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Kang Ha Neul & Jung Woo get a Retrial in new crime thriller

  October 20, 2016  
Kang Ha Neul (Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet) and Jung Woo (The Himalayas) will take the lead roles in the crowdfunded crime thriller Retrial about a teenage boy who is wrongly imprisoned for murder. Directed by Kim Tae Yoon (Another Family), the film is based on a sensational murder case that took place in 2000 and recently came into the spotlight again after a SBS news program revealed more new evidence last year.

Set in the city of Iksan, the story starts with the mysterious death of a middle-aged taxi driver. Having seen the real murderers leave the scene, Hyun Woo, played by Kang Ha Neul, becomes the sole witness of the case but he gets falsely accused as the killer. Brutally forced into confessing to the crime despite the lack of evidence, he is subsequently sentenced to ten years in jail. Jung Woo portrays passionate attorney Joon Young who volunteers for a free legal advice group where he meets Hyun Woo. After learning about Hyun Woo's story, Joon Young decides to help prove his innocence.

Apart from Kang Ha Neul and Jung Woo, Retrial also co-stars Lee Dong Hwi (Answer Me 1988) as Joon Young's friend Chang Hwan, Kim Hae Suk (The Throne) as Hyun Woo's mother Soon Im, Lee Kyung Young (The Great Actor) as a law firm representative, and Han Jae Young (A Violent Prosecutor) as the villain character Cheol Gi.

Retrial is set to open in Korea in early 2017.

Text / Pisces

2016 Korea Drama Awards winners

  October 11, 2016  
The winners of the 2016 Korea Drama Awards were announced on October 7 in Jinju, South Korea. Kim So Yeon of Happy Home took her first Grand Prize in 22 years, beating strong contenders Song Joong Ki (Descendants of the Sun), Kim Rae Won (Doctors) and Park Shin Yang (My Lawyer, Mr. Jo). The 35-year-old actress also received This Year's Star Award.

Mega-hit Descendants of the Sun defeated Six Flying Dragons, Signal and Doctors in the Best Drama race, and garnered an Excellence Award for actor Jo Jae Yoon. Ahn Jae Hyun shared the Top Excellence Actor Award with Doctors' Jang Hyun Sung, and also won the Global Star Award for his role of a playboy plutocrat in the fantasy romance Cinderella and Four Knights. My Daughter, Geum Sa Wol scored double acting prizes for Baek Jin Hee (Top Excellence) and Park Se Young (Excellence).

Best Screenplay went to No Hee Kyung (Dear My Friends) and Kim Jin Min (Marriage Contract) was honored with Best Director. Seo Ha Joon (The Flower in Prison) picked up Best New Actor, while Kim Sae Ron was named Best New Actress for her first adult role in Mirror of the Witch. Despite getting three nominations for Ahn Jae Hong, Lee Dong Hwi and Girl's Day member Hye Ri, the Answer Me 1988 cast was shut out in the newcomer race.

Text / Pisces

A Touch of Green wins top prizes at 51st Golden Bell Awards

  October 11, 2016  
The 51st Golden Bell Awards, Taiwan's top television awards ceremony, was held in Taipei on October 8, 2016. Leading contender A Touch of Green prevailed as expected, winning six of the thirteen categories it was nominated in. The PTS period drama about the lives of air force pilots and their wives from 1945 to 1971 swept Best Television Series, Best Directing for Tsao Jui Yuan, Best Actor for Chris Wu, Best Newcomer for Cindy Lien, Best Art Direction and Best Lighting. Cheryl Yang, however, missed out on the Best Actress trophy which was awarded to Alice Ke of Marry Me, or Not?

The Best of Youth, PTS's other decade-spanning nostalgic idol drama, won Best Writing. Best Supporting Actor and Actress in a Television Series went to Baby Daddy's He Yi Hang and The Day I Lost U's Linda Liu.

In the Mini-Series/TV Movie section, CTI's Chuan Liu Zhi Dao, which had led with 11 nominations, took the top award as well as Best Directing, Best Writing, Best Actress for Ivy Yin and Best Newcomer for child actor Chen Ding Zhong. PTS "Life Story" movie Lost Daughter also garnered two acting prizes, Best Actor for Mark Lee and Best Supporting Actress for Wang Chuan, and The Black Box's Lan Wei Hua won Best Supporting Actor.

