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… On this day, I see clearly, everything has come to life.

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with 聚言莊﹕The House Where Words Gather.

Out With The Old

It’s time.

It’s definitely time.

It’s time to settle my affairs.

No, nothing bad is happening to me.  It’s just that 2008 ends today and I want to clean the slate and start the new year on a fresh footing.  With that, I’m responding to the comments that have accumulated over the past few months.  In 2009, I’m going to either start responding them to directly in the comments section or do these “mailbag” entries more frequently.

But first, a comment on TRANSPORTER 3 ..

I took in the movie a couple of weeks ago on a cheap night Tuesday because I knew going in that it wasn’t going to be worth paying full price.  Like its predecessors, TRANSPORTER 3 is a middling film that offers decent action sequences and mildly amusing comic relief.  If you liked the first two films, you’ll like the third one.  I only had two problems with the movie.  One will probably be a problem with a majority of viewers while the other is probably just idiosyncratic to me.

1. Leading Lady Natalya Rudakova

Natalya Rudakova in TRANSPORTER 3I’m a fan of the HK entertainment circle so I’ve been exposed to plenty of bad acting from babes – especially in TVB dramas where TVB trots out recent Miss Hong Kong contestants for roles.  However, Natalya Rudakov’s performance in TRANSPORTER 3 was particularly bad.  Maybe the script is to blame but her transformation from silent, sullen pouter to “take me, Transporter, I’m yours” was abrupt enough to jar the suspense of disbelief you have to have when watching a movie of TRANSPORTER 3’s ilk.

It just goes to show the outstanding job Shu Qi did with the “compelling hot babe” role in the first movie.  Shu Qi is a beauty with acting talent whereas, I’m sorry to say, Natalya Rudakov is just a beauty.  Who would have guessed this about Shu Qi after watching her ignominious debut in SEX AND ZEN II where she played a she-devil who rapes Loletta Lee Lai-Chun’s character?

Shu Qi and Jason Statham in TRANSPORTER

2. The physics of the bridge scene

It could be that Natalya Rudakova’s acting broke the suspension of disbelief I had going but it was hard for me to buy what was going on in the scene where the bad guys have The Transporter trapped in the middle of the bridge. If the bad guys on either end fire their machine guns at the same time, wouldn’t they, in effect, be shooting at each other? I know that I’m supposed to forget about the laws of physics when I’m watching an action movie but c’mon …

On to your comments …

About the comments from Swirling Sharks Fading Dragon:

I was surprised at the venom towards Jackie Chan in these comments.  Yes, Big Brother Jackie probably went a little too far with his “cheerleading” for the Beijing Olympics but Jackie Chan’s no fool, he knows where his bread is buttered.  Throughout his career, Jackie Chan has been more of a businessman than an artist so I saw his sucking up to the Mainland as just another calculated business move to keep his profile up in the lucrative Mainland market.  The reason he shills for the Mainland is the same reason he does the SHANGHAI KNIGHTS and the RUSH HOUR 3s.

As for glenn’s comment that Jackie Chan and Jet Li have already jumped the shark, I argue that they haven’t yet because I’m not at the point where I automatically roll my eyes whenever I read about the next Jackie Chan or Jet Li project.  I think they should be OK in the short term if they both continue to mix in an intriguing Asian project (like THE SHINJUKU INCIDENT or FEARLESS) alongside their empty money-making projects.

And yes, I’m a fan of the evil New England Patriots but I’m not a bandwagon Brady-Belichick fan.  I’ve been cheering for them since the 1985 season when Raymond Berry was their coach and they made it to the Super Bowl with the likes of Tony Eason, Steve Grogan, John Hannah, Irving Fryar and Mosi Tatupu.

About  the comments from On The Axis Of Global Film Financing:

On glenn’s comment that it was surreal to see Gillian Chung Yan-Tung shopping at Wal-Mart, I have to say it was more surreal to see Teresa Cheung, the former Mrs. Kenny Bee, listed as an executive producer for an Oliver Stone film.  After all the rumours and vitriol that surrounded her during her divorce from the Wynners star, it’d be like seeing Heather Mills, the former Mrs. Paul McCartney, get listed as an executive producer for Johnnie To Kei-Fung’s next film.

elbombz writes: “Speaking of going to movies for research, have you seen or are you going to see ASHES OF TIME REDUX?”

I’m a bit of a strict Catonian when it comes to Louis Cha and his novels so I was irked greatly by the way Wong Kar-Wai took great iconic characters from the Louis Cha cannon and turned them into pretentious objets d’art.  So no, I won’t be seeing ASHES OF TIME REDUX.  Don’t get me wrong, the film looked great but if you loved the novels, there’s no way you wouldn’t be bothered by the storytelling shenanigans that Wong perpetrates in the movie.

glenn writes: “I mentioned on my blog that I was waiting for you to post something on Gigi Lai’s retirement. Even though I’ve seen a lot of her films, I am hoping that you can put her career into context the way others can’t.”

Gigi LaiThe granddaughter of Lam Man-Wai, the Father of Hong Kong Cinema, I thought Gigi Lai Chi was destined for a Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk/Shu Qi like second career after her initial “It Girl” phase ran its course in the mid-1990s.  Alas, it was not to be as the HK entertainment circle is overrun with beautiful singer/actress types like Gigi Lai.  She did, however, find great success in the last five years of her career as a TVB fa daan (花旦; leading lady).  She was so popular, I think her retirement took many by surprise.

