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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 ‘News Links’ Category

Karate Kid “Konundrum”

With THE KARATE KID (2010) set to hit North American movie theatres in a week, the publicity machine for the film is starting to hit top gear.  Since it has yet to be screened for critics, the early press has been mostly positive because it’s just been the people behind the movie who have been talking.  Will Smith and his family appeared on Oprah last month and, earlier this week, producer James Lassiter spoke to The Los Angeles Times.

Last Friday, a review appeared on Ain’t It Cool News declaring THE KARATE KID (2010) to be a “worthy successor to the previous incarnation”.  On Monday, Todd Brown at Twitch said the movie was “better than good”.  Also on Monday, Gregory Ellwood at HitFix.com speculated on why it might be “June’s breakout hit”.

All of this positive buzz has created a bit of a conundrum for me.  Going back to February 1996 and the North American release of RUMBLE IN THE BRONX, the only Jackie Chan movie I haven’t seen during its opening weekend was THE SPY NEXT DOOR - and that was mostly because I wasn’t a 7 year-old kid.   However, I was going to skip THE KARATE KID (2010) next week in favour of THE A-TEAM.  Based on the trailer that I saw before IRON MAN 2, THE A-TEAM looks like it’ll be a whole lot of fun while my pre-conceived notions for THE KARATE KID (2010) are not compelling me to rush out and see it.  My pre-conceived notions:

TORTILLA SOUP poster1. There are only really two legitimate reasons to remake a movie.  The first is technology now exists to update it.  It’s like putting a new coat of paint on an old house.  There’s nothing wrong with the house but it just may look better with a new coat of paint.  See KING KONG (2005) and CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010).  The second is a remake set in a different culture than the original.  Keeping the premise but putting it in a completely different setting gives people the opportunity to explore the original themes and ideas from a different angle.  See DEATH AT A FUNERAL (2010), THE DEPARTED (2006) and TORTILLA SOUP (2001) - the thoroughly enjoyable Hispanic remake of Ang Lee’s EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN.

Otherwise, remakes are usually just tepid versions of their originals because it’s hard to live up to the challenge of competing with the legacy of the originals while establishing a new identity, a new raison d’être.  See: THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123 (2009), THE INVASION (2007), THE WICKER MAN (2006), PLANET OF THE APES (2001), PSYCHO (1998) and THE PINK PANTHER (2006).

THE KARATE KID (2010) faces a similar problem.  From the fish-out-of-water premise of the “Joisey” kid moving to California to the “You’re The Best Around” montage to the over-the-top bad guys (”Get him a body bag! Yeeaah!”), the original KARATE KID is great because it has a unique combination of cheesy chemistry.  Re-creating that chemistry is a “lightning strike twice” situation, not impossible but highly unlikely.

2. Will Smith is producing the movie.  On the upside, “Big Willie Style” means a big budget and excellent production values.  On the downside, Smith casting his son Jaden in the lead screams “vanity project”.

3. I’m obviously not in the target demographic for this movie.  I’m not a child and I’m not a parent of a child.  The original had a 21 year-old Elisabeth Shue as the “compelling hot babe”.  The “love interest” for 11 year-old Jaden Smith is played by a similarly young Chinese actress named Han Wenwen.  Definitely not — unless you’re under 12 years old -  “compelling hot babe” material.

4. As I don’t want Skynet/the Cylons to keep track of my web surfing activities, I have my browser cache and cookies cleared before I shutdown my computer.  Consequently, I lost a link to an article from earlier this week where someone wrote that the Jaden Smith-Jackie Chan relationship in the movie serves as an allegory for how America needs China and China needs America.

“Child, please”, as Chad Ochocinco would say.

A publicity photo for THE A-TEAM movie.

Before this week, all of these pre-conceived notions had me leaning towards going to see THE A-TEAM next weekend instead of THE KARATE KID (2010).  However, after being subjected to the Sirens’ call of the publicity machine, I started thinking that I might have to check out THE KARATE KID (2010) first.  Then, I read this whopper of a quote from producer James Lassiter in The L.A. Times article “‘Karate Kid’ update breaks down some Chinese walls”:

The people run the country.  So if people didn’t want you shooting in their neighborhood, there’s no authority that can tell them they have to. That’s why it’s called the People’s Republic of China.

