Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Asian film facebook fan group interview with... JACK J

Yeah, the KWAIDAN KLUB fan group on facebook has started a series of monthly interviews and the first one is with yours truly. Interview and intro by Nom Pauo.


Nom Pauo
With blessings from Sharon and Hope, KK will be doing a monthly member profile. Why? (Entering suck up mode) Because you are all beautiful people that are more than merely a screen name or obnoxious profile photos. You're more than weirdos who finds joy in seeing an innocent Japanese girl turn into a psychopath and make her victim eat puke, you're flesh and blood. You have interest and you have a story to tell. If this attempt at sucking up doesn't hold up...then i will say, we're doing it because we felt like it lmao! Enjoy or endure :)

***Interview with Jack Jenson***
Every now and then the world comes in contact with greatness. Basketball had Michael Jordan. Boxing had Muhammad Ali. Rock had Freddie Mercury. In this age of Facebook interest groups we have Nom Pauo. But that’s not to say the subject of this month’s interview isn’t an awesome person either :) How awesome? How awesome?! How dare u ask you heathens! Well for one the guy’s name is a fuckin alliteration! You wished ur name had poetic device! but thats not all folks. Jack is a connoisseur of obscure cinema - the kind that nobody would know about if it wasn’t for people like him. To top it off, the guy’s a published writer as well as established blogger. And the big cherry on top, he’s a ladies man. Observe as he breaks down the science of relationship :) So without further adieu, the talented the handsome...Mr. Jack Jenson! (oh and take notes cause you'll want to write down a few film suggestions ha!)

Nom Pauo
whats up, jack?

Jack Jensen
Hey there, hello, G'day mate!

Nom Pauo
Lets cut the crap and gettothe meat of the matter. Word on the street is, you're a popular with the ladies! Whats ur secret??

Jack Jensen
Suck it in. Agree with the ladies. It may be hard on your manhood to spend 3 hours with them on shopping but it pays off. And don't talk about the footy or your mates all the time. Oh, and it's okay to show a weak side (just don't overdo it, you don't wanna become "one of the gals" if ya catch my drift).

Nom Pauo
I concur with that last part. Get i tried getting in touch with my feminine side and was told "you're making me uncomfortable" can u believe that?!?

Jack Jensen
Weeell, as I said you don't wanna overdo it. If you start being as "feminine" as one of their gay friends you're overdoing it, LOL (oh, and to quote an entire episode of SEINFELD: "Not that there's anything wrong with being gay, of course")

Nom Pauo
Hmm...maybe i shouldnt have tried it on...
so anyways. Now that the important stuff is out of the way, why dont u tell us a little bit about urself.

Jack Jensen
Whatever you fancy is fine by me, just don't expect me to take part.

Nom Pauo
lmao!! Noted.

Jack Jensen
Hmm, about myself, eh. I'm located in the north of Europe, in Denmark. I spent a few years in the UK and a while in OZ (i.e. Australia) due to a 10 year relationship. I usually say I'm 90% Danish and 10% Aussie. I'm way too old and I always wanna go somewhere else. LOL.
I've always been a collector, comic books, crime novels, records, films.

Jack Jensen
I've written for fanzines the past 20 years, I think I did my first piece in 1993 and published my own zine in 1994, entitled "Banned in Britain". Already back then I had got into Asian films and issue #1 had reviews of Hong Kong films (and one Japanese splatter anime) in it. Nowadays I run a handful of blogs, two of them on obscure Asian films. But they're kinda *different* to what most fans of Asian cinema is into these days. If you belong to a counter-culture by watching Asian films then I'm the counter-culture to the counter-culture. LOL.

Nom Pauo
Ha, "Banned in Britain"! What was that all about?

Jack Jensen
Well, the plan was that it was going to only deal with splatter films. You know, a lot of those films were banned in the UK. The whole "video nasty" scare of the 1980s is well documented now. I lived there at the time and it was difficult to get hold of films like TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE or just about any uncut Dario Argento film. The gore films that DID get a vhs release were usually cut by the censor-board (the BBFC). I had to have tapes sent in from Europe to be able to watch them. You could go to jail if they caught you with a copy of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST!! I wanted the title of my zine to be a comment on that. When I said that was the plan it's because I kinda failed in doing that. Haha. I began to review other cult films that weren't necessarily straight gore films. Later I also did a zine called "STAY SICK!" which was more about all kinds of various films.

Nom Pauo
Yea i saw that in ur profile description saying ur the Editor-in-Chief. Talk a little about Stay Sick Magazine. What was the inspiration? Where do u hope to go with it?

