2009 brought a wealth of Asian and Asian-related films to American theaters. Here’s a quick look back at 10 films you should have seen — and if you haven’t, you should hunt these down at your local video store:
“Ninja Assassin,” the new film from director James McTeigue, begins with a Japanese tattoo artist working on a yakuza’s back. Blood flows down from the tattoo needle. With only short respites, blood also flows throughout the rest of the film. Blood isn’t enough, however, to compensate for the film’s anemia in other areas.
“Red Cliff” is John Woo’s first Chinese movie since 1991’s “Once a Thief.” His new film triumphs over the cutting of the footage which is almost as cruel as the cuttings of so many characters over the film’s running time. Conceived as a four-hour epic in two parts, it reaches the United States as a single film that runs two and a half hours.
Before leaving his home in Texas for Mongolia with his wife and autistic son, author and horse trainer Rupert Isaacson seems eager for the trip as he calls it a “gateway to adventure, a gateway to healing.”
At age 33, Thailand’s Tony Jaa seems poised to replace Jackie Chan in the world of Asian martial arts film. Like Jackie Chan, Jaa’s movies emphasize all-natural fights and stunts. They avoid the use of computer graphics and stuntman substitutions for the leading man.
Oriya film legend Prashanta Nanda packs a political punch in his latest film, “The Living Ghost,” by honing in on the exploitation — sexual and economic — of a native tribe in India that is facing extinction.
“Sex in Seattle 17: Coming Clean” is this year’s installment of the lives of Jenna, Elizabeth, and Tess — three single Asian American friends coping with their complicated love lives. The play is currently showing at the Richard Hugo House on Capitol Hill through Oct. 17. Its subtitle, “Coming Clean,” refers to the romantic decisions that each woman must make so that she can be truly happy.
In the early ’90s, there was a boom of independent filmmakers. The power of credit cards and sold memorabilia fueled personal passions.
Burma is sometimes a forgotten country. Officially called Myanmar by the country’s military junta, in late 2007, more than 100,000 people took to the streets of Rangoon in protest of the ruling regime. Called the “Saffron Revolution” because of the color of the robes donned by the monks who initiated the stand, the protest was quickly suppressed with brute force.
“Ponyo,” the new film from Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, opens with a shot of the sky on a sunny day. It’s only a short shot. Unlike Miyazaki’s earlier film “Porco Rosso,” “Ponyo” concerns itself with the sea, not the sky.