March 11, 2013

Punch (Han Lee, 2011)

Punch, a Korean drama, will more likely be remembered for the way it adds to the Korean conversation on immigration than for its other story elements. Teenager Wan-deuk consistently gets into fights at school while getting lousy grades. Wan-deuk’s mom abandoned them when he was a little boy and he was raised by his father, a small-time itinerant street performer, […]
March 11, 2013

Fists of The White Lotus (Lieh Lo, 1980)

Hong Kong has steadily been restoring old Shaw Bros. movie and showcasing them around the world. Fists of the White Lotus is the most recent of such classics to benefit from those efforts. Following the events of Executioners from Shaolin, Fists of the White Lotus confronts our heroes, Wen-ting and Chin-chung, with Pai-Mei’s brother, a White Lotus clan priest and […]
March 11, 2013

Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack (Takayuki Hirao, 2012)

Although it’s based on the work of one of Japan’s most prominent horror manga authors, Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack proves incapable of living up to expectations. An adaptation of Junji Ito’s manga, Gyo recounts the story of a modern-day Japan attacked by poisonous fish with mechanical legs, converting the population into organic masses excreting putrid gas, as they make their […]
February 26, 2013

Mitsuko delivers (Yuya Ishii, 2011)

Mitsuko delivers is a great beginning to the festival for me, starting with what could be the best acting performance of the year. Riisa Naka plays the eponymous Mitsuko, an energetic and pregnant young woman who travels back to her old stomping grounds and quickly befriends a cast of quirky local characters, forcing them to seek happiness, whether they’re open […]
January 2, 2012

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (Johnny To and Wai Ka-fai, 2011)

Johnny To and Wai Ka-fai are two of the best Hong Kong directors of their generation (and To is one of the world’s best) and their production company, Milky Way, is a prominent example of industrial filmmaking without sacrificing quality and creativity. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart is an example of Milky Way’s effective filmmaking formula, and both filmmakers love […]
December 30, 2011

Underwater Love (Shinji Imaoka, 2011)

Underwater Love is weird. No, I mean really weird. The unconventional premise attracted me, as I perused through this year’s thick Fantasia program. In the movie, a dreamy-eyed innocent fish factory worker meets a kappa, a Japanese anthropomorphic turtle-like water spirit that, as it happens, was a high-school comrade of hers. The two will eventually end up together, but not […]
December 29, 2011

Hello Ghost (Young-tak Kim, 2010)

There’s a lot of buzz around Hello Ghost at the festival and my ticket for this showing is part of my first batch, as I’m eager to watch this film. Some have compared it to My Sassy Girl (Jae-young Kwak, 2001), one of the early films people associate with the Korean Film Wave of the last decade, and, having seen […]
December 11, 2011

Love (William Eubanks, 2011)

Stranded aboard the International Space Station, astronaut Lee Miller is alone to ponder the majesty of our Earth and the fragility of his own existence, as he grapples with his waning sanity and dwindling air supply. I have to say that I was looking forward to this film. Although philosophical / psychological / contemplative sci-fi is rarely done right, there […]
September 29, 2011

Ip Man: The Legend is Born (Herman Yau, 2010)

Unimpressed by Ip Man: The Legend is Born trailer, the film didn’t make it into my preliminary list of ten films for the Fantasia Festival therefore, mere hours before the showing, cutting it close to showtime, I quickly decide on a secondary list of ten films for the festival, bringing my total up to twenty films so far. Once I […]
September 21, 2011

The Unjust (Seung-wan Ryoo, 2010)

Most of the Hall Theater is full for the only showing of Seung-wan Ryoo’s The Unjust. Fantasia is more popular with each passing year, a blessing for the festival but somewhat of a curse for me: the lines are getting longer; the movies sell out faster; the screenings are more crammed, even though there’s a bigger festival schedule.Introduced by the […]
September 7, 2011

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (Tsui Hark, 2010)

From the Quebec Cinematheque, I bike to Concordia University’s Hall building, on the opposite side of the downtown area, hoping not to miss my next film, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame. Although its lengthy title places the movie in the Gumshoe Fiction genre, like A.C. Doyle books or The Thin Man films with William Powell, what […]
August 12, 2011

Petty Romance (Jeong-Hoon-Il Kim, 2010)

I stand outside in the line to the Fantasia box office, set up this year near the lobby on the ground floor of the Hall building. One of the Concordia volunteers comes out to announce that a few unblocked tickets are available for the Red State screening, and I’m tempted to add it to the list if it didn’t conflict […]