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Kim Ki Duk's new film to star Jang Keun Suk

  May 26, 2017  
Korean Wave star Jang Keun Suk has been cast in the leading role of Kim Ki Duk's 23rd film Human Time. The project marks Jang's first collaboration with the director, and his first film since 2011's You're My Pet. The controversial auteur intends to challenge the boundaries of people's ethics and trace the roots of humanity in Human Time.

Set on a battleship that has been converted into a cruise liner, the film examines the morals and desires of a group of passengers of different ages and backgrounds after their ship enters an unexpected new world. In his most challenging role since debut, Jang will play the cruel and cold character of Adam that reflects the nature of man. Japanese actress Fujii Mina, who previously appeared in Korean productions like My New Sassy Girl and Like a French Film, will take on the character of Eve.

Ryoo Seung Bum and Odagiri Joe, who starred in Kim's The Net and Dream, will play a gang boss and Eve's boyfriend, respectively. The film also co-stars Ahn Sung Ki as an old man, Lee Sung Jae as a politician, and Sung Ki Yoon as the ship's captain.

Text / Sanwei

EXO's D.O. & Shin Ha Kyun star in black comedy thriller

  May 24, 2017  
10 Minutes director Lee Yong Seung teams up with Shin Ha Kyun (Empire of Lust) and EXO's D.O. (My Annoying Brother) for his second directorial effort Room No. 7. The black comedy thriller has quickly attracted public attention and successfully raised US$1.79 million in less than a week through crowdfunding.

Room No. 7 stars D.O. as student Tae Jung, who works part-time at a DVD rental shop run by Doo Sik (Shin Ha Kyun). In order to pay off his debt, Tae Jung becomes involved in drug trafficking and hides a shipment of drugs in a room inside the shop. One day, he returns to the room for the drugs but finds that the room has been locked by Doo Sik, who hid a dead body inside. Caught up in a battle of wits, Tae Jung and Doo Sik try all means to keep their secrets hidden.

Room No. 7 also co-stars Kim Dong Young (The Age of Shadows) as a newly recruited employee, Kim Jong Soo (Asura: The City of Madness) as a real estate agent and Hwang Jeong Min (Cart) as Doo Sik's older sister.

Room No. 7 finished shooting in February and will hit local cinemas in the second half of 2017.

Text / Pisces

Makers of Time Raiders to adapt Song of the Assassins

  May 23, 2017  
China's Le Vision Pictures has launched a massive new IP project to adapt Yuan Taiji's 2015 book Song of the Assassins into a web drama and feature film. The production company is working again with Hong Kong filmmaker Daniel Lee who directed the 2016 blockbuster fantasy action-adventure Time Raiders, based on The Lost Tomb novel series.

Often mentioned in the same breath as The Lost Tomb and Ghost Blows Out the Light series, Song of the Assassins revolves around a mysterious assassin order in ancient China and follows a young swordsman's journey to becoming the top assassin. The original novel is known for its detailed depiction of different aspects of Chinese assassin culture and skills, including martial arts, poison, weapons and traps.

The Song of the Assassins web drama goes into production first this month. William Feng is confirmed for the film version which is still in planning.

Text / Sanwei

Monster Hunt 2 to open on Chinese New Year 2018

  May 23, 2017  
Monster Hunt 2, the sequel to Shrek animator Raman Hui's 2015 blockbuster period fantasy, has announced its release date to be February 16, 2018, Chinese New Year's Day. A family-friendly fantasy adventure comedy about a radish monster prince named Wuba caught in the altercation between humans and monsters, the first film set a box office record with a gross of 2.4 billion yuan when it opened in China in summer 2015. Though it has since been surpassed by Stephen Chow's Mermaid, Monster Hunt is still currently the second biggest Chinese film of all time.