Speaking of Gigi Lai, this reminds me of the time the owner of our now defunct local video store tricked my friend Simon into renting some horrible movie (the title of which I can’t remember) by telling him that Gigi Lai reveals “two points” in it.  The guy who owned the store would say anything to rent out a movie.  I remember overhearing him tell another sap to go ahead and rent THE KUNG FU CULT MASTER because the sequel was a hit in Hong Kong and that the store would be getting it soon on video.

My favourite Gigi Lai film, by the way, isn’t one of her YOUNG AND DANGEROUS movies but FIST POWER with Vincent Zhao Wenchou.  It isn’t the best of movies but it’s highly entertaining.  If you like mindless action movies and you can get your hands on the DVD, you won’t be disappointed.

About the comments from Thoughts on SPARROW:

Mark writes: “I thought Sparrow was a wonderful film, easily one of To’s best. It’s not really worthwhile to nitpick the whereabouts of the passport during the final sequence because the film is about style.”

I liked SPARROW as well.  As I said in the post, I was smiling at the end of the film.  I was just trying to make the point that it might not be for regular, Joe The Plumber movie watchers — ones who view movies as entertainment rather than as art.  Not only would viewers like Joe The Plumber be perturbed by an Obama tax increase on those who make more than $250,000, they would probably be perturbed by things like the whereabouts of the passport.

m writes: As to your challenge to To, I wonder what actors you think would be suitable to portray you all.

I can’t speak for Kozo and The Golden Rock but I think I’d go with either Nick Cheung Ka-Fai or Chapman To Man-Chat. They are both normal looking guys who would suit me fine as I don’t have the piercing eyes and good looks of my cousin Tony or the height and bearing of my other cousin Tony. I think I’d lean more towards Chapman To than Nick Cheung because I feel like I share an affinity with him. Why? Well, we’ve both had our run-ins with Mainland prostitutes. His was documented in TRIVIAL MATTERS while mine occurred in the early-1990s when I was working as a corporate raider. I’d buy up large companies, break them up and sell them in smaller parts for profit — sort of like a chop shop but with companies instead of cars.

Chapman To and friend in TRIVIAL MATTERS
Chapman To and friend in TRIVIAL MATTERS.

I was on a week-long business trip in Hong Kong where I intended to buy up a shipping company.  I remember, like it was yesterday, that I had to quickly leave a business party at a mansion on The Peak so I went to get my girlfriend but she refused to leave because she was having a good time and didn’t enjoy feeling like she was always at my “beck and call”.  So, I left in a huff, taking my lawyer’s Lotus Esprit. Unfortunately, being an incompetent Westerner, I couldn’t handle the car’s standard transmission and ended up stopped by the side of the road because I couldn’t get the damned car in gear. It was then that this girl walked up to me and started asking me in Mainland-accented Cantonese if I wanted “a date”. I guess she thought I’d stopped because I was prowling for hookers. I explained to her that I wasn’t interested in a date and that I was merely having car trouble. She told me that she knew how to drive a standard so I let her drive me. This kicked off an idyllic one-week relationship as I decided to hire her — not for her sexual services but to be my “arm candy” at various business functions. What started out as purely a business transaction morphed into some sort of weird personal connection as we went shopping for clothes so she could look sharp while out with me attending business dinners and corporate polo matches. The week culminated with a quick trip to Sydney and its famous opera house for a performance of Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA.

Given our vastly different backgrounds, the “fairy tale” never happened and we didn’t live “happily ever after”. Real life intruded as she was all “you’re treating me like a prostitute” while I was “I never treated you like a prostitute”. On the day I left Hong Kong, I almost told my limo driver to turn around and go to her flat but I spotted this noodle place and told him to stop so I could get a bowl of beef noodles instead.  Ah, what might have been …

About the comments from “Old Cake” Cantopop: Sam Hui Kwoon-Kit’s 《學生哥》(Brother Student):

To Jo and her question about the school schedule in the Northern Hemisphere, I can’t speak for everyone up here in the frigid North but, in Canada, school runs from September to December with a two week break for Christmas holidays.  Then, there’s usually a one-week mid-winter break sometime in February or March.  There’s also an one-week break for Easter before the school year concludes in June.

Thanks, by the way, to all the Aussies and Kiwis who dropped me an e-mail response about the school year in the Southern Hemisphere.

Speaking of Aussies, I’m going to borrow a bit of your slang and say that I hope 2009′ll be apples for all of us even though it seems like the economy is going to be all gloom and doom.

Happy New Year everyone!

Image credits: Europa Corp. (Natalya Rudakova), 20th Century Fox (TRANSPORTER still), M-Dream website (Gigi Lai), Not Brothers (TRIVIAL MATTERS still)

3 Responses to “Out With The Old”

  1. glenn Says:

    Happy New Year as well!

    I guess I need to see Fist Power; Cheng Pei-Pei, Kara Hui, and Vincent Zhao from The Chinese Feast.

  2. Mook Says:

    Thanks for answering some of our questions but you still didn’t answer my question about what you thought of China hosting the Olympics? I can tell you’re a political guy in your posts by how you drop references to Joe The Plumber, etc. I’m interested to here what you think.

  3. elbombz Says:

    “I’m a bit of a strict Catonian when it comes to Louis Cha and his novels…”

    so did you like SWORDSMAN II and how they changed THE SMILING PROUD WANDERER (aka STATE OF DIVINITY)? and have you seen the TVB’s 1996 STATE OF DIVINITY (with jackie liu)? I thought that was one of the most underrated louis cha tv series. Copyright © 2002-2021 Ross Chen