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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 Actor

Previously: Best Film

Like the situation in the Best Film category, if LUST, CAUTION had qualified for this year’s HKFAs, there is little doubt that Tony Leung Chiu-Wai would be well on his way to winning a sixth HKFA Best Actor title. Leung’s performance in the film is outstanding. Without the benefit of big scenes or big speeches, Leung impressively conveys his character’s thoughts and feelings with small gestures and small expressions. He even manages to fill the film’s infamous sex scenes with so much emotion and tension that it’s impossible to argue that the scenes were included just to draw a box office crowd with the promise of some titillation.

The nominees, minus Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, are:

Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing (THE DETECTIVE)
Andy Lau Tak-Wah (THE WARLORDS)
Simon Yam Tat-Wah (EYE IN THE SKY)
Jet Li (THE WARLORDS)
Lau Ching-Wan (THE MAD DETECTIVE)

5. Andy Lau Tak-Wah (THE WARLORDS)

Back when I was getting treatment for cancer — sometime in between round five and round six of chemotherapy — I got a delightful gift basket and a wonderful package of cards and letters from people I met over the years while running my old website. There were get-well messages from, among others, YTSL (Yvonne Teh of bc Magazine), Paul Fox (who used to run Cantonkid.com), Tim Youngs (of Another Hong Kong Movie Page and cameos in Pang Ho-Cheung films), my pal John Charles, Jennifer and Laura from San Francisco and, of course, our beloved Kozo (the Lord and Master of LoveHKFilm). Since I lost all of my Eudora inboxes and address books in the Great Hard Drive Crash of ‘07 (but mostly because I’m a terrible person and a lazy, lazy man), I haven’t properly thanked many of the people who wished me well. If anyone out there sent me a get-well message but didn’t receive a personal note of acknowledgement and thanks from me, please accept my apologies. My bad manners belie the fact that your cards, letters and e-mail messages really helped pull me through a difficult time. It was really great to know that I was loved and appreciated.

What does this have to do with Andy Lau and his Best Actor nomination? Well, included in the package of cards and letters was a get-well message from the Heavenly King himself! I was stunned — though, based on stories of Andy Lau’s many good deeds, I shouldn’t have been surprised — that a big star like him would take the time to write little ol’ me a note of Get-well note from Andy Lauencouragement. Needless to say, it was a huge shot in the arm so even if a future edition of Next Magazine publishes photos of Andy Lau eating “rejuvenation” dumplings made from baby flesh, I’d still have something good to say about him. That said, he shouldn’t have been nominated for his performance in THE WARLORDS.

Lau’s performance can, at best, be described as workmanlike. At worst, an argument can be made that Lau was unconvincing and ineffective. The main problem is that Lau is badly miscast for the role of Cao Er-Hu. The real-life Cao was, as I understand it, chivalrous and loyal but quick-tempered with a rough-hewn disposition that helped drive his wife into the arms of the more refined Ma Xin-Yi. Lau naturally projects a suave and sophisticated image so when the story calls for him to behave brusquely, he has to strain to make it convincing. An intense Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Tony Leung Ka-Fai or Francis Ng Chun-Yu type of actor should have been cast for this role not a “cool as a cucumber” Andy Lau or Simon Yam Tat-Wah type.

Speaking of whom …

4. Simon Yam Tat-Wah (EYE IN THE SKY)

Had he been nominated for his intricate performance in EXODUS, Simon Yam would rank higher on this list. Unfortunately, it’s hard to consider him a serious contender for the Best Actor award based on his performance as Surveillance Unit leader Dog Head. The problem does not lie in the quality of Yam’s work, it lies in the quality of the Dog Head character. There is little depth to the role beyond the “grizzled veteran who takes a newcomer under his wing” that audiences have seen in countless movies. The performance is fine but the role has a very low degree of difficulty. Besides, it wasn’t even the best acting performance in the film — that would belong to the work done by Tony Leung Ka-Fai as meticulous gang leader Shan.

3. Jet Li (THE WARLORDS)

Jet Li in THE WARLORDSBuilding upon his commendable performance in FEARLESS, Jet Li continues to evolve as an actor with his work in THE WARLORDS. Instead of playing his usual seemingly invincible fighting hero, Li does a creditable job portraying a flawed late-Qing era army general. It’s a solid individual achievement but it doesn’t rise to the level required of an award winner. It would have been interesting if the powers-that-be behind THE WARLORDS didn’t play it safe and unleashed Li to play a duplicitous, greedy schemer who stabs his sworn brother in the back for personal gain instead of the conflicted nobleman who compromises his morals for “the sake of the people”. Regrettably, no one will know if Li would have been able to meet the challenge.

