Asian Film Buzz – Shogun Assassin, Confessions and The 31st Blue Dragon Film Awards

Welcome to the Asian Film Buzz.

You may not be familiar with Hyung-rae Shim but you may have seen the dire Dragon Wars: D-War which he directed. When he’s not directing woeful dragon films he is a very popular comedian, regularly appearing on Korean television. The Last Godfather is his latest cinematic venture though and Hyng-rae Shim has chosen to write, direct and star in it. Judging by the trailer none of these choices were perhaps good ones. Starring alongside Hyung-rae Shim are a host of American actors, including Harvey Keitel, Jason Mewes, Jocelin Donahue, Jon Polito and Michael Rispoli. Reportedly the script had additional work done by Joel Cohen so maybe a few of the actors fell foul of the same misunderstanding that led Bill Murray to make Garfield. The trailer and synopsis below come courtesy of Filmsmash.

Synopsis: “In 1951, Don Carini, the most powerful godfather in the mafia gathers all his followers to announce the heir to the family. The head of each department expects to be crowned the next Don but they hear a shocking story from Don Carini. During his travels in Asia, he fell in love with an Asian woman and bore a son with her. He proceeds to introduce his now grown son Young-gu and announces that he will be the next boss. Bonfante, the betrayer in the outfit, wants Young-gu and the aging Don out. Bonfante and his minions try to sabotage Young-gu’s training and take out the boss. He is relentless to wipe the slate clean and to take over as the new Don. Will this be possible? Can Young-gu become the next boss and lead.”

Shinji Aoyama, director of the fantastic Eureka, is working on a new film (as reported by Tokyograph). Starring Haruma Miura, Nana Eikura, Manami Konishi and Haruka Igawa the film is entitled Tokyo Kouen. Miura plays Koji, a student that is tasked with following a girl and photographing her. Aoyama is an intelligent director with a unique approach and a story which possibly gives him an opportunity to engage with scopophilic themes sounds like a very interesting prospect.

Boxing story Ashita No Joe began life as a manga in 1968 and has since spawned an anime series and film, and even a line of videogames. 2011 will see the story brought to the big screen as a live action film and thanks to CinemaAsiaBlog we have our first look at the full trailer for the film.

Running the story with a Harry Potter poster with the amusingly appropriate tagline ‘Nowhere is safe’ Film Biz Asia reports on the recent domination of foreign titles at the booming Chinese box office. Last week the latest Potter film was, perhaps unsurprisingly, reigning at the box office in China with a 43.9% market share. Resident Evil: Afterlife was another US success last week with a 37.1 % market share (netting $10.3 million in just 6 days). The subject matter of Resident Evil: Afterlife would have presented a problem for the strict Chinese censors, but thanks to recent relaxations the film was free to open on over 1000 3D screens. The box office success is also significant as Resident Evil: Afterlife was already widely available in pirated form in China prior to the film’s theatrical release. The film was something of a disappointment at the US box office with a $60 million domestic gross (the film reportedly had a $60 million production budget) but international sales have helped boost the film to the current worldwide gross of $225 million.

In the first Asian Film Buzz we brought you a couple of behind the scenes images from Miike’s forthcoming film about child ninjas. Now, thanks to Nippon Cinema, we have a new teaser trailer for the film. There’s not too much footage but it’s worth a watch. The film will be released in Japan in March 2011.

Many sites have released the new poster for Heart is Beating including Han Cinema where the below comes from. The film is the directorial debut from Yoon Jae-geun who has previously worked as screenwriter. The film stars Park Hae-il and Kim Yoon-jin (and will feature a lot of muddy water?). The poster simply claims that the film is ‘Coming Soon’ but Han Cinema list it as having a release date for Korea of the 6th of January 2011. The recognition of Kim Yoon-jin in the West will probably guarantee that if halfway decent this shouldn’t take too long to make it to the US and Europe.

A new trailer has been released for hospital set horror Midnight Beating and it offers very few clues about the specifics of the plot but it does feature some almost creepy imagery. The film doesn’t look too good but Simon Yam will hopefully make this worth watching even if the film isn’t up to much. There doesn’t appear to be an official synopsis yet but Midnight Beating is set for release in China late next month.

