Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival 2010 Day 1 - Tuesday November 09, 2010

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The crowd lines up for the opening night screening of Gallants

The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival opened to a packed house at the Bloor Cinema last night with fantastic screening of the martial arts homage film Gallants. The evening started off with thanks and speeches from Reel Asian executive director Sonia Sokamoto-Job, Minister of Tourism and Culture Michael Chan and from the always inspiring Olivia Chow. The crowd was also treated to a high flying performance from Team 2X Entertainment, a group which blends martial arts, free-running, gymnastics and contemporary dance (see video clip from their fantastic performance here). All in all it was a great way to kick start the festival and I can't wait for more!

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Olivia Chow at the Opening Night of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival 2010

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Gallants
Dirs: Clement Cheng & Derek Kwok
Cast: Bruce Leung, Chen Kuan-Tai, Wong Yue-nam, Teddy Robin, Susan Shaw, MC Jin, J.J. Jia
Hong Kong

Gallants is an interesting and hilarious homage to martial arts films, gleaning a familiar and fun visual style with a new take on the genres. It has lots of elements you'd expect in a martial arts films (rivals, a master, competition), but with very different spin on how it puts it all together, making unexpected and often hilarious choices. I loved that it defied expectations, and it often worked really well while it follows the inadvertent adventures that surround our protagonist Cheung, a rather floundering real estate worker who finds himself amongst foes & friends, be they new or old. This is were the fantastic casting is showcased as there are many familiar faces in the mix, who get lots opportunity to shows their stuff with the numerous great fight sequences.

Although the focus of the film is certainly the comedy and the martial arts, I absolutely adored that it featured people from different generations in action. It's something that we don't always see, and it was refreshing to see a level of equality on that level amongst the characters in the film.

Gallants was a great way to start off the festival and to see with the audience, you could feel the enthusiasm during the fights and the comedy went over extremely well.

Director Clement Cheng in attendance to introduce the film as well for a Q&A after the film where he shared that the casting was in place first and then it was written and developed, the support from producer Andy Lau, and that even though they had stunt men on site the actors did their own stunts noting that the stunt men couldn't do what *they* could do. There was no wire work nor any computer effects in terms of the fighting, and they also had a chiropractor on site to attend to the actors and help recover from filming the fight sequences.

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Reel Asian International Programmer Raymond Phathanavirangoon with Gallants co-director Clement Cheng

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The Team 2X Entertainment performance was too fast to capture in a picture - check out a clip from their fantastic performance here.

The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival 2010 runs from November 9 - 15, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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