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Archive for the ‘Shu Qi’ Category

Production News: June 26th, 2009

News on a couple of major productions that were announced this week:

Lau Ching-Wan and Louis KooOn June 23rd, China Star held an opening lens ceremony for their new project POKER KING (撲克王). The film stars Lau Ching-Wan as a gambling mogul and Louis Koo Tin-Lok as a gambling master. Stephy Tang Lai-Yan will play Louis Koo’s love interest.  Also appearing in the movie are: Cherrie Ying Choi-Yi, Josie Ho Chiu-Yi, the lovely Jo Koo (Kuk Tso-Lam), Wong You-Nam and newcomer Jacky Heung — the son of China Star head Charles Heung Wah-Keung. The duo behind last year’s LA LINGERIE, Chan Hing-Kai and Janet Chun Siu-Jan, will be behind POKER KING.

During the press conference, Lau Ching-Wan revealed that he is not much of a gambler in real-life as his gambling is limited to playing mahjong with friends and relatives during Lunar New Year and the occassional purchase of a lottery ticket.

As for Louis Koo, reporters seemed to be more interested in rumours that he was about to buy a HK$150 million luxury flat in Repulse Bay than anything related to POKER KING.  Koo admitted that he has looked at property in the area but that since it is a family matter, he does not want to comment further on the issue.  Back on the subject of the film, Koo has been preparing for his role as a gambling master by practicing card tricks for hours on end. He has practiced so much, his fingers have started to feel numb.

Stephy Tang, who plays Louis Koo’s love interest in POKER KING, revealed that she has no “heavy romance” scenes with the Tanned One but she is nevertheless feeling very nervous because she has never worked opposite actors of the calibre of Lau Ching-Wan and Louis Koo.  While her character in the movie is a gambling addict, she finds gambling distasteful and would not want a boyfriend who likes to gamble.  Asked what else would take a guy out of the running to be her girlfriend, Tang replied: “I don’t want a boyfriend who is obssesed with video games because I’ve no interest in that.  I’d really hate it if my boyfriend made me play video games with him.  He’d have to make a compromise.”

Quick Notes and Thoughts:

  • Looks like it’ll be an amusing movie.  I’ll see anything with Jo Koo in it.
  • It does feel like a step up for Stephy Tang.
  • Jacky Heung … Boy, I don’t know … Then again, the bar will be set pretty low.
  • This will be Cherrie Ying’s second HK movie of 2009.  The first was the little seen KUNG FU CHEF with Vanness Wu and Sammo Hung.  This one will be higher profile.  After her run as a minor “It Girl” earlier this decade, she’s been working mostly in the Mainland.

Related Links:

Aaron Kwok and Shu QiOn June 24th, an opening lens ceremony was held at the Yuen Long district’s Clarence Film Studio for the Universe - Enlight Pictures co-production CITY UNDER SEIGE (全城戒備).  Directed by Benny Chan Muk-Sing (CONNECTED), the actioner stars Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing, Shu Qi, Collin Chou, Zhang Jingchu and Jacky Wu Jing.  With a budget in excess of HK$100 million, the movie will be heavy on special effects and spend more than one year in post-production.  Producers hope to have it ready in time for a National Day 2010 holiday release.  Billed as “China’s answer to X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE“, the film tells the story of circus performers played by Kwok and Chou who develop super-strength after accidentally inhaling a gas.  Shu Qi plays a reporter.

Although a descendant of Lee Chum-Foon, the hero in Gu Long’s Little Lee Flying Dagger book series, Aaron Kwok’s character is an unremarkable, low-lever circus clown/knife thrower. Admitting that while playing a “down in the dumps” character will be a challenge, Aaron Kwok anticipates that working in front of blue screens will ultimately be the bigger challenge.

Reporters spent most of their time with Shu Qi asking about her love life but when talk centered around the film, the leading lady revealed that she was going to request that she be allowed to do her lines in Mandarin because she felt her Cantonese was rusty.  Unfortunately, when it came time for shooting, she was asked to do her lines in Cantonese.  When the subject turned to how many action scenes Shu Qi has in the movie, co-star Kwok joked: “She has many ‘mind versus heart’ action scenes”.

CITY UNDER SEIGE is the first collaboration between Shu Qu and Aaron Kwok since STORM RIDERS in 1999. Asked for thoughts on the issue, Kwok replied: “I hope that the roots we laid down ten years ago will bear fruit for this project.”

Collin Chou plays a circus troupe leader in the film.  His character and Aaron Kwok’s character start off as “hing-dai” (兄弟) but end up as bitter rivals when the gas not only gives Chou’s character super-strength, it turns him into a villain.  Commenting on his participation in the film, Chou revealed that, so far, it is the most satisfying filmmaking experience of his 25-year career because director Benny Chan has given him a lot of creative space and allowed him much input into the development of his character.

