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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

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, LoveHKFilm.com! I got one finger for you, and it isn’t this one!”

This is the fifth year that LoveHKFilm.com 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.

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Top 50 Hong Kong Movies of the Nineties - Voting now open!

Happy Lunar New Year! This photo is from last year, but Stephy Tang wants to wish you a great Year of the Ox Tiger.

Stephy
“This year, I want to play a smart person!”

She can do it! You go, Stephy!

Anyway, there’s a lot coming up for Hong Kong movies and LoveHKFilm.com this year, but we’ll start by partying like it’s 1999. Late last year, we completed a reader vote for the Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Aughts. Even though it’s only February 2010, we’re going to be running yet another reader vote.

Fiona
“Really, again? Can’t you try
something a little more original?”

We pretty much like to run things into the ground around here. Sorry, Fiona.

In the second of LoveHKFilm.com’s intermittent, poorly scheduled reader votes we’re asking for site readers to help select the Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Nineties. By readers, we mean everyone: teenagers, sixty year-old retirees, single mothers, agoraphobic technophiles, and even Donnie Yen. You all have an equal say.

Tony China
“You’re going to vote for all my movies, right?
Don’t forget about COME FLY THE DRAGON!”

We’ll run this vote in a much more relaxed fashion than the last one, as timeliness is not an issue. It’s not like the nineties are going anywhere. To participate, please follow these handy rules:

  1. Use the LoveHKFilm.com Contact Form to send a list of your top films from the years 1990-1999.
  2. You may list either 10 or 20 films* on your vote, and order them with #1 being the top-rated film and #10 or #20 being at back of the pack.
  3. Please print in the subject line of your email “TOP 90s MOVIES”.
  4. It’s optional, but you can write a few sentences or words about your faves. We may end up using them when the results are published.
  5. Send in your votes by end of day on February 28th. I’m not pushing the whole GMT, PST, EST thing so there’s some leeway. As long as I don’t get your vote on March 2nd, you’l be fine.

*The big asterisk is here to explain why we’re letting you rank 10 or 20 films for your list. Simply put, a ton of movies came out during the nineties, and people may want to list more than just 10. If that’s your deal, go ahead and list 20.

However, please note that this WILL make a difference for the points that your films get. If you vote for only 10, then #1 gets 10 points and #10 gets 1 point. However, if you vote for 20 films, then #1 gets 10 points, #2 gets 9.5 points, and so on. To illustrate, a #10 film gets 5.5 points, and #20 gets 0.5 points. Voting for 20 films means 1/2 point steps between each films, as opposed to the 1 point step between each film.

Are you getting this? Probably not, but rest assured it’s all being done to make this vote even more complex for me to run. I’m all about doing things the hard way.

Chow
“I know you’re voting for my films,
so I won’t even act like I care. I shouldn’t
even bother to make movies. Just hand me cash
and we can cut out the middleman.”

Now, which films qualify? During the last vote, the question “What is a Hong Kong film?” was quite tricky. There were foreign co-productions, Pan-Asian casts, movies with Jude Law, etc. It got kind of messy.

However, identifying qualifying films is much easier for this vote as the nineties were a simpler time. Aside from more appearances by Michael Wong and Chingmy Yau, few if any films from the nineties qualified as foreign co-productions. Here are the simplified rules:

  1. The film has to be from Hong Kong and released theatrically during the years 1990-1999.
  2. Not a single Zhang Yimou film qualifies for this vote. Sorry.
  3. If Chen Kaige is your 5th generation director of choice, you may only vote for TEMPRESS MOON.
  4. RUSH HOUR, THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS, and any John Woo film after 1992 do not count.
  5. Is Jean-Claude Van Damme in the movie? Then it doesn’t count.
  6. All series can only be voted for via their individual entries, e.g. the YOUNG AND DANGEROUS movies do not count as a vote. You have to vote for YOUNG AND DANGEROUS, YOUNG AND DANGEROUS 2, and SEXY AND DANGEROUS as separate films. The exception: CHINESE ODYSSEY 1 and CHINESE ODYSSEY 2 can count as a single film.
  7. If you’re curious if a film qualifies or not, feel free to ask in the blog comments. I’ll say “yes”, “no” or “nice try, buddy.”

