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June 27, 2006


Kaiju Shakedown won't see any more posts from me this week as I'm swamped with wrapping up the New York Asian Film Festival and another project.

However, expect normal daily posting to resume on Monday, July 3. With half the fat, but twice the protein.

June 27, 2006 at 12:54 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


You'd think that the release of Hrithik's family film, KRRISH, where he plays a superhero, would be a feelgood, funtime for audiences across India. Not so, especially for poor tea stall owner, Jagannath, who now has a case of suicide lodged against him. During a showing of KRRISH he climbed up to the balcony and jumped, apparently in an attempt to imitate Hrithik's flying in the movie. Big difference: he's not Hrithik. He couldn't fly. He plunged 30 feet into the stalls. He's currently in stable condition.

Then the right-wing BJP and the Youth Congress are trying to disrupt screenings in Madhya and want to close the movie down. They claim that a gangster, Chhota Shakeel, has threatened the ex-secretary of Priyanka Chopra (the movie's female lead) who says that he's owed 10% of everything she makes in perpetuity. The protesters want Priyanka's alleged underworld ties exposed and they want the secretary to be paid. 100 activists were arrested as they burnt posters of Priyanka outside cinemas.

June 27, 2006 at 11:46 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Sony Pictures Classics has picked up the US and Latin American rights to Zhang Yimou's CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER (aka CITY OF GOLDEN ARMOUR). This is no big surprise, but a sharp-eyed reader points to the official press release which is a lot of fun to read if you like corporate hot air.

June 27, 2006 at 11:04 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (8)

June 23, 2006


Shusuke Kaneko, director of LEFT HAND OF GOD, RIGHT HAND OF THE DEVILRyugangi reports that Shusuke Kaneko (the kaiju savant behind the revived GAMERA series in the late 90's) now has a release date for his gore film, LEFT HAND OF GOD, RIGHT HAND OF THE DEVIL. It's hitting Japanese screens on July 22.

The film is a supernatural slasher flick with oodles of gore, but no dead, wet girls with long black hair, and it's based on a tres bizarro manga by Umezu Kazuo. The movie manages to perfectly capture the mundane psychosis of Kazuo's source material. It's shot in a very simple style, with long, intricate set pieces of murder and mayhem that feel like budget bin Dario Argento, and the gore is generously ladled on with a free hand.

But after a rocky and somewhat threadbare start, the movie enters MARRONIER territory, dishing out the kind of imagery you might find inside a little girl's skull: frills and lace and dolls and pretty picture books.

Driven by a dreamlike logic it ends with the perfect set-up for a sequel and I'm game for one. It's weird, it's lopsided and wonky, and it comes complete with sugar and spice and decapitated heads.

June 23, 2006 at 12:31 PM in Film Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0)


new French poster for ELECTION 2So back around Cannes-time, ELECTION 2 and SILK were picked up by French distributor ARP Selection.

But now a sharp-eyed reader cruising the ARP Selection site points out that not only has SILK been removed from their theatrical release schedule but it's also vanished from their catalogue page. Have they dropped SILK? What happened?

(And check out that new French poster for ELECTION 2)

June 23, 2006 at 10:49 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


A sharp-eyed reader just pointed me towards news of Olivier Assayas' trip to Hong Kong to ask Andy Lau to star in his new movie. Andy turned down the French director, probably worried that they might end up married, and then getting divorced, like Assayas' previous Hong Kong muse/wife/collaborator, Maggie Cheung. Simon Yam and Kelly Lin felt no such hesitation however. Both actors have signed on for Assayas' new film, after starring in Johnnie To's THE SPARROW together, and Kelly inspirationally says that she'll give it her best effort. Go, Kelly!

(Source for Chinese readers)

June 23, 2006 at 09:44 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 21, 2006


DOG BITE DOG is from Soi Cheang, director of LOVE BATTLEFIELD and HORROR HOTLINE: BIG HEAD MONSTER, and it stars Edison Chen and Sam Lee as a monstrous hitman and a sadistic cop out to get each other. It's shooting for a release later this year, and after watching a rough cut, I can say that it's a hard-hitting movie that's definitely not like anything else you've seen from Hong Kong this year. Forget slickness, forget cleanliness, forget kindness. DOG BITE DOG is like swallowing a handful of broken glass.

This flick raised a lot of eyebrows at this year's Hong Kong Filmart and we're very happy that Sameway Films are letting us host the trailer.

Click on the below image to view the DOG BITE DOG trailer in a new window (flash required).

Right click here to download the trailer as a 7 megabyte Windows Media file (.wmv).

June 21, 2006 at 04:40 PM in Trailers | Permalink | Comments (18)


It looks like Johnnie To isn't just Milkyway's director anymore. Meridian Pictures (which was a producer for SEVEN SWORDS) has signed a deal that will see JT direct 3-4 big budget movies for them over the next six years.


Starring Li Bing-bing (who was just cast) and Vic Chow, and written by Ivy Ho, the movie is about a girl who has a fight with her boyfriend right before he dies in an accident. She gets depressed, and then she meets his ghost. To will have to come up with a complete shooting script before production begins since the movie needs to be approved by China as it's a Mainland/HK co-production.

(More info for Chinese speakers)

June 21, 2006 at 10:55 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


FUNKY FOREST: THE FIRST CONTACT Last night's screening of FUNKY FOREST: THE FIRST CONTACT was the start of a new religion. This movie, from the director and stars of THE TASTE OF TEA, which won the New York Asian Film Festival's Audience Award last year, is like getting blasted with the cinematic equivalent of hard radiation that mutates you into a brave new lifeform. It's a strange, weird, funny, oddly touching film but I really wasn't prepared for the reaction.

The sold-out house was laughing, cheering, and they burst into applause after a particularly good dance number in the middle of the movie. Far from being exhausted by its long running time, most of them stayed rooted to their seats all the way through the end credits. And when they came out of the theater their eyes were shining, their hair was aflame and their feet hardly touched the earth.

