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2008 Midyear Evaluation

My job requires me to do midyear evaluations for my staff, an always pleasant experience that I look forward to with unbridled enthusiasm and delight. Really, I’m totally telling the truth.

Here’s a photo from one of my team meetings:

“It’s his fault.”

Anyway, as of July, I would consider these to be 2008’s Top 10 Hong Kong films. In no particular order:

Run Papa Run (the #1 choice, everything else is uncertain)
L For Love, L For Lies
Beseiged City
Hong Kong Bronx
Playboy Cops

City Without Baseball
Yes, I Can See Dead People
The Moss

Wow, that’s a dismal list, isn’t it? Some of the stuff that made this cut was not very good, but I had a hard time leaving them off in place of other films. There was no way that Missing, Linger, Kung Fu Dunk, or Fatal Move was making this list. They’re all more likely to make the “Worst 10″ list, though naming that right now would be useless because not much more than 20 films have been released thus far in 2008. That low number makes this the worst output from the territory since way before I was born. And I was born a while ago.

This is usually where the expected “Hong Kong movies are really lousy” rant should occur, but I maintain that this is a numbers game that would be supported if Hong Kong produced more than 50 films a year. Back when Hong Kong made 300 or so movies per year, you could expect somewhere close to 60-100 good, or at least watchable films. Percentage-wise that’s not great, but apply that percentage to current times, and you get a little less than 20 good films per year - which is more or less accurate when applied to Hong Kong Cinema in 2005-2007. If my math is bad, I apologize.

There’s also a whole other discussion here about what’s hurting Hong Kong film - i.e., lack of local support, targeting China, undue hype from the Internet, etc. - but I’ll leave that for another day. That is, if I ever talk about it at all.

Some notes: Shamo and Beseiged City get included here because neither had wide theatrical release in 2007. Two films that would have made the cut are High Noon and The Way We Are, but both are thus far officially unreleased in cinemas so I’ll leave them out to see if they make the end-of-year cut. CJ7 misses the list not because it’s bad (it isn’t), but because the amount of disappointment that came with it is so disproportionally large that I couldn’t feel good about including it.

Also, I didn’t consider The Sparkle in the Dark because I haven’t seen it yet. I’m guessing it’s not going to be Top 10 material anyway.

Some quick performance evaluations:

  • Shawn Yue: A- (For making so many films, and turning in decent performances)
  • Patrick Kong: B (For continuing his streak of hit questionable-quality films)
  • Johnnie To: C+ (Sparrow and Linger cancel each other out; the “+” is complimentary)
  • Charlene Choi: A (She’s got a ton of projects lined up, plus she gets a sympathy bump)
  • Chow Yun-Fat: D (Where is he? If he does Red Circle, he could move up to “C” range.)
  • Sammi Cheng: B- (One upcoming film and numerous public appearances earns her some goodwill)
  • Louis Koo: A (Many movies, no stinkers. The guy’s on a roll.)
  • Stephen Chow: C- (CJ7 was okay, but Shaolin Girl hurts the Chow brand)
  • Jackie Chan: B- (Stretching in The Shinjuku Incident, but had less than 10 lines in Kung Fu Panda)
  • Gillian Chung: D (Cut from Mei Lan Fang, and The Fantastic Water Babes is still MIA)
  • Alex Fong Lik-Sun: B+ (Making strides)
  • Stephy Tang: B (Has shown some improvement, despite relative lack of talent)
  • Andy Lau: B+ (Still such a hard worker; now a Justice of the Peace in Hong Kong.)
  • Lawrence Lau: A- (He made two films! Neither is awesome, but it’s nice to see him)
  • Edison Chen: Incomplete (If Sniper and Jump get pushed to 2009, this becomes an F)
  • Jet Li: B (His projects are inconsistent, but everything is better than War)
  • Karena Lam: C- (Trying new things, but results have not been impressive)
  • Aaron Kwok: A (Agreeing to do Storm Warriors gets him an A)
  • Ekin Cheng: B+ (Storm Warriors gets him an A, but MIA film Rule Number One hurts him)
  • Kelly Chen: B (*cough*Empress and the Warriors*cough*, but she’s getting married. Congrats!)
  • Wong Jing: C (He passes with solid, average results)
  • Jay Chou: B (Because Kung Fu Dunk was not his fault)
  • Tony Leung Chiu-Wai: A (Hard to fault the guy for anything, really)
  • China: Incomplete (We’ll have to see how their approval board behaves post-Olympics)

If I remember, I’ll pass out final grades at the end of the year.

