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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,
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Archive for the ‘Cecilia Cheung Pak-Chi’ Category

Three Views On Chinese Movies In The 2000s: Part II

Before continuing with the look back at the movies of the 2000s, a few thoughts on some news tidbits that have emerged lately:

1. Hong Kong Film Awards Nominations

I said it the day after last year’s awards and I still believe it to be true in spite of the buzz for Wang Xueqi’s work in BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS:  Simon Yam will win a Best Acting award at the HKFAs this year.  It may be a “lifetime achievement” type deal but I think he’s due.  He got two nominations in the Best Actor category this year for NIGHT AND FOG and for ECHOES OF THE RAINBOW so here’s hoping …

More thoughts on the HKFA nominations:

- Nice to see Zhang Jingchu get nominated for her solid performance in the grim tale that was NIGHT AND FOG.

- As a fan of schlocky HK comedies of the 1980s and early-1980s, it’s great to see Stanley Fung Shui-Fan get a Supporting Actor nomination for ACCIDENT.

- Biggest snub: Why no Supporting Actor love for Michael “Stone” Wong’s work in OVERHEARD?  He made that movie 25% better with his channeling of Stallone’s Rocky Balboa Italian twang in his introductory scene and his cheese-tastic delivery of “I got my own car!” at the end. :lol:

Michael Wong Man-Tak in OVERHEARD

2. 2010: The Year of EDC

This is probably only amusing to me because I have the mind of a randy teenager but I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read the following on Edison Chen’s blog:

2010 promises to be a big year for ya boi EDC
i am going to be coming back HARDER than ever

Talk about unintentional comedy.  The capper is that he capitalized “harder”.  Does anyone NOT think of those infamous photos after reading that?

3. Edison Chen: “Why was I the bad guy?”

In an interview in the Chinese version of GQ, Edison Chen said that he still doesn’t understand why he was the bad guy in the Sexy Photos Gate scandal.  He said: “… was I really a bad person? I wasn’t. People just needed a scapegoat”.

He’s right.  He was a victim of a crime.  However, he presented himself as a hip-hop, bad-boy type which plays well to his target demographic but not so well to the broader, more conservative, mainstream Chinese audience.  So it’s not surprising at all that the general public turned against him.  Put it this way, it’s wrong to hit someone in the head with a steel chair but people cheer anyway when a heel character in pro-wrestling gets nailed with one because it happened to somebody who presented himself as a “bad guy”.

It’ll be interesting to see if 2010 will be remembered for a Chen resurgence or if it ends up being more like the Summer of George.

4. Gilllian Chung’s comeback continues

Gillian Chung continues on the comeback trail with an EP, a movie and a Mainland television series coming down the pipe.  Yet, it feels like she’s still fighting border skirmishes rather than making any serious assault on the capital.  Sorry, THE FOUNDING OF A REPUBLIC remains on the brain.  An EP isn’t exactly the same as a full album and a concert series.  The movie isn’t exactly a high-profile project slated for a big holiday release and the Mainland television series is a Mainland television series.

When you read her interviews, it’s clear that the comeback narrative her handlers at EEG have settled upon is “more mature, tough, resilient, plucky girl who is holding her head up high and refusing to let the scandal keep her down”.  It’s puzzling, then, that they are allowing her to hang on to that “naïve and innocent” schtick.  In articles that popped up last month about her new movie with William Chan Wai-Ting, she talks about being “embarrassed” because she had to do a kissing scene with Chan.  Is that the kind of talk you hear from tough, resilient girls?

Trying to do “tough and resilient” while hanging on to “cute and innocent” won’t work.  If Ah Gil wants substantial success on the comeback trail, she’s going to have to go full-bore on “tough and resilient” and drop the innocent act.  Besides, the “cute and innocent” road is still littered with the skeletons of Sexy Photos Gate like the Highway of Death was littered with the carnage of the First Gulf War.  All she’s doing when she plays “cute and innocent” is reminding people why she is on the comeback trail in the first place.

Now, fans of Ah Gil are probably thinking: “What are you talking about?  EEG is re-uniting her with Charlene Choi and Twins have a concert series and a new album coming out.  Isn’t that an indication that EEG thinks the comeback is going strong?”

EEG may, in fact, feel that way but I believe the re-unification of Twins is more about seeing if there’s any milk left in that cash cow and less about restored faith in Gillian Chung’s star power.  I think EEG is re-uniting Twins in spite of Gillian Chung’s situation rather than because of it.  It would, after all, be nutty to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Twins in their 11th year.  I’d wager EEG is looking at a boost in Ah Gil’s profile as a possible collateral benefit of the Twins reunion rather than as the main impetus for it.

