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Archive for April, 2007

Hail King Lau

Watched the rather unprofessionally edited version of the Hong Kong Film Awards last night on the local TVB. At one point, it was so badly edited down for time that they actually cut off an entire section, then played that section about 15 minutes later. Acceptance speeches were cut down, and somehow they still had time to cut to TVB’s own host sitting in an empty studio for a round-up. Either the show was on tape delay in HK as well, or they just botched the little time they had to edit the show down. I probably should have been thankful that I got to watch it so quickly on TV in the first place, but how hard is it to just show the whole thing uncut?

This year, the show was hosted by Eric Tsang’s daughter Bowie, who actually hosts several TV shows in Taiwan, Lam Chi-Chung, and Nick Cheung (Yes, Johnnie To recent favorite Nick Cheung). Unlike the Asian Film Awards, which featured awkward English bantering between Fiona Sit and David Wu or a solo Wu doing his Tarantino impression, the hosts this time actually got some good bantering in. But Nick Cheung, a stranger to hosting awards, had trouble remembering the script, which made him the butt of jokes by the other two hosts. At points, at least one of the host had to look at the script on the podium. Note to Hong Kong award shows: get a teleprompter.

Apparently, people complained about the large amount of Mandarin presenters for last year’s ceremony, so what do they do this year? Bring even more and lesser known Mandarin-speaker presenters to the stage! Thankfully, TVB provided subtitles for most of the Mandarin presenters’ lines (another sign of a tape delay).

The now-defunct mock boy band alive also came out for a performance. Instead of singing their single “Adam’s Choice” themselves, they brought out Paul Wong on the guitar and a bunch of local independent bands to sing most of the song while the Alive boys took out cue cards featuring messages they have for the entertainment industry (”Don’t Copy, support original creation!”). Of course, if I didn’t know that Paul Wong was putting on a concert with these independent bands next month, I would’ve actually saw it as more than a promotional gesture. I couldn’t even see 1/3 of the cards/band members performing because TVB kept cutting to cameras that WEREN’T shooting where things were happening, as if TVB doesn’t want us to see the Alive boys promoting independent music.

Of course, this year the Hong Kong Film Awards has something to be proud of - the Oscar win of The Departed. They use it as a way of encouraging the business, telling them to write scripts that Hollywood will want to buy. Personally, I thought Patrick Tam winning the best screenplay award with his student was a better encouragement to this budding filmmaker than any Hollywood awards.

After the way rabid fans acted for Rain and Andy Lau at the Asian Film Awards, the fans for EEG artist Isabella Leung also showed up to see her lose twice for the supporting actress and best actress. It was refreshing to see Anthony Wong getting so pissed that he said if the fans didn’t shut up, he would announce someone else as the winner even if Isabella won. I can’t wait to earn that type of respect.

As for the awards, I’m glad Lau Ching-Wan found that the 7th time’s the charm, and that a 17-year absence behind the camera would bring Patrick Tam some of the biggest applause of the evening. However, I’m a little saddened that Johnnie To went home empty-handed (Exiled’s editing was hands-down some of the best in HK film), probably because of multiple nominations in one category. and that young filmmakers not named Daniel Wu didn’t see their films recognized. Next year, I’ll get to watch the whole thing live (on TV or at the venue, either one is good), I just hope the movies will be just as good, if not better.

Here is the Variety Asia report on the awards, if anyone wanted it.

- Let’s start with Hong Kong Sunday numbers. As expected, Mr. Bean’s Holiday hangs on at number 1 with HK$1.09 million on 32 screens (US$1=HK$7.8) for a 11-day total of HK$17.83 million. As for openings, Taiwan lesbian romance Spider Lilies expanded from Thursday’s 6 screens to 9 screens over the weekend, earning an impressive HK$320,000 on Sunday for a 4-day total of HK$1.23 million. Hong Kong director Yip Lim-Sum follows his cynical romantic-dramedy Marriage with a Fool with an even more cynical take of love with Love is Not All Around, starring a bunch of Gold Label idols. It had preview showings over the weekend, and it made HK$200,000 on 32 screens (not sure how many showings per day) for a HK$540,000 3-day total. It opens next week.

