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The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Old 09-11-20, 09:29 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by DJariya
I debated about posting this trailer or talking about this movie.

But, some here take personal offense to Chinese movies nowadays saying that it's all Chinese communist propaganda. I prefer to stay out of that discussion after I got a lot of heat in a few recent Chinese movies I tried to talk about individually. I won't get into the discussion about politics.
Wish I knew why you seemingly take such personal offence at those of us who do feel compelled to discuss Mainland Chinese films – at least in part – in the context of their genuinely politicized content? No one has ever judged you personally for seeing or enjoying these films, or discouraged you from posting about them, or even inferred that you somehow support their politics in any way. The films get the heat, not you, and it's fair game to talk about the authoritarian cultural expectations and restrictions under which they're made and released, just like every other film out of that country, and the role in China's controversial 'soft power' ideology when they're shown abroad.

Of all the major Asian cinemas, China's films are the most strictly monitored and regimented for their content, and the most revisionist historically as a result. Western viewers can rightfully gloss over that in favour of their undeniable technical wizardry or the fact they were shot with the best toys (like IMAX); others prefer not to. To hope for no further discussion outside of visual flair or performances, etc. is a little unrealistic. You're consistent in your desire not to engage, fair enough. THE EIGHT HUNDRED is, now, anyway, very much in league with previous CCP knob-polishers like THE FOUNDING OF A REPUBLIC, THE BEGINNING OF THE GREAT REVIVAL, THE FOUNDING OF AN ARMY and MY PEOPLE, MY COUNTRY (in which this film's director participated) which could make discussing it that much more interesting.

Whatever works, though. Perhaps "some here" – such as myself and a couple of others – need to start posting new Mainland trailers and box-office stats just so you don't feel like the only one who's interested in the country's cinema on a purely cinematic level, even if we're less fazed about acknowledging the political hoops Mainland filmmakers have to jump through and the clear-cut propaganda that ends up on screen (sorry, but it's not even debatable). I've been following the production and release of this film for a while now, and it can hardly be ignored, as the link you posted illustrates.

Frankly, I thought this movie looked spectacular prior to its 'disappearance', presumably because of its seemingly equitable depiction of the Kuomintang, something I was surprised the CCP would have let pass at all. Well, no surprise when they decided to yank it. I'm curious to know what's in the 13 minutes that were excised, but unlike most western movies I doubt we're going to see them included as deleted scenes on future discs or streaming releases.

All said, though, it does look epic in a million ways. It also employed a sizeable contingent of European industry experts in the music, sound and visual effects departments, which is interesting though not unheard of in these big Chinese productions.

Last edited by Brian T; 09-11-20 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 09-11-20, 04:17 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

I just watched #Alive on Netflix last night. I found it to be pretty bad. If there is one thing I can't stand, it's frustratingly incompetent characters in a zombie movie.

Old 09-14-20, 10:06 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by IBJoel
I just watched #Alive on Netflix last night. I found it to be pretty bad. If there is one thing I can't stand, it's frustratingly incompetent characters in a zombie movie.
Interesting "trailer", though. Sometimes I don't mind incompetent characters in zombie pictures with comedic elements (which I assume this has?) because I think such people would exist in such a real-world scenario, but admittedly it's easy to do them wrong, or to focus too much on them, which can be maddening.

My first TIFF movie this year was another Asian zombie comedy called GET THE HELL OUT, from Taiwan. This is director Wang I-Fan's first feature (after two similarly-themed short films), and he wears his influences on his sleeve, particularly Edgar Wright and Quentin Tarantino. That puts him in league with far too many emerging directors of the past 20 years, but being Taiwanese he filters the groundwork of his idols – wittingly or not – through the venerable lens of winking, schlocky Hong Kong and Taiwan horror cheapies of the 90's (stuff like BIO-ZOMBIE or LAST GHOST STANDING), with energetic if mixed results. His characters are broad, loudly-attired, thinly-defined caricatures, screaming and scrambling through geysers of blood, pop-up comic-book graphics, candy-color red/green/gold lighting, and a game-style boss battle (replete with movesets and health bars) as Taiwan's notoriously battlesome legislature is torn asunder by an undead plague initiated by an insidious chemical corporation. MP Megan Lai got elected specifically to stop the government from acquiescing to the company's plans to build a massive power plant on residential land. After she demonstrates her 'huracanrana' martial arts moves during the daily brawl on the legislature floor, an openly crooked rival politician nicknamed 'Gangster MP' (Wang Chung-Wang) engineers her resignation from parliament. She responds by getting hapless security guard Bruce Hung by-elected to her post, hoping to puppeteer him through her original plan of attack. The zombie outbreak unites these three with Lai's disgraced ex-serviceman father (To Tsung-hua), now the building's janitor, Hung's even more hapless replacement guard (Lin He-Hsuan), and a frumpy, cancer-stricken middle-aged office bureaucrat (Francesca Kao) to hack their way out of the locked-down building. This starts fast and silly and remains in perpetual motion, with cheap-seats humour that will alternately endear and exhaust. The production makes efficient use of meagre funds, though: 30 extras redressed to make 60; a decommissioned Kaohsiung legislature building as a stand-in for its larger counterpart in Taipei; shooting 'campaigning' scenes in what appears to be a real night market, etc. Wang's political fangs could have bitten deeper, but what's here handily reinforces a key takeaway: one could never make a film like this about Mainland China's corrupt politics without fear of reprisal, and for that Wang – like many other Taiwanese filmmakers past and present – deserves credit for not neutering his ideas for acceptance into that market. Though it's not for all tastes and not without questions concerning its lack of originality, GET THE HELL OUT is a goofy, amusing reminder that Taiwan is now the last bastion of unfettered editorial freedom for 'Chinese' filmmakers.


Last edited by Brian T; 09-14-20 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 09-14-20, 03:33 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

^Get the Hell Out was also my first TIFF movie this year. (Actually, it was first TIFF screening ever.)

Great minds think alike.
Originally Posted by Brian T
This starts fast and silly and remains in perpetual motion, with cheap-seats humour that will alternately endear and exhaust.
Count me in the latter category. In my book, Wang just crammed way too much into his movie--the comic book panel title cards, the garish colours, the manic pace, pop songs interweaving with the rock soundtrack...and that was just the stuff I was able to pick out. I'm sure the movie was overflowing with parodies that I didn't get, like the ointment that Tsiung pulls out a couple of times accompanied by a close-up and lighting effects; that has to be a local commercial that Wang is lampooning.

Having watched my share of pro wrestling over the years, I appreciated that Wang decided to have his characters fight using moves from the squared circle. I actually had a grand old time recognizing moves like power slams, cross-arm breakers, and I'm pretty sure Wang You-Wei actually pulled off a Michinoku Driver, which almost made me leap out of my seat.

IIRC Wang I-Fan said the actors did a lot of their own stunts, and it does look like the cast actually executed a lot of those moves. I think Wang said Megan Lai was able to do the beginning and end of the flying head scissors, which is still pretty damned impressive as I'm almost 100% positive that most people would do themselves a major mischief jumping onto someone's shoulders.

Overall, though, this movie was just sensory overload. Wang doesn't slow it down enough to give the audience a chance to breathe. Even the 'quiet moments' are crammed with drama, like the romantic subplot or Ku (the replacement guard) having a lunch break...only for it to be interrupted by the infected.