Besides the return of Wuba and human stars Bai Baihe and Jing Boran, Monster Hunt 2 ups the ante with the addition of superstar Tony Leung Chiu Wai, as well as pop star Chris Lee, Taiwan actor Yo Yang, Da Peng, Huang Lei, Song Xiaobao, Liu Yan, singer Momo Wu and members of pop group X Nine. Picking up where the first film left off, the sequel sees Jing Boran's bumbling villager Tianyin and Bai Baihe's monster hunter Xiaolan setting out in search of her father. Meanwhile, Wuba, who has returned to Yongning Village, again falls under the attack of the Monster King and is forced to go on the run. News spreads of a massive bounty on Wuba, and soon both monsters and monster hunters from far and wide are fighting to capture Wuba first.

Monster Hunt 2 has completed shooting and is currently in post-production.

Text / Sanwei

Mayday leads 28th Golden Melody Awards nominations

  May 17, 2017  
Nominations for Taiwan's 28th Golden Melody Awards were announced on May 16. Apart from physical releases, this year's Golden Melody Awards also give nods to digital releases. Mayday leads with eight nominations, including Album of the Year (History of Tomorrow), Song of the Year ("Tough"), Best Mandarin Album (History of Tomorrow) and Best Band. Leader Monster is nominated for Best Composer ("Here, After, Us") and vocalist Ashin scored double nominations, including Best Lyricist ("Almost Famous") and Best Album Producer (History of Tomorrow).

Eve Ai follows closely after Mayday with seven nominations, including Album of the Year (Talk about Eve) and Song of the Year ("The Sum of Us"). The soulful songstress will also compete against Jia Jia (Still Missing), Waa Wei (run! frantic flowers!), Ellen Loo (Imperfections), Faith Yang (Centrifugal Force) and Kiss Ko (Queen of Queens) for Best Mandarin Female Singer.

Both garnering five nominations, Khalil Fong (Journey to the West) and Guo Ding (The Silent Star Stone) seek their first Best Mandarin Male Singer trophy against other singer-songwriters including Jay Chou (Jay Chou's Bedtime Stories), Crowd Lu (What a Folk!!!!!!), Yoga Lin (Sell Like Hot Cakes), Namewee (Cross Over Asia) and Dog-G (Hard Knock). Jay Chou ("Love Confession") and Yoga Lin ("Spoiled Innocence") also received Song of the Year nods along with Mayday, Eve Ai, Rainie Yang ("Traces of Time in Love"), Wu Bai (Beng Kong), newcomer No Party For Cao Dong ("Simon Says") and Faith Yang ("Centrifugal Force").

With their debut album The Servile, indie band No Party For Cao Dong becomes a dark horse contender with six nominations. The Best Newcomer nominee will go head to head with veteran bands such as Mayday, and Chairman (The Boyhood of Chairman), as well as new rock powers FLUX (Pluralism), Jam Hsiao's Lion (Lion) and GDJYB from Hong Kong in the Best Band race.

Power Station (Power Station 20th), Grasshopper (Music Walker), Guess What (One), Astro Bunny (Gu Dan Hui Xiao Shi Bu Jian), RadioMars (RadioMars) and new jazz duo Mr. Miss (Mr. Miss) are all nominated for Best Group.

This year's Lifetime Contribution Award goes to Taiwanese diva Chi Lu Hsia and late singer-songwriter Tom Chang.

The 28th Golden Melody Awards will be held at the Taipei Arena on June 24.

Text / Pisces

Jung Jae Young & Kim Jung Eun to star in OCN sci-fi thriller drama

  May 12, 2017  
Jung Jae Young (Assembly) and Kim Jung Eun (Don't Make Her Cry) will return to the small screen in OCN's new drama Duel. They will engage in a head-to-head duel with two human clones in the sci-fi suspense thriller by Oh Hae Young Again director Lee Jong Jae and Nine: Nine Times Time Travel screenwriter Kim Yoon Joo.