- As reported yesterday, Tokyo Tower managed to open huge enough that it got the number 1 spot in Japan this weekend. In a continuing slump of futuristic films, Sunshine opens weak at 7th place, despite the presence of Japanese star Hiroyuki Sanada. More tomorrow when the numbers come out from Box Office Mojo.

- As for the North American box office, Rear Win…I mean Disturbia opens huge with 28 million. The big story is, of course, Grindhouse’s 63% freefall. Made for nearly $100 million (with prints and advertising), the double feature has only made $19 million so far.

- On Saturday, I was going to report on the latest attempt of censorship by the Thai government, this time for the independent film “Syndrome and a Century.” Basically, as Variety Asia reported, the Thai censorship board asked for several cuts to the film that show doctors behaving (comparatively) badly. When the director refused, the board refused to give the film back and threatens to make the cuts anyway. Now, the whole issue is getting huge, as Jason Gray reports that there is now an internet petition against the Thai censorship board, calling for a free Thai film industry.

On a related note, Twitch has an interview with director Apithatpong Weerasethakul, even though it makes no mention of the censorship issue because it was done probably during the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival.

- In light of the complaint by the United States against China at the World Trade Organization, China held a huge display of pirated materials burning to raise awareness of the government’s attitude, and again to show American a big red middle finger.

At least it wasn’t a book burning.

- Here’s something to get excited about for today - the first full length trailer for Takeshi Kitano’s comedy “Kantoku Banzai,” courtesy of Twitch. It looks crazy as hell, and a lot of fun too.

- In the history of bad ideas, Edward Norton has signed up to star in “The Incredible Hulk,” Universal’s sad sad attempt to undo Ang Lee’s film. But rather than resetting the whole franchise, it will actually be a continuation from the first film. It’ll be directed by Louis Leterrier, who did the Transporter films, and I assume it’ll be much less ambitious that Ang Lee’s misunderstood film.

That’s right, I actually liked Ang Lee’s version of The Hulk. The freefalling of my credibility continues.

Best of Golden Rock - April 9th to April 15th

The following is a compilation of the most notable news covered by The Golden Rock from April 9th to April 15th:

- Those censors strike again. No, not China (more of those guys later), this time it’s Thailand, who has banned internet video service Youtube after anti-monarchist films appeared on the site. Youtube offers to help the Thai authorities delete the films in question without really going to the point of censorship.

- OK, China, your turn. Remember the Chinese idol show Super Girl that got renamed to Happy Boy? Well, not only does the Chinese government hate girls that are happy, they are forcing the show to follow a strict set of guidelines that include no “weirdness” or “low taste,” allowing only “healthy and ethnically inspiring songs,” and no screaming fans or crying contestants, because god help them if the winner might be popular enough to be the next Premier of the Communist party.

(not sure where the link went here)

- Japanese pop queen/suspect outer space alien Ayumi Hamasaki had her sold-out concert in Hong Kong, and with Eason Chan’s tendency to speak his mind, he decided to say that she was probably lip-syncing. Ming Pao has the report, and excerpt is as follows:

Eason形容濱崎步的演唱會是高成本製作,燈 光、爆破效果,以至整個演唱會的製作都很好,水準之高是本地演唱會難以做到;不過,他說:「看見濱崎步的勁歌熱舞,懷疑她有三分之一時間是『咪嘴』,而且 『咪嘴』功夫很到家。我看麥當娜的演唱會就覺得沒有『咪嘴』,雖然歌聲可能沒有唱片中的水準,但也很好看。」

Eason describes Ayumi Hamasaki’s concert as a high-budget production thanks to the lights and pyrotechnics. That type of quality is one that Hong Kong concerts have difficulty achieving. But he said “Seeing Ayumi Hamasaki’s singing and dancing, I suspect that she’s lip-syncing for 1/3 of the time, and her lip-syncing skills are quite good. I saw Madonna’s concert and didn’t feel she was lip-syncing. Though she didn’t sing as well as she does on her albums, it was still very good.”


