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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 ‘Reader Interaction’ Category

News Links: April Fool’s Day 2009

Happy April Fool’s Day!  Alas, there won’t be an April Fool’s Day joke from me today.  I was thinking of doing a fake story on EEG and Sexy Photos Gate.  Something like this …

EEG announces co-operation with Japanese porn studio.  First releases to be:

EEG-001: Former Teen Idol’s Scandalous AV Debut starring Gillian Chung

EEG-002: Sexy Accidental Public Exposure Tsimshatsui Edition starring Yumiko Cheng

… but you’re probably all tired of Sexy Photos Gate so I figured that I should devote my time and energy elsewhere.

Speaking of time and energy …

From the comments on News Links: March 27th, 2009

Sara Lee writes: You said that you didn’t have the time or inclination to chase down other sources for confirmation about the Gigi Leung story. I’m curious, what would you have done if you had the time and the inclination? Do you have connections of some sort?

First, I would have asked to speak to the fired flight attendant directly to ascertain the facts (date, names, flight number, etc.).  I would also ask for a copy of the photo.  Then, I would have put together a story then contacted Cathay Pacific and Gigi Leung’s management for a reaction.  After that, I would write a final version of the story and publish it.

MANI SPEAKS:

Xinhua ran an interview today with EEG’s Mani Fok Man-Hei. Known as the “Mother of Emperor”, she has managed the likes of Nic Tse, Joey Yung, Isabella Leong, Twins and Yumiko Cheng over the course of her 16 years with EEG. Excerpts from the interview:

On the inspiration for Twins:

“I have a twin sister. Our company signed Ah Gil first then we signed Ah Sa. I thought to myself: ‘why don’t we pair the two young girls together?’

In the beginning, we dressed them the same then we slowly began to dress them differently. The only thing that didn’t quite work was that their personalities were completely different. Ah Sa is a lively extrovert while Ah Gil in an introvert.”

On Gillian Chung:

“I treat my artistes like they were my own family. When they have problems, I treat them like my own. At the beginning, I told her that ‘he (Edison Chen) is not a person you should be involved with’. However, when a young person is in love, they don’t listen to anyone.”

“Ah Gil’s mistake was that she didn’t think of her bottom line. She should have remembered that she was a public figure. In the end, though, the person who made the biggest mistake was Edison Chen.”

On Gillian Chung’s comeback:

“In the past year, I’ve had Ah Gil study dancing, acting and gymnastics to prepare her for her comeback. The only thing we didn’t plan on was that Cecilia Cheung Pak-Chi would do her interview first. But, it doesn’t matter who was first and who was second.”

“Work is very hard for Ah Gil now because she’s been out for so long. She didn’t sleep much in the days before her comeback. I’ve been with her the whole time. It was very gratifying to see all the support she received at her events in the Mainland. Her attitude is to come back slowly. Besides, restoring her confidence she’s winning back her respect.”

On Isabella Leong:

“I’ve worked with more than 30 artistes and the only who’s walked away is Isabella Leong. Although she left, I feel that I’ve done right by her. When I was working as her manager, I feel that I did the job to the best of my ability.”

RETIRED ACTRESSES NEWS:

The latest edition of East Weekly suggests that retired actress Cherie Chung Chor-Hung is experiencing some financial difficulty and that a comeback to the entertainment circle is imminent.

Yammie Nam seen panhandling

Former TVB leading lady Yammie Nam Kit-Ying was spotted outside of a Shau Kei Wan Circle K convenience store on Monday morning. She was smoking and asking passersby for money. Nam, a popular actress for TVB in the 1980s and early-1990s, has a history of mental illness. 

