NYAFF '11 Reviews: 'Vengeance Can Wait,' 'Love And Treachery' & 'Raw Force'

by Gabe Toro
July 15, 2011 11:05 AM
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"Vengeance Can Wait"
You may be fooled into thinking “Vengeance Can Wait” is another hardcore Korean revenge drama where the end features someone sobbing over another man’s corpse, both of them overcome with the loss of their souls. But no, thankfully, it’s a Japanese farce, where two roommates pretend to be brother and sister only to find themselves romantically entangled with an old school classmate, with the male roommate still nursing a crush.

The mixture of oil and vinegar types on all sides of this love triangle proves fruitful, allowing for a group of loose comic performances. A highlight is the normally taciturn Tadanobu Asano ("Thor”), who essentially does a thirtysomething variation on “Napoleon Dynamite,” contrasted with the manic comic energy of the adorable Koike Eiko. “Vengeance” leans on too many comic contrivances for its third act, but it pleasantly coasts on the charm of the leads during a runtime that moves quickly. [B]


"Love And Treachery"
Some people live through their art. Some people vicariously live through the creations of others. And then there’s the protagonist of “Love And Treachery,” a publishing agent who not only samples his latest client’s work, but also his muse. Despite a happy marriage, he is strongly tempted to stray, sharing small moments with the girl that brings his client inspiration and, indirectly, pays his bills.

“Love And Treachery” works as a script that follows the path of how our relationships and transactions cross-pollinate. As a film, however, it doesn’t approach anything beyond a half-thesis, as the simplistic story overcomplicates with developments regarding the agent’s wife. And yet, within its quiet moments, “Love And Treachery” does gaze searchingly into the universal abyss we all stand over when we are in the midst of a series of questionable decisions. Despite story weaknesses, what 'Treachery' does understand is the feeling of guilt both playful and stern. [B]

"Raw Force"
A cruise ship arrives at Warrior Island, so-named because of the spirits of dead ninja and samurai who reside there. Fortunately, our Filipino cast have heroes in the form of a group of hairy-chested thirtysomething white men in polo shirts. This is THE RAW FORCE. Also known as “Kung Fu Cannibals,” this 1982 Filipino hit has been revisited by the New York Asian Film Festival, showing appreciation for a long-forgotten crowd favorite.

“Raw Force” falls into the syndrome of low budget genre efforts that spill the gore when the story falters. But the martial arts are a wonder to behold. Not exactly fluid or professional, the fight sequences are meticulously choreographed to show the enthusiasm and athleticism of its cast (accidentally?) creating an intensity and immediacy that allows the film to actually rank high with similar genre efforts of that period. [B+]

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