I stuck my head into the theater for the first few minutes to check out the print and wound up standing in the back on one foot (my other foot has broken toes) for the entire film and I didn't feel the pain until hours later when my movie high wore off.

There's one more screening of FUNKY FOREST: THE FIRST CONTACT on Saturday, June 24 at 8:30pm and you can buy your ticket here for this trip into transdimensional space.

June 21, 2006 at 09:04 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (16)

June 20, 2006


Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution" movie, based on a work by Eileen Chang the famed Chinese novelist, moves quietly ahead with Lee letting slip that he's approached Tony Leung Chiu-wai to play a role in the movie. However, Little Tony won't confirm until a female lead has been selected and Ang is still rooting around for one.

The movie is set to start shooting in the fall.

June 20, 2006 at 12:20 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


A new MPA study on piracy has been releasedYet another MPA study on piracy has been released, this one a two year study and I have a lot of questions. The first is, what the heck does this mean:

"The study was conducted over 18 months in 22 countries. It is based on consumer demand as opposed to previous assessments which were calculated by calculating losses based on DVD seizures."

So how do you base a study on consumer demand? The study gives no clues as to its methodology, we just have to take it on faith.

It's interesting that the MPA will continue to fight piracy in China when according to their own study it's nothing compared to other countries. Although piracy accounts for 97% of the Chinese market (based on consumer demand?) China caused only $565 million in losses to MPA members. Let's look at the losses caused by other countries:

US - $2.5 billion
UK - $787 million
France - $604 million
Mexico - $954 million

They do say that China caused $2.1 billion in losses to non-MPA members, but I'm not sure how they get this number. They also go on to show that the most revenues are lost to piracy in Mexico, the UK, France, Russia and Spain, with China coming in sixth.

But, as we all know, these numbers regarding China are completely bogus anyways. Because most MPAA member movies can't be sold in China so they have no loss. China only allows 20 foreign films to be imported each year, and usually 14 - 16 of these are from MPAA members. So what the MPA is talking about in this report isn't "profits lost to pirates in China" but "profits lost to closed markets in China".

My question is, why are news sites reporting these numbers and not looking beyond the press release to what they really say?

June 20, 2006 at 11:17 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (6)


Toho was responsible for 9 of the top 10 Japanese films of 2005Toho was responsible for 9 of the top 10 Japanese films of 2005, and this year they're really driving their point home. So far they've made $227 million at the box office, more than every single foreign distributor combined (which comes to a paltry $220 million). Toho has so far released:

UMIZARU 2 - $65 million (and still going)

SUITE DREAMS (aka HOTEL ECSTASY) - $52 million
YAMATO - $43 million
DORAEMON - $27 million
DETECTIVE CONAN - $26 million
STAR REFORMERS - $17 million
CRAYON SHINCHAN - $13 million

And still to come just this summer alone are the latest POKEMON movie, THE SINKING OF JAPAN, the third ONE MISSED CALL film, and Ghibli's TALES FROM EARTHSEA.

Folks are predicting that this year might be the first time since 1985 that Japanese films will hit a 50% market share.

June 20, 2006 at 10:02 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (5)


Jet Li and Yuen Wo-pingJet Li says he's not doing any more wu shu movies, but Yuen Wo-ping just gives that notion a hearty laugh.

He's in China right now, probably bored out of his skull since he hasn't done any Hollywood work since UNLEASHED, and he's announced that he's going to make a movie called CHANG CHENG (GREAT WALL) which is, not surprisingly, about the Great Wall of China. But, rather than focusing on the 3,948 mile long wall coming to life and fighting other national landmarks like the Colossus of Rhodes, the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty, the movie will instead focus on fighting the Huns. Eventually the Chinese had to stop fighting the nomadic Hun horsemen and just built a big wall to keep them out, but since Yuen Wo-ping is asking Jet Li to play the lead, and since Jet Li is known more for his fighting than for his bricklaying, this flick will probably concern itself more with the "fighting the Hun" parts rather than the "building the wall to keep out the Hun" parts.

Yuen says he's pretty confident that Jet Li will take the role since it's an action movie and not a wu shu movie. Currently he's in Beijing rounding up backers for the film.

CriEnglish boils it all down to the level of a WWE event with the headline:

"Director Yuen Wo-ping: Jet Li will eat his words"!!!!

June 20, 2006 at 09:39 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)

June 19, 2006


What Korean movie shot on HD beat out ICE AGE 2 and sold $16 million worth of tickets? It's MY SCARY GIRL, a black Korean comedy about a guy who's never dated in his life. He finally musters up the courage to ask an art student out on a date, they fall in love, and it turns out that she may be a murdering psychopath. This and DAESPO NAUGHTY GIRLS (a Bollywood-style musical sex comedy set in a Korean high school and directed by E J-Young, of UNTOLD SCANDAL) are the two movies from Korean I'm most anticipating right now.

June 19, 2006 at 10:28 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (4)


The New York Asian Film Festival goggle girlsThe New York Asian Film Festival kicked off over the weekend and things have been a little touch and go. Some prints didn't show up for their first screening, causing high levels of stress and agitation (they're here now, thank goodness), the Anthology air conditioning system was broken on Friday night, although it was repaired by showtime on Saturday, and the gorgeous new print of EK HASINA THI we screened on Sunday comes complete with an ad for a canker sore cream called Smyle at the front that looks like something out of a VD scare film from the 1950's. It's worth a special trip to the Anthology just to see it.

