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Eclectic Asian Cinema at the 2011 Japan Cuts and NYAFF

For Asian cinema fans, there are plenty of films to get excited about this Summer, courtesy of two great film festivals in New York, offering a selection that consists of both the new and the old. Japan Society's Japan Cuts and Subway Cinema's New York Asian Film Festival are two film festivals that will run throughout next month, even overlapping their schedules to co-present a few Japanese films. With special guests, world premieres and celebratory screenings of beloved cult classics, these two are the go-to events in July.

I'll be covering both fests closely as they roll out and we'll have reviews for many of the films, but here are some of the screenings that I consider must-sees.

Celebratory Screenings

NYAFF and Japan Cuts are co-presenting a screening of Battle Royale. This alone should fill the cult classic quota of the fest, but NYAFF is not stopping there. They will also screen Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, Ryuhei Kitamura's Versus and Tsui Hark's martial arts masterpiece The Blade. These are 101 films if you want to get into the new wave of Asian cult genre pics, so a chance to see them on the big screen is quite an opportunity.

Special Guests

Those screenings come with appearances! Tsui Hark will show up not only at the screening of The Blade, but also for the other films of his being screened, like Dragon Inn, Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain, and his latest, Detective Dee: The Mystery of the Phantom Flame.

Japanese star Tak Sakaguchi has come a long way since starring in Versus. A director now, he'll be bringing his latest movie, Yakuza Weapon, to its New York premiere.

There's also a special focus on Su Chao-pin, a Taiwanese director who is known as a blockbuster talent in his home country, yet relatively underappreciated in the West because when it comes to Taiwanese cinema, we tend to only latch onto arthouse filmmakers like Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Tsai Ming-liang. Su Chao-pin will bring along his first movie The Cabbie, his sex comedy BTS: Better Than Sex, and his latest, the kung fu epic co-directed with John Woo, Reign of Assassins.

Korean Revenge Thrillers

What is it about Koreans and their violent paybacks? International-wise, Park Chan-wook blew the lid off with Oldboy all those years ago, and ever since then, it's just been pouring great revenge films from South Korea. NYAFF will have a bunch of promising ones like Bedevilled (a Korean Deliverance with ladies), The Man from Nowhere (#1 in Korean box office in 2010, beating out Inception) and The Unjust (the latest epic from the director of the action-packed City of Violence).

The spotlight, though, will be on director Na Hong-jin and his much anticipated second film The Yellow Sea, making its New York premiere. The festival will also show the dark thriller that launched his career, The Chaser, a superb film that I like to refer to as Pimp vs Serial Killer.

Premieres

Yes, a lot of these movies are on this side of the American shores for the first time. Or at least on this coast for the first time. The opening night film, Milocrorze: A Love Story, is making its North American Premiere. It's a hilarious anthology film, full of absurd humor and poppy visuals. A pretty great way to kick things off.

Also making its North American Premiere is the 141 minutes Director's Cut version of Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins. It's an already dense film that's been given some extra screen time to let loose. It's one of Miike's best, and as such, worthy of the treatment.

Speaking of Miike, NYAFF and Japan Cuts are also co-presenting the World Premiere of Ninja Kids!!! It's a really fun children's film, based on the long-running anime Nintama Rantaro, yet another proof that the known-for-his-gorefests Miike may be the most versatile director alive, if not ever.

Schedule

Navigating two festivals at once can be daunting, especially trying to keep straight which is when. Below is a combined schedule for the films from both fests, with links to purchase tickets. NYAFF films will be at the Walter Reade theater at the Lincoln Center, while japan Cuts films will be at the Japan Society building.

For more info, hit up the Subway Cinema blog and the Japan Society website.