5. Jackie Chan in THE SPY NEXT DOOR

I was all ready to beat my chest in mourning for Jackie Chan’s career after reviews came out uniformly crushing THE SPY NEXT DOOR (it currently sits at 8% on Rotten Tomatoes).  Then, a week later, The Rock came out with THE TOOTH FAIRY and it occurred to me that the villain in this story shouldn’t be Jackie Chan for cashing in and taking the paycheque.  Only a naïve and innocent fool would refuse to sell a tiny fraction of their dignity for a multi-million dollar payday.  The culprits are movie studios that have failed to realize that it’s been twenty years since KINDERGARTEN COP made US$91.4 million and that it did well because it was more a “cops and robbers” film than a kids’ movie.

Here’s hoping we don’t see Bruce Willis in MY GRANDFATHER IS A HERO or Jason Statham in a remake of MR. NANNY.

6. Skynet/Cylons one step closer to taking over humanity

With the unveiling of a life-sized sex robot named Roxxy at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas in January, can the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 or the Cylon Centurion be that far away?

Roxxxy The Sex Robot

RANDOM NONSENSE:

After seeing Simon Yam’s performances in ELECTION and NIGHT AND FOG, I think the HK Movie Gods should decree that if you want to show a character is a bad guy, just show him fishing.  After what Yam’s characters did in those two movies, “Fishing = Evil” is now the equivalent of Blofeld stroking a white cat in Bond movies, the Snidely Whiplash moustache and Spock with a goatee in “Mirror, Mirror”.  If perpetual movie good guy Jackie Chan ever has occasion to play a villain, all the director has to do is show a goateed Big Brother fishing while playing with a white cat.

Enough ado, let’s get on to the without further … my list of the “Best Films of the 2000s”.

Previously: Three Views On Chinese Movies In The 2000s: Part I

6. RIDING THE TIGER

Writer/director Herman Yau Lai-To brings his deft, low-key touch to the high octane Sexy Photos Gate scandal in this “ripped from the headlines” film.  By eschewing the sex part of the scandal and focusing on the fame part, Yau offers a contemplative look at the nature of celebrity and how it really is like “riding a tiger into battle”.  It’s great when the tiger is with you and you’re able to easily do what you want on the battlefield.  It’s not so good when the tiger turns against you and you have no control over what happens.

OK, OK that film never happened. I just wanted to throw some appreciation towards Herman Yau.  While he doesn’t blow you away with his films like Wong Kar-Wai or Johnnie To, he does offer up solid work and is, in many ways, the “quintessential” Hong Kong director.  He makes movies, like TRUE WOMAN FOR SALE, that tell Hong Kong stories.  He also works in genres that are entirely “of Hong Kong”.  Movies like GONG TAU and SPLIT SECOND MURDERS are unique to the HK movie industry, they can’t be made anywhere else.

Yau started off the 2000s strong with the Buddy Film Creative Workshop films KILLING END and NIGHTMARES IN PRECINCT 7.  He had a bit of a lull in the middle of the decade with ASTONISHING and DATING DEATH but he bounced back with a solid run that began with ON THE EDGE.  If you’re not familiar with the work of Herman Yau, get yourself to the local Chinese video store and pick up a few of his films.

5. KUNG FU HUSTLE

In the 2000s, Stephen Chow made three of the top-10 grossing HK movies of all-time: KUNG FU HUSTLE (HK$61.2 million currently number one), SHAOLIN SOCCER (HK$60.7 million, currently number two) and CJ7 (HK$51.4 million, currently number seven).  So, you have to figure that one of Chow’s films has to be on the list.  Sitting at number one and number two, it’s basically a coin flip between KUNG FU HUSTLE and SHAOLIN SOCCER.  Like any good comrade — just checking if you’re reading Mainland censors — I side with the people and KUNG FU HUSTLE.

While SHAOLIN SOCCER had the bigger laughs and more significance as a milestone of Stephen Chow’s career, KUNG FU HUSTLE is the more accomplished film because it had a higher degree of difficulty.  SHAOLIN SOCCER could hang its comedy bits on the backbone of a conventional “underdog sports team” plotline.  KUNG FU HUSTLE was built entirely on film craftsmanship intangibles like charisma, tone and rhythm.  It could have easily all gone wrong but, instead, it all went right.  Look at some of the elements of the film: a dance number introducing the villains, a protagonist who disappears for a large chunk of the movie and sequences that belong more in a Looney Tunes cartoon than a smash kung fu flick.  Usually, those elements congeal into a lame and cheesy mess but Stephen Chow somehow combined them into a mesmerizing classic that thoroughly engages the audience.

