Hong Kong, Japan, News, Releases, South Korea

Upcoming Cine-Asia releases, inc. The Grudge and Heroes Shed No Tears

Cine-Asia continue to re-release Hong Kong Legends back catalogue. (Actually most of this lot were originally out on the Premiere Asia label, but maybe I’m being too much of a pedant…)

First off is the two-disc editions of Takashi Shimizu‘s Ju-On: The Grudge and Ju-On: The Grudge 2, made before Takashi ran off to America to remake the film (and make it even more incomprehensible!) with Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar. Both come stacked with bonus extras, available from 3rd October.

Then on 24th October, John Woo’s flawed but significant Heroes Shed No Tears is released (the only actual Hong Kong film, oh there I go again!), along with Thai actioner Bang-rajan and popular South Korean war epic Brotherhood (Taegukgi) starring Won Bin (Mother, The Man From Nowhere), both on two-disc editions. All are jam-packed with extra ‘stuff’!

Cine-Asia’s ‘Mega-sale’ is still on, so catch it while you can…

Japan, News, Releases, UK

Upcoming Third Window Films releases: Sawako Decides and Quirky Guys And Girls

Like the rest of the UK’s independent movie distributors, Third Window were hit hard by the Sony distribution centre fire that saw them lose the majority of their stock. (As if matters could be made worse, there are now reports that it was a planned heist, not riot damage.) So it’s good to see them bounce back with a couple of great releases!

Yuya Ishii’s terrific Sawako Decides, starring Love Exposure‘s (and now Mrs. Yuya Ishii!) Hikari Mitsushima, drops just in time for Yuya’s follow-up, Mitsuko Delivers, which can be seen at this years London Film Festival.

Also released is Quirky Guys And Girls, a anthology of short films by directors Yosuke Fujita (Fine, Totally Fine), Gen Sekiguchi (Survive Style 5), Mipo O and Tomoko Matsunashi, starring Kyoko Koizumi (Tokyo Sonata, Sakuran), YosiYosi Arakawa (Tokyo!, Kamikaze Girls), Keisuke Horibe (Love Exposure, Tokyo Gore Police), Yoshiyuki Morishita (Juon: The Grudge, Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers, Fireworks).

There’s still a chance to get tickets for the premiere of Underwater Love – A Pink Musical, featuring a performance by the French/German duo Stereo Total, who provided the soundtrack to the film, on 16 October.

Both Sawako Decides and Quirky Guy And Girls are available from Monday, 3rd October. Underwater Love – A Pink Musical will be released on 21 November.

Calendar, Japan, News, Releases, UK

DVD: Sawako Decides

Official Selection: Berlin Film Festival, London Film Festival
Winner ‘Best Film’ and ‘Best Actress’ – Fantasia International Film Festival

Sawako has lived in Tokyo for five years, is working her fifth office job, and is dating her fifth boyfriend, who is also her boss at the office. Her life with Kenichi, her boyfriend, and his daughter from a previous marriage, Kayoko, feels like a “compromise,” and she endures each day feeling distressed about her career and love life.

One day, she receives word that her father, Tadao, who runs a freshwater clam processing business in her hometown, has fallen ill. There is a reason why Sawako would rather not go back home so easily, but she reluctantly decides to return at Kenichi’s insistence. But Kenichi, who had actually quit his job shortly before Sawako, uses this opportunity to come along with Sawako to her hometown with his daughter in tow.

Thus Sawako’s ordeals continue. Still, she takes over her father’s clam processing company and begins to work there, though she slowly starts to take charge of the situation and form a new life for herself.

DVD BONUS FEATURES:

Anamorphic widescreen transfer with optional English subtitles
Special message from director Yuya Ishii
Exclusive interview with director Yuya Ishii
Theatrical Trailer

Third Window Films release Yuya Ishii’s Sawako Decides on 3rd October 2011.

Events, Japan, News, Premieres, Screenings, UK

Premiere/release party for Underwater Love – A Pink Musical

Third Window Films are holding a special premiere event to celebrate the upcoming release of Underwater Love – A Pink Musical, featuring a live performance from Stereo Total.

The event will take place on Sunday 16 October from 6pm at the Rich Mix in Bethnal Green. Tickets and more information can be found here.

The film is an offbeat joint venture between Germany’s Rapid Eye Movies and Japan’s Kokuei Company comes a whimsical pink film musical about a woman and a sea creature.