Jack Jensen
Uhh, if I had ambitions of grandeur then I think I'm probably doing what I do all wrong. LOL. I've been publishing my mag since 1999 and all I have managed to put out is 6 issues! I'm working on a new one though. The inspiration clearly came from the alternative US film magazine "Psychotronic Video" which I began buying in London when #3 came out. I wanted to cover "psychotronic" films (i.e. films that somehow belong to the "fantastic" genres). My old zine "Banned in Britain" (BIB) was entirely in English but when I started doing "STAY SICK!" in 1999 there was only one other fanzines in Denmark and I wanted to give the Scandinavians a proper alternative film zine. So I decided to write SS entirely in Danish. Of course, nowadays everything is online but I still wish to put out more print issues. It's more fun to do print mags.

Nom Pauo
So you were actually one of the earlier e-zine publisher? Thats pretty cool man!
Jack Jensen
No. I never published e-zines, only print ones. I do a few blogs though but that's not what I'd call e-zines.

Nom Pauo
Ah, gotcha. Thats still pretty cool dude even if only 6 issues were published. So lets chat asian cinema.

Jack Jensen
Ok.
I should add I also printed 2 issues of BIB and I've written for a bunch of other zines published by other people. Ever since #0 "Weng's Chop" has wanted me to take part and hopefully I'll get some stuff done for their next ish.

Nom Pauo
Weng Chop? Thats Brian's publication right? Pretty awesome dude! (Shoutout to Brian btw) You mentioned earlier u were exposed to asian cinema early. I remember in one of the discussion in KK u mentioned that The Green Hornet was the first asian film u saw. Was that the film that sparked ur appreciation for asian cinema?

Jack Jensen
I reckon that was the very first "Asian" film I saw yes. Asian because it has Bruce Lee in it but needless to say it was made in the USA and it's in reality a few episodes of the 1960s tv series that were edited into a film. It ran in the European cinema and I watched it in 1979 or '80 with my dad and my cousin. But my real interest in Asian cinema came much later, in around 1989 and it kinda takes us back to the video nasties in the UK again. I bough a couple of issues of a UK fanzine called "In the Flesh" and they would write about the usual stuff, ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS, DAWN OF THE DEAD, RE-ANIMATOR, etc. but in addition to all that they also had a section on Hong Kong cinema. This was around 1990 and it's important to remember that nobody, and I do mean nobody, in the West knew anything about Hong Kong genre cinema. So this was the time when the very first few fans began to discover HK horror and gangster films; the new wave of HK cinema so to speak. The gangster films were soon dubbed "Heroic Bloodshed" films and in those pre-dvd days there were no legal ways to get these films. To be a fan of Asian or HK cinema is easy. You get any film you want from Amazon, eBay or download. But then there was no Amazon, no (illegal) torrents, not even video tapes. I remember the only HK films that were released in the UK back then were THE KILLER and A BETTER TOMORROR and a few fullscreen, English dubbed kung fu films. You simply had to rely on tape-trading. I'm not sure if I have to explain this to, uhh, our younger readers (yes, I feel THAT old now). What you'd do is you'd write up a list of the films you had on vhs and then send it to your friends. Friends that you might have got in touch with thru classifieds in fanzines, and then they'd send you a list and you would make vhs dupes of your films and send them. You'd swap so to speak. My god, I haven't thought about this for so long. Haha.

Jack Jensen
But back to your question; Well, I read those early HK reviews in "In the Flesh" and some of the other small fanzines, and in 1991 I was fortunate to catch HARD-BOILED at the 40th Film Festival in Melbourne and when I was staying there (on and off betweeen 1991 thru to '96) I would go to the Chinese cinemas and catch as many HK films as I could.

Jack Jensen
Later in the '90s there were a couple of cool video labels that popped up in the UK, "Made in Hong Kong" and "Eastern Heroes", that put out heaps of these films so it definitely became easier to get them.

Nom Pauo
Ha surprisingly i just recently saw Hard-Boiled, lol!! I was always more into the fantasy kung fu stuff lol. Being around asian cinema for as long as you have, what's your thought on the current state of Asian Cinema?

Jack Jensen
Well, the funny thing is even though I've been around for so long I'm not even all that good at asking. I discovered the new wave of HK cinema and kinda like Robin Williams in JUMANJI I got stuck in the past! I STILL try and track down every 1980s and 1990s HK film ever made. But I couldn't tell you about the state of new Korean or Thai cinema. Sure, I've watched a pile of those films, and Japanese ones as well but most of them were random viewings. I don't follow the current state of those countries. Ask me about an old Taiwan film about a flying head with its intestines dangling underneath and I can tell you, but new cinema not so much. I'm sure there's heaps of cool new horror films (as most members of the fb page keeps mentioning) but I'm not the right one to ask. On the other hand... sometimes I'm thinking I'm actually the ONLY one who does actually watch old dark HK or Taiwan horror films. LOL. We're back to the "counter-culture to the counter-culture". I love Godzilla films and Japanese horror films like KAÏRO but I'm by no means an expert on those. There's still films being made in Hong Kong but it's nothing like in the "good old days" (the '80s/90s). And I fear the freedom and wanting to do wild films may very well be over due to Mainland censorship.

