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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 ‘Chinese Lesson of the Day’ Category

News Links: July 8th, 2009

READERS, I CANNOT TELL A LIE …:

I’ve had to retire the “Because I’m Not On Twitter” sections of this blog because I’m actually now on Twitter.  Don’t expect too much over there, I only joined to follow the Twitter feeds of the guys at PTI and The Sports Guy Bill Simmons.  I didn’t realize until after I joined that I could actually follow them WITHOUT joining.  Then, I started getting notices that people were following me on Twitter so I started feeling compelled to tweet.  I think this is how people get sucked into quagmires.  They all start off with simple aspirations that get increasingly complicated.  You know, you start off just wanting to get your Dad’s approval, then that leads you to ignore the findings of the CIA, which leads you to invent an excuse to invade Iraq, which leads to …

It’s like the old woman who swallowed a fly, she had to swallow a spider to catch the fly, then she had to swallow a bird to catch the spider, then she swallowed a cat to catch the bird … what happened to her in the end?  Oh that’s right, she died …

Jo Koo in THE VAMPIRE WHO ADMIRES ME
Here’s a picture of Jo Koo in a tank top to distract you from today’s grim blog post.

Sorry to start off this post on such a grim note but it seems we’ve been surrounded by death of late.  From Shih Kien to David Carradine to Michael Jackson to Alexis Arguello to that Nanjing drunk driving accident last week to Steve McNair killed in a murder-suicide on the weekend to the riots in Xinjiang.

Speaking of the riots, I wonder if the Kozo Entertainment Group’s health plan covers treatment for post traumatic stress disorder because I think I may be getting PTSD from looking at the Chinese media coverage of the Nanjing drunk driving accident and the Xinjiang riots.  Unlike the Western media, the Chinese media and news blogs have no compunction about showing graphic images with nary a warning.  As a result, I saw some things in the past few days that I won’t be able to scrub from my mind any time soon.

When I had my own site a few years back, I caught a lot of heat for posting a link to a picture of Leslie Cheung’s body covered by a sheet next to a pool of blood.  It was, admittedly, a mistake.  I think this was karma’s way of getting back at me for it.  The pictures of the Nanjing accident were especially grisly — the twisted, mangled corpses, the disemboweled pregnant lady … I initially thought some of those pictures were of the remnants of the smashed watermelon stand … if only …  I’m normally not a proponent of capital punishment but, in this case, not only should this scumbag be shot, his next three incarnations should be summarily executed as well.

Ah well, that’s the price you have to pay when you’re scouring the Internet for news links.  Sometimes curiosity gets the better of you and you click on a link you probably shouldn’t click on.

If only I was involved with a hot starlet who allowed me opportunities to hang around and eat roast pork with the likes of Dante Lam, Michelle Ye, Richie Ren and Leon Lai

Uh, oh.  Manny Kok — my Kozo Entertainment Group handler, uh, manager — is giving me the evil eye.  I better shut up.  Don’t want to get “frozen”.  :-)

Anyway, my point is that because I’m now on Twitter, I can no longer use “Because I’m Not On Twitter”.  I’m changing it to “Sesame Seeds and Mung Beans” after the Chinese phrase “芝麻綠豆小事” or “small, inconsequential matters/things like sesame seeds and mung beans”.

The latest edition of “Sesame Seeds and Mung Beans” appears after the news links update which begins with …

BRUCE LEE:

Examiner.com review of the documentary HOW BRUCE LEE CHANGED THE WORLD

Plans for Bruce Lee Museum get off the ground, finally

Bruce Lee’s former Hong Kong residence to be transformed into museum

MURDERER:

Aaron Kwok: New role boosts acting credentials

Crime and Complexity: bc Magazine feature on MURDERER director Roy Chow Hin-Yeung

Aaron Kwok promotes Longines watches at the premiere

Others in the photos: co-star Janine Chang, the lovely Maggie Cheung Ho-Yi, Ekin Cheng with members of Grasshopper

