Martial arts epic Reign of Assassins leads feast of Asian cinema at Dubai International Film Festival 2010

Published December 9th, 2010 - 08:13 GMT

From martial arts to marriage and organized crime to beekeeping, the 10 action, drama and comedy films in the 2010 Dubai International Film Festival’s Cinema of AsiaAfrica section include some of the most dazzling stories to emerge from the two continents in recent years.


Headlining the segment this year is the John Woo and Chao-Bin Su-directed martial arts extravaganza Reign of Assassins, starring Michelle Yeoh, Kelly Lin and Barbie Hsu. The epic martial arts action thriller, set in ancient China and focused on a skilled assassin and the search for the remains of a mystical Buddhist monk, will make its Middle East premiere at the Madinat Arena on Friday, December 17, as a DIFF red carpet gala screening.


The DIFF Cinema of AsiaAfrica line-up this year includes seven Middle East premieres and three films never screened in the Gulf nations, from China, the Philippines, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Turkey and South Africa. Tickets are on sale for all films.


From Japan, director Takeshi Kitano’s Autoreiji (Outrage) is a darkly funny look at the labyrinthine world of Japanese organized crime or yakuza, complete with complex power hierarchies, power struggles, lots of banter and deadpan farce. The film features a melee of gang leaders, underbosses and soldiers, all manipulated by Mr Chairman, while a series of conflicting crews spend much of the time coming up with increasingly imaginative ways to decimate their opponents. Outrage will screen on Dec. 15 and 16.


The action continues with Thai superhero caper The Red Eagle, the long-awaited reboot of the 1960s franchise. Boasting a tense plot, sharply drawn characters and lashings of stylized violence, the film starts with a nuclear power plant about to be commissioned, despite the protests of furious but powerless citizenry. A hero appears in their midst in response, only to be challenged by a nemesis. The film will be screened on Dec. 18 and Dec. 19.


From China comes Meng Zhang’s inspiring The Piano in a Factory, the story of a steelworker in early 1990s China. When his wife unexpectedly demands custody of their child, the youngster informs her quarreling parents that she will live with whoever can provide her with a piano. Determined to keep his daughter but unable to afford a piano, Chen is forced to use all his ingenuity and resourcefulness. The film will screen on December 17 and 18 at CineStar, Mall of the Emirates.


From South Korea comes a profound story of an elderly woman in search of the fundamental poetry in her life. Director Chang-dong Lee’s Shi (Poetry) follows Mija, who lives with her young grandson in a small suburban city located along the Han River. At a poetry class at the local cultural centre, Mija finds herself inspired and excited by her new hobby. Her imagination soars, as she sees the world around her in a new, tantalising light, rich with potential poetic inspiration in its infinite possibility. Shi (Poetry) will premiere in the GCC on Dec. 17, with an additional screening on Dec. 18.


The two films from the Philippines are a study in contrasts. Set deep in the heart of rural Philippines’ Mindanao province, Limbunan (The Bridal Quarter) is a heartfelt film that quietly examines the value of tradition and arranged marriage. Ayesah, 16, is informed by her family that she is to be sequestered in her room for a month until her marriage to a near stranger, according to custom. Complications arise in the form of her younger sister, and the appearance of a rebel fighter. The Middle East premiere of Limbunan (The Bridal Quarter) will be on Dec. 17 and Dec. 19.


Pinoy Sunday follows Filipino overseas workers Manuel and Dado in Taipei, where they have been lured by the promise of money and a better life. The two unexpectedly discover a brand new leather sofa, discarded on the sidewalk. Unable to afford any type of delivery service, they carry the precious sofa across town on foot. The film will screen on December 16 and 17.


DIFF’s Cinema of AsiaAfrica showcase this year also includes Berlinale Golden Bear winner Bal (Honey) from Turkish director Semih Kaplanoglu’s, about a six-year-old forced to learn the harsh realities of life when his beekeeper father disappears in the forest; Iranian thriller Shekarchi (The Hunter) and South African police procedural drama A Small Town Called Descent.


DIFF 2010 box office locations are: Cinestar Mall of the Emirates, Madinat Souk, the CNN Building in Dubai Media City and The Walk at JBR. Tickets can also be purchased through DIFF’s Dial-a-Ticket service at (04) 391 3378 and from the website


The seventh edition of Dubai International Film Festival 2010 will be held from December 12 to 19. DIFF 2010 is held in association with Dubai Studio City. Dubai Duty Free, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai Pearl, Emirates Airline and Madinat Jumeirah, the home of the Dubai International Film Festival, are the principal sponsors of DIFF. The event is supported by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.


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