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Archive for the ‘awards’ Category

The Golden Rock - January 21st, 2009 Edition

With a lot of box office numbers coming in, it’ll mainly be a number crunching entry today.

-  We’ll start with the Japan box office numbers since they’re the most comprehensive. As reported yesterday, Pandemic opened at top with about 302 million yen from 324 screens. In line with what happens after a holiday weekend, grosses dropped more than usual, with The Day the Earth Stood Still taking the hardest hit with a 59.2% drop. On the other hand, the smallest drop goes to Threads of Destiny, which lost only 21.3% in business, indicating word-of-mouth traveling around its target audience. Not surprisingly, the TV drama has seen an increase in ratings since it returned after new years.

Even though Pandemic had a promising opening, Mr. Texas at Eiga Consultant reports that the film’s opening is only 67% of the last Satoshi Tsumabuki-Toho-TBS film Dororo, which ended up making 3.4 billion yen. If the trend is going to be similar, then Pandemic should end up with just a little over 2 billion yen. Then again, word-of-mouth can throw that off anytime.

- In Chinese box office, Red Cliff II dominates for a second weekend in the middle of the Chinese New Year holidays. It has now made 181 million yuan, and with If You Are the One slowing down (losing 74% of the previous week’s gross), it has a good chance of speeding past it after the new years holiday. Meanwhile, If You are the One has now made 305 million yen, which is still pretty amazing. With its momentum coming to a quick stop, it should have no chance hitting the 350 million yuan mark.

- Red Cliff II also dominated the Taiwan box office over the weekend, making a phenomenal 27 million New Taiwan Dollars this past weekend. However, part one actually performed better back in July with 42 million New Taiwan dollars over its first weekend. Meanwhile, everything else had absolutely no chance in even nearly equaling the Red Cliff numbers.

- In Korea, the pre-New Years period mean not much changes in the box office charts. The two top films are still Korean, with only one new film entering the chart at 10th place.

More over the Korea Pop Wars.

- On the Japanese Oricon charts, Ai no Mama De solidifies its new status as the benefactee of the “Kohaku effect” by finally taking the number 1 spot this week on the singles chart. Meanwhile, another compilation takes the top of the album charts. I’m sleepy, so I’m turning it over to Tokyograph for the report.

- The nominations for this year’s Asian Film Awards were announced today. The Good The Bad and the Weird managed 8 nominations, and while I was glad to see Tokyo Sonata well-represented, there were definitely some eye-popping choices. For example, were Eri Fukatsu and Vicky Zhao THAT good? If You Are the One was good, but was it only because of Feng Xiaogang, since he was nominated for Best Director, but not Best Film. Meanwhile, was Tokyo Sonata only nominated for Best Film because the film was good, but not because of director Kiyoshi Kurosawa? And Shoda Matsuda for Hana Yori Dango Final?!

On the other hand, good to see Shinichi Tsutsumi recognized for his work on Suspect X.  The awards will be handed out in March.

- Poor CCTV censors in China had to be up until past midnight in order to make sure the part in President Obama’s inauguration speech about fighting communism is edited out at just the right moment.

- Finally, China’s State Administration of Radio, Television, and Film has proposed a law that would start the film rating system in the country,  However, the lack of a rating system was not the excuse that One Night in Mongkok and Lady Cop and Papa Crook got cut, so while it might allow films with stronger content in the theaters, it doesn’t get rid of the riduculous censorship rules.

- Variety’s Derek Elley chimes in with his review of Wilson Yip’s Ip Man.

- Japan’s National Association of Commercial Broadcaster reveals that a record 55 out of 127 TV stations in Japan are losing money because of loss in revenues and the expensive switch from analog to digital broadcasting.

The Golden Rock - January 20th, 2009 Edition

Yesterday was a slow news day, and with no box office numbers, there was nothing to write. But that all changes today:

- Even though Red Cliff II won the Hong Kong overall weekend box office with HK$9.1 million over the first 4 days from 73 screens, Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea could’ve probably won the weekend had it opened on the same day. Opening late on Saturday the 17th, the Studio Ghibli film made HK$5.2 million over two days from 58 screens (only 10 or so of those playing the Japanese version) for an average of HK$2.6 million a day (versus Red Cliff’s HK$2.27 million per day). Overall, Red Cliff II is performing not as well as part 1, which made HK$10.69 million in its first 4 days back in July. However, its upcoming Lunar New Year competition (Look For a Star, All’s Well Ends Well 2009, Benjamin Button, Marley and Me, Bolt) don’t overlap in terms of genre, so it may perform well enough through the extended Lunar New Year holiday to outperform the first film in the long run.

In its 5th week, Ip Man has broken through the HK$25 million mark, though its momentum has been stopped greatly by the two opening films taking up screens. The same goes for the second weekend of Australia (HK$3.89 million after two weekends) and Tactical Unit - The Code (HK$3.64 million after two weekends). Sadly, with doing “maintenance” on their box office stats, and my refusal to take source-less numbers from the Hong Kong Film Blog, this is the best stats we can get for now.

- On the Japanese audience attendence chart, the disaster film Pandemic took the top spot in its opening weekend, finally knocking Wall-E off after 6 weeks at the top. The only other newcomer is Zen, which finally made its way up to the top 10 after being in 7th place last week.

According to Variety, Pandemic made US$3.35 million. According to the current rate on, that’s roughly 301 million yen. Meanwhile, Quantum of Solace ran sneak preview showings this weekend and earned 270 million yen, according to Eiga Consultant. More when the numbers from Box Office Mojo come out.

- Looks like it’s time to brace for another disappointing season in Japanese drama. The Winter 2008 season had Bara no nai Hanaya in the Monday 9pm Fuji TV slot and had a 22.4% premiere. This year, that time slot also has the highest-rated premiere of the season so far with Voice, but it only earned a 17.7% rating. Other dramas are definitely underperforming, namely Love Shuffle with Hiroshi Tamaki (looking like a skeleton), which saw only a 10% rating for its premiere episode.

Meanwhile, Triangle drops to a 11.1% in its second week, Arifureta Kiseki drops to a 10.9%, Tokumei Kakarichou Tadano Hitoshi is also underperforming in its primetime slot with just 10.9% (some reasoning passed around online points out that its target male audience arrive home in time for its old late night slot, but would not rush home to catch it on prime time), the Kenichi Matsuyama-starring drama Zeni Geba premires with only 12%, and Honjitsu mo Hare, Ijou Nashi premieres with only a 12.4%.

Some dramas are doing well enough so far. Aibou Season 7 kicks off 2009 with a 20.5% rating, Mei-chan no Shitsuji has the second-highest rated premiere of the season with 14.9%, Akai Ito continues to see its boost from the film version with a 10.8% this week, and Wataru Sekan wa Oni Bakari stays consistent with 15.1% this week.

All Japanese drama sypnosis can be found on Tokyograph

- In related drama news, the Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Priz survey has announced its results for the Fall 2008 season. It seems like the Arashi fans showed up and voted Ryusei no Kizuna to win in a landslide for Best Drama, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.

- In India, the Warner Bros-produced comedy Chandni Chowk to China made US$6.8 million in the widest release for an Indian film ever in both India (1,319 screens) and North America (130 screens). It may pass the US$20 million mark, which is apparently the sign of a Bollywood blockbuster.

-  Jero is not the only African-American making it big in Japan. One of the most popular actors in Japanese advertising now is Dante Carver, who saw his rise to fame as Aya Ueto’s older brother and the son of a talking white dog in the popular Softbank commercials (see them here) and is in Japanese theaters this week in Pandemic (he even has a line in the trailer). Now, he will be acting in his first drama in a miniseries for NHK.

-Under “Film Festival” news today, Japanese Oscar contender Departures won the audience award at the Palm Springs Film Festival.

Meanwhile, Variety reveals the Asian contenders at the Berlin Film Festival’s Forums section, which will include Dante Lam’s Beast Stalker being included for a special screening at the Forums section.  The opening screen of Forever Enthralled also reveals that it will be joining the competition section, even though the full program has yet to be announced.