FRIDAY, JULY 1
Sell Out 6 PM
Milocrorze: A Love Story 9 PM
Horny House of Horror + Dark on Dark MIDNIGHT

SATURDAY, JULY 2
BKO: Bangkok Knockout 12:15 PM
Punished 2:30 PM
13 Assassins: Director's Cut 4:30 PM
Shaolin 7:30 PM
Machete Maidens Unleashed! 10:15 PM
Raw Force MIDNIGHT

SUNDAY, JULY 3
A Boy and His Samurai 12:30 PM
Duel to the Death 2:45 PM
Karate-Robo Zaborgar 4:45 PM
Ninja Kids!!! 7 PM
Buddha Mountain 9:10 PM

MONDAY, JULY 4
Abraxas 1 PM
Sell Out 3:30 PM
A Boy and His Samurai 6:30 PM
The Last Days of the World 9 PM

TUESDAY, JULY 5
Buddha Mountain 1:30 PM
The Recipe 3:45 PM
Abraxas 6:15 PM
Karate-Robo Zaborgar 8:45 PM

WEDNESDAY, JULY 6
Foxy Festival 1 PM
The Unjust 3:30 PM
Haunters 6:15 PM
Bedevilled 8:45 PM

THURSDAY, JULY 7
Ocean Heaven 1:15 PM
BTS: Better Than Sex 3:30 PM
The Man From Nowhere 6:15 PM
Osamu Tezuka's Buddha 6:45 PM
Shaolin 9 PM
Ringing in Their Ears 9 PM

FRIDAY, JULY 8
The Last Days of the World 1:15 PM
The Cabbie 3:30 PM
Ocean Heaven 6:45 PM
Love & Loathing & Lulu & Ayano 7 PM
Foxy Festival 9 PM
Battle Royale 9:15 PM
Riki-Oh: The Story Of Ricky MIDNIGHT

SATURDAY, JULY 9
Gantz: The Movie, Part 1 12:30 PM
Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain 1:30 PM
Gantz, Part II: Perfect Answer 3 PM
Reign of Assassins 4 PM
Ninja Kids!!! 6 PM
The Recipe 7 PM
Yakuza Weapon 8:15 PM
Haunters 9:30 PM
BKO: Bangkok Knockout MIDNIGHT

SUNDAY, JULY 10
Osamu Tezuka's Buddha 12:30 PM
Reign of Assassins 1 PM
Heaven’s Story 2:45 PM
Dragon Inn 4 PM
Bedevilled 7 PM
Milocrorze: A Love Story 8 PM
Punished 9:30 PM

MONDAY, JULY 11
Ringing in Their Ears 1:30 PM
Love and Loathing and Lulu and Ayano 3:30 PM
The Blade 6 PM
Detective Dee: The Mystery of the Phantom Flame 8:30 PM

TUESDAY, JULY 12
MSFF Shorts 12:30 PM
Troubleshooter 2:30 PM
Versus 5 PM
Sword of Desperation 6:30 PM
Yakuza Weapon 7:45 PM
The Last Ronin 9 PM
Horny House of Horror + Dark on Dark 10:15 PM

WEDNESDAY, JULY 13
MSFF Shorts 1 PM
City of Violence 3:30 PM
Battlefield Heroes 6:15 PM
Rinco’s Restaurant 6:30 PM
Birthright (a.k.a. Umbilical Cord) 9 PM
The Unjust 9 PM

THURSDAY, JULY 14
Battlefield Heroes 12:30 PM
The Chaser 3:15 PM
Troubleshooter 6:15 PM
Rail Truck 6:30 PM
Yuki and Nina 9 PM
The Yellow Sea 9 PM

FRIDAY, JULY 15
Toilet 6:15 PM
Three☆Points 8:30 PM

SATURDAY, JULY 16
Love Addiction 2:30 PM
The Seaside Motel 4:30 PM
A Liar and a Broken Girl 7:15 PM
Love and Treachery 10:30 PM

SUNDAY, JULY 17
The Knot 2 PM
Torso 4 PM
Strangers in the City 6:15 PM
A Night in Nude: Salvation 9 PM

TUESDAY, JULY 19
Sketches of Kaitan City 6:30 PM
Control Tower 9:30 PM

WEDNESDAY, JULY 20
Haru’s Journey 7 PM

THURSDAY, JULY 21
Vengeance Can Wait 7 PM
Wandering Home 9 PM

FRIDAY, JULY 22
Into the White Night 7 PM

Jun
23
2011
Arya Ponto • Contributor

As former Editor of JPP, Arya likes to entertain peeps with his thoughts on pop culture, when he's not busy watching Battle Royale for the 200th time. He lives in Brooklyn with a comic book collection that's always the most daunting thing to move with, and writes for Artboiled.com.

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