Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Brief notes on some Asian films

Before I loose tracks, briefly :

The Stairway to the Distant Past (Kaizo Hayashi, 1995) and The Trap (Kaizo Hayashi, 1996) with Masatoshi Nagase, two of the trilogy of the private detective Maiku Hama, The Most Terrible Time In My Life (Kaizo Hayashi,1994) being the first (saw a couple weeks ago). Contrary to the first, those two films are in colour, they still are done like a film noir in 60s style, perfectly acted, complex and interesting plot, The Trap has a more mystery atmosphere, which sometimes can slightly recall David Lynch's Twin Peaks. This trilogy is surely one to not miss.
Yo Yo Cop Girl (Kenta Fukasaku, 2006) entertaining and fun (but poorly acted).
Love - 0 = No Limit (Hisayasu Sato, 1994) pinku erotic film with a rather grim, depressing atmosphere.

Dog Bite Dog (Cheang Pou-Soi, 2006) with Edison Chen and Sam Lee. For those who like extreme violent films this one is recommended. It's well done, just a few things that could have been left, such as the cheesy song - but the music score in general is good, just the soppy song with the girl, who represents the only humanity in the film, a bit cliché - and also the end sentence. Apart from that, the pace is tense and is held all way to the end, the atmosphere is rather bleak (the range of colours goes from dark grey/green at the first part to more sepia ochre and light second part), Sam Lee and Edison Chen are good
On the Edge (Herman Yau, 2006) with Anthony Wong, Nick Cheung, Francis Ng, a low Infernal Affairs.
The Banquet (Feng Xiaogang, 2006) with a gallery of stars...supposedly a loose adaptation of Hamlet. Nothing outstanding here, and I'm fed up with Zhang Ziyi and films in the vein of Zhang Yimou's House of Flying Daggers and Chen Kaige's The Promise...


Friday, October 27, 2006

[DL] - Annoucement Directors Lounge 2007

Directors Lounge (based in Berlin) has just announced its annual event, Directors Lounge 2007, which will take place on February 8-18. 2007 in Berlin.
Directors Lounge shows video installations, live-events, collections of short, independent, rare or experimental works from many different genres and from different countries of the world and invites artists, curators, critics to specific discussions and lectures.
This edition, a special presentation of Asia Europe mediations as part of Directors Lounge 2007 has already been announced.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

60s Nagisa Oshima

Watching some early Nagisa Oshima films at the moment, this post will be edited and I will develop a bit more. Those films associate psycho-sexual study and sharp political,social commentary.

Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (1968) shot in black and white but sometimes switched in colours, is a more experimental film. It uses several literary references and adds brief images of political events and uprisings of the time and contains lots of dialogues and and analysist talks (a bit too much for my taste though). Mostly shot in hand-held camera, especially for the outside scenes, the film seems to leave a certain improvisation and an influence of JL Godard. An avant-garde kabuki theatre troup, Juro Karo Situation Players, takes part also in the film (especially towards the end).

Sing a Song of Sex (1967) presenting also the typical Japanese New wave aesthetics, loaded of sexual connotations and political references, the film shows a group of disillusioned students drifting away, mixing reality and fantasy and getting along with songs, which some are funny and ligh songs, some much more melancholy.

Violence at High Noon (1966) in an overexposed black and white and a beautiful cinematography with many close-ups, the film involves mainly three characters and presents a non-linear narrative structure with many flashbacks, the film combines desire, passions, violence and death from different points of view.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Pusan International Film Festival - Awards

Awards of the PIFF
see related post
see official website

Andy Lau was awarded as Asian Filmmaker of the year.


New Currents :
This award serves to promote emerging film talent in Asia by selecting the best new film in New Currents section, the only featured competition at PIFF, by an Asian director. A cash award of USD 30,000 will presented.
Betelut (Director: Heng Yang/China)
This film is selected for its new cinematic value, great acting from all the cast, powerful picture and beautiful silent moments. The film opens a window seeing new possibilities of fimmaking finding a new way for a cinematic change.
Love Conquers All (Director: Chui Mui Tan/Malaysia)
This film is using a known cinematic language in a nice way telling the life of a village girl who is going to a big city to work and face the reality and the morality of our time.

