When I first started to closely follow the release of Asian films on DVD, it was the summer of 2000. I'd built up a nice little library of Hollywood action films and had a hankering to add some Jackie Chan and Jet Li titles to my collection for variety. As I researched what was available, I discovered that some Region 1 DVD releases featuring those stars had been tampered with; eventually my eyes were opened to the incredibly rich variety of cinematic delights available from Asia and I was condemned to a lifetime of poverty as every available entertainment dollar was poured into the search for more, more, more.
What I've tried to list here are a few pictures you may not realize are readily available on DVD in the US and Canada. I restricted the list to more recent films -- with one exception -- and have not included historical martial arts epics, which have already received plenty of attention, or comedies, which are criminally under-represented on Region 1 DVD. What are your favorite, lesser-known Asian films? Please share your discoveries by leaving a comment.
1. 6ixtynin9 (Thailand; 1999)
Stop sniggering about the title, you perverts! The film, available on DVD from Palm Pictures, has nothing to do with sexual positions and everything to do with social and economic standing. Lalita Panyopas stars as Tum, a young woman who loses her job due to factors beyond her control. Immediately contemplating suicide, salvation appears on her doorstep in the form of a cardboard box jammed with thousands of dollars. Of course, it's mob money, and dead bodies are soon filling every available space in Tum's tiny apartment (#6, marked with a nailed-on number which sometimes turns upside down, explaining the tile).