- reviews - features - people - panasia - blogs - about site - contact - links - forum -
Site Features
- Asian Film Awards
- Site Recommendations

- Reader Poll Results

- The FAQ Page
support this site by shopping at
Click to visit
… 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.

Sympathy for Mr. Imprudence

Maybe it’s because I’m a softie but I couldn’t help feeling a twinge of sympathy for Edison Chen Kwoon-Hei as I watched Edison Chenhis press conference last Thursday. Though his statement contained ill-advised credibility-killers like his concern for “society as a whole” and his pledge to dedicate himself to “charity and community work”, it was clear from his body language that Chen was genuinely gutted by “Sexy Photos Gate”. While my sympathy and HK$25 will buy him a tray of shrimp dumplings at a dim sum restaurant, I thought Chen came off much better than Gillian Chung Yan-Tung did in her press conference. Comparing the two, it’s hard not to notice that Chung self-inflicted even more damage to her career by appearing duplicitous and insincere just as she was taking heavy criticism for being duplicitous and insincere. EEG really needs to find better public relations help because the people manipulating PR for them now are doing more harm than good.

For the most part, Chen is still being excoriated over the scandal. His announcement about dedicating himself to charity is being dismissed as a publicity ploy and he took criticism for being disrespectful to Lydia Shum Tin-Ha by not allowing a proper period of time to pass before having the spotlight refocus on him and “Sexy Photos Gate”. Those who feel any sort of sympathy for Chen are definitely in the minority. Even tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-Sun, of all people, crushed Edison Chen. This past Saturday (February 23rd), Sing Tao Daily reported that the casino magnate refused to offer any opinions about “Sexy Photos Gate” because it was “trash” but he did say that he thought “that person” (Chen) was “cheap, cheaper than dirt.” Ouch.

Some other thoughts on the Edison Chen press statement:

- A few people are parsing Chen’s stepping “away from the Hong Kong entertainment industry” to mean that he is going to take a shot at Hollywood. Are you kidding me? If Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Chow Yun-Fat thought breaking into Hollywood was frustrating and difficult, what kind of chance does Edison Chen stand? The odds are so low that he stands a better chance of re-establishing a career in Hong Kong entertainment than he does at building a meaningful Hollywood career.

- With all due respect to Lydia Shum, it’s difficult to fault Edison Chen for holding the press conference on Thursday. He was caught in a no-win situation. Hold the conference on Thursday and get criticized for being disrespectful to Lydia Shum. Delay it a few days and continue taking shots for being a coward. Announcing that you are waiting out of respect for Lydia Shum opens you up to talk of trying to get sympathy by riding on her coattails.

* * * * *

The cast of LAW & ORDERAnother sign that I watch too much TV: I was watching the new LAW & ORDER episode last Wednesday night and I couldn’t help thinking that — if it actually blipped on the radar of people here in the West — “Sexy Photos Gate” would make for a great “ripped from the headlines” episode. Multiple suspects are available for the ol’ LAW & ORDER twist and I’ve already come up with the pithy ending: McCoy and Cutter are walking away from the courthouse following the verdict. They spot the agent for whoever murdered “alternate universe Edison Chen” holding an impromptu press conference on the courthouse steps. McCoy turns to Cutter and says: “The show must go on.” Cue “Executive Producer Dick Wolf” title card.

* * * * *

Some comments on the comments from the last post:

Will writes: “No thoughts because of the snowstorms in China”? Damn snowstorms! I was hoping to hear what you thought of everything. Surely, you must have SOME opinions.

Using a phrase that seems to have become part of the North American lexicon in the past couple of years, my opinion on “Sexy Photos Gate” boils down to: “it is what it is”. People are people. They have their foibles. They make mistakes. They react to things of a sexual nature. I’m confident Edison Chen isn’t the only person to have recorded themselves having sex. Everybody has done things in their life that they regret and everyone has sexual instincts. Basically, I can understand why events unfolded like they unfolded — from Edison Chen taking the photos in the first place to the women allowing Chen to do so to the interest in seeing and collecting the photos.

I can also understand why some people took to the streets to protest police actions surrounding the photos. Given the already sensitive nature of Hong Kong political culture when it comes to the issue of human rights, it’s easy to see why people would be irked by the ham-handed response by the police — especially the insinuations that even having the photos on your hard drive was a criminal offense.

The only strong opinion I have about the entire affair is that I wish people would stop the mourning and weeping for society. Over the past three weeks, I’ve read multiple variations of “this scandal is bringing down society” or “we must protect the younger generation from this scandal”. For more than 5,000 years, Chinese society has survived despite war, conquest, pestilence and death, I think it and the younger generation will somehow manage to survive “Sexy Photos Gate”.

