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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 ‘Hong Kong Film Awards’ Category

27th Hong Kong Film Awards Preview: Best Director and Best Screenplay

Previously:

Coming down the home stretch of the HKFA blog post series, it’s time to preview the Best Director and Best Screenplay categories. The nominees for Best Director are:

Peter Chan Ho-Sun (THE WARLORDS)
Derek Yee Tung-Sing (PROTEGE)
Ann Hui On-Wah (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)
Johnnie To Kei-Fung, Wai Ka-Fai (MAD DETECTIVE)
Yau Nai-Hoi (EYE IN THE SKY)

My understanding of the technical aspects of movie direction is very limited so I will defer to my contact “Martin” in this preview of the Best Director category. Martin, a pseudonym, actually makes a living in the Hong Kong film industry so he is keeping his identity a secret because he wants to express his honest opinions without having to worry that he is offending any past or potential colleagues.

Martin thinks that the front runners for the award are: Ann Hui, Derek Yee and Peter Chan. He believes Yau Nai-Hoi is a lock for the Best New Director award so Yau will not be a contender for Best Director. As for Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai, Martin contends that if you watch THE MAD DETECTIVE closely, you’ll notice that the film does not flow smoothly. He argues that To and Wai have done better work.

Handicapping the race between Derek Yee, Ann Hui and Peter Chan, Martin thinks that any one of the three directors could win because each demonstrate adept craftsmanship in their respective films. Derek Yee uses a variety of directorial techniques to shore up a mediocre screenplay while Peter Chan deftly manages a film that has an epic scope. If he had to pick a winner, however, it would be Ann Hui. Martin thinks that THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT is the most intricate film amongst the three front runners in that it shifts smartly and seamlessly through many layers and tones.

* * * * *

The nominees for Best Screenplay are:

Xu Lan, Chun Tin-Nam, Aubrey Lam Oi-Wah, Huang Jianxin, Ho Kei-Ping, Kwok Jun-Lap, Jojo Hui Yuet-Chun, James Yuen Sai-Sun (THE WARLORDS)
Derek Yee Tung-Sing, Chun Tin-Nam, Lung Man-Hung, Go Sun (PROTEGE)
Li Qiang (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)
Wai Ka-Fai, Au Kin-Yee (MAD DETECTIVE)
Yau Nai-Hoi, Au Kin-Yee (EYE IN THE SKY)

5. Xu Lan, Chun Tin-Nam, Aubrey Lam Oi-Wah, Huang Jianxin, Ho Kei-Ping, Kwok Jun-Lap, Jojo Hui Yuet-Chun, James Yuen Sai-Sun (THE WARLORDS)

As I stated in the preview of the Best Film category, THE WARLORDS suffers from significant storytelling problems. The fact that the film had an eight-person writing team practically screams “too many cooks spoil the broth”. This manifests itself in the way historical details were tossed into the screenplay but not explained or explored. The details were probably included to add extra gravitas to the film but they just ended up confusing viewers.

4. Yau Nai-Hoi, Au Kin-Yee (EYE IN THE SKY)

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the first two-thirds of EYE IN THE SKY is absolutely riveting. The last third, however, relies too much on coincidence and keeps the screenplay for the film from serious consideration in this category. Moreover, the scope of the story is not as broad or as ambitious as the following three screenplays.

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

The plot for MAD DETECTIVE offers a fascinating character (the titular mad detective) and an intriguing premise (the mad detective’s ability to see “inner personalities”). However, it doesn’t seem to fully capitalize on these ideas and fails to deliver a sensational conclusion to match the sensational opening. As a result, viewers are left, in the end, not with a feeling of sublime satisfaction but a feeling that an opportunity has been missed.

2. Derek Yee Tung-Sing, Chun Tin-Nam, Lung Man-Hung, Go Sun (PROTEGE)

For the most part, PROTEGE does an effective job of showing the Hong Kong drug trade from multiple perspectives. However, the resolution to the plot thread for Louis Koo’s character is a glaring miscue. It’s like that small stain on a white shirt. The shirt is still wearable and it may still look good but, once you’re aware of the stain, you can’t help but focus on it.