Nom Pauo
What are some of the recent ones you found yourself impressed with? (Recent as in after 2000 lol)

Jack Jensen
I thought Jonnie To's VENGEANCE was great. A kinda return to A BETTER TOMORROW style films kinda. KAÏRO was great. One of the few films that have scared me for many years. And the early new wave of Japanese horror films like RINGU etc. (end)
Oh, and GONG TAU was great too. My mind is blank. LOL.

Nom Pauo
Lol. Kairo, from many discussions ive had was one of them love/hate film. I rather enjoyed the allegory presented in that film! South Korea has been on a tear the last couple years. Whats ur thought on their outputs?

Jack Jensen
Well, like I mentioned earlier I'm really the wrong person to ask about most Asian cinema. I'm a Hongkongese! (film wise). I've seen a fair share of Japanese monster films as well, and I love the LONE WOLF films but I've only watched a handful of S-Korean films films, one was H which I quite liked. I've watched a ton of films from the Philippines that no-one else regards as "Asian" (but they are). In the 80s and 90s they filmed heaps of lowbudget Vietnam War movies in the Philippines and I quite like those.

Jack Jensen
A lot of fans of Asian cinema follow what's happening currently. I'm more someone who seeks out forgotten stuff that nobody else knows about. The obscure stuff. Old horror films from HK, Taiwan or even Thailand about flying heads and stuff like that. Or gangster films that totally bombed when they came out because they tried to imitate John Woo and failed miserable. I track down those films and enjoy them.

Nom Pauo
Ha, well as a connoisseur of older hong kong flicks recommend a few Jack Jenson's essential. The more rare and obscure the better ha!

Jack Jensen
Haha. Well, one genre that I always try and persuade fans of new Asian horror to track down is a genre I like to call the "Dark and Nasty Hong Kong Horror Films of the 70s & 80s" LOL. These films were wild and gory to say the least. They often dealt with black magic and they were set in the "backyard" of Asia. Some of them were:
Black Magic 1 &2, Black Magic With Buddha, Boxer's Omen, Brutal Sorcery, Centipede Horror, Calamity of Snakes, Curse of Evil, Dead Curse, Devil Fetus, Her Vengeance, Killer Snakes, Lewd Lizard, Seeding of a Ghost, Red Spell Spells Red.
Some of them are on dvd in the US or HK, but unfortunately quite a few were only released on vhs and/or vcd - but I highly recommend that fans of Asian horror track them all down. Even if you have to sit thru fullscreen prints from vhs (I'm sure most of them are on torrent sites or you can get a dvdr from a friend).

Nom Pauo
Niiiice!! (Sam jot down list of title later)
Lets go with a more cliche question. Whats ur favorite asian movie of all time and why?

Jack Jensen
Now that's a touch one! (and an unfair request, I mean how do you even start to pick just ONE!!). It's a close call between THE KILLER, PEKING OPERA BLUES, ROUGE, A CHINESE GHOST STORY, and A BETTER TOMORROW. Well, right now I think I would have to go with A BETTER TOMORROW. It's got a ton of cool John Woo style gun violence (always good!) but in addition to that it's also got a good story about friendship, honour, loyalty, and doing the right thing for a friend when it's needed. And I love the sentimentality of the film. It's emotional in a way you never see in films from the West.
If you had asked me tomorrow I might have said CHICKEN AND DUCK TAL K! Haha. I love Ricky Hui and that's probably the funniest film I can think of.

Jack Jensen
(alright, either you have ONE more question and that's it - or we continue later) I need to get going. sorry.

Nom Pauo
Lol!! definitely an unfair question but unfair is my grandma's maiden name. "A Better Tomorrow" is classic Woo so i dont think anybody will argue that pick, lol!!
Well we're approaching the end of the interview and I’d like for you to list your 5 favorite Asian flick of all time.

Jack Jenson
THE KILLER
A CHINESE GHOST STORY
A PEKING OPERA BLUES
BLACK MAGIC II
LADY TERMINATOR

*note*
Thank you Jack for this awesome interview! And if you havent yet, check out his blog yet:

http://backyard-asia.blogspot.dk/

Lots of awesome interesting stuff!


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PS: and no worries about the "Jack Jenson" spelling, I quite like it actually, it almost sounds like Jack Jetson. Haha
/Jack

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