Like a splash of cold water to the face, that quote snapped me out of the stupor created by the publicity machine.   Yes, GeekPadre and Todd Brown gave positive reviews but, like early returns on election night, that doesn’t mean anything.  I’ll wait until other critics get a chance to see the movie but unless reviews are overwhelmingly positive, I’m probably waiting until a cheap night Tuesday or a second-run discount theatre or possibly even a video rental before I see THE KARATE KID (2010).

Only my brain, with its bothersome thinking and dilemmas and conundrums, is compelling me to see the remake.  My heart is telling me I’ll have a much better time at THE A-TEAM.  “Don’t think! Feel!”, noted 20th Century philosopher Bruce Lee said in ENTER THE DRAGON.   THE A-TEAM it is.

RELATED LINKS:

Images credits: Samuel Goldwyn Films (TORTILLA SOUP poster); 20th Century Fox (THE A-TEAM publicity image)

Yummy Mummy Without A Tummy

Part two of the news links catch-up but first some reader interaction …

In the comments from News Links: July 27th, 2009, Gleen Glenn writes:

What are your thoughts on Kelly Chen babygate?  Did she fake the pregnancy?  It’s someone else’s baby?  Just nasty gossip?

When I first read the rumours about Kelly Chen’s pregnancy being an elaborate cover-up for a pregnancy caused by her brother Victor Chen, my initial reaction was: “What?  Is this the 1950s?  Would someone really bother to concoct such a complex scheme in an age where the term “baby daddy” has become firmly entrenched in the cultural lexicon?  Do families still send their pregnant kids away to “distant relatives”?  Do “rest homes” that cater to unwed single mothers still exist?  Didn’t Richard Li and Isabella Leong just proudly celebrate the birth of an out-of-wedlock child?”

Then, I put aside my Western sensibilities and remembered that we’re talking about the shame-based Chinese culture where “young models” are a source of controversy for the Hong Kong Book Fair so, yeah, maybe someone would go to ridiculous lengths to cover-up a pregnancy.  Like the earlier rumours about Ronald Cheng’s extra-curricular activities involving photos of Charlene Choi, these rumours are so absurd, you can’t possibly have formed them just out of your imagination.  It’s like the Little Vito shower situation in the “Chasing It” episode of THE SOPRANOS, you don’t just dream up scenarios like that without some sort of real-life kernel inspiring it.

So, do I think the rumours are true?  Not really.  Some HK girls are alarmingly thin but otherwise healthy, like my 89-pound cousin Agatha, so it’s not like Kelly Chen’s slight weight gain is out of the norm for HK women.  However, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it turned out, years later, that the rumours were true (see one Bobby Darin).

I can’t believe that I just spent time breaking that down …  :-)

Onto some links …

PRODUCTION NEWS:

BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS:

‘Infernal’ Lau joins ‘Bodyguards’

Latest Stills of ‘Bodyguards and Assassins’

After 112 days of shooting, principal photography of BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS wrapped on the weekend.  Among those present was Michelle Reis who has a small part playing a woman who has a “profound effect on Leon Lai’s ‘beggar’ character”.

RELATED LINKS:

Shaw Bros. returns with trio of films

Sundream joins IHQ and Polybona for Let’s Fall in Love

HK indie filmmakers taking the lead

Production still of Jet Li in THE EXPENDABLES

This film look likes it’ll be dynamite but, with such a star-studded cast, they couldn’t make room for Jean Claude Van Damme?  I can understand not wanting Steven Seagal (since he looks like he weighs 300 pounds and has less mobility than Zhang Fei in DYNASTY WARRIORS 4) but no love for The Muscles From Brussels?

One more comment, a project like this is what Jackie Chan should be doing instead of KUNG FU KID.

Chinese filmmaker Feng Xiaogang begins shooting earthquake movie

COMING SOON:

Message of ‘Overheard’: Don’t Be Greedy

McDull’s Big Success at Box Office

FEATURES:

Lee Byung Hyun (Korean actor who has a role in G.I. JOE: RISE OF THE COBRA):  You can’t see his face on the posters

EASON CHAN:

HK singer Eason Chan’s marriage in trouble?

Eason Chen breaks down in tears during his concert

Photo of Constance Chan and Hilary Tsui at the Beyond concert where Eason Chan was a guest performer

AROUND TOWN:

‘Tracing Shadow’ Premieres

More photos courtesy Xinhua (Gotta love that dress on Pace Wu)

Donnie Yen celebrated his 46th birthday on July 27th with a party at a HK nightclub.  Among the attendees were his real-life wife Cissy Wang, his on-screen wife Lynn Xiong, producer Raymond Wong, Andrew Lin Hoi, Vincent Kuk Tak-Chiu, Cheung Tat-Ming and Leon Lai.