SHINJUKU INCIDENT:

Derek Yee Tung-Sing: In the yakuza’s grip

Saving the world is still on Jackie Chan’s agenda

Not just any Hollywood role for Daniel Wu & Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan pitches his ‘different’ side in new movie

REPRINT: The Mirror’s (UK) review of SHINJUKU INCIDENT

IN PRODUCTION:

Hong Kong-Mainland producers announce “5510 Big Movie Plan”

Related Photo Gallery: Lee Lik-Chi, Li Bingbing, Zhou Xun among those who attended event

Photos from the IP MAN 2 press conference in Shanghai

A press conference was held yesterday in Shanghai formally announcing the production of IP MAN 2. Wilson Yip Wai-Shun returns as director while Sammo Hung Kam-Bo will, once again, handle the action. Donnie Yen, Xiong Dai-Lin, Fan Siu-Wong and Gordon Lam Ka-Tong will all reprise their characters. The sequel is set in late-1940s Hong Kong so the Bruce Lee character will not be appearing. 

John Woo’s Titanic runs aground

Production Stills: TREASURE HUNTER

Taiwanese stars Jay Chou and Lin Chi-Ling began work last week on their new film TREASURE HUNTER.  The time travel romantic/action/comedy is being directed by Chu Yen-Peng (KUNG FU DUNK) and co-stars Eric Tsang Chi-Wai.  Producers hope to have the film ready for the Christmas 2009 holiday movie season.

Confirmed: Chow Yun-fat plays Confucius

Related Photos: Chow Yun-Fat, Zhou Xun attend opening lens ceremony for their Confucius biopic at a Confucian temple in Beijing

Stranglehold Movie Apparently Won’t Star Chow Yun-Fat

‘Karate Kid’ redo retitled ‘Kung Fu Kid’

GENERAL NEWS:

Fans Pay Tribute to Leslie Cheung on Sixth Death Anniversary

Jackie Chan, Stephen Chow named Asia’s best selling actors & directors

Jackie Chan to sing in bird nest

Jet Li, Zhang Yimou Named “Chinese of World Influence”

Daniel Wu willing to sacrifice privacy for movies

Miriam Yeung: Miriam’s girl-next-door charm

Tang Wei: “Lust Caution” is history

ASHES OF TIME REDUX: Lovers and Fighters

HK pop star Kelvin Kwan released from police custody

Stefanie Sun’s new boyfriend exposed!

Rain confident of winning appeal 

SEXY PHOTOS GATE:

Eason Chan: Edison Chen missing Hong Kong badly

HKIFF: Edison Chen sex scandal sure to make Sniper a hit

Edison Chen ‘tests water’ with role as sex pervert

MOVIE REVIEWS:

Variety reviews Ann Hui’s latest NIGHT AND FOG (Simon Yam, Zhang Jingchu)

Variety review of Feng Xiaogang’s IF YOU ARE THE ONE (Ge You, Shu Qi)

California Chronicle reviews Oxide Pang’s BASIC LOVE

FEATURES:

Chow Yun-Fat Talks Dragonball Evolution

Chow Yun-Fat: DRAGONBALL’s Dirty Old Sifu

Jolin Tsai: Jolin talks about scandal and Mr Right

Super Band: ‘It’s really not about money’

PHOTO GALLERYS:

ASHES OF TIME REDUX event in Hong Kong

Director Alan Mak Siu-Fai marries

This past weekend, director Alan Mak Siu-Fai (INFERNAL AFFAIRS, LADY COP AND PAPA CROOK) married his longtime girlfriend Chung Wai-Tak. Reportedly, Mak met Chung, eleven years his junior, at an event five years ago. To celebrate the nuptials, a 20-table banquet was held at the Aberdeen Marina Club. Among the attendees were Andrew Lau Wai-Keung, Shawn Yue Man-Lok, Michelle Ye and Jade Kwan Sum-Yin. 

Wong Jing and his latest “Jing Girl” Natalie Yao Meng

Following in a line that includes Chingmy Yau Suk-Ching and Kelly Lin, Natalie Yao Meng is Wong Jing’s latest “Jing Girl”.  Wong spotted Yao in Mainland director Huang Jianzhong’s SILVER ORNAMENTS and imported her to Hong Kong where she can now be admired in such films as THE VAMPIRE WHO ADMIRES ME and BEAUTY AND THE 7 BEASTS.  Yao can next be seen alongside Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, my other cousin Tony, Eason Chan, Alex Fong Lik-Sun, Kate Tsui and Wong Jing himself in I CORRUPT COPS.  The film opens in Hong Kong on April 23rd.

