In Addiction Counselling Circles This Would Be Known As “Enabling”

Okay there boys and girls … one of the things about my posting so much about Asian films is that I get asked where people can buy these things. A lot. So to make life simpler for you and more lucrative for me I’ve gone out and joined a few associate programs so you’ll be seeing links to the Asian films I talk about if they’re available. I’m not going to pretend that buying stuff through our associate links is going to help support the site – thanks to all of these places being overseas store credit is the only option – but it will help us here at the Movie Blog subsidize our viewing habits. And a foreign film fetish gets pricey fast, trust me. For more information on the companies we’re linking to and why, as well as links to recent films that we’ve been talking up and others that every self respecting film fan really should have click the link below.

Right. The bulk of our buying links are going to be through YesAsia. Yes, you can find cheaper prices on individual films if you’re prepared to do some comparison shopping but I’ve opted to go with YesAsia for a few simple reasons. First, it’s multi-ethnic which means they stock product from China, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea so you can go one stop shopping and compare prices and versions. Second, they’ve got shipping centers in the USA, Canada and the UK which means you never get stung for customs charges. This is a good thing. Third, they offer free shipping within the US if you buy more than $39 per order and free shipping in Canada if you buy more than $49. Fourth, they’ve got a good English language site and their listings are generally quite detailed and accurate. Between the free shipping and dodging customs YesAsia tends to come up the cheapest. There are, however, times when YesAsia either does not offer the best option (ie when there’s a cheap, high quality European edition) or when they simply don’t stock the film in question. With Asian films that generally means you’re looking for a Thai film and for those we’re going with EThaiCD.com. EThai is easily the best source for Thai films online … good selection, good customer service and prices usually run about ten dollars per DVD including shipping. For European editions we’re going with Amazon UK. I generally favor independents over big conglomerates but I make an exception for Amazon simply because they offer good prices and service and they automatically deduct the VAT when they see that you live outside of the UK and the best independent company hopes that you don’t realize the VAT is built right into their prices so you end up paying a tax that really shouldn’t apply to your purchase. So there you go.

To click through to one of our respective buying associates, just go ahead and click on the appropriate link below.

YesAsia
Amazon UK
EThaiCD

One last note: where multiple versions of a film exist I tend to opt for the Korean edition and you’ll see that reflected in our links. Yes, the Hong Kong versions tend to be cheaper but the Korean releases are as high quality as any in the world in terms of sound, video and package quality; their subtitle translators are excellent and they tend to cost roughly the same as a US release. In my mind the Korean releases represent the best combination of quality and price.

Okay. That wasn’t the last note. This is. If you want to get serious about foreign film go buy an all region DVD player. Right now. They’re no more expensive than regular machines and they’ll open a whole new world to you. A lot of the things we’ll be linking to here will be formatted for other regions so unless you plan on viewing them all on your computer a new piece of hardware will be a necessity …

So … here’s the big list of current and classic titles that you really should be looking at:

Korea:
My Sassy Girl
Korean mega-blockbuster romantic comedy based on an actual online blog. I hate romantic comedies but I really love this film.

Memories of Murder
Multiple award winning thriller based on the true story of the police investigation into a serial killer case in the mid 80’s.

A Tale of Two Sisters
Major creepy psychological / supernatural horror film. This has just been bought by Tom Cruise’s production company for a remake.

Wonderful Days
Huge budget Korean anime film fuses 3D models, CGI and traditional cel animation. Visually stunning. This is the ridiculously well packaged 3 DVD directors cut. Probably the best piece of packaging I own.

Old Boy
Chan Wook Park’s gritty revenge film plays out like a much angrier and more violent Franz Kafka story. Just won the Grand Prix at Cannes and also up for an American remake, possibly starring Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Chan Wook Park’s previous and also critically acclaimed revenge film.

Once Upon a Time in High School – Spirit of Jeet Kune Do
Romantic melodrama? Gritty fight film? Nostalgic look back on youth? Yes. Stars one of the kids from Volcano High (sadly out of print) who will soon be seen on our shores in Yuen Woo Ping’s kung fu retelling of Snow White.

Save the Green Planet
Utterly bizarre and really, really good horror / comedy / thriller / psychological drama film changes moods more often than I change my pants. I can’t believe I forgot to bring this to show Big Bald Dave while I was in Chicago … it’s the sort of film he would soil himself over …

Musa: The Warrior
Visually stunning historical epic … amazing dramatic performances, a complex script, lush cinematography and intense fight sequences make this an instant classic. Easily on par with Crouching Tiger with whom it shares a star in Zhang Ziyi.

JSA
Another Chan Wook Park film, this one addressing the tensions between north and south Korea.