- In the midst of a serious recession, Japanese people are staying home to watch TV, which has proven to be quite beneficial for satellite and cable television operators who rely on suscribers’ fees instead of advertising as a major source of revenue.

- The Hong Kong Film blog has a trailer to Oxide Pang’s latest film Basic Love, which hopefully has no ghost and is just a teen love story with bad dialogue. Here’s a sample:

Girl: “Why do you treat me so well? You’re in love with me?”
Boy: “Yeah, I’m in love with you. I’m not gay. I’ve been in love with you since we were students!”

It opens on February 26th.

- In 2008, things were a little bit different in Asian box office. While large Hollywood blockbusters did well in the region as usual, local films have been extremely successful througout the region, with Japan being responsible for six of the ten highest-grossing films in Asia. China didn’t do so badly, either, with Painted Skin becoming a surprise hit and local romantic comedy If You Are the One heading towards breaking Titanic’s record.

- Lastly, Variety’s Derek Elley chimes in with a brief review of Lady Cop and Papa Crook.

The Golden Rock - January 16th, 2009 Edition

Didn’t get to report on those other Asian box office numbers. Here we go:

- From 73 screens, Red Cliff II saw a very good opening day in Hong Kong with HK$1.73 million. However, that is actually below the opening of part 1, and it’s going up against the opening of Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea. Then again, it has the extended Chinese New Year holiday going for it, and it will certainly have better word-of-mouth than the first movie to carry it to success.

- A quiet weekend at the Taiwan box office, as no Chinese films ended up on the top 10. The Hollywood caper film Thick as Thieves managed a second place opening, and the best-performing Chinese film was Forever Enthralled all the way down at 11th place. The Taiwan-based political thriller Ballistic didn’t really interest anyone and could only get a 13th place opening. Red Cliff II also opened in Taiwan for this weekend, so that will probably rule the box office and bump everything else off.

- In Japan, a 3-day weekend didn’t help boost business at the box office, as Wall-E wins another weekend despite losing 41% in grosses. It’s nice to see K-20 still hanging at 3rd place with a loss of only 28.7% in gross, even though it’s only made half of the 3 billion yen Toho was hoping to make after 4 weekends.  Surprising is how well Thread of Destiny is performing, considering the fact that the TV drama is only doing single-digit ratings for the first three weeks. Things may pick up with Pandemic opening and sneak preview shows for Quantum of Solace this weekend.

- Another film opening this weekend in Japan is Ramen Girl, starring Brittney Murphy as an American trying to learn how to make ramen in Japan. The Daily Yomiuri has a feature on the film. I hope she pulls it off before her visa expires.

- Japan’s Blue Ribbon Awards handed out its Best Film award to Climber’s High, the real-life drama about a newspaper covering a plane crash, and in a surprise pick, Hirokazu Kore-eda for Best Director for his work on Still Walking. All Around Us also got some love, with Tae Kimura taking the Best Actress award and Lily Franky taking Best Newcomer.

- I don’t care about it so much, but I’m sure lots of anime fans worldwide are fuming that Fox has announced that the live-action version of Cowboy Bebop will be starring Keanu Reeves.

- Zhang Yimou, who last earned some brownie points with the Chinese government with the Olympic ceremonies, will reportedly take on directing duties for the PRC 60th anniversary show. Please go back to making movies soon, Mr. Zhang. The rest of the moviegoing public of the world misses you.

- 2008 Golden Rock of the Year Jero has taken on his first acting role in a film as a thug who has several jobs. Considering that it’s based on a Kankuro Kudo play, this should be interesting.

The Golden Rock - January 14th, 2009 Edition

A big change has come regarding the Hong Kong box office news provided on this blog. Since my usual source has decided to stop its box office stats page, I will now only be able to report on Hong Kong box office once a week. My source now will be the Hong Kong Filmart website, which offers comprehensive stats only once a week. Hopefully, a better source will come along soon.

- No Japan box office numbers yet, but the attendence ranking is out. Surprisingly, Steven Soderbergh’s first Che movie landed on 2nd place in its first weekend. According to Mr. Texas at Eiga Consultant, it made 139 million yen from 248 screens nationwide in its first two days of release (even though it was a 3-day holiday weekend), and that the 47 theaters in the 9 major metropolitan areas accounted for 47% of the gross. So while the per-screen average is roughly 560,000 yen, the per-screen average in the major cities is much higher at roughly 1.21 million yen. However, with 42% of Moviewalker voters giving the first film a C, I doubt the second film will do as well when it comes out in three weeks.

Other than that, with the exception of The Day the Earth Stood Still taking a dive to 4th place, everything else remains fairly stable.

- Japan will get its first major domestic release this weekend with virus disaster film Pandemic, and Jason Gray provides a fairly lengthy review of it on his blog.

- In China, Red Cliff 2 was so huge that it already made over 100 million yuan over the opening weekend. Of course, it probably opened on a whole lot of screens to get to that number. With the Lunar New Year holiday underway in China, looks like it might actually make its budget back just with the Chinese box office gross. I’ll be catching this tomorrow night here in Hong Kong.

- In Korea, only two films on the top 10 this past weekend are local releases, but they also happen to be the highest-grossing releases on the top 10 by far.

More over at Korea Pop Wars.

- The Winter 2009 Japanese drama season is underway, with a few major drama premiering this past week. The Ryo Kase-Yukie Nakama drama Arifureta Kiseki saw a soft opening with only a 12.5% rating. Meanwhile, the 4th season of Tokumei Kakarichou Tadano Hitoshi makes its premiere at primetime (which means less of the risque content that made it special before at its old late-night timeslot), and got a respectable 11.9% rating. The Yosuke Eguchi-Goro Inagaki-Ryoko Hirose mystery drama Triangle started off with only an OK-14.7% rating.

Meanwhile, Akai Ito has benefitted from the film version with a boost to a 10% rating for its latest episode. Not in the linked chart, but the Code Blue special episode had a 23.1% rating, which is even higher than its highest-rated episode. Don’t be surprised if it’ll be heading to the big screen soon.

Next week will be the premiere of the Monday night 9pm Fuji drama and the second episode dips of the dramas mentioned above.

Visit Tokyograph for the Winter 2009 drama sypnosis.

-  On the Japan Oricon charts, the first solo single by Tackey (of Tackey and Tsubasa) scored first place on the singles chart, while Ai no Mama de has proven to be this year’s benefactor of the “Kohaku Effect” (songs not quite well-known previously gets a huge bump after appearing on the yearly Kohaku Uta Gassen music extravaganza on New Year’s Eve). Ikimono Gakari’s album gets bumped down to 3rd place in its second week by two compilation albums. Such is the tragedy of J-pop sales.

More on Tokyograph.

- Jackie Chan will likely be joining the cast of the remake of The Karate Kid, starring Will Smith’s son, as the titular character’s master. I wonder whether Jackie will be playing a Japanese character (Karate is, after all, Japanese), and how Chinese netizens will be reacting to that one.

- An interesting article from Hollywood Reporter reports that Oscar favorite Slumdog Millionaire may not do very well in India because of the harsh reality of India it portrays, despite its popularity overseas.

- Another possibly risky release is the Taiwanese blockbuster Cape No. 7, which finally has a set release of Valentine’s Day after the distributor pulled its initial release after rumors that it was out of fear of a disgruntled nationalistic audience and political reasons (the official reason was something about the subtitles). However, it will be slightly altered for some bad language, which probably includes its famous opening line.

- The Academy has announced its short list for the Best Foreign Film nominee, and Japan’s Departures managed to get on it. If nominated, it would be the first Japanese film since Yoji Yamada’s Twilight Samurai to receive a Best Foreign Film nomination. Also glad to see France’s The Class on that short list.

Not exactly a surprise, but neither Painted Skin nor China’s Olympic documentary Dream Weaver got on that short list.

- The atrocious Hana Yori Dango Final has spent its 4th consecutive week at the top of the Japanese DVD sales chart, and is now the 3rd best-selling Japanese DVD in history. It just means Japanese people need to buy more DVDs of better movies and that they need to be charged less for it.

