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The Asia House festival of Asian Film

Asia House’s first film festival contains one of the big Korean hits from last year, but also has enough to tempt you to try out films from other countries. 5 films, 5 UK premieres.

Seven Days

Everyone’s favourite castaway Kim Yun-jin (above) stars in Seven Days directed by Won Shin-yeon:

Seven Days posterJiyeon (Kim Yun-jin) is a hard working, hot shot lawyer and single mother of a seven-year-old girl. During a school sports day, her daughter disappears.

Jiyeon receives an anonymous phone call: the caller has the girl. He proposes a deal. No ransom. He wants Jiyeon to prove a convicted murderer not guilty at his appeal. Within seven days. If she fails, she’ll never see her daughter alive.

With the clock against her, Jiyeon begins to reinvestigate the crime in a desperate search for evidence to defend the killer. The ringing won’t stop…

Massively successful in South Korea, Seven Days is an explosive, no-holds-barred thriller in the vein of 24 and se7en, a hyperkinetic race against the clock as a mother confronts mob violence, corruption and her own morality to save her daughter’s life

Seven Days

Cue a lot of hectic running around. Q over at gives it a thumbs-up for those who are looking for a fun thriller:

Seven Days is a slick and calculated thriller, all right, so those constitutionally unable to enjoy this kind of movie need not bother. It’s really not as clever or poignant as its makers probably think it is, but it may make a surprisingly strong impression for ordinary fans of Korean cinema, and is, needless to say, a must for Kim Yun-jin fans.

Seven Days: Kim Yun-jin misses out on valuable running-around time
Seven Days: Kim Yun-jin misses out on valuable running-around time

Seven Days, so hot that the KCC who were planning to show it this month wasn’t allowed to show it, screens on Saturday 23 August at 6:30 PM, Screen 1, Renoir Cinema. Well worth a viewing.

For me, the pick of the rest is Daniel Lee’s Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon, screening on Thursday 28 August at 6:30 PM, Screen 1, Renoir Cinema. Yes, another Chinese epic with loads of fight scenes, but you can’t argue with megastars Andy Lau, Sammo Hung and Maggie Q:

Three Kingdoms - main cast

This epic feature is based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a vast 600-year-old novel by Luo Guangzhong which ranks as one of China’s four most important pieces of literature.

His country torn asunder by civil war, Zhao, a common man heeds the call of duty and from the humblest of roots rises through the ranks on wings of courage and cunning to command an army charged with liberating the land from an evil warlord.

Inspiring by action, honor and a dream of unifying his divided nation, Zhao’s heroism becomes legend, but as the years pass and the throne changes hands the war still rages on. When a newly enthroned king decides peace can only be achieved by defeating the warlords once and for all, the ageing Zhao embarks on his final and greatest campaign, a road to adventure that will crown his name in glory for all time.

A sweeping action adventure with the stirring majesty of Braveheart the blistering martial balletics of Hero and the heart wrenching melodrama of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, the Three Kingdoms starring Andy Lau, Sammo Hung and Maggie Q brings to life a towering six hundred year old epic renowned as one of the greatest classical novels of Chinese literature, in all its staggering scale and splendor.

Three Kingdoms – Maggie Q
Three Kingdoms – Maggie Q

From Singapore there’s Royston Tan’s 881, screening on Friday 22 August at 6:30 PM, Screen 1, Renoir Cinema, which could turn out to be the surprise hit of the festival:

881Little Papaya and Big Papaya dream of escaping the dreariness of their everyday lives and becoming stars of the glittering, flamboyant and uniquely Singaporean musical showcase known as Getai.

Starting out the sisters struggle to make a mark, but determined to succeed they appeal to the magical Goddess of Getai who grants their wish but warns them of the price. Their success binds them to obey the rules of Getai and one rule forbids them from ever loving any man.

Blessed by the Goddess, the Papaya Sisters rise to stardom, all the while battling heartbreaking personal tragedies. Meanwhile their success infuriates their bitter, unscrupulous rivals the Durian Sisters who use every underhanded means at their disposal to undermine their career. When the Durian Sister’s dastardly tactics fail, they throw down the gauntlet and force the Papaya Sisters to accept a challenge, an all singing all dancing face off with the loser leaving the Getai scene for good.

Singapore’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film Category of the 2008 Academy Awards and a local, record breaking box office sensation, 881 is a magical, heart wrenching, singing and dancing extravaganza from director Royston Tan, the winner of over fifty international and local awards and hotly touted as one of Asia’s most promising breakout talents.

From Iran there’s Kiumars Pourahmad’s Night Bus, showing on Tuesday 26 August at 6:30 PM, Screen 1, Renoir Cinema

Night BusA young private has been assigned the difficult mission of delivering a bus full of POW’s from the front line to the base in the rear, and he faces a long, dark night with a wounded fellow soldier and an elderly, nagging driver. This is a suspenseful anti-war film set during the 1980’s Iran-Iraq war with strong performances and striking black and white photography.

Winner of the 2007 Asia Pacific Screen Awards: Grand Jury Prize and 2007 Iran Cinema Celebration in the Best Film and Best Screenplay category.

Finally from Indonesia there’s Nan Achnas’s The Photograph, screening on Wednesday 27 August at 6:30 PM, Screen 1, Renoir Cinema

The PhotographSita, a karaoke bar hostess, recently moves in a small attic room. The room is located inside a house-cum-photo studio that belongs to Johan, a Chinese-Indonesian travelling photographer.

Driven onto the streets, she falls into the hands of a pimp but when she fails to deliver for him, she is almost beaten up. Johan comes to her rescue. Sita decides that she can no longer return to her shady profession. Thus, she offers herself to be Johan’s servant for free, because she cannot pay her rent.

Sita finds out that Johan has only months to live. The fact prompts Sita to help him fulfil his three wishes which are represented by three photographs. One of them, the most important and difficult one, is to find his successor as a photographer.

2 thoughts on “The Asia House festival of Asian Film

  1. “From Singapore there’s Royston Tan’s 881, screening on Friday 22 August at 6:30 PM, Screen 1, Renoir Cinema, which *could turn out to be the surprise hit of the festival*”

    You’re right about the “surprise hit” part. I haven’t seen 881, and unfortunately I will probably be in Edinburgh when this screens, but I loved a 12 minute short film “Cut” Royston Tan made about censorship which was screened at the 2005 or 2006 London Film Festival:

    Parts 1, 2 & 3 – I particularly like the throwaway line about Wong Kar Wai in Part 1 from 4m20s to 4m59s

    and in full

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