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4:00 PM on 08.22.2014

Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen are a match made in heaven in this Outcast trailer

What do you get when you cross an actor who can't seem to say no, and an actor who can't afford to say no? You get Outcast, the absolutely insane looking film where Hayden Christensen teams up with a British accent spewing N...

Nick Valdez


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Celebrate the launch of the Terra Battle Download Starter campaign by following them on Twitter to receive 5 Energy to get a jumpstart once the game launches. Developed by the legendary Final Fantasy creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Terra Battle launches in October..






NYAFF Review: Silent Witness photo
NYAFF Review: Silent Witness
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Before the screening of Silent Witness, it was introduced as an example of what mainstream Chinese filmmaking is like in the modern era. Many of the films that play at the New York Asian Film Festival fit into some sort of niche, meaning we get a skewed vision of what Asian cinema is. There are the big films that duke it out with American blockbusters in the big theaters, and either they never hit our shores or they don't show in places that most people see.

If Silent Witness is anything to go by, that's a shame, because Chinese mainstream cinema is alive and well. The quality of its production is undeniable and its narrative is as compelling as anything to come from Hollywood in the past couple of years.

[For the next month, we will be covering the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival and the Japan-centric Japan Cuts. Click here for more information, and check back here and here for all of the Asian film coverage you can shake a stick at.]

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10:00 AM on 07.09.2014

Transformers 4 becomes the highest grossing movie in China ever

Damn it, China. What happened to you? You used to be cool. This is why we can't have nice things.  [via Variety]

Matthew Razak



NYAFF Review: As the Light Goes Out photo
NYAFF Review: As the Light Goes Out
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

There’s something uniquely fascinating about firefighters. When they arrive on a scene, they aren’t armed to the teeth and ready to take down some villain; they are there to save lives. That’s pretty much their entire job. Whether that is by putting out fires so they don’t spread, running into burning buildings to find people trapped in the blaze, or bringing kittens down from high up branches so little old ladies don’t die from loneliness, they are there for the sole purpose of minimizing body count.

This doesn’t make them better than police officers or soldiers or other armed forces, but when the bad guy is thick smoke, no one is going to think about its family when it is ultimately taken down. No one feels bad for a fire. There is only the heroism of the people who stop it.

As the Light Goes Out taps into that heroism, although its portrayal of the people beneath the helmets isn’t always the most sympathetic.

[For the next month, we will be covering the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival and the Japan-centric Japan Cuts. Click here for more information, and check back here and here for all of the Asian film coverage you can shake a stick at.]

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NYCFF Review: So Young photo
NYCFF Review: So Young
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I'm still young. Young enough that I can understand and generally relate to the characters in So Young, but also old enough to see just how silly they actually are. It's an odd place to be, and it leaves me wishing I was a few years older. Being young, or so young, anyway, is overrated. The desire to recapture that magical age where nothing really matters seems to miss just how awful it is when nothing really matters. I'm past that, mostly, and I'm thankful for it. I look at some of my younger friends, still at that point, and they want more responsibility, to age and for things to mean something. The more realistic of them know that life doesn't end in college.

So Young would disagree, choosing to believe that nothing really matters after college (or even high school, in some cases). What happens then are the defining moments and driving forces for the characters' lives, ones that stick with them for years beyond. And that's not cute or romantic.

It's just sad.

[This review is being posted as part of our coverage of the New York Chinese Film Festival. All of our coverage can be found here.]

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Watch out for the 2013 New York Chinese Film Festival photo
Watch out for the 2013 New York Chinese Film Festival
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

[Just a reminder that this is going on! I was hoping to have my review of So Young up by now to act as a reminder, but I have been at the AMC Empire all day and it's made writing kind of hard. Am still there, actually, and will continue to be for two more films. So come join me! And if you go to one of the Donnie Yen films tomorrow, you may see a ghost of Flixist past, Hubert Vigilla (RIP)!]

See? I told you there were more festivals for New Yorkers to get excited for. The latest is the 4th annual New York Chinese Film Festival, which will be taking place from Tuesday, November 5th through the 7th at various locations around New York City. The festival will be showing seven films over the three days (with the bulk of the showings taking place on Wednesday). It's a pretty good lineup, with a mixture of new films, new-ish films, and Donnie Yen classics.

And like all good film festivals, special guests from each of the films will be attending the festival, including Zhao Wei, Miriam Yeung, and Donnie Yen.

More information about the festival and the films can be found below, and tickets can be purchased here or here.

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Review: CZ12 (Chinese Zodiac) photo
Review: CZ12 (Chinese Zodiac)
by Hubert Vigilla

When the first promo/trailer hit for CZ12 (aka Chinese Zodiac), I bought into the hype and the possibility of the film. When news landed that CZ12 was going to be Jackie Chan's last big action movie, I was eager to see how he'd cap his career. If this was the last hurrah for Chan's crazy action films, how would it all end?

