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Five abandoned blog entries

NOTE: For this edition of Damn You Kozo, I’m combining a number of topics I was planning on writing separate blog entries about. Due to various reasons it’s been difficult getting anything off the ground, so I figured it was everything or nothing. Sadly, I have too many ideas to list everything, so why don’t we go with just five? Sounds like a plan.

Anyway, let’s get this over with.

Abandoned Blog Entry #1
OBAMA WINS, I CONSIDER MOVING BACK TO THE UNITED STATES

This is kind of cool:

Obama

I’m normally not partial to bandwagons, but I happen to be on the one above. I can’t say I’m fully in support of everything he espouses, but seeing Barack Obama get elected President reminded me of one of the main reasons I moved to Hong Kong back in early 2005. Back then, I found the results of the 2004 election to be so disappointing that I felt like taking a little break from the United States.

That’s right, this man is partially responsible for what LoveHKFilm.com is today:

Dubya
“I love Hong Kong movies!
Especially the ones with Asians!”

That break has now extended to a good 4 years. I suppose now would be a good time for some self-reflection. Unfortunately, self-reflection happens far too often on this blog, so I’ll shut it for now. I should really be talking about Asian Entertainment-related stuff. However, there’s nothing I can write about that can’t be found elsewhere, and my insight on those matters is seldom greater than what you can already find on other blogs. Go ahead and look. I dare you.

Of course, now that Bush is out, maybe it’s safe to leave Hong Kong and return back to the United States permanently. I can’t say the thought hasn’t crossed my mind. However, talking about that will once again get into that navel-gazing self-reflection I’m so prone to. As proof of my navel-gazing capacity, you can read this. Or this. How about this? I liked this one. This one was lame. I don’t know what I was smoking this time. Traffic dropped after this one.

So yeah, I should probably talk about something more interesting, like toejam.

Abandoned Blog Entry #2
ALL THE DAMN REVIEWS I’M TRYING TO WRITE AFTER I WENT TO ALL THOSE FESTIVALS

The last month has been rather busy. The Hong Kong Asian Film Festival finally ended, but work has been rather pressing, plus there’s the pesky business of reviewing all the movies I saw at the HKAFF, the Hong Kong Asian Independent Film Festival (which took place just these past few weeks), plus whatever got released in theaters. Here’s a current tally:

Miao Miao
True Women For Sale
Claustrophobia (Written, not published)
Dada’s Dance
Some Like It Hot
Ticket
Parking
The Sky Crawlers
Tokyo!
Dream
881 (reviewed by Sanjuro)
12 Lotus
The Magic Hour
Cape No. 7
What on Earth Have I Done Wrong?! (reviewed by Kevin Ma)
Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (Written, not published)
After School (Kevin might review this)
The Equation of Love & Death (Written, not published)
Wushu - The New Generation
The Vampire Who Admires Me

Champions
Ballistic
The Beast Stalkers (Written, not published)
Nobody’s Perfect (Written, not published)
Citizen King
Magazine Gap Road (Kevin might review this)
Three Narrow Gates

By the way, MAGAZINE GAP ROAD played at the Hong Kong Asian Independent Film Festival, and I was lucky enough to snap this photo for all the readers out there.

Hey, it’s Elvis Tsui Kam-Kong!

Elvis
I almost didn’t recognize him with his clothes on

Sadly, I will likely not review MAGAZINE GAP ROAD. The main reason is that Kevin Ma liked it more than me, and since everyone likes a positive attitude, it would be great if he reviewed it instead. This is my version of charity.

I also won’t review a bunch of other films on the above list for a variety of reasons. Instead, I may do a compilation of quick uninformed reviews like I did a few months ago for the ones I saw at Udine and HKIFF. The movies that will probably get the two paragraph blog treatment: MAGAZINE GAP ROAD, for the reasons mentioned above; TOKYO!, because I oddly don’t feel like writing about it; 881, because I feel asleep, and besides, Sanjuro reviewed it before me; 12 LOTUS, because I fell asleep at its spirtual prequel 881, and because Sanjuro is the Singapore film reviewer here; THREE NARROW GATES, which I found surprising and quite good, and yet I kept nodding off during the first half hour; AFTER SCHOOL, because Kevin liked it more than me; and THE SKY CRAWLERS, because it’s anime and that’s not this site’s main focus. Also, I saw it on a really bad day. Rather than think back to that day, I may just write two paragraphs about the film.