The award is presented annually at PIFF to a new Asian film from New Currents section for its experimental and progressive spirit by the Association of International Film Press.
Love Conquers All (Director: Tan Chui Mui/Malaysia)
The FIPRESCI jury at the 11th Pusan International Film Festival gives its award to “Love Conquers All” by Tan Chui Mui, for its audacious narrative structure and its intelligent work with sound and image.

NETPAC Award (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) award is presented to the best Korean feature film by the NETPAC Jury. NETPAC was founded as an international body in 1990 with a mission to promote and to distribute Asian films, and to introduce the outstanding achievements of Asian cinema overseas.
The Last Dining Table (Director: ROH Gyeong Tae/Korea)
For its unique and striking style, its humane portrayal of lower-class families living in isolation from society, and the controlled performances by the lead actors.

KNN Audience Award:
This award is given to the most popular film chosen by festival audiences from New Currents section. USD 10,000 will be awarded by the Pusan Broadcasting Cultural Foundation.
The White Silk Dress (Director: Huynh Luu/Vietnam)

Sunje Fund:
A cash award of USD 20,000 is granted to the best Korean documentary from Wide Angle section, for the purpose of assisting the next production by its director.
The Wind Stirs (Director: LEE Jin-woo/Korea),
LEE directed Sundays in August which was part of the 10th PIFF official selection and screened through Korean Cinema section. Committee members shared that The Wind Stirs successfully dealt with the emotions and personality of the leading character.
Portfolio (Director: YOON Seoungho/Korea)
YOON explores the new cinematic territory through Portfolio by putting forward alternative elements for independent films.
Special Mention : CHOI Young-Jun’s Merry Christmas.
Although the film has not won the Award, PIFF recognized director CHOI’s effective demonstration of his talent and strong potential through the film.

Woonpa Fund
A cash award of USD 20,000 is granted to the best Korean documentary film or video from Wide Angle section, for the purpose of assisting the next production by its director.
People Crossing the River (Director: KIM Duk-Chul)
KIM insightfully explores the long-standing bilateral issues between Korea and Japan by using the characters’ comments and phrases. He pulled a top-end documentary project together.
Our School (Director: KIM Myeong Joon)
The film showcases the life of students of Chosen elementary, middle and high school in Hokkaido, Japan.
Special Mention: 16 Takes of Korean Society
The Committee members would like to give a special note on 16 Takes of Korean Society which was completed by 17 independent filmmakers. The documentary project handles the dynamic aspects of Korean society. While preserving the key topics of Korean independent documentaries such as people living in isolation from community and social issues, this film encourages independent filmmakers to strengthen solidarity.



Viennale. October 13-25, 2006.

Asian films selected :
Taking Father Home (China, Ying Liang, 2005)
A 17-year-old boy from a village in the province Sechuan leaves for the big city looking for his father, who left six years before and has not been heard of since... more
Ice Games (China, Zhang Hui Lin, 2006)
The initial idea of Ice Games goes back to 2004, when SARS was in the air in Beijing, and the streets were empty. The whole city was in panic. Friends gathered at my place because all work has been suspended. The idea of making a film was actually to pass time and not be too bored... more
The Bimo Records (China,Yang Rui, 2006) Doc.
In the Daliang Mountain region of Sichuan, China, lives the ancient tribal Yi minority... more
China Village Documentary Project (China, collective, 2006)
The year 2005 saw the beginning of the so-called China Village Documentary Project, which, for the first time in China, opens a visual channel from the villages by putting video and still cameras in the hands of villagers across the nation. In its first phase, the selected topic for documentation was «village self-governance»... more
Living in Nanking Road (China, Zhao Dayong, 2006). Doc.
They are from all over China, without true names or social relations. They call one another after the names of their hometowns... more

The Host (South Korea, Bong Joon-Ho, 2006)
The Peter Pan Formula (South Korea, Cho Chang-Ho, 2005)
Han-Soo is a promising high school swimmer living in a small seaside town where the only light in the village is an uninhabited lighthouse. After his mother is left comatose by a suicide attempt, he loses all interest in life... more
Sa-Kwa (South Korea, Kang Yi-Kwan, 2005)
The gentle touch of time on the changing feelings generated by a break-up are at the core of Kang Yi-Kwan's pleasingly subtle debut feature, Sa-kwa... more
Digital Short Films 2006 - Talk to her (South Korea, Darezhan Omirbayev, Eric Khoo )
Every year the Jeonju International Film Festival offers a couple of filmmakers the opportunity to make a short film on a given theme. The project, which began in 2000, has since achieved an international reputation. This year, Darezhan Omirbayev and Eric Khoo explore the potential of the digital camera.

