A Few Selected from this Year’s Asian Pacific Film Fest in L.A. By Garrett Hoo

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The 2011 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) which began April 28 – May 7, 2011 at the Director’ s Guild of America (DGA), Laemmle’ s Sunset 5 Theatres, and the CGV Cinemas located in Koreatown was presented by Visual Communications (VC), the nation’ s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center.

As Southern California’ s largest and most prestigious film festival of its kind, the LAAPFF launched the celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month through this year’ s slate of 180 films from both Asian Pacific American and Asian international directors from 20 countries. Over the past 27 years, the Festival has presented over 3400 films and shorts by Asian American and Asian international artists. This year, 32 feature films and 148 shorts were showcased throughout the 10-day fest. The Festival  showcased many returning filmmakers and producers who continue to make films and still hold true to their own voices.

Progressive Pulse had the pleasure of screening these 3 standout films:

FAST FIVE

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Sung Kang

Sung Kang

The latest action-thriller from Justin Lin, FAST FIVE kicked the Festival off into high gear. The latest film in the blockbuster series built on speed stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “ Ludacris” Bridges, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Tego Calderon, Don Omar, Elsa Pataky, Joaquim de Almeida and Dwayne Johnson. This adrenaline pumping film by Justin Lin, reunites the two original cast members. Once again back in the drivers seat and in Rio, our two fugitives suddenly find personal situations and circumstances presenting themselves. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker have lost none of their on screen chemistry and camaraderie. The fine cast balances the machismo with just the right amount of lightness. This fast paced film grabs you the moment it hits first gear, introducing us to the characters and plot with just enough back story to keep it cohesive. Needless to say, the amazing precision driving kept us at the edge of our seats, looking for the safety belts. It’s great to see an Asian American director lead the pack with the current number one film at the box office. Also worth noting is his usage of actor Sung Kang…without giving away any storylines let’s just say Kang’s character breaks the cycle of many years of stereotypical acting roles for Asian men in film. Distributed by Universal Studios, FAST FIVE is the third film in “ The Fast and the Furious” series for Lin, who debuted his first solo feature film at the Festival with 2002’ s groundbreaking BETTER LUCK TOMORROW.

WEDDING PALACE

The Wedding Palace

Filmmaker Christine Yoo’s directorial feature debut, THE WEDDING PALACE, opens with an all-too-familiar scene for Asian families—an infant son is placed before a myriad of items, in this case, a calligraphy brush, money, a bowl of rice—which item will he reach for and thereby set the course for the rest of his life?

Taking over 3 years to produce and with a talented ensemble of some of the best Asian comedians and actors, the colorful cast of characters bursts onto the screen as the comedic adventure begins. Taking place and filmed in the Korean district of Los Angeles and in Seoul, Korea, The Wedding Palace stars Brian Tee, Margaret Cho, Kang Hyejung, Bobby Lee,  June K. Lu,  Joy Osmanski, and Stephen Park.
Jason ( Brian Tee, in an atypical turn as a sensitive filial son), feels the pressure from his family to wed before his 30th birthday in order to avoid an ancient curse placed upon his family. Failing to do so he would otherwise suffer a horrible death. The scenario is set. The family and friends, dealing with this imminent date, place themselves and Jason in hilarious situations that result in unusual consequences. At times both sensitive and over the top, this film has many twists and turns and is handled admirably and deftly by the talented cast. Soon to be released.

LOVE IN DISGUISE

love-in-disguiseThe Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival closed its 27th edition with LOVE IN DISGUISE, the directorial debut of Mandopop superstar Leehom Wang. LOVE IN DISGUISE stars Joan Chen, Khalil Fong, Chen Han-Dian, Yifei Liu, Qiao Zhenyu, and Leehom Wang.

This romantic comedy has been likened to a modern take on Cyrano De Bergerac, Asian style.  LOVE IN DISGUISE admittedly is formulaic and will definitely appeal to fans of the original story as well as create new ones. A thoroughly fun, fantastical musical rom-com that features glimpses of 2 seemingly different worlds but in the end, are really not so different after all. It features numerous comic and romantic situations, fine acting, great production values and   great-looking stars to boot, LOVE IN DISGUISE makes for an entertaining fun 98 minutes. Produced by Taipei-based Serenity Entertainment. Soon to be released. Watch the trailer below:

The LAAPFF 2011 documentary line-up includes award winners and premieres:

• THE BENGALI DETECTIVE – Phil Cox
• THE HOUSE OF SUH – Iris K. Shim
• ENFORCING THE SILENCE – Tony Nguyen
• THE LULU SESSIONS – S. Casper Wong
• WHERE ARE YOU TAKING ME? – Kimi Takesue
• ONE BIG HAPA FAMILY – Jeff Chiba Stearns
• WORKING GIRLS – Sammaria Simanjuntak, Sally Anom Sari, Yosep Anggi Noen, Daud Sumolang, Nitta Nazyra C. Noer
• FINDING FACE – Patti Duncan and Skye Fitzgerald
• RESILIENCE – Tammy Chu
• AMONG B-BOYS – Christopher Woon

These LAAPFF films include many filmmakers who are based in the US, but are filming both in the US and overseas:
• FAST FIVE – Justin Lin
• SAIGON ELECTRIC– Stephane Gauger
• WEDDING PALACE – Christine Yoo
• ALMOST PERFECT – Bertha Bay-Sa Pan
• LIVING IN SEDUCED CIRCUMSTANCES – Ian Gamazon
• WHERE THE ROAD MEETS THE SUN – Mun Chee Yong
• ONE KINE DAY – Chuck Mitsui
• HEART BREAKS OPEN – Billie Rain
• BANG BANG – Byron Q
• BOY – Taika Waititi

Please check your local listings when these great films will be screening in your local area!