Best case scenario, I felt CZ12 would serve as a kind of crescendo, a mix of "Jackie Chan's greatest hits" and "Jackie Chan's still go it." Like the little phrases of offense in one of his fights, I hoped the film would be a flourish of creativity followed by a brief moment of heroic posing/reflection.

I really shouldn't have gotten my hopes up.

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Interview: Jia Zhangke & Zhao Tao (A Touch of Sin) photo
Interview: Jia Zhangke & Zhao Tao (A Touch of Sin)
by Hubert Vigilla

Jia Zhangke has been called one of the most important filmmakers in the world by Richard Brody of The New Yorker and John Powers of NPR. This isn't just because his films are well made. Jia occupies an interesting place in contemporary Chinese cinema as an artist and social critic. He's a prominent member of the so-called Sixth Generation, a group of underground directors who made their movies on low budgets and outside of government censors. Since his fourth film, 2004's The World, Jia has released his work through the normal film bureaucracy, and yet his social consciousness hasn't faltered. 2008's 24 City blended documentary footage with fictional elements in order to explore China's economic and cultural history in a manner that breaks from the official historical narrative of the Communist Party.

In A Touch of Sin (now playing in New York and opening in Los Angeles this Friday), Jia turns his lens on four loosely connected vignettes, each inspired by an actual event. It's a fascinating collage of the country as it continues to progress while simultaneously leaving many of its citizen behind. The result of such disparities is violence. The film won Best Screenplay at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Last week I had a chance to speak with Jia Zhangke and his wife Zhao Tao (star of several of his films, including A Touch of  Sin) while they were in town for the New York Film Festival.

[For the next few weeks, we'll be covering the 2013 New York Film Festival, now in its 51st year. Flixist will provide you with reviews, video, news, and features on some of the best films on the festival circuit. To check out all of our coverage of NYFF51, click here.]

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Review: A Touch of Sin photo
Review: A Touch of Sin
by Hubert Vigilla

It's remarkable what a little context can do. My initial impressions about A Touch of Sin were generally positive but also ambivalent. I wasn't sure of what to make of the four loosely connected vignettes, each a mix of righteous anger and violence. If I were from Mainland China, it would be readily apparent, but all I could discern initially was the film's larger commentary on the plight of the lower class and how desperation moves people to violence.

The film clicked when I heard about two of its driving principles. First, each of the four vignettes in A Touch of Sin is based on a true story that made headlines across Mainland China. Second, though this is not a kung fu film, director Jia Zhangke was loosely inspired by the wuxia genre when approaching this material. (Look for our interview with Zhangke and actress Zhao Tao next week).

Suddenly the film's larger vision and tragic ironies became apparent, as did its ballsiness as a work of social criticism.

[For the next few weeks, we'll be covering the 2013 New York Film Festival, now in its 51st year. Flixist will provide you with reviews, video, news, and features on some of the best films on the festival circuit. To check out all of our coverage of NYFF51, click here.]

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Review: Ip Man: The Final Fight photo
Review: Ip Man: The Final Fight
by Hubert Vigilla

In the review for The Legend Is Born: Ip Man, I mentioned how the character of Yip Man seems to be turning into the new Wong Fei-Hung. Here's a real-life historical figure who's suddenly become an idealized version of the real-life historical figure on the big screen.

Countless actors have played Wong Fei-Hung -- Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Gordon Liu, Vincent Zhao, Kwan Tak Hing -- but in an odd way, they weren't really playing Wong Fei-Hung. The actors played themselves in Wong Fei-Hung garb. Think of actors playing Abraham Lincoln, who are really just giving their interpretation of Abraham Lincoln.

What's interesting with The Final Fight is the stunt casting. Rather than a martial artist playing Yip Man, it's the venerable Hong Kong actor Anthony Wong. The result, as Steve over at Unseen Films said to me a couple days ago, is the human side of Yip Man, or maybe it's the human side of Anthony Wong wearing a Yip Man costume.

[This review was originally posted as part of our 2013 New York Asian Film Festival coverage. It has been reposted to coincide with the limited theatrical release of the film.]

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Jackie Chan planning a theme park called JC World photo
Jackie Chan planning a theme park called JC World
by Hubert Vigilla

During an event in Beijing, Jackie Chan said he's interested in creating his own theme park in Yizhuang. According to the Malaysia Times, the park will be called JC World. The two square kilometer park will be comprised of five different sections, each providing visitors with a different cultural experience. Chan is partnering with an unnamed Chinese organization in the endeavor.

The Hollywood Reporter wonders if this will be an amusement park with rides, but it sounds more like a giant museum, which will feature furniture, jewelry, and antique Chinese buildings that Chan purchased and restored. Chan said the following:

I was very poor when I was a child, so when I had money later on, I bought all sorts of things and went around the world collecting them. I want to exhibit all my stuff. They may not all be worth a lot of money, but they may have a story behind them.