The movie is just constantly hurling stimulus at you, like a first-person shooter where you're always under fire. For incident junkies, this is great, but for me, it was really tiring. By the time the final boss battle rolled around, I was so ready for it to be over.

Having said all that, this film was better than Peninsula.

³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³ ³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³³

My second TIFF screening was Under the Open Sky, starring Koji Yakusho (Cure, Shall We Dance?). Here's a trailer that gives you a bit of the atmosphere and just a tiny sliver about the plot...


Yakusho plays Masao Mikami, a yakuza who served 13 years in prison for murder. The story starts on the day of his release where he makes a vow to himself that he's done being a yazuka and done with crime. The movie follows Mikami as he attempts to find work but quickly discovers that an ex-con in his late 50s is going to have a rough go, especially with today's economic climate. The ex-yakuza is forced to go on welfare, which he detests because he feels he can be 'useful' to someone and possesses skills (he was trained in carpentry and tailoring while in juvie hall).

Before he was released from prison, Mikami sent copies of his detention records to a TV program that reunites lost relatives. The files go to documentarian Tsunoda (Taiga Nakano) with the explanation that the ex-con's mother left him at an orphanage at the age of four, and he wants help finding her. Tsunoda tracks down Mikami and begins filming him as he struggles to fit into a world that has passed him by.

This movie was based on a novel called The Inmate Files and was adapted by writer/director Miwa Nishikawa. I haven't read the book myself, but based on Nishikawa's comments in the Q&A, it sounds like a sprawling story that she had to wrestle with to fit into a two-hour film.

Under the Open Sky definitely has a lot going on. Genre films often use the hackneyed premise of an ex-con wanting to go straight but discovering that circumstances won't allow him to, so he reverts to a life of crime. Nishikawa's movie is well aware of this tired plot and comes out and tells you that it does via Tsunoda, whose script for his documentary is sometimes used as narration. Tsunoda mentions that many yakuza return to their old ways, so the movie lays its cards on the table: you know the often-used trope and the movie tells you that it knows that path has been trodden frequently. The question becomes is it still going that route?

The movie is very much a character study of Mikami. Tsunoda delves into the ex-gangster's formative years to try to get a handle on who he is and why he tends to react with violence when confronted with conflict. The story takes an unusual route with Mikami's confrontations as he's always on the moral high ground: we only ever see him jumping in to aid people who can't defend themselves against thugs, never to start a fight unprovoked. His actions, however, tend to be excessive, and his tendency towards extreme violence and how Mikami comes to terms with that aspect of himself is a part of his arc.

There's a whole lot more to this drama as Tsunoda has his own subplot, the circumstances that landed Mikami in prison are eventually revealed, and the state of the yakuza in the present day leads to some surprises. For the most part, it all hangs together, but I felt that the movie gets to a point where--for the purposes of the plot--it needs Mikami to let everything boil over, so his rage surfacing around those attempting to help him seems a bit sudden.

Nishikawa's adaptation also feels like it includes scenes that could've been cut. There are scenes that are obviously meant to give us insight into the main character's background, but these feel like expansions of things already hinted at by Tsunado's investigation and in the way Mikami behaves in other scenes. Also, a number of things happen in the final half hour that pretty much telegraph the ending.

Under the Open Sky is definitely one of the better dramas I've sat through recently, but it does feel like it meanders at times. The film manages to defy expectations in some regards but follows predictable paths in others. If you're a fan of Koji Yakusho, this is a must-see as the movie is a terrific showcase for his talents.

ººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººº

There was something in the TIFF Q&A I noticed that I found pretty fascinating. (Warning: this might be fascinating to me and no one else.) The TIFF programmer interviewed Nishikawa and Yakusho through a translator and was obviously trying to respect her guests by using the Japanese convention of surname followed by given name. (This is something I always struggle with when writing about people from cultures that use that name order. I tend to westernize names (putting given name first) so as to not confuse people reading my posts.)

What was really interesting in the Q&A and is that when the translator (who's Japanese) spoke English, she flipped the names around so she was saying the given name followed by the family name. My guess is that she did that for the same reason that I do it: to make it less confusing for people on this side of the Pacific. Of course, the TIFF programmer didn't help matters by insisting on doing the opposite and sticking with Japanese conventions.

Incidentally, the credits in Under the Open Sky make things easy for western audiences by putting surnames in all caps. This is a convention I started noticing in English subtitles on Korean DVDs as far back as the late '90s, and it works pretty well. I guess we just don't have a spoken equivalent for verbal translations.

See, I told you this would be fascinating only for me.

Last edited by L Everett Scott; 09-14-20 at 03:47 PM.
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Old 09-15-20, 11:04 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
There was something in the TIFF Q&A I noticed that I found pretty fascinating. (Warning: this might be fascinating to me and no one else.) The TIFF programmer interviewed Nishikawa and Yakusho through a translator and was obviously trying to respect her guests by using the Japanese convention of surname followed by given name. (This is something I always struggle with when writing about people from cultures that use that name order. I tend to westernize names (putting given name first) so as to not confuse people reading my posts.)

What was really interesting in the Q&A and is that when the translator (who's Japanese) spoke English, she flipped the names around so she was saying the given name followed by the family name. My guess is that she did that for the same reason that I do it: to make it less confusing for people on this side of the Pacific. Of course, the TIFF programmer didn't help matters by insisting on doing the opposite and sticking with Japanese conventions.

Incidentally, the credits in Under the Open Sky make things easy for western audiences by putting surnames in all caps. This is a convention I started noticing in English subtitles on Korean DVDs as far back as the late '90s, and it works pretty well. I guess we just don't have a spoken equivalent for verbal translations.

See, I told you this would be fascinating only for me.
Nope, this is fascinating to me as well, because I've never agreed with the practice. Nothing personal, of course! You and the translator aren't alone in 'flipping' names like this. The trend has emerged slowly over time, but I've never thought it necessary. I distinctly recall multiple eras when reviewers, scholars, professors, fans, etc. of Asian cinema maintained the ordering of names (family, then given) when translating to English out of respect for the traditions of those cultures. On various Asian cinema forums I used to participate in, I was one of those annoying types who'd always question why one person would suddenly 'switch' the names in a review or post when the standard had been maintained therein for so long. The response was usually that they simply subconsciously Anglicized the name (which smelled like intentional bias to these nostrils) or that they felt that doing so made comprehension of the name "easier" for westerners.

Around the same era I'd often read mainstream, professional reviews of Asian movies or interviews with Asian film workers that, again because of western bias (and/or this strange need for everything to cater to English speakers, I guess), would honestly mistake the given name for the family name because it appeared 'second' in the order. For example, a review of an American Chow Yun-Fat movie where after the initial mention of his full name, "Yun-Fat" was used to identify him throughout the rest of the review, in the same way that his co-stars were short-handed as 'Sorvino', 'Rooker', 'Prochnow', etc. As in: "Yun-Fat and Sorvino have a real chemistry here." That makes sense? It drove me nuts, that well-paid critics couldn't bother to at least research the conventions of Chinese names.

