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Archive for the ‘Edison Chen’ Category

One of the films listed here is the Worst Film of the Year

Zhang Ziyi wants to wish you an even happier Lunar New Year!

Ziyi LNY
“This stuffed cow has seen me naked, too!”

In other news, the annual LoveHKFilm Awards will be announced Sunday, March 15th, 2009. I would tell you to mark your calendars, but because these awards are less important than the day-old donut sale at Dunkin’ Donuts, I won’t presume to do so. Instead, I ask that you drop by to see the results if you would be so kind as to deign us with your presence. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t deign.

(more…)

What’s Up, Ox?

Happy Lunar New Year, everyone!

Rather, Happy Late Lunar New Year. I’m forever getting behind. I’m so behind, in fact, that I’ll post up this celebrity Lunar New Year photo from last year:

Gillian
“I think this is going to be a good year!”

Yes, this photo was taken before…uh, that thing that happened.

(more…)

Kozo’s Mailbag: What I really thought of The Dark Knight

Like The Dark Knight, this edition of Kozo’s Mailbag is a sequel.

A reader named David sent me the following:

You should review The Dark Knight

Here are the reasons why:
1) I want to hear your opinion
2) Edison Chen is in it
3) Some of the action is set in Hong Kong
4) The low amount of Hong Kong movies

David is right about points #2-4, though I question why he cares about point #1. Still, his question was echoed by comments at the LoveHKFilm Facebook group, the LoveHKFilm Community, and on Damn You, Kozo itself. My original response was some jokey review of the 10 minutes that took place in Hong Kong, but that likely was not the answer that people were asking for.

So, here’s the rest of the story. Excuse my long-windedness, but this is what happens when you ask me my opinion of a movie, Hong Kong or otherwise. To make matters worse, I refuse to be that thoughtful and insist on posting my comments without editing for coherence, clarity, or spoilers. You reap what you sow.

Batman in Hong Kong
Batman invades Hong Kong right in time for the Olympics

My short answer: The Dark Knight is a great movie, and worthy of most of the praise it’s getting. I believe its success lies more in content than in form, but the form is still pretty damn good and either way you slice it, this is a triumph for the comic book film genre. Comic books have not been your granddad’s funny books for up to forty years, and it’s great that film adaptations of comic book heroes are finally maturing. This is an exceptional case because The Dark Knight isn’t Sin City or 300, i.e. it’s not based on a completely dark media property. Batman has seen interpretations that range all over the spectrum, and some of them were more than a little cartoony. This is easily the character’s darkest depiction outside the four-color printed form, and as an audience member, I’m grateful for it.

Joker
A round of applause for everyone

Now for the long answer.

The Dark Knight is the best live-action Batman film, if not the best comic book film ever made. Christopher Nolan and company actually delve into the character beyond just his origin, and don’t reduce him to a masked foil facing an over-the-top cartoonish villain. The Dark Knight explores what it takes to be Batman; the billions of dollars and kickass technology help, but it’s Bruce Wayne’s sacrifice and will that make it possible to put up with all the crap that Batman has to. The filmmakers doesn’t trivialize the character, and actually attempt logic and reason in their exploration of the Batman character and his world. Batman is put in tough moral positions in the film, and his methods and choices aren’t always as successful as they are telling and appropriate. He discovers the consequences of putting on a mask to fight crime, and chooses to push forward because that’s what his crusade requires. The film is as faithful a live-action representation of Batman as we’re ever likely to see. For a lifelong Batman fan, The Dark Knight is a gratifying motion picture.

For everyone else? Maybe not. I’m actually a little surprised at how much positive press The Dark Knight has been getting, because this is not a film for families or audiences looking for anything remotely warm-and-fuzzy. I maintain that good times are still the primary attraction for the mass audience, and as such, it’s strange that this dark, violent, and pessimistic film would be getting so highly rated over, say, Wall-E, which manages to have its cake and eat it too. Wall-E is a thoughtful, intelligent, and also funny, heart-warming, and happy little movie. Frankly, I liked Wall-E more than The Dark Knight - but maybe that’s because deep down, I’m a sap.

Also, Wall-E’s depiction of a junk-filled Earth reminds me of my apartment.

Wall-E!
This movie is pretty good, too

The Zeitgeist should get some of the credit for The Dark Knight’s popularity. Aside from the Heath Ledger factor, much has been written about The Dark Knight’s brilliance in encapsulating the War on Terror and the fallout from 9/11 into its complex, borderline confusing narrative. An article in the Wall Street Journal even interprets Chris Nolan’s Batman as a metaphor for George W. Bush. I would puke if I weren’t laughing so hard. Dark Knight does possess many themes and ideas that make intriguing metaphor for the War on Terror, and willing cinema readers and columnists should have a field day looking for a hidden agenda. There’s even a column out there talking about the significance of dogs in the film. I predict that many film theory teachers will soon receive a deluge of Dark Knight papers.

I think some of the discussion is overblown; sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. The film’s themes completely make sense for Batman, and have appeared in one form or another in the comics. Christopher Nolan and the writers (Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer) swipe from nearly 70 years of comics history, and while current events undeniably influenced Nolan’s cinema interpretation, reducing the film to a simple “Batman is George W. Bush” message ignores the character’s published legacy. George W. Bush is not as self-punishing a hero as Batman, and Batman’s problems aren’t as complex as George W. Bush’s. Also Batman takes fewer vacations.

