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Archive for the ‘Hong Kong Film Awards’ Category

28th Hong Kong Film Awards Preview: More Picks

Previously:

Let’s finish previewing the remaining major categories beginning with the nominees for Best Supporting Actor.  They are:

MY VOTE GOES TO: Zhang Fengyi (RED CLIFF)

I would have voted for Zhang Fengyi solely because he was able to do those “I’m waging war because I’m in love with Xiao Qiao” scenes without rolling his eyes at the nonsense he was being forced to portray. :-)

Zhang Fengyi in RED CLIFF

In all seriousness, I’m picking Zhang because, with the possible exception of Stephen Chow’s character in CJ7, his character figured most prominently in the story of the respective films.  Without the smug and arrogant presence of Cao Cao, the audience isn’t rooting as hard for that “loser Liu Bei” and that “young, inexperienced twerp” Sun Quan.  They’d be like: “oh well, survival of the fittest, the strong conquers the weak”.

I think that this category is a three horse race between Zhang, Stephen Chow and Liu Kai-Chi.  I’d be surprised if Gordon Lam won and I’d be very, very surprised if Louis Fan took home the statue.  Nothing against Fan, I enjoyed his performances in TVB dramas of the 1990s, but his character in IP MAN is about as one-dimensional as you can get.

* * * * *

The nominees for Best Supporting Actress are:

MY VOTE GOES TO: Chan Lai-Wun (THE WAY WE ARE)

Like the Best Actress category, my head and my heart had a mighty struggle over who I should throw my vote behind.  I really, really wanted to pick Race Wong here but, like her castmate Prudence Lau, there are times during her performance where she’s a bit off and she loses control of her character.  Sometimes she overacts and sometimes her Mainland accent slips.  It’s a laudable effort but it’s no match for the performance that Chan Lai-Wun turned in for THE WAY WE ARE.

Similar to the way Cao Cao was integral to RED CLIFF, Chan’s Granny character is a key part of THE WAY WE ARE.  Her stirring portrait of a lonely senior powers the low-key emotion and drama of the film.  Without it, THE WAY WE ARE truly would be a boring film that isn’t about anything.

Chan Lai-Wun in THE WAY WE ARE

I agree with Kozo that the award is going to go to Chan or Nora Miao from RUN PAPA RUN.  I hope Chan wins because any number of actresses could have played Miao’s part in RUN PAPA RUN.  Susan Shaw, last year’s winner, probably could have done just as good a job as Miao.  I don’t think, however, that Miao or Shaw could have pulled off the bit in THE WAY WE ARE where Chan’s character cooks herself a meal.  The sequence was simple, she was just cooking dinner for herself but it was filled with so much pathos, I believe Bruce Lee rose from his grave, applauded, and said: “That, my friends, is emotional content.”

* * * * *

The nominees for Best New Artist are:

MY VOTE GOES TO: Kitty Zhang Yuqi (ALL ABOUT WOMEN)

Kitty Zhang in ALL ABOUT WOMEN

Contrary to previous years where acting giants like Baby Matthew Medvedev (26th HKFA) and Edison Chen (20th HKFA) were nominated, there’s no filler in the category this year as I could make legitimate cases for all five of the nominees to win.  Ultimately, I settled on Kitty Zhang because she shows the most potential.  She oozes screen charisma in her dynamite performance as a female “Master of the Universe”.  The depth and confidence she displays in ALL ABOUT WOMEN is in marked contrast to her “flower vase” debut in CJ7 and her “just look cute and adorable” role in SHAOLIN GIRL.  Maybe she set the bar low with those earlier performances but I was somewhat surprised by how mature and polished she seemed in the mess of a film by Tsui Hark.  If a bookie would take action on it, I’d bet that she ends up with the longest and most accomplished movie career out of all of this year’s new artist nominees.

* * * * *

The nominees for Best Screenplay are:

MY VOTE GOES TO:  Lui Yau-Wah (THE WAY WE ARE)

This pick comes with a caveat as I haven’t seen CLAUSTROPHOBIA yet (the release date for the DVD is April 30th).  However, if Kozo’s review is any indication, I think it’s safe to say that it would not have affected my decision to go with Lui Yau-Wah’s screenplay.  I’m picking it to win for the same reason I picked THE WAY WE ARE for Best Film:  it’s an exceptional Hong Kong film that’s about Hong Kong people and Hong Kong concerns.

Besides, all the other nominated screenplays have issues.  The “one stone, many ripples” theme of THE BEAST STALKER comes off as very contrived.  The writers of PAINTED SKIN got a huge assist from Pu Songling and it would be blasphemous to the notion of art to reward the RUN PAPA RUN screenplay for that silly ending.