I suppose Hong Kong stars and filmmakers were luckier than their Japanese or Korean counterparts because so many Hong Konger's also had English given names that they actually used: Jackie, Jet, Andy, Michelle, Donnie, Tony, Tony, etc. Studio execs and marketers could simply dump the Chinese given name. For others, though, the dual names inevitably introduced another needless layer of confusion regarding how to 'present' their names in the fullest manner possible: "Tony Leung Chiu-wai" or the awkward "Leung Chiu-Wai, Tony". It boggles the mind that people could see fit to use the latter; for gawd's sake, he's Tony Leung over here; he's Leung Chiu-Wai over there. It's obvious that "Tony Leung Chiu-Wai" respects both naming conventions in one fell swoop. And it 'reads' cleanly. Frankly, it was accepted as the norm for decades . . . until the flipping started.

And the flipping continues. Not everyone does it, thankfully, but in my book that means it shouldn't be done at all. But it's too late to be a stickler now. It creates more confusion than it alleviates, though, and it makes readers/viewers culturally dismissive because the deep-rooted and meaningful traditions of 'others' are perceived as being easily bent to our western demands for convenience. I realize many may disagree with me on that count. I think the TIFF programmer, though, got it right in this case by honoring Japanese tradition, but clearly programmers and translators may need to discuss 'usage' beforehand from now on if translators – especially young ones – are going to start making these adjustments based purely on what they think Western audiences expect to hear.

I wouldn't expect my English name to be 'reversed' by people transliterating it (or whatever) into Korean or Chinese or what have you, so I've never been comfortable doing the same with Asian names. The transliterated spelling should match the ordering of the Asian characters in the name. What bothers me about your TIFF example and the relatively recent emergence of this trend over the past decade is that so few overseas Asians seem to care.

I also noticed the capitalized surnames on Korean DVDs (and even many U.S. releases of Korean films) and have long thought it to be an excellent solution. As Koreans in Korea have never felt pressured to take on English given names (it's a different story in the diaspora), that's one less thing for westerners to contend with. While I still prefer surnames first, because that actually matches the Korean characters on screen, at least capitalizing the surnames, regardless of where it sits, does seem to trigger an awareness in viewers in no time at all.

(Related anecdote: I also remember one contributor to a now-defunct forum suddenly deciding to use "Corea" instead of "Korea" because he'd read that the original transliteration "Corea" was changed to "Korea" by the Japanese during the occupation, because "K" comes after "J". The evidence for this at the time was circumstantial, but the notion briefly caught fire around the turn of the century, so this guy decided to pick up the baton and run with it. Sometimes cultural respect can go overboard. In the long run, nothing changed, but I'm not sure if he ever re-edited his reviews to put all the K's back ).

Last edited by Brian T; 09-15-20 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 09-15-20, 11:16 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

I prefer Japanese names in credits to have the given name first and the family name second since that's how I grew up reading them. It throws me off when distributors put the names in English in the Japanese order. In Japanese pop music concert DVDs, aimed entirely at Japanese audiences and never shown subtitled, the end credits are usually entirely in English and the names of the performers and crew members are listed with given name first and family name second.

Like this:



Hong Kong movie credits are another matter since I didn't start obsessively watching them until near middle age. So I always knew Chow Yun-Fat as Chow Yun-Fat and never as Yun-Fat Chow, which I don't believe he was ever called. When HK stars have English names it gets confusing because, for instance, if you mention Brigitte Lin to Taiwanese audiences they won't know who you're talking about. You have to say Lin Ching Hsia so they'll know who you're talking about. The HK studios often added an English name to a Hong Kong star's name because it sounds like their Chinese name. For instance, Linda Lin Dai's real name was Lin Dai, so they called her Linda Lin Dai overseas, which is kind of redundant.

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Old 09-15-20, 11:26 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

L Everett Scott & Brian T,
Very fascinating discussion! I don't have much input on it other than being confused by all the switching back and forth over the years, and trying to keep up. Although I understand the idea that switching the naming syntax when speaking one language vs the other is done for the purpose of avoiding confusion for the western audiences, it does seem that the act itself causes more confusion, but we're so far down this rabbit hole that turning back is near impossible.

I think the TIFF programmer, though, got it right in this case by honoring Japanese tradition, but clearly programmers and translators may need to discuss 'usage' beforehand from now on if translators – especially young ones – are going to start making these adjustments based purely on what they think Western audiences expect to hear.
This makes sense to me, and I would go with the side that is most respectful to the guests themselves, not the audience. I would also think that calling out the translator in front of the audience is maybe not the best way to handle that if prior discussions didn't happen. I don't know how that played out in this specific case, but it would absolutely suck if it turned into a viral "thing" where people start harassing either person for it happening in a public way.
edit: I may have misread. I thought y'all said the programmer was telling the translator to use the traditional naming, but it seems like, instead, the programmer was continually using the traditional naming while the translator was doing the opposite when speaking English, but they didn't get corrected or discuss this issue openly?
Old 09-15-20, 12:24 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
I prefer Japanese names in credits to have the given name first and the family name second since that's how I grew up reading them. It throws me off when distributors put the names in English in the Japanese order. In Japanese pop music concert DVDs, aimed entirely at Japanese audiences and never shown subtitled, the end credits are usually entirely in English and the names of the performers and crew members are listed with given name first and family name second.

. . .

Hong Kong movie credits are another matter since I didn't start obsessively watching them until near middle age. So I always knew Chow Yun-Fat as Chow Yun-Fat and never as Yun-Fat Chow, which I don't believe he was ever called. When HK stars have English names it gets confusing because, for instance, if you mention Brigitte Lin to Taiwanese audiences they won't know who you're talking about. You have to say Lin Ching Hsia so they'll know who you're talking about. The HK studios often added an English name to a Hong Kong star's name because it sounds like their Chinese name. For instance, Linda Lin Dai's real name was Lin Dai, so they called her Linda Lin Dai overseas, which is kind of redundant.
Interesting. Your screencap suddenly reminds me I've likewise seen Japanese names ordered the 'western' way for quite a while now, at least on North American releases of anime and movies, so I guess the western method has won out on that front. Much to my dismay. I'm pretty sure I've seen a Japanese movie or two where the subs capitalize Japanese surnames to aid the viewer, but those were rarities presumably because unlike in Chinese and Korean, Japanese given names are "one word" so to speak, and not hyphenates (a la 'Yun-Fat") that should make it easier to spot the given name. Perhaps this is what led to the adoption of westernized given-then-surname credits on Japanese shows? If I recall correctly, English subs on Hong Kong DVDs of Japanese movies back in the day – which were my primary method of seeing Japanese films instead of waiting for US distributors to get off their asses – put the surname first, given name second, which matched the onscreen Japanese 'order', and was more akin to what Hong Kongers were used to doing with their own names, in Chinese (obviously) and English. Except where an English first name was a factor, which it was – and still is – for probably 80% of the people who worked in the Hong Kong industry.

Further to the Lin Dai example, and probably even more on-the-nose, might be people like Carina Lau Ka-ling, Maggie Chan Mai-Kei, David Wu Dai-Wai, Season Ma Si-San, Bill Tung Biu (he often played Jackie Chan's police boss), James Ha Chim-Si (sound that one out a bit), Pauline Yeung Bo-ling, the late Pauline Chan Bo-lin. In those cases, the English names were probably pretty easily arrived at. (actually there were a few Bo-Lins, Bo-Lings and Bo-Lams in the HK industry who affixed 'Pauline" as their English monikers). In most cases, though, Hong Kong people have simply taken English names, or given them to their children, because that became the 'westernizing' tradition in that particular British colony and it's remained in place post-handover. It's also handy as a way to separate themselves from the not well-loved Mainlanders with all their X's, Q's and Z's. Bilingual locals also knew there were advantages to having "two" names – one for each world – especially after emigrating.