The sell-outs this weekend were A BITTERSWEET LIFE, THE GREAT YOKAI WAR (which was enthusiastically received by riff raff and film intellectuals alike) and SHINOBI - with a nearly-sold out crowd for CROMARTIE HIGH SCHOOL. So far so good. Maybe we'll make our money back this year! The bummer of the weekend was the small house for ART OF THE DEVIL 2. Only about 50 or 60 people showed up but the movie went over so well that we were all dying for it to screen in a sold-out house. The screams and groans and gasps of disbelief in the final 40 minutes were fun, but more people = more fun. This is the kind of movie that gives maximum pleasure in a theater, but will make you feel dirty if you watch it alone at home. The next (and last!) screening of AOTD2 is 8:45 tonight (Monday, June 19) at the Anthology so come on down and see baby alligators hatch out of some poor guy's back.

The press coverage has been great so far with the Village Voice singling out PEACOCK and IT'S ONLY TALK; Manohla Dargis at the New York Times singling out DUELIST and CROMARTIE HIGH SCHOOL; Time Out New York singling out IT'S ONLY TALK and LINDA, LINDA, LINDA and Indiewire singling out SKI JUMPING PAIRS, LINDA LINDA LINDA and A BITTERSWEET LIFE. And Vincent Musetto at the New York Post, bless him, has singled out OH! MY ZOMBIE MERMAID.

And don't miss HogaCentral's report on the wildly successful ALWAYS screening at the Japan Society.

Plus, even more coverage of the festival with a bunch of smart folks picking their faves and trashing some films while praising others. You can enter the fray at Cinephiliac, the Brooklyn Rail, Filmbrain, and The Reeler.

June 19, 2006 at 09:50 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (4)

June 16, 2006


Prime Minister Koizumi spends meetings talking about blowing up condoms like balloonsWell, not so much fun for the Nagano hotel employee who was killed by a bear while picking wild greens for the hotel's kitchen. But the rest of Japan is in a jovial mood, and no one is more jovial than Prime Minister Koizumi who spends meetings talking about blowing up condoms like balloons, talking about the Russian Prime Minister's wife and how not having sex has made Koizumi a powerful PM, and telling members of the Diet that he likes to spank the monkey on a regular basis.

Perhaps it was in this spirit of fun that one fellow popped by the offices of Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt, asked if Mahesh was in, got told no, went outside and fired a few shots in the air before zipping away on his motorcycle. This could have been an extortion attempt, or it could be a really stupid hitman sending a really poor message after Bhatt's legal clash with a suspected mafia gangboss earlier this year who sued Bhatt over basing his movie GANGSTER on his life. The case wound up being dropped.

And Danwei may have solved the mystery of why THE DA VINCI CODE was yanked from Chinese theaters where it was happily steaming along to being the number one foreign movie of all time. Could it be that it was pulled to make way for the Chinese version of the DA VINCI CODE...THE TANG BOHU CODE???!??!?

June 16, 2006 at 01:57 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 15, 2006


The trailer for OMAKARA, Vishal Bhardwaj's Bollywood adaptation of OTHELLO, is up (download it as a Windows Media File) along with a batch of new posters and I have to say I'm getting excited about this one. The cast is rock solid, and the director's previous film, MAQBOOL, was plenty entertaining. Looking at the trailer I get the feeling this is an actual movie with actual design and actual cinematography, unlike a lot of this year's Bollywood crop where the camerawork is only in the service of getting the actors on film. Seeing how much production pizzaz is stuffed into OMKARA, at least after this brief look, makes me think that between SHIVA, KRRISH and OMKARA this could be a great summer for Bollywood.

There are some more trailers for download at NaachGaana.

OMAKARA, Vishal Bhardwaj's Bollywood adaptation of OTHELLO

June 15, 2006 at 10:30 AM in Trailers | Permalink | Comments (9)


Jackie Chan's latest movie, ROB-B-HOODJackie Chan's latest movie, ROB-B-HOOD, has launched its completely impenetrable official website, but thank goodness for Jackie Chan's Kids Corner where you can easily download a Windows Media trailer. The flick looks good - lots of goofiness from Louis Koo and Jackie - and it turns out that Yuen Biao is in the movie after all, playing a police inspector. Originally, the Benny Chan-directed film about three hapless crooks kidnapping a baby, was supposed to reunite Jackie, Sammo and Yuen but the cast was quickly reshuffled to star Jackie, Michael Hui and Louis Koo as the unfortunate trio. Jackie has been injured several times on this shoot.

(Thanks to Monkeypeaches for the pointer)

June 15, 2006 at 09:29 AM in Trailers | Permalink | Comments (4)

June 14, 2006


Japanese director, Kore-eda, just had his film, AFTER LIFE, remade...as an opera. The one act opera, which incorporates lots of video sequences, had its libretto written by Kore-eda himself and it's premiering at the Holland Festival. The writer is Michael van der Aa.

(Thanks to the Kinema Japan mailing list)


June 14, 2006 at 09:50 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


It's old news at this point, but I think we've all felt that stomach cramp over the news of the BATTLE ROYALE remake. The producing team is Neal Moritz of THE FAST AND FURIOUS franchise and Roy Lee of THE RING. The thing that bugs me is that the original won't be seen (thanks to some fast-talking acquisitions folks back in 2001) but we'll get a remake claiming to be the real thing. This will be the second Asian remake for Neal Moritz after his INITIAL D-lite copy FAST AND FURIOUS 3: TOKYO DRIFT.

And then there's the news that the Pang Brothers' BANGKOK DANGEROUS, the movie that put them on the international map, will be remade by the Pang Brothers with ol' Ghost Rider himself in the lead role, Nic Cage.

At least Neal Moritz and Roy Lee have better source material.

(Thanks to Al and a sharp-eyed reader for these tips)

June 14, 2006 at 09:04 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (6)


Koji Yakusho may be in an Indian martial arts called THE 19TH STEPKoji Yakusho may be in an Indian martial arts/Buddhism film called THE 19TH STEP which will showcase the Kerala martial art, Kalaripayuttu. Directed by Bharatbala it will tell the story of a Japanese samurai in the twilight years of the samurai in the 19th century who accidentally kills a monk and, out of penance, retraces the steps of the Buddha and winds up in India learning Kalaripayuttu from Mohanlal (COMPANY). Bharatbala was at Cannes and saw Yakusho in BABEL and claimed that he was going to offer him the role.

