Seems that as another great year in films comes to a close, and with 2013 just around the corner, we take a look at our most anticipated movies from the world of Asian cinema. These films feature: great talent, in front of and behind the camera; big budget effects-laden blockbuster bait; actions films; dramas; animation; and everything around. Truly we’re excited for what’s to come and here is why you should be too.
The Grandmasters – Directed by legendary auteur, Wong Kar-Wai, this oft delayed production will finally see the light of day in early 2013. Despite being in development by Wong since the mid 1990’s, it was beaten to the screen by Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen’s own Ip Man series of films. However, it does feature award winners Tony Leung Chiu Wai and the always alluring Zhang Ziyi as leads and the promise of gripping direction from Wong. With strong supporting actors Chang Cheh, Zhao Benshan, and Song Hye-Kyo as well as champion fighter Cung Le, along with the expertise of Yuen Woo-ping as action choreographer, The Grandmasters is absolutely one of the must see films of 2013.
The Monkey King – While granted the teaser does not show too much, I’ve been a stalwart Monkey King fan ever since childhood. The casting of Donnie Yen in the role of Monkey has me excited about the action, but it is the presence of the Monkey King himself on the big screen that has this on the list of most anticipated of 2013. With an impressive cast to fill the long list of characters, including; Chow Yun-fat, Fan Siu-Wong, Gigi Leung, Aaron Kwok, and Kelly Chen, it is shaping up to be the grandest showing of Monkey to date. Let’s just hope that it is more like Zu, Warriors from Magic Mountain and less like The Legend of Zu.
Dragonball Z Battle of Gods – Ok, not what many of you were expecting, but it’s on here, get over it. There aren’t many kids from my generation that don’t recall fondly the days of watching Goku and his friends take on insanely powerful villains with the use of martial arts and special echniques, so it is with a lot of nostalgia that I include this on our list. While DBZ has had a continued presence in recent years; Dragonball Z Kai, video games, and short animations to name a few, it has been over 15 years since a proper animated theatrical movie. If that isn’t reason enough, then I don’t know what I can say to convince you.
Unforgiven – Helmed by Sang-il Lee, this remake of the fantastic Clint Eastwood western has a lot of legacy in which to live up. With a beautifully shot teaser and the fine acting chops of Ken Watanabe, I have a great deal of faith in the movie. With how many Westerns have been remakes of Japanese period films, especially Clint’s, it seems like an odd duality is taking place right about now. Nonetheless, this is a movie to watch out for!
Iceman Cometh – As someone with no small affinity for the original 80’s classic, I had trepidation when I heard that there was a remake on the horizon. Even the announcement of Donnie Yen starring only lessened my worry. It was however the announcement of the great Yuen Biao joining the cast which catapulted it to must see status in my book.
The Berlin File – Ryoo Seung-wan’s big budget spy thriller should be on everyone’s radar because he makes kick butt action movies. With a great cast featuring Han Suk-kyu, Jeon Ji-hyun, and brother Ryoo Seung-beom, the trailer looks like an action packed and taut thriller. It is easy to see why Ryoo is considered an action specialist.
The New World – The cast is the reason to see this film, I mean Choi Min-sik, Lee Jung-jae, and Hwang Jung-min for crying out loud! I would have been sold merely on the inclusion of Choi alone, he’s never disappointed me in a film before, but this action thriller about undercover cops and gangsters in Korea looks like a contender for the Silver Bell.
Shield of Straw – Prolific director Takashi Miike’s latest tells the story of two detectives transporting a dangerous killer across the country. When the victim’s grandfather offers a huge bounty on the killer’s head, the two detectives must evade and outwit bounty hunters looking to take their quarry. With Miike seemingly settling down in terms of off the wall films, I tend to enjoy his work these days more than ever. Add in a great cast featuring Takao Osawa, Nanako Matsushima, Tatsuya Fujiwara, and the great Tsutomu Yamazaki, and my interest is piqued.
Special Identity – This troubled production starring Donnie Yen, Andy On, and Ngai Sing has had no shortage of controversy thanks to the disputes between Donnie and Vincent Zhao and director/screenwriter Tan Bing. Because of this, things have been pretty hush hush about the film itself. What we’ve been seeing from behind the scenes images and stills is a brutal looking action film in the vein of Donnie’s SPL and Flash Point. While a trailer may not be too far off, what we’ve seen so far looks extremely promising.
Pacific Rim – While not an Asian film per se, the influence of Japanese kaiju films is obvious. Visionary director Guillermo Del Toro looks about ready to introduce the world to the wonder of giant monsters in a way that has never been done on screen before. The cast, featuring Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Ron Perlman, and Charlie Hunnam looks about as good as you can make it, and the trailer pretty much blew my socks off. A film I have been anticipating ever since it was announced, Pacific Rim is my most anticipated film of 2013.
While no one will ever know if any of these films will be any good until you can actually sit down and watch it, because of the promise of action, drama, nostalgia, and talent, you can be sure that I’ll be watching each of these films, and many more next year. 2013 is shaping up to be a good year for the movie lover.