There, totally simple. The most important rule is this one, though: HAVE FUN. You don’t have to select the most award-worthy or acclaimed films - you can just choose movies that you enjoy. As such, I expect to see appearances on this vote from BOYS ARE EASY, SATAN RETURNS, I’M YOUR BIRTHDAY CAKE and, of course, GIRLS UNBUTTON. Loletta Lee fans, this is your time.

Loletta Lee
This is the only Loletta Lee picture on my
hard drive where she’s wearing clothes.

If you can’t figure out what movies came out when, uh, sorry. There are some online resources that you can use, however, including a downloadable PDF from the Hong Kong Film Archive which lists every film up to 2006. The nineties comprise 99 out of 749 pages, so happy reading. Thanks to Tim Youngs and Kevin Ma for pointing me in its direction!

Alternately, you can use the Awards Archives on LoveHKFilm.com to jog your memory of films released during the nineties. Also, you can visit the handy database at Hong Kong Cinemagic, where you can sort by year to figure out what came out when.

Results will be up sometime in March! I’m hoping for a similar turnout to last time. However, if the results are as diverse as I hope they are, I may expand this whole Top 50 thing to a full Top 100.  As usual, tell your friends and enemies to participate to make it this a more comprehensive, interesting and/or exciting vote. Hopefully, the results will better introduce people to recommended films than the incredible denseness of the site review archive. That would be nice anyway.

Vote early to support nineties-era Ekin!

Ekin Bunny
During the nineties, Ekin Cheng was
more popular than this stuffed bunny.
Now the reverse is true.

Kozo’s Top 20 Hong Kong Films of the Decade

I’m back from vacation, back in Hong Kong, and hip-deep in work. As such, this long-belated Kozo-approved Best of the Decade list is going old school. That means no countdown, few if any photos and only minor comments after each film. I’d prefer to save all my effort for the lists voted upon by the readers.

First, the standard disclaimer. The picks in my Top 20 hew pretty close to my personal faves of the decade, though I did pay extra attention to things like originality, relevance to Hong Kong Cinema, or just plain awesomeness. There are A LOT of films I regret leaving off of this list, so if you have to ask “Where is XXXX movie?” then here’s your answer: it’s probably at the #21-25 area.

Enough chatter. Here’s the list:

20. NEEDING YOU… (2000), directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai
Old habits die hard, and that’s why NEEDING YOU… comes in at #20. I’m not as crazy about this movie as I used to be, but I’d still watch it again before at least 10 other movies on this list.

19. CRAZY N’ THE CITY (2005), directed by James Yuen
I was initially hesitant in my praise of CRAZY ‘N THE CITY because it was the first film released in 2005, and I thought many better pictures would be released that year. I was wrong.

18. HIGH NOON (2008), directed by Heiward Mak
Twenty-four year-old director Heiward Mak’s youth drama has its flaws, but its a startling and accomplished debut. Sometimes pretentious too - but you know what? HIGN NOON earns it.

17. DUMPLINGS (2004), directed by Fruit Chan
Genuinely horrifying because you believe someone would do it. An aging actress elects to eat fetus-filled buns simply in hopes of looking a little younger? I’d buy that. Fruit Chan later-career foray into commercial filmmaking proves unsurprisingly better than its contemporaries.

16. ONE NITE IN MONGKOK (2004), directed by Derek Yee
An exciting crime thriller marred only by a last minute dip into pretension, this is Derek Yee at his laser-precise best. Yee’s strict attention to local geography and detail is especially good here. Johnnie To should pay attention.

15. RED CLIFF I (2008) and RED CLIFF II (2009), directed by John Woo
China made this movie possible, but it’s got John Woo from head to toe - and that makes this one of the best Hong Kong movies of the decade. Probably worth watching again and again.

14. THE EYE (2002), directed by the Pang Brothers
The Pang Brothers haven’t lived up to their promise, but that doesn’t mean we should disregard THE EYE. The elevator scene is still scary today. Too bad about that Hollywood remake, though.

13. LOVE UNDERCOVER (2002), directed by Joe Ma
Super silly and super commercial, but LOVE UNDERCOVER was probably a better time at the movies than 75% of this list. Hong Kong movies are more than just Johnnie To and Donnie Yen.

