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Old 06-30-2008, 03:52 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Asian Cinema

The weird and wonderful world of Asian cinema has been getting a lot more attention recently due to the Hollywood machine churning out endless (and the whole;terrible) remakes of Asian films, namely J-Horror but for those of us in the know. Asian cinema has given us some of the very best in cinema. Whether it is the masterful films of Kurosawa (Seven Samurai, Ran), the simplistic yet elegant films of Ozu (The Noriko Trilogy), the exploitation classic 'Guinea Pig' series of films, the recent surge in quality Korean films (The Vengeance Trilogy) or the twisted genius of Takashi Miike (Audition). Asian cinema is in many aspects preferable to American cinema.

Consistently imaginative, visually superlative and in many cases, completely bonkers Asian cinema deserves to be delved into more if you love films but want to watch something that little bit different.

Here are a couple of films to get you started:

Arahan:

This Korean film from 2004 marries aspects of 'The Matrix' ( itself a pilferer of Asian cinema) and comedy succinctly. It focuses on a rookie policeman who may just be the only person to save mankind as he may be in possession of a powerful Qi life force.

In a film that cost just under $5 million dollars, the action and set design look like a film that cost ten times that amount. Featuring some stunning martial arts and some great comedy, Arahan is a good first step into Asian martial arts.

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Old 06-30-2008, 04:05 PM   #2 (permalink)
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VERSUS

This truly bonkers Japanese movie can only be descibed as a gangster zombie kung fu fantasy film. To describe any more would just confuse the issue! Imagine Sam Raimi (Evil Dead) making a gangster movie, getting bored half way through and then passing the reins to Tarantino. At times it can be confusing but it is also ridiculously gory, eye popping and innovative. The only down side is the DVD print and this applies across the board. I have the 2 disc Media Blasters version which I imported from America and has one of the better prints. No matter in the long run. The film more than compensates for this.

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Old 06-30-2008, 08:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I used to watch a ton of Asian movies.

The Vengeance trilogy is awesome. Oldboy is probably one of my all time favorites. Joint Security Area was good from Chan-wook Park as well.

Joon-ho Bong is cool. The Host and Memories of Murder are good.

Have you seen Save the Green Planet!?
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Old 07-22-2008, 04:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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So I am the only member here who likes Asian cinema?
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Old 07-22-2008, 05:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm too scared to watch alot of Asian horror films. Anything with ghosts or spirits creeps me out too much. Gore is OK. Zombies are the best. Anything else you can suggest in the way of Asian cinema that meets this criteria?

Edit: "Versus" looks pretty amazing...I'll have to get my hands on it.
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Old 07-22-2008, 05:49 PM   #6 (permalink)
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My favorite Asian cinematography right now is Korean. Chan Wook Park (previously mentioned Vengeance trilogy), Kim Ki-Duk (3-iron and Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring are some of the most beautiful films I've ever seen, the rest of his work varies in quality), Lee Chang-dong (Pepermint candy and Oasis are fantastic films, especially the former).

Anyway, there are loads of great Asian films, I'll throw in a list of my favorites one of these days.
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Old 07-22-2008, 05:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Bio Zombie is pretty cool and The Happiness of The Katukaris is a musical zombie film and mad as a box of frogs!
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Old 07-22-2008, 05:58 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The Happiness of The Katukaris


Yeah, I have to see this entire movie. So freakin' funny.
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Old 07-23-2008, 11:42 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Ok so here's a little review tour of the most prominent examples of Asian cinema:

Oldboy - Chan-wook Park - 2004 (S. Korea)

Pretty much the ultimate revenge film, the second part of the Vengeance trilogy (the the first part is Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, the last part Sympathy for Lady Vengeance), it's a story of a man that gets locked up in a room for 15 years for apparently no reason. He suddenly gets released and all sorts of diabolical strangeness ensues...

3-iron - Kim Ki-Duk - 2004 (S. Korea)

This is Ki-Duk's most famous and best film, it revolves around a young "burglar" who breaks into people's houses but steals nothing, and a battered housewife who he encounters while breaking in to her house after which they begin a romantic relationship. The film is almost entirely without dialog, the main actors never speak. Despite this fact, this is one of the most romantic and magical movie experiences I can remember.

Musa The warrior - Sung-su Kim - 2001 (S. Korea)

A semi-historic Korean epic, one of the biggest and most expensive films in Korean history, it's a story of a Korean delegation to China in the 14th century that tries to get back to their homeland after they have been mistaken for spies and chased by the Mongolians. There's not wuxia style fighting in it, but it is brimming with great action (although more rooted in reality).

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring - Kim Ki-Duk - 2003 (S. Korea)

Second best Kim Ki-Duk film, it's set in a Korean Buddhist monastery, located on a beautiful mountain lake, and revolves around a monk and his disciple, and the various life lessons they are taught while the seasons change. An immensely beautiful and meditative piece of film.
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Old 07-23-2008, 12:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Peppermint candy - Lee Chang-dong - 2000 (S. Korea)

The second feature film from one of the best Korean directors, it starts with the scene of a broken, psychotic man jumping in front of a train screaming that he wants to go back. We are then taken through his life story, in revers chronological order, and slowly find out what has led him to such a tragic ending. It starts off rather slow but if you're willing to stick with it, it will undoubtedly be one of the most powerful viewing experiences that comes to mind. The lead actor pulls one of the most memorable acting performances I've ever seen.

Hero - Zhang Yimou - 2002 (China)

Visually probably one of the most spectacular films ever made. This one is about a group of assassins that plan on killing the emperor and their subsequent road to ruin. It stars some of the biggest names of Asian cinema (Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, the omnipresent Zhang Ziyi) and was one of the biggest grossing films in Chinese history, plus it has Quentin Tarantino's ceal of approval so you know, quali'ty...

Raise the Red Lantern - Zhang Yimou - 1991 (Hong Kong, China, Taiwan)

Another fantastic film from Yimou, it's set in the 1920's and tells the story of a young woman that marries into a rich family and her power struggles with the other two wives. Visually sumptuous and masterfully directed, it's one of the best Asian films of all time.

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles - Zhang Yimou - 2005 (China, Japan)

Another Yimou film, although a much more low-key affair than the two previously mentioned, it stars Japanese acting legend Ken Takakura as an elderly, introverted gentleman, who in an attempt to get close to his alienated and ill son, travels to China to record the opera Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles in a remote village. It's an intimate and cathartic journey and a heartwarming drama.


More to follow soon...
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