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Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with Damn you, Kozo!.

Life with Kozo Goes On

The Skinny:
LoveHKFilm.com is going on hiatus for the foreseeable future. I’m guessing at least a year, not counting the three-plus months since our last update in December 2016. Sorry, we won’t be around to review the 12 movies starring Louis Koo and Lau Ching-Wan coming out in 2017. Have fun and we’ll see you when we see you.

The Long Version:
How much time have you got? Because you’ll need it if you intend to read this whole thing. If you’re only interested in Asian movies, and not LoveHKFilm.com or the site webmaster, then you should totally skip this.

Last warning.

Okay then. I haven’t written one of these self-indulgent Life with Kozo things in such a long time that I’m not sure that I know how to anymore. Since the last one (I’m not bothering to check when it was), the world has basically gone to Hell. Other things have happened, but the world going to Hell kind out of outweighs everything else.

The world going to Hell is not why I’m shuttering LoveHKFilm.com for a long time - though it certainly doesn’t help. To be fair, I already take super-long breaks between every update. 2016 saw only four updates, with gaps of 2-4 months between each one. Back when the site went online in 2002, I updated the site 3 times a week. I would calculate the percentage drop in update frequency, but high school was a long time ago and I no longer know how to math.

There are numerous reasons for this hiatus. First and foremost is lack of time. When I moved to Hong Kong in 2005, the site’s update frequency changed from (at the time) weekly to bi-weekly. When my responsibilities and commitments to my job and personal life increased, that dropped to “whenever I feel like it.” That plan actually got us 8-18 updates a year, but returns have been diminishing and now they’re ceasing.

I would have updated earlier in 2017 - the review of THE GREAT WALL has been done since January - but I got caught up in my usual first quarter freelance pile-on, which includes working for two film festivals: The Hong Kong International Film Festival and the Udine Far East Film Festival. The work wasn’t that intensive - a long essay, 8 reviews, and numerous film blurbs - but it was squeezed into what would normally be the time that I work on LoveHKfilm.com. Also, since there were real deadlines (i.e., not self-imposed ones) for that work, the pressure was greater.

Also, I now give a huge chunk of my time to this person:

The Prodigal Son
All your time belongs to me

The site’s decline in updates has largely coincided with his arrival, and I’m totally fine with that. Since his birth, I’ve experienced some frustration because my backlog of unwritten reviews keeps growing, but that’s just me looking at that pile of work and wondering how I’m ever going to finish it. I don’t, for one minute, regret any time I’ve spent with my son. My biggest regret over the past three years is actually the ten days in 2014 that I spent at the Udine Far East Film Festival. Of course I had fun, but my son was less than a year old at the time. He started crawling during that week, and I didn’t witness it because I was off watching Asian movies.

Since then I haven’t been back to the fest, though I continue to work for them every year. I personally can’t find a reason to leave my wife and son even for 7-10 days in a single calendar year. Time passes so quickly - he was born in 2013 and is now nearly four years old, and even though the days may be long for him, they pass for me in the blink of an eye. Right now he charges all over the flat, yelling “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” because he wants my attention, and in a few short years he won’t be doing that anymore. He’ll reach that awkward age where his pop is a total buzzkill and he wants to hang out with his buddies somewhere where his mother and I can’t reach him. I get why that has to happen, and I think it’s OK to be a little sad about it.

Also, he’s going to be joined by another little guy soon: His little brother is due any day now, which means that my children now outnumber my website 2 to 1. So the website loses, naturally.

I’m a bit old to be having two kids. I started the site 15 years ago when I was 29, single, and unemployed. I am now none of those things, and the married part is not something I totally expected to happen. I try to think the best of people (until they prove to me that they don’t deserve to be thought of that way), but when it comes to what I think of myself, I trend negative. I remember every negative thing - from critical to mean to cruel - that I’ve heard about myself because I learned at an early age that a person should listen to criticism to improve themselves.

Of course, you shouldn’t believe every lousy thing you hear about yourself but that was a lesson I learned waaaaay too late in life. Eventually, I got to the point where I thought that I probably wouldn’t get married or have kids because, well, those things happen to good people and not people with shitty EQ, poor social skills, and few talents to brag about. But I met someone who sees something good in me, and I now have everything in life that I thought I would never have.

And yet, having a family means new problems and worries. My first son will soon have a younger sibling, and I don’t know how that will affect him. Up until now, he’s been the prince of the family - the first child in his generation and accustomed to being the center of attention. He’s going to have competition now, and I don’t know how he’ll take it. He’s pretty naughty right now and I worry what will happen to him as he grows older.