2. Lau Ching-Wan (THE MAD DETECTIVE)

On an objective scale, Lau Ching-Wan should rank higher on this list. Inspector Bun, Lau’s character, is one of the tent poles of THE MAD DETECTIVE and if he doesn’t get the audience to buy that he is a detective with a “special ability” then the high-concept film has no chance of working. While he succeeds in convincing the audience, subjective factors put him in the second spot on this ranking. First, the other shoe never drops with his character. Inspector Bun is a brilliant cop whose gift is as much of a curse as it is a blessing but that’s where the character development ends. Nothing else really happens with him after his ability to see “inner personalities” is revealed. Second, the Inspector Bun character is just another variation of the kind of quirky, offbeat personality that viewers have seen Lau play many times before. THE MAD DETECTIVE provokes and challenges audiences but it certainly doesn’t challenge Lau Ching-Wan’s acting abilities. Third, Lau won last year so it feels like it’s someone else’s turn to win the top prize. Namely …

1. Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing (THE DETECTIVE)

Last year, Aaron Kwok was the heavy favourite to win in this category for his role as a deadbeat dad in AFTER THIS OUR EXILE. As a result, it was a pleasant surprise when Lau Ching-Wan won because he was sentimental favourite — the “entertainment circle veteran who deserved to win a Best Actor HKFA at some point in his career” (a mantle that he has since handed to Simon Yam). However, if one gives it a little thought, Lau’s victory wasn’t the HKFA equivalent to Martin Aaron Kwok in concert February 2008Scorsese winning a Best Director Oscar for THE DEPARTED. Lau truly deserved to win because he played his character in MY NAME IS FAME so well, it’s impossible to imagine any other actor in the role. By contrast, several actors could easily do a comparable job to Kwok in AFTER THIS OUR EXILE.

This year, the shoe is on the other foot. While Lau gives a flashier performance in THE MAD DETECTIVE, Kwok deserves to win because he absolutely owns his “loser private detective” character. From the first shot of him waking up to the catchy “Me Panda” to the last shot of him finding satisfaction in solving his case, flamboyant Heavenly King Aaron Kwok totally disappears behind a rumpled, sad-sack facade. Like Lau and his character in MY NAME IS FAME, it’s difficult to picture anyone other than Kwok playing C+ Detective Tam. While THE DETECTIVE and the Tam character don’t have the typical award winner gravitas, it’s a worthy substitute in a year where the best performance didn’t qualify.

Image credits: Applause Pictures (Jet Li); Xinhua (Aaron Kwok)

27th Hong Kong Film Awards Preview: Best Film

With the 27th Hong Kong Film Awards a little less than two weeks away, it’s time to start a series of blog posts breaking down the nominees in eight categories: Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best New Actor. My knowledge of the “nuts and bolts” of filmmaking can be charitably described as perfunctory so I won’t be doing the technical categories.

Rather than save the top category for last, let’s start the proceedings with a bang by looking at the Best Film category. The nominees are:

THE WARLORDS
PROTEGE
THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT
THE MAD DETECTIVE
EYE IN THE SKY

Before ranking the five nominees, it bears mentioning that, had it qualified, Ang Lee’s LUST, CAUTION would be the prohibitive favourite. It outpaces all of the nominated films in production, acting and storytelling. While some would argue that LUST, CAUTION has its flaws, they are relatively minor compared to each of the nominees which are all notably flawed in some form or another.

5. THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT

Regular readers of this blog will know that I don’t have great affection for this film and was dismayed when it was named Best Film by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society. In preparation for this post, I watched the movie again to see if I could see what its supporters are seeing in the film. While I gained a new appreciation for its fine technical craftsmanship and can Bruce Lee and Stephen Tung Wai in ENTER THE DRAGONunderstand what the HKFCS was talking about when it lauded Ann Hui On-Wah’s “exquisite brushwork”, I still believe that the film lacks “emotional content”. It’s an skillful exhibition of acting and filmmaking but it leaves most viewers looking at the finger pointing to Moon instead of showing them the heavenly glory.

A comparison to last year’s HKFA Best Film, AFTER THIS OUR EXILE, is telling. Both offer a depressing narrative of a downward spiral but while AFTER THIS OUR EXILE paints an emotionally impactful portrait of the relationship between a father and son, THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT leaves most viewers cold. Minds register the cruelties of life that Ye Rutang endures but hearts are not touched. As a result, most viewers will look at the negative world-view of THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT and say: “Yeah, so?”

Definitely not the response that an award-winning film should elicit.

4. THE WARLORDS

Like THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT, THE WARLORDS features accomplished film technique but it has significant storytelling problems that keep it from serious consideration for the Best Film title. In its depiction of a fictionalized account of the August 22nd, 1870 assassination of provincial governor Ma Xin-Yi (馬新眙), the film needlessly complicates an oft-told tale that has customarily been presented as a simple wuxia fable about the nature of honour, brotherhood and betrayal. I may, for a future post, open a House Where Words Gather investigation on the history behind THE WARLORDS and get a copy of 《江湖奇俠傳》 (”Astonishing Tales of Jiangwu Heroes”) by Ping Jiang Bu Xiao Sheng (平江不肖生) — the early 20th Century book which details the story of the Ma Assassination. For now, I’ll just say that it’s my understanding that Ma was in government for personal fortune rather than the public good and that he obtained his high position by exploiting and betraying his “brothers” rather than through heroic military feats.

It is, then, puzzling that Peter Chan Ho-Sun and company chose to confuse viewers by introducing but not adequately explaining extraneous plot elements like the Taiping Rebellion, the role of Christianity in the conflict, the various political factions of the Qing government and the treachery of the Kui army. The film would have been much more effective had it concentrated on the relationship between the three sworn brothers and the familiar 偽君子 (ngai gwan ji or “false gentleman”) narrative of the Ma Xin-Yi based character. A story focused on honour and betrayal would have resonated deeply with viewers. Most people understand brotherhood, loyalty and duplicity. Very few people understand, or care about, the decline of the Qing Dynasty in the late-19th Century or the significance of Suzhou and Nanjing during the Taiping Rebellion.