12. INFERNAL AFFAIRS 2 (2003), directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak
Instead of replicating the thrills of the original, Messrs. Lau, Mak and Chong wisely tried something else: a rich gangland drama. INFERNAL AFFAIRS may have started everything, but this sequel is good enough on its own  that it deserves a mention.

11. AFTER THIS, OUR EXILE (2006), directed by Patrick Tam
A precise, harrowing character drama that still resonates four years later. AFTER THIS, OUR EXILE showed us that A) Patrick Tam should not be forgotten, B) Aaron Kwok’s acting awards aren’t flukes, and C) sometimes the big Awards shows do get their picks right.

10. THROWDOWN (2004), directed by Johnnie To
Johnnie To’s THROWDOWN is a judo smackdown of rich cinema goodness, and a love letter to everyone who’s seen better days. Probably the most enjoyable film Johnnie To has ever made.

9. SHAOLIN SOCCER (2001), directed by Stephen Chow
Stephen Chow brought his game to a whole new level with SHAOLIN SOCCER. A satisfying and even bittersweet bridge between Chow’s mo lei tau past and his SFX-heavy, let’s-appeal-to-a-global audience present.

8. MY LIFE AS MCDULL (2001), directed by Toe Yuen
Three words: dim-witted animated pig. The fact that he lives in Tai Kok Tsui, faces genuine local Hong Kong issues, and kicks ass at bun snatching is just a plus. We all could use a mom like Mrs. Mak.

7. INFERNAL AFFAIRS (2002), directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak
In retrospect, this crime thriller seems a little too slick, but that may be our over-loaded geek movie brains talking, especially since IA defined the look, feel and entire content (Hello there, DEPARTED.) of countless other films. For what it is, INFERNAL AFFAIRS is nearly flawless.

6. HOLLYWOOD HONG KONG (2004), directed by Fruit Chan
A movie about Hong Kong, China and urban redevelopment but also one of the most original and oddly entertaining films to come out during the Aughts. Fruit Chan’s work is creative and startlingly assured, and it’s a crime that he’s produced so little since.

5. THE WAY WE ARE (2008), directed by Ann Hui
The most honest and genuine Hong Kong film of the decade, and you know why? Because NOTHING REALLY HAPPENS. That Ann Hui can make that journey so familiar and compelling tells us everything we need to know about her directorial skill.

4. RUNNING ON KARMA (2003), directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai
The odd tone and Andy Lau muscle suit are off-putting, but pound for pound, RUNNING ON KARMA may be the most uniquely Hong Kong movie of the decade. Johnnie To and Wai Kai-Fai go crazy with their Buddhist themes here.

3. CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON (2000), directed by Ang Lee
So influential that it should be at the Top 5 of any Hong Kong film list. Some people say its not a Hong Kong film, but the Hong Kong Film Awards disagrees. Bill Kong of Edko Pictures probably disagrees too.

2. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2000), directed by Wong Kar-Wai
This movie seems even better in light of the rest of the decade, where Wong Kar-Wai seemed to be recycling just about everything. Pretty much the pinnacle of his filmography up to now.

1. ELECTION 2 (2006), directed by Johnnie To
Because I put ELECTION 2 at #1 on this list, I left off ELECTION, so hey - it’s not a oversight. Either film could be put at the top of this list, but I vote for ELECTION 2 because of how it brilliantly tells its darker-than-dark triad politics tale AND folds in nifty commentary on how the government to the north chooses to roll. Calling Johnnie To the director of the decade is not a stretch either.

Yay, wasn’t that cool? Obviously it wasn’t, but I can dream, can’t I? My one regret here is that this list did not count towards the Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade vote because I didn’t come up with it earlier. I’ll try to rectify that when I run the Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Nineties vote, which should appear in a couple of weeks or so.

Other stuff happening in 2010: I’m also going to be working on this year’s entry in the LoveHKFilm Awards, which includes the same seven people as last year. We might also get one more blog on the site. Maybe I’ll go to Italy again. Another goal is avoiding hospitalization. It’s going to be quite a year.

Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade - The Top 3

We’re finally here. The Top 3 films of our reader-selected Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade are listed below. Sorry to drag this thing out an extra day, but I decided to split the Top 3 from the rest of the Top 10 because of the sheer disparity in points and votes between these three films and the rest.

