Fantasia 2017, total films seen: 22
This was an okay year overall. Last year wasn’t necessarily that much better but it had some super memorable screenings while this year there weren’t any films that wowed me or had the audience go super crazy. Granted, I missed some South Korean movies I really wanted to watch like A Taxi Driver and A Day. Only three films were labeled recommended this year. This isn’t the worst year as far as outright disliking films but the number of films that I enjoyed or liked a lot this year was lower than previous years. I am starting to wonder if my interest in East Asian cinema is waning.
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Mini reviews of Free and Easy, The House of the Disappeared, Shock Wave, The Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue, Napping Princess, Love and Other Cults, Rage, Extraordinary Mission, Night is Short Walk On Girl.
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God of War (2017)
Directed by: Gordon Chan
Written by: Xiong Zhaozheng, Maria Wong, Frankie Tam, Wu Mengzhang
Cast: Vincent Zhao, Sammo Hung, Wan Qian, Wu Yue, Yasuaki Kurata
Review: Considering the generic sounding title, I hadn’t done much research on this movie and didn’t have any expectations. I wouldn’t even have seen if it weren’t for the fact it was between two movies I had planned to see. The film is a historical war movie that takes place during the Ming dynasty. It centers on a general named Qi Jiguang (Vincent Zhao) who’s tasked to defeat Japanese pirates after his predecessor commander Yu (Sammo Hung) fails to do so for months.
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Made in Hong Kong / 香港製造 (1997) (4k restoration: 2017)
Directed by: Fruit Chan
Written by: Fruit Chan
Cast: Sam Lee, Wenders Li, Amy Tam, Neiky Yim, Carolina Lam
Review: This was a screening of the 4k restoration marking the film’s 20th anniversary. I had never heard of this Hong Kong film but am glad to have gotten the chance to watch it. It focuses on a young man named Moon (Same Lee). He’s a high school drop out who does debt collecting for a local triad boss. He has a friend named Sylvester (Wenders Li) who is retarded. Moon protects him from bullies. One day Sylvester witnesses a girl committing suicide by jumping from a building. She has two letters, one for her boyfriend and one for her family. He takes them and from then on it seems to Moon that their lives begin to spiral downwards.
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Vampire Cleanup Department / 救僵清道夫 / Gao geung jing dou fu (2017)
Directed by: Yan Pak-Wing, Chiu Sin-Hang
Written by: Yan Pak-Wing, Ho Wing-Hong, Ashley Cheung
Cast: Babyjohn Choi, Lin Min-Chen, Richard Ng, Chin Siu-Ho, Susan Shaw
Review: There was a time in Hong Kong when hopping vampire movies were popular. I’m not familiar with this genre so this is the first one I’ve seen. These vampires look like rotting corpses. They don’t walk but they hop with their arms straight out in front of them. The setup is simple, there is a secret department that’s tasked with eliminating vampires but the employees are getting old. In comes, a young, clumsy man named Tim (Babyjohn Choi) who would seem ill-suited for the job. But after getting his butt chomped on by a vampire, he discovers that he is immune to vampire bites. There seems to be something special about his blood as it seems to transform another vampire (Lin Min-Chen) from rotting corpse into her original human form of a beautiful woman. Although she looks human she still hops around like a vampire and craves blood cubes.
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Here are the East Asian films that were announced among the first wave of films that will be screened at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival. This 21st edition will run from July 13 – August 2, 2017. The full lineup will be released July 5!
Opening night screenings
Jung Byung-gil’s THE VILLAINESS
Takashi Miike’s JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE: DIAMOND IS UNBREAKABLE
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Fantasia 2016, total films seen: 25
This year’s lineup of movies was very promising but the ones I looked forward to the most ended up being disappointing or just okay. But there were a couple of surprises that ended up being really great. Overall though, I’d say this was a good but not great year (like last year). I’d say the number of great films this year was less than most of the previous years. My main disappointment was the lack of films that resonated with me emotionally. However, in regards to just pure entertainment, I was satisfied by a few strong entries.
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Mini reviews of Heart Attack, The Wailing, The Throne, The Inerasable, Karaoke Crazies, The Phantom Detective, Assassination Classroom: Graduation, Lazy Hazy Crazy, A Violent Prosecutor, The Bodyguard, What a Wonderful Family!, and The Piper after the jump.
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