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  1. When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead (2018) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead (2018) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Eikura Nana (Actor) | Yasuda Ken (Actor) | Otani Ryohei (Actor) | Hotaru Yukijiro (Actor)
    Much ado about something
    May 6, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    With a strange and straightforward title like When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead, it's hard to not take notice of Toshio Lee's comedy-drama. I'm happy to report that the title is absolutely representative of the film's content. Yasuda Ken plays typical salaryman Jun who is suddenly faced with an atypical conundrum: his wife (Eikura Nana) of three years keeps pretending to be dead. When he comes home from work, he's greeted with ridiculous props and fake death scenarios. Chie surprises him with her latest creative death, and then nonchalantly serves dinner. After the initial shock, Jun tries to play along and support his wife through whatever mysterious tough patch she must... [read more]
  2. Code Blue: The Movie (2018) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Code Blue: The Movie (2018) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Aragaki Yui (Actor) | Yamashita Tomohisa (Actor) | Araki Yuko (Actor) | Shiina Kippei (Actor)
    Ten years of Code Blue
    April 28, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    As someone who's followed the Code Blue series since the start, the movie was pretty much a must-watch for me. Apparently I wasn't alone as Code Blue: The Movie was the biggest Japanese film of 2018. Code Blue started on Fuji TV in 2008 with Yamashita Tomohisa, Aragaki Yui, Toda Erika and Asari Yosuke playing flight doctors-in-training and Higa Manami playing a nurse for a hospital's helicopter dispatch emergency medical team. The hit medical series was followed by an equally popular second season in 2010, and then finally returned for a third season in 2017. The 2018 movie picks up from the third season with the original protagonists continuing to deal with career and life decisions while... [read more]
  3. Ichirinsou (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Ichirinsou (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Yamamoto Sayaka
    Yamamoto Sayaka, Solo Artist
    April 27, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    In Yamamoto Sayaka's eight years with NMB48, she was not only one of the most popular members of the AKB48 Group, but also one of the very few to be known for her vocal and musical talents. As an NMB48 member, she released two solid solo albums, with 2017's identity in particular standing out as my favorite 48 member solo album to date. After graduating from NMB48 in October 2018, Sayaka begins her solo artist career with the self-penned single Ichirinsou, which builds on the musicality she showed in identity. Sayaka wrote and composed the mellow, medium-tempo ballad Ichirinsou. The title and lyrics refer to an anemone flower that becomes a symbol of strength and inspiration. While walking... [read more]
  4. On Your Wedding Day (2018) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) On Your Wedding Day (2018) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Park Bo Young (Actor) | Shin So Yool (Actor) | Seo Eun Su (Actor) | Ko Kyu Pil (Actor)
    Love is about timing
    March 29, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    The quintessential Taiwan coming-of-age romances You Are the Apple of My Eye and Our Times were both hits in South Korea, with the latter in particular providing probably the most mainstream Taiwan pop culture moment in Korea since the original Meteor Garden. Korean cinema has its closest approximation to those two films in the delightful 2018 romantic smash On Your Wedding Day. The romantic comedy opens in the present day when gym teacher Woo Yeon (Kim Young Kwang) receives a wedding invitation from Seung Hee (Park Bo Young), the girl who got away. The film then rewinds back over a decade to when the two first met in high school. Immature slacker Woo Yeon falls head over heels for the... [read more]
  5. Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy (2018) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy (2018) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Max Zhang Jin (Actor) | Tony Jaa (Actor) | Michelle Yeoh (Actor) | Yuen Wah (Actor)
    No Ip Man, No Problem
    March 28, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    No Ip Man, no problem – at least when it comes to the spin-off film Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy. In 2015's Ip Man 3, Max Zhang left a strong impression as Wing Chun practitioner Cheung Tin Chi, who persistently challenged Ip Man for the title of Hong Kong's top martial artist. While not an antagonist, the character was an adversary to Ip Man for much of the film and provided various scene-stealing moments for Zhang. Three years later, the actor stepped back into the shoes of Cheung Tin Chi to headline his own film set after the events of Ip Man 3. Having closed his martial arts school and set aside the chip on his shoulder since we last saw him, Cheung Tin Chi is now content with running a... [read more]
