Asia extreme

Boxer Leo (Masataka Kubota) and prostitute Monica (Sakurako Konishi) face off against yakuza gangs in Takashi Miike's First Love (2019)

Although there are obviously differences from culture to culture, many Asian movies share a tendency to to ignore the kind of “realism” Western, and particularly American, movies so often feel is necessary – which is one reason so many U.S. remakes of Asian genre movies take on a pedestrian quality nowhere evident in the originals. Three recent Asian movies – from Korea, Japan and China – use different approaches to explore societies in which economic and social inequality engender violence and to some degree madness. One uses blackly comic satire, one pushes genre tropes to absurd extremes, and one pushes neorealism into the realm of nightmare.

DVD Review: Silenced (Do-Ga-Ni)

Recent Korean cinema has been suffused with darkness, offering tales of murder, depravity, torture and perversion – Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance trilogy, Kim Ki-duk’s The Isle and Bad Guy, Kim Jee-woon’s I Saw the Devil and so on. While these movies vary in their degree of “realism”, they all have a kind of pulpy grimness. While […]

Recent Viewing 2

Continuing my partial round-up of recently watched movies … The Innkeepers (Ti West, 2011) Ti West is a filmmaker whose work I really want to like, but each film comes as a letdown – except for his second feature, Trigger Man (2007), a terrific exercise in minimalist terror about three buddies out for a day […]

DVD of the week: War of the Arrows

In 17th Century Korea, two young children, a brother and sister, see their father killed and barely escape with their own lives. They seek shelter with the family of one of their father’s friends and grow up as outcasts, their father called a traitor. The boy, Nam-Yi (Park Hae-Il), grows up embittered, developing the skills […]

Blasts from the past

The wuxia epics of King Hu

Recent disks from England, part one

Criterion Blu-ray review:
Luis Garcia Berlanga’s The Executioner (1963)

Sergei Bondarchuk’s War and Peace (1966-67):
Criterion Blu-ray review