Ashfall – Brilliant Asian blockbuster opens 22nd edition of FEFF in Udine
The Far East has never been so close!
From June 26 to July 4, 2020, the 22nd Far East Film Festival will be held in the Italian city of Udine. From 1999 until today, the festival has become the largest promotion of Asian film in Europe. This year will feature 46 films and there are even four world premieres included! The novelty of this years edition is that 22nd edition of the festival FEFF is completely online and can be followed via digital platform MYMovies.it.
Among many amazing events, visitors will be able to watch: The White Storm 2 Drug Lords - Hong Kong action hit. Then, Ip Man 4 The Finale - martial arts Hong Kong. The Chinese crime drama Better Days is one of the biggest favourites of the festival in Udine. For those who loves comedies, there’s the South Korean hit Exit! But let's get to the topic, the festival opens up with a spectacular South Korean blockbuster Ashfall! So we got a chance to see this film early and write a review, as a spectacular introduction to the spectacular opening fireworks in Udine!
In late December 2019, the South Korean spectacle Ashfall opened in South Korean home theatres and the USA. In early January 2020, before the COVID-19 cinema closed, the film had its premiere in most Asian countries. Sounds amazing, but just days after its premiere, the film surpassed the 2 million viewer mark! The budget for this blockbuster is $ 17, 7 million. Before COVID-19 lock-down he had already earned $ 61.0 million! It belongs to the genre of disaster movies, along with Western blockbuster ‘guilty pleasure’ fellow like San Andreas, or Armageddon. What is the film about?
The eruption of the supervolcano Mt. Paektu caused unprecedented damage to the Korean Peninsula. Cities are collapsing and dams are cracking. The victim's number in the hundreds of thousands! And that's just the beginning. According to government scientists, three more dramatic eruptions follow. The first two will somehow pass, but the third would be fatal for the entire Korean area. Both North and South Korea. The government sees the only chance in Professor Kang Bok-rae, starring Ma Dong-Seok. This long-ridiculed volcano expert had predicted everything long ago, but unfortunately, no one wanted to listen to him. Until the crucial moment. But to approach the emptying of the third deadly cavern, a special team of people needs to be provided. The goal is to steal nuclear warheads from North Korea, transfer them to the very border with China, and through the abandoned mines of North Korea get close to the cavern with the lion. Activating nuclear warheads would prevent a fatal eruption.
Let's be honest, Bruce Willis actions movie tasks are a piece of cake to the task that awaits his Korean counterpart Jung woo-Ha. Namely, the alleged allies of South Korea - the Americans, are trying to prevent the South Korean team from activating nuclear warheads near the border with China. Then there are the Chinese, who want to get to nuclear warheads through mercenaries. The Super-volcano seems to be the least important in the shooter that follows most of the film. But the scenes that make this film spectacular are still the result of eruptions! A typical CGI blockbuster, scenes of earthquakes and city demolition are breathtaking.
Looking for some values as to why this South Korean disaster film would be superior to Hollywood spectacles is a completely wrong approach. This is a typical exploitation film made to conquer movie theatres. It has some of its charms, such as rivalry, and eventually the friendship of South Korean team leader Jo In-Chan, and North Korean spy Lee-Joon Pyeong. But that’s just the local flavour for the domicile audience. When the absent moment comes, the chances of North and South Korea uniting are no more real than they are now in peace and quiet. But on the side of political piquancy and incredibly good CGI effects. What still connects this film with similar Hollywood spectacles is the excess of pathos. Otherwise, Asian actors have this tendency to vocally - physically intensify intense dramatic situations. But when the fingers of director Lee Hae-jun and Kim Byung-seo get involved, we get an excess of pathos! It's not just the heartbreaking outcome of the film that is pathetic. Pathetic is also forced humour that should soften some scenes, but maybe dilute them a little too much. However, these are some small differences between the European way of looking at humour, action and unfolding. As opposed to the Hollywood, and in part the Asian, conception of exploitation film.
This is a movie for the big screen, for the big stage. It is no wonder that this mega-blockbuster was chosen for the opening of the 22nd FEFF in Udine. First comes the strong commercial trump card of the festival, but those who like a different view of film art will have the opportunity to find something for themselves for ten days. Don't forget the number of as many as 46 selected titles. Films of all genres will be screened. From love melodramas, horrors, comedies, to such popular martial arts movies. It was this film direction that was on the minds of fans of the genre and Asian film when they launched this film festival in 1999. To the satisfaction of all of us who love good movies. And Asian films certainly are!