London East Asia Film Festival 2021: 10 unmissable movies

London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF) 2021

London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF) 2021

After more than a year of restrictions and lockdowns it’s a relief to be able to escape the UK and travel back to familiar shores through the programming of the London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF). Celebrating its sixth edition, LEAFF is once again supplying a remarkable range of movies: from high-octane Hong Kong action, poignant Japanese drama, whacky Thai comedy, and groundbreaking Korean artistry. 

With 33 films, 19 UK premieres and 2 international premieres to choose from, here are a few highlights from a stellar line up this year. 

Raging Fire (2021)

This year’s LEAFF opens with a tribute to directing and screenwriting legend Benny Chan, who sadly passed away in 2020. Raging Fire, his final film, is a big, brash and visually stunning action crime drama starring Donnie Yen as an honourable police officer fighting it out with his former protege (Nicholas Tse). Fully aware of the other’s strengths and weaknesses, the pair do battle across the streets of Hong Kong in explosive fashion. Raging Fire is everything the world loves about HK action movies and it’s bound to pin audiences to their seats. Tickets available here

A Moment of Romance (1990)

A Moment of Romance (1990) directed by Benny Chan

A Moment of Romance (1990) directed by Benny Chan

With the film festival opening with Benny Chan’s final directorial effort before his death, it is only right to include his first film in this list. A Moment of Romance sees a bank robbing getaway driver (Andy Lau) take a young woman (Chien-Lien Wu) hostage. After saving her life from his fellow criminals the pair become star-crossed lovers as the world begins crumbling around them. This film has all the hallmarks of Chan’s excellent eye for an action scene, but the romantic tones add an extra level that make it truly unique. Tickets available here.

The Falls (2021)

Set during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this film from Taiwanese director Chung Mong-Hong may be a little difficult to watch for those still experiencing lockdowns and restrictions. The drama, following a mother and daughter’s relationship during quarantine, will feel uncomfortable as suspicions and tensions between the pair increase in a claustrophobic environment. Stylistically shot and beautifully scored, The Falls will no doubt conjure up huge emotion with many viewers. Tickets available here

Sasaki In My Mind (2020)

Written and directed by Takuya Uchiyama, best known for his award winning Vanitas and the music video for King Gnu’s The Hole, Sasaki in my Mind is a crowdfunded indie film filled with coming of age tones and deep feelings. The story follows Yuji Ishii, an actor who moves to Tokyo with grand hopes and dreams who fails to get his big break. While toiling in the city his mind is drawn to his former classmate Sasaki, a larger than life character whose very nature draws people in before, inevitably, the ties between them begin to strain. The character of Sasaki is actually inspired by a young man actor Gaku Hosokawa went to school with, and while the trials and tribulations on screen may not be historically accurate, the project shows what an effect he had on him. Tickets available here

Hand Rolled Cigarette (2020)

Hand Rolled Cigarette (2020) Chan Kin-Long

Hand Rolled Cigarette (2020) Chan Kin-Long

Returning to Hong Kong, Hand Rolled Cigarette is a stunning cinematic gangster movie with teeth. Actor Chan Kin-Long’s first outing as director sees a former British-Chinese soldier team up with a small time thief on the run after robbing a triad boss. Nominated for several awards, including Best Feature Film at the Golden Horse Film Festival, this neo-noir thriller pulls no punches. Tickets available here

Sugar Street Studio (2021) 

Sugar Street Studio (2021) Sunny Lau

Sugar Street Studio (2021) Sunny Lau

As LEAFF is taking place during spooky season it would be foolish not to include a little horror in this list, but for those who can’t handle big scares Sugar Street Studio is an ideal compromise. Evoking memories of the campy comedy horror films of the 80s and 90s, Sugar Street Studio is an unexpected homage to a bygone era. A film producer deep in debt to a local crime boss tries to recoup some of his losses (and make a new movie) by turning an allegedly haunted film studio into a genuine haunted house attraction. As real ghosts begin appearing a scaring the pants off members of the public the attraction becomes a huge success, but how will our film crew deal with their new spectral star? Tickets available here

A Leg (2020)

A love story at its most brutal, A Leg follows dancer Yu-Ying as she searches for her late husband’s amputated leg. During the search to make the love of her life whole again before saying a final goodbye her mind is drawn to their meeting, falling in love and the tragic events that brought her to this moment. Tickets available here

The Prayer (2020)

Who doesn’t enjoy a dystopian sci-fi tale warning about the dangers of artificial humans? We were gripped by Ghost in the Shell, Ex Machina and Blade Runner and now we have The Prayer from director Min Kyu-dong featuring decidedly creepy robotic nurses. Leaping headfirst into the ethical and practical implications of AI, in the future nurses are customised to look like a family member of each of their patients, but what happens when these units begin to overstep their directives for the purposes of better care? Tickets available here

The Con-Heartist (2020)

Every festival needs a zany comedy and The Con-Heartist is just the ticket for some laughs. When a young woman foils a confidence man’s trickery, instead of turning him into the police she hires him as part of an elaborate plan to get back at her ex. What follows is a colourful, somewhat bonkers romp through Thai director Mex Tharatorn’s mind. 

