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Archive for the ‘Life with Kozo’ Category

One last gasp in the 10th year

Hey everyone, it’s a blog entry! Remember when we used to do this every two weeks or so? Now we’re looking at a two year gap. It’s simply awful, but now we’re back. Yay!

Jackie Panda
“Do I look like I care about your stupid blog?
When Jackie reads, nothing else matters!”

Since I haven’t done this in a while, this will be a big blog entry with highlights of what’s coming up on the site, plus some “how did we end up here” navel-gazing. Since self-reflection is undoubtedly tiresome, the promises and other highlights come first. Even better, it’ll happen in bullet points. If I could draw up an infographic, I would.

(more…)

Edison is happy that we’re blogging again

Complain all you want, he still can’t hear you.

eddy
“It’s all pops and buzzes from here, dawg.”

Edison is a bad role model. If we did things his way, we would gladly ignore any and all criticism, and would classify those who criticize us as “haters” a.k.a. “people who don’t agree with me, and thus are terrible or awful because of it.” When you think about it, Edison is actually a prime example of the Internet generation: poor English standards, bad perspective and overwhelmingly in love with himself. At least he’s good with a camera.

Bringing this back a bit, LoveHKFilm.com and the powers-that-run-it have received a fair amount of criticism over the years. I try to look at the good side: going on ten years online, LoveHKFilm.com has long outlived what I thought would be its usefulness. It’s done a great deal for me, and supposedly it’s done a good deal for others too. At least, that’s what the email I get tells me.

At the same time, my email also tells me that the site has annoyed and even offended some, and I do take those complaints seriously. Still, I eventually have to decide if the complaints are fair and have merit, or if they come from people who are operating from a limited if not selfish perspective. It would help if I could read minds, but I don’t seem to be able to do that. Yet.

The last time I updated Damn You, Kozo was over a year ago. In that time, LoveHKFilm.com has taken numerous vacations and the site blogs have become rather quiet. Something needs to change. LoveHKFilm.com has a focus, limited and unpopular though it may be. Damn You, Kozo needs a focus too. As soon as I figure out what it is, I’ll do it.

In the meantime, this blog will reopen with occasional posts. Michael Wells of the Everyone Likes Movies blog will be contributing some guest posts on the latest New York Asian Film Festival plus we may do one of those Top 100 Hong Kong Movies reader polls again. We might also post some pictures.

It’s good to be back.

What happens in Udine - pics and notes from FEFF12

It’s been nearly a month since I attended the 12th Udine Far East Film Festival, but I have yet to post more than one or two photos detailing the trip. In past years, I’ve usually written quickly about the experience, but this year? It didn’t happen. Besides a podcast I did over at Paul Fox and Kevin Ma’s KongCast, all I did was put up one photo of LGM and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here’s a photo of me taking that photo:

Me taking photo
That’s GALLANTS co-director Clement Cheng in the background,
wondering why I’m interrupting an interview to take toy photos.

Obviously, I act in a completely professional manner while I’m over there.

(more…)

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.

2008 Wrap-up delayed indefinitely

Completely minor announcement: there will be no “End of 2008″ post on this blog anytime soon, and barring another self-serving edition of Kozo’s Mailbag, I’ll probably be stepping away from this blog for a few more weeks.

Someone is already unhappy about the news:

I’m so unhappy
“Whaddya mean no ‘End of 2008′ post?
What am I supposed to do now?”

(more…)

The Best Laid Plans…

While writing this mini blog entry, I’m checking out the el-cheapo Chinese DVD of RED CLIFF (only HK$20 in Shamsuipo!). It’s the scene where Tony and Takeshi have their homosexual sex scene stringed instrument duel. It’s a pivotal scene because it demonstrates that they’re passionate soulmates natural comrades-in-arms who will regard each other with the utmost desire respect, even if one day they break up find themselves on opposing sides. It’s probably the cheesiest and most effective scene in RED CLIFF. John Woo, you are a master.

My instrument can read your heart
“I make love with this instrument.”

Anyway, we’re going dark for a while at Damn You, Kozo. Despite attempting to keep up some sort of weird schedule with this blog and the regular website updates, we’ve been upended by those one or two surprise circumstances that life occasionally throws at you. In this case, all my issues relate to my job, so they’re unavoidable. I would drop one of my other pastimes, but unfortunately, there’s not much left to do away with besides Damn You, Kozo! or LoveHKFilm.com. Despite the fact that I can get all self-absorbed on this blog, I consider LoveHKFilm.com more important, so it’s Damn You, Kozo! that has to take a powder. Them’s the breaks.