You're right about folks in Taiwan or Hong Kong often not knowing who you're talking about if you mention "Brigitte Lin" or "Maggie Cheung" or whomever. It's true that the English names are largely meaningless and unnecessary to native speakers in casual conversation. However, I've rarely seen a Hong Kong music CD that didn't have the performers English first name emblazoned across the artwork, often much larger than their Chinese name, and on their concert posters, stage sets, etc. Another interesting memory is seeing Johnnie To's FULL TIME KILLER at TIFF Midnight Madness a couple of decades ago with To, Wai Ka-Fai, Simon Yam and Andy Lau in attendance. The latter was a huge draw, and the theater was packed with an inordinate number of screeching, fanatical young ex-pat Hong Kong Chinese girls holding up large pink poster-board hearts covered in glitter and battery-powered lights with "ANDY" spelled out in giant English letters, so clearly in some cases the English names carry value even with native speakers.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Originally Posted by Dan
L Everett Scott & Brian T,
Very fascinating discussion! I don't have much input on it other than being confused by all the switching back and forth over the years, and trying to keep up. Although I understand the idea that switching the naming syntax when speaking one language vs the other is done for the purpose of avoiding confusion for the western audiences, it does seem that the act itself causes more confusion, but we're so far down this rabbit hole that turning back is near impossible.

This makes sense to me, and I would go with the side that is most respectful to the guests themselves, not the audience. I would also think that calling out the translator in front of the audience is maybe not the best way to handle that if prior discussions didn't happen. I don't know how that played out in this specific case, but it would absolutely suck if it turned into a viral "thing" where people start harassing either person for it happening in a public way.
edit: I may have misread. I thought y'all said the programmer was telling the translator to use the traditional naming, but it seems like, instead, the programmer was continually using the traditional naming while the translator was doing the opposite when speaking English, but they didn't get corrected or discuss this issue openly?
I have to agree. Turning back now is impossible. It's amazing what a mess it's become in less than 20 years. But I suppose it was inevitable as the internet gradually brought cultures – and their entertainments – together for sharing. Me, I'll stick to the traditional usage in my own writing, but like many here I'm far enough along in my love for Asian cinema that my brain automatically 'switches back' whenever I see people doing it wrong.

I suspect you're right about the situation between the programmer and translator. Doesn't sound like they discussed it beforehand, but it also sounds like they both just did their own thing and stayed polite. Can't say for sure as I haven't seen it, but hopefully TIFF will post these Q&A's for the public to enjoy once the fest is over, as they usually do.

Last edited by Brian T; 09-15-20 at 12:44 PM.
Old 09-15-20, 04:15 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

From my own personal experience, Korean names has always been written as surname first, given name second. However, here in Canada, I have to write my name in the Western manner, otherwise people will get confused.
Old 09-16-20, 02:28 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Brian T
Nope, this is fascinating to me as well, because I've never agreed with the practice. Nothing personal, of course! You and the translator aren't alone in 'flipping' names like this. The trend has emerged slowly over time, but I've never thought it necessary.
I get where you're coming from and totally respect your position. I used to be more of a stickler and tried to stay with the convention of the culture of the people I was discussing.

What eventually changed my mind were Japanese names. Great directors like Ozu and Kurosawa were referred to as 'Yasujiro Ozu' and 'Akira Kurosawa' in the most respected circles, such as the venerable (and sorely missed) Midnighteye.com and Criterion. Even genre veteran Miike was almost exclusively referred to in English language journals and reviews as 'Takashi Miike'. (I suspect that if some writer insisted on using the Japanese convention when talking about him, people unfamiliar with the director would think there was an auteur named 'Mike Takashi'.)

Then, of course, Google jumped on the same bandwagon. If you search, for example, 'Kore-eda movies' you get back a title that reads 'Hirokazu Koreeda movies'. I just tried 'Kore-eda Hirokazu movies' as the search and Google still came back with the westernized version of his name.

Then there's IMDB which consistently westernizes everyone's name. Yes, I totally agree that's a bastardization of the names where surnames come first. Having said that, there's a saying among editors that applies here: it's better to be consistently wrong than to be inconsistent. By always putting the surname last, IMDB makes it clear which is the given name and which is the family name.

Compare this with Rotten Tomatoes: I did a search on that site for Zhang Ziyi since she asked to be called 'Ziyi Zhang' a while back and guess what? RT consistently refers to her as 'Zhang Ziyi'. Fine. Then I started to scroll down the films listed for her and found she starred in a 2011 movie called Love For Life (Til Death Do Us Part) with 'Wenli Jiang'.

This is not at all helpful for folks unfamiliar with names from the Far East. Having the Chinese order for Zhang Ziyi and then the western order for Jiang Wenli in the same database entry is going to tie readers up in knots (or at least those who might have some inkling of the inconsistency).

I can certainly understand people thinking what IMDB does is disrepectful. By the same token, they picked one convention for everyone so there's no confusion.

Originally Posted by Brian T
I'd often read mainstream, professional reviews of Asian movies or interviews with Asian film workers that, again because of western bias (and/or this strange need for everything to cater to English speakers, I guess), would honestly mistake the given name for the family name because it appeared 'second' in the order.
Those sorts of mistakes have definitely hit the mainstream. On an episode of Jeopardy, a PRC history question came up where (IIRC) the answer was supposed to be Deng Xiaoping. The contestant answered 'Xiaoping' and Alex Trebeck replied, 'Yes. Deng Xiaoping.' This was in the broadcast, so the judges and researchers obviously did not jump in. I'm pretty sure Trebeck or at least the judges would've said something if it were a U.S. history question and the contestant just said 'Richard' instead of 'Nixon'.

Originally Posted by Dan
I thought y'all said the programmer was telling the translator to use the traditional naming, but it seems like, instead, the programmer was continually using the traditional naming while the translator was doing the opposite when speaking English, but they didn't get corrected or discuss this issue openly?
Correct--the programmer kept referring to her guests as Nishikawa Miwa and Yashuko Koji while the translator kept using the western convention, calling the director 'Miwa Nishikawa' and referring to 'Ryuzo Saki', the novelist upon whose work the film is based. No one called out anyone about the name order--this was a Canadian speaking to Japanese people, making it the Ultimate Battle of Politeness. I most certainly wouldn't put a wager on who wins that contest.

One thing I hadn't noticed until just now: the TIFF site follows the IMDB convention and puts all surnames last. This means the programmer conducting the Q&A is actually a subversive, possibly a member of Brian T's group.

Originally Posted by Brian T
unlike in Chinese and Korean, Japanese given names are "one word" so to speak, and not hyphenates (a la 'Yun-Fat") that should make it easier to spot the given name.
And then along came the Mainlanders with their single given names (Jiang Wen, Deng Chao, Sun Li, etc.) to mess things up.

