Friday, July 8, 2011

Wuxia, Superheroes, and Martial Arts Overload This Saturday at Walter Reade for NYAFF

Weekend two of the NYAFF has already arrived and Saturday the Walter Reade Theater is going to be screening some serious excitement folks. keep in mind that I don't list everything that's playing. I'm sure the movie about the autistic kid is great, but that's not really what this blogs about. We like shit that kicks ass and blows shit up.

1:30 PM: Zu: Warriors From The Magic Mountain(1983)

NYFF says - "Understanding ZU is impossible. This is a cinematic experience, a journey into the essence of wu xia and a mad whirl of glorious chaos, savage speed and eye-bursting fantasy. The impact of ZU is hard to over-estimate. Imagine if lightning suddenly struck Hollywood and overnight and teleported it 20 years into the future. That’s what ZU did to the Hong Kong film industry. Determined to give martial arts movies Hollywood-calibre special effects and production values, young director Tsui Hark rounded up a massive budget, built huge sets and shanghaied Hollywood effects technicians from just-completed Star Trek: the Motion Picture and Star Wars and made a movie that dragged stuffy kung fu cinema kicking and screaming into the future with this frenetic whirlwind of special effects and screaming martial arts madness. Moving faster than the eye can follow, ZU is the silk to The Blade’s steel. It gracefully crams in 60 volumes of Lee Sau-man’s 1920′s martial arts novels about the Zu Mountains (“First to revolt, last to surrender.”) where it’s eternally night and the forces of good and evil clash in its abandoned temples and forgotten mountains. Starting with a blast of Saturday matinee music, armies clash pointlessly on dusty plains. Desperate to make it home alive, a hapless scout (Yuen Biao, Jackie Chan’s “younger brother”) seeks refuge in a ruined shrine where he’s attacked by flying zombies. Saved by a powerful swordsman (wu xia stalwart, Adam Cheng) the two of them wind up locked in an eternal battle in which the forces of evil are organized and efficient and the noble martial schools that oppose them are hobbled by moribund rules and dusty regulations.

With its delirious cutting, funky optical effects and breathless action, no wu xia is more surreal, more baroque or more totally bonkers than this one. The first movie to feature true flying swordsmen, it’s packed with cadres of heavily armed handmaidens, killer eyebrows, Blood Devils, Ten-Day Heart Venom, arcane Sky Mirrors, trippy celestial forts and characters who have no use for the laws of gravity. But it’s all used to tell the story of the kids who have to step up and save the world when all their old heroes have given in to despair. A call to revolution, a psychedelic fantasy film, an adrenaline-pumping wu xia movie…ZU: there’s nothing else quite like it."

Director Tsui Hark will be at the screening.

4 PM - Reign Of Assassins(2010) New York Premiere

NYAFF says - "Lady assassin Drizzle (Kelly Lin, Written By) knows better than anyone that it’s a jungle out there in the Ming Dynasty – every friend a traitor-in-waiting, every child ready to shank you. But when Drizzle and her fantastic-elastic “water-shedding” sword steal the sacred remains of a powerful monk whose kung-fu mastery was encoded in his rotting bones, she makes herself a target, and must go under the knife to become…Michelle Yeoh. Sure, why not? That karmic “face/off” is just the first twenty minutes of REIGN OF ASSASSINS, one of the crown jewels of NYAFF 2011 and a wu xia that gives Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon a run for its money.

Reborn as mild-mannered “Zeng Jing,” Drizzle forsakes her murderous past, settles down with a humble messenger (Korean superstar, Jung Woo-Sung) and embraces her existence as the most blade-happy housewife you’ve ever seen (“You really know how to use a knife! I’ve never seen such perfectly cut tofu!”). It’s all going swimmingly until one morning at the bank, when Drizzle’s old pals from the nefarious Dark Stone gang suddenly appear, threatening to drag her secret past screaming into the light.

REIGN OF ASSASSINS was a labor of love for Su Chao-Pin, whose wild-and-woolly career is being spotlit during this year’s festival. Working alongside Hong Kong master John Woo, who served as a close advisor on-set, Su eventually credited Woo as his “co-director,” and their cross-generational collaboration yields an eye-popping, emotionally compelling spectacle. The grotesques of the Dark Stone gang – from Barbie Hsu’s nymphomaniac bride, to Leon Dai’s “Magician” with his Technicolor dreamcoat of death, to soulful daddy-to-be Shawn Yue with his deadly acupressure needles – are a fearsome yet somehow pathetic lot. Every vicious swordsman leads a domestic double life, past sins dog their fleet feet and the shriek of sharp steel being drawn from its scabbard is their eternal soundtrack. Enjoy the action, but stay for the emotions: REIGN OF ASSASSINS is a wuxia with a heavy human heart."

Writer and co-director, Su Chao-pin, will be at the screening.

9 PM - Haunters(2010) New York Premiere

NYFF says - "50% horror movie, 50% superhero film and 100% Korean thriller, this is one dark, super-powered ride that became a big hit when it was released. Seoul, 1991: A little boy with a prosthetic leg is blindfolded, stumbling through the rain, clinging to his mother’s wrist. She orders him not to remove the blindfold, but when they reach home his abusive father begins beating his mother. In response, the boy removes the blindfold and uses his strange, glittering gaze to make Dad snap his own neck. When his mother fails to kill her telepathic spawn in his sleep, he wanders off into the night, a white-suited phantom lurking on the fringes of humanity, with only his model city to keep him company. From his vantage point, the rest of the world simply looks like…toys.

Seoul, 2010: Kyu-Nam (TV star Koo So) is an out-of-work laborer looking for a new gig. He answers an ad from the local pawn shop and everything seems to be going well until, on his first day of work, the silver-haired mystery man (Korean heartthrob, Gang Dong-Won, of Secret Reunion and M fame) walks in and begins robbing the till. Everyone in the store is helpless against his omnipotent glittering eyes – everyone except Kyu-Nam. So begins a mind-bending game of cat and mouse, with an entire city set against our working-class hero, who must band together with his screwed-up, foreign pals to take down an evil, psychic god who uses every single soul in Seoul as his pawns in a deadly hunt to eradicate the one man who can stand against him.

The directorial debut of Kim Min-Suk, the screenwriter behind The Good, The Bad and the Weird, HAUNTERS is the dizzying lovechild of Unbreakable and The Fugitive, a genre beast that mixes pulse-pounding thrills with gut-wrenching moments like a woman forced to toss her helpless baby in front of a speeding train. This box office hit from Korea shows the dark side of the X-men, portraying a world where the only people with superpowers are psychopaths and it’s up the normal folks to step up and shut them down."

and for the Midnite Action Spectacular- BKO: Bangkok Knockout(2010)

This is the kind of shit Midnite was invented for, and the best part about it is you can still wallow in post-work drunkiness for a couple of hours before the film starts. It would actually probably make it that much more exciting.

Time Out New York says - “Somebody was smoking something when they came up with this endearingly goofy Thai action film in which a group of movie stuntpeople are unwittingly recruited for a Survivor-esque competition. The movie begins like a manic Eastern parody of The Hangover, but then the martial-arts goodies come fast and furious: cage fights, dirt-bike fu, men in iron masks wielding flaming swords. There’s even a hospital musical number”

Walter Reade Theater, West 65th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave, on the upper level, Upper West Side

and now for the best part...Trailage!!!

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