As she plays a cop in the movie, Zhang Jingchu was ready to engage in heavy training for action scenes.  However, preparation time for the film was limited so she will be a “projectile weapons expert” and her action scenes will be done predominantly in front of a blue screen.

Shooting for most of CITY UNDER SEIGE should be completed this summer but, because of the long post-production process, shooting may continue until next April.

Quick Thought:

  • Sounds like it will be good but I fear that there’s also great potential for sucky, bloated mess — especially with the heavy reliance on special effects.

Related Links:


Rest in Peace: Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and, shockingly, Michael Jackson …

Accuse me of having the mindset of an old Italian woman if you must but these things really do come in threes …

Setting aside, for the moment, the legacy of the self-proclaimed King of Pop, an interesting study of new media versus old media is emerging., of all places, was the first to break the story yet no one in the traditional media is giving them props for the scoop.  Conversely, if the TMZ report had turned out to be false, I’m 100% sure that the traditional media would be lining up around the block to slag TMZ and dismiss it as a “blog” or a “celebrity entertainment website”.

To many, Michael Jackson is going to be remembered as “the King of Pop”.  Others will remember him as a “freak” or an “alleged pedophile”.  I think my mental epithet for him will be “tragic figure”.  The guy had all the talent in the world yet suffered through a messed up childhood and an even more messed up adulthood.  This is tragedy on a Shakespearean level.  It rivals that of Othello, Macbeth, King Lear and Hamlet.

Favourite Michael Jackson songs: “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”, “Rock With You”, “Smooth Criminal” and “The Way You Make Me Feel”.  To be honest, I don’t think the songs from THRILLER have aged that well.  It could be that I hang out with a bunch of creeps and degenerates but no one I know thinks, anymore, that “Beat It” is a cool song.  Whenever the subject of the song comes up in mixed company, someone inevitably cracks a masturbation joke.

Favourite Michael Jackson video (YouTube link):  It’s actually not one by Michael Jackson but a spoof video about Michael Jackson from the folks who used to do IN LIVING COLOR.   Before today, I hadn’t seen it in sixteen, seventeen years but the first line of the second chorus still cracks me up.

“Yeah but how does this affect ME?”: Feeling incredibly old today.  Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson were icons from my youth — especially Farrah and Micheal Jackson.  THRILLER was the first album I bought with “my own money” and I believe, at one point, I owned Farrah Fawcett’s famous poster.  (It was either the Farrah poster or the Loni Anderson poster.  Maybe I had both?)  Anyway, nothing makes you feel older than hearing news that an icon from your youth has passed.

Farrah Fawcett poster     Loni Anderson poster

Laugh at me now young ones but — hopefully not until many, many years later — you’ll be feeling aged when the Jackie Chans and Sammo Hungs of the world depart to join Bruce Lee, Shih Kien and Kwan Tak-Hing up in the sky for the greatest martial arts cast ever assembled.

Image credits: (Louis Koo, Lau Ching-Wan), (Aaron Kwok, Shu Qi), Life Magazine (Farrah Fawcett)

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)

Gloria In Excelsis Shu Qi


On Friday, December 14th — in a report that was picked up by other media outlets and countless blogs — British tabloid The Mirror alleged “porn star” Shu Qi was involved in a tryst at a London restaurant with Hugh Grant and film director John Duigan. According to the report, Grant and Shu Qi were kissing passionately while Duigan caressed Shu Qi’s thigh. Supposedly, Shu Qi was in London looking for career opportunities.

For the record, Shu Qi spoke to the Chinese media this week and flatly denied the allegations. In a Xinhua Newsnet article, Shu Qi said: “I haven’t been to England in around five years. I have never even met Hugh Grant. I think his acting is OK but I don’t have any ‘feel’ (attraction) for him.”

A spokesperson for Shu Qi’s management told the Chinese media that the reports were wildly inaccurate and that Shu Qi was in Hong Kong and Taiwan during the days that she was allegedly in London. The spokesperson also stated that Shu Qi’s management is looking into taking legal action.


Since Shu Qi was photographed in Hong Kong on December 13th attending the “Shiny Night” charity event at the Conrad Hotel, her strong denials appeared more credible than the British tabloid report. As it turns out, The Mirror issued a retraction on Friday declaring that they have “learnt that Shu Qi was not the woman in the restaurant with Hugh Grant and John Duigan.” The tabloid went on to state that they were “happy to correct [their] mistake and apologise for the error.”

Here is The Mirror’s full retraction:

On December 17, in a story on page 15 under the headline “Shu’s that girl”, we printed a picture of Shu Qi, an ex-porn star, and said that she was the woman who had been snogged by Hugh Grant whilst his friend, John Duigan, caressed her thigh in a restaurant (as we reported on 14 December). We have since learnt that Shu Qi was not the woman in the restaurant with Hugh Grant and John Duigan. We are happy to correct our mistake and apologise for the error.