More Photos from the gala premiere

In addition to stars Aaron Kwok, Janine Chang and Eddie Cheung, Ekin Cheng, Grasshopper, Wong Yau-Nam, Josie Ho, William So Wing-Hong and Leo Koo Gui-Gei attended

FEAUTRES:

Date With Eason: The Sun Daily (Malaysia) on Eason Chan

Being Edison Chen: Bangkok Post feature on ol’ EDC

RELATED: Sina.com High Definition Photo Gallery of store opening

HK Magazine Online feature on Gillian Chung

Mirror, Mirror …: bc Magazine feature on Wai Ka-Fai

A Filmmaker Finds Her Play Is the Thing: New York Times on Sylvia Chang

RELATED:

HK Magazine Online feature on Jeff Lau (KUNG FU CYBORG)

Dead Factory Blues: bc Magazine feature on Mainland director Jia Zhangke (24 CITY)

RELATED:

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Pop duo BY2 grateful for fans’ support, including leering older men who pester them

PRODUCTION NEWS:

John Woo to make film about Flying Tigers:

Behind the scenes: Bodyguards and Assassins

Young Bruce Lees Wanted for Ip Man 2

Ron Ng, Sammul Chan feature in Michael Tse’s movie for free

RELATED: Xinhua article

Opening lens ceremony held in Huangzhou for Feng Xiaogang’s new film AFTERSHOCK

‘Spying Rose’ Yu Na 

The Crow re-boot news

Chen Kaige Braces for Battle of Impressions

Shandong and Metan are ‘Golden’

COMING SOON:

‘Overheard’ a Crime Thriller

RELATED: Sina.com Photo Gallery

TRACING SHADOW: Mental makes a big move

RELATED: Photo gallery of Franics Ng and Pace Wu promoting the movie in Beijing

MOTHERLAND (Director: Doris Yeung;  Cast: Francoise Yip Fong-Wah, Kenneth Tsang Kong):

New Posters of “The Message” Released

New Film Release: MCDULL KUNG FU DING DONG

PHOTOS: Louis Koo in ON HIS MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE

RELATED: Photos courtesy Sohu.com

New poster for SOPHIE’S REVENGE (Zhang Ziyi, Fan Bingbing)

New “Ani-Men” Animation to Become Mini-Franchise

FOUNDING OF A NATION: All star blockbuster “Jian Guo Da Ye” opens official web site

GENERAL NEWS:

Rumours: Cecilia Cheung expecting again!

Kelly Chen’s Active Bundle of Joy

Jetsetter Li: Earth is his home

Aaron Kwok: still passionate, but only about his music

Miriam Yeung forced to postpone wedding

Michelle Reis Now Says No to Surrogate Mother

Andy Lau:

Fan Bingbing Wins ‘Plastic Surgery’ Case

Liu Ye’s Big Day

RELATED: Sina.com High Definition Photo Gallery of Liu Ye’s wedding

Vivian Hsu Denies Relationship with Stephen Fung

Zhou Xun Plays Down Breakup at Public Appearance

Long-delayed ‘Sniper’ to Screen in Taiwan

Coco Lee’s memories of Michael Jackson and Neverland

BUSINESS/INDUSTRY NEWS:

Raymond Wong launches Hong Kong production outfit Pegasus

Hong Kong’s TVB set to take control of pay-TV unit

Star unveils slate of Chinese movie acquisitions

China media body gets new film boss

Bank of China to invest in media

OPINION: How the West can win in Asia

MOVIE REVIEW:

Review of MAGAZINE GAP ROAD (Jessey Meng, Elvis Tsui)

BEYOND HK:

South Korea: 19% of Actresses Forced to Provide Sex for Career

Stefanie Sun back with a bang after two years

Taipei Times Pop Stop on the Golden Melody Awards

Taiwan TV declines broadcast of A-mei’s video

Vincent Fang to direct film insinuating Jay and Jolin’s romance

Ethan Ruan Loves Older Women, Cheryl Yang’s The Role Model of Girls

Z-Chen: Fish Leong unlikely to withdraw from showbiz after marriage

Mavis Hee insane? Music producer clears her name

Tank wants to hook up with Jolin Tsai

Rain not falling for hot Fox

Harlem Yu: Perfect romance only happens on reel

AROUND TOWN:

Cecilia Yip Tung, Kristy Yang, Linda Wong Hing-Ping and Catherine Hung Yan

The ladies were among those who attended a charity event at a MTM skin care products store earlier this week.