Shu Qi, Aloys Chen and Sylvia Chang shoot ad for Cartier

Related: Shu Qi, Syliva Chan promote Cartier

Cecilia Cheung shoots ad for a bedding company in Guangzhou

Michelle Reis Poses for Marie Claire

Tang Wei poses for Chinese edition of Vogue

Ada Choi Siu-Fan and hubby attend event promoting Moiselle

Promotional stills from the upcoming Mainland film WHEAT (Fan Bingbing, Wang Xueqi)

Jane Zhang debuts in Japan

A-Mei Chang performs in Taipei

Out With The Old

It’s time.

It’s definitely time.

It’s time to settle my affairs.

No, nothing bad is happening to me.  It’s just that 2008 ends today and I want to clean the slate and start the new year on a fresh footing.  With that, I’m responding to the comments that have accumulated over the past few months.  In 2009, I’m going to either start responding them to directly in the comments section or do these “mailbag” entries more frequently.

But first, a comment on TRANSPORTER 3 ..

I took in the movie a couple of weeks ago on a cheap night Tuesday because I knew going in that it wasn’t going to be worth paying full price.  Like its predecessors, TRANSPORTER 3 is a middling film that offers decent action sequences and mildly amusing comic relief.  If you liked the first two films, you’ll like the third one.  I only had two problems with the movie.  One will probably be a problem with a majority of viewers while the other is probably just idiosyncratic to me.

1. Leading Lady Natalya Rudakova

Natalya Rudakova in TRANSPORTER 3I’m a fan of the HK entertainment circle so I’ve been exposed to plenty of bad acting from babes – especially in TVB dramas where TVB trots out recent Miss Hong Kong contestants for roles.  However, Natalya Rudakov’s performance in TRANSPORTER 3 was particularly bad.  Maybe the script is to blame but her transformation from silent, sullen pouter to “take me, Transporter, I’m yours” was abrupt enough to jar the suspense of disbelief you have to have when watching a movie of TRANSPORTER 3’s ilk.

It just goes to show the outstanding job Shu Qi did with the “compelling hot babe” role in the first movie.  Shu Qi is a beauty with acting talent whereas, I’m sorry to say, Natalya Rudakov is just a beauty.  Who would have guessed this about Shu Qi after watching her ignominious debut in SEX AND ZEN II where she played a she-devil who rapes Loletta Lee Lai-Chun’s character?

Shu Qi and Jason Statham in TRANSPORTER

2. The physics of the bridge scene

It could be that Natalya Rudakova’s acting broke the suspension of disbelief I had going but it was hard for me to buy what was going on in the scene where the bad guys have The Transporter trapped in the middle of the bridge. If the bad guys on either end fire their machine guns at the same time, wouldn’t they, in effect, be shooting at each other? I know that I’m supposed to forget about the laws of physics when I’m watching an action movie but c’mon …

On to your comments …

About the comments from Swirling Sharks Fading Dragon:

I was surprised at the venom towards Jackie Chan in these comments.  Yes, Big Brother Jackie probably went a little too far with his “cheerleading” for the Beijing Olympics but Jackie Chan’s no fool, he knows where his bread is buttered.  Throughout his career, Jackie Chan has been more of a businessman than an artist so I saw his sucking up to the Mainland as just another calculated business move to keep his profile up in the lucrative Mainland market.  The reason he shills for the Mainland is the same reason he does the SHANGHAI KNIGHTS and the RUSH HOUR 3s.

As for glenn’s comment that Jackie Chan and Jet Li have already jumped the shark, I argue that they haven’t yet because I’m not at the point where I automatically roll my eyes whenever I read about the next Jackie Chan or Jet Li project.  I think they should be OK in the short term if they both continue to mix in an intriguing Asian project (like THE SHINJUKU INCIDENT or FEARLESS) alongside their empty money-making projects.