In the Variety section, Top Million Star won Best Variety Program while Super Followers' father-duo tag team of Jacky Wu and Sandy Wu won Best Variety Program Host.

Text / Sanwei

SHINee's Min Ho and Ma Dong Seok put up a fierce fight in new action noir

  October 7, 2016  
SHINee's Min Ho (Canola) and Ma Dong Seok (Train to Busan) have been cast in the new movie No Way to Go (a.k.a. Derailed). The action noir marks the feature debut of director Lee Seong Tae, who is known for his short films including the 2007 The Ten-minute Break, which was invited to the Jeonju International Film Festival, Mise-en-scène Short Film Festival and Vancouver International Film Festival.

Despite its low-production budget, the indie film has garnered attention for its star casting and solid script about the life-and-death struggle between two men. Min Ho takes his first movie starring role of Jin Il, who leaves his family and becomes the leader of a group of teenage runaways that include his girlfriend Ga Young. The four friends live together like a family and earn their living by doing delivery work and selling stolen goods. Ga Young even pretends to sell her body for money, but her trick doesn't get pass karaoke owner Hyung Seok (Ma Dong Seok). She is forced into prostitution at Hyung Seok's karaoke bar and Jin Il fights to rescue her.

After its world premiere at the 21st Busan International Film Festival, No Way to Go is slated for release in Korea in February 2017.

Text / Pisces

53rd Golden Horse Awards Nominations

  October 3, 2016  
Nominations for the 53rd Golden Horse Awards were revealed on October 1. Chung Mong Hong's dark Taiwan comedy Godspeed leads with eight nominations including Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor for Hong Kong veteran Michael Hui. Chung Mong Hong previously won Best Director in 2010 for The Fourth Portrait.

Two relatively small films came up big with six nominations each, The Road to Mandalay and The Summer is Gone. Myanmar-born festival darling Midi Z's The Road to Mandalay, a drama about two illegal Burmese migrants in Thailand, was nominated for Best Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor for Kai Ko and Best Actress for Wu Ke Xi. Mainland Chinese director Zhang Dalei's debut feature The Summer Is Gone garnered nods for Best Film, Best New Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best New Performer. The remaining Best Film contenders are Hong Kong crime thriller Trivisa, which was also nominated for Best New Director and Best Original Screenplay, and black comedy I Am Not Madame Bovary, which also garnered nominations for director Feng Xiaogang and leading actress Fan Bingbing.

Chung, Midi Z and Feng are joined in the Best Director race by Hong Kong representatives Johnnie To (Three) and Derek Tsang (Soul Mate). The latter film, a romantic drama produced by Peter Chan, also scored double Best Actress nominations for Zhou Dongyu and Ma Sichun. Taiwan actress Tiffany Hsu of horror film The Tag-Along completes the Best Actress nominations. For Best Actor, Michael Hui and Kai Ko will be competing against Tony Leung Ka Fai (Cold War 2), Jacky Cheung (Heaven in the Dark) and Fan Wei (Mr. No Problem).

Best Supporting Actor nominations go to Hong Kong veterans Paul Chun (Book of Love), Eric Tsang (Mad World) and Lam Suet (Robbery) and Taiwan actors Na Dow (Godspeed) and Austin Lin (At Café 6). Meanwhile, Wu Yanshu (Book of Love), Liu Bei (Someone to Talk to), Elaine Jin (Mad World), Sophia Li (The Tenants Downstairs) and Lu Yi Ching (Foret Debussy) are nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category. Television star Annie Chen (White Lies, Black Lies) is nominated for Best New Performer along with Tony Wu (Weeds on Fire), Chen Yu (Hang In There, Kids!), Kong Weiyi (The Summer is Gone) and Jin Ba (Soul on a String).

The 53rd Golden Horse Awards will be held in Taipei on November 26.