Recently, I’ve become so exhausted that I literally fall asleep at my computer or in front of the television. The latter reason is why I have yet to review either FATE or CHAOS, the two direct-to-video Hong Kong movies I talked about in my last blog entry. Nothing gets in the way of reviewing a film better than narcolepsy in front of the TV. The worst part about collapsing into sleep is that my air conditioning, television, or computer is usually left on, which means that my electric bill at the end of the month will be a staggering amount. As LoveHKFilm.com income has slowed considerably, I now regret not fighting for kickbacks from the Hong Kong film industry.

Not that the pursuit of cash has ever been my main concern. Recently, this site ran advertisements for THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR. You probably saw them if you frequented LoveHKFilm.com sometime in the past month - and if you reside somewhere in North America. The ads are geo-targeted to the U.S. and Canada, and since I live in Hong Kong, I could never see them. I only remembered that the ads were running when I saw a screen capture from a U.S. IP address a few days ago.

This concerns me because shortly after MUMMY came out, I published a review that absolutely eviscerated the film, pretty much calling it the worst thing I’ve seen all year. Well, maybe it’s not the worst thing I’ve seen all year, but in terms of dollars spent by the filmmakers it’s easily the biggest waste. I wonder if I would have done anything differently if I had been able to see the advertisement all the time. If Brendan Fraser and Jet Li had been staring at me every time I loaded up LoveHKFilm.com, would I have been nicer to the film? Postponed my review? Neglected to review it entirely? I’d like to think that the $$$$ wouldn’t have made me compromise, but frankly, we’ll never know.

Brendan is pissed
“Fight me if you want that commission check!”

I imagine this dilemma must pose a bigger problem to more popular movie fansites, namely the ones that rely on industry connection, “scoops”, and spoilers. Those sites are primarily Hollywood-oriented, but that same sort of pseudo-journalism  has found its way to Asian Cinema too. Asian movies are a far different beast than they were ten years ago. The Internet was still the best way for English-speaking audiences to get information, but back then it was word of mouth and translated news reports that drove interest.

Nowadays, we have hype sites and selective coverage that can possibly skew perceptions of Asian Cinema. Hong Kong movies, in particular, get reduced to genre pictures or anything that has a “name” attached. These names, however, are only the names that have been made popular by film fests and geek sites, meaning Francis Ng, Donnie Yen, and Japanese pornstars are money. However, people like Alex Fong, Stephy Tang, or hell, even Gillian Chung don’t deserve a mention. Oddly, the hype sites do pay attention to Edison Chen. I wonder why.

Stephy
“Why doesn’t anyone talk about me?”

Anyway, my original goal in writing an entry - any entry - was simply to talk about upcoming Hong Kong movies. As I doubt I’ll get to any blog entries in September, I’ll blow my wad via a handy list of dates and pictures:

Opening September 4th

THE LUCKIEST MAN
Director: Lam Chi-Chung
Starring: Chan Bak-Cheung, Bosco Wong, Yuen Qiu, Pinky Cheung, Monica Chan, Lam Chi-Chung, Chan Kwok-Kwan, plus lots of other people

Luckiest Man
“Yesss!!! Still employed!”

Lam Chi-Chung directs a cast of B and C-listers in this return to the Lunar New Year movie formula. Except, it’s September and not Lunar New Year. As this movie stars Chan Bak-Cheung, skepticism is a must.

 

RULE NO. 1
Director: Kelvin Tong
Starring: Shawn Yue, Ekin Cheng, Stephanie Che

Rule No. 1
“Don’t be depressed, kid. Your career can’t
possibly end up worse than mine!”

Ekin Cheng and Shawn Yue co-star in this horror-thriller about cops who fight ghosts. Or something. Directed by Singapore director Kelvin Tong, this film is only now getting Hong Kong play despite being released elsewhere as early as March 2008. You can find a review here.

 

A DECADE OF LOVE
Director: Too many people to mention
Starring: Also too many people to mention

Decade of Love
I wish my bike-riding lessons were like this

One film, ten directors, and it was already reviewed. Sending you to the review saves us some typing effort.