Perhaps Peter Chan and his writers felt that they needed to add historical gravitas to justify the film’s billing as a “lavish epic made for multiple markets”. Perhaps they added the “I’m doing this for the good of the people” plot thread because they didn’t want Jet Li to play a full-on corrupt scumbag. Whatever the reason, award-winning films do not have the muddled storytelling found in THE WARLORDS.

3. THE MAD DETECTIVE

I think that it’s appropriate for me to step aside here and let three of my “inner personalities” speak about the film:

Marcus Tullius Cicero from ROME: Immortals. Immortals, I say. In the years since Milkway Image was formed in 1997, Johnnie To David Bamber as Marcus Tullius Cicero from ROMEKei-Fung and Wai Ka-Fai have carved their names deep in the eternal stone of Hong Kong culture. By delivering a stylish, fresh perspective on the crime genre in efforts like TOO MANY WAYS TO BE NO. 1 and THE ODD ONE DIES, they were a beacon of light during the creative darkness around the time of the Handover. They persevered through the Asian economic crisis and put out a series of enthralling little gems like THE LONGEST NITE, EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED and WHERE A GOOD MAN GOES. They earned well-deserved commercial success with popular works like RUNNING OUT OF TIME and NEEDING YOU. Since then, be it working together or working apart, they have sustained a level of excellence and have continued to provoke and entertain audiences with titles like RUNNING ON KARMA and ELECTION. THE MAD DETECTIVE is no exception. Once again, To and Wai continue to innovate by using a standard crime drama platform as a springboard to give insight into human nature. The Muses themselves could not have inspired a finer premise. Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai truly are heroes of Hong Kong Cinema.

Summer Glau as Cameron the Terminator from TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLESCameron the Terminator from TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES: I can’t say that this movie is tight. I processed the film through my human psychology subroutine and it predicts that audience interest level will be high initially but will decrease considerably as the film progresses. I do not detect much substance in the premise beyond the “inner personality” concept and later events do not mesh cohesively with earlier events. I calculate that most humans will feel disappointment after watching the film because the expectations raised in the first part of the movie are not met in the second part.

Tamio Kageyama, deceased Japanese novelist and IRON CHEF judge: The film got my attention from the very first Tamio Kageyamasequence when Lau Ching-Wan’s Inspector Bun solves a crime by having himself zipped inside a suitcase and kicked down a flight of stairs. A marvelous opening. I was intrigued further when it was revealed that Inspector Bun could see “inner personalities”. A very provocative idea. From that point on, I feel that the film didn’t take full advantage of these two creative constructs. The best of the Milkyway films have a well-developed foundation that builds to an explosive climax. Recall the gunfights at the ends of PTU and EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED, the tragedy at the end of RUNNING ON KARMA or the revelation at the end of ELECTION 2. By contrast, the concepts in THE MAD DETECTIVE feel under-developed. There is little depth to the Inspector Bun character beyond his eccentricity and the “inner personality” idea leads to an ending that goes “pop, pop, pop” like a string of Lunar New Year firecrackers rather than the “boom” of the better Milkyway titles. THE MAD DETECTIVE is a decent film with a remarkable premise but it doesn’t measure up to the standard of excellence that defines award-winning films.

2. PROTEGE

When I was considering what to write about PROTEGE, I couldn’t help thinking of AMERICAN IDOL judge Randy JacksonAMERICAN IDOL judge Randy Jackson because my general opinion of the film mirrors his standard line of criticism for the Idol contestants: “Yo dawg … I didn’t agree with some of the choices the film made but it was a’ight … kinda pitchy though … some parts of it were ‘off’ … but it was a’ight”.

Leading the way with 15 nominations, PROTEGE takes a sweeping look at the drug trade in Hong Kong. The film admirably details everything from the way the drug kingpin manages his operation to the efforts of the police to stop the illicit activity to the toll it takes on junkies and their loved ones. Unlike THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT, it also gets viewers to care about its characters be it the lonely undercover cop played by Daniel Wu or the ailing drug lord played by Andy Lau Tak-Wah. Some may argue that a pervasive anti-drug message taints the film but having seen my share of ham-fisted “very special episodes” of LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT, I didn’t find the “don’t do drugs” message cloying or intrusive.

The problem with the film is that it’s “pitchy”. It hits several notes that are off key. Leading the way is the Louis Koo character and his story arc. Koo’s junkie is more of a caricature than a character and his fate rings strikingly false in a film that is otherwise infused with realistic detail. Furthermore, one of PROTEGE’s dramatic crescendos — a police raid on a drug processing facility — is marred by two instances of unintentional comedy: the Wile E. Coyote-like downfall of one of the drug workers and Liu Kai-Chi breaking out his TVB physical comedy mannerisms at an inopportune time.

A “best film of the year” should be note perfect. It should move viewers with well-orchestrated rhythm and impeccably-controlled pitch and tone. PROTEGE is a commendable effort but it falls short.

1. EYE IN THE SKY

In an earlier post, I wrote that EYE IN THE SKY was a solid film that had a thoroughly captivating first sixty minutes but a flawed, though not fatally so, final thirty minutes. Two months later, I stand by that assessment and, having compared it to its fellow nominees, feel that it should win the HKFA for Best Film. Admittedly, the ending relies too much upon coincidence but that’s a relatively small flaw when you consider the problems with the other Best Film nominees. I don’t think it is the best of the 2007 crop of films but it is the best in the group of the five nominated films.

