Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
This entry covers two major messes going on in the Chinese film industry, and a Golden Broom to sweep it all up.
Photo from Sina Entertainment Weibo account
- The attention for action film SPECIAL IDENTITY meant to go to Donnie Yen, who is starring and producing under the direction of Clarence Fok. However, the attention has now shifted elsewhere before shooting has even wrapped.
This started when Apple Daily reported on February 24th that co-star Vincent Zhao essentially left the set due to complaints about the new script by Hong Kong writer James Yuen, which undermines his role and favors Donnie’s. The new script had been changed without Zhao’s approval, though Zhao’s contract said that he had the right to do so. There were also complaints about Zhao’s prima donna attitude on set (which includes an entourage of seven).
On February 27th, the SECRET IDENTITY production opened its own official Weibo account (verified as the real deal by Sina), followed by an official statement from the production on the night of February 29th announcing that Vincent Zhao has officially left the production, and that it was an amicable split. James Yuen (he’ll show up again later, by the way) also wrote his Weibo that he did not write one word of the film.
Two hours later, Vincent Zhao posted a e-mail from the IDENTITY production on his own Weibo:
“As of noon on March 1, 2012, the SECRET IDENTITY production will no longer provide accommodation for Mr. Vincent Zhao. I hope you can understand; the production is seriously over-budget!”
At 6 am, Zhao also posted a statement on his Weibo discrediting the points in the Apple Daily report one by one, and that the statement from the production was released without his knowledge, which means Zhao has essentially been fired.
Zhao’s wife also joined in on the fun, defending her husband and accusing the production of using him as a scapegoat for the mismanagement of the film’s finances. Zhao calls himself the victim and left Shenzhen (where the film was being shot) for Beijing on the same day. Meanwhile, public support from Zhao’s past co-stars like Laung Ka Yan, Timmy Hung, Xu Jiao, and Wudang director Patrick Leung came Weibo-ing in.
Thing were quiet until today, March 4th, when Zhao held a press conference in Beijing essentially repeating his Weibo statement. He accused the production of changing the script that he’d signed up for without his approval, and that he was unilaterally dismissed by the production.
Several hours later, the production put out its own statements to counter Zhao’s points. They are as follows:
1) Zhao caused the start of production to be delayed by a day because he not only demanded to be upgraded to an executive suite, he also demanded that the production pay for the expenses for his wife, his two kids, the nanny, an English teacher, his agent, and his assistant, as well as a driver and bodyguards (a martial arts actor needing a bodyguard. Imagine that).
2) The script changes were done for the benefit of the film. As producer and action director, Donnie had approached Zhao to discuss the changes, only to be turned away. In fact, the production only agreed to take on Zhao based on Donnie’s recommendation.
3) Andy On is to replace Zhao on the production.
Zhao says he retains his right to take legal action, but with On joining the production and Zhao simply crying shenanigans, it looks like this will remain only a battle of words. Zhao has little more to say (unless he wishes to counter the production’s counter-argument), but it’s likely that SPECIAL IDENTITY will be remembered more for this scandal than anything else for the time being.
- Another person calling foul is writer James Yuen. The respected Hong Kong scriptwriter of films like LOST IN TIME, several Peter Chan films, and oh, HERE COMES FORTUNE, is crying foul because he claims that his script for SHADOWS OF LOVE, the latest Cecilia Cheung film, was stolen by the film’s investor.
This all began on February 19th when Oriental Daily reported Yuen’s claims that he has written the original script for SHADOWS OF LOVE, and that its investor Allen Tan (a former talent agent) took it without giving proper credit or proper compensation. After a strong denial Tan himself, who says director Calvin Poon and his writer essentially rewrote the script, which means there’s not much traces of Yuen’s work. Tan also accused Yuen of demanding too much money. Angered, Yuen took it further by writing a complete account of his side on Weibo.
Here are the basic explanation of Yuen’s claims:
- Yuen was asked by Tan in March 2010 if he had any scripts that Tan could produce. Yuen then turned in a 6000-word outline that he wrote with two assistants back in 2009. However, he never heard from Tan again.
- In June 2011, Yuen heard that a film with the same story and characters starring Cecilia Cheung had just wrapped shooting. The film’s producer: Allan Tan
- Yuen then called producer Stanley Kwan, who said that he knew they were Yuen’s material and even asked Tan to settle any copyright and payment issues. That was never done
- The following month, Yuen and Tan had a meeting, and Tan asks Yuen to sell off the rights to him and his company. Yuen agreed and even signed a contract.
- However, Yuen claims he never got his payment, and when he inquired Tan about it, Tan said that financiers China Film Group and DMG were unwillingly to pay.
On February 22nd, Yuen writes that this mess has entered legal proceedings, which means there won’t be any more public comments from either side. However, this may also block the film’s release until the case is settled and turn this into another case of bad luck/bad career choice for Cecilia Cheung.
- On Saturday, March 3rd, the 3rd Annual Golden Broom Awards was held in China. Much like the Razzies in America, the award (dis)honors the worst in Chinese cinema. After nominations from the public, the awards are decided by a jury of 27, which includes scholars, film critics, authors, editors, and members of the media. The award ceremony also included a respectable guest list that included director Wang Shaoshuai, Li Yu (BUDDHA MOUNTAIN), Manfred Wong, Lou Ye (SUMMER PALACE), Gu Changwei (LOVE FOR LIFE), Zhang Meng (PIANO IN A FACTORY), Yu Dong (head of Bona Group), and actress Qin Hailin. By the way, none of them won any of the dishonors.
Here is a list of (lose-)winners:
Most Disappointing Films: WARRING STATES, LEGENDARY AMAZONS, THE LOST BLADESMAN
Most Disappointing Mid-Low-Budget Films: NO. 32, B DISTRICT and LOVE NEVER DIES
Special Jury Prize for Most Disappointing Film: FLOWERS OF WAR (for using the Nanjing Massacre to sell sex)
Most Disappointing Directors: Frankie Chan (LEGENDARY AMAZONS), Gao Xiaosong (MY KINGDOM)
Most Disappointing Actor: Sun Honglei (WARRING STATES)
Most Disappointing Actress: Cecilia Cheung (LEGENDARY AMAZONS and TREASURE HUNT)
Most Disappointing Ensemble: EAST MEETS WEST
Most Disappointing Animated Film: XI BAI PO
Most Disappointing Imported Film: THE GREEN HORNET
Since the award was being held by the mook (magazine-book) YOUTH FILM HANDBOOK, there were also positive awards handed out to good films, but we won’t mention them here.
As expected, no one that won any of the disappointing award actually showed up. Instead, you got the Cecilia imposter above and the Sun Honglei imposter here:
Of course, we can’t expect anyone to have Halle Berry or Sandra Bullock’s sense of humor, right?