For anyone who's ready to tap out at this point, might I recommend some helpful sites:

https://www.dianying.com/en/ <-- Chinese Movie Database (contains both Mandarin and Cantonese Romanizations with surnames in caps for the latter)

https://jfdb.jp/en/ <-- Japanese Film Database (surnames in caps)

https://www.hancinema.net <-- Korean film and TV database (surnames in caps)

Originally Posted by Brian T
Another interesting memory is seeing Johnnie To's FULL TIME KILLER at TIFF Midnight Madness a couple of decades ago with To, Wai Ka-Fai, Simon Yam and Andy Lau in attendance. The latter was a huge draw, and the theater was packed with an inordinate number of screeching, fanatical young ex-pat Hong Kong Chinese girls holding up large pink poster-board hearts covered in glitter and battery-powered lights with "ANDY" spelled out in giant English letters, so clearly in some cases the English names carry value even with native speakers.
I think some reviewers should have consulted with those die-hard Andy fans before publishing their pieces on Infernal Affairs. That would've saved them some embarrassment as the Andy devotees would've been quick to point out that their idol did not do double duty and as star and co-director.

For anyone who doesn't know what I'm referring to, Infernal Affairs stars Andy Lau and was co-directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak. The star is Andy Lau Tak-Wah while the director is Andrew Lau Wai-Keung. It's kind of like Paul Thomas Anderson and Paul W.S. Anderson. (Don't get me started on the two Australian directors named George Miller.)

Originally Posted by Brian T
hopefully TIFF will post these Q&A's for the public to enjoy once the fest is over, as they usually do.
TIFF has actually been posting the Q&As on Youtube on the day of the movie's digital release. I'm thankful that they did this because the links on the TIFF site for the bonus content haven't been working for me.


Old 09-17-20, 10:06 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
I get where you're coming from and totally respect your position. I used to be more of a stickler and tried to stay with the convention of the culture of the people I was discussing.

What eventually changed my mind were Japanese names. Great directors like Ozu and Kurosawa were referred to as 'Yasujiro Ozu' and 'Akira Kurosawa' in the most respected circles, such as the venerable (and sorely missed) Midnighteye.com and Criterion. Even genre veteran Miike was almost exclusively referred to in English language journals and reviews as 'Takashi Miike'. (I suspect that if some writer insisted on using the Japanese convention when talking about him, people unfamiliar with the director would think there was an auteur named 'Mike Takashi'.)

Then, of course, Google jumped on the same bandwagon. If you search, for example, 'Kore-eda movies' you get back a title that reads 'Hirokazu Koreeda movies'. I just tried 'Kore-eda Hirokazu movies' as the search and Google still came back with the westernized version of his name.

Then there's IMDB which consistently westernizes everyone's name. Yes, I totally agree that's a bastardization of the names where surnames come first. Having said that, there's a saying among editors that applies here: it's better to be consistently wrong than to be inconsistent. By always putting the surname last, IMDB makes it clear which is the given name and which is the family name.
I certainly can't disagree with this because I've seen it with my own eyes, but it's still disheartening because it was never really necessary, and all of these people in all of these cultures still write their names, in their native language, surname first. But obviously, western priorities win out as usual, even if all they've done is sow more confusion. At least with the Japanese names, the 'switching' started so long ago that it's indeed become the norm. The rest are simply falling in line, I guess. How deferential of them!

It's especially disheartening for Hong Kong names, because for decades there really was a consistent naming convention for English transliteration of those names: surname first, hyphenated given name second (even if the hyphen was a western addition not present in the original Chinese characters). As I mentioned above, this worked great with so many HK people having English given names as well. There was, and is, a very logical flow to 'Tony Leung Chiu-wai' that respected both languages and their 'ordering', and it could be shortened to whichever version a person was comfortable with: he's Tony Leung, and he's Leung Chiu-wai. As per IMDb now, though, he's "Tony Chiu-Wai Leung", which makes his given Chinese birth name seem like a middle name. This kind of shit made me tap out ages ago, to be honest. In my HK reviews, though, I've stuck to the simplest, cleanest convention that was in place long before the web complicated things. Incidentally, that hyphen in Kore-eda certainly aids pronunciation, but I've encountered people who think that's his given name. Sigh.

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
Compare this with Rotten Tomatoes: I did a search on that site for Zhang Ziyi since she asked to be called 'Ziyi Zhang' a while back and guess what? RT consistently refers to her as 'Zhang Ziyi'. Fine. Then I started to scroll down the films listed for her and found she starred in a 2011 movie called Love For Life (Til Death Do Us Part) with 'Wenli Jiang'.
Interesting that you bring her up. In her Ambassador's Message for TIFF 2020, she refers to herself the 'right' way, as ZHANG Ziyi. And I think because her fame precedes this whole mess, a lot of people still feel compelled to refer to her or introduce her that way, as TIFF has done during her fest appearances.

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
I can certainly understand people thinking what IMDB does is disrepectful. By the same token, they picked one convention for everyone so there's no confusion.
I've always assumed this had something to do with the structure of a website like that, i.e. the entry of information, because confusion hasn't entirely been avoided to those who instinctively know that surnames take precedence in Asia. Presumably IMDb editors use fields for "first name" and "last name" and have set those to display one way only for ease of use, even if it has forced Asian names to fit an English/western mold.

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
Those sorts of mistakes have definitely hit the mainstream. On an episode of Jeopardy, a PRC history question came up where (IIRC) the answer was supposed to be Deng Xiaoping. The contestant answered 'Xiaoping' and Alex Trebeck replied, 'Yes. Deng Xiaoping.' This was in the broadcast, so the judges and researchers obviously did not jump in. I'm pretty sure Trebeck or at least the judges would've said something if it were a U.S. history question and the contestant just said 'Richard' instead of 'Nixon'.
This is a perfect illustration of why this 'reversal' has been damaging. I can't count the number of people that I've watched, listened to or met who – because they are accustomed, historically, to Asian names being 'reversed' from western names – automatically assume that Xiaoping, for example, is a family name. And how many people watching that Jeopardy episode came away thinking the same thing going forward: "Boy, Mr. Xiaoping sure was a swell fella!" (this is all the worse because there's only like, two or three Chinese family names that have two syllables [i.e. Auyeung, sometimes hyphenated for even more confusion] and Xiaoping ain't one of 'em).

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
One thing I hadn't noticed until just now: the TIFF site follows the IMDB convention and puts all surnames last. This means the programmer conducting the Q&A is actually a subversive, possibly a member of Brian T's group.
Oh, I've noticed this for a few years, and can remember when TIFF didn't force the westernized ordering (I recall capitalized surnames, but may be misremembering that). I also remember when my subversive methodology was simply the norm. Yay internets - you've made me a fugitive, part of an underground movement . . . and created a few more, to boot!

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
And then along came the Mainlanders with their single given names (Jiang Wen, Deng Chao, Sun Li, etc.) to mess things up.
Even worse, and I'm not sure when this took hold, but mainlanders long ago seemed to drop the hyphenation from English transliterations of their give names. See: Zhang Ziyi or Jiang Wenli above. This, to me, was less harmful because, theoretically, one should sense that the two-syllable word is the given name. Of course, the single given names really throw a wrench in the works, not aided much by the web.

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
For anyone who's ready to tap out at this point, might I recommend some helpful sites:
Those are regular haunts for me, but the clumps of hair on the floor around me suggest that the damage is done!

Just abandon me here - save yourselves!!!

Last edited by Brian T; 09-17-20 at 10:11 AM.
Old 09-17-20, 10:28 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
TIFF has actually been posting the Q&As on Youtube on the day of the movie's digital release. I'm thankful that they did this because the links on the TIFF site for the bonus content haven't been working for me.
Almost forgot. I did notice this not long after mentioning it earlier, and have been enjoying quite a few of them. One advantage of this smaller festival has been that the Q&A's are instantly accessible because they're pre-recorded. During regular fests, TIFF records many (though not all) of the Q&As but there's a delay getting them edited and online. In some ways, these Zoom versions (or whatever they're using) are better because you don't have to suffer through some of the inane audience questions thrown out at live screenings.

