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Archive for March, 2007

Asian Film Awards results

I’m usually more loyal to Variety because they recently freed up their online content, and it just loads up faster. But leave it to The Hollywood Reporter to get the first report of the Asian Film Awards. They even got a list of the winners already:

Best film — “The Host,” produced by Choi Yong Bae (South Korea)

Best director — Jia Zhangke, “Still Life” (China)

Best actor — Song Kang-ho, “The Host” (South Korea)

Best actress — Miki Nakatani, “Memories of Matsuko” (Japan)

Best cinematographer — Kim Hyung-goo, “The Host” (South Korea)

Best screenwriter — Mani Haghighi, “Men at Work” (Iran)

Best editor — Lee Chatametikool, “Syndromes and a Century” (Thailand/France/Austria)

Best composer — Rahayu Supanggah, “Opera Jawa” (Indonesia)

Best production designer — Tim Yip “The Banquet” (Hong Kong/China)

Best visual effects — The Orphanage, “The Host”

Yay for The Host and Miki Nakatani, although I REALLY wanted Exiled to win something. There’s always the Hong Kong Film Awards.

Speaking of The Host, KFCcinema posted a report from the Korean Film Council announcing The Host as a success. It cites that it’s earned $631,000 on its first week of release, which just ain’t true. While its second weekend was pretty good with only a 21% drop on 2 less screens and a slightly lower per-screen average, it is, sad to say, a disappointment. Hell, I checked the Film Council’s website, and the 631,000 figure is for the Chinese box office anyway.

Now that it’s the BEST ASIAN FILM of last year, can Americans get off their asses and go pay to see it now?

A real report coming later today

The Golden Rock song of the day - 3/19/07 - part 2

In honor of this season’s winning (and most expensive) drama Karei Naru Ichizoku, today’s second song of the day is its theme song.

Why? Because it’s grand, and it’s the best theme to represent the tone of a drama that I’ve heard in a while.

The Golden Rock song of the day - 3/19/07

Today’s song of the day comes from Khalil Fong’s second album This Love, which I’ve recommended a couple of times here before. This song was, in my opinion, the first great Hong Kong pop single of 2007 and maybe my favorite song in the album. It’s “Foursome” with Khalil Fong and Fiona Sit.

Why? Because it’s a funky duet that’s not another one of those Karaoke-friendly monotonous pop shit that Hong Kong is used to feeding its listeners, despite Fiona Sit’s flawed Mandarin.

A new week

And a lot more news than I expected, so let’s rip through this sucker

- Before they take this thing down, check out Hollywood Elsewhere’s links to the screaming matches between Lily Tomlin and director David O. Russell on the set of I Heart Huckabees. I think Russell’s made some great works, but the guy looks like a downright asshole.

- Hong Kong Sunday numbers are up, and as expected, 300 takes the top slot. However, the grosses weren’t as high as I expected, considering that it grossed a phenomenal HK$1 million on Thursday. Instead, it made HK$1.69 million on 42 screens (a great number by any count) for a 4-day total of HK$6.47 million, including previews. Meanwhile, Ghost Rider is in second with HK$340,000 on 34 screens for a 11-day total of HK$5.76 million, The Haunted School is at HK$120,000 on 14 screens for a 4-day total of HK$480,000, and Dororo just can’t seem to get the audiences in seats by earning just HK$120,000 on 18 screens for a sad sad HK$380,000 4-day cume.

Good news for the limited releases though, as Pan’s Labyrinth draws in HK$120,000 on only 4 screens, while Ann Hui’s The Postmodern Life of My Aunt actually saw increased business with HK$100,000 on 5 screens. I knew Hong Kong audiences can’t just turn away a movie with Chow Yun Fat like that.