Duel revolves around the kidnapping case of veteran cop Jang Deok Chan's (Jung Jae Young) daughter. In order to save his daughter, Deok Chan pursues the kidnapper. However, he finds out that the suspects are two identical human clones – psychopathic killer Sung Hoon and amnesiac Sung Joon – both of whom will be played by rookie actor Yang Se Jong (Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim). Suspicious of the relationship between Deok Chan and the clones, ambitious prosecutor Choi Jo Hye (Kim Jung Eun) teams up with Deok Chan to investigate the case. New actress Seo Eun Soo (Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim) co-stars as a medical reporter.

Duel begins airing on OCN on June 3.

Text / Pisces

Kimura Takuya and Ninomiya Kazunari to co-star in suspense film

  May 4, 2017  
Johnny's idols Kimura Takuya and Ninomiya Kazunari will collaborate onscreen for the first time in The Emperor in August director Harada Masato's new suspense film Kensatsugawa no Zainin ("Criminal for the Prosecution").

Set around the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor's Office, Kensatsugawa no Zainin is based on the same-titled 2013 novel by Shizukue Shusuke, whose Hannin ni Tsugu and Closed Note have also been adapted for film. Kimura, who famously played an eccentric upright public prosecutor in the Hero series, stars as elite prosecutor Mogami. Ninomiya plays Okino, a young prosecutor who looks up to Mogami as a mentor. The two are assigned to a murder case whose suspect was previously implicated in a schoolgirl murder case that has passed its statute of limitations. Okino's doubts about Mogami's handling of the investigation leads to a standoff between the two prosecutors over where justice lies.

Filming for Kensatsugawa no Zainin will take place from July to August 2017. The film is set for a 2018 release.

Text / Sanwei

The 53rd Baeksang Arts Awards winners

  May 4, 2017  
The 53rd Baeksang Arts Awards were held on May 3 in Seoul. Park Chan Wook won the Grand Prize in the Film section for his critically acclaimed erotic thriller The Handmaiden, while Guardian: The Lonely and Great God screenwriter Kim Eun Sook claimed the honor in the Television section.

The Age of Shadows, Train to Busan and The King were the biggest winners in the film section, each walking away with two prizes. Kim Jee Woon was named Best Director for his espionage blockbuster The Age of Shadows and star Song Kang Ho received the Best Actor trophy for his role of an undercover agent who hunts down his former comrades. Train to Busan filmmaker Yeon Sang Ho came out on the top in the Best New Director race. Kim Eui Sung earned the Best Supporting Actor award for his effective portrayal of a selfish businessman in the hit zombie movie. The King garnered Best Supporting Actress for Kim So Jin and Best New Actor for Ryu Jun Yeol, who won the same category in the TV section last year.

Son Ye Jin secured her fifth Best Actress award for The Last Princess, where she plays a captive Joseon princess struggling to return to her homeland. Edging out strong contenders including Kim Tae Ri of The Handmaiden, Lee Sang Hee (Our Love Story) emerged as the dark horse winner in the Best New Actress category.

The Wailing, which had led with six nominations, received the Best Film award. Yoon Ga Eun's remarkable directorial debut The World of Us was given the Best Screenplay prize. Veteran Kim Young Ae, who died in April this year, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Gong Yoo of the mega-hit drama Guardian: The Lonely and Great God was recognized as the Best Actor in the Television section, while Seo Hyun Jin took the Best Actress prize for Another Oh Hae Young. Kim Min Seok (Doctors) and Lee Se Young (The Gentlemen of Wolgyesu Tailor Shop) triumphed in the race for Best New Actor and Actress.

Besides Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, Dear My Friends is the other big winner in the Television section with two prizes, including Best Drama and Best Screenplay. The Best Director award went to Yoo In Sik (Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim).

EXO's D.O. (My Annoying Brother) was voted the Most Popular Actor for the second time in the Film section, while Girls' Generation member Yoon A (Confidential Assignment) won the Most Popular Actress prize. In the Television section, Love in the Moonlight's Park Bo Gum and Kim Yoo Jung walked away with the Most Popular Actor and Actress prizes, respectively.

