I’m coming a bit late to the table on this one, but as a fan of all things awesome and Asian I feel compelled to alert you about something happening over at the Sundance Channel this month. And yes, “this month” is August, and yes, August only has a week left… I did say I was late to the table didn’t I?
Sundance Channel has a long-standing affection for Asian cinema and demonstrates it on a weekly basis with Asia Extreme, which is their series of some of the best genre films Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, and Thailand have to offer. They run the gamut from horror, crime, drama, and just plain crazy-ass flicks, and have included excellent titles like Audition, Breaking News, Save the Green Planet, and The Bow. They’re doing something a bit different this month though, and it involves premiering their new season of several brand new titles on Pay-Per-View for free. I love Asian films, I want to share that love, and these free PPV premieres are an easy and cost-effective way to do that. See how generous I am? The new season of Asia Extreme is filled with some fantastic movies, with some obviously better than others. Here’s a quick capsule look at this season’s ten US television premieres… try and catch them if you can!
Bloody Reunion (South Korea) – Very bloody and violent revenge is the theme to this class reunion, and it does a nice job of keeping the killer’s identity and motivation a secret.
Bloody Ties (South Korea) – Sounds like a horror film about fashion accessories, but it isn’t. Instead we get a dark and blackly comic crime thriller well worth your time.
Divergence (Hong Kong) – Aaron Kwok stars in this convoluted but still entertaining thriller. Confusing at times due to poor writing, but still pretty good for fans of Kwok and Ekin Cheng.
Dorm (Thailand) – Are there any Thai horror films not about ghosts and/or curses? Seriously… the saving grace here is that the horror actually takes backseat to an interesting coming-of-age tale. Think The Lady In White but with little Thai kids.
Dororo (Japan) – Based on a manga, this flick mixes horror, fantasy, swordplay, quests, and a Pinocchio-like little boy to solid effect.
Election (Hong Kong) – One of director Johnnie To’s most popular titles follows violence and bloody hijinx amongst Chinese Triad management. Crime and honor make strange bedfellows indeed, and even though I’m not as much of a fan of this one as most others are it’s still worth a watch.
Mad Detective (Hong Kong) – Another Johnnie To movie, this time featuring a slightly demented cop who solves crimes with very unorthodox methods. To’s odd and stylistic casting choices also deserve notice.
Triad Election (Hong Kong) – Johnnie To… again… follows up his classic Election with the continuing story behind his men of power. More violence, drama, and double-crosses ensue.
The Victim (Thailand) – A ghost story from Thailand? Crazy, I know, but more importantly this is one of the lesser efforts. Cheap scares and a silly story outweigh some occasionally cool effects and make this one to avoid.
A World Without Thieves (Hong Kong) – Andy Lau stretches a bit as a thief who may be suffering a crisis of morality, but that dilemma is tossed in favor of some pretty hefty and annoying cell phone product placement. The very cute Rene Liu almost makes up for it.
Scheduling of the titles may vary depending on cable provider, and as of today only Divergence, Dororo, Election, Old Boy, Triad Election, and A World Without Thieves are available on Comcast’s Sundance On-Demand.