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  1. True Mothers (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) True Mothers (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Nagasaku Hiromi | Iura Arata | Makita Aju | Asada Miyoko
    Since 2015's Sweet Bean (a.k.a. An), director Kawase Naomi has left behind the sparse storytelling style that marked much of her career for more narrative-driven works that spend more time on character development than fawning over natural scenery. The second adaptation of the novel by Tsujimura Mizuki, True Mothers is still thematically consistent with her previous meditations on motherhood, adoption and parental abandonment (Suzaku, Shara and several of her documentaries), but Kawase's emphasis on story over mood this time around may bring her a few new converts. Told non-linearly in three sections, True Mothers examines its issues through the perspectives of two women connected to a... [read more]
  2. The Eight Hundred (2020) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) The Eight Hundred (2020) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Guan Hu (Director, Writer) | Vision Wei (Actor) | Huang Zhi Zhong (Actor) | Wang Qian Yuan (Actor)
    Chinese director Guan Hu (The Chef, the Actor, the Scoundrel, Mr. Six) takes a major leap forward as a filmmaker with The Eight Hundred, one of the biggest Chinese productions of all time. Staging the famous 1937 Defense of Sihang Warehouse in Shanghai with technical prowess and impeccable filmmaking craft, Guan's violent and unflinching vision of the hellish battle will surely be remembered as one of the best Chinese war films ever made. During the early days of the Sino-Japanese War, the Sihang Warehouse was the site of an intense five-day siege in which over 400 Chinese soldiers fended off the relentless attacks of the Japanese Imperial Army. Comparable to the Alamo siege or the Dunkirk... [read more]
  3. Last Letter (2020) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Last Letter (2020) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Fukuyama Masaharu (Actor) | Matsu Takako (Actor) | Hirose Suzu (Actor) | Kamiki Ryunosuke (Actor)
    In 2017, Iwai Shunji achieved a decade-long dream with Last Letter, his first Chinese-language film. Despite being backed by Peter Chan as producer and superstar Zhou Xun as his lead, the dreamy romantic drama was largely met with indifference from Chinese filmgoers. Iwai brought the story back to Japan, publishing his Japanese-language novelization of the story and remaking the film in Japan with an even starrier cast. The new Last Letter is technically a remake, but it feels like the film that Iwai had meant to make all along. The 2020 version of Last Letter follows virtually the same story as the original film: After the untimely death of her older sister, Misaki, housewife Yuri (Matsu... [read more]
  4. My Missing Valentine (2020) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Taiwan Version) My Missing Valentine (2020) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Taiwan Version) Liu Kuan Ting (Actor) | Duncan Chow (Actor) | Patty Lee (Actor) | Chen Zhu Sheng (Actor)
    No one really expected My Missing Valentine to be the biggest winner of this year's Golden Horse Awards. After all, it's a hybrid of romantic comedy and fantasy, two genres that always face an uphill climb at serious film awards like the Golden Horse Awards. This is all thanks to the ace up its sleeve: Chen Yu-hsun. The 58-year-old writer-director is one of the less prolific comedy directors in Taiwanese cinema – My Missing Valentine is only his fifth feature film since 1994 – but he is also one of its cleverest, thanks to his knack for blending charming humor with fantastic gimmicks. With My Missing Valentine, Chen has made a wonderfully whimsical return to form. Post office worker... [read more]
  5. Beyond the Dream (2020) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Beyond the Dream (2020) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Cecilia Choi (Actor) | Terrance Lau (Actor) | Poon Chan Leung (Actor) | Wei Qi Shan (Actor)
    As is the case with most film industries around the world, 2020 has not been a good year for Hong Kong cinema. However, there was one bright spot that nobody expected. The odds seemed to be against Beyond the Dream from the start – it's a heavy, emotionally intense story about mental illness; it's by a director who doesn't have a proven commercial track record; and it's led by two actors who have never had starring roles in a film before. Thanks to its nominations at the Hong Kong Film Awards, positive word-of-mouth from audiences over several months of preview screenings, and tabloid attention on the two stars after they admitted publicly that they started dating after the shoot, Beyond... [read more]
