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      Asian Films Are Go!
    Seeing scars

    The annual Asian Films Are Go! festival brings the good, the bad and plenty of the ugly from Asian cinema to downtown Manhattan.


    Call me a coward. I admit it.

    I've already fallen victim to one outlandish Subway Cinema offering — the Korean film "The Isle," just out on video, whose gruesome scenes landed me in the New York Post's Page Six as the queasy-stomached critic who stumbled out of the screening and blacked out in the lobby. So I decided not to risk it again this year by reviewing the even more hyper-gory "Ichi the Killer" (pictured above) in these pages. But rest assured, there's plenty more edgy Asian cinema in this year's edition of the "Asian Films Are Go!" festival.


    Related links: Official site
    Asian Films Are Go! 2003
  • Overview
  • Double Agent
  • Double Vision
  • Out

  • Ping Pong
  • Runaway Pistol
  • So Close
  • Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

  • Previous years' festivals
  • When Korean Cinema Attacks! (2001)
  • Asian Films Are Go! (2002)

  • Official site
    At least once a year, our scheming friends at Subway Cinema perpetrate on New York some of the latest highlights of Asian film from Japan to Thailand to India. It's one of the least festival-y of festivals — rather than shoestring independents, little-seen documentaries and self-conscious art films, we get a sampling of what's actually been seen over the last couple years by audiences in East, South and Southeast Asia. It's an unusual mix of:

  • Gross-out monstrosities, like "Ichi the Killer" and "Graveyard of Honor" from "Audition's" Takashi Miike.

  • Crimefests from Japan ("Versus") to Hong Kong ("Runaway Pistol") to Thailand ("Killer Tattoo") to India ("Company").

  • Potentially U.S.-releasable features like the Taiwanese "Double Vision" which teams American actor David Morse with Hong Kong star Tony Leung.

  • Major productions that look like sophisticated foreign fare to us but represent the mainstream in their home countries, with Hollywood-like production values but art-film intelligence. Joining well-made Korean entries like "Joint Security Area" and "The Isle" in previous years' festivals are some more high-profile Korean pictures, including the North-South spy potboiler "Double Agent."

  • And the just plain unexpected, like the fun Japanese high-school table-tennis — yes, table-tennis — epic "Ping Pong." There's also, of all things, a banned erotic romance from Korea called "Too Young to Die" — a title that makes sense when you know that the explicitly filmed, bed-crazy lovers are in their 70s. I didn't review this one either, because — well, call me a coward. I admit it.

  • Festival articles



    Double Agent

    The story of a spy within South Korean intelligence is told with grim, engaging realism.


    Double Vision

    Looks very much like a lost Chinese episode of "The X-Files," but it's still a good, weird ride starring Hong Kong star Tony Leung and American actor David Morse.



    A surprisingly good-natured black comedy about corpse mutilation by mistreated Japanese housewives.


    Ping Pong

    The surprisingly wonderful "Ping Pong" is part high-school jock movie, part high-flying martial-arts epic, except with table tennis.


    Runaway Pistol

    If guns and killing are what you want to see, go ahead and watch this Hong Kong film but don't go looking for any further significance in its story of a pistol's journey from one owner to another.


    So Close

    Two hit-woman sisters and a maverick cop take on Hong Kong's bad guys in "So Close," a fun ride if what you want in a movie is long, shapely legs kicking ass.


    Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

    A visionary nightmare from Korea built on a cycle of revenge that only begets more revenge.

    MAY 15, 2003

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