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    Image from the Japanese film Freeze Me. in Asian Films Are Go!
    Image from the Japanese film "Freeze Me."

    A peek at Asian film

    The "Asian Films Are Go" festival spotlights films that have taken their home countries — from Japan to India — by storm but haven't yet been seen in the States.


    Between April 26 and May 2 you can get your Asian cinema fix at Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue at 2nd Street. Eleven recent films from South Korea, Japan, Thailand, India and Hong Kong are on the agenda. Thai blockbuster "Bang Rajan" is the must-see of the group. It's a masterful depiction of medieval warfare as a heroic village makes a valiant stand against the invading Burmese army.

    Eleven films from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, India and more.
    Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Ave. (at Second Street)

    In the other important film, "Dil Se," Bollywood superstar Shakrhut Khan as radio reporter Amarkanth Varma is at the middle of a love triangle smack between two attractive women, Meghna and Preeti. Add to that an assassination plot on the eve of India's 50th anniversary celebrations in Delhi and breathtaking shots of Ladakh mountainscapes in this Tibetan-influenced region. Every twenty minutes or so come the expected dance sequences, including the already famous one atop a steam train chugging across the Indian countryside.

    The Japanese and South Korean entries are more of an acquired taste. Logic takes a two-hour break in "Pistol Opera," about a Japanese female assassins' league. Pistols pop and bodies drop, but with the stylishness of Japanese interior design coupled with traditional theater. Meanwhile, "Freeze Me" is an energetic and macabre thriller about an abused woman who fills her freezer with the remains of those who do her wrong. And "Visitor Q," banned in New Zealand, promises plenty of grossout scenes in the story of a twisted family into incest, torture and lactation.

    It's the dating game South Korean style in "My Sassy Girl." Baby-faced Tae-hyun Cha as Kyun-woo picks up a completely wasted Ji-hyun Jun on the Seoul subway, but she turns out to be one mean chick who completely takes over his life. When she asks repeatedly “Wanna die?” you just know he'll carry out orders.

    There is plenty of “Wanna die?” (but mercifully no guns) in another South Korean import "Kick the Moon." A principled small town high school teacher at Gamgsan High takes on his former classmate now chief local gangster responsible for turning Choi's clearly overage students into budding thugs in his Nami gang. They're rivals over an attractive but overworked noodle shop owner as well. This is maybe the most accessible comedy of the festival.

    Storyline continuity is not among the strong point in many of these films, nor is easy emotional readability. Humor comes off as sophomoric, but the wild plot twists more than compensate by creating their own rhythm. Just remember that plot summaries may not always be the best indicator of an interesting film — best to take a chance.

    APRIL 26, 2002

    Reader comments on Asian Films Are Go!:

  • hello   from joun, Jul 26, 2002
  • hi   from ayumi, Feb 15, 2003

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