  6. One Night (2019) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) One Night (2019) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Kuwabara Yuko (Writer) | Suzuki Ryohei (Actor) | Satoh Takeru (Actor) | Tanaka Yuko (Actor)
    With films like Twisted Justice, Birds Without Names and The Blood of Wolves under his belt, director Shiraishi Kazuya has shown a talent in telling stories about the psychology of sinners and extreme justice. His latest film, One Night, doesn't stray from that interest. Adapted from a play by Kuwabara Yuko, the dark family drama shows how one mother's extreme act to protect her children ends up destroying their lives. Playing like a thematic continuation of his previous film Sea of Revival, about a gambling addict's desperate attempt to overcome his demons and restart his life in a countryside town, Shiraishi's latest is another gritty drama about difficult moral issues that is buoyed by a... [read more]
  7. Fukushima 50 (2020) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Fukushima 50 (2020) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Sato Koichi (Actor) | Watanabe Ken (Actor) | Yoshioka Hidetaka (Actor) | Yoshioka Riho (Actor)
    When the resulting tsunami from the catastrophic 2011 Tohoku earthquake caused a series of nuclear accidents at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, it was a team of workers who stayed behind and risked their lives to prevent a nuclear disaster. Though the number of workers at the site was much higher, the foreign media dubbed the team "Fukushima 50," referring to the 50 employees who remained on site after the rest of the plant was evacuated. There has been a number of documentaries about the fallout of the nuclear disaster, which is still not fully resolved even today, but Fukushima 50 is the first direct dramatic recreation of the immediate aftermath. An island nation vulnerable to... [read more]
  8. Tora-san, Wish You Were Here (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (English Subtitled)  (Japan Version) Tora-san, Wish You Were Here (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Yoshioka Hidetaka | Atsumi Kiyoshi | Baisho Chieko | Maeda Gin
    In recent years, American film and television fans have seen reunions and reboots of beloved titles such as Full House, Will & Grace, Mary Poppins, Scooby Doo, 30 Rock and The Terminator. In Japan, television stations have also brought back old favorites with long-awaited new seasons of popular series like Kekkon Dekinai Otoko, Haken no Hinkaku, Hanzawa Naoki and even a newly cast season of Zettai Reido. Regardless of the quality of these reboots, media executives and producers still believe that nostalgia sells. With even Godzilla getting reboots in both Japan (Shin Godzilla) and the U.S. (as part of Warner Brother's new MonsterVerse), it's no surprise that 2019 would see the reunion of... [read more]
  9. Little Nights, Little Love (2019) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Little Nights, Little Love (2019) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Miura Haruma (Actor) | Isaka Kotaro (Actor) | Higawara Riku (Actor) | Harada Taizo (Actor)
    The original Japanese title of Little Nights, Little Love is titled after Mozart's famous Eine kleine Nachtmusik, usually translated as "A Little Serenade" or, more literally, "A Little Night Music." Author Isaka Kotaro adapted the title for his 2011 novel, a collection of six interconnected short stories. In the film adaptation, a song by a train station busker – a literal case of "night music" – brings ten key characters together in unexpected ways. As the title suggests, the observations about love, destiny and relationships that these connections inspire aren't meant to be mind-blowing, but rather charming and clever in low-key ways. Who better to bring the material to screen than... [read more]
  10. Stray Sheep (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Stray Sheep (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Yonezu Kenshi
    2018 was a banner year for singer-songwriter Yonezu Kenshi. On the heels of award-winning album Bootleg and his hit collaboration single Uchiage Hanabi (with fellow Vocaloid artist Daoko), his March 2018 single Lemon broke YouTube records as the most-viewed Japanese music video ever with 608 million views and counting – a rare feat for a solo artist in an industry dominated by pop groups. Instead of rushing to release an album to cash in on his newfound global popularity, Yonezu spent nearly three years to put together Stray Sheep, his fifth solo album. If Bootleg tracked Yonezu’s ascendance to pop chart royalty, Stray Sheep is a test of his staying power. Stray Sheep features a total of 15... [read more]