 

September 11th

OCEAN FLAME
Director: Liu Fendou
Producer: Simon Yam
Starring: Liao Fan, Monica Mok, Simon Yam, Lam Suet

Ocean Flame
“Keep digging or we’ll make you wear a mask.”

I apparently liked this movie a lot more than everyone else - and I didn’t even like it that much. Truthfully, I can’t really recommend it unless you love pretentious movies that think intended depth equals quality. However, it’s pretty and the girl gets naked. That’s all anyone needs to know, I’m sure. We reviewed it here.

 

September 25th:

CONNECTED
Director: Benny Chan Muk-Sing
Starring: Louis Koo, Liu Ye, Barbie Hsu, Nick Cheung

Connected
“Operator? I’m looking for the nearest In-and-Out Burger!”

Some “in the know” people have recommended this film to me, so I eagerly await it. It’s a remake of the Hollywood film CELLULAR, which I unfortunately never saw. Benny Chan directs, so it should be an entertaining ride, if not a deep and insightful examination of man’s slavery to technology. I predict that Louis Koo will overact.

 

PAINTED SKIN
Director: Gordan Chan Car-Seung
Starring: Donnie Yen, Zhou Xun, Vicki Zhao, Aloys Chen

Painted Skin
He even overacts in photos

Who cares about plot? PAINTED SKIN stars the legend that is DONNNNIEEEE, plus some other random people. On the geek meter, this is easily the #1 Hong Kong film of September.

 

OVERLOOKED:

Previously, I neglected to alert the rest of the world to THE PRETTY WOMEN, a Hong Kong film directed by Jon Hau that got theatrical play at like 2 screens sometime between the releases of RED CLIFF and LA LINGERIE. It stars Cecilia Yip and Ray Lui, and is about, um, some pretty women. Our good friend Tim Youngs was kind enough to point this out to us.

 Pretty Woman
The sleeper hit of the year

By the way, it’s already available on a HK$20 China DVD in Shamsuipo. According to Time Out Magazine, the film made HK$90 on opening day. That’s less than 15 US dollars.

As for when I’ll be getting to these movies: A DECADE OF LOVE and OCEAN FLAME were already reviewed, and if I’m lucky I’ll manage to write RULE NO. 1 and THE LUCKIEST MAN reviews soon. I was also thinking of writing a much longer blog entry bitching about the sorry state of Hong Kong Cinema - that is, the business portion of it - while specifically calling out the pathetic release of RULE NO. 1, a movie starring Ekin Cheng and Shawn Yue that can’t even get proper theatrical play. The movie is on a handful of screens, is playing with English, Chinese AND Malaysian subtitles, and was obviously considered a flop before it even entered theaters. Really, the climate for Hong Kong Cinema is THAT bad. Frankly, the arrival of a film starring Donnie Yen is a godsend, if only because it might generate a foreign sale or two. RULE NO. 1 has no such luck; with Tartan’s Asian Extreme line shutting its doors, one wonders if there are any takers for the umpteenth variation on the pale, long-haired Asian ghost.

If I actually get to that blog entry, I expect a reaction like this:

Chow
“He still wants to keep up his blog? God, I hope not!”

Sometime in September, I’ll also be seeing the new Lawrence Lau film BALLISTIC, a Taiwan-set political police thriller starring Simon Yam, Taiwanese actor Joseph Chang, and Alice Tzeng from FORGIVE AND FORGET and SECRET. BALLISTIC is playing at the Hong Kong Summer International Film Festival, and in total I caught 5 films there. That’s nothing like the 22 I attempted at this spring’s HKIFF, not to mention the possible 30 I will attempt at the upcoming Hong Kong Asian Film Festival. If you visit the Broadway Cinematheque in October and see someone sleeping in a seat, there’s a 75% chance that it’ll be me. The other 25% is reserved for loiterers or vagrants.

In the meantime, I suggest you catch up on all the Asian movie news over at The Golden Rock, which has finally been freed following those pesky Olympics. As usual Kevin is much more up to date with what’s going on, plus he has the energy and enthusiasm that this old, aging movie watcher lacks. I think if I were ten years younger like Kevin, I’d probably be focused on turning LoveHKFilm.com into the Greatest Asian Cinema WebsiteTM ever or, at least, a consistently updated one. If I become independently wealthy, I’ll get right on it.

