March 5 2003



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Tiger On Beat

The Chinatown Kid, Part II
By Patrick Macias

ONE DOESN'T KNOW quite where to begin or end when entering the immense Asiastar Fantasy store at 1126 Grant in Chinatown. From second one, the optic nerves are assaulted by an avalanche of DVDs, VCDs, Kelly Chen calendars, scandal rags, and elaborately packaged CDs. Whoa! Here're all of the new releases from the Shaw Brothers vaults, including the legendary horror flick Human Lanterns. Jumping Jehoshaphat! Here's Paul Williams's Bugsy Malone in MPEG-1 with Chinese subs. Goddamn! Here's practically everything ever made starring Stephen Chow, Chow Yun-fat, and Shu Qi (including the bee-stung one's early soft-core romps), thoughtfully organized under both Chinese and English names. But you want to know something? A lot of stores in Chinatown carry the same products, and often at cheaper prices. Oddly enough, though, no one beats Asiastar Fantasy's selection of non-Asian films. Down in the basement lurks the most motley selection of VCDs of films you never knew existed: a graveyard/oasis of movies abandoned by the studios that made them or deemed unfit for human consumption even by cable TV programmers. Ever heard of Final Payback, featuring the dream cast of Richard Grieco, Priscilla Barnes, and John Saxon? Perhaps you've been scouring the planet for Perverse Destiny 2, starring Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, and Treat Williams? Wonder what Erik Estrada has been up to lately (Look at Me America)? Care to sample the tell-all plot synopses of at least a half dozen Lorenzo Lamas Highlander rip-offs? Care to chuckle over the howling-mad camo-clad guys in poster art for Rambo-era Italian action films like Cobra Mission 2 and Dog Tags? Most discs go for $5 a pop, which means you can fry your frontal lobes with Brain Smasher (starring Andrew Dice Clay and Teri Hatcher) for the price of a weak cocktail. Not only will you be supporting a fine local business, but you'll also be affirming the existence of Asia's fastest growing film category: rack filler.

Patrick Macias is the author of TokyoScope: The Japanese Cult Film Companion.