Lin Chi-Ling, Pace Wu, Eunis Chan Ka-Yung, Lisa S. and others at an event for Swarovski

Gillian Chung

Gillian Chung did an interview for HK Commercial Radio on July 7th in which she was coy about her relationship with Juno Mak.  She does, however, plan on inviting him to see her upcoming play.  Also, she did not hear the news about Cecilia Cheung’s supposed pregnancy but plans to contact her and wish her well.

Vivian Hsu was in Hong Kong last week to promote laser hair removal for Dermes

Ruby Lin and Aloys Chen at an event for Gucci

Rosamund Kwan Chi-Lam

Kwan was a celebrity guest at a charity event for an education fund.  HK$1.7 million was raised.

Kelly Lin at an event for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics

Daniel Wu at a promotional event for a soft drink

AD WATCH:

Jolin Tsai and a cyber version of Jolin Tsai shoot an ad

Zhang Ziyi, Carina Lau: Celebrity Cheer for Launch of ‘Lan’ Jewelry

Hu Jing Shoots Clothing Ad While Four Months Pregnant

STALKIN’ THE STARS:

Zhang Ziyi wears a surgical mask while shopping in Hong Kong

Tony Leung Chiu-Wai

My cousin Tony met up with some friends on the night of July 4th.  He, reportedly, celebrated his 47th birthday recently by having a quiet dinner at home with his wife Carina Lau Ka-Ling.

PHOTO GALLERIES:

Crystal Liu Yifei’s photo spread for the June-July 2009 Chinese edition of HARPER’S BAZAAR

Michelle Ye (FIRE DRAGON, VENGEANCE)

Mainland model/actress Zhou Weitong

Catherine Hung Yan and fiance Zhang Danfeng

Angelica Lee Sum-Kit poses for the July edition of Dairizi

Charlene Choi gallery on the Arabic version of People’s Daily

CULTURAL NEWS:

China to spread the news in English

Chinese writers pen ‘instant’ Jackson bio

芝麻綠豆 (SESAME SEEDS AND MUNG BEANS):

Honest Croatian politician is not a breath of fresh air

Miniskirts, cleavage upset male South Koreans: survey

Image credit: Wong Jing’s Workshop Ltd. (Still from THE VAMPIRE WHO ADMIRES ME)

News Links: Cinco de Mayo 2009

A happy Cinco de Mayo to all — Mexican or non-Mexican because this blog recognizes the Confucian principle of “all within the four seas are one family”. :-)

Four Seas One Family

Speaking of Mexico, this swine flu coverage from the media is getting out of hand.  Last night, the news had a breathless story on “swine flu survivors”.  Really?  Are you sure you want to drop the word “survivor” here?  Apart from thinking of contestants on a cheesy but fun CBS reality/game show, when I hear the word “survivor”, I usually think Holocaust survivor or airplane crash survivor.  “Swine flu survivor” is a bit much — no?  Heck, I was involved in a bitter struggle with the Big C for more than a year and I don’t go around referring to myself as a “survivor”.

Whatever happened to a little something called perspective?  I’m writing this paragraph on Tuesday evening and, according to the World Health Organization website, there are currently 1,419 confirmed cases of H1N1 flu world wide — that’s 1,419 out of 6.7 billion people or 0.000000211% of the population.  Yes, this flu is something people need to take seriously and watch carefully but is this degree of media coverage necessary?  I’m starting to think that, ultimately, there may be more harm to society from the media crying wolf than there will be from this flu outbreak.

