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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.

Archive for the ‘Andy Lau Tak-Wah’ Category

Kozo Entertainment Group Presents: LOVE FOR HIRE

A little business to conduct before we get to the holiday festivities:  My 12-year “artistes” contract with the Kozo Entertainment Group obligates me to remind you that voting is underway for the “Top Hong Kong Films of the 1990s”.  Go here for details.

With Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day falling on the same day, it’s the perfect time to release the Kozo Entertainment Group’s first feature film.  It’s a holiday release called LOVE FOR HIRE.  I got the idea for the movie after reading news articles about demographically-challenged Mainland males “renting” girlfriends to bring back home for Lunar New Year gatherings.  Being a fan of LAW & ORDER for close to twenty years, ripping a story from the headlines came naturally.  After running it up the flagpole to my superiors at the KEG, we got some funding from The Feinstein Company and the China Pajama-Producers Co-operative.  Consider this our “red packet”/valentine to you …

* * * * *

LOVE FOR HIRE:

A romantic comedy/drama about the lives and loves of people who work at an agency that provides fake girlfriends to guys who need someone on their arm for a social occasion.  The movie has two main plots:

Chrissie Chau

MAIN PLOT A:  Normal but shy guy hires a girl to practice social situations with (asking her out, going on dates, etc.) because he’s in love with a hot girl in his office.

Normal/shy Guy: Jaycee Chan (Fong Cho-Ming)
Girl For Hire: Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin
Hot Office Girl: Chrissie Chau Sau-Na

Due to his shyness, Jaycee has never dated a girl before so he wants to work out all the kinks of dating with Charlene before asking Chrissie out.  Naturally, over the course of a few practice dates, Jaycee falls in love with Charlene but, because she’s only doing this to make a few dollars for a plane ticket to see her boyfriend who’s studying in Australia, he doesn’t want to admit his love — even though it’s clear she loves him back.  He ends up going through with asking Chrissie out.

On his date with Chrissie, Jaycee realizes that he has to profess his love for Charlene so he races to the airport to stop her from getting on the plane to see her boyfriend for the Lunar New Year holiday. (Thus satisfying the romantic movie commandment of always having a scene where one of the main characters is racing somewhere to declare their love for someone.)

MAIN PLOT B:  Widower needs to hire a fake girlfriend because his parents are flying in from Canada to visit him and his cute kid for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Widower: Andy Lau Tak-Wah
Agency Owner: Michelle Reis

As Andy’s wife has been dead for four years, his parents have been on his back to get a new woman in his life and the life of their grandchild.  He wants to get them off of his back so he goes to the agency to hire a woman for a Lunar New Year “performance”.  He has a specific type of woman in mind so he asks to meet directly with the agency owner to pick out the right girl to play the part.

Andy and the agency owner end up meeting several times because they can’t agree on the right girl for the job.  During these meetings, Andy begins to admire Michelle for her work ethic and professionalism while Michelle begins to admire Andy for his dedication to his kid, his parents and, most touchingly, his late wife (ie. I’m still in love with her, I’m not ready to find another woman).

Since Michelle knows exactly what Andy is looking for, she decides to take the job herself and, during their “show” for Andy’s parents, Andy and Michelle end up falling in love.

Besides the two main plots, the film also has three mini-plots that fill out the movie:

MINI-PLOT A:  The Assistants

Agency Owner’s Assistant: Stephy Tang Lai-Yan
Tycoon’s Assistant: Ronald Cheng Chung-Gei
Obnoxious Tycoon: Jim Chim Sui-Man

Stephy has been working with Ronald because Ronald’s boss (Jim Chim) is an obnoxious jerk of a tycoon who has been hiring arm candy to get photographed with in the tabloids.  As the tycoon has been doing this for months, Stephy and Ronald have been talking to each other over the phone for a while.  Through casual bits of conversation between making arrangements for the tycoon, Ronald starts to wonder what it’d be like to date Stephy while Stephy begins to imagine what it would be like to have Ronald as a boyfriend.  Obviously, there’s mutual interest but, since they just have a professional phone relationship, neither has acted on it.  One day, they happen to be in the same Starbucks and when they hear each other order, they realize who the other is and it’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Donnie Yen

