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The Golden Rock - 2010 HKAFF - End of Week 1 Edition

Finished my first week at the 2010 Hong Kong Asian Film Festival with 16 films so far. I’m condensing everything since Tuesday into one entry to make the length worth your while.

Vengeance Can Wait (2010, Japan, Director Masanori Tominaga) - This Japanese comedy feels like a stage play (and it was), as most of it is set in one location. The strange rivalry story between two woman and a really creepy guy starts out a little too dry for me, but it ends with some really great set pieces. Tadanobu Asano gives an awesome performance as a man who has a really weird ways of exacting revenge. OK, but forgettable indie stuff.

The Butcher, The Chef, and The Swordsman (2010, China, Director: Wuershan) - The MTV editing and flashy images sent my tried eyes straight to sleep, but what I stayed up for was OK, though over-the-top acting was borderline annoying. Will revisit this when it comes out in March 2011.

Tokyo Godfathers (2003, Japan, Director: Satoshi Kon) - My favorite film of Satoshi Kon’s so far (sans MILLENNIUM ACTRESS). A real crowd-pleasing urban adventure filled with miracles has plenty of likable characters and humor to make it a delightful treat of a movie. It even has an unreal action sequence in the end to earn its animation form.

Johnnie’s Got His Gun (2010, France/Hong Kong, Director: Yves Montmayeur) - When the gunshots came over the film’s title, I was already groaning audibly at this fanboy project about Johnnie To’s cops-and-robbers movies. Not only does it simply feature fluff material about Johnnie To (interviews on a festival’s press junket?), its portrayal of Hong Kong (guy smoking at his window? oooooh, shady!) reinforces the worst stereotypes about To’s movies. Worst “documentary” I’ve seen all year. Guys, he made movies that didn’t have guns too.

Taipei Exchanges (2010, Taiwan, Director: Hsiao Ya Chuan) - A really pleasant dramedy about a woman who opens a cafe in Taipei that becomes a bartering business. Guey Lun Mei and Zaizai Lin are great, and the film has plenty of charm, but characters feel underdeveloped and story lacked substance. Still, an enjoyable film for what it is, and I’m a sucker for urban stories.

Dabangg (2010, India, Director: Abhinav Singh Kahyap) - Despite all the shoddy storytelling, lackluster script, and bad subtitles, DABANGG is a hell of a time at the movies. It’s loud, fast, and totally ridiculous, but I somehow got the idea that the filmmakers know it, too. Salman Khan stars as a corrupted cop who becomes kind of a good guy and defeats corrupted politicians. The action is over-the-top as hell, and the final fight is even straight out of FLASHPOINT. Still, any movie where cars are propelled as they explode just for visuals is a hell of a good time for me, especially when there’s vibrating seats in the theater.

After watching this, who doesn’t want to be like Salman Khan?

Tomorrow: Booooooonmee, and Kitano yakuza badass-ery

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