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Even good years have bad movies. Or vice-versa.

Another year of Hong Kong Cinema means another year of the LoveHKFilm Awards (link to the amazing archive of previous awards), dedicated to recognizing the best, worst and weirdest movies out of Hong Kong every year. Entertainment industry professionals undoubtedly look forward to our choices.

Jay Chou
“Hey,! I got one finger for you, and it isn’t this one!”

This is the fifth year that has run its awards using a jury of individuals. Despite the unofficial nature of these awards, everyone who’s a part of the jury makes an effort to see most if not all the films, frequently trading DVDs and VCDs towards the end of the year. People in the jury will actually buy a copy of stuff they normally wouldn’t buy, like BUTTERFLY LOVERS or WONDER WOMEN, and pass them around so that people can see what they missed. Such dedication and/or masochism is to be commended.

Tang Wei 2
“I’m just pretending to pay attention.”

Also, the jury takes movies seriously. We watch them and we honestly discuss them. There are biases and blindspots like in any process based on opinion, but the group doesn’t cater to a single type of movie watching. Not everyone is an art film fan or a genre geek, and we actually try to recognize the gaps between films and audiences when making our selections. It’s not a process that wins friends and influences people, but it’s the way things have worked out.

The jury also knows when not to take movies seriously, which is why you can expect VIRTUAL RECALL to end up with some props this year. Bad movies need to be recognized too, and movies that are so bad that they’re amazing absolutely need to be recognized. If you have to watch 60+ movies per year, and even drag yourself to ones that are clearly the absolute pits (I LOVE WING CHUN, I’m looking at you), then you need an outlet. Giving out wacky awards is ours. If they had physical form, they’d look like this:

Fan Siu-Wong
Actually, Fan Siu-Wong did win a Award,
waaay back in 2008. We didn’t give him a penguin though.

Now, about the rules for which films qualify: In previous years, the rules were confusing but well-intentioned, with some credit given to video-only releases and some - but not all - China/HK co-productions. Eligible films required a HK-based director or stars, some measure of Hong Kong investment, Chinese-language dialogue and/or some mystery fourth rule called Webmaster Veto. I used it a lot.

Those rules worked pretty well for a few years, but have become increasingly difficult to maintain. Since nearly all current Hong Kong films have China money involved, and the gap between HK and Chinese cinema is closing every day, it’s hard to ascertain what really counts as a “Hong Kong” or a “China” film anymore. If you asked any five people what constitutes a Hong Kong film, I’m sure you’d get a different definition from each person.

“You want a definition? Here’s a definition: my foot up your ass!”

The Hong Kong Film Awards still has a complex definition for film eligibility, involving at least one Hong Kong film company, six crew members with permanent Hong Kong ID cards, no qualifying crew members in the same position (e.g., for GALLANTS, Derek Kwok and Clement Cheng count as 1 crew member and not 2), and probably an appearance by Lam Suet. But the LoveHKFilm Awards can’t be that complex. For one thing, we have no access to any crew information, and it’s not like the film companies are going to provide it. The Asian Film Awards uses submissions to find qualifying movies, but there’s no way any film company would submit their films to the LoveHKFilm Awards. After 10 years, we’ve maybe earned the prestige of DVD quotes, but that’s it.

So, in light of the ever-changing world of Hong Kong and China Cinema, we’ve made the rules simple:

1) The film must be either Hong Kong or China funded. A combination of both is fine too.
2) The film must have received an accessible theatrical run in Hong Kong during the 2011 calendar year. By “accessible”, we mean it it must be possible to buy a ticket if you’re an everyday joe, e.g. everyone who’s on the jury. Some of us do luck into press passes and industry invites, but it’s the exception and not the norm.
3) I may veto a film if I don’t think it really fits. Not really an issue at the moment, but you never know.

Up front, some key Chinese-language films won’t be getting any consideration. Ann Hui’s A SIMPLE LIFE won’t be included because NOBODY HAS SEEN THE MOVIE in Hong Kong outside of a few lucky souls. Super-popular megahit YOU ARE THE APPLE OF THE MY EYE, now officially Hong Kong’s highest-grossing Chinese-language film, won’t be getting consideration because it’s pure Taiwan, and these awards do not count Taiwan as a part of China. So yeah, Michelle Chen and her pals are out of luck.

Michelle Chen
“I’m holding my breath until you guys let my movie in!”

