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SDAFF Pick(s): ‘Ninja Kids,’ ‘Yakuza Weapon,’ and Rock ‘n’ Roll

More Unconventional Choices at Asian Fest

Above: "Norwegian Wood" screens tonight at SDAFF.

Today and tonight you have multiple great films to choose from at the San Diego Asian Film Festival (currently running at the UltraStar Mission Valley Theaters at Hazard Center) beginning with "Ninja Kids" and ending with "Yakuza Weapon."

First up at noon today and repeating tomorrow at 2:00pm is Takashi Miike's "Ninja Kids." If you don't know by now, anything Miike does is worth checking out, even if it's flawed it's entertaining or provocative and unlike anything you are likely to encounter at a mall theater. Earlier this year he gave us the grueling samurai actioner "13 Assassins," now he gives us an outrageous kiddie film more in line with his "The Great Yokai War." The trailer has no subtiles (the film at SDAFF will) but you don't need them to get the energy and fun of the film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVjoh-jG36o&feature=youtu.be

Another filmmaker whose films are simply not to be missed is Johnny To. The infuriating thing about his movies ("Election," "Sparrow," "Vengeance") is that they rarely get substantial releases here in the U.S. So any time one of his films plays on a big screen, run out to see it. SDAFF is highlighting his romantic comedy "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," so this is an even rarer event because To doesn't generally do romantic comedy so if you want to see a romcom directed as if it were an action film do not miss this. Here's the trailer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yh0gGbDf6XM&feature=youtu.be

Rock and roll is at the center of the fun and breezy Philippine film "Rakenrol" by Quark Henares and also in the adaptation of Haruki Murakami's novel "Norwegian Wood." Murakami's novel is brought to the screen by the talented Tran Anh Hung ("Scent of Green Papaya," " Vertical Ray of the Sun"), who knows how to paint with light better than almost anyone working in film today.

Here's "Rakenrol:"

And "Norwegian Wood" (which stars "Death Note's" L, Ken'ichi Matsuyama):

And finally, you can end your evening with SDAFF Extreme and "Yakuza Weapon." Say what you will about Asian Extreme CInema -- it's violent, crude, offensive, over-the-top, insane -- but one thing it's not is boring. Asian Extreme is not for everyone but for those of us with an affection for its wackiness, there is nothing more fun or exhilarating. This year's second Extreme entry is "Yakuza Weapon" from Tak Sakaguchi, the director of "Mutant Girl Squad" and the action choreographer of "Cold Fish," "Death Trance," and "Godzilla: Final War." The film is also based on the comic by Ken Ishikawa. Here's the wild trailer:

So plenty to choose from at SDAFF today. Head over any time and you can find something good, fun, or perhaps mind-blowing.

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