What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Discussions on Asian cinemas: Japanese, Korean, Thai, ....

What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Mike Thomason » Sun May 20, 2007 11:11 am

This is something I started up over at the DVD Maniacs forums, though with general limited success as the viewing audience there is extremely limited in its understanding and diversity of Asian cinema (ie: if you mention a film that no-one's seen, or something that isn't "classic HK action" or decades old Japanese samurai cinema [or something from Takashi Miike, for that matter] then the silence becomes deafening). Anyhoo, not a topic thread solely for the discussion of contemporary films per my HK one, but more one to just share amongst the troops here what folk have been watching... :)

Format is: film title (and alternative titles where known), year of release, country of origin and a brief synopsis as well as some thoughts. I'll kick things off with the below post about some films from the last few days...

NB: I would have started this topic much earlier in the year, but as everyone knows I've had lots of priority-grabbing things going on in my life to commence and maintain such a thing. Now, with things largely settling down a bit, I have the occasional windows of free time. :wink:
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Postby Mike Thomason » Sun May 20, 2007 12:08 pm

Resort Massacre (2000, Hong Kong, 92m)
This was a rewatch as means of a time killer on the day I dragged out the DVD again. Bowie Lau used to make decent little B-grade thrillers in his day (in fact, this and The Deadly Camp make for a nifty double feature) and this is one I don't mind at all. The story revolves a smart resort villa on the beachfront of Cheung Chau island run by Mrs Lim (Helena Law) and her creepy half-blind son (Lam Suet). Visitors infrequently turn up dead and the Lims cop some grief from beligerent local policeman Hoi (William Ho) to sell up so he can make some money off the land. Along comes HK reporter Macy (misspelled "Mayse" in the English subtitles) (Sophie Ngan) and her entourage, as well as bummed out celeb Paul (Mark Cheng) who is still looking for his ex who disappeared from the very same resort. The film has its moments and Lam Suet is appropriately creepy as Law's learning-impaired, half-blind son; there's a modicum of twists and turns along the way too -- though a blatant steal from Wes Craven's Scream comes a bit out of the blue. Decent enough and well worth a watch for lovers of low budget exploitation.

D-Day (aka: Roommates) (2006, South Korea, 93m)
The third film in producer Ahn Byeong-Gi's (of Phone and Bunshinsaba fame) quartet of medium budget HD shot horror features from new South Korean directors. This one harbours a really neat House Of Whipcord vibe, in that it's set in an (illegally commissioned) private girls' school -- once the girls go in, they're there for a year with virtually no contact with the outside world, the boarding school is run like a prison, and it's study-study-study from 6am 'til 10pm every day. But a troublemaker gets thrown into the mix and weird things start happening, like visions of phantom apparitions and mass slaughter! Could the school have a deep, dark secret? Perhaps not quite up the high standards of the prior entries in the series (February 29 and Hidden Floor, this is still a decently effective horror flick with a really nasty sting in its tail (if real-life school-borne massacre upset you, DO NOT watch this film). A surprisingly grisly mood piece.

Dark Forest (2006, South Korea, 100m)
The fourth film in producer Ahn's HD horror project is, shades of Evil Dead, set in a National Park well outside of Seoul where five friends set off to for a weekend of camping, hiking and communing with nature. However, the forest itself is haunted and feeds on the blood of its visitors, which inturn transforms them into murderous, living dead monsters that can only be stopped by decapitation or immolation. This one is a little slow to get going, has a ripping mid-section, and then flounders a tad with an overdose of Korean melodrama in its finale. Apparently release in the ROK with a 15+ rating, the DVD version is the full-strength 18+ version and heavens is it bloody! In fact, there were two moments of graphic terror (a rape with a hunting knife and decapitation with a camping shovel) that I found thoroughly uncomfortable as well as unpleasant to squirm through. Forest is a heavily gory shocker, when it's running at full steam, but also manages to capture the remoteness and isolation of its locations. Grim, gory and melodramatic.

Moodori (2006, South Korea, 101m)
Wrapping up for today, I took at a gander at last year's rather morbid black comedy from director Lee Hyeong-Seon. Taking place in the small, mountaintop rural village of Moodori, three elderly men decide they've stumbled upon a goldmine when a variety of Korea's forlorn and suicidal make their local peaks the country's number one hotspot to end it all. Seo Young-Hee (from Mapado and To Sir, With Love), as a budding journo, tags along to expose the bizarre story but finds herself caught up in it all when a band of suicidees arrive, mistaking her for one of their own. Folks will recognise elder of the old chaps, Park In-Hwan, from The Quiet Family and the whole thing is generally a lot of (blacky humourous) fun. Beautiful location photography and a lush score by Choi Wan-Hee (performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra) adds to the atmosphere -- however the finale act gets a bit weepy once proceedings descend into melodrama when the truth about Park's lost son is revealed. All up, a good flick but not for everyone as black comedy isn't usually always everyone's ideal form of entertainment.
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Postby cal42 » Sun May 20, 2007 12:26 pm

Well, I've been watching a fair few non-HK asain titles recently. All of them pretty well known:

Lady Vengeance (2006/South Korea)
Surely no synopsis necessary! Generally, I thought a bit of a disappointment after OLD BOY, but it did have its moments.

Ran (1985/Japan)
A tale of misplaced trust and the futility of war, I suppose. Bloody excellent - can't wait to see it again.

The Host (2006/South Korea)
Again, no synopsis necessary. Pretty good, although I don't think it's the second coming of christ, like I've read in other places!

Audition (1999/Japan)
Nasty nasty nasty. If someone comes up to you with this film, run away screaming.

I've also just rewatched Versus (2000/Japan), which was much better second time around.
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Postby Mike Thomason » Sun May 20, 2007 12:47 pm

cal42 wrote:The Host (2006/South Korea)
Again, no synopsis necessary. Pretty good, although I don't think it's the second coming of Christ, like I've read in other places!