Loft (Japan, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2006)
Reiko, an author struggling with a deadline on her novel, suddenly starts to exhibit strange symptoms... more
It's only Talk (Japan, Ryuichi Hiroki, 2005)
Yuko is 35 years old, single, out of work, and on medication from her psychiatrist to combat her manic depression. Living in Kamata Town, Yuko divides her time between a variety of men friends, each with his own peculiarities... more
Birth/Mother (Japan, Naomi Kawase, 2006). Doc.
On April 24, 2004, Kawase Naomi had a son, Mitsuki. Following Japanese tradition, she gave birth on a tatami mat, assisted by a midwife and surrounded by all her family... more

Stories from the North (Thailand, Uruphong Raksasad, 2005) Doc.
Stories from the North evolved into its current form from a series of short documentaries made by director Uruphong Raksasad over a number of years. Now re-edited into an expansive feature, the footage forms a cinematic collage of life in the village in northern Thailand where he grew up... more

Full or Empty (Iran, Abolfazl Jalili, 2005)
Full or Empty is characterised by Jalili's typical love for an ambitious kid who does not put up with the bureaucracy, disinterest and hypocrisy of the established order. The setting and the characters are true to life and convincing. The result, a social comedy with almost chaplinesque elements, is in the very best tradition of Neorealism... more


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Crazy Stone

Crazy Stone (Ning Hao, China/HK, 2006).

Crazy Stone is part of the new project "Asian New Director Project" sponsored by Andy Lau. This project FOCUS: First Cuts involves new and upcoming directors from across China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. webpage view trailer
The film is screened at the closing of the PIFF this year. (see post related).

This comedy is about a priceless jade that professional high-tech thieves and incompetent criminals want to steal. The jade was found in a factory in Chongqing, the head of the factory decides to hold an exihibition and hires an ex-cop Bao Shihong to protect this stone and handle security.

Many characters are involved in this film, each one belonging to a group and presenting their point of views of the same moment (such as the open sequence of the film of the car crash which permits to introduce all the characters at the same moment and time). This way of narrative structure and the quick, sharp editing could remind of Tarantino's or perhaps more like Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
The script is well handled, the actors show all their vitality and skills for a snappy, dark comedy, based on the acting and on the situation, both being rather cartoonish and exaggerated, sometimes even quite burlesque. However the film seems to be too long and tails off towards the end.

Next Ning Hao's film, Crazy Racer, based on his novel, Red Bicycle, will be starring Andy Lau.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

[Non Asian] 3. ZEBRA poetry award

ZEBRA poetry award, the first festival and award worldwide that is solely dedicated to films based on poetry, opened wednesday for its third edition in Berlin.

On Friday (tomorrow) Mannaka No le (The House In The Middle) by André Werner will be screened at 3h30 pm as part of Gesellschaftsspiele. It was shown in world premiere on this years Directors Lounge 2006.

Mannaka No le, pure japanese poetry, entirely filmed in the deserts of Nevada, is also on air at Directors Lounge television. This will be the first major screening of Mannaka No le (The House In The Middle) with it´s new, brilliant remastered score, an achievement by Dan of tagez fame.

Mannaka No le Gesellschaftsspiele, friday 3h30 pm
Kino Babylon berlin:mitte
Rosa-Luxemburg-Str. 30
10178 Berlin

Congratulations!!! :)



Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Luxury Car

Luxury Car by Wang Chao (China, 2006).
Presented at Cannes this year, the film received the award of "Certain Regard".
Luxury car is the third film by Wang Chao who was assistant to the director of The Emperor and the Assassin by Chen Kaige. However Luxury Car may be less interesting compared to the two others (The Orphan of Anyang, shot closer to documentary style and Night and Day, more classic).

The film tells the story of a father, a country school teacher, who arrives in Wuhan in order to find his son after a request of the ill mother. He's welcomed by his daughter, Yanhong, who doesn't tell him that she works as an escort in a karaoke bar. Thanks to her, he meets a retired policeman who decides to help him. Yanhong has a relation with her boss who is introduced as her boyfriend to her father. But the boss may have a luxury car, the shadows of his past come back to him...