Here’s a photo for good measure:

Playing with the ball
In the middle of his freestyle rap,
Jay Chou was knocked unconscious by a flying basketball.

9 Responses to “2008 Midyear Evaluation”

  1. laicheukpan Says:

    Just out of curiosity, exactly how many staff do you head?

  2. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    I manage 6 people in my day job, which is not Sadly. And unlike some Webmasters, I can only work on the site during my lunch break.

    I don’t give evaluations to LoveHKFilm contributors. Hypothetically speaking, I would give the Webmaster a “C+”, because of his inability to motivate the writers and bring the website to a level where it can compete with all the really good Asian Cinema sites. The only thing he did correctly was not quit.

    The writing itself gets a “B” for its sheer length, if not quality. The site readers get an “A” because they haven’t abandoned us. I give my webhost a “B”. Our technology gets a big fat “D”. The only reason we don’t fail is because the blogs exist.

  3. quadshock Says:

    I don’t know about failing, but the blogs are now my main reason for visiting lovehkfilm. The reviews are still good to read, but like you said, with 20 films out at the half way mark, the blogs are keeping the site alive for the time being, until production increases again (which I am confident wll happen)

  4. glenn Says:

    I have to disagree with quadshock; I like the blogs but — almost 7 years on — and I’m still using your site like a review database for all the unopened titles I’ve got at home.

    If only you had more Shaw reviews BUT that’s a minor, minor quibble.

    I hated Playboy Cops. And while I didn’t like Kung Fu Dunk, I did think Jay Chou was almost likeable — I thought Initial D was wildly overrated and found him insufferable in the altogether disappointing Curse of the Golden Flower.

    There was enough there in KFD to make me think he could be an enjoyable actor one day — weren’t people laughing at Louis Koo only a few short years ago?

  5. MW Says:

    “A-” for this blog. The minus is for lack of quantity, and the A is for the quality. Although the lack of quantity might make for the quality.

    With so few HK films to review and most of them being expectedly unwatchable, the blogs have the site afloat.

  6. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    I recently ran across a review on IMDB that called out many Hong Kong film reviewers (including me and this site) for our inability to appreciate the solid filmmaking coming out of Hong Kong nowadays. So, the idea that Hong Kong is turning out crap is not shared by everyone. Frankly, that’s a good thing.

    Glenn, that review was for Playboy Cops, so obviously there are people who like it. I personally enjoy it as sort of an update of past Hong Kong Cinema tropes (extreme shifts of tone, solid action), though I still question if the formula works nowadays. If 100 films had been released so far this year, I’m sure Playboy Cops wouldn’t crack the Top 20, but as is, it comfortably settles into the Top 10. Hell, it only has to be better than half the movies coming out this year.

    Thanks for votes of confidence on the blogs. We should give credit to Kevin Ma, who updates frequently, and Sanney Leung, who updates thoughtfully. I update randomly and haphazardly, and without much thought put into it. Film reviews and site updates are still my bread and butter, and I don’t have the time or mentality to be a real blogger. At least, not yet. Who knows, I could learn one day how to do it.

    I like Jay Chou a lot. Frankly, I think the best Hong Kong movie team-up that has yet to happen may be Stephen Chow directing Jay Chou. It could work.

  7. Munin Says:

    So, with Johnnie To apparently now out of the race for quite a while, I guess 2008 won’t look any better in the future. Nor will 2009. Even though the Milkyway guys might still have some stuff up their sleeves, with films from Yau Nai-Hoi and that Soi Cheang one (Assassins?), but who knows when they’ll come out. Lawrence Lau has exhausted himself with two mediocre films this year, so I’m guessing we’ll see the next one in 2021. I had hopes in Derek Kwok, but he’s apparently not the next Pang Ho-Cheung.

    Oh well.

  8. glenn Says:

    Munin, is Pang Ho-Cheung even the next Pang Ho-Cheung?

    I’m being a bit sarcastic but I was slightly disappointed by Exodus and Trivial Matters.

    But from a glass-half-full perspective, he put out two films quickly and they both took major risks despite any other problems with them.

    Kozo, your Chou/Chow teamup sounds like a great, great idea!

  9. jia en Says:

    Regarding this: ‘I manage 6 people in my day job, which is not Sadly. And unlike some Webmasters, I can only work on the site during my lunch break.

    I don’t…’

    I disagree. I love your website and the reviews, they are pretty much the best I’ve ever seen. I like that you guys pick up and mention things that other reviews don’t, and anyway, you have a sense of humour. As for technology, I think the website is fine as it is, in fact I like a simple layout.

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