I've been saying for a few years now that TIFF should offer digital screenings to complement the live events. It seemed like such a no-brainer as streaming took hold, and it would've allowed people to see sold-out shows at their own leisure, or saved them money on travel to and accommodations in Toronto. I'm betting they'll keep the digital option once the fest returns to normal. Now that the structure is in place, it's an easy revenue stream they'll want to take advantage of going forward. I'm curious to see the financials for this year's fest, assuming they share it. I'm sure the revenue is way down, but there's probably some hope in the numbers.

Last edited by Brian T; 09-17-20 at 10:34 AM.
Old 09-18-20, 03:27 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Saw a couple of Mainland Chinese films at TIFF earlier this week:

76 DAYS is a documentary from US-based director Hao Wu (or Wu Hao, as it should properly be written ), shot in four hospitals in Wuhan, China during the first few months of the pandemic. Wu wasn't present for the filming, however. New York-based but trapped in Atlanta due to COVID-19, he assembled excellent HD footage captured by cameraman Chen Weixi (apparently 'embedded' on behalf of Esquire Magazine's China edition) and a Wuhan photojournalist-turned-videographer billed only as Anonymous, as well as a small team of support shooters. The pair had actually declined to work with him while he still had the backing of a U.S. network – leading to an attempt to shoot his own version of the story in NYC, which was abandoned due to legal clearances, HPIAA laws, etc. – but quarantining allowed him the time to cut together the Chinese footage and lure the duo back once the network dropped out. The decision of the local photographer to hide behind anonymity is somewhat surprising as the film isn't overtly political. Certainly viewers can infer things about life under an authoritarian government in the way that neither the harried hospital staff – covered head to toe in PPE with only their beleaguered eyes expressing their swirling frustration, exhaustion and compassion through their goggles – nor any of the 'featured' patients express explicit ill will against the government or its policies and delay tactics that put them all in this situation (with the rest of the planet soon to follow), nor would they, especially with cameras running, but throughout the focus is on a soon to be commonplace sight: overwhelmed medicos trying to help people fight a disease that manifests itself so differently from one patient to the next: a wandering grandpa with dementia who goes from politely confused to belligerent to utterly hopeless and back again; a pregnant couple whose baby girl is born infected; various seniors and middle-aged people with symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening. The reality, which the footage underlines in the most humanistic way possible, is that everyone in these hospitals – patients and doctors alike – are fighting something they don't yet understand. Their work – and Wu's film – largely boils down to scrambling to accommodate an early influx of sick, worried people, monitoring symptoms, communicating support (often in a "you must be a good citizen" collectivist manner because hey cameras) and ultimately waiting to see who lives or dies. The film ends on a touching if false note, as a nurse cleans and returns belongings of the deceased to their loved ones, finally removing her gear to reveal a face lined with creases from the straps and folds of her goggles and mask. It's heartbreaking stuff, but there's a sense of finality imparted – that they've done their job, Wuhan is opening back up, and everything's heading back to normal – that seems designed to follow the party line of a potentially retaliatory government all these months later (with memories fresh of their disastrous preemptive strike against the Wuhan doctors who tried to alert the world to the seriousness of the virus in the first place, but were shamed and jailed for their efforts). It's a move that makes sense both dramatically and politically, and will surely sit well with a leadership that needs the world to believe that it stamped out the virus on home soil months ago, but it leaves the show feeling like a portion of a vastly larger, more complex story. In the Q&A Wu says that finding a distributor might be difficult because there are bound to be countless other COVID docs coming down the pipeline; I think this one might well be combined with those as part of an anthology series that illustrates the global path of the pandemic, its effects on different cultures, and the reactions of their governments. In this sense, 76 DAYS would be an compelling first episode.

THE BEST IS YET TO COME is a politically-minded film, which is hardly surprising with powerhouse director Jia Zhang-ke serving as producer here to his long-time assistant director Wang Jing, whose gritty, emotionally affecting debut feature this is. But it's safely political by virtue of being set in the wayback days of 2003 (the era of SARS, not coincidentally) and depicting a determined young former factory worker (Bai Ke) – new to Beijing from the sticks with girlfriend in tow, possessed of a strong writing talent and an unwavering dream of being a news reporter, but ridiculed by the nouveau elites for his lack of formal education – cajoling his way into the bustling newsroom of a daily paper as an intern. He earns his stripes tagging along on exposés (including a mine cave-in wherein the owner, played by Jia, is found to be buying the silence of survivors and victims' families to keep the government from sniffing around) then independently follows a lead that rips open a massive medical scam. At the time, the CCP's scientifically antiquated policies and beliefs ensured that over 100 million innocent Chinese afflicted with Hepatitis B (by birth, transfusion, or sex) were barred from holding jobs or going to school. The racket involves an underground network of shadowy but ultimately sympathetic middle-men and side-dealing medical professionals faking coveted, mandatory health reports to allow these people to purposefully join a society that, thanks to the lies of its draconian leadership, believes that just being near them leads to infection. Exposing the system, however, risks certain devastation for those who need it the most, forcing Bai to make some difficult judgment calls. Based on a true story – the real-life journalist behind this shift in policy has a small role in the film – this transplants the plot construction and race-the-clock pacing of the better American 'newspaper' thrillers (The Post, Zodiac, Spotlight, All The President's Men, etc.) to the often blighted landscapes of a country not known for being particularly kind to journalists who try to break up the status quo. But clearly that's what happened here, which makes this all the more compelling on a humanistic level to know that journalists can – or could, anyway – expose discriminatory government practices and not be silenced for their efforts. Leading man Bai is apparently a big "social media star" in China, but unlike so many of his American counterparts he seems to be an actor with some measure of skill and conviction even if his earlier roles in superficial comedies and fantasies gave little indication. Two scenes, one involving a pen, the other a newspaper, are a bit on-the-nose about the enlightening power of journalism, but in the Mainland China context, they're hugely inspired.

These are the kinds of movies that deserve to gain traction in the west, and which might go some way to bridging the growing divide between the two worlds, but instead party fronts like Wellgo will continue to take on the latest high-tech propaganda epics featuring pose-striking avatars representing government policies in place of actual human beings, the kind displayed so thoughtfully in these two pictures.

Old 09-19-20, 01:00 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by IBJoel
I just watched #Alive on Netflix last night. I found it to be pretty bad. If there is one thing I can't stand, it's frustratingly incompetent characters in a zombie movie.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ8CCg1tOqc
I watched it earlier tonight and didn't find it very memorable.

In approach, it reminded me of so many other Zombie films including The Night Eats Itself (2018).

I thought the first 15-minutes were fantastic though and wished more of the film mirrored that.
Old 09-20-20, 11:23 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Brian T
76 DAYS is a documentary from US-based director Hao Wu (or Wu Hao, as it should properly be written)
That confusion about name order you mentioned is in full effect. I've read at least two reviews of this doc where the writers--bless them--were trying their best with Wu's name but didn't realize it was westernized and wound up repeatedly referring to him as 'Hao'.

This movie was TIFF screening #4 for me, and I found it packed an emotional wallop. Watching the nurses, doctors, and volunteers deal with endless waves of scared and ill admittees was a bit of an endurance test if I'm being completely honest. I get the sense that Wu wants to people to feel what it's like to be at the front lines, which is why most of the film's front end is spent inside the hospitals.

