Thursday, June 28, 2018


Dubbed as the Savage Seventeenth edition, this year's festival hosts four world premieres, three international premieres, 21 North American premieres, three U.S. premieres, and twelve New York premieres, showcasing the most exciting comedies, dramas, thrillers, romances, horrors and arthouse films from East Asia.

NYAFF 2018 runs from 6/29 to 7/13. Please visit FSLC Website for more tickets and more info.

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With Romero's Night of the Living Dead, the zombie genre has a humble, low-budget indie beginning. Taking the cue from this idea, Ueda Shinichiro's One Cut of the Dead serves a love letter to the indie filmmaking process as much as it works as being an entertaining zom-com.

It starts out with as an impressive 37 minute uncut zombie movie where a frazzled director screams at a young actress, who has just gone through her 42nd take. She needs to look more frightened. That she really needs to fear for life! His wish comes true soon enough, as real zombies run amok in the filming location, a large water treatment plant where the Japanese army conducted human experiment in the days of WW2.

The film rewinds and becomes a making-of documentary where it shows how the uncut movie was made in clever, comical ways. As anyone ever involved in low budget filmmaking would attest, no matter how terrible the end product turn out, there is tons of hard work and on-the-spot problem solving that goes in to each film. An interesting aside to considering: The movie gives the 'crane shot' a new meaning...

One Cut of the Dead is part zombie movie, part making-of documentary and part touching family drama. And it's hugely entertaining.


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Comprised only with short static shots that cut to black, Ogata Takaomi's Hungry Lion takes a non-sensational, clinical approach to reflect on the peril of our society completely under siege by social networking. It's very Haneke yet very Japanese.

The film begins in a high school classroom where a teacher is getting led away by the police. The video of him having sex with a student went viral. Hitomi, a normal high school student who has a considerable SNS following or someone who looks very much like her was in that video. She denies that it is her. Some of her immediate circle believe that she is innocent at first. But once the rumor starts doing rounds, it spreads fast. People turn on her and the adults who are supposed to protect her innocence openly exploit her. The gossip at the school and home become too much for Hitomi and she throws herself in front of a train.

Hungry Lion digs deeper into our relationship with the world in the internet age and how we see things in a distorted way and prey on the most vulnerable. It's a compelling movie watching experience.


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Violent Japanese schoolgirls! This is what I love about NYAFF!!

Based on a manga of the same name, Naito Eisuke's Liverleaf is a school bulling revenge movie. Haruka Nozaki (Anna Yamada) is a transfer student from Tokyo in a rural town Middle School. She is relentlessly bullied by a gang of close-knit friends, headed by cool redhead Taeko (Rinka Otani). It is said Haruka stole Aiba (Hiroya Shimizu) from Taeko. How dare she!

Things take a violent turn when Rumi (Rena Otsuka), a loner who would do anything to impress Taeko, actually carries out burning down Haruka's house with her family in it. With her parents killed and her little sister in an intensive care from burns, Haruka exacts revenge on the gang, one by one, using a rusty nail, a pair of wire cutters, a crossbow and a pocket knife. As usual, nothing is more beautiful than blood on the pure white snow in the Japanese countryside.


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Detective Ogami (Yakusho Koji), known affectionately as 'Gami by his colleagues and yakuza friends alike, leads a colorful existence, walking a tightrope without falling to either side. He has been the key figure in keeping the peace between too warring yakuza clans. But it's Gami's method - taking bribes, getting favors, extortion, violence, etc that irks a young idealist rookie partner Hioka (Matsuzaka Tori). While investigating the murder of a civilian accountant, Hioka realizes Gami might be in too deep with Irako (Ishbashi Renji), one of the crime bosses. Would Gami find out that Hioka is an agent from internal affairs? Would they still bring down the gangs together?

As flamboyant Ogami, always dependable Yakusho is fabulous here playing against type. Without honor, loyalty or fear, his character is only interested in protecting civilians. With large, great supporting roles played by many familiar faces in Japanese cinema (including Maki Yoko of After the Storm, Like Father Like Son and Abe Junko of Still the Water), Blood of Wolves is an excellent, gritty crime film that is hugely enjoyable.


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Hardened HK detective Lee (Louis Koo) sees his young daughter grow up to be a teenager. As soon as she takes up a no-good boyfriend and gets pregnant. After an abortion, she runs away to Thailand only to be kidnapped by local thugs who in deal organ transplants. Yes, just like previous SPL series, you don't watch Paradox for the plot. You watch it for a handful of heavenly action sequences!

Choreographed by Sammo Hung, with picturesque backdrops of the bay city of Pattaya, we get some glorious fight scenes involving Koo, Lue Wu and Tony Jaa (as local cops) and Chris Collins (as a sadistic organ trafficker). One set piece in the narrow hallways and rooftops with Collins and Jaa is breathtaking. So are the extended meat packing facility fight sequences, fully equipped (for your pleasure) with plenty of sharp, clanking cutlery. It's not great as the previous SPL series and the typical cheesy HK plotline drags down its greatness a notch. And you only wish you want to see more Jaa, but oh well. Vithaya Pansringarm (Only God Forgives) also shows up as a police chief.

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