Actually, nor did I (feel it was the second coming, as it were)! It was just a good old fashioned monster yarn with a decidedly more human core to its story than most. The FX were pretty spiffy, though I don't feel compelled to make that remark just because it was an American company (and New Zealand's WETA, as well as a few others) who did the work (once again, like has been spouted in other places) as there's been more than sufficient excellent CG and FX work out of a number of Asian territories in recent years.

And as for the so-called "anti-American propaganda" subtext I've read about in various places, from (dare I say it) largely American viewers -- phooey! What a lot of poppycock! Like any monster movie from any era of cinema history, there is ALWAYS an element whereby either the government or military or both opt to cover up or destroy rogue super-nature amok, usually at the cost of human casualties, in the narrative. Heck, have a look at the original Godzilla movie, or go back all the way to the original King Kong! Sometimes it's just one government, sometimes it's a coalition of governments conspiring together to sweep the whole thing under the rug -- that's just part and parcel, a cliche no less, of monster movies through the ages.

It was certainly a good movie, even a great movie of its genre, but I have to agree that I saw it as hugely entertaining over something to put on a pedestal and idolise. :P
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Postby ewaffle » Sun May 20, 2007 2:29 pm

Throne of Blood (Japan, 1957) and Ran (Japan, 1995)

I had seen both of these movies on the big screen: Throne of Blood in NYC at a Kurosawa retrospective in the Village and Ran at the Detroit Institute of Arts Film Series. Actually saw Ran at least twice more at the cinema when it went into commercial first run in Motown.

Both have been re-released on DVD by Criterion and I have watched them again recently. Not sure how one would phrase it—“adapted from” or “inspired by” or “based on” Shakespeare’s Macbeth and King Lear but both of these movies represent the best use of Shakespeare in a medium other than the stage or the page that I have encountered anywhere. Shakespeare is an inexhaustible source. I re-read five or six plays plus some criticism each year and have been doing so for about 30 years—they are always fresh and exciting.

Only a genius like Kurosawa can see into the real heart and soul of these tragedies and to express the common/universal thoughts, actions and emotions that make them great. It is impossible to recommend either of these two movies too highly. Their combination of cinematic spectacle and brilliant psychological acuity is...well it is Shakespearean. Both Shakespeare and Kurosawa raise questions about human evil and betrayal, about the besetting crime of hubris and the frustration of overweening ambition.

I really love both of these movies. It may not make complete sense to pair them in this way but I haven’t been able to think about one without the other since I saw Ran in 1995.

Any list of “what have you been watching lately” will include In the Mood for Love (Hong Kong, 2000). Every few months I toss it into the DVD tray and wallow in the sheer beauty. It and Casablanca are first and second on my list of all time favorites. The order changes based on which one I have seen most recently.
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Sun May 20, 2007 4:23 pm

Had a bit of gambling jones recently.

Watched two GAMBLERS SERIES movies, RAKE GAMBLER and PERFECT SKILL, but as they were ultimately ordered for another member who hasn't seen them, I'll refrain from commenting for now for fear of spoiling and such....

But I also decided to finish up the gambling "series" (such as it is) that began way back with Stephen Chow's GOD OF GAMBLERS II and III, continued through the Andy Lau/Nick Cheung CONMAN/CONMEN trilogy, and now seems to have concluded with the Nick Cheung flicks CONMAN 2002 and FATE FIGHTER. I'm very aware that most of these films are related on a thematic level only, but since they DO carry the same two Chinese characters as their main title, it's obvious the makers are still playing under a audience-familiar umbrella.

CONMAN 2002 has Nick Cheung shunned by his fung shui master, his uncle and virtually anyone else who suffers because of his endless bad luck, and hospitalized after a bungled suicide attempt, where he falls for nurse Mango Wong. Using a little reverse psychology, her legendary gambler brother (Stephen Fung) sees Cheung as a potential wild card in his plan to swindle an unscrupulous rival (Patrick Keung). Surprisingly good (and good looking) entry in the adforementioned "series," and from a director (Aman Chang) who misses as often as he hits and a leading man likewise cursed. But they click here: Cheung eliciting more honest pathos than should be possible in an oversized bumpkin wig and thick black eyeglass frames as a self-loathing sadsack who’s grown accustomed to the often violent misfortune that befalls him (at least before his mid-film transformation into a slick wannabe-hustler), and director Chang attaining a rare polish thanks in no small part to sharp DP and art director, among other visualilsts on hand. Only the by-now-standard climactic gambling face-off—a gimmicky, then-soon-to-be-dated riff on the TV game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” played via rigged soccer betting and trivia contests (!)—fails to live up to the promise of the story preceding it.


There are two fate fighters in FATE FIGHTER: half-brothers born to a superstitious millionaire at the same time 29 years ago. The one born to his maid is a “lucky star,” the one born to his wife a jinx, and the fung shui expert present warns of a switch of fortunes three decades on. Keeping the jinxed baby at his wife’s insistence brings about the millionaire’s downfall. The lucky baby, cast out with his mother, grows up to be a self-made millionaire and gambling whiz (Alex To) with a penchant for cheating. But maintaining his winning ways has meant keeping a costly invisible grip on the fortunes of his estranged sibling (Nick Cheung), who lives in a fleapit apartment with much-cherished appliances painted on the walls and whose uncanny but honest gambling savantism brings misfortune to those around him, thus convincing him it should never be used. But there’s no escaping fate, as the saying goes, and the brothers inevitably meet at the gaming table to see if the prophecy will be fulfilled. Though he’s played this kind of character many times, Cheung’s quite good here, and uncharacteristically subtle, no doubt thanks to some rather broad supporting performances, notably Sam Lee as an off-kilter inmate of millionaire gambler Wong Wa-wo’s “gambling institute” who helps Cheung uncover the scam that masquerades as his life. Anson Leung and Rico Kwok are amusing (though in thankfully small doses) as a pair of trend-obsessed debt collectors, while newcomer Trish Chen, real-life elder sister of Edison Chen, gives the film’s most unpromising performance as To’s assistant. Lensing quality on this is high. Though saddled with the obligatory impossible, CG-assisted feats of gambling which have become the norm for this genre, FATE FIGHTER is more thoughtful than many of its relatives, and more thought-provoking as it tweaks expectations towards the end. The reviews in the DB for this one seem to indicate that not everyone gets the point of the whole exercise. The lack of Wong Jing in any capacity should be a clue that this isn't your standard-issue wacky gambling adventure.
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Postby Mike Thomason » Mon May 21, 2007 1:18 pm