Japan:
Battle Royale
This thing’s like Lord of the Flies on acid. Has achieved legendary status and fully deserves it. Incredible film, but whatever you do don’t waste money on the sequel …

Bright Future
Incredible drama from Kiyoshi (not to be confused with Akira) Kurosawa … stars Tadanobu Asano who’s probably my favorite actor in the world right now. Kurosawa has an amazing knack for taking genre conventions and turning them inside out …

Doppelganger
Most recent film from Kurosawa is another classic, this one about an obsessive inventor who meets his doppelganger, or exact double.

Go
Incredible Japanese youth drama dealing with racism in Japanese culture beautifully shot, edited with style to spare and featuring an incredible performance from Kobuzuka Yosuke, another of my absolute favorite actors. Though the story is not at all about the fight scenes there are some mighty good ones in here …

Ping Pong
Based on a manga from the same artist who did Blue Spring and featuring another stellar Kobuzuka Yosuke performance this was a massive blockbuster in Japan and for good reason. Style like you wouldn’t believe and characters with depth make for one solid film …

Juon: The Grudge
The first Juon feature film … creepy like you wouldn’t believe … remake comes out before the end of the year …

Juon 2
More Asian creepiness …

Dark Water
Brilliant horror film from Hideo Nakata who directed the original Ring films. Also shooting a remake right now starring Jennifer Connely.

Snake of June
Latest film from cult director Shinya Tsukamoto – the man behind Tetsuo The Iron Man – is pretty handily my favorite piece of his work. Shot in a grainy blue tint monochrome Snake of June continues Tsukamoto’s body-machine fixation while also delving into some pretty serious relationship issues …

Stereo Future
Beautifully shot film from the man behind Samurai Fiction … funny and touching, not a single shot is wasted …

Zatoichi
Takeshi Kitano’s take on the classic blind swordsman story … there’s some clunky CGI but the film as a whole is brilliant … winner of the People’s Choice Award (the only award the festival gives out) at the Toronto Film Festival last year.

Avalon
Philosophical virtual reality live action film from the man responsible for the Ghost in the Shell features. People either love Oshii or the find him slow and boring. I’m in the love camp.

Blue Spring
Yeah, I just posted about the coming region one release, but if you want to be one of the cool kids this is a cheap way to see it first.

China / Hong Kong:
The Eye
Pang Brothers’ ghost story was at the front of the Asian horror wave coming to North America … the original had a limited theatrical run here and is being remade …

Infernal Affairs Trilogy
Absolutely incredible Hong Kong cop / mob films … just go ahead and buy all three. You won’t be disappointed. The first is being remade by Martin Scorsese.

Complete remastered Bruce Lee
This is the big box of all of Bruce Lee’s films completely remastered to archival quality. Purty.

Pretty, but incomplete, Korean Bruce Lee Binder
This version’s missing a couple films due to rights issues, but it’s the same new remastered versions of Lee’s films packaged in an incredible metallic binder.

A Better Tomorrow Korean Binder
John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow trilogy gets the spiffy metal binder treatment. Also with pretty new transfers …

Thailand:
Bangkok Dangerous
The Pang Brothers’ amazing film about a deaf-mute hitman in Bangkok. Plays out like John Woo meets Wong Kar Wai. I think this is their best film and the Thai issue has just gone out of print which means the only way to see this film in widescreen – and it really is criminal to pan and scan a Pang film – is this UK edition.

One Take Only
An experimental film from Oxide Pang shot, as you might guess from the title, in single takes. Stars the hitman from Bangkok Dangerous as a directionless low level drug dealer who gets into a relationship with a call girl who lives in his building.

Last Life in the Universe
Incredible Thai film shot in a mix of Thai, Japanese and English tells the story of a reclusive, obsessive, suicidal Japanese man living in Bangkok pushed into a relationship with a Thai girl through tragedy. There’s more to it than that but I don’t want to spoil it. Fantastic film starring Tadanobu Asano, shot by Christopher Doyle – the best cinematographer in Asia – and featuring cameos by cult director Takashi Miike and Riki Takeuchi.

Tears Of The Black Tiger
A film forced into oblivion when bought up by Miramax this is now only available as a UK DVD … a tongue in cheek full on Thai melodramatic western shot in a Technicolor-substitute. An immediate cult classic.

Europe:
Delicatessen
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s first feature. Why is this film only available in the UK!?!?!

The League Of Gentlemen
Season one of the brilliant, dark comedy. These guys are the new Monty Python only nobody’s realized it yet.

League of Gentlemen Series 2
See above.

The League Of Gentlemen, Series 3
See above.

The League of Gentlemen – Christmas Special
The darkest, bleakest most blackly hilarious Christmas special you’ll ever see. Who else could work a coven of witches, line dancing, flagrant homosexuality, vampires, and a monkey’s removed-by-acid genitals into a Christmas show?

Spaced Series 1 and 2 Box Set
The show that launched the guys behind Shaun of the Dead into the British limelight … I just finished up season one and it’s brilliant … absolutely littered with pop culture references …

Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself
Dark comedy-drama that I was rambling about a while back … It’s about Wilbur. And he wants to kill himself. Great film.

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