Sunday, October 30, 2005

Channeling my inner Asian

So I went to Chiller this weekend - it's a horror convention, like HorrorFind down in Maryland, except it's quite a bit bigger and much, much suckier.

The problem is that there's a line for everything. A line to trade your ticket for a wristband, a line (outside, in October, in the Northeast) to get into the vendor area, a line to get into the actual vendor rooms. A line for celebrities, a line for every-freakin'-thing.

But I did drop some cash - and all of it at Poker Industries, which I could drive to any day of the week, but tend to only buy from at conventions.

The strange thing is, I bought six DVDs (at a cost of about $100) and all were Asian films of one sort or another.

This, from a guy who once remarked when asked if he studied his Vietnamese heritage that I've seen "Platoon," "Full Metal Jacket" AND "Hamburger Hill."

Maybe I'm getting ethnic as I get older or something.

I got "Immortal," "Naked Weapon" (which doesn't appear to be about sex), "Seven Swords," "Unhuman" and "Unleashed." Plus "The Princess Blade," which I'm quite sure I'll refer to as "The Princess Bride" before all is said and done. And often, I inadvertantly type "The Princess Bridge" anyway. But I'm wandering way far afield.

I'm the first to admit I'm not much of an Asian, what with the white, Jewish family and the relatively sizeable build and the penchant for dating white Catholic girls.

But sometimes, I guess I just get in a mood to get in touch with my roots. Or at least the roots that direct really killer action sequences. That would be movies like "Naked Weapon," "from the action-director of Jet Li's 'Hero' and Miramax cause-celebre 'Shaolin Soccer.'" Or "The Princess Blade," "featuring eye-shattering action sequences by the fight choreographer of 'Iron Monkey' and 'Blade II'..."

I'm taking a chance on all these films, despite their outstanding resumes, as I've never seen any.

"Unhuman" looks like a "Species" ripoff, and the box cover's English description... well, isn't really in English.

Aside, one of the classic un-PC moments in DVD history has to be Media Blasters' "Biozombie" DVD, which features English subtitles and additional "Engrish" subtitles, which are derived from the notoriously dreadful subs on many import DVDs, such as the one for "Biozombie" that many of us snagged before Media Blasters put out their version.

Near as I can tell, there are three kinds of Asian movies that catch my eye: the horror ones, which are either creepy as hell ("Ju-on," "Dark Water," etc.) or just plain weird (just about anything in Synapse's Asian Cult Cinema Collection); the sex ones, many of which are cartoons, and most of which are also just plain weird; and the action ones.

I mean, the ridiculous "Twins Effect" and "Twins Effect 2" are actually a lot of fun, in no small part because of the crazy action.

Imagine what the action is like in the flicks that aren't vehicles for bubbly Canto-pop chicks.

Let's face it, Asians have a pretty good catalog of cool action. There's the old-time samurai stuff. Razor-sharp swords, fancy armor and a concept of honor that's so stiff it's almost twisted. Then there's the martial arts stuff, from wire-fu to just plain jaw-dropping stunts and fights (seen Tony Jaa in "Ong-Bak"? care that he really can't act? nope.). And of course, there's the John Woo two-guns blazing modern contemporary stuff, that made Chow-Yun Fat famous.

And of course, there's that ever-present Asian spin on things, be it the style of ghosts (girls with white skin and long, limp black hair), the random rapes that drag down the class of some flicks (there's something generally repressed about the whole society, if you based your impression solely on films) or the notions of honor that seem ingrained in the genes.

I mean, take the Korean film "Natural City." This is "Blade Runner," only more depressing. Strike that. This is "Blade Runner," only even more depressing. It's not like "Blade Runner" is an upper. This one's even more of a downer.

But Asian film is all something that I'm developing a growing fascination with. Since after all, I didn't buy a single horror flick at a horror convention (unless "Unhuman" is horror; it's the only one of the six that even has a chance).

I've been thinking lately I should try Kurosawa again, even at the Criterion Collection's unholy prices. I have "Seven Samurai," but I'm thinking of buying a few more and having a little weekend of it. I saw "Rashomon" in college and it bored the snot out of me, but I think I should give it another try.

Maybe as I'm getting older there's something that kicked in somewhere in my system that says "You're Vietnamese, dude."

I've never cared about my Asian culture. I've never cared about my Asian past. I've never cared about my Asian heritage. I'm an Eastern European Jew, the child of Eastern European Jews. I just don't look the part.

It's not like I suddenly want to go back to Vietnam. On the other hand, most of the good flicks come from Japan or Hong Kong. I wouldn't mind going there, I suspect. But I'd be just another tourist. In Vietnam, I'd be a native. It would be creepy. It would be wrong.

That feeling hasn't changed, and I doubt it will, no matter how many Hong Kong action films or Japanese ghost stories (or even their American remakes) I watch.

So this whole Asian film thing could just be another one of my short-term obsessions, like the Civil War books - haven't read one of those in weeks - or the trains, which haven't been the same since my train store moved to another town, no longer on my way to work.

Or it could just be something inside that meandered to the surface when I turned 30, the way zits meandered to the surface when I turned 13.

(Aside, again, my doctor told me when my acne started getting bad that it would go away when I got older, like 16-17-18 years old. This was a lie. I still get pimples. And they still piss me off. I mean, I'm 30 years old, for crying out loud, I've got to be post-pubescent by now. But I digress.)

The point is, I just don't know why this sudden interest in Asian films. It goes beyond the fact that virtually every Asian actress is smokin' hot. It goes beyond my love for adrenaline-inducing films. It even goes beyond my shop-a-holic tendencies.

Six blind buys in one 10-minute blaze of glory. I haven't bought six blind buys this entire fall, I don't think.

"Seven Swords" has a way cool package with a slipcase and fold-out box, plus some artwork included. Here's hoping these flicks play as good as they look.

Chiller Theatre; you could still go today (Sunday), but bring a little cash and more patience
Poker Industries; to quote Loverboy, "that's where my money goes"
"Immortal," which, now that I Google it, turns out to be French; hey, the disc is Japanese, sue me, I'm not rewriting this post
A review of "Naked Weapon," which apparently has lesbians
A "Princess Blade" review...
...And a "Princess Bride" Web site
The "Seven Swords" news release; this looks very promising
An "Unhuman" review; this looks not-so-promising
And "Unleashed," once called "Danny the Dog," which sounds like a kids' book

Oh, and if you want to know more about Stewie and me at Chiller, hop on over to HorrorTalk and read our posts on the forum. It's always great hangin' with Stewie, even if the lines at the con were the suck.

And by the way, tonight was the night to turn back your clocks (spring ahead, fall back, right?) so I can't exactly vouch for the time on this bad boy. It might be an hour earlier, or an hour later. I won't be able to figure this one out until kickoff, I suspect - if I turn on the TV when the clock says 1, and there's no football, it's really noon. If it's the second quarter, it's really 2. Sigh.

1 Comment:

Stewie said...

Works now!

Hey, on the bright side, you didn't buy 2 copies of the same movie that weekend and spend 50 bucks on 4 crappy bootlegs.

Okay, so one of those four wasn't a booleg.

It was, however, a copy of what I bought. LOL

Good times, bro.