RELATED LINKS:

Jessica Hsuan, Kate Tsui, Amanda Strang and Ivan Ho Sau-San attended a press conference on Monday for their new TVB documentary series 《活着》 (trans. LIVING). For the series, the artistes will visit Ethiopa, Kenya and Sawarak among other locales.

PHOTO GALLERYS:

Li Bingbing on the cover of the August issue of Harper’s Bazaar

Sina.com slideshow featuring Vicki Zhao Wei

Donnie Yen on the cover of L’Officiel Hommes

BRUCE LEE:

Bruce Lee legend remains strong in Hong Kong 36 years after his death

Hollywood Reporter:

HK Standard: New Bruce Lee flick to focus on his life and loves

Xinhua: Kungfu star Bruce Lee’s new movie to be shot

Associated Press: Bruce Lee’s siblings authorize Chinese biopics

Variety:  Bruce Lee museum, biopic unveiled

Design competition held for Bruce Lee museum

New York Times: Design Competition for Bruce Lee Museum

BEYOND HK:

Ken Zhu hopes to take nude photos of Kelly Lin

Vic Zhou: I won’t conceal my future relationships

Jolin launches own fashion label in America

CULTURAL NEWS:

Alarm sounded as youth ditch reading for idol worship

Book fair seeks model behavior - or else

Drug war and sexy models spice Ani-Com 

* * * * *

Best wishes to Shing Fui-On who, according to reports in HK papers, has suffered a recurrence of the nasopharyngeal cancer that he battled in 2004.  Incidentally, this is the same kind of cancer for which I received treatment.

News Links: July 27th, 2009

Apologies for the recent lack of posts.  While Asia was plunged into darkness by a total eclipse of the Sun last week, I was plunged into darkness by a total eclipse of the heart, getting a little bit nervous that the best of all the years have gone by.

Kidding, kidding.  No need to worry for my mental health.  I’m not sitting in the dark, drinking myself into a stupor like a TVB protagonist after he’s had a stupid misunderstanding with his love interest.  It’s just that talk of the eclipse put Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” back onto the radio for a couple of days and the tune turned into a mindworm that burrowed itself into my brain.

If you want to worry about something, worry about how Earth’s brilliant scientists missed spotting an object as big as the Pacific Ocean approaching Jupiter.  If they didn’t see an object that size gunning for Jupiter, how are they going to spot massive objects coming towards Earth?  Disconcerting — no?  Related links:

Now that I’ve planted seeds of anxiety in your mind, allow me to distract you with some links.  As I’ve missed almost two weeks, I’m splitting the links up into smaller more manageable posts.  Here’s post number one:

FEATURES:

Stephen Chow’s Short List

The rise and fall — and rise? — of Hong Kong cinema

Aaron Kwok: Tortured Soul

Everything Will Change: An Interview with Wai Ka-Fai

Charmaine Sheh: Charmaine speaks her mind

RELATED LINKS:

Moses Chan: The pursuit of happiness

RELATED: Moses Chan only loves coffee and not women?

Michael Hui: Just For Laughs

Carl Ng (son of Richard Ng Yiu-Hon):  Journey to the East

My Interview with Francoise Yip

Regular reader Glenn nabs an interview with Yip Fong-Wah.  There’s a link to his review of MOTHERLAND below.

Stefanie Sun: The Stage is a Career and a Challenge

PRODUCTION NEWS:

Wong Jing  to live and die with ‘Mongkok’

DETECTIVE DEE:

Looking for Kung Fu Girls for Andy Lau’s New Film ‘Unshakeable Military Orders’

Stanley Kwan, Christopher Doyle Chase Solar Eclipse for New Film

37:

POKER KING: The Asian Poker Tour Macau To Star As Backdrop For New Chinese Poker Film

Stephen Chow salvages romance ‘Jump’

Preview of the Set in Zhang Yimou’s “Three Guns”

Chinese director Jia to make 1st big budget film

COMING SOON:

OVERHEARD:

ON HIS MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE:

MCDULL KUNG FU DING DONG: Never a McDull moment

The Storm Warriors to create new Wuxia world with more special effects

Battle Film “Wheat” to Be Released in September

RELATED: Sina.com Photo Gallery

Critics Give Thumbs-up to “One Night in a Supermarket” Ahead of Release (Link to Variety review below)

Ge You ‘Gasps’ out Funny English

MOVIE REVIEWS:

MURDERER reviews: Hollywood Reporter, HK Magazine, bc Magazine

WRITTEN BY: bc Magazine review

SOUNDLESS WIND CHIME: bc Magazine review

PLASTIC CITY: Channel News Asia review

ONE NIGHT IN SUPERMARKET: Variety review

MOTHERLAND: Review from A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed

GENERAL NEWS:

Vicki Zhao:

Kelly Chen:

Hong Kong Book Fair:

Charlene Choi: Ronald Cheng is not a Casanova

Nicholas Tse encourages wife to have second child

Sonija Kwok searching for Mr. Right

Leon Didn’t Announce Wedding at ‘Dream Wedding” Concert

Edison Chen re-engaged as jeans endorsee

Taipei Times Pop Stop: Edison Chen, Zhang Ziyi

Jackie Chan to Donate All Property after Death

Taipei Times Pop Stop: Jackie Chan, Little S, more

Shu Qi seen in Stephen Feng’s house

RELATED: Photos courtesy Xinhua

Zoe Tay, Stephen Fung graces Cartier’s flagship opening

Raymond Lam:

Denise Ho:

Fann Wong plans to follow Kelly Chen’s footsteps

Paulyn Sun: Wealthy ex walks free after model punch rap

Ekin Cheng promotes HK tourism in Japan

CoCo Lee goes futuristic gold for East To West

BEYOND HK:

Phyllis Quek (you may remember her as the compelling hot babe from Aaron Kwok’s 2000 AD): You Can’t Have Best of Both Worlds

RELATED: Phyllis Quek loses sleep over her role as Kidnapper

Rocker Wu Bai refuses to be a “Fashion Dog”

Andy Lau and Jingle Ma inaugurate Cheryl Yang’s journey in showbiz

Sam Lee Sheng-Chieh: This balladeer’s shy about ballet past

Fiona Xie:

HONG KONG MOVIES ABROAD:

Asian American International Film Festival debuts in NYC

Why You Wouldn’t Want To Be Jaycee Chan: Reason #218

Compiling a news links post which should be appear shortly but I couldn’t resist throwing in my two cents after coming across this item about Jackie Chan:

Jackie Chan praises kung fu of Will Smith’s son

RELATED: Jackie Chan’s blog post about THE KUNG FU KID

Once again, Jackie Chan throws his son under the bus.  It’s weird that he constantly feels the need to take these public digs at his kid.  What’s even more off-putting about this instance is that Big Brother Jackie seems to be doing it for thirty pieces of silver.  Doesn’t it come across a little bit as him singing the praises of Jaden Smith because he’s sucking up to Will Smith?  There have got to be countless ways to make the same point without going out of his way to slam his own flesh and blood.  Did he really need to say this: “He put my son to shame!  I provided my son with the best martial artists in the world, and he could not be persuaded to try it.”

Isn’t this odd behaviour for a public figure?  How many famous people continually denigrate their offspring in the pubic eye?  When Richard Li and Isabella Leong announced the birth of their son last month, Li Ka-Shing didn’t go on Twitter and tweet about how he wished his son spent more time making money and less time having children out of wedlock with starlets.  Instead, he told the press that he was happy to be “promoted to grandfather status”.

Jackie Chan’s behaviour reminds me, a bit, of something the great Tracy Jordan said in the 30 ROCK episode “Tracy Does Conan”.  In it, he revealed:  “I like to walk around my house naked, to remind my oldest son who’s still got the biggest ding-dong.”

With an old man like Big Brother Jackie, it’s remarkable that we haven’t had any news stories of Jaycee Chan crashing his Ferrari in the Central district or inappropriately touching a taxi driver while in a drunken stupor.

ADMINISTRATIVE NOTES:

- A quick merci to m for the French lesson in the comments section of the last post.

- Speaking of comments, I’m temporarily switching the blog’s discussion function to “moderated” because the comments section has been overrun, of late, with spam.

Back later with a news links post.

News and Notes: Fête Nationale 2009

Joyeuese Fête Nationale à tout le monde!

Or is it Joyeux Fête Nationale?  Also, do I need the à or can I just go with “Joyeuese Fête Nationale tout le monde!”  Apologies to all of the francophone readers out there, it’s been a long time since I took high school French and even longer since I watched late-night movies on CBC French.  Hey, when you’re a 13 year-old boy, Fanny Ardant films can be quite, uh, intriguing even if you can barely understand what’s going on.  These days, of course, I’m sure 13 year-old boys have the ability to cast a wider net when it comes to that sort of thing.  Back in my day, the Sea of Titillation was not as vast and definitely not as bountiful.