  11. Special Actors (2019) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Special Actors (2019) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Kitaura Ayu (Actor) | Ueda Shinichiro (Director, Writer)
    Put yourself in the shoes of director Ueda Shinichiro for a minute. Your low-budget zombie comedy One Cut of the Dead has just become the most profitable film in the history of Japanese cinema. The anticipation for your next film is sky-high. How will you meet those expectations? Should you take advantage of your newfound clout and make a film with a sizable budget? Believe it or not, Ueda chose not to go down that route just yet. After writing and co-directing low-budget caper Aesop's Game with two fellow indie directors, Ueda sticks to his roots for Special Actors, another low-budget comedy that he had committed to before the commercial success of One Cut of the Dead. Though it's missing... [read more]
  12. Crazy Romance (DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Korea Version) Crazy Romance (DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Korea Version) Gong Hyo Jin (Actor) | Kim Rae Won (Actor) | Joo Min Kyung (Actor) | Jang So Yeon (Actor)
    The original Korean title of Crazy Romance roughly translates to "The Most Ordinary Romance." It feels like a more appropriately ironic title to this light romantic comedy considering that it depicts a relationship that is anything but normal. The feature directorial debut of Kim Han Gyul, Crazy Romance is a refreshingly mature story about two emotionally damaged people coming together in spite of a toxic work environment rife with gossip. Sharing the screen for the first time since the 2003 drama Snowman, Kim Rae Won and Gong Hyo Jin lead the film as the unlikely couple. Kim plays Jae Hoon, an employee in a small advertising agency who's been drowning his sorrows in alcohol after being... [read more]
  13. The Man Standing Next (DVD) (Korea Version) The Man Standing Next (DVD) (Korea Version) Lee Byung Hun (Actor) | Kwak Do Won (Actor) | Kim So Jin (Actor) | Lee Hee Joon (Actor)
    One of the defining events of modern Korean political history, the assassination of president Park Chung Hee in 1979 was dramatized in detail in Im Sang Soo's The President's Last Bang. Fifteen years after that controversial film, Inside Men director Woo Min Ho covers the incident from another perspective with The Man Standing Next, based on a nonfiction novel about the most powerful figures in Park's regime that was serialized in a newspaper from 1990 to 1992. Woo reimagines the story of the assassination as a captivating John le Carré-esque spy drama about the feuds and betrayals that ultimately led to Kim Jae Gyu, the head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), committing his... [read more]
  14. Black Money (Blu-ray) (Korea Version) Black Money (Blu-ray) (Korea Version) Honey Lee (Actor) | Jo Jin Woong (Actor) | Lee Kyung Young (Actor) | Choi Dok Mun (Actor)
    Not only has veteran director Chung Ji Young spent much of his career making socially conscious films, he has also been an outspoken advocate concerning government policies that affect the film industry. It's no surprise that Black Money, his first directorial effort in seven years, is another riveting and angry indictment of the system. However, Black Money is a considerably more commercial and audience-friendly work than his previous film, National Security. This time, Chung and his writer Han Hyeon Geun use the "lone crusader takes on the system" formula to recreate a real-life controversy that raised questions about collusion between the government and the banking sector. The names have... [read more]
  15. The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil (DVD) (Korea Version) The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil (DVD) (Korea Version) Kim Sung Gyu (Actor) | Lee Won Tae (Director) | Ma Dong Seok (Actor) | Kim Moo Yeol (Actor)
    Since breaking out as an action star with Train to Busan, muscle man Ma Dong Seok has become so prolific that his films have become a genre unto itself. Though Ma does play against type once in a while – including comedies such as the recent Start-up and his amusing turn as a nerdy scientist in blockbuster Ashfall – his persona as the righteous, charismatic butt-kicker is so popular in Korea that it even earned him a major role in Marvel Studios' upcoming film The Eternals. Ma's post-Train to Busan output has been hit-and-miss, but The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil sees Ma in one of his best roles yet. The second film by Lee Won Tae (Man of Will), The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil has already... [read more]