Hell, let’s just go for a haiku:

THE SKY CRAWLERS
Pilots forever young
Battles rage within the soul
Movie makes me sleep

Sky Crawlers
Probably the most exciting moment in SKY CRAWLERS

Yay! I can cross another review off my list.

Abandoned Blog Entry #3
THE DYNASTY MOVIE WATCHING EXPERIENCE

When I’m not pressed for a quality cinema experience, I’m always glad to visit the Dynasty in Mongkok, because it’s only 45 Hong Kong dollars for a ticket (a little less than US$6), plus there’s never a problem finding seating. The downside: the theater is not in the best condition, the bathroom doesn’t have soap, and the screens have some weird line running down them that can hurt the experience. Also, the sound frequently defaults to glorious mono. Also, I think the place is haunted.

However, going there gets you a double feature like this:

Dynasty Double
Really, it’s been years since two Category III films shared this marquee

Sadly, I did not take in the SEX & CHOPSTICKS/OCEAN FLAME Category III twosome pictured above because I had already seen OCEAN FLAME at the Hong Kong Summer International Film Festival. In truth, I wasn’t too sure I would be catching SEX & CHOPSTICKS in the cinema because I’m used to seeing those sorts of films at home. Besides, the group of 7 or so individuals I see Hong Movies with consists of two women and a few guys happily stuck in relationships. Since male star Lam Wai-Kin is probably less attractive than about 95% of the current working actors in Hong Kong, I didn’t think he would be much of a draw for the females. And the men? Who knew if their better halves would be for them seeing this thing?

However, one person emailed me to say that he wanted to go, and after that it all snowballed. In the end, four males went to this thing, with one proclaiming that this was a “once in a lifetime chance”. He was correct - though, when the sequel to SEX & CHOPSTICKS rolls around, he’ll have his second chance. For the record, many people talked during the movie, and some of us had beer and fried fish skin. No, they don’t sell that stuff there, but since there’s no snack bar, pretty much anything you bring into the Dynasty is game. Hell, I’ve seen people eat plates of curry in the Dynasty.

By the way, fried fish skin looks like this:

Fried Fish Skin
Mmmmmm….fried fish skin

The conclusion of this little jaunt down memory lane? That fried fish skin and beer can make any showing of SEX & CHOPSTICKS better. If you do happen to visit Hong Kong, I suggest you buy some and go to the Dynasty. Sadly, there may not be any first run Category III movies playing. However, the Dynasty has morning shows that are 90% random smut pulled from some unknown warehouse. Just for that, the Dynasty deserves your support.

Chow Yun-Fat will see you there:

Chow
“Hey man! I will see you at the Dynasty!
Kamehamehaaaaa!”

Abandoned Blog Entry #4
KOZO’s MAILBAG: WHY I HATE EVERYTHING

Some weeks ago, I got this email from Seymour:

I was wondering if for once Kozo could give a review that is positive. I don’ get the feeling that he enjoys watching movies at all.

My personal response to Seymour:

Dear Seymour,

After reading your email, I thought about things and realized that I’ve been quite negative for a while. As a result, I’ve decided to completely change my reviewing style into a positive one. From now on, all my reviews will feature these words and phrases: “powerful”, “accomplished”, “muscular”, “a triumph”, “one of the year’s best”, “hands down the greatest”, “one of the finest films ever made”, “a touching and moving experience that will keep you rooted to the edge of your seat until the end of time eternal”.

Unfortunately, then I saw THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS and I immediately changed my mind.

Sincerely,

Kozo

Really, THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS is a bad movie. Don’t let the baby fool you:

Charlene
“I’m never letting my child see THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS!”

Before the Charlene Choi fans out there get angry: I’m just kidding, it’s not her child. Also, I like Charlene Choi a lot. Really. She’s easily my favorite member of Twins.

Anyway, to approach Seymour’s question seriously would be impossible, because really, I do write positive reviews. Actually, I think the majority of my reviews in the past month have been positive, and even when the film isn’t that good - e.g., CHAMPIONS or the upcoming NOBODY’S PERFECT - I do go out of my way to find the things about them that are enjoyable. Anyway, neither of those films was as bad as THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS, which is already in contention for the year’s worst film. Yes, I was that unhappy with it.

But Tom Cruise liked it:

Tom
“Thumbs up, man! Thumbs up!
Jingle Ma rocks!”

