Fantasia 2013, total films seen: 27
When I look back at last year (which was a very impressive year), there were more films that I reviewed positively in 2012 compared to this year. However, I feel like the best of the best this year was better than last year. Japanese films in particularly were quite strong and the themes suited my sensibilities well. There were also some pleasant surprises in films that were way better than expected.
In particular, Japanese comedy/drama hybrids were some of my favourites this summer. Key of Life, It’s Me It’s Me and See You Tomorrow Everyone were all great with the last one being my top pick of the festival but it was very close. Key of Life could easily have been my top pick as well. All of these films took unpredictable turns in their story that actually made sense. They had funny moments but also touching and dramatic moments that really resonated with me.
As far as the most action packed movie of the festival that would be a really close one between HK: Forbidden Superhero and Confession of Murder. The Grand Heist comes in third. It was pretty good but not really a full-on action movie. Depending on your tastes/mood though you could go for any one of them since they are all from different genres. The Grand Heist is the only family friendly choice out of the three. Forbidden Superhero though would be my top pick here because of its ridiculous premise and super hilarious almost non-stop jokes from start to finish. Rurouni Kenshin had some pretty decent action but it was pretty slow in the first half. I didn’t see Secretly Greatly which was also an action comedy hybrid.
Funniest film goes to HK: Forbidden Superhero easily. Thermae Romae was pretty funny as well. the Japanese comedy/drama hybrids mentioned previously also had good laughs but they were more subtle and not pure comedies. Surprisingly, Library Wars and How to Use Guys with Secret Tips were also pretty funny movies that also had romance. The former also had some pretty decent action sequences while the latter had fun, exaggerated slapstick. In both films, the chemistry between the main leads was great.
There weren’t any animated films that impressed me this year. Garden of Words had beautiful art but the story was too cloying. I wouldn’t necessarily qualify The Burning Buddha Man as animation and I didn’t necessarily like it but its uniqueness made it an interesting if grotesque viewing experience.
There was a surprisingly small selection of martial arts films. The only one that had fights from start to end was Bushido Man. It was an entertaining low-budget movie with a surprise ending but nothing that special. The “final” Ip Man movie was a surprisingly strong film overall with a great story, wonderful set design and excellent acting (I gave it my Recommended label) but there weren’t many fight scenes in it. It was a lot better than I was expecting. I wasn’t able to catch Lady Assassin or Saving General Yang (although I was not interested in the latter).
Non-hyperlinked movies mentioned above are likely covered in Mini reviews.
I did not see Bad Film, Gatchaman, My Dolly Girlfriend, Neo Ultra Q, Number 10 Blues/Goodbye Saigon, Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial, Tiger Mask, Uzumasa Jacopetti, Tales From The Dark Part 1, Machi Action, Horror Stories, Secretly Greatly, The Weight.