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Film Review Johnnie To’s DRUG WAR

POP! BAM!
It is not your average day that we recommend a crime thriller. This has subtitles. The absolute truth is that this is the type of film you actually should see in a movie theatre. It is not a children’s film. It is not a family film. But, other than FRANCES HA , FRUITVALE STATION, and THE HEAT, this is the ONLY commercially released film we are recommending this strongly at this point in the summer.
We must confess an admiration and near obsession with the director’s earlier work (THE MISSION, EXILED, ELECTION, TRIAD ELECTION a/k/a ELECTION 2, among others). A serious student of Buddhism can also appreciate the understated symbolism of the characters in many of his works.
But you have to remember Michael Mann’s HEAT to recall a series of shootouts so brilliantly staged, choreographed and edited. One of the reasons you are SO EXCITED by the action scenes in DRUG WAR is because you are so unprepared for them. Like the action centerpiece in Michael Mann’s HEAT, the action in DRUG WAR subtly sneaks up on you and then unrelentingly explodes.
In ways you really do not understand, you really never anticipate the events in DRUG WAR. You think you might, in a Rube Goldberg machine type of way, but you don’t, because the human behavior in this film is not a scripted cliche.
The shootouts in this movie are things that make you want to go to the big screen to see movies. And in the midst of it all, Johnnie To gently drops in an homage to the silent film masterpiece GREED.
This film opened at the New York Asian Film Festival at #FSLC, opens July 26 in NYC at the IFC Theatre, followed by openings in Los Angeles and nationwide.
We RECOMMEND this film.
The tension and bravura set pieces woven into what becomes the character study of a criminal anti-hero as he manipulates his way in and out of the hands of a police captain’s undercover squad and his own betrayed crime family escalate.
It is fitting that, as #BreakingBad edges towards its television series finale, DRUG WAR encapsulates both the criminal world and the police world succinctly in 105 minutes with action scaled at maximum impact.

The Asian world equivalent to Alain Delon in looks and style, Louis Koo serves up his unreserved villain with cool panache. Following a near-death explosion at one of his meth labs, Koo’s character Timmy Choi crashes his car and wakes up on a hospital in police custody. From there, Koo and police Captain Zhang ( a superb Sun Honglei ) play a sophisticated game of wits.

See it.

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July 26, 2013 Posted by | ART, CULTURE, FILM, opportunity, Uncategorized, We Recommend | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

NY ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL June 28 – July 7 2012

NY ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL RETURNS!
Decades ago, every US city with a “Chinatown movie palace” provided an opportunity for anyone to expose their minds to the wondrous explosion of Hong Kong cinema. Sadly, those movie palaces have disappeared. It was even harder to find the glories of the expanding market of Korean film and often, only a few cities showcased Japanese cinema.
Luckily, for New Yorkers, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the enterprising mavens of Subway Cinema have combined their powerful forces to return New York’s most exciting summer festival with powerful entries from filmmakers throughout Asia.
« Main Series Listings

Admission

  • $13 General Public
  • $9 Students & Seniors
  • $8 Members

Films & Showtimes »

Create your own festival package!

  • Starts at:
    $30 General Public
    $24 Students & Seniors
    $21 Members

Get the Package

Create your own festival package! Buy a ticket to as many as 12 films and save. Minimum purchase of 3 films required. Packages start at $30 General Public / $24 Students & Seniors / $21 Film Society Members.

This year, the New York Asian Film Festival is bringing the crazy back! As ever, the two-fisted lineup is packed with the blockbusters, hit romances, 3-D spectaculars and wild comedies (and, yes, even a few art films) that are packing them in across Asia. And the NYAFF will be delivering guests, wild ‘n’ wooly retrospective screenings, and the contemporary flicks that are scooping up awards and setting the box office on fire in Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan.

In This Series

Vulgaria

Vulgaria

Pang Ho-cheung | 2012 | 90 mins

Opening Night! In person: director Pang Ho-cheung!

A hilariously offensive shock comedy about making movies, Pang Ho-cheung’s ode to filmmaking makes Borat look tame.

Read more »

Friday, June 29

8:30 pm

Doomsday Book

Doomsday Book

KIm Ji-Woon |Yim Pil-Sung | 2012 | 115 mins

Centerpiece presentation! North American Premiere!

The much-anticipated three-part science fiction anthology from Kim Ji-Woon (I Saw The Devil) and Yim Pil-Sung (Hansel & Gretel). Robots! Meteors destroying the Earth! Viral outbreaks!