And yes, I’m a fan of the evil New England Patriots but I’m not a bandwagon Brady-Belichick fan.  I’ve been cheering for them since the 1985 season when Raymond Berry was their coach and they made it to the Super Bowl with the likes of Tony Eason, Steve Grogan, John Hannah, Irving Fryar and Mosi Tatupu.

About  the comments from On The Axis Of Global Film Financing:

On glenn’s comment that it was surreal to see Gillian Chung Yan-Tung shopping at Wal-Mart, I have to say it was more surreal to see Teresa Cheung, the former Mrs. Kenny Bee, listed as an executive producer for an Oliver Stone film.  After all the rumours and vitriol that surrounded her during her divorce from the Wynners star, it’d be like seeing Heather Mills, the former Mrs. Paul McCartney, get listed as an executive producer for Johnnie To Kei-Fung’s next film.

elbombz writes: “Speaking of going to movies for research, have you seen or are you going to see ASHES OF TIME REDUX?”

I’m a bit of a strict Catonian when it comes to Louis Cha and his novels so I was irked greatly by the way Wong Kar-Wai took great iconic characters from the Louis Cha cannon and turned them into pretentious objets d’art.  So no, I won’t be seeing ASHES OF TIME REDUX.  Don’t get me wrong, the film looked great but if you loved the novels, there’s no way you wouldn’t be bothered by the storytelling shenanigans that Wong perpetrates in the movie.

glenn writes: “I mentioned on my blog that I was waiting for you to post something on Gigi Lai’s retirement. Even though I’ve seen a lot of her films, I am hoping that you can put her career into context the way others can’t.”

Gigi LaiThe granddaughter of Lam Man-Wai, the Father of Hong Kong Cinema, I thought Gigi Lai Chi was destined for a Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk/Shu Qi like second career after her initial “It Girl” phase ran its course in the mid-1990s.  Alas, it was not to be as the HK entertainment circle is overrun with beautiful singer/actress types like Gigi Lai.  She did, however, find great success in the last five years of her career as a TVB fa daan (花旦; leading lady).  She was so popular, I think her retirement took many by surprise.

Speaking of Gigi Lai, this reminds me of the time the owner of our now defunct local video store tricked my friend Simon into renting some horrible movie (the title of which I can’t remember) by telling him that Gigi Lai reveals “two points” in it.  The guy who owned the store would say anything to rent out a movie.  I remember overhearing him tell another sap to go ahead and rent THE KUNG FU CULT MASTER because the sequel was a hit in Hong Kong and that the store would be getting it soon on video.

My favourite Gigi Lai film, by the way, isn’t one of her YOUNG AND DANGEROUS movies but FIST POWER with Vincent Zhao Wenchou.  It isn’t the best of movies but it’s highly entertaining.  If you like mindless action movies and you can get your hands on the DVD, you won’t be disappointed.

About the comments from Thoughts on SPARROW:

Mark writes: “I thought Sparrow was a wonderful film, easily one of To’s best. It’s not really worthwhile to nitpick the whereabouts of the passport during the final sequence because the film is about style.”

I liked SPARROW as well.  As I said in the post, I was smiling at the end of the film.  I was just trying to make the point that it might not be for regular, Joe The Plumber movie watchers — ones who view movies as entertainment rather than as art.  Not only would viewers like Joe The Plumber be perturbed by an Obama tax increase on those who make more than $250,000, they would probably be perturbed by things like the whereabouts of the passport.

m writes: As to your challenge to To, I wonder what actors you think would be suitable to portray you all.

I can’t speak for Kozo and The Golden Rock but I think I’d go with either Nick Cheung Ka-Fai or Chapman To Man-Chat. They are both normal looking guys who would suit me fine as I don’t have the piercing eyes and good looks of my cousin Tony or the height and bearing of my other cousin Tony. I think I’d lean more towards Chapman To than Nick Cheung because I feel like I share an affinity with him. Why? Well, we’ve both had our run-ins with Mainland prostitutes. His was documented in TRIVIAL MATTERS while mine occurred in the early-1990s when I was working as a corporate raider. I’d buy up large companies, break them up and sell them in smaller parts for profit — sort of like a chop shop but with companies instead of cars.