Mapado 2: Back To The Island (2007, South Korea, 112m)
Nearly everyone came back for this sequel to the hit original from 2005, from lead protagonist Lee Mun-Sik, reprising his role from the first film as Chung-Su, to popular original lead actress Kim Su-Mi (Marrying The Mafia 2 & 3) who makes a guest appearance cameo in the film's final act. Chung-Su takes up the task of tracing a dying tycoon's first love, setting off to coastal island Dongbaek -- unwittingly get shipwrecked along the way and winding up back on Mapado. Things have changed slightly, and there's been an addition (in the form of Jin-Ahn's cousin) as well as a subtraction (Jin-Ahn herself is away on business). Being a great fan of the first film, with its idyllic island setting and uproarious collection of sneaky old ladies and setpieces, I pretty much rushed to catch this one as soon as it was released on DVD in the ROK -- and I wasn't disappointed. There are some hysterically funny scenes, with the older ladies one-upping Chung-Su every chance they get, and Lee Mun-Sik showing a deft hand for raucous physical comedy. There were some scenes where I almost laughed to the point of tears, so if you were a fan of the first Mapado then I'm sure you'll find just as much to enjoy here as with the original. :D
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Postby JohnR » Mon May 21, 2007 5:46 pm

Warriors of Heaven and Earth 2003 China

I didn't recognize any of the stars except Vicki Zhao Wei (who is featured as The Flower Vase). Story about a Jananese guy sent by his government to China 25 years ago who is longing to return to his mother (real mother, not motherland) but who is given one last mission, which is to bring into custody an ex-military officer. The military officer is on the lam because he refused to obey an order that most people would find reprehensible. Zhao Wei's tie in is that the officer used to be one of her father's men when her father was a general, but the Japanese guy was a good friend of her father and was asked to look after her. It's a good movie, reminiscent of Musa the Warrior. I think the ending prevents it from being a classic (a deus ex machina tack-on). And they should have asked Zhao Wei to do something more than look pretty; her character appears to have been grafted into the movie like a cherry blossom onto a cactus, and has just as much function. But it's definitely worth watching; strong acting, good direction, etc. The story is interesting enough, but not complex. The Japenese officer and the on-the-lam Chinese officer develop an admiration for each (who'da guessed). Will the Japanese release the Chinese or bring him in? You'll have to watch and find out.
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Postby dleedlee » Mon May 21, 2007 6:12 pm

Recent viewings:

Hua Yuo Bride From Shangri-La, from the director of When Ruoma Was Seventeen, both shot in Yunnan Provice. Zhang Jingchu is a newly wed bride of Hua Yuo Yi nationality. As Fengmei, she is strong willed and causes her husband no end of headaches when she breaks a myriad of local traditions. He husband has been tapped to coach the dragon dance team composed of the village's young women. Zhang Jingchu is reason enough for me to watch but the film has marvellously executed cinematography, beautiful folk music and nuanced minor stories of the team members.

Mukhsin is the third film of Yasmin Ahmad's Orked trilogy. Introduced in Sepet, Mukhsin recalls Orked's first love as a ten year old during a brief school holiday. Orked, is a willful tom boy, like Fengmei above, who prefers to play with boys. She meets the titular Mukhsin and soon enough puppy love blooms. Mukhsin, the film, is shot in the Malaysian countryside and watching it, one gets a feel of what small town life must be like, nosy neighbors and all. The film is also blessed with a wonderful soundtrack. The supporting cast is top notch. special kudos should go to the lad playing Mukhsin (Mohd Syafie Naswip) and Adibah Noor, as the maid (and returning from Sepet) deserves a film of her own film. Small film, big heart.

Also, digging into one of the 'to be watched' piles, Wo Hu: Wonderful performances by Eric Tsang, Sonja Kwok and Francis Ng overcome a muddled storyline of triad intrigue. Just where are these 1000 undercover cops anyway? Okay, it's unbelievable that window designer Sonja Kwok would fall for triad boss Eric Tsang, but I enjoyed it anyway.
[edit] The deleted scenes and other extras on the DVD seems to hint at a tantalizing alternate direction (particularly the ending) left untravelled in the actual film.
Last edited by dleedlee on Wed May 23, 2007 11:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Mon May 21, 2007 6:32 pm

Born to Fight (2004) Thailand: one word: Gymkata. Now that I’ve got that out of my system I will slightly elaborate. In Panna Rittikrai’s first directed film (I believe) of a semi-remake (I need to buy the original; BCI has a R1 copy that just came out) of his popular (in Thailand) 1986 film. I noticed that on several web sites they are already getting confused on which is which. I found the plot more absurd than Tom Yum Goong (the plot consists of a terrorist taking over a village and ready to use a nuclear warhead if a certain leader is not released), yet the stunts are awesome in their disregard for human life (only partially being facetious). In the beginning there is a semi-truck chase where they are parallel while driving, Dan Chupong knocks off a bad guy of the top of the semi then bounces off the side of the other one and almost ping pongs underneath the other rolling truck (he actually rolls to the middle just in time) in an absolutely amazing stunt sequence. Now what is interesting is the hiring of many of Thai’s top athletes to perform well be themselves. Of course they fight using their abilities: the Rugby player does some tackles, the gymnasts fight with convenient parallel bars, the Sepak Takraw player uses his awesome kicking ability as well as the soccer player using his futbol ability. While I was not satisfied with the film as a whole it is hard not to forget many of the sagacious stunts.