This isn't the only unexpected Chan project to be announced. As we reported a few months ago, Chan is also planning  an autobiographic stage musical. That's all well and good, but I still think that Jackie Chan should make a modern-day silent film or do a remake of It's Always Fair Weather with Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao.

[Malaysia Times via The Hollywood Reporter]

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10:00 AM on 09.03.2013

Chinese PLA officer claims Pacific Rim is propaganda

According to a statement in People's Liberation Army Daily, Zhang Jieli (a PLA officer), wrote that Hollywood uses movies as a way to convey American propaganda to the world. Sure big Hollywood films could have big 'Meri...

Nick Valdez



Review: The Grandmaster photo
Review: The Grandmaster
by Hubert Vigilla

While Donnie Yen kicked off the Ip Man craze back in 2008, you could argue that Wong Kar Wai was partially responsible. Wong had announced his own Ip Man film prior to the Yen picture even being conceived, but it took ages to finally complete it. That years-long production was arduous. Wong's go-to actor Tony Leung, who doesn't have a martial arts background, had to learn Wing Chun in order to play Ip Man; he broke his arm twice, once during training and another time while filming. Actress Zhang Ziyi spent six grueling months, 12 hours a day, learning Bagua-style (Baguazhang) so she could fight like a true master.

In the interim, Donnie Yen put out two Ip Man films (with a 3D sequel still in the works), Herman Yau did two of his own (The Legend is Born: Ip Man and Ip Man: The Final Fight), and there was also an Ip Man television series.

Each Ip Man project presents an aspect of the real-life Ip Man. The Yen films offered Ip Man as a badass, and The Final Fight presented the human side of Ip Man via Anthony Wong's performance. I think The Grandmaster presents the mythic, poetic, and metaphorical version of Ip Man. Wong's created a glorious vision of the philosophy of the martial arts, but it's a vision that seems to have been obscured by the 22 minutes of cuts in The Weinstein Company's US release of the film.

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Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster cut by 20 mins for US photo
Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster cut by 20 mins for US
by Hubert Vigilla

Wong Kar Wai's long-in-the-making Ip Man film The Grandmaster finally hits the US next week, and it will be about 20 minutes shorter than the Hong Kong version of the film. Wong was in attendance at a special screening of The Grandmaster at The Museum of the Moving Image over the weekend. In the discussion after the film, he confirmed that the movie had been cut from its original 130 minutes to roughly 108 minutes. (There's another international cut of The Grandmaster that clocks in around 115 minutes; if old reports hold true, the original 130-minute version is considered the director's cut.)

Wong said that for the US release, he was obligated to deliver a version of the film that was under two hours. He restructured the shortened movie a bit in order to improve its flow. The Grandmaster is being distributed by the Weinstein Company, which has a long history of cutting and changing Asian movies for their domestic releases. Most recently it was revealed that Weinstein will cut Bong Joon-Ho's Snowpiercer by 20 minutes.

So what's missing from this US cut? I talked to Jared of Bullets Over Chinatown briefly after the screening, who's also seen the Hong Kong version of the film. He said that the US cut is more action oriented and that a number of dramatic moments in the Hong Kong cut were missing.

The Grandmaster comes out August 23rd. Look for our review next week.

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9:00 AM on 08.01.2013

Pacific Rim opens well in China, sequel more likely

While Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim has been a bit of a bust at the box office domestically, it's been doing quite well overseas. In fact, Pacific Rim had a record-setting opening day in China on Wednesday, grossing $...

Hubert Vigilla



Brutal, badass first trailer for Donnie Yen's Special ID photo
Brutal, badass first trailer for Donnie Yen's Special ID
by Hubert Vigilla

Martial arts superstar Donnie Yen has been keeping busy. He's got The Monkey King and Iceman 3D coming out soonish, there's the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel shooting next year, and there's still talk about Ip Man 3D. On top of all that, there's Special ID, a gritty crime thriller that looks absolutely badass.

Just feast your eyes on this first trailer for Special ID. Rather than rely on cheesy effects shots, thumping music, and too much BWAAAM, Special ID makes an impact through crazy-ass stuntwork and a nice mix of silence and sound. The film will feature fights with Ken Lo (Drunken Master II) and Andy On (The Lost Bladesman, New Police Story), but the highlight will be a battle between Yen and Colin Chou. Yen and Chou's previous one-on-one in Flash Point is easily one of Donnie Yen's best fights.

A teaser poster for Special ID is in the gallery. Special ID will open in China in October. We'll keep you posted on any international release plans.