1. Li Qiang (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)

Though the movie doesn’t quite work, I think the screenplay for THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT is the most ambitious and wide-ranging of the nominees in this category. It touches on multiple themes and explores human nature from multiple angles. It didn’t translate effectively from page to screen but the high degree of difficulty is a mitigating consideration. The fact that the scope of the story was broader than any of the other nominees gives this screenplay a slight edge over the screenplay for PROTEGE.

I will end this preview of the 27th Hong Kong Film Awards as I began it by saying that, if it had qualified, LUST, CAUTION would probably have swept both the Best Director and Best Screenplay awards.

27th Hong Kong Film Awards Preview: Best New Performer

Previously:

The last of the acting categories, here are the nominees for Best New Performer:

Linda Chung Ka-Yan (LOVE IS NOT ALL AROUND)
Tsei Tsz-Tung (PROTEGE)
Wen Jun-Hui (THE PYE-DOG)
Wong Hau-Yan (THE BESIEGED CITY)
Kate Tsui Tsz-Shan (EYE IN THE SKY)

Not Ranked: Wong Hau-Yan (THE BESIEGED CITY)

THE BESIEGED CITY had a very limited qualifying theatrical run and is not yet available on DVD. I tried to obtain a screener of the film for this post but quickly learned that Mei Ah is not making any available. As a result, I am unable to rank Wong Hau-Yan’s performance. Not to be dismissive of Wong but — considering that there are two high-profile “TVB’s Next Top Diva”, er, TVB beauty pageant winners in the field — she probably only has an outside chance of winning.

4. Tsei Tsz-Tung (PROTEGE)

Every once in a while, the crop of new performers is so lean the field for this category has to be filled by any warm body that qualifies. Past examples of this phenomenon include the nominations of Baby Matthew Medvedev for ROB-B-HOOD and Edison Chen Kwoon-Hei for GEN-Y COPS. The nomination of Tsei Tsz-Tung — the kid who played the daughter of Zhang Jingchu’s junkie mother — appears to be one more example.

3. Wen Jun-Hui (THE PYE-DOG)

Another child actor, Wen Jun-Hui makes his debut in a feature film by playing the quiet son of a father who is an exiled gangster and a mother who is mentally-disturbed. He gives a solid performance but it isn’t as rich or as effective as the one delivered by last year’s winner Gouw Ian Iskander (Ng King-To).

2. Linda Chung Ka-Yan (LOVE IS NOT ALL AROUND)

Prior to her appearance in LOVE IS NOT ALL AROUND, fellow Canadian Linda Chung — the winner of the Miss Chinese International Pageant in 2004 — struggled against the heavy burden of high-expectations that come from winning a high-profile TVB beauty pageant. Together with her breakthrough performance in the hugely popular TVB series HEART OF GREED, Chung’s portrayal in LOVE IS NOT ALL AROUND of a young wife who gets cheated on has helped her shake off the “wooden beauty queen” label. While Chung gives a more realistic and grounded performance than lead actress Fellow beauty queens Kate Tsui (left) and Linda Chung (right)Stephy Tang Lai-Yan, the role and the teen idol film are too slight to be a serious threat to …

1. Kate Tsui Tsz-Shan (EYE IN THE SKY)

As I mentioned in my review of the film, Kate Tsui delivers an impressive performance. The winner of the Miss Hong Kong Pageant in 2004, Tsui, like Linda Chung, has also had to carry the cross of being a TVB beauty queen. Her measured depiction of a rookie recruit who blossoms into a confident cop is the class of this field and it will be a shocking upset if she does not walk away with the top prize.

That said, had LUST, CAUTION qualified for this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards, Tsui’s outstanding performance in EYE IN THE SKY would definitely be playing second fiddle to Tang Wei’s extraordinary turn in the Ang Lee film.