Like with Night and Day, Luxury Car offers a very good cinematography and is very well shot. Through this simple story, many recurrent themes from mainland Chinese films can be found : the family relationship, the country and the city, the changing of contemporary China and the evocation of its past, such as the reference of the Cultural Revolution that the father mentioned....). However, perhaps, because the film is too plain and conventional in its narrative, Luxury Car remains the less powerful but leaves a bitter feeling.
To me The Orphan of Anyang was his most engaging, Day and Night was impressive for its image (shots, frames, cinematography..).
This is what Wang Chao said at Cannes about his film (from Cannes website):
"Luxury Car falls within the continuance of the reflections and criticisms already expressed in my first two films, on the reality and historic and political allegories of contemporary China. Here, the gap between the rich and poor, the distance which separates people from happiness, the contradictions between the social system inherited from past and the burden of the present are so many problems which I myself, as a full-fledged member of the people, feel all the weight and intensity. That's why it made me decide to shoot the picture."


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Pusan International Film Festival

PIFF, another big, reputated film festival, will be held from 2006. 10.12 to 2006. 10.20.

Considering the huge list of films and amount of sections (with a Korean Cinema today, Korean Retrospective...). I will mention Chinese films (Mainland, HK, Taiwan).
The festival will close with Crazy Stone by Ning Hao (China/HK) who previously directed Mongolian Ping Pong. This modern comedy was made possible by the Asian New Director Project, sponsored by Andy Lau. This project FOCUS: First Cuts involves new and upcoming directors from across China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. webpage view trailer

A Window on Asian Cinema
This year's section features 39 films from 14 countries. link
After This Our Exile by Patrick Tam (HK) with Aaron Kwok, Charlie Young WP website
Bliss by Sheng Zhimin (China) first feature film as director.
This is a film that ruminates over the meaning of family and insists that meaning should include understanding, love, and unconditional support for blood ties. The film was also selected at TIFF and Locarno.
Do Over by Cheng Yuchieh (Taiwan) first feature film
This is all about dreams. Everyone wishes for happiness and has a new dream with which to greet the New Year. Will these dreams come true every time?
I Don`t Want to Sleep Alone by Tsai Ming-liang (Taiwan) already been selected in several film festivals..
Luxury Car by Wang Chao (China) selected in Certain regard, Cannes 2006.
Mingming by Susie Au (HK) feature directorial debut WP with Zhou Xun, Daniel Wu
Ming Ming is a 21st Century martial arts princess and lady Robin Hood who steals for love.
My Mother is a Belly Dancer by Wong Ching Po and Lee Kung lok (HK) IP website
When do typical Hong Kong housewives, living in public housing estates, become "See Lai", sloppy housewives suffering from loss of youthfulness, beauty, and passion?
Summer Palace by Lou Ye (China)
The Chinese Botanist`s Daughters (China/France) by Dai Sijie
The Heavenly Kings by Daniel Wu (HK) - docu-fiction style which I didn't get into
The Postmodern Life of My Aunt by Ann Hui (HK) selected in several other film festivals
The Road by (China) WP by Zhang Jiarui who directed When Ruoma Was Seventeen and Shangri La (quite conventional but well directed and photographed).
When we think of Chinese films that have addressed the topic of the Cultural Revolution, for the most part, we think of the Lost Generation. One thing that [The Road] departs from is this stereotype.

Also on this section Before We Fall in Love Again by James LEE (Malaysia) who previously directed the excellent The Beautiful Washing Machine, 4:30 by Roystone TAN (Singapore), Hana by Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Nightmare Detective by Shinya Tsukamoto, Syndromes and a Century by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Opera Jawa by Garin Nugroho (Indonesia) which seems to be a promising film, Rain dog by Ho Yuhang (Malaysia), a film selected in several film festival (Ho Yuhang also directed Min, which I personally disliked), To Get to Heaven First You Have to Die by Djamshed Usmanov (Tadzhikistan/France) and others...

