movie fans, Korean movie fans, and the Chinese press while attending a party in Guangzhou last Wednesday.

Although THE MYTH is doing well in China, Jackie isn't happy about it."Whenever South Korean stars come to China, our domestic newspapers dedicate the most striking headline coverage to them. But their (South Korean) newspapers don't give much space to the visiting Chinese stars and leave the main space for their own stars. This is exactly the exponents of national spirit." So, I think that means he likes the South Koreans for this.

He went on to say, "The prosperity of South Korean movies doesn't mean the movies have high quality," and he attributed their success to national support.

Then he said that Chinese movie fans should show more support for Chinese movies.

A nervous publicist then stepped in and said he was sure THE MYTH would set a National Day record at the box office.

But it's not just Jackie, it's Jay Chou's fans, too. Apparently at a concert in Harbin an angry fan fought his way through the overcrowded audience and went backstage. He asked, "Who is Jay Chou's manager?" And Jay Chou's manager stepped forward and got hit. Then he asked, "Who is the organizer?" Someone pointed out the three-months pregnant organizer, and the guy started punching her, too. Then the assailant asked, "Where is Jay Chou?" But by this point people were catching on and no one told him where Jay Chou was and a security guard stepped in to intervene. How'd the guy get backstage in the first place? Reports say he was a cop.

When asked about the assault, the TWINS just giggled and said that this kind of thing happens to them all the time. Charlene Choi elaborated, "Once when we held a concert in Shanghai, our car was surrounded by fans. The security guard thought our assistant was one of our fans so he punched her in the face."

The wave of injustice continued as Edison Chen received a parking ticket. Edison, however, chose to stop the cycle of anger and just accepted the ticket even though he had just run inside really quickly. We should all try to be more like Edison.

October 3, 2005 at 11:39 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Renee Zellweger is starring in THE EYE remakeTom Cruise is producing, Hideo Nakata (THE RING) is directing, and Renee Zellweger is starring in THE EYE remake.

The Pang brothers released their hit horror flick three years ago, but now the American version is good to go in early 2006.

Clip n' Save this handy reference chart:

Original to Remake chart
THE RING (Japanese version) 1998
THE RING (Hollywood version) 2002
Total time - 4 years

IL MARE (Korean version) 2000
IL MARE (Hollywood version) 2006
Total time - 6 years

THE EYE (Hong Kong version) 2002
THE EYE (Hollywood version) 2006
Total time - 4 years

October 3, 2005 at 11:24 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)