Mike Thomason wrote:... (ie: if you mention a film that no-one's seen, or something that isn't "classic HK action" or decades old Japanese samurai cinema [or something from Takashi Miike, for that matter] then the silence becomes deafening).


I was wondering if this comment is geared towards Jidai Geki films or just ones oriented toward Chambara (aka Chanbara). Though I give you kudos for the prophetic statement though :-D. I do like that you challange us to watch a plethora of styles (and countries) instead of keeping conversation to a subsect of cinema. Though I still find it hard to keep up with even the "must" watches of Asian cinema (I do enjoy going through so many different cultures of film though). I have this easier by eschewing most new Hollywood films and go for classics, cult, American independent, European classics, Asian Classics, and whatever else.

On Versus: I have been meaning to give this one a second viewing. I was not satisfied with the ending though I liked the mixture of comedy and zombie action.

On Ran and Throne of Blood: I am a huge Kurosawa fan so I am very biased toward most of his films. Ran has been in and out of my top ten lists since the 80s. Lady Kaede is one of my favorite female characters of any film. I also like most films that Tatsuya Nakadai plays in. I like Throne of Blood, but have not felt as passionate about it as other Kurosawa films.
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Postby cal42 » Mon May 21, 2007 7:00 pm

Oh, that reminds me. I also recently saw:

Tom Yum Goong (2006/Thailand)
Although in my country, we call it "The Warrior King" for some reason. It's strange, we can have "Ong-Bak" but we can't have "Tom Yum Goong". What's that about?

Anyway, the film. I'm really, bizarrely and inexplicably unmoved by this. The action is superb - really jaw dropping stuff, but for some reason I just can't care less. I really don't know why I can't connect with these films. I remember thinking that tower scene was probably one of the best action scenes ever shot, but I was completely detached the whole time. I just can't put my finger on it.
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Postby dleedlee » Mon May 21, 2007 7:06 pm

I really don't know why I can't connect with these films. I remember thinking that tower scene was probably one of the best action scenes ever shot, but I was completely detached the whole time. I just can't put my finger on it.


I fell asleep during the big battle scene in The Phantom Menance, and that was watching it in the theatre. THX couldn't even overcome it. :cry:
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Postby Gaijin84 » Mon May 21, 2007 8:25 pm

My Boyfriend is Type-B (South Korea/2005)
I keep trying to find a movie in the vein of My Sassy Girl that I find as funny, but so far no luck. I disliked the character of the boyfriend (Lee Dong-gun) so much in this film that I didn't end up caring what happened to either person. I also couldn't believe that the girl (Han Ji-hye) would ever stick around for all his abuse. Finished the movie quite disappointed.


The Foul King (South Korea/2000)
I'll watch just about anything with Song Kang-ho in it, and this certainly didn't disappoint. I was literally crying during some of the wrestling scenes, especially the first match that Kang-ho appears as the Foul King. His physical comedy is hilarious and you end up loving his character by the end of the film. I'd recommend it to anyone. If possible, try and see the original Korean language version. I guess there is a Chinese version out there with the only audio being a Stephen Chow dub, but I thankfully avoided it.
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Mike Thomason » Wed May 23, 2007 8:15 am

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:
Mike Thomason wrote:... (ie: if you mention a film that no-one's seen, or something that isn't "classic HK action" or decades old Japanese samurai cinema [or something from Takashi Miike, for that matter] then the silence becomes deafening).


I was wondering if this comment is geared towards Jidaigeki films or just ones oriented toward Chambara (aka Chanbara). Though I give you kudos for the prophetic statement though :-D. I do like that you challange us to watch a plethora of styles (and countries) instead of keeping conversation to a subsect of cinema.


The comment is geared towards the incredibly narrow understanding and knowledge of Asian cinema that I found myself faced with, after nearly five years contribution to, the Asian section of the DVD Maniacs forums. There's one guy on there who, quite literally, just simply and solely posts links to other boards, forums and sites with news about the same old thing over and over, year in year out -- which is incredibly boring beyond belief after five years of trying to stimulate discussion in more diverse avenues...

...and failing because all the people who post there know and want to post about is: Kurosawa's early samurai films, Godzilla movies, Pinku eiga films (because, seemingly, many of them enjoy the subjectification of Asian women), Zatoichi movies and TV series, extreme Japanese gore films, early John Woo/Johnnie To (like both directors have made no films since the late eighties) and archaic old karate/kung fu films. That, for me, as has been noted dozens of times before, is as boring as it gets -- I like to remain contemporary, and to constantly retread as well as dwell in the past is for me both tiring and monotonous. I can appreciate the past, and respect its place, but I have no intention on living there as so many online fans of Asian cinema seem to wish to, even the young ones.

I don't think I really "challenge" anyone to watch a diverse viewing range -- but I do like to read comments and feedback about a variety of different Asian territories' cinema these days. I can't just hone in on one country any more, as there's much more out there to see, enjoy and admire for me. It's good to read varied discussion about varied Asian countries' film industries -- y'know, things like reading Dennis' positive comments about Yasmin Ahmad's Mukhsin are a delight for me; in that instance I instantly connect with what is being said as I have seen the other two films mentioned and loved both of them.

There is really something to be said for just enjoying what one watches and sharing that love around with their peers -- it sure beats trying to pass oneself off as some kind of armchair expert, only to end up being proven a tool time after time like so many out there these days! :P
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Wed May 23, 2007 4:33 pm

Mike Thomason wrote:...and failing because all the people who post there know and want to post about is: Kurosawa's early samurai films, Godzilla movies, Pinku eiga films (because, seemingly, many of them enjoy the subjectification of Asian women), Zatoichi movies and TV series, extreme Japanese gore films, early John Woo/Johnnie To (like both directors have made no films since the late eighties) and archaic old karate/kung fu films.