Batman wants you|
Fight the War on Terror and wear a kickass mask

However, Dark Knight has rightly been called out by parents groups warning of its inappropriateness for younger teens and kids. This film has disturbing images and themes, and possesses an intensity that goes beyond the stereotypical comic book film. The film is more than a little frightening, and I do feel for the disturbed tykes. However, as a film and comic book fan, The Dark Knight is a fantastic step forward for the super hero film genre. Comic books are our modern day myths, and deserve greater respect than as fodder for box office receipts, ancillary merchandising sales, and thinly-supported op-ed pieces. The Dark Knight succeeds in large part because its director wanted to make a Batman film on both his AND the character’s terms. The property is twisted slightly to fit Nolan’s realistic take on Gotham City, but the spirit and themes are faithful to the character and his source material.

If you’re a parent, though, I suggest you see the film first before piling your kids into the minivan for a family viewing.

Waaah!
He wants to watch The Dark Knight too.

Ultimately, I don’t think the film has a truly exceptional point of view, meaning it’s not really trying to give us a singular, overriding message. It gives time to various stories, themes and ideas - some could argue too many to efficiently process - but this, I think, is ultimately a strength of the film. The Joker, Batman, Harvey Dent, Commissioner Gordon, even Alfred - all of these characters offer different points of view in The Dark Knight’s exploration of justice, heroism and morality, and something worthwhile can be gleamed from each and every one of them. This is a great movie in large part because it possesses so much to think and talk about, even though it may not be saying anything that definitive. Postmodern superhero comics have arguably found their greatest impact when dissecting the role of the hero in our cynical times. Graphic novels like Watchmen and Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns are so fascinating because they take the superhero archetype and apply it to politics and the current cultural climate, and address the difficulties that come with seeking justice in a complex, compromised society.

Typically, revisionist Batman comics end up with a scene like this:

Batman versus Superman
Batman has little patience for a tool of the Man

Not that The Dark Knight is perfect, because few films are. At two hours and thirty-two minutes, the film is a long haul, and could tax more than a few audience members with its enduring grimness. Christopher Nolan still needs some help in the action department; much of the action is difficult to follow, and is punctuated in a way that sometimes deflates the action (the flipped semi-truck is one large exception). Still, this falls into Nolan’s realistic take on the character, and Dark Knight one-ups Batman Begins by giving most of the action an emotional reason for occurring. Characters are put in peril, revenge is sought, and the stakes are considerably more felt. The film successfully creates the impression that anything - good or bad - can happen to its characters, and gives their choices and situations emotional weight beyond the expected good vs. evil stakes.

The actors are uniformly very good. I’d just be echoing every other person in the universe if I praised Heath Ledger’s frightening take on the Joker more, and Christian Bale is perhaps too good as Batman, in that much of the time, his character is also acting, if not as Batman (complete with that overdone, growly voice), then as his superficial playboy alter ego Bruce Wayne. The supporting roles are frequently well-written and the actors not wasted. The story is also very complete, though not without numerous plot holes that could easily be challeneged. Then again, plot holes are something that are unavoidable in a film of this size and scale, and The Dark Knight never resorts to convenience to move the plot along. The film isn’t boring either, and Nolan makes judicious and very effective use of cross-cutting, raising the stakes and upping the tension of his film smartly. There’s a lot to follow in Dark Knight, and while it’s not always easy, the tension and emotion are very well conveyed.

For a commercial film, The Dark Knight has guts, and the perfect storm of media coverage and marketing have apparently prepared people for it. It’s a smart, dramatic, and compelling piece of blockbuster entertainment, and sells pessimism and tragedy because that’s what the story and situations require. At the same time, it delivers some great action film moments (I found the debut of the Batpod to be exceptionally cool). Audiences have responded incredibly well, though I do question the overwhelming public acceptance (I’m waiting for the film to fall out of the #1 slot on IMDB’s Top 250). If the film does receive some of that discussed Oscar consideration, it would be healthy. Popular entertainment should not be excluded from serious awards consideration simply because it’s for the masses. It may not win Best Picture, but I’d be okay with seeing it in the Top 5.

Batman on car
Best Picture Oscar, here we come!

Then again, I’m a massive Batman fan, so my opinion on this movie could be totally, completely out-of-bounds. Hell, I’ve seen it three times and will be checking it out on IMAX in two weeks. You’re welcome to completely disregard my comments on this film. I’ve been a fan of the character for way over 20 years, so if someone wants to tell me that I’m clouded by obvious bias, then they’re welcome to. That’s what blog comments are for.

As proof of my fandom, I own this:

Batman Takara
Complete with alternate Christian Bale head

And this:

Batman and Monkey
Monkeys love Batman

I also preordered this:

Batman and Batpod from Bandai
I have no idea where I’ll put this

Yotsuba and the Thing approve:

Yotsuba and the Thing
Soon, they’ll have more friends to play with


About the other Dark Knight issue

Four Heroes
Edison Chen: pwned

The above graphic came from a bulletin board here in Hong Kong, and is easily the best thing about Edison Chen’s involvement in The Dark Knight. Honestly, it’s bizarre that Edison Chen took this part because it’s a total nothing role, and one wonders what he hoped to accomplish with this minor appearance. The part is so inconsequential that it’s beneath mention, and the only reason that anyone would bring it up is to wonder why Edison even bothered to appear in the film. Surely it couldn’t have been because he matched the skills of the rest of the cast.