What was I saying before I got distracted by remembrances of things past?  Oh right, Joyeuese Fête Nationale or, for the rest of us non-francophones, Happy Bastille Day!  On this day, 220 years ago, the French people stormed the Bastille and kick-started the process of turning France from a monarchy to a republic.

Let’s celebrate with some box office news and a few links.  But first, congratulations Kelly Chen:

FEATURES:

Simon Abrams interviews WRITTEN BY director Wai Ka-Fai

Electric New Paper on Michael Hui Kwoon-Man: ‘It’s like your chicken rice’

Carol “DoDo” Cheng Yu-Ling: Too much plastic surgery

PRODUCTION NEWS:

Chan Ho-Nam and Chicken together again, sort of:  ‘Affairs’ team to become ‘Gangsters’

Stephen Chow:

Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith start filming ‘Kid’

MY COUSIN TONY:

A Tale Of Two Tonys: The National (Abu Dhabi) on Tony Leung Chiu-Wai

My cousin Tony breaks his arm:

WEDDING NEWS:

Gigi Leung to wed?

RELATED: Xinhua article featuring photo of Gigi Leung with her man

Zhang Ziyi:

STEFANIE SUN:

Stef’s head-over (clumsy)-heels in love

Stef Sun, Singapore’s Anita Mui

A more confident and self-assured Stefanie Sun returns to S’pore

Sun’s comeback concert

Stefanie Sun wows fans

Shiny style, subdued Sun

ASIAN FILMS IN NEW YORK CITY:

Ang Lee Heading To Lincoln Center

Asian Film Fireworks for the Fourth: Richard Corliss on the New York Asian Film Festival

BOX OFFICE RESULTS:

Weekend box office figures aren’t available yet but here are the numbers from Friday:

MURDERER, 36 screens, 2 days, HK$1.01 million total

WRITTEN BY, 32 screens, 2 days, HK$301,000 total

SHORT OF LOVE, 14 screens, 15 days, HK$3.62 million total

MURDERER is off to a fast start but it should fizzle out quickly as it’s getting killed here on LoveHKFilm (Kozo’s review, The Golden Rock blog post) and on Chinese-language discussion boards.  I’m always dispirited when I hear that a highly-hyped film looks like it’s a dud.  I believe that it’s these types of films that are killing the industry more than anything else as the casual HK film fan who only sees a handful of movies a year will pick up on the hype, watch the movie then have the notion that “HK films suck” reinforced in their minds.

In other box office news, reader Mark Shaver wrote in to report that Johnnie To’s VENGEANCE is hitting Hong Kong screens on August 20th.  It hasn’t popped up yet in the “Coming Soon” sections of various movie ticket buying sites but I’m sure it’ll show up in the near future.  In the meantime, you can console yourself with the news that THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON is coming to Hong Kong on December 17th, 2009 — just in time for the holidays!

芝麻綠豆 (SESAME SEEDS AND MUNG BEANS): 

Finally watched the Michael Jackson Memorial (hey, with my need for ten hours of beauty sleep and my two-hour, three-martini lunches, I can only devote 12 hours a day to watching TV).   A few thoughts:

  • You’d have to have a very cynical mind and a very cold heart to think that the Paris Jackson speech was staged to launch a show business career.
  • It’s normal to heap praise on someone upon their death but I think it went a little too far with the King of Pop.  The notion that without Michael Jackson, there would be no Tiger Woods, no Oprah Winfrey and no Barack Obama is giving Michael Jackson way too much credit.  I think Tiger’s skill has more to do with Tiger being a global icon than Michael Jackson paving the way.  I think Oprah Winfrey’s drive has more to do with her success than Michael Jackson and I think Barack Obama’s vision and ambition had more to do with his becoming President of the United States than Michael Jackson making “blacks” acceptable in the eyes of “whites”.
  • It could be because I’m a big sports fan but when anyone says MJ to me, my first thought is always Michael Jordan not Michael Jackson.
  • Ten to fifteen years from now — if I have the good fortune to find a lovely bride or if I finally save enough for a mail-order bride — when my kid asks me why people thought Michael Jackson was an all-time great, I think I’ll answer by playing “I Want You Back”.  Even now, forty-years after the song became a hit, it’s hard to believe that a ten year-old gave that performance.
 
 
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