In response, the organizers insist that Ayumi Hamasaki was not lip-syncing, “Ayumi Hamasaki sings too well, and plus all the audio equipments came from Japan, so that’s why there’s such a misunderstanding.”

Original Chinese text is here.

I’ve seen Ayumi Hamasaki’s live performance videos, and she can’t even hit those high notes when she’s NOT dancing. Plus, from Eason Chan, who still lip-sync some of his TV performances, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is true.

- Then again, it’s hard to tell whether one can trust Ming Pao’s reporting. Yesterday, they reported Professor David Bordwell’s visit to Johnnie To’s set for “Triangle” (which they got from his blog), but they seemed to have gotten some facts wrong, particular in its last section. Chinese excerpts (followed by translation) are as follows:

發覺杜琪㗖喜用手提拍攝,與荷李活所用的路軌拍攝不同,不過用手提拍攝確較靈活。David Bordwell亦認為香港製作有時不夠精細,如電影《放逐》中有一幕講述澳門酒店的場景,原來是在杜琪㗖公司的天台搭景,就嫌太過草率了。

[David] discovers that Johnnie To likes using handheld camera, unlike Hollywood, which favor tracking, but using handheld camera is more flexible. David Bordwell also thinks that Hong Kong productions are not meticulous enough, such as the hotel scene in “Exiled.” Turns out that the “hotel” was a set on the roof of Johnnie To’s production company, and he thinks that it’s too sloppy.

Original Chinese text is here.

The entry that report is referring to is here, and here are the mistakes the reporter at Ming Pao made:

The report writes that Johnnie To prefers handheld, but this is what Professor Bordwell wrote:

“To’s art is furthered by his craftsmanship in shot composition. Composing in anamorphic (2.35:1), nearly always putting the camera on a tripod or dolly, he gets precise results with few lighting units. When I complained that all the new films I saw at Filmart were shot shakycam, Shan Ding reported a neat saying that HK DPs have. The handheld camera covers 3 mistakes: Bad acting, bad set design, and bad directing.”

The report also wrote that Professor Bordwell complained that the hotel set in Exiled shows the sloppiness of Hong Kong filmmaking, but there is no such complaining in his entry. This is what Professor Bordwell wrote in regard to the rooftop set:

“In another echo of old production methods, To’s films sometimes use rooftop sets. Last year the set for the hotel in Exiled was erected on the top of the Milkyway building. Its Demy-like pastels looked very artificial in daylight.”

Any complaining in there? I don’t see it. That’s why Hong Kong Chinese reporting should always be taken with a grain of salt.

- Plagiarism is a plague in the Asian music industry - everyone is copying off each other, and they’re only spread around like urban legend on the net while it continues. That’s why I’m happy to see one of these cases go to court, as a South Korean court ruled that a MTV for a song by Korean pop singer Ivy was illegally copied off a scene from the movie Final Fantasy: Advent Children. According to the comments there, representatives for Ivy’s side are just blaming it on some Chinese guy. Riiiigggght.

Look for the rip-off of the song by Mark Lui for the HK pop market in the coming months.

- Korean films seemed to have hit a slump for March, taking only 21.6% of the market. But the fact that the big picture shows that Korean films is still enjoying a 55.3% share for the year, the reports may be blowing it out of proportion a little bit. Hong Kong would kill for that kind of number, people.

- The Hong Kong International Film Festival is coming to an end, with the Hong Kong Film Awards on Sunday (I’ll be watching it on Sunday night on the tape-delay broadcast by the local TVB channel in San Francisco), which means Professor Bordwell is leaving. But before he leaves, he shares a ton of pictures, and even mentions this blog! Thanks, Professor, I enjoyed your coverage of the HKIFF!

- Remember the highly-anticipated Jackie Chan-Jet Li project that turned out to be a kids’ movie? Variety Asia offers us more details, including the director (guy who did Lion and Stuart Little), and the plot, about an American teenager transported into ancient China, where he would join a crew of warriors (with it reportedly based on Journey to the West, it would probably be the monk and his disciples, which include the Monkey King) to free an imprison king. Holy ethnographic gaze, Batman!

- . Today, I offer Korea Pop Wars’ Mark Russell’s look at the ongoing struggles of vendors that sell pirated discs, only to find out that it’s all about location, location, location.

