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January 30, 2006


LADY VENGEANCE (the movie formerly known as SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE) is getting a US theatrical release from Tartan, but the date has moved. The movie's official release date which shouldn't change unless we're invaded by giant jellyfish is May 5th.


January 30, 2006 at 09:48 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Well, they certainly should have left that one alone. Under pressure from the MPA, Korea just cut its protective screen quota system in half, infuriating the local film industry. But before they can roll around on the floor giggling, the MPA finds that they've actually made things worse for themselves. In a sop to the local film industry, Korea has unveiled a plan to charge a 5% tax on every film ticket sold starting in 2007 (the MPA had previously protested a 10 cent tax on movie tickets in Mexico).

So instead of continuing a screen quota system that wasn't really hurting anyone (most Korean cinemas at this point show Korean movies for at least the quota-mandated 106 days/year if not more) the MPA has encouraged Korea to put a tax on movie tickets that'll effect everyone for years to come.

You can read more on this issue in a Variety article by Darcy Paquet, or read Darcy's blog entry about this issue where the sound of him shaking his head in bafflement and frustration can be heard across the Pacific.

January 30, 2006 at 09:45 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


THE PROMISE wreaked Shangri La, in Yunnan Province

As if there wasn't enough PROMISE-hating in the Chinese blogosphere, now there comes an investigative report from Nanfengchuang Magazine about the damage THE PROMISE wreaked on the environment when it shot in Shangri La, in Yunnan Province an area often described as "Paradise on Earth" and a gorgeous and fragile place of great natural beauty.

The house that Cecilia Cheung and Hiroyuki Sanada live in was built near a lake in Shangri La, and the exteriors were shot there. However, shoddy construction made the house unsafe, and the cast and crew were withdrawn almost overnight when this was discovered. Later, the house was constructed elsewhere and the shooting took place there.

When a reporter visited Shangri La recently, a year after shooting concluded, he noted that the 300 crew members had descended on Shangri La like a horde of locusts, leaving garbage, unfinished construction projects, and abandoned materials all over the place. Worse than that, some cows ate their plastic tarps and died, leaving locals flummoxed over how to claim compensation.

Despite the fact that other film crews have shot in this location before, and paid a lot of attention to clean up, Chen Kaige is (apparently) such a bigtime player that his crew cleared out overnight, a month ahead of schedule, made no provisions for clean up, and no one in the government thinks he should.

The Shangri La government officials replied that they are paying a high degree of attention to this problem. They said "after the film crew of The Promise left, the government had an unavoidable responsibility to care about and solve this problem in a timely fashion." As to the question about whether the responsibility should belong to the local government or Chen Kaige and the film crew of The Promise, the officials said that they will not be talking to Chen Kaige about that. Instead, they will try to demolish the Flowery Golden House and other structures as quickly as possible and clean out all the trash at the site.

Brought to you by the invaluable EastSouthWestNorth blog where you can read the entire, lousy story.

January 30, 2006 at 09:42 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Six foot wide, 400 pound jellyfishSix foot wide, 400 pound jellyfish are breeding in Chinese and South Korean waters and oozing towards Japan in a jiggly wave. They can't kill anyone, they can barely even sting you, but they're clogging fishermens' nets and crowding out all the yummy fish.

I refer readers to the passage in Revelations:

"And behold! Another seal was opened and following upon the four riders was a great wave of fish made as of jelly, like beanbag chairs of blubber. And the snotty invaders will fall upon man and the works of man thereof and will lay waste to all his achievements and make as of dust all his dreams. For how shall a man be of good nature and enjoy the fruits of his labors and make of himself a godly man when a 400 pound pile of jelly sits upon his living room floor and jiggles ominously."

January 30, 2006 at 09:35 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


In the US it was BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE 2 that rocked the weekend, but across Asia it was FEARLESS, Jet Li and Ronny Yu's farewell to wu shu (but not to action movies). The reviews are in and you can read them here, here and here but the general tone is: great action (brutal, not beautiful, however), weak drama, but overall a good movie and nothing to be embarrassed by.

In Singapore there's some consternation because FEARLESS was hit with an NC-16 rating due to its violence. This is one of Singapore's mature ratings and is what THE WEDDING CRASHERS, which features nudity, was given. This means viewers under 16 cannot watch the film, which is a bummer for Li and Yu since they designed FEARLESS to speak directly to Asian teenagers whom they felt were suffering from spiritual hopelessness.

January 30, 2006 at 09:33 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


THE BLOSSOMING OF MAXIMO OLIVEROS is a Filipino film about a 12-year old cross-dresser who lives in the slums and is in love with a cop. As queasy-making as it sounds, it's been getting good reviews and a lot of attention, and just played at Sundance where Variety's Dennis Harvey reviewed it.

January 30, 2006 at 09:27 AM in Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0)


Koki Mitani's hotel farce, ECSTASY HOTEL, starring Koji Yakusho is still going strong in Japan and Mark Schilling gives it a glowing review in the Japan Times.

January 30, 2006 at 09:20 AM in Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 27, 2006


Master KishanHis name is Master Kishan, he's ten years old, and he's directing his first feature. I would laugh except that it's starring Jackie Shroff. This rugrat has been acting since he was four years old and it was logical that after appearing in 24 movies and 1,000 episodes of a Kannada soap opera he would turn his tiny hand to directing.

The movie sounds potentially toxic. Called C/O FOOTPATH it all came to Master Kishan when he saw homeless children while riding in a car with his dad.

"Papa, why do they not go to school like me?"
"Because, Master Kishan, they have no parents. And one day...you shall make a film about them."

Master had to ask many questions on the set, and he had to watch a lot of DVDs and he had to read a lot of books. And then he wrote a short story about the sad children and got it financed and now it's set to be completed and released this year.

January 27, 2006 at 09:41 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (10)


Kino is releasing Suzuki Seijun's Taisho Trilogy on March 7 of this year, and it looks amazing. Seijun made these three supernatural art films -- KAGERO-ZA, YUMEJI and ZIGEUNERWEISENIN -- in the 1980's as independent productions and they returned him to public acclaim. I've never seen them but from what I've heard they are absolutely stunning.

WOMAN IS THE FUTURE OF MAN is getting a release in New York sometime in February, but New Yorker films hasn't announced the date yet.

Also, only in New York, is Film Comments Selects from February 15 - 28, featuring Stanley Kwan's EVERLASTING REGRET, SHANGHAI DREAMS, Shinji Aoyama's Tadanobu Asano noise rock apocalypse film, ELI ELI LEMA SABACHTANI, BASHING, Shinya Tsukamoto's HAZE, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's short WORLDY DESIRES, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's LOFT, Lu Chuan's KEKEXILI, and Vimukthi Jayasundara's THE FORSAKEN LAND.

Tartan is releasing SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE (retitled LADY VENGEANCE) on May 5.

Jun Awazu's totally, 100% computer generated kaiju eiga, NEGADON, has been picked up by Central Park Media for distribution in the Spring and a video release in the summer. You can see just how good it looks in these trailers.


January 27, 2006 at 09:37 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


There's a fansubbed episode of what looks like a Japanese television show from the 1970's starring...Spider-Man? Yep, it's Toei's late-70's TV version of SPIDER-MAN and believe it or not, this one was an officially licensed Marvel Comics product. In fact, Toei even named SPIDER-MAN's world famous giant flying robot the Marveller, probably in honor of Marvel. Or maybe as a special "thank you". Or maybe as a "duh, everyone knows Spider-Man needs a giant flying robot."

January 27, 2006 at 09:33 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Wilson Yip's follow-up Donnie Yen project after SHA PO LANG is DRAGON TIGER GATE, based on a funkadelic 70's comic book from Hong Kong. The official poster designs were released today and Monkeypeaches has all three up. But for now, Donnie Yen needs a haircut. (And what's up with the stormy clouds clustering around his posterior?) (click the image for a larger size pop-up)

Donnie Yen poster for DRAGON TIGER GATE

January 27, 2006 at 09:31 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)


US soap opera PASSIONS has gone to hell, but now it's going to Bollywood. This is so dreamy.

Passions goes Bollywood

January 27, 2006 at 09:23 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


We reported a little while ago that Salman Khan skipped out of a court date (for poaching - yuck!) to go get hair transplants. And here's what he looks like while his preciouses are sprouting. Check out that hairline! What a lush head of hair awaits him!

Salman Khan and his hair transplants

January 27, 2006 at 09:19 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (8)

January 26, 2006


Korea has reduced its screen quota system by halfBowing to pressure from the United States, Korea reduced its screen quota system today by half. The screen quota system has been the backbone of the Korean domestic film industry since it was established in 1966 - requiring Korean cinemas to show Korean films for 146 days of the year (although with various provisions and waivers in place the actual number is 106 days per year). Starting July 1 that number will be cut in half and the required days will be reduced to 73.

Hollywood, via the MPA, has been pressuring Washington, DC who have in turn been pushing for Korea to eliminate the screen quota system. Ironically, they've cited Korean cinema's success under the screen quota system as proof that it should be eliminated, which angered director Kang Je-Gyu when Jack Valenti, former head of the MPA, cited the success of SHIRI as proof that there was no need for a Korean screen quota system.

The screen quota system has been one of the stumbling blocks in the US and Korea negotiating a Free Trade Agreement since 1999, and this reduction represents a major victory for Hollywood and for Korea's Finance Minister Han Duck-Soo who has pushed for this unpopular move, with his deputies stating that it only serves to protect a "special interest group" (the film industry) which sounds like familiar language to those who follow American politics.

The Korean film industry vows to fight to overturn this move, but it looks like it's too late.

As an American I'd just like to say that while I have a great deal of respect for the work of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) the MPA (the international arm of the MPAA) makes me deeply ashamed. One of the most effective lobbying groups in the United States, the MPA has pushed to remove protections on the Mexican film industry when NAFTA was passed, and if you haven't seen many Mexican films lately that's because without government protection their industry went belly-up. They have established puppet groups in Canada that continually push to remove quotas to protect indigenous television stations and Canadian content on TV, and they have now succeeded in dealing a huge blow to Korea, all in the name of greed. Hollywood earned $8.8 billion dollars at the box office last year, and that's not including what the studios made from television, video and other streams of revenue.

Fortunately, UNESCO's recently passed Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions was signed by every country except for the United States and Israel and now ten of those countries are reportedly discussing the possibility of implementing their own screen quota systems. I also ask any readers who think this isn't a serious issue to identify a country in the world whose domestic film industry accounts for half of its local box office and that doesn't have protective laws in place. India, China and Korea were all protected and they all have (or had) strong local film industries whether you like those industries or not.

