Asian Cinema Scene

Subtitle of the Week: "My kung fu skills aren't too bad, eh?" -- Donnie Yen in Ip Man.

This week's edition of Asian Cinema Scene includes capsule reviews of films that were recently released on DVD in Asia.

Departures Takes Off: Yojiro Takita's drama Departures, the Academy Award winner for Best Foreign-Language Film, was a popular success during its initial run in Japan last fall. It resurged in the wake of the Oscar victory, ascending to the top of the charts. Departures also swept the 32nd Annual Japanese Academy Awards two days before the Oscars. The director's follow-up film, Sanpei the Fisher Boy, is due for release later this month. [Sources: Screen Daily; Japan Times; Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow; Nippon Cinema.]

Ip Man Inspires: Biopics are always better with martial arts, aren't they? Highly respected Wing Chun master Ip Man (Donnie Yen) lives a comfortable life in Fo Shan, China, but after the Japanese invade in 1937, he is reduced to living with his wife and young son in abject poverty. He works humbly alongside his fellow countrymen in a coal factory until he is forced to use his martial arts skills to defend his country's honor against the Japanese.

Teaming again with director Wilson Yip (SPL, Flash Point), Yen is perfectly suited to play the stoic, peaceful man who refused to buckle under to imperial rule. Simon Yam plays a factory owner and Hiroyuki Ikeuchi embodies General Miura. The great Sammo Hung choreographed the action scenes, which are pretty terrific. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that Ip Man eventually counted Bruce Lee among his students. (Trailer embedded below.)

After the jump: Brief looks at Beast Stalker and Legendary Assassin -- plus trailer!