I think EYE IN THE SKY has only an outside shot of winning the award. I suspect some voters may believe that it is too slight to be worthy of the best film title. I have a feeling that THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT will come away as the winner.

If this were the Republic of Sanneyistan Film Awards, then LUST, CAUTION would be declared Best Film of 2007 and HOOKED ON YOU and MR. CINEMA would get nominations instead of THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT and THE WARLORDS. Frankly, I’m surprised that two films celebrating HONG KONG didn’t get any attention in this category for the HONG KONG Film Awards. I can understand how some may feel that MR. CINEMA does not deserve consideration because of the way it totally sidestepped the events of June 4, 1989 but, surely, solid arguments can be made that it and HOOKED ON YOU were better films than THE WARLORDS. To me, the nomination for THE WARLORDS is based mostly on reputation and the billing of the film as a grand epic rather than actual merit. It’s like when a 38 year-old veteran gets selected to be play in an all-star game even though he hasn’t performed at an all-star level in years. THE WARLORDS is fine as entertainment but it doesn’t come close to being worthy of a best film nomination. I think a Western equivalent would be if the Academy nominated SPIDER-MAN 3 for the Best Film Oscar this past year. I put SPIDER-MAN 3 and THE WARLORDS in the same boat. They were both surrounded by a tremendous amount of buzz. They look great and sound great but both have storytelling problems and lack any real charm.

IMAGE CREDITS: Warner Brothers (ENTER THE DRAGON screen grab), HBO (ROME promotional graphic), Fox Broadcasting Company (Summer Glau, Randy Jackson), Fuji TV (Tamio Kageyama)

Nominations for the 27th Hong Kong Film Awards

At an event Saturday at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu, Gordon Lam Ka-Tung, Jo Koo and Karena Lam Ka-Yan took turns announcing the nominees for the 27th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards. Derek Yee Tung-Sing’s film PROTEGE led the way with fifteen nominations. It was followed by thirteen nominations for Peter Chan Ho-Sun’s epic, THE WARLORDS. THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT, from director Ann Hui On-Wah, received nine nominations while two Milkyway films, EYE IN THE SKY and MAD DETECTIVE, each got eight nominations.

Lau Ching-Wan, the Best Actor winner last year for MY NAME IS FAME, will get a chance to defend his title as he was nominated for his work in MAD DETECTIVE. He will be going up against Jet Li (THE WARLORDS), Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing (THE DETECTIVE), Andy Lau Tak-Wah (THE WARLORDS) and Simon Yam Tat-Wah (EYE IN THE SKY). Asked to comment on his nomination, Lau said: “I hope I’m lucky again. What makes me happy, however, is that the master, Johnnie To Kei-Fung, and his student, Yau Nai-Hoi, were both nominated for awards.”

In the Best Actress category, Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin of Twins will try to parlay her Golden Bauhinia win for SIMPLY ACTORS into a Hong Kong Film Award. Her competition will be Teresa Mo Shun-Kwun (MR. CINEMA), Siqin Gaowa (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT), Zhang Jingchu (PROTEGE) and Rene Liu (KIDNAP). Commenting on her nomination, Choi declared: “I’m very happy. Making the film was a very rewarding experience because I learned many things. My competition is very strong so getting nominated with them already makes me feel like I’ve won.”

LUST CAUTION, the much-discussed box office sensation by Ang Lee, did not qualify as a Hong Kong film. As a result, it was relegated to a single nomination in the Best Asian Film category.

The awards will be presented on April 13th at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

NOMINATIONS LIST FOR THE 27TH ANNUAL HONG KONG FILM AWARDS: (reactions from some nominees follow)

BEST FILM

  • THE WARLORDS
  • PROTEGE
  • THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT
  • MAD DETECTIVE
  • EYE IN THE SKY

BEST DIRECTOR

  • 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)

BEST SCREENPLAY

  • 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)

BEST ACTOR

  • Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing (THE DETECTIVE)
  • Jet Li (THE WARLORDS)
  • Andy Lau Tak-Wah (THE WARLORDS)
  • Lau Ching-Wan (MAD DETECTIVE)
  • Simon Yam Tat-Wah (EYE IN THE SKY)

BEST ACTRESS

  • 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)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • 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)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • 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)

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)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Charlie Lam Chi-Kin (EXODUS)
  • Arthur Wong Ngok-Tai (THE WARLORDS)
  • Venus Keung Kwok-Man (PROTEGE)
  • Kwan Pun-Leung, Yu Lik-Wai (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)
  • Cheng Siu-Keung (MAD DETECTIVE)

BEST EDITING

  • Oxide Pang Shun, Curran Pang Jing-Hei (THE DETECTIVE)
  • Lee Tung-Chuen (THE WARLORDS)
  • Kwong Chi-Leung (PROTEGE)
  • Tina Baz (MAD DETECTIVE)
  • David Richardson (EYE IN THE SKY)