  16. Bring Me Home (2DVD) (Korea Version) Bring Me Home (2DVD) (Korea Version) Lee Young Ae (Actor) | Park Hae Joon (Actor) | Lee Won Geun (Actor) | Yoo Jae Myung (Actor)
    In her 12-year acting career from 1993 to 2005, Lee Young Ae had only appeared in five films (not counting her cameo in First Kiss). However, the films that she chose – including Hur Jin Ho's One Fine Spring Day as well as Park Chan Wook's Joint Security Area and Lady Vengeance – and her mega-hit TV series Jewel in the Palace left such an impression on viewers at home and abroad that she remained one of the most memorable faces of the Korean Wave. After making her long-awaited acting comeback in 2017 with TV series Saimdang, Memoir of Colors, Lee finally makes her sixth film with Bring Me Home, the directorial debut of writer-director Kim Seung Woo. The film's main promotional poster shows... [read more]
  17. The Battle: Roar to Victory (DVD) (Korea Version) The Battle: Roar to Victory (DVD) (Korea Version) Ryu Jun Yeol (Actor) | Yu Hae Jin (Actor) | Jo Woo Jin (Actor) | Choi Yu Hwa (Actor)
    Films like Taegukgi and The Front Line have long proven that the South Korean film industry has the resources and talent to make spectacular war films comparable to Hollywood. And since there will always be demand in South Korea for patriotic war films that celebrate its victories on the battlefield, we now have The Battle: Roar to Victory. The latest film by Won Shin Yun (Memoir of a Murderer) doesn't reach the dramatic heights of the aforementioned predecessors, but its impressively mounted battle sequences provide plenty for fans of the genre to enjoy. Set during the Japanese occupation of Korea, The Battle centers on the battle of Fengwudong (called Bondo-dong in the film) in 1920, when... [read more]
  18. News (Japan Version) News (Japan Version) Tokyo Incidents (Tokyo Jihen)
    Tokyo Incidents may have officially disbanded in 2012, but it feels like they've never really gone away. Ringleader Sheena Ringo is prolific as ever in her solo career with guitarist Ukigumo in her backing band. The band even reunited for "EGO-ism" and "JIYU-dom" on her latest solo album, Sandokushi. Fortunately for fans, goodbyes in the music world are often not truly goodbyes. Eight years after their supposed swan song, Color Bars, Tokyo Jihen has reunited with their comeback EP, News. Tokyo Incidents started out as an exercise that could've just been renamed "Sheena Ringo and Her Backing Band," but the band eventually became a true team effort as Sheena relegated composition duties to... [read more]
  19. Birthday (DVD) (Korea Version) Birthday (DVD) (Korea Version) Sol Kyung Gu (Actor) | Jeon Do Yeon (Actor) | Kim Soo Jin (Actor) | Kim Bo Minb (Actor)
    In 2014, the MV Sewol sank during a voyage from Incheon to Jeju. The ferry disaster left 304 people dead, including 250 students from the same high school, and set off widespread public condemnation of the ferry operator, regulators and president Park Geun Hye. However, Birthday is not a film about the accident itself or the pursuit for accountability. In fact, it didn't even necessarily have to be about the Sewol disaster. Like Robert Redford's Ordinary People and Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter, Birthday is equally effective as an intimate story about the lingering psychological scars that remain in one family long after the trauma. Five years have passed since Soon Nam (Jeon Do Yeon)... [read more]
  20. Detention (2019) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Taiwan Version) Detention (2019) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Taiwan Version) Gingle Wang (Actor) | Tseng Ching Hua (Actor) | Chu Hung Chang (Actor) | Pang Chin Yu (Actor)
    Detention starts out like a fairly by-the-numbers horror film – two teenagers wake up in an abandoned high school in the middle of the night. There's no electricity, there are weird noises everywhere, and before you know it, spooky things that go bump in the night start showing up. On the surface, Detention fits in perfectly with films like The Tag-Along series, The Rope Curse and recent box office hit The Bridge Curse as part of Taiwan cinema's recent horror resurgence. But two things set this surprise blockbuster apart from its contemporaries: It's Taiwan cinema's first adaptation of a homegrown video game, and it tells a story that is deeply rooted in a dark chapter of Taiwan's real... [read more]
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