Christian and Morgan
“Edison Chen is in this movie, too?
We’d better bring our ‘A’ game!”

I’m operating from memory here, but I seem to recall that when Edison’s appearance was first bandied about way before Sexy Photos Gate, he was reported as saying that he wasn’t going to take the role because it was so small, but changed his mind because the director asked for him personally. Really? Did Christopher Nolan really say, “Edison Chen, please play Security Guard #1?” Honestly, I find that very, very, very hard to believe.

Edison and Amanda
This photo convinced Christopher Nolan
to cast Edison Chen in The Dark Knight

It’s easier to believe that Edison took the role because he’s a Batman geek like untold millions of guys are, but if that’s the case he should have simply owned up to it. He would have earned much more cred with people had that been true. As it is, he was recently dissed on the radio by Sandra Ng and Lee Lik-Chee, who asked the question, “Why did Edison choose to appear in the film?” Basically, the part makes Edison look like a bit player, and not the A-list Hong Kong star he’s been reported as.

Besides, he was out of focus. True, maybe he was going to be in focus before Sexy Photos Gate, but how much could the role of “Security Guard #1″ have been expanded? Maybe he also directed Lucius Fox to the bathroom, or opened a door for him. Someone recently suggested to me that maybe they cut a fight scene between Edison and Batman. While it would have been great to see Batman whale the tar out of Edison, I seriously doubt it’s on the cutting room floor. If deleted scenes reveal something different, I will gladly apologize and shut down LoveHKFilm.com as penance.

Wrapping Up

To finish this Batman-themed megapost, here’s a random memory:

Worst movie ever
Damn You, Kozo! You could have prevented this.

Back in 1994, I was working as an intern on the Warner Bros. lot and I delivered a package to the office of some director who had recently arrived on the lot. That director: Joel Schumacher. His new project: Batman Forever. I handed the package to his assistant, but I recall seeing Mr. Schumacher sitting in his office, feet propped up on his desk, and talking on the phone. At the time, I thought, “Wow, this guy is going to make the new Batman movie!” I was actually quite excited at the thought.

Had I knew then what I know now, I could have sprinted past his assistant and given him a severe Korean gangster film-inspired beating, thereby preventing him from ever destroying the franchise. Hindsight is a bitch.

Had I done the smart thing in 1994 and kneecapped Joel Schumacher, it would have landed me in jail. I would have been branded a criminal - a guy who attacks big-time Hollywood directors without provocation. But, if I had succeeded I would have spared the still-fledgling Internet generation from the horror of two Schumacher-directed Batman films. More importantly, the Batsuit-with-nipples and its omnipresent Internet meme might never have existed.

I could have been an unknown, unappreciated, and unheralded hero. Hey, just like Batman in The Dark Knight!

Kozo at his desk
Sadly, I’m just a guy with a bunch of stuffed monkeys on his desk.

That’s it for Batman, who is hereby being served with a LoveHKFilm Embargo™, meaning we’ll be banning him from this website for a good long while. Batman is not Asian film-related, so he shouldn’t be wasting our time. This is the last time I’ll talk about Batman on this blog.

Unless I buy more toys. Or it’s related to Edison Chen.

Edison is Batman
He lived to become the villain

My Personal LoveHKFilm Awards, plus how the madness occurred

Last week, I posted the 13th LoveHKFilm Awards, so now would be a good a time as any to talk about the genesis and development of this not-so-prestigious event. Basically, there was no genesis. I made it up one day to add to my nifty new website because hey, I had time on my hands. When one is bored, they frequently come up with new and creative ways to pass the time. Just ask this guy:

Edison likes Pepsi
“Whew! I have a lot of time on my hands.
Maybe I’ll take up photography.”

Pardon our interruption to beat a dead horse. Frankly, the above horse is so entertaining that I think I’ll be walloping it well into 2008. I have not yet figured out how to make fun of Isabella Leong’s recent media blitz.

Wilson and Isabella
“I get into the craziest messes! Silly me!”

Anyway, back to LoveHKFilm Awards. Originally I created them just because I felt like being self-important. Oddly, I now get occasional emails from people asking me when the LoveHKFilm Awards will get announced. It’s almost like the awards actually mean something. I’m amazed that such a thing would ever happen because my opinion is about as important as the person who took your ticket stub on your way into the cinema. Hell, his opinion may be more qualified than mine, because I’m sure he sees more movies than I do.

But nobody sees more crappy Hong Kong movies than me. At least, that’s what occurred with this year’s LoveHKFilm Awards, which I decided to hand out this year via committee.

Some background: back when I lived in the United States, I watched most of my Hong Kong movies alone, and what few I could catch with friends usually fulfilled one of the following questions, “Does it have action? Does it have Jackie Chan? Does it have hot chicks?” A few of my friends managed to expand their range to become partial to the fine work of Andy Lau or Sammi Cheng, but nobody would go out of their way to see My Sweetie with me, no matter how cute that Stephy Tang was. That was my life a few years back.

But here in Hong Kong I know a few suckers friends who will check out all the latest Hong Kong movies with me, up to and including such fine motion pictures as Beauty and the 7 Beasts and The Lady Iron Chef. Really, if you must test the loyalty of your friends, the surest way is to ask them to see a Wong Jing movie with you. If they say yes, then you’ve found a friend for life.

Wong Jing loves his ladies
“Do you really think I care if my movies suck?”

