Though the New York Asian Film Festival has traveled far uptown from its humble 2002 beginnings at Anthology Film Archives and the (late, lamented) ImaginAsian, the fancier Lincoln Center digs haven’t tamed its mission to present the weirdest and wildest visions that Asian cinema has to offer—mostly popular, but sometimes art-house. (In fact, this year sees the festival returning downtown, in a sense, in its last weekend at the School of Visual Arts’ Beatrice and Silas Theatres.)
This year’s lineup presents yet another wide-ranging case in point. Alongside the likes of its opening-night selection, Philip Yung’s Aaron Kwok-led, Christopher Doyle-lensed crime drama Port of Call, and Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii’s latest live-action film Nowhere Girl, are festival-circuit travelers like this year’s centerpiece pick, Sabu’s Chasuke’s Journey, and Sion Sono’s gangster rap musical Tokyo Tribe. As usual, however, the programmers at Subway Cinema—the nonprofit organization that has overseen this festival from the beginning—have not forgotten the past in favor of highlighting the present, as evidenced by the inclusion in its lineup of films as recent as Tsui Hark’s 2014 3D martial-arts epic The Taking of Tiger Mountain and as vintage as Teruo Ishii’s 1965 prison drama Abashiri Prison and Kinji Fukasaku’s ultra-violent 1973 yakuza thriller Battles Without Honor and Humanity.