Long live VHS! In May of last year, New York’s Book Off, a repository of used books, manga, CDs, and DVDs, offering items from both the U.S. and Japan, unveiled a new, revamped section of VHS tapes. I had previously purchased dozens of VHS tapes from this store over the past 20 or so years, at prices ranging from $1 to $3 to $5 to $15-20 each, depending on any number of factors. At some point in early 2011, they got rid of most of their tapes (or simply put them in storage), leaving only a single shelf of Japanese children’s shows and films on VHS, which sat there until last May. On a recent tour of the VHS section, I found four Yakuza movies from 1969-71, all in Japanese with no subtitles (as is the case with pretty much all Japanese films and TV shows on VHS) and picked them up at $3 apiece.
I always try to watch a suitable Hong Kong film on the first day of the Lunar New Year. Since this year is the Year of the Snake (and I was born in the Year of the Snake), I chose THE SORCERER AND THE WHITE SNAKE (2011), a fairly new version of the famous Chinese folk tale of “the Legend of the White Snake” and the fifth film version of this tale in my DVD collection and the only one I hadn’t yet seen. It’s a Chinese-Hong Kong co-production and the only actors in it who were familiar to me were martial arts star Jet Li (in the role of the stern monk, Fahai) and singer-actress Charlene Choi (formerly a member of the Cantopop singing duo, the Twins), in the role of Green Snake.