Tiger On Beat
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.