Archive | Asian

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Posted on 31 May 2013 by Rich Drees


Among the many gems on anime director Hayao Miyazaki’s resume is his 1989 adaptation of Eiko Kadono’s children’s novel about an young witch setting up her own business as part of her studies, Kiki’s Delivery Service.

The book is being adapted again, this time into a live action film from director Takashi Shimizu. Now the man who helped launch the J-horror cycle of films of the last decade with Ju-On and it’s American remake The Grudge may seem like an odd choice to bring a series of children’s books to life, but the first picture released from the production below (from Eiga via Bleeding Cool) looks promising. It features star Shoshiba Fuka in character on one of the film’s sets. I like the bright, primary colors featured in the photo and they remind me a bit of the production design of Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy.


The film is set for release in Japan next spring, and there has been no word yet as to distribution in the United States. Not that that’s ever stopped a film from being seen.

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Japanese RING Franchise Going 3D

Posted on 17 February 2011 by Rich Drees

Don’t think that it’s just Hollywood studios who think that 3D is a way to add to a film’s box office take. Japanese studios are are starting to think that way too.

It has been announced that a new installment of the horror franchise Ringu, remade as The Ring series by Hollywood, will be given the 3D treatment. It will be titled Sadako 3D, after the villain of the franchise. There has been no word on any cast or crew having been hired for the film yet.

Based on a Japanese novel by Koji Suzuki, Ringu centered on a cursed video tape that, after being watched, will cause the viewer to die within a week. A huge hit for director Hideo Nakata, the film spawned two Japanese sequels and a prequel and a Korean remake in addition to the American remake and a sequel. It is also responsible for sparking a wave of creepy, atmospheric horror films in Japan and a wave of  slightly watered-down, not as good English language remakes from Hollywood. Nakata would go on to direct the first Ringu sequel as well and the English language The Ring 2 as well as the original Japanese version of Dark Water.

Given that some of the original film’s creepiest imagery centers on Sadako crawling out of a television picture into the real world, a 3D version of the story certainly seems like a natural idea. I have to admit that after a while I had gotten a bit burned out on the J-horror cycle and even more quickly burned out on the cycle of sub-standard English remakes. But I think enough time has passed that anyone who felt likewise might be willing to give a new film like this a chance. The only problem is that I don’t really see this getting a big theatrical distribution in the United States, so only a fraction of fans of the Japanese franchise might get to see it on the big screen.

Last April, Paramount announced plans to create a 3D installment for the English Ring franchise though there has been no further news on the project.

Via Bleeding Cool.

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First Look: Tsui Hark And Jet Li’s 3D FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON INN

Posted on 08 January 2011 by Rich Drees

That Tsui Hark, one of a small number of truly gifted visual directors, is working on a 3D film is certainly good news. That it is a remake of 1992’s Dragon Inn and will star Jet Li and feature action choreography by Yuen Bun is just icing on the cake.

And it sounds as if all involved are putting some thought into how they will be shooting this wushu extravaganza in 3D. In a recent interview pointed out by Bleeding Cool, Hark stated-

There are three major criteria pertaining to wushu choreography, the exquisiteness and difficulty level of the moves, the set up as a whole, and how to use film to show the characteristics and principles behind wushu. 3D brings about a whole new visual experience, and would ultimately result in actions designed originally for 2D filming losing impact, so, we can’t simply import these three points based on traditional ways of filming, but have to come up with actions that are most suitable for 3D showcase.

Bun elaborated-

The sublime state in swordplay only exists in legends, for it’s hard to reach such a perfect swordplay level, only very, very few can accomplish it. As Jet Li is the one using sword this time around, we are able to go out all in designing some even more demanding, new-wave swordplay, and given his experience and calibre, he would definitely not let us down.

Flying Swords Of Dragon Inn is just finishing up filming. Unfortunately there seems to be no US distribution in place yet.

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RING Sequel Comin’ At Ya In 3D

Posted on 27 April 2010 by Rich Drees

The 3D juggernaut continues to roll on, fueled by studio execs with dollar signs in their eyes.

The latest film to be getting the treatment is The Ring 3D, a second sequel to the 2002 English adaptation of the 1998 Japanese film about a cursed video tape that kills anyone who views it within a week. Although I found the original Japanese version a better film than the Naomi Watts-starring Hollywood version, but it managed to thrill audiences to the tune of $129 million at the box office. That kind of money sparked a wave of English-language remakes of Japanese horror films, most of them substandard to their foreign originals. Although its 2005 sequel, The Ring Two, managed to still pull a respectable $76 million in ticket sales, the wave had burnt itself out and no one has really been clamoring too loudly for a third Ring movie in the intervening years.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film’s storyline is still being kept secret but will “reinvent the franchise” and be “more teen-centric than the first.” Dream House writer David Loucka has been hired to script the film.