Image credit: Xinhua

27th Hong Kong Film Awards Preview: Best Supporting Actress

Previously:

Moving forward with the HKFA preview series, the nominees in the Best Supporting Actress category are:

Karen Mok Man-Wai (MR. CINEMA)
Anita Yuen Wing-Yi (PROTEGE)
Vicki Zhao Wei (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)
Susan Shaw aka Siu Yam-Yam (THE PYE-DOG)
Maggie Shiu Mei-Kei (EYE IN THE SKY)

5. Anita Yuen Wing-Yi (PROTEGE)

Another puzzling nominee from PROTEGE, Anita Yuen herself “never thought” she would be nominated for her performance as a “mafia wife”. A two-time HKFA winner in the Best Actress category (for C’EST LA VIE MON CHERI and HE’S A WOMAN, SHE’S A MAN), Yuen’s nomination is questionable not because of her acting but because her role in PROTEGE is very brief and very generic. Her big scene was, I think, intended to be harrowing but her character was so underdeveloped, the moment was not as effective as it could have been. As is the case with the Louis Koo nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category, this spot should have been used to give recognition to another actress — one of the performances, perhaps, by the actresses from WHISPERS AND MOANS or, a certain nominee in the Best Supporting Actress category for the Republic of Sanneyistan Film Awards, Jo Koo’s memorably hilarious turn in SINGLE BLOG.

4. Susan Shaw aka Siu Yam-Yam (THE PYE-DOG)

Siu Yam-Yam in younger daysOne of 2007’s “diamond in the rough” surprises, THE PYE-DOG features a decent performance by Siu Yam-Yam as a grandmother whose eyes have seen the years and the slow parade of fears. Like the film, Siu brings forth a respectable effort that is eminently worthy of a nomination but the performance is notable mostly because it is being delivered by the controversial sexpot bombshell of the 1970s.

3. Vicki Zhao Wei (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)

Initially, I thought Vicki Zhao’s smoke break scene in THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT was superfluous to the film and was engineered primarily to get Vicki Zhao some acting nominations. In preparation for this series of blog posts, I watched the film again and, upon further reflection, I think that the “Vicki Zhao at work” sequence is being used to emphasize the selfishness of Ye Rutang. In stark contrast to her mother, she is toughing it out for her family instead of abandoning them for a cosmopolitan life in Shanghai.

The scenes are a fine showcase for Vicki Zhao’s acting skills but, like the film itself, they feel antiseptic. I would not be upset if Vicki Zhao won but I’m not exactly burning joss sticks to the Hong Kong Movie Gods for a Zhao victory either.

2. Maggie Shiu Mei-Kei (EYE IN THE SKY)

Like her counterpart Nick Cheung Ka-Fai in the Best Supporting Actor category, Maggie Shiu Mei-Kei delivers a wickedly profane supporting performance. Unlike Anita Yuen in PROTEGE, Shiu takes what could easily have been a generic role and makes an impact with a limited amount of screen time. She masterfully breathes life into her character by giving her a very distinct and very memorable personal habit. Shiu is my sentimental pick to win in this category but I’m afraid her part is not substantial enough to beat …

1. Karen Mok Man-Wai (MR. CINEMA)

As the childhood sweetheart of Ronald Cheng Chung-Gei’s Chong, Karen Mok gives a pitch-perfect performance and helps MR. CINEMA walk the fine line between touching and treacly. Mok’s understated portrayal of a Hong Kong woman who goes overseas for schooling and returns to Hong Kong to work reflects the quietly ambitious, restrained and hard-working aspects of Hong Kong life and perfectly complements Ronald Cheng’s reflection of Hong Kong’s passionate side. As a result, it is hard to argue against a Karen Mok victory but I’m still rooting for Maggie Shiu.