This is not the first time that I’ve received an email about how I “hate everything”, so I understand why it happens from time to time. As mentioned in an earlier blog post, I am not the most effusive of writers. After 2003, I generally stopped using major declaratives in my writing, e.g., “One of the best Hong Kong movies ever made”, “a masterpiece!” or “without a doubt the greatest film ever directed by Johnnie To!”  - though I do go a little overboard when a movie is bad. It’s easier and sometimes I have to vent after seeing a real stinker. Nobody’s perfect.

I think I’ve stopped being ultra-positive when reviewing films because at a certain point, spouting positive absolutes cannot be done without blinding yourself to the full scope and depth of what cinema offers. For example, a few years ago, there was talk on the geek sites that SPL was “one of the greatest Hong Kong films ever made”. I would consider that a very large overstatement. The film was fun, sure, but such a grand statement ignores hundreds of other Hong Kong films, not to mention complete genres that would never be seen or considered by the people making those claims.

I’m really not sure what’s happened to film criticism lately. Roger Ebert has written extensively at his blog about the “Death of the Film Critic”, and I’ve wanted to chime in with my thoughts on the matter for a long time, though my take would be limited to the critics that make up the blogosphere. I don’t think that there’s much accountability online, and many of the loudest and most prominent online film reviewers seem to be geek culture fanboys validated by the ascension of Quentin Tarantino. Sadly, accuracy or approved standards of journalism don’t hold as much Internet cred as new stills or a trailer premiere, so the stuff that I tend to value - good facts, informed opinions - are rarities. Basically, everyone online is a writer and not an editor.

Eason Chan shares a similar feeling:

Eason
“Why am I stuck with these people?”

As a card-carrying graduate of film school and a child of the STAR WARS generation, I originally considered myself one of the geek fanboy elite. I’m not so sure anymore about that. However, I really shouldn’t throw stones because I’m not a professional film critic, so I can’t be the self-appointed one to decide what the rules of film coverage really are (though Roger Ebert can). Even though I’ve been doing this for nearly seven years, I’m not a big man on campus. The last time I was paid to write a film review was when I was a teenager. I’ve never held a print job, never been asked to review film for an existing publication, and I probably never will given the current state of print publishing.

My poor chances of ever going legit are probably magnified because I’ve made myself so specialized. There’s not much glory in this hobby - especially since I concentrate on Hong Kong films - and I’d rather work on improving my writing than trying to make my opinions seen and heard by the masses. Things like accuracy and research matter because if I’m going to be informing people about something, shouldn’t I actually understand that thing myself?

Of course, there’s too much to possibly learn, and I could never claim to be an expert on the films of Kon Ichikawa or Takashi Miike, let alone the multiude of flimmakers worldwide. I think when I realized that more people were reading this website, I ended up clamming up a bit, measuring my comments more, and generally being less effusive and declarative about how I feel about films. I’m comfortable in my blog stating that I think THROWDOWN is a great, great movie, but I won’t do it in a review because I think a large portion of my love for the film is personal, and not something that is easily shared or explained to people. I think what I write in a film review requires some justification or explanation, and if it’s too difficult then I won’t do it.

Stephy is upset that I won’t write a glowingly positive review about her latest movie:

Stephy and Kary
“Stephy, no! Don’t go insane!
Everyone else loves your movies!”

The point remains that film criticism is just that: criticism. I call myself a film reviewer, but I do try to be critical - to determine if I think a movie works and why or why not. I suppose it’s the least I can do at this stage in the game. Nowadays, every blogger can run their own movie website. What is there to separate me from the ten zillion movie blogs that show up daily? Not much, so all I can do is try to do as good a job as I can with it, and hopefully people will recognize that. My site isn’t flashy or fresh, nor does it deal in hype, but the least I can do is think about what it is that I’m saying to people. And if the result is that I sacrifice the over-the-top ability to blindly praise movies, then so be it.

I think the point of this whole diatribe was that I do enjoy watching movies. Writing about them? That’s a lot harder, but I try at it. And yeah, i’ve wasted enough space on this Abandoned Blog Entry.

Anyway, you can find a positive review here. And here. This is positive too.

Abandoned Blog Entry #5
THE DVD RELEASE OF THE YEAR

 MISMATCHED COUPLES, starring Donnie Yen and Yuen Woo-Ping:

Mismatched Couples
You will believe that a man can wear mascara

Let’s see, in the beginning of this film, Donnie Yen wakes up, turns on the radio, pops and locks his way down the street, and applies stickers to his jacket so that he can appear more hip and cool for the frizzy-haired eighties girls as he shows off his keen breakdancing skillz. That’s right: Donnie Yen breakdances in this film. OH MY GOD, THIS COULD BE THE GREATEST FILM OF ALL TIME!