- The major Japanese dramas wrapped up this week, including the big three - Haken No Hinkaku (about temp office workers in Japan), Hana Yori Dango 2 (or who I mockingly called the Flower Boys), and Karei Naru Ichizoku (the big-budget rich family epic). Being a disliker of those Flower Boys and its positive word-of-mouth, I was afraid that the final episode would be higher than Karei Naru Ichizoku. But Kimura Takuya and his huge messed-up family rallied for a huge win with a 30.4% rating and a final average of a slightly disappointing 23.9 rating, while the Flower Boys did get a huge boost with a 27.9% rating for a final average of 21.7. The biggest boost, however, went to Haken No Hinkaku, who followed up its 19.9 rating for its 9th episode with a 26.0% rating for its last episode to get a 20.1% average.

The overall ratings this season are higher, since only one drama only got higher than a 20 rating average at the same season last year(while this season saw 3). But while Karei Naru Ichizoku did achieve a higher average than Kimura Takuya’s last drama Engine (I mention Kimura Takuya because he is the main draw for Karei Naru Ichizoku, considering all the posters around Tokyo has just his big face on it), but this is a man whose dramas once earned a 34.2 average (Hero in 2001), so a 23.9 rating for a big anniversary drama maybe not be so impressive.

Even a national newspaper reported on the huge ratings Karei Naru Ichizoku got, so let’s just all admit that it was pretty huge and all cheer like supportive people should.

Source: Drama News.

- The Japanese box office attendance rankings are also out, and Night at the Museum opened big at number 1, while the Doraemon movie held on a number 2. Drama adaptation Unfair the Movie opened at number 3, Happy Feet at number 4, and Deja Vu at number 5. As reliable as I can get numbers will come tomorrow, hopefully.

- Actress Ryoko Shinahara must be having a really happy week - her headlining drama Haken no Hinkaku got huge ratigns for its finale (which means let’s get her back for a sequel and stat!), and now her drama adaptation Unfair the Movie opens huge at 370 million yen, despite the drama only getting a 15.4 rating (which means Haken’s boost must’ve rolled over to Unfair too). Eiga Consultant predicts that this has gotta be pretty good omen for upcoming drama adaptations Saiyuki (a bastardization of the most beloved Chinese fairy tale ever Journey to the West) and Hero, which had a 22.8 and 34.2 average, respectively.

- After the critical failure of the last Studio Ghibli film Tales From Earthsea (which has been rumored to be Studio Ghibli officials’ way of hooking Hayao Miyazaki to come back and save the studio’s reputation by making one more film), Mr. Miyazaki’s latest project has finally been announced. According to Hoga News, it’ll be Gake No Ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff), a story of a goldfish princess who wants to be human and a 5-year old boy. A producer said that it’s based on a time when Goro Miyazaki (Hayao’s son, and the one who directed Tales from Earthsea while detailing how horrible a father Hayao was on his blog) was 5 years old. Maybe this is Hayao’s attempt for a father-son reconciliation.

- Speaking of release dates, Stephen Chow’s latest A Hope has secured one too. Ming Pao writes this:

現在消息指電影的後期工作已基本完成,日內將送交國家電影局審查。由於電影故事溫馨講父子情,沒有敏感情節,通過審查應該沒問題,據悉已暫定暑假6月25日起在全國上映。

Current reports indicate that post-production is basically done, and it will be sent to the Bureau for Film, Radio, and Television for inspection. Since the film is touching story about love between father and son, there’s no sensitive material, it should have no problem getting through the inspection. It’s now tentatively set for a June 25th nationwide opening.

The story is something about a poor kid picking up a communicator that allows him to communicate with an alien, and the alien feel so sorry for the kid and his father (played by Stephen Chow) that it helps them out by punishing those that bully them. Sounds like good ol’ family fun indeed.

Original Chinese report is here.

- Youtube has a 5-minute trailer to the lesbian love story “Spider Lilies,” starring Taiwanese pop star Rainie Yang and Hong Kong pop star Isabella Leong. Rainie does even a nice little strip tease in the beginning. It premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, and will be shown at the Hong Kong International Film Festival as well.

- The Hong Kong Entertainment Expo is underway, and Variety Asia’s got you covered with a guide to fine dining and a guide to Hong Kong fashion shopping.