- Despite having premiered at the Venice Film Festival back in 2006, Jia Zhangke’s Still Life didn’t get a North America release until 2008, which made it qualified for the various critics awards. This is why it managed to win two awards at the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards for Best Foreign-Language Film and Best Cinematography.

- Variety’s Derek Elley has a review for Tony Jaa’s Ong Bak 2, which satisfied this blogger’s need for a muay Thai fix. though not the need for a compelling story.

The Golden Rock - January 12th, 2009 Edition

Happy new year again, all! Back from a trip over break, and now back in Hong Kong ready for a new year of Golden Rock blogging. News will be a bit light, as I’m trying to ease back into the blogging routine. Good thing today was a holiday in Japan, so box office and drama ratings stats will be coming in slowly.

- Ip Man leads an amazing 4th weekend at the Hong Kong box office. On Sunday, Wilson Yip’s action/biopic took in another HK$619,000 from 38 screens for a 25-day total of HK$23.91 million. HK$25 million should be no problem, though I think Red Cliff should take away momentum that 30 million is not going to be possible. In a bit of a surprise, Milkyway’s PTU spin-off film Tactical Unit - Comrade in Arms nearly won the weekend with HK$614,900 from 32 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.28 million, and it may end up wrapping up with about HK$5 million, which would exceed PTU’s original theatrical gross.

The weekend’s other wide opener, Australia, couldn’t score any blockbuster number due to a limited amount of showings and multiplex putting it on their smaller screens. With a ticket price inflation due to length, the epic romance made HK$584,000 from 32 screens for a total of HK$2.49 million from 4 days of wide release and several preview showings over the holidays.

Meanwhile, most of the New Year day openers have suffered steep drops. Alan Mak/Felix Chong’s Lady Cop and Papa Crook, which is one of the most blatant example of Chinese censorship interference of Hong Kong cinema, made only HK$387,000 from 39 screens and has made HK$6.51 million after 11 days. Tony Jaa’s Ong Bak 2 suffered an even worse fate, making only HK$159,000 from 35 screens (many of those playing a reduced number of showings) and has made only HK$4.93 million after 11 days, certainly a bit underwhelming considering Tom Yom Goong made distributor Edko over HK$10 million.

The only film from New Year’s day that’s still doing well is Forever Enthralled. Despite the Hong Kong press making up stories about underwhelming box office, it’s actually doing fairly decent business for a film that was released only on 11 screens with limited showings. On Sunday, the Chen Kaige film made HK$171,000 from 11 screens for a 11-day total of HK$2.26 million. That’s an average of HK$205,000 per day from 11 screens, and anything that can still average a HK$15,000+ per-screen daily is definitely not flopping.

Other box office totals: Madagascar 2 - HK$17.92 million after 24 days. Twilight - HK$16.41 million after 24 day. Suspect X - 11.94 million after 19 days. Bedtime Stories - HK$8.97 million after 18 days.

- Variety’s Derek Elley sends in a fairly positive review of John Woo’s Red Cliff, Part II. He calls the two movies combined “one of the great Chinese costume epics of all time”. Part II better be damn good enough to earn that title in my book.

-  Who didn’t expect this to happen? The Japanese comedy-drama Departures was the big winner at another Japanese film awards, this time the Kinema  Junpo Awards. The complete list of winners, including their top 10 domestic and foreign films, can be found here.

- They keep trying, but it won’t stop - major Chinese film producer Huayi Brothers is suing China’s top web portals for spreading illegal copies of their biggest films. Forget it, these days I’m being ridiculed for being a consumer of legit DVDs.

- Even though it’s not doing great business in Japan (roughly 650 million yen as of the weekend before last), Shochiku and Fuji TV are planning an Asia-wide release of their film-TV project Threads of Destiny. I don’t know how just releasing the film will work if the story is meant to be connected with the TV drama, which hasn’t been shown legally outside of Japan.

-Bless the good folks at Tokyograph for putting up their guide to the Winter 2009 Japanese dramas.

- Hong Kong director Derek Yee is now officially in the running for the Golden Rock of the Year after he admits that his latest film The Shinjuku Incident will give up the Mainland China market and go straight to Japan in March and Hong Kong in April because cutting the violence for a Mainland-approved “harmonious” version will just lead to disgruntled audience screaming “fraud!”. Good call, Mr. Yee and Emperor Films.

For those that don’t know, The Shinjuku Incident is the long-awaited Derek Yee film that features Jackie Chan in his first dramatic/non-action role.

- Danny Boyle, who just picked up a Golden Globe for Best Director, reveals that he’s been asked to direct a remake of Park Chan-wook’s Lady Vengeance. No word whether he said yes or no.

- Japanese actor Jo Odagiri’s first feature film as a director has been invited to the International Film Festival Rotterdam. The actor has been working on the film since it started shooting in the summer of 2006, and he finally completed the film two months ago.

The 1st Annual Golden Rock Awards

It’s now 2009 here in Asia, and that means it’s time to wrap up the year.  This year was a huge moviegoing year for me, having finally had the chance to go wild at film festivals and spending lots of time at the theaters, as well as my movie critic work. And since I’m leaving my Hong Kong film thoughts for the LHKF awards, here are my thoughts for things that LHKF doesn’t cover.

Remember, this is only one man’s opinion, and that man doesn’t nearly watch as many movies or listen to as much music as he should anyway, so take it with a grain of salt.

BEST PANASIAN MOVIES VIEWED IN 2008 (which means some might’ve been released in 2007). In no particular order:

The Chaser (Korea) - An exciting and powerful serial killer movie that shows Korea still has emerging talent.

Fine, Totally Fine (Japan) - Hilarious and crude without losing its simple charm, this is Japanese comedy at its best.

Life is Cool (Korea) - This is how you do a gimmick without getting lost in it: by remember to tell a story first.

God Man Dog (Taiwan) - Compelling cinema that has a surprisingly bright charm coming from out of left field in the third act. This was the beginning of the Taiwanese cinema resurrection for me.

Tokyo Sonata (Japan) - Compelling and haunting, this family drama was sorely undermined by the Japan Academy Awards. Then again, maybe it was the third act that didn’t work for them.

I Just Didn’t Do It (Japan) - A straightforward legal drama that uses truth to provoke audience response. An excellent shift of tone by Masayuki Suo.

The Magic Hour (Japan) - Classy and still funny, Koki Mitani’s follow-up to Suite Dreams is less ambitious, but still very funny and even more touching.

After School (Japan) - Kenji Uchida’s forward-backwards comedy-mystery sometimes appears clever for clever’s sake, but clever is clever, and it’d be unfair to dismiss that.

Milkyway Liberation Front (Korea) - Funny and surreal, this is a indie Korean comedy that would only work for those who know about the movies. Doesn’t mean I didn’t find it funny.

Yasukuni (China-Japan) - A documentary that shows the controversial Yasukuni Shrine as is, even though most of its staff is Chinese. As balanced as one can get for a Yasukuni Shrine movie made by a Chinese filmmaker living in Japan.


Radio Dayz (Korea)
Girl Scout (Korea)
All Around Us (Gururi no koto) (without subtitles, which is the only reason why it’s here and not higher)
Parking (Taiwan)
Gachi Boy (Japan)
Detroit Metal City (Japan)
Suspect X (Japan)
Cape No. 7 (Taiwan)
Glasses (Japan)
The Rebirth (Japan) (Because I made through it without sleeping)

The worst

Shaolin Girl (Japan)
Cherry Tomato (Korea)
L:Change the World (Japan)
Open City (Korea)
Kung Fu Dunk (It counts because it’s Taiwan)

(Dis)honorable mention - only because I never bothered watching a subtitled version and never watched the TV show:

Hana Yori Dango Final.

I have to say I was pretty disappointed with Hong Kong music this year, with not nearly enough good albums to make a good top 10 list. Hell, there’s not even that many memorable songs to make a top 10 list. While HK pop fans were all ga-ga-ing about albums like Kay Tse’s Binary and Leo Ku’s Guitar Fever, I didn’t think they were all that ear-catching. Then again, that might just be me.