I could default to the “He’ll grow out of it” cliché, but I have my doubts. If he inherited his father’s EQ (and some evidence points to “yes”), then he may be in for tough times. These issues are nothing compared to what other people in the world face - our problems are first world problems, absolutely. But that doesn’t mean I should ignore him so I can satisfy childish pursuits like watching movies. Anyways, in spending time with him and trying to see the world through his eyes, I experience childish things all the time. It’s just that I now do it for someone else instead of myself.

I don’t expect that much from my son. I just hope that he can take care of himself, and not let others sway him into thinking or doing things that could hurt him. At the same time, I don’t want him to be the kind of person who uses people to get ahead, or makes others suffer for his mistakes. Basically, I want him to be a good person - and not that type that feels the need to tell everyone on social media, “I’m a good person!” That’s not honesty - that’s PR. And the last thing I want my son to need is PR.

Actually, maybe I do expect a lot from him.

If you’ve read my old Life with Kozo articles or any of the few interviews I’ve given over the years, you’ll know that I credit this website with everything that I have in my life. Taking the time to put together this HTML monstrosity gave me enough cred to get writing gigs, and got me some recognition from people who work in or around Hong Kong film. It’s also led to lots of negative crap, e.g., the people who’ve tried to use the site for their own gain. You take the bad with the good, and while I’ve made some very good friends as a result of the site, I’ve also had plenty of negative experiences.

The site also led to my job at YesAsia.com, which got me moved out to Hong Kong. However, I never intended to move here - it was just something that happened to me. In general, I’m just not a person who pursues stuff. Besides the fact that I like stability and tend to avoid change, I always figure there’s someone out there who wants something more than I do, so I should just let them have it. This attitude isn’t a very helpful one - it’s better to have a goal than not to have one, and my lack of purpose with LoveHKFilm is one of its biggest problems.

There are some things I would like for the site. I’d like better technology, better design, and a more comprehensive database but all that takes time and money, and the site doesn’t support that kind of investment. Once upon a time, when the site had lots of traffic and was updated frequently, I got a serious overture for financing. I ended up letting the opportunity pass, which was probably smart for reasons I shouldn’t talk about, but my main reason for saying “no” was simply that the interested parties wanted the site to be something that it wasn’t.

Ultimately, I have no desire to see LoveHKFilm.com change beyond what it is. It can still get me a lot of stuff; I’ve received plenty of opportunities for closer relationships with filmmakers and distributors. I could probably get set visits if I wanted to, and tickets to premieres and other events if I pushed. But I really don’t need those things. For some movie bloggers and critics, that’s really the endgame: Being close to the magic of movies. While being close to the stars and the filmmakers can be intoxicating, I’ve never felt that comfortable with it. In the end, it just isn’t that appealing to me.

What appeals to me is keeping the site going in the way that I want, which means having a review of nearly every new Hong Kong movie on the site, and having those reviews be informative, insightful, and fun. But it’s become harder to do those things. Not only do I lack time to see every new Hong Kong movie and write about it in a timely manner, but “informative, insightful, and fun” can’t be measured. I’d like to think the writing is good, and when I read some of my reviews later, I do enjoy them. Other reviews, however, are shit-tier quality and I cringe when I realize that I wrote such rubbish.

When writing, it’s tough to be objective about if it’s working or not. Sometimes you think it is, but in reality you’re making excuses to finish one piece just so you can move onto the next. So I end up tearing up what I wrote and starting over, or tabling that review while I write another. The time spent per review ends up ballooning - what used to take me an hour has grown to 4-8 hours, depending on the complexity or importance of the film. That I’m not always pleased with the results makes that process more frustrating in hindsight. I want LoveHKFilm.com to be a website that I’m proud of, but when the writing is poor or incomplete, and the database riddled with missing films, the effort feels wasted.

So, it’s good to take a long break now, with a new child coming and the other needing more attention. I can spend more time with them and know that I’m not wasting an absolute second of my life. When I work on LoveHKFilm.com, I do ask myself if the time is being spent on something worthwhile or necessary. Not that any film criticism is necessary - let’s be honest, none of it is - but LoveHKFilm.com’s time has passed. The site’s technology is so awful, and so many parts of the site have been abandoned - the blogs being the largest example. Site formatting is inconsistent, and design and layout sorely needs updating. I could go on and on.