The footage is non-judgmental and it epitomizes the unblinking eye that takes in all the events unfolding before it. While the film doesn't sensationalize the Wuhan crisis, it also contains few breaks for the viewer. It's not until about the last third where it spends a significant amount of time with the young couple wanting to see their baby that the doc provides some respite from the anxiety, grief, and frustration of the patients and some of the hospital staff.

Originally Posted by Brian T
there's a sense of finality imparted – that they've done their job, Wuhan is opening back up, and everything's heading back to normal – that seems designed to follow the party line of a potentially retaliatory government all these months later (with memories fresh of their disastrous preemptive strike against the Wuhan doctors who tried to alert the world to the seriousness of the virus in the first place, but were shamed and jailed for their efforts). It's a move that makes sense both dramatically and politically, and will surely sit well with a leadership that needs the world to believe that it stamped out the virus on home soil months ago, but it leaves the show feeling like a portion of a vastly larger, more complex story.
Very well observed, Brian. I thought the choice to put Yang Li's family notifications at the end along with the remembrance of those died was Wu refusing to go with an upbeat ending by concluding with the release of the recovered patients.

But your take is totally valid. When I think back on that closing segment with Yang calling families of the deceased, the film does seem to suggest a sense of closure, like it's saying, 'We should take a moment to remember the fallen before moving on.' The fact is that we do see people being discharged as healthcare workers happily wave goodbye, which implies that they've done their job and saved people so it's time for patients and medical staff alike to move on. That would indeed be in line with the Chinese government's narrative.

Originally Posted by Brian T
The decision of the local photographer to hide behind anonymity is somewhat surprising as the film isn't overtly political.
Not overtly, but as you pointed out, Wu has put together a film that should meet with Mainland approval. I saw nothing subversive in the doc; the most controversial part is early on when the nurse loses her cool with the mass of people threatening to force their way in.

On the contrary, the few minutes where the son is speaking to the man suffering from dementia is extremely government-friendly. I'm sure if I were to watch more jingoistic Mainland movies I'd come across something along the lines of what the son says about being a good Party member means being a good role model.

One side note: I guess in the Mainland they aren't too bothered about clearances for documentaries. The montage with Yang calling the families is filled with full names of the deceased. I suppose it's possible that the two journalists followed up with those families to get their permission to allow the names of their deceased loved ones to be mentioned in the doc, but my gut is telling that didn't happen.

asianxcore : I haven't seen #Alive, but since you compared it to The Night Eats the World, my guess is that it's one of those apocalypse movies where people are trapped in their apartments which still have power, running water, and internet access. For most of the running time of TNEtW, I was wondering when the power was going to cut out. Didn't it take weeks (or months) for the
Spoiler:
water pressure to finally drop to zero in the apartment building?


I've lived in places where there'll be a power failure if a strong enough gust of wind blows through. As a result, I have trouble suspending my disbelief when an apocalypse hits, but utilities continue without interruption.
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Old 09-21-20, 10:53 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

The Bride with White Hair is getting a mew BD from a 4K source November 9 from Eureka!

https://whysoblu.com/the-bride-with-...vember-9-2020/



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Old 09-22-20, 05:44 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Why So Blu?
The Bride with White Hair is getting a mew BD from a 4K source November 9 from Eureka!

https://whysoblu.com/the-bride-with-...vember-9-2020/
Yes!

Looks like I'm FINALLY adding this film to my shelves.
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Old 09-22-20, 05:46 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
asianxcore : I haven't seen #Alive, but since you compared it to The Night Eats the World, my guess is that it's one of those apocalypse movies where people are trapped in their apartments which still have power, running water, and internet access. For most of the running time of TNEtW, I was wondering when the power was going to cut out. Didn't it take weeks (or months) for the
Spoiler:
water pressure to finally drop to zero in the apartment building?




I've lived in places where there'll be a power failure if a strong enough gust of wind blows through. As a result, I have trouble suspending my disbelief when an apocalypse hits, but utilities continue without interruption.
I'm glad someone else saw that film.

I didn't know if it was too random to be comparing the two films but they do have a lot in common!

The approach is similar and at least one of the things you mentioned is shared among both films.
Old 09-22-20, 08:16 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by asianxcore
Yes!

Looks like I'm FINALLY adding this film to my shelves.

That Eureka edition will be region B locked, so make sure you a have region free player.
Old 09-22-20, 10:33 PM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Why So Blu?
That Eureka edition will be region B locked, so make sure you a have region free player.
Thanks for the heads up! I do have a Region-Free BD player, so I'm all set!

I've always avoided the DVD releases of the film because every release of it (sans the Australian release) has been Non-Anamorphic.
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Old 09-23-20, 10:39 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
That confusion about name order you mentioned is in full effect. I've read at least two reviews of this doc where the writers--bless them--were trying their best with Wu's name but didn't realize it was westernized and wound up repeatedly referring to him as 'Hao'.
We're past the point of no return now!

I did, however, find an IMDb listing that violates the 'format' we discussed above, for Taiwanese actress Gwei Lun-mei. Shh, don't tell them or they'll take away my pathetic little victory.

This one's amusing because virtually every entry in her filmography includes, in parentheses, "as Lun-Mei Kwai" even though that's not how her name is transliterated to English in the vast majority of the credit screens. It's usually "Kwai Lun-mei"

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
But your take is totally valid. When I think back on that closing segment with Yang calling families of the deceased, the film does seem to suggest a sense of closure, like it's saying, 'We should take a moment to remember the fallen before moving on.' The fact is that we do see people being discharged as healthcare workers happily wave goodbye, which implies that they've done their job and saved people so it's time for patients and medical staff alike to move on. That would indeed be in line with the Chinese government's narrative.

Not overtly, but as you pointed out, Wu has put together a film that should meet with Mainland approval. I saw nothing subversive in the doc; the most controversial part is early on when the nurse loses her cool with the mass of people threatening to force their way in.
Well put. It's probably odd that I said the 76 HOURS wasn't overtly political, then went on to outline how it is, essentially, political, even if in the sense that it treads some very fine lines.


Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
On the contrary, the few minutes where the son is speaking to the man suffering from dementia is extremely government-friendly. I'm sure if I were to watch more jingoistic Mainland movies I'd come across something along the lines of what the son says about being a good Party member means being a good role model.
That moment was key for me, in that the son seemed rather insensitive – by western standards, of course – to his increasingly addled and frightened father, yet clearly mindful that he was "on camera" and thus needed to be heard saying the right things. When you realize that "party allegiance" is probably all this old man had to define his sense of self-worth throughout his life, and that his own family pushes him to "behave" according to the CCP's "it's not about you, it's about us" philosophy while seemingly remaining resistant to accepting him back at the end of the film, it made him seem all the more tragic despite his relatively painless recovery. But again, I doubt the government will take exception. The presence of the cameras undoubtedly ensured that many participants, not just the son on the phone, would espouse some variation on the Party line and by default show no ill will toward a government that exacerbated their existing hardships, but it was telling to see the old man spit venom about anyone who'd judge his Party loyalty while simultaneously suggesting that none of it matters in his current circumstances. In my mind, I couldn't help but think that some small part of him sensed through that fog of mild dementia that his government failed him, even though he ultimately recovers (with little help from the hospital beyond isolation and monitoring, if you really think about it).