The Golden Rock song of the day - 4/15/07

Today’s song of the day is from this album by the now defunct-band Luna Sea. I personally found this song when it was featured in the classic drama “Kamisama Mou Sugoshi Dake,” which I suspect is how a lot of people found this song as well. Not much introduction is necessary, it’s Luna Sea’s “I For You.”

Why? Because it was a huge part of my teenage years and an essential part of my Japanese culture acquisition. But why now? I just felt like it.

Here it is used in the drama.

Sunday News-ing

In Cantonese, we call the best actor and best actress winners at film awards “King” and “Queen,” respectively. This year’s Hong Kong Film Awards was held a few hours ago, and while I’ll be watching the show tonight SF time, I can’t help but looking up the winners list. Turns out I got 4 right, and the one I wanted to win best actor - Lau Ching-Wan for My Name is Fame - actually won.

Why is Lau Ching-Wan winning the “King” such a big deal? He’s a great actor, and everyone knows that. That’s what made it such a big deal - despite being a great actor and having been nominated many times, he has actually never won a best actor award at the HK Film Awards. After some 20 years of acting, one of Hong Kong’s greatest finally wins. I hope that this will encourage LCW to do even more movies.

More on the show itself and the winners list tomorrow.

- North American box office actual numbers are out tomorrow, but estimates show Grindhouse dropping by 63% and barely hanging on to the top 10. In addition to the “let’s split the movies up in director’s cut” plan (which would not be financially viable since it means striking up new prints), I wonder what else do the Weinsteins have up their sleeves.

- Speaking of another failure, Sony has decided to stop selling the cheaper 20gb model of the Playstation 3 in the United States. The more expensive 60gb model remains in the market, which shows which market they’re really aiming at these days.

- This weekend Japan sees the third adaptation of the novel Tokyo Tower in a year opening in its cinemas. This time, it stars Joe Odagiri and Kirin Kiki. Despite the excess dose of the popular novel about a young man venturing to Tokyo from his rural town and the mother who supported him every step of the way, Hoga News reports that its opening day box office is huge enough that it’s expected to pass the 4 billion mark that Yoji Yamada’s Love and Honor did this past winter. Joe Odagiri>Kimura Takuya???

- Japanese video market is still flat. More people are buying DVDs, but they’re individually buying and spending less on them. zzzzzzz…….

- I was going to talk about how pirates put Chinese subtitles on those foreign shows that allows people to download the show and understand the whole thing within only a few days’ time. That was yesterday’s lost entry. Today, I offer Korea Pop Wars’ Mark Russell’s look at the ongoing struggles of vendors that sell pirated discs, only to find out that it’s all about location, location, location.

- Meanwhile, Twitch introduces Driving With My Wife’s Lover, a Korean film that sounds really interesting with a title that’s as tell-all as it gets.

- Lastly, thought the events in the Peter Chan-produced/Fruit Chan-directed film Dumplings can’t happen? Think again (warning, content may potentially gross you out.).

The Golden Rock song of the day - 4/14/07

Today’s song of the day can be found on this album and this single. However, neither studio versions can compare to this version, which plays it at a considerably slower pace more suitable for the melody (at least in my opinion). It’s Shiina Ringo’s Sakuran.

Why? This cover is my favorite arrangement out of the 3 versions I’ve heard because it plays to the melody the most. It’s not meant to be fitted with a fast-paced big band symphonic arrangement, but rather with this type of sublime bossa nova beats. This, to me, is the definitive version of Sakuran, too bad it’s never going to be released as a studio recording.

Lost entry+Hong Kong Film Award predictions

This space represents a lost entry. It was lost when Firefox unexpectedly closed on me in the middle of an entry.

It included Hong Kong box office numbers for Thursday, why Nikkatsu announcing its lineup mattered, Japan Times reviews for this weekend (one of them is a Japanese film that opened on only one screen), how Chinese subtitling groups work, Information on Taiten no Ken, a new Japanese film investor, and how Thailand is unreasonably censoring an independent filmmaker.

Please leave a comment if you would actually like to see any of these stories, because I really don’t want to go and dig up all the links again.