(Thanks to Niraj for the tip)

June 14, 2006 at 08:32 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)

June 13, 2006


SEVEN BROTHERSIt's been news for a while that John Woo is somehow involved with Virgin's comic book line that will publish partially in India but what exactly he's going to do hasn't been announced. Now it has.

A teaser for his book, called SEVEN BROTHERS, appeared today in Rich Johnston's column Lying in the Gutters.

All that's known so far is that the bloodthirsty and talented Garth Ennis will be involved as well. Ennis is best known for his comic book, PREACHER.

June 13, 2006 at 10:30 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Save the Green PlanetI don't like the f-word. I have never said it in my life, or have tried not to, mostly because I am deeply uncomfortable with my body and its processes. But now a cruel rumor that I had hoped was not true has come to pass and I must accept that this word will not only appear on this blog numerous times, but I may even wind up watching the movie in question. To those gentle souls who are too sensitive for this kind of thing I bid you a fond farewell, my lace hankey wafting in the breeze.


I am a big fan of Jang Joon-Hwan's SAVE THE GREEN PLANET and even did publicity work on it when it came to the US, courtesy of Koch Lorber. It's an amazing movie and I will always love it, no matter what happens. I had heard rumors that the superhero movie Director Jang was locked in a hotel room re-writing involved the f-word but now a poster in the comments section of this site has not only confirmed this info, but started a blog about Director Jang's new film.

Director Jang's new film called FARTMAN.

In the spirit of Howard Stern, the guy's superpower is super-flatulence.

I...I have to stop typing now.

June 13, 2006 at 10:00 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (7)


Rajeev Nath considered casting Paris Hilton for the role of Mother TheresaMalayalam director, Rajeev Nath, briefly brought the world to a halt in February when he announced he was considering casting Paris Hilton for the role of Mother Theresa in his biopic of the old gal. But over on NaachGaana they've posted an interview from him in which he backpedals so hard that if you put your tongue on the computer screen you'll receive a mild electric shock.

"One day I saw a photo of a lady in the India Express and found a similarity in her innocent face and that of Mother. I didn't know who she was. I had no idea who Paris Hilton was at the time."

Paris Hilton: the face of innocence. Note the double denial.

"I called a journalist friend and mentioned that she would be ideal as Mother Theresa. Somehow, the news spread."

Mother TheresaFunny how that happens when you call a journalist.

"It reached such a stage that Hilton's secretary called to ask me what it was all about. It is only after I went to America that I realized who she was. I would like to have an Eastern European play the role."

Sometimes a segue is worth a thousand words. He realizes who Paris Hilton is, and in one brief segue he has rejected all American and British actresses as harlots and has handed off the role to a Bulgarian in a vain attempt to escape the Hilton taint.

In other news, the interview also mentions the possible participation of Kamal Hassan (ABHAY) and Mohanlal (COMPANY) and raises the conspiracy theory that a power failure killed Mother T.

June 13, 2006 at 09:31 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 12, 2006


a woman has attempted suicide because of Bus UncleWell, that was unexpected. According to the invaluable EastSouthWestNorth, a woman has attempted suicide because of Bus Uncle.

Elaine Lee is the daughter of Shaw Brothers starlette Lin Chen-chi (from Tsui Hark's  DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS - FIRST KIND, Chang Cheh's HEAVEN & HELL and CLEOPATRA JONES AND THE CASINO OF GOLD) and Lin Chen-chi owns the restaurant chain, Steak Expert, where Elaine works.

Elaine was mad at her dad for hiring Bus Uncle to work at Steak Expert since several of her friends said they would stop coming. She commented about Bus Uncle, "If I were there, I would have told him to 'shut the f*** up.'" But now he was in Steak Expert.

She told her husband that Bus Uncle must be fired but he didn't understand how it was a bad thing to have BU in the house. So she did the only thing she could do. She locked herself in her room, overdosed, called a fellow Steak Expert employee to tell them what she'd done, and the Fire Department was summoned. They broke down the door and she had her stomach pumped.

At the hospital she reportedly said, "I've got pressure."

Bus Uncle resigned his position, continuing his lifelong string of bad luck.

June 12, 2006 at 02:09 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)


Takashi Miike to remake Daiei's DAIMAJIN series?This news has been floating around the message boards for a little bit, and I'm not sure how credible it is, but that's never stopped me before. According to this post by Robert St. John and James Ballard, Kadokawa has listed Takashi Miike in its upcoming movies line-up as the director of a remake of Daiei's DAIMAJIN series. It's scheduled for a 2008 release, and sports the catchy description:

“When a girl offers a prayer, a legendary giant deity awakes! From an old tomb is excavated a clay image of a soldier. Who made it, and why? The never before seen secret of the birth of Daimajin will be revealed here!”

No further info is available at this time. Except, of course, for the fact that Daimajin is a 30 foot tall, stone samurai who squishes puny, soft humans beneath his stony foot and he rocks.

June 12, 2006 at 01:25 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Ning Hao gets the Fruit Chan treatment, with superstar Andy Lau supporting his latest movie to the tune of HK$12.5 million. Well, it's slightly different in the sense that Ning Hao's recent film is supported by the "Asian New Director" film project that Andy Lau supports. Not sure how much of that money went directly to his film.

I'm not a big Ning Hao fan, he did MONGOLIAN PING PONG which I didn't really like. However, this movie, THIEF AMONG THIEVES, is a black comedy about a jade jewel in Chongqing and it sounds like it might actually be funny. Currently the movie's distributor is seeking SARFT approval and if they receive it the movie will premiere in Shanghai on June 19.