Directed by pink-film veteran Shinji Imaoka (Lunch Box, Frog Song), shot by Christopher Doyle – the famed cinematographer behind Hero and countless films by Wong Kar-Wai – and with music by new wave/synth pop/punk rock/lo fi multi lingual French German duo Stereo Total, Underwater Love – A Pink Musical promises to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Underwater Love – A Pink Musical is released on UK DVD on 21 November 2011 by Third Window Films.

Calendar, China, Events, Festivals, Filmmakers, Hong Kong, Japan, News, Premieres, Screenings, South Korea, UK

Festival: London Film Festival 2011

The full programme for the 55th London Film Festival was released yesterday, and it’s another strong year for Asian film. The line-up includes: the UK première of Takashi Miike’s follow up to 13 Assassins, a neo-classical remake of the Yasuhiko Takiguchi story about desperate, impoverished ronin and implacably cruel feudal lords, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (don’t know if the screenings will be in 3D?); Jiang Wen’s rumbustious comedy-adventure Let The Bullets Fly, starring Chow Yun-fat, Ge You and Jiang himself; A Simple Life, director Ann Hui’s first collaboration with Andy Lau since the film that helped make him a star nearly 30 years ago, Boat People; and AnDa Union: From the Steppes to the City, a documentary by Tim Pearce, Sophie Lascelles and Marc Tiley about Chinese Inner Mongolian band AnDa Union, which might very well be the soundtrack to the year. Continue reading

Calendar, Events, Festivals, Filmmakers, News, Premieres, Screenings, South Korea, UK

Festival: London Korean Film Festival 2011

London Korean Film Festival 2011The festival kicks-off with an opening gala featuring Kim Han-min’s Arrow The Ultimate Weapon, a Q&A with the director, and a K Pop performance! The closing film will be the UK premiere of Director Kim Ki-duk’s controversial documentary, Arirang, in which he explains his three year absence from filmmaking, followed by a Q&A.

This year’s programme sees a North & South Korean film strand, a Ryoo Seung Retrospective, a light hearted comedy films section, an Animation day and Mise en scene short films, all taking place in London at the Cineworld Haymarket, Apollo and ICA cinemas, and on tour nationally in Sheffield, Cambridge and Newcastle. Continue reading

Calendar, News, Releases, Screenings, South Korea, UK

DVD: Death Bell

UPDATE: Due to ongoing problems with supply chain backlogs due to the fire at the Sony DADC warehouse, this title will now be released on 24 October. According to Joey @ Terracotta, there’s already high demand for pre-orders, so get yours in soon!

Terracotta launch horror imprint Terror-Cotta with Yoon Hong-Seung’s South Korean high-school thriller Death Bell.

It’s the debut film of top music video director Yoon Hong-Seung (aka Chang) who is considered Korea’s Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze. It stars controversial K-Pop singer Nam Gyu-ri in her acting debut and Korean drama star Kim Beom.

Death Bell will be out on DVD on 24 October with theatrical releases at selected cinemas and horror festivals to coincide with Halloween.

Competitions, Japan, News, Releases, UK

Win 13 Assassins on Blu-ray with a special ‘sword’ letter opener!

Your chance to win Takashi Miike’s acclaimed samurai epic on Blu-ray, complete with a ‘sword-styled’ letter opener…

13 Assassins sees director Takashi Miike, the man behind such uncompromising and unforgettable movies as Audition and Ichi The Killer, indelibly stamping his trademark style on the Samurai genre with an ultra-violent, all-action, blood-spattered epic that is now out on DVD and Blu-ray.

Explore a world of clips, images, review links and much more at the official fanhub: http://www.cult-labs.com/13-assassins/

What you won’t get there though is the chance to win our money-can’t-buy prize of a 13 Assassins sword (ok it’s a letter opener sword but it comes in a natty box!) and a copy of the film on Blu-ray. All you have to do is fill in the form below and answer our stupidly easy competition! Continue reading

Calendar, Japan, News, Releases, UK

DVD: Quirky Guys and Gals

A film by: Yosuke Fujita (Fine, Totally Fine), Gen Sekiguchi (Survive Style 5), Mipo O, Tomoko Matsunashi.