MINI-PLOT B: Husbands and Wives

Husband: Eric Kot Man-Fai
Wife: Miriam Yeung Chin-Wah
Businessman: Donnie Yen (looking to show his skillz in a non-action role)
Businessman’s wife: Lynn Xiong (because she’s Mrs. Ip Man)

A businessman (Donnie Yen) needs to hire a companion to sit in with him for business meetings.  He wants to avoid all-night negotiation sessions that are actually just excuses for the other business guys to do heavy drinking.  So, he hires a “wife” (Miriam Yeung) as an excuse to get business done quickly or to bail out of booze-soaked all-nighters.  Sometimes Miriam goes with Donnie to the meetings, sometimes she calls on the phone to interrupt, sometimes she shows up to interrupt.

Donnie has been working with Miriam for months and everything is strictly platonic.  However, Miriam’s husband (Eric Kot) is jealous that she’s spending all this time with Donnie.  Things come to a head when Donnie invites Miriam over to his flat for Lunar New Year dinner.  Eric is blind with jealousy and goes to the dinner with a chip on his shoulder.  When they arrive at Donnie’s place, both Miriam and Eric are surprised to find that Donnie has a wife and two young daughters.  When Donnie’s wife (Lynn Xiong), thanks Miriam for helping Donnie come home at night to be with his kids, Eric realizes the foolishness of his jealousy.

MINI-PLOT C: The Ex-Con

The Ex-Con: Nick Cheung Ka-Fai
The “Mainland” Girl: Vicki Zhao Wei

A guy (Nick Cheung) hires a “Mainland” girlfriend to bring home to his parents for Lunar New Year.  He’s been telling his parents that he’s been away “on business” in the Mainland for the past three years but, in actually, he’s been rotting in jail after being framed by a former friend for a crime he did not commit.

Vicki Zhao misses her own family back in China so she feels kind of sad to see this sham of a Lunar New Year gathering.  Nick Cheung feels the emptiness as well.  After the dinner, Vicki Zhao tells Nick Cheung to be straight with his parents, she points out that they may be more understanding than Nick Cheung thinks.  This story ends with Nick Cheung coming clean and truly reconciling with his family.

* * * * *

I think that’s enough plot for a 90 to 120 minute movie.  What do you think?  Even with stiff competition from 72 TENANTS OF PROSPERITY and ALL’S WELL THAT END’S WELL 2010,  this makes HK$10 million - no?

Now, as the late-Michael Jackson said repeatedly in THIS IS IT, I wrote this story out of “love” for the readers who have been reading my nonsense over the years.  As I said earlier, it was my “red packet”/valentine to the readers.  It’ll be upsetting if some knock off, possibly called LOVE FOR RENT, pops up in the Lunar New Year 2011 movie slate.  It’ll be especially upsetting if the knock off includes stories about a shy guy, a widower, a jealous husband, an obnoxious tycoon, assistants and an ex-con.  Not only will it upset me, it’ll upset the mighty KEG, the Feinstein Company and the China Pajama-Producers Co-operative.  Most people know better than to upset the CPC - especially in China. ;-)

To avoid all the nastiness, get in touch with me.  My demands may be as simple as a cameo role as one of the business guys at a Donnie Yen business meeting or the barista who hands Stephy Tang her latte at Starbucks.

All right … time for the traditional House Where Words Gather Lunar New Year greeting.  As you can tell from years past (Ox, Rat), my wishes for all of you are less grandiose than unimaginable wealth.  Sticking with that tradition, I’m going to channel Dan Rather and Al Pacino by wishing you:

Greeting for the Year of the Tiger

I’m hoping that the Year of the Tiger gives you courage to make improvements in your life.  May you find the courage to inch your way towards greater happiness be it finding the guts to ask that cute girl out, the courage to find a better job or the cojones to change an unhappy circumstance in your life.

And, as always, 身體健康!  Happy Year of the Tiger!