June 12, 2006 at 12:55 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


IT'S ONLY TALK, the movie that reunites the director and star of VIBRATORIT'S ONLY TALK, the movie that reunites the director and star of VIBRATOR, opened in Japan yesterday and Shinobu Terajima and Etsushi Toyokawa appeared onstage together to make nice noises about the film. When VIBRATOR played in NYC back in 2004 it was called the best movie of the year by both the Village Voice and Time Out New York.

In the US, IT'S ONLY TALK will premiere on June 24 as part of the New York Asian Film Festival.

You can buy tickets to the Saturday, June 24 @ 5:30pm show here or buy tickets to the Wednesday, June 28 @ 8:30pm show here.

June 12, 2006 at 11:50 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


This news has a little dust on it, but it's still fascinating and informative and so I'm bringing it to you. Fortissimo Films, the art film distributor/sales agent, is not only opening a New York office but they've signed up with Wong Kar-wai.

There're lots of films controlled by WKW's Jet Tone production company and Fortissimo will help him do something with them. Even as I type, WKW is shooting supplemental footage that will be used on special edition DVDs and in retrospectives of his films.

The list of films already being talked about are:

FIRST LOVE - by Eric Kot

Does this mean that the world finally see a good release of ASHES OF TIME?

June 12, 2006 at 10:45 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Akira Kurosawa filmed some ads for Suntory Reserve whiskeyDuring the filming of KAGEMUSHA, Akira Kurosawa filmed some ads for Suntory Reserve whiskey and now, thanks to the magic of YouTube, you can watch them. See Kurosawa toast Francis Ford Coppola with a frosty glass of Suntory Reserve. And, in my favorite ads (the last two), see Kurosawa hit the bar with a bunch of empty samurai helmets.

(Thanks to Matt for spreading the Suntory magic)

June 12, 2006 at 10:21 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


A sharp-eyed reader writes in to let us know that after ELECTION 2 screened in Cannes, Johnie To, Simon Yam and Louis Koo went to Paris to meet up with Alain Delon. And here's a photo of To and Delon to prove it.


June 12, 2006 at 01:56 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 09, 2006


The New York Asian Film Festival kicks off next weekThe New York Asian Film Festival kicks off next week (June 16 - July 1) and we've added a truckload of events and special guests (see below). Also, we're giving away free tickets to the opening film, GANGSTER, the Malay action movie that was the big hit of 2005 - and the director will be there to introduce it (see even further below). And on top of all that, advance tickets are now on sale.

This year's ticket price is $9 at the box office and $9 online (plus a $1 service charge per ticket). So even if you buy your tickets online you're paying $10/each which is about 75 cents less than you'd pay in most NYC multiplexes - and it goes for a good cause (see even further than further below).

No one wants to hear us poor-mouth, but I just want to let anyone thinking of attending to know: Subway Cinema is five guys and a handful of very dedicated volunteers. We don't get salaries, we have no money, and we do the festival out of love. Although we have some sponsorship this year it only covers the cost of printing the program books. We need to make back our expenses on ticket sales and, in the past, we've always broken even. If you're thinking of supporting us this year, I encourage you to buy advance tickets. If you like what we do and can't make it to NYC, buy an advance ticket for a show at the Anthology Film Archives and it'll be like a $10 contribution to Subway and the New York Asian Film Festival (and don't worry about filling the theater - we'll resell the seat at showtime if someone wants to buy it and it's still empty). This is the time of year we get nervous (when the $7,000 shipping bills start coming in) and we really appreciate your support.

Now, on to the fun part!

Sunday, June 11 @ 7pm the Subway Cinema crew will close the Brooklyn International Film Festival with a screening of PEACOCK at the Brooklyn Museum. Giveaways! Funny outfits! Puppets! And a movie! (BUY TICKETS)

Wednesday, June 14 @ 7:30pm Subway Cinema and the Japan Society will present a special screening of ALWAYS – SUNSET ON THIRD STREET the Japanese movie that swept Japan’s Academy Awards, winning 13 of 14 categories. The screening will take place at the Japan Society and the movie’s director, Takashi Yamazaki, will introduce the film. (BUY TICKETS)

The New York Asian Film Festival goggle girlsFriday, June 16 @ 6:30pm the New York Asian Film Festival will open with a screening of Malaysia’s box office hit of 2005, GANGSTER. Why on earth did a country that won’t even allow DAREDEVIL  to be screened (because “devil” is in the title) make a grotty, bloody crime flick the number one movie of 2005? You can ask Director Bade Haji Azmi who will introduce the screening. (BUY TICKETS)

Thursday, June 22 @ 6:30pm the NYAFF will host the US premiere of Bollywood’s superhero spectacular, KRRISH, at the ImaginAsian Theater. This film has a huge budget, lavish song and dance numbers, and action choreography by the legendary Hong Kong action director, Ching Siu-tung (HERO, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS). (BUY TICKETS)

Thursday, June 29 @ 8:30pm the NYAFF will host the International Premiere of Japan’s UMIZARU 2: TEST OF TRUST with director Eiichiro Hasumi, and stars Hideaki Ito and Ryuta Sato in attendance. UMIZARU 2 is the number one movie in Japan this year, and is still playing in Japanese theaters, on its way to being one of the top-grossing Japanese movies of all time. (BUY TICKETS)

Friday, June 30 @ 8:00pm we'll be hosting the World Premiere of Ram Gopal Varma's latest film, SHIVA. What more is there to say? Be the first to see his police corruption epic. (BUY TICKETS)

Send an email to pandashine at yahoo.com with the answer to this question: What Malaysian actor plays the three lead roles in GANGSTER? You can find the answer somewhere on the festival website.

Advance ticket sales to both venues (the Anthology Film Archives and the ImaginAsian) will be handled through the ImaginAsian website. Just be sure you know at which venue your screening will be held and start clicking and buying. Last year we sold out over half our shows, and the year before we sold out two-thirds of them. So get tickets while you can!