Text / Pisces

Kore-eda Hirokazu & Fukuyama Masaharu reteam for courtroom suspense drama

  April 28, 2017  
Kore-eda Hirokazu reteams with his Like Father, Like Son star Fukuyama Masaharu for the new film The Third Murder (a.k.a. Sandome no Satsujin), a psychological courtroom drama co-starring Yakusho Koji. In a departure from his recent works, the Japanese auteur, whose last four films have been family dramas, writes and directs the original suspense drama about the defendant and defense lawyer of a murky murder case.

Fukuyama plays elite result-oriented lawyer Shigemori, who becomes the assigned counsel for murder suspect Mikuma, played by Yakusho Koji. Mikuma, who already has a criminal record from a murder charge 30 years ago, has confessed to killing the factory boss who fired him, and faces a possible death sentence. Though this at first seems like an open-and-shut case, Shigemori begins to have doubts about Mikuma's guilt and thin motives, and tries to undercover the truth.

Besides Fukuyama Masaharu and Yakusho Koji, the film co-stars Our Little Sister's Hirose Suzu as the victim's daughter who holds the key to the story, and Saito Yuki (Ballad: Namonaki Koi no Uta) as the victim's wife. Yoshida Kotaro, Mitsushima Shinnosuke, Matsuoka Izumi, Ichikawa Mikako and Hashizume Isao also appear in the film.

The Third Murder finished filming in March, and is slated to open in Japan on September 9, 2017.

Text / Sanwei

Choi Dong Hun to remake Hong Kong blockbuster Overheard

  April 27, 2017  
Assassination director Choi Dong Hun is remaking the 2009 Hong Kong blockbuster Overheard starring Sean Lau, Louis Koo and Daniel Wu. The Korean version titled Do Chung will bring the crime tale to Korea and expand the number of protagonists from three to four.

Directed by Alan Mak and Felix Chong, the original Overheard follows inspectors Johnny, Gene and Max, who are part of a special task force investigating commercial crimes. While probing a case of stock manipulation, Gene overhears an insider stock tip. Desperate for money, he and Max invest heavily in the stock. Johnny discovers their secret but decides to cover for them. Their greed sends them into a cycle of crime that threatens their lives.

The Korean remake will star Lee Jung Jae (Operation Chromite) as detective Ko Chang Seon, the mastermind of a crime group that also includes an investigation team leader played by Yeom Jung Ah (Cart) and a veteran detective played by Kim Eui Sung (Train to Busan). Kim Woo Bin (Master) will portray traffic control officer Park Sang Dae, who uncovers the trio's secret scheme.

Produced by CJ Entertainment, Do Chung starts shooting in August this year and is scheduled for a 2018 summer release in Korea.

Text / Pisces

Kim Jee Woon to helm Korean live-action remake of Jin-Roh

  April 21, 2017  
The Age of Shadows director Kim Jee Woon is planning a live-action adaptation of the 1999 animated sci-fi war thriller Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade written by Ghost in the Shell creator Oshii Mamoru. Based on Oshii's manga Kerberos Panzer Cop, the original film depicts the political turbulence and transformation of humanity in an alternate-world Japan afflicted by riots and terrorism after losing World War II. The Korean remake Inrang transplants the WWII-era story to a future world where North and South Korea plan to set up a unified government.

Drawing its inspiration from the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, the original Jin-Roh follows anti-terror unit member Fuse Kazuki, who is traumatized by the death of a young girl from a terrorist group. Kazuki is punished for the girl's suicide bombing incident and is sent back to academy to receive additional training. When he visits the grave of the girl, he meets her mysterious older sister.

In the Korean version, Kang Dong Won (Master) will star as special force unit member Lim Joong Kyung, along with co-stars Jung Woo Sung (The King) and Han Hyo Ju (Love, Lies). Produced by Warner Brothers, Inrang will begin shooting in the second half of this year and is set to be released in 2018.

