HAWAII INT'L FILM FESTIVAL
Top 10 Asian films
Hawaii resident Calvin McMillin is a reviewer for the Web site LoveHKFilm.com, writing under the pseudonym of Sanjuro. These are his 10 must-see Asian films showing at this year's festival:
"Welcome to Dongmakol":
Director Park Kwang-hyeon makes a stunning debut with this, Korea's highest grossing film of 2005 and the nation's official entry for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards. Based on the play by Jang Jin and featuring a score by Joe Hisaishi, this magical tale looks to be one of the festival's most highly anticipated films. Kang Hye-jung of "Oldboy" stars. At 8:45 p.m. Oct. 25, Hawaii Theatre.
From Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, co-directors of the "Infernal Affairs" trilogy, comes this box-office smash. Adapted from the popular manga, the film features pop singer Jay Chou as Takumi Fujiwara, a tofu-delivery-boy-turned-accidental-god-of-illegal-street-racing. Thanks to charismatic performances from its all-star cast and stylish direction from Lau and Mak, "Initial D" is a slick, fun-filled of popcorn flick that actually delivers. At 10:15 p.m. Oct. 28, 6:15 p.m. Oct. 29, and 1:15 p.m. Oct. 30, Dole Cannery.
"A Bittersweet Life":
Revenge has never looked so good! Lee Byung-hun plays a hard-boiled gangster who glimpses a better life in this sleek, ultra-violent neo-noir from Kim Jee-woon, director of "The Foul King" and "A Tale of Two Sisters." This revenge fantasy contains a lyrical, heartbreaking finale that begs to be seen. An excellent film and a Golden Maile feature award nominee. At 9 p.m. Oct. 24, Hawaii Theatre; 12:15 p.m. Oct. 30, Dole Cannery.
Cross the American road movie aesthetic of "Thelma and Louise" with the Japanese bubblegum pop of "Cutie Honey" and you'll have some idea of what this movie is all about. This whimsical, candy-colored rollercoaster ride centers on the peculiar friendship between a prim and proper girl named Momoko (Kyoko Fukada) and her tough-as-nails biker chick pal, Ichiko (Anna Tsuchiya). This quirky tale of teenage rebellion has become a surprise hit internationally, even racking up a few prestigious awards in the process. Music by "Cowboy Bebop's" Yoko Kanno. At 6 p.m. Saturday and 9:15 p.m. Sunday, Dole Cannery)
The traditional underdog boxing flick gets a Korean facelift in this genre-busting box-office hit about two men searching for a little redemption. Each character's story could exist as a separate film, but by combining the two, director Ryoo Seung-wan bucks convention, dividing our loyalties between the film's two stars. Choi Min-sik ("Oldboy") and Ryoo Seung-bum ("Arahan") turn in marvelous performances. At 6 p.m. Oct. 26 and 3:45 p.m. Oct. 29, Dole Cannery.
With the glut of Asian horror movies ripping off "Ringu" and "Ju-on," it's nice to see some fresh blood in the genre. Sure, "Shutter" contains a few Asian horror clichés, but by and large, this Thai chiller delivers the scary goods. Suspenseful and well-crafted, it's an engrossing, strangely affecting thrill ride. At 10:15 p.m. Friday and 9:45 p.m. Sunday, Dole Cannery.
Another highly-anticipated Korean film, the one makes its world premiere at the festival. A star-studded affair featuring Jung Woo-sung from "A Moment to Remember," Im Su-jeong from "A Tale of Two Sisters" and Cha Tae-hyeon from "My Sassy Girl," director Kwon Jong-gwan's "Sad Movie" looks to be the can't-miss hit of the festival. Both the director and actor Lee Ki-woo will attend Thursday's screening and the opening-night party afterward at Gordon Biersch Brewery in Aloha Tower Marketplace. Tickets are $30 for the screening and party; $15 for just the movie. At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 9:30 p.m. Sunday and 6 p.m. Oct. 25, Dole Cannery.
Critically-acclaimed director Fruit Chan adapts Lillian Lee's novella to the big screen. Miriam Yeung plays a washed-up actress on the prowl for some pricey dumplings that are said to possess the power to restore a woman's youth. But vanity has its price. So what's in those dumplings? Here's a hint: ever heard of "Soylent Green"? For her twisted performance as the dumpling maker, Bai Ling earned a Best Supporting Actress prize at the 41st Golden Horse Awards. She will be in attendance for the Saturday screening. At 11:59 p.m. Saturday and Oct. 28, Dole Cannery.
The star of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" goes to Japan for this madcap tale of forbidden love from famed 1960s cult director Seijun Suzuki. The beautiful Ziyi Zhang plays a raccoon spirit who falls in love with an exiled prince (Joe Odagiri). True to Suzuki's previous work, "Princess Raccoon" is a love-it-or-hate-it affair but, at the very least, this deliriously silly Technicolor musical should prove memorable. Even so, this movie is "out there." Don't say I didn't warn you. At 1 p.m. Saturday and 3:15 p.m. Oct. 28, Dole Cannery.
"Kekexili: Mountain Patrol":
Lu Chuan, director of "The Missing Gun," steps back into the director's chair for this film that took home Best Picture honors from the Golden Horse Film Awards. Based on a true story, the film focuses on a Beijing journalist traveling with a mountain patrol as they try to nab some poachers amidst the countryside's unforgiving terrain. A terrific film. At 8 p.m. Sunday and 7:45 p.m. Oct. 26, Dole Cannery.