The more I write about this, the more it sounds like I should close the site permanently. It would free me from the work and the doubts. Also, I’m sure it would satisfy some detractors, just as closing permanently would probably make a few people unhappy. I’ve never actually been able to figure out who reads this thing, in large part because I haven’t actively cultivated a community. One has kind of sprung up around it on the forum and the Facebook page, but I can’t always tell who’s there because they like the site and who’s there because they have something to promote. I like to keep a low profile so social media is absolutely not for me.

So yeah, all things considered, I should probably dump the site AND delete my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I’m an old man now and the world has left me behind.

But I still like writing. Whether or not I’m any good at it, I do enjoy it. The site was initially a means of writing practice for me, so the fact that it’s led to all this 15 years later is a real surprise. I do owe the site a lot so I don’t want to simply abandon it because I’ve changed, or because my priorities have changed. My wife would also feel sad if the site just died, so I’ll probably think of some way to save it.

But I need to take a break because I have too much to take care of now, and no time to think about how to improve things. Maybe I’ll need to consider changing review format, or trying to write shorter, less detailed reviews, or even getting rid of the jokes. Site readers probably expect a certain style in my writing, but maybe I have to change it completely to move forward. The site also has to be compressed and streamlined. Maybe the actor filmographies have to go, or the site needs to be converted to a blog. I dunno, I’ll think about it.

I do intend to keep up on Hong Kong movies. I can’t see as many as I used to, but I’ll still catch what I can. The filmmakers and genres have changed, but Hong Kong Cinema is special to me, and I’d like to see what happens as it grows and evolves. I’ll probably keep writing notes about each and every Hong Kong movie I see. I’ve got notes stashed for more films than I care to count already, so if I feel like writing reviews about anything down the line I’ve already got the raw materials to start. Hopefully within a few months I’ll be tinkering with some writing. I might write some reviews for YesAsia.com, if they need it. We’ll see how it goes.

While I wrote this blog entry, my son ran into the room over fifteen times yelling “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!”

If you got this far into this blog, thanks for your patience and tolerance - not just for this single post but also for the site itself. In the age of instant news and hot takes, what we did here was increasingly backwards, and we just couldn’t keep up with the more dedicated, media-savvy critics that are popping up everywhere. If personal reasons weren’t the reason for this break, then our inability to keep up with the Joneses should have been. There are now seventy zillion ways to watch movies, and also to read, watch, or listen to criticism about them, so one less voice out there is no big deal. The world continues to turn, the sun continues to rise, and tomorrow is another day. We’ll be fine.

Even if the world recently went to Hell.

Family
The movie theater is behind us

The Best Hong Kong Films Ever postmortem - Full list + stats + apology

WARNING: If this is your first exposure to this list of THE BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER then you need to stop reading and head back to the very beginning by reading this post. If you start at the beginning, you can witness the suspense and utter verbosity as we count down from film #200 all the way to film #1. But if you start reading with this list of full results, you’ll ruin the whole thing by seeing #1 first. And you know, nobody likes it when you ruin the whole thing.

We mean it: go back to the beginning or you’ll regret it later.


“Trust us. Go back to the beginning. We wish we could.”

Still here? Okay, let’s end this thing.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Best Hong Kong Films Ever - Number 2 and Number 1

Hello there, you are now reading Day 12 and the very last post of THE BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER. It’s been a long journey getting here. We started receiving votes in early November, published our first post on this subject December 17th and now here we are a a full 24 days later, on January 10th, with the final post in this monstrosity.

24 days to reveal this ridiculous countdown (and also that BEST HONG KONG FILM PERFORMANCES feature). That’s a long time for some people.


When Chow Yun-Fat started reading this countdown

he did not have white hair. Or a beard.

This last entry contains only two films because they distanced themselves from all the others on the list early on, and were in a horse race for the number one slot until the very last days. Considering that the #3 film is nearly 100 points behind these two, we felt like separating them would be appropriate.

Also, we should note that thanks to HARD BOILED, THE KILLER and A BETTER TOMORROW placing in slots 6, 5 and 3, John Woo has officially run out aces. No Top 2 finish for you, Mr. Woo.


“Are we done here? I have a more popular Asian film website to visit.”

As usual, if you’re just joining us, you shouldn’t spoil the whole thing by looking at the top film first. Either go back in time using your Flux Capacitor or click one of the below links.