  6. Kuroi Hitsuji  [Type A] (SINGLE+BLU-RAY) (Japan Version) Kuroi Hitsuji [Type A] (SINGLE+BLU-RAY) (Japan Version) Keyakizaka46
    Song of the Black Sheep
    February 28, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Keyakizaka46 delivers another powerfully empathetic and dissonant teen anthem in their new single Kuroi Hitsuji. As indicated by the title, this song is for all the "black sheep" out there. In comparison to singles like Garasu wo Ware! and Fukyouwaon, the song's sound is softer and more melodic, but the themes are no less incisive and impactful. Kuroi Hitsuji opens moodily with somber piano chords, and then picks up the tempo in low-pitched verses tightly packed with the suffocating feelings of being that person who doesn't fit in – and doesn't want to. The lyrics offer simple yet specific examples and experiences that connect readily with listeners: taking the long way home to avoid... [read more]
  7. Dark Figure of Crime (2018) (DVD) (Taiwan Version) Dark Figure of Crime (2018) (DVD) (Taiwan Version) Kim Yoon Seok (Actor) | Ju Ji Hoon (Actor) | Kim Tae Gyun (Director, Writer) | Jin Seon Kyu (Actor)
    Justice for unknown victims
    February 21, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    The actual number of crimes committed is always higher than the official documented figures, because many crimes go unreported or undiscovered. Crime experts call this missing figure of unreported crimes the Dark Figure of Crime. Inspired by a tragic real-life case, Kim Tae Gyun's crime drama brings attention to what this dark figure means: unknown victims for whom justice can never be served. Dark Figure of Crime unfolds as a cat-and-mouse game between a persistent detective portrayed by Kim Yoon Seok and an incarcerated killer played by Ju Ji Hoon. Narcotics detective Kim Hyung Min (Kim Yoon Seok) meets informant Kang Tae Oh (Ju Ji Hoon) for the first time at a restaurant, only to see him... [read more]
  8. Project Gutenberg (2018) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Project Gutenberg (2018) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Aaron Kwok (Actor) | Chow Yun Fat (Actor) | Catherine Chau (Actor) | Zhang Jing Chu (Actor)
    Chow Yun Fat's greatest hits
    February 14, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Felix Chong's Project Gutenberg just garnered a ridiculous 17 nominations at the Hong Kong Film Awards so there are many nice things that could be said about the film's twisty plot, slick pacing and tight direction. I'd like to focus on the single most important factor that makes the crime thriller a must-watch for Hong Kong film fans (or at least me): Chow Yun Fat. Chow Yun Fat is in peak Chow Yun Fat form in the role of a criminal mastermind behind a counterfeiting operation. His commanding and charismatic performance in the film channels the classic effortless charm that captured a generation of Asian cinema fans and also the dangerous, unreadable duplicity of later roles in films like... [read more]
  9. Boku no Koto (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Boku no Koto (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Mrs. GREEN APPLE
    A song for the good days and the bad days
    January 31, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Everyone could use an encouraging song to start out the new year with, and my theme song for this tiring January was Mrs. GREEN APPLE's Boku no Koto. As a support song for Japan's national high school soccer tournament, Boku no Koto naturally carries an inspiring message to cheer on young people, but it's not exactly a cheerily positive song. Instead, the song delivers empathy and reassurance for both the good days and the bad days. Opening quietly with a soothing guitar melody and gentle vocals, Boku no Koto connects with softly self-reflecting lyrics in the first verse: "What's the difference between me and you? / I know that we're all living creatures / But I'm frightened by something."... [read more]
  10. Little Forest (2018) (DVD) (Korea Version) Little Forest (2018) (DVD) (Korea Version) Kim Tae Ri (Actor) | Ryu Jun Yeol (Actor) | Jin Ki Joo (Actor) | Moon So Ri (Actor)
    A similar yet different Little Forest
    January 29, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Since I really enjoyed the Japanese film adaptation of Igarashi Daisuke's manga Little Forest, I was quite curious about how the 2018 Korean adaptation would turn out, especially with Lim Soon Rye directing and Kim Tae Ri in the leading role. Though the Korean film doesn't bring any new surprises for those already familiar with the manga or the Japanese film, the charming, calming recipe of beautiful nature and scrumptious food holds up well for a second course of cinematic comfort food. Apart from the different setting, Lim's take on the story of a young woman living and cooking in the countryside does strike a subtly different tone that sets it apart from the Japanese version. Shot at a... [read more]