* * * * *

The nominees for Best Director are:

MY VOTE GOES TO: Ann Hui On-Wah (THE WAY WE ARE)

Take this pick with a grain of salt because I understand the technical aspects of film directing about as well as I understand the techincal aspects of a Formula 1 car.   That said, the choice for me was between Johnnie To and Ann Hui.  I don’t believe John Woo, Wilson Yip or Benny Chan added to their repertoire or did anything extraordinary with their films.  Johnnie To, on the other hand, explored new territory by successfully making a skillful tribute to French cinema.  I would have voted for his work in SPARROW had it not been for Ann Hui’s remarkable work in THE WAY WE ARE.

Regular readers of this blog will recall that I had my issues last year with Hui’s THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT.  Rather than being an award-worthy film, I felt that the movie highlighted Hui’s tendency to sometimes lay things on a bit too thick.  The piling on of tragedy after tragedy on Ye Rutang was so depressing, any message Hui was trying to convey was lost.

The goofy moon shot from THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT

In sharp contrast, Hui shows great discipline in THE WAY WE ARE.  There aren’t any false notes.  There are no goofy shots of the Moon.  Everything is finely-tuned from the acting to the choice of music to the pace of the narrative.  With great skill, Ann Hui shows the audience the way most Hong Kong people are and, for that, she should win this year’s Best Director HKFA.

Image credits: Lion Rock Productions (Zhang Fengyi), Class Limited (Chan Lai-Wun), Film Workshop (Kitty Zhang), Beijing Poly-bona Film Publishing Co. Ltd. (Still from THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)

28th Hong Kong Film Awards Preview: Best Film

Previously:

A little reader interaction before we dive into the topic of the day …

From the comments on the last post:

laicheukpan writes: Sanney you didn’t actually contact Kozo right?

I actually did contact Kozo.  Those are his actual thoughts on Karena Lam and the Best Actress category.  Living here in the Great White North, I won’t be able to see CLAUSTROPHOBIA for another two, three weeks so I needed to get in touch with him to round out the post.

While I’m answering questions from laicheukpan, here’s another from the comments on Happy Year of The Ox!

laicheukpan writes: Hey Sanney! Happy New Year! I got a question for you. Are you fluent in Cantonese?

Yes, I speak a civilized tongue and not just this barbaric language.  I kid, I kid.  Back in elementary school, I had a Chinese friend who had a grandfather who was old-school, hardcore Chinese.  When I was over at his house, I’d hear his grandfather ranting in the other Li Bingbingroom about Chinese people being “civilized” and non-Chinese people being “barbarians”.  Good times!  The guy was a bit scary to a little kid like me:  hunched over, wispy moustache, Emperor Hirohito-type glasses and a creepy, loud and raspy smoker’s voice.

Anyway, yes I’m fluent in Cantonese.  I don’t have a Stephen Chow mo lei tau (無厘頭) command of the language but I can hold my own in a conversation.  A little Cantonese voice in the back of my head keeps telling me that I should learn how to speak Mandarin — just in case I run into Fan Bingbing or Li Bingbing someday — but I’m a lazy, lazy man.

By the way, Kozo really is actually marrying his secret girlfriend of 20 years later this month.  He’s going to be telling everyone that’s he’s going to “Italy” for a “film festival” but he’s really going to Malaysia for his wedding.

On to today’s business …

* * * * *

The nominees for Best Film are:

MY VOTE GOES TO: THE WAY WE ARE

To me, THE WAY WE ARE is the clear winner in this category.  CJ7 is enjoyably pleasant but it’s a clear step down for Stephen Chow.  It’s not as uproariously funny as SHAOLIN SOCCER nor is it as captivating as KUNG FU HUSTLE.  Honestly, I think CJ7 got nominated because back room folks at the Hong Kong Film Awards Association had the following conversation:

HKFAA Executive #1: You know, ratings for our awards show would really get a boost if we could get Stephen Chow to show up.

HKFAA Executive #2: Well, Tiffany says the guy is “inhumane” and that he once threatened to sue Cecilia Cheung if she didn’t shave her head for a movie.  He’s not going to come if we just ask him.  The only way he’ll show up is if we nominate him for something.

HKFAA Executive #1: What if we play the loyalty card and ask him to come for the good of the industry that’s provided him his millions?

HKFAA Executive #2: Danny says that Chow is the type of guy who drinks water but doesn’t think about where it comes from.  He should know because he helped Chow start up his movie career.  The loyalty card won’t work.  We have to nominate him.