- At Hong Kong’s Asian Film Awards tonight, expect Andy Lau to get the “box office star” award. Excerpt from Ming Pao as follows:

據2005年12月舉行的「香港UA娛藝院線周年慶典頒獎禮」,劉德華的電影在香港的累積票房達17億港元,06年至今《墨攻》與《門徒》的累積票房數字為4100多萬港元。這些只是香港的票房數字,要統計劉德華的電影在亞洲區的票房數字肯定更驚人。

According to the “Hong Kong United Artist Cinemas Anniversary Awards” in December of 2005, Andy Lau’s film has grossed a total of HK$170 million. In the last one-year period, “A Battle of Wits” and “Protege” has grossed a total of over HK$41 million, and that’s just Hong Kong box office gross. Calculating the box office gross for Andy Lau’s films in Asia would come up with even more amazing numbers.

And why do people still just take Andy Lau as the next Hong Kong Chief Executive as a joke? He might just be the democratically-voted leader both China and Hong Kong can agree with.

Chinese report is here.

- Twitch’s logboy post a huge list of reviews for films he watched recently. None of them are complete, but they are another man’s opinions on some interesting Asian films that’s worth checking out.

- It’s all been reported out, but Mark Schilling wrote a comprehensive round-up of the recent Japanese health show scandal, which made the media turn against its own by leading a charge to uncover as much false data as possible.

- Twitch also has a review of the Ultimate Edition DVD of Versus. It was crazy and sometimes inspired fun, but was it really that great? Adrenaline-pumping does not a great movie made. Perhaps after the reported major tweaking, it’s now a better film. I’ll have to check this out.

- Those who were sad about Hong Kong girl group At 17’s split (I’m one of them) should rejoice, since Ming Pao has confirmed that the split is only for a half year. Ming Pao reports the following:

完成音樂會後,下半年這對好姊妹要暫時分開工作。Ellen與林一峰演出音樂劇《一期一會》,二汶則推出漫畫集,待年底再合作推出專輯。

After the concert, the sisters will have to work apart the second half of the year. Ellen will star in a musical with Chet lam, and Eman (Chet Lam’s sister) will release a comic collection. They’ll reunite to release an album at the end of the year.

Yay!

The original Chinese report is here.

The Golden Rock song of the day - 3/18/07

Today’s song is a cover of an older song by Janis Ian. The cover artist is Shiina Ringo, one of my favorites, and the song appeared on her 2-disc cover album Utaite Myori. It’s “Love is Blind.”

Why? While the original is also quite good, Shiina Ringo’s intense vocals really elevates the song to a new type of emo anger. It changes the song from a sense of bitterness from Janis Ian to agonizing pain on Shiina Ringo, who sounds like she’s literally hurting just singing. It’s really one of the most incredible covers I’ve ever heard.

Someone just took the song and put it on the video for Ringo No Uta, so watching is not necessary, just listen and feel it.

Here is a concert version where Shiina sings it at a lower key. In my opinion, it’s actually not as good as the album version.

Best of Golden Rock - March 12th to 18th

- I’m a fan of Haruki Murakami. Honestly, he’s the only author I consistently read (that is, if I ever decide to read). I haven’t bought his latest short story anthology “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” yet because I’m waiting for the paperback, but now the translation for his latest After Dark is finally arriving. I still have quite a few books to catch up, so maybe I’ll be reading this in 5 years or so.

- Miss R over at Sardonic Smile has a cool profile of Hong Kong’s hippest MTV director Susie Au, whose latest film MingMing will debut at the Hong Kong International Film Festival this year.

- Asian Cinema - While On the Road has a review of the book “Asia Shock,” which I agree I would not read just based on the title alone (I, too, hate the stereotype that Asian films represent some type of carnal or violent extreme). But it seems like the book does pick some good mainstream titles. No, Ichi the Killer is NOT a mainstream film anywhere in the world.

- Sales of Japanese home video have been sliding, as Japanese animation (which takes up the biggest piece of the pie with 24.5% of sales….why am I not surprised by this?) drops by 14.5 %, foreign films (which takes up 20% of sales) drop by some 40% this past year, while Japanese films performs better with a 5.8% gain and a 9.8% share of total sales. Sales overall has fallen by 10%, although a Japan Video Association Manager has said that they can definitely recover from a 10% drop.