Nevertheless, I still have a top 5 Hong Kong albums, and some honorable mentions:


Juno Mak - Words of Silence - Leave it the rich boy of Hong Kong pop to show how to do an album of Karaoke ballads.

Denise Ho - Ten Days in the Madhouse - HOCC’s most ambitious album of her career is an album that’s actually about something important, and we’re all appreciative of it.

Khalil Fong - Wonderland - It came out late last year, but it didn’t find its audience until this year. An excellent R&B album that happens to be in Chinese. Fong is the best Hong Kong-based musician you’re probably not paying attention to.

Chet Lam - Travelogue 3 - Nice and breezy, and wonderfully folksy.

Fama- Richest in the World - Hong Kong’s most fun hip-hop duo is back with an album surprisingly mostly produced within a week or so.  Easily the most entertaining HK pop album of the year.

Notable mentions:

Khalil Fong - Orange Moon
Kay Tse - Binary
Jan Lam - 30mething QK
24 Herbs
Eason Chan - Don’t Want to Let Go

Bianca Wu - Still…A Wonderful World.


Notable mentions:

Utada Hikaru - Heart Station
Jam Hsiao - Debut album
Jero - Covers
Orange Range - Panic Fancy
Kanye West - 808s and Heartbreak
- this deserves a special mention for showing what happens when an egomaniac like Kanye West essentially takes apart his shell-like ego and expose all of his heartbreaks and tragedies in his music. It’s really the perfect album who’s hated Kanye’s music before this. Just drop your bias against the auto-tune stuff and listen.

And now, the individual awards:


p1011095233.jpg p1010952902.jpg

Jam Hsiao Debut album and Jero - Covers.

The former went from a Taiwanese idols show contestant to this year’s Chinese pop sensation, while the latter made the fading enka genre relevant for young people again while sweeping all the major awards.


Chet Lam - One Man Live

Fama rocked the packed house, with their audience standing almost the entire time rapping along. You can’t buy an audience like that with flashy stage lights; you earn it with talent and royalty.

Meanwhile, Chet Lam managed to run an entire 2-hour concert with only him and a looping machine. Meanwhile, he doesn’t forget to tell touching stories and sing great songs.



Denise “HOCC” Ho - Goomusic Collection 

With brand-new remixes and three solid new tracks, this is a compilation that tries to be good to the fans by providing things they may not have. It actually makes its existence almost OK.


Fine, Totally Fine, Sparrow

The former album helped give a comedy a relaxing groove, and the other helped turn a stylistic Hong Kong film into a 60s French film. Both stood out while complementing the film they’re written for.


Rewarding stupidity (Japan) - One of the most dead-on Western perception of Japanese game shows was on the Simpsons, when the Japanese game show host said that the difference between Western and Japanese game show is that one rewards intelligence while the other punishes ignorance. While that is still the case for Quiz Hexagon II, where the team that fails a challenge having to dunk one member into water, some of its worst players have been put together into pop music units by Fuji TV. Instead of six dumb talentos scraping by a living, they’re now pop sensations that have no business in having any kind of musical careers. The male group - Shuchishin - even scored the 5th best-selling single in Japan this year, which surely says something about the taste of the Japanese general public.

Irresponsible criticisms on the web (China, South Korea) - In China, web bullies have gotten so powerful against anyone that disagree with them that people are making comparisons to Red Guards and Cultural Revolution. In South Korea, hurtful messages about celebrities reportedly helped drive one to suicide. These cannot be fixed with limiting internet rights and taking away internet annoymity. It starts with educating the people.

Disclaimer: This blog has, over the course of the year, given fairly harsh criticism. However, there has been no particular effort to hide who I am, and I have asserted that they are purely my own opinion, nor did I ever make any unreasonably hostile comments or threats against the people I criticize.


MTVs for songs without the singers (Japan) - Some of this year’s biggest hit songs feature popular pop stars’ voices, but not their faces. Instead, these videos tell complete stories with actors, and they actually work as their own short films. They seemed to have been a Korean trend, and now, it’s moved to Japan.

It’s been done with songs like March 9th by Remioromen a few years ago:

And it’s been a huge thing in 2008 Japanese pop songs such as Exile’s Ti Amo (the newly-awarded Song of the Year):

Or GReeeeN’s Kiseki (my vote for the most touching MTV of the year):

Or the surprise pop hit Kimi No Subete Ni by Spontania and Juju:

Either Japanese music video directors are all trying out to be film directors, or these are all done by the same guys. Either way, they do what they’re supposed to do - express the feeling of the songs - and yet, they can tell something that resembles a complete story that works without being as melodramatic as the Koreans. Well done.

Resurgence of Taiwanese films (Taiwan) - It’s not all thanks to Cape No. 7. In addition to the mega-blockbuster, Taiwan has produced some fine films this year not made by Hou Hsiao Hsien. Parking was a great dark comedy with a touch of film noir that marked a promising film debut, while God Man Dog was an excellent ensemble film. Hopefully, the young directors of these films can balance art and commercialism and bring back Taiwan as a formidable cinematic force in Asia.

EEG making respectable movies (Hong Kong) - This year (let’s count January 1st, 2009 as well), Emperor Motion Pictures, who once released movies like Bug Me Not!, the Twins Effects movies, and is still trying to release Jeff Lau’s The Fantastic Water Babes, were responsible for Run Papa Run, The Beast Stalker, Connected, and Chen Kaige’s Forever Enthralled. Even though Connected was not a particular great motion picture, it was at least more respectable than say, Twins Effects 2. Hopefully, EEG will just leave the pop star fodder to Gold Label and stick to making good Hong Kong movies that just happens to have Chinese money. I wish I can say the same about their music and management division, but that’s a different award…..


The PIA Film Festival (Japan) - It started last year when I watched Ryo Nakajima’s This World of Ours. As more PIA films started coming to Hong Kong, to the point that the Asian Film Festival gave it its own retrospective, I began to respect this fesival for staying alive every year, despite losing money and having difficulty finding sponsors every year. I also admiring them for not letting financial difficulty stop them from discovering good films and making good films with their annual scholarship films. This is a film festival worth discovering, and its award films are worth searching out for.


Jazz Hip Jap. A parody of the worst In Living Color soundtrack of all time. I don’t know why it’s still on my shelf.


These are the thing or the people who have made the biggest impression over the year and deserve all the recognition they can get:

Cape No. 7 - The one film that has been credited for resurrecting an entire film industry and got people to care about Taiwanese films again. It’s not great, but it is an immensely entertaining film that has seemed to really connect with people. And if it did finally get Taiwanese people back into the cinemas, then good for them.

Jero - a young African-American, 1/4 Japanese man goes to Japan and becomes a singer of his grandmother’s favorite genre of enka. He opens the year telling people that his dream is to get on Kohaku Uta Gassen for his dead grandmother. His debut single is the no. 16th best-selling single of the year in Japan. He wins multiple newcomer awards, including one at this year’s Japan Record Awards.

On December 31st, 2008, he appeared on Kohaku Uta Gassen and sang with his mother in the audience.

What success story coming out of 2008 Asian entertainment has a better ending than the one of Jerome White Jr.?


This award goes to someone whose entire career has dominated newspapers and internet news throughout 2008. And by entire career, it means his career is already over:


Any man who could ruin Hong Kong’s most popular pop duo, get on international gossip headlines, and bring this blog its largest amount of traffic for getting too friendly with his camera and too stupid to just throw away the computer full of those pictures ought to get some kind of recognition, especially since this will be the most contribution he’ll make with his career in this lifetime.

That is, unless he makes it in Hollywood. But it won’t be LoveHKFilm’s problem by then anyway.

And so wraps up a busy year in Asian entertainment. Please remember not to take these awards seriously, as they are just one partially-informed man’s opinion. If you feel I missed out on anything worth mentioning in 2008, feel free the comment.

A good New Year to all!