Anyway, since I know people who are interested in seeing Hong Kong films, I figured why not ask them to help decide what 2007’s best Hong Kong movies were? Seven other such people took pity on me and agreed, leading to this year’s first LoveHKFilm Awards by committee. What’s the significance of this? Well, since it’s not just one person who’s coming up with these picks, perhaps this will be seen as more fair or balanced. Opinions are subjective, and mob rule consensus is always preferable to the voice of a single dictator person.

Kelly Chen agrees:

Ow!
“Yes, your LoveHKFilm Awards are quite fair.
Now get your foot off my head!”

So, hopefully this will be the first of many “jury-chosen” LoveHKFilm Awards. I’ll describe the simple rules below to account for the few discrepancies that exist between these awards and the other, more official ones out there. At the very end, I’ll print my personal picks because then you’ll know how I voted. If you stop reading along the way, no one will blame you.

RULES for the 2007 LoveHKFilm Awards:

Films under consideration must have premiered theatrically or on home video in Hong Kong in 2007. Exceptions to this rule are movies that only found distribution in 2007, but may have premiered in earlier years. Examples would be The Postmodern Life of My Aunt, which is considered a 2006 film thanks to an international fest premiere or The Third Eye, which premiered at the 2006 Hong Kong International Film Festival, but only came to DVD in 2007. Conversely, Shamo is considered 2007 by some sources (e.g. The Golden Horse Awards), but since nobody saw it in 2007, it’ll be counted in 2008. It’s already a lock for Best Fashion Accessory.

In addition, for a film to be eligible, it must meet 3 of the following 4 criteria:

1. The film contains Hong Kong investment. Totally important, and a major reason that both Lust, Caution and The Sun Also Rises - two films passed over for consideration by the Hong Kong Film Awards - count here.

2. The film features a Hong Kong actor in a prominent, if not starring role. Probably the biggest film on the bubble here is Jay Chou’s Secret, which only has one definite Hong Kong actor - Anthony Wong - in a key supporting role. Both leads are Taiwan-based, so this movie almost got cut from consideration. We counted it anyway. Not that it matters because it won nothing.

3. The film features a Hong Kong director, i.e. a director who either hails from Hong Kong, or whose career is largely associated with Hong Kong Cinema. Ang Lee probably doesn’t qualify as a Hong Kong director, and neither does Jiang Wen. However, both their films matched the other 3 criteria, so we counted them both. Make sense?

4. It must feature a Chinese language prominently. A movie like The Touch would still get consideration despite being shot in English, because it fulfills the three of the four above criteria. However, My Blueberry Nights would get knocked out because it’s all in English and doesn’t have a Hong Kong actor. Wong Kar-Wai doesn’t need our help, anyway.

The above rules didn’t prevent some issues from occurring. One major issue was whether or not to let Lust, Caution in, not only because of its lack of inclusion in all of Hong Kong’s film awards, but also because if it were allowed in, it might sweep everything and make us look like one of your typical snooty awards societies. Well, we did leave it in, and it did win everything. My curiosity demands that we do a hypothetical do-over to see what would occur in a world without Ang Lee.

Also, to be clear about something: not everyone in the jury saw every film that was eligible for inclusion. I myself missed two films, House of the Invisibles and Fear Factors, but that’s not that big a deal because nobody else on the jury saw them either, and I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that neither film would be giving Lust, Caution a run for its money. All jury members saw the majority of the films, and most saw any film up for a quality award (i.e., not some jokey or crappy award). I myself saw every single film under consideration, including that terrible Francis Ng film The Closet.

The problem that does exist though, is that means a film can be hurt by not enough people seeing it. This was possibly the case for The Sun Also Rises, which was seen by a little over half of the jury, but not by all. As a result, I did some awesome mathematical re-jiggering (Whoops! Are we allowed to use that word anymore? PC Police, help me out!) to make sure lesser-seen films had extra representation. The solution probably wasn’t foolproof, but hey, we did the best we can. It’s not like anyone around here got paid.

Though it must be noted: one person on the jury did not see Lust, Caution, which means that every other vote for Lust, Caution got an extra boost. That boost could have propelled it past Hooked on You, which had nearly the same score as Lust, Caution and was seen by the entire jury. So, if the last person had seen Lust, Caution and had decided that it was complete and utter crap, they would have not given it any points, thus making Hooked on You the winner of our Best Picture award. Add to this the fact that the person who didn’t see Lust, Caution opted out due to disinterest, and you have the definite possibility that Hooked on You wins Best Picture.

All things considered, it’s possible that Hooked on You got robbed by the LoveHKFilm Awards.

My scarf is chafing!
“What? My movie got robbed
by your crappy awards? Screw you, Kozo!”