Text Sanwei

Miike Takashi directs live-action JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

  September 29, 2016  
The live-action adaptation of the classic best-selling manga JoJo's Bizarre Adventure was announced on September 28. Jack-of-all-trades auteur Miike Takashi, who has adapted manga like TerraFormars, As the Gods Will and The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji, will direct the film based on Part 4 of Araki Hirohiko's manga series, Diamond Is Unbreakable.

Serialized from 1987 to 2004, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure follows various members of the Joestar family who all have different "Stand" super powers and their fight against supernatural adversaries. Set in 1999 Japan, the Diamond Is Unbreakable arc revolves around high school student Higashikata Josuke, the illegitimate son of Joseph Joestar, and the conflicts that ensue when many people in his hometown gain Stand abilities because of enemy meddling. Based on the first volume of Diamond Is Unbreakable, the film will star popular young actor Yamazaki Kento, who played L in the 2015 Death Note television series and the romantic hero of shojo adaptations like Wolf Girl and Black Prince, orange and No Longer Heroine.

Besides Yamazaki as Higashikata Josuke, the film's all-star cast includes Kamiki Ryunosuke as Hirose Koichi, Iseya Yusuke as Kujo Jotaro, Komatsu Nana as Yamagishi Yukako, Okada Masaki as Nijimura Keicho, Mackenyu as Nijimura Okuyasa, Yamada Takayuki as Katagiri Anjuro, Mizuki Alisa as Higashikata Tomoko, and Kunimura Jun as Higashikata Ryohei.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable is slated to open in Japan in summer 2017.

Text / Sanwei

Gong Yoo, Lee Dong Wook & Kim Go Eun in new drama by Descendants of the Sun author

  September 29, 2016  
Star screenwriter Kim Eun Sook and director Lee Eung Bok team up again after the pan-Asian hit drama Descendants of the Sun for tvN's upcoming drama Goblin. The fantasy romance stars Gong Yoo, who recently rocketed to a new career high with the box-office sensation Train to Busan, Kim Go Eun (Cheese in the Trap), Lee Dong Wook (Hotel King), Yoo In Na (One More Happy Ending) and BTOB's Yook Sung Jae (The Town: The Uninvited).

Gong Yoo will star as goblin Kim Shin, who protects souls and guides them to the afterlife. He wants to end his immortal life by marrying a human bride, and eventually walks down the aisle with high school girl Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun), who always remains optimistic despite her painful life.

His cohabitant Wang Yeo (Lee Dong Wook), the Angel of Death who suffers from amnesia, also finds his love: chicken shop owner Kim Sun (Yoo In Na), a beautiful swindler with numerous admirers. Yook Sung Jae will portray Kim Shin's rebellious and troublemaking nephew Yoo Duk Hwa, the eldest grandson of a wealthy family that has served as the retainer of the goblin family for generations. Rising teen stars Kim So Hyun and Kwak Dong Yeon will appear in cameo roles as the Queen and young Wang Yeo, respectively.

Goblin begins shooting in September in Canada and is set to start airing on tvN in December.

Text / Pisces

33rd Hundred Flowers Awards Winners

  September 26, 2016  
China's 33rd Hundred Flowers Awards was held on September 24 in Tangshan as the closing event of the 25th Golden Rooster & Hundred Flowers Film Festival. Cao Baoping's crime drama The Dead End emerged as the big winner with two major prizes: Best Film and Best Screenplay.

Blockbuster tomb-raiding fantasy Mojin - The Lost Legend also picked up two awards, Best Director for Wuershan and Best Supporting Actress for Angelababy who was accompanied to the stage by husband Huang Xiaoming. William Feng beat out "Mr. Six" Feng Xiaogang to take the Best Actor prize for his role in the period blockbuster Wolf Totem. Guan Hu's Mr. Six, however, did garner acting prizes for Xu Qing, who edged out box office queen and past winner Bai Baihe for Best Actress, and for popular young actor Li Yifeng who won Best Supporting Actor for his role as Mr. Six's son.