The Golden Rock - December 8th, 2008 Edition

- Dante Lam’s The Beast Stalker captured the top spot at the Hong Kong box office for the second weekend in a row. On Sunday, the melodramatic thriller made HK$539,000 from 34 screens for a 11-day total of HK$6.02 million. This is a 37% drop from last Sunday’s take, and signals that it’s slowing down a little quicker than Connected. Getting to the HK$10 million mark will be tough, but considering how Hong Kong films have done this year, this is a modest success for Emperor.

Cape No. 7 may have gotten a slight boost from its wins at the Golden Horse Awards, losing only 20% of last Sunday’s business for a take of HK$395,000 from 25 screens. After 18 days, the Taiwanese music-based romance has made HK$6.4 million. At this rate, the HK$10 million mark is looking more and more probable. On the other hand, Herman Yau’s True Women For Sale didn’t quite get the boost it needed from Prudence Lau’s Best Actress win. From 5 screens, the dramedy made HK$51,000 for a 4-day weekend total of HK$180,000.

The opening film with the best per-screen average is the Japanese film Ikigami. From just 4 screens, the high concept drama made HK$59,900 for a 4-day weekend total of HK$210,000. On the other hand, the best-performing opener was Wu Jing’s co-directorial debut Legendary Assassin. From 31 screens, the action film made just HK$336,000 at 3rd place for a 4-day total of HK$1.23 million. I guess all those Gold Label stars showing up didn’t help much.   The other Gold Label film , Patrick Kong’s Nobody’s Perfect, made another HK$189,800 from 34 screens, losing 45% of last Sunday’s gross. After 11 days, the identity-switching comedy has made HK$2.69 million.

The distributor of the American indie comedy What Just Happened? is probably asking that same question. From 13 screens, the Berry Levinson film made HK$111,000 on Sunday for a 4-day total of just HK$410,000. Quantum of Solace has made HK$18.91 million after 32 days, Beverly Hills Chihuahua has made HK$2.89 million after 18 days, and Burn After Reading has made HK$2.98 million after 25 days.

- Over to the Japan attendance figures, where Wall-E and the disaster film 252 finally came together to knock Red Cliff of its top spot for first and second place, respectively. The TV drama/comic-based spinoff Tokumei Kakaricho Hitoshi Tadano film (which looks terrible) got a 5th place debut. Surprisingly, Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s Where the Legend Lives saw a boost to 7th place this weekend after almost being knocked off the top 10 chart last week. However, like last week, its placing may end up being lower on the box office gross chart because it attracts an elderly audience, who pay a lower ticket price. More when the numbers are out.

- After months of production turmoil and coming in the midst of a political shuffle, Ong Bak 2 opened last Friday and is now projected to be the top local film this year. Kaiju Shakedown looks at some initial reviews, which reveal that it sets up for Ong Bak 3. I’ll be watching this in Hong Kong just after New Year.

-  In addition to the Golden Horse Awards, there was also a Taipei Projects Market (refer to my interview with Kenneth Bi to hear about how these things work), where two films had to share the top prize. A lack of high-profile projects (except for the Eat Drink Man Woman sequel NOT by Ang Lee and Pang Ho-Cheung’s The Bus) made it hard to find extended reports about it, but here ya go.

- Variety lines out the tough week the media had last week in Asia, and it was about more than giving away police strategies to terrorists and illegal airport blockages.

- Ryuganji translates a very long article in a Japanese magazine about the Japanese film business in the 21st century. Part one covers the overwhelming dominance of local distributor Toho.

- If you want to know what the most popular songs in Japan are, you should check out DAM’s (that’s a Karaoke machine) top 20 2008 Karaoke ranking because people tend to sing what they like, especially in a Karaoke-heavy country like Japan. As Tokyograph reported, here are the top 10 Karaoke songs of 2008:

1) Kiseki - GReeeeN (which has a great music video. You don’t need to know Japanese to be touched by it. Oh, alright, here’s an English-subtitled version.)
2) Lovers Again - Exile
3) Ai Uta - GReeeeN (This video, on the other hand, not so good)
4) Tsubomi - Kobukuro (I admit that I sang this a few times at Karaoke myself)
5) Soba ni Iru ne - Thelma Aoyama featuring Soulja (the no.1 selling single in Japan this year so far. Or some Arashi single might’ve already surpassed it.)
6) Ai no Uta - Kumi Koda (apparently the words Ai (love) and Uta (song) are huge in Japanese music)
7) Hanamizuki - Yo Hitoto (Apparently the only song she ever sings when she goes to the year-end Kohaku Uta Gassen every year)
8) Sakura - Kobukuro (The word Sakura is also huge in Japanese music)
9) Suirenka - Shonan no Kaze (which Hacken Lee covered in his Concert Hall II album. It wasn’t good.)
10) Ayaka - Mikatsuki

If you know Japanese and care enough about the rest of the rankings, check out the complete list here. By the way, my man Jero’s debut single Umiyuki got on the 15th place. Not bad for a kid from Pittsburgh.

- Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo has been announced as the first director of this year’s Jeonju Digital Project. Produced by the Jeonju International Film Festival, the Jeonju Digital Project is a trio of short films produced each year by three different directors. The other two directors for the upcoming festival’s project will be announced on January 13th.

- With China making the unusual choice of a sending a documentary to the Academy Awards Best Foreign Film race, some people in China wonder if the country’s even trying to get into the race anymore. At least it didn’t pick Painted Skin as its representative.

- Under “Japanese drama casting” news today, Arashi leader Satoshi Ohno will be doing his first comedic role in a TV drama next season.  Meanwhile, major film actor Koji Yakusho and popular actress Eri Fukatsu will be starring in a made-for-TV movie (I guess a drama special if you want to get all specific with names) with a script written 30 year ago.

- In order to encourage people to go to the cinemas, China has been trying to promote digital projection and 3D films in theaters. It’s so eager to it that its authorities even exempted Disney’s latest animated film from the 20 foreign films quota.

- Famed Japanese composer Minoru Endo, who has written 5000 songs in the last 60 years, passed away over the weekend. He was 76 years old.

The Golden Rock at the Golden Horse - not-so-live blog

Thanks to the magic of reruns, This blogger will be watching The Golden Horse Awards rerun after he returns from a concert. So from 11:30pm Hong Kong time (you’ll have to figure out what that time is in your own time zone), I’ll be live-blogging the rerun of the show with simultaneous commentary. That means you can first read the more-informed, more professional, and more-read Variety Live Blog before coming here for this idiot’s comments. I was hoping to get Kozo to do it, but obviously he’s the brains of the operation by not doing it.

Of course, I won’t be cheating by checking out the results first. The coverage this year should be less interrupted since I won’t be watching it on a free TV network, which hopefully means no abrupt commercial breaks.

But before that, here are some predictions:

Best Original Song: Cape No. 7
Best Original Film Score: Cape No. 7 (though I would like to see Sparrow take it)
Best Action Choreography: The Warlords or The Assembly
Best Make up and Costume Design: Warlords or Red Cliff
Best Art Direction: Red Cliff
Best Visual Effects: CJ7
Best Cinematography: Cape No. 7 (though it’d be nice for Sparrow to win this too)
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Assembly (I want Pang Ho-Cheung to win for Trivial Matters, and why isn’t The Warlords in this category?)
Best New Performer: Johnny C.J. Lin - Cape No. 7
Best Supporting Actress: No prediction
Best Supporting Actor: Ma Ju-Lung - Cape No. 7
Best Actor: Jet Li - The Warlords
Best Original Screenplay - The Warlords screenwriting committee
Best Actress - Too close to call
Best Director - Wei Te-sheng - Cape No. 7
Best Film - Cape No, 7

So that’s a prediction of 7 awards for Cape No. 7, because Taiwan will probably riot if it doesn’t win at least one major award.

11:29 pm: OK, all logged in and ready to go. The concert got out later than expected, and I had to sacrifice a MacDonald’s run. Instead, I have a pack of peanuts and a bottle of milk tea. The sacrifices I make for this blog.

The original live broadcast isn’t over yet, so I’m going to set some ground rules:

I don’t speak very good Mandarin, and my listening is worse, so forget about translating. I’ll just be explaining what’s going on with some comments.

Also, feel free to comment along the way here, or at the Lovehkfilm forum.