Anyway, here are my personal picks for the LoveHKFilm Awards:

The 10 Best Films:
1. Lust, Caution
2. Mad Detective
3. Hooked on You
4. The Sun Also Rises
5. Exodus
6. Mr. Cinema
7. The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
8. The Pye-Dog
9. Magic Boy
10. The Detective

The 10 Worst Films:
1. Wonder Women
2. Anna & Anna
3. The Drummer
4. House of Mahjong
5. Kung Fu Mahjong 3 - The Final Duel
6. Beauty and the 7 Beasts
7. Love Is Not All Around
8. Kung Fu Fighter
9. Sweet Revenge
10. Super Fans

Best Actor: Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (Lust, Caution)
Best Actress: Siqin Gaowa (Postmodern Life of My Aunt)
Best Supporting Actor: Ronald Cheng (Mr. Cinema)
Best Supporting Actress: Teresa Mo (Mr. Cinema)
Best Director : Jiang Wen (The Sun Also Rises)
Best Screenplay: Wai Ka-Fai, Au Kin-Yee (Mad Detective)
Best New Artist: Tang Wei (Lust, Caution)
Most Underrated Film: Magic Boy
Most Overrated Film: The Warlords
Most Bizarre Film: Ming Ming
Biggest Disappointment: Blood Brothers
Best Action: Invisible Target
Best Production Values: Warlords
Worst Production Values: House of Mahjong
Most Underrated Performer: Eason Chan (Hooked on You)
Funniest Performer: Louis Koo (Triangle)
Best Overacting: Chow Yun-Fat (The Postmodern Life of My Aunt)
Worst Overacting: Tony Leung Ka-Fai (The Drummer)
Taking Up Space: Tsui Tin Yau (Who’s Next)
Career Suicide: Barbara Wong (Wonder Women)

And, to honor the old Webmaster-only LoveHKFilm Awards and its silly categories:

Most Annoying: Jim Chim Sui-Man (Simply Actors)
Most Charismatic: Guey Lun-Mei (Secret)
Most Loveable: Kate Yeung (Magic Boy)
Missing in Action: Anita Yuen Wing-Yee (Protege)
Funniest Film: In Love with the Dead
Entertainer of the Year: Eason Chan, even if he did appear in Brothers
The Special Award: Wonder Women, because it was so very, very, very special
The Winner of Many of Next Year’s Awards: Edison Chen, for a zillion obvious reasons

Anyway, that’s it for this year’s LoveHKFilm Awards. Startling and scandalous, wasn’t it? Well, probably not, because these awards aren’t official and will likely be ignored by everyone in the Hong Kong entertainment industry. But hey, it was interesting, right?

Nic looks pissed
“No, it wasn’t, and never claim that it was again. Got it?”

Sorry, man.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

This picture may get used more than any photo on this blog, because it’s so ripe for comedy that I simply can’t let it go. I apologize in advance for beating a dead horse.

Damn you, Edison!
“Dammit, Edison! Stop asking Maggie if she wants a hot dog!
This place doesn’t even have a snack bar!”

In related news, Edison Chen has inspired copycats.

I would comment more on this, but I have to check all my flash drives to see what’s stored on them.

Buried Alive

It’s been a while.

Running LoveHKFilm.com and its associated businesses, subsidiaries, and licensed properties can sometimes be quite a chore. Even when I ignore its main product - film reviews - I’m usually dealing with a related commitment, be it a favor or freelance job acquired through the site, emails in relation to the site, or personal meetings having something to do with the site. Since I now live and work in Hong Kong because of the site, I can now count almost everything I do every day as something having to do with the site. When you put it in those terms, the whole thing can feel slightly alarming.

Back to the main point: I owe LoveHKFilm.com some new reviews soon, which is no big deal because that’s the way the site works. Without new reviews, LoveHKFilm.com would become a shadow of its former self, a 35 year-old statue guarding the lane while speedy guards blow past me for an easy layup. That’s right, just like Shaquille O’Neal.

I’m big and slow
“I am the greatest! Well…I was about six years ago.”

However, since the inception of Damn You, Kozo! I have gained a new responsibility: I now owe this blog some posts, which is more difficult to handle than I first thought. There are two reasons for this. 1) I have lots of ideas, but lack the time and energy for proper execution, and 2) I have yet to master the art of the short blog post. If I could somehow satisfy myself with a 200-word blog post I’m sure I could become ultra-prolific.

I also seem to enjoy putting lots of pictures on my posts. If I simply broke that habit I’m sure I could double or triple my output.

Then again, how can I resist posting photos like these:

Daniel loves Edison
“Edison is so dreamy…except his skin is dull
and fatigued. He should use L’OREAL Hydra
Energetic moisturizing gel cream to hydrate
and reduce his skin’s natural pastiness.
Because he’s worth it.”

Speaking of Daniel Wu’s pitchman abilities, they’ve apparently claimed another victim. Just a week or so ago, I celebrated my latest birthday, and someone - after getting a load of this blog post - saw fit to present me with my own can of L’OREAL Hydra Energetic moisturizing gel cream, so I too can tighten, hydrate, and, uh, anti-dull my skin.

My skin is saved
The first step towards meterosexuality

I think the above qualifies as a Sign of the Apocalypse.

My birthday is only the most recent thing that’s eaten up time. There was also an ill-timed bout of sickness, and your usual things such as work, weather, and Sexy Photos Gate, which has been covered respectably by our sister blog, The House Where Words Gather. I commend Sanney’s ability to dissect the issue intelligently and without active bias. I have the ability to do neither, because when I see the Sexy Photos Gate-related photos that Apple Daily has seen fit to unearth, I can’t help but make jokes about them.

By the way, did you know that Edison recently survived an assassination attempt?


The assassin (right) almost got the drop on Edison Chen (center),
but the grey-suited bodyguard (left) intervened quickly,
using his Index Finger of Death (TM) to strike the assassin
in the throat, instantly rendering him mute, unconscious,
and unable to participate in any future karaoke activity.

Apple Daily is a treasure trove of fab celebrity photos. They’ve outdone themselves with their coverage of Sexy Photos Gate, but there are plenty of non-Edison pictures available in their fine daily postings, too. Frankly, I have so many fun photos saved up by now that I have no idea when or how to use them.