The rest of the entry is my predictions for the Hong Kong Film Awards, happening tomorrow night Hong Kong time.

Overview: As always, the nominations tended to recognize established names rather than new filmmakers. All the nominees for best pics, best director and best screenplays are people who have spent 10 or more years in the industry. This points to a committee that seems to be just putting together an award that pats their buddies in the back rather than encouraging new talents. I’m not just saying this because a personal favorite Isabella didn’t get much major nominations, but also because this archaic system managed to recognize The Myth with multiple nominations.

With that said, here are my predictions for this year’s major awards (Those I want to win are in parenthesis):

Best Editing: After This, Our Exile (Exiled)

Best Cinematography: Curse of the Golden Flower (Isabella)

Best new actor: Gouw Ian Iskandar for After This, Our Exile (same)

Best Supporting Actress: Haven’t seen most of the films, can’t comment

Best Supporting Actor: Jay Chou for Curse of the Golden Flower (Simon Yam for Election 2)

Best Actress: Gong Li for Curse of the Golden Flower (same)

Best Actor: Chow Yun Fat for Curse of the Golden Flower (Lau Ching Wan for My Name is Fame)

Best Screenplay: Yau Nai Hoi and Yip Tin Shing for Election 2 (same)

Best Director: Patrick Tam for After This Our Exile (Johnnie To for Exiled)

Best Picture: After This, Our Exile (Election 2)

Results will be posted tomorrow morning, or tomorrow evening at the latest.

The Golden Rock song of the day - 4/13/07

Today’s song of the day needs little introduction. Seriously, just go to the Wikipedia page on it and read up all you want. On the album “Faster Than the Speed of Night,” it’s Bonnie Tyler’s classic “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

Why? Because it’s the ultimately 80s pop epic that wasn’t done by a large man named Meatloaf (turns out this song WAS written for Meatloaf, according to the Wikipedia page). I know it’s chessy 80s pop, but the video is so far out, and the song is so…unnecessarily epic that you can’t help loving it. Honestly, I don’t even know what the hell it means to have a “total eclipse of the heart” anyway.


Managed to find 3 hours to check out the Rodriguez/Tarantino double feature Grindhouse. Overall, I thought the 3 hours went by fairly fast, and I found it funny that the multiplex I saw it at were playing the film like a grindhouse theater might have, though unintentionally. First, someone forgot to start the previews as the screen froze on the “please turn off your cell phone” screen for a good minute or so. Of course, someone realized he or she was asleep at the wheel and finally started the film. But then the first trailer was misframed for a good 5-10 seconds before the same person fixed it. After about 7 trailers or so (for a movie that’s already 191 minutes long!), the movie (which opened with the Machete trailer) started playing with the lights still on “trailers setting” until Planet Terror was playing for a good 5 minutes already, when someone finally turned the lights fully down.

Then after Planet Terror, people who either needed a good toilet break or just didn’t get the concept started walking out. They were either aware of the 90 minutes of stuff still coming or felt ripped off that they only got the movie with the rocket leg, and about 5-10 people started leaving. Only a few of them come back, and a pretty huge group of 7 people or so also walked out just after Death Proof started. Why? I had no idea. I guess that’s what Harvey Weinstein meant about not “educating” people enough.

Oh, right, the movies. Grindhouse starts with a fake trailer for a film called Machete, starring Danny Trejo as the title character. Machete is, as a character says “a Mexican day-laborer that’s really a Federale.” He gets crossed by some evil men, talks a priest into helping him get revenge, and kicks a whole lot of ass. By the end of Machete, I was more than amused - I was pumped.

I wasn’t really looking forward to Rodriguez’s Planet Terror. I thought Rodriguez is a great technical filmmaker - his ability to DIY everything is impressive to this aspiring amateur director - but he was never a very good storyteller to begin with. His scripts are usually shallow, filled with some “whoa” moments or tons of plot developments to stuff what is essentially an empty story. That’s why I was surprised that I was having so much fun with Planet Terror. Again, he makes up a complicated story about biological weapons that has something to do with viral infections (with an intentionally complicated “here’s what really happened” explanation scene) and essentially makes a very gross zombie film out of it. Any plot description is useless, just know that it’s about a bunch of people fighting really really gross “infected” people and go with it. Everything is tongue-in-cheek and really into that exploitation shoot-and-run spirit (the camera crew shows up very clearly in the mirror in a shot during the opening dance sequence). As for the machine gun leg? Honestly, the trailers showed almost all the money shots out of it already.