Text / Pisces

Kitano Takeshi's Outrage series returns with third film

  April 19, 2017  
Kitano Takeshi's acclaimed yakuza film series Outrage, which started in 2010, is returning this fall with its final chapter. Titled Outrage 0 Coda in English, the third installment in the actor-auteur's gritty and violent gangster drama series launches a new gang war five years after Outrage Beyond.

The production recently revealed its first teaser and new cast members including Pierre Taki (Rage), Ikeuchi Hiroki (Ip Man), comedian Harada Taizo (Will You Marry My Wife), veterans Kishibe Ittoku and Osugi Ren, and Omori Nao, who previously appeared in Kitano's Achilles and the Tortoise and Dolls. Outrage Beyond's Nishida Toshiyuki, Shiomi Sansei, Nakada Tatsuo, Mitsuishi Ken, Matsushige Yutaka and Hakuryu will also reprise their roles.

In Outrage 0 Coda, Kitano returns as Otomo, who has been working in Korea for fixer Jang since the great battle between the Sanna clan and Hanabishi clan in Outrage Beyond. While on a business trip in Korea, Hanabishi clan member Hanada (Pierre Taki) kills an underling of Jang, triggering a conflict between the two crime groups. In the midst of this volatile situation, Otomo returns to Japan.

Outrage 0 Coda opens in Japan on October 7.

Text / Sanwei

Nagase Tomoya stars in I'm Sorry, I Love You J-Drama remake

  April 12, 2017  
Japan broadcaster TBS announced that it will remake the classic Korean TV series I’m Sorry, I Love You, with Tokio member Nagase Tomoya in the leading role. The drama marks Nagase's first romantic melodrama series since 1998's Love and Eros, which was also aired on TBS.

Starring So Ji Sub and Lim Soo Jung, the original I'm Sorry, I Love You was a big hit both in Korea and around Asia when it aired in 2004. The series reached ratings of 29.2% and garnered top prizes at the KBS Drama Awards.

Set in present-day Japan, the Japanese remake will star Nagase as hero Okazaki Ritsu, who was abandoned by his mother as a child and grew up in tough conditions. After suffering a head injury, he learns that his days are numbered, and decides to use his time to find his biological mother. Ritsu had always assumed his mother had left him because of poverty, but he is pained to discover that she is living a comfortable life and dotes on her son Satoru. At this time, Ritsu reencounters Mita Rinka, a girl who once helped him. Though Rinka is secretly in love with longtime friend Satoru, she becomes increasingly drawn to Ritsu.

Up-and-coming actress Yoshioka Riho, who recently appeared in the TBS hit Quartet, takes on her first drama leading role as Rinka. Ritsu's mother will be played by Otaka Shinobu, and his brother Satoru by popular young actor Sakaguchi Kentaro.

The Japanese version of I'm Sorry, I Love You will air on TBS in July.

Text / tabo
Translation / Sanwei

The 53rd Baeksang Arts Awards nominations

  April 11, 2017  
Nominations for the 53rd Baeksang Arts Awards were recently announced. Lee Eun Bok's global sensation Guardian: The Lonely and Great God and Yoo In Sik's popular medical melodrama Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim lead in the Television section. Na Hong Jin's exorcism-themed blockbuster suspense The Wailing, Park Chan Wook's internationally acclaimed erotic thriller The Handmaiden and Kim Jee Woon's spy thriller The Age of Shadows received the most nominations in the Film section.

In the Television section,Guardian: The Lonely and Great God and Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim both lead with five nominations including Best Drama, Best Director and Best Screenplay. Hit dramas W, Love in the Moonlight and Oh Hae Young Again are the second most nominated with three nods each.