11:34 pm: Show still not over yet. OK, I guess I’m not sleeping ’til 3:35 am.

11:37pm: Struggling not to watch the live show for spoilers…………

11:40 pm: Show still not over. Maybe I should’ve gone to MacDonald’s…

11:46 pm: Live broadcast over, waiting for rerun now.

11:50 pm: Here we go. Lin Chi-ling starts off with a dancing performance while lip-syncing.

11:51 pm: Nice wire-work.

11:54 pm: Now I get it - It’s a dance performance for each nominated Best Picture.

11:57 pm: Ultra-serious epic Warlords interpreted in modern dance with Lin Chi-Ling shaking a stick. Let’s move on.

11:58 pm: Good, it’s over. Hong Kong’s Dodo Cheng and the host of Channel V’s girl-based talent show are the hosts. It’s gonna be a struggle hearing Dodo work through her Mandarin lines.

12:00mn: Mark that: 10 minutes for the first mention of Cape no. 7

12:02 am: OK, first award time: Presenters are…Vivian Hsu and Ando… know who I’m talking about.

Ando’s been studying Chinese for three months, so either he’s good at remember his rehearsed lines, or it’s actually not that bad.

The first award is for Best Sound Effects.

And the award goes to: Steve Burgess for Tsui Hark’s Missing.

12:05 am: Looks like the award is edited to save time. Good, it won’t be such a long night.

12:07: Miao Miao’s Fan Chih-Wai and Annie Liu come out to present the second award. Man, Annie Liu’s Mandarin is good.

Wait, she’s from Taiwan? That would explain it.

OK, the award is for Best Documentary. My teacher Angie Chen’s This Darling Life is one of the nominees.

The award goes to…….Up the Yangtze. Sorry, Angie.

The director is Canadian-Chinese, and gives his speech in English. “Long live Chinese cinema, long live Chinese documentary.” Seeing that he said that in Taiwan, I wonder who would interpret that in a political way.

12:12 am: Fan and Liu stay to present the Best Short Film Award.

And the winner is……Hopscotch.

12:15: It’s amazing that it’s been 15 minutes since anyone mentioned Cape No. 7.

12:16 am: Skipping another commercial break, Gao Jie and David Chiang comes out to present the award for…..they’ve been talking for 2 minutes now. And now we know it’s for Best Cinematography. Mark that it was 18 minutes of no mention of Cape No. 7.

The award goes to……Sparrow. This was the one I wanted to win!

12:20 am: The two stay to present another award. Best editing. I don’t think I predicted this one, and I don’t know why.

And the award goes to………Connected.

There’s been more people accepting awards for the award winners than award winners there!

12:23 am: Vicky Zhao and Cheng Chen present the Best Supporting Actress Award.

And the award goes to……..Orz Boyz’s Mei Fang.

Mei fang has been acting for 45 years, and extremely excited to get the award. It’s quite touching, actually. No cynicism here.

12:29 am: The two stay to present Best Supporting Actor. Cape No. 7 resurfaces, and has won no award as of yet.

And the award goes to………..Ma Ju-lung, for the first Cape no. 7 award of the night!

Ma delivers his speech in Taiwanese. There goes the Greater China audience.

12:32 am: Vanness Wu and Jaycee Chan present the award for……why the hell is Vanness wearing a bowler hat?! And he should probably shave. Jaycee, on the other hand, has a nice Khalil Fong look going with the thick black glasses.

Vanness praises Jaycee’s performance in Police Story. Ouch.

The award is for Best Action Design. Of course, there’s one DOOOOOOONNNNIIIEEEE movie in there (Empress and the Warriors)

And the award goes to…..Connected. Wow, that’s a bit of a surprise. And of course, Nicky Li is not there to pick up the award. Legendary Assassin needs all the promotion it can get.

12:38 am: Oh, good, a small break: It’s a martial arts performance, as the Golden Horse Awards further the Chinese-language cinema stereotype.

Channel V-produced boy band Lollipop tries to outdo Jay Chou’s theme song for Fearless by enunciating! Oh, it’s with completely new lyrics.

12:44am: They’re trying to sing the Game of Death theme song in Cantonese. This is freaking hilarious. It’s over after one verse. I wished it lasted longer just for laughs.

12:47am: Oh, good, it’s over. Kevin Chu (on my black list for Kung Fu Dunk, and thankfully NOT nominated for anything tonight) and Kelly Lin present the award for……….Chu asks Kelly whether she wants to pull a Lust, Caution. All HK film fans would thank him for this contribution, unlike say…..Kung Fu Dunk.

OK, the award is for Best Art Direction. The award goes to………..Parking! This is a surprise.

The two stay to present Best Make-up and Costume. The award goes to: Candy Rain. At least it awarded it for the only thing the movie had: style.

12:52 am: Eason Chan and Coco Lee present the award for……….first, they kiss each other’s asses, then Coco asks Eason the Hong Konger to explain Trivial Matters’ Chinese title to segue into talking about the importance of the award. Oh, damn it, I missed the pun in the middle of being annoyed.

Ok, the award is for Best Film Score. The award goes to……….Cape No. 7. How can THE Taiwanese movie of the year that’s also about music not win this award?

12:58 am: uh-oh. Audio problem with one of the mics onstage.

The two stay on for another award: Best Original Song. Wait, no live performance of the songs?

and the award goes to……….Cape No. 7’s South of the Border. Again, no surprise. That’s 3 awards so far for the Taiwanese blockbuster.

1:02 am: Someone please fix that damn mic.

1:05 am: Mathieu Amalric and Karen Mok present the award for the International critics award to Parking.

1:10 am: Who’s Marco Tempest? And why is he on Taipei 101? Let me google him.

OK, he’s an illusionist, and he’s about to pull off some kind of trick.

So he just brought himself from Taipei 101 to the awards 168 km away within a minute while putting a map right in front of a DV cam with a live feed. And now he’ll take the next few minutes to advertise himself.

Ok, the live tricks are nice, but what does this have to do with the movies?

1:14 am: Oh, I get it. He’s going to present the Best Visual Effects awards?

Oh, more tricks first.

Oh, come on, he’s not even presenting the damn award. And he just revealed that the Taipei 101 stuff was actually on TV with him pointing the camera at it.

1:20 am: OK, Guey Lun-Mei and Kitty Zhang present the Best Visual Effects award.

And the award goes to……….The Warlords. That’s the first award of the night for Peter Chan’s film.

1:22 am: Finally, the first commercial break of the rerun.

1:26 am: Back from commercial break. Now either the Special Contribution Award or the Lifetime Achievement Award.

1:31 am: I feel bad for not paying attention to what the presenters are saying. This is for the Lifetime Achievement Award for Cheng Fang. Sorry, I’m not paying attention to what he’s saying, either.

1:35 am: Now the Special Contribution Award to Huang Ren.

1:40 am: Sorry, these kind of awards are always the down time for me. I mean no disrespect to the award winners.

Ok, now the Audience Award.  Wu Jun and Cape No. 7’s Johnny Lin present the award.

The award goes to……..Cape No. 7. No surprise at all, of course.

1:47 am: Lin Chiling presents an award from the audience stands. That’s a nice……..and very small dress.

She’s presenting the Best New Actor award. And the award goes to……………Suming Chiang of Hopscotch. Having Cape No. 7 take up two nominations probably spread out the votes for it.

1:53 am: Coco Lee performs a song about loving movies. They took out the Best Original Song performance for this and a magic performance instead?

1:57 am: So the performance is doubling as the In Memoriam segment as well.

2:01 am: Time for the Best Screenplay awards, with Eric Tsang and Karena Lam are presenting the award. Eric Tsang gives a shoutout to Winds of September, which he produced.

First the Original Screenplay. The award goes to……………Winds of September. Eric Tsang jumps for joy.

And now time for Adapted Screenplay with a very very happy Eric Tsang. The award goes to…………The Assembly. Disappointed as a Pang Ho-Cheung fan, of course.

Assembly screenwriter makes a crack Trivial Matters being “no matter” now, but says he liked the film very much.