Production News: Sammi vs Miriam Lunar New Year 2010

When Alien got together with Predator back in 2004, it didn’t matter who won because we all lost (even in ways the filmmakers probably did not intend).  Now, five years later, a pairing almost as epic is going to be made as reports have surfaced suggesting that Sammi Cheng Sau-Man and Miriam Yeung Chin-Wah are joining forces with Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai for a Lunar New Year picture that will hit the screens in time for holiday season 2010.  Hopefully, this time HK entertainment fans will all win.

Late last week, HK media reports emerged suggesting that Media Asia has been looking to put together a Lunar New Year film after seeing the success that Mandarin Films had with ALL’S WELL ENDS WELL 2009 (HK$24.6 million).  Reportedly, after some urging from entertainment mogul Peter Lam Kin-Ngok, Johnnie To Kei-Fung and Wai Ka-Fai have agreed to shoot a holiday picture starring Sammi Cheng, Miriam Yeung, Andy Lau Tak-Wah and Leon Lai Ming.  It will be the first Lunar New Film from To and Wai since 2002’s FAT CHOI SPIRIT.  According to the reports, the film will be a romantic comedy and shooting is set to begin in September.

Both Media Asia and Wai Ka-Fai have confirmed that a Lunar New Year project is in the works but no other details have been released:

Media Asia spokesperson Ms. Leung: “The company will indeed be shooting a Lunar New Year movie this September.”

Wai Ka-Fai: “Yes, we’ll be doing this movie. Right now, we’re working on a script. There’s not much that we can make public at this point.”

The Sammi Cheng-Miriam Yeung Media Asia project will be competing with Mandarin’s ALL’S WELL ENDS WELL 2010 starring Louis Koo Tin-Lok, Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu and Ronald Cheng Chung-Gei.

Related Chinese-language media articles: 1, 2, 3

27th Hong Kong Film Awards Preview: Best Supporting Actor

Previously:

The blog post series previewing the upcoming Hong Kong Film Awards continues with a look at the Supporting Actor category. The nominees are:

Nick Cheung Ka-Fai (EXODUS)
Ronald Cheng Chung-Gei (MR. CINEMA)
Louis Koo Tin-Lok (PROTEGE)
Andy Lau Tak-Wah (PROTEGE)
Chow Yun-Fat (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)

5. Louis Koo Tin-Lok (PROTEGE)

I’ve been a fan of Louis Koo ever since he got involved in a love triangle with Nadia Chan Chung-Ling and Ekin Cheng Promotional poster for TVB’s KNOT TO TREASUREYi-Kin in TVB’s KNOT TO TREASURE (婚姻物語) so it pains me to say that the only award nomination the Tanned One merits for his performance as a scumbag junkie is for a Golden Durian Award and not a HKFA. I don’t want to pile on by detailing why he doesn’t deserve this nomination. Let’s just leave it at “he was miscast” and the script does him no favours. The nomination is puzzling and the only explanation I can think of as to why Koo got nominated is that the people who are in charge of HKFA nominations got swept up by PROTEGE’s drug culture and decided to shoot themselves up then, while high, nominated Louis Koo in this category.

All kidding aside, this spot should have gone to someone else. Perhaps Liu Kai-Chi for his work as Aaron Kwok’s beleaguered cop friend in THE DETECTIVE or maybe even Eddie Cheung Siu-Fai for his performance as a “too clever for his own good” police inspector in KIDNAP.

4. Andy Lau Tak-Wah (PROTEGE)

In a comment to an earlier post, regular reader Eliza Bennet remarks that Andy Lau’s performance in PROTEGE is just “Andy with white hair”. I concur. It was “a’ight” but if you compare Lau’s performance as a meticulous criminal to that of Tony Leung Ka-Fai’s meticulous criminal in EYE IN THE SKY, you can see that Lau does not inhabit his character as well as Tony Leung Ka-Fai did.

3. Chow Yun-Fat (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)

Chow Yun-Fat’s turn as a conman who tricks Ye Rutang with a cemetery plot buying scheme has received recognition fromMickey Bricks and the gang from HUSTLE both the HKFA and the Hong Kong Film Critics Society. It has been described as “charming” but I think it’s a little too broad and needed to be reined in. Maybe the exaggerated manner was deliberate and used to emphasize the naivety and vulnerability of the Ye Rutang character but it comes across as somewhat buffoonish. Then again, maybe it’s just that I’ve become used to seeing my grifters calm, cool and collected like Mickey Bricks and his gang.

2. Nick Cheung Ka-Fai (EXODUS)

Wickedly profane, Nick Cheung leaves an indelible impression on viewers with his portrayal of a perverted loser who intrigues Simon Yam Tat-Wah’s strait-laced cop with claims of an incredible conspiracy. It is the most memorable supporting performance of 2007 and would likely have won running away if not for …

1. Ronald Cheng Chung-Gei (MR. CINEMA)

The linchpin character in MR. CINEMA, Ronald Cheng handles his key role with impressive aplomb. Some may argue that there are moments where he is too boisterous but I think that those moments are designed to reflect the passion of Hong Kong people: be it in the pursuit of money, the rabid following of trends or the passionate pursuit of naked pictures of starlets on the Internet. The only knock I have against Cheng is that he should be competing for Best Actor instead of in this category where he is probably going to rob Nick Cheung of the Best Supporting Actor prize.

Image credits: TVB (KNOT TO TREASURE poster), BBC (HUSTLE promotional graphic)

27th Hong Kong Film Awards Preview: Best Actor

Previously: Best Film

Like the situation in the Best Film category, if LUST, CAUTION had qualified for this year’s HKFAs, there is little doubt that Tony Leung Chiu-Wai would be well on his way to winning a sixth HKFA Best Actor title. Leung’s performance in the film is outstanding. Without the benefit of big scenes or big speeches, Leung impressively conveys his character’s thoughts and feelings with small gestures and small expressions. He even manages to fill the film’s infamous sex scenes with so much emotion and tension that it’s impossible to argue that the scenes were included just to draw a box office crowd with the promise of some titillation.

The nominees, minus Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, are:

Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing (THE DETECTIVE)
Andy Lau Tak-Wah (THE WARLORDS)
Simon Yam Tat-Wah (EYE IN THE SKY)
Jet Li (THE WARLORDS)
Lau Ching-Wan (THE MAD DETECTIVE)

5. Andy Lau Tak-Wah (THE WARLORDS)

Back when I was getting treatment for cancer — sometime in between round five and round six of chemotherapy — I got a delightful gift basket and a wonderful package of cards and letters from people I met over the years while running my old website. There were get-well messages from, among others, YTSL (Yvonne Teh of bc Magazine), Paul Fox (who used to run Cantonkid.com), Tim Youngs (of Another Hong Kong Movie Page and cameos in Pang Ho-Cheung films), my pal John Charles, Jennifer and Laura from San Francisco and, of course, our beloved Kozo (the Lord and Master of LoveHKFilm). Since I lost all of my Eudora inboxes and address books in the Great Hard Drive Crash of ‘07 (but mostly because I’m a terrible person and a lazy, lazy man), I haven’t properly thanked many of the people who wished me well. If anyone out there sent me a get-well message but didn’t receive a personal note of acknowledgement and thanks from me, please accept my apologies. My bad manners belie the fact that your cards, letters and e-mail messages really helped pull me through a difficult time. It was really great to know that I was loved and appreciated.

What does this have to do with Andy Lau and his Best Actor nomination? Well, included in the package of cards and letters was a get-well message from the Heavenly King himself! I was stunned — though, based on stories of Andy Lau’s many good deeds, I shouldn’t have been surprised — that a big star like him would take the time to write little ol’ me a note of Get-well note from Andy Lauencouragement. Needless to say, it was a huge shot in the arm so even if a future edition of Next Magazine publishes photos of Andy Lau eating “rejuvenation” dumplings made from baby flesh, I’d still have something good to say about him. That said, he shouldn’t have been nominated for his performance in THE WARLORDS.

Lau’s performance can, at best, be described as workmanlike. At worst, an argument can be made that Lau was unconvincing and ineffective. The main problem is that Lau is badly miscast for the role of Cao Er-Hu. The real-life Cao was, as I understand it, chivalrous and loyal but quick-tempered with a rough-hewn disposition that helped drive his wife into the arms of the more refined Ma Xin-Yi. Lau naturally projects a suave and sophisticated image so when the story calls for him to behave brusquely, he has to strain to make it convincing. An intense Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Tony Leung Ka-Fai or Francis Ng Chun-Yu type of actor should have been cast for this role not a “cool as a cucumber” Andy Lau or Simon Yam Tat-Wah type.