And while audiences may or may not have moved on from the Ring films, technology certainly has. Video tape is disappearing fairly fast from American’s homes as the medium of choice for recording television programs and home movies in favor of DVRs and other digital mediums. I have to wonder if the idea of a cursed video tape will not seem anything but quaint in this upcoming movie.

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More Crazy Tony Jaa Action In ONG BAK 3 Trailer

Posted on 02 February 2010 by Rich Drees

Martial arts actor extraordinaire Tony Jaa’s latest film Ong Bak 2 is hitting DVD and Blu-ray today, but there’s already an Ong Bak 3 ready to hit theaters in Asia later this year.The film will surve as a direct sequel to Ong Bak 2 and as a prequel to the original Ong Bak.

Not surprisingly, the trailer is filled with more intense and interesting action in its one minute and 24 second length than most full-length features. I love me some Tony Jaa action, and the thing with the elephant is just flat out crazy cool.

No word yet when or if the film will be picked up for US distribution, but since Jaa already has a growing fan base thanks to the first two Ong Bak films and The Protector, I don’t expect we’ll be waiting long to find out.

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Posted on 07 January 2010 by Rich Drees

With the middle installment of Korean director Chan-Park Wook’s thematic “Vengeance Trilogy”, Oldboy, seeming to get all the attention, I find that the first film of the three, Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, to be an under-rated classic in its own right. And now, it has become the latest film from the director to be targeted for an American remake.

Warner Brothers has picked up the rights to remake the film and have hired Brian Tucker to pen an English language version of the film, according to Screen Daily.

I first saw Sympathy For Mr Vengeance at a film festival in 2003 when it was making the US film festival rounds and was impressed with its powerful story of two men locked into a cycle of murderous revenge. Oldboy and the Vengeance Trilogy’s third installment, Sympathy For Lady Vengeance may be stronger films visually, butI think this version remains the strongest of the three thematically.

Previously, both Oldboy and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance have been optioned by Hollywood for remakes and both projects have failed to materialize. Steven Spielberg and Will Smith vision for Oldboy was derailed by rights issues involving the original magna the film was based on. Back in the spring of 2008, Charlize Theron announced that she had optioned Sympathy For Lady Vengeance for a remake in which she was going to produce and star. However, since then there has been no word on the project, so it has probably died a quiet death.

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Live Action SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO Teaser Trailer

Posted on 02 January 2010 by Rich Drees

I have to admit, the teaser trailer below for the upcoming Japanese live action adaptation of the classic anime Space Battleship Yamato gets my geek blood a-pumpin’. Known as Starblazers here in the United States, I grew up watching the show with friends every day after school in the early 1980s, a daily dose of a drug called space opera for us kids already hooked by Star Wars.

This film only started shooting in the middle of last October, so I am a bit surprised that there is already a teaser trailer, short as it is, out already. The producers must think they really have something to start the hype so early in advance of the film’s Japanese release next December. From the small glimpse that we do get, it looks like they are indeed on the right track.

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Live Action YAMATO Blasts Off

Posted on 23 October 2009 by Rich Drees

StarBlazers2They’re back off to outer space, defending mother Earth and saving the human race.

The crew of the classic anime series Space Battleship Yamato, known in the United States as Star Blazers, is set for a new big screen adventure. But instead of their familiar two-dimensional, hand drawn appearance, this new film, which started shooting in Japan last week, will sport a  real life, flesh and blood crew.

The film, budgeted at over two billion yen or $22 million American, is being directed by Takashi Yamazaki, the director best known to Western fans of Asian action cinema for the time travel action film Returner. Popstar-turned-actor Takuya Kimura is leading the cast as Susumu Kodai, the character known as Derek Wildstar to American audiences. Reports state that this live action version will make some changes to the original animated version. Two characters – Aihara (known as Homer to English-speaking audiences) and Dr. Sado (Dr. Sane) – are getting sex changes in the transition, becoming females.

Premiering on Japanese TV in 1974, Space Battleship Yamato told the story of the crew of a starship racing across the galaxy to retrieve a cure for the radioactive fallout from an alien invasion’s bombardment that is slowly poisoning the Earth. It was brought over to America in 1977, where it was embraced by an audience already excited by the space opera of Star Wars. Two more television series and several animated films followed.

A live action Space Battleship Yamato/ Star Blazers adaptation was close to being a reality a little over a decade ago. The project was in development at Disney through most of the 1990s, with a script having been written by Tab Murphy. You can read our less than glowing review of it here. And while the script took several liberties with the story that would probably not go well over with fans of the original, the project was ultimately shelved after studio head Michael Eisner departed.