Enough nonsense about the nonsense, let’s celebrate the outmanned and outgunned Mexican army’s victory over Napoleon III’s French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 with some links:

LINK OF INTEREST:

While we’re on the topic of underdog victories, here’s a link to an off-topic but interesting piece from The New Yorker:

Annals of Innovation: How David Beats Goliath

MOVIE REVIEWS:

HK Magazine reviews:

IN PRODUCTION:

Nicholas Tse Went all out for New Role

Vivian Hsu on Freezing Filming Set

CRI ENGLISH movie capusle: SHANGHAI (Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li, John Cusack)

EAST WIND, RAIN: Wang Baoqiang Is a ‘Xiao Kai’ in Shanghai

Mainland TV: Four Generations under One Roof

Japan: Warner brings ‘Death’ to bigscreen

FEATURES:

Challenges keep Xu Jinglei Alive

Another Shot At Success: Electric New Paper feature on Mrs. Kozo aka Karena Lam Ka-Yan

Mainland Mission: Screen Daily feature on Peter Chan Ho-Sun

Bau Hei-Jing: The “eldest” best actress

A Heinous History: bc Magazine feature on I CORRUPT ALL COPS

It’s Because We’re Very Vain: Electric New Paper feature on Grasshopper

Cultural Revolution: Screen Daily feature on Polybona boss Yu Dong

Up Close: PUSSYCAT THEATRE

HK Magazine interview with actress/director Crystal Kwok Kam-Yan.  Ten years ago, she directed an intriguing movie called THE MISTRESS.  Definitely worth a look if you can find it on DVD.  There’s an unique shot of a pig in the film that you won’t forget.  It was a remarkable directorial debut for Kwok and it’s a bit of a shame that she hasn’t directed another movie.

High on Action: Feature on young Thai actors from the Thai film POWER KIDS

GENERAL NEWS:

New Bride: 61-Year-Old Liza Wang

Andy Lau’s wedding is off, says HK media

Chow Yun Fat and other Hong Kong stars on the swine flu and Mexico

Nicholas Tse’s Last Album takes off

PHOTOS: Nic Tse promotes his album with a little help from his old man

SARFT reminds you to avoid celebrity scandals

Wouter Barendrecht remembered in Hong Kong

OBITUARIES: Variety; The Guardian

PHOTOS: Xinhua News

Singapore: Jaime Teo plans showbiz comeback

Strong Showing: Article on the Singapore film industry

SEXY PHOTOS GATE:

Cecilia Cheung ‘hopes to act again’ after a year break

PHOTOS: Cecilia Cheung meets with Derek Yee

Gillian Chung performs on TVB charity show

JACKIE CHAN:

On Sunday, Jackie Chan made his first public appearance in Hong Kong since his infamous ramblings at a Mainland business forums last month.  Chan performed at an event celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.  He left immediately after his performance and did not speak to reporters.

RELATED: Xinhua news photos

Jackie Chan wears a political jester’s hat, too

Jackie Chan stages show at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest

PHOTOS: Jackie Chan performs

Jackie Chan Stars Concert in Bird’s Nest

Jackie Chan: There’s no place like home!

Rain joins in Jackie Chan concert

Jackie Chan now the mail lead

Jackie Chan, Yao Ming appointed ambassadors for 2010 Shanghai World Expo

Jackie Chan and The World’s Largest Sushi Roll

CONCERT REVIEW:

Hail the Music Man: Lee Hom-Wang in Malaysia

Lee Hom dazzles fans

OPINION:

City of sorrow: Competing film portrayals of the Nanjing Massacre

PHOTO GALLERYS:

Stalkin’ The Stars: Faye Wong in Hong Kong 1, 2

Faye Wong landed in Hong Kong earlier this week for some shopping and to meet with her friends Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Carina Lau Ka-Ling and Rosamund Kwan Chi-Lam

More Stalkin’ The Stars: Zhang Ziyi shops for shoes in Hong Kong

Vivian Chow Wai-Man shoots a cosmetics ad

Joey Yung, Lisa S. (Daniel Wu’s squeeze) at an event for Tiffany & Co.