Here are a few examples:

She’s so very pink
Zhang Ziyi’s pink dress also doubles as a personal space protector

They’re really brothers
Upon meeting, the two Wongs
discovered that their individual
filmographies share many similarities.

This looks bad
Media Asia boss Peter Lam, Johnnie To, Shu Qi, and Miriam Yeung.
There’s a real story behind this photo but it’s more fun
to look at it and make up your own. It can be a contest.

Apple Daily rules.

Anyway, time for some navel gazing.

Everybody loves navels
Lee Hyo-Lee.
Or is it Lee Hyolee or Lee Hyori?
Inconsistent romanization only
makes Google Image Search more difficult.

Fourteen months ago, I started LoveHKFilm.com’s current update schedule, which is known as “Whenever I feel like it.” Originally, that was done to prevent the grind of the two-week update, but it actually caused me to update the site far more than I originally used to. What I discovered was that site updates were not dependent on a fixed time interval or even my mood, but only upon the movies that I see.

Recently, LoveHKFilm.com has gone three weeks without new reviews, which is pretty unusual. That’s all because the movies I’ve seen all fall into one of two categories: A) movies that already have reviews on LoveHKFilm.com and B) movies that shouldn’t be reviewed by LoveHKFilm.com. Here’s what I saw recently:

Movies that already have reviews on LoveHKFilm.com:
Blood Brothers (dir. Chang Cheh, 1973)
Bullet and Brain (dir. Keung Kwok-Man, 2007)

Movies that shouldn’t be reviewed by LoveHKFilm.com:
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (dir. Julian Schnabel, 2007)
Sweeney Todd (dir. Tim Burton, 2007)
Enchanted (dir. Kevin Lima, 2007)
Vantage Point (dir. Pete Travis, 2008)

So to assuage the three people who are wondering why the site has been so quiet, that’s the reason why: because I’m not seeing anything that I need to review. Not to worry; soon Empress and the Warriors, Playboy Cops, Shamo, and Fatal Move will get released, which means I’ll have some new movies to eviscerate review. March also sees the release of L for Love, L for Lies, the new travesty effort from Patrick Kong, auteur of twin terrors delights Marriage with a Fool and Love is Not All Around. It’s going to be a busy month.

However, it’ll also be a busy month for another reason: the Hong Kong International Film Festival. This year marks my fourth year in Hong Kong, but this will be the first year I go insane and check out 21 films at the HKIFF, a number that guarantees to send me straight to hell.

If you’re curious, here’s the lineup:

3/18 Candy Rain (7:15pm)
3/18 Drifting Flowers (9:30pm)
3/20 I Just Didn’t Do It (6:45pm)
3/21 Winds of September - Taiwan (7:15pm)
3/21 Winds of September - China (9:45pm)
3/22 City Without Baseball (6pm)
3/22 Besieged City (9pm)
3/23 Home Song Stories (12:30pm)
3/23 Run Papa Run (6pm)
3/23 A Decade of Love (8:45pm)
3/24 Kabei (3pm)
3/26 In Love We Trust (7:15pm)
3/27 The Way We Are (7:15pm)
3/29 First Born Unicorn (9pm)
3/30 Soul of a Demon (12:30pm)
3/30 Sex is No Laughing Matter (6pm)
4/2 Winds of September - Hong Kong (7:15pm)
4/4 Love is Elsewhere (6pm)
4/6 Coffee or Tea (6pm)
4/12 A Brighter Summer Day (7pm)
4/13 Mahjong (5pm)

You can read all about the movies here.

All of the above are Asian films without reviews on LoveHKFilm.com. Quite obviously, this means two things:

1) If you want to kick my ass, now you know where I’ll be and when. I couldn’t make this any easier for you.

2) I may have to resort to the “800 words or less per review” rule I instituted during last fall’s Hong Kong Asian Film Festival. Hell, I may do that one better and go for a “600 words or less per review” rule, because there will be regular Hong Kong movies coming out alongside the above 21 movies. Who knows if I’ll survive the experience. If I do, that means more reviews for everyone. If not, that means I’ll have given up and the Internet will have one less self-proclaimed, questionably-qualified film reviewer. I see winners in either eventuality.

Regardless, I look forward to the fest, because seeing movies without expectations is much more enjoyable than seeing a film after being inundated with print and television advertising. Admittedly, I haven’t seen a lot of advertising yet for Playboy Cops, but the poster doesn’t inspire me with much confidence:

Yeah! We fight crime AND have fun!
They kick ass AND have fun. What could be better?

Managing expectations is the key to enjoying modern cinema. That didn’t help me much at Kung Fu Dunk, but everyone who I’ve talked to about the film enjoyed it a lot more than I did, with some of them actually saying, “After listening to you, I expected the worst, but it wasn’t that bad!” I’ve also had similar responses after lending people my copy of D-War. It could be our new tagline:

LoveHKFilm Banner
Lowering Expectations Since 2002

Anyway, we’ll see if we can handle our March-April workload. If we can, I’d consider it an achievement. In the meantime, I’ll attempt to perfect the art of shorter blog posts, in order to keep this thing going on a semi-weekly to bi-weekly basis. And if worst comes to worst, I’ll just post funny pictures. I have tons of those.

Damn you, Edison!
“Dammit, Edison! I told you to exfoliate and hydrate
every other day! Now your skin is oily and improperly
balanced! You’ll never get rid of that shine now!”