Read more »

Wednesday, July 11

8:15 pm

Thursday, July 12

1:00 pm

Guns and Roses

Guns and Roses

Ning Hao | 2012 | 90 mins

Centerpiece Presentation!

Ning Hao, China’s most adrenaline-charged director, delivers a bank heist black comedy that moves at 500 mph.

Read more »

Saturday, July 07

9:00 pm

Tuesday, July 10

1:30 pm

10+10

10+10

Various | 2012 | 115 mins

Directors from Hou Hsiao-hsien to Wei Te-Sheng (Seediq Bale), recruit an army of stars like Shu Qi for these 10 short films about Taiwan.

Read more »

Thursday, July 05

6:30 pm

Ace Attorney

Ace Attorney

Takashi Miike | 2012 | 135 mins

Takashi Miike brings one of the world’s most popular Nintendo DS games to the big screen and it’s all about…lawyers? Prepare to have your mind blown by this mashup of The Practice and The Avengers!

Read more »

Sunday, July 08

2:30 pm

All About My Wife

All About My Wife

Min Kyu-dong | 2012 | 121 mins

North American Premiere!

In this all-star remake of an Argentinian romantic comedy, a husband is too timid to ask for a divorce, so he hires a “boyfriend” to woo his wife away.

Read more »

Thursday, July 05

9:00 pm

Wednesday, July 11

1:15 pm

Blood Letter

Blood Letter

Victor Wu | 2012 | 100 mins

From out of left field comes this Vietnamese martial arts movie full of flying swordsmen, weapon-wielding woman warriors, and the kind of wu xia passion the world has just too little of.

Read more »

Thursday, July 12

9:00 pm

Bloody Fight in Iron Rock Valley

Bloody Fight in Iron Rock Valley

Ji Ha-Jean | 2011 | 90 mins

North American Premiere!

A lone stranger rides into a town ruled by an out-of-control construction cartel, ready to settle scores in this award-winning, ultra-cool, modern day spaghetti western.

Read more »

Sunday, July 08

12:30 pm

Thursday, July 12

3:30 pm

Boxer’s Omen

Boxer’s Omen

Kuei Chih-Hung | 1983 | 105 mins

Nothing can match the sheer lunacy of this Shaw Brothers martial arts classic about black magic. You are not prepared for the gut-churning special effects.

Read more »

Friday, June 29

11:59 pm

Couples

Couples

Jeong Yong-Ki | 2011 | 110 mins

A remake of the NYAFF hit, A Stranger of Mine, this time-looping, multiple-POV Korean romance is about finding true love in the middle of the economic meltdown.

Read more »

Tuesday, July 03

6:00 pm

Wednesday, July 04

1:00 pm

Crying Fist

Crying Fist

Ryu Seung-Wan | 2005 | 135 mins

In person: star Choi Min-Sik!

The director of City of Violence and the star of Oldboy team up for a boxing movie about two deadbeats who desperately need a comeback. A neglected classic of new Korean cinema.

Read more »

Monday, July 02

9:00 pm

Dead Bite

Dead Bite

Apisit Opasaimlikit | 2011 | 94 mins

North American Premiere!

Like smoking a fat blunt on the beach, this hazy, crazy zombie flick is all enthusiastic gore and surreal humor. Directed by and starring Thailand’s one and only hip hop crew, Gancore Club.

Read more »

Friday, July 06

11:10 pm

Wednesday, July 11

3:50 pm

Din Tao: Leader of the Parade

Din Tao: Leader of the Parade

Kai Feng | 2012 | 124 mins

North American Premiere!

The biggest Taiwanese hit of 2012, it’s the true story of a Din Tao (drumming ritual) team of losers and misfits.

Read more »

Thursday, July 05

4:00 pm

Tuesday, July 10

9:00 pm

Dragon

Dragon

Peter Chan | 2011 | 114 mins

In person: star Donnie Yen!

The word-of-mouth hit at Cannes last year, what Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon did for swordplay, it does for kung fu.

Read more »

Monday, July 09

7:45 pm

East Meets West 2011

East Meets West 2011

Jeff Lau | 2011 | 99 mins

In person: director Jeff Lau! North American Premiere!

Wong Kar-wai’s longtime collaborator, Jeff Lau, delivers an exhilarating comedy about reincarnated superheroes (and failed pop stars) that includes musical numbers, animated sequences, giant battles, and genuine heartbreak.

Read more »

Wednesday, July 04

3:30 pm

Failan

Failan

Song Hae-Sung | 2001 | 115 mins

In person: star Choi Min-Sik!