Then the bulk of the fake trailers come out - Rob Zombie’s “Werewolf Women of the SS” is only amusing because of its title and a surprise appearance by a big-name actor. Edgar Wright’s “Don’t” is more amusing with better make-up and really good editing, but it’s obviously not much of a feature film idea. Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving is already all over the web, and it’s the best of the bunch. It’s sick, gross, and actually has my favorite lines in the film:

A: [licks blood coming out of headless carcass] “It’s blood.”
B: “Son of a bitch!”

I’m a bigger Tarantino fan - he may have essentially just made a bunch of homage movies (some call them rip-offs, which I can see is a valid complaint.), but he knows how to make a movie. He usually has a good enough handle on dialogue, pacing, and technique that make his movies well worth-watching. I had pretty big expectations for Death Proof; I figured if anyone was going to make an 85-minute movie with mostly girl-talk (which I had read about in reviews), it was Tarantino. However, I have to say I was somewhat disappointed by Death Proof. I was fairly involved the first 45 minutes - Tarantino hooks you with the 70s visual aesthetics, from the credits to the music to all the scratches and missing frames. And the car crash was rightfully intense. Then he resets everything and then it’s another 20 minutes of dialogue before the big finale comes out of nowhere. I usually dig Tarantino’s dialogue, but here, his indulgence is far too apparent. The dialogue in both halves of the film are either repetitive girl talk, endless tidbits of 70s pop culture references, or talk about car movies. What’s worse is that Tarantino has been all over the talk shows, just regurgitating all those stuff he wrote in Death Proof, making all the dialogue feel even more self-indulgent. Hell, Tarantino even flat out gives up on the 70s visuals halfway through the film, and Death Proof suddenly looks crisp with colors and no missing frames. Talk about killing the atmosphere.

Of course, Death Proof does have two redeeming values - car chases and Kurt Russell. Tarantino does live up to his complaint about CGI in car chases by delivering two intensely real car chases, one with real-life stuntwoman Zoe Bell sliding around the hood of a car as Kurt Russell tries to run it off the road, and the other through the highways of Texas. They were well-filmed and well-edited all around. The “avenging chicks” ending felt like Tarantino suddenly woke up and found a direction to take the movie, and I was all the more thankful for it. Kurt Russell, meanwhile, plays his stuntman Mike with a great evil smirk in the first half, only to be reduced to a scared pathetic over-the-top psycho at the end. His transformation is abrupt on paper, but Kurt’s performance eventually made the whole thing work. Would’ve liked to see what Mickey Rourke would’ve done with the character, but I didn’t mind Kurt Russell in the role either.

OK, so some people would say “hey, Tarantino just wrote a bunch of dialogue scenes because that’s how low-budget exploitation films were like.” My problem isn’t exactly with the amount of dialogue. Like I said, I liked the buildup in the first half, but Tarantino could’ve just merged the two groups of girls and made a real revenge film out of Death Proof. But in the end, Death Proof felt like it would’ve made a better extended fake trailer than a feature-length film.

In any case, Grindhouse was actually a lot of fun to sit through. I personally didn’t mind the length, but I could see why people would be turned off by it. The saddest thing is that both films really could’ve been trimmed to a more audience-friendly length - Rodriguez could’ve simplified the convoluted plot and took out the gratuitous explosions to save a couple of bucks; Tarantino could’ve saved himself a good 15 minutes of talking by not making two films out of one. But it is what it is, and I can live with it.

So which director wins the battle of Grindhouse? Just for sticking closer to the genre, making a better missing reel gag (not to say that Tarantino’s missing reel gag wasn’t amusing), and managing to overcome the gossips, I say Rodriguez actually triumphs over Tarantino this time. I think when the films are split up for international release, I dare say word-of-mouth will actually make Planet Terror a bigger success.