Actually, one interesting portion is that sales of television dramas have risen. Perhaps with a long-term trend, this would encourage television stations to begin to branch out to international market, as the Korean drama has over the last few years.

- Or they can learn from America, who is seeing a decline of theatrical window in the past year. Basically, theaterowners are worrying that the window between theatrical exhibition and home video release is getting smaller and smaller (this year, the average shortened by 10 days), making this an even bigger problem than piracy. Even though films do make a bulk of their money from theatrical exhibition, the home video market is still a very very viable way of making money, and the studios have no idea whom to please these days.

- If you read my profile on the right, you’d know that my main interest is the new “Panasian” films and their effect on national cinema. In light of the upcoming Hong Kong entertainment expo, Variety Asia’s Patrick Frater has turned in a report on the new Asian style of film finance. Very very informative if you’re into that kind of stuff like I am.

- The new 3D animation trend is so huge that even Hong Kong is joining in on the fun, and the person doing it is none other than Brian Tse, who carved out Hong Kong’s most famous contemporary animated franchise with McDull. According to Twitch, he’s developing a 3D animated feature about a duck liver sausage that finds out he’s a piece of poop. No kidding. At least the duck liver sausage idea is pure original HK humor.

- I mentioned about those Southern boys trying to do awesomely bad Japanese rap a while ago on this blog, and that they were putting a show in a Shibuya club. Well, their gigs already happened, and Japan Probe is awesome enough to provide a video of those Kokujin Tensai (literally means Black Person Genius, or a grammatically correct title of Black Genius). I searched on Youtube, and trust me, this is the best quality one can find of that show. Believe me, I don’t think the Japanese people who are there are laughing with them. They’re probably laughing at them. I know I would, and I’m not even Japanese!

- A blog on all things Japan uncovered an interesting Japanese independent film that is nationalist, but not in that right-wing way. Sounds interesting on paper, but it looks a bit boring.

- Twitch has new behind-the-scenes footage for the latest Wilson Yip-Donnie Yen (SPL, Dragon Tiger Gate) collaboration Flash Point (it’s a better title than Killzone), starring Donnie Yen and Louis Koo. Looks good so far, now let’s just make it be better than Dragon Tiger Gate, yeah?

- Looks like after a string of failed foreign runs, The Host has finally become a hit in China, where it topped the box office in its opening weekend and praised by critics (it was praised by critics in the States too, so what’s with that crappy opening weekend?). Meanwhile, Variety Asia has a more solid report on its financing process and just how big of a hit it really is (for an Asian film to have a net profit of double its production cost is pretty damn amazing).

- There are two new members to the pop collective (it’s a better name than record-company-built cute young girls pop group) Morning Musume, and they’re Chinese (dun-dun-dun!). One of them actually auditioned to be on one of those pop idols show in China, and Japan Probe has the clip. Well, we can forget about her being the one with singing skills (the judge at the end, by the way, says that she sings like a child. No kidding).

- Lastly, Variety has posted a review of The Godfather (yes, that Godfather). Of course, a review now would use words like “masterpiece” “and “classic” (which I agree with), and not words like “overlong” and “confusing.” That’s because this review was written in 1972 when the film first came out. I wonder if that critic ever changed his mind about it eventually.

- There’s a rather amusing trailer for a new film starring John Malkovich named Color Me Kubrick, a kind of true story about a man who looks and acts absolutely like Stanley Kubrick, but somehow pretended to be him anyway.

- Danwei, an English blog on the Chinese media that is far better organized and written than this site, has a translation of an article about how one phone call stopped the Chinese film rating system. The idea of the film rating system is good, but when you have conservative middle-aged men behind the system with an agenda, it’s bound to be corrupted. Kinda like the MPAA.