Buy CJ7 now! No waiting, no hassle, and maybe no movie.

Everybody loves CJ7. That is, except the people who didn’t like it. There are actually quite a few, judging from the film’s lukewarm-to-positive response both locally and on the web. Personally speaking, the movie isn’t great nor is it terrible; its worst offense is that it’s simply a bit of a let down, especially considering that it’s Stephen Chow’s first movie in 3 years and that he really isn’t in it very much.

Not sure why he should care though. The movie is making bank. And man, that CJ7 is one cute critter.

One is cuddly, but the other is mega-rich.
“I love you, my little cash cow.”

However, they could make about 40 extra bucks if they could stop something like this:

No overhead costs!
Two McDonald’s coupons can get you a copy of CJ7

What’s in this blurry photo that I took with my mobile phone? Why, it’s none other than a shoe box where you can deposit 20 Hong Kong dollars voluntarily. Afterwards you can take one of the paper-sleeved VCD copies of CJ7 the nice people who set up the box have left next to the shoe box. Whether or not it actually contains a copy of CJ7 is a good question. It could be just a trailer, or maybe a blank CD. Worst case scenario: it’s a copy of Wonder Women.

By the way, nobody is manning this little kiosk because, well, this is illegal. I suppose there might be somebody watching the stand from afar, but nobody came out of the shadows to kneecap me when I took this photo. So maybe nobody was nearby. Anyway, I hear they’re all in Canada looking for this guy:

 A class act
No caption required

HK Customs, if you’re reading this: run now to the Kwai Hing MTR Station in the New Territories. You’ll be able to sieze about ten bootleg copies of CJ7, not to mention the 40 illegally-earned HK dollars that are sitting in the shoe box. I wish you all the luck in the world. Frankly, all bootlegged VCDs or DVDs should end up like this:

The fate of all VCDs
The deserved fate of all illegal media

Sadly, the above disc is genuine. It’s been stuffed in the dirt to ward off birds at a local community garden. One would think that using tinfoil or some other form of shiny, bird-repelling trash would work just as well, but nope, they’re using Hong Kong movies to keep birds from eating their flowers. 

At least the movie they’ve tossed is Rules of the Game, a nineties triad movie that would never qualify for a classic genre retrospective. It could be worse. They could be misusing a good movie like, say, Benny Chan’s excellent nineties actioner Big Bullet.

Oh, sorry, they’re using that too:

Poor Big Bullet
This VCD is a metaphor for Jordan Chan’s career

What does all this show us? Probably what most of us already know: that people in Hong Kong don’t really value entertainment, much less the media its encoded onto. An old VCD is worth more as a makeshift scarecrow than it is as a form of entertainment. Sadly, the same garden also contained some discarded DVDs, including a little movie called The Fellowship of the Ring, so this poor respect for the creative work of others applies to movies from pretty much anywhere. It’s just disposable junk to a lot of people in Hong Kong, and is not worth more than 2 hours of braindead time. Apparently, over 10,000 wasted man-hours devoted to media hype and celebrity scandal are far more valuable and necessary.

Man, I’m depressed. Not even Louis Koo hawking watches can make me feel better.

Kozo meets Louis Koo
“My steely gaze instructs you to buy my watch.”

Two down, two to go…plus a couple of holidays and other random crap

Happy Lunar New Year!

You should see their other photos
Former softcore pin-up girl with current hardcore pin-up guy

Oh wait, the above photo has THAT GUY in it! You know, the one who’s at the center of Hong Kong’s bizarre media circus that needs its own Wong Jing parody film. Frankly, the “thing involving the pictures that resemble people who’ve worked with Charlene Choi” is all anyone can talk about over here. I would add to the constant buzzing in your ears, but it’s still not over and it seems that I change my mind about it every single day. Maybe I’ll say something afterwards.

A week or so ago, I said I wouldn’t make fun of it because it involved criminal activity and frankly, I was tired of the media coverage. I’m still tired of it, but now the whole thing has escalated to the point where I have to make fun of it simply because it’s the only way I can deal with the constant barrage of news and gossip related to He Who Shall Not Be Named.

No, not Voldemort. I’m talking about this guy again.

He’s livin’ large.
“I’m a good person!”

Um…no, you’re not.

At this point, everyone will come out of this debacle looking bad, including the participants, the victims, the media, the police, and the overexcited and frankly overjudgmental public. I’d give everyone a giant raspberry, but it’s so cold that I feel drained of the required energy to complete such an action. Instead, I’m providing this picture to illustrate how I see the entire mess:

FIGHT!!!
I’m betting on the kangaroo.

Sudden subject change: some weeks ago, I blogged briefly about my Andy Lau concert experience. Basically, it consisted of me marveling at the man’s endless energy, willingness to put himself in danger, and his unparalleled pitchman abilities. The concert was fun, because Andy Lau was Andy Lau. Accept no substitutes.

You won’t find any pictures of me!
“Thanks, Kozo!”

However, Andy Lau’s concert was only the second I’ve attended in my three years since moving to Hong Kong. The first one was Sammi Cheng’s back in May. Actually, I’ve seen her in concert twice before in the states, so basically this latest Sammi concert I attended was just like old home week. The fact that Sammi and I have both aged adds to the metaphor.