4. ELECTION

Continuing what he started with Milkway Image in the late-1990s, Johnnie To had a prolific 2000s with commercial successes like NEEDING YOU, personal projects like THROWDOWN and SPARROW and philosophical pieces like RUNNING ON KARMA.  Three to five of his films could legitimately be placed on any “Best of the Decade” list of HK films but I chose to put ELECTION on this one because - twenty, thirty, fifty years from now - ELECTION is going to be the one most HK film fans will recall.

 Cecilia Cheung and Lau Ching-Wan in LOST IN TIME

3. (tie) LOST IN TIME / THE WAY WE ARE

The two best “Hong Kong stories” films of the 2000s.  One conventional, the other unconventional, both provide a fascinating glimpse into the day-to-day rhythms of Hong Kong life.  They show that Hong Kong isn’t just about gangsters that struggle for power or cops chasing bad guys, it’s also about normal people just trying to get through the day the best they can.  They show that Hong Kong isn’t teeming with playboys, golddiggers, gu wat jai (古或仔), psychopaths, super cops and mad detectives.  Instead, it’s filled with normal, decent people like the minibus driver who helps out a overburdened woman burning the candle at both ends, the fruit lady from the supermarket who recognizes that her neighbour is lonely and the father who seems hard-hearted but, in actually, just can’t admit how much his daughter means to him.

The movies also contain two brilliant “show, don’t tell” sequences that are enshrined in my pantheon of all-time great HK movie scenes.  In LOST IN TIME, there’s a sequence that shows Cecilia Cheung’s character going through her day balancing her job as a minibus driver and her role as the caregiver to her dead fiancée’s son.  In THE WAY WE ARE, the compelling scene showing Chan Lai-Wun’s character cooking dinner is the embodiment of Bruce Lee’s notion of “emotional content”.  Both are simple segments yet they express many complex ideas and sentiments.

2. INFERNAL AFFAIRS

If there was a “Hong Kong Division” for my “Most Valuable Film of the 2000s” blog post, the choice would clearly have been INFERNAL AFFAIRS.  With HK$55 million in box office earnings, the movie currently ranks fifth in the list of top 10 highest grossing HK films of all-time.  It spawned a prequel and a sequel and it acted as a defibrillator to the ailing heartbeat of Hong Kong cinema.  From Kozo’s review of the film:

Cries of “Box Office Miracle” were trumpeted by Hong Kong’s so-called fourth estate, which advanced the opinion that Hong Kong Cinema was revived.

It put Alan Mak and Felix Chong on the map which led to movies like INITIAL D, MOONLIGHT IN TOKYO, CONFESSION OF PAIN, LADY COP AND PAPA CROOK and OVERHEARD.

Like CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON, my pick for “Most Valuable Film of the 2000s”, INFERNAL AFFAIRS also had influence internationally:  A Hollywood remake, THE DEPARTED, finally earned Martin Scorsese a long-deserved Best Director Oscar.

1. (tie) IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE / LUST, CAUTION

Through exquisite film craftsmanship and outstanding acting, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE and LUST, CAUTION are two movies that offer insightful looks into the nature of love and human connection.  I made them co-number ones because a couple of things keep me from picking one over the other.  First, LUST, CAUTION isn’t a “pure” Hong Kong film.  Second, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE feels like a 1990s movie to me.  I actually did a double take when I looked up its release date and saw that it was September 29th, 2000.  I could have sworn it was released in 1999.  I probably feel this way because, back when I had my own site, I was translating articles about the production at least two years before it was released.

Moreover, as much as it pains my inner Vulcan to admit, 2046 sullied my affection for IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE.  While they are two separate movies and I shouldn’t let one affect my view of the other, I just can’t like IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE as much after seeing 2046.  What seemed exciting and stylistically cool in 2000 seemed tired and tedious just four short years later with the release of 2046.

Going off on a tangent, if you take anything from away from those films, it has to be to have a carpe diem attitude towards love and prospective mates.  If you like somebody and there seems to be a good chance that they like you, take a shot and do something about it.  Otherwise, you may end up whispering your regrets to a hole in the wall at Angkor Wat or, even worse, facing a firing squad.