And check out those funky graphics for the New York Asian Film Festival. Those are t-shirts designed by Steak Mtn. for the festival, and the goggle girl shirt will be on sale for $15 at the fest. Or, if you want to buy one through the mail, email me at grady at subwaycinema.com

June 9, 2006 at 12:32 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack


After a stellar run at the Chinese box office, THE DA VINCI CODE was yanked from screens by SARFT (State Administration of Radio, Film and Television). This is the first time a foreign film has been approved by SARFT and then yanked after its release.

The given reason, according to an inside source, is "...in order to protect the market for locally made films and give them more screen time..." but there's speculation that it could have something to do with China trying to patch up its relationship with the Vatican after the recent fights over the appointment of bishops, or it could be that it's doing too well (it's about 24 hours away from being the number 2 foreign movie of all time), or it could be that SARFT wants to clear the decks before the summer blackout period on foreign movies.

June 9, 2006 at 11:44 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Zhao Wen-zhou

I've always had a soft spot for Zhao Wen-zhou. From THE CHINESE FEAST to THE BLADE to BODY WEAPON he's always brought a quiet, charming intensity to his roles and I've never really understood why he didn't get bigger (possibly because he used to injure people on the set in action scenes at the start of his career).

He's been doing just fine on TV, however, and the Wu Jing fansite has a translation of an article about his new TVB series, TAI CHI, which is a period series that will focus on real tai chi combat, favoring authenticity instead of flashy moves.

There's also some news that Zhao Wen-zhou is in talks with foreign film companies for overseas work on larger productions.

You can read an interview with Zhao and marvel at what a nice guy he is.

June 9, 2006 at 11:20 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Anthony Kaufman has a blog (jeezis! who doesn't, these days?) where he's repeating the rumor about the Weinstein Company's remake of THE SEVEN SAMURAI. In his post he does a nice job of summing up the problem with foreign film in America:

"The Weinsteins' have been on an Asian film buying binge lately, with the creation of their Asian label Dragon Dynasty, buying a large library of Chinese-language genre pictures and the acquisition of Korean actioner The City Of Violence and others. If this is what the Weinsteins mean when they say they have a love for foreign cinema, I have my major doubts, as it's all genre, action, and thrillers fit for the Weinsteins fan-boy audience -- not the adult art-house crowd."

Excellent! Thank you, Anthony. Because if we could just destroy the so-called "adult art-house crowd" maybe foreign film in America would live again. Seriously, I think it's Miramax's arthouse movies, catering to an elitist audience, that have painted foreign films as toxic to anyone looking for entertainment. There's a place for everything, but the 90's saw a rash of Merchant Ivory films followed by an outbreak of Miramax films like CHOCOLAT that cemented the formula of "foreign = art" in everyone's minds.

Sure, distributors like Tartan may be beating a dead "Asian extreme" horse, but if no one will bring over Asian comedies and romances then at least we've got a steady diet of Asian action and horror movies that will be exposed to sensitive children, along with their regular intake of anime and manga, letting them know that subtitles can be fun.

And let's face it, at the end of the day movies are entertainment. Being entertained can be a profound and movie experience, but it also needs to be a fun one, whatever your definition of fun may be.

June 9, 2006 at 10:59 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack


I thought this would be a nicer post, but maybe you can pretend today is opposite day so when someone writes, "ELECTION is a confused, muddled mess," what they really mean is, "ELECTION is great!"

ELECTION has opened in seven theaters in the UK and Richard writes in that the reviews are, well read them for yourself:

David Mattin at the BBC says it has a "confusing, disjointed narrative...under-developed characters and slipshod storytelling...ELECTION can't get the basics right."

The Telegraph's Tim Robey writes that, "The endless Triad board meetings would be confusing enough without the dismal cinematography, which makes it impossible to see people's faces for entire scenes."

3 out of 5 stars at The Times from Wendy Ide who demonstrates her artful knowledge with, "To, not the most artful of directors, slams on the brakes at the 75 minute mark for a clumsy 'Triad History 101' segment...the action never exactly thunders along in this predominantly static, overly talky take on the Hong Kong crime genre...ELECTION looks positively lacklustre next to, say, the stylish gangster v. cop treachery of the INFERNAL AFFAIRS trilogy. It also lacks the visual impact that attracts audiences to the best of Hong Kong crime movies." She also demonstrates her ability to write colorfully when she claims that the movie "
takes place in underlit noodle shacks accompanied by a death- rattle of mah jong tiles." I can only remember one mah jong scene in the film (at the beginning) and I don't recall a single noodle shack. Then she goes totally out to lunch with this closing paragraph:

"I’m yet to be persuaded that what cinema audiences need when we’re about to be bombarded with football day and night is even more soccer. But several distributors over the past few weeks seem to believe that our appetite for the beautiful game will not be sated until we have seen what independent cinema has to say on the subject."

Seriously, that's her closing paragraph in her ELECTION review. No links, no "click here for more", nothing. Trust The Times to have to work football into everything.

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw seems baffled, "there is a strange lack of life in the story itself, a baffling absence of dramatic charge in any of the principals and no urgent sense of what is at stake between them...We are plunged into this dispute, but with insufficient time to get to know any of these players, they never fully come to life."

Empire Magazine, surprisingly, awards it 3 stars (and gives POSEIDON 4) and says it's a "cert for a Mafia-set Hollywood remake." Something I can't imagine happening unless the Mafia decides to become fashionably Chinese and fight over things like Dragon Head Batons because they think that will make them seem more equal opportunity and inviting to Asian-Americans.

Time Out can't even get too excited about it, claiming that ELECTION "suffers from problems of tone and identification..." although they have decided that the dark lighting is style and not an issue of China not having enough light bulbs, "boosted by strong performances, To's directorial lightfootedness and the widescreen cinematography of Siu-Keung Cheng."

Leave it to Stephen Teo to write a positive review for Sight & Sound and then Channel 4 who call it "an unconventional, effective and powerful drama."

