Sunday, 13 November 2011

Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival 2011 Day 5: Saturday November 12, 2011


Day 5 at Reel Asian was a marathon day at The Royal as I caught three screenings in the middle of the day with the South Korean high school drama/mystery of Bleak Night and then settled into a Taiwanese double bill with the family drama When Love Comes and then JUMP ASHIN! an inspiring based-on-a-true-story (of the directors brother) gymnast turned gangster. Although family and emotions held the strong themes and made it a fantastic day a the festival, I think the most memorable moment of the day (and possibly festival) was all the quiet sighing/giggling during any and ever shirtless-Eddie Peng moments in JUMP ASHIN!. He's pretty freaking fit in the film and the ladies sure seemed to appreciate it!

Piercing 1 ended off Day 5 with a late night screening, see my review of it here.


Bleak Night
Dir: Yoon Sung-Hyun
Cast: Lee Je-Hoon, Seo Jun-Young, Park Jung-Min
South Korea

Bleak Night is a fascinating exploration into the world of teen years and friendships, especially when they tip off-balance, and takes an unusual approach by aligning understanding a trio of friends as if it is a mystery solve. I found using the mystery structure a brilliant choice for structure as the essence of the friendship truly did feel like a mystery and therefore sometimes it felt like it worked too well as I wasn't always confident that I knew exactly what was going on although that does make me want to watch it again. What I am confident about is that the film strives and rides high on its true portrayal of the weight & complexity of the emotions entwined with the friendship between Dong-yoon, Ki-tea and Hee-june. From the air of jealousy that arises when best friends becomes a trio of friends to the competing loyalties and staying with a current group of friends of switching to another all rings strongly of high school drama and dynamics. It's astonishing the young cast are all non-actors as they display a huge amount of talent in this high stakes drama. I highly recommend checking it out.

Bleak Night also plays next Saturday November 19, 2011 at 4:00PM with A Drummer's Passion at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts. See more about the upcoming screening here.


When Love Comes
Dir: Chang Tso-Chi
Cast: Lee Yi-chieh, Ho Tzu-hua, Lin Yu-shun, Lu Hsueh-feng

When Loves Comes starts off with a restaurant running family with an unusual make up that's multi-generational and complex on many levels, we see the film most often from the perspective from 16 year old Lai-chun (Lee Yi-chieh) who is usually doing her best to get attention outside the family while also often being on the receiving end of complaints and insults from her family. Although the story technically does follow here I felt that it's truly an ensemble cast and provides many beautiful moments, insights and development with and between all of the characters in the family throughout family dramas that continually shift and upset their day to day life. I loved seeing the little moments between the characters as the emotional support ebbed and flowed in suprizing ways (as did the power dynamics). A beautiful family portrait with fantastic performances and strong emotional resonance. When Love Comes really got to me on an emotional level and it's another film that I would highly recommend checking out.


Dir: Lin Yu-hsien
Cast: Eddie Peng, Lawrence Ko, Hsia Ching-ting

JUMP ASHIN! was easily one of my most anticipated films of this years festival as it has many elements of films I love from being an inspirational sport film, a martial arts film and based on a true story which makes it all the more inspiring. It stars Eddie Peng as Ashin, who feels a strong calling to gymnastic and works and trains hard for many years to work towards being a world-class competitor. One of the amazing things about JUMP ASHIN! is that it has the ability to shake up and fuse the patterns of sports films & martial arts films, in part through how it follows the nose of the true story where Ashin turns to a life of crime, but somehow although this showcases many hardships also provides lots of opportunity for comedy and romance. The miraculous way it blends elements from so many genres is formidable, and it easily won over the crowd. The story in it's earnest and inspiring nature through the good and the bad easily won me over as well. I'd say it's easily my current favourite of the festival and I wouldn't be surprized is it takes home the audience award this year to add to it's win as Audience Choice Award at the Taipei Film Festival (2011). JUMP ASHIN! is a truly inspiring and entertaining film.

JUMP ASHIN! also plays next Saturday November 19, 2011 at 7:00PM at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts. See more about the upcoming screening here.



The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival 2011 runs from November 5 - 13, 2011 in Toronto and November 18-19, 2011 in Richmond Hill in Ontario, Canada.

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