Spiritwalker (2021) 

It makes total sense to end this list with the finale of LEAFF’s October programming, an epic South Korean action movie Spiritwalker. From director Yoon Jae-keun, we follow a man with no memories who wakes up in a new body every 12 hours. As he jumps from person to person, constantly having to wrestle with who he is and what is going on he investigates his condition further. Throw in a shadowy organisation, a woman who claims to know him and a world of dangers standing between him and his own body this looks set to become a fan favourite. Tickets available here

LEAF is running from the 21 to 31 October, the full programme, information and tickets are available from

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中村獅童の長男・陽喜くんが“初お目見得”のためのおつかいへ、心を鬼にした両親は果たしてどうする?『はじめてのおつかい!』 2022年01月08日 06:30 中村獅童の長男・陽喜くんが“初お目見得”のためのおつかいへ、心を鬼にした両親は果たしてどうする?『はじめてのおつかい!』 画像を拡大して見る 子どもたちの初めてのおつかいに密着するバラエティ特番『はじめてのおつかい 泣いて笑って3時間!新春の大冒険SP』が、2022年1月8日(土)19:00〜21:54に日本テレビ系で放送。ゲストに吉瀬美智子、佐藤栞里、中村獅童、藤ヶ谷太輔( Kis-My-Ft2)を迎える。 ▼『銚子電鉄』千葉・銚子市に住む大和(やまと)くんは、とにかく電車が大好きな4歳10か月。銚子電鉄に乗りお母さんの誕生日プレゼントを準備するおつかいへ向かう。小学生になったら銚子電鉄で学校に通うたえ、お父さんがこのおつかいを考えた。大好きな電車での大冒険にハイテンションな大和くん。口ぐせは「やばい!」。時間はたっぷりあるのに「やばいやばい!時間がやばい」と猛ダッシュで駅へ向かう。銚子半島の先端「犬吠埼灯台」にある土産物店で、世界にひとつだけのプレゼントを作ってもらう今回のおつかい。お姉ちゃんと一緒に書いた家族の絵をTシャツとタオルにプリントする。待っている間も気になるのは電車の時間。余裕があっても「やばい、銚子電鉄やばい」と落ち着かない様子だ。ご自慢のドクターイエローの腕時計で、何度も何度も時間を確認。このあとはまた電車に乗り、誕生日ケーキを受け取りに行く予定。「やばいやばい!」と走る大和くんだが、本当にやばいのは追いかける側のおつかいカメラマン。手にしたケーキは無事だったのか!?▼『初お目見得』お父さんは歌舞伎役者の中村獅童。長男の陽喜(はるき)くんは舞台に立つお父さんに憧れ、DVDを見ながら刀を振り回し、“見得”をきるのが毎朝の日課。そんな陽喜くんの「初お目見得」の日が決まった。お父さんの獅童いわく「やることをやらなきゃ舞台に立てない」。今日は舞台に必要なものを買いに行くおつかいだ。まずは、近くの事務所までお父さんの帯を届けるおつかい。一つ返事で引き受け、お母さんの元を出発する陽喜くん。高い場所にあるため手では届かないインターフォンを押すために愛用の刀を手にする。颯爽と出発し、事務所に到着。刀を使ってインターフォンを押そうとするが、うまく押せず音が鳴らない。ピンチ…と思いきや、落ち着いた表情で戻る陽喜くん、これは将来が楽しみな大物ぶり。次は長い刀に持ち替えて再挑戦。陰からずっと見守るお父さん。陽喜くん、今度は見事に成功する。そしてここからが本番。事務所から近くの商店街へ、舞台化粧の際に使う「筆立て」と座布団のカバーを作るための生地を買いに行く。「できる?」と聞くお父さんに元気よく「できま〜す!」と答える陽喜くん。ついでに精肉店でメンチカツとコロッケも買うように頼まれた。再び、刀を持って出発…したものの、向かったのは商店街ではなくお母さんのところ。お母さんに迎えられると「疲れちゃった」「足が動かない」と、あきらめモード。だが、覚悟がないとできないのが歌舞伎の世界。お母さんは心を鬼にして、陽喜くんの心を奮い立たせるためにアプローチする。お父さんは電話で「やらないなら舞台も無しになるよ」と、厳しい言葉。かっこいいお父さんのように舞台に立ちたい陽喜くん。はたして、どうする!?▼その他ラインナップこのほか、北海道・小清水町の宏陽(こうよう)くん・祐紀(ゆうき)くん兄弟、香川・善通寺市の心菜(ここな)ちゃん、岡山・備前市の称大(かなた)くん、千葉・銚子市の燈里(あかり)ちゃんの「はじめてのおつかい」に密着。おなじみ、“あれから○年…”で紹介する子どもたちの成長ぶりにも注目だ。 ■出演 【MC】所ジョージ、森口博子【ゲスト[50音順]】吉瀬美智子、佐藤栞里、中村獅童、藤ヶ谷太輔( Kis-My-Ft2) ■番組公式サイト 今、あなたにオススメ この記事のアーティスト Kis-My-Ft2
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