I think someone should write a letter to Johnnie To that he needs to learn how to make a movie as good as a white person before he tries to crack our sophisticated Western markets again.

(Thanks to Richard Taylor who has totally ruined/made my day with this)

June 9, 2006 at 10:35 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 08, 2006


Palm Pictures is in "final negotiations" for the US rights to Lou Ye's SUMMER PALACE. Palm are the distributors of Lou's previous movie, PURPLE BUTTERFLY, so this makes sense. It's also been picked up in Japan, Korea, Switzerland and Mexico among 13 other territories.

(thanks to the sharp-eyed reader who sent this in)

June 8, 2006 at 09:07 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


THE DEPARTED, Martin Scorsese's remake of INFERNAL AFFAIRS, has been holding test screenings, and the folks over at Ain't It Cool are chiming in as they sneak in and take notes.

This guy's not impressed at all, but be careful: spoilers of the last scene from the movie abound. However, the fate of Matt Damon/Andy Lau's character is so ludicrously over the top that it's worth ruining the ending for.

This guy likes it a little bit better but he still describes it as "a glorious sloppy mess."

But the nice thing is that these are very early screenings and Scorsese can still cut it into something more impressive. He's got 4 whole months.

June 8, 2006 at 08:43 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 07, 2006


Bus UncleJust when you were tired of all celebrities and wished they'd be shipped to a desert island en masse and we could start over with a blank slate, here comes Bus Uncle.

On April 29, on the upper deck of Kowloon bus 68x, a young man was sitting behind a middle-aged man whom the world would soon come to know as...Bus Uncle. The man known as Bus Uncle was talking very loudly on his cell phone and the young guy (who would later step forward and reveal his name as Alvin) asked him to simmer down. Instead of simmering in a downwards direction, Bus Uncle stood up, turned around and launched into an obscenity-filled tirade against Alvin that lasted for five full minutes. That's a long time to talk, and if you don't believe me you should try it.

The entire episode was captured on a camera/video phone by a passenger named John and was posted to YouTube. By May 19, 1.2 million people had watched the clip. Chinese subtitles were added. By May 27 there was an estimate that 5.7 million people had watched the clip. Bus Uncle became famous. The media entered into a bidding war over other clips from John's phone. The bus driver revealed that Bus Uncle was a problem passenger. The South China Morning Post alone wrote 4 articles about Bus Uncle. Shirts, mugs, doggie shirts and boxer shorts with Bus Uncle's key phrases (like "I've got pressure!") were sold. Posters from the Anthony Wong movie TAXI HUNTER were Photoshopped into Bus Uncle posters.

Bus Uncle dog shirts Next Magazine tracked down Bus Uncle for a front page interview. In the interview it was revealed that Bus Uncle was Roger Chan, Bus Uncle's ringtone was the Twins song "Lose Face" and that he was on the phone with the Hong Kong Samaritans Line talking about killing himself when Alvin interrupted his call that fateful April 29th day. He also revealed that he ran for Chief Executive of Hong Kong in 1997, 2002 and 2005.

Finally, Bus Uncle was taken out to Shenzhen by some Hong Kong reporters with whom he got drunk and was photographed cavorting with prostitutes. Bus Uncle claims he didn't pay for their services and that it was all fairly innocent. In a related interview, Bus Uncle also claims to have made love to over 1,000 women and that he uses his tongue half the time so that "before the train even enters the tunnel, she has already capsized in Tolo Harbour."

You can read a detailed account of Bus Uncle's rise to fame, you can read Bus Uncle's tale of his tragic life (including pictures of his fruit plate which is his one great talent), and you can read about Bus Uncle and the Shenzhen hookers.

The next time you're in Hong Kong and you hear the catchphrases "I've got pressure and you've got pressure.  So why are you challenging me?" or "Not solved! Not solved!" you can smile and think: "Bus Uncle."

(Thanks to EastSouthWestNorth for their translating and reporting)

June 7, 2006 at 10:17 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Pixar's CARS made me very sad because it was very boring and it's dedicated to George Ranft, the guy who did the voice of Heimlich the Caterpillar in A BUG'S LIFE and is a story editor at Pixar. I thought, "It must stink to have the worst movie to come out of Pixar serve as your memorial for all eternity." Then I realized that Tim Burton's THE CORPSE BRIDE was also dedicated to George and that made me feel a lot better, because in 50 years people will remember THE CORPSE BRIDE and no one will remember CARS.

I also felt better because there's another computer animated movie out there that's doing very well and is supposed to be very, very nice. It's KHAN KLUAY, from Thailand, a movie about pretty pink and blue elephants. The director is Kompin Kemgunerd who worked on a bunch of animated films in the US like TARZAN and THE ICE AGE and apparently it's a pretty decent flick. What's even nicer is that while it cost over US$3 million to make it grossed over half a million US in its first 3 days and is well on its way to making its money back at the Thai box office alone.

But the nicest thing about KHAN KLUAY is that on June 8, 100 elephants and their mahouts are being invited to a special, outdoor, elephants-only screening of the movie in Ayutthaya province and I'm sure there'll be free peanuts as well.

(Read more at Wisekwai and ThaiCinema.org)


June 7, 2006 at 09:47 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack


There's a depressing sense of cynicism and gloom hanging over the internet these days. I'd say it's just me, but I hear it from other people as well. Everything seems branded, and corporate, and mass-marketed, and money-hungry, and mean, and nasty, and unfair, and horrible. But Kaiju Shakedown wants to be a little ray of sunshine in your day. We want to be a tiny birdcage in your heart full of bright yellow, chirping canaries. We strive to lift you out of that mud puddle you found yourself face-down in, and we want to hand you a warm towel, dust off your windbreaker, and send you on your way with a nice hot cup of tea.

So today, and maybe for the rest of the week, Kaiju Shakedown is Nice Nice Land. We will only talk about nice things. We will only think nice thoughts. You and I will journey into a magical land of happy cry pretty where everything is free, and all the trees know all the words from all your favorite songs. How nice is it to be nice nice? Very nice.

