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  1. Children of the Sea (2019) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Children of the Sea (2019) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Hisaishi Joe | Inagaki Goro | Ashida Mana | Morisaki Win
    A beautiful and confounding aquatic odyssey
    June 30, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Despite the title, the young protagonists and the pretty animation of sea animals, Watanabe Ayumu's Children of the Sea is probably not something you'd show your children. Based on Igarashi Daisuke's manga Kaiji no Kodomo, the confounding animated fantasy feature is from Studio 4°C, the makers of Tekkon Kinkreet, Mind Game and Harmony. The film starts out like a sensitive story about discovering friendship and the wonders of the ocean – and gradually morphs into a mind-blowing meditation on the meaning and mysteries of life itself. Children of the Sea begins with protagonist Ruka getting into a fight at soccer practice and being forced out of her summer club activity. The moody girl then... [read more]
  2. Hadaka no Kokoro (Japan Version) Hadaka no Kokoro (Japan Version) Aimyon
    Aimyon's heart-baring ballad
    June 29, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Aimyon got her break in 2018 with the singles Marigold and Konya Kono Mama, which both went platinum digitally. Her singles after that, like Haru no Hi and Her Blue Sky, mainly followed a similar style of catchy and refreshing guitar-driven pop rock. The singer-songwriter's latest Hadaka no Kokoro ("Naked Heart"), however, is a bit different as it's her first ballad single. Aimyon actually wrote "Naked Heart" back in 2017, and she especially chose this older work to be her tenth single and her theme song for the TV drama My Housekeeper, Mr. Nagisa. The song's clean and soothing melody is introduced with simple piano chords, and then enriched with a gentle blend of string, percussion and... [read more]
  3. Men On The Dragon (2018) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Men On The Dragon (2018) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Francis Ng (Actor) | Nancy Wu (Actor) | Kenny Wong (Actor) | Liu Jun Jiang (Actor)
    A slice of Hong Kong midlife
    June 24, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    With this year's dragon boat races cancelled due to the pandemic, it's time to revisit the 2018 film Men on the Dragon instead for the Dragon Boat Festival. A critical and commercial hit in Hong Kong, Sunny Chan's comedy-drama follows four ordinary men facing midlife crises who invigorate their lives through dragon boat racing. Francis Ng is at his natural best as the affable, unmotivated Lung who works for a broadband service provider. He and his co-workers Suk Yi (theater actor Poon Chan Leung) and William (Weeds on Fire's Tony Wu) fulfill your general expectations of those tech-support guys who show up late to set up your internet. Lung holds an obvious torch for his neighbor Coral (TVB... [read more]
  4. The Cave (2019) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) The Cave (2019) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Ekawat Niratvorapanya (Actor) | Jim Warny (Actor) | James Edward Holley (Actor) | Jumpa Saenprom (Actor)
    The Thai cave rescue mission
    May 31, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Remember the Thai boys soccer team that was trapped in a flooded cave? That was only two years ago, though it seems like an eternity has passed since. Even as the events were unfolding, we all knew that the Thai cave rescue would become a movie, because it was such an amazing, made-for-the-movies story. The question was more how it would be told onscreen and who would be telling it. After the rescue, the Thai government was very protective of the soccer team, and the rights to the boys' stories were granted to SK Global Entertainment with Netflix. Thai-born, British-raised director Tom Waller's The Cave is not so much about the boys trapped in the cave, but rather the mission to rescue the... [read more]
  5. My Punch-Drunk Boxer (DVD) (Korea Version) My Punch-Drunk Boxer (DVD) (Korea Version) Um Tae Goo (Actor) | Hye Ri (Actor) | Choi Jun Young (Actor) | Choi Dok Mun (Actor)
    Boxing meets pansori
    May 26, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    A disgraced, terminally ill boxer meets a girl and strives to return to the ring for a final bout. That may sound like a familiar inspirational sports melodrama formula, but writer-director Jung Hyuk Gi's My Punch-Drunk Boxer adds an offbeat tone and an unexpected musical element into the midst – pansori. Pansori is a traditional form of musical storytelling that is performed by a singer and a drummer. Im Kwon Taek famously depicted this Korean folk art form in his films Sopyonje and Beyond the Years. Bringing together two unlikely worlds, My Punch-Drunk Boxer introduces the curious concept of "pansori boxing." Protagonist Byeong Goo (Um Tae Goo) used to train by shadowboxing to the rhythm... [read more]
  6. The Untamed Original Soundtrack (OST) (China Version) The Untamed Original Soundtrack (OST) (China Version) Xiao Zhan | TV Series Soundtrack | Wang Yi Bo
    The Music of The Untamed
    April 30, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Good things come to those who wait. And by good things, I mean The Untamed soundtrack which I finally got my hands on last month. Though well over half a year has passed since The Untamed's broadcast in that summer of 2019, one simply does not forget about this drama. I could make a very long list of all the things great about this Chinese period fantasy series, and high up among those reasons would be the music. The Untamed's beautiful score was created by composer and pianist Lin Hai who fuses classical Chinese instruments and traditional styles into an RPG-worthy collection of epic battle songs and delicate, evocative numbers. Notably, music itself plays a role in the story of The... [read more]
  7. You Are The One (2020) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) You Are The One (2020) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Carlos Chan (Actor) | Patrick Kong (Director, Producer, Writer) | Gladys Li (Actor) | Sun Hui Xue (Actor)
    This is the one Patrick Kong film I like.