Mostly agree. I would like to see more discussion on pre-Rashomon Kurosawa films (I sense you are sick of Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Hidden Fortress), Ozu (though some sites will talk Tokyo Story to death), and just getting into Kon Ichikawa myself . I don't watch Pinku so no opinion there. Zatoichi conversation has been done to death (and Lone Wolf and Cub), as well as 80's John Woo, Takashi Miike (I guess you would include "Beat" too :-); though Miike has done so many damn films very few have seem them all; I only tend to see a select few that get discussed to death).

Though I would not want to discourage newer fans to Asian cinema (like myself in many areas) to eschew discussion of particular films, but I can see if certain fans (fanatics) repeat Ad Nauseum the topics you mentioned above it could definitely be annoying to you. I don't view that many forums so I am ignorant on a lot that goes on (like when you mentioned your hatred of mixing technical specs and confusing that for movie discussion, I did not think of that much until I noticed a few sites like ADG that talk, talk, talk about specs without once ever talking about the film itself).

I do have a soft spot for old superannuated kung fu films though :-P And there is still plenty of "classics" I need to see :-D (as I repeat this Ad Nauseum).
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Wed May 23, 2007 10:43 pm

Though I would not want to discourage newer fans to Asian cinema (like myself in many areas) to eschew discussion of particular films, but I can see if certain fans (fanatics) repeat Ad Nauseum the topics you mentioned above it could definitely be annoying to you. I don't view that many forums so I am ignorant on a lot that goes on.


Very good points! Everyone can and should be catered to in a forum where the core subject matter is of common interest. A little something for everybody, as it were... :D If the topics seem repetitious, we can always avoid them.

For me, it's rarely the topics at various film forums that put me off (if the thread title doesn't interest me, I don't click), it's the quickly devolving tone of far too many discussions—topic digressions are alright by me (obvously :lol:), but the snippy, didactic condescension people use in correcting each other is (and was) so needless. Watch someone stick the right smiley-face after a sentence, and it could be days before you'd see a friendly post again. :shock:

I stay as contemporary as the next fella (the "scrounge" thread should attest to that). And in spite of the fact that I can only watch things as fast as time allows, I've equally no intention of leaving the past in the past, particularly for the sake of newcomers who may very well be where most of us were five, ten, twenty years ago—and who may not be keen on reading half-decade-old forum threads with varying levels of tool-proving—and especially because there's a lot of stuff the old guard either missed outright or simply never bothered to discuss because they were so focussed on pretty much everything Mike listed above ;) , at least if my many fruitless searches of other/older discussion forums are any indication. How anyone could last five years in some of those earlier forums is a testament to...something?

I can sympathize with those who find ADG to be to tech-heavy. That definitely limits my visits, but in fairness, it does seem to be the primary mission behind that site, so it will continue to be of value to those who want such info when they want it. Just not everyone, obviously.

I do have a soft spot for old superannuated kung fu films though :-P And there is still plenty of "classics" I need to see :-D (as I repeat this Ad Nauseum).


Your soft spot for this genre is probably a wee bit softer than mine, and from the sounds of it a lot softer than Mike's :lol:. I'm sitting on a small mountain of IVL Shaw martial arts films—in addition to an even larger mountain of contemporary-set 60's and 70's Shaw films that have yet to be discussed much anywhere because they weren't even available to us ten years ago—that I will one day start exploring more regularly. And of course, there's the Cathay films, which seem to be OK according to other threads here.


I can't just hone in on one country any more...


With your knowledge, Mike, I find it tough to believe you ever could have in the first place! :shock: :lol:


There is really something to be said for just enjoying what one watches and sharing that love around with their peers -- it sure beats trying to pass oneself off as some kind of armchair expert, only to end up being proven a tool time after time like so many out there these days!


What's weird to me about the social structure of internet forums, regardless of subject matter—and this is probably the main reason I frequent only two of them—is how harshly the wanna-be armchair experts are often proven to be "tools" by, essentially, other armchair experts, right though they may be, and perhaps deserving though their targets may seem. I guess it's human nature to adopt a "tone" when we know we're right and can't hold back, and all these little forum buttons make it surprisingly easy to do that. But that lack of compassion—even now, but especially back then—can make for thoroughly disheartening reading sometimes. Maybe in the 90's it made more sense, as so many people suddenly had a place to go and challenge and dictate to each other and moderators were less vigilant, but man, sometimes it seems like nothing's changed. :(




EDIT: And finally, in keeping with the topic, I watched an older Charlene Choi movie called DIVA AH HEY last night, despite owning it for nearly three years! :lol: I think I forgot it 10 minutes later. What it it about Joe Ma's movies? They're always so good-looking but with almost no lingering aftertaste (FEEL 100%, FIGHTING FOR LOVE, the LOVE UNDERCOVER series, etc. etc.). I even accepted the fact that the film was probably not aimed at someone like me, but even within that context I still found Choi's selfless/sexless pixie "routine" (pout, babble, act-half-your-age, stompy-walk, rinse, repeat) to be a bit much. Her character was about as deep as her record-company press kit bio, which I suspect may have been the point. :lol: I know she's done better since then, and I do like her singing regardless, but this was about as prefab and obvious as they come. Still, can't exactly say I hated it... :?
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Mike Thomason » Thu May 24, 2007 11:19 am

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:...I am ignorant on a lot that goes on (like when you mentioned your hatred of mixing technical specs and confusing that for movie discussion, I did not think of that much until I noticed a few sites like ADG that talk, talk, talk about specs without once ever talking about the film itself)...