Buy it here!

END ABANDONED BLOG ENTRIES

So yeah, the above is what I’ve wanted to write about but never really got into. Actually, there’s a whole lot more that I’ve wanted to share on my blog, like even more wacky Apply Daily photos, thoughts on upcoming Hong Kong films, my feelings on downloading (yep, that topic again!), the continuing crisis facing the Hong Kong film industry, how I dislike meeting celebrities. All that, plus your standard year-end blog entries like maybe a restrospective on 2008, info on next year’s LoveHKFilm Awards, or an entry on the year’s top story (duh, Edison).

Maybe I can even write the occasional entry where I talk about my personal life again. Yeah, I probably shouldn’t write about my life anymore but hey, I’m human. Besides, I think my blog is where my mother finds out what I’ve been doing lately.

Let’s end this one with a belated Thanksgiving sentiment illustrating how grateful I am to Hong Kong Entertainment and Apple Daily in particular. Here’s a photo that celebrates everything that’s awesome about the Hong Kong Entertainment world:

Aaron
“I wear these for you, my loyal fans.”

Thank you, Mr. Kwok. For everything.

19 Responses to “Five abandoned blog entries”

  1. rachael Says:

    i serious read this blog just to see what captions you can match to the pictures.

  2. V Says:

    Ah! Finally we find something to thank G-Dubya for :)

    What is there to separate Kozo from the ten zillion movie blogs that show up daily? “Quality”, I’d say. I find your reviews to be rooted in film evaluation rather than personal feelings, and the fact that they are not blindly complimentary is a definite positive. What’s the fun if every 5th movie becomes “one of the best out of HK, ever!”, not to mention the “what the hell was he so happy about” that flashes through the reader’s mind when he/she actually watches the said ‘great’ movie.

    This is how I look at it: If a Kozo review says that a movie is good, chances are high that I’ll like it. If Kozo calls a movie bad in his review, that doesn’t necessarily stop me from watching it; it helps me lower my expectations and thereby the disappointment quotient. Then there are the ones that Kozo thinks are not good movies, but he had fun watching them and it’s not hard to see why when you actually watch these. As with everything else in life, this is not a 100% hit process, because each person’s mileage varies. Which is why it takes time to trust a reviewer’s opinions. That being said, Mismatched Couples seems like a must see :D

    Before I scrolled down and saw the full picture, I thought Aaron was wearing boxers. Hilarious! At least his tie matches his pants!

  3. glenn Says:

    One of your best posts ever. Really!

    I agree with the fanboy thing — I find myself both disgusted with, and excited by, the upcoming Star Trek reboot. And, yet, I think Frank Miller is overrated. AICN has not progressed mentally in more than 12 years. So where do I fit in? Twitchfilm.net has kind of helped me keep up to date and away from AICN. For every Iron Man or Dark Knight, there is a Daredevil with Ben Affleck. That sort of thing tends to take the wind out of this fanboy’s sails after a while.

    As for this site: I don’t think I could have gotten so far into Hong Kong film without it. Brian’s site helped too for older stuff and Shaw Brothers stuff but you were keeping up with the current stuff on DVD.

    I like your sensibilities for I find myself watching stuff I know will be bad just because of the actors involved and for that, I blame your reviews in a good way because you always manage to temper your negative thoughts with something positive.

    In some small way, as Hong Kong cinema seems to be suffering, it’s nice to know there’s at least one up-to-date site still covering the films — not just the celebs and scandals and pop idol kind of stuff.

  4. Gabriel Says:

    Kozo, thanks for the reviews. And the blog, all of it.

  5. Marc Says:

    I love this website.

  6. Darren Says:

    love ur site
    and think ur reviews are actually quite positive…i still cant believe u found something to like about la lingurie haha

  7. C Says:

    Nice blog entry which included the links with what you wrote long time ago. :o Remember to blog again when you decided to move back to US. Thank you, Mr. Kozo. For everything, too.

  8. laicheukpan Says:

    I’m actually more interested in topics about your personal life, something similar to life with kozo.

  9. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    To everyone who’s commented, thanks for continuing to read - not only the site, but this blog, which is so infrequently updated that I’m almost ashamed. Even after a year I still haven’t figured out a solid direction for this thing, so thanks for reading it when updates do happen.

    Hi Glenn,

    AICN is enjoyable for what it is - their enthusiasm is second to none, and their talkbacks are fun if you can tolerate the usually tongue-in-cheek verbal abuse. Twitch is similar to AICN in their coverage, though they’re more polite and handle all that World Cinema.