I'll climb down off my soapbox now, and you'll have to excuse my frothing at the mouth. I've been passionate about this issue for years, and it really does worry me about the future of the Korean film industry. If you love movies, you want as many countries as possible making as many movies as possible so that you have as many options as possible for what you watch. I hate seeing something like this happen. I didn't even like that many Korean films in 2005 - but at least they were there to be loved or hated.

You can read Variety's extensive coverage and you can see a chronology of the battle over Korea's screen quota system here (just scroll about halfway down the page).

January 26, 2006 at 09:18 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (10)


TOM YUM GOONG, Tony Jaa's follow-up to ONG BAK, set the box office on fire in Thailand last August, did decent business overseas and was promptly snatched up by the Weinstein Company (who recently left Chen Kaige's THE PROMISE abandoned on the side of the highway like a smoking wreck). Most critics (and me, too!) agree that this movie has great action, way better than what was on display in ONG BAK (there's a warehouse fight sequence that hearkens back to the early days of Jackie Chan and then takes a big step forward), but the story and the acting are way worse. Although there is a super-cute baby elephant and that does make a difference.

So when will TOM YUM GOONG hit US shores? No one knows. The Weinstein Co. has announced their big films all the way up through Summer 2006 and TOM YUM GOONG is nowhere to be found. The list of what's coming in 2006 from Exhibitor Relations doesn't list it. Variety has reviewed the movie recently, but Derek Elley had to rely on an unsubtitled Hong Kong VCD to see the film. So what's going on?

My prediction? Straight to video.

January 26, 2006 at 04:55 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)

January 25, 2006


If you love Hong Kong movies, you know the pain of not being able to own a decent version of a classic film. I can't watch the DVD of PEKING OPERA BLUES despite how great the picture looks because it's missing the ending, and instead I have to rely on a crummy VCD of the film. DVDs are released with new (and crummy) sound effects, poor subtitles, tinny remixed soundtracks, or a good version of a movie comes out on disc and three months later it's out of print.

Now, Fortune Star has licensed hundreds of their titles to an independent DVD distributor according to this post on the Asian DVD Guide Forum. Fortune Star was the company that handled licensing Star TV's library of films which basically includes every single classic in the Hong Kong heavens: John Woo's films, Jackie Chan's films, most of Tsui Hark, Sammo Hung and Ringo Lam's output. If there's a classic Hong Kong film (pre-94) that you want to see, it will be in this library which has been much abused by previous distributors.

The new, unnamed distributor plans on putting out a line of digitally-remastered titles and non-remastered titles and best of all...apparently the distributor wants to hear what fans want to see on these discs!What kind of remastering? What kind of extras?

For those of us who have been begging for these movies to be released with their original soundtracks, in their original formats then go over to the Asian DVD Guide Forum and let these folks know what you think. And be polite: the future distributor of our collective dreams is reading.

There's this thread for input on the digitally remastered line and this thread for input on the non-remastered line.

And what does the number one source for Jackie Chan news have to say about this? We asked Jones, Jackie's cute puppy about the news, and here's what he had to say:

"I am a Golden Retriever and I live with Jackie and his family in Hong Kong."

Well, that's just because he doesn't want to freak out too early, but just you wait. Those ears are going to be standing up on their own before long.

Jones, Jackie Chan's cute puppy

January 25, 2006 at 10:14 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (16)



Is this a good thing? A bad thing? A somewhere-in-between thing? Dunno, but KRRISH, Bollywood's super-mega-enormous-giant Summer 2006 superhero film, features action choreography by Ching Siu-tung himself. And better than that? You can see it in this teaser trailer for the film!

Ostenisbly the sequel to 2003's ET flick KOI...MIL GAYA starring the double-thumbed Bollywood superstar, Hrithik Roshan, KRRISH picks up after the leads from K...MG have gotten married and had a baby who grows up to be a young man with superpowers. Principal photography is over, the huge chunk of special effects are being worked on while we speak, and judging from the teaser I'm actually sort of looking forward to this one. Hrithik trained in China for 25 days to do the action choreography in this film (he's a bigtime dancer) and the unstoppable star who is known for killing himself on his movies injured himself several times during the shoot, at one point heading back onto the set, jacked up on painkillers, after tearing his hamstring and being ordered into two weeks of bedrest. While shooting in Singapore a cable snapped when Hrithik was 50 feet up in the air on a city street and he could have died if he hadn't hit a shop awning that slowed his fall enough for the shaken star to walk away. Publicity item? Totally untrue? I don't care! There's finally a Bollywood movie coming out that I'm excited by and it's only 5 months away.

January 25, 2006 at 10:09 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (8)


Takashi Miike's violent gay love story, BIG BANG LOVE - JUVENILE ATwo Asian directors are on their way to the Berlin Film Festival in a year where the fest is light on Asian films (but when Lee Young-Ae, SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE, is on the jury). Takashi Miike's violent gay love story, BIG BANG LOVE - JUVENILE A, has been selected for the Panorama section and Pang Ho-cheung's story about a cop hooking up with a hooker who turns out to be his daughter, ISABELLA, has been selected for the festival as well.

Miike's BIG BANG LOVE - JUVENILE A is about a straight guy who works at a gay bar, gets molested by a customer and kills him. Then he goes to prison (which looks like one of the sets from Lars Von Trier's DOGVILLE) and starts a close friendship with another guy whom he winds up killing, too. It sounds more like a Kim Ki-Duk film than something from Takashi Miike, but it also looks like it could be fascinatingly offensive - like BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN but with more killing.

January 25, 2006 at 10:03 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


They wowed you with all that rope bondage, flying, bleeding and crying in HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, and now Takeshi Kaneshiro (the best looking man in showbiz?) and Zhang Ziyi (the tiniest woman in showbiz?) have announced that they're in a new film together: GREEN DRAGON SABER.

Directed by Li Shaohong, GREEN DRAGON SABER will see Takeshi playing General Kwan, one of China's legendary figures from the Three Kingdoms period (he's that red-faced statue you see in a lot of Chinese establishments in a little shrine, and has been played by Anthony Wong in JIANG HU: THE TRIAD ZONE). Zhang Ziyi will play his lover.

The movie is set to start shooting in mid-2006 and the most interesting thing about it is the director. Li Shaohong is the Fifth Generation director you've never heard of, and the only woman in the Fifth Generation crew. She mostly directed television, but her 2004 flick, BAOBER IN LOVE, was a pop explosion that took the standard issue, kooky romantic comedy and turned it into something close to genius, interweaving its by-the-book story with darker threads about mental illness, unrequited love, and the modernization of Beijing (the first five minutes of this movie contains one of the most powerful images about modern life you'll ever see on film).

Li's movie, STOLEN LIFE, was a prize winner at the Tribeca Film Festival last year and Li went on to trumpet that it was "Banned in China!" Then, it turned out that no one had banned anything anywhere, and she had to do some fast and furious apologizing. She's still a good director, however.

Li Shaohong's Baobar in Love

January 25, 2006 at 09:58 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (5)


Director Takashi Shimizu and Taka Ichise return to THE GRUDGE 2, the sequel to their remake of their film JU-ON. THE GRUDGE 1 was shot in Japan and starred Sarah Michelle Gellar and Bill Pullman. THE GRUDGE 2 stars Amber Tamblyn (JOAN OF ARCADIA) as Sarah Michelle Gellar's little sister, and Arielle Kebbel (SOUL PLANE) and Teresa Palmer (an Australian) play American schoolgirls in Tokyo.

January 25, 2006 at 08:45 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 24, 2006


A sharp-eyed reader just informed me that Hou Hsiao-hsien's latest film, THREE TIMES, was acquired for US distribution, but it's not the kind of distribution you're thinking of. It's been picked up by IFC's First Take, a brand new distribution line that plans on releasing indie films simultaneously in theaters and on cable, a little bit like Mark Cuban's 2929 Entertainment (which will test this model first with the upcoming Steven Soderbergh film, BUBBLE).

The movies will open theatrically (the Landmark chain has agreed to participate, but Regal/AMC has declined) and there will also be a same day video-on-demand option for folks who subscribe, I assume, to the Independent Film Channel.

Will this save the film industry, sink it, or will it just not matter in the slightest?

January 24, 2006 at 10:49 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)

January 23, 2006


Encounter specialist Daya NayakWho the heck is Daya Nayak and why is he in this blog? Calm down, little camper, all will be revealed.

Daya Nayak is one of India's "encounter specialists" an elite group of police officers who seem to have an awful lot of "encounters." An encounter is when a cop runs into a criminal and the criminal winds up dead and there aren't any witnesses willing to testify as to what happened. Apparently there are five of these guys in Bomby (Mumbai) and they are a sort of unofficial team of cops who each work a separate section of the city and they are credited with "breaking the back" of organized crime in Mumbai.

Nayak himself was responsible for killing 83 criminals in three years in "encounters", but he says that people shouldn't hype this up too much since he also made 300 non-fatal arrests in that time.

There have been accusations that Nayak is in the pay of local mafia bosses and he's dismissed these allegations out of hand...until some enterprising anti-corruption investigators started asking why a guy who makes about 9,000 rupees a month has assets worth 100 crore (a crore is 10 million rupees). When they showed up at his house recently to ask some questions they were informed that Nayak was on a three day holiday. They smiled and then informed him that he had until tomorrow to surrender himself and if that didn't happen they would recommend he be suspended.

Nayak has been the subject of a couple of movies, but the best of the bunch is AB TAK CHHAPPAN, produced by Ram Gopal Varma and starring the absolutely magnetic Nana Patekar who says that even though the movie isn't about Nayak he did meet with Nayak 200 times before shooting began. This is an essential action flick, but the action isn't about intricately choreographed shoot-outs. Instead it's like a punch in the nose: short, sharp and shocking. You can rent it on Netflix or pick up an English subtitled DVD which are all over the place.

Fun Fact: Daya Nayak is a vegetarian. See, vegetarian's can be tough guys, too!

January 23, 2006 at 09:33 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (4)


Genghis KhanYou can't keep Haruki Kadokawa down. The guy has just come off the big success of YAMATO (which opened on Dec. 17) and now in one month he's set up and gone into preproduction on the even bigger and more expensive epic, BLUE WOLF: UNTIL THE LAND ENDS AND THE SEA FINISHES, about the life of Genghis Khan.

This flick has been a longtime dream of Kadokawa's and he's basing the film on two Japanese books about Khan, BLUE WOLF and UNTIL THE LAND ENDS AND THE SEA FINISHES. Supposedly it's going to focus more on Ghengis' ladies: his mother, his wife and his concubine. He held off on doing anything about the movie until YAMATO opened but then he leapt into action and within one month he's brought Shochiku on board as a partner, as well as Japanese music giant Avex, and he's secured the cooperation of the Mongolian government as well as 3000 of their soldiers to play cavalry. Currently he's taking a breather and working on casting.

Good thing he's not doing cocaine anymore, or he would have finished the movie by now.