The film is set for a December 2010 release in Japan, but as of now, there is no word if any US distributor picking up the film for release here. I would think, though, that there would be a viable enough audience between anime fans and those, like myself, who remember the original series from its syndicated runs years ago to support at least a DVD release if not some limited theatrical distribution.

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New Releases: May 15

Posted on 15 May 2009 by William Gatevackes

angels-demons-tsr-poster-is-full1. Angels And Demons (Sony/Columbia, 3,527 Theaters, 138 Minutes, Rated PG-13): There have been three main discussion topics about this film. One, “Thank God Tom Hanks hair is better in this one,” two, “Wow, the Catholic Church isn’t as up in arms over this one,” and three “Will it be better than the first one”. And, in my opinion, too much precedence was given to the first two and not enough to the last one.

I have never read any of Dan Brown’s novel, so I have no basis for comparison, but I found The DaVinci Code needlessly convoluted and somewhat boring. And when you have Tom Hanks starring in a film, regardless of what his hair looks like, and it comes across as boring, then something has gone majorly wrong.

This film seems like it has more of the same–conspiracy theories, secret societies, and shadowing goings on. Only, this time Hanks is working with the church instead of against it.

And now, here is FilmBuffOnline head honco Rich Drees with a guest post we like to call “Indie Release Spotlight”. Take it away, Rich!

Big Man Japan (Magnolia, 2 Theaters, 113 minutes, Rated PG-13) - Opening on just one screen each in Los Angeles and New York City is the Japanese giant monster/documentary spoof Big Man Japan. A hilarious skewering of celebrity culture, the film focuses on the down on his luck protector of Japan. While he fights to keep Japan safe from a variety of the weirdest giant monsters to ever attack the country, the general public isn’t too enamored with him. Both his approval ratings and the ratnigs on his reality TV show are down and his manager is afraid that he will start loosing his lucrative endorsement deals soon. Some of the humor may be rooted in Japanese culture, but enough of it cuts across any language/culture barrier to appeal to fans of the genre anywhere.

You can check out our review here.

Big Man Japanwill going into a wider, but still limited, release in two weeks. You can check Magnolia Pictures’s website for dates and cities.


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Jackie Chan’s Latest Too Violent For China? Plus, Trailer

Posted on 18 February 2009 by Rich Drees

shinjukuincidentJackie Chan has always been fairly meticulous about his films, making sure that they stay within the bounds of what could be considered family entertainment, keeping the action, humor and love story elements of his film to a certain level so that all his fans can enjoy his movies.

So when the director of Jackie Chan’s latest Hong Kong action flick, Shinjuku Incident, states that he will not release the film in China because he refuses to cut its level of violence, there is definitely reason to sit up and take notice.

In a story in USAToday, director Derek Yee stated that he contemplated making some cuts to the movie, but ultimately decided that doing so would hurt the film’s integrity. Yee said, “We tried to cut the violent scenes to meet the requirements of the Chinese market, but producers I invited to watch that version thought it was incomplete.” The report goes on to state that the film contains scenes “that show characters getting a hand chopped off and pierced with knives.”

Yee also stated that Chan, who is also an investor in the $25 million film, concurred with his decision.

For those who don’t follow the Asian film scene, China’s film censors are notoriously strict. As the country has no rating system, every film must be tame enough for audiences of all ages. Gratuitous violence, any nudity or even virtually any mention of sex is right out. Of course, they also happen to snip out any hint of cultural or political overtones that may be embarrassing or critical of the Chinese government. (Chinese censors “protected” audiences from seeing Memoirs Of A Geisha and being offended by the sight of the Chinese Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li playing Japanese characters.)

Even more attention grabbing is the fact that in the film Chan plays a refuge from China who heads to Japan and becomes hit man for the mob. Keeping his younger fans in mind, Chan has always tried to play good guys, turning down roles that cast him as a villain or a bad example. I suppose that that inclination may be a hint of the arc his character goes through over the course of the film. On the other hand, this would not be the first time in recent years that Chan has tried to step a bit outside of his usual screen image to try a role a little darker. His alcoholic police detective in 2004’s New Police Story was a marked difference from the character he played in the original Police Story series in the 1990s.

Shinjuku Incident hits screens in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia on April 2 and Japan on May 1. As of yet, the film has no US distributor, but with an Asian DVD release set for June, those with an All-Region DVD player won’t have to wait long to see the film. In the meantime, here’s the film’s trailer, complete with fan translated subtitles.

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