US-based Cinema Asia Releasing (CAR) has acquired North American rights to Japanese cult hit Smuggler, which premiered in the Midnight Madness section of last year’s Toronto film festival.

The film, directed by Katsuhito Ishii (The Taste Of Tea), is based on an established manga franchise of the same name created by Shohei Manabe. It also played at the Sitges, Taipei Golden Horse and Chicago film festivals.

CAR’s recent acquisitions also include Korean titles Bedevilled, which played in Cannes’ Critic’s Week in 2010; Iris, based on the popular Korean TV series and starring Lee Byung Hung, and Rotterdam 2009 Tiger Award winner Breathless, directed by Yang Ik-jun.

The one-year-old distribution outfit has also acquired Thai mystery thriller Mindfulness And Murder, directed by UK-Thai filmmaker Tom Waller.

CAR was launched at Filmart last year by LA-based distribution veteran Ko Mori of Eleven Arts and producer Tim Kwok of Convergence Entertainment. The company plans to release 8-10 films a year theatrically in the North America market, while it’s other acquisitions will be postioned as VoD and DVD releases.

The company currently has strategic relationships with Well Go USA, MVD Distribution and Might Entertainment/Go Digital for VoD and DVD distribution.