(Thanks to Hoga Central for the update)

January 23, 2006 at 09:27 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


HOTEL UCHOTEN opens strong

HOTEL UCHOTEN or ECSTASY HOTEL (or, ugh, SUITE DREAMS, which seems to be its international title) opened big in Japan last weekend, scooping up US$4.9 million over the weekend - which is a bigger opening than either NANA or THE NEGOTIATOR, two of Japan's top domestic films in 2005.

Bonus Fun Fact: read about director/writer Koki Mitani's big stage hit, THE GENTLE TWELVE, a Japanese take on 12 ANGRY MEN which is based on the fact that during the 15 year period when Japan had a jury system most of the cases that came to trial resulted in acquitals.

January 23, 2006 at 09:14 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


The latest film from Johnnie To's Milkyway Image, SHOPAHOLICS, has opened to lightweight reviews and lightweight business. Starring Jordan Chan, Cecilia Cheung and Lau Ching-wan it's about people with shopping addictions and even the nicest reviews call it a lightweight, disposable entertainer.

It opened in the lull before Chinese New Year and pulled in HK$2.2 million over the weekend. On the plus side, that HK$2.2 million is almost exactly half of what MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA has made in 11 days, which doesn't speak highly for GEISHA. It's also a heck of a lot more than Herman Yau's COCKTAIL which pulled in just HK$170,000 in its first 4 days.

But cheer up, HK moviegoers, Chinese New Year is just around the corner and with it will come Jet Li's new, sleek FEARLESS, and MCDULL: THE ALUMNI.

January 23, 2006 at 07:39 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


The light just turned green for Francois Girard's SILK, a movie starring Koji Yakusho, Keira Knightley and Alfred Molina. The flick's international rights look to be split between Picturehouse and New Line International and filming is set to start in late February.

Based on Alessandro Baricco's bestselling book, SILK, the movie "...follows a 19th century French silkworm merchant Herve Joncour as he travels to Japan and embarks upon a secret affair with a mysterious woman."

The president of Picturehouse says, "Silk is a sweeping erotic tale..."

Ah, yes - Japan: a land of mystery and secrets and sweeping eroticism. Didn't we just see this movie? Wasn't it called MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA? Didn't it have Koji Yakusho in it?

(No word on the Koji Yakusho, Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt film BABEL, however)

January 23, 2006 at 07:37 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

January 20, 2006



Not content to rest with just one parody video of Chen Kaige's THE PROMISE, there is now a sequel to the video (which was called THE BLOODY CASE THAT STARTED FROM A STEAMED BUN) that promises to merge HERO and THE PROMISE. EastSouthWestNorth describes the proposed plot as follows:

"Twenty years after Nicholas Tse gave a steamed bun to Cecilia Cheung, Hiroyuki Sanada became a movie director and Cecilia Cheung and Jang Dong-kun are the actors.  They wanted to take a movie titled "The Steamed Bun Murder Case" for the Oscars but they had financing problems.  Hiroyuki Sanada went to beg people everywhere but he had all kinds of problems.  The characters in Hero made their appearances as various motion picture professionals.  Thus, Jet Li was Hiroyuki Sanada's assistant, Tony Leung and Chen Daoming were investors, Maggie Cheung was a bank CEO and Zhang Ziyi was Tony Leung's secretary ... finally, after Hiroyuki Sanada agreed to launder dirty money for Chen Daoming, the movie was made and it was ready to win the Oscar.  But at the last moment, the director of the National Movie Review Board Nicholas Tse showed up and declared that this movie has not passed inspection and therefore will not be able to participate in the Oscar Awards.  Thus "The Steamed Bun Murder Case" failed to win an Oscar."

January 20, 2006 at 07:58 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


The PromiseSo I promised a special review on Friday and here it is. I just stumbled across a place selling shiny, new, English-subtitled DVDs of THE PROMISE and it took me all of two seconds to snap one up. It took me considerably longer to get through the movie itself, though, not because it's particularly bad but because it's definitely the kind of thing that'd be overwhelming on the big screen, but a little bit hard to sit through without squirming on the small.

The most notable thing about THE PROMISE is that it's absolutely gorgeous. I'd add it to CASSHERN as an almost entirely-digital film that manages to create a whole new world through the director's sheer will to over design. The colors pop, the costumes crackle, and the sets (or at least what you can see of them behind the costumes) are what we've come to expect from Chinese period movies: enormous interior sets with very little furniture constructed on cavernous soundstages.

The flick starts out with the titular promise: Cecilia Cheung is a starving ragamuffin looting the bodies of dead soldiers on a lightly smoking battlefield. Suddenly a fairy appears and grants her one of those wish/curses that are so popular in fairy tales: Cecilia will be totally hot and get everything she wants but she can't find true love - in fact, all of her boyfriends will die tragically - until time runs backwards and the dead come back to life. Fast forward a bit and Hiroyuki Sanada, who is the Master of the Crimson Armor, is defeating 20,000 barbarians with a bunch of slaves, some silly styrofoam weapons, and a whole lot of scheming. The fastest slave (and the only one who survives the attack of the barbarian bulls) is Kunlun (Jang Dong-Kun) becomes his personal slave and the two set out to save the King from an attack by the Duke, Nic Tse. On the way, Hiroyuki gets wounded and has to send Jang Dong-Kun ahead disguised in his armor and the poor guy screws everything up: he kills the king, saves the girl (Cecilia Cheung) and then jumps off a cliff. And the hijinx are only just beginning!

The PromiseWhat happens next is probably the least important part of this movie since Chen Kaige has traded story for spectacle. The story is pasted together like something a couple of kids are making up in the backseat of the car on a long road trip, "And then they put her in a giant birdcage, and then the fairy appeared, and then they ran so fast that time went backwards..." but what Chen's focused on is how things look, and they look gooood. The sets, with their anomalous cherry blossom trees, giant gilded bird cages, and hanging prisons, feels like the old BATMAN tv show from the 60's on a big budget and in China. The actors (Nic Tse in particular) change hairstyles and costumes every five minutes like clockwork, and if I learned one thing from this movie it's that daggers will be very in next season: you can hide them in a necklace, in a chair, or in a fan. Nothing is too stylish or too small to hide a dagger! And a dagger tells the world, "Hey, I'm dangerous and sleek. But it's only because I'm hurting on the inside."

There are some staggering set pieces in this movie: a battle between Snow Wolf, an Edward Scissorhands look-a-like, and Nic Tse; the second rescue of Cecilia Cheung from the palace; Nic Tse's human chair. But the whole movie feels like Chen Kaige wasn't making it for humans from the planet Earth, but for fashion forward aliens from the planet Drag Queen. Every actor prances and minces like they're auditioning for a role in PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT PART 2, and if it's not Hiroyuki Sanada's fussy little mannerisms, or the King's pageboy bob, it'll be Nic Tse with his big pimp walking sticks (one of which features a golden thumbs up sign to signify his pleasure) that sends you over the edge.

Larded with special effects, THE PROMISE actually has some good action direction (in a Ching Siu-tung, "Everybody fly now" kind of way) courtesy of Dion Lam, but you have to dig through layers of flab to see them. Out of everyone Jang Dong-Kun (TAE GUK GI; NOWHERE TO HIDE) gets the Best Actor award for managing to take things absolutely seriously, even while running at five million miles an hour like a very silly Road Runner. He's able to sell the silliness, and by the fifth time he turned on the super speed I had quit giggling. Hiroyuki Sanada also grows on you, and his performance slowly morphs from campy prancing and moustache stroking, to a grumpy version of John Malkovich in DANGEROUS LIASONS, to an actual real live performance by the end. Nic Tse is...well, there's not much to say about what he's doing here. He's obviously been abducted by aliens and is beaming his performance in from some very weird, very distant place. Cecilia Cheung is the movie's biggest liability in the acting department. Despite some nice moments, she's mostly drowning and floundering. She doesn't seem used to holding her performance together in the face of this kind of gargantuan epic movie and for the most part she's either posing like Brigitte Lin in ASHES OF TIME or swishing her robes like Maggie Cheung in ASHES OF TIME.

The most surprising thing about this movie is how Chen Kaige approaches it with absolutely no seriousness whatsoever. The scene where Jang Dong-Kun kills the King and save Cecilia is one of the silliest, most anachronistic things I've ever seen outside of a Stephen Chow movie, featuring a striptease, a bitchy king, and a big gold thumbs up from Nic Tse at the end. Throughout the film, Hiroyuki Sanada is constantly undermining his own performance by doing an imitation of the Cowardly Lion in the WIZARD OF OZ, and Nic Tse is like one big, long wink to the camera. It's a breath of fresh air to see an epic with so little reverence for its material that it can barely take itself seriously, but on the downside how are we supposed to sit still and listen to the story if the storytellers are too busy cracking each other up?

January 20, 2006 at 07:50 AM in Reviews | Permalink | Comments (36)


Andrew Lau (INFERNAL AFFAIRS, INITIAL D) looks like he's in the homestretch for his new movie, DAISY, starring Jeon Ji-Hyun (MY SASSY GIRL) and Jung Woo-Sung and set in Amsterdam. The film's official website is now up and has an embedded trailer that doesn't seem to play on my computer but may work on yours. Judging from what I've seen, this flick looks better than it has any right to be.

January 20, 2006 at 07:44 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)

January 19, 2006


Make sure you tune in tomorrow to this blog for a super special surprise. It's something I wasn't expecting either, but thanks to New York City and the lack of strong international copyright laws I'll be bringing you a good long look at a new movie that's been much talked about recently.

January 19, 2006 at 10:00 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (4)


SholayAmong the Bollywood fans who read this blog, no post has caused more speculation than this one where the comments section quickly mutated into a forum for people to post their dream casts of Ram Gopal Varma's upcoming SHOLAY remake.

Ramu has announced the actual cast to date (or, at least, Naachgaana has) and here it is:

Mohanlal (the cop from RGV's COMPANY) as Commisioner of Police Thakur Baldev Singh who sets the action in motion by releasing two crooks to capture/kill the bandit, Gabbar Singh.

Mohit Ahlawat (the star of RGV's dreadfully dreadful but super-fun JAMES) as Jaidev, one of the two main characters, originally played by Amitabh Bachchan.

Ajay Devgan (one of the star's of COMPANY and also the co-star of HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM) as the other crook, Veeru.

Urmila Mantondkar (a longtime RGV fave) plays Hema Malini's role as Basanti the cab driver gal.

Katrina Kaif as the widow (not sure who this is).

Suniel Shetty (the bad guy in MAIN HOON NA) as Gabbar Singh's right hand man Sambhaa

And, most amazingly, Amitabh Bachchan as Gabbar Singh, the Darth Vader of Bollywood.

