Sunday, June 27, 2010

NYAFF 2010: "L.A. Streetfighters" + "The Storm Warriors"

* L.A. Streetfighters (dir. "Richard" Park Woo-sang, 1985, Korea). This one-in-a-lifetime tarnished gem of an exploitation action film is available on Netflix. THAT, my friends, is the most bonkers feature of a basically endless daisy-chain of bonkers "moments", from the 40-year-old actors (Philip Rhee as Tony, Jun Chong as Young) squeezed into high-school desks and joining an inner-city gang, which leads to the usual high-school drama (gang fights, your girlfriend licking ice cream off your face, impromptu birthday parties, stealing from the mob, picking up prostitutes...). I don't know what is weirder, Tony in his perennial diamond-patterned sweater out w/ the girl (Rosanna King) then returning to his parents' grocery past midnight where Mom and Dad are ostensibly counting bananas, or Young, whining petulantly about his older (hot) mother's antics then purchasing a $3 six-pack w/ a $100 bill and getting into a fight w/ a guy playing a didgeridoo-sized flute in same liquor store. Or same Young, stealing a briefcase of cash from the mob by "concealing" it beneath his jacket whilst the rest of the gang pretend to be doormen, and the gang sets two hitmen on them, one (Ken Nagayama) is dressed as a samurai and the other (Bill "Superfoot" Wallace) drops dialogue like "I'm gonna break your balls!" Or rival gangs, like The Spikes ("Spike them! Kill!" repeat ad infinitum) whose leader has a blond bowl-cut and wears a belly-shirt, and the Blades (something like "Chino, chino, chino, chino...") whose shirtless bruiser urinates on Young's car and whose leader resembles Panama Jack. And the one-song soundtrack, and the ridiculous dubbing, the alternate film title (Ninja Turf??), I could go on. Being anywhere between gently buzzed to swayingly drunk helps. And yeah, you can totally Netflix this. What is the world coming to??

* The Storm Warriors (dirs. The Pang Brothers, 2009, Hong Kong). Quite possibly the most CGI-ed film to come out of Hong Kong. It's like watching a video game — my first thought was 300 but that quickly shifted to Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and I mean this in a good way. The fight scenes breathe SFX (wind that turns into swords, and amazingly the reverse, fire-fists, slo-mo water splashing as two dudes duke it out, lots of swirling black mists) and the calm moments are so bizarre and wrought w/ tension (lots of shall we say reticence) that luckily the fight scenes take up about 85% of the film.''s a live-action adaptation of Fung Wan, screenwriter Ma Wing-Shing's comic book. Cloud (Hong Kong pop star Aaron Kwok, doing a FFVII impression) and Wind (Ekin Cheng, in properly Goth hair-extension mode) — plus other creatively named characters (Nameless, Second Dream etc) v. Lord Godless (aka Simon Yam in a Super Shredder outfit, and I only realized after the screening that he's supposed to play a Japanese warload) for the safety of China, and the world!!! Balletic, abstract-art choreographed fights, conjured flames and swirling blade cyclones. Besides this I got little from the characters (Cloud is a hard-ass w/ a cutie, Tang Yan, pining after him; Wind seems selfless but wasn't as rockstar cool as Cloud etc), but this thing is so doped on CGI action that you've got to understand what you're getting yourself into. Way entertaining and gorgeous to look at, and that's OK.
Next screening: Thu, July 1, 9p (WRT)