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Archive for the ‘Life with Kozo’ Category

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.

Kozo’s Shopping Cart of Crap

This is a special edition of Kozo’s Shopping Cart of Crap, because this one takes place in a foreign country. Sort of. Let’s explain.

In case you’ve never heard of the fabulous history of LoveHKFilm.com, here’s the short version. Once upon a time, I lived in the amazing United States of America, a place I opted to leave when 1) I was offered a job at YesAsia.com in Hong Kong, and 2) George Bush was reelected President of the United States. That second reason had less to do with Dubya’s presidency - which Fox News tells me has been a kick-ass seven years - and more about getting perspective. Basically, I wanted to know what it felt like to look at the United States from the outside. Would I appreciate the country more? Would I appreciate it less? Would I tear up my NRA membership card and go green? And would I swear off McDonald’s, lose that fry fat, and become completely unrecognizable to my relatives?

Flash-forward to three years later and the answers to the above are either unknown or confidential, though I will gladly answer the last one. I now visit McDonald’s maybe twice a month, I did lose some of the fry fat, and I now look somewhat different. In fact, the flight attendant who accepted my boarding pass looked at me, then looked at my passport picture, then looked back at me and said, “Wow Mr. Chen, you’ve lost a lot of weight.”

The moral: moving to another country can help you lose weight. Please pay me HK$888 for the tip, and sorry I couldn’t hire Myolie Wu to push my slimming advice. Here’s a photo of her anyway:

I’m thin now
Losing weight will turn you into an Angel

But this has nothing to do with America or Hong Kong film, so I’ll fix that right now by segueing into the Kozo’s Shopping Cart of Crap feature. Normally I’d use this opportunity to hawk DVDs at YesAsia.com because nobody else online does. Okay, that’s not true, but LoveHKFilm.com seldom pushes products, and actually telling people when DVDs get released can be useful. Also, YesAsia.com’s marketing department has suggested that I do it, and to be honest, it’s not such a bad idea because it can help people navigate YesAsia.com’s ten million products and sixty different product lines to identify what might interest them.

But that’s another problem, because I have no idea what interests the people who read this site. Besides, running this site according to the interests of others has never been my strong point. If that were the case, I would probably have made the common decision of watching only movies with Donnie Yen and Stephen Chow, or simply dropping Hong Kong and going with Korea because it’s more “in” with the kids. Basically, I watch what nobody cares about, and I do a damn good job of keeping up with it. Do I do a good job of writing about it? That’s all in the eye of the beholder, but some leet dudes have made it known that they don’t approve of me or my writing style. My response to these people is that I will gladly refund their LoveHKFilm.com membership fee.

But anyway, plugging hot products is not my thing, so I’ve decided to use Kozo’s Shopping Cart of Crap to talk about what I really, truly buy, thereby revealing to people that 1) I do spend money on entertainment products; 2) I don’t download like 60% of the people who drop by this site; 3) I will frequently buy what I review after seeing it in the theater, essentially double-dipping; and 4) I buy what I’ve panned before, or stuff that nobody really cares about. Yep, I admit that I buy crap - and, as anyone who’s taken a 12-step program knows, admitting that you have a problem is the first step towards recovery. If only I could do the same for my fixation with running this website.

So Kozo’s Shopping Cart of Crap is about what products I actually buy, and this Special Edition exists because unlike my usual Hong Kong (or YesAsia.com) based buying patterns, I did my shopping in Chinatown, San Francisco. Also, the United States is now a foreign country to me because I now live in Hong Kong, hence the incredible digression where I rambled on and on about the history of this site and how I ended up in Hong Kong. There, it all ties together now - not that this explanation necessarily improves the quality of the writing.

Phew…that’s a massive intro. So massive in fact that I’ll curtail this right now and actually talk about what I bought later. Besides, the Verbosity Police are not happy.

Blog Cop Anthony Wong
“Keep those blog entries short, kids!”

Open for business

Monkeying AroundLoveHKFilm.com now has blogs. Why this happened is a long story, and one that I probably can’t discuss without A) boring the socks off people, B) divulging some protected secret, or C) embarrassing myself. But I’ll do it anyway. Starting now, this site has joined the multitude of me-first web publications touting the importance of our daily lives, which if you think about it mean absolutely nothing in the big picture. As such, I sometimes wonder why some of us go out of our way to make the experiences of others unpleasant and miserable. Isn’t it possible for a person to look out for themselves without hurting others in the process?

Probably not, but I digress. This blog isn’t supposed to be about interpersonal relationships or social issues. Anyway, it would be the height of irresponsibility to pretend that I know anything about those things because if I did, then I probably wouldn’t have spent a good portion of my early twenties watching Hong Kong movies on a 13-inch television, forsaking a New York City social life in favor of Jackie Chan, Stephen Chow, John Woo, Tsui Hark, Brigitte Lin, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Chow Yun-Fat, and more people I will probably never meet in my lifetime. This despite the fact that I now live in Hong Kong and probably have the power to arrange interviews or meet-and-greets, with the caveat that I’ll print my experience on LoveHKFilm.com as some sort of psuedo-promotional swill. Oddly, despite having the chances to accomplish this, I find myself hesitant.

