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'Asia Extreme', Oliver Dew and Japanese Cinema

Page history last edited by Air Dupaix 10 years, 10 months ago

Asia to the Extreme

"Asia Extreme", "Optimum Asia", and "EasternCult" is a newly developed film genre created by Palisades Tartan, who was once the US and UK film distribution company known as Tartan Films. Tartan Films began to distribute Asian cinema, especially horror and thriller films, to the UK and US audiences, and was the first to come up with the brand "Asia Extreme". "Asia Extreme" supposedly showcases the best and most exclusive of Asian Cinema and is heavily advertised toward "fan boys", as well as world cinema viewers. According to the Sundance Channel's webpage, "ASIA EXTREME showcases the work of a new wave of innovative filmmakers who are reinvigorating the world of genre movies. These films are extraordinary to look at: strange and provocative tales told with imagination, precision, and verve. Watch Asia Extreme Sundays at 12:00am et/pt."


Oliver Dew takes great opposition to the immediately apprent marketing ploys in the "Asia Extreme" genre. Dew shows that the cult mentality surrounding these movies can be based solely on the marketing ploys to get the "cult 'fan-boy' audience and art-house/ world cinema audience" into watching these extreme films. Dew mentions that Tartan and other distributors used different marketing strategies to cultivate their differing audiences. For the world cinema audiences the distributors "emphasized the literary and auteurist reading of the film [Battle Royale], describing it as a 'cross between A Clockwork Orange and Lord of the Flies " (Dew 59). And for the 'fan-boy' audience they used "the films ability to deliver thrills, describing [Battle Royale] as a 'film that'll nail gun you to your seat, gasping in shock" (59) .


Dew's Relations to Audition

Dew believes that Takashi Miike's Audition is a perfect example to showcase the pure capitalism of the "Asia Extreme" genre. When Dew is examining Britain's media coverage, he focused the "extreme physiological reactions to Audition. He quotes The Guardian's review of the Rotterdam screenings where the audience members walking out of the film "hissing you're sick at Miike" and the Toronto Film Festival "capitalizing on Miike's infamy by distributing sick bags to the audience attending the screening" (Dew 60).



For Dew, all of this capital specialization operates in service of something more fundamentally problematic than the marketing machine itself.  In his discussion of the marketing behind the "Asia Extreme" branding, he notes that, "despite the ease with which horror and violence [often integral in the makeup of said films] are meant to cross national boundaries... reviewers of Japanese horror are often more likely to read for 'cultural difference'" (67).  In short, this way of understanding Japanese cinema marks its so-called "ambiguous" treatments of challenging material as a cultural 'other', or as a manifestation of the "internally unreasonable and violent" (68) urges that comprise deep-seated stereotypes of Japanese society.  The western treatment of this cinema becomes another way to draw upon and reinforce "the centuries-old Orientalist discourse" that has proliferated attempts to characterize Asian society.  It also, as Dew illuminates, "often functions to legitimate European male access to Asian women by coding the latter as submissive and/or repressed by the 'perverted' Asian male" (68).  Not only is the intensely troubling employment of the 'Oriental Other' being used in service of marketing to western, specialized audiences, it is also operating in service of an imperially patriarchal understanding of cultural relations. Films such as Audition ultimately become culturally isolated, and reworked into specific commentaries on Japanese sexual and violent fantasies, rather than cross-cultural commentaries on gendered power or global capitalism (69).   


Dew's Relations to Howls Moving Castle

Dew uses Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle as a contrast to the "Asia Extreme" films to show that the typical films in Japan are not filled with the "sexualized ultra-violence" that typify films like Audition.  Or rather, that while those films are a notable movement in Asian cinema, that they are not dominating the box office (and by extension the cultural consciousness) like western marketing would implore you to believe.  The works of Miyazaki are interesting in that they are successful cross-culturally, and perhaps provide an alternative to the simplifying effects of marketing that plays upon cultural and racial stereotypes.  


Works Cited

Dew, Oliver. "'Asia Extreme': Japanese Cinema and British Hype." New Cinemas 5.1 (2007): 53-73. Print

"Sundance Channel: Asia Extreme" sundancechannel.com. n.d. Web. 1 December 2009.

"Palisades Tartan" wikipedia.org. 23 November 2009. 1 December 2009.

Comments (1)

Sean Desilets said

at 1:31 am on Dec 3, 2009

* Needs a somewhat more systematic engagement with the article--I guess especially that final part about race
* I wonder if there's any way to think about the film itself as either actually fitting its marketing or not
* I think the barf bags were for _Ichi the Killer_

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