Link courtesy of EastSouthWestNorth

- Don’t assume that the made-for-TV genre only exists in America, NTV has its own series of made-for-TV films (they call it dramas, but I call it made-for-TV movie, let’s call the whole thing off) every Tuesday night. Being the sometimes-creatively-drained industry that is TV, Japan loves doing one story in as many formats as possible. Look at Tokyo Tower - which was first a hit novel, then a made-for-TV film, then a currently-running drama, and coming in April, a feature film starring Joe Odagiri. That’s three incarnations of the same damn story within a half-year period.

This past week, the NTV movie-of-the-week is “The Eraser in My Head,” which is the Japanese title of the hit Korean film A Moment to Remember (it was a surprise hit in Japan, and was credited as an integral part of the Korean wave in Japan). Before I assumed it was just a rip-off of the Korean film (the credits on the website does not credit the Korean film), I found out that the film itself was based on a 2001 Japanese drama named Pure Soul, which is what NTV credited as the source material. Even though it was based said drama, you can’t deny that this incarnation was inspired by the success of the Korean film….can you?

Nippon Sunday

I know I promised the box office estimates for North America yesterday, but The Host isn’t on the estimates (which cannot be spelling good things for the critically-acclaimed film), so I have no reason to care.

- Don’t assume that the made-for-TV genre only exists in America, NTV has its own series of made-for-TV films (they call it dramas, but I call it made-for-TV movie, let’s call the whole thing off) every Tuesday night. Being the sometimes-creatively-drained industry that is TV, Japan loves doing one story in as many formats as possible. Look at Tokyo Tower - which was first a hit novel, then a made-for-TV film, then a currently-running drama, and coming in April, a feature film starring Joe Odagiri. That’s three incarnations of the same damn story within a half-year period.

This past week, the NTV movie-of-the-week is “The Eraser in My Head,” which is the Japanese title of the hit Korean film A Moment to Remember (it was a surprise hit in Japan, and was credited as an integral part of the Korean wave in Japan). Before I assumed it was just a rip-off of the Korean film (the credits on the website does not credit the Korean film), I found out that the film itself was based on a 2001 Japanese drama named Pure Soul, which is what NTV credited as the source material. Even though it was based said drama, you can’t deny that this incarnation was inspired by the success of the Korean film….can you?

This coming week’s movie-of-the-week is miniseries “Ai No Ryukeichi,” based on a hit novel and was made into the movie “Love Never to End,” which was a moderate success in January. I’ll assume that this TV version won’t be as explicit as the film, which earned an R-15 rating due to its sexual content.

- Speaking of Joe Odagiri, Hoga News has a story on the latest surge of his exposure rate in Japanese media.

- Japan Time’s notable reviews for the week are the Japanese fantasy fable “Argentine Baba” (Argentine Hag) and documentary Crossing the Bridge by Fatih Akin, whose devastatingly Head On was one of my favorite films last year.

- Twitch has the link to a second trailer for a possible Japanese comedy hit this summer “Maiko Hannnnn!” written by Kankuro Kudo, who wrote Go and Ping Pong. It looks just strange enough that it might be one of those sleeper hits.

- I reported a while ago about the opening of the Wald 9 Cinemas in Shinjuku. The Daily Yomiuri has reported on its effect on Shinjuku, which has one of the highest concentration of cinemas in Japan. I saw The Incredibles at this incredible 800-seat theater (I believe it was the Piccadilly, but I can’t recall the name. It was a multiplex of sorts, since it did have 3 screens) there. And now the opening of the Wald 9 has driven it to be closed down (maybe it’s the theatre the report cites as being rebuilt), which is a shame, because huge screens like that has ceased to exist in San Francisco (I saw Star Wars episode 1 at the Coronet, where the original Star Wars film premiered 20-odd years before that), and now it’s slowly dwindling away in Tokyo as well. Too bad, it was worth every one of those 1500 yen I paid for, and now those money are going towards small auditoriums with small screens.

- Anyone tired of those Samurai period dramas from Japan lately? Then start rejoicing, because a non-samurai period film is coming soon. Originally a novel, the film “Akane Zora” is about a tofu maker’s business and his family.

- The Daily Yomiuri also shows off how awesomely unbelievably great Japanese mangas are by pointing out all the adaptations of them in other Asian countries. MANGA BANZAI!!!!!