Tony Leung Chiu-Wai in IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE

Going off on another tangent, there has been a decade long debate about what to name the 2000s.  Some have suggested the “Naughts”, others have said it should be the Oughts.  Then there are the “Zeroes”, the “Double Zeroes”, the “Os” and the “Twenty-Ohs”.  If you take a look at my list of the decade’s best HK films, you’ll see that my cousin Tony stars in the top three movies.  Call me biased but I think the decade should be called “The Leung Dynasty”.

Next time: The part I had the most fun writing: “Personal Favourites of the 2000s, uh, The Leung Dynasty.”

Image credits: Film Unlimited (Michael Wong), 69adget.com (Roxxy the Sex Robot), China Star Entertainment (Cecilia Cheung, Lau Ching-Wan), Jet Tone Productions (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai)

News Links: Sexy Photos Gate May 2009 Update

Sexy Photos Gate reared its ugly head again this week as news about the three main protagonists of the saga surfaced:

CECILIA CHEUNG:

A very public display of affection from Nicholas Tse to Cecilia Chung

EDISON CHEN:

Chinese media are speculating that Chen’s return to Hong Kong is a “hungry dog backed into a corner” situation.  He’s supposedly taking the risk because of the financial state of the Chen family.  His father, Chen Chak-Man, declared bankruptcy earlier this year.  Her sister, model Tricia Chen Kin-Fei, is seeing very little demand for her services.  Chen’s own image took another hit in February when he was crushed by Cecilia Cheung in a widely broadcast interview.  Market share for Chen’s clothing company, CLOT, is facing increased pressure from Juno Mak’s clothing line Chapel of Dawn.

More Edison Chen:

On the May 29th edition of the RTHK radio show MADE IN HONG KONG with Alex Lee, former Cookies member Angela Au revealed that she had heard from her circle of friends that ol’ EDC has broken up with girlfriend Vincy Yeung.  Au: “That’s what I heard.  I don’t know if they’ll get back together.  You know how it is with young people, they’re always breaking up and getting together.

GILLIAN CHUNG:

Gillian Chung Yan-Tung spent her Tuen Ng Festival performing in a show in Tongling, China.  By all accounts, she was warmly received.

  • I guess the comeback isn’t proceeding that well.  This has the feel of looking up a popular TV star from the 1980s/1990s and seeing that she’s now “appearing in a production of the award-winning Broadway play THE GLASS MENAGERIE” but it’s “regional theatre” in Lincoln, Nebraska.  No offense to the good people of Tongling and Lincoln.
  • Photos 

Back later with a regular news links post.

News Links: Ching Ming Festival 2009

Here’s hoping everyone is having a reflective Ching Ming Festival

On to the news …

DON’T CALL IT COMEBACK, SHE’S BEEN HERE FOR YEARS, ROCKIN’ HER PEERS AND PUTTIN’ SUCKAS IN FEAR:

On the heels of her new ads for the Mainland’s South Bedding Company, there are reports that Cecilia Cheung Pak-Chi is about to return to the big screen with a role in Derek Yee Tung-Sing’s upcoming adaptation of the Gu Long wuxia novel THIRD YOUNG MASTER’S SWORD (三少爺的劍).  Cheung will supposedly play the female lead opposite Louis Koo Tin-Lok.  According to the reports, Cheung and the production company are now haggling over money as Cheung wants HK$4 million to HK$6 million for the film.  Previously, Shaw Brothers adapted the novel in 1977 with DEATH DUEL.  Directed by Chor Yuen, it starred David Chiang, Candace Yu On-On and … {drum roll} … Derek Yee Tung-Sing.

More Sexy Photos Gate junk …

Armed security engaged to protect Edison Chen

‘We were Edison’s human shields’

No bullet-proof vests for Edison’s bodyguards

IN PRODUCTION:

Jacky Cheung Hok-Yau, Tang Wei shoot Ivy Ho’s latest film CROSSING HENNESSEY

Bona Entertainment, JC Group team on Jackie Chan’s Big Soldier

RELATED: Hollywood Reporter story, Photos from the press conference

Lion Rock abandons Woo’s historical epic 1949

RELATED: John Woo abandons Chinese civil war film

GENERAL NEWS:

Dead diva’s mum denied 100,000 dollars for holiday

Here’s hoping this puts an end to the nonsense from Anita Mui’s mother.  Anita Mui has been dead for more than five years (time flies) yet her mother is still fighting over her money.  It’s pretty clear that Anita Mui made the right decision.

