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Archive for the ‘casting’ Category

The Golden Rock - December 16th, 2007 Edition

- I’ve been trying to post this for days - it’s the first trailer for Empress and and the Warriors, starring Donnie Yen, Kelly Chan, and Leon Lai. I’ve been suffering from big-budget period film fatigue since I saw The Warlords on Thursday so badly that I really wish a few of these things flop so we’d see something new. Then again, this will probably be a hit anyway, and we’ll probably see more big-budget martial arts flick co-produced with China for years to come, keeping famous action choreographers working. At least this one looks like it’ll be in Cantonese.

- Jason Gray checks out the Japanese indie comedy Zenzen Daijobu, starring Arakawa Yoshiyoshi, and he seems to like it. Too bad it won’t be in theaters when I’m in Japan.

- The cast list for the Stephen Chow-produced Hollywood version of Dragonball is shaping up, with Emmy Rossom having just signed on. Sorry, I still have quite a bit of doubts about whether this movie is going to work or not.

- Japan Times has an interview with Ken Watanabe, who just took a year off and is coming back out to do the Japanese narration for the documentary Planet Earth.

- Meanwhile, Twitch has an interview with Pen-ek Ratanaruang, the director of Last Life in the Universe and Ploy.

- There’s also a feature on Korean actress Kim Yun-Jin, who has hit it big in both Korea and America since her role in the series Lost.

- I’m assuming that Takeshi Kaneshiro is done with his latest film about death, because he has just signed on to star in Fiend With Twenty Faces with Takako Matsu. Kaneshiro will play a master criminal and Matsu his victim. Does that mean he’ll be playing a villain? Interesting….

- Another Japanese movie you can look forward to is Homeless Chugakusei (Homeless Middle Schooler), an autobiography by a comedian recalling his days in poverty. The book achieved one million sales within two months, which would explain why the movie was announced within three months of the book’s release.

- Apparently, Jackie Chan has finally arrived in Japan to start work on Derek Yee’s latest The Shinjuku Incident. No word, however, on when the film will start filming or how long it will take.

- Korean director Im Kwon-taek is in Dubai recieving a lifetime achievement award at the local film festival.

- In a preview of Wednesday’s report on the Oricon charts, Exile (which is just two guys singing and 4 backup dancers) announces their latest album has shipped one million copies, and has sold hundreds of thousands of those copies since its release on Wednesday.

The Golden Rock - November 26th, 2007 Edition

 - It’s Japanese drama ratings time! A total of 12 dramas hit their season-low ratings. They include Joshi Deka (season-high:  13.4, season-low: 7.8), Iryu 2 (season-high: 21.0, season-low: 14.1), Uta Hime (season-high: 9.8, season-low: 6.7), Dream Again (season-high: 12.9, season-low: 8.4), Hatachi No Koibito (season-high: 13.0, season-low: 6.4), and Abarenbo Mama (season-high: 15.3, season-low: 11.1).

On the other hand, Fuji dramas Galileo and SP remain fairly strong, and NTV’s Hataraki Man saw a pretty big rebound from last week’s 10.1 to this week’s 12.7. Still, things are pretty bleak overall.

All drama information can be found at Tokyograph 

-  It’s OK, Don, you did get this news first. Bayside Shakedown producer Chihiro Kameyama, who seems to be the only hitmaker for Fuji TV these days, will be teaming up with Bayside Shakedown screenwriter Ryoichi Kimizuka for a new police drama that does not have anything to do with the Bayside Shakedown series (contrary to the image on the main Variety Asia website). Dare Mo Mamotte Kurenai will star Japan’s favorite 14 year-old (fictional) mother Mirai Shida as the sister of a suspected murderer who is being protected by the cop who is also gathering evidence against her brother.

Kimizuka will be directing, his second film after the Bayside Shakedown spinoff The Suspect.

- In more Japanese drama-related news, Korean heartthrob Kwon Sang-Woo announced that he will be acting in a Japanese drama for Fuji TV that he would like to call a “Korean version of Notting Hill.” Blah.

- Peter Chan’s The Warlords is one of the biggest investments ever in the history of Chinese cinema. Turns out nearly half the damn budget went to the cast, including US$13 million for Jet Li.