The Daily Yomiuri links are courtesy of Ryuganji.

- Danwei, an English blog on the Chinese media that is far better organized and written than this site, has a translation of an article about how one phone call stopped the Chinese film rating system. The idea of the film rating system is good, but when you have conservative middle-aged men behind the system with an agenda, it’s bound to be corrupted. Kinda like the MPAA.

Link courtesy of EastSouthWestNorth

Related news, a Chinese blog has detailed the cuts done to Babel for Chinese viewing, and it pains me to list all these out (WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS):

- The Moroccan kid masterbating
- The chicken killing shot in Mexico
- Rinko Kikuchi’s character taking off her panties
- Rinko Kicuchi’s character opening up her skirt
- Rinko Kikuchi’s character grabbing the dentist’s hand and bringing it to her crotch (fully dressed)
- Rinko Kikuchi’s charater’s nude scene, where she attempts to seduce the policeman.
- Rinko Kikuchi’s character nude at the balcony (which probably killed the entire final shot).

(SPOILER OVER)

- Ming Pao has an editorial about how Hong Kong is attempting to save itself from total destruction. Excerpts are as follows:

劉德華不只在香港投資小成本製作栽培新導演,還在其他亞洲地區投資。

Andy Lau not only invests in new directors in Hong Kong through low-budget productions, he also invested in other regions in Asia.

曾志偉在他出品和監製的電影中,大膽起用新人,導演王精甫和編劇杜緻朗都由他一手提拔。

Eric Tsang bravely used fresh talents in his productions. Director Wong Ching-Po and screenwriter To Jing Lang were his discoveries.

這幾年狀態甚勇的杜琪㗖,他的執行導演羅永昌、編劇游乃海先後成為正式導演。

Johnnie To, who’s been quite strong these few years, has seen his Associate director Law Wing-Cheong and screenwriter Yau Nai-Hoi become directors.

揚威國際的劉偉強,以高清電影培育新人,讓他們有更多機會作大膽的嘗試。

Andrew Lau Wai-Keung, who is triumphing overseas, is using HD films to teach newcomers, allowing them to take bigger risks.

外間一般認為電影人只識得向政府叫救命,什麼也不做,並非事實。

Outsiders believe that Filmmakers only know how to ask the government for help while doing nothing, and that’s just not true.

傳媒的娛樂新聞,甚少真正提及電影工業的現,只一味報道藝人私生活,外界根本不知電影工業在發生什麼轉變。

There are very few news about the film industry in entertainment news, which only knows how to report on celebrities’ private lives. Outsiders know nothing at all about the changes going on in the film industry.

中小成本製作是嘗試新戲種和訓練新人的最佳工具。不識者以為電影是天才的產品,其實這一行有成就的人才絕大部分是從失敗中成長的。

Small-to-medium budget productions are the best tool to try new themes and train newcomers. Those who don’t know films think that movies are products of genius, when the truth is that those who have succeeded grew up from past failures.

要贏得投資者的信心,就要靠一班上了位的電影精英,以他們的經驗和成績作新人的保證。這幾年觀眾對港片的確存在偏見,很多一段時間沒入戲院看戲的認為港片全是爛片,要改變他們的態度,不是靠政府的三億就可辦得到。

To win the faith of financiers, the products of those success stories should use their reputations to vouch for newcomers. In these few years, there is a notion from those who haven’t been to the movies in years that all Hong Kong films are bad films. To change their attitudes, we can’t just rely on 300 million dollars from the government to do the job.

How about changing the notion among Hong Kong youths that movie should be downloaded?

The original Chinese article is here.

Coming up: Best of the week, and song of the day.

The Golden Rock song of the day - 3/17/07

Today’s song of the day is from Hong Kong rap group Fama, discovered by DJ Tommy. In their second album “Music Tycoon,” there were two main collaborations, one was “Love is Like Edison Chan,” featuring, you guessed it, supposed rapper Edison Chan, the other is today’s song: “Love is Like Chet Lam.”