Starring: Kyoko Koizumi (Tokyo Sonata, Sakuran), YosiYosi Arakawa (Tokyo!, Kamikaze Girls), Keisuke Horibe (Love Exposure, Tokyo Gore Police), Yoshiyuki Morishita (Juon: The Grudge, Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers, Fireworks)
Japan / 2011 / 91 Mins / In Japanese with English subtitles / Colour / HD

Quirky Guys and Gals (Sabi Otoko, Sabi Onna) ties together four stories of people searching for a spark in their lives. Yosuke Fujita (Fine, Totally Fine) leads off with “Cheer Girls,” an entertaining tale of a woman (Nanami Sakuraba) whose passion is to lead cheers—though not for sports teams. Rather, she finds common people and creates anthems to encourage them in everyday life. Tomoko Matsunashi’s “Boy? Meets Girl,” is a Tootsie remake in a high-school setting. Mipo O’s “Claim Night” sees the 30-something Mayuko (Tomochika) return home to find the electricity in her apartment turned off, yet when she finally gets a repairman to come over, their over-the-top confrontation gives rise to a wildly comedic situation. Lastly, Gen Sekiguchi (Survive Style 5+) offers up “The House Full of ‘Abandoned’ Businessmen” a quaint tale of a housewife who collects out-of-work salarymen to try and give them a fresh start.

DVD BONUS FEATURES:

Anamorphic widescreen transfer with optional English subtitles
Special messages from all four directors
Exclusive interviews with all four directors
Theatrical Trailer

Quirky Guys and Gals is released by Third Window Films on 3rd October 2011.

Calendar, Japan, News, Releases, UK

Blu-ray/DVD: Freedom

“SIMPLY AMAZING STUFF… A FANTASTIC STORY WITH PLEASING ANIMATION AND WELL-PLACED HUMOUR, I COULDN’T RECOMMEND THIS SERIES ANY MORE THAN TELLING YOU TO WATCH IT AT FIRST OPPORTUNITY.” – A NUTSHELL REVIEW.

“Akira” creator and “Steamboy” co-writer and director Katsuhiro Otomo’s unmistakeable visual style shines throughout Freedom, a beautifully envisioned sci-fi anime series of cinematic scope and quality that puts most TV animation in the shade. Written by Katsuhiko Chiba (Blue Dragon; Slayers), Yuuichi Nomura (Xam’d: Lost Memories) and Dai Sato (Casshern; Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex), directed by Shuhei Morita (Coicent; Kakurenbo) and with Otomo on board as the series’ character and mecha designer, this seven-episode (plus Prologue) series will more than satisfy those hungry anime fans who are eagerly waiting to see what Otomo will produce next.

The year is 2267 and, following a global catastrophe that rendered the Earth uninhabitable, mankind has settled in a vast, domed moon colony originally intended to be a stepping stone for manned space missions to Mars. Known as Eden, this artificial environment provides a peaceful, albeit heavily regulated, existence for millions of people. Among them is 15-year-old Takeru, who, along with many other boys his age, spends most of his free time racing souped-up Lunar Terrain Vehicles for fun. As a punishment for crashing his LTV on a public road during one particular race, Takeru is sentenced to several hours of “volunteer” work, which involves doing routine maintenance checks on equipment on the lunar surface outside Eden’s dome.

During one of his “volunteer” shifts, Takeru witnesses an object falling from the sky and goes to investigate. At the crash site he discovers the remains of a small capsule bearing several relics seemingly sent from Earth, including a photograph of a pretty girl and some younger children and bearing a cryptic, handwritten message on the reverse. Immediately infatuated with the girl in the image, Takeru is convinced that the photo is evidence that the Earth is once again supporting human life and begins a voyage of discovery that will not only send him flying across the vast reaches of space but will also shake the Republic of Eden to its very foundations.

Action, romance, comedy and adventure are combined with stunning imagery and superlative animation in Freedom, a thrilling sci-fi fable that promises to be one of the most heralded anime DVD and Blu-ray releases of the year.

Freedom (cert. 12) will be released on DVD (£24.99) and as a Collectors’ Edition Blu-ray (£34.99) by Manga Entertainment on 10th October 2011.

The Collector’s Edition includes all seven episodes of Freedom in HD on one Blu-ray disc plus the series on two standard definition DVD discs and a bonus set of four art cards packaged in a beautifully designed slip cover.

