My job requires me to do midyear evaluations for my staff, an always pleasant experience that I look forward to with unbridled enthusiasm and delight. Really, I’m totally telling the truth.
Here’s a photo from one of my team meetings:
“It’s his fault.”
Anyway, as of July, I would consider these to be 2008’s Top 10 Hong Kong films. In no particular order:
Run Papa Run (the #1 choice, everything else is uncertain)
L For Love, L For Lies
Hong Kong Bronx
City Without Baseball
Yes, I Can See Dead People
Wow, that’s a dismal list, isn’t it? Some of the stuff that made this cut was not very good, but I had a hard time leaving them off in place of other films. There was no way that Missing, Linger, Kung Fu Dunk, or Fatal Move was making this list. They’re all more likely to make the “Worst 10″ list, though naming that right now would be useless because not much more than 20 films have been released thus far in 2008. That low number makes this the worst output from the territory since way before I was born. And I was born a while ago.
This is usually where the expected “Hong Kong movies are really lousy” rant should occur, but I maintain that this is a numbers game that would be supported if Hong Kong produced more than 50 films a year. Back when Hong Kong made 300 or so movies per year, you could expect somewhere close to 60-100 good, or at least watchable films. Percentage-wise that’s not great, but apply that percentage to current times, and you get a little less than 20 good films per year - which is more or less accurate when applied to Hong Kong Cinema in 2005-2007. If my math is bad, I apologize.
There’s also a whole other discussion here about what’s hurting Hong Kong film - i.e., lack of local support, targeting China, undue hype from the Internet, etc. - but I’ll leave that for another day. That is, if I ever talk about it at all.
Some notes: Shamo and Beseiged City get included here because neither had wide theatrical release in 2007. Two films that would have made the cut are High Noon and The Way We Are, but both are thus far officially unreleased in cinemas so I’ll leave them out to see if they make the end-of-year cut. CJ7 misses the list not because it’s bad (it isn’t), but because the amount of disappointment that came with it is so disproportionally large that I couldn’t feel good about including it.
Also, I didn’t consider The Sparkle in the Dark because I haven’t seen it yet. I’m guessing it’s not going to be Top 10 material anyway.
Some quick performance evaluations:
- Shawn Yue: A- (For making so many films, and turning in decent performances)
- Patrick Kong: B (For continuing his streak of hit questionable-quality films)
- Johnnie To: C+ (Sparrow and Linger cancel each other out; the “+” is complimentary)
- Charlene Choi: A (She’s got a ton of projects lined up, plus she gets a sympathy bump)
- Chow Yun-Fat: D (Where is he? If he does Red Circle, he could move up to “C” range.)
- Sammi Cheng: B- (One upcoming film and numerous public appearances earns her some goodwill)
- Louis Koo: A (Many movies, no stinkers. The guy’s on a roll.)
- Stephen Chow: C- (CJ7 was okay, but Shaolin Girl hurts the Chow brand)
- Jackie Chan: B- (Stretching in The Shinjuku Incident, but had less than 10 lines in Kung Fu Panda)
- Gillian Chung: D (Cut from Mei Lan Fang, and The Fantastic Water Babes is still MIA)
- Alex Fong Lik-Sun: B+ (Making strides)
- Stephy Tang: B (Has shown some improvement, despite relative lack of talent)
- Andy Lau: B+ (Still such a hard worker; now a Justice of the Peace in Hong Kong.)
- Lawrence Lau: A- (He made two films! Neither is awesome, but it’s nice to see him)
- Edison Chen: Incomplete (If Sniper and Jump get pushed to 2009, this becomes an F)
- Jet Li: B (His projects are inconsistent, but everything is better than War)
- Karena Lam: C- (Trying new things, but results have not been impressive)
- Aaron Kwok: A (Agreeing to do Storm Warriors gets him an A)
- Ekin Cheng: B+ (Storm Warriors gets him an A, but MIA film Rule Number One hurts him)
- Kelly Chen: B (*cough*Empress and the Warriors*cough*, but she’s getting married. Congrats!)
- Wong Jing: C (He passes with solid, average results)
- Jay Chou: B (Because Kung Fu Dunk was not his fault)
- Tony Leung Chiu-Wai: A (Hard to fault the guy for anything, really)
- China: Incomplete (We’ll have to see how their approval board behaves post-Olympics)
If I remember, I’ll pass out final grades at the end of the year.
Here’s a photo for good measure:
In the middle of his freestyle rap,
Jay Chou was knocked unconscious by a flying basketball.