  11. House of The Rising Sons (2018) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) House of The Rising Sons (2018) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Carlos Chan (Actor) | Jonathan Wong (Actor) | Tan Yu (Actor) | Deng Jia Le (Actor)
    Friendship wyns
    January 16, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    It's hard to muster up much expectation for a biopic about an aged cookie-cutter Hong Kong pop band directed by one of the band members, but House of the Rising Sons turns out to be an appealingly amiable and nostalgic film whose overall niceness actually feels right. Formed by Alan Tam, Kenny Bee, Anthony Chan, Bennett Pang and Danny Yip, The Wynners were arguably Hong Kong's first idol band. The band exploded into popularity in the 70s with feel-good English and Cantonese pop numbers that appealed to a younger generation. By the early 80s, Alan Tam and Kenny Bee had shifted focus to solo careers. However, The Wynners never disbanded. The band has remained intermittently active over the... [read more]
  12. Ossan's Love (Blu-ray Box) (Japan Version) Ossan's Love (Blu-ray Box) (Japan Version) Tanaka Kei | Uchida Rio | Hayashi Kento | Yoshida Kotaro
    Men's Love
    November 30, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    There may be plenty of releases in the boys love genre in Japan, but gay romance stories rarely emerge so prominently from the mainstream realm of network television like the way Ossan's Love did this year. The workplace romantic comedy about a 30-something real estate agent who suddenly receives love confessions from two male colleagues – his middle-aged boss and a younger colleague – first appeared on TV Asahi in December 2016 as a one-episode special. The late-night broadcast earned decent response, enough so that TV Asahi brought it back in spring 2018 as a seven-episode series that turned into a surprise hit. Tanaka Kei and Yoshida Kotaro returned to play the hapless protagonist Haruta... [read more]
  13. Gintama 2: Rules Are Made To Be Broken (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Gintama 2: Rules Are Made To Be Broken (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Oguri Shun | Yoshizawa Ryo | Yagira Yuya | Miura Haruma
    More gags, more Gintama
    November 30, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    In the "Countdown" introduction at the start of the first Gintama, Oguri Shun referred to the film as "the one-time-only Gintama live-action adaptation." But when a manga adaptation makes over three billion yen at the Japanese box office, you can bet there's a sequel coming, and fast! Hence, a mere year later, we have Gintama 2 and even more of the giddy gags, insider jokes and manga-mined stories that made the first film such a crowd-pleasing hit. When I wrote about Gintama last year, I noted that the Shinsengumi were well cast but underused. Well, they take front and center this time! For most of the film's first half, the Yorozuya trio of Sakata Gintoki (Oguri Shun), Shimura Shinpachi... [read more]
  14. The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue (2017) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue (2017) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Ikematsu Sosuke (Actor) | Ishii Yuya (Director, Writer) | Ishibashi Shizuka (Actor) | Ichikawa Mikako (Actor)
    Lonely pulse of the city
    November 28, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    "The moment you love the big city, it's like you've killed yourself." Ishii Yuya's The Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue is full of pithy and pensive lines drawn from Saihate Tahi's poetry collection, but the above thought, expressed in voiceover by protagonist Mika early in the film, struck me as the most representative of the film. After taking a step backward with the conventional Vancouver Asahi, Ishii returns more to indie sensibilities in this 2017 drama that presents less of a story and more of a loose portrait of love, death and loneliness in the city. The Tokyo Night Sky follows two typical lonely outsiders that you may find in the big city – Mika (Ishibashi... [read more]
  15. Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer (Blu-ray) (US Version) Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer (Blu-ray) (US Version) Oshii Mamoru (Director)
    Oshii Dreamin'
    November 9, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Oshii Mamoru and Urusei Yatsura? It is now almost hard to imagine that Ghost in the Shell director Oshii, the master of cyber punk and artful alienation, first made his name with Urusei Yatsura, a hectic off-color anime series about a lecherous high school student and his turquoise-haired, leopard-bikini-clad alien girlfriend. When Oshii embarked on Beautiful Dreamer, it was his second go at a feature-length Urusei Yatsura film, and he did things a bit differently this time around. While the first film was a competent, fairly faithful extension of the manga, 1984's Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer was an entirely different and beautiful beast. Manga writer Takahashi Rumiko and die-hard... [read more]