Legendary actresses Tao Yuling and Xie Fang, screenwriter Liang Xin and late actor Ge Cunzhuang were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Text / Sanwei

Korea remakes 2013 Chinese blockbuster Silent Witness

  September 23, 2016  
A Muse helmer Jung Ji Woo will return to the director's chair with the upcoming courtroom thriller Silent Witness, a Korean remake of the 2013 Chinese blockbuster starring Aaron Kwok, Sun Honglei and Yu Nan. The film about a controversial murder case involving a tycoon and his family features an A-list lineup, including Choi Min Sik (The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale), Park Shin Hye (The Royal Tailor), Park Hae Joon (Fourth Place), Answer Me 1988 star Ryu Jun Yeol, Lee Soo Kyung (Coin Locker Girl) and Honey Lee (Tazza: The Hidden Card).

Choi Min Sik will play a finance mogul whose celebrity fiancée (Honey Lee) is found dead. His daughter (Lee Soo Kyung) is suspected of murder so he hires an attorney (Park Shin Hye) to defend her. Park Hae Joon will co-star as a prosecutor who uncovers the shocking secrets behind the case with the defense lawyer. Ryu Jun Yeol will portray a new character that provides a significant key to solving the case.

Fei Xing's Silent Witness dominated the 2013 China Image Film Festival with four prizes, including Best Movie, Best Actor and Best Young Director. It also garnered multiple awards at the 2013 China International Film Festival London, the 32nd Hundred Flowers Awards and the 30th Golden Rooster Awards.

Produced by Yong Film Inc., the production house of Chang's The Target and Park Chan Wook's The Handmaiden, Silent Witness begins shooting this year and is set to open in early 2017.

Text / Pisces

Alec Su completes filming for Chinese adaptation of Suspect X

  September 23, 2016  
Filming for the Chinese adaptation of Japanese writer Higashino Keigo's novel The Devotion of Suspect X was completed on September 19. The film, which commenced shooting on June 10, marks the sophomore effort of Taiwan actor-turned-director Alec Su who found box office success in 2015 with his directorial debut, youth film The Left Ear.

Su's film also marks the first Chinese adaptation of famed suspense writer Higashino Keigo's works, which enjoy high popularity throughout Asia. His award-winning 2005 novel The Devotion of Suspect X is part of the "Detective Galileo" series about a brilliant and eccentric physics professor who assists the police in solving crime mysteries. In the case of Suspect X, the protagonist meets his match in a math genius who orchestrates the seemingly perfect murder cover-up.

Higashino's most acclaimed work to date, The Devotion of Suspect X has sold over two million copies in Japan, and was awarded the Naoki Prize and Honkaku Mystery Award. The novel has previously inspired a 2008 Japanese film starring Fukuyama Masaharu and Tsutsumi Shinichi as well as a 2012 Korean film starring Ryoo Seung Bum and Jo Jin Woong.

The cast of the Chinese adaptation of The Devotion of Suspect X still remains under wraps. The film is expected to open in 2017.

Text / Sanwei

Zhang Lu's A Quiet Dream to open 2016 Busan International Film Festival

  September 15, 2016  
The 21st Busan International Film Festival recently unveiled its lineup. Korean-Chinese director Zhang Lu's (Gyeongju) tenth feature A Quiet Dream will have its world premiere on October 6 as the first Korean opening film of the festival since Song Il Gon's 2011 melodrama Always.

Shot in black-and-white, the comedy humorously depicts the love story between a young woman and her suitors. Han Ye Ri, who appeared in Zhang's 2015 experimental anthology film Love and…, takes the lead role as a bar hostess who is looking after her paralyzed father. She is pursued by three men who compete for her affection while comforting each other at the same time.

A Quiet Dream co-stars award-winning filmmakers Yang Ik Joon, Yoon Jong Bin and Park Jung Bum as the three suitors, each of them reminiscent of their roles in their debut features: the violent debt collector in Breathless, the private in The Unforgiven and the North Korean defector in The Journals of Musan. Strong cameo appearances are made by Shin Min Ah (Gyeongju), Yoo Yeon Seok (The Royal Tailor), Kim Eui Sung (Train to Busan) and Kim Tae Hoon (Snow Paths). Following its fest premiere, A Quiet Dream is slated to open in Korea on October 13.