2:13 am: A montage devoted to Taiwanese films. Oh, it’s a gag montage with other young Taiwanese film people, including Chen Bo-lin and the star of Island Etude.

They’re sitting around talking about how to make the next Cape No. 7. Fairly amusing.

2:15 am: A “to be continued” screen with a pigeon. Nice.

Kevin Chu pitches a film that combines the name of all the big Chinese films this year. After getting rejected for funding, he says “Taiwanese film will not die!” Kung fu Dunk didn’t help any.

Even Dodo Cheng joins in on the fun. She refers the hero to Ma Ju-lung playing a gangster-like loan shark. There’s even a part 3 coming.

2:22 am: Ang Lee and Brigette Lin come together on stage (the first time in a decade for Lin, according to her) to present the award for the Formoz Filmmaker Award.

And the award goes to………..Wei Te-Sheng, as expected. That’s the 5th cape No. 7-related award of the night.

The two stay for the Formoz Film Award. Remember the potential riots if you-know-what doesn’t win.

2:28 am: And the award goes to…………Cape No. 7, its 5th of the night.

Good thing they’re getting to the major awards now. These things are exhausting.

2:33 am: Never mind - Part 3 of the comedy short.

Comic sound effects are the least funny things in comedy EVER.

Peggy Chiao cameos as an aspiring actress………and gets casted. Movie name: Sea Horse No. 45.

Doze Niu of What on Earth did I Do Wrong show up and asks why Cape No. 7 could do it and not him.

And it ends with a voiceover by Ang Lee, identifying himself as a director born in Taiwan.

2:40 am: Johnny C. J. Lin does his erhu thing AND sings a Taiwanese folk song………………very off-key.

Of course, this year is all about Taiwanese film pride, so now comes a montage on the history of Taiwanese films.

2:45 am: Already crediting Cape No.7 with the resurrection of Taiwanese film is a little premature, no?

And the movie’s song gets its own live performance. The drumming is completely off-beat. Ouch.

Meanwhile, the movie’s group of musicians sing songs from classic Taiwanese films. I know Cape No. 7 is like the best thing since sliced cheese, but the ceremony is getting a little long.

And Van is not really a great singer.

They really don’t have to re-introduce the members one by one. Most people who care already saw a 2-hour movie about them. Why the hell are they singing the song they screwed up again?

Ok, the Cape No. 7 musical celebration ends without a performance of the award-winning song.

2:57 am: Shu Qi and Feng Xiaogang come out to present Best Actor. Feng thanks the awards for allowing him the opportunity to hold Shu Qi’s hand. Then he lets go.

A quick cutaway shot shows Johnny C.J. Lin’s seat is under his character’s name in Cape No. 7, as if no one will know his real name. Ouch.

The award goes to……….Zhang Hanyu, a real surprise! Feng Xiaogang gets to hand the award to his leading man.

3:04 am: Finally the home stretch. Sandra Ng and Peter Chan Ho-sun come out to present the Best Actress Award. Peter Chan wonders why he has to hold Sandra Ng’s hand. By the way, Ng is the mother of his child.

This is the toughest category to call. I’m sure the anticipation was intense, at least when it was live.

The award goes to………………Prudence Lau for True Women for Sale! Really, any of these win would’ve been a surprise. Hopefully, it’ll help its box office in Hong Kong for the rest of the week.

3:10 am: OK, two awards left. Zhou Xun and John Woo present the Best Director Award. What a slap to the face, by having Woo present the award he got snubbed for. Even though I didn’t think Red Cliff was as great as it could’ve been, Woo’s work deserved at least a nomination.

Will Cape No. 7 pick up the majors and complete this year’s Taiwanese film celebration?

And the award goes to……………Peter Chan Ho-sun! This doesn’t bode well for Cape No. 7.

Peter Chan says “this award did not come easily” in front of John Woo. I’m pretty sure Red Cliff was harder to make than Warlords.

Is it my imagination, or does Woo look bitter in the background?

3:18 am: OK, the final award of the night. Best film is being presented by Huang Tong and Michelle Yeoh. Yeoh thanks the Golden Horse Awards for not fogetting her. I didn’t forget Silver Hawk or The Touch, either.

The audience root for the Taiwanese nominees. Least applause goes to The Assembly.

Here we go. The award goes to…………………….The Warlords, in a comeback! It was called most overrated film of 2007 by the Lovehkfilm committee for a reason.

3:23 am: Final tally - Cape No. 7 picked up six awards (and another one for Cape No. 7 director Wei Te-sheng), and Warlords picked up three. Even though Cape No. 7 took the most awards as expected, its thunder sort of got stolen with The Warlords taking away the two most important awards.

All in all, the show is still too long and overblown. It even ran longer than last year’s ceremony.

Anyway, until the next big award ceremony, that’s it for now here in Hong Kong. Thanks to Boss Kozo and Variety’s Marcus Lim for stopping by. I need some sleep.

The Golden Rock - December 3rd, 2008 Edition

Let’s start with some numbers:

- The attendance ranking for the Japanese box office looks a bit different from actual grosses. While the top three films match on both charts, Death Race actually made enough money to overtake the Pretty Cure movie for 4th place. This is most likely because Pretty Cure attracts younger audiences, which means Pretty Cure may have attracted more audiences, but it sold tickets at lower prices. The same happened to Suspect X, which apparently attracted more audience than Saw V, but ended up taking in less money. Which one is a more accurate gauge of success at the box office? You decide.

As it is the case after a holiday weekend, all the films on the top 10 took a considerable drop. Red Cliff lost more audiences than the war crimes drama I’d Rather be a Shellfish (31.6% vs. 26.6%), which lost the least business out of all the films on top 10. However, it didn’t lose enough to lose its first place standing. John Woo’s period epic has now topped the box office for five weeks, and 58% of Walker Plus users who saw the film gave it 5 out of 5.

The film that lost the most business on the top 10 is Blindness, whose gross dropped by 50% in the second week. In fact, Where the Legend Lives attracted enough elder audiences that it bumped Blindness off the top10 on the attendance chart.

- In Korea, five of the top 10 films are Korean, with two of those films taking the top spots. However, one of them is only for a series of preview screenings, and its true opening will be next weekend.

More from Korea Pop Wars.

- At the Chinese box office, local film Fit Lover scores a strong opening, though last week’s top earner Desire of the Heart lost only 20% of business. Dante Lam’s Beast Stalkers amazing lost only 0.2% of its opening weekend business and may become a pretty damn profitable film for all the production companies involved. Hellboy II also saw a very small drop of about 7%, which must be good news for those who want to bring more fantasy films into China.

The biggest drops also go to Hollywood films - Quantum of Solace lost 60%, while Babylon A.D. lost a disastrous 75%. However, one has already made nearly 140 million RMB, and the other one has only made 7.75 million RMB.

- On the Japanese Oricon music charts, the variety group Exile (only two out of the seven member sing - the rest dance in the background) scores a new number 1 single with their cover of Last Christmas (seriously, when will Japanese people get tired of that song? The last cover was Yuji Oda’s for the drama of the same name back in 2004). The enka song Ai no Mama de climbed back up to 9th place, making enka singer Junko Akimoto the oldest female singer/enka singer to have a top 10 single.

Mika Nakashima’s latest album debuts on top of the album chart, while Shota Shimizu’s 2nd place debut got the media searching everywhere for a new record for him to break.

More from Tokyograph.

- The boost of Ai no Mama de in sales may be due to its win at the Japan Record Awards as one of the 12 Gold Awards of the year.  Other winners include Jero as one of the five Best New Artists, Namie Amuro’s compilation taking Best Album (how can a compilation be a Best Album when it’s compiled from a bunch of other albums?), and Ponyo poised to pick up some kind of award

Worth noting is that Hong Konger Agnes Chan will be getting a special award. Agnes Chan was born in Hong Kong and was first known in Asia after she acted in to of Chang Cheh’s films. Then she went to Japan for a singing career and it mostly stayed there ever since. Over the last decade, she also became a scholar(a Ph.D from Stanford!), a professor, a novelist, a United Nations ambassador, a TV personality, and a radio host. Despite being in Japan, she never forgot about Hong Kong, either.