HKFAA Executive #1: OK, let’s throw some nominations to CJ7 and hope he shows up.

I think that’s a big part of why CJ7 is nominated in this category and not THE BEAST STALKER which is just as technically proficient as CJ7 or TRUE WOMAN FOR SALE which has just as much, if not more, grit and heart as CJ7.

IP MAN and PAINTED SKIN are both well-made and thoroughly enjoyable.  They are, however, popcorn movies.  They’re like most of the summer blockbusters that Hollywood churns out annually, a whole lot of fun, but when it comes time for Oscar season, you don’t consider them serious contenders.

With John Woo at the helm, a stellar cast, grand production values and a ROMANCE OF THE THREE KINGDOMS pedigree, RED CLIFF has an epic feel that makes it more than your usual summer blockbuster.  If it weren’t for THE WAY WE ARE, RED CLIFF would win running away.  However, three things — two minor and one very significant — make THE WAY WE ARE more worthy of the title.  First, RED CLIFF is plagued at times by languid pacing.  It feels like it could have been paced with tighter efficiency.  Second, there’s more cheese in some of the scenes than a 12″ Big Philly Cheesesteak from Subway.  Stuff like the Sun Shangxiang nerve tweak or Takeshi Kaneshiro’s Zhuge Liang comic relief face are fine as entertaining bits in a summer blockbuster but they don’t belong if your aspiration is to make an all-time epic.

Takeshi Kaneshiro's comic reflief face in RED CLIFF

Third, and most important, RED CLIFF does not carry as much cultural significance as THE WAY WE ARE.  Now some of you are probably thinking: “Did Sanney get into Jill Vidal’s stash or something?  Along with JOURNEY TO THE WEST (西遊記), WATER MARGIN (水滸傳) and DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER (紅樓夢), ROMANCE OF THE THREE KINGDOMS is one of the four great Chinese classics.  How can RED CLIFF not have as much cultural significance as THE WAY WE ARE?”

Well, my counterargument is that we are talking about the HONG KONG film awards and THE WAY WE ARE is more culturally significant to HONG KONG than RED CLIFF.  Like it or not, movies tend to reinforce stereotypes and common misconceptions.  For example, I’m sure all those Richard Curtis romantic comedies have left many people thinking that most British guys are charming, self-effacing Hugh Grant/Colin Firth types.  Similarly, I’m sure Hong Kong movies have left many people thinking that HK is filled with kung fu masters, invincible cops and goo wak jai (古惑仔).  Yet, nothing could be further from the truth.  The people that populate THE WAY WE ARE — the produce lady at Wellcome, the lonely senior citizen, the dopey ambition-less kid and the successful businessman who received an education overseas — are the same people who populate Hong Kong.  They outnumber, by a vast margin, kung fu practitioners, supercops and evil gangsters.  THE WAY WE ARE is an almost perfect reflection of normal life in Hong Kong and it deserves to be rewarded with this year HKFA for Best Film.

Still from THE WAY WE ARE

The big knock against THE WAY WE ARE is that it’s boring and that nothing really happens.  People who feel that way are, I believe, missing the point of the movie.  THE WAY WE ARE is saying that Hong Kong is defined not by those whose lives end with tragic murder-suicides but by people whose lives continue everyday in mundane ways like the hard-working Mrs. Cheung and her lonely neighbour.  It’s saying that most people in Hong Kong react to adversity by quietly sucking it up and moving on with their lives the best that they can.  Only in exceptional cases do they resort to violence.  To reinforce that message, the low-key rhythm is necessary.  Moments of high drama or neat resolutions would defeat the purpose of the film.

Reading the tea leaves, I think THE WAY WE ARE, RED CLIFF and IP MAN are the three serious contenders for the awards.  Though RED CLIFF and IP MAN are bigger and flashier, it would be a shame if the exceptional, note-perfect, little local film that’s about local people and local issues fails to win the prize.

Image credits: Universal Pictures (Li Bingbing), Lion Rock Productions (Takeshi Kaneshiro), Class Limited (Still from THE WAY WE ARE)

28th Hong Kong Film Awards Preview: Best Actor and Best Actress

The signs are all here.  The sweet showers of April have pierced the drought of March.  The Ram has run half its course through the Zodiac and Zephirus, with his sweet breath, has breathed life into the tender crops.  It’s mid-April and time to preview the Hong Kong Film Awards.

These aren’t my predictions for the awards, rather they reflect what my votes would have been if, by some fortuitous machination of the Universe, I ended up getting a ballot.