I actually wrote a Life with Kozo column about my Sammi Cheng Hong Kong concert experience back in May 2007, but it never saw print because I never got around to posting it. It’s buried somewhere on my hard drive along with some, uh, pictures I don’t want anyone to see.

Ed the Player
These pants no longer contain any mysteries

Thankfully, I attended my third concert just recently. I lucked into a ticket to one of Jacky Cheung’s remaining concerts here in Hong Kong. Here are some shots from Yahoo HK:

Jacky Cheung sings
“This one’s for you people in the crappy seats!”

Jacky and two others
Only Jacky is allowed to wear a jacket.

 

Jacky said during the concert that the dancers were all masked in order to make him look better. Personally speaking, I don’t think Jacky is all that bad looking, though someone I once knew had him classified in the “ugly guy, good singer” category, the implication being that there’s a category called “pretty guy, bad singer.” You can figure out who goes into that category yourself.

But I enjoyed Jacky’s concert a bit more than Andy Lau’s, to be honest. Andy is pure entertainment, but as a singer, Jacky clearly wins. Also, I sat in the cheap seats so I had no choice but to appreciate Jacky for his vocal range and ability to act effeminate without ever threatening his manhood. The man is multi-talented.

A sample of my perspective that evening:

Where I sat
The lightsabers were free

Sadly, Jacky did not have a guest performer - which really sucked because I was expecting something like this:

Jacky and Jacky 2
The number of people in this photo also attended Nick Cheung’s last concert

Now that I’ve seen Jacky Cheung, I’ve officially attended concerts for two of the Sky Kings. That’s two down, and two to go. Who are the remaining two? Well, there’s this guy:

Leon drinking
He’s been at this all morning

And this guy:

Aaron and pal
Aaron Kwok and a, uh, Golden Horse

I’m actually betting that Mr. Golden Horse will be the next one I see. After all, Aaron Kwok does have a concert going on right now in Hong Kong. Maybe I’ll luck into some tickets, and hopefully he won’t wear something like this:

Greatest Photo Ever
Insert your own caption here

By the way, we just had Valentine’s Day here in Hong Kong. Two years ago on Valentine’s Day, I went and hung out with a friend - who we’ll call Mr. G - in Lan Kwai Fong. We went to a party attended by other single people who had no Valentine’s Day dates. I actually didn’t want to go, but I went as his wingman. I still paid for my own drinks.

The highlight of the evening came when he introduced me to a pretty girl who worked in Central. Mr. G said to her, “This guy runs a famous website! It’s all about Hong Kong movies!”

“Really,” she said. “About Hong Kong movies?”

“Yep,” was my reply. My beer was warm.

She arched an eyebrow. “But Hong Kong movies are shit.”

Kenichi Matsuyama will tell you how I felt:

You suck!
“You suck, Kozo.”

Being single is tough.

A final dating tip for all the guys. If you want to do well with the ladies, you need one of these:

Edison’s Tool of choice

Just learn how to repair it yourself.

Photo credits: Yahoo HK, Apple Daily, a borrowed digital camera, and my hard drive.

Damn You, Everyone! The Webmaster weeps for Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is so boring and cold. Nothing is happening at all right now.

Edison and Stephen
Stephen, you’d better wash your right hand.

Actually, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you do know that something’s up, namely the ire of the populace and the local media thanks to the appropriately named Edison-Gillian-Bobo-Cecilia Scandal. I have been asked my opinion on this subject by about three people…so I’m going to post it on my blog!

To be honest, my response is a rather pedestrian one that really means nothing. Indeed, this whole fiasco really doesn’t bother me that much. I’m more bothered by the fact that it has delivered tons of useless traffic to my website, in the form of people desperately searching out photos of Edison and his conquests. I live in a small world.

But in the meantime, I’d like to say that this is an invasion of privacy and probably one of the stupidest things I’ve ever been witness to.

No, I’m not talking about the pictures themselves, which are someone’s private business and were taken by a bunch of consenting, but rather foolhardy individuals. Really, nothing is that shocking here, unless you’re so prudish that sex is a complete turnoff. So, young women have sex? Yes, they do. So, a dope kid like Edison takes pictures of his conquests and saves them on his hard drive? Hardly a surprise, considering the “I’m from the streetz” stereotype Ed seems determined to embody with every phrase or action that he’s party to. At least he never claimed to be a role model.

Basically, we’ve learned three things from this:

1. Edison Chen is someone who you would like to stay away from your sister.

2. Famous women can have bad taste in men, and can sometimes do stupid things just like regular women.

3. Hong Kong is full of people who should know better.

I say this last thing because some people seem to act like they have a right to own these photos. Currently, webmasters of forums that hosted the photos are being arrested, leading to outrage from the local citizenry. Results of a current Apple Daily poll are frightening. According to the poll, 76% of all respondents think the blame for this fiasco actually lies with the photographer, and not with the people who chose to illegally distribute the offending photos without said photographer’s permission. There’s even talk of some sort of protest or march in support of people who posted Edison’s private photos on their websites. Say what?

Sometimes I wish people would just learn to leave these things alone. Did we really have to see and share these photos? Artists are people, too. They don’t belong to us. We can make fun of them if they trip up publicly, but this is a case of criminals taking private property that belonged to someone and using it to damage them. The artists are the victims here. Even Edison.

I still wouldn’t want him to date my sister, though.

Let’s close this with a photo:

Jay Chou will beat up fans for money
“I’ll beat up anyone who says anything bad about Ryosuke.”

 
 
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