Image credit: Shaw Brothers Studio

27th Hong Kong Film Awards Preview: Best Supporting Actor

Previously:

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

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

5. Louis Koo Tin-Lok (PROTEGE)

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

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

4. Andy Lau Tak-Wah (PROTEGE)

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

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

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

2. Nick Cheung Ka-Fai (EXODUS)

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

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

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

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

27th Hong Kong Film Awards Preview: Best Actress

Previously:

Unlike the Best Film and Best Actor categories, if LUST, CAUTION had qualified for this year’s HKFAs, it would be hard-pressed to take home the Best Actress award. While Tang Wei gives delivers an impressive performance in her first movie, it likely would not have been enough to knock off the formidable performance turned in by the number one ranked nominee in this category. Who turned in the year’s best performance? She can be found among these five nominees:

Teresa Mo Shun-Kwun (MR. CINEMA)
Zhang Jingchu (PROTEGE)
Siqin Gaowa (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)
Rene Liu (KIDNAP)
Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin (SIMPLY ACTORS)

5. Zhang Jingchu (PROTEGE)

Perhaps my ability to appreciate actors portraying drug addicts has been dulled by being exposed to dozens of skels and Monie Tung Man-Lei in WHISPERS AND MOANSjunkies over my many years of watching cop shows like NYPD BLUE and THE SHIELD but there doesn’t seem to be anything especially remarkable about Zhang Jingchu’s take on a drug addicted-mother. It’s a competent performance but it’s neither memorable nor extraordinary. If you were to compare Zhang’s performance to another drug addict portrayal from a 2007 film — Monie Tung Man-Lei’s heroin-addict hooker in WHISPERS AND MOANS — you would be hard-pressed to argue that one is significantly better than the other. Awards are about rewarding excellence and, frankly, Zhang’s performance in PROTEGE is good but not great.

4. Rene Liu (KIDNAP)

In the past, Rene Liu has delivered the goods and demonstrated that she’s an above average actress so her ranking here is more of a reflection on KIDNAP than it is of her acting ability. Playing a mother desperate to get her son back, Liu is given plenty of opportunity by the film to show off her acting skills. However, KIDNAP never rises above the level of a “popcorn movie” so it’s hard to take her character seriously — especially when she has to do “cheesy things only people in the movies do” like ram the car of her ex-husband’s new girlfriend. If Liu were to win, it would be like Jodie Foster getting Oscars for THE BRAVE ONE and FLIGHT PLAN instead of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and THE ACCUSED.

3. Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin (SIMPLY ACTORS)

An earnest but malformed attempt to be 2007’s MY NAME IS FAME, SIMPLY ACTORS has Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin in SIMPLY ACTORSportraying a Mainland-born CAT-III star looking to improve her acting skills and break into the mainstream. At first blush, the role seems to lend itself to the lowbrow hijinks viewers used to see in Wong Jing comedies of the late-1980s/early-1990s but Choi never lets her character descend into caricature and even manages to offer a few sincere and touching moments. If it wasn’t evident before, it certainly is evident now: Charlene Choi is capable of more than her cutie-pie Twins act. I hate to say this — given that Gillian Chung Yan-Tung’s career has been ruined by the scandal — but “Sexy Photos Gate” may be the best thing that could happen to Ah Sa because it allows her to break up with Ah Gil without having to break up with her.

2. Teresa Mo Shun-Kwun (MR. CINEMA)

My sentimental favourite to win in this category, Teresa Mo plays a pivotal part in MR. CINEMA and delivers a memorable and deeply affecting performance that will resonate with members of Hong Kong nation who have a loving, hard-working mother in their lives. Unfortunately, her chances of winning in this category are hampered by the fact that she really belongs in the supporting actress category instead of the one for lead actress. It is an outstanding performance but it may not be enough to topple the work turned in by …

1. Siqin Gaowa (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)

Though it was in service to a film that doesn’t quite work, Siqin Gaowa gives the richest performance among the nominees. Siqin Gaowa in THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNTShe shows a great range as her character transforms from a vibrant and independent Shanghai woman to a demoralized woman who is forced to move back in with her estranged family in Manchuria after time and circumstance have beaten all the spark out of her. The performance is fine-tuned and nuanced, punctuated by appropriate moments of haughtiness, vulnerability and then despair.

By any objective measure, it is, by far, the best performance of the year. Yet, I have the same head-heart dilemna with it as I did with the film. My head tells me that Siqin Gaowa deserves the victory but my heart wants Teresa Mo to win.

Image credits: Tesbury (Monie Tung), Golden Scene (Charlene Choi), Beijing Poly-bona Film Publishing Co. Ltd. (Siqin Gaowa)

 
 
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