- Cape No. 7 was supposed to open in a few weeks in China, but its release has now been postponed indefinitely, despite being approved by the censors. However, no one really knows the true reason. Some say the Taiwanese-Japanese aspect of the film could cause a nationalistic backlash (as in people reading too much into it), and some say it’s a simple matter of the subtitles not being done on time because of all the languages involved.

-  Alan Mak and Felix Chong, whose latest film Lady Cop and Papa Crook will finally be released in January (though in a trucated, China-approved version), are already working on a new project about police eavesdropping that will be produced by Derek Yee. Sounds promising.

- Under “Japanese drama” news today, the NHK period drama hit Atsuhime hit a peak of 30.8% rating, a mark that private network dramas have not hit since Karei Naru Ichizoku did it in March 2007 with its final episode.

With struggling drama ratings even during prime time, TBS will be canceling their daytime drama slots and the news show programmed around them for a 4-hour daytime news show. Honestly, these news show are all the same anyway, no matter how long they are or what network they’re on.

- Ryuganji is back with a detailed look of his experience at this year’s Tokyo Filmex.

While Sion Sono’s 4-hour Love Exposure got all the attention, Twitch also brings to your attention Nonko 36 sai, another well-received Japanese film at the festival.

- Despite the current economic environment, major Japanese studio Toei is spending 4.2 billion yen on a complex completely for digital production.

- Lastly, Twitch has a review for Shinobu Yaguchi’s Happy Flight.

The Golden Rock - December 1st, 2008 Edition

Goodbye, November. Hello, December. See you soon, 2nd anniversary.

- Four of the five opening movies in Hong Kong got on the top 10 on opening day last Thursday, but only three remained on the Sunday box office chart. Beast Stalker remained on top with an impressive HK$844,000 from 37 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.91 million. This is 80% of Connected’s 4-day opening number (both are from Emperor Motion Pictures), and it ended up making over HK$13 million. If the word-of-mouth is similarly positive, it may end up passing the HK$10 million mark.

Patrick Kong’s Nobody’s Perfect didn’t quite get the youth boost it needed on Sunday, making just HK$340,400 from 34 screens for a 4-day total of HK$1.49 million. It’s an improvement over Kong’s horror film Forgive and Forget, but I doubt this will pass the HK$3 million mark as theaters quickly move to reduce the number of showings by Thursday. Lastly, Hong Kong audience show that they don’t really care movies paralleling Taiwanese current events, as Lawrence Lau’s Ballistic made only HK$64,800 from 18 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$270,000.

Cape No. 7 is showing some potential for long-term success, as its take of HK$490,600 from 25 screens on Sunday is 83% of last Sunday’s take. After 11 days, the Taiwanese music-themed romance has made HK$4.55 million. At this speed, the HK$7 million mark is a likely possibility. Meanwhile, Beverly Hills Chihuahua is now at only HK$2.44 million after 11 days, Quantum of Solace is at HK$18.38 million after 25 days. While it won’t do the HK$20+million that Casino Royale did two years ago (it’s hard to believe that the blog started out tracking its Hong Kong box office), it’s also worth noting that Casino Royale had a ticket price inflation due to its length.

Moving down the chart, The Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading now has HK$2.68 million after 18 days. Champions has passed the HK$5 million mark on Sunday with HK$80,000 from 27 screens. After 18 days, it has made HK$5.06 million. The church-endorsed Bella is showing legs, with another HK$78,000 from 8 screens for HK$1.41 million after 18 days. Lastly, Detroit Metal City remains on the top 10 with HK$10.51 million after 32 days.

- It was a slow week at the Japanese box office, at least attendance-wise. Red Cliff takes the 5th week at the top, while I’d Rather be a Shellfish remains at 2nd place, and Happy Flight remains at 3rd. The best-performing debut goes to Death Race at 5th, while Saw V could only muster a 7th place opening. More when the numbers come out.

- The ratings for the Fall 2008 Japanese drama season continues to be very disappointing. The ratings for Aibou Season 7 - the highest of the season so far - is going through bigger ups and downs than the stock market. After a series-high 20.7% two weeks ago, it dips to a 15.7 this week. Just when Ryusei no Kizuna seems to have found a loyal group of audience, it saw its season low of 14.5% this week in its 3rd straight week of declining ratings. The same happened to the terrorism thriller Bloody Monday, which saw steady ratings since its premiere until it dropped to a 10.1% for this week’s episode.

Some dramas are beginning to see their ratings pick up slightly: Scandal saw a boost to a 12.3% rating after a mere 10.4% in the previous week. Gira Gira saw a similar boost, going up to a 10.2% after seeing a season-low 7.2% in the previous week. As it reaches its final weeks, Kaze no Garden’s 8th episode also saw a boost to 14.1% rating.

The season’s biggest disappointment, next to Ryusei no Kizuna’s fall from grace, has to be the struggling ratings for Fuji’s Monday night 9pm drama Innocent Love. whose current season average of 13.2% is the lowest since Boku Dake no Madonna in Summer 2003. This week, it saw a boost up to 12.6% after two straight weeks of season-low 11.7%.

- Under “The economy went shitty, and all I got was this stupid t-shirt” news today, Hong Kong’s TVB is cutting 212 staffs, or 7% of their workforce, because they anticipate a sharp drop in profits. Note that said drop hasn’t officially happened yet, they just anticipated it.

Meanwhile, Japanese animation house GDH, who made the award-winning Summer Days with Coo, is cutting 20% of its workforce through early retirements.

- DJ Ozma, who pissed Japan off at the 2006 Kohaku Uta Gassen with this performance, is retiring from show biz after his third album. Of course, he’s not going away entirely: Ozma is just one of the roles the ex-Kishidan leader plays. He’s playing one of the three members of Yazima Biyoushitsu. It’s borderline offensive if that damn song isn’t so catchy.

- The Indian government has called in broadcasters to investigate whether the news media helped the terrorists by giving them the police’s tactical strategies with their wall-to-wall coverage.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood Reporter looks at the effect of the tragedy on the worldwide entertainment industry at a time when India is trying to expand to the world with various production deals.

One of the biggest effects already felt is the cancellation of Live Earth India, which was set to take place this Sunday in Mumbai.

- The Tokyo Filmex just wrapped up over the weekend, with the Isreali-German-France co-produced animated film Waltz with Bashir taking home the grand prize.

The film attracting the most attention at the Tokyo Filmex this year must be Sion Sono’s 4-hour romance epic Love Exposure. It ended up taking home the Agnes B Audience Prize. Jason Gray gives a quasi-review, and Edmond Yeo gives it a very strong praise. Now I hope the Hong Kong International Film Festival is daring enough to take it on.

- Kyoko Koizumi picks up another acting prize for Tokyo Sonata at this year’s Fumiko Yamaji Film Awards, which only gives out female acting awards in addition to the film awards. In addition to Koizumi’s Best Actress win, Haruka Ayase also picked up the Best Newcomer Award for her three theatrical releases this year - Cyborg She, Ichi, and Happy Flight.

- The Japanese talent agency Yoshimoto Kogyo, which manages some of Japan’s top comic talents, is partnering with a Chinese theater group to give comedy stage shows in China.

- Holy crap, the other five guys in Exile finally has something to do other than dance in the background while the other two sing.

- Twitch has a full trailer for Chan Kaige’s Forever Entralled, which will be released in a few weeks in China and on January 1st in Hong Kong.

- The TBS-produced Japanese medical mystery The Glorious Team Batista has a decent run in cinemas earlier in the year. This season, Fuji took the same source material and turned it into a TV drama, which is doing OK in the ratings. Now TBS is taking back the spotlight by announcing a sequel for the film version with the original cast returning. It will be released in March 2009. Kozo reviewed the first film here.

- An interesting off-topic find: In a survey of about 400 people - with 47.8% of the participant in their 30s - the cinema is the top spot for a first date. It also reveals that nearly 97% of Japanese moviegoers never had their phones go off in the movie theater. This number would surely be much much lower here in Hong Kong. Copyright © 2002-2018 Ross Chen