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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

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Sun Entertainment announces productions by Pang Ho Cheung and makers of SPL

  March 15, 2017  
Hong Kong-based production company Sun Entertainment presented its upcoming film lineup at press conferences held on March 13, 2017.

Pang Ho Cheung is the busiest with three productions on the slate. He produced the offbeat romance A Nail Clipper Romance, directed by his frequent collaborator, cinematographer James Kwan. Based on Pang's same-titled short story, the film follows the relationship between an amateur surfer and a quirky girl who declares that she only eats nail clippers. Pang explains that the story explores the theme of trust in love. Starring Golden Horse-winning actress Zhou Dongyu (Soul Mate) and Taiwan actor Joseph Chang (Wild City), A Nail Clipper Romance opens on April 14. Pang is also producing a remake of the German suspense thriller The Good Neighbour, to be directed by Fresh Wave director Liu Ming Yin, and is planning a TV version of his 2015 romcom hit Women Who Flirt.

On the action side, the makers of the SPL series have two new films, Wilson Yip's Paradox and Jonathan Li's The Brink. Yip reteams with producer Paco Wong and action director Sammo Hung 12 years after SPL for an action thriller starring Thai action star Tony Jaa and Louis Koo, who plays a father searching for his missing daughter in Thailand. Hong Kong Film Awards Best Supporting Actor winner Zhang Jin (Grandmaster, Ip Man 3) takes his first leading role in The Brink co-starring Shawn Yue, Gordon Lam, Wu Yue and Janice Man. Zhang revealed that the film's underwater action scenes were a challenge for him, because he originally wasn't a great swimmer and had to especially learn diving for the film. Yue commented that it was fun to take on his first completely antagonist role

Director Jacob Cheung and screenwriter James Yuen announced their plan to adapt Jin Yong's wuxia novel The Book and The Sword. Vincent Kok, meanwhile, wants to aim only for laughter and entertainment with Keep Calm and Be a Superstar, which he promises will be a "very shallow action comedy" about an undercover cop and an action superstar. Cold War director Sunny Luk will continue in his pet genre with the crime thriller Schemer.

See photos from the Sun Entertainment press conference on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Sanwei

Sil-Metropole announces new films starring Sean Lau, Louis Koo & Gordon Lam

  March 15, 2017  
Hong Kong-based production house Sil-Metropole Organization revealed four new films in its press conference at Hong Kong Filmart on March 13, 2017.

Directed by realist filmmaker Lawrence Lau (Tales from the Dark 2), the most highlighted film Dealer/Healer is based on the inspiring story of former mobster Chan Shun Chi, who was selected for the Ten Outstanding Young Persons award in Hong Kong in 1987. Sean Lau (Heartfall Arises) will star as the gang leader, who guided his brotherhood that includes Louis Koo (Shed Skin Papa), Gordon Lam (Trivisa) and Zhang Jin (SPL 2: A Time For Consequences) to turn over a new leaf.

Sean Lau will also participate in My Pet Is an Elephant set in Xishuangbanna, an autonomous prefecture in Yunnan, China. Inspired by a real-life story, the fantasy comedy delivers the messages of love and environmental protection through the delightful story of an elephant circus owner and an extreme animal protectionist played by Sean Lau and rising Chinese actress Una You (The Legend of Qin), respectively. The movie is helmed by Shao Xiaoli (Fake Fiction).

Another picture adapted from real events, House of the Rising Sons will show how the legendary Hong Kong band The Wynners rose to fame in the 70s and 80s. The band's drummer Anthony Chan is at the helm of the musical drama about six teenagers pursuing their music dreams. Simon Yam (The Tenants Downstairs), Kara Hui (Happiness), Dick Liu (Weeds on Fire), Elaine Jin (Mad World) and Chin Siu Ho (Happiness) will star in the movie alongside up-and-coming singer-actors Carlos Chan, Yu Tian, Ng Hok Him, Eugene Tang of Taiwan group GTM, Sing Lam of Hong Kong quartet PlayTime and singer-songwriter Jonathan Wong as the young versions of the famous band and former member Nat Chan. The Wynners members Alan Tam, Kenny Bee, Bennett Pang, Danny Yip and Anthony Chan himself will also make cameo appearances.

Action blockbuster Undercover vs Undercover marks the directorial debut of experienced screenwriters Lui Koon Nam (Insanity) and Frankie Tam (Robbery). Leading actors Vanness Wu (Monk Comes Down the Mountain), Andy On (League of Gods) and Philip Ng (Wild City), who is also the film's action director, reunite for the first time since the 2003 Star Runner. Produced by Gordon Chan (The Four), the crime thriller will feature exciting gun fight and chase scenes with breathtaking visual effects.

See photos from the Sil-Metropole Organization press conference on YesAsia Facebook.