When I still wrote Life with Kozo, the self-indulgent fluff column I wrote back on the main LoveHKFilm site, I frequently used to talk about how life has changed for me since starting this bizarre enterprise. In the beginning, I did this for the hell of it. That really hasn’t changed, except now I wonder what the hell I was thinking. One only has to look back at October, when I went insane and decided to go to a local film festival and review nearly everything I saw (the lone exception was Rainbow Song, a Japanese film that LMFDean9 is reviewing instead). Honestly, I wonder how I was able to watch and review upwards of 15 films, plus host a visitor in HK for a weekend and plan on the implementation of these blogs. Given my usual grousing over lack of time and sleep, it’s a wonder I can even write this blog entry.

There’s a good question: how will I keep this blog going? Or will it simply die like Life with Kozo, The Kozo in Hong Kong Challenge, and the career of Ekin Cheng? Speaking of dying, do Ekin Cheng fans even notice and/or care anymore that we make fun of their idol? I’ve been doing it for five years straight, and they used to bother me every other week. Nowadays, nothing. It’s like we get a free pass. Either that, or he has no more fans.

In the beginning, LoveHKFilm.com was easy to run. That’s because it had no pictures, no website, no traffic, and no audience. It was a 3-ring binder that I assembled because I had too much time on my hands and enough words floating around in my head that I actually felt like putting them on paper. Nobody read it and nobody was meant to. The quality of writing was easily way below my current standard, which is still questionably worth the memory it takes up on my computer.

Here’s a look at the first version of LoveHKFilm.com:

LoveHKFilm.com Version 1.0
Total cost of the above: $4.63, excluding the Labelmaker rental

It All Goes To Hell…in print
Even back then, we used our crappy catchphrase.

One day we decided to put the 3-ring binder online, which was possible because we had just learned HTML. Six years later, HTML is still the full extent of our knowledge, and the site has suffered considerably. Witness as every website that comes along is equipped for Web 2.0, not to mention RSS, XHTML, and probably acronymns for some deadly form of virus. Regardless, everyone else’s site kicks ass, while LoveHKFilm.com is close to kicking the bucket.

Here’s a rundown of why we’re starting to suck:

  1. The site is old.
  2. The webmaster is old.
  3. Nobody can update the website besides the webmaster.
  4. We don’t have a fav icon.
  5. RSS? What’s that?
  6. XHTML? Even more of a mystery.
  7. The site’s only database is our ezBoard forum, which is a joke unto itself.
  8. We still like stars like Ekin Cheng and Sammi Cheng, who now have no relevance.
  9. We don’t care much for stars like Alex Fong Lik-Sun or Stephy Tang, who are now exceptionally relevant.
  10. Wong Jing makes fewer films, so we can’t lean on the “Wong Jing sucks” crutch.

Clearly, we’re in trouble, and very little can be done about any of the points above. That is, except Point 3. With the creation of blogs on LoveHKFilm.com, people who are not saddled with the other 9 problems above can update the site, providing new content, fresh opinions, and less of the tired gum-flapping from myself that passes for film criticism. Also, maybe we can do something around here besides just review movies.

Currently, we’re starting out with two bloggers. One is Kevin Ma, who reviews for the site under the name LMFDean9, and runs a blog called The Golden Rock. We’ve moved The Golden Rock here, so all his old content is now stored here, and all his new content will also be stored here. Funny how that works. Kevin’s take on Asian Entertainment is much more balanced than mine, plus he’s much younger than me so he won’t get cranky over stuff like swearing and nudity in films. He’s also learning to be a filmmaker, so we can have a ringside seat as he grows frustrated with his choice of profession.

Our other blogger is the awesome Sanney Leung, who many people may remember from HK Entertainment News in Review , which once upon a time ruled the online roost for Hong Kong entertainment news. Sadly, Sanney had to attend to some personal business, and he stopped updating his site, whereupon some cheesy online squatter snaked his domain name www.hkentreview.com. The same thing happened to lovehkfilm.org and lovehkfilm.net, as well as lovehkfilms.com. However, the guys who snaked that last name got sued, so I got it back. Anyway, I’m off topic. Sanney eventually returned online with a blog called The House Where Words Gather, and like The Golden Rock, we’ve moved all of Sanney’s previous content here, and provided a place for him to type up some new entries full of his trademark knowledge and wit. As Sanney is one of the people who originally inspired LoveHKFilm.com, words cannot express how glad I am to have him join us here.

The final blog being added is the only real new blog. It’s called Damn You, Kozo! because that’s what I started saying to myself when I realized that I would never, ever update Life with Kozo again - which isn’t a big deal, because the column was really quite self-indulgent and rather useless. The questions usually tackled in Life with Kozo were, “I’m tired. Maybe I should quit my website,” and “I’m thinking of quitting my website because I’m tired,” and “Man, what the hell am I doing! I should quit this website.” All that plus NBA references and bad jokes, which after a while can get old and tired. To make a long story short: it did get old and tired, and I stopped writing Life with Kozo because I realized that there’s more to life than just bitching.