Related Links: Retraction by The Mirror, Photos of Shu Qi at the charity event (, More of Shu Qi at the charity event (Ming Pao)

Happy correction notwithstanding, if I were Shu Qi, I would still be out for blood. I’d be asking my lawyers if I still had any kind of case against The Mirror. Even if the initial report was true, referring to Shu Qi as a “porn star” was egregious. I may have more liberal sensibilities than most but I wouldn’t characterize what Shu Qi did at the beginning of career as “porn”. Next time you go to a Chinese video store, wander into the Japanese porn section (don’t worry, no one in the store will care) and check out some of the video covers. Now those videos are porn. Shu Qi’s early work isn’t even remotely in the same vicinity. Besides, Shu Qi’s body of work in the past ten years has been substantial enough that calling her a “porn star” is like calling two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank an “action star” because her first lead role was in THE NEXT KARATE KID. For Pete’s sake, Shu Qi was in a Hou Hsiao-Hsien film — that’s as far away from porn as you can possibly get!

Unfortunately, I think Shu Qi got caught in the line of fire between the British tabloids and Hugh Grant. The report was more about taking Hugh Grant down a peg or two than slighting Shu Qi. Though it’s patently unfair, this sort of thing happens in the entertainment circle. Be that as it may, she was still 6,000 miles away from Hugh Grant and that restaurant so, if I were her, I’d be looking to get more than that flimsy retraction and weak apology.

Now, something more appropriate to the season …

Twelve Girls of Christmas Album CoverEarlier this month, during my search on iTunes for Miriam Yeung’s version of 每當變幻時 (”When Changes Occur”), I was fed an ad for the “Twelve Girls of Christmas” album by Twelve Girls Band. Since the holiday season was approaching and the whole album only cost $9.99 to download, I decided to buy it and give a listen to the musical phenomenon I’ve been reading about since 2002 or 2003.

Going in, all I knew about Twelve Girls Band was that their schtick was hot babe musicians playing modern music using traditional Chinese instruments like the erhu and the pipa and that they famously covered Coldplay’s “Clocks” for one of their albums. As I appreciate both Chinese culture and hot babes, I had always intended to give them a listen but just never got around to doing it. Until now.

What did I think of the album? In the words of Larry David: “… pretty good, prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay good”. It was cool to hear a Chinese spin on traditional carols like “Joy To The World” and “Silent Night” as well as modern Christmas tunes like “Jingle Bells”, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” and “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. An aside, it’s hard to believe that “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is a Mariah Carey original. It feels like a cover version of a 1950s, 1960s Christmas song but it was actually an original creation for Mariah Carey’s 1994 Christmas album.

While traditional Chinese instruments are featured by Twelve Girls Band, they play somewhat modern compositions so, if you are a strict Catonian when it comes to Chinese traditional music, then “Twelve Girls of Christmas”might not be for you.chungking_christmas.jpg Instead, old-schoolers may want to try looking for an album called “Chung King Christmas” by the Oriental Echo Ensemble. It also features traditional Chinese instruments but has a more conventional sound than Twelve Girls Band. Unfortunately, the album appears to be out of print. I heard it back in the early-1990s at my friend Jürg’s house. Jürg’s father owned a bookstore so he had access to all sorts of albums. Hence, “Chung King Christmas” was playing while Jürg and I wasted part of our Christmas holiday with Sega Genesis games like Golden Axe. I was going to make a copy of it but those were the days before Pentium computers and CD burners so I never got around to borrowing the CD and recording it on cassette tape. Why didn’t I just buy it from the bookstore that Jürg’s father owned? Well, it was an expensive import and it wasn’t like I was of independent means back then. My Mom was giving me rides to Jürg’s house.

Getting back from that trip down memory lane … Any opinions on Twelve Girls Band? Are they a cool spin on traditional Chinese music or a cheesy commercial gimmick? Any Twelve Girls Band fans out there? Is there anything else by the girls that I should try as the Leung treasury allows? Any Japanese fans out there who knows what “Koibito Ga Santa Claus” and “Shiroi Koibito Tachi” means?

… and with that flurry of questions, Happy Christmas and Merry Holidays! I intend to spend part of it watching DIE HARD — my reigning favourite Christmas movie. To me, nothing brings out the toasty warm feelings of the yuletide season like John McClane decorating Karl’s brother Tony with a holiday motif or the touching moment at the end when Al overcomes his psychological problems and saves McClane by blowing Karl away. :-)

Karl’s brother Tony from DIE HARD

Have a safe and joyful holiday everybody! Yippy-ki-yay!

Image credits: (Shu Qi story screen grab), Ming Pao (Shu Qi at the Shiny Night charity gala), Domo Records (Twelve Girls of Christmas album cover) RCA Victor (Chung King Christmas album cover), Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation (DIE HARD screen grab) Copyright © 2002-2021 Ross Chen