One of the real gems of Japanese cinema from the past ten years that is nowhere near as widely seen as it should be is Nobuhiro Yamashita’s Linda Linda Linda. Yamashita has directed a number of other films including the disappointing Ramblers and the good but not excellent The Matsugane Potshot Affair. Hopefully Yamashita will be able to recapture some of the magic of Linda Linda Linda in his next project My Back Pages. The film is set during the 1969 student protests and stars Satoshi Tsumabuki and Kenichi Matsuyama. The Filmsmash forums pointed me towards the poster at Cinema Today. Unfortunately no high res poster is available yet.

To mark the 70th anniversary of Bruce Lee’s birth (and as a crafty piece of marketing) the makers of the soon to begin filming Spirit of Fight have put together a tribute video. The video is a nice bit of marketing for the film and does a good job of showcasing the martial arts talents of the film’s star Danny Chan.

The 31st Blue Dragon Film Awards were held in Korea on Friday and a number of major Korean stars were in attendance for what has become a high profile and glitzy ceremony. The major awards went to the following

Best Film – Sworn Brothers (aka Secret Reunion)
Best Screenplay – Cyrano Agency
Best Director – Kang Woo Suk (Moss)
Best Actor – Jung Jae Young (Moss)
Best Actress – Yun Jeong Hee (Poetry), Soo Ae (Late Night FM)
Best Supporting Actor – Yu Hae Jin (Moss)
Best Supporting Actress – Yoon Yeo Jung (The Housemaid)
Best Male Newcomer – T.O.P. (71: Into The Fire)
Best Female Newcomer – Lee Min Jung (Cyrano Agency)
Best New Director: Kim Gwang-shik (My Gangster Boyfriend)
Cinematography – Lee Mo-gae (I Saw the Devil)
Lighting – Oh Seung-chul (I Saw the Devil)
Music – Mowg (I Saw the Devil)
Art Direction – Lee Ha-joon (The Housemaid)
Technical Effects – Park Jung-ryul (The Man From Nowhere)
Box Office Award – The Man From Nowhere

Secret Reunion is an excellent film which is incredibly accessible but also multi-layered, a good choice for Best Film. The film’s themes of reconciliation are also especially topical considering the recent issues between North and South Korea. The heavy presence of Moss on the list is a little surprising as the film is weak in almost every area but it has been a box office hit in Korea. I Saw the Devil picked up a couple of awards in technical areas but disappointingly missed out on any of the major categories. The film was very controversial though and considering its limited release and the harsh moral criticism that followed it in Korea it is perhaps more surprising that it made it onto the list at all.

Third Window films has announced that they will be releasing Japanese film Confessions in UK cinemas on the 18th of February 2011. The film received its UK premier at this year’s Frightfest all-nighter and has been selected as Japan’s entry for the Academy Awards. Confessions was directed by Tetsuya Nakashima and based on a novel by Kanae Minato. You can find the English subtitled trailer embedded below.

Tokygraph bring the news that Katsuhito Ishii, the director of The Taste of Tea and Funky Forest, is currently busy filming a live action adaptation of the Shohei Manabe’s manga Smuggler. Filming is expected to finish in December for an eventual release in Autumn next year.

Thanks to Quiet Earth embedded below is the trailer for Korean teen vampire picture Hero. Han Cinema help shed some light (pun entirely intended) on the origin of the vampires in the film. The three sentences don’t make perfect sense but you’ll get the general idea.

“Josun Dynasty, in the middle of the great persecution of Christians, there were people who moisten their throat with the deads’ blood. And time passes to 2010. A blacksheep of class is bitten by a girl vampire, and then he becomes to have a miraculous power…”

Shogun Assassin hit Blu-ray and DVD in the UK this week and the dual format (DVD/Blu-ray) Steelbook is a strongly recommended purchase. The film is a re-edit, re-dubbing of the first two films in the Lone Wolf and Cub series of films and despite the negative connotations that this manipulation of the source material may bring to mind Shogun Assassin is something of an oddity as it was done with so much care and attention that the resulting film is really rather good. The new Blu-ray transfer from Eureka! Classics is exceptional and banishes the memories of the dreadful VHS and DVD bootlegs and semi-official releases that have poorly represented the film for more than twenty years.

Finally, coming via Yahoo Taiwan, we have a new poster for Michel Gondry’s The Green Hornet. Reminiscent of certain poster artwork from the past this poster puts Asian actor Jay Chou front and center.

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