VIFF – Exploring East Asia

The upcoming 36th Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) will be showcasing films from East Asia. The Dragons & Tigers film series is the largest annual exhibition of East Asian films outside the region, and is internationally recognized as one of the most significant in the world. Below is a selection of films from East Asian countries:

The Hidden Sword
Xu Haofeng, China, 2017, 136 min.

In 1933, Chinese soldiers led by Shen Feixue defeat a Japanese attack on the Great Wall using only swords. But Shen disappears, and an imposter takes his place. Allied with the glamorous and lethal beauty Zhihui, they try to steal Master Kong’s ultimate sword techniques. But heroic young Kong Dingyi stands in their way. China’s new master of elegant chivalric swordplay, Xu Haofeng, spices brilliantly choreographed action with sparkling eroticism in this dazzling, star-studded, comic-action masterpiece.

Wilson Yip, Hong Kong, 2017, 100 min.

Ace director Wilson Yip, dashing leading man Louis Koo and one of cinema’s greatest action choreographers Sammo Hung team up for this gritty crime thriller. Koo plays a detective who travels to Thailand in search of his missing daughter; there he finds corruption, sleaze and plenty of danger. In the best tradition of Hong Kong action cinema, the film offers colourful characters and good storytelling in addition to the mayhem. Thai martial artist Tony Jaa features in a small but memorable role.

Angkor-Awakens: A Portrait of Cambodia
Robert H. Lieberman, Cambodia/US, 2017, 90 min.

Zeroing in on the devastating legacy of the Khmer Roughe’s genocidal four-year regime, this is a kaleidoscopic portrait of Cambodia’s brutal past and tenuous future. Balancing historical context with disarming intimacy and continuing the legacy of The Killing Fields, it employs commendable directness to bring the human scale of the nation’s tragedy into sharp relief.

Honeygiver Among the Dogs
Dechen Roder, Bhutan, 2016, 132 min.

When a woman goes missing from a small village, cop Kinley is put on the case, and his number one suspect is sexy dame Choden. This is film noir territory, but we’re far from the usual hardboiled milieu: the country is Bhutan, the missing woman is a Buddhist abbess and the femme fatale has some very special powers. Sexy, spiritual and beguiling, this film is subtle enough to have you parsing its mysteries long after the case has been solved.

Full program available online on September 7. Please visit viff.or for details and other films from East Asia.

Reproduced under fair-use and with credit

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