As always, we’ll end with a photo:

Charlene stinks
Hopefully it’s not Charlene that stinks

Thanks again, Apple Daily. See you all sometime later.

Why March 15th?

The LoveHKFilm Awards are being announced today, which I’m sure is so exciting that it’s got the attention of hordes of people. Here’s a look at a crowd anxiously awaiting the results:

Little Green Men
Ooooo! LoveHKFilm Awards!

This was the first year I did a nomination-and-selection-by-jury sort of thing, and I could probably write a whole post about the actual behind-the-scenes experience. I won’t though, because full disclosure on the ins and outs of running LoveHKFilm.com is impossible - not to mention possibly damaging. Over the years, I’ve learned that I can’t talk about all the little things that happen around this website because I may inadvertently step on someone else’s toes, or hurt the feelings of those whose personal sensitivity needs to be taken down a notch. Decipher that however you wish.

Talk to my hand
Edison wants you to stop the hate

Originally, I was a little more forthcoming about my personal life in the Life with Kozo columns. One reader even wrote in to tell me that Life with Kozo was much more “warm” than the Damn You, Kozo! replacement, and I happen to agree. Life with Kozo really was a personal column because LoveHKFilm.com was created as a personal website. My personal experiences and interests really helped determine a great deal of this site’s initial content. Even the most minor words on this site sometimes had a personal reason behind them.

Since those early days, traffic and readership has grown, so I’ve kind of adjusted. It’s now my primary objective to write about what people want rather than what I want to talk about. I’ve tried to put my personal obsessions aside, and instead have attempted to make sure that whatever gets printed on this site is accessible and fair to the people visiting it. So, even if I do make minor personal asides on this website, I don’t let it get in the way of why people come here in the first place: to read about Hong Kong movies.

At least, that’s what I try to do.

“Pay attention!”
“Kozo cares about the reader. Remember that!”

Also, in the past six years my daily life has changed to the point where it’s regularly identified with this website, so if I talk about personal stuff online it could possibly affect the people I interact with daily. When I had no job and ran this thing from my bedroom, there was little danger of anyone being affected, but now that I work in an office of 100+ people and regularly deal with people who read or can choose to read this website, I have to rein things in a little. As a result, there are no columns like this one, which I strangely took the time to read the other day. That’s fine, because nobody who reads this site should really care about my mid-life crises.

Oddly, I found that I really enjoyed reading that previous column. It was about me though, so I’m heavily biased. That’s the curse of the “all about me” blogsphere.

DONNIE!
I admire myself in much the same way that this guy admires himself

Anyway, the reason for this little trip down Life with Kozo lane is because someone asked me why I chose March 15 for the day to release the LoveHKFilm Awards. Well, if someone wishes to know the general significance of March 15, they can always check Wikipedia.

My personal response to the above question was that it was a convenient day because it was 3 weeks after the announcement of the nominations. But I have to admit, when I originally looked at the calendar to choose a day for the award announcement, March 15 leapt out very, very quickly. This is why:

warning
WARNING!
Self-indulgent
personal memory ahead.
Turn back if you’re
determined not to care.

As I mentioned above, even the smaller decisions on this website have a personal reason. My decision to select March 15 as the award roll-out date is one of them. A former high school friend of mine once claimed March 15 as his birthday. The last time I talked to him was over sixteen years ago, when I dropped by his apartment to complain about my crappy roommate experiences. Unfortunately, I was too young, stupid, and self-absorbed to pay attention to whether or not he was having a good day, month or year. As a result, our entire encounter that day consisted of me bitching, and him putting up with me because he was too polite to tell me to shut it. Some weeks later, he took his own life.

I was not exceptionally close to him when he left, but having known him for many years, I felt a terrible loss. Selfishly, the thing that sticks with me years later is how when I last saw him I was too busy complaining about my own circumstances to ask him a simple question: “How are you?”

There’s an obvious lesson here, and while I learned it a long time ago, it took me many years of practice to make it a part of my daily life. To talk about the specifics would probably be too self-involved and uninteresting to the vast majority of the people who read this, but for better or worse, it’s part of what makes me who I am today. So no matter what, March 15 means something to me.