- FilMeX wrapped up in Japan, and Hong Kong’s Milkyway is walking away as the big winner, with Yau Nai-Hoi’s Eye in the Sky winning the Special Jury prize and Johnnie To’s Exiled winning the audience award.

- Gong Li has taken up the lead for the Hollywood film Shanghai along with John Cusack. She’ll play some mysterious woman involved with the underworld, or something like that.

Anyway, the film will be directed by 1408’s Mikael Hafstrom and is expected to be released in 2009.

- Nothing to do with Asian entertainment, but I just thought it was kind of cool. Here’s a clip of newly elected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd speaking Mandarin in a television interview with a Chinese TV station during his campaign. Rudd was a diplomat in China and started studying Mandarin when he was in college in the 70s.

The Golden Rock - November 16th, 2007 Edition

Unlike many websites out there, The Golden Rock usually updates on the weekend. However, it mostly involves spreading whatever news we can find on Friday and spreading them out over three days. That’s why we’re starting our (mostly) daily posts on a Friday.

- Twitch has a link to the first footage from the Jet Li-Jackie Chan Hollywood White-kid-magically-goes-to-China-to-save-the-world-and-woos-Chinese-girl family flick The Forbidden Kingdom. You have Jet Li and Jackie Chan, and you still need them on wire-fu? That can’t be good.

- When I was studying in Japan, one of my favorite magazines was Tokyo Walker, a comprehensive magazine that doesn’t have any celebrity gossips and simply offer stuff for non-essential self-indulgent urban living. Imagine my pleasant surprise this morning when I found ads all over the MTR this morning for the new Hong Kong Walker. Coming out next week, I’ll be sure to give everyone a look. Why? Because Stephen Chow is the cover man, and he’ll be talking more about his latest A Hope for the inaugural issue.

- After the success of the Death Note series in Japan, Warner Bros. Japan is planning to get more involved in production and development of films in Japan in order to boost the sale of remake rights to Hollywood. One of the films they’ve got going, according to the report, is the latest from Ping Pong director Fumihiko Sori “Ichi.” However, the introduction says that actress Haruka Ayase will be playing the role of the blind swordswoman. The problem is that Haruka Ayase looks like this:

Ayase

It’s going to be a little hard to buy her as a blind swordswoman.

- With lax copyright law, many young Koreans are now watching movies downloaded on their computer. However, this isn’t your typical illegal Bittorrent movies - these “peer-to-peer” clubs are actually paid and still very illegal. What the hell’s the point to pay to watch illegal movies?

- The Tokyo International Film Festival has found a new head, but make your own damn pun about the man’s name.

The Golden Rock - October 23rd, 2007 Edition

This is going to be another relatively short entry. Quite frankly, I was expecting more news from the Tokyo International Film Festival, but we only have this so far:

- The Tokyo film market started yesterday with higher attendance. However, with the Asian Film Market just wrapped up at Pusan and the American Film Market coming up, it seems like not quite enough is happening there.

- It’s reviews time! From Variety’s Russell Edwards comes a review of Kenta Fukasaku’s horror flick X-Cross. Also from Edwards is a review of Isao Yukisada’s moderate hit/Erika Sawajiri-controversy-fodder Closed Note.

- Under “this film may very well signal the apocalypse” news today, director Rob Cohen wrote in his blog that he has taken the shoot for “The Mummy 3,” co-starring Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, and Isabella Leung, to Beijing. With a scene described as “the Dragon Emperor racing through 1946 Shanghai Bund with 4 bronze horses,” don’t be surprised that you won’t find this film in a Mainland Chinese theater near you.

- Under “Japanese animation houses” news today, otakus, anime buffs, and fans of weird Japanese films will be quite happy about the team assembled for the new animated film Red Line. Meanwhile, animation house GDH will be releasing their first live-action effort in late November.

- Satoshi Tsumabuki will actually be in a film that might be interesting (as opposed to…5 seconds in The Fast and the Furious 3): He will play a teacher in a pseudo-documentary (based on a real 1993 documentary) featuring 28 children that will actually live together and raise a pig together. The film will follow a general plot, there will not be a script.