Jessica Hsuan, Sunny Chan, Natalie Tong promote their TVB series JUST LOVE II

Zhou Xun: Expo Green Queen

Zhao Ziqi’s Punk Style

Olympic diving star: Guo Jingjing

CHINESE PEOPLE BEING CONTROLLED:

Hubei orders public servants to smoke local cigarettes

FOLLOW-UP: China cigarette order up in smoke

The Watch Log: THE UNDERDOG KNIGHT, PAINTED SKIN, MAD MEN

March 28th, 2009: THE UNDERDOG KNIGHT

A disjointed film that feels like it isn’t fully formed.  Yet, it’s seductively mesmerizing and, ultimately, a satisfying movie experience.  Now, I may be giving the film more credit than it deserves because my judgment is impaired by the mesmerizing presence of the seductive Ellen Chan Nga-Lun (who I have admired since she played my cousin Tony’s girlfriend in the TVB series THE SEASONS) but the outstanding performance by Liu Ye makes the film compelling.  It’s hard to believe that the actor from this film is the same actor from Stanley Kwan Kam-Pang’s LAN YU.

The performance is so good, it compels you to overlook that the romantic subplot is underdeveloped, Liu Ye’s character doesn’t really go anywhere and the Captain Jiang plot thread comes abruptly from left field.

CHINESE LESSON OF THE DAY:

gin_ming.gif

The spirit behind Liu Ye’s character is inspired by the Chinese expression “gin yi yung wai” or “having the courage to do what’s right no matter the consequences”.  The opposing philosophy and, quite frankly, the prevailing attitude among Chinese people is embodied by the phrase “ming jit bo sun” or “a wise man who understands the situation can do what’s best for his personal safety”.  Basically, “bend with breeze so you don’t break”.  It’s this kind of attitude that yields bullshit (sorry, there’s no other way to put it) plot points like the French collector suddenly deciding to give the priceless “Dragon Tongue” spear back to the Chinese government.

Yes, it’s a bit of a weasly attitude but that’s what happens when you come from a people who have been living under the whims of various kings, emperors, tyrants, despots, warlords, dictators and Politburos for thousands and thousands of years.

March 23rd, 2009: PAINTED SKIN

In honour of the new Formula 1 season, I’ll use a car analogy for this entry …

Though it has the stylings of a “costume epic geared for the international market”, PAINTED SKIN is powered by an engine that has its roots in the junky ghost/spirit movies of the late-1980s/early-1990s that were inspired by the success of A CHINESE GHOST STORY.  Basically, it’s one of those old-school action/romance/horror/supernatural/comedy but with souped-up production values and a solid cast.  The only things missing are the alluring Joey Wong Tso-Yin, the ubiquitous Wu Ma and the bald one Elvis Tsui Kam-Kong (oh wait, this is PAINTED SKIN not EROTIC PAINTED SKIN).

If you go into the movie expecting a fun ghost story then PAINTED SKIN is a good story well told.  If you go in wanting to deconstruct the movie like it was 2046 then it probably isn’t for you.

I’ll have more to say about PAINTED SKIN when I do my annual Hong Kong Film Awards preview post.

March 17th, 2009: MAD MEN, Season One

Much like George Costanza, I have different worlds that rarely collide.  There’s my HK/Chinese culture world, my sports fan world, my North American culture world and my UK culture world.  So, when three different people from three of my different worlds (sports fan, UK and North American) mentioned a show called MAD MEN and recommended it to me because it was brilliant, I figured that it was worth a look …

… And boy, am I glad I did rent the season one DVDs because the show is fantastic.  It takes an episode or two to get going but, once it does, it’s a captivating look at the sense of self, ambition, denial, identity and self-worth.  As the show is set in the 1960s, it highlights the fact that times change but the issues that every individual faces stays the same.

Thoughts on BANGKOK DANGEROUS (2008)

Having set up a fall guy to take the blame in case this post goes south, I’m ready to share some thoughts on the BANGKOK DANGEROUS remake.