Let’s start with the Best Actor and Best Actress categories …

* * * * *

The nominees for Best Actor are:

MY VOTE GOES TO:  Nick Cheung Ka-Fai (THE BEAST STALKER)

Nick Cheung in THE BEAST STALKER

Of the five nominated performances, the one by Nick Cheung shows the most range and the most depth.   Moreover, of the five, his job is the most difficult.  On one hand, he has to create enough tension as a villain to move the story forward. On the other — for the “one stone, many ripples” theme of the movie to work — he has to generate enough sympathy from the audience so that they care about the story behind his relentless Terminator-like menace.   Cheung pulls off both tasks with great aplomb.   If he does not win the award on Sunday night, it will be a major injustice.

Why?  My cousin Tony, Simon Yam and Louis Koo all turn in fine performances but their roles were not challenging as they’ve all given similar performances before.  In HERO, Tony Leung portrayed a man of strategy and action in a historical epic.  Over his long career, Simon Yam has played so many suave and sophisticated criminals, he could probably do it in his sleep.  As for Louis Koo, Kozo summed it up best in his review of RUN PAPA RUN:

… Koo has yet to become a truly accomplished actor, but he has cornered the market on certain character types.  Among them are the weak macho hero, the hen-pecked playboy, and other variations on the comically emasculated drop-dead gorgeous male.  What makes Koo so special at the above roles is he can play them while retaining audience identification and sympathy, making him a likable lout that’s less than a caricature and more than a simpering loser.  Basically, if you need an actor to play a character like Lee Tin-Yun, Louis Koo is your go-to guy, as he can wring comedy and even some affecting emotions from potentially weak, easily-assailed men.

Last but not least, Donnie Yen is a different kettle of fish.  He successfully reins in his natural “preening schmoe” tendencies but his portrayal of Ip Man is more like Jean Claude Van Damme playing Frank Dux in BLOODSPORT than it is Philip Seymour Hoffman winning an Oscar for his portrayal of Truman Capote in CAPOTE.  I can’t say this with 100% certainty but I’m 99% sure that Yen’s portrayal of Ip Man bears very little resemblance to the real-life Ip Man.  As I said when I shared my thoughts on the film, Yen wasn’t playing Ip Man, he was playing a Chinese superhero fighting against the evil Japanese.

* * * * *

The nominees for Best Actress are:

MY VOTE GOES TO: Barbie Hsu (CONNECTED)

Barbie Hsu in CONNECTED

This category presents a real head-versus-heart dilemma for me.  My head says that Bau Hei-Jing, daughter of all-time great Bau FongBau Fonggave the best performance but, in my heart of hearts, I think I would toss my vote to Barbie Hsu.  Objectively, CONNECTED is merely a well-made popcorn movie and Barbie Hsu’s performance isn’t overwhelmingly superior to that of Bau or the other nominees.  However, it stuck with me.  About a month after I watched CONNECTED, I sat down to watch THE BEAST STALKER.  Whenever Zhang Jingchu popped up on the screen as the “mother with a child in peril”, I couldn’t help thinking: “Zhang Jingchu is really doing a nice job here but she isn’t even coming close to matching Barbie Hsu in CONNECTED.”  It’s a purely idiosyncratic reason to vote for Hsu but hers is the performance I liked the most in this category.

Another reason my heart beats out my head is that something about Bau Hei-Jing’s performance in THE WAY WE ARE bothers me.  After the film, Bau’s Mrs. Cheung remains opaque.  The audience doesn’t learn much about her beyond the fact that she’s a hard-working, magnaminous, straight-arrow.  We don’t know why she avoids visiting her mother in the hospital and, apart from one brief snippet, she doesn’t show any emotion.  Granted, many people don’t show much emotion in real life but you’d think there would be a shade here or a shade there to give the audience some insight into what makes Mrs. Cheung tick.  The screenplay may be more at fault here than Bau Hei-Jing but the nagging inscrutability of the Mrs. Cheung character helps tip my vote over to Big S Barbie Hsu.

Bau Hei-Jing in THE WAY WE ARE

As for the rest of the field, Prudence Lau delivers a striking performance as a drug-addicted prostitute in TRUE WOMAN FOR SALE.  However, at various points throughout the film, she lays it on a bit too thick so that puts her performance in the “good, really good, but not great” category.  Zhou Xun shows some allure while playing a heart-eating demon in PAINTED SKIN but it’s a role that doesn’t have award-winning gravitas.  I suppose you could say that the same thing applies to Barbie Hsu and, you know what, I wouldn’t argue with you but what can I say besides Hsu’s performance really connected with me.  In any case, the prevailing winds seem to be blowing towards Bau Hei-Jing for the win.

