January 31, 2016

Most Anticipated East Asian Films of 2016!!

Most Anticipated East Asian Films of 2016

It is surprising that January has already come to an end. With 2016 just beginning, Lights, Camera, Asia wanted to share some of the up and coming films from Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and China to be on the look out for this year!  Let's Begin!

**The lists are not in order of popularity**
Plot descriptions from Asian Wiki & IMDB

January 28, 2016

Commitment 동창생 2013- South Korea

Unlike, many of the other films I have reviewed, this is the only film I have written about so far that was not groundbreaking in South Korean cinema...heck it wasn't even nominated for anything. You may be thinking...why Whitney? I can tell you now, it is NOT because TOP (Choi Seunghyun) is the main character! Okay, well maybe a little :D However, this blog is about reviewing the best and the not so best films from East Asia. So let's begin. 

Commitment (동창생) is a 2013, spy thriller film starring TOP / Choi seunghyun (from the Kpop group- BigBang) as Li Myung-hoon, a nineteen year old North Korean. After his father fails a spy mission, Myung-hoon and his sister are sentenced to once of the many labor camps. Since their father was hig-ranking at one time, military offical Colonel Moon (Jo Sung-ha) proposes a deal with Myung hoon- if he becomes a spy, like his father, he and his sister will be released from the labor camp.  

January 26, 2016

The Admiral: Roaring Currents 명량 2014 - South Korea

Today, I bring you the 2014 South Korean, historical epic film, The Admiral: Roaring Currents (명량), by director Kim Han-min. This film was huge upon it's release! This film has set the all-time highest opening day in South Korean box office history, highest opening weekend with 3.35 million admissions surpassing Transformers: Dark of the Moon, who previously held the position, and is the first film to generate over ₩10 billion (roughly 9.2 million USD) in a single day! 
It is not hard to see how this epic film became such a success. Based upon true events in Korea's history, The Admiral: Roaring Currents focuses on Admiral Yi Sun-shin, played by Choi Min Sik (Old Boy, I Saw The Devil). The film revolves around the Battle of Myeongnyang in 1597, when Admiral Yi led his 12 remaining ships into battle against the Japanese navy who was boasting well over 330 boats. 

January 21, 2016

The Killer 喋血双雄 1989 - Hong Kong

If there ever was a movie to have a huge influence on other filmmakers, the award would go to John Woo's 1989 Hong Kong action movie, The Killer (喋血双雄). This movie is filled to the top with 80's action; elaborate gun fight sequences, slow motion effects, and a melodramatic love story. Though the film was not a success at its initial release in Hong Kong, it gained a lot of audience love from Western audiences in the US. The Kill has influences some of the greatest American directors including Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Rodriguez paid homage in his films El Mariachi (1992)  and Desperado (1995) and was so greatly influenced, he even added in dialogue to one of his films that directly referenced this film.  

For a movie to have become such a legend in movie making it history, it is surprising to know that the film almost did not get made. After Woo faced financial backing issues after the release of his 1987 film, A Better Tomorrow 2, the only way it got the support it needed was from the two lead actors, Chow Yun-Fat and Danny Lee's financing companies. 

January 19, 2016

Raise the Red Lantern 大红灯笼高高挂 1991- China/Hong Kong/Taiwan

This past weekend, I was finally able to watch Zhang Yimou's 1991 film, Raise the Red Lantern (大红灯笼高高挂). The first time I saw the trailer for this movie, I was sitting in my Contemporary Asian Cinema class in Seoul, South Korea. The trailer for this movie alone made me want to watch it, but I never had the chance to do so until now. Let me just say, this film was just as good as the trailer made it out to be.   

Zhang Yimou is a highly acclaimed director of the 'fifth generation' of Chinese film makers. Though the film maker has had many successful films under his belt including Hero (2001), House of Flying Daggers (2004), and To Live (1994), during his earlier career many of his films failed to pass Chinese censor and were banned in the country for a period of time. Raise the Red Lantern was a part of these films, and sadly never made it to the big screen. It didn't stop this beautiful film from success around the world winning several awards including a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1992 Academy of Awards. What makes this film so entrancing? Let's take a look. 

January 15, 2016

Lights, Camera, Asia is now on FACEBOOK!

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January 14, 2016

Comrade Kim Goes Flying 김동무는 하늘을 난다 2012 -North Korea

The 2012 feature film, Comrade Kim Goes Flying (김동무는 하늘을 난다) is a very interesting film, not only because of its storyline but also the background story to how this film was created. Comrade Kim Goes Flying is the first of its kind. It is the first film to be Western-financed but filmed entirely in North Korea.This film was born from the joint creation between Belgian director, Anja Daelemans, British director, Nicholas Bonner, and Korean director, Kim Gwang Hun.  

Aside from the numerous North Korean documentaries I have watched through out the years, this is the first fiction film I have ever seen from this country, and it was exciting to see something different. I was able to view it at a screening with one of the directors, Nicholas Bonner who spoke about how it was to create this film in a country that is typically very off limit to outsiders. (more on this later). 

