Many tales will be told of the month I've just had. Eventually, at least. You know what it's like around here.
In brief: those of you with a reasonable capacity for logical deduction may have worked out that I was on holiday in Hong Kong with The Belated Birthday Girl at the start of May 2017. You know my views on HK, if you're a regular reader: it's The Funnest Place On EarthTM, and that continued to be my opinion throughout the week we were there. Just one week, though: and at the end of that, we got on a plane and spent the following week in Japan, where even more fun stuff happened.
So, a very enjoyable holiday in two of our favourite countries, which concluded when we landed back at Heathrow on the morning of Sunday May 14th. A mere eight hours later - following a dash home to drop off the suitcase and pick up a second, pre-packed one - I was on another plane out of Heathrow, for a week of working in Dubai. I came back early on the following Friday morning, hung around for about 24 hours, and then flew off again to spend my first ever week in Saudi Arabia, again for work purposes.
To summarise: I've spent each of the four weeks of May 2017 in a different time zone. Currently I'm back in London, but don't ask me what time it is right now, because I have absolutely no idea.
All of this travelling is going to be documented in a collection of posts that'll be turning up here over the next couple of months: as with last year's big holiday, I'm going to tease you initially with a video featuring disturbing amounts of fire which will get explained eventually. But for now, the first major piece about my travels is the latest Monoglot Movie Club episode for MostlyFilm. Tales Of Asian Vengeance reviews the two movies we saw on our holiday - one from Hong Kong, one from Japan. If you want to see the trailers for the two films, they're linked to in the article itself: if you want to watch some more related video clips, they're in the Red Button Bonus Content section below.
So first up, the Hong Kong film, Shock Wave. This is a making-of clip with some handy English subtitles attached, and it focusses on something I didn't even consider when I was watching the film: the Hong Kong authorities will not allow you to stage a terrorist atrocity inside the main tunnel linking the two parts of the territory, even if it's just for a movie. The solution? Build a life-sized replica of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel as a set...
Shock Wave stars Andy Lau, who also produced the film. I'm guessing it was the producer who suggested "You know who'd probably be good singing the theme tune? Me." Lau has a successful parallel career as a Cantopop singer (like many movie stars over there), so it's not so ridiculous an idea. Here's a video for the song, i.e. a romantic ballad accompanied by surprisingly few shots of massive explosions.
Moving on to Blade Of The Immortal, the Takashi Miike film we caught in Japan. In the couple of weeks since we saw it there, there have been two interesting developments. Firstly, it played at the Cannes Film Festival, where it appears to have been generally well received. Secondly, while at Cannes it secured a UK distribution deal with Arrow Films, who hope to release it here later this year. (I predict a London Film Festival screening somewhere in its future.) Around this time, the first English-subtitled trailer for the film appeared: it's a little more action-heavy than the Japanese one, as international trailers tend to be, and downplays the comedy aspects. However, if you don't crack a smile at the trailer's final shot, there's very little hope for you.
Finally, it should be noted that Blade Of The Immortal also has a pop star as its lead actor - Takuya Kimura, one of the members of in-their-forties-now boy band SMAP. However, in this case he doesn't get to do the feem toon: that honour goes to the equally famous Miyavi, who contributes Live To Die Another Day. The video below is from a live session he did for Japanese TV recently - if you want to jump straight to the song in question, it's about four minutes in. It's a glorious burst of outrageous screaming guitar noise, which feels like the perfect accompaniment to a Takashi Miike film.