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New York Asian Film Festival line up

June 18 - 27, 2004
at the Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Avenue @ Second Street)

For the third year in a row, Subway Cinema presents its festival (one of only three in the US) devoted to new feature films from Asia. After watching 211 films, we feel we can safely say that this year¹s line-up includes the hands-down, no-holds-barred best new films from across the region. These are the movies that have been sweeping the awards ceremonies, racking up the box office loot and burning up the film festival circuit ceremonies (our 16 films ­ with more to come ­ have won a cumulative 38 awards). No one else will bring them to New York, so we¹ve scraped together our cash and brought them here ourselves.

The long-awaited Zhang Yimou/Jet Li team-up, HERO, will kick things off, and after that it only gets better. Not only are we showing Japanese horror movie sensation, JUON: THE GRUDGE, we also have to show you JUON: THE GRUDGE 2. Hong Kong¹s INFERNAL AFFAIRS, Asia¹s box office sensation of 2002, is on hand and so is Japanese arthouse horror auteur, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, with his latest film, DOPPELGANGER. There¹s also VIBRATOR, which has been almost unanimously proclaimed the best Japanese film of 2003. We¹re very proud that in a world at war, where human decency has been torn to shreds and we get daily updates on the body count, our line-up represents some of the world¹s best directors trying to deal with violence. HERO's Maggie Cheung and Jet Li face an expansionist dictator with genocide on his hands; Andy Lau's bodybuilding monk tries to bring an end to all violence in RUNNING ON KARMA; and in THE MACABRE CASE OF PROM PI RAM two decent cops plod after a murderer, trying to make sense out of a world gone mad. The films in this year¹s line-up have traded trendy cynicism for characters and stories that fight fate and sometimes, as in DRIVE, they win, riding off into the sunset of a better world. That¹s not to say we¹re hosting a love-in. AZUMI features a samurai chick in hot pants laying waste to hundreds of screaming warriors, and we¹re also presenting a sidebar of the classic ZATOICHI films, the 1960's Japanese movies about a blind masseuse/swordsman who was cooler than James Bond, and better at relieving back and neck pain.

Subway Cinema is a film programming collective, based in New York City, that is committed to increasing exposure and appreciation for popular Asian cinema, which has been traditionally overlooked by mainstream American critics and distributors. This is our third New York Asian Film Festival, and while we don¹t have $15 million in corporate sponsorship, we do have the best Asian movies in the world, for ten days only.

Stills and screeners are available ­ direct all media inquiries to: Grady Hendrix, 212-369-0975, Daniel Craft, 917-415-9023,


HERO (China, 2002, NY Premiere) - Zhang Yimou's (RAISE THE RED LANTERN) molten martial tone poem stars Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung, Donnie Yen and Zhang Ziyi as assassins avenging a genocide. Eyeball scorching.

RUNNING ON KARMA (Hong Kong, 2003, NY Premiere) - This "whatzit" from Johnnie To (THE MISSION, FULLTIME KILLER) is a martial arts/action/comedy/horror/romance that became the sleeper hit of Hong Kong in 2003. Beautiful and like nothing you've ever seen before, it's the funniest and most profound plea for peace ever put on film.

INFERNAL AFFAIRS (Hong Kong, 2002) ­ Asia¹s suspense hit of 2002, this flick stars Tony Leung as an undercover cop infiltrating a gang, while he's stalked by an undercover criminal who's infiltrated the cops. Slick, stylish, and with thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch, this is one of the greatest crime films ever made, in any country.

ANTENNA (Japan, 2003, US Premiere) - Whoa. A little girl goes missing and her family goes to hell in a handbasket. Emotionally extreme, with some of the most intense scenes of masturbation ever put on film. Is that a good thing?

VIBRATOR (Japan, 2003, NY Premiere) ­ A bulimic alcoholic and a lonely truck driver only connect in this pop masterpiece that's like that long lost mix tape you made in high school. Honestly transcendent, and emotionally lavish, it's been hailed by critics as the best Japanese film of the year.

AZUMI (Japan, 2003, NY Premiere) ­ Nothing can resist the volcanic emotions of Ryuhei Kitamura's (VERSUS) rock n'roll samurai flick. Slathered in feedback, and awash in style, it¹s about a female samurai who takes on the entire population of Japan ­ and wins.