Previous Updates:
Numbers 200-171
Numbers 170-141
Numbers 140-111

Numbers 110-81

Numbers 80-61

Numbers 60-41

Numbers 40-21

Numbers 20-16

Numbers 15-11
Numbers 10-6
Numbers 5-3

So here we go! Hit the jump to see that the #2 film of THE BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER is…

Read the rest of this entry »

The Best Hong Kong Films Ever - Numbers 5-3…and 213

Hey, you’re still here! That’s amazing, because even we’re tired of how long we’re dragging this thing out. This is Day 11 of THE BEST 200 HONG KONG FILMS EVER and we’re here for numbers 5 through 3. Yep, only three films get revealed this time with numbers 1 and 2 left for another day. Sorry to split it up but you’ll see why later. We hope.

Anyway, the Top Ten is shaping up to be a John Woo vs. Wong Kar-Wai showdown, with each auteur possessing two aces left to show in this final five. But the fifth film is one they should be watching out for. You know what it is.


“Everybody freeze! Nobody leaves this room
until my movie gets another award!”

We do apologize that the films making up this TOP 200 list are so predictable. All told, roughly three-quarters of this list came from the eighties, nineties and aughts, and only a few movies from those decades were not featured on one of our previous lists. Wish we could have provided a better service with this vote and come up with a more comprehensive (read: with older movies) list. It’s just a lost opportunity, like the stuff that happens in life or Wong Kar-Wai movies.

Enough talk. Use the links below if you have to catch up.

Previous Updates:
Numbers 200-171
Numbers 170-141
Numbers 140-111

Numbers 110-81

Numbers 80-61

Numbers 60-41

Numbers 40-21

Numbers 20-16

Numbers 15-11
Numbers 10-6

Jump for #5 on our list of the BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER. And it is…

Read the rest of this entry »

The Best Hong Kong Films Ever - Numbers 10-6

Finally, we’re at Day 10 and the Top 10 of the BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER. No surprise: every one of these films has been seen before in a previous LoveHKFilm Reader Vote, which means that we’re pretty much an eighties-and-up website. It would be good if the site could extend its coverage to the past using our considerable resources — namely access to the Hong Kong Film Archive — to flesh out our review archive. I figure this a long term project that can get underway in, oh, 2030.

But that’s 20 years from now and we have 10 movies ahead of us on list, most of which will come from John Woo and Wong Kar-Wai, two guys who have some key films yet to be accounted for.

John Woo is up for the challenge:


“I’ve got three films and two thumbs ready to kick some ass!”

Wong Kar-Wai isn’t fazed:


“This is me poking you, John Woo!”

By the way, if you’re just joining us, head back to the earlier updates to check out what happened before blah blah blah. Yeah, you’ve heard all this before. Here are the links:

Previous Updates:
Numbers 200-171
Numbers 170-141
Numbers 140-111

Numbers 110-81

Numbers 80-61

Numbers 60-41

Numbers 40-21

Numbers 20-16

Numbers 15-11

The jump’s below. And number 10 in our BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER countdown is…

Read the rest of this entry »

The Best Hong Kong Films Ever - Numbers 15-11

Hi and welcome to Day 9 of THE BEST HONG KONG FILMS EVER. We’re limping to the finish line with this thing but we intend to end it this week. Basically, it has to happen or there will be firings.

As discussed multiple times, this is the BEST 200 HONG KONG FILMS EVER, as decided upon by 166 LoveHKFilm.com readers. Through the first 140 or so reveals there were some minor surprises plus a lot of familiar titles showing up from our previous TOP HONG KONG FILMS readers votes. However, from here on out, everything is a Top 10 finisher from before so you can easily suss out which films they are. The ranking still hold some suspense, though.

Sorry, some guys and their movies have been left in the cold:


The things a man must do to remain relevant
in the Hong Kong Entertainment industry

Would you believe THE STORM RIDERS did not place? Personally, I’m a little surprised.

As usual, if you’re just joining us today, it behooves you to check out previous updates to see what went down before. It’s like history class, but with more reading and no required attendance.

Previous Updates:
Numbers 200-171
Numbers 170-141
Numbers 140-111
Numbers 110-81
Numbers 80-61
Numbers 60-41
Numbers 40-21
Numbers 20-15

Let’s get this train rolling! And number 15 is…

Read the rest of this entry »

The Best Hong Kong Films Ever - Numbers 20-16

It’s Day 8 of the marathon TOP 200 HONG KONG FILMS EVER countdown, and guess what: we’re nearly done! Well, sort of. Actually, we have a few days left since we always slow down tremendously to bring you the final picks because, you know, suspense is awesome. Even though everyone knows which films will show up. Really, you do. Just look within.

This guy knows that he’s destined for some Top 10 love:


Chow Yun-Fat will see you at the Jumbo

Standard stuff: this list was put together by 166 readers or passerbys of LoveHKFilm.com, a website that inexplicably focuses on Hong Kong movies. Each person sent in a list of 10-20 choices, we tallied them and now we’ve spend a couple of weeks dishing out the results. If you want to see the countdown from the very the beginning, please click the below links to get started.