Special Features
Introduction Trailer
; Freedom Digests; 
Talking About Freedom Session 1
; Talking About Freedom Session 2
; Freedom In The USA 1
; Freedom In The USA 2
; Another Vehicle Race; 
Nissin Cup Noodle TV Commercial Digest; 
Freedom: The Hope; 
Fly Me To The Moon 1 (The Apollo’s Journey)
; Fly Me To The Moon 2 (From The Apollo To Freedom); Next Episode Trailers
; Messages From The Characters
; Opening Credits; Closing Credits; English and Japanese 5.1 DTS HD MA audio options; optional English subtitles.

Calendar, Japan, News, Releases, UK

DVD: Ninja Girl

FROM THE DIRECTOR OF “ALIEN VS. NINJA” AND THE STAR OF “KARATE GIRL” AND HIGH-KICK GIRL”.

From pioneering ninja movie writer-director Seiji Chiba (Alien Vs. Ninja; Rogue Ninja), 19-year-old karate sensation-turned-actress Rina Takeda (Karate Girl; High-Kick Girl) and stunt choreographer Kensuke Sonomura (The Warrior’s Way; Alien Vs. Ninja; The Machine Girl) comes The Kunoichi: Ninja Girl, an ass-kicking blast of martial arts action.

As the fierce rivalry between the Iga and Kouga ninja clans rages on, a pair of psychotic eunuch ninjas, Shimotsuki and Hyotsuki, are tasked with abducting young women from nearby Kouga villages and forcing them to serve as “tools of pleasure” to the lower-ranking members of their clan. While transporting their latest quartet of victims – including a feisty girl called Kisaragi (Rina Takeda) – through the woodlands back to their own village, they are suddenly intercepted by an unknown man who helps the four women to escape by providing Kisaragi with a sword, which she uses to sever their bonds.

Shimotsuki and Hyotsuki eventually give chase to the escaped women, intending to recapture them and complete their mission as ordered. But they get much more than they bargained for when they realize Kisaragi is a Kougan kunoichi, a highly skilled female ninja who is determined to smash the Iga’s evil flesh trafficking heritage to which her own mother once fell victim.

Co-starring Kotono (Mutant Girls Squad), Mitsuki Koga (Evil Ninja; Ichi) and Masanori Mimoto (Alien Vs. Ninja; Evil Ninja), The Kunoichi: Ninja Girl is another dazzling showcase for one of Asian cinema’s hottest up-and-coming female action stars, Rina Takeda.

The Kunoichi: Ninja Girl (cert. 18) will be released on DVD (£15.99) by MVM on 10th October 2011.

Calendar, Japan, News, Releases, UK

Blu-Ray/DVD: Gantz

FROM THE PRODUCER OF “DEATH NOTE”.

Already adapted as a hugely successful anime series, Hiroya Oku’s manga Gantz gets a stunning special effects-laden, live action makeover courtesy of director Shinsuke Sato (Sand Clock; All About My Dog) and “Death Note” trilogy producer Takahiro Sato.

A thrilling hybrid of horror, action and sci-fi that recalls the likes of “Men In Black”, “Ghostbusters” and “Battle Royale”, Gantz stars Kazunari Ninomiya (Letters From Iwo Jima), Ken’ichi Matsuyama (Norwegian Wood; Kamui; the Death Note trilogy) and popular Japanese TV star Natsuna.

Teenage high school student Kei Kurono (Ninomiya) is waiting for a subway train home when he recognizes an old childhood friend Masaru Kato (Matsuyama) on the same platform. Suddenly, a drunken commuter falls on the tracks just as the station’s speaker system announces the approach of a non-stopping express train. Kato immediately goes to the man’s assistance but struggles to lift him to safety on his own. Reluctantly, Kurono joins him and they manage to save the man but are unable to get clear of the oncoming train, which hits them and kills them instantly.

A split second later, Kurono and Kato find themselves in a bare room in an unfurnished apartment containing several strangers and a large, black spherical object. They quickly discover that all the people in the room have recently died and been instantly resurrected by the mysterious sphere. But their second chance at life comes at a price. To remain alive, those chosen must follow the sphere’s instructions in seeking out and destroying numerous bizarre alien life forms secretly inhabiting the earth.

But what it the origin of the sphere, how is it able to restore life to the dead and what does it want?

Gantz (cert. 15) will be released on DVD (£19.99) and Blu-ray (£24.99) by Manga Entertainment on 3rd October 2011.

Special Features include: The Making Of Gantz; interviews; teasers and trailers; TV spots; Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital and 2.0 PCM audio options; optional English subtitles