Chapman To and friend in TRIVIAL MATTERS
Chapman To and friend in TRIVIAL MATTERS.

I was on a week-long business trip in Hong Kong where I intended to buy up a shipping company.  I remember, like it was yesterday, that I had to quickly leave a business party at a mansion on The Peak so I went to get my girlfriend but she refused to leave because she was having a good time and didn’t enjoy feeling like she was always at my “beck and call”.  So, I left in a huff, taking my lawyer’s Lotus Esprit. Unfortunately, being an incompetent Westerner, I couldn’t handle the car’s standard transmission and ended up stopped by the side of the road because I couldn’t get the damned car in gear. It was then that this girl walked up to me and started asking me in Mainland-accented Cantonese if I wanted “a date”. I guess she thought I’d stopped because I was prowling for hookers. I explained to her that I wasn’t interested in a date and that I was merely having car trouble. She told me that she knew how to drive a standard so I let her drive me. This kicked off an idyllic one-week relationship as I decided to hire her — not for her sexual services but to be my “arm candy” at various business functions. What started out as purely a business transaction morphed into some sort of weird personal connection as we went shopping for clothes so she could look sharp while out with me attending business dinners and corporate polo matches. The week culminated with a quick trip to Sydney and its famous opera house for a performance of Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA.

Given our vastly different backgrounds, the “fairy tale” never happened and we didn’t live “happily ever after”. Real life intruded as she was all “you’re treating me like a prostitute” while I was “I never treated you like a prostitute”. On the day I left Hong Kong, I almost told my limo driver to turn around and go to her flat but I spotted this noodle place and told him to stop so I could get a bowl of beef noodles instead.  Ah, what might have been …

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

To Jo and her question about the school schedule in the Northern Hemisphere, I can’t speak for everyone up here in the frigid North but, in Canada, school runs from September to December with a two week break for Christmas holidays.  Then, there’s usually a one-week mid-winter break sometime in February or March.  There’s also an one-week break for Easter before the school year concludes in June.

Thanks, by the way, to all the Aussies and Kiwis who dropped me an e-mail response about the school year in the Southern Hemisphere.

Speaking of Aussies, I’m going to borrow a bit of your slang and say that I hope 2009′ll be apples for all of us even though it seems like the economy is going to be all gloom and doom.

Happy New Year everyone!

Image credits: Europa Corp. (Natalya Rudakova), 20th Century Fox (TRANSPORTER still), M-Dream website (Gigi Lai), Not Brothers (TRIVIAL MATTERS still)

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 …

* * * * *

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.

* * * * *

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)

Welcome to The Tea House

Welcome to The Tea House where I get ready for the day I become the benevolent dictator of the Republic of Sanneyistan by coming down from my hermetic cyber-mountain top and interacting with my loyal subjects, uh, readers.

Siu Mai dumplingsI was going to call this feature “Sanney’s Mailbag” but I only received Congressional approval for an e-mail address this past weekend (go here for details) and “Sanney’s Comment Box” sounds like something you need to fill with kitty litter. In the end, I decided to play off the House Where Words Gather theme and call this feature “The Tea House”. Picture all of us sitting at a table and having a pleasant conversation while sharing a nice big pot of tea and some freshly-steamed siu mai dumplings (燒賣).

Let’s start things off with some comments on the comments from the last post “Sypmathy for Mr. Imprudence”:

Eliza Bennet writes: Comparing her [Cecilia Cheung] to Maggie of now would not be fair. Better compare her to Maggie of her age. But Tang Wei? Her performance was not bad at all but all the nostril flaring didn’t bring anything new at the table. I’d like to see her do something else before I form an opinion on her acting prowess.

aircompass writes: I think it’s much too early to place Tang Wei’s talent. She’s certainly a charming and intelligent girl, but one decent performance does not a Maggie Cheung make.