    April 17, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    I never thought the day would come when I would recommend a Patrick Kong film. But hey, the end of the world doesn't feel so far off this year. Released during Chinese New Year, You Are the One was actually the last film I watched in cinema before entering social-distancing mode, so it now holds a special place in my heart. Writer-director Patrick Kong has made a name for himself over the past decade by cornering the Hong Kong market for local urban romances. Many of his films are quite forgettable though, unless they happen to star Stephy Tang and Alex Fong (and that well has dried up). Given Patrick Kong's past work and the film's cringe-worthy Chinese title, I went into You Are the One... [read more]
  8. Bento Harassment (2019) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Bento Harassment (2019) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Shinohara Ryoko (Actor) | Matsui Rena (Actor) | Yoshine Kyoko (Actor) | Sato Ryuta (Actor)
    I want to be harassed with bentos.
    March 30, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Nobody wants to be harassed, unless it's with meticulous homemade bento lunchboxes – in which case, bring it on! Like When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to be Dead, Tsukamoto Renpei's amusingly titled Bento Harassment is a slice-of-life family comedy-drama based on a true story shared online in Japan. Shinohara Ryoko is single mom Kaori whose once precious little girl, Futaba (Yoshine Kyoko), is now a rude, disgruntled teen going through the "do not enter room" stage of adolescence. Since Futaba can't even be bothered to speak to her, Kaori decides to combine communication and retaliation through her daughter's daily packed lunches. Every day, she puts extra time and effort into... [read more]
  9. Fly Me to the Saitama (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition)  (Japan Version) Fly Me to the Saitama (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Nikaido Fumi | Iseya Yusuke | Maya Mineo | Mamiya Shotaro
    Saitama forever!
    March 18, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Somehow, this happened: Fly Me to the Saitama won Best Director and Best Screenplay at the 43rd Japan Academy Prize. Some may want to point out that last year was a particularly weak year for Japanese cinema, and that this is the kind of stuff that happens when Kore-eda Hirokazu uses his one-film-a-year output on a French co-production instead of a Japanese film that everyone can safely award. But I'd like to think that it's all part of the Saitama Liberation Front's master plan to spread the influence of the suburban prefecture. Directed by Takeuchi Hideki, Fly Me to the Saitama is the kind of crazy Japanese film that you would show your friends to perpetuate the stereotype of Japanese... [read more]
  10. Aozora (Japan Version) Aozora (Japan Version) aiko
    Bright yet blue
    February 28, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Just based on the title and visuals of aiko's single Aozora, one would probably expect it to be a bright and sunny song fitting of its lovely "Blue Sky." The song's melody, as well, is light in rhythm and tone with a soothingly refreshing arrangement that creates a chipper feeling. However, the singer-songwriter's lyrics tell a different story about looking back with mixed feelings on a love that has ended – that blue sky is distorted and invisible before teary, unfocused eyes. Rather than being bright and blue, Aozora is bright yet blue. The single's new B-side, Koibito Doshi ni (Track 3), is also a light-sounding confection of love and worries, but it reaches a more rose-tinted... [read more]
  11. Another Child (DVD) (Korea Version) Another Child (DVD) (Korea Version) Kim Yoon Seok (Director, Actor) | Kim Hee Won | Park Se Jin | Lee Hee Joon
    Kim Yoon Seok's directorial debut
    February 19, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Great actors don't necessarily make great directors and screenwriters. Kim Yoon Seok, however, proves to be just as adept behind the camera with his directorial debut Another Child. The award-winning actor takes a supporting role in the film as the feckless, mild-mannered Dae Won who brings trouble to two families. Though seemingly happily married to Young Joo (Yeom Jung Ah), he is carrying on an affair with Mi Hee (Kim So Jin), who is also the mother of his teenage daughter's classmate. His daughter Joo Ri (Kim Hye Jun) discovers the affair and confronts Yoon Ah (Park Se Jin) in school about their parents' infidelity. The cat is soon out of the bag, and it turns out Mi Hee is even pregnant... [read more]