To be held on October 6-15, 2016, the Busan International Film Festival will screen 301 films from 69 countries with 96 world premieres and 27 international premieres. This year's notable films such as Park Chan Wook's The Handmaiden, Na Hong Jin's The Wailing and Ben Younger's Bleed for This will also play at the fest. Several films from rising Asian directors including Lim Dae Hyung's Merry Christmas Mr. Ho and Wang Xuebo's novel adaptation Knife in the Clear Water will be featured in the New Currents competition. Iraqi director Hussein Hassan's The Dark Wind will serve as the closing film for the fest.

Text / Pisces

A Touch of Green leads 2016 Golden Bell Awards nominations

  September 9, 2016  
Nominations for Taiwan's 2016 Golden Bell Awards were announced on September 8. A Touch of Green, PTS's period drama about the lives of air force pilots and their wives from 1945 to 1971, leads with 13 nominations including Best Television Series, Best Actress for Cheryl Yang, Best Actress and Best Newcomer for Cindy Lien, Best Actor for Chris Wu, Best Supporting Actress for Tien Hsin, Best Directing for Tsao Jui Yuan, Best Writing and all the technical categories.

Romantic idol drama Marry Me, or Not? also made a strong showing with nominations in six categories including Best Television Series, Best Directing, Best Actor for Roy Chiu, Best Actress for Alice Ke and Best Supporting Actress for Joanne Tseng. Roy Chiu scored another Best Actor nomination in the Mini-Series/TV Movie section for his episode of Rock Records in Love. Youth army drama Ba Ji Teenagers, Cheng Wen Tang's multi-generation nostalgic drama The Best of Youth and Hakka TV's Sunset based on the life of Taiwan's top coroner round out the top five contenders for Best Television, Series, Best Directing and Best Writing.

The Day I Lost U earned acting nominations for Kingone Wang (Best Actor), Nana Lee (Best Actress), Andy Chen (Best Supporting Actor) and Linda Liu (Best Supporting Actress). Ba Ji Teenagers and Sunset also garnered Best Actor nods for Fu Meng Po and Shan Cheng Ju, respectively, and Gail Lin (Life is Full of Beauty) takes the last Best Actress spot.

In the Mini-Series/TV Movie section, CTI's Chuan Liu Zhi Dao leads with 11 nominations. PTS "Life Story" movies Lost Daughter, The Cat in the Closet and Coin Boy as well as Hakka TV's The Black Box are also in the running for Best Mini-Series/TV Movie. Roy Chiu and Chuan Liu Zhi Dao's Cheng Jen Shuo are joined by Mark Lee (Lost Daughter), Michael Chang (The Thin Blue Line) and Joe Chang (The Black Box) on the Best Actor shortlist, while Best Actress nods go to Ivy Yin (Chuan Liu Zhi Dao), Jacqueline Chu (The Black Box), Kelly Ko (The Cat in the Closet), Mei Fang (Laugh 24 Hrs) and Hsieh Ying Hsuan (The Sweet Place).

In the Variety section, 100% Entertainment and music shows Vulayan, Global Chinese Music, Top Million Star and Music Viva Viva 3 are nominated for Best Variety Program. Global Chinese Music's Mickey Huang looks to repeat last year's Best Variety Program Host win against the presenters of Music Viva Viva, Three Stars, Super Followers and Top Million Star.

The 51st Golden Bell Awards will be held in Taipei on October 8.

Text / Sanwei

Joo Won and Oh Yeon Seo start a new "Sassy Girl" trend

  September 2, 2016  
The "Sassy Girl" trend continues to grow 15 years after the 2001 smash hit My Sassy Girl. SBS's historical drama remake My Sassy Girl will star Joo Won (Yong Pal) as the period version of Kyun Woo, and Oh Yeon Seo (Please Come Back, Mister) as a sassy princess. The pre-produced television adaptation marks Joo Won's first costume drama and also his last drama before enlisting in military service.

