NYAFF14 REVIEW: 白ゆき姫殺人事件 [Shirayuki hime Satsujin Jiken] [The Snow White Murder Case] [2014]

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“She’s just that kind of person” Based on a 2012 novel written by Kanae Minato, 白ゆき姫殺人事件 [Shirayuki hime Satsujin Jiken] [The Snow White Murder Case] is very much a product of our time. A satirical take on the Twitter age that also to a point provides a compelling murder mystery reminiscent of Gillian Flynn‘s Gone […]

NYAFF14 REVIEW: 風暴 [Fung bou] [Firestorm] [2013]

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“Do you have evidence?” For fifty minutes—minus one crazy hand-to-hand combat fight on top of a fallen metal gate suspended over two adjacent buildings’ fire escapes in midair—writer/director Alan Yuen‘s 風暴 [Fung bou] [Firestorm] is a fast paced actioner that fearlessly goes to the darkest corners Hollywood never would. After it crosses that threshold of […]

NYAFF14 REVIEW: 失魂 [Shi hun] [Soul] [2013]

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“I watch the wind and, dreamlike, vanish” Described in equal measure as a slasher horror and psychological meditation on the soul—whether from demonic possession, reincarnation, or both—Taiwan’s entry for the 86th Academy Awards ultimately proves difficult to categorize at all. Mong-Hong Chung‘s 失魂[Shi hun] [Soul] may in fact be better labeled as a drama about […]

NYAFF13 REVIEW: 大上海 [The Last Tycoon] [2012]

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“You have to kill him first” Director Jing Wong’s 大上海 [The Last Tycoon] is an intriguing entry to the period gangster genre that depicts the weight of triad influence in 1930s Shanghai at the cusp of war with an invading Japan. Co-written by Wong, Koon-nam Lui, and Manfred Wong, the plot’s loose inspiration comes from […]

NYAFF13 REVIEW: 浮城謎事 [Mystery] [2012]

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“His money is either spent on you or me” Having already been banned from filmmaking in China twice, it’s no surprise director Lou Ye has refused to quell his appetites for highly sexualized, naturalistic tales of deceit and betrayal. His debut Weekend Lover had its release postponed two years by the government; 2000′s Suzhou River […]

NYAFF13 REVIEW: 은교 [A Muse] [2012]

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“How do you know what he means to me?” Breeding our youth to dream of happily ever afters with an allure of fairy tale romance may do them a disservice by completely ignoring love’s equally prevalent loneliness. We hope to shelter their innocence until they discover the truth themselves, but maybe the pain would be […]

NYAFF12 REVIEW: Saya-zamurai [Scabbard Samurai] [2011]

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“Why did it have to rain?” Sometimes foreign language films simply exist across an insurmountable cultural divide that renders them indecipherable here. Hitoshi Matsumoto‘s Saya-zamurai [Scabbard Samurai] perfectly exemplifies through an obtusely constructed first third before hitting its stride. Comically uneven at the start, I was left scratching my head and wondering if I was […]

NYAFF12 REVIEW: 범죄와의 전쟁 [Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time] [2012]

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“There’s no end to a man’s greed” Set against President Tae-woo Roh’s 1990 crackdown on organized crime in South Korea, 범죄와의 전쟁 [Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time] places us into the wild life of a former Busan customs agent and the selfish games he plays with two of the city’s most notorious gangsters. Written […]

NYAFF11 REVIEW: 手塚治虫のブッダ-赤い砂漠よ!美しく [Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha: The Great Departure] [2011]

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“He who has attained his goal” This year’s New York Asian Film Festival was graced with the North American premiere of a film almost three decades in the making. The critically acclaimed and three-time Eisner Award winning manga, Buddha, from Osamu Tezuka, the “Godfather of Anime”, has been given the big screen treatment from animation […]

NYAFF11 REVIEW: Machete Maidens Unleashed! [2010]

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“Human life was cheap, film was cheap—it was a great place to make a picture” As the most telling quote of Machete Maidens Unleashed! exclaims, “The stories are 10 times better than the actual films”. The anecdotes and memories of those involved in the Filipino exploitation genre of cinema are an amazing account of a […]