- In a crime against cinema, there has yet to be an American distributor for the excellent Memories of Matsuko because of “its depiction of domestic violence.” If it can be a 1 billion yen-plus hit in Japan, why can’t it stand a chance in America?

The Golden Rock - October 3rd, 2007 Edition

- It seems like I made a mistake last week in predicting this week’s Oricon charts because the daily charts at the time had not included the new singles yet. So the predictions from last week are completely wrong. On the singles chart, YUI’s latest, the theme song for the film Closed Note, debut at number one with about 87,500 copies sold. BoA’s latest is far far behind at 3rd place with about 28.400 copies sold. Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest actually did not top the charts again, falling to 4th place with just 18,700 copies sold. Next week (and this should be correct), expect rock superstar band B’z’s latest single to top the chart.

As Tokyograph predicted, Ai Otsuka’s latest album topped the albums chart with about 208,000 copies sold. Not too close behind at second place is personal favorite Tokyo Jihen’s 3rd album, which sold about 101,000 copies in its first week. Angela Aki’s album falls to 3rd place in its second week, and I can’t believe Hideaki Tokunaga’s cover album is still going this strong at 4th place. Next week, expect the album chart battle to be between Yuki’s or Yuzu’s compilation albums.

- I’m combining the box office and the regular entry into one today. The Japanese box office numbers came out, and there are a bunch of discrepancies between the numbers and the admissions ranking. Apparently the Isao Yukisada film Closed Note may have attracted less people than Perfect Stranger, but it make more cold, hard cash, putting it at 2nd place. The same thing happened between Fantastic 4 and No Reservations. Also, La Vie En Rose actually opened on 196 screens, which makes it 8th place opening kind of disappointing.

Actually, Closed Note’s second place opening isn’t all that swell, either. While it is 176% of the opening for Sugar And Spice ~ Fumi Zekka, it’s only 94% of the opening for Yukisada’s Haru no Yuki, which means the film will barely pass the 1 billion yen mark in box office.

- Speaking of Closed Note, its star Erika Sawajiri has apologized for her rudeness in a recent press conference for the film. Still, her appearance at the film’s screening at the Pusan Film Festival has been canceled due to the incident. I’m not exactly sure how not having her take an extra trip to Korea to promote a movie is punishment unless she was going to get paid.

- Speaking of Pusan, Hollywood Reporter has a bunch of reports from the festival. First, a general overview of this year’s festival, then a report on the new anti-piracy campaign being launched at the festival, and a preview of opening film The Assembly, which will see its world premiere on Thursday.

- Speaking of Feng Xiaogang, he has already casted Jiang Wen and Ge You for his next film, a comedy that pokes fun at the new overnight millionaires of China. Sounds like Feng is going back to his roots as a commercial comedy director.

- As a young aspiring filmmaker, this news is quite disappointing: The new Film Development Council of Hong Kong has announced their terms for disburse the HK$300 million film fund - by giving it to commercially-appealing films made by experienced filmmakers/producers. That means your director or producer has to have made at least 2 films, but yet your budget has to be kept under US$1.55 million (HK$12.1 million). Not that they’ll actually give you more than 30% of your budget anyway.

Do these people actually know how much it cost to make an audience-friendly, commercially-appealing movie these days? Your average movie star take at least HK$4 million already, and what commercially successful HK movie this year actually cost just HK$12 million? Obviously, the money should’ve gone more to developing young talents, but what can I say? I go to film school in Hong Kong, so that makes me biased by default.

- On the other hand, legendary Japanese filmmaker Yoji Yamada is working with the students of a film class he is currently teaching on a new film as part of a collaboration between Shochiku and a university in Kyoto. Eventually, the studio will establish a training facility with the students of the university as research interns. THIS is how you develop young talent, Hong Kong Film Development Council.

- Meanwhile, Yamada’s latest film Love & Honor, starring Kimura Takuya, has been picked up by tiny American distributor Funimation, and will be released in one New York cinema in November.

- It’s reviews time! From Variety, we have a short review by Robert Koehler for Christmas in August director Hur Jin-Ho’s latest film Happiness, and a review by Russell Edwards for the Japanese film Sea Without Exit.