January 19, 2006 at 09:52 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (14)


Imprint, Takashi Miike's episode from their MASTERS OF HORRORThere've been a lot of rumors this week about Showtime ditching Takashi Miike's episode from their MASTERS OF HORROR series and now Dave Kehr has uncovered the truth. Writing for the New York Times he gets to the crux of the matter:

"Definitely, at the script stage we made comments about the aborted fetuses," Mr. Garris said. "We made it clear that we were going on American pay cable television, and even though there wasn't as much control over content, there still were concerns. And then when we got the first cut, it was very, very strong stuff."

Miike's episode, "Imprint", is described as a twisted version MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA and what it all boils down to is that his imagery (aborted fetuses, torture, aborted fetuses) was too strong for Showtime who decided to release it, uncut, on DVD but they won't be showing it on television.

Previously, images of rape from Asian films was usually what made Americans blanch. But between "Imprint" and DUMPLINGS (which Lion's Gate is still figuring out how to bury in an unmarked grave) we can now add abortions to that list.

(Thanks to Colin Geddes for the heads up)

January 19, 2006 at 09:49 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


Korea's grand old man of moviemaking is Im Kwon-Taek, director of CHUNHYANG and CHIWASEON, who has 99 movies under his belt. His hundreth, ONE THOUSAND YEAR CRANE, is about a musician, his half-blind sister, and their dad and its financing recently fell through just days before the shoot was to begin.

Citing the lack of star power, and the failure of his 99th movie, LOW LIFE, the folks with the checks have been wary of putting up the cash for this flick. Finally, however, Kino2, the Centurion Company, and the Korean Film Council have agreed to back the movie and so Im is back in business as of today, it looks like.

I'm glad these folks have stepped up to the plate, since leaving Im Kwon-Taek as the maker of 99 movies (instead of a nice round 100) would eternally drive me bananas in an obsessive compulsive way.

January 19, 2006 at 09:47 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


ZINDA, the pathetic remake of Park Chan-Wook's OLDBOY, is a hit in India and I feel so embarrassed for Bollywood that I don't have words. Not only that, but here come the predictable (planted) stories of people throwing up and fainting during the screenings.

This marks the last time I'll mention this abysmal film on Kaiju Shakedown. Farewell, ZINDA, I didn't enjoy a second of our relationship. You are a cad.

January 19, 2006 at 09:41 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


One reason it's cheaper to make movies in Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and China than it is in the US is that the whole network of things like completion bonds and E&O insurance don't exist and aren't a normal part of the filmmaking process the way they are in the States. On the one hand this stuff is a bunch of legalistic nitpicking, on the other hand if ShowEast (the producers of OLDBOY) had a little E&O Insurance then they wouldn't be getting sued for US$60,000 and all charges involved with removing a single shot from their DVDs, videos and circulating prints of OLDBOY.

The plaintiff is Cho, a 50 year old schoolteacher, whose picture was right next to another picture in a high school yearbook in a pivotal scene in OLDBOY. This unfortunate placement has caused Cho "...a great deal of misunderstandings among the people around me and damaged my social position as a school teacher."

(Warning: if you haven't seen OLDBOY there are spoilers in the linked article)

January 19, 2006 at 09:17 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


This is Rex ReedAndrew Sarris is not Rex Reed, a lesson I learned the hard way in an article I wrote for SIGHT & SOUND that is out now.

The article is about violence in Korean movies and I think it's not half bad. But the half that is bad is that I attribute Rex Reed's ridiculous quote about OLDBOY to Andrew Sarris right in the first paragraph.

Mr. Sarris - I know you don't read this blog and probably consider computers a passing fad, but I'm sorry. You are not Rex Reed. I know that now.

And this is Andrew SarrisHere are pictures of both men so that no one else makes the mistake I have already made. I am made of shame today.

January 19, 2006 at 08:44 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)

January 18, 2006



Can't wait until Focus/Rogue Pictures releases Jet Li's FEARLESS in the US of A? Go feast your eyes on this long, scanned article from China Screen magazine with lots and lots of delectable photographs. And look, there's one right now with Jet Li looking all old and unkempt yet still with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

(Thanks to MonkeyPeaches for the heads up)

January 18, 2006 at 09:45 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

January 17, 2006


ZINDA was 2 hours of a high school production of OLDBOY ZINDA, for those of you who just tuned in, is Bollywood's remake of Korea's OLDBOY that stars Sanjay Dutt and has the critics panting and the original producers of OLDBOY seeing red. The producers say they are pursuing their legal options, the critics say ZINDA is stylish and powerful, but what is ZINDA really? Don't get up - I've already seen it for you.

It's not like Bollywood remakes are ever as good as the originals so what did I expect? But feel a little sorry for me when I tell you that sitting through ZINDA was sufficient punishment for any sins I may have committed in a previous life. ZINDA was 2 hours of a high school production of OLDBOY, and not the high school production done by the talented and exciting kids at Phillips Exeter Academy, but more like the one done by these kids up  there on the right. It was shoddy, dispiriting and dismal.

Shot-for-shot this was an inferior remake of OLDBOY with every bit of conviction, story-telling brio, heart or soul scrubbed away and nothing but soulless hucksterism left in its place. Sanjay Gupta directs with the committment and attention to detail of a man who has a cab waiting for him downstairs and who still hasn't taken a shower and needed to be at the airport five minutes ago. Bringing all of his sub-hack skills to the table, Gupta manages to tell the entire story of OLDBOY but miss the point entirely. I'm not a big fan of OLDBOY in the first place, so for me this was like having rabid weasels stuffed down my shirt: painful and irritating.

So what are the differences? First of all, Gupta seemed to feel that samurai sword fighting was an essential piece of the movie that Park Chan-Wook had missed. I have mixed feelings about this. Maybe it could work - SAMURAI OLDBOY? - but since ZINDA featured actors who wielded samurai swords the way bored 8 year olds on Halloween wield their lightsabers after an exhausting night out dressed as Anakin Skywalker I guess the jury is still out on that one. On the other hand, the scene of Sanjay Dutt teaching himself samurai skills off the television made me laugh, and laugh, and I still smile a little on the inside when I think about it.

The abduction of Sanjay is handled very differently from OLDBOY. Gupta feels it's important to start off with Sanjay drunk, like Choi Min-Shik in OLDBOY, but then he needs to show us that actually Sanjay, for complicated reasons we never really learn, is merely pretending to be drunk. To me this made him even more obnoxious and gives drunk people a bad name. Then, after some truly excruciating scenes with Sanjay's best pal, Sanjay is abducted (we later learn that he is knocked unconscious after being shot with a crossbow by a guy in a party boat) but he is abducted in true Bollywood style. No subtlety here: his wife is running out to the dock where Sanjay is painting to tell him that she's pregnant when suddenly...he's gone. She has taken her eyes off of him for exactly 3 seconds of screen time but poof! He's gone. Vanished. Truly, Sanjay Dutt is the ninja.

Sanjay Dutt's wig at a young ageAnother change that baffled me was that the hatch in Sanjay's door where he's imprisoned is larger than it was in OLDBOY. Did Gupta feel that we needed to see more of Sanjay's face? Maybe he's right, but I'd like to weigh in right now with a hearty: no. In fact, I feel like a step in the right direction might have been to see less of Sanjay in ZINDA. Sanjay sleepwalks through this movie with all the intensity of a man who was just awakened rudely from a particularly satisfying nap. His kung fu fighting skills are out of the Chuck Norris School of Hitting and the poor guy can barely lift his leg above his knee when he delivers a devastating karate kick. Putting him in an action movie at this age was an act of extreme perversity (he visibly gets exhausted during the one-take hammer fight in the hallway - which lacks the point of the original) and as if that wasn't bad enough he's saddled with a wig that looks like it might wake up at any moment and scamper off into the woods.

All of the sexual content of OLDBOY is missing which largely robs the movie of its purpose and ZINDA has, of course, a happy ending. OLDBOY had a happy ending too...for pervs, but ZINDA comes to a genuinely happy conclusion. However, the most painful facet of the multi-faceted torture that is ZINDA (and trust me, it was hard to pick just one) is the cinematography. In a misguided attempt to give the movie style everything was shot in a blue haze that looks like a film printing accident. If the movie was art directed well, or lit well maybe this blue haze would look sharp and exciting, but as it is it just starves your eyes. By the second hour I was feeling like Sanjay Dutt: forced to wear a silly wig and live for 14 years on fried shrimp dumplings.

Zinda comes back from the lab To lower the lights and bring out the emotion stool, like Judy Garland at a concert in Las Vegas, ZINDA does make me very, very sad. Bollywood has always made its fair share of garbage like this, make no mistake about it. But rarely has the junk gotten this much praise. Is Bollywood abandoning what made it special (gorgeous musical numbers, a gift for family melodrama, huge rambling movies that allows epic stories plenty of time to unfold) in order to churn out soulless knock-offs from overseas? Everyone who's praising ZINDA is parading their ignorance on an international stage. It's only because India is such an insular film community (which is mostly a good thing) that a movie this bad, and this obviously a rip-off from another country, could garner any attention at all.

It's a sad day for Bollywood, and I'm going to have to go watch TEESRI MANZIL again to make myself feel better. You can let yourself out, can't you? And shut the lights off, too. It's over.

Don't forget Lara Dutta's in Zinda too!

January 17, 2006 at 09:56 AM in Reviews | Permalink | Comments (11)

January 16, 2006


Gu Changwei's PeacockGu Changwei is best known as a cinematographer for Zhang Yimou and a fistful of other high profile directors, but his own directorial debut, PEACOCK, was one of the oddest and best movies of 2005, and a film you probably haven't seen.

Telling a simple story about a family living in China in the 1970's it was smart, good-looking, funny and had more affection for its era than "That 70's Show". Then it went on to win the Silver Bear at Berlin which isn't as good as the Golden Bear but is still pretty great.

Now Gu has started production on his second film, SPRING BEGINS. The plot? Well, it's a little confusing but here's what I found:

"Gu's new work is set last century, and tells a story of people's dreams and desires. During that time, society developed rapidly with the creation of many new things, like play award and health food. People also changed dramatically."

Gu's wife, Jiang Wen-li, may be cast in the lead role. The role of health food has not yet been cast.

(Read more about Gu over on Firecracker)

January 16, 2006 at 11:32 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Twitch got news over the weekend that Takashi Miike's participation in Showtime's MASTERS OF HORROR series was over before it had ever really begun. Miike was set to direct one of the episodes of this series but now Twitch says it looks like he's been dropped. I checked out Showtime's official MASTERS OF HORROR page where Miike used to have a slot and suddenly - poof! - his slot is gone and Miike is nowhere to be found.

January 16, 2006 at 11:23 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Yes, it's that still for 'THE HOST' againTHE HOST is that monster movie from Bong Joon-Ho (BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE, MEMORIES OF MURDER) that feels like it'll never get finished.