On a semi-related note, THE KILLER WHO NEVER KILLS, while seeming to be all-Taiwan, actually has Hong Kong money in it, so we’re counting it. It also has Eric Tsang, who’s totally a Hong Kong filmmaker. However, Eric Tsang is not an absolute guarantee of entry, because he appears in about 50 zillion films a year, including some Taiwan or other country’s movies that won’t count.

Yeah, confusing, isn’t it?

“I really have no idea what he’s talking about anymore.”

So these are the eligible films (with handy links to reviews, if they exist):

3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy
The 33D Invader
All’s Well Ends Well 2011
Beach Spike
A Beautiful Life
Beginning of the Great Revival
Big Blue Lake
Buddha Mountain
The Butcher, The Chef and The Swordsman
Chase Our Love
A Chinese Ghost Story
Choy Lee Fut
Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu
Datong: The Great Society
Demon 2
The Detective 2
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
East Meets West
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate
Fortune Buddies
Hi, Fidelity
Hong Kong Ghost Stories
I Love Hong Kong
I Love Wing Chun
If You Are The One 2
The Killer Who Never Kills
Lan Kwai Fong
Legendary Amazons
Let the Bullets Fly
Let’s Go!
Life Without Principle
The Lost Bladesman
Love for Life
Love in Space
Love is the Only Answer
Love You You
Magic to Win
Men Suddenly in Love
Microsex Office
Moon Castle: The Space Adventure
Mr. and Mrs. Incredible
Mr. and Mrs. Single
My Ex-Wife’s Wedding
My Kingdom
Mysterious Island
Old Master Q and Little Ocean Tiger
Overheard 2
Road to Dawn
Shadowguard - The Blood Bond Saga
The Sorcerer and the White Snake
Starry Starry Night
Strawberry Cliff
Summer Love Love
Treasure Hunt
Treasure Inn
Turning Point 2
Virtual Recall
The Warring States
The Way We Were
What Women Want
White Vengeance
Wind Blast
The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake
Wu Xia

In total, that’s 72 eligible films. At this time, I’ve only seen 62 of them, though I may up that number in the coming weeks. Still, I don’t think I need to see THE WAY WE WERE or MOON CASTLE: THE SPACE ADVENTURE to round out my Top 10 list. The latter is a member of China’s Pleasant Goat and Big Bad Wolf animated franchise, which I doubt will have any impact on those awards. So it’s officially off the table. WAY WE WERE? DEMON 2? I might see those though you’ll probably never read the reviews.

I think Pleasant Goat is too busy being happy to care about the LoveHKFilm Awards.

Pleasant Goat
“Hey, Jay Chou! I’ve got a finger for these guys too!”

So that’s the skinny on this year’s LoveHKFilm Awards. Voting for these awards starts early February and continues on through March. The Awards will likely get announced sometime in March or early April, usually before the Hong Kong Film Awards. See you then. I hope.

Random toy photo to end this:

It’s the Circle of Life!

3 Responses to “Even good years have bad movies. Or vice-versa.”

  1. Veronica Says:

    It’s great, another fun thing to look forward to. It’s also great to see that LoveHKfilm award has rules for what to be included and what not. These serve me as a guide too, when I say ‘I love HK films’ in this very confusing day and age. You must have put a lot of thoughts into this but I feel a little (tinzy winzy bit) sad to see the whole Mainland Chinese productions have to be included in LoveHKfilm awards though. (Or they may not be a whole Mainland stuff. I don’t know much about these things unless you say these in your reviews! See, look how influential your reviews are!) I guess HK is in China, HK people are ultimately, well, Chinese, but I used to think HK cinema has nothing to do with Mainland movies..
    Oh, I’ll stop grumbling. I look forward to reading the award results, and Thanks, Kozo, for all your hard work!

  2. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Hi Veronica, you are correct that it is hard to figure out what is a Hong Kong film nowadays. Even most Hong Kong films barely qualify anymore! This may be something worth discussing this year on the blog.

  3. Veronica Says:

    Finally! The site updated and LoveHKfilm awards announced. I’m more or less happy with the result. If I had to pick one best film (and same goes with best director, best actor, actress and so on) out of the chosen nominees, my choice will not be too different to the announced. But looking at the final list, I can’t help but feeling a little disappointed. It’s China all over! And this is LoveHKfilm awards for goodness sake… I just have to blame the industry and the world, I guess. (It’s no wonder a lot of attention was given to A Simple Life in HKFA.)
    It was fun to read ‘All the rest’ awards. Thanks for putting them together with the usual LoveHKfilm touch!

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