I adore Cecilia Cheung, however. I think she always brings something good to the table, and I think she’s a very reliable and effective dramatic actress.

Upon reflection, I wish I would have done a better job of writing that last paragraph about Cecilia Cheung’s acting. I didn’t mean to compare her with Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk or Tang Wei. I was referring to the type of role and not the actresses. I should have written: “I don’t think she has the chops to give a subtle performance required by complex roles like Su Li-Zhen/Mrs. Chan from IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE or Wang Chia-Chih/Mak Tai-Tai from LUST, CAUTION.”

I think Cecilia Cheung is a solid actress. She has a great screen presence that engages you and makes you care about her characters even if they are a dopey shopping addict or some otherworldly, mystical hot babe. It’s just that I don’t think her acting skills are refined enough to handle roles that call for a lot of subtlety.

By the way, I agree with aircompass about Tang Wei. She gives an outstanding performance in LUST, CAUTION but it’s way too early to place a “Screen Queen” crown on her head.

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Glenn writes: I think I’ve made my love for Cecilia’s acting well known on this site; I’m a sucker for her crying bits where her already raspy voice gets even further choked up. Works every time for me.

Man, I’m feelin’ ya on this one. The raspiness is the vocal equivalent of a hot babe wearing nothing but a men’s white tuxedo shirt.

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Eliza Bennet writes: Edison Chen at the press con (heh) didn’t seem sincere to me. It actually seemed like he was expecting some sort of a reaction from everyone.

He didn’t strike me as entirely sincere either. His proclamation that he was going to dedicate himself to “charity and community work” seemed about as genuine as O.J. Simpson declaring, years ago, that he was going to dedicate himself to “finding the real killers”. I was just saying that despite the prepared script, you could sense that — at the core — there was a real human who has been severely humiliated. By contrast, at their press event, EEG chose to present corporate creation Gillian Chung™ instead of genuine human Gillian Chung so it was hard for people to connect with her and feel any real sympathy for her plight.

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Viktor writes: I find it is a disgrace that the people involved are now judged by the quality or authenticity of their press conferences. The fact remains that they did no wrong to anybody (the allusion to Nixon’s crookery in “Sexy Photos Gate” is malicious, to say the least).

I don’t think anyone is trying to equate what Edison Chen and his partners did in private to Nixonian crookery. Adding the “-gate” suffix to any sort of controversy has just become a convenient way for the media to label scandals. Earlier this month, the Obama-Clinton race for the Democratic presidential nomination begat “NAFTAgate”. Since September, American football fans have been subjected to endless talk about “Spygate”. I think that “-gate” has become mostly disassociated with the original Watergate scandal. If you go to Wikipedia, you can see a list of more than twenty scandals that have had “-gate” attached to it.

 

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The Eastern Heretic and the Poisonous West (left) with their American counterparts the Venerable West (centre) and the Eastern Dowager (right).

Linguistically speaking, I’ll admit that I was surprised when I saw that the Chinese media attached “-gate” to the scandal. Chinese and English are so different, it’s often difficult to translate concepts from one language to the other. You don’t see the American media calling Senator John McCain of Arizona the “Venerable West” or Senator Hillary Clinton of New York the “Eastern Dowager”. I’m guessing that, for logistical reasons like article length and headline length, calling it “Sexy Photos Gate” was easier than using the unwieldy “Edison-Gillian-Bobo-Cecilia Picture Scandal”. Moreover, the latter became inaccurate when more starlets became involved.

As for Gillian Chung and Edison Chen being judged by their respective press conferences, I’ll paraphrase Hyman Roth from THE GODFATHER, PART II and say simply: “this is the business they’ve chosen”.

