Still from Duckweed.


What to Watch at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas

We're partial to the Korean revenge flicks, Chinese martial arts movies, and magical Thai dramas, but there's a little something for everyone.

The Asian Film Festival of Dallas begins tomorrow and continues through next Thursday at the Angelika. The films are international. The appeal of Korean revenge flicks, Chinese martial arts movies, and magical Thai dramas, universal. The festival, local. Many of these movies will not get a wide release in the U.S., making this perhaps your only opportunity to enjoy them on the big screen.

The following five movies we’re looking forward to are a small sample. An entire continent’s worth of filmmakers, with all the diversity of tone, style, and form that implies, are represented at the festival. So don’t limit yourself. Check out the full schedule and see what grabs you.

The Final Master | July 13 at 7 p.m. & July 20 at midnight

The trailer for this Chinese martial arts film promises fistfights, sword fights, foot fights, stick fights, and scrappy street alley brawls. There’s also portentous music and tough guy dialogue, satisfying most of the prerequisites for a great action film.

Duckweed | July 15 at 4:45 p.m. & July 17 at 5:30 p.m.

In China, blogger, racecar driver, and director Han Han has been occasionally slapped with the voice of a generation label. He’s seen here not so much as a particularly profound or brilliant writer, but as an affable, carefully “rebellious” representative of that country’s growing millennial population. His latest film, a time traveling father-son reconciliation dramedy, keeps the boat floating lazily in place on placid waters, but it’s a charmingly told saga from the “world’s most popular blogger.”

By the Time It Gets Dark | July 15 at 9:30 p.m.

In this mystical and challenging Thai film, the 1976 military massacre of student protesters at Bangkok university haunts the background and of several interconnected narratives, the most prominent featuring a director making a documentary about the historical tragedy. It’s heavy duty stuff the Hollywood Reporter calls a magical, melancholic ode ” to the intellectual’s struggle against the forces of history.”

Trivisa | July 16 at 7 p.m.

Hong Kong film critics went wild for this crime thriller, a violent mobster story set during the 1997 handover of Hong Kong’s sovereignty to China.

The Villainess | July 20 at 7:30 p.m.

The synapses in our collective action movie lizard brain start shooting fireworks when I see the kind of lunatic stylized violence going on in this Korean revenge flick. This closing night film follows a former assassin trying to forget her bloody past, but–you’ve probably heard this one before–she is drawn back in for a pulse-pounding adventure. It’s garnered comparisons to Kill Bill and La Femme Nikita, shorthand for “woman beating people up featured in well-done action movie.”