Action Fest Full Line up!

Well, my hotel is booked and the car has been serviced for an early April road trip down to Asheville, North Carolina for ActionFest – the worlds first film festival dedicated to action movies, will be running from April 7th-10th. So, lo and behold they’ve released the remaining titles at the festival and added some special guests and panels (and tucked way down there under the seat is the original announcement and the all new festival trailer) It should be a grand time!

Bail Enforcers – A bounty hunting babe tackles the tough guys in this World Premiere starring seven-time WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus, who will be in attendance!
Never Back Down 2 – World Premiere of this anticipated MMA fight flick, directed by and starring Michael Jai White, who will be in attendance!
Battle Royale – The official US theatrical debut of the popular and controversial Japanese cult classic.
Fightville – Fresh from SXSW and a month before HotDocs, this hard hitting doc about the art and sport of mixed martial arts fighting follows two up and comers as they shed blood, sweat and tears to rise to the top.
Bellflower – From Sundance and SXSW, this indie gets under the skin of the action genre with a story about two apocalypse-obsessed friends.
Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie Movie – World Premiere Kung Fu documentary based on the book by martial arts cinema expert Ric Meyers
The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch – Regional Premiere of this adaptation of the popular French action-adventure comic book hero
Lonely Place to Die – World Premiere about a group of five mountaineers who find danger while hiking and climbing in the Scottish Highlands.
Tomorrow, When the War Began – North American Premiere of the Australian box office hit flick based on best-selling novel series that pits teenagers against an army invasion.

On Saturday April 9th and Sunday April 10th, there will be two panels: great stories from the legendary careers of the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Buddy Joe Hooker and representatives of Stunts Unlimited, and a discussion of the role of the Modern Fight Director, featuring Larnell Stovall (Undisputed III), Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite, Never Back Down 2) and martial arts film expert Ric Meyers (Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie Movie).

Additionally, ActionFest 2 will pay tribute to the 40th anniversary of Stunts Unlimited, an elite organization comprised of Hollywood’s A-list stunt performers (including original member Buddy Joe Hooker), which has become one of the most sought after group of action performers. Their work has been seen in a wide array of film and television including Die Hard, Fast and the Furious, Mission Impossible 2, Point Break, Rocky, Spider-man and The Terminator.

Would you like to know more…?

AFI Fest 2010: Outrage

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Here’s my thing with Yakuza films, or really any mafia-style gangster films: I can never, ever manage to keep track of who everybody is, what side they’re on, or why they do what they do to the people they do it to (I mean why specifically in each case; the why generally is fairly obvious). I know that’s partially the point, as loyalties shift and everyone usually has multiple agendas and power plays going on, but I still usually find myself just having to go with it and enjoy it for each moment, at least for the first time viewing. My usual state of mind is something like “okay, I’m not sure who these guys are, but they’re going to rough up that guy, not sure why, but there must be a reason, and OH YEAH VIOLENCE.” Takeshi Kitano’s latest Yakuza film Outrage is pretty much the same, but with even more outrageous kill scenes and bodily injury than I’ve seen before, so I quite enjoyed seeing what new and shocking ways he’d come up each time, even if I was unclear on the details of the shifting familial alliances.

I won’t even bother trying to synopsize the story, even if I could, because really, that’s not the draw here. It’s a bunch of aging Yakuza bosses getting into petty squabbles that escalate over and over until basically, everybody’s dead. Not a spoiler, because what else would you expect to happen? But even though the film is largely men in suits talking or yelling at each other punctuated by bursts of flamboyant and stylishly shot ultraviolence, I found myself quite engaged and entertained throughout. And by the end, the basics of the families’ relationships to each other was starting to become clearer and with a second viewing, I think I would be able to keep everything straight (especially knowing who’s left standing at the end).

Would you like to know more…?

Shorts Program – One Fine Day

I‘m not going to say that my introduction to Asian cinema was with Beat Takeshi but as I’ve been watching martial arts and triad movies long before I ever ran into his sly offbeat humour with Battle Royale. After BR I started to search out his movies and I discovered an artist with a very wide range.

In 2007 Takeshi created the short One Fine Day as part of Chacun son cinéma ou Ce petit coup au coeur quand la lumière s’éteint et que le film commence (To Each His Own Cinema). While there is not a lot going on in One Fine Day it does bring a smile to my face and is a good example of Beat Takeshi’s humour.