Now, you’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned Karena Lam or her work in CLAUSTROPHOBIA.  Well, that’s because it doesn’t come out on DVD until April 30th so I won’t be able to see it until well after Sunday’s ceremony.  To get some insight on how Lam fits into this puzzle, let’s call our old pal Kozo on the Neway Karaoke LoveHKFilm.com hotline:

Phone ringing … and ringing … and ringing … and ringing …

KOZO: Hello.

SANNEY:  Hi.  Sorry to bother you on a busy work day but I’m putting together my annual HKFA preview posts and I’ve run into a bit of trouble because I won’t be able to see CLAUSTROPHOBIA until after the awards ceremony.  I was wondering if you’d give everyone a little insight into how Karena Lam stacks up against the rest of the field in the Best Actress category.  But first, I was wondering if you’d like to talk about those pictures of you that got floated out on the Internet …

KOZO:  That’s in the past, I want to talk about the future.  I’m marrying my secret girlfriend of 20 years later this month …

Speaking of my secret girlfriend, I really enjoyed Karena Lam’s performance in CLAUSTROPHOBIA.  The film can be frustrating thanks to Ivy Ho’s opaque storytelling, which requires the viewer to “read between the lines” far more than most films starring popstars do.  Lam’s performance is subtle yet compelling, and Lam pulls it off without big speeches or regular outbursts of emotion.  CLAUSTROPHOBIA asks its actors to create characters far beyond what’s on the scripted page, and Lam does that for both her character AND Ekin Cheng’s.  If acting assists were an actual statistic, then Lam would get one here.

As for her chances come Sunday, Karena Lam’s are small.  I doubt she’ll pull out a win for CLAUSTROPHOBIA as it’s a movie that people respect rather than really like. I think the award is Bau Hei-Jing’s to lose, with Prudence Lau being the only one who can upset her. In a related prediction, either Nora Miao or Chan Lai-Wun will win for Best Supporting Actress. Call it the “Susan Shaw factor”.

Image credits: Emperor Motion Pictures (Nick Cheung, Barbie Hsu), TVB (Bau Fong), Class Limited (Bau Hei-Jing)

The Teahouse: 27th Hong Kong Film Awards Edition

Just as there’s a time gap between the LOST island and the freighter, there’s a time gap between the House Where Words Gather and real time. This is why you’re seeing a post about the Hong Kong Film Awards in May.

Not buying it? OK, OK. I’ll come clean. I’ve been busy preparing to be cross-examined for my Joyce Tang Lai-Ming stalker Jo Koocase. I’ve got to come up with answers to questions like: “Why do I have information from Joyce Tang’s Octopus card on my hard drive?”

I’m just kidding. I mention Joyce Tang because I think “Deroyce” — her couple name with rumoured boyfriend Derek Kwok Jing-Hung — sounds too much like “divorce” to be propitious for a Chinese couple. Besides, everyone knows that if I was going to stalk an actress, it’d be Jo Koo (left). By the way, my lawyer wants me to include the following statement:

“Mr. Leung is merely posing a hypothetical situation for humourous effect. It is, in no manner, an admission of wrongdoing or an admission of conspiring to commit any wrongdoing.”

Enough with the shenanigans, on to the business of the day:

First things first: announcing the winner of the 27th Hong Kong Film Awards Predictions Contest. It was a close race that came down to two contestants: Eliza Bennet of Istanbul, Turkey and Jason Fong of Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA. Both Ms. Bennet and Mr. Fong got 7 out of 8 picks correct.

 

Eliza Bennet

Jason Fong

Best Film

THE WARLORDS

THE WARLORDS

Best Director

Peter Chan Ho-Sun
(THE WARLORDS)

Peter Chan Ho-Sun
(THE WARLORDS)

Best Screenplay

Wai Ka-Fai, Au Kin-Yee
(THE MAD DETECTIVE)

Li Qiang
(THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)

Best Actor

Jet Li
(THE WARLORDS)

Jet Li
(THE WARLORDS)

Best Actress

Siqin Gaowa
(THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)

Siqin Gaowa
(THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)

Best Supporting Actor

Nick Cheung Ka-Fai
(EXODUS)

Andy Lau Tak-Wah
(PROTEGE)

Best Supporting Actress

Susan Shaw
(THE PYE-DOG)

Susan Shaw
(THE PYE-DOG)

Best New Performer

Kate Tsui Tsz-Shan
(EYE IN THE SKY)

Kate Tsui Tsz-Shan
(EYE IN THE SKY)

As a result, the tiebreaker question — PROTEGE is nominated for 15 awards. How many awards will it win? — was used. Ms. Bennet predicted five while Mr. Fong predicted three. PROTEGE ended up winning two awards so the winner of the 27th Hong Kong Film Awards Predictions contest is Jason Fong of Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA. Congratulations!