Director Oh Jin Seok (Yong Pal) relocates the story to the Joseon era. Joo Won will play knowledgeable yet cold-hearted Kyun Woo, while Oh Yeon Seo will portray a troublemaking princess. Kyun Woo and the princess fall in love and together uncover the truth behind the disappearance of the princess' first love. The youth period drama also co-stars CNBLUE's Lee Jung Shin (Temptation) as a multilingual envoy, Kim Yoon Hye (Vampire Detective) as a powerful official's daughter, and Jung Da Bin (Flower of Prison) as Kyun Woo's younger sister.

The romcom classic My Sassy Girl starring Jeon Ji Hyun and Cha Tae Hyun is adapted from Kim Ho Sik's best-selling novel published in 2000. The film brought Jeon Ji Hyun her first Best Actress trophy at the Grand Bell Awards, and Cha Tae Hyun won Best New Actor at the Blue Dragon Film Awards. Ranking second on the list of the highest-grossing films in Korea of 2001, My Sassy Girl inspired remakes in different countries like America, Japan and China, as well as the sequel My New Sassy Girl released early this year.

Produced by Sim Entertainment and production house RaemongRaein, My Sassy Girl is set for simultaneous release in Korea, China and Japan in early 2017.

Text / Pisces

Lee Young Ae plays two roles in her long-anticipated comeback drama

  August 25, 2016  
Twelve years after the international smash hit Dae Jang Geum (a.k.a. Jewel in the Palace), Lee Young Ae, one of the original stars of the Korean Wave, makes her highly anticipated television comeback in SBS's upcoming time-travel period drama Saimdang, the Herstory. Created by helmer Yoon Sang Ho (Bride of the Century) and screenwriter Park Eun Ryung (Go! Mrs. Go!), the pre-produced drama reinterprets famous Joseon artist, poet and scholar Shin Saimdang's life, love and philosophy on arts. Saimdang, the Herstory also marks Song Seung Heon's return to the small screen following When a Man Falls in Love three years ago.

Taking on the challenge of playing two different roles for the first time, Lee Young Ae portrays art history professor Seo Ji Yoon, who jumps back to the Joseon period and becomes Shin Saimdang. After publishing a thesis about a 500-year-old painting, Seo Ji Yoon gets fired due to the painting's doubtful authenticity. She then discovers Shin Saimdang's diary which unveils the secret behind the painting and the love story between Saimdang and multitalented artist Lee Gyum (played by Song Seung Heon). The drama also includes Oh Yoon Ah (You're All Surrounded), Kim Hae Suk (That's The Way It Is‬), Yoon Da Hoon (Bong's Happy Restaurant) and former After School member Lee Joo Yeon.

Co-produced by Korean production company Group Eight 8, Hong Kong-based Emperor Entertainment Group and China's Mango Entertainment, Saimdang, the Herstory is set to start airing simultaneously on SBS and Taiwan broadcaster GTV in October 2016.

Text / Pisces

Ha Seok Jin & Park Ha Sun drink together in new drama Drinking Solo

  August 23, 2016  
tvN gathers different drinkers together in the upcoming drama Drinking Solo, a spinoff of the station's hit foodie series Let's Eat. Directed by Choi Kyu Shik (Let's Eat 2) and written by Myung Soo Hyun (Rude Miss Young-Ae), the drinking-themed romantic comedy starring Ha Seok Jin (D-Day) and Park Ha Sun (Temptation) depicts the lives of the lecturers and students of a civil service exam cram school located in Noryangjin, the hub of private educational institutions in Seoul.

Drinking Solo includes Hwang Woo Seul Hye (Glorious Day), Min Jin Woong (The Advocate: A Missing Body) and Kim Won Hae (Modern Farmer) as members of the school's teaching team. 5urprise's Gong Myung (The Entertainer), Kim Dong Young (A Hard Day), plus SHINee's Key and DIA's Chae Yeon in their small screen debuts, are cast as students and will use their real names for their characters. SHINee's Min Ho, Ha Yeon Soo and Let's Eat 2's Kim Hee Won will also make cameo appearances in the drama.