Gong Yoo (Guardian: The Lonely and Great God) will compete for Best Actor against Han Suk Kyu (Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim), Nam Gung Min (Good Manager), Park Bo Gum (Love in the Moonlight) and Jo Jung Suk (Jealousy Incarnate). Last year's Best New Actress winner Kim Go Eun (Guardian: The Lonely and Great God) is nominated for Best Actress along with Kim Ha Neul (On the Way to the Airport), Park Bo Young (Strong Woman Do Bong Soon), Park Shin Hye (Doctors) and Seo Hyun Jin (Oh Hae Young Again).

The Best New Actor nominees are B1A4's Jin Young (Love in the Moonlight), Ji Soo (Strong Woman Do Bong Soon), Kim Min Seok (Doctors), Kim Min Jae (Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim) and Gong Myung (Drinking Solo). Kang Han Na (Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo), Gong Seung Yeon (The Master of Revenge), After School's Nana (The Good Wife), Girl's Day member Min Ah (Beautiful Gong Shim) and Lee Se Young (The Gentlemen of Wolgyesu Tailor Shop) are in the race for Best New Actress.

The strongest contenders in the Film section, The Wailing, The Handmaiden and The Age of Shadows netted six nominations each, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay. Kim Min Hee (The Handmaiden), who recently won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival Award, will compete for the top acting honor against Kim Hye Su (Goodbye Single), Son Ye Jin (The Last Princess), Yoon Yeo Jeong (The Bacchus Lady) and Han Ye Ri (Worst Woman). Kwak Do Won (The Wailing), Song Kang Ho (The Age of Shadows), Yu Hae Jin (Lucky Key), Lee Byung Hun (Master) and Ha Jung Woo (Tunnel) received nods for Best Actor.

Zombie blockbuster Train to Busan scored double nominations for Kim Eui Sung and Ma Dong Seok in the Best Supporting Actor category, which also includes Jo Jin Woong (The Handmaiden), Um Tae Goo (The Age of Shadows) and Bae Sung Woo (Lucky Key). Ra Mi Ran (The Last Princess), Bae Doo Na (Tunnel), Chun Woo Hee (The Wailing), Han Ji Min (The Age of Shadows) and Kim So Jin (The King) picked up Best Supporting Actress nominations.

Seeking her ninth Best New Actress trophy, The Handmaiden's breakout star Kim Tae Ri is up against Girls' Generation member Yoon A (Confidential Assignment), Kim Hwan Hee (The Wailing), Lee Sang Hee (Our Love Story) and Choi Soo In (The World of Us). The Best New Actor nods go to EXO's D.O. (My Annoying Brother), Ryu Jun Yeol (The King), Ji Chang Wook (Fabricated City), Woo Do Hwan (Master) and Han Jae Young (New Trial).

Real-time popularity polls for Most Popular Actor and Actress in both sections are in full swing. D.O. (My Annoying Brother) and Yoon A (Confidential Assignment) dominate in the Film section, while Park Bo Gum and Kim Yoo Jung from Love in the Moonlight currently rank first in the Television section.

The 53rd Baeksang Arts Awards will be held on May 3 in Seoul.

Text / Pisces

Trivisa wins top prizes at 36th Hong Kong Film Awards

  April 10, 2017  
Trivisa swept five awards at the 36th Hong Kong Film Awards held on April 9. The Milkyway Image crime drama won Best Film, Best Actor for Gordon Lam, Best Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Director for Frank Hui, Vicky Wong and Jevons Au, who each helmed a thread about three notorious criminals at crossroads on the eve of the Hong Kong Handover.

Veterans emerged victorious in the acting categories. Kara Hui won her third HKFA Best Actress prize for her role as a woman dealing with dementia symptoms in Happiness. In her acceptance speech, the actress tearily talked about the role's significance to her as she spent many years taking care of her dementia-stricken mother, who passed away a few months ago.

Eric Tsang and Elaine Jin were named Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress for their roles in Mad World. The drama about mental illness also garnered director Wong Chun the Best New Director prize.