An illustration via nifty statistics: the #4 film KUNG FU HUSTLE had 219 fewer points than the #3 film. 20% of all available points were given to the top three films. Also, the top three films received 45% of all first-place votes. Most shocking of all, Johnnie To has nothing to do with any of them.

In case you’re new and want to read up on the previous 47 films, you can do so here:
Numbers 50-41
Numbers 40-31
Numbers 30-21
Numbers 20-11
Numbers 10-4

Oh, and sorry for the post with the fake Top 3. Actually, I kind of like PLAYBOY COPS.

Let’s get this over with:

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The Best 3 Hong Kong Movies of the Decade

UPDATE: Sorry, this is fake. Our clock is set four months ahead and we thought it was April 1st. Feel free to skip this blog entry and read the other ones. Our apologies to Stephen Chow. And Jay Chou. And also Obama.

And here are the Best 3 Hong Kong Movies of the Decade, presented early for your pleasure and/or annoyance.

Here we go:

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Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade - Numbers 10-4

We’re getting there. Numbers 10 through 4 of our LoveHKFilm reader-appointed Top 10 Hong Kong Films of the decade list can be found after the jump. Are there any more Johnnie To movies left to add to this list? The man made 23 films during the Aughts and 14 remain unaccounted for, so the 10 slots left are not enough for them all. I guess that means no love for LINGER.

Previous updates:
Numbers 50-41
Numbers 40-31
Numbers 30-21
Numbers 20-11

Let’s get to it:

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Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade - Numbers 20-11

Today we’re counting down numbers 20 through 11 on our Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade list, as determined by LoveHKFilm.com’s readers. If you’re getting tired of this, raise your hand. No matter, we’re pressing forward.

Previous updates:
Numbers 50-41
Numbers 40-31
Numbers 30-21

Also, we’re going to start hiding the results so any latecomers don’t start reading the last results first. If you’re just tuning in, you can check out the earlier posts first, thereby reading the countdown the way it was meant to be read.

Or, you can read this post first and ruin it for yourselves. You can find numbers 11-20 after the jump!

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Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade - Numbers 30-21

Another day, another slew of reader-selected Hong Kong films, as we count down towards the #1 Hong Kong Film of the Decade. Our last update, which featured numbers 40-31, ranked MY WIFE IS 18 at #35, so that obviously cannot be the #1 film. We’re all heartbroken over here.

Previous updates:
Numbers 50-41
Numbers 40-31

Today, it’s numbers 30 through 21, starting with:

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Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade - Numbers 40-31

Continuing our coverage of the reader-decided Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade, here’s numbers 40-31. Click here to see numbers 50-41. Yesterday, we dealt with the revelation that THE EYE and LOVE UNDERCOVER pretty much got nixed from the Top 50.

Even scarier, MY WIFE IS 18 ranks higher than HOOKED ON YOU and ISABELLA. By the way, it has yet to appear on this Top 50 list. Will MY WIFE IS 18 make it past #30? Scroll down and you’ll know.

Moving on:

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Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade - Numbers 50-41, plus 2 bonus films!

We asked and you answered. LoveHKFilm.com’s readers voted to decide this list of the Top 50 Hong Kong Films of the Decade, and response was far better than expected. My original hope was that 100 readers would vote, but we ended up with over 150 responses! This represents the first time that this site has done such a large vote, and we had so much fun that we may choose to do it again.

Originally I was going to start this countdown on Monday, December 28th, but I’ll need at least six days to countdown the whole list, and on Saturday, January 2nd I’ll be on a plane. So I jumped the gun and started today, with a countdown of numbers 50-41 on our Top 50 list. We’ll announce 10 more each day until we hit #10, after which we’ll split the Top 10 into two posts. Once this whole thing is done, I’ll put up a list of all the films that were voted on. Then we can sleep.

Also, there’s a Bonus #51 and 52 listed here, because one reader sent in a late vote that would have altered the last couple of slots. The two films that could have crashed the list are actually (in my opinion) two key films of the Aughts, so I wanted to include them anyway. Webmaster’s prerogative.

Thanks again to everyone who voted! Let’s get started:

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