Late June in NYC can only mean one thing - the start of the New York Asian Film Festival. This will actually be my first year missing the fest, but there's no reason why I can't sing its praises from all the way down here in Austin. As I happen to be neck deep in film festival stuff myself (along with lots of other crappy stuff), I have an idea about some of the films being screened and from looking at the list I think I can tell you without any reservation that the film you're going to want to see - and I mean don't miss at any cost - is Yosuke Fujita's FINE TOTALLY FINE, which will soon be one of the big hits of the festival circuit. This one's going to get around and will garner a lot of fans in its wake. That's all I can say.
Doing down the list, the few films I've seen already include such previously HQ 10-reviewed films as DAINIPPONJIN and Johnnie To's MAD DETECTIVE (To's brand new film, the sublime-looking SPARROW, is also showing at NYAFF, and I'm pissed I'm missing it). I've seen THE BUTCHER and don't agree with this review, but can understand why someone would feel that way, while I haven't seen anything else on the bill but wouldn't mind checking them out. I know that Grady, Marc, Brian, Goran, and that other guy have been busting their asses as usual on this year's fest and my hat's off to them for doing that voodoo that they do so well once again. If you're in NYC, by all means go!
Meanwhile, I have to admit that for the first time in a long time I'm psyched by a trailer (or show reel, in this case) for an upcoming Asian action film, this one being Tony Jaa's directorial debut, ONG BAK 2. These trailers have become a dime a dozen, showing two minutes of kicking and punching that usually keeps me away from the film in question, but I think I'm seeing something very unique here. The first film was fairly entertaining, but not the ground breaker that some thought it was (I much preferred BORN TO FIGHT, from the same stunt team) but I'm looking at this thing and I'm just, like, damn! I mean, they're fighting on top of elephants for Christ's sake! Elephants! Check it out here:
From what I understand the thing is nowhere near finished (Jaa has been filming it for a long time), but it's supposed to be out on Thailand some time in the fall, which means the imports and bootlegs will hit in January/February. Gotta admit, I can't wait.