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott
One side note: I guess in the Mainland they aren't too bothered about clearances for documentaries.
Wu mentioned this in his Q&A, and that realization certainly offers an interesting contrast to hurdles faced by documentarians in the west, where every potential legal attack must be preempted before putting someone on screen because legions of lawyers are just itching for opportunities. In China, though, the seemingly comparative freedom of access for filming is tempered by a government just itching for opportunities to stamp out freedom of speech, which makes the western model infinitely preferable to these eyes, especially to those who understand the importance of being critical of China, something better done from afar . . . for now (at least until China pulls off some galling abduction on foreign soil under their new "Security Law", something they seem to claim the fine print 'allows' them to do).



- - - - - - - - -


Originally Posted by Why So Blu?
The Bride with White Hair is getting a mew BD from a 4K source November 9 from Eureka!
Originally Posted by asianxcore
I've always avoided the DVD releases of the film because every release of it (sans the Australian release) has been Non-Anamorphic.
Eager to get that BRIDE disc, but I wish they could've included the sequel as a bonus. The second one's nowhere near as good as the first, but it probably won't get a release on its own. It's director, David Wu Dai-Wai (heheh) was a top film editor for decades (with sidelines in music scoring and acting in small roles), including on BRIDE 1, and his participation in a new, 81-minute interview for Eureka's BRIDE edition (alongside nearly two hours of other new interviews!) suggests he'll have more than enough time to discuss his involvement in both films.

One of my last remaining haunts for Hong Kong DVDs and Blu-rays here in Toronto has been slowly going out of business over the past few months, closing some time in October. I've probably been their largest and most consistent benefactor over the last 25 years, but their Blu-rays were mostly priced outside my comfort zone ($38 - $53+ CDN), so I stuck to cleaning out their VCD then DVD sections over the years. Now that I can afford the discounted Blu-rays, I've been cleaning those out, too, but because this Eureka edition of BRIDE has been on my radar for a while I continually hesitate at grabbing their Hong Kong 'remastered' editions of BRIDE 1 & 2 (both individually and in a combo pack that seems to have some sort of bonus item stuffed inside the slipcover), even discounted. Not surprisingly, they have few supplements and only the dreaded 7.1 soundtracks that HK distributors seem to love so much. I'm not sure whether either of the Hong Kong editions are upscales, but considering how long that practice has been going on (ugh) I wouldn't be surprised. Still, I have enough doubts about BRIDE 2 getting a decent UK or US release that I may just grab the HK edition and suffer with it.

Last edited by Brian T; 09-23-20 at 10:56 AM.
Old 09-24-20, 12:57 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Brian T
One of my last remaining haunts for Hong Kong DVDs and Blu-rays here in Toronto has been slowly going out of business over the past few months, closing some time in October.
That's a bummer!

When I first moved out to Northern California over 20 years ago, I went back and forth between Chinatown in San Francisco, CA and a small shop in Richmond, CA for all of my HK DVDs.

Now, a good amount of stores have gone out of business or started carrying Bootlegs New Releases rather than the legit copies they used to.
Old 09-24-20, 07:48 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

The last video store in New York's Chinatown closed five years ago.


Old 09-24-20, 08:56 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread

Originally Posted by asianxcore
Now, a good amount of stores have gone out of business or started carrying Bootlegs New Releases rather than the legit copies they used to.
Same situation here, although the bootleg shops have dwindled considerably thanks to streaming. For years, though, especially north of the city at our famous/infamous Pacific Mall (and other Chinese malls in the region), probably 15 to 20 per cent of the units there were selling boots, with two legit places struggling to survive. For a long time it seemed like every other new mainland immigrant was jumping on the bootleg bandwagon because it was such easy money despite the fact that it was/is essentially organized crime. Now, there's maybe two or three boot places left, but one of the legit shops is still chugging along, although I'm sure sales are down. They're part of a small chain that also sells music (including a lot of collectible Asian vinyl) and other licensed character items (toys, stuffed animals, etc.).

The shop that's closing downtown was likewise part of a chain of three dating back to the 80's or 90's (the other two were also north of the city, with one in the former mall beside Pacific Mall). I did my best to clean out the other two locations as they wound down their operations several years ago, but couldn't always get to them on a regular basis. Fellow HK movie buffs and bargain hunters were more active then, too. I always figured I'd be able to swoop in on the last day and clean out the flotsam at, like, 90% off, but missed their final weeks by a long shot. Hoping not to let that happen with this last location. Only his adjusted COVID hours work against me; closing at 5:30 makes it hard to get there after work, so I'm limited to weekends. Still, I've made some decent hauls so far at 50% off (and 30% off DVDs for years before that). Mind you, I suspect I'm the only one buying large quantities and most of the stuff probably would've sat there gathering dust until he raised the discount. I don't think I have much competition outside of the odd person who picks up a single disc. Frankly, I wish I had enough cash to just buy up everything, doubles and triples be damned.


Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
The last video store in New York's Chinatown closed five years ago.
Nice. What better way to follow up an exhausting day of hunting for VCDs and DVDs than with a big plate of dumplings! I was curious to see if that awning survived. Sometimes new businesses with only temporary aspirations move into these old places and don't bother taking them down, but alas no, according to Google Street View (although the replacement "Niu Shop" sign almost looks big enough to cover up the old P-Tune sign. Hmmm). The dumpling place is still there, though.
Old 09-25-20, 10:27 AM
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Re: The One and Only Asian movies reviews, comments, news, and appreciation thread






Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements by Arrow Films, approved by director Ryûhei Kitamura
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray™ presentations of both versions of the film: the original 2000 cut and 2004’s Ultimate Versus, featuring over 10 minutes of new and revised footage
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon
DISC 1: VERSUS
  • Original lossless Japanese 5.1 and 2.0 stereo audio and English 2.0 stereo audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Audio commentary by Audio commentary by Kitamura, cast and crew
  • Audio commentary by Kitamura and the cast and crew
  • New visual essay on the career of Kitamura by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp
  • Behind Versus, a two-part behind-the-scenes documentary exploring the film’s production
  • First Contact: Versus Evolution, a featurette exploring the film’s origins
  • Tak Sakaguchi’s One-Man Journey, an archival featurette on the actor’s visit to the 2001 Japan Film Festival in Hamburg
  • Film festival screening footage
  • Team Versus, a brief look inside the Napalm Films office
  • Deep in the Woods, an archival featurette featuring interviews with Kitamura, cast and crew
  • The Encounter, an archival interview with editor Shûichi Kakesu
  • Deleted scenes with audio commentary by Kitamura, cast and crew
  • Nervous and Nervous 2, two “side story” mini-movies featuring characters from the main feature
  • Featurette on the making of Nervous 2
  • Versus FF Version, a condensed, 20-minute recut of the film
  • Multiple trailers
  • Image gallery
DISC 2: ULTIMATE VERSUS
  • Original lossless Japanese 6.1 and 2.0 stereo audio and English 6.1 and 2.0 stereo audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Audio commentary by Kitamura, cast and crew
  • Sakigake! Otoko versus Juku, a featurette on the newly shot material for Ultimate Versus
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film and a reprinted interview with Kitamura by Tom Mes, and notes on the making of the film by Kitamura


https://arrowfilms.com/product-detai...lu-ray/FCD2000

This will be available in US/UK/CA December 7, 2020.
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