Monday, August 13, 2007

Asian Film Festivial Part 2

CRUEL WINTER BLUES (Korea) A gangster (Sol Kyong-gu) is sent to a small town to kill off a rival bad guy who killed his best friend. He takes the new guy (Jo Han-Seon) along with him, and as they hang out in the town, he spends a lot of time at his victim's mother's restaurant and begins to reassess his priorities. A surprisingly poignant tale of regret and loss by director Lee Jeong-Beom.

DEATH NOTE (Japan) A notebook falls from the sky and into the hands of a young law student -- Light Yagami (Tetsuya Fujiwara). It turns out that if you write a person's name in said notebook, they die. Yagami begins writing down the names of criminals who have escaped justice. The bad-guy avenger becomes mythic around town but he discovers a nemesis out to uncover him: "L" (played by Kenichi Matsuyama, who's a wonderful creation -- a rich, pretty. mystery millionaire with an incredible sweet-tooth). Based on a Japanese manga series, this gets wilder and darker as it goes along and ends with a cliffhanger. Fortunately the festival has the sequel: Death Note (The Last Name), which has another notebook and more death gods and is even more wonderfully deranged....

DOG BITE DOG (Hong Kong) One of the most brutal and outrageous crime dramas I've ever seen -- and that's saying something. A feral Cambodian hit man (Edison Chen) is sent to Hong Kong to kill a female judge, which sets into motion a relentless police chase. Sam Lee plays the rage-filled cop and as he and the hit man stumble through junkyards, back alleys and streets you will not believe how down and dirty it gets. A nightmarish howl of fury from start to finish, director Soi Cheang even closes (during a particularly bloody knife-fight) with the wildly inappropriate song: "You Are My Sunshine," which only seems psychotically fitting.

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