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Extreme Asia

Extreme Asia: The Rise of Cult Cinema from the Far East

Daniel Martin
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Extreme Asia
    Book Description:

    How shrewd marketing engineered the East Asian cult film boom in the UK. Japanese horror. South Korean revenge thrillers. The new Hong Kong crime film. Western audiences have experienced a boom in cult cinema from East Asia over the last decade, discovering films that have provoked passion and outrage in equal measure. This book charts the history of the recent cult Asian film invasion, covering a five-year period and focusing on the activities of the distribution company Metro-Tartan and their incredibly influential ‘Asia Extreme’ brand. Through a series of case studies of individual film releases and other exhibition events, Extreme Asia examines strategies of film promotion and consumption in the context of theories of horror cinema, movie marketing, reception studies, and Orientalism. It covers the rise and fall of the Asia Extreme label, and the enduring legacy of an unforgettable wave of cult cinema from Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-9746-5
    Subjects: Film Studies
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. iii-iii)
  3. Acknowledgements (pp. iv-iv)
  4. Introduction (pp. 1-21)

    This book is a study of the Asia Extreme brand, a DVD and theatrical release label created by British film distribution company Metro-Tartan/Tartan Films. Specifically, this book offers a comprehensive history of the marketing and critical reception of this series of films from Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Hong Kong, focusing on releases in the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2005. The strategies and marketing campaigns used by Tartan Films to promote these films to a wide British audience will be examined, as will the critical and journalistic reception of the films. The following analysis seeks to account for the...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Chilling Beginnings: Japanese Horror and the British Critical Reception of Nakata Hideo’s Ring (pp. 22-40)

    The recent increase in the visibility of Japanese horror films in Britain can be traced back to the 2000 release of Nakata Hideo’sRing. The commercial theatrical release of the film was a key step in the gradual penetration of Asian cult cinema into the British market. The success of the film was instrumental in the development of the Asia Extreme label, and the home video distribution rights toRingwould later be bought by Metro-Tartan to support their developing interest in ‘extreme’ Japanese cinema. Japanese horror films released in the UK are generally promoted on their foreign credentials; their...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Cinema of Cruelty: The Birth of Asia Extreme and Miike Takashi’s Audition (pp. 41-70)

    Auditionwas released in British cinemas in March 2001, six months after the release ofRing. These two films would later come to be regarded as the vanguard of a new wave of cult film, a cycle of Japanese horror movies that became significantly visible in the UK, at least by the standards of the usual niche markets for foreign-language cinema and horror films. More significantly,Audition(1999) was the first film theatrically released by Tartan that would later become part of its Asia Extreme canon, and marks the point at which the fundamental aspects of the Asia Extreme brand...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Courting Controversy: Hype, Scandal and Fukasaku Kinji’s Battle Royale (pp. 71-91)

    The Japanese horror-action-thriller-satireBattle Royale(Fukasaku Kinji, 2000) was released in British cinemas in September 2001. It was the fifth film released in the later-branded Asia Extreme series, but the film’s theatrical release pre-dated the invention of the label. Following the limited but significant success ofRingandAudition, Tartan Films decided to distribute the controversial Battle Royale. Paul Smith, Tartan Video’s Press and PR Manager, suggested that the notion of ‘Asia Extreme’ did not come from the company itself, but rather was inspired by critical commentary. He recalls that it was British film critics who first started noticing the...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Brand Wagon: The Courtship of Multiplex Audiences and the 2003 Asia Extreme Roadshow (pp. 92-121)

    The first Asia Extreme touring film festival, in summer 2003, marked a key turning point for the brand. For the first time, Tartan added its Asia Extreme brand to theatrical releases, and screened films together, rather than separately. Promoting brand recognition was given priority over individual films. Also, for the first time, Asia Extreme films were released in multiplex cinemas: the 2003 Asia Extreme festival (referred to by Tartan as a ‘roadshow’) was exclusive to the now-defunct UGC chain of cinemas. Seven films went ‘on tour’ to eight UGC cinemas around the UK; each individual film would play for two...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Savagery and Serenity: Extreme Cinema and the Films of Kim Ki-duk (pp. 122-141)

    For Asian cinema in the UK 2004 was a significant year. Tartan Films released more Asian films in British cinemas than ever before, offering another Asia Extreme seven-film roadshow, the high-profile stand-alone releases ofOldboy(2003) and the first twoInfernal Affairs(2002, 2003) films under the Asia Extreme brand, not to mention several art-house-confined ‘non-extreme’ Japanese and Korean films. But if 2004 was an important year for Asian film in general, it was even more significant for the work of one South Korean director in particular: Kim Ki-duk.

    Kim’sBad Guy(2002) was the first of his films released...

  10. CHAPTER 6 From the Margins to the Mainstream: Asia Extreme in 2004 (pp. 142-162)

    The year 2004 represented the peak of the Asia Extreme brand in the UK, in terms of both commercial success and mainstream critical attention. Tartan devoted its energies to a range of Asia Extreme projects, including another multiplex-only touring film festival, several high-profile DVD releases (and re-releases), and its most aggressive marketing campaign yet for two soon-to-be-seminal stand-alone theatrical releases:Oldboy(Park Chanwook, 2003) andInfernal Affairs(Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, 2002).

    Building on the already impressive showing in 2003, the high number of Asian films on release in the UK in 2004 included many non-Asia Extreme titles. Released...

  11. Conclusion: The Legacy of Asia Extreme (pp. 163-168)

    During a panel discussion entitled ‘So, what’s Japanese cinema got to do with it?’ at the BFI Southbank cinema in London, on 5 December 2007, panelist Tony Rayns was asked if there is a dominant image or understanding of Japanese cinema in Britain. Rayns answered, describing the climax ofRing, ‘undoubtedly, it’s a spectral woman with long hair over her face coming out of a well’. In reference to the worldwide proliferation ofRing-esque Japanese horror films, Rayns said, ‘Japan is sick of them. The world is sick of them.’

    Rayns’ frustration at the enduring popularity of the same few...

  12. Appendix: Asia Extreme UK Theatrical Release Timeline (pp. 169-169)
  13. Bibliography (pp. 170-183)
  14. Filmography (pp. 184-191)
  15. Index (pp. 192-196)