I thought the overwrought response by the Hong Kong Performing Artistes Guild was particularly dismaying. A couple of Helen Lovejoydays into the scandal the Guild held an “emergency meeting” then emerged to release a sanctimonious statement saying that the affair was “not only a tragedy for the entertainment industry but a tragedy for Hong Kong people”. They called distributing the photos a “poison” for the younger generation and called for the police to stop the “bad wind from blowing further”. The first thing that came to mind when I read the statement was Helen Lovejoy screaming: “won’t somebody please think of the children” in that Maison Derriere episode of THE SIMPSONS. My second thought was where was this concern for poisoning the younger generation when Wong Jing was producing the RAPED BY AN ANGEL movies and John Woo was making films with body counts well into triple digit territory?

Instead of holding emergency meetings and releasing statements that make them look like dopes, it would be far more constructive for the Guild to follow the leads of sports labour unions by holding workshops or developing literature that provide advice for new members on how to handle fame and fortune. Tips like “don’t pose for pictures or videos that may damage your reputation” could have prevented “Sexy Photos Gate” from happening in the first place.

Glenn writes: … Twins were due to break up anyway and both Charlene and Gillian have done good work solo — Charlene in SIMPLY ACTORS and others and Gillian in BEYOND OUR KEN and other flicks.

While Gillian Chung has done well in her solo acting roles, I don’t think she’s done enough to establish an identity outside of Twins. The perception of Chung has been that she’s the “lesser Twin” — pretty, cute but not as talented or charismatic as the award-winning Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin. Even if “Sexy Photos Gate” didn’t happen, Chung wouldn’t have much of a career outside of Twins. I think deep down EEG knows this because if Chung could be profitable outside of Twins, Twins would already have disbanded.

Eliza Bennett writes: As a fan of Cecilia’s acting I never saw that her career is having a downslide (I blame THE PROMISE!!!). Your post sure was a wake up call as far as I’m concerned. If your predictions come true, it will be sort of a waste of a good actress.

I hope you didn’t think I was saying that Cecilia Cheung Pak-Chi’s career is circling the drain because the point I was trying to make was that the scandal wouldn’t be too damaging because the white-hot “it girl” period of her career was over. From the release of KING OF COMEDY during Lunar New Year 1999 to late-2003/ early-2004, Cheung was the “it girl” of the HK entertainment circle. It seemed like she was in every other holiday movie or every other major production. She was so popular in the first three years of her career, newspapers and magazines tried to increase sales by publishing vacuous articles about her father and her little brother or writing stories about the contents of her trash. By “downside of her career”, I meant that the buzz of celebrity surrounding Cecilia Cheung now is markedly less intense than what it was earlier in her career. She is now at the point where producers are going to hire her for a role because they want her for it rather than because her star power will help them make money. This is why I don’t think the scandal will significantly damage her film career.

Cecilia Cheung and Nicholas Tse from THE PROMISEWhile we’re on the subject of Cecilia Cheung, I was wondering what you guys thought of her acting. I think she has great screen presence but she’s an unrefined actress. If you watch LOST IN TIME or ONE NITE IN MONGKOK or THE PROMISE, there are many instances where you can tell that she’s “acting” because she has a tendency to overplay emotion. Borrowing the exquisite brushwork analogy of the Hong Kong Film Critics Society, Cecilia Cheung is an 1.0 mm medium point pen not a 0.5 mm fine point pen. Right now, I don’t think she has the chops to give complex, subtle performances like Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk did in IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE or Tang Wei in LUST, CAUTION. I’m not saying that she’s a terrible actress, I’m saying that she’s not in the “great” actress category yet.

* * * * *

Rest in peace, Lydia Shum Tin-Ha.

IMAGE CREDITS: Associated Press (Edison Chen), NBC Universal (LAW & ORDER cast), 20th Century Fox Television (Helen Lovejoy), 21 Century Shengkai Film (Still from THE PROMISE)

9 Responses to “Sympathy for Mr. Imprudence”

  1. eliza bennet Says:

    Thanks for opening my eyes further. I hope that the directors’ indeed would choose her there are so many rumours and speculations going on about her marriage that I just hope that she will not become box office poison. But I disagree on the acting abilities of Cecilia. To my eyes she is not only naturally talented but also gives some thought to her performances. The only performance of her I really didn’t care for that much was ONE NIGHT IN MONGKOK. Other than that even when the film is blah, her performance was always solid (to my eyes).

    Comparing her to Maggie of now would not be fair. Better compare her to Maggie of her age. But Tang Wei? Her performance was not bad at all but all the nostril flaring didn’t bring anything new at the table. I’d like to see her do something else before I form an opinion on her acting provess.

    Edison Chen at the press con (heh) didn’t seem sincere to me. It actually seemed like he was expecting some sort of a reaction from everyone. Still I think he did the right thing by publicly apologising to the women, I didn’t understand why the HK People and society would need an apology. The way Albert Yeung said that he should be forgiven and given another chance doesn’t look like a good sign.

  2. MW Says:

    Edison’s press con was much better executed than Gillian’s publicity stunt that passed off as a press con. Edison seemed genuinely sad (why wouldn’t he) about this scandal and said all the right things no matter how fake they sounded. I can see him trying to get into Hollywood but failing and then coming back to HK years later.