June 7, 2006 at 09:27 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 06, 2006


Zhang ZiyiThe two-fisted story of Zhang Ziyi signing a 3-film deal with The Weinstein Company and TWC being involved in a remake of SEVEN SAMURAI (one of Zhang's 3 films) popped up on the internet, was widely reposted, and then debunked. Now it's been picked up by Variety and ScreenDaily and who knows if this is a sign that it's true, or a sign that an internet rumor is worming its way into the real world.

Both ScreenDaily and Variety agree that the deal isn't final yet, but that it's in talks and not just talks but "final talks" (Variety) and they are "close to three-picture deal" (ScreenDaily). Both rags agree that the MULAN picture that's supposed to be part of the deal is the one from Meridian Pictures, a new company run by David Dong, a Chinese multimillionaire with an unfortunate name. It's being written by CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON's and BATTLE OF RED CLIFF's Wang Hui-ling. According to Variety the budget is $20 million, but that can't be right if TWC and Zhang Ziyi get involved.

The most interesting factoid comes from ScreenDaily which says that these movies won't be part of TWC's "Dragon Dynasty" label. Of course not, these movies have a "real" star in them. Which says to me that Dragon Dynasty is going to be the straight-to-video ghetto for TWC's library and the prestige pictures that get a release and a marketing budget will be Weinstein Company movies.

June 6, 2006 at 01:56 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack


The feeding frenzy that is the Cannes marketplace is over, but the film sales continue. Here's a guide to who bought what - unfortunately we'll never be able to explain why some of these titles were bought.

ELECTION 2 was picked up by Tartan USA for the US, Optimum for the UK, Hopscotch for Australia, EMS for Germany, Remstar for Canada, and it was also sold to Spain, Brazil, Poland, Greece, Romania, Israel, the former Yugoslavia and Portugal.

Toei had its biggest year yet at Cannes (US$650,000) with YO YO GIRL COP (the SUKEBAN DEKA movie) sold to Celestial in Hong Kong and Rapid Eye in Germany. MEMORIES OF TOMORROW was sold to Hong Kong and China, and YAMATO was sold to Korea and Scandinavia.

CITY OF VIOLENCE, as we all already know, was picked up by the Weinstein Company in the US while it sold to about 20 territories worldwide.

(Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader for the pointers)

June 6, 2006 at 01:54 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 05, 2006


Time Kim Ki-Duk...is there a name that elicits more drama in Korean movies? He's deeply loathed on a lot of the film festival circuit, and Korean critics (and many Western ones as well) dismiss his movies out of hand. But he's also the most successful Korean director overseas, having won more awards and raked in more money at the box office than any other Korean director except maybe Park Chan-Wook.

Kim chalks up his rough treatment at the hands of the Korean press as class contempt. He didn't rise up through the film hierarchy the accepted way, he comes from a lower class background than a lot of other film industry people, and his movies are fixated on the lives of marginal or blue collar characters. I tend to believe that this is definitely part of the problem. The Korean press seems to go after him like they've got a vendetta: some film magazines have called him "a psychopath" and other critics have claimed that his mother didn't love him enough. As far as I know, no other Korean director gets treated this way and it's pretty shameful no matter how you feel about Kim.

As a response to this (and possibly as a savvy box office movie) Kim has said he won't release any more of his movies in Korea and the first one to not be released is TIME. But over at KoreanFilm.org they've linked to an online petition asking for someone to release TIME in South Korea. Sign it or not, but you've got to hand it to Kim for keeping things interesting.

June 5, 2006 at 04:01 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


The rumors continue to float around about the Donnie Yen/Weinstein Company/SEVEN SAMURAI remake, but they seem to mostly be a lot of talk. However, over the weekend, Sina.com, one of China's major internet portals and a source of entertainment gossip, reports that Zhang Ziyi signed a three-film contract with The Weinstein Company at Cannes this year. They report that two of the films are MULAN, and SEVEN SAMURAI.

Sina.com has often nabbed stories before English-language press outlets pick them up, and by the time the trade magazines in the US get a story Sina.com has sometimes been done with it for weeks. But they've also reported stories that don't exist or are based on the flimsiest of rumors.

So which is it? Any Chinese readers are invited to chime in and let us know: does Sina.com have facts the rest of us don't?

June 5, 2006 at 04:00 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Memories of Matsuko MEMORIES OF MATSUKO, the depressive song and dance film from Tetsuya Nakashima (KAMIKAZE GIRLS) which has been described as "a shojo manga CITIZEN KANE," held the fourth place spot at the Japanese box office this past weekend, beaten by Ken Watanabe's low budget Alzheimer's drama, MEMORIES OF TOMORROW. But that's only when you look at attendance figures. Since MEMORIES OF TOMORROW is aimed at the over-50 crowd, many of the tickets it sells are at the senior citizen rate and so MEMORIES OF MATSUKO actually made more money.

But it's the people that matter, man, not their money. And so MEMORIES OF TOMORROW is in third, and MEMORIES OF MATSUKO is in fourth.

(Read the Japan Times review of MEMORIES OF MATSUKO)

June 5, 2006 at 03:56 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 02, 2006


Rumors have been circulating for a few days now about what's going on at Central Park Media. Although things might get better and might get worse, at this point what's 100% certain is that a number of very nice people over there have lost their jobs, including their Marketing Manager, which is not a good sign.

CPM attributes the layoffs to Musicland's bankruptcy filing and says in a press release, "...we are facing tightening sales conditions and are currently focusing on a cost cutting program which will structure the company for future growth without our largest customer."

Central Park Media is a 16-year-old anime and manga distributor in the US that also releases a number of live action films through its Asian Pulp Cinema line. Their latest release was the CGI kaiju eiga, NEGADON.

June 2, 2006 at 10:25 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack