Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008
Much to my embarrassment, I have to begin with a familiar refrain: Apologies for the long gap in between posts. My cousin Tony recently married his longtime girlfriend in, of all places, Bhutan so I’ve been on the road slowly making my way to the remote mountain region by plane, train, automobile and, for the last few rugged kilometres, yak. The ceremony was fantastic but Bhutan isn’t easy to get to so everyone in the Leung clan sort of wished that he had the wedding at a Marriage Registry office like everyone else.
I am, of course, kidding. I didn’t go to Bhutan for the Tony Leung Chiu-Wai-Carina Lau Ka-Ling wedding but I have been on the road. I’m back home from a trip to England and Italy. I had a fabulous time made all the more enjoyable because it was my first significant trip in more than ten years and, naturally, because of what I’ve been through in the last little while. I savoured every minute — even the moments I was crammed like a sardine in the London Tube during rush hour. I didn’t mind the tight, smelly, sticky situation one bit because I consider myself very, very lucky and very, very blessed just to be able to have the experience.
As I am a bit of a history buff, I went to many famous sites and often had moments where I was enveloped by a pervasive sense of history. When I stood in front of Stonehenge, I could picture pre-historic men working together to drag those massive stones. When I surveyed the panoramic countryside view from the “Pink Terrace” at Chartwell (the family home of Winston Churchill), I was blown away by the fact that the legendary Churchill used to enjoy the very same view. In Rome, when I visited the Temple of Julius Caesar, I couldn’t believe that I was looking at the funeral pyre of one of the men who helped expand the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.
View from the “Pink Terrace” at Chartwell
The Funeral Pyre of Julius Caesar
Longtime readers will know that I enjoy the fartsy side of life just as much, if not more, than the artsy side. So, contrary to the paragraph above, my trip wasn’t all about historic sites, I made my share of pop culture pilgrimages as well. When I went to the famous Colosseum, I could barely concentrate on what the tour guide was saying because all I was thinking was: “wow, that’s where Chuck Norris stood in WAY OF THE DRAGON“. Even though I knew that the climactic Norris-Bruce Lee fight from the film was shot on a soundstage, I was looking for the spot where the fight would have taken place. I also resisted the urge to yell out: “Tang Lung, you are a very brave man! Tang Lung, the man you just saw will kill you! Tang Lung, you are trapped!”
I made another pop culture pilgrimage to Rome’s Piazza Navona — the location of the scene in WAY OF THE DRAGON where Nora Miao lectures Bruce Lee about being too uptight around foreigners. For about ten minutes, I sat on the bench in front of the Fountain of Four Rivers where Bruce Lee sat but, sadly, no Italian beauties like Malisa Longo showed up to bring me back to her apartment. I like to think that it was because the Fountain of Four Rivers was closed for restoration since, as the movie demonstrated, handsome Chinese guys like myself are irresistible to Italian beauties.
Piazza Navona in WAY OF THE DRAGON
Italian Beauty Malisa Longo
Nora Miao, Bruce Lee and Malisa Longo
Fountain of Four Rivers closed for restoration
Enough about me … since this is nominally a blog about Hong Kong entertainment, I better earn my keep and talk a little bit about the entertainment circle. I dragged my friend Ah Wing away from his three-year old daughter and one-year old son this past weekend for a screening of THE DARK KNIGHT. While everyone else was interested in seeing the highly-hyped sequel to BATMAN BEGINS and the vaunted Heath Ledger performance, I was interested in seeing if the rumours that Edison Chen Kwoon-Hei was cut from the film were correct. I suspected that he was still in the film but that he would have a very, very small role. I pegged the over/under for the number of lines for the man with the hand worth HK$500,000 at 2.5. If I were a betting man, I would have placed a small wager on the under.
As it turned out, I would have collected on my bet because Chen only had two lines. Since he wasn’t even on screen for one of those lines, I don’t think the role will have Hollywood beating at his door as his performance definitely was not a Jet Li in LETHAL WEAPON 4 situation.
Speaking of “Sexy Photos Gate”, reader Mark — who is supposedly teaching English in Japan but is probably there stalking Miki Nakatani (oh wait, that’s what I would do if I was in Japan) — sent in an e-mail to let us know that “Sexy Photos Gate” has even been a source of inspiration for the prodigious Japanese adult video industry. In June, an adult video titled “Leaked Photos! Former Boyfriend Films Private Intercourse!” was released by Alice Japan (go here for the official website — Warning: Adult Content).
Back to THE DARK KNIGHT … I don’t know if I can join the chorus of those proclaiming it to be an Oscar-worthy masterpiece. I have decidedly mixed feelings about it. The film is indeed very good but it’s also a little too long and very dark and very pessimistic. Perhaps expectation is playing a part in my perception of the film. I was anticipating a repeat of the “hell yeah!” feeling I had after seeing BATMAN BEGINS. I was not expecting to be gut-punched with a shockingly somber movie. When I walked out, I didn’t feel like I’d just seen a superhero movie, I felt like I’d just seen GOTHAM ON FIRE — the followup to Ringo Lam’s intense and depressing movies CITY ON FIRE, PRISON ON FIRE and SCHOOL ON FIRE. I suspect I’m not alone in feeling stomach-punched because, apart from the laughs inspired by the Joker’s disappearing pen trick, the crowd in the theatre was deathly quiet and, when we came out, we all had dazed expressions on our faces.
That’s all for today, I’ll be back sometime in the next sixty days with a post about TVB.
By the way, if you picked me up at the airport and I circled your car and said: “BMW? Mustang? It’s a Rolls!” would you think I was funny or weird? When my cousin picked me up at London’s Heathrow Airport, I did the car bit from WAY OF THE DRAGON but all I got was a puzzled look because she hadn’t seen the film. I did, however, achieve a small victory by eliciting the Nora Miao “just get in the car” face from my cousin. Good times.
Image credits: Sanney Leung (Stonehenge, Chartwell, Temple of Julius Caesar, Fountain of Four Rivers), Golden Harverst (WAY OF DRAGON screen shots)