BANGKOK DANGEROUS (2008)
Official Site: http://www.bangkokdangerousmovie.net/
Directors: The Pang Brothers (Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang Fat)
Cast: Nicolas Cage (Joe), Shahkrit Yamnarm (Kong), Charlie Yeung (Fon), Panward Hemmanee (Aom), Nirattisai Kaljaruek (Surat)

Synopsis (from Yahoo! Movies): The life of Joe, an anonymous assassin, takes an unexpected turn when he travels to Thailand to complete a series of contract killings. Joe, a remorseless hitman, is in Bangkok to execute four enemies of a ruthless crime boss named Surat. He hires Kong, a street punk and pickpocket, to run errands for him with the intention of covering his tracks by killing him at the end of the assignment. Strangely, Joe, the ultimate lone wolf, finds himself mentoring the young man instead whilst simultaneously being drawn into a tentative romance with a local shop girl. As he falls further under the sway of Bangkok’s intoxicating beauty, Joe begins to question his isolated existence and let down his guard–just as Surat decides it’s time to clean house.

BANGKOK DANGEROUS posterPRE-CONCEIVED NOTIONS: None.  This movie only popped up on my radar when the trailer for it was shown when I went to a screening of THE BANK JOB back in April.  As it stars Nicolas Cage, whose recent track record is dubious at best, I was going to pass on this film but I caught a glimpse of the fabulous Charlie Yeung Choi-Lei in the trailer so I knew that I’d have to see it when it came out.

I haven’t even seen the original BANGKOK DANGEROUS.  To be honest, while I have the DVD of ABNORMAL BEAUTY lying around somewhere, the only Pang Brothers movies I’ve seen are THE EYE and THE DETECTIVE.  I have nothing against Danny Pang and Oxide Pang, it’s just that, as a rationalist/skeptic Scully type, I tend to stay away from ghost/supernatural movies unless the word “erotic” is somehow involved.

I’m going into the movie hoping that it will be good and that it will be a good showcase for Charlie Yeung.  Yeung starred in two of my favourite Hong Kong movies from the 1990s: DOWNTOWN TORPEDOES and TASK FORCE.  Sadly, the DVDs for both films are out of print but it’s worth your time to go hunting for the odd copies that may be still be sitting on a video store shelf.  Between the two, TASK FORCE is definitely the one you should work harder to acquire.

AFTER THE MOVIE: Average — that’s the word that comes to mind when I think about the film.  BANGKOK DANGEROUS tells an unremarkable variation of the standard, run-of-the-mill “jaded hitman is on his last job” story.  It features some decent acting and is competently made though there are instances where it has that annoying herky-jerky, murky look which used to be cool but is now mostly irritating.  The film is mildly entertaining but there are times when it drags along like one of those 50-episode TVB dramas that only has 30 episodes worth of plot.  It’s not a bad film but I wouldn’t call it good either.  Unless you are a rabid Pang Brothers fan or you can see it at a second-run theatre for $4 or less, wait until this becomes one of those 7-day rentals that you can get for a couple of bucks.

Charlie Yeung in BANGKOK DANGEROUS

MORE THOUGHTS: Saddled with a thankless deaf-mute love interest role, Charlie Yeung does the best that she can with a ludicrous character.  She does a good job of emoting without words and has some fabulous close-ups but her character (Fon) and the relationship she has with the Nicolas Cage hitman character (Joe) is so far-fetched, you not only have to suspend disbelief, you need to hire a hypnotist to temporarily disable the higher-functioning parts of your brain.  As I said earlier, I went into the movie with a lot of good will for it and Charlie Yeung.  I wanted to like it but from the moment Fon first interacted with Joe, I couldn’t help rolling my eyes at the improbability of the situation.  To wit:

- Despite being deaf and mute, Fon readily and enthusiastically takes on customer service at her work.  I think 99% of people with her physical situation would be doing behind-the-counter, non-customer service duties.

- Without a hint of hesitation, Fon agrees to go out with Joe even though he looks a little creepy and seems a little shady.

- Fon takes Joe home to meet her family yet still hasn’t asked him what he does for a living.  I don’t know about you but, whenever I meet someone new in a social situation, the “what do you do with your life” question comes up within fifteen minutes.