Action movie star Jet Li appointed WHO ambassador

Andy Lau’s rumoured wedding saga continues

Karen Mok protests seal hunt

Jackie Chan to perform in the Bird’s Nest: Yahoo!Singapore article, News Asia one article, Channel News Asia article

Zhang Ziyi attends the Annual Forces of Nature Benefit in NY

Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li: Rivalry between Mou’s girls never more in fashion

Kelvin Kwan: Dope-bust Kwan sorry, but happy to be a free man

Rain faces second legal charge

Taipei Times Pop Stop: Jolin Tsai, Stefanie Sun, more

FEATURES:

Time Magazine: 10 Questions for Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan: Different Light 

More Jackie Chan: Gentleman Jackie shows his manners

My love for Leslie Cheung

Vivian Chow Wai-Man: The Valiant Maiden

Lu Chuan brings history to ‘Life and Death’ (aka NANKING! NANKING!)

RELATED: “Nanking!” Actress Gao Yuanyuan in Fright

Taiwanese boy band Fahrenheit: Fan’s indecent proposal

Juliette Binoche: Juliette’s journey in China

MOVIE REVIEWS:

SHINJUKU INCIDENT: Taipei Times, Electric New Paper

Taipei Times reviews Chen Kun-Ho’s COLORFUL MIND

PHOTO GALLERYS:

Shawn Yue, Sam Lee Chan-Sam shoot ad for Coca-Cola

Kelly Chen, Kathy Chow Man-Kei, others attend event promoting Armani

Daniel Wu poses for a magazine

Yvonne Yung Hung

Soldier of fortune Rainie Yang

CULTURAL NEWS:

Renting a date to do filial duties on Ching Ming

Welcome to The Tea House

Welcome to The Tea House where I get ready for the day I become the benevolent dictator of the Republic of Sanneyistan by coming down from my hermetic cyber-mountain top and interacting with my loyal subjects, uh, readers.

Siu Mai dumplingsI was going to call this feature “Sanney’s Mailbag” but I only received Congressional approval for an e-mail address this past weekend (go here for details) and “Sanney’s Comment Box” sounds like something you need to fill with kitty litter. In the end, I decided to play off the House Where Words Gather theme and call this feature “The Tea House”. Picture all of us sitting at a table and having a pleasant conversation while sharing a nice big pot of tea and some freshly-steamed siu mai dumplings (燒賣).

Let’s start things off with some comments on the comments from the last post “Sypmathy for Mr. Imprudence”:

Eliza Bennet writes: Comparing her [Cecilia Cheung] 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 prowess.

aircompass writes: 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.

Upon reflection, I wish I would have done a better job of writing that last paragraph about Cecilia Cheung’s acting. I didn’t mean to compare her with Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk or Tang Wei. I was referring to the type of role and not the actresses. I should have written: “I don’t think she has the chops to give a subtle performance required by complex roles like Su Li-Zhen/Mrs. Chan from IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE or Wang Chia-Chih/Mak Tai-Tai from LUST, CAUTION.”

I think Cecilia Cheung is a solid actress. She has a great screen presence that engages you and makes you care about her characters even if they are a dopey shopping addict or some otherworldly, mystical hot babe. It’s just that I don’t think her acting skills are refined enough to handle roles that call for a lot of subtlety.

By the way, I agree with aircompass about Tang Wei. She gives an outstanding performance in LUST, CAUTION but it’s way too early to place a “Screen Queen” crown on her head.

* * * * *

Glenn writes: 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.

Man, I’m feelin’ ya on this one. The raspiness is the vocal equivalent of a hot babe wearing nothing but a men’s white tuxedo shirt.

* * * * *

Eliza Bennet writes: 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.

He didn’t strike me as entirely sincere either. His proclamation that he was going to dedicate himself to “charity and community work” seemed about as genuine as O.J. Simpson declaring, years ago, that he was going to dedicate himself to “finding the real killers”. I was just saying that despite the prepared script, you could sense that — at the core — there was a real human who has been severely humiliated. By contrast, at their press event, EEG chose to present corporate creation Gillian Chung™ instead of genuine human Gillian Chung so it was hard for people to connect with her and feel any real sympathy for her plight.

* * * * *

Viktor writes: 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).