    I can do without the “won’t someone please think of the children” fad that seems to the “it thing” going on for anything bad in HK. The media, politicians, administration, and protesters/parents have to take a hard look in the mirror and admit to themselves if their intentions and effectiveness are what they should be. This scandal certainly does not help the over-protection of Hong Kong children.

  3. aircompass Says:

    I think it’s much too early to place Tang Wei’s talent. She’s certainly a charming and intelligent girl, but one decent performance does not a Maggie Cheung make.

    I adore Cecilia Cheung, however. I think she always brings something good to the table, and I think she’s a very reliable and effective dramatic actress. Her Sexygate pictures have done nothing to dampen my opinion of her talent.

    Gillian Chung DID come off looking duplicitous, and since she hasn’t managed to cement her position as a talented actress and/or singer, things look really bad for her. Her action film prowess (and she makes a really good action film actress) is still rooted in the fact that she appeared “untouchable”, so it’s not going to be enough to save her.

  4. glenn Says:

    Hey Sanney — thanks for the quote there!

    I think I’ve made my love for Cecilia’s acting well known on this site; I’m a sucker for her crying bits where her already raspy voice gets even further choked up. Works every time for me. I think she’s a bit like Demi Moore — “hot” actress trying to be more than just a hot actress (although I’m not a big Demi fan, the comparison works).

    And she’s not like Gong Li who either used to always cry in her movies OR played an icy persona; at least Cecilia tries to do comedy and drama and action — Gong Li is already typecast.

    While I do agree that Charlene is the more talented of the Twins, I can’t recall anything memorable beyond comedy roles — has she done anything even close to drama? I haven’t watched Diary yet; maybe that will prove me wrong? She was good in Leave Me Alone and My Wife is 18 — made that film far better than it should have been.

  5. Darren Says:

    i enjoyed this blog, thought it was really well written/thought out

    also i saw on the net that u can buy edison shirts now, stuff that says ‘edison made me naive and silly’


  6. Lester Mak Says:

    Sanney, I pretty much agree with what you said. I really do think that the PR around this affair was dreadful, and there is a lot to learn for those who claim to know “spin”. The press are pretty predictable, so I don’t get why Gillian Chung’s super-agents at EEG couldn’t get it right? It’s a mistake to try to fool the press - after all, didn’t any of them see what happened to Stefanie Sun in Egypt? Sadly, I’m not sure Ah Gil’s career will weather the storm so well after the debacle.

    Anyway, on the subject of Cecilia Cheung, I do think she is a good actress, if at times a bit raw. LOST IN TIME and ONE NITE IN MONGKOK reestablished her on the scene, and I’m sure at some point there will be a director who will cast her in another edgy, emotional role. But to be honest, I don’t see her becoming an all time great, and so far, I haven’t seen anything to suggest that she has the breadth of talent to take on a wide range of characters brilliantly.

    But I doubt her career is over. She will continue to get roles despite what’s happened, because she wasn’t really known for being a role model. (Indeed, let me play devil’s advocate and dare to say that I’m not expecting Nic and Cecilia’s kid to turn out to be a model child. But then, won’t that make the HK entertainment scene interesting in 20 years’ time?) There will always be a role where you’d think Cecilia would do well in. And so she’ll survive.

  7. wakawaka Says:

    I also felt some sympathy for that boy when I saw the news conference. Before that, I thought he deserved it if he was stupid enough to take this pictures and then not guard it well. But I thought, for any human being, to sit in front of a conference center of reporters with no end to the flashes and not just break down in tears just because of the pressure? That really took some real guts to do it.

  8. MW Says:

    Something ironically sad: poison the children, damage society, bad international image of Hong Kong. All ways to describe Sexy Photo Gate so far.

    But doesn’t all these work for the environmental problems in HK as well? I’m no tree-hugging hippie, but it doesn’t take much to realize the troubling state of the environment. Doesn’t the environmental concerns carry over to the next generations? For a society so overly concerned of their children, isn’t its deteriorating health just about the worst thing to hand over to the next generation? It still boogles my mind how people would rather freeze on 23C buses in the summer (which isn’t too healthy anyways) and how no prominent meetings have been called about this issue. Let’s not get started on how much attention was given to the environment by the recent financial outlook either… Would it be fair to call Hong Kong a city of contradictions? I hope not.

  9. Viktor Says:

    Thanks for the post. I find it is a disgrace that the people involved are now judged by the quality or authenticity of their press conferences. The fact remains that they did no wrong to anybody (the allusion to Nixon’s crookery in “Sexy Photos Gate” is malicious, to say the least).

    The only villains in this spectacle are those who stole these private photos and put them on the web. I think it is perfectly understandable that Gillian Chung and others tried to dodge and deny — after all, they are publicly humiliated on a huge scale, even though they did no harm to anybody. Copyright © 2002-2021 Ross Chen