Among the many life-affirming themes running through the films at this year’s New York Asian Film Festival are a number of more, shall we say, pessimistic outlooks. Two films in particular—Kim Ji-Woon and Yim Pil-Sung’s Doomsday Book and Apisit Opasaimlikit’s Dead Bite—lead the way on this front, exploring a number of the ways in which mankind may be wiped from the planet.
South Korea’s Doomsday Book (screening July 11 & 12) is all about the end of the world, comprising three segments, each of which covers a different doomsday scenario. The first section of the sci-fi epic, directed by Yim Pil-Sung (Hansel & Gretel, Antarctic Journal), shows a world—not unlike our own—in which the excessive amount of garbage created by humans spawns a contagious virus, which in turn leads to a bloody, widespread zombie outbreak. It may sound dire, but Yim Pil-Sung’s spot-on humour keeps the film from becoming too bleak.
The following segment, entitled “The Heavenly Creature,” was directed by the increasingly and deservedly popular Kim Ji-Woon, known for his films A Tale of Two Sisters, The Good, The Bad, The Weird, and the recent I Saw the Devil. This gorgeously-shot short is a meditation on the oft-discussed topic of artificial intelligence. Set in a near future in which robotics have advanced to the point where robots casually work among us, the piece questions what happens when these robots’ mental and emotional abilities advance beyond those of humans.
Doomsday Book concludes with “Happy Birthday,” a collaborative effort by the two directors. This time, the world’s existence is threatened by a soaring comet that is heading straight for us. But, as one little girl notifies her family, it may not be a comet at all. In a gesture of kindness, the filmmakers provide us with some hope: even in the face of apocalypse, you still have those you love.
If all of this sounds a bit too serious-minded for you, let us recommend Dead Bite (screening July 6 & 11), a highly insane horror-comedy that is unashamed to bask in the complete freedom afforded to B-movies. Directed by Thai pop star Joey Boy (Apisit Opasaimlikit) and starring his hip hop crew, the Gancore Gang, the film serves up just about the most fun one can have in a movie theater. The Gang first sets out on a boat cruise, complete with bountiful bikini babes, for a harmless photo shoot on a nearby beach. Things quickly turn grim, however, when the boat docks at the wrong island and the crew must defend themselves against blood-thirsty locals. Things get even worse with the appearance of a nasty breed of mermaid-zombies with a taste for human flesh.
Hopefully these films’ bleak predictions about the end of the world are off-base. But if they are correct, what better way to spend one’s final days than watching some killer films at the New York Asian Film Festival? Save when you buy tickets to three or more films together with our NYAFF Package!