[via Twitch]

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Flixist Discusses Review: Double Xposure photo
Flixist Discusses Review: Double Xposure
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Whenever News Editor Hubert Vigilla and I see a film together, we follow it up with a discussion about what we just saw, what we thought, what it means, whatever. Sometimes, those discussions play out in miniature with our system of reviews and second opinions, as each of us attempts to identify our own feelings with the added context of the other's.

But for Double Xposure, Hubert and I agreed that it was time to bring back what was a nearly two-year-old concept: the discussion review. When Samuel Jamier, the co-director of NYAFF and programmer for Japan Cuts, came out and introduced the film, he told us that about halfway through it would dramatically change. It would be like watching two movies in one.

He was right, so it's only fitting that we review the film this way: It's like getting two reviews in one.

[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival and the 2013 Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF 2013 coverage, click here. For Japan Cuts 2013 coverage, click here.]

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NYAFF Review: The Bullet Vanishes photo
NYAFF Review: The Bullet Vanishes
by Hubert Vigilla

There's an observation in This Is Spinal Tap that sums up the dilemma of many detective stories: there's a fine line between clever and stupid.

Successful detective stories provide satisfying solutions to mysteries, no matter how improbable. Given, most of these stories don't give a reader or viewer a chance to guess the solution on their own, but if the story can be told with enough intrigue, the resolution winds up satisfying so long as it avoids impossibility.

The Bullet Vanishes is clever for the vast majority of its runtime. While it never becomes completely stupid, the film borders on stupidity because it tries to be too clever one time too many. It's like in cartoons where a comically large load on someone's back is perfectly fine, but then a feather lightly falls on top and makes everything too heavy.

[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival and the 2013 Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF 2013 coverage, click here. For Japan Cuts 2013 coverage, click here.]

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NYAFF Review: Tales from the Dark Part 1 photo
NYAFF Review: Tales from the Dark Part 1
by Hubert Vigilla

Tales from the Dark Part 1 had its world premiere last Friday at the New York Asian Film Festival. It's an anthology horror movie containing three shorts films, all of which are adaptations of stories by Lilian Lee. Think less The ABCs of Death and more Three... Extremes and Doomsday Book.

Tales from the Dark Part 1 features the work of Simon Yam (in his directorial debut), Lee Chi-Ngai, and Fruit Chan (who also adapted Lilian Lee's book Dumplings in Three... Extremes). It would have been a long night, but there's a masochistic part of me that wishes they did a double bill with Tales from the Dark Part 2, the last half of this Lilian Lee anthology which features films by Lawrence Lau, Teddy Robin, and Gordon Chan.

I don't know how the two parts would all play as a piece, though like any anthology, there would be ups and downs and odd tonal shifts.

[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival and the 2013 Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF 2013 coverage, click here. For Japan Cuts 2013 coverage, click here.]

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NYAFF Review: The Legend Is Born: Ip Man photo
NYAFF Review: The Legend Is Born: Ip Man
by Hubert Vigilla

Ip Man starring Donnie Yen and directed by Wilson Yip is one of the best martial arts films of the last 10 years. It cemented Yen's reputation as a major star, and it began a craze for Yip Man films. Wong Kar-Wai has been trying to make his own Yip Man film, The Grandmaster, for years. (Pre-production on that had technically begun before Ip Man got off the ground.) A recent mini-series about Yip Man aired on Chinese TV. Yen and Yip have also talked about a second sequel to Ip Man -- Ip Man 3D.

Amid all this came director Herman Yau's 2010 film The Legend Is Born: Ip Man. The movie is a heavily fictionalized version of Yip Man's early life starring Dennis To as the title character. In a lot of ways it plays out like an old-fashioned martial arts movie, an old-fashioned biopic, and mostly like an old-fashioned melodrama. 

[For the next few weeks, we will be covering the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival and the 2013 Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF 2013 coverage, click here. For Japan Cuts 2013 coverage, click here.]

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Review: High Tech, Low Life photo
Review: High Tech, Low Life
by Hubert Vigilla

The semantic distinction some people make between "journalist" and "blogger" is pretty amusing. Many cling to one term or the other to describe themselves, as if there's no crossover between the two, or as if the functions of the journalist and the blogger are completely different. I feel like separating the terms creates too narrow a definition of what journalists and bloggers are when they shouldn't be so exclusive.

I bring up that distinction because it's one of the things that's present in High Tech, Low Life, a documentary ostensibly about citizen journalists in China who use the internet to report stories that official media outlets aren't covering. The film follows two citizen journalists in particular: a young and narcissistic blogger named Zola, and a much older and more socially aware blogger named Tiger Temple.

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3:00 PM on 05.22.2013

Trailer: Iceman 3D

Donnie Yen is going to have a crowded 2013, with three films coming out this year: the big-budget fantasy movie The Monkey King, the crime/martial arts yarn Special Identity, and Iceman 3D, a remake of the enjoyable 1989 fil...

Hubert Vigilla