Shooting has ended, and editing and post-production has begun and now Korean television has some behind the scenes footage to tease you with mercilessly. No shots of the monster, but lots of people screaming and running away.

Check it out via Twitch.

January 16, 2006 at 11:18 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


What if MEMOIRES OF A GEISHA opened in Hong Kong...and nobody cared?

January 16, 2006 at 11:13 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


You have to give Japan's master animator, Hayao Miyazaki, credit for being brutally honest. In an interview with Daily Yomiuri about the three new short Ghibli films at the Ghibli museum, Miyazaki is asked for his comments on the rancorous relationship between himself and his son, Goro, who is directing the Ghibli movie based on TALES FROM EARTHSEA.

"I won't say anything [about the movie], lend a hand or even look it over. I'm not involved in any way. I'm keeping myself to myself in my studio as whenever we see each other we quickly start to feel tension.

The relationship between a parent and a child isn't easy or simple. And I myself have my own standards to evaluate other people as professionals--whoever they may be.

But I'd never say, "Give up!" even if I didn't like something he was doing. I've never said anything like that to him."

The interview is full of great quotes (my favorite: "Prizes do not mean anything to me. I think it is more important to make a child aware of the existence of a weird creature like a water spider that breathes through its backside.") and you should definitely check it out. As Miyazaki says:

"Nowhere else can make shorts like these. But having said that, we're just a group of average people with poor skills. Check out Ghibli Museum."

(Thanks to Nausicaa.net for the link)

January 16, 2006 at 11:07 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Battle of WitsDirector Jacob Cheung (CAGEMAN) has just wrapped up shooting on his mega-huge Andy Lau vehicle, BATTLE OF WITS.

A massive period piece about Andy defending a tiny little helpless kingdom from a much larger, much more evil kingdom - BATTLE OF WITS has had a high profile since it started shooting (probably due to its US$16 million price tag) and now the party's over and the editing begins.

January 16, 2006 at 10:23 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Jackie Chan battles a flying squidYou can blame Jackie Chan for a lot of things, but can you blame him for the death of Jerry Cola, fur magnate?

Jerry was a great guy who liked the fur and the Japanese food, and nowhere made him happier than the Japanese steakhouse, Benihana. According to the chef at his table that fateful evening, Jerry loved seeing the shrimp flip through the air and was trying to catch one in his mouth. According to his wife, Jacqueline, their son had already been burnt by a flying shrimp and Jerry had just ordered the cessation of all crustaceans tossing. Either way, the result was the same. A shrimp came at Jerry's face and while either a) trying to catch it or, b) trying to duck he injured his neck requiring two surgeries.

Then...Jerry suffered an infection from one of the surgeries (the second one, presumably) and died.  Now his wife is suing Benihana for $10 million. And what is Benihana doing? Well, the manager claims that they learnt the shrimp tossing from Jackie Chan's movie MR. NICE GUY and that this is all Jackie's fault. Now, anyone who has ever been to Benihana's knows that the shrimp tossing has been going on long before MR. NICE GUY was released in 1997 and so the manager's argument seems unclear.

I think all people would agree that you can blame Jackie Chan for a lot of things...but probably not for the death of Jerry Cola.

January 16, 2006 at 10:16 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)

January 13, 2006


ShopaholicsThe latest movie from Milkyway Image is opening ASAP. It's directed by Johnnie To's producing partner, Wai Ka-fai, and stars Jordan Chan and Cecilia Cheung playing a pair of...SHOPAHOLICS.

FAMILY, the Bollywood crime flick starring Amitabh Bachchan, has had me excited for a while but no more. Me and FAMILY are over. The movie's getting reviewed and the reviews are only good if by "good" what you really mean is "bad".

And Leon Lai's turn as a retarded man in MOONLIGHT IN TOKYO is actually getting some decent reviews. After hearing it described as RAIN MAN where Tom Cruise pimps out Dustin Hoffman's body for cold hard cash I wanna see it badly because that's what I heard RAIN MAN 2: GETTING WETTER was going to be about.

January 13, 2006 at 12:45 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


What if Takashi Shimizu (JU-ON, THE GRUDGE) released a movie and nobody came? That's exactly what happened with last week's release of his new movie REINCARNATION (RINNE). A relatively well-reviewed flick, even Variety said that "Local and international success look certain..." but then...psyche! The movie came out and made 98 million yen, 45% of what ONE MISSED CALL grossed.

But that's just part of the pattern of declining J-horror revenues in Japan. RING 2 and the American remake of THE RING both grossed big, and ONE MISSED CALL did pretty well but every other J-horror flick, including the Hollywood remakes, have made less and less money. Nick Rucka gives a nice recap of the history of Japanese horror movies and looks at the creative deadend this particular trend has reached over on Midnight Eye, and Hoga Central provides a handy graph that charts the declining fortunes of the J-horror wave.

J-horror has been yesterday's news for a while but now it might just be dead enough that producers stop wringing its corpse for a few more cents.

January 13, 2006 at 12:41 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


KEKEXILI: THE MOUNTAIN PATROL is getting a North American releaseA sharp-eyed reader points out that KEKEXILI: THE MOUNTAIN PATROL is getting a North American release from Samuel Goldwyn Pictures, who also made a nice little chunk of cash with the US release of TAE GUK GI.

Samuel Goldwyn is something of the distributor of last resort for KEKEXILI which was produced by Sony.

KEKEXILI is an absolutely stunningly depressing and eye-achingly beautiful flick from Lu Chuan, director of MISSING GUN, and it was originally released in 2004.

If you ever wanted to know where your pashmina comes from...

January 13, 2006 at 12:39 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


More pacing, less YeohRonny Yu is my new hero. In an era when movies are becoming more and more bloated, with supposedly taut thrillers like MUNICH and SYRIANA running over two hours, and KING KONG running around three, director Ronny Yu has called a halt to running time bloat by cutting Jet Li's latest (and possibly last) martial arts extravaganza, FEARLESS, down from 143 to 103 minutes. Instead of running for almost two and a half hours, it will now come in at a sleek hour and forty-five.

How did he get it so small? He cut out Michelle Yeoh's role entirely (she says she "understands" after Jet flew to Hong Kong to apologize to her in person) and he cut out a scene between Jet Li and Somluck Kamsing, a former Olympic boxer. The entire framing story of adding Chinese martial arts to the Olympics has also been deleted.

A director shortening instead of lengthening their big new movie? Why that's...that's unAmerican!

Bless you, Ronny Yu. Bless you.

(Thanks to MonkeyPeaches for the heads up)

January 13, 2006 at 12:36 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (4)


Zinda opens todayZINDA, Bollywood's remake of OLDBOY, opens today and so it looks like the legal threats from the producers of OLDBOY were either settled or abandoned.

To commemorate this momentous event (which the Indian press has been calling the most original movie to come out of Bollywood without a hint of irony) here's links to an interview with Lara Dutta, playing the Kang Hye-Jeong role, where she talks about star Sanjay Dutt's habit of feeding insects to the crew, and a link to even more breathless reviews. And did you know that Bollywood also remade THE USUAL SUSPECTS in 2005? It was called CHOCOLATE.

My promise to you? A full review of ZINDA on Monday morning. If you're in NYC it's playing at the ImaginAsian theater.

January 13, 2006 at 12:34 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 12, 2006


Child vigilanteElementary students in Japan are sick and tired of being killed...and they're not going to take it anymore! Although crime rates have been falling since 2002, the number of crimes committed against elementary and junior high school students has shot up by 25%.

So what are these targeted tweens going to do about it? Just sit there and let random strangers slit their throats, lock them in closets and kidnap them? Hell, no! These tykes, troubled by a recent spate of little girls who were murdered, have taken matters into their own tiny hands and are forming vigilante groups. Let's roll!

A fifth grader named Iori, interviewed by Weekly Playboy magazine, says, ""Boys in our class said they're going to go on patrols of the streets near our school. They're really strong, so the pedophiles better watch out!"

Before you give up on the younger generation and troubling tendency towards vigilante justice, realize that there's a brighter side: these kids also turn to crime. An unidentified news editor interviewed in the same story says, "Look at last year, when you had four elementary schoolboys arrested for counterfeiting cash on a color copier, then another 9 fourth graders in Aichi taken into custody because they had a gang that specialized in stealing motorbikes. Elementary school pupils have recently been in trouble for blackmailing high school children and for hacking."

Blackmailing high school students? My hat is off to these kids. Who knew that FUDOH was predicting the future?

January 12, 2006 at 01:00 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Remember when Hong Kong used to be the world's second largest film industry after Bollywood? As Hong Kong film production hits record lows, mighty China is there to pick up the slack. The new world order? Hollywood is number one, Bollywood is number two and China is number three.

The numbers? China's film industry made US$248 million in 2005, up by approximately US$60 million from 2004, and 260 Chinese films were made in 2005. These numbers seem to include Stephen Chow's KUNG FU HUSTLE, so I'm wondering if China is including Hong Kong movies in their count?

With Wong Kar-wai picked to be king of the Cannes Film Festival jury, and Lee Young-Ae (SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE) selected to sit on the jury of the Berlin Film Festival, it's weird days for Asian film. While a lot of the old school fans are disappointed that Hong Kong's manic glory days seem to be a thing of the past, and shock and gore auteurs aren't rocking the cineplex the way Takashi Miike used to, Korea not equalling it's incredible years of 1999 - 2001, and North American audiences are still way behind the curve, with movies being delayed by years before their release, on the other hand there are some amazing movies coming out of Japan, Hong Kong still turns out at least 3 essential movies every year, and China is roaring in like a lion.

Korea, China and Japan continue to rub up against each other and produce sparks as they demonstrate that pop culture knows no borders, and Western festivals are trying to keep up with the cool quotient.

January 12, 2006 at 12:58 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (5)



Ah, Valentine's Day. A romantic time for me to go out for a picnic with my Phii Krasue (that would be a Thai ghost that is a flying, bloodsucking head with its internal organs dangling below). We laugh and eat egg salad, then she sucks the blood of a small child before we go to a romantic movie where I hold her liver and we cuddle. But what movie can I see with my Phii Krasue on Valentine's Day that won't make her feel bad about having her GI tract dragging in the dirt wherever she goes?

Thank goodness director Yuthlert Sippapak (KILLER TATTOO, BUPPAH RAHTREE) has made KRASUE VALENTINE, all about a lonely little Phii Krasue. Look at that poster and try not to feel your heart get all tight in your chest as you imagine taking your Phii Krasue friends to a movie just about them.

Could there be a better Valentine's present? Not for me.