For his prize, Mr. Fong selected a HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS movie poster autographed by Andy Lau Tak-Wah, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Zhang Ziyi.

Timo Karp of Germany and Jason Li from Parts Unknown tied for third. Both got 6 out of 8 picks correct.

As for myself, I tied for 17th place with Agata from Parts Unknown, longtime reader Hard Boiled Mark from Chicago, Nero from Fremont, California and Thomas from Toronto. We each predicted 3 out of 8 categories correctly.

My Triumphs, My Mistakes: In the lead up to the ceremony, there didn’t seem to be much buzz for PROTEGE, MAD DETECTIVE or EYE IN THE SKY so I figured that it would either be a sweep for THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT or THE WARLORDS. While working on the HKFA preview blog post series, I spent weeks convincing myself that THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT was better than I initially thought it was so I ended up ignoring the signs for THE WARLORDS and picked a sweep for the Ann Hui film:

Best Film: THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT
Best Director: Ann Hui On-Wah (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)
Best Screenplay: Li Qiang (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)

Best Actor: Jet Li (THE WARLORDS)
Best Actress: Siqin Gaowa (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)
Best Supporting Actor: Ronald Cheng Chung-Gei (MR. CINEMA)
Best Supporting Actress: Karen Mok Man-Wai (MR. CINEMA)

Best New Perfomer: Kate Tsui Tsz-Shan (EYE IN THE SKY)

TIE-BREAKER QUESTION:
PROTEGE is nominated for 15 awards. How many awards will it win? 2

mpf_hkfatea.jpgInstead of being clouded by my self-generated THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT buzz, I should have recalled the example of ORDINARY HEROES (another listless Ann Hui On-Wah film). Along with RUNNING OUT OF TIME and TEMPTING HEART, ORDINARY HEROES led the way in number of nominations for the 19th Hong Kong Film Awards. It ended up winning just one award. This just goes to show you that if you look at something long enough and hard enough, you can convince yourself of almost anything … sort of like how people convinced themselves that a regular truck and trailer was a “mobile production facility”. :-)

On the bright side, I properly pegged that PROTEGE wouldn’t be a big winner despite its fifteen nominations. I’m also Jet Li sings in KIDS FROM SHAOLINGhappy that the “hot door” (熱門) buzz for Jet Li came through and he won the Best Actor award. I’ve known since SHAOLIN TEMPLE 2: KIDS FROM SHAOLIN that Jet Li was more than just an action hero. One of the selections in the House Where Words Gather Film Pantheon, KIDS FROM SHAOLIN is the ultimate Jet Li showcase. Not only does he show off his excellent wushu skills, he does drama, comedy, romance, a scene in drag and even busts out in song during a musical number. He does it all in this film so, if you haven’t seen it yet and you are a Jet Li fan, you really need to check out KIDS FROM SHAOLIN.

Other than that, I’m a little disappointed with myself for not seeing the Susan Shaw win in the Best Supporting Actress category. I think this is something I would have picked up on in the good ol’ days when I read the entertainment sections in six papers.

Reader Interaction: Let’s put the nail on the coffin of 27th HKFA talk with replies to reader comments from the past few posts.

m writes: ” … By the way Sanney, you said you would comment on the ending of Protégé. So, what do you think, did he or didn’t he? I must be a pessimist because my first reaction was that he did.”

Well, I must be an optimist then because I think the kid stops Daniel Wu’s character from shooting up.

* * * * *

From the post on Stephen Hunter’s obituary for Charlton Heston, Glenn writes: I live in the D.C. area and read Hunter’s reviews usually every week.

I resented tremendously his piece on the Va. Tech shooting mainly because he tried to make a connection to Old Boy and other films but then backed away from it for fear of offending anyone.

Either prove the point or do not. Hunter’s insinuations served no one.

Personally, I am sick of people trying to blame films for lone acts of obviously mentally ill people; if Old Boy was the problem then there would be thousands of shooters, right?

I’m sick of it too but I understand the sentiment behind it. People want to make sense of a senseless act so they look for simple explanations like the influence of movies and video games.

Going on a tangent, the thing that really bugs me these days is people blaming McDonald’s and other fast food joints for childhood obesity when the blame should really rest with parents and schools.

