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Musings from the Edge of Forever

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2011 Preview + Johnnie To News: DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART

Don’t Go Breaking My HeartToday, news outlets like The Hollywood Reporter, NPR, and ABC News are carrying an Associated Press story that discusses Johnnie To’s many upcoming film projects. According to journalist Min Jin’s article, To has made a calculated decision to shoot light romances geared specifically toward the China market rather than make the kind of films he’s become more famous for — those slick urban crime thrillers that have earned him not just critical praise, but a cult following of fanboys and girls internationally.

In addition to 2011’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, To is currently working on High Altitude Romance II, a film which stars Louis Koo, Sammi Cheng, Huang Yi, Gao Yuanyuan, and Wang Baoqiang. Although the title is alleged to be a direct translation of the Chinese title, that doesn’t really explain what happened to the seemingly non-existent High Altitude Romance I.

In any event, the bigger news (at least to me) was the revelation that To will be reuniting his Needing You/Love on a Diet/Yesterday Once More co-stars Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng for a comedy geared for Mainland Chinese audiences. Rounding out To’s projects is a brief mention of a third film in the Milky Way Image pipeline, a project tentatively titled Lethal Gold, which is set to star Lau Ching-Wan and Richie Ren — that is, if certain scheduling issues can be resolved.

However, central concern of this AP article isn’t so much the number of projects, but To’s reasoning for doing two, possibly three romantic comedies in a row.  In a totally pragmatic, but no less depressing statement, To explains the change:

“This is intentional. We need to cultivate that  market. It’s difficult to do that with the kind of movies we typically make. In order to avoid problems and excessive edits with the censors, we are making softer movies like love stories and comedies,” To told reporters. “If we make a crime movie or one of our more personal films, there will be more obstacles.”

Unlike some Hong Kong cinema fans, I don’t necessarily need The Mission Part VII from Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fei, but it’s sad to see that serious concerns over censorship are preventing him from making more personal films. I sincerely hope that this strategic attempt to a) avoid getting their films cut to shreds by censors and b) make some dough back for their investors doesn’t result in largely impersonal, soulless crap.

I guess we’ll get our first glimpse on March 31st when Don’t Go Breaking My Heart is released to theaters. The film stars Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Gao Yuanyuan, Lam Suet, and J.J. Jia. If you’d like to see a trailer for the film or perhaps read Media Asia’s unnecessarily excessive and spoiler-filled plot synopsis, click on the link below.

Yen is a single girl from China working in an IT company in Hong Kong. Overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of this sleepless city, she feels increasingly like a fish out of water. Just when she has almost succumbed to the inevitable prospect of being alone and lonely in this unfriendly place, her fate begins to turn in an unexpected way.

One day, she notices a handsome hunk in the office building across the street from hers trying to catch her attention with paper signs. She immediately picks up a scrap of paper and doodles back. A quirky romance ensues as she starts communicating with him by paper signs every day.

On the day when she finally has the chance to meet him in flesh and blood, however, she discovers to her consternation that this so-called romance has been an embarrassing mix-up on her part. The love notes this guy, Sean, has been writing are only meant for a sexy vixen working at the office above hers. He is oblivious to her existence, let alone their blossoming romance.

Just when Yen is ready to crawl back to her lonesome shell, her fate changes again. She is accosted by a beggar called Kevin in the park and is captivated by the sad expression on his face. They start talking and, before they know it, have become the best of friends. She learns that this starkly handsome beggar was an elite architect who ended up wandering the streets after losing his self. Yen starts helping him rebuild his confidence and get back on tracks.

Months pass. Sean finally gives up his life as a playboy and realizes Yen is the dream girl he would like to spend the rest of his life with. Meanwhile, the rebound Kevin is also planning to propose to Yen at the rooftop of his latest design that was inspired by his love for her.

Yen is no longer alone and lonely, but will she be able to find her true love?

2 Responses to “2011 Preview + Johnnie To News: DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART”

  1. Mark Shaver Says:

    damn, that’s too bad about Life Without Principle, To said last month it was about to wrap. that movie has been in the works now for around 3 years. luckily there is a Law Wing-Cheong directed crime film ‘Punished’ which should be finished by now and coming soon, Media Asia even has a poster now on their site but no release info. Soi Cheang is also supposed to shoot his 2nd feature w/ Milkyway titled ‘Motorway’ after filming of The Monkey King wraps. I hope we can see Life Without Principle release by the end of the year though

  2. joe Says:

    i hate mainland censorship so much. its rules basically eliminate all creativity and artistic value from film. now, all you got are these crappy, generic, formulaic films. all these films are the same, just different actors and setting. gone are the days of film makers taking artistic risks and pushing the threshold.

    hopefully by To making these cash cow rom-coms, he’ll make enough money to cover the loss from making the type of movies he wants that don’t have as much mass appeal to the mainland audience.

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