The small side story to my March 15 experience is that it was also the birthday of a girl I once had feelings for. The two of us got along quite well for a few months, and then, to borrow an oft-used phrase, IT ALL WENT TO HELL. I was basically told to take an unceremonious permanent hike, and after some pushing and pulling, I took the hint.

Since I met this girl only a year after my friend died and she possessed the same birthday as him, I thought at the time that there might be some deeper meaning to our chance acquaintance. Obviously, back then I was a total moron who had read too many astrology books, and was so self-absorbed that I would fool myself into thinking something so patently absurd. My teenage years are filled with similar tales of self-aggrandizing idiocy.

March 15 also reminds me of that girl, but whereas once it meant bitterness and regret, I now feel only a mild annoyance - kind of like if someone mentions to me how damn good The Drummer is. To further pad this trip down useless memory lane, a couple of years ago the girl sent me an email with a “How are you, I’m doing great, sorry about back then” message - which happened to be a full ten years since the last time I spoke to her. I never replied to her email because not everything in our lives should be canonized as having meaning, and frankly this situation is one of them. Sometimes, things should be left where they are: in the past and forgotten.

I’m not sure why I chose to write about this subject on Damn You, Kozo! because it doesn’t really fit the blog’s usual “Damn You, [random celebrity]!” M.O. Still, the story does have some roundabout connection to LoveHKFilm.com besides the March 15 thing. After my friend died, I became closer to his older sister, and in 1993 she and another once-dear friend took me to a little movie called Days of Being Wild - which became the first Hong Kong film I ever saw that didn’t involve John Woo or Jackie Chan.

Also, when that girl I once liked e-mailed me ten years later, she found me through, duh, LoveHKFilm.com. Perhaps I should have used the Internet’s famous anonymity to my advantage when creating this website, but I did not foresee that it would last past year two of its existence. Had I known things would end up this way, I would have hidden my identity, or at least found a way to pretend that Kozo is tall, handsome, and still in his twenties.

Oh well, too late to change the past. Thanks for reading this far. As a result of this post, LoveHKFilm.com’s Alexa ranking just dropped another 3745 spots.

To end this, here’s a fun photo of a little girl pwning Eason Chan:

Ow, that hurts!
“Hey, that hurts! Why you little…”

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!”

Damn You, 2007! The (late) end of the year post.

Happy New Year! At least, that’s what my parents taught me to say around this time of year. My version would be: it’s time for our customary New Year post, where I recap my 2007 and look forward to my 2008. I’m sure everyone is really excited.

Normally, I would drone on and on, but I’ll try to keep it short, because that’s how people like it. Especially Anthony Wong.

Blog Cop Anthony Wong
I will never grow tired of this photo

So here’s my 2007 in bullet points:
- LoveHKFilm.com finished 5 years online, but I did nothing to celebrate.
- The site had an official meeting with Hong Kong entertainment personality Andrew Lin.
- I stopped bi-weekly updates, and yet ended up updating even more. Nobody noticed.
- LoveHKFilm.com published 160 reviews. I think that’s a lot.
- The site passed the 1500 review mark. I also think that’s a lot.
- Added 3 blogs: The Golden Rock, The House Where Words Gather, and this one. So far, nobody has complained.
- Life with Kozo died. Amazingly, some people did notice.
- The site’s Alexa ranking improved. Whoop-de-damn-do.
- The site’s Google Page rankings dropped. Which leads to…
- The site’s traffic fell in November and December. I blame the drop on IMDB and Wikipedia, the two sites that leapfrogged LoveHKFilm.com in virtually every Google ranking. There were also others, but listing them would take too much time.
- I updated the polls less frequently. Nobody noticed.
- I got a new computer that doesn’t overheat. This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to this site.
- I saw Wong Jing in a shopping mall. He ran.
- I renewed the LoveHKFilm.com domain name for 9 more years. That means when it finally expires, I’ll be in the midst of a serious mid-life crisis.
- I continued to write way too much about subjects that don’t require it.

