Posted in *Recommended, Reviews, Trailers, TV, Video

Warrior – Season 1 – review [Recommended]

Warrior (2019)
10 episodes (approx. 45 mins each)
Creator: Jonathan Troppe
Cast: Andrew Koji, Olivia Cheng, Jason Tobin, Dianne Doan, Joe Taslim, Kieran Bew, Joanna Vanderham, Hoon Lee

Synopsis

Based on an old pitch by Bruce Lee, it’s set in 1870s San Fransisco’s Chinatown during the Tong Wars. Chinese immigrants are hated by the Caucasian majority including the police and by the Irish who are unemployed due to the cheaper wages given to Chinese workers. The main character, Ah Sahm, comes to this city, literally fresh off the boat, to find someone but ends up being entangled in the Chinese triads.

Review

This is an entertaining show with some sharply written characters. Each with their own views and agenda with no shortage of conflict. Ally or enemy, it can change depending on the day. The first four episodes do a good job of introducing all the major characters. Episode 5 is like a filler or break episode as it is pretty self contained but then for the rest of the episodes it continues the main story.

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Posted in *Recommended

April’s Fool’s and Coronavirus & COVID-19: the good, the bad and the predictably stupid

If there was one thing not to joke about or make pranks about on April Fool’s day, it was the Coronavirus & COVID-19. I have not scoured the internet for such April 1st shenanigans and in fact, I deliberately avoided reading anything on April 1st because of this. Here are some that I randomly encountered recently.

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Posted in *Recommended, Music, Reviews, TV, Video

J-Drama review: Amachan [Recommended]

Amachan / あまちゃん (2013)
[156 episodes, approx. 15 mins each]
Directors: Inoue Tsuyoshi, Yoshida Teruyuki, Kajiwara Toki
Writer: Kudo Kankuro
Cast: Nounen Rena, Koizumi Kiyoko, Miyamoto Nobuko

This is an asadora (aka morning drama). I’m not familiar with these and this is the first one I’ve watched. Although there are a lot of episodes, each episode is only 15 minutes and airs 6 days a week. The six episodes in a week all have the same title so they kinda form a larger 1.5 hour episode. In terms of total running time, you’re essentially looking at the equivalent of about 2 seasons of American TV of 20 episodes each, more or less.

Amachan stars Nounen Rena. It was apparently her breakout role although I first saw her in one of her later works, a live action film adaptation of Princess Jellyfish in 2014. It was her last movie before she mysteriously disappeared from the entertainment world. Very little info can be found about it but it seems likely that leaving her agency resulted in her being blacklisted from TV and film. She only recently returned in the last few years under a new stage name “Non”. She released some music and there is an “I am Non” youtube series about her making a film. In early 2020, she starred in a new movie, Stardust Over the Town. Her long absence was so disappointing but she’s still young and hopefully she’ll continue to get more movie and TV work.

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Posted in *Recommended, Reviews, TV

J-Drama Review: Mada Kekkon Dekinai Otoko [Recommended]

The Man Who Can’t Get Married Season 2 / まだ結婚できない男 [Mada Kekkon Dekinai Otoko] (2019)
[10 episodes, approx. 45 mins each]
Directors: Yoshishige Miyake, Komatsu Takashi, Ueda Hisashi
Writer: Masaya Ozaki
Cast: Abe Hiroshi, Yoshida Yo, Inamori Izumi, Fukagawa Mai, Tsukamoto Takashi
Japanese w/ English subtitles

I was very surprised to find out a sequel season was recently made to Kekkon Dekinai Otoko. The added word “Mada” meaning “Still” or “Not Yet” so one could possibly translate this title as “The Man Who Still Can’t Marry.” That in itself will certainly disappoint some fans of the original which debuted 13 years ago. Abe Hiroshi returns in the main role of Kusano as do his family members except for an older actress who portrays his now teenage niece. The actor who portrayed his assistant also returns and he’s now Kusano’s partner at the architecture firm. None of the main female lead characters from the original return. But for those who wanted to see a happy ending for Kusano and the doctor, I would suggest watching the 2009 Korean remake (He Who Can’t Marry / 결혼 못하는 남자), which follows the same story very closely but then actually goes further with episodes where they date.

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Posted in *Recommended, Festival du nouveau cinéma, Film Festivals, Nouveau cinéma 2019, Reviews, Trailers, Video

So Long, My Son – film review – Nouveau cinema 2019 [Recommended]

So Long, My Son / 地久天长 [dìjiǔtiāncháng] (2019)
Director Wang Xiaoshuai
Screenplay A Mei, Wang Xiaoshuai
Producer Wang Hai, Han Jianv, Yang Wei, Wang Xiaoshuai, Liu Xuan
Cast Wang Jingchun, Yong Mei

The next screening of this film is on Saturday, October 19, 2019.

Synopsis

Two families each have a son born on the same day. Their sons become best friends but  the death of one of the sons and a forced abortion before the incident due to China’s one child policy causes a rift between the two families with the pain of that tragedy lasting for decades.

Review

At three hours long, one might hesitate to watch it but there is not a wasted frame in the entire film and it always remains engaging with good pacing. To me, It did not feel like three hours had past as I was engrossed by the story and the characters. The acting is great with lots of subtlety. This is a very naturalistic and realistic film about working class Chinese. There are a few threads that are all mostly resolved with an emotional ending although not all truths are told.

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Posted in *Recommended, Music, Reviews

Miyavi concert at Otakuthon 2019

Last year was the first time I went to Otakuthon and I mainly went to attend the Capcom Live! music concert, which turned out to be mostly disappointing. Basically, I only liked the Street Fighter and Okami songs, which are both games that are overflowing with great tracks and easily merit their own concerts.

This year I went for Miyavi’s No Sleep ‘Till Tokyo concert on Saturday, August 17, 2019. I became familiar with him after hearing about Angelina Jolie casting him in a movie but didn’t really pay much attention to him until he started appearing in Japanese movies like the live action Bleach. Discovering that this guy is a major rock star and skilled guitarist swayed me into going to Otakuthon pretty much only to see him. Was it worth it?

MIYAVI

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Posted in *Recommended, Art & Animation, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

White Snake – movie review – Fantasia 2019 [Recommended]

White Snake / 白蛇:缘起 [Báishé: Yuánqǐ] (2019)
Director: Amp Wong, Ji Zhao
Writer: Da Mao
Cast: Xiaoxi Tang, Tianxing Yang, Zhe Zhang

Synopsis

A snake demon, Xiao Bai / Blanca, who has attained human form loses her memory and is rescued by a human man, Xuan. They begin to fall in love but Xiao Bai’s fellow snake demons including her sister, Xiao Qing / Verta, track her down in order to remind her of her mission. Humans and demons are enemies and cannot be allowed to fall in love with each other.

Review

The inspiration of this story has roots in Chinese folklore and mythology. This movie is apparently meant to be a prequel to the Chinese legend, Madame White Snake, an extremely popular tale in China. Like that legend, this movie’s story is very much a forbidden romance type of story. It’s also more adult oriented. There’s nothing that is necessarily sensitive for kids to see but there is an obviously implied sex scene at one point but nothing is shown at all. There’s no blood (or at least I don’t really remember it) but some fight scenes can be pretty violent and one involves something being cut into multiple pieces.

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