Oddly, despite not posting a new entry for over a year, I still get email from people asking when I will update Life with Kozo again. The answer to that: never, though we now have Damn You, Kozo! to serve that questionable need. The goal this time is to stray from the useless self-indulgent topics and stick to strict reporting and hard-hitting opinions. From now on, I’m going to challenge the Hong Kong Entertainment institution and call out other online writers who don’t bother to spellcheck when they post on their websites and blogs. I’ll also avoid talking about my personal interests and stick to information and opinions that provoke thought, and perhaps change in the industry.

Just kidding. I won’t tackle serious topics or pretend that I’m some sort of Asian Entertainment authority, and I’ll probably still talk about wanting to quit once in a while. However, I swear on my NRA membership that I’ll keep it to a minimum and try at least 60% of the time to talk about stuff that interests people. One of the cool things about having a blog versus the old Life with Kozo format is that the interface is much easier to use, and I can now write shorter, less involved pieces instead of assembling massive diatribes simply to justify the effort in posting them online. Hopefully, that means that I’ll be less long-winded and manage to somehow be relevant and interesting. Anyone who knows me should realize: those things are not easy to come by around here.

So what will Damn You, Kozo! accomplish? Here’s what the blog can do for me, you, your friend, or that person down the hall who you don’t like:

1. I can use this as an opportunity to wean myself off of writing in the second or third person. A blog is given to the the first person, so my usual tactic of writing like an NBA superstar will have to be curtailed. This could be the greatest thing that this blog accomplishes.

The effects of 3rd person narration
This is what happens when you talk in the 3rd person too much

2. I can now dish about upcoming movies in production, just to prove that I actually stay informed. For example, Dante Lam is making a movie with Edison Chen, Huang Xiaoming, Richie Ren, and Bowie Lam. They carry guns.

Four cool guys in one likely bad movie
70% of this film’s budget was spent on sunglasses

3. I can bring back the Kozo in Hong Kong Challenge, and finally post the 10,000 pictures I’ve received in the last 4 years containing cool HK film locations.

Kozo in Exiled
Kozo in Exiled. Really.

Exiled
Because comparison is required.

4. I can talk about new DVDs or stuff that I will likely not review. Probably the semi-regular DVD-hawking feature called Kozo’s Shopping Cart of Crap will move to this blog.

Fearless TV Show starring Chan Ho-Nam

Hey look! The Ekin-Cheng-Jordan Chan TV drama of Huo Yuanjia (AKA: Fearless) is coming to DVD with ENGLISH SUBTITLES. This drama will undoubtedly join the list of TV Dramas that I buy but don’t watch because I don’t have the time. This is a slam dunk anyway for LoveHKFilm.com, because it has Ekin Cheng and Jordan Chan. Together, the two may not be a quality guarantee, but nostaligia fixes don’t get much better than this.

5. I can talk about random Hong Kong Cinema related topics that just pop into my mind. For example, in reflection 1996 is now looking like one of the greatest years in Hong Kong Cinema history. This is a sampling of the movies that were released that year:

Young and Dangerous 1-3
Big Bullet
Comrades, Almost a Love Story
Feel 100%
Lost and Found
God of Gamblers 3: The Early Stage
Hu-Du-Men
First Strike
Forbidden City Cop
Ebola Syndrome
God of Cookery
Once Upon a Time in Triad Society 1-2
The Log
Viva Erotica!
Black Mask
Beyond Hypothermia

Also, 1996 was the year that Hell froze over, because that’s when Michael Wong was nominated for Best Actor.

6. I can discuss topics relating to the future of the Asian Film industry, such as how current fandom is helping to destroy their passion with that nasty thing called illegal download. Did you know that the most popular Asian Film sites online all offer illegal download? It explains why nobody goes here anymore.

Look out below!
Thanks to the fans, this is an illustration of the future of Hong Kong film

7. I can post pictures of my toy collection simply because I feel like it.

Anpanman with hair
Say hello to Custom Anpanman with Hair

8. A blog will provide a place for readers of Damn You, Kozo! to hobnob and leave feedback, thereby bringing interaction, understanding, and hopefully peace to the blogsphere. We hope that all 7 people who read LoveHKFilm.com take the time to leave a comment. However, this may be a better illustration of the expected turnout:

They’re all fans of Kozo
These are the people who miss Life with Kozo

9. Probably the best thing about this blog is that people who don’t like it have the ability to simply surf elsewhere and check something else out. That’s right, if you don’t like LoveHKFilm.com then you’re free to visit one of the 374 Asian film sites that went online just last week. And if you don’t like Damn You, Kozo!, you can visit one of the 7,834,873 blogs that went online just yesterday!

Those numbers represent actual statistics and were not just randomly made up on the spot. Really.

Kevin Garnett will own you in 2008!
Portrait of the typical Internet user

10. All the above can and will change if I suddenly decide that being lost in Hong Kong is preferable to blogging about it.

Kozo goes On the Edge
Kozo gets some perspective on his place in the world

Damn You, Kozo! is open. Maybe I’ll update it sometime in the next twelve months.

 
 
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