Speaking of the D.C. area, what ever happened with the case of the lawyer who sued a mom and pop dry cleaners for US$65 million (or something outrageous like that) over a pair of missing pants? As a person who was raised from the proceeds of a mom and pop operation, I really felt bad for the owners who had to waste time and money dealing with a litigious zealot.

* * * * *

Buma writes: Andy sent you a get-well message?

That’s the coolest thing I ever heard.

Do you know the circumstances leading to that ? I’m guessing you have a friend/reader who knows Andy personally. I don’t think he speaks English well enough to read your old website.

Here’s the story, as it was told to me: Andy Lau was in San Francisco for a screening of HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS. Jennifer Young, a reader of my old website, approached him and asked him to write something to me. Andy Lau graciously agreed and that’s how I got my note.

By the way, I was asked in an e-mail what the card says. It reads: “Hang on! We are all behind you! Hope you get well soon!”

Pretty cool. This is why I feel pangs of guilt for thinking that he doesn’t really deserve that Best Supporting Actor award for PROTEGE and that his latest film, THREE KINGDOMS: RESURRECTION OF THE DRAGON, is terrible.

* * * * *

Glenn writes: Andy is still a god; anyone who jumps off a concert stage to fight his own security guards is pretty bad ass in my book. Your get well card is an awesome gift. Did you get any from Pinky Cheung maybe?

Pinky CheungI wish I got something from Pinky Cheung (right). She’s got class like a ‘57 Cadillac, got all the drive with a whole lot of boom in back …

Speaking of Pinky Cheung, she and Jan/Jay Lau Kam-Ling are the only reasons I’m flirting with the idea of picking up FATAL MOVE. Not Sammo Hung, not Danny Lee Sau-Yin and not Simon Yam Tat-Wah. Kozo thinks it stinks so dropping $15 to $20 just for babeage may be too steep a price but still …

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MW writes: I thought THE WARLORDS was very average. Just another ancient brotherhood tale but with better cinematography and production values. Aside from that, I left the theatre disappointed after all the hype I had about it. Good director, international stars, potentially interesting and unique story backdrop ended up being a very bland movie. Basically the sum did not equal the parts and all the acclaim it’s getting is due to its reputation. But even I think it’s unfair to compare it to the horrible SPIDER-MAN 3.

I drew the comparison to SPIDER-MAN 3 because I got the same cinematic experience from both films. Both were big budget films that were slickly produced and highly-anticipated. Both were plagued by poor storytelling that leaves you feeling disappointed. If I had a ratings systems, I’d give the same rating to both films.

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Glenn writes: Sanney, why the quote from The Kinks’ Come Dancing? Took this 41-year-old rocker a minute to recognize that quote on your masthead from one of my favorite bands.

Simple explanation: “Come Dancing” was playing on the radio when I was updating the blog. For a while now, I’ve been resisting the urge to abandon Top 40 radio and listen mostly to “oldies” radio. The thought first crept into my mind last summer when the Top 40 station in my market seemed to only play “Hey There Delilah”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie and “Before He Cheats” on an continuous loop. I finally gave in a few weeks ago when I heard Mariah Carey’s “Touch My Body”. I used to love Mariah Carey’s songs back in the 1990s when she had hits like: “Someday”, “Emotions” and “Fantasy”. Now, her music is overproduced and nonsensical. All I can make out from “Touch My Body” is something about a “secret rendezvous”, something about “YouTube” and something about how she’s going to “hunt you down”.

When I was updating the blog that night, not only did I hear “Come Dancing”, I heard “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys, “Little Lies” by Fleetwood Mac and “Take It Easy” by The Eagles. All personal favourites. Even though it’ll make me feel incredibly old, I may not be going back to Top 40 radio.

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Will writes: Sanney, do you mind if I ask you a personal question? Just how much TV do you watch? You referenced Rome, American Idol, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Iron Chef and Law & Order: SVU in this post. In your old posts, I’ve seen references to Curb Your Enthusiasm, 30 Rock, Law & Order, One Tree Hill, etc. That’s a lot of TV.

Yeah, I’ll admit I watch a lot of TV. It was even worse when I watched TVB series in addition to what was on TV here. Sleep? Who needs sleep? I’m a lot better now though. The TVB rental place here went out of business when I sick but even before then I stopped watching TVB series. The last one I rented was IN THE REALM OF SUCCESS — five or six years ago. I miss it though and, if there was a TVB place here, I probably would have checked out LA FEMME DESPERADO, TRIMMING SUCCESS and other twenty-episode light dramas. I used to prefer the short comedy/drama series over the long, overwrought “grand productions” like AT THE THRESHOLD OF AN ERA or, more recently, THE DRIVE OF LIFE.