Choi Min-Sik and Hong Kong superstar Cecilia Cheung are paired in this low key, heartfelt romance about missed opportunities.

Read more »

Monday, July 02

3:30 pm

Five Fingers of Death

Five Fingers of Death

Chung Chang-Wha | 1972 | 97 mins

In person: director Chung Chang-Wha!

Quite simply the most influential martial arts movie of all time, it launched the kung fu craze, paved the way for Bruce Lee, and is still a hard-hitting action flick.

Read more »

Saturday, June 30

5:30 pm

Goke, the Bodysnatcher from Hell

Goke, the Bodysnatcher from Hell

Hajime Sato | 1968 | 84 mins

Imagine a Mario Bava film, plus Lost, plus wild horror psychedelia from festival fave Hausu. Mind-bending retro madness.

Read more »

Saturday, June 30

11:59 pm

Golden Slumbers

Golden Slumbers

Davy Chou | 2011 | 96 mins

In person: director Davy Chou!

Obliterated by the Khmer Rouge in 1975, Cambodia’s lost cinema lives on in the memories of the filmmakers and stars who survived the genocide in this moving oral history.

Read more »

Tuesday, July 10

6:00 pm

Honey Pupu

Honey Pupu

Chen Hung-i | 2011 | 103 mins

Taiwan’s elegiac tone poem for the internet age about all the lost and missing people who are sliding over to an alternate earth.

Read more »

Thursday, July 05

1:30 pm

Sunday, July 08

10:30 pm

Infernal Affairs 1 & 2

Infernal Affairs 1 & 2

Andrew Lau | 2002/2003 | 101/119 mins

10th Anniversary screening!

Martin Scorsese remade IA 1 as The Departed, but taken together these two movies are Asia’s richest, most complex crime epic.

Read more »

Friday, July 06

6:00 pm

Kill Zone

Kill Zone

Wilson Yip | 2005 | 93 mins

In person: star Donnie Yen!

This contemporary cop movie stars Sammo Hung, lightning fast Wu Jing and Simon Yam, and it turned Donnie Yen into a major star.

Read more »

Sunday, July 08

5:15 pm

The King of Pigs

The King of Pigs

Yeun Sang-Ho | 2011 | 97 mins

In person: director Yeun Sang-Ho!

Fresh outta Cannes, this animated drama is about two adults trying to remember what exactly happened to them as kids when they attended a nightmarish high school.

Read more »

Saturday, July 07

3:45 pm

Sunday, July 08

8:00 pm

Korean Short Film Madness

Korean Short Film Madness

Various | 2011 | 120 mins

Featuring a short film (Night Fishing) directed by Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy) and his brother, as well as new shorts from Korea’s MSFF Genre Film Festival.

Read more »

Tuesday, July 10

4:00 pm

The Lost Bladesman

The Lost Bladesman

Felix Chong |Alan Mak | 2012 | 109 mins

In person: star Donnie Yen!

The writers of the Infernal Affairs films wrote and directed this movie that tells the tale of China’s revered warrior, General Kwan.

Read more »

Saturday, July 07

6:30 pm

Love in the Buff

Love in the Buff

Pang Ho-cheung | 2012 | 106 mins

In person: director Pang Ho-cheung!

Pang Ho-cheung’s razor-sharp romantic comedy is the urban romance of the year. No familiarity with predecessor, Love in a Puff, required.

Read more »

Sunday, July 01

8:45 pm

Make Up

Make Up

Yi-chi Lien | 2011 | 107 mins

North American Premiere!

A mortuary make-up artist finds that the latest body on her slab is the closeted gay high school teacher she had an affair with years before. So who killed her?

Read more »

Monday, July 02

1:00 pm

Wednesday, July 11

10:30 pm

The Miami Connection

The Miami Connection

Y.K. Kim |Park Woo-Sung | 1987 | 90 mins

In person: star Grandmaster Y.K. Kim!

Gonzo, 80’s exploitation madness on acid, it’s all about a rock band that does martial arts and the drug-smuggling ninjas they must defeat.

Read more »

Saturday, July 07

11:15 pm

Nameless Gangster

Nameless Gangster

Yun Jong-Bin |

In person: star Choi Min-Sik!

Time magazine compares this gangster epic favorably to Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas and they’re not wrong. Set in the 80’s, Choi Min-Sik is a corrupt customs inspector making his grab for the bloody, brass ring of gangsterdom.

Read more »

Saturday, June 30

9:00 pm

Tuesday, July 03

1:00 pm

Nasi Lemak 2.0

Nasi Lemak 2.0

Namewee | 2011 | 108 mins

North American Premiere!