January 12, 2016

Assassination 암살 2015 - South Korea

Today, I bring you a review of the 2015 South Korean action-period drama, Assasination (암살). Directed by Choi Dong-Hoon, Assasination was the first film of 2015 and the 12th South Korean film to surpass 10 million ticket sales in the box office, and it isn't hard to see why. Before we dive into the story, I give this film 5 stars. Though the storyline can be a bit confusing at first to someone who does not know Korean history, that does not stop this film from being exciting from the get go. 

January 10, 2016


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January 8, 2016

10 Facts about Studio Ghibli films you do NOT know!

Last Day of Miyazaki Week! 

As the last day of Miyazaki week comes to a close, I wanted to end this last blog post with 10 interesting fun facts about Studio Ghibli that you might not know. So let's begin!

January 7, 2016

Girl Power (女力) - The Female Protagonists in Ghibli Films

Day 4 of Miyazaki Week

Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki have been creating films for 30 years, and since the Studio's creation in 1985, audiences have been given films from the magical, heart warming stories to the more serious films following reoccurring themes of coming of age, environmentalism, and anti-war. Through out the years, Ghibli has also created a cast with a majority of strong female protagonists, and it has been a breath of fresh air for viewers. 

Hayao Miyazaki once said, "Many of my movies have strong female leads - brave, self-sufficient girls that don't think twice about fighting for what they believe in with all their heart. They'll need a friend, or a supporter, but never a savior. Any woman is just as capable of being a hero as any man." 

With these words, he summarizes exactly what these leading ladies are. Aside from portraying woman as a heroine and not a damsel in distress, Ghibli films also have a way of making the female antagonists or villain-like characters charming and tough in their own may. More on that later. Lets look at some of strong leading protagonists of Ghibli cinema. 

January 6, 2016

Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し)(2001) – a brothel in disguise & other theories

Day 3 of Miyazaki Week

Today, I bring you another interesting fan theory about Studio Ghibli’s most well known film – Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し) (2001). But first, let me begin with a summary of the film, for viewers who have not seen it. The film is the highest grossing movie in Japan to date, which overthrew Titanic (1997),which had previously held the title in the Japanese box office. Spirited Away was also the winner for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards, and it isn’t hard to see why. 

Sprited Away is a magical, fantasy film about a girl named Chihiro, who find herself and her family trapped in an abandoned theme park taken over by the spirit world. It all begins when the family is on the way to their new house, they take a wrong turn and end up at an abandoned train station that ultimately leads them to the amusement park. It doesn’t take long for things to happen, as Chihiro’s parents turn into pigs as they feast upon food they find. Within moments the lights of the park turn on, spirits manifest and the once empty river surrounding the park is now filled to the brim, welcoming ghosts off large boats. Chihiro, in a panic meets a young and mysterious boy named Haku, who ends up helping her get a job at the bath house, and this is where the theory comes into play. 



For those who are just joining, Welcome to Lights, Camera, Asia!

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I am working quickly and diligently to bring you more exciting content for these countries, so please bare with me :D

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January 5, 2016

My Neighbor Totoro-The God of Death (死神)?

Day 2 of Miyazaki Week

First off, I would like to start this post with a Happy Birthday to Hayao Miyazaki!!

In honor of Miyazaki's birthday today, I have decided to talk about my favorite Ghibli film of all time- My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ)(1988) If you have never seen this beloved film, let me give you a quick run down of it. In My Neighbor Totoroa professor and his two daughters, Satsuki and Mei, move to the countryside to be closer to their ill-mother and the hospital she resides at. Soon after they move in, the youngest daughter, Mei, meets Totoro. Instead of just talking about the film, I want to share a dark theory I once heard about this film. 

Many audiences know of Totoro as the big, cute, fluffy forest spirt, that can fly through the sky on a spinning top, and hands out little gift bags of various kinda of seeds and nuts to children. However, there may be a more than meets the eye when it comes to this beloved creature.  First, lets begin with a background story that will help explain where this theory is going. 

January 4, 2016

A History of Studio Ghibli (スタジオジブリ)

Day 1 of Miyazaki Week

Studio Ghibli has been captivating the hearts of audiences around the world for many decades, making it by far the most popular Japanese animation and film studio in the world. Today, I will share a brief history of how Studio Ghibli came to be and what makes it so special to so many audiences around the world. 


Before Studio Ghibli, Directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata had already had long-standing careers in animation, including their work on the 1972 children's animation film, Panda! Go, Panda! (パンダ・コパンダ). This is a wonderful short movie that follows a young girl named Mimiko and her adventures with two Pandas that show up on her doorstep. The film was a great success, partially due to the panda craze in Japan at the time that was initiated by the Japanese government announcing the loan of two giant pandas from China to the Ueno Zoo. Following the achievement of the film, Miyazaki and Takahata went on to create a sequel in the 1973 film, Panda! Go, Panda!: The Rainy-Day Circus (パンダ・コパンダ 雨降りサー スの巻). 

January 3, 2016

Miyazaki Week begins TOMORROW!

Check back tomorrow for my first of five posts about Hayao Miyazaki's films!

Happy New Year!