Since the weekend isn’t gonna bring much news, I’m moving the news reporting to the weekend entries.

The Golden Rock song of the day - 4/12/07

Today’s song of the day is the first single from their first album. Considered their first hit, they’ve actually since come to resent it, which is sad, because it’s a hell of a song. It’s Radiohead’s “Creep.”

Why? It’s emo as hell, but it’s also so self-deprecating that hey, it’s kinda true.

Too bad the only version of the MTV I can find is the clean version (without my favorite line “You’re so fucking special/I wish I was special”)

It’s ok, though, there are plenty of live versions that have that line, including this one in Japan, where Thom Yorke inexplicably makes up one of the lines.

Lowered Standards

The news today come from random corners of the world, so I’m just going to dive right in without much organization.

- Yesterday I mentioned Nikkatsu’s line-up, which includes the Death Note spin-off film about the L character. We find out today that horror director Hideo Nakata, who made the Japanese versions of the “Ring” and “Dark Water,” will take on directing duties. Well, at least he’s better than the director of Gamera films (that would be the guy who did the Death Note movies).

- On the less commercial side of things, Twitch introduces a film from a country we rarely associate with any film not about war - Vietnam.

- Remember the highly-anticipated Jackie Chan-Jet Li project that turned out to be a kids’ movie? Variety Asia offers us more details, including the director (guy who did Lion and Stuart Little), and the plot, about an American teenager transported into ancient China, where he would join a crew of warriors (with it reportedly based on Journey to the West, it would probably be the monk and his disciples, which include the Monkey King) to free an imprison king. Holy ethnographic gaze, Batman!

- Speaking of Jackie Chan, Rob-B-Hood opened this past weekend in Japan to satisfactory results. According to Eiga Consultant, Rob-B-Hood (called “Project BB” in Japan, which is a direct translation of its Chinese title) grossed 25.6 million yen on 60 screens for an OK 426600 yen per-screen average. The opening is 162% of “The Myth,” but only 58% of “New Police Story,” which grossed 200 mill yen.

- Korea Pop Wars offer some random notes about Korean films and beyond (include Korean films playing at beyond).

- While I said that Grindhouse flopped because it lacked the audience, not shows per day, New York Post critic comes out and says that wasn’t the case in New York, where the per-screen average was actually over $30,000! We’ve just found one more thing to blame rural America….

- Last week I posted a link to the poster of director Benny Chan’s upcoming flick “Invisible Targets,” and now Twitch has delivered again with a report from Chinese TV that contains a bit of footage. That roof jump looks mighty impressive, I hope the rest of the movie can live up to that.

- In Shaolin Soccer, there was a goalie character that was a dead ringer for Bruce Lee. Of course we know that it was intentional that the actor was probably casted in that role because of his looks (Stephen Chow held a huge audition before filming, so I wouldn’t be surprised that’s where he found the actor). That man was Chen Guokun. Who would expect that he was actually casted to play Bruce Lee himself in a biographical TV series based on Lee’s life? Well, believe it, because its shoot starts next week.

- The Tokyo governor’s election has been over and done with for a while (with everyone’s favorite xenophobic nationalist politician Shintaro Ishihara getting his third term in office, just in time for his movie to open!), and the video has been out there for a while. Anyway, as part of the campaign, each candidate has the right to do a 5-minute video explaining their position on issues and why people should vote for them. Out of nowhere comes Koichi Toyama, an ultra left-wing musician and his kooky campaign video. The reason I waited this long because I finally found an English subtitled version. Someone even made a South Park version of the campaign video, because it’s so crazy, baby.

Of course, he’s not the only guy that’s done a kooky campaign video. Rocker Yuuya Uchida also ran for governor in Tokyo in 1991, and he did a similarly entertaining video as well (you don’t even need English subtitles for this, it’s in English already).

Obviously, Uchida lost the election, but what happened to Koichi Toyama? He was in 7th place with 15,000 votes!

What does this have to do with The Golden Rock, you ask? It’s Asian entertainment, isn’t it? Copyright © 2002-2018 Ross Chen