Here’s what I’d like to do in 2008:
- Publish at least 150 film reviews. Attempt to write at least 50 of those.
- Figure out what to do with this blog. If I can’t figure it out, mothball it and come up with something else.
- Find a way to shorten my reviews, if only to satisfy the silent majority who only read the first paragraph, the last paragraph, and look at the pictures.
- Actually work on improving my writing, if only to satisfy myself. I’m guessing nobody will notice.
- Maybe meet a second Hong Kong Entertainment personality. I’m guessing another member of Alive. I’m also guessing probably not Daniel Wu.
- To throw something at Wong Jing if I see him this year. I bought multiple copies of Cop Shop Babes for this reason only.
- To bring back the April Fool’s Edition. Maybe Ekin will run again for President.
- Be less concerned over the site’s Alexa ranking. Really, does Alexa actually mean anything?
- Get back to work on that LoveHKFilm.com revamp. I’m predicting it’ll be done by 2012.
- Sleep more.

Plus, I’d like to make an earnest attempt at reviewing this film:

Kung Fu Dunk
To make this film, they placed the rim seven feet off the ground.

More than anything, I’d like to somehow find the determination to keep the whole machine running - and by that, I’m talking about everything, including my job, my social life, my minor hobbies, this blog, LoveHKFilm.com, and the Democratic party. Already things seem to be stacking up. Lots of movies are coming out, my job responsibilities won’t be changing much, I have a zillion ideas for blog entries, and there’s going to be an election. I’m hoping to get 2 hours of sleep per night.

Still, I’ll do my best. I will draw strength from from the determined expression of Baby Matthew:

I’m cute and angry!
When I face challenges, I make this face too.

On another note, I spent my New Year checking out Andy Lau in concert. Here are some pictures from my seat. They’re small.

Andy and a bunch of dancers
Andy Lau misplaced his shirt before the concert.

Andy sitting down
Andy sits in support of the Writer’s Guild of America

Andy Lau doing his own stunts
Andy sings while piloting a Segway.

The event was important to me because I finally got to see a concert with one of the Heavenly Kings (Andy, Jacky, Aaron and Leon, and not those boys from Alive), meaning I now have only 3 more to go to complete the series. Sadly, I missed both Aaron’s and Jacky’s concerts. I haven’t missed Leon, but something tells me I would if it happened. It may never be.

Seeing Andy Lau is a trip. I don’t think there is a Hong Kong entertainment personality who works harder at pleasing his fans than Andy Lau. Not only does the guy perform for nearly 3 hours without a break (No guest singer!), but he performs from great heights, runs around like a madman, does all his own stunts, and even gives himself shock therapy during the concert!

Shocking Andy
Andy Lau uses Force Lightning on his back-up dancers.

Honestly, after seeing him in concert, I now have a deeper respect for the man, his tireless work ethic, and his amazingly sharp features. Way to go, Andy!

I still won’t buy a CYMA watch though.

So sexy
“What about some bottled green tea?
My bare chest says you must buy some tea!”

No.

Andy and flowers
“Come on! Please?”

Well…

Andy works out
“Look, I’ll do some push-ups on this bar! Buy a green tea!”

Okay fine, Andy. You win. I’ll buy a case of your green tea, and I’ll also buy your new album, too! Happy now?

Happy Andy
“Yes! Still got it!”

There’s just no refusing Andy Lau. From now on, we’re going to run his tea ads for free.

buygreentea buygreentea buygreentea buygreentea
Buy some tea. It’ll make your whites whiter.

Note: Some photos of Andy Lau in concert taken from Yahoo.com.hk

Navel-gazing, or Why I haven’t written a review of The Warlords.

Now would be a good time to invoke the title of this blog.

After being incredibly focused on updating the LoveHKFilm.com website and implementing the site blogs through October and early November, the well of energy I so miraculously possessed has finally dried up. Last week it was hell for me to get reviews of Mad Detective and In Love with the Dead finished, not to mention take care of all the smaller stuff that has to be done with a website this size. Despite the number of contributors listed on the About Site page, I’m the only one around to tidy up and take out the trash. As a result, the energy simply to make dinner just isn’t there.

Here’s a photo just to break things up:

148 Connaught Rd.
Kozo standing outside 148 Connaught Rd. in Sheung Wan,
waiting for Anthony Wong to be thrown off the building.
It could still happen.

Recently, I saw the much ballyhooed film The Warlords, but I’ve held off on writing about it because A) I’m tired, and B) a number of sites already have. Normally I would make it some point of pride to see a new Hong Kong movie (or Chinese-Hong Kong-Aiming for the West movie) and get a review up ASAP. I used to feel that way about this website, even when I lived in the United States and saw DVDs. Getting new DVDs and dumping reviews on this website was like an obsession back then. You could say it was like collecting action figures; you have to get them all, and if you miss one, you feel like a complete chump. This is the sad story of my thirties.