  12. Kanashiki Pro Bowler (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Kanashiki Pro Bowler (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Kuwata Keisuke | Kuwata Keisuke & The Pin Boys
    Take me out to the bowling alley
    February 13, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    In 2019, Kuwata Keisuke took his love for bowling to a new level by putting his name and face on a national bowling tournament, the Kuwata Cup. Bowling aside, the legendary artist also formed the special new unit Kuwata Keisuke & The Pin Boys to release Kuwata Cup 2019's official song Let's Go Bowling, which is basically an entire song dedicated to the virtues of bowling. A year later, the Kuwata Cup is back, and so are Kuwata Keisuke & The Pin Boys! While Let's Go Bowling is a fun jingle, it's impossible to take a song too seriously when it opens with the lines "I like bowling, I like bowling." Kuwata Keisuke & The Pin Boys' wonderful second single, however, is far more than a novelty... [read more]
  13. Bessekai (SINGLE+DVD) (Japan Version) Bessekai (SINGLE+DVD) (Japan Version) E-girls
    E-girls' first single of their final year
    January 31, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    E-girls broke fan hearts last December with the announcement that the group would be disbanding in 2020 (why, LDH, why?). As if to drive in just what J-pop will be missing out on, E-girls' first single of their final year is a total jam. Bessekai ("Another World") embodies the sound that E-girls does best: edgy, contemporary yet fun electro dance numbers with a finger on the urban pulse. The song's intricate and invigorating electronic beats stand out energetically, and there is an understated fierceness to its buildup and catchy chorus that really rouses the spirits of the listener. Bessekai is composed by Henrik Nordenback, Christian Fast and Ellen Berg, the same team behind 2017's Love... [read more]
  14. Mori, The Artist's Habitat (2018) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Mori, The Artist's Habitat (2018) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Yamazaki Tsutomu (Actor) | Okita Shuichi (Actor, Director) | Kase Ryo (Actor) | Mitsuishi Ken (Actor)
    Living the hermit life
    January 29, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    What would it be like to not step out of your home for three decades? Okita Shuichi's charmingly simple drama Mori, The Artist's Habitat imagines a day in the latter life of Kumagai Morikazu, who was famous for his distinctly stylized and colorful paintings of plants, animals and everyday scenery. He was also famous for being a recluse who never left his home for the last few decades of his long life. It would be tempting to call the artist a hikikomori – his name is even Mori – but Okita's wonderful little film provides a gentle, whimsical look into the rich world of a happy hermit who rightfully has no need to step outside. As portrayed by the great Yamazaki Tsutomu, the nonagenarian... [read more]
  15. Bodies At Rest (2019) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Bodies At Rest (2019) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Nick Cheung (Actor) | Richie Jen (Actor) | Yang Zi (Actor) | Roger Kwok (Actor)
    High-concept actioner in a morgue
    January 15, 2020 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Sometimes you want complex stories and characters in your films. But when it comes to action movies, sometimes you just want the simplest story with the most bodily damage. And that's exactly what you get in Renny Harlin's high-concept action thriller Bodies at Rest. After moving his career to China, Harlin directed Jackie Chan's Skiptrace (2016) and the period fantasy Legend of the Ancient Sword (2018), both of which are about as not good as his 2000s Hollywood output would predict. Bodies at Rest, however, is right up the director's Die Hard 2 lane. The ever busy Nick Cheung plays forensic pathologist Dr. Chan, who is settling in for a Christmas Eve at the lab with intern Lynn (Yang Zi).... [read more]
  16. Weathering With You complete version  (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Weathering With You complete version (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) RADWIMPS
    Weathering with Radwimps