Ha Seok Jin takes the lead role of star lecturer Jin Jung Seok, an arrogant and egotistical Korean history teacher who loves drinking luxury wine for relaxation. Played by Park Ha Sun, anxiety-ridden Park Ha Na is a newbie Korean lecturer who relies on canned beer to release her stress. Despite the contrasting lifestyles and drinking habits, their relationship becomes closer when they drink together.

Drinking also cements the relationship of three friends: Gong Myung, Seok Jin's immature younger brother who has been jobless since his military discharge; Ki Bum (Key), a rich and eccentric student who has studied for the exams for three years and chooses to live in poverty to experience the life of an ordinary student; and Dong Young, a poor student who works multiple part-time jobs.

Drinking Solo is set to air on tvN on September 5.

Text / Pisces

Bleach manga comes to an end, live-action film announced

  August 22, 2016  
Kubo Tite's action fantasy manga Bleach, which began serialization in 2001, ends its 15-year run on August 22, 2016 in Issue 38 of Weekly Shonen Jump. One of the most popular and well-known manga properties in Japan and internationally, Bleach extends for 74 volumes and has sold over 80 million copies. Along with the end of Bleach the manga, however, comes the announcement of a live-action film adaptation.

Slated for release in Japan in 2018, the live-action Bleach will be directed by Sato Shinsuke, who has plentiful experience adapting manga into films including Gantz, Library Wars, Death Note Light up the NEW World and I Am A Hero. Fukushi Sota, one of Japan's hottest young actors and the star of manga adaptations like As the Gods Will and Strobe Edge, has been cast in the leading role of Kurosaki Ichigo.

In the original story, Bleach begins with the fateful meeting between blond-haired high school student Ichigo, who has the ability to see ghosts, and soul reaper Kuchiki Rukia who is tasked with bringing departed souls from the living world to Soul Society. During a dangerous run-in with evil spirits known as Hollows, the injured Rukia transfers her powers to Ichigo and sets him on the path to becoming a soul reaper.

Bleach has spawned an entire franchise of media including an anime series, four animated films, video games and stage musicals.

Text / Sanwei

Jeon Ji Hyun & Lee Min Ho collaborate in mermaid-themed romantic drama

  August 19, 2016  
Jeon Ji Hyun (You Who Came from the Stars) and Lee Min Ho (The Heirs) collaborate for the first time for SBS's upcoming drama The Legend of the Blue Sea, which marks Jeon's first drama since she gave birth to a son in February. Hit-making screenwriter Park Ji Eun (You Who Came from the Stars ) and director Jin Hyuk (Master's Sun) recreate the ancient mermaid tale from Joseon scholar Yoo Mong In's classic Eou Yadam into a modern love story between swindler Heo Joon Jae and mermaid Shim Cheong. The fantasy romance also features Lee Hee Joon (Yoo Na's Street), Shim Hye Sun (Oh My Ghostess) and Moon So Ri (Hill of Freedom).

Eou Yadam is a representative classic text of the Joseon dynasty. Published in the late 19th century, the satire collection features different folk tales and strange stories that reveal Joseon's cultural traditions and the lifestyles of ordinary people. In the original story from which The Legend of the Blue Sea is based, magistrate Kim Dam Ryoung stays over at the house of a fisherman on his way to office. Served with food, he asks the fisherman what kind of meat he is eating. The fisherman answers that the meat is from mermaids. Dam Ryoung then sees a very beautiful mermaid curled up in a ball outside the door. Despite the fisherman's opposition, he saves the mermaid and brings her back to the sea.

The Legend of the Blue Sea has already gained great attention from Chinese media platforms. One broadcaster has reportedly offered a distribution price of approximately US$500,000 per episode, breaking the record set by mega hit Descendants of the Sun. The drama will start filming in Spain in September and is slated to open on SBS in November.