Speaking of whom …

4. Simon Yam Tat-Wah (EYE IN THE SKY)

Had he been nominated for his intricate performance in EXODUS, Simon Yam would rank higher on this list. Unfortunately, it’s hard to consider him a serious contender for the Best Actor award based on his performance as Surveillance Unit leader Dog Head. The problem does not lie in the quality of Yam’s work, it lies in the quality of the Dog Head character. There is little depth to the role beyond the “grizzled veteran who takes a newcomer under his wing” that audiences have seen in countless movies. The performance is fine but the role has a very low degree of difficulty. Besides, it wasn’t even the best acting performance in the film — that would belong to the work done by Tony Leung Ka-Fai as meticulous gang leader Shan.

3. Jet Li (THE WARLORDS)

Jet Li in THE WARLORDSBuilding upon his commendable performance in FEARLESS, Jet Li continues to evolve as an actor with his work in THE WARLORDS. Instead of playing his usual seemingly invincible fighting hero, Li does a creditable job portraying a flawed late-Qing era army general. It’s a solid individual achievement but it doesn’t rise to the level required of an award winner. It would have been interesting if the powers-that-be behind THE WARLORDS didn’t play it safe and unleashed Li to play a duplicitous, greedy schemer who stabs his sworn brother in the back for personal gain instead of the conflicted nobleman who compromises his morals for “the sake of the people”. Regrettably, no one will know if Li would have been able to meet the challenge.

2. Lau Ching-Wan (THE MAD DETECTIVE)

On an objective scale, Lau Ching-Wan should rank higher on this list. Inspector Bun, Lau’s character, is one of the tent poles of THE MAD DETECTIVE and if he doesn’t get the audience to buy that he is a detective with a “special ability” then the high-concept film has no chance of working. While he succeeds in convincing the audience, subjective factors put him in the second spot on this ranking. First, the other shoe never drops with his character. Inspector Bun is a brilliant cop whose gift is as much of a curse as it is a blessing but that’s where the character development ends. Nothing else really happens with him after his ability to see “inner personalities” is revealed. Second, the Inspector Bun character is just another variation of the kind of quirky, offbeat personality that viewers have seen Lau play many times before. THE MAD DETECTIVE provokes and challenges audiences but it certainly doesn’t challenge Lau Ching-Wan’s acting abilities. Third, Lau won last year so it feels like it’s someone else’s turn to win the top prize. Namely …

1. Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing (THE DETECTIVE)

Last year, Aaron Kwok was the heavy favourite to win in this category for his role as a deadbeat dad in AFTER THIS OUR EXILE. As a result, it was a pleasant surprise when Lau Ching-Wan won because he was sentimental favourite — the “entertainment circle veteran who deserved to win a Best Actor HKFA at some point in his career” (a mantle that he has since handed to Simon Yam). However, if one gives it a little thought, Lau’s victory wasn’t the HKFA equivalent to Martin Aaron Kwok in concert February 2008Scorsese winning a Best Director Oscar for THE DEPARTED. Lau truly deserved to win because he played his character in MY NAME IS FAME so well, it’s impossible to imagine any other actor in the role. By contrast, several actors could easily do a comparable job to Kwok in AFTER THIS OUR EXILE.

This year, the shoe is on the other foot. While Lau gives a flashier performance in THE MAD DETECTIVE, Kwok deserves to win because he absolutely owns his “loser private detective” character. From the first shot of him waking up to the catchy “Me Panda” to the last shot of him finding satisfaction in solving his case, flamboyant Heavenly King Aaron Kwok totally disappears behind a rumpled, sad-sack facade. Like Lau and his character in MY NAME IS FAME, it’s difficult to picture anyone other than Kwok playing C+ Detective Tam. While THE DETECTIVE and the Tam character don’t have the typical award winner gravitas, it’s a worthy substitute in a year where the best performance didn’t qualify.

Image credits: Applause Pictures (Jet Li); Xinhua (Aaron Kwok)

 
 
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