Perhaps I’m being harsh and overly nitpicky but there is no credible core to the Fon character.  Even though Charlie Yeung tries her best to breathe life into Fon, it just doesn’t work because the character is too inauthentic and too unbelievable.

SECOND THOUGHTS: I went to the movie with my friend Jay and his lovely bride Keri.  As we left the theatre, I asked Jay what he thought of the film.  Unequivocally, he told me that the movie stinks.  When I said that I thought it was OK, he said that bkk_dangerous_org_poster.jpgif I had seen the original BANGKOK DANGEROUS, I’d realize that the 2008 version is a steaming pile of poo.  Intrigued by Jay’s emphatic reaction, I went to the local Blockbuster store on my way home and rented the DVD.

After watching the DVD, I have to agree with Jay.  The BANGKOK DANGEROUS remake pales in comparison to the original.  As Sanjuro pointed out in his LoveHKFilm review of the film, the original is a “satisfying” film experience while most people can take or leave the remake.  In the original, the hitman — and not the love interest — is the one who is deaf-mute.  This makes the original eminently more … uh … original and compelling than the remake.

Why would the Pang Brothers kneecap their original premise and make the questionable decision to turn the love interest into the deaf-mute?  Money.

In an article that was published in the International Herald Tribune on July 13th, 2006, the following passage reveals the reason behind the change:

While the original production was made on a $400,000 budget, the budget this time has ballooned to $45 million, and Oxide Pang admits to being under pressure to make some changes to the script. The original script calls for the lead actor to play a deaf-mute hit man.

“We’d like to keep him the same, but we understand that from a marketing purpose Nic needs to have some lines,” Pang said. “So what we’re going to do is transform his girlfriend into a deaf- mute. By switching the roles, the drama of communication between two people will remain the same.”

I hate to be a Monday Morning Quarterback but the remake would have been better and, ultimately, more profitable if the Pang Brothers stuck to their artistic vision and kept the original premise.  Instead of offering the 3,337th iteration of “burned out hitman looks to get out after one last job”, they could have offered mainstream Western audiences something different and unique.  You can just imagine the extra buzz the film would have received from the talking heads on ET/THE INSIDER/EXTRA/ACCESS HOLLYWOOD.  They all would have gushed breathlessly about how Nicolas Cage plays a deaf-mute.  As the guys in TROPIC THUNDER indelicately point out, handicap roles in movies draw attention.  By taking the deaf-mute aspect away from the hitman and putting it on to the love interest, the Pang Brothers ruined the hook that gives the original its spark.  Instead of a potential source of commendation, it’s now a definite source of derision.

MISCELLANEA:

- While I have done some traveling, I pretty much live a “frog at the bottom of a well” existence.  So, I have to ask: Are strip clubs in Bangkok any where near as lavish as they are depicted in the movie?  The last time — actually the only time — I was in a strip club, the place smelled like stale beer and the girls were, at best, sixes.  None of them were as hot as Aom and her colleagues.  Some of them had more tattoos than a Japanese yakuza.

- XX vs XY: I mentioned earlier that I went to the BANGKOK DANGEROUS remake with my friend Jay and his wife Keri.  Keri came along just because it was something to do.  She isn’t exactly a fan of the action genre.  Still, her reaction to the movie caught me off guard.  When asked what she thought of the movie, this was her only response: “You know that scene in the temple?  The deaf girl (Charlie Yeung) had visible panty line.”

CHINESE LESSON OF THE DAY:

frog_idiom.gif

井底之蛙 is a Chinese idiom used to describe someone who does has a very limited outlook.  It’s derived from this Chinese fable.

Image credits: International Entertainment Group (BANGKOK DANGEROUS remake movie poster, Charlie Yeung), Film Bangkok/Pang Bros. (BANGKOK DANGEROUS original movie poster)

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

With the arrival of September and people shuffling out of “summer mode” and back into “the routine”, I’m delaying the TVB post one more time in favour of a post on something timely but a little offbeat for a HK entertainment blog: students going back to school after the summer holiday.