Just to clarify: I don't hate said type of discussion -- but it does incessantly bore me. A bunch of so-called fans sitting around their computers and ranting on and on about minutiae and insignificant (IMHO) trivial details, over actually discussing the films themselves*...that they wouldn't be discussing infintesimal trifles about were they not to exist in the first place? Uh ah, not my speed at all and something I actually find the epitome of the "spoilt brat" mentality that is so prevalent in Western capitalistic, and materialistic, culture. Hate = no, dislike = yes. Thanks for picking me up and reiterating this point yet again...

Brian: I'll make this as simple as humanly possible -- when and how does stating a personal preference, over any matter, quantify as being "wrong"?

Every time I state or make comment over my personal preferences, someone comes along and picks apart everything I type as though I have no right to express a difference of opinion from everyone else. I do not pick apart everyone else's discussion and beliefs or opinions, so what is the necessity to deconstruct everything I type when I am only speaking my mind on a couple of matters? Quite frankly, it's starting to get a little tiring for me that I have to justify everything I type every time I put something that is divergent from the mass opinion here. I can appreciate that not everyone is going to agree with how I feel or my personal opinions, but persistently being used as an example of the benchmark for the "wrong way to state an opinion or personal belief" is starting to get a bit old with me.

I really don't have the time any more for typing up these kinds of lengthy, and cyclic, responses every time I put forward one of my own thoughts about something -- as it seems inevitable someone is going to deconstruct what I type since it's a difference of opinion to their own thought processes. I let everyone else go (largely, except when I was taken to task by a member recently who solely seemed to be responding for an argument) when they speak their minds -- sometimes I would just like to see the same courtesy reciprocated... :?

* the other aspect of such discussion is, per the ADG example, that a significant majority of the discussion is based upon assumptions and guesswork, not a series of hard facts backed up with any kind of evidence; per ADG, there's probably less than a handful of people that post there whose word I would put any faith in -- the rest are just taking stabs in the dark or regurgitating (unsubstantiated) data that has already been put out there. For me, there's nothing worse than reading falsehoods and half-truths being passed off as facts when that's furtherest from the truth...
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Postby ewaffle » Thu May 24, 2007 12:32 pm

Mike's predicamaent, especially the picking apart stuff, reminds me of some of the discussions/rants/diatribes on some of the opera boards that I read--although with less frequency than in the past. Among some (to my way of thinking) insanely hard-core fans, you not only have to love a singer as much as they do but for the same reasons and also hate all of her (almost always her) rivals with equal fervor. Which is only one of the many reasons why I don't bother reading them and never post to them any more.

Part of the price we pay for the unparalleled access to information that is now available but it is very difficult to take such an Olympian view of things if one is the subject of such sniping.
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Postby Mike Thomason » Thu May 24, 2007 2:45 pm

In related news, I watched Danny Pang's...

Forest Of Death (2007, Hong Kong/Thailand, 97m)
I never managed to see the Pang Brothers American outing, The Messengers (which was apparently heavily tampered with by the production company prior to release, inclusive of new material shot by a subbing director), but this is the first follow-up production post that international debacle. Based, in part, on documented cases of forests that have become, through mysterious and bizarre circumstances, suicide Meccas (in particular some Japanese forests*). Ekin Cheng plays botanist Shum Shu Hai, who is exploring sensory perception in plants, and Shu Qi is tough detective Ha Chung Chi, trying to crack a rape/murder case puportedly involving Wong Pak Moo (Lawrence Chou); on the peripherals, Shum's girlfriend Mei (Rain Li) is a TV "ghost hunter" who exposes various supernatural occurences ala Brian's favourite, Tim Tam. All come together in a Thai national forestry reserve in an adventure that involves wandering souls, strange sightings and spooky old forest ranger Tin Sing Yeh (Lau Siu Ming). I won't mince words -- I liked this but I am also a total sucker for that odd animal, Cinema Pang. There are science fiction overtones afoot, as well as a strained relatonship between Cheng and Li to add spice to proceedings. Not overly frightening, but definitely something a little more unique and original than a lot of HK/Thai hybrids.

* there is a title card at the end of the film that goes unsubtitled -- my wife informs me that it details the incidences of suicides in many world forests, highlighting in particular a series of unexplained deaths in Japan.
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Postby cal42 » Thu May 24, 2007 4:08 pm

Also on a related note - I tried to join DVD Maniacs (that Shaw discussion thread was making my eyes water), but they wouldn't let me join would they, the black-balling bastards!
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Thu May 24, 2007 4:47 pm

Brian: I'll make this as simple as humanly possible -- when and how does stating a personal preference, over any matter, quantify as being "wrong"?

Every time I state or make comment over my personal preferences, someone comes along and picks apart everything I type as though I have no right to express a difference of opinion from everyone else. I do not pick apart everyone else's discussion and beliefs or opinions, so what is the necessity to deconstruct everything I type when I am only speaking my mind on a couple of matters? Quite frankly, it's starting to get a little tiring for me that I have to justify everything I type every time I put something that is divergent from the mass opinion here. I can appreciate that not everyone is going to agree with how I feel or my personal opinions, but persistently being used as an example of the benchmark for the "wrong way to state an opinion or personal belief" is starting to get a bit old with me.


I'm not trying to set benchmarks and was, in fact, not even referring to you in that regard! We all have the right to lament the state of internet discussion forums, and that's what I did. You guys have reasons, so do I. Mike's strongly-held views do, however, make me feel like sharing some of my own, that's all, and in many ways they actually run parallel. Sincere apologies if it feels like a deconstructionist attack, Mike. It's honestly not. You don't have to justify anything. And you certainly don't have to simplify things for me. :(

I don't think having preferences are wrong, so further apologies if that was inferred. Facts can be wrong, of course, and worthy of correction. I just wish more people on some sites that I've read (not this one, I might add) could challenge and debate one another's facts and opinions without talking down to one another. It might actually draw more and newer members for them! New voices are worth hearing, too.