Text / Pisces

Lee Yeon Hee to lead a Paris tour in Korean drama The Package

  August 10, 2016  
Lee Yeon Hee will lead the tour of JTBC's upcoming TV drama The Package which focuses on the friendship among travelers on a guided tour package in Paris. The actress, last seen in MBC's Splendid Politics, will be joined by CNBLUE's Jung Yong Hwa, who returns to the small screen two years after the period action drama The Three Musketeers, as well as Choi Woo Sik (Hogu's Love), Yoon Park (Please Come Back, Mister), Ryu Seung Soo (My Beautiful Bride) and Ha Si Eun (Miss Cherry's Love Puzzle). Directed by Jeon Chang Keun ( What Happens to My Family?) and written by Cheon Seong Il (Secret Couple), the 12-episode travel drama is the first pre-produced drama by K-pop giant JYP Entertainment's production company JYP Pictures.

Lee Yeon Hee stars as Yoon So So, who studies abroad in France and becomes a tour guide. Led by So So, the tour includes San Ma Roo (Jung Yong Hwa) who takes the trip alone after getting dumped by his girlfriend, office worker Kim Kyung Jae (Choi Woo Sik) who has been in a relationship for ten years, a mysterious man (Yoon Park) who joins the tour to follow So So, Jung Yeon Sung (Ryu Seung Soo) who never reveals his relationship with his traveling companion, web designer Han So Ran (Ha Si Eun) who agonizes about whether she should get married, and Oh Gab Soo (Jung Kyu Su) who is very stubborn and aggressive.

The Package is set to air on JTBC in 2017.

Text / Pisces

Chen Kaige's period fantasy with Sometani Shota begins filming

  August 10, 2016  
Chen Kaige's period fantasy epic Yao Mao Zhuan ("Legend of the Cat Demon") began filming in China earlier this month. Six years in the planning, the Chinese auteur's new film is based on Japanese fantasy/sci-fi writer Yumemakura Baku's epic novel series Samon Kukai Tou no Kuni nite Oni to Utagesu.

Spanning four volumes, the Samon Kukai series takes place in the late Tang Dynasty in the capital city of Chang'an where supernatural incidents abound. The story is set in motion by a cat demon that infiltrates the home of an official and prophesizes the death of the Emperor. An enigmatic Japanese monk arrives in Chang'an and gets embroiled in the mysterious turmoil sweeping Tang China. The novel series notably incorporates many famous poets into its story.

Prolific young Japanese actor Sometani Shota (Parasyte) will take on the role of the monk Kukai. Chinese actor Huang Xuan, the star of Blind Massage and hit TV dramas like The Imperial Doctress and Les Interprètes, is reportedly playing poet Bai Juyi who is tasked to investigate the supernatural happenings. Wang Hui Ling, who worked on Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Lust, Caution, serves as the film's screenwriter.

Text / Sanwei

Oguri Shun to star in live-action Gintama from director of Hentai Kamen

  August 5, 2016  
Best-selling sci-fi samurai manga series Gintama will be adapted into a live-action film for release in 2017. Oguri Shun, who has starred in the live-action adaptations of manga properties like Lupin III, Boys Over Flowers, Space Brothers and Nobunaga Concerto, takes on the leading role of silver-haired samurai Sakata Gintoki. The film will be directed by Fukuda Yuichi who previously collaborated with Oguri Shun on the screenplay of HK: Hentai Kamen.

Serialized in Shonen Jump since 2003, Sorachi Hideaki's Gintama is set in an alternate-world late Edo period Japan that has been conquered by aliens. Protagonist Sakata Gintoki is an eccentric samurai who once fought in the battle against the alien invasion. After the defeat of the shogun government, he runs an odd-job service that often involves run-ins with dangerous elements. Gintama has sold over 50 million copies to date and been adapted into multiple anime series and films.

Additional cast members for the film were recently announced including Suda Masaki and Hashimoto Kanna as Gintoki's fellow odd-job freelancers Shimura Shinpachi and Kagura; Nagasawa Masami as Shinpachi's sister Tae; Yagira Yuya, Yoshizawa Ryo and Nakamura Kankuro as members of the Shinsengumi police unit that works and sometimes clashes with Gintoki; Muro Tsuyoshi as mechanic Hiraga Gengai whom Gintoki relies on; and Oguri's Space Brothers co-star Okada Masaki as Gintoki's childhood friend Katsura Kotaro.

Text / Sanwei

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