New Currents
In this year`s [New Currents], nine of the 10 films from seven countries have their world or international premieres at PIFF. Even though Asia`s film industry continues to expand and the number of opportunities for the debut of new directors is growing due the popularity of digital films, more directors does not necessarily mean that the film environment supporting them is also improving. link
Betelnut by Yang Heng (China) first feature film, Asian Premiere (was selected at vancouver)
A film about the rather banal lives of two teenaged delinquents. Unlike many teen films that portray the passionate love and energy of youth, this film draws a portrait of two disempowered people without much of a future. The everyday lives of these two teenagers – who steal motorbikes, extort money from kids, and engage in hapless fistfights – are drawn by Yang Heng like a sun dappled landscape.

Distance by Wei Tie (China) WP first feature film
An urban dream abruptly cut short. Director Wei Tie conveys the sharp disjuncture that lies between reality and dreams in contemporary China by charting Zhu Ming`s migration from the countryside to the city and his efforts to get a job. Through a style that is closer to documentary than drama, he portrays China`s reality in rich detail.
Previously directed some shorts, including People of Yangzi.
Eternal Summer by Leste Chen (Taiwan) WP
A queer cinema with the twist of a coming-of-age film? Or a coming-of-age film with the twist of queer cinema? With college looming ahead, relations between childhood friends Jonathan, Shane, and Carrie, undergo subtle changes.

Driving with My Wife`s Lover by Kim Tai-sik (South Korea), Just Like Before by Mike Sandejas (Philippines), Love Conquers All by Tan Chui Mui (Malaysia), The Railroad by Park Heung-sik (South Korea), The Summer of Stickleback by Mayu Nakamura (Japan), The White Silk Dress by Luu Huynh (Vietnam), Wool 100% by Mai Tominaga (Japan).

Wide Angle
Wide Angle, a section of wider range of film genres from short, animation, documentary, experimental film and more, consists of challenging films that go beyond the world of feature films. link
798 by Shen Xiaomin (China)
“Dashanzi 798,” a neighborhood in Beijing, has a reputation as a mecca for Chinese contemporary art. However, that is a reputation that has emerged only in the past few years. Shen Xiaomin portrays the lives of artists who work and live in 798, creating art and holding exhibitions.
Also presented at the HK Asian Film festival 2006.
Age of Rapairing Hymen by Cui Jian (China) short.
A young lady, who has just quarreled with her boyfriend and had an abortion surgery, feels at loss about the hymen complex. She decides to find answer from her mother and grandma.
Fact by Zhang Lu (China/Korea) short
A happening that already happened is a fact. And any happening that didn`t happen yet will eventually become a fact. The spaces inside and outside the screen are also facts. The numerously repeated meetings and partings between men and women are all parts of a fact.
Meat Days
by Hsieh Wen-ming (Taiwan) short animation
In a chaotic time of men eating men. Ah Orr is a prostitute who exchanges meat everyday to bring food for her child and a sick husband.
My Football Summer by Yang Li Chou (Taiwan) IP
This documentary centers on the dreams, struggles, and challenges of a group of footballers in junior high school. The football team at Meilun Junior High School in Taiwan`s Hualien County trains diligently for the national championship and finally reaches the finals.
Paloma Blanca by Yin Kyawk Dad (Taiwan) short
Pigeons are used for gambling in many countries. These poor birds suffer all their lives without ever knowing why. In this short film, the pigeons are played by humans, with the expectation that people would learn to feel the way pigeons do.
Stone Mountain by Du Haiban (China/Korea) WP
From a remote village in the northeast of China, Old Cao, Little Cao, Yu and Zhang make a living by mining granite. Life is dull and hard, work from dawn to dusk.
The Bimo Records by Yang Rui (China)
[The Bimo Records] is an amazing movie in that it presents flowing pictures so that gets audiences confused with the genre, a documentary or a highly polished film drama. This movie is produced for four years to cover the minor tribe living in Sichuan, China.
The Quiet Happiness by Lien Yi-chi (Taiwan) short
A boy bought one album entitled “The Quiet Happiness”, but to find no sound coming out from his CD player at all. Couldn`t stand being fooled, he demanded to get a refund by all means -- till the moment he truly heard the sound of happiness.

Midnight Passion
[Midnight Passion] is the newest section added to this year`s official program. From horror to drama, it boasts various genres with high entertaining value. link
A Chinese Tall Story by Jeff Lau (HK)
The Heirloom by Leste Chen (Taiwan)


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Railroad of Hope

Railroad of Hope (Ning Ying, 2001, Mainland China). Documentary.