But first (TMJulie Chen), a couple of reader interaction tidbits to take care of:

- To Jo who asked me about the TVB series I’m going to post about, it’s THE GREEN GRASS OF HOME (緣來自有機).  I’d like to say that IChristine Ng Wing-Mei watched it because I was curious to see how TVB handled the environmental themes but honestly it’s because Christine Ng Wing-Mei, at the relatively advanced age (for a TVB starlet) of 39, is “still gettin’ it done”.

Actually, looking ahead, I may be delaying the TVB post one more time because I plan on seeing how Charlie Yeung Choi-Lei fares in the BANGKOK DANGEROUS remake sometime this weekend.  Of course, this means I’ll have to somehow tear myself away from the TV and opening weekend NFL action.

- While writing this post, I started to wonder how “summer holidays” work in the Southern Hemisphere.  Do people in places like Australia and New Zealand synchronize their holidays with North America and Europe or do school kids down under get December or January or February off?  Yeah, I realize that I could easily get the answer from Google but I’m a lazy, lazy man.

On to the business of the day …

Even though I haven’t attended school since the days Confucius taught classes on the Five Classics under the large scholar tree in his courtyard, I still get a bittersweet feeling when the calendar rolls around to September.  I think it’s because the whole “back to school” rigmarole that takes place in the culture and the slight chill that creeps into the air in the mornings and the evenings signals that the lazy, hazy, carefree days of summer are over and that it’s time to get serious again.

The “back to school” milieu also brings to mind the Sam Hui Kwoon-Kit song 《學生哥》 (lit. Student Brother) where Ah Sam exhorts kids, through a catchy tune, to study hard in school so that they can one day become independent.  It was released in 1978 on Hui’s album 賣身契 (THE CONTRACT).  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sam Hui, he — along with James Wong Jim (黃霑), Joseph Koo Ka-Fai (顧嘉煇) and Lo Man (羅文, Roman Tam) — helped transform Cantonese music from the literal, classical Cantonese Opera form that dominated Sam Hui Kwoon-Kitthe HK music scene until the early-1970s to the colloquial, informal Cantopop of today.  While Wong, Koo and Tam did it primarily through television theme music, Hui helped popularize Cantopop through songs that spoke directly to Hong Kong people by addressing the issues of the day in the vernacular of the day.

Showing a wide artistic range, not only could Hui be topical [as shown in the song 《話知你 97》 (trans. Could Not Care Less About 1997)], he could also be philosophical [《世事如棋》 (trans. Life Is Like A Game Of Chess)], satirical [《打雀英雄傳》 (trans. Mahjong Playing Heroes — a spoof of the theme song to a 1970s TV adaptation of Jin Yong’s LEGEND OF THE CONDOR HEROES)] and comical [with the aforementioned 《賣身契》 (trans. Contract Of Indentured Servitude), a song about how people enter into life only after signing a contract of servitude with God … or the Great Whatever of your particular religion].  Western audiences are most likely to know of Hui through the song 《最佳拍檔》 (trans. Ideal Partner) — the theme song for the ACES GO PLACES movies.  If you would like to learn more about Sam Hui, a substantial biography of Hui can be found at Sam Hui Online.

《學生哥》 shows Hui’s philosophical and topical sides.  In it, he uses plain, everyday Cantonese to tell school kids to study hard so that they can make something of themselves in life.  I’ve done a rough translation of the lyrics (see below) and I’ve uploaded a clip of the song that you can check out here.  If you want to check out the song in its entirety, a four CD set of Sam Hui’s greatest hits can be had at YesAsia for a fairly decent price of US$21.49.

 The lyrics:

Lyrics for Sam Hui’s 《學生哥》

 

CHINESE LESSON OF THE DAY:

old_cake.gif

老餅 or “old cake” is Cantonese slang used to describe people of a certain age (namely old farts like me).  It’s slightly more polite and affectionate than 老柴 (lo chai or “old firewood”).

Image credits: TVB (Christine Ng), Polygram Records (Sam Hui)

 
 
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