And so, another edition of the Fantasia Film Festival is in the books. It's always held a special place in my heart as Fantasia was both the first film festival I ever attended (way back in 2001, when I saw SWORDSMAN 2) and the first that I ever covered professionally, back in 2007. Since then, I've seen the festival grow more and more every year. This has been another terrific edition, with programmer Mitch Davis and the rest of his staff doing another slam-bang job assembling a terrific lineup of movies.
The following a few of my favorite flicks from the fest, followed by links to all my reviews. Peruse at your leisure.
The Spierig Bros. PREDESTINATION was a film that absolutely took me by surprise. While I liked their previous films, UNDEAD and DAYBREAKERS, this is a massive step forward, and one can't help but be saddened by the lack of buzz surrounding it so far. Some of that may have to do with the trailer, which misleadingly sells it as a straightforward time-travel thriller. That's not exactly what this is, but to go any deeper into it would ruin the surprises in store.
I was anticipating good things from this one, mainly due to the interesting cult premise, and the inclusion of Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the cast. Her husband, Riley Stearns, directed this, and it feels like only the first act in what should be an amazing career. He does a pretty beautiful job juggling humor and suspense, resulting in a twisty tale that's a mindbending ace of an indie thriller.
Like PREDESTINATION, THE ONE I LOVE is a movie that shouldn't be investigated too closely before walking in, as it's an utterly surprising relationship comedy with a shocking twist that throws this into another genre completely. While admittedly a tough sell for genre fans, trust me on this one. It's a must-see.
NO TEARS FOR THE DEAD
Fantasia started out back in its first few editions as a showcase for Asian films. This has stayed a big component of the festival, and one of the really interesting things to see over the last decade or so is the emergence of South Korean cinema. NO TEARS FOR THE DEAD is director Lee Jung-beom's follow-up to THE MAN FROM NOWHERE. The first half of NO TEARS is a little too melodramatic, and oddly for a Korean movie, largely in English which is weird considering none of the main actors in the film speak it especially well. But, in the second half, NO TEARS FOR THE DEAD has the best action scenes of the year outside of THE RAID 2. The last hour is wall-to-wall action, with jaw-dropping one-on-one fights, incredible shoot-outs and more. The action is just mind-blowing and even better than the setpieces in THE MAN FROM NOWHERE (even rivaling that film's famous climactic knife fight).
THE WHITE STORM
While South Korean cinema has come to the forefront, Hong Kong Cinema has sadly seen a major decline. THE WHITE STORM proves there's still some life left in the industry, with this being a kind of mega-budget tribute to the “heroic bloodshed” classics Fantasia used to show. Directed by Benny Chan, one of the best current HK directors, this stars the amazing Lau Ching-Wan, Louis Koo and Nick Cheung as a trio of Hong Kong cops trying to take down a Thai drug lord. Being a Hong Kong movie, much deception and tons of violence ensues. There's an action scene about halfway through, where machine-gun firing helicopters force our heroes into a deadly showdown, that had the audience hooting and hollering. Pound for pound, this rivals any Hollywood blockbuster I've seen this summer.
OTHER FANTASIA 2014 FILMS REVIEWED