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41st Hong Kong Film Festival to open with Love Off the Cuff, close with Giddens thriller

  March 15, 2017  
The 41st Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) unveiled its closing film and complete program lineup on March 14, 2017. You are the Apple of My Eye director Giddens Ko's second directorial effort mon mon mon MONSTERS was announced as the closing film at the festival's press conference. Unlike Apple, a youth romance based on Ko's best-selling novel, the Taiwan writer's sophomore feature is a dark thriller developed from an original story.

Director Pang Ho Cheung and stars Miriam Yeung and Shawn Yue of the previously announced opening film Love Off the Cuff also revealed more about their film at the press conference. The third installment of Pang's hit romantic comedy series will see the quintessential Hong Kong couple tackling more mature problems as they deal with relationship issues, conflicting value systems and the arrival of the heroine's father.

Hong Kong director Herman Yau is premiering two anticipated films at the fest: 77 Heartbreaks, an urban love story that reteams him with Sara star Charlene Choi, and the gory horror thriller The Sleep Curse starring Anthony Wong. The festival program also features the latest works of world-renowned and award-winning filmmakers like Olivier Assayas, Agnieszka Holland, Asghar Farhadi, Lav Diaz, Christian Mungiu, Ishii Yuya and Andrei Kochalovsky.

To mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's Handover, the HKIFF will present a program, titled "Paradigm Shift: Post-97 Hong Kong Cinema," that showcases 20 representative local films of the past two decades including Fruit Chan's Made in Hong Kong, Stephen Chow's Shaolin Soccer and Andrew Lau and Alan Mak's Infernal Affairs. To commemorate the tenth anniversary of Edward Yang's death, seven of the Taiwan auteur's restored classics will be screened for the retrospective "Edward Yang, 10-year Commemoration."

The 41st Hong Kong International Film Festival will be held from April 11 to 25, 2017.

See photos from the HKIFF press conference on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Sanwei

Nagase Tomoya to star in film adaptation of Ikeido Jun novel Soratobu Tire

  March 10, 2017  
Tokio frontman Nagase Tomoya has been cast in the leading role of the live-action film adaptation of best-selling writer Ikeido Jun's human suspense novel Soratobu Tire ("The Flying Tire"). Many of Ikeido's stories, including Hanzara Naoki, Shitamachi Rocket and Tamiou, have been made into hit TV dramas in recent years. The upcoming Soratobu Tire will be the first time his work is adapted for the silver screen.

Soratobu Tire has sold over 1.2 million copies since 2006, and was previously adapted into a 2009 WOWOW TV series starring Nakamura Toru and Tanabe Seiichi. The film version will be helmed by Samurai Hustle director Katsuhide Motoki.

Nagase Tomoya plays protagonist Akamatsu Tokuro, who runs a small transport company. One day, a tire flies off one of his company's trucks on the road, resulting in a fatal accident. Poor maintenance is cited as the cause of the accident, and Akamatsu's company soon stands on the brink of bankruptcy. Akamatsu, however, investigates further and discovers that the accident was caused by a manufacturing defect in the truck. For the sake of his family and company, Akamatsu stands up to challenge the large corporation that manufactured the truck.

Soratobu Tire is expected to be released in Japan in 2018.

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Translation / Sanwei

Godzilla Resurgence sweeps 40th Japan Academy Prize

  March 6, 2017  
Godzilla Resurgence trampled the competition at the 40th Japan Academy Prize held on March 3 in Tokyo. The satirical monster movie swept Picture of the Year, Best Director for Anno Hideaki and Higuchi Shinji, and all the technical prizes including Cinematography, Editing, Lighting, Sound Recording and Art Direction. Box office-dominating fantasy Your Name lost out on Animation of the Year to the Hiroshima-set historical drama In This Corner of the World, but director Shinkai Makoto picked up the Best Screenplay prize and rock band Radwimps won Best Music for the film's hit soundtrack.

Sato Koichi claimed his second Best Actor prize after 22 years for his role as an aged police officer investigating an unsolved kidnapping case in Zeze Takahisa's crime suspense 64: Part I. Miyazawa Rie and Sugisaka Hana, who played mother and daughter in Nakano Ryo's Her Love Boils Bathwater, won Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. Lee Sang Il's suspense drama Rage, which had led with 12 nominations, ended up with only one prize, Best Supporting Actor for Tsumabuki Satoshi in the role of a gay advertising executive who becomes suspicious about his new lover.

As previously announced, Sugisaki Hana, Takahata Mitsuki, Iwata Takanori, Sakaguchi Kentaro, Chiba Yudai, Mackenyu, Hashimoto Kanna and Sakumoto Takara all received Best Newcomer prizes. Clint Eastwood's Sully was named the Best Foreign Language Film.

Text / Sanwei

Sandara Park to make Korean movie debut in Begin Again remake

  March 3, 2017  
K-pop star Sandara Park, also known as Dara, is making her Korean movie debut with One Step, a remake of the 2013 American musical comedy Begin Again starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. The former 2NE1 member will play the lead role of an amnesiac girl who embarks on a healing journey with the help of co-stars Han Jae Suk (Speed Angels), rising indie actor Cho Dong In (The Stone) and Hong Ah Reum (Makgeolli Girls). Beautiful director Juhn Jai Hong is at the helm of the crowdfunded musical romance written by popular webtoon author Hong Seung Pyo, better known as MiTi.