As for Western TV, I don’t watch all the TV shows I’ve mentioned. I have friends who watch TV (no pretentious “books only” people in our crowd) so I pick things up by osmosis. For example, I don’t watch AMERICAN IDOL but I know of Randy Jackson’s “yo dawg” and “pitchy” schtick because my friends talk about it. Thanks to the whole cancer ordeal, I’ve developed a “life’s too short” mentality so I’m abandoning ship on shows more readily than I used to. I gave up on LOST after “Meet Kevin Johnson”. For a while now, probably around the time of that awful Bai Ling episode, I’ve felt that the show has been jerking me around with forty minutes of filler, eighteen minutes of commercials and just two minutes of actual plot development. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when there ended up being virtually no payoff for years of “Rousseau and her long, lost daughter” build-up. Besides, the only character I cared about anymore was Desmond. Jack, Locke, Kate and company all somehow became insufferable to me.

Boy, I’ve gone far, far afield. Let’s close the show with a topic that’s actually relevant to the entertainment circle …

From the post about THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM, Roper writes: How can you put Gong Li (who does NOT do martial arts) in the same sentence with those other actresses? No comparison.

I put Gong Li in the same sentence with Zhang Ziyi and the other actresses not because they are martial arts heroines but because they are stars in Hollywood films hoping to get roles in other Hollywood films. I think that’s a valid basis for comparison.

Glenn writes: So what is with the apparent references in the film to bootlegs?

Kind of ironic in a Weinstein product considering that only a few years ago they were making it increasingly difficult for geeks like me to get legal non-US DVDs of Hero even while they left it on the shelf for 2 years.

I hate bootlegs too so I didn’t appreciate them trying to lump all imports under the bootleg umbrella.

You sort of answered your own question. The “bootlegs” that the kid shops for in the pawn shop are simply imports.

Mike Mai writes: Li Bingbing stole my heart in this film. She’s extremely beautiful!!!!

I agree. Li Bingbing is certainly more eye-catching than Crystal Liu in THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM. I focused on Crystal Liu because she has aspirations for a Hollywood career. I don’t think Li Bingbing has similar ambitions.

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In the meantime and in between time, that’s it, another edition of The Teahouse. If you made it this far, thanks for slogging through all the stuff about music and TV. A big thanks also to Lester Mak for designing the spreadsheet for the HKFA Predictions contest. There wouldn’t have been a contest without his help so let’s all give Lester some dap.

Next time: In keeping with the timeliness of this blog, I’ll be doing a post on celebrity relief efforts for the earthquake … in Taiwan … on September 21st, 1999.

Just kidding but, in all seriousness, if you haven’t done so and if you have the means, please consider making a donation to the earthquake relief effort through your local chapter of the Red Cross.

Image credits: ecboyboy.com (Jo Koo), United States Government (Moblie Production Facility graphic), Chung Yuen Motion Picture Company (Jet Li), NextMedia (Pinky Cheung)

27th Hong Kong Film Awards Preview: My Predictions

Posted at 5:38 pm HKT

Previously:

With the strains of Bill Conti’s “The Final Bell” and thoughts of Sylvester Stallone yelling: “Yo Adrian, I did it!” running through my head, I close the 27th Hong Kong Film Awards preview series by offering my predictions for tonight’s awards:

Best Film: THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT
Best Director: Ann Hui On-Wah (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)
Best Screenplay: Li Qiang (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)
Best Actor: Jet Li (THE WARLORDS)
Best Actress: Siqin Gaowa (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)
Best Supporting Actor: Ronald Cheng Chung-Gei (MR. CINEMA)
Best Supporting Actress: Karen Mok Man-Wai (MR. CINEMA)
Best New Perfomer: Kate Tsui Tsz-Shan (EYE IN THE SKY)

TIE-BREAKER QUESTION: PROTEGE is nominated for 15 awards. How many awards will it win? 2

Also, here’s who I’ll be cheering for:

Best Film: EYE IN THE SKY
Best Director: Yau Nai-Hoi (EYE IN THE SKY)
Best Screenplay: Yau Nai-Hoi, Au Kin-Yee (EYE IN THE SKY)
Best Actor: Jet Li (THE WARLORDS)
Best Actress: Teresa Mo Shun-Kwun (MR. CINEMA)
Best Supporting Actor: Nick Cheung Ka-Fai (EXODUS)
Best Supporting Actress: Maggie Shiu Mei-Kei (EYE IN THE SKY)
Best New Performer: Kate Tsui Tsz-Shan (EYE IN THE SKY)

 
 
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