    I do worry, however, that this form of journalism is becoming the norm. People seldom report facts anymore without embellishing them with opinion, and it’s sometimes not responsible. What’s worse is that people may not be able to distinguish anymore between loose fansites and accountable media, and even “real” media is getting pretty bad, what with the reporting of unfounded rumor as fact.

    I shouldn’t totally complain, though, because I’m also from the non-professional geek ranks, and yet I get my fair share of attention too.

    I wish I could watch and review more older stuff, but it gets lost because I keep concentrating on the new. I’ve often thought that I should stop reviewing any KR/JP movies in favor of more Joy Sales re-releases.

    Hi Darren,

    For what it is, La Lingerie isn’t that bad, though I’d be upset if that was HK Cinema’s sole remaining genre.

    Hi C,

    I haven’t decided to move back to the US yet, but I’ll let you know if I do.

    Hi laicheukpan,

    Even my standard blog entries have Life With Kozo-like personal issues mixed in, so it’s not like I’ve abandoned those entirely. I’ve just been looking for ways to disguise them better.

  10. Munin Says:

    “I should stop reviewing any KR/JP movies in favor of more Joy Sales re-releases.”

    Geez, I’d love if you did that. After all, this site’s name is Love*HK*Film and there’s enough others covering all the JP/KR stuff…

  11. achillesgirl Says:

    I actually think your reviews are TOO postive! I am a much more highly critical, cranky biatch about movies and think you are often too kind. So you see, it’s simply impossible for you to please all the people all the time. Therefore you must please yourself. When you write for yourself is when you write your best. It shows. This site is for YOU, is it not? There’s plenty of Twitch out there for people to read if they don’t like your opinion. I read what you have to say because 1: I like what you have to say. 2: I like the way you say it. Please do not disguise yourself. I will become disenchanted with life and waste away.

  12. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Hi achillesgirl,

    If you must become disenchanted with life and waste away, please choose a better cause than LoveHKFilm.com, like maybe the poor global economy or Cape No. 7’s inability to win Best Picture at the Golden Horse Awards.

    Hi Munin,

    I’ll definitely consider it. At the very least, I can stop reviewing movies like Baby and I, and save any PanAsia reviews for stuff that I saw and actually liked.

  13. achillesgirl Says:

    I’ve decided to become disenchanted and waste away if you don’t write a short review of “Mismatched Couples” with Donnie Yen and Yuen Woo-Ping. !!?!??! Is it horrifically laughable, or just highly uncomfortable? Inquiring minds want to know…

  14. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Hi achillesgirl,

    I’ll try to make that my first old Hong Kong movie review in a long time. Maybe before the 18th of December? We’ll see if it’s possible.

  15. Darren Says:

    KOZO!!!

    Hope you read this soon,

    Usually I go to a place in Mongkok to buy my korean movies (cos i prefer the real version instead of the fakes) but theyve stopped bringing new ones in!

    Do you know anywhere in HK that sells korean films (and not say the hk versions or the fakes but the ones right from Korea?)

    THANKS!!! id be greatly indebted : )

  16. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Hi Darren,

    I have a sneaking suspicion that the place I know of that carries Korean DVDs in Mongkok is the one you know of.

    There’s a place on Nelson Street, between Sai Yeung Choi and Ladies Market. You go down some stairs and there are at least 3 good DVD/Blu-ray stores there. One of them always carries new films from Korea. However, the last few times I’ve been there I never looked at their KR DVD selection.

    Sorry I really can’t help more in this regard…

  17. dante Says:

    I’m a film graduate too!
    Keep up your writing, I always come back to your blog and to be honest, I don’t read any others.
    You’re my one and only ;)

  18. Darren Says:

    Thats the place!
    And yeah too bad they dont carry new ones anymore
    Their prices were good, from 190-210 HKD
    Thanks a lot Kozo!!!

  19. Rich Says:

    Ah, Verbosity Cop Anthony Wong returns!

    Forgive the cliche, but this has to be one of your best blog posts to date. One or two of these a month would keep me, and dare I your other readers, satiated just fine.
    Leave the daily updates to Mr. Ma; just don’t leave it quite so long as Sanney, where every post seems to be an event unto itself.
    Not that thats a bad thing - its made me think of Sanney as the Ekin Cheng of the Blogosphere.

    P.S. Speaking of Anthony Wong, would you happen to have seen the Y&D spin-off “The Legendary Tai-Fei”?

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