Dara plays convenience store part-timer Si Hyun, who loses her memory after a car accident. After being discharged from the hospital, she moves to her friend Ji Won's (Hong Ah Reum) home. Every night, Si Hyun hums a strange melody in her sleep and the music interests Ji Won's brother Woo Hyuk (Han Jae Suk), a once famous songwriter. Woo Hyuk turns the melody into a score hoping that it can recall her past memories. Rock guitarist Jee Il (Cho Dong In) comes across the score and helps complete the song with Woo Hyuk.

Kim Soo Jin, who participated in the soundtracks of hit dramas Six Flying Dragons and Let's Eat, serves as the music director of the movie produced by MCC Entertainment, the production house of the Dae Jang Geum soundtrack. One Step is set for a local theatrical release in April.

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BoA to host male version of Produce 101

  February 27, 2017  
The popular Mnet survival show Produce 101 is coming back for its hotly anticipated second season, this time with male contestants. Last year, the show created the limited-time K-pop girl group I.O.I, which recently disbanded as scheduled following a successful year of activities.

To be hosted by pop diva BoA, this season will feature 101 male trainees from different agencies and the top 11 contestants selected through online voting will form a limited-time K-pop boy band. The trainer lineup includes SG Wannabe's Lee Suk Hoon, former BEAST member Jang Hyun Seung, choreographer Kwon Jae Seung and former After School leader Kahi, who was one of the trainers in the previous season.

Jellyfish Entertainment, Pledis Entertainment, Cube Entertainment and Fantagio will send trainees again, while Mamamoo's agency RBW and hip-hop label Brand New Music, which houses rappers San E and Verbal Jint, will take part in the show for the first time. Though most of the participants are trainees, some recent idols are said to have joined the competition.

The second season of Produce 101 starts shooting on February 26 and is set to air in the first half of 2017.

Text / Pisces

Nam Joo Hyuk & Shin Se Kyung to star in tvN fantasy romcom

  February 27, 2017  
Misaeng screenwriter Jung Yoon Jung returns with her second comic-based drama Bride of the Water God, a spin-off of Yoon Mi Kyung's popular comic serialized in Wink magazine from 2006 to 2014. The historical fantasy romance is transplanted to modern Korea in tvN's upcoming fantasy romcom directed by Kim Byung Soo (The Three Musketeers). Nam Joo Hyuk (Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo) will take the lead role of the God of Water, who is caught in a love square with a surgeon played by Shin Se Kyung (Six Flying Dragons), f(x) member Krystal's top star and the God of Winds portrayed by Gong Myung (Drinking Solo).

Combining the Western fantasy genre with Chinese mythology, Bride of the Water God is the first Korean romance comic published worldwide in nine countries including Russia and Hungary. The original story is set in an impoverished village affected by severe drought. To save the village, heroine So Ah decides to sacrifice herself to the God of Water Ha Baek for rain. Ha Baek falls in love with So Ah and even takes her as his bride. Under the curse of his first love Nak Bin, the God of Water appears as a child called Ha Baek in the daytime and reverts to his adult form named Mu Yi at night. So Ah soon discovers his secret and gets embroiled in various intriguing events in the fantasy world.

The pre-produced Bride of the Water God is scheduled to air in early 2017.

Text / Pisces

Yoo Ah In reincarnates as a celebrity writer in tvN fantasy romcom

  February 24, 2017  
tvN's upcoming drama Chicago Typewriter recently announced its cast lineup. Yoo Ah In (Six Flying Dragons) will star as a celebrity writer alongside Go Kyung Pyo (Jealousy Incarnate‬), Kwak Si Yang (The Second Last Love) and Lim Soo Jung, who returns to the small screen for her first TV drama in 13 years. The fantasy romcom is directed by Kim Cheol Kyu (On the Way to the Airport) and written by Jin Soo Wan (Kill Me Heal Me).

Chicago Typewriter revolves around the modern-day reincarnations of three 1930s writers whose destinies interplay into a whimsical romance because of an ancient typewriter. Best-selling author Han Se Soo (Yoo Ah In) has risen to fame since the age of 21. The sensitive and fussy writer faces a creativity bottleneck so his editor friend (Jo Woo Jin, Guardian: The Lonely and Great God) hires Yoo Jin Oh (Go Kyung Pyo), a mysterious jazz and antique enthusiast, as his ghostwriter. The drama also co-stars Lim Soo Jung as Se Soo's anti-fan and Kwak Si Yang as novelist Baek Tae Min, the major rival of Se Soo.

Produced by CJ E&M's subsidiary Studio Dragon, Chicago Typewriter is expected to air on April 7.

Text / Pisces

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