Sorry, I'm going to copy the synopsis - I haven't got much time to write something now, but I still wanted to make a post on this documentary that I saw yesterday at the theatre.

Ning Ying hasn't directed many films and her work still remains underseen, however, she directed fictions (very realitic and documentary style) and documentaries. This documentary won the Grand Prix of Cinema du réel in 2001 and had been selected in several known film festivals. Perhaps at this time, Chinese documentaries didn't get as much attention as they get now, we can notice a growing interest in the genre also because the quantity of Chinese documentaries are impressive, yet, still not many get through to festivals - and for those that are shown, most remain only in the festival circuit as it's still harder for documentaries to find distributors and threatrical releases.

This documentary reminded me of a short documentary, presented at The Rote Loge with Directors Lounge in Berlin, Carriage. We see people (workers) endlessly queuing at the railway station for a train to take and then they are entirely packed-up inside, but in Carriage, they go back home for the festival of Spring after their long term work whereas here they leave their home to find work. Also, Ning Ying's film is shot during the daylight and some people in the trains (or before getting in the train) are interviewed. Some are happy and eager to go and find work, some (most) are exhausted, some are anxious (a 14 year old girl who hasn't seen her parents for 4 years finally goes to see them and to start school but doesn't know if she will be able to take the train... or another woman who goes to see her husband without him knowing as she hadn't seen for years...). This documentary depicts the hard life of the farmer labourers (however it's mostly women who go for the cotton field work) but also their hopes.

synopsis taken from the site of the Forum Section of the Berlin Film Festival :
Every year during August and September, several thousand agricultural workers leave Sichuan by train for a long trip of more than 3,000 km, lasting three days and two nights, towards China’s far west: Xinjiang Autonomous Region, where endless cotton fields are awaiting the harvest. For most of the workers it’s the first time away from their native villages, as well as their first time on a train. The aim of Railroad of Hope was to cast a light on the relatively new phenomenon of internal migrations in China, and on the flood of workers who travel mainly by railway. The result is a documentary in which, probably for the first time ever, we can listen to Chinese peasants from poor interior regions speaking openly and sincerely about their lives.


Monday, October 02, 2006


A call for a blogathon on contemplative/non conventional cinema organized by Harry Tuttle on Screenville.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Very brief Notes on some films

Quick post just to name some films seen recently. May edit and write notes on them later. I'll also post a comment on Dong, Jia Zhangke's documentary at some point.

Japan :
Dead Run - Shisso (Hiroyuki Tanaka aka Sabu, 2005), Despite a good, promising beginning, the movie failed in some ways, perhaps because there are many Japanese films depicting the stray, lost, depressed youth and the religious trip didn't bring anything in to it. Rather grim however.
The Man in White Suit (Takashi Miike, 2003), standard yakusa movie, but well-done.
Bedroom (Hisayasu Sato, 1992) an erotic drama film with a non-linear narrative structure, unfortunately far not perfect, the classical music was very annoying and too cliché to be used, also the film contains too much dialogue (especially at the beginning) and not enough atmosphere. The main actress didn't have enough presence either, her character fails to stand out. The film is known for the controversial presence of Issei Sagawa.
The Most Terrible Time In My Life (Kaizo Hayashi ,1994) with Masatoshi Nagase, in black and white, in a retro style with a slight 60s Suzuki influence, this is a film noir, the first of the series of the private detective Maiku Hama. Masatoshi Nagase is great, entirely in his role, the plot is interesting. Recommended.

HK :
Wing Chun (Yuen Woo-ping, 1994) with Michelle Yeoh, Donnie Yen, Norman Chu... funny, entertaining, some good fighting scenes.
Dragon Tiger Gate (Wilson Yip, 2006) with Donnie Yen, Nicolas Tse, Shawn Yue... a very disappointing action film, no characters, no acting, no story and a laughable end... SPL was better
Thrown Down (Johnnie To 2004) with Louis Koo, Aaron Kwok, Cherrie Ying... as always well directed, good characters.

South Korea :
The City of Violence (Ryoo Seung-wan, 2006) quite forgetable, unoriginal plot, the end is like a Kill Bill kind, Crying Fist was better.
Dasepo Naughty Girls (Lee Je-yong, 2006) a low silly comedy.