Besides, I think most people are judging Gillian Chung™ and Edison Chen™ rather than the actual Gillian Chung or the Ruby Wong Cheuk-Ling in PTUactual Edison Chen. I think you have to be very naive or very foolish if you don’t understand that there is a distinction between the public persona and the private person. Based on how he presents himself to the public eye, you’re entitled to have an opinion like Edison Chen™ is a poseur — a dopey, bad-boy wannabe who, if caught in a gunfight, would probably pull a Ruby Wong from PTU rather than take nine to the body like 50 Cent. However, unless you know him personally, it’s impossible to have a reasonable opinion on the actual Edison Chen. Put it this way, there has got to be a difference between Edison Chen™ and the actual Edison Chen. There must be something endearing about the actual Edison Chen because multiple women liked him enough to have relations with him and trusted him enough to let him take compromising photographs of them.

By the way, congratulations to Shawn Yue Man-Lok! I think it’s now safe to declare him the winner of the long and bitter Shawn Yue-Edison Chen “teen idol” rivalry.

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Glenn writes: While I do agree that Charlene [Choi Cheuk-Yin] is the more talented of the Twins, I can’t recall anything memorable beyond comedy roles — has she done anything even close to drama? I haven’t watched Diary yet; maybe that will prove me wrong? She was good in Leave Me Alone and My Wife is 18 — made that film far better than it should have been.

My memory may be faulty so the timeline may be slightly off but I believe Charlene Choi established her dramatic acting bona fides way back in 2000-2001 before EEG hooked her up with Gillian Chung. I believe both HEROES IN LOVE and FUNERAL MARCH were made and released before Twins released their first album in the Autumn of 2001. While Ah Sa got nominated for the Best New Artist HKFA for her role as a “girl with a terminal disease” in FUNERAL MARCH (losing an honourable decision to Karena Lam Ka-Yan’s performance in JULY RHAPSODY), HEROES IN LOVE was the better showcase of her young acting talents.

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A comment about Damn You, Kozo!Kozo’s rant about inconsistent romanization brought to mind a conversation I had “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Ilrecently with someone about “legacy kids” (children of people who are rich, powerful or famous). This person, who shall remain nameless, hates George W. Bush with a passion and was trying to make the argument that, generally speaking, legacy kids grow up in a pampered environment so they don’t develop the skills that allow them to handle important positions when they are adults. I have to admit that I found the argument convincing until the person used Kim Jong-Il as another example of an “incompetent legacy kid”. It’s not that I think Kim Jong-Il is doing a bang-up job governing North Korea, it’s that the person I was talking to referred to Kim Jong-Il as Kim Jong II (Kim Jong The Second).

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A little help … Any Microsoft Excel experts out there? I’m flirting with the idea of running a Hong Kong Film Awards predictions contest and I need someone to help me develop a formula so that I can determine the winner without having to manually go through every entry. If you can help, please get in touch with me.

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Have you seen PROTEGE? If you have, please read this post and discuss the ending with me.

 

IMAGE CREDITS: Lung Poon Restaurant (Siu Mai), TVB (Screen grab from LEGEND OF THE CONDOR HEROES), The Huffington Post (John McCain, Hillary Clinton), Milkyway Image (Ruby Wong), Reuters (Kim Jong-Il)

Question About The Ending of PROTEGE

SPOILER WARNING: This post talks about the ending of Derek Yee Tung-Sing’s film PROTEGE. If you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want the ending spoiled, you know what you have to do …

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I’m wondering what people think happened with Daniel Wu’s character in the closing scene. Did the little kid stop Daniel Wu from shooting up or was it a callback to the beginning of the movie when she picked up the needle and threw it in
the trash after her mother shot up? I zaprudered the scene and it looks like she arrives just as he’s about to shoot up but it’s hard to tell.

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What’s your opinion? Did Daniel Wu’s character realize that the little girl gave his life meaning or was he on the road to becoming a junkie like the girl’s mother?

I’ll share my thoughts about the movie later this month when I break down the Best Film category for the upcoming Hong Kong Film Awards. Right now, I’ll just say that — for a “best film of the year” candidate — it has a lot of problems.

IMAGE CREDIT: Film Unlimited (PROTEGE screen grab)

 
 
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