- From Lovehkfilm, Kozo has reviews for Oxide Pang’s entertaining mystery-thriller The Detective, the shitter Wong Jing comedy Beauty and the 7 Beasts, the independent film Breeze of July, the Taiwanese film The Most Distant Course, and the 80s action film Angel. From Sanjuro are reviews of Japanese sports drama Rough and the Japanese drama A Long Walk. From yours truly are reviews of the Japanese art film The Many Faces of Chika and the independent award-winning film This World of Ours. Expect an interview with the director on this blog soon.

- Variety Asia has a feature on the future of film investment in Asia, as many major film markets in the region have been seeing a downturn in the number of productions. Of course, it was eventually going to happen anyway after so many years of growth.

- With over 200 million yuan, Michael Bay’s Transformers have become the second highest-grossing foreign film in China, just behind Titanic. I could say something about this, but I’ve run out of energy.

- World, meet Jeong Seung-Hye, one of Korea’s most promising up-and-coming producers.

- Creepy news coming out of Belgium, it seems like a note was found near where severed body parks were found in a park that may be connected to the Death Note comics. I think the killer forgot the part where he’s not supposed to do the murdering himself.

The Golden Rock - October 2nd, 2007 Edition.

- Grady Hendrix has picked up on the Jackie Chan blog posts controversy. It kind of started when he wrote in his own blog telling audiences to not have much expectation for his latest Hollywood film The Forbidden Kingdom. Then the press picked up an “old post” where he even admit that he doesn’t care much for the Rush Hour films (I don’t blame him for that at all). However, Jackie also admitted that he only did them for money, which begs the question: Why is he just settling for lots of money instead of trying to make better movies?

A blog post I found at EastSouthWestNorth pretty much takes the argument back to Chan as well: Why blame Hollywood when he’s the one that took all those jobs? And why blame audiences when no one really liked The Tuxedo?

Speaking of Jackie Chan still being in shitty movies, he has reportedly signed up to play Mr. Miyagi in the Will Smith-directed remake of The Karate Kid. Who will play the titular Karate kid? Smith’s own son. Say it ain’t so, Jackie! (thanks to Steven for the link)

- In Japan, the daily NHK drama Dondo Bare ended with a solid rating of 23.2% rating for its finale (that’s actually the highest-rated finale of the season) after scoring the lowest-rated premiere in the history of NHK’s morning dramas.

Following it is Chiritotechin, which did not premiere to the worst ratings in NHK morning drama history. Instead, it scored an average of 16.5% rating, which is only the third worst morning drama rating in history.

- Under “the death of Hong Kong cinemas” news today, The Queens Theater had its last show this past Sunday, which means Hong Kong has lost yet another single-screen theater from the old golden days.

Of course, when a theater goes away, there’s always a multiplex to replace it. Get ready for The Grand Theater and its 12 screens with 1600 seats (that’s a sad 133 seats per theater on average).

- I’m actually a big fan of the film Rendan, actor Naoto Takenaka’s directorial effort from a few years ago, which is why I’m somewhat excited that he’s making a new film, this time a zombie comedy. However, I’m not as excited as I should be because it’s a zombie comedy.

- Variety Asia has a small story on emerging Hong Kong studio Sundream, which would be a lot more likable if it wasn’t for that damn logo (not to mention that blue background).

The Golden Rock - September 30th, 2007 Edition

- I guess I should start off and tell you that there’s a new review/observation post at the spin-off about Maiko Haaaan!!! and Beauty and the 7 Beasts. I can give you a preview and say that Beauty and the 7 Beasts is the worse HK mainstream movie I’ve seen this year…and I saw Contract Lover.

- It’s reviews time! Twitch has a review of India’s best foreign film Academy Award contender Eklavya, and Japan Times’ Mark Schilling has a review of the Japanese indie film Baum Kuchen, which is currently playing at one Tokyo theater for one show a night.

- Stephen Chow’s A Hope has finally locked a release date of January 31st, 2008, although I’m not sure if that opening date also applies to Hong Kong. As for the alien, Chow reportedly told Oriental Daily that the design is a homage to Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, not a rip-off. You can probably only use the word “homage” for films more than 20 years old.