BEST ART DIRECTION

  • Anuson Pinyopotjanee (THE DETECTIVE)
  • Alfred Yau Wai-Ming (BLOOD BROTHERS)
  • Yee Chung-Man, Yi Zhengzhou, Pater Wong Ping-Yiu (THE WARLORDS)
  • Yee Chung-Man, Kennerth Mak Kwok-Keung (PROTEGE)
  • Yank Wong Yan-Kwai (THE BESIEGED CITY)

BEST COSTUME & MAKEUP DESIGN

  • Surasak Warakitcharoen (THE DETECTIVE)
  • Tim Yip Kam-Tim (BLOOD BROTHERS)
  • Yee Chung-Man, Jessie Dai Mei-Ling, Lee Pik-Kwan (THE WARLORDS)
  • Ma Yu-Tao (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)
  • Stanley Cheung Sai-Kit (MAD DETECTIVE)

BEST ACTION CHOREOGRAPHY

  • Kong Tao-Hoi (TWINS MISSION)
  • Tony Ching Siu-Tung (THE WARLORDS)
  • Lee Chung-Chi (INVISIBLE TARGET)
  • Chin Ka-Lok (PROTEGE)
  • Donnie Yen Chi-Tan (FLASH POINT)

BEST SOUND DESIGN

  • Wachira Wongsaroj (THE DETECTIVE)
  • Sunit Asvinikul, Nakorn Kositpaisal (THE WARLORDS)
  • Kinson Tsang King-Cheung (PROTEGE)
  • Steve Burgess, Sam Wong Lui (FLASH POINT)
  • Tu Duu-Chih, Kuo Li-Chi (THE DRUMMER)

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Suchada Somasavachai (THE DETECTIVE)
  • Ng Yuen-Fai (THE WARLORDS)
  • Ho Siu-Lun, Chow Kin-Hung, Ching Han-Wong (PROTEGE)
  • Raymond Man Siu-Lun (MAD DETECTIVE)
  • Leung Wai-Kit, Don Ma Wing-On, Leung Yiu-Fung, Frankie Chung Chi-Hang (THE MAGIC GOURD)

BEST ORIGINAL FILM SCORE

  • Payont Permsith, Jadet Chawang (THE DETECTIVE)
  • Chan Kwong-Wing, Peter Kam Pui-Tat, Chatchai Pongprapaphan, Leon Ko Sai-Cheung (THE WARLORDS)
  • Peter Kam Pui-Tat (PROTEGE)
  • Joe Hisaishi (THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT)
  • Andre Matthias (THE DRUMMER)

BEST ORIGINAL FILM SONG

  • “Brothers” (from BROTHERS)
    • Composer: Eason Chan Yik-Shun
    • Lyrics by: Andy Lau Tak-Wah
    • Sung by: Andy Lau Tak-Wah and Eason Chan Yik-Shun
  • 逼得太緊 (”Forced Too Close” from LOVE IS NOT ALL AROUND)
    • Composer: Dennie Wong Tan-Yi
    • Lyrics by: Lin Xi
    • Sung by: Kary Ng Yu-Fei
  • 星光伴我心 (”Starlight Accompanies My Heart” from MR. CINEMA)
    • Composer: Peter Kam Pui-Tat
    • Lyrics by: Keith Chan Siu-Kei
    • Sung by: Ronald Cheng Chung-Gei
  • “Happy Wanderer” (from MING MING)
    • Composer: Anthony Wong Yiu-Ming, Jason Choi Tak-Choi
    • Lyrics by: Lin Xi
    • Sung by: Anthony Wong Yiu-Ming, Zhou Xun
  • 問天不應 (”No Reply From Heaven” from THE PYE-DOG)
    • Composer: George Lam Chi-Cheung
    • Lyrics by: Calvin Poon Yuen-Leung
    • Sung by: George Lam Chi-Cheung

BEST NEW DIRECTOR

  • Derek Kwok Chi-Kin (THE PYE-DOG)
  • Yau Nai-Hoi (EYE IN THE SKY)
  • Adam Wong Sau-Ping (MAGIC BOY)

BEST ASIAN FILM

  • SECRET
  • THE SUN ALSO RISES
  • LUST CAUTION
  • TOKYO TOWER: MOM & ME AND SOMETIMES DAD
  • GETTING HOME

REACTIONS:

- Anita Yuen Wing-Yi: “I never thought I’d be nominated but, if I win, it’ll be a nice addition to the Best Actress awards I’ve already won. Actually, I’m just happy for the opportunity to work with great directors like Peter Chan Ho-Sun and Derek Yee Tung-Sing. This just shows that it’s the quality of the work that’s important not the quantity.”

- Simon Yam Tat-Wah: “The competition is fierce every year but I have confidence.”

- Aaron Kwok: “I’m very happy. It’s a very nice Lunar New Year present. I consider getting nominated a victory.”

- Teresa Mo: “I’m happy every time I get nominated. I’m facing strong competition this year so I’ll go to the ceremony, try to be dispassionate, and hope that I’m the one getting the award from Lau Ching-Wan (last year’s Best Actor).”

- Nick Cheung: “I was nominated a few times for awards last year but kept losing to Gouw Ian Iskander (AFTER THIS OUR EXILE). He’s not nominated for anything this year so I think I’ve got a shot.”

- Andy Lau: “I’m grateful to be nominated but my thoughts are with the victims of the snow storms in China.”

- Peter Chan: “The most important thing is that I get to share the glory with all the nameless heroes in the cast and crew. I don’t think too much about winning. Getting nominated doesn’t mean you’ll win.”

