Super Belated HKIFF Wrapup: "That Demon Within," "No Man's Land," "Particle Fever," and Much More

Daniel Wu and Nick Cheung in "That Demon Within"

The 38th Hong Kong International Film Festival ended about three weeks ago … and I’m still recovering from it. Like Cannes, it’s difficult to find a good balance between watching films, writing about them, and absorbing the culture from another country in just a few weeks.

At Cannes, Popcorn and I watched about 30 films and wrote about that many articles. My daily schedule was waking up at 6am, taking a train into Cannes central from a nearby city, watch movies, eat, and get back to the hotel by midnight. That was fun, but exhausting. And my wallet was stolen during a train ride.

At HKIFF, we watched about 17 films and wrote about that many articles. I felt like we slacked off compared to Cannes, but we also covered the Filmart, the Asian Film Awards at Macau, and did some sightseeing. My schedule was more relaxed this time. I still ended my days at midnight, but also slept in most mornings because there weren’t any early morning screenings (if there were, I missed all of them). Oh, and I lost my media badge midway through the festival.

We saw “Aberdeen,” “That Demon Within,” “The Midnight After,” “Blind Massage,” “The Invisible Woman,” “Only Lovers Left Alive,” “No Man’s Land,” “Black Coal, Thin Ice,” “Barber’s Tales,” “Nymphomaniacs: Volume I,” “Nymphomaniacs: Volume II,” “Dot 2 Dot,” “Enthralled,” “The Little House,” “Particle Fever,” "On the Job," and “Cheatin’.”

Of those, I like “Aberdeen,” “The Midnight After,” “No Man’s Land,” “Black Coal, Thin Ice,” “Barber’s Tale,” “Nymphomaniacs: Volume I,” “The Little House,” and “Particle Fever.” My favorite is between action-comedy “No Man’s Land” and murder mystery “Black Coal, Thin Ice.”

At the Filmart, I covered upcoming films like Tony Jaa’s “SPL 2,” Donnie Yen’s “Kung Fu Jungle,” and Any On’s “Zombie Fight Club.”

I met up with a few expats, who helped me navigate through the not-so-treacherous terrains of HK and HKIFF.

First is my college buddy Raffi Kamalian of AliveNotDead.com, an online community connecting Hong Kong cinema’s best to their fans (like Twitter, except with blogs). As one of the sponsors of the festival, he’s our ticket to red carpet events, parties, and everything else in between. Raffi took videos of many of the events and posted them on AND’s YouTube Channel. Check it out if you missed them or like looking at Asian celebrities.

Next is Kozo of LoveHKFilm.com, one of the longest-running film review sites covering Hong Kong cinema. In addition to critiquing genre films like “The Wrath of Vajra” and “Once Upon A Time in Shanghai,” he also wax poetic on films he thinks you should care about, like ... “Golden ChickenSSS”?

Last, but certainly not least, is Nat King of HongKongHustle.com, a blog about the region’s art, fashion, food, film, and nightlife. It took Popcorn and I about an hour to get from our hotel to a theater to watch “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” via the subway and taxi. He walked us back in just 20 minutes, all while entertaining us with his stories on HK, China, festival films, and NYAFF, which he co-founded.

The trip was a lot of fun. I get to speak Cantonese to people other than my parents, although most people in Hong Kong speak English pretty well. I ate lots of flavorful noodle soups and other Cantonese dishes. Because I was in the land of big phones, my Galaxy Note 2 didn’t look out of place.

(Speaking of devices, my first taxi driver was watching the local news on a Samsung tablet attached to the left side of the steering wheel, talking to a smartphone attached to the right, and going through her playlist on a music device under the tablet -- all while driving me to my hotel. Hong Kong obviously doesn’t have distracted driving laws yet.)

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