I may only contribute to two sites (though mostly here), but I browse others, and the most disheartening things about them are some of the very stuff Mike and Ed (and myself) have mentioned. For me, as I said, it's the lack of compassion between people when preferences/opinions/facts don't match and, more personally, the lack of discussion about a very large cross section of movies that are out there - new AND old. I'm glad we at last have some dedicated threads here in which we can share thoughts on films across time and genre. If they digress a bit, big deal. We get back on topic soon enough.

.
.
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And since the topic of this thread is what Asian films we've been watching lately, I'll point out again that I've watched one heck of a lot of pre-2006/7 movies lately for which I could use more information (or commentary) but can find almost nothing—not even discussion threads—at virtually any HK-film related forums beyond the cast and credits we have here (and perhaps a couple of one-sentence reviews). And it's not for a lack of trying, but there could be sites I've yet to stumble across. I'm looking forward to your own site Mike, as I suspect I'll finally be able to read your thoughts on a lot of older films that I'm certain you've seen, but for which I've been hesitant to ask for commentary due to their age. Meantime I'll continue to share my thoughts on them hereabouts and hope that others will do the same, even if they haven't seen 'em in years! Hopefully you folks can at least understand this position on the past even though you may not share it. :D

Despite the hard feelings I obviously engender, Mike, I do look forward to your thoughts on FOREST OF DEATH, as a nearby store here has it for a fair price (about $10), and it does look too intriguing to hold off for a price drop! :lol:
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Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Thu May 24, 2007 9:55 pm

Legendary Weapons of China (1982 - Hong Kong) : I really enjoyed this late Shaw Brothers Kung Fu flick. I read such positive things about this from Ric Meyers (ultimately meandering) book, Videohound, Bey Logan (and countless web sites) that I’ve been looking forward to watching this for a long time. Now ultimately the plot is a bit thing, somewhat confusing (especially towards the end), but has great entertainment value in the sublime and adroit martial arts display by Hsian Ho, Alexander Fu Sheng, (great seeing real life brothers fight with the underrated Lau Kar-Wing vs. Lau Kar-Leung using all the main Chinese weapons, hmmm will the older brother win?) and Lau Kar-Fei (whose role is not that large in this film). Also early in the film there is a self-emasculation scene :-D; luckily from a distance though. There is also much humor that keeps the film from being too serious.

On a different note, if I have made any comments there were annoying or repeating myself or if I'm prone to hyperbole I do apologize. I am just curious to people's viewpoints on different issues and do not always write the correct thoughts in my head.
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Postby cal42 » Fri May 25, 2007 7:31 am

Looking back over the topics of late, I also think I may have made some comments. Like with Brian and Oneinchpunch, I didn't mean anything malicious about it and wasn't even referring to any individual's point of view. I'm specifically talking about the Host: my comments were aimed at certain magazines' and websites' hailing of this film as the best thing since sliced bread, and not any comments or recommendations on this MB. But if I've caused offence, I'm sorry.
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Postby Mike Thomason » Fri May 25, 2007 11:50 am

It's all cool now that I know where people are coming from -- guess I misread some of what was being expressed herein. :oops:

I'll do my best to come back tomorrow and type up some stuff, as it's a little hard at the moment as I've not long slashed open the index finger of my right hand on some broken glass here at home...and I'm right handed and this makes things very hard to type. It's even worse when one is on blood thinners and it takes forever for me to stop bleeding... :cry:

@ cal: DVD Maniacs black-balled you? Well, their loss and our gain! Can't say you're missing much though, as the quality of discussions on those boards has dropped off sharply over the last six months or so. Which is why I've decided to dedicate my energies to these forums exclusively -- just a better bunch of folk in general - more interesting -- less narrowminded etc etc.

Anyhoo, be back when the pain has subsided and I can type properly (this was the next best thing to impossible!)
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Fri May 25, 2007 3:33 pm

I'll do my best to come back tomorrow and type up some stuff, as it's a little hard at the moment as I've not long slashed open the index finger of my right hand on some broken glass here at home...and I'm right handed and this makes things very hard to type. It's even worse when one is on blood thinners and it takes forever for me to stop bleeding...


Best of luck with that! I'll try not to incite anymore lengthy responses! ;)


...the quality of discussions on those boards has dropped off sharply over the last six months or so. Which is why I've decided to dedicate my energies to these forums exclusively -- just a better bunch of folk in general - more interesting -- less narrowminded etc etc.


Cal's mention of DVD Maniacs made me realize how long it's been since I actually checked out their Asian film forums and, after having a peek, it does seem, to me at least, to have a lot of the very behaviour we've been talking about in this thread. To each their own, I guess. Still plenty of good info being shared there, but extracting it from certain threads seems a tricky task. Not sure I'd wanna bother being reminded of my own weaknesses as a film buff by signing up! :lol:

- - - - -

Has anyone here seen FUTAGO, a horror movie from a couple years back? Very impressed with this one. It's essentially a B-level horror movie with a B-level cast—Emily Kwan, Tony Ho, Samuel Pang—but the production values are solid. Not many shocks per se, but a nice sense of dread throughout , and some wonderfully grimy production design on the rooming house where all the main characters live. It's about this Japanese woman (Shirata Hisako) who comes looking for her twin sister, and from the freaked out reaction of the tenants, it's clear they're all hiding something. This is another production from Sam Leong (though it's directed by cinematographer Edmond Fung), whose films to date seem mostly to be Japanese-Hong Kong co-productions of above-average calibre considering their lack of big-star names and often conventional scripting. But I've always found something to like in the ones I've seen so far: NO PROBLEM 2, COLOR OF PAIN, THE STEWARDESS, OSAKA WRESTLING RESTAURANT. Got a few more of his in my stacks, including LETHAL NINJA, DOG BITE DOG, THE HOUSE, MIDNIGHT RUNNING (which looks like a video production from the trailer), WITHOUT WORDS and EXPLOSIVE CITY. I can't imagine they're all winners, but we'll see...
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Postby Mike Thomason » Fri May 25, 2007 4:22 pm

Brian Thibodeau wrote:Has anyone here seen FUTAGO, a horror movie from a couple years back?