Previous Updates:
Numbers 200-171
Numbers 170-141
Numbers 140-111
Numbers 110-81
Numbers 80-61
Numbers 60-41
Numbers 40-21

Hit the jump and check out the first film, a little known movie called…

Read the rest of this entry »

The Best Hong Kong Film Performances - Part 5 - The Best Performance Ever + the Full List

Hey, we’re at the final entry in our BEST HONG KONG FILM PERFORMANCES reader vote, where we give out the award for the Best Performance Ever in a Hong Kong Film. Already the hopefuls are putting their best faces forward to ask that they get the top spot:


This is why Francis Ng and Chow Yun-Fat
should never work together

Quick recap: this BEST HONG KONG FILM PERFORMANCES list was determined by 83 readers, who voted for performances in Hong Kong movies that they felt should be recognized as the best. Voters provided lists of 5-10 performances, then we tallied them up and came up with a list of 311 actors and their roles. We pulled off the top 33 and labeled those “the best”, and then we compiled the rest into a full list. You can find the complete list at the very bottom of this blog entry. Go ahead, look.

Also, if you’re just joining us, you may consider heading back to the beginning and reading about the Honorable Mentions, Bronze Awards, Silver Awards, Gold Awards and the Best Actor and Best Actress before getting to today’s Best Performance Ever. Yeah, it’s kind of weird to announce a Best Actor and Best Actress, and then slide another actor or actress in above them and label them the “Best Ever”, but that’s what we’ve decided to do. Please do not question our august judgement.

Previous updates:
- Honorable Mentions
- Bronze and Silver Performances
Gold Performances
Best Actors and Best Actresses

We’re not getting any younger, so let’s hit the jump and end this thing.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Best Hong Kong Film Performances - Part 4 - Best Actors and Best Actresses

So, we’ve reached Day 4 of THE BEST HONG KONG FILM PERFORMANCES. This post will reveal the two actors and the two actresses who received the most votes — with the exception of one individual who received more votes than all of them and will be revealed afterwards. The simple version: there are five names left, and none of them are Donnie Yen.

Not like Donnie cares, he’s got other things on his mind:


Donnie Yen teaches us about one of his non-martial arts “stances.”

Quick background one more: 83 people sent in their random picks for Best Hong Kong Film Performances, and we tallied them up to come to these totals. So, for every actor that appears in this next batch of reveals, nearly a quarter of voters blindly wrote their names down. That’s actually a decent feat.

As usual, you may want to check the previous updates in case you wonder if a certain actor or performance has shown up.

Previous updates:
- Honorable Mentions
- Bronze and Silver Performances
Gold Performances

Hit the jump to see who the Best Actors and Actresses are!

Read the rest of this entry »

The Best 200 Hong Kong Films Ever - Numbers 40-21

Hello, and welcome to Day 7 of the BEST 200 HONG KONG FILMS EVER. This is a list of recommended Hong Kong films as decided upon by actual readers of LoveHKFilm.com, an incredibly old Hong Kong Cinema website that is oddly still online after 10 years.

Personal note: I started this website as an amateur to film writing (which you can tell if you read the earlier reviews) but after 10 years the site still receives attention and some respected people even compliment us from time to time. My whole career as an editor and writer can basically be credited to this website. I’m pretty thankful for that.

Hey, did anyone else out there build a successful career despite not having the experience or proven skills to recommend them?


Edison and me: bros for life.

If you’ve been following this countdown, there have been some surprises and some interesting choices, but from here on out, things get a lot more predictable. The films that you expect to show up do, and the films that you don’t expect to show up don’t. Ergo, INFERNAL AFFAIRS: it’s out there somewhere. Also, RAPED BY AN ANGEL: forget it, it ain’t happening.

If you want proof, you should go back and check out the previous entries in this countdown. Anyway, besides seeing that INFERNAL AFFAIRS does not show up yet, going back allows you the chance to see this thing as it was meant to be seen: in order. Otherwise you’re just flipping to the back of the book and ruining it for yourself — you know, like Billy Crystal does in WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. Yeah, we’re really dating ourselves with that reference.

Previous Updates:
Numbers 200-171
Numbers 170-141
Numbers 140-111
Numbers 110-81
Numbers 80-61
Numbers 60-41

Hit the jump and let’s meet numbers 40-21!

Read the rest of this entry »

 
 
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