Why? Because I’ve been choosing all rock and ballads since I started this thing, and I wanted to show that I listen to a bit of hip-hop too. Of course, I know that this song isn’t hip-hop, it’s just rapping with a guitar.

So why THIS song, then? Because it’s rap with a guitar. Because it undoes all those ideal notions we have about love, most notably George Lam, who sang that “love is like the sun and the air.” In the main hook, Chet Lam and Fama kill the idealist in all of us and sings:

戶口得幾舊水
仲想養埋佢個女
Oh 叫佢食陽光空氣

Only a couple of hundred bucks in your account
and you still want to raise her daughter
tell him to eat the sun and the air

The lesson of the song: Real love is for those who can afford it. Ideal love is for those poor bastards with no money. It’s painful, but there it is.

A New (old) kind of hero

I love the Independent Film Channel. I don’t know why I receive it, but I happen to have it, and it’s a great source for uncut independent films. They’ve been running a series called the Grindhouse every Friday night, showing pretty much trash movies by art standards. This is where I saw Sonny Chiba in Karate Bearfighter and Karate Bullfighter (in that order, even though the story’s in reverse order) last month, and it’s also where I saw Killing Machine (real title: Shorinji Kenpo, or the Shaolin Fist) last night. I’m now convinced that Sonny Chiba was probably Japan’s best hero, even better than Ultraman and Kamen Rider combined.

The movie opens during the Sino-Japanese war, where a bunch of Chinese solders with a commander that doesn’t really speak Chinese (he’s just pretending) were about to attack a bunch of troops. But a man wearing one of those Chinese sombrero pops out, and it’s Sonny Chiba as an undercover Japanese secret agent. He’s like James Bond, except he first uses Shaolin kung-fu to wipe out half the troops, THEN he uses the machine gun. Man, I would want an opening like that in any movie (not the killing Chinese people part, but the Shaolin kung-fu part).

He then retreats to his base, where he’s told by his superiors that Japan has surrendered and that it’s no use fighting. So he takes said machine gun and wipes out his superiors. “Japan may have lost, but I haven’t!” he says. What a bad ass. Being the bad ass Sonny Chiba is, he would fight for justice everywhere - on the train, where he stops a fight by twisting a dude’s arm and says, “There are 80,000,000 Japanese and 800,000 Koreans. You can’t swim back to Korea, so if you want to live here, be friends.” At the black market, where he fights black marketeers because he told the kids it’s OK to steal from them, and he gets into a fight with the cops and American soldiers (over what, I don’t know, I lost my attention for about 3 minutes, and Chiba the man just didn’t wait to get some ass-kicking done).

Of course, you also get to learn about behaviors when around Sonny Chiba. First, you don’t wanna be interrupting his udon eating, or he’ll look at you as he slurps up that last string. Second, you don’t want to rape the neighborhood udon shop’s owner’s daughter, because he’ll come beat you down with Shaolin kungfu, then castrate you (I am seriously not kidding about this). And you don’t wanna go over to his dojo and start something, because even though he says not to start fight with other schools, he will kick your ass anyway.

All in all, Killing Machine isn’t actually all that entertaining when compared with the Karate series (I mean, the word “good” wouldn’t be used to describe any of these movies), but it does have some entertaining fun here and there. It’s even surprising even-handed for a testosterone-pumped movie about Japan (Chiba may kill Chinese soldiers, but he respects Chinese martial arts and I would presume its people).

- March has been known to be an off-peak month in South Korea (unlike Hong Kong, where people actually get Easter holiday), and that means it’s time for a foreign invasion!

- This weekend, Japan finally sees the opening of two Hollywood blockbusters Night at the Museum and Academy Award winner Happy Feet. Last weekend, they had a preview duel with advanced showings, and on an unknown number of screens, Night at the Museum wins it with 169 million yen, while Happy Feet brought in 72 million yen. This should be a pretty clear indicator who’s gonna win.

Source: Eiga Consultant.

- The Filmbrain blog has its own review of a film I reviewed last month, the subtle Ad Lib Night.