- Johnnie To: “MAD DETECTIVE was my way of celebrating Milkyway’s tenth anniversary with Wai Ka-Fai so it’s very meaningful. It was also about taking our filmmaking into a new direction. As for Yau Nai-Hoi getting nominated, I’m also very happy. I told him to keep up the good work.”

The 26th Hong Kong Film Awards

Updated at 10:52 pm

The 26th Hong Kong Film Awards were presented Sunday evening at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsimshatsui. AFTER THIS OUR EXILE was the big winner with five awards (Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor and Best New Performer). However, its lead actor, Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing, was not able to capitalize on the film’s winning momentum as the favourite going into the evening was upset by crowd favourite Lau Ching-Wan (left). Lau, 43, won the Best Actor prize over Kwok for his performance in MY NAME IS FAME. A twenty-four year veteran of the entertainment circle, Lau finally broke his shutout in the Best Actor category after being nominated seven times previously for LOST IN TIME (2003), VICTIM (1999), THE LONGEST NITE (1997), FULL ALERT (1997), BIG BULLET (1996), C’EST LA VIE, MON CHERIE (1994) and THOU SHALT NOT SWEAR (1993). A thunderous round of applause erupted in the Cultural Centre when Lau’s name was announced. After shaking hands with fellow nominee Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Lau made his way on to the stage and joked: “I hope I’m given a little more time. After all, I’ve waited so long.”

He went on to say: “I had a feeling I would win when I saw that the HKFAA (Hong Kong Film Awards Association) picked ‘passing the torch’ as its theme this year. Because of that, I knew the award would go to a youngster like me. I want to thank Brother Chau-Sang (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang), Brother Sing-Sing (Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing) and Brother Chiu-Wai (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai). I will take the torch and work hard.”

Related images:

Gong Li and her cleavage (right) won the Best Actress prize for their work in CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER. Gong, who did not attend the ceremony, won her first Hong Kong Film Award after being nominated previously for her roles in A TERRACOTTA WARRIOR (1990) and TEMPTRESS MOON (1996). In a phone interview with Oriental Daily News, Gong said: “I’m very surprised. I didn’t think that I would win. I thank the HKFAA for giving me something that I’ve longed many years for. Although I’ve won many international awards, this is the first time I’ve won in Hong Kong. Every time I win an award, it has something to do with Zhang Yimou. He really brings me good luck. I have to clarify one thing: There are rumours that I didn’t go to the awards because I didn’t like the way the HKFA booked my accommodations. I want to let people know that I have a house in Hong Kong and don’t need to stay in a hotel. I didn’t make it to the awards because I’m working in America.”

AFTER THIS OUR EXILE was Patrick Tam Ka-Ming’s first directorial effort in sixteen years. His last film was 1989’s MY HEART IS THAT EXTERNAL ROSE. Accepting his directing award, Tam told the crowd: “Thank you to the HKFA for supporting me. I wish to thank the cast and crew as well as God for giving me such an excellent gift.”

Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Tam was asked for his thoughts about the successful night for AFTER THIS OUR EXILE. Tam: “I can’t say getting all the awards was expected or unexpected because there was no way to predict but I feel disappointed for Sing-Sing (Aaron Kwok). He really did a lot for this film. However, awards aren’t our main goal. The main thing is for everyone to see the hard work we put into the movie.”

Eight year-old Gouw Ian Iskanda won two awards, Best Supporting Actor and Best New Performer, for his role in AFTER THIS OUR EXILE. He was the first actor to win both the new performer award and an acting award in the same year since Karena Lam Ka-Yan (JULY RHASPODY) did it five years ago. To the suprise of many, Iskanda beat out veterans Simon Yam Tat-Wah (ELECTION 2), Nick Cheung Ka-Fai (ELECTION 2) and Liu Ye (CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER) in the Best Supporting Actor category. Surprised himself, Iskanda had to be prompted to go on stage to collect his second award of the evening. Shellshocked, the child actor was at a loss for words and managed only to say: “I never thought I’d win twice … I learned a lot from making this film. I’m very happy. I’ll continue to work hard.”

More composed when speaking to reporters following the ceremony. Iskanda told reporters that he was looking forward to the spoils of victory. Iskanda: “I was going to get a reward of a Nintendo Wii and ten games for winning. Now that I’ve won twice, I think I should be getting twenty games.”

Asked if he was going to be an actor when he grows up, Iskanda replied that he wanted to be a “tennis player” instead.

Related images:

Daniel Wu (Ng Yin-Tso) took home the award for Best New Director (THE HEAVENLY KINGS). He accepted the award with his Alive bandmates Conroy Chan Chi-Chung, Terence Yin (Wan Chi-Wai) and Andrew Lin Hoi because he views THE HEAVENLY KINGS as a group achievement rather than an individual one. Asked if winning the directing award means that he will focus more on directing rather than acting in the future, Wu said that he probably wouldn’t because he “feels more comfortable acting”. Related image (courtesy Ming Pao Daily):

Sir Run Run Shaw (Siu Yat-Fu) was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Hong Kong cinema. The 100 year-old Shaw did not accept the award in person, however, because he was not feeling well enough to attend the ceremony. Flanked by a contingent of Shaw Studio veterans that included Ti Lung, Gordon Liu (Lau Kar-Fai) and Jimmy Wang Yu, Shaw’s eldest son and presumptive heir, Siu Wai-Ming, accepted the award on Shaw’s behalf. Related image (courtesy Ming Pao Daily):

A reflection, perhaps, of his sometimes stand-offish relationship with the Hong Kong Film Awards, acclaimed director Johnnie To Kei-Fung was shut out at this year’s award despite receiving nine nominations for his films ELECTION 2 and EXILED. To, as he has done regularly in the past, did not attend the ceremony.