No need anymore. One of the things that has occured in the 5 years since I’ve started this site is the virtual explosion of people willing and wanting to cover all the “hot Azn flix”. Sure, they won’t go out of their way to see, oh, Sweet Revenge or A Mob Story, but people out there are really working. Before, reviews of the very latest Hong Kong movies were not easy to come by, but now there are plenty of places and media outlets to find what you need.

Let’s take a look: currently, Twitch has two reviews up for The Warlords. BC Magazine has become very up-to-date with their Hong Kong films since hiring Yvonne Teh of Hong Kong - View From the Brooklyn Bridge, and VarietyAsiaOnline is getting a bit faster too with their Asian film coverage. There are also numerous aggregators, including the KFCCinema forums, and The Golden Rock. Plus there are the blogs, which are too numerous to mention. Basically, you have a world of Asian Cinema opinions in front of you; this site is now only one of them.

So hey, you don’t have to come here anymore. The door is behind you.

The Warlords
Still no review for this movie, but that’s okay!

Not that I’m asking you to not visit LoveHKFilm.com. In truth, I’m glad that people visit the site, because if they didn’t I wouldn’t have gotten attention from YesAsia.com, moved to Hong Kong, or been in the position to review Naraka 19 before anyone else. I’m grateful for the people who visit.

Hell, I’m even grateful for the people who just drive by. Those people arrive here via Google and then promptly leave because they find out A) I don’t have naked pictures, B) I don’t host downloads, and C) I dislike all their favorite movies. Even though those aren’t quality visits, they inflate my statistics, such that people think this site is a Grade-A Asian Cinema hotspot. Joke’s on them: we all know that the real action is happening at Twitch, or numerous sites I won’t mention because they host downloads. We’re an online stuffed shirt by comparison.

But I shouldn’t complain, because I am where I am because of the traffic. So thanks a bunch.

Stephen Chow thanks you
Stephen Chow humbly thanks you for your patronage

Still, despite all the good that comes to me from this website, I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering why I forsake a regular life to maintain it. I recently got a PSP, but have found no time to play it, even though it was designed for people with less time to play games. Likewise, I still haven’t read the three novels I bought this year, and my box set of 24: Season 4 has gone unwatched. By the way, they’re up to Season 6 now, so I’m fully three years behind on the Jack Bauer Power Hour. I figure I should catch up by 2015.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be wasting this precious webspace getting self-reflective, but unfortunately, I’m the type of person that’s given to lots of navel-gazing - though I’ve never called it that. I prefer to call it “self-indulgent time wasting”. In fact, I didn’t really know the meaning of navel-gazing until a couple of months ago when someone told me what it was. Before that, when the word “navel-gazing” was invoked, I would think of something like this:

Lee Hyo-Lee
The magic of Google Image Search

The above proves a couple of things: A) Korea knows what they’re doing, and B) I sometimes assign the wrong meaning to a given English word - something that I shouldn’t do because I’m supposed to be a professional writer/editor. Actually, until fairly recently I was confusing the word “atypical” for “typical” and using it totally incorrectly. That admission just cost me a raise.

But yes, I’m given to fixating on a ton of different things - which can be both good and bad. It’s good because five years of fixation on LoveHKFilm.com has resulted in, well, LoveHKFilm.com. It’s bad because it’s self-indulgent, wastes time, and mines an insecurity that we would all be better without.

It’s also the reason that I haven’t written a review for The Warlords. I should actually be grateful right now because this Christmas season is largely poor for Hong Kong movies. We pretty much only have two, Warlords and Pang Ho-Cheung’s Trivial Matters, meaning I can use the time to catch up on other things, like Summer’s Tail and Who’s Next, both of which were just released on DVD.

However, instead of using the break to catch up and write new reviews, I’m spending it thinking about, as usual, what the hell it is that I’m doing. My new topic is what to do with this blog. Honestly, I have no clue what to write here, as people can get pretty much everything they want from other places. News aggregation, industry commentary, rumors and hype - this stuff can be had at numerous sites, forums and blogs, some housed on this site, and some not. Better opinions (or sometimes more forceful yelling) can be had elsewhere. Damn You, Kozo! can do something else.