Baseball youth drama Weeds on Fire won two awards, Best Original Film Song and Best New Performer for baseball player Tony Wu. The Wong Kar Wai-produced comedy-drama See You Tomorrow picked up technical prizes in Cinematography and Art Direction, while The Monkey King 2 was recognized for Costume and Make-up Design and Visual Effects.

Derek Tsang's Soul Mate, which had led with 12 nominations, was shut out of all categories except Best Original Music. Cold War 2, which received 10 nominations, also took only one prize in Best Sound Design. Best Action Choreography went to Stephen Tung for Operation Mekong.

Taiwan black comedy Godspeed won Best Film from Mainland and Taiwan. Veteran actress and Cantonese opera star Fong Yim Fun was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Text / Sanwei

Ha Jung Woo & Cha Tae Hyun to star in Take Off director's fantasy satire

  April 10, 2017  
Take Off director Kim Yong Hwa explores life and death in the upcoming fantasy satire Along with the Gods. Based on Joo Ho Min's hugely popular web comic of the same name, the blockbuster features an all-star cast that includes Ha Jung Woo (Tunnel), Cha Tae Hyun (My Sassy Girl), Lee Jung Jae (Operation Chromite) and Ju Ji Hoon (Asura: The City of Madness).

Inspired by the Joseon dynasty Buddhist painting Ten Kings of Hell, the award-winning web comic is composed of three episodes: "Afterlife," "Life" and "Myth." Separated into two films, the first part of the adaptation focuses on the "Afterlife" episode about a man's journey to hell, where the deceased are tried and sent to different courts of hell to spend their afterlives. Cha Tae Hyun will take the lead role of Ja Hong, who faces seven trials in 49 days along with his defense attorney Kang Rim (Ha Jung Woo), the leader of a grim reaper trio that also includes Deok Chun (Kim Hyang Gi, Thread of Lies) and Hae Won Maek (Ju Ji Hoon). Though grim reapers are not allowed to interfere in the earthly world, they are inevitably drawn into human affairs due to the death of Ja Hong's brother Soo Hong (Kim Dong Wook, Take Off).

Produced by Realize Pictures, the production house of Masquerade, the star-studded adaptation also co-stars EXO's D.O. (Unforgettable) as fragile and sensitive soldier Won Il Byung who died in a misfortunate accident, Ma Dong Seok (Train to Busan) as a house guardian god, Oh Dal Soo (Tunnel) and Lim Won Hee (The Advocate: A Missing Body) as judges. Kim Ha Neul (Don't Forget Me) and Kim Hae Suk (The Handmaiden) will make special appearances.

The first part of Along with the Gods is set to open in December 2017, and its sequel will have a summer release in 2018.

Text / Pisces

Snowpiercer director Bong Joon Ho hits Hollywood with new sci-fi fantasy

  March 30, 2017  
Blockbuster director Bong Joon Ho, the man behind the box-office sensation Snowpiercer, hits Hollywood again with the upcoming film Okja. Co-written by Bong himself and Frank screenwriter Jon Ronson, the US-Korea collaboration examines the issues of genetically modified food experimentation, globalization, eco-terrorism and humanity's obsession with image, brand and self-promotion. Korean child star Ahn Seo Hyun (Single-minded Dandelion) stars as a young girl who risks her life to save a giant beast, alongside an A-list cast of Hollywood stars that includes Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Okja revolves around teenage girl Mi Ja (Ahn Seo Hyun) who lives in the mountains with a massive animal named Okja. Corporate scientist Nancy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) and zoologist Dr. Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaa) seize Okja and transport her to New York. Mi Ja embarks on a dangerous adventure to save her dearest friend. However, her rescue mission becomes a daunting task when people from different parties compete to control the fate of Okja.

Produced by Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment, the sci-fi fantasy also co-stars Paul Dano (Swiss Army Man), Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead), Giancarlo Esposito (Money Monster), Lily Collins (Rules Don't Apply), Yoon Jae Moon (Missing You), Choi Woo Sik (Train to Busan) and Byun Hee Bong (The Host). Life of Pi lead animator Erik-Jan de Boer serves as the movie's animation director.