Big names Zhang Yimou, Chow Yun-Fat and Jet Li were also not present at the awards.

More from the awards ceremony following the list of results.

RESULTS FROM THE 26TH HONG KONG FILM AWARDS

For a detailed list of the nominees: See the official Hong Kong Film Awards website

BEST FILM: AFTER THIS OUR EXILE 父子

  • Presented by: Vision Film Workshop, Black & White Films Ltd.
  • Executive Producer: Chiu Li-Kuang (邱瓈寬)

BEST DIRECTOR: Patrick Tam Ka-Ming (譚家明) for AFTER THIS OUR EXILE

BEST SCREENPLAY: Patrick Tam Ka-Ming, Tian Koi-Leong (田開良) for AFTER THIS OUR EXILE

BEST ACTOR: Lau Ching-Wan (劉青雲) for MY NAME IS FAME (我要成名)

BEST ACTRESS: Gong Li (鞏俐) for CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER (滿城盡帶黃金甲)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Gouw Ian Iskanda (吳澋滔) for AFTER THIS OUR EXILE

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Zhou Xun (周迅) for THE BANQUET (夜宴)

BEST NEW PERFORMER: Gouw Ian Iskanda for AFTER THIS OUR EXILE

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Andrew Lau Wai-Keung (劉偉強) , Lai Yiu-Fai (黎耀輝) for CONFESSION OF PAIN (傷城)

BEST FILM EDITING: Eric Kong Chi-Leung (鄺志良) for BATTLE OF WITS (墨攻)

BEST ART DIRECTION: Huo Tingxiao (霍廷霄) for CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER

BEST COSTUME AND MAKE-UP DESIGN: Yee Chung-Man (奚仲文) for CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER

BEST ACTION CHOREOGRAPHY: Yuen Woo-Ping (袁和平) for FEARLESS (霍元甲)

BEST ORIGINAL FILM SCORE: Peter Kam Pui-Tat (金培達) for ISABELLA (伊莎貝拉)

BEST ORIGINAL FILM SONG: “The Chrysthanthemum Terrace” (菊花台) from CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER sung by Jay Chou (周杰倫)

  • Composer: Jay Chou
  • Lyrics: Vincent Fang Wenshan (方文山)

BEST SOUND DESIGN: Nakom Kositpaisa for RE-CYCLE (鬼域)

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Ng Yuen-Fai (吳炫輝) , Chas Chau Chi-Shing (鄒志盛), Emil Yee Kwok-Leung (余國亮) , Alex Lim Hung-Fung (林洪峯) for RE-CYCLE

BEST NEW DIRECTOR: Daniel Wu (吳彥祖) for THE HEAVENLY KINGS (四大天王)

BEST ASIAN FILM: RIDING ALONE FOR THOUSANDS OF MILES (千里走單騎) from Mainland China

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Sir Run Run Shaw (Siu Yat-Fu, 邵逸夫)

NOTES FROM THE CEREMONY:

- Despite rumours suggesting that their 18-year relationship was in peril, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Carina Lau Ka-Ling attended the ceremony hand-in-hand. The two also presented the Best Film award together. Of late, the couple has been plagued by rumours that Leung left Lau over Lau’s alleged “friendship” with Taiwanese tycoon Terry Guo Tai-Ming (Taiwan’s richest man and, according to Forbes, the 176th richest man in the world).

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- Teresa Mo Shun-Kwun was the first celebrity to show up on the red carpet. Mo: “I got here at 6:50 pm and waited around for a while before stepping out yet I’m still the first one here. Showing up early is a bad habit that I have to correct.”

For the record, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Carina Lau Ka-Ling were the last celebrities to arrive. Related image (courtesy Oriental Daily News):

- The boys from Alive, their musical director Paul Wong Kwoon-Chung and an entourage of twenty to thirty people arrived on a big yellow bus. Daniel Wu brought his girlfriend model Lisa S., Andrew Lin Hoi had his wife on his arm and Conroy Chan Chi-Chung was accompanied by his wife Josie Ho Chiu-Yi. Paul Wong performed during the cermony.

Related images:

FASHION NOTES:

- “Tube dresses” and “clutch purses” were all the rage at this year’s ceremony.

- Kelly Lin (Lam Hei-Lui), Huo Siyan (MY NAME IS FAME), Eva Huang Shengyi and Shu Qi turned heads with their eye-catching fashions. Related images:

- Rene Liu (Lau Yeuk-Ying) shocked many by dressing like a man. Related image (courtesy Ming Pao Daily):

- Oriental Daily News asked fashion designer Dorian Ho (official website) to comment on some of the fashions worn by the stars. His thoughts:

- Miriam Yeung Chin-Wai wore an elegant dress designed by Tomas Chan. However, her “rough demeamour” at the ceremony was not a match with the outfit’s elegance. Speculating that Yeung is still into her character as a fishmonger for her new film HOOK ON YOU, Ho remarked: “She might as well have done like Rene Liu and dressed like a man.”