Unfortunately, that “something else” is still a total mystery to me. I could update people on my life, but my non-LoveHKFilm life is not worth relating, as it’s full of uninteresting crap regarding office politics, hirings and firings, and the occasional story about how I fell asleep on the bus and was late to work. This happens on occasion, and though the nap is nice, it’s bad for my attendance. It also sets a bad example for the people I manage.

My LoveHKFilm life isn’t necessarily more interesting, and talking about it threatens hubris or self-promotion - not that I don’t engage in that from time to time because I do. I think everyone who runs a website does, which is both understandable and a little disturbing. I would cite examples but then I’d be picking on others, and God knows, we never do that around here.

One thing I could possibly do at this blog is dish on the HK Entertainment circle, but Sanney is much better at talking HK Entertainment-related stories, and he also has the knowledge to back up his incredibly informative discussions on retired actresses or HK Entertainment-related minutiae. My version of an HK Entertainment-related story is talking about how I happened on the set of a film in Tai Kok Tsui and saw Shawn Yue. Liu Kai-Chi and Teddy Robin were also there, and they crashed a car into a wall while a stuntman rolled over the hood. I’m assuming it’s the new film from the director of The Pye-Dog, but I can’t be sure. Sometimes, not being able to read Chinese can really suck.

Yeah, so I saw Shawn Yue. I took no pictures, so you’ll have to take my word for it. This was his reaction:

You should see the other guy
“You’re next, Kozo.”

Mr. “one time I got in trouble for wearing a Nazi uniform in a photo shoot” is pretty much the only celebrity I’ve seen recently, and he was just sitting in a van. Celebrities are actually a dime-a-dozen over here, and I’ve never publicly talked about who I’ve seen or when. I really should, because I’m more of a Hong Kong film fan than an actual critic. In case nobody knows, I still pay to see the majority of the films I see, and don’t get studio comps or press passes. I’m also more of a rambler than a writer, but I pretend to be that too. At least I try.

Anyway, here’s a partial count of my celebrity-stalking. Not counting people I’ve seen on a stage or podium, I’ve now seen Andy Lau, Charlene Choi, Wong Jing, Anthony Wong and Lau Ching-Wan (both in Starbucks), and also Francis Ng. I also saw Michael Tong in a noodle joint, but I’m betting that nobody cares. As usual, I have no photos of these events because my camera recently broke. I should buy a new one, but I’m wasting my time navel-gazing instead.

Admit it, this was your wallpaper
Another navel for you. Giordano just paid us off.

I did, however, find time to buy a new computer, meaning hopefully no more truncated updates when my current laptop overheats at 1:00 am. Now you know: sometimes the site updates get delayed because my computer overheats in Hong Kong’s humid climate. Configuring the computer will probably take a lot of extra time though, which means even more time I don’t use to write reviews, or pursue fun personal hobbies like video games, reading, or maybe some exercise. I also don’t have time to answer my site emails. Speaking of which, if you sent me an email in the last 2 months, I didn’t answer it and I apologize profusely. I may get around to it one day, but if so, you’ll probably have forgotten that you ever emailed me.

Also, I still haven’t found a moment to start that English-subtitled Huo Yuan Jia drama that I picked up.

“Must…keep…balance….”
Ekin Cheng fell down right after this photo was taken.

So maybe starting this blog wasn’t such a hot idea. Admittedly, I did it not because I had a plan for it. I basically built this thing because I thought it might be interesting to see what would happen if I did have a blog. Would I find it more interesting than the regular LoveHKFilm.com site? Or would I grow tired of it, concentrate on the site, and just let it lay dormant, like so many blogs that came before? Or would I use it as just an impromptu version of Life with Kozo? To my disappointment, that’s what seems to be happening.

So we’re at a stalemate here. Awesome! Words, words, and more words later and I still don’t know what to do with this blog. If I can ever figure out where I’m going with this thing, I’ll let you know. That is, if you haven’t tuned out already. In the meantime, I hope it doesn’t drag this website down any further than it already has. Now I’m off to write that Warlords review. If you’re lucky, you’ll see it by next week.

One more navel for good measure:

Not all navels are sexy
Mmm…navels.

 
 
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