  16. Detective Chinatown 2 (2018) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Detective Chinatown 2 (2018) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Xiao Yang (Actor) | Liu Hao Ran (Actor) | Wang Bao Qiang (Actor) | Yuen Wah (Actor)
    The birth of a detective comedy franchise
    October 31, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    There is no shortage of crime mystery and suspense productions in China, but most with buzz and budget of late are based on novels – and often the same ones. Criminal Minds, Yu Zui and Qin Ming adaptations abound and no Nan Pai San Shu or Tianxia Bachang story is left unturned. In that sense, Chen Sicheng's blockbuster Detective Chinatown film series stands out for being a successful original creation rather than an extension of a pre-existing IP. Following his success with Beijing Love Story, actor-turned-director Chen Sicheng tried his hand at mystery in 2015 with the sophomore directorial effort Detective Chinatown. The film brought together the unlikely detective duo of comedy veteran... [read more]
  17. Pad Man (2018) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Pad Man (2018) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Akshay Kumar (Actor) | Sonam Kapoor (Actor) | R. Balki (Director) | Radhika Apte (Actor)
    A different kind of superhero
    October 29, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Akshay Kumar is known for his man's man action hero image, but lately he's become Bollywood's unlikely onscreen hero for the cause of public health and sanitation. In last year's Toilet, Akshay Kumar played a man whose marriage begins to unravel because his new wife cannot accept the lack of a toilet in their home. The film's unabashed focus on toilets and what goes in them may seem like crass humor, but it actually broaches the very serious issue of improving sanitary conditions in rural India. In this year's Pad Man, he plays a man whose marriage begins to unravel because of sanitary pads. The film is produced by writer Twinkle Khanna, whose short story "The Sanitary Man of Sacred Land"... [read more]
  18. The World Sings Danny Chan The World Sings Danny Chan Hong Kong Various Artists
    Oh Danny Boy
    September 30, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    If he was alive, September 7, 2018, would have been Danny Chan's 60th birthday. Though the legendary singer has long left us, his many hit songs remain as classic representatives of eighties Hong Kong music and Cantopop ballads. To commemorate Danny's 60th birthday, Universal Music launched a special project that included a memorial concert and the tribute album The World Sings Danny Chan produced by veteran Alan Tsui. The album begins with Alan Tam's version of "Cherish Today" (Track 1) and the classic encouraging line of "Put down your worries / Please cherish today." The original song is probably the best example of how Danny's music blended traditional "xiao diao" melody with a... [read more]
  19. Mirai no Theme / Uta no Kisha (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Mirai no Theme / Uta no Kisha (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Yamashita Tatsuro
    Music from Mirai, Sounds from the Past
    September 6, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    When I first heard Yamashita Tatsuro's latest single, I smiled at the singer-songwriter's timeless ability to write new songs that sound like old songs. At the time, I had not yet watched Hosoda Mamoru's animated feature film Mirai for which the songs were made. After watching Mirai, I now smile at the songs for capturing the sentiments of the film so perfectly in melody form. Yamashita previously created the beautiful theme song Bokura no Natsu no Yume for Hosoda's 2009 film Summer Wars (an acoustic live version of that song is included on this single). For Mirai, he made the theme song Mirai no Theme ("Theme of Mirai") and ending theme Uta no Kisha ("Music Train"), which are delightful... [read more]
  20. Goodbye Mr. Loser (2015) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Goodbye Mr. Loser (2015) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Ma Li (Actor) | Yin Zheng (Actor) | Ai Lun (Actor) | Shen Teng (Actor)
    From Mr. Loser to Mr. Billionaire
    August 27, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Since opening last month, Yan Fei and Peng Damo's comedy Hello Mr. Billionaire starring Shen Teng has grossed around 2.5 billion yuan to storm into China's top ten grossing films of all time. This is the third time in as many years that a Shen Teng film has broken into the top ten of China's rapidly refreshing box-office records, following 2017's Never Say Die and 2015's Goodbye Mr. Loser. In a mere three years, Shen Teng has gone from a mainly stage and skit actor into a household name and box-office force. The film that started it all is the sleeper hit Goodbye Mr. Loser. In 2015, directors Yan Fei and Peng Damo, star Shen Teng and other members of the Beijing theater troupe Mahua Fun Age... [read more]
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