JUON: THE GRUDGE (Japan, 2003) ­ If you thought THE RING was scary, please stay away -- this movie will make your heart explode. It's already being remade by Hollywood (starring Sarah Michelle Gellar) but you can come see the original here. The creepiest horror movie ever made.

JUON: THE GRUDGE 2 (Japan, 2003, North American Premiere) ­ A perfect antidote to the confusion and darkness of JUON 1, this sequel contains some of THE most horrifying images of 2003, and pregnant women are advised to just stay away and forget that they ever heard about this movie.

LIKE ASURA (Japan, 2003, North American Premiere) ­ This prize-winning, popular hit follows the lives of four sisters in 1979 Japan. Gentle, human and hilarious, this is everything that's good and decent about mainstream cinema.

DRIVE (Japan, 2002, NY Premiere) - Director/writer/actor Sabu has made genre-defying movies that can only be described as "Sabu films". But with DRIVE he's finally crossed over. Putting the "dead" back in "deadpan", DRIVE comes at you with humor as dry as a mouthful of sand in this flick that¹s like David Lynch directing a Buster Keaton comedy.

DOPPELGANGER (Japan, 2003, NY Premiere) ­ Arthouse horror auteur, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, has been burning up the festival circuit with his latest flick. It's an entire season of THE TWILIGHT ZONE packed into a black, black, black comedy about an inventor whose whole world gets wiggy when his evil twin shows up and starts "fixing" his life.

WHEN THE LAST SWORD IS DRAWN (Japan, 2003, US Premiere) ­ The Meiji Restoration is heating up and it's the twilight of the samurai. A money-grubbing country bumpkin joins an elite clan of samurai, and proves as unkillable as a cockroach. Visually lavish, emotionally epic, full of period detail and razor sharp battle scenes, this is the kind of historical drama that no one makes anymore.

PLEASE TEACH ME ENGLISH (Korea, 2003, NY Premiere) ­ Satirizing the Korean trend to learn English, this screwball comedy spins out of control, running up walls, across ceilings and making a mess of itself. With performances beamed in from another planet and a bizarre subplot involving teaching English to a pig, this flick produces enough manic energy to power a small city.

THE ROAD TAKEN (Korea, 2003, NY Premiere) ­ In 1951, at the age of 25, Kim Son-Myong walked into prison. 45 years later, at the age of 70, he walked out again. His crime? He had joined the North Korean Army and refused to denounce his Communist beliefs. This award-winning film tells the true story of the world¹s longest prison sentence.

DANCE WITH THE WIND (Korea, 2003, North American Premiere) ­ Every Korean comedy that matters (ATTACK THE GAS STATION, BREAK OUT) has been written by Park Jun-Woo and this is his directorial debut. A trip into the seedy world of ballroom dancing, this comedy stars Lee Sung-Jae (ATTACK THE GAS STATION, PUBLIC ENEMY) and a bevy of actors gliding, step­ball-changing, twisting and twirling like Olympic finalists.

LEGEND OF THE EVIL LAKE (Korea, 2003, NY Premiere) ­ This Korean/Chinese co-production is a throwback to the Hong Kong fantasy films that thrilled audiences in the 1990's. With action choreography by Yuen Tak, miles of billowing silk, piles of dismembered limbs, gaggles of clashing armies and a possessed commoner who likes to split people in two with her mind, Hong Kong fans will feel like they¹ve stepped through a time warp to an era when motion picture entertainment was fast, furious and high in fats.

MACABRE CASE OF PROM PI RAM (Thailand, 2003, North American Premiere) ­ A young woman¹s corpse is found by the train tracks in a Thai village, and two local cops, waaaay out of their depth, set out to find her killer. Causing a controversy when it swept the Thai film awards, MACABRE CASEŠ is deeply disturbing and primitively powerful.

FIGHT, ZATOICHI! FIGHT! ­ Zatoichi is the original blind samurai bad ass (who gives a mean massage), and we¹re thrilled to present three of the classic ZATOICHI films. Full of sardonic humor, heart-squeezing drama and white-knuckled samurai action, these films defined the 60's anti-hero and they've endured for decades for one simple reason: they rock.


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