Power Kids (Thailand): So it's been over two decades since Die Hard made the movie pitch infinitely more efficient, and far by it from me to botch tradition, because this flick is basically Die Hard in a hospital... only with four ass-kicking kids going up against terrorists instead of one intrepid adult cop. Did I mention that they're after the donor heart for their youngest brother's emergency surgery? The kids, I mean, not the terrorists (they're there for the U.S. Ambassador, natch). And kick ass, they do, while taking a fair share of licks in return. Power Kids feels like it was made in the spirit of a Saturday matinee and was meant for kids of all ages, despite all the close-range semi-automatic fire and sepia-toned war flashbacks (not to mention the occasional f-bomb from the boorish American), but if the idea of some moppets Muay Thai-ing their way through bad guy after bad guy sounds good to you, I struggle to think that this would disappoint.

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Instant Swamp (Japan): The use of the word 'quirky' often lends itself to swift dismissal, but while that's primarily what Satoshi Miki's comedy is (and then some), it tends to do right by the label, if only for its first hour. Kumiko Aso (Pulse) plays a Manic Pixie Dream Girl young woman enduring a mid-life crisis when her mother falls into a coma and the identity of her father appears to reveal itself, and it's her spirited performance that keeps things lively enough once the initial sugar rush has worn off up until a pretty peculiar deus ex machina pops up. (I can't help but believe, though, that this same story in any English-language incarnation would be easily written off as twee overload, and truth be told, I probably wouldn't disagree in such a case.)




Legendary Assassin (Hong Kong): As Jackie Chan and Jet Li spend their days not quite retiring from film, it's about time for some young buck martial artist not named Tony Jaa to take his place, and judging from this, Wu Jing may have the physical dexterity and stoic demeanor to pull it off. Trapped on an outlying island of Hong Kong by an approaching typhoon, his fairly inconspicuous drifter develops a knack for rescuing super-cute cop Celina Jade from tough spots and finds himself inadvertantly courting the favor of the entire police squad when a crew of mob enforcers shows up, looking for the man who happens to have their late boss' severed head... It's a typical fish-out-of-water/forbidden-love scenario, livened up with every fight sequence and dragged down by maudlin flashbacks. In other words, it's formula, but it's fun.

(FanTasia report #1)