- On South Korean star Song Hye-Kyo, Ho commented: “Her hair style is old-fashioned and her dress was just average. She doesn’t look a bit like a big star. She’s very pretty but the way she presented herself tonight was just a disappointment.”

- Ho had high praise for EEG personalities Isabella Leong Lok-Si and Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin. Ho: “Ah Sa (Choi) usually gets criticized for what she wears but she looked pretty good this time. She has a body type that’s very hard to dress so what she’s wearing is not bad. Besides, she’s wearing a brand, J. Mendel, that I really like.”

As for Isabella Leong, Ho said: “She frankly deserves some praise. A dress like that, with all those levels, can be very intimidating to wear but, with her height, she pulls it off. It’s a good fit. I think she’s really improving the way she dresses. Her fashion sense is starting to match the potential that she shows.”

Related images:

OTHER IMAGE LINKS:

Courtesy Oriental Daily News: THE BANQUET’s Zhou Xun; Chapman To Man-Chat and his wife Kristal Tin Yui-Lei; Stephy Tang Lai-Yan; Tang, Alex Fong Lik-Sun and some of the other former Cookies

Courtesy The Sun: Fellow winners Zhou Xun and Lau Ching-Wan exchange pleasantries; Jay Chou and Tony Ching Siu-Tung; Matthew Medvedev from ROB-B-HOOD; Kara Hui (Wai Ying-Hung)

Courtesy Ming Pao Daily: Zhou Xun accepts her award from presenter Miriam Yeung; Zhou; Anita Yuen Wing-Yi; Jay Chou

Oriental Daily News Photo Gallery Slideshow (Macromedia Flash Required)

Hong Kong Film Awards: Go! Lau Ching-Wan! Go!


My apologies for the long gap between posts. Healthwise, I am doing all right … though I still spend more time than I’d like to in waiting rooms at various medical facilities. Thanks, by the way, to the three people who wrote in this week to ask how I was doing. It’s just that I’ve been struggling with my writing of late. Before, when I used to do news reports, the articles would write themselves. Now, every paragraph is a grind as I debate questions like: Does anybody besides me find this interesting? Is this too mundane to even mention? Should I cut this part out or leave it in?

For the past three weeks, I’ve been working on a post about Hong Kong television serials. It started out as a review of CCTV’s HEAVEN DRAGON: THE EIGHTH EPISODE but the pre-amble on television serials and how they got me sucked into the HK entertainment circle went on and on and on as I indulged heavily in a trip down memory lane. The post approached 10,000 words and I hadn’t even started talking about HEAVEN DRAGON: THE EIGHTH EPISODE!

Consequently, I’ve decided to shelve that post temporarily and put one up on this Sunday’s Hong Kong Film Awards (HKFA). But first, an announcement: I am going to gird up my loins and put up a HKFA report here somtime Sunday afternoon/Sunday evening North American time. It’ll be just like the ones I used to do at Hong Kong Entertainment News In Review … except I won’t be wearing an Armani tux (er, Men’s Wearhouse knockoff) while I’m typing it out.

Sometime in the near future, I will be posting a revised version of that mammoth treatise on HK television serials so stay tuned.

On to the day’s business:

Since I’ve seen only a handful of films from 2006 and am still catching up on the events of the past year, I don’t have any real insight on who I think will win or should win at this year’s awards (go here to see list of nominations). However, I will be offering a fine white lamb or, if I can’t find one, six pigeons to the Entertainment Circle gods if they make the following happen:

  • A win for Alive’s “Adam’s Choice” from THE HEAVENLY KINGS in the Best Original Song category. Having seen both THE BANQUET and FEARLESS, the songs from those films don’t play as integral a part in their respective movies as “Adam’s Choice” does in THE HEAVENLY KINGS. Besides, for a song that is essentially a joke, it’s pretty damn catchy.

  • My greatest wish (an additional lamb or six pigeons to the Entertainment Circle gods if it comes true): A win for Lau Ching-Wan in the Best Actor category. Lau has done better work in his storied twenty-plus years career than he did in MY NAME IS FAME but I really hope he wins this year. Chow Yun-Fat (three wins in this category) and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (five wins — most ever in the Best Actor category) already have enough awards. Jet Li has his international acclaim and, quite frankly, his Huo Yuanjia is just a slightly different version of other kung fu heroes he’s played in the past while Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing is, well, Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing. Webmaster Kozo of LoveHKFilm says that he hears the race is between the Kwokster for his glamourous role as a deadbeat dad and Lau. Here’s hoping that the HKFA ignores the award-baiting and allows Lau to come out on top. It will be a little bit of a “Martin Scorsese wins Best Director for THE DEPARTED” situation but, without Lau’s sympathetic portrayal keeping it grounded, MY NAME IS FAME could have easily been pretentious and self-serving rather than a delightful love letter to the HK movie industry.

Chinese Lesson of The Day: “Ching Wan” means “high and noble in virtue and ambition”. “Ching Wan Jik Seung” (see graphic above) means “may you soar higher and higher” and is used as a well-wishing expression like: 身體健康 (sun tai gin hong, “may you have good health”) or the familiar Lunar New Year greeting 恭喜發財 (gung hei fat choi, “congratulations and may you be prosperous”).

See you Sunday!

 
 
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