Ever had one of those days where you were sifting through Netflix and surely enough you came across something you were bound to be interested in only before you kept scrolling?
For Sister Tse (Shuya Chang), it seemed as if life couldn’t get more wary. Once the daughter of a prostitute, Tse herself is the latest generational recipient of suffering in her diaspora as an illegal Chinese immigrant, now fully adept to the dangers of the world around her, and with only one clear goal moving forward: Survive.
When Yu Irie isn’t thrilling audiences with works like Joker Game, his Memoirs Of A Murderer and A.I. Amok, he’ll also dive a bit into different grades of comedy like with Hibi Rock: Puke Afro and the Pop Star or 2018’s beat ’em up romp, Gangoose. His latest, Ninja Girl, takes a more artful approach boasting the occasional lively and upbeat dance track throughout the more cerebral, quiet tone.
Chiu Sin-Hang’s One Second Champion sets itself right into an intro flashback where we meet a young Chow Tin-yang, a boy whose life, for all we know, is a miracle following a harrowing birthnight in which he was braindead for exactly one second before revival. Little would Chow know that this one inkling in time would grant him a sixth sense, giving him a second of foresight if he concentrates hard enough, and despite his own gambling-addicted father’s shameful disapproval of its lack of expediency, the young and idealistic Chow, then TV-famous for his unique abilities, remains hopeful that he’ll be able to explore and apply them to their fullest potential.
Barring the fact that it’s raining and he’s already off to a bad start with building superintendent Jung Man-soo (Cha Seung-won), the day Park Sung-kyun (Park Dong-won) moved into his new home in a recently-built five-story residential building in Seoul with his wife and son, should have been a milestone success after eleven years of effort. It certainly feels like one, at first, despite the building’s rather worrying minor flaws, firstly discovered by their son when he puts a marble on the breakfast table and the floor, with the marble rolling by itself in both instances.
NYAFF XX Review: Yuichi Fukuda’s FROM TODAY, IT’S MY TURN!!, A Spirited, Knuckled-Up Live Action Comedy Niche Delight
Live-action adaptations of mangas and animes can be an acquired taste depending on what you enjoy. Yuichi Fukuda’s take on Gintama was a delight in 2017, though it still takes getting used to compared to the animated series’ own aesthetic. Nonetheless, Fukuda has made bank on his share of adapting certain IPs for the screen, and his latest bit of leg work now stems from the mind of mangaka Hiroyuki Nishimori with From Today, It’s My Turn!!, following from Fukuda’s prior legwork on the titular 2018 ten-episode NTV drama.
Playing like a vingette out of the 1970s, the intro to Ricky Ko’s directorial debut, Time, dives right into the 60s as we meet younger versions of our killer-for-hire trio, Chau, Fung and driver, Chung. A robust music score accompanies and enlivening opening action scene that falls short of mimicking classic 70s cinema, but still does its own thing in invoking a proper flashback to help pave the way for our characters, including Chau as he whips out his legendary karambit, corners an underworld boss and has his way with him.
NYAFF XX Review: Kan Eguchi’s THE FABLE: THE KILLER WHO DOESN’T KILL, A Taut, Tactful Killer Comedy Sequel
Kan Eguchi’s award-winning 2019 hitman comedy, The Fable, proved to be every bit as enjoyable as one could hope, and from the looks of things as of late, I would say this is turning more and more into an upstanding action franchise that it deserves to be. The latest sequel treatment from Eguchi’s resumè now arrives as The Fable: The Killer Who Doesn’t Kill, which is now making the festival rounds after finally releasing in Japan in June following multiple theatrical release delays, and it sees the return of actor Junichi Okada (Sekigahara, Baragaki: Unbroken Samurai), fittingly back in the title role and wearing more than one hat on set this time around.
If you’re into films with actors making their debuts, and if you especially enjoy sports dramas, Jéro Yun’s Fighter may just be more your speed. I’m not at all sure what the casting process was here, but it was awesome being introduced to actress Lim Seong-mi in her first lead role and absolutely killing it, and the ceremony she’s been receiving ever since.
NYAFF XX Review: Chan Kin Long’s HAND ROLLED CIGARETTE, A Story Of Those Made (And Unbroken) In Hong Kong
The reception is a hugely earned one this year, by and large, for actor and film multi-hyphenate Gordon Lam with currently four films slated to take the floor at this year’s New York Asian Film Festival. Our focus here will be on his headlining role in actor Chan Kin-long’s feature directorial debut, Hand Rolled Cigarette, one of several recipients of First Feature Film Initiative, Film Development Fund back in 2018 and as of last Fall, host to seven Golden Horse Awards nominations, including Best Leading Actor, an awards’ first for Lam.
The past two decades or so proved to be a pretty interesting era in Asian movies. Specifically, new blood entered the arena by the late nineties to carry onward the legacy and momentum of Hong Kong cinema following its latest crossovers of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh, placing younger stars like actor Nicholas Tse firmly in the spotlight as the terrain shifted. The result has seen the trajectory expanded on significantly more prospective terms as, namely speaking, Yen’s pursuits saw him traveling the world for productions on both sides of the lens, while the likes of Tse and his Gen-X Cops helmer Benny Chan – director of Yen’s 1995 incarnation of Fist Of Fury – would eventually see the two collaborate several times over from 2004 through 2011.
I can’t speak for North Korea, but it’s always compelling cinema to watch from Southern directors, with stories featuring parties from both sides of the DMZ. Seeing and observing the mannerisms and dispositions of both parties as they’re forced together in situations that imperil them and implore finding a common ground should be a welcome challenge for almost any filmmaker to tackle. More to the point, director Ryoo Seung-wan facing this challenge head-on is a feat I’m keen on witnessing, as big in scope and scale as many of his productions have grown, from the heydays of Die Bad, Crying Fist and Arahan, to international thriller The Berlin File and explosive period epic, The Battleship Island.
NYAFF XX: Benny Chan’s RAGING FIRE Heads Up Centerpiece Premiere With Kim Ji-Hoon’s SINKHOLE To Close Festival
Not to be outdone for a ways to end the week on a high note, folks attending the New York Asian Film Festival will undoubtedly be privy to the addition of two more titles to this year’s hybrid festivities, with the Centerpiece presentation of Benny Chan’s Raging Fire, and the closing premiere of Kim Ji-hoon’s survival pic, Sinkhole.
NYAFF 2021: Variety Star Asia, Daniel A. Craft Honorees Announced Among Others For This Year’s Festival
NYAFF XX Debuts 2021 Poster, Announces Kickoff With Well Go USA’s ESCAPE FROM MOGADISHU And Much More For Its Second Wave Announcement!
The twentieth installation of the New York Asian Film Festival is coming in as hot as the Summer sun. The festival just announced its second wave of titles in addition to the celebration and ceremony of NYAFF honoree, filmmaker and producer Ann Hui, and among other things, has also announced a brand new section for the festival titled Asian American Focus.
NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL XX: Office Ladies, The Fable 2, Junk Head, Dragon Inn And More Rev Up The 20th Installment!
I’ve collected some wicked memories in the last few years in covering the New York Asian Film Festival, both in-person and virtually. I don’t know what the outlook will be for me just yet this year, but what I do know is that the twentieth installment is setting in stone as we speak and with the first wave of titles now making the rounds, including Jero Yun’s Fighter, Lee Joon-ik’s black and white feature, The Book Of Fish, and Kazuaki Seki’s feature debut, Jigoku No Hanazono: Office Royale, which drew quite the stir among #ActionTwitter for those who took a liking to Exile Tribe’s six-year franchise outing with HiGH&LOW.