(Thanks to Twitch and Wisekwai)

January 12, 2006 at 12:56 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


According to Jet Li, Jet Li has had a tough life and Jet Li was shocked to learn that Jet Li may (or may not, but probably may...let's say "might") spend his golden years in Jet Li's wheelchair because Jet Li hurt Jet Li's leg back in 1982 (I thought Jet Li broke Jet Li's leg in 1990 while shooting ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA, but I guess Jet Li would know more than me about Jet Li's leg).

All this Jet Li tragedy was revealed by Jet Li while he was speaking to students in Hong Kong, which probably made them reconsider their martial arts aspirations. According to Jet Li, doctors have been telling Jet Li (since Jet Li was 19) that he has damaged his body so much that he'll eventually be wheelchair bound.

"There’s a chance I have to face this problem eventually. It’s not 100%, but the rate of it happening is very high, increasingly high,” he said.

The world continues to hang on Jet Li's every word. If he and the increasingly damaged Jackie Chan wind up in the same nursing home I foresee a remake of CRIPPLED AVENGERS: THE TWILIGHT YEARS.

January 12, 2006 at 12:52 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Kim Ki-Duk, Korea's controversial king of kink, has announced that shooting will begin on January 18 for his latest movie, TIME, which is aiming for a release around April, 2006. Kim is much-loathed in Korea and much-praised overseas and while he's definitely not for everyone, no one else is making movies the way he's making them these days.

Kim's films are all focused almost exclusively on relationships pushed to the limits and they wallow in a muck of controversy. TIME is no exception. Starring Sung Hyun-Ah (WOMAN IS THE FUTURE OF MAN) and Ha Jung-Woo (THE UNFORGIVEN) it's about a woman in a long-term relationship who keeps going under the plastic surgeon's knife in order to save the relationship. Kim promises that unlike his recent movies which have slowly been leaking characters and dialogue, TIME will feature lots of dialogue and lots of characters.

January 12, 2006 at 12:48 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

January 11, 2006



January 28th may be the start of Chinese New Year, but for me it's the release date of MCDULL: THE ALUMNI. You may not know McDull, but Hong Kong's favorite piglet is the star of two of Hong Kong's best post-97 movies: MY LIFE AS MCDULL (2001) and MCDULL: PRINCE DE LA BUN (2004).

McDull is a popular HKSAR children's character, a lovable loser of a piglet who perseveres with his sweet, deluded dreams in the face of near-constant failure. I picked up MY LIFE AS MCDULL entirely by accident and by the time it was over my tear ducts were aching and I was full of outrage. With its hyperactive visual mix of live action, CGI, cel animation, rough pencil sketches, and black and white archival footage, its pitch perfect voice acting and a series of musical numbers based on classical compositions (everything from the "Internationale" and "All Things Bright and Beautiful" to Bach) this animated musical was funny, moving and, at the risk of sounding cheesy, uplifting. How dare Disney pass off its pre-chewed cartoon musical burlesques as achievements in animation. This was the real deal.

MCDULL: PRINCE DE LA BUN was a weirder, and less successful flick. Bizarrely surreal, it focused on McDull's mother taking kindergarten-aged McDull for a picnic on her recently-purchased grave plot, and then jumped backwards in time to trace the life of McDull's dad, the Prince de la Bun, a man who never wanted to grow up and who left broken hearts and abandoned pigs in his wake. Ultimately it didn't hold together, or reach the heights of MY LIFE AS MCDULL, but it contains some of the most poignant animated images you'll ever see. Anyone who can watch a scene where McDull's dad comes across his imaginary playmate years later, now a down and out street person, and not feel something move inside their chest is probably an android and you should immediately confront your parents.

Now the third McDull movie is arriving this Chinese New Year and it's MCDULL: THE ALUMNI. The movie includes a generous dose of live action (that's the cast on the right) including actors like Sandra Ng, Anthony Wong, Alex Fong, Kelly Chen, Gigi Leung, Jan Lam, and Eric Tsang. Set in the International Financial Center in Hong Kong the movie kicks off when a gang of robbers breaks in to steal cash and winds up holding the staff and customers hostage. It turns out that everyone in the bank that day, unbeknownst to each other, all went to the same kindergarten and the movie dwells, in excruciating detail I'm sure, on how their childhood dreams of what they wanted to be when they grew up have all gone gruesomely awry.

It sounds like the most depressing children's movie ever made. I can't wait.

January 11, 2006 at 11:24 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (6)


The ONG BAK of sumo wrestlingThe ONG BAK of sumo wrestling. That's how Malaysian director Afdlin Shauki describes his new movie, SUMO-LAH, which is in production. His last movie, BAIK PUNYA CILOK opened in December and is a break-out hit in Malaysia, and his next movie, BULI BALIK, will be released on January 23 in Malaysia.

BAIK PUNYA CILOK is about 4 friends who break into a pawnshop to recover a family heirloom but things, as they do, go awry and hilarity ensues. Afdlin Shauki also acts in the film. BULI BALIK is a sequel to his 2003 movie, BULI. But what you want to know about is SUMO-LAH.

There are sushi restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, and these restaurants belong to a shadowy underground sumo network that stages an annual, secret sumo tournament. That's the plot in a nutshell and it does have a lot of charm. Will it be a break-out hit in the West? It's hard to say, but consider Shauki's description of his crew's sumo training: "heehee it was a funny sight. All these wet, sweaty male bodies pushing up against each other..."

All those sweaty male bodies pushing up against each other. Isn't that a fair description of pretty much every action movie ever made, once you get down to it?

(Thanks to Wisekwai for this one)

January 11, 2006 at 10:43 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Fans of Koji Yakusho (DOPPELGANGER, CURE) have a lot to look forward to this year. Not only is Yakusho slated to appear in horror genius, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's, next movie but on January 14 Toho (still Japan's mightiest studio) will release ECSTACY HOTEL. The reason for the excitement? It's written and directed by Koki Mitani who wrote the gob-smackingly good, and totally underrated acting tour de force UNIVERSITY OF LAUGHS which saw Yakusho play a government censor in WWII Japan. Mitani also directed the well-regarded flick about a radio station dealing with a crisis, WELCOME BACK MR. MCDONALD, and he's made a specialty of constructing elaborate houses of cards, then flicking a corner and watching them collapse.

That said, ECSTACY HOTEL, promises beautiful chaos with its minute-by-minute depiction of multiple overlapping characters in a swank hotel trying to do damage control on their lives in the two hours before midnight on New Year's Eve. Yakusho plays the hotel's general manager and you can take a look at a trailer here in Windows Media Player. Check out that trailer and you'll know why my brain quivers with excitement over this movie. It may not be for all tastes, but I'm a sucker for a movie that sets up escalating chaos and then throws in...a duck on the rampage. Does the art of cinema get any more perfect than that?

January 11, 2006 at 10:42 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

January 09, 2006


DRAGON TIGER GATE. A martial arts flick based on a popular 70's comic book from Hong Kong Wilson Yip, director of SHA PO LANG, is hard at work on his next movie, DRAGON TIGER GATE. A martial arts flick based on a popular 70's comic book from Hong Kong.

It's got action, again, by Donnie Yen and we all know that these guys rock the house pretty hard.

MonkeyPeaches has linked to the first production stills from DTG and while they're not too exciting, they do exist and so we have to show them to you.

January 9, 2006 at 11:23 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


Chen Kaige's movie is nothing more than an advertisement for China's Five FriendliesChinese bloggers like nothing better than stabbing Chen Kaige's THE PROMISE with their sharp tongues again and again and again, but now they're taking a brief break to apply moisturizer and the parodies have begun.

The stills to the right are examples from one blog that suggests Chen Kaige's movie is nothing more than an advertisement for China's Five Friendlies, the 2008 Beijing Olympics mascots.

Then there's this link to Massage Milk where a 20 minute re-edited parody video of THE PROMISE, entitled THE BLOODY CASE THAT STARTED FROM A STEAMED BUN lives. I can't get it to work, but that shouldn't be a problem for the more technically savvy among you - and I know you're out there.

And don't miss Roland Soong's English translation of THE BLOODY CASE THAT STARTED FROM A STEAMED BUN as well as his links to other PROMISE parodies.

January 9, 2006 at 11:19 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Ekin Cheng and Gigi Leung have been dating for six years and the Hong Kong paparazzi has been hyperventilating over the state of their relationship for even longer. They're on, they're off, Ekin's cheating, Gigi doesn't love him anymore, they're spending the night together, they're off again, on again, what did he give her for Valentine's Day, they're off again, they're on.

The merry media merry-go-round grinds to a final halt today as Ekin and Gigi's managers announce that the couple has split up but will always "remain good friends."

January 9, 2006 at 11:16 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


No, it's not an alarming new name for a plumbing problem. Talent backflow is Hong Kong director/actor/producer Eric Tsang's name for what just might save the Hong Kong film industry: the old timer talent that went overseas coming back to Hong Kong. Jackie Chan has done it, Tsui Hark has sort of done it, Chow Yun-fat is doing it, and so is John Woo.

Tsang is a smart guy, and he's waving the flag for Chinese film pretty hard in this interview at Xinhua ("We are still saying 'Chinese mainland movie', 'Hong Kong movie' and 'Taiwan movie', but have you ever heard of 'New York movie', 'Los Angeles movie' or 'Hawaii movie'?"). His point is that the big stars could pull in audiences but they all went to Hollywood, and the young stars are too small-time to whip thousands of cinemagoers into a giddy frenzy.

He also thinks that the emphasis on mega-productions like THE PROMISE or micro-budget productions like BUTTERFLY can't save the industry, but if directors start making more medium budget movies they just might stand a chance.

Then he goes after Mainland Chinese filming rules:

"When we are shooting a cooperative movie, we are always troubled by restrictions. We cannot do this, we can not do that. Finally, the movie turns out boring. Be more tolerant and open-minded, it will do good for all."

In the old days, Tsang never could have said this and traveled to China again. You've come a long way, Tsangy.

In other Mainland news, China's culture industry was just estimated to have generated US$150 million in 2004. Read more about China's culture industry and GAPP, the government body that controls political content in the media, is raining on everyone's parade.

January 9, 2006 at 11:12 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)


Banquet1_webChina's next major bigtime huge martial arts period movie to rule the world just went into postproduction as the cast of THE BANQUET ended shooting and had a quiet ceremony without any press in Beijing.

Directed by Feng Xiaogang and starring Zhang Ziyi, with action direction by Yuen Wo-ping, THE BANQUET is a remake of HAMLET and is set to open in October 2006.

Click here for a better look at the poster.

January 9, 2006 at 11:02 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 06, 2006


1971 Shaw Brothers flick 14 AMAZONSWho are Friday's metaphorical macho men and women of Asian film?

The Industry aid group Women in Film and Television has set up a Hong Kong branch, with director Barbara Wong and former Celestial exec Patty Keung as founding members. What makes these women macho men? The first thing they did was set up a fund-raising screening of the 1971 Shaw Brothers flick 14 AMAZONS. With action by Ching Siu-tung, it's a female action flick starring pretty much every major female Shaw star of the era and these women have big muscles and nerves of steel for kicking off their organization with this flick. (click on the poster for a bigger look)

The Bangkok International Film Festival has grown a little hair on its chest what with getting to screen Pen -Ek Ratanaruang's much-anticipated INVISIBLE WAVES in February, right after the flick has its world premiere in Berlin. Now that it's getting chest hair maybe its voice will change once it announces the rest of its line-up.

Indian Spiderman Ahn Sung-Ki (THE DUELIST), Lee Yong-Ae (SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE), and Lee Byung-Heon (A BITTERSWEET LIFE) are three of Korea's hottest stars right now and they've just delivered a letter to the Hong Kong Police and HKSAR Government asking for the swift release of the Korean farmers arrested in Hong Kong during the recent WTO clashes. There's been a lot of controversy over these arrests, and the local media have been accused of trying to hype up the violence at the protests. These three actors are macho studs, in my opinion, for sticking up for these farmers who have been held in Hong Kong since at least December 18.

And although it's not movies, Deepak Chopra, Richard Branson (of Virgin fame) and director Shekhar Kapur (ELIZABETH) have teamed up to start a comic book and animation company. They plan on introducing their comics to the India and Asian markets first and then bringing them to the West. These are some of the same guys who brought Spider-Man to India, and they are a burly bunch of bright-eyed optimists.

January 6, 2006 at 10:15 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)


Tony Leung in jailWho's feeling poorly this Friday?

Tony Leung Kar-fai is feeling poorly after being sentenced to two months in jail for his recent drunk driving shenanigans. Originally his sentence was for three months, but it was reduced to two thanks to Tony's "good attitude". Unfortunately, TLKF just can't catch a break. Before he could put all those jailhouse skills he picked up in PRISON ON FIRE to use, the judge suspended his sentence (and his license) for three years. Poor, poor Tony.

Who else is doing poorly? Bollywood film websites that get used like kleenex in a whorehouse. Bartering away their dignity in exchange for "access" these sites wind up running ridiculous, planted stories like this one claiming that the Examining Committee of the Central Board of Film Certification burst into applause when they finished screening ZINDA, the Bollywood remake of OLDBOY. "With so much going in its favor," IndiaFM gasps, "ZINDA should prove to be a landmark film for Gupta, Dutt and John." Is Bollywood in such bad shape that a knock-off like this can film writers an attack of the vapors? Someone's doing poorly, I'm just not sure who.

Chen Kaige's THE PROMISE is getting beaten on like a red-headed stepchild, but that hasn't caused Chen to lower his opinion of his own film one bit. Then he has to go and give a quote like this in an interview over at Monsters & Critics, "THE PROMISE is very interesting - I told myself that the first thing to consider is not the story, not the characters, but the imagination...ALEXANDER THE GREAT, I love that film, not because I know Oliver Stone pretty well but because no matter how this movie was received I think it`s a very powerful movie done with great imagination." If Chen Kaige is defining imagination as a country bounded by THE PROMISE on one side and ALEXANDER THE GREAT on the other then, I'm sorry, but there's no other choice but to conclude that Chen Kaige is feeling poorly.

January 6, 2006 at 10:05 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 05, 2006


The Chinese HAMLET remake, THE BANQUET, starring Zhang Ziyi and choreographed by Yuen Wo-ping has pics of its first poster up over at Monkeypeaches.

This doesn't tell me much. Nice jacket?

Chinese HAMLET remake, THE BANQUET, starring Zhang Ziyi and choreographed by Yuen Wo-ping

January 5, 2006 at 09:14 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


On this exact same day in 1941 Japan's greatest animator, Hayao Miyazaki, was born. There's also a  mini-Miyazaki festival on TCM tonight that'll run through the rest of the month.

Why do we love Miyazaki? Because he cares. It's that simple and it makes all the difference.

Today is Miyazaki's birthday!

January 5, 2006 at 09:11 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Wisekwai's got full coverage of the Thai Film Awards (the Suphannahong Awards) that were given out last night. THE TIN MINE took the "Best Picture" slot with NECROMANCER, HIT MAN FILE and BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL PERFECT cleaning up most of the rest of the slots.

Actress Napakapa Nakprasit won "Best Supporting Actress" for ART OF THE DEVIL 2, even though she probably wasn't at the awards since she was protesting not being nominated for "Best Actress" since her part was a lead role. Five Star Entertainment had protested this on her behalf and they were uninvited from the ceremony as a result. So who did win "Best Actress"? Wisekwai says it best:

"The best actress winner was Narawan Techratanaprasert, 8-year-old daughter of Sahamongkol chief Somsak Techratanaprasert, who is also the head of the Federation of the National Film Association, which hands out the awards."

January 5, 2006 at 09:07 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


So THE PROMISE doesn't seem to be getting a US release. TOM YUM GOONG doesn't seem to be getting a US release. SHA PO LANG doesn't seem to be getting a US release. But BREAKING NEWS (2004) and AZUMI (2003) are both getting releases in early 2006.

BREAKING NEWS is Johnnie To's cop opera that awed Cannes in 2004 with the shot heard round the world - a 7 minute, uninterrupted shot that moves a city street from sleepy afternoon to bullet-shredded mayhem, and caused a bit of a collective critical orgasm. The movie is Johnnie To's b-game, but Johnnie To's b-game is a lot of director's a-game. Palm Pictures owns the film and ComingSoon.net lists a January 27th release as does the Exhibitor Releation's week-by-week calendar. The Palm Pictures site, however, doesn't have any info.

AZUMI is Ryuhei Kitamura's slash-a-riffic, deceptively dark female samurai in short-shorts epic that has been creeping around the fringes of the collective consciousness since its release. It will get a "limited" theatrical release in the Spring of 2006 from AsiaVision, anime company Urban Vision's new arm. They'll also be doing DVD releases of live action Asian titles in 2006, including three shorts by RING director Hideo Nakata, CURSE DEATH AND SPIRIT, on March 7; the BATTLE ROYALE knock-off KILL DEVIL on April 4, and the underrated, much praised horror movie KOKKURI at an undisclosed future date.

January 5, 2006 at 09:03 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Wong Kar-wai is heading the Cannes 2006 juryCannes has developed a taste for splashy jury choices, with Quentin Tarantino bringing the most pizzazz to a Cannes jury in 2004 with the big prizes that year going to FARENHEIT 9/11 and OLDBOY, and 2006 looks to be no exception with Wong Kar-wai heading the jury. Cannes has been in love with WKW since AS TEARS GO BY screened there in 1989, and there have been cries that the festival extends latitude to him that it gives no other filmmaker (witness his last-minute shenanigans with 2046 in 2005).

Reportedly, WKW is a mutant with the special ability to telepathically control Gilles Jacob, the head of the Cannes Film Festival. When he was born his parents were very disappointed, having hoped that his mutant power might allow him to turn lead into gold, shoot ray beams out his eyes, or even use telepathy to control people who are not Gilles Jacob. "When life gives you lemons, very very slowly make lemonade," has always been the Wong Family motto and so WKW turned out to be an artfilm director and his telepathic influence over the influential Jacob has stood him in good stead over the years. "Knowing what we know now," says his proud father, "we wouldn't have picked another mutant power for the world."

WKW's official press quote is typical WKW:

""Each city has its own language. In Cannes, it is the language of dreams. Yet it is difficult to judge one's dream much less compare it to another. There is an old Chinese saying: One can never expect the wind, but should always keep one's window open. Along with my fellow jurors, I look forward to sharing the dreams created by some of the most gifted talents in contemporary cinema. And our goal will be to keep our windows open as wide as possible."

Awwww.....that's cute!

Also, MonkeyPeaches is reporting that WKW's next movie, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (with Nicole Kidman), is going to be shot by Darius Khondji (SEVEN, ALIEN RESURRECTION) rather than Chris Doyle.

January 5, 2006 at 08:40 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 04, 2006


Takashi MiikeTakashi Miike's new movie is called 51 WAYS TO PROTECT THE GIRL, and I'd watch it based on the title alone. Not much more is known at this point, but it's one of the movies selected to participate in the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF - although it should be HKAFF). Last year's HAF has seen only 4 of its 28 selected projects completed, although 3 more are in production.

This year's slate has some interesting titles on it including:

A project from Stanley Kwan called GREEN MANSION.

A Gordon Chan project called JULIUS CAESAR. Gordon Chan, now there's a name from the mid-90's.

A sequel to Singapore's horror hit, THE MAID, called MAID - THE NEW BEGINNING. Sigh.

Herman Yau (UNTOLD STORY) has one in here with the potentially promising title, THE MYSTERY OF THE NUN'S DEATH. Well, he could have jazzed that up before he submitted it, but I like the direct approach.

Fruit Chan has yet another project in HAF, this one called TYPHOON 101, and Nonzee Nimibutr (NANG NAK, BAYTONG) wants to make TOYOL.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul wants to make UTOPIA and, most interestingly, there's a project from Su Chao-pin called THE UNSPEAKABLE CURSE OF THE OX FAMILY. Su is the screenwriter of DOUBLE VISION and this could be a new title for his Taiwanese horror movie and directorial debut, SILK, taking a more family-oriented tack after the success of family secret horror movie THE HEIRLOOM.

January 4, 2006 at 11:15 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Forget SNAKES ON A PLANE - D-WAR is the angry reptile movie to watch in 2006!

Who isn't excited about D-WAR, the dragon-attack giant monster movie from the mind of Shim Hyung-Rae, the former comedian and director of Korea's YONGGARY? This giant giant monster movie has been a real labor of love for the little guy and you can see previous reports here. But now, Twitch is reporting that the new trailer is up, and you can see it, in all its LA-destroying glory, here.

It's slated for a Summer 2006 release and I couldn't be more excited.

Dragons eating elephants, biting helicopters and squeezing buildings to death. Forget SNAKES ON A PLANE - this is the angry reptile movie to watch in 2006!

January 4, 2006 at 11:08 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


The goopy, ginchy Thai horror movie ART OF THE DEVIL 2 is kicking up some dust at Thailand's Suphannahong Awards. Napakapa "Mamee" Nakprasit is ticked that she was nominated as "Best Supporting Actor" instead of "Best Actor" for her lead role in the movie and on her behalf Five Star Entertainment wrote a letter (translated by ThaiCinema.org) protesting this decision.

The Suphannahong Awards responded by pulling the travel allowance for the entire Five Star contingent who are definitely not attending the ceremony on their own dime.

The situation is developing. Wisekwai is tracking.