Yep, and really liked it -- a really good art-horror hybrid. I always get something out of Sam Leong's HK/Japanese co-productions and enjoy the way he goes for the cross pollination of the two cultures. If you haven't seen it, then I'd strongly recommend you see his earlier Maniacal Night as it's really quite something...in a Scorsese's After Hours kind of way. Anyway, tonight I watched...

Apartment (aka: A.P.T.) (2006, South Korea, 91m)
Yet another outing from South Korean horror enfant terrible Ahn Byeong-Gi (following on from his HD quartet of horror productions I watched of late, that were all pretty nifty in their own way), sees the director/producer back in the director's chair for a somewhat convoluted though engaging horror-mystery piece set in a Seoul housing estate. In the lead up to Christmas trade, visual merchandiser Se-Jin (Go So-Young) starts experience a series of eerie events -- a suicidal woman in red attempts to take her life on the subway and varied gruesome suicides occur in the apartment complex opposite her at 9:65pm every other evening. Could the whole thing be linked in with the enigmatic young paraplegic woman in that block? This one has its fair share of scares, as well as twists and turns along the way, the least of which concerning a hikkomori proves an unusual diversion. However, the film's only major failing is that its central narrative twist is delivered far too early, leaving the final act to drag on a little longer than it would have had the twist been introduced later -- the astute will clue in early anyway. There's a smattering of grisly gore to keep things edgy, and generally things hop along at a decent pace; if only it weren't for the well telegraphed surprise being delivered too early in the final act... :?
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Fri May 25, 2007 4:34 pm

Mike Thomason wrote:Anyway, tonight I watched...

Apartment (aka: A.P.T.) (2006, South Korea, 91m)

...and will hopefully post up some comments about it tomorrow. Suffice to say, for now, I did like it. :)


Looks like I gotta get movin' on HAUNTED SCHOOL now... :lol:
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Postby cal42 » Fri May 25, 2007 9:05 pm

Mike Thomason wrote:@ cal: DVD Maniacs black-balled you? Well, their loss and our gain! Can't say you're missing much though, as the quality of discussions on those boards has dropped off sharply over the last six months or so. Which is why I've decided to dedicate my energies to these forums exclusively -- just a better bunch of folk in general - more interesting -- less narrowminded etc etc.


Yeah, I was later told it was because I wanted to join under the name of "Cal", which they say is an alias, which I suppose is kind of true. They want full names there, or first names and the initial of the surname. I argued that I could call myself "Peter Smith" and be accepted, but it would still be an alias - I don't think they got my point. To all intents and purposes, my real name is "Cal". I'm a "Mike" too, but I don't really identify with it. I much prefer "Cal". Plus, imagine the confusion if we were both being referenced on the same thread!
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Re: What Asian films have we all been watching lately?

Postby Mike Thomason » Sat May 26, 2007 11:41 am

Brian Thibodeau wrote:I'm looking forward to your own site Mike, as I suspect I'll finally be able to read your thoughts on a lot of older films that I'm certain you've seen, but for which I've been hesitant to ask for commentary due to their age.


Though it's still a bit painful/awkward to type for me at present, you can be rest assured that you'll see exactly that when we get things rolling with the site. A minor hiccup occured with it this past fortnight, in that the programmer has left for work in the UK, leaving us without a database and much of the key central programming that was originally offered for free. As an alternative my designer has suggested download one of the hundreds of WordPress themes and he'll customise it accordingly so that it looks more like a site than a blog -- which I can live with.

If you want to ask about ANY film, feel free -- I really don't mind discussing older movies, but maybe it'd be best to start up another topic thread in the HK/Asian movies sections (dependent on where the films you're asking about originate from?). Past IS past for me, but I still respect the history of any film industry as without that history it wouldn't be where it is today -- I guess the whole "contemporary" thing with me stems from the fact that I'm one of the few long-term HK film writers still kicking about the 'net that does so (stays contemporary without harping on about "the good old days", that is). As Brian has commented several times over a number of threads...how does anyone new to the industry (or industries) learn about the films that no-one talks about...if no-one talks about them? Hence my interest to write about the titles I'm just not finding material on around the 'net these days -- contemporary movies! :D
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Postby Mike Thomason » Sat May 26, 2007 4:38 pm

A Day For An Affair (2007, South Korea, 103m)
Now this is what I call entertaining! Two Seoul housewives, Lee Seul (Kim Hye-Su) and Jak Eun-Sae (Yun Jin-Seo), both embark on extra marital affairs at the same time, but for different reasons and under different circumstances -- though both sourced their prospective beaus through internet chat avenues. Lee Seul is both seeking revenge on her husband for his three year affair, as well the forbidden fruit of a younger man (in her case, a 21yo student), whilst Eun-Sae simply desires the intimacy of conversation and attention that she no longer feels from her policeman husband. Inevitably, both women cross paths at the same dodgy "love hotel" and their lives away from their husbands become increasingly more complicated. Jung Mun-Il's film is an extremely funny exercise in social commentary/observation as well as a bit of sexy fun where the women one-up the men in hilarious fashion. What made this so good for us (me and my wife) was the hoops the women made their dopey lovers jump through, and the increasingly out of control way in which Kim Hye-Su's (yum!) character's life careered (we're talking the husband arranging spies to follow her, car chases and explosions, and her lover being forcibly ejected from a speeding vehicle). Ultimately, the final message is about love from a women's prespective and what it means to them, but this was a really funny movie and one I'd highly recommend, especially if you're not put off by its (admittedly rather coy) sexual nature. :)
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