- While Stephen Chow takes three years to make his follow-up to Kung Fu Hustle, Takashi Miike is already releasing his third theatrical release of the year. More information from Twitch and Ryuganji.

- Under “Korean actress casting” news today, Gianna Jun (the artist formerly known as Jeon “My Sassy Girl” Ji-Hyun) is done with her first non-Korean film Blood the Last Vampire and back in Korea for the mid-budget comedy drama The Guy Who Was Once Superman. Meanwhile, Cannes best actress winner Jeon Do-Yeon has already decided on her next film, A Fine Day by director Lee Yoon-Ki (who last made the quiet gem Ad-Lib Night.) Guess which one I’m looking forward to more.

- Satoshi Kon’s Paprika picked up the Theatrical Film Award at the 12th annual Animation Kobe Award.

- Also, Wayne Wang’s A Thousand Years of Good Prayer picked up the prizes for best film and best actor at the San Sebastian Film Festival. If you remember, Wang admitted that a Chinese investor pulled out of the film because the director refused to take out a line that was critical of the Chinese communist government.

- With it crashing and burning in Chinese theaters, the distributor for Jiang Wen’s The Sun Also Rises is trying hard to boost business for the weeklong public holiday period.

The Golden Rock - September 28th, 2007 Edition

- First comes the news that any blogger who cares about Japanese films is blogging about - the reveal of the FilmEx lineup. First a general report from Variety Asia, then Ryuganji reveals the Japanese selections, and Jason Gray has a comprehensive report. As much as I liked Eye in the Sky (good execution for two-thirds, then a contrived ending), it probably doesn’t stand much of a chance. The festival will run from November 17th to the 25th.

- Apparently Seven Swords wasn’t enough for him. After Missing, which is supposed to have something to do with a ring underwater, Tsui Hark will be working on what is being called his “comeback film.” The 13 Regiments will apparently group 13 stars together - including Simon Yam, Donnie Yen, and Nicholas Tse - and have them going around the world to recover Chinese relics scattered during “the war.” When the hell was Tsui Hark ever gone? He still has Triangle coming out, and he’s already working on one film before going on to this one.

- In a continuing crackdown of the media following that ridiculous mandate regarding talent shows, the Chinese government has shut down 1,466 ads that may contain offensive materials such as scantily-dressed women or sexually suggestive language. They even censored ads for underwears. Everyone wears underwears, people. Even communists.

- One director trying to fight against that is Chinese-American director Wayne Wang. According to him, a Chinese investor pulled out because Wang refused to cut a line in his latest film A Thousand Year of Prayers that says “Communism is good. It just fell into the wrong hands.” Any film that criticizes the Chinese government is of course a no-no, so the investor was forced to back out, taking away half the film’s budget.

- Forbidden Kingdom, the film that both its superstars Jet Li and Jackie Chan are calling “not very good,” is done shooting and taking its post-production to South Korea.

- For those who has seen the Hong Kong action flick Invisible Target, do you remember the blonde guy who’s involved in two of the chase scenes in the first hour? I know, I don’t remember much about him either, but apparently he’s going to Hollywood. Are they really paying him “seven digits”? It’s probably in yen, right?

- After the moderate success of TMNT, Hong Kong-based Imagi Animation Studio will team up with the Weinstein Company and Warner Bros. again for two more projects, the Japanese comic adaptations Gatchaman and Astro Boy. This should put Hong Kong computer animation on the map. This means Centro better get on its ass and make something better than The Magic Gourd. Still…American studios producing an adaptation of Astro Boy just doesn’t sound very promising to me anyway.

The Golden Rock - September 24th, 2007 Edition

- It’s reviews time! Variety catches up with some Hong Kong film reviews from Toronto, including a disappointingly short review by Scott Foundas for Pang Ho Cheung’s Exodus (why the hell do they keep calling it The Exodus?), and a review by Robert Koehler for Wilson Yip/Donnie Yen’s Flash Point.

- Korean director Lee So-Yeon’s Uninvited might have been a commercial flop in South Korea, but that doesn’t mean he’s not talented. His latest screenplay Hwan Gung, about a man who believes himself to