January 4, 2006 at 11:06 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Bless the Chinese media. Instead of just clogging up the end of the year issues with what their underpaid critics think are the best 10 films of the year, they also clog up the end of the year issues with things everyone cares about, like who makes the most money.

Jackie Chan tops the list with takings of 230 million yuan (US$28 million) even though his movie, THE MYTH, only really did well in China. Most of his income comes from his investments, particularly in real estate.

Andy Lau is holding the number two spot with 107 million yuan (about US$13 million) and six Hong Kong stars hold most of the remaining slots.

Jay Chou however did come in at number four (he's the number one earner in Taiwan) with 59.6 million yuan (about US$7.3 million) and Zhang Ziyi came in at number nine despite all her Hollywood work, earning just 38 million yuan (approximately US$4.7 million).

Wong Jing, Hong Kong's evil genius of the cinema and King of Bad TasteWong Jing, Hong Kong's evil genius of the cinema and King of Bad Taste, was named the most profitable director in a ceremony at the UA Cinema Circuit which also named the highest grossing Hong Kong actors (Andy Lau, beating out Stephen Chow by a huge margin; Jackie Chan came in fourth) and Hong Kong actresses - SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE's Lee Young-Ae may be the Hong Kong Woman of the Year but Sandra Ng is the most profitable actress in Hong Kong, beating out Maggie Cheung by a nose. The top ten highest grossing movies of all time are:

1     Kung Fu Hustle                             $ 61,278,697
2     Shaolin Soccer                              $ 60,739,947
3     Police Story 4: First Strike             $ 57,518,795
4     Rumble in the Bronx                     $ 56,912,536
5     Infernal Affairs                             $ 55,063,646
6     God of Gamblers' Return               $ 52,610,308
7     Justice My Foot                             $ 50,212,947
8     All's Well, Ends Well                     $ 48,992,188
9     Thunderbolt                                 $ 45,675,610
10     Mr. Nice Guy                              $ 45,420,457

This might not mean much when you adjust for inflation (I refuse to believe that MR. NICE GUY was a bigger hit than DRUNKEN MASTER) but Wong Jing had some heartening words for young directors:

"Wong Jing lamented that the popular Hong Kong directors nowadays are all over 40 years old, as young directors are not courageous enough to face the box office figures. 'Whenever the box office is not doing well, they say they are making an art film,' said Wong. He encourages young directors to make more creative movies."

January 4, 2006 at 11:01 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 03, 2006


My New Year's resolution for Kaiju Shakedown? More news, less snark. And in that noble vein, here is a list of the big movies coming down the turnpike in 2006 and if anyone can fill in the blanks (read: gaping holes) then chime in. I'm especially interested in what's coming up from Thailand in 2006.

Who isn't eagerly anticipating Johnnie To's upcoming pair of sequels: ELECTION 2 and EXILED (sequel to THE MISSION)? EXILED reunites the cast of THE MISSION as they cross each others' paths in Macau and it began shooting on Nov. 12. Nick Cheung and Josie Ho have joined the cast and check out the shaggy haircuts on those guys (click the pic to pop up a larger version).

Speaking of Macau, Pang Ho-cheung's new movie, ISABELLA, stars Chapman To as a disgraced cop who picks up a hooker in Macau who turns out to be his daughter. Pang's other movies are all wonky winners with a lot to recommend them (BEYOND OUR KEN, MEN SUDDENLY IN BLACK, I SHOOT YOU SHOOT) and he's bound to pull this one off with as much taste as humanly possible.

Jackie Chan's latest movie PROJECT BB has started shooting with Benny Chan (NEW POLICE STORY) at the helm and he's dumped Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung from the cast (check out the press conference if you're a doubter) and it is now starring Mainland actor Gao Yuanyuan, Louis Koo and Michael Hui. Casting Gao looks like a canny move since Chan's movies regularly gross way more in Mainland China than they do elsewhere. The story has Chan and two other thieves swipe a car with a baby in it, sort of like THREE MEN AND A BABY meets CRASH and while the production company is making a big deal out of the fact that Chan is playing a bad guy they're forgetting that Chan has played a bad guy in THE KILLER METEORS (kung fu villian), a thief (FANTASY MISSION FORCE), a sleazy lawyer (DRAGONS FOREVER), a murderer (ISLAND ON FIRE), a gangster (MR. CANTON AND LADY ROSE), a triad member (TWIN DRAGONS), and a grave robber in ARMOUR OF GOD 1 & 2 (as well as in THE MYTH, although to a lesser extent).

And don't miss THE BATTLE OF STRATEGY with Andy Lau, THE NIGHT BANQUET (a HAMLET remake with Zhang Ziyi and Daniel Wu), FEARLESS (Jet Li's latest and "final" martial arts film), and Anthony Wong's latest movie THE SUN RISES AGAIN, directed by Jiang Wen, which is supposedly a bit like a Chinese CANTERBURY TALES.

Ghost VarietyTHAILAND
Help fill in the Thai news. So far all I have that's coming soon is
Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Chris Doyle and Tadanobu Asano's INVISIBLE WAVES, and the just-released, supposedly disappointing Mum Jokmok starrer, GHOST VARIETY, directed by Uncle, one of Thailand's biggest producers (BANG RAJAN, BANGKOK DANGEROUS).

The big news is the Shunji Iwaii-written, Ryuhei Kitamura-directed BANDAGE about Japan's mid-90's rock scene, and of course YAMATO is steaming down on everyone and crushing weaker movies in its path.

YEAR ONE IN THE NORTH is the samurai drama by the director of the terrific and rage-infused GO! and while the reviews have been mixed, the box office has been good.

Then there's the HANGING GARDEN (by the director of NINE SOULS), WHISPERING OF THE GODS (psycho Catholics) and BURIED FOREST (free-association surrealism) that are slowly making their way to DVD for Western viewers to enjoy (check out capsule reviews on Marc Schilling's top ten year end list).

LEFT HAND OF GOD, RIGHT HAND OF THE DEVILAnd the movie that I'm awaiting most eagerly is from Shusuke Kaneko, LEFT HAND OF GOD, RIGHT HAND OF THE DEVIL, a twisted eruption of horrific gore based on the brain bending manga of the same title. All about kiddie killers the film has finished production and is slated for a Summer 2006 release. Kaneko revitalized Gamera with his GAMERA films in the mid-90's and I'm hoping he can do the same for Japan's ailing horror genre.

THE BLOSSOMING OF MAXIMO OLIVEROS is the only upcoming movie from the Philippines that I know of, but it's been quite successful (you can read a review on Twitch), and while it sounds a little eye-rolling (gay kid living in squat) it also sounds like it contains plenty of goodies (corrupt cops, illegal gambling). It's also going to play Sundance this year.

MEAN STREETS, about a low-ranked gang member who sees that his chance for the big time lies in killing a local prosecutor, is a Korean crime film by the director of ONCE UPON A TIME IN HIGH SCHOOL. 
THE KOREAN PENINSULA is a version of THE DA VINCI CODE about how Japan has secretly engineered the split between North and South Korea for 100 years directed by the director of SILMIDO. They sound like the two most interesting movies I haven't heard of from Korea.

Then there's THE MASTER, an "analog" action movie from the female director of WAIKIKI BROTHERS.

And of course there's Park Chan-Wook's mental hospital love story, I AM A CYBORG, and THE HOST, a monster movie from the director and star of MEMORIES OF MURDER.

You can read about all these and more at Twitch's Korean films in 2006 update here and part 2 here.

If there's other stuff coming up in 2006 that you're looking forward to, sing out!

January 3, 2006 at 11:50 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (5)


ZINDA, the Bollywood remake of OLDBOYZINDA, the Bollywood remake of Korea's OLDBOY, has just released a new trailer (download it here!) and you can see some of the classic hall fight and some extra bits (including some cryptic business with a samurai sword).

My thoughts? The hall fight looks like it only has one oppnent in it, rather than dozens, and Sanjay Dutt's wig looks like Japan's toe-eating cat's grandmother curled up on his scalp for a nap and died.

The website is Flash, so to get to the trailer you need to click on "Download" then select "Theatrical 1".

January 3, 2006 at 11:47 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


CatI'm sure everyone still has nightmares about the evil, toe-eating cat of Japan that we reported on last year. If you've blocked it out then close your eyes while I tell new readers about the cat monster that chewed off all the toes of an old lady in a nursing home and then was slated for death but being held in custody while authorities investigated.

Now...an update.

Apparently, veterinarians and police noticed that while the cat demonstrated absolutely no toe-eating tendencies while in custody, it also did not lick toes, sniff toes, or look at toes longingly and smack its little kitty lips. The cat now resides in an animal lover's home in Saitama.

As for the old lady with no toes? She's still in the hospital recovering from her life-threatening wounds. How did she get them? If it wasn't the cat (found with blood on its muzzle), then no one knows.

And again: the animals win.

January 3, 2006 at 11:45 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Hong Kong's box office faced its worst year yet with just two local movies making the year's top ten: INITIAL D took the number 1 slot and WAIT TILL YOU'RE OLDER (Andy Lau gets old) coming in at number 10.

Local productions were down from 64 (with 5 in the year end top ten) in 2004 to 55 in 2005, and local productions only took 31% of the box office (down from 46% in 2004) and total local box office dropped 1.3%.


In Korea, TYPHOON looks like it's blown itself out. It's spectacular opening (3 million tickets on opening weekend) has been harpooned by bad reviews and lousy word of mouth and now it looks doubtful that it'll hit the breakeven point of 5 million tickets. KING KONG, on the other hand, has been so popular that Darcy Paquet of Koreanfilm.org has tried to see it more than once and has been denied due to sell-outs every time.

In the meantime, THE KING AND THE CLOWN, a period movie about a troupe of actors satirizing the king and getting in trouble for it, has been going like gangbusters and, again, Darcy couldn't get a ticket.

While on the one hand this may mean there aren't enough screens in Seoul, on the other hand I like this notion of sold-out shows. It makes it all a little more fun.

And finally, Korea's new Minister of Culture has gone on the record in support of the screen quota system, almost guaranteeing that Korea will at least make it through the next year (hopefully) without having its contested quota system abolished.

January 3, 2006 at 11:38 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Goro Miyazaki, son of master animator Hayao Miyazaki (HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE), is moving ahead with his adaptation of WIZARD OF EARTHSEA as well as with his production blog. No juicy news so far, but he does talk about his attempt to get out from under his father's shadow by going into gardening. Adam over at Mutant Frog is translating his posts and you can read them here and here.

Also, the feature film of BLACKJACK, the anime from Osamu Tezuka's wildly popular manga, was directed by Tezuka's son, Macoto Tezuka. The movie has apparently done well but is quite dark since it involved the renegade surgeon, Blackjack, fighting his enemy, Dr. Kiriko, who is a euthanasia specialist.

January 3, 2006 at 11:36 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)