I don’t think anyone is trying to equate what Edison Chen and his partners did in private to Nixonian crookery. Adding the “-gate” suffix to any sort of controversy has just become a convenient way for the media to label scandals. Earlier this month, the Obama-Clinton race for the Democratic presidential nomination begat “NAFTAgate”. Since September, American football fans have been subjected to endless talk about “Spygate”. I think that “-gate” has become mostly disassociated with the original Watergate scandal. If you go to Wikipedia, you can see a list of more than twenty scandals that have had “-gate” attached to it.

 

east_west.jpg

The Eastern Heretic and the Poisonous West (left) with their American counterparts the Venerable West (centre) and the Eastern Dowager (right).

Linguistically speaking, I’ll admit that I was surprised when I saw that the Chinese media attached “-gate” to the scandal. Chinese and English are so different, it’s often difficult to translate concepts from one language to the other. You don’t see the American media calling Senator John McCain of Arizona the “Venerable West” or Senator Hillary Clinton of New York the “Eastern Dowager”. I’m guessing that, for logistical reasons like article length and headline length, calling it “Sexy Photos Gate” was easier than using the unwieldy “Edison-Gillian-Bobo-Cecilia Picture Scandal”. Moreover, the latter became inaccurate when more starlets became involved.

As for Gillian Chung and Edison Chen being judged by their respective press conferences, I’ll paraphrase Hyman Roth from THE GODFATHER, PART II and say simply: “this is the business they’ve chosen”.

Besides, I think most people are judging Gillian Chung™ and Edison Chen™ rather than the actual Gillian Chung or the Ruby Wong Cheuk-Ling in PTUactual Edison Chen. I think you have to be very naive or very foolish if you don’t understand that there is a distinction between the public persona and the private person. Based on how he presents himself to the public eye, you’re entitled to have an opinion like Edison Chen™ is a poseur — a dopey, bad-boy wannabe who, if caught in a gunfight, would probably pull a Ruby Wong from PTU rather than take nine to the body like 50 Cent. However, unless you know him personally, it’s impossible to have a reasonable opinion on the actual Edison Chen. Put it this way, there has got to be a difference between Edison Chen™ and the actual Edison Chen. There must be something endearing about the actual Edison Chen because multiple women liked him enough to have relations with him and trusted him enough to let him take compromising photographs of them.

By the way, congratulations to Shawn Yue Man-Lok! I think it’s now safe to declare him the winner of the long and bitter Shawn Yue-Edison Chen “teen idol” rivalry.

* * * * *

Glenn writes: While I do agree that Charlene [Choi Cheuk-Yin] 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.

My memory may be faulty so the timeline may be slightly off but I believe Charlene Choi established her dramatic acting bona fides way back in 2000-2001 before EEG hooked her up with Gillian Chung. I believe both HEROES IN LOVE and FUNERAL MARCH were made and released before Twins released their first album in the Autumn of 2001. While Ah Sa got nominated for the Best New Artist HKFA for her role as a “girl with a terminal disease” in FUNERAL MARCH (losing an honourable decision to Karena Lam Ka-Yan’s performance in JULY RHAPSODY), HEROES IN LOVE was the better showcase of her young acting talents.

* * * * *

A comment about Damn You, Kozo!Kozo’s rant about inconsistent romanization brought to mind a conversation I had “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Ilrecently with someone about “legacy kids” (children of people who are rich, powerful or famous). This person, who shall remain nameless, hates George W. Bush with a passion and was trying to make the argument that, generally speaking, legacy kids grow up in a pampered environment so they don’t develop the skills that allow them to handle important positions when they are adults. I have to admit that I found the argument convincing until the person used Kim Jong-Il as another example of an “incompetent legacy kid”. It’s not that I think Kim Jong-Il is doing a bang-up job governing North Korea, it’s that the person I was talking to referred to Kim Jong-Il as Kim Jong II (Kim Jong The Second).

* * * * *

A little help … Any Microsoft Excel experts out there? I’m flirting with the idea of running a Hong Kong Film Awards predictions contest and I need someone to help me develop a formula so that I can determine the winner without having to manually go through every entry. If you can help, please get in touch with me.

* * * * *

Have you seen PROTEGE? If you have, please read this post and discuss the ending with me.

 

IMAGE CREDITS: Lung Poon Restaurant (Siu Mai), TVB (Screen grab from LEGEND OF THE CONDOR HEROES), The Huffington Post (John McCain, Hillary Clinton), Milkyway Image (Ruby Wong), Reuters (Kim Jong-Il)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

 
 
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