Asian Cinema Scene (Ong Bak 2; As Tears Go By; Heibon Punch; The Host)

Welcome to the first weekly edition of Asian Cinema Scene. I've written about Asian films under this moniker irregularly in the past; from now on, you can look forward to a fresh new post every Monday. (Unless something emerges from a river and snatches me in its tentacles.) Some weeks I'll concentrate on one film; today I'll roundup a few items of interest from the past week.

Sweet treat. The awesome Thai action flick Chocolate got midnight screenings Friday and Saturday in select markets, courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. It looks great on the big screen, especially with an appreciative audience, but if you missed it, don't despair; look for details on the DVD release in tomorrow's Spin-ematical.

Non-deals. Will recent higher-profile Asian flicks like Tony Jaa's Ong Bak 2 or John Woo's Red Cliff (with the two parts edited into one epic) ever sell to US distributors? The European Film Market is happening this week in Berlin, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we hear something. Meanwhile, Red Cliff 2 is opening across Asia in staggered release; check one of the trailers below.

Consumer beware. DVD label Dragon Dynasty has taken a serious backward step with their decision to release The Enforcer (AKA My Father is a Hero), starring Jet Li, without the original-language Cantonese audio track. Mark Pollard of Kung Fu Cinema reviewed the new edition in detail, and also posted a response by Genius Products, distributor of the Dragon Dynasty line, to criticism expressed online, in which they claim no usable version of the original audio was available in time for the release. It's a good, crunchy action flick directed by Corey Yuen, and deserves better.

After the jump: Variety Asia says goodbye. Plus, which four films are represented in the image above? No peeking!



Goodbye, news source. One week ago, Variety Asia was shuttered. A major, reliable source of English-language news was lost, and Asia editor Patrick Frater and Hong Kong correspondence and web editor Marcus Lim were let go. Likewise, Grady Hendrix's lively and informative Kaiju Shakedown blog was shut down (for the second time). All will be sorely missed, especially at a time when accurate English-language information about Asian films has been in short supply.

Image identities. Did you get all four movies that make up the image at the top of this post? Left to right: Ong Bak 2 (Thailand); Wong Kar Wai's As Tears Go By (Hong Kong); Heibon Punch (Japan); and multi-tentacled The Host (South Korea).