    November 29, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    From Your Name to Weathering with You, Radwimps' music has been an integral and memorable element of Shinkai Makoto's animated blockbusters. The band's alternative rock numbers add a pop of energy to the youth fantasy stories while the ballads accentuate the heartrending emotions of love and loss. Weathering with You's original soundtrack was released back in July along with the film's theatrical release. However, the soundtrack carried the shorter movie edit versions of the vocal songs. Arriving five months later, Weathering with You complete version brings the full versions of the five songs. This complete version is obviously appealing for those who enjoyed the music while watching... [read more]
  17. Miss and Mrs. Cops (DVD) (Korea Version) Miss and Mrs. Cops (DVD) (Korea Version) Ra Mi Ran (Actor) | Lee Sung Kyung (Actor) | Choi Soo Young (Actor) | Yoon Sang Hyun (Actor)
    Girl cop power
    November 27, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    A movie with Ra Mi Ran beating up punks? Sign me up! The always awesome actress plays the "Mrs. Cop" of the film, a former detective who was once celebrated as the poster child of tough female officers. Now married and middle-aged, Mi Young has long left the frontline and been relegated to desk duty. Her "Miss Cop" sister-in-law Ji Hye, spunkily played by Lee Sung Kyung, is an impulsive detective who jumps before she thinks – or rather she punches before she thinks. After getting into trouble yet again, she gets transferred to the same civil complaints office as Mi Young, and the two reluctantly work the same service counter. One day, a young woman walks in, leaves her phone at the counter,... [read more]
  18. Itsumono Fuukei  (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Itsumono Fuukei (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Saito Kazuyoshi
    Saito Kazuyoshi x Chibi Maruko-chan
    November 21, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Saito Kazuyoshi and Chibi Maruko-chan is the collaboration I didn't know I needed! The singer-songwriter brings smiles to faces with Itsumo no Fuukei, the 12th ending theme of the iconic anime series. This delightfully upbeat and folksy rock ditty lifts spirits with plucky beats and a jovial rhythm. Notably, the lyrics about a town's everyday scenery are by late Chibi Maruko-chan creator Momoko Sakura, who especially had Saito in mind when she wrote the song. Saito's light melody and whimsical, energizing arrangement really suit the lyrics and the timeless everyday charm of the anime series. The single's side tracks build on the wistful, nostalgic feel with two slower and melancholic guitar... [read more]
  19. 12 Suicidal Teens (2019) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) 12 Suicidal Teens (2019) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Arata Mackenyu (Actor) | Kuroshima Yuina (Actor) | Takasugi Mahiro (Actor) | Hashimoto Kanna (Actor)
    12 Angry Teens
    October 31, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Even without knowing anything about 12 Suicidal Teens, the film grabs attention right away with its alarming title. Once you know more, the film only gets more interesting. Adapted from Ubakata Tow's 2016 novel, the teen mystery has a clear and intriguing construct that sets up the puzzle. One sunny morning, 12 teens gather at an abandoned hospital to die together. The teens, who don't know each other, arrive one by one and follow instructions provided by the organizer to enter the hospital, retrieve a number tag, and find a designated room. However, they realize there's an extra person in the room, a lifeless body already lying on a 13th bed. One of the teens notices that this 13th person... [read more]
  20. One Spring Night (6DVD) (MBC TV Drama) (Normal Edition) (Korea Version) One Spring Night (6DVD) (MBC TV Drama) (Normal Edition) (Korea Version) Jung Hae In (Actor) | Han Ji Min (Actor) | Kim Chang Wan (Actor) | Lee Sang Hee (Actor)
    Taking a chance on love
    October 23, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Last year, Ahn Pan Suk applied the moody, atmospheric filter of Secret Love Affair and Heard It Through the Grapevine to a more conventionally scripted and naturalistic romance drama, and created the sweet hit Something in the Rain. This year, he improves on the warm and stirring formula with the similar yet different One Spring Night. One Spring Night employs the same screenwriter (Kim Eun), the same leading man (Jung Hae In) and similar music and aesthetics as Something in the Rain, together forming companion pieces about modern love. This time, Jung Hae In plays neighborhood pharmacist Yoo Ji Ho, who carries scars and insecurities about his past relationship and current status as a... [read more]
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