Okja is set to have an online premiere on Netflix and a theatrical release in Korea in June 2017.

Text / Pisces

Yeo Jin Gu & Kim Kang Woo to solve mysteries in alien-themed sci-fi drama

  March 22, 2017  
Yeo Jin Gu (The Royal Gambler) and Kim Kang Woo (Goodbye Mr. Black) have been cast in the starring roles of the upcoming tvN drama Circle. The two leading actors will collaborate to uncover the mysteries surrounding an alien invasion in the sci-fi drama. Six Flying Dragons' screenwriting duo Kim Young Hyun and Park Sang Yeon team up again for the drama directed by Min Ji Ki, the director of the comedy show SNL Korea.

Circle is separated into two parts: "Beta Project" and "The Beautiful New World." The story follows a group of aliens from 2037 who learn advanced technology from their kind in 2017 and build a beautiful future world that includes two Earths – the disease and crime-ridden Ordinary Earth and Smart Earth, a highly sophisticated world without crimes, illnesses and pains. Believing that human emotions are the key to a better future, the outer space beings control people's minds. Present-day university student Woo Jin (Yeo Jin Gu), a mysterious hacker nicknamed Bluebird in "Beta Project," and detective Kim Joon Hyuk (Kim Kang Woo) from the future Ordinary Earth in "The Beautiful New World," together investigate the ensuing mysterious events after the alien intrusion.

Jung In Sun (Naked Fireman) and Gong Seung Yeon (The Master of Revenge) will play Woo Jin's schoolmates in "Beta Project," where Ahn Woo Yeon (Strong Woman Do Bong Soon) portrays Woo Jin's twin brother. Highlight's Lee Gi Kwang returns to the small screen in the role of Ho Su, a government official in the Smart Earth of "The Beautiful New World," which also features Kwon Hyuk Soo (Lucky Romance) as a detective and child star Jung Joon Won as the young version of genius hacker Dong Su, played by stage actor Oh Eui Sik (Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo).

Circle is scheduled to air in May 2017.

Text / Pisces

I Am Not Madame Bovary wins top prize at 11th Asian Film Awards

  March 22, 2017  
The 11th Asian Film Awards were held on March 21 in Hong Kong. Feng Xiaogang's I Am Not Madame Bovary won Best Film, Best Actress for Fan Bingbing, as well as Best Cinematography. Fan, who played against type as a rural woman challenging the legal bureaucracy over her divorce case, said the prizes were a birthday present for the director.

Asano Tadanobu was named Best Actor for his role as a dangerous houseguest in Fukada Koji's Harmonium. The Japanese star, who won Best Supporting Actor last year for Journey to the Shore, joked that he wants to return next year as well.

Na Hong Jin beat out Feng, Fukada, Derek Tsang and Lav Diaz to win Best Director for his horror thriller The Wailing. Among other Korean cinema contenders, Park Chan Wook's The Handmaiden won four of the six categories it was nominated in – Best Newcomer for Kim Tae Ri, Best Supporting Actress for Moon So Ri, Best Costume Design and Best Production Design – and The Age of Shadows picked up Best Original Music.

Hong Kong veteran Lam Suet thrilled the hometown crowd with his victory in the Best Supporting Actor category for Trivisa. Asghar Farhadi's Oscar-winning drama The Salesman won Best Screenplay, though the director was not present to receive the award. The remaining technical prizes went to Shin Godzilla (Best Visual Effects), Singapore's Apprentice (Best Editing) and China's Crosscurrent (Best Sound).

Three special awards were also presented at the ceremony. Mermaid's breakout ingénue Jelly Lin was named a Rising Star of Asia, while diva Sammi Cheng received the Excellence in Asian Cinema Award. Legendary Hong Kong filmmaker Tsui Hark was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

See photos from the AFA red carpet and backstage on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Sanwei

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