A food movie, directed by a rapper who has been investigated for sedition, that feels like a delirious early Stephen Chow movie. How could we not show it?

Read more »

Monday, July 09

2:50 pm

Thursday, July 12

6:15 pm

Oldboy

Oldboy

Park Chan-Wook | 2003 | 120 mins

In person: stars Choi Min-Sik and Yoon Jin-Seo!

It won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, and Choi Min-Sik is iconic as the hammer-wielding Oh Dae-Su, trying to find who imprisoned him in a hotel room for 15 years.

Read more »

Saturday, June 30

1:00 pm

Pang Ho-Cheung’s First Attempt

Pang Ho-Cheung’s First Attempt

Pang Ho-Cheung | 2012 | 50 mins

In person: director Pang Ho-cheung! North American Premiere!

Hong Kong’s hottest director (Vulgaria, Love in the Buff) screens movies he made in high school, mocking himself live, Mystery Science Theater-style.

Read more »

Saturday, June 30

4:00 pm

Red Vacance, Black Wedding

Red Vacance, Black Wedding

Park Cheol-Su |Kim Tae-Sik | 2011 | 90 mins

North American Premiere!

This two-part film about adultery is a sexy, funny, over-the-top exploration of why we cheat.

Read more »

Monday, July 09

10:30 pm

Sacrifice

Sacrifice

Chen Kaige | 2010 | 124 mins

Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine) employs an all-star cast in this searing drama about a doctor who must sacrifice his own son to protect the child of a disgraced court official.

Read more »

Tuesday, July 03

8:30 pm

Scabbard Samurai

Scabbard Samurai

Hitoshi Matsumoto | 2011 | 103 mins

North American Premiere!

From the director and star of Symbol comes this deadpan comedy about a disgraced samurai who has 30 days to make a dejected boy prince laugh, or he has to kill himself.

Read more »

Friday, July 06

3:30 pm

A Simple Life

A Simple Life

Ann Hui | 2011 | 118 mins

Sweeping awards from Venice to Hong Kong, this film turns a compassionate, unblinking eye on aging and dying. If you don’t cry, you’re probably a robot.

Read more »

Monday, July 09

5:00 pm

Starry Starry Night

Starry Starry Night

Tom Lin | 2011 | 120 mins

North American Premiere!

This Taiwanese hit is a visually inventive heartbreaker about a 13-year-old girl who hides in an imaginary world to escape the reality of her parent’s divorce.

Read more »

Tuesday, July 03

3:30 pm

The Swift Knight

The Swift Knight

Chung Chang-Wa | 1971 | 81 mins

In person: director Chung Chang-Wha!

Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Chung Chang-Wha (Five Fingers of Death) counts this Shaw Brothers swordplay movie as his favorite of his own films.

Read more »

Sunday, July 01

3:20 pm

The Sword Identity

The Sword Identity

Xu Haofeng | 2011 | 108 mins

A refreshing remix of the traditional martial arts film directed by the screenwriter of Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmasters.

Read more »

Sunday, July 01

1:00 pm

Wednesday, July 11

6:00 pm

War of the Arrows

War of the Arrows

Kim Han-Min | 2011 | 122 mins

Korea’s surprise blockbuster of 2011, this swashbuckling period action movie won 14 major film awards, and is a fist-pumping version of Robin Hood.

Read more »

Friday, June 29

6:00 pm

Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale 1 & 2

Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale 1 & 2

Wei Te-Sheng | 2011 | 276 mins

A special Fourth of July screening of the uncut, two-part Taiwanese blockbuster that is that country’s Braveheart about its indigenous peoples fighting for their freedom.

Read more »

Wednesday, July 04

6:00 pm

You Are the Apple of My Eye

You Are the Apple of My Eye

Giddens Ko | 2011 | 110 mins

In person: Director Giddens Ko and star Michelle Chen!

The biggest romantic hit of 2011, this bittersweet movie about the way nothing will ever top the first time you fall in love swept the box office across Asia.

Read more »

Sunday, July 01

6:00 pm

Monday, July 02

6:30 pm

Monday, July 09

12:30 pm

Zero Man vs. The Half-Virgin

Zero Man vs. The Half-Virgin

Sakichi Satô | 2011 | 105 mins

From the writer of Ichi the Killer and Gozu comes this touching tale of a cop with the superpower to see how many sexual partners you’ve had.

Read more »

Friday, July 06

1:30 pm

Saturday, July 07

1:30 pm

June 13, 2012 Posted by | CULTURE, FILM, We Recommend | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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