- There’s a rather amusing trailer for a new film starring John Malkovich named Color Me Kubrick, a kind of true story about a man who looks and acts absolutely like Stanley Kubrick, but somehow pretended to be him anyway.

- After watching The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, I wished Justin Lin was given better scripts to do, because I think he means well, but he just keeps getting stuck with crappy scripts. So after two ventures into Hollywood, he’s doing his own thing (in just 8 months after Tokyo Drift, no less) with his latest Finishing the Game, a spoof on the search for a replacement of Bruce Lee after he died while making Game of Death, and it just premiered at the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival. Did anyone catch it?

- Two pieces of news to translate from my new Chinese news source Ming Pao:

1) Hong Kong International Film Festival run into a snag regarding missing tickets for its opening night film I’m a Cyborg, but That’s OK, among other shows. excerpt of Chinese report as follows:

網上訂票安排方面,協會收到約30名市民投訴,表示收不到協會發出的訂票確認電郵,經調查後發現,協會如常發出電郵

Regarding online ticketing, the association received about 30 complaints saying that they did not receive their confirmation e-mail for their reservations. After an investigation, the association will sent out these e-mails accordingly.

Apparently, there’s also a case of someone continuously complaining that he/she never got the confirmation email for said opening night, but turns out the confirmation numbers were faked, and this person might get charged for fraud.

Also, the official website has put up an official apology about the failures of the new online ticketing system. This is what happens when you rely on the internet. Then again, this blog is on the internet, so maybe I shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds me.

2) Using the Wong Jing crapfest The Lady Iron Chef, Ming Pao also claims that a bad box office gross doesn’t always spell the end of a movie.
Excerpt as follows:

目前有不少電影是不需過分依靠票房賺錢的。所以電影雖然仍陷低潮,但仍有不少像《美女食神》的製作出現。

這類電影,有一條賺錢方法,主要是把錄像、電視、賣埠的版權收入加起來,以這成本來製作,拍好後只要在戲院上上畫就可以。

為什麼一定要在戲院上畫?因為不上畫的戲,會被視為次一等的電影,錄像、電視等版權價錢,也會少一截。

電影上畫時做過宣傳,會多些人知道有這部戲,價錢與未上過畫的當然有分別。

單看票房,可能奇怪某些電視投資者為何還會開拍某類電影,但有噱頭或熟口熟面的題材,只要有好幾個有人認識的明星來做,還是可以賣得一定的價錢。票房不高的電影,未必無錢賺。

Currently there are quite a few films that doesn’t desperately need box office gross to make money. That’s why even though the industry is in a recession, there’s still many productions similar to The Lady Iron Chef coming out.

The way these types of movies make money is through adding up video, television, and overseas distribution deals. These type of productions only need to be on the screens for a little while.

Why do they need to be on the big screen? Because a film that does not go to theatres is regarded as an inferior film, and all those potential money from selling broadcast or distribution rights will suffer a loss.

A film that played on the big screen and was promoted would attract attention would surely fetch a higher price than films that didn’t.

Looking at the box office, maybe it would be strange for these television networks to still be financing movies. But as long as there’s buzz or a familiar topic, just find a couple of known actors, the film can still sell abroad. A film with a low box office gross can still make money.

It’s not a lot of news today, I’m saving the rest for tomorrow. Some Japan Times reviews, the best of the week, of course a song of the day, and maybe some American box office estimates.

Just because I’m angry enough

I’ll post one more time today. I read about this yesterday, but since it’s hit the English press, I might as well report it here.

Chinese netizens (known for their lack of reasoning and impulsive widespread actions)are attacking Zhang Ziyi for appearing in a Japanese ad for a shampoo where she displays her naked shoulders and appear to be semi-nude. She damned near showed her breasts to the French in 2046, and they attack her for showing a hell of a lot less in an ad promoting shampoo with the tagline “Asian beauty” (ASIAN, numbnuts, not Japanese beauty).

There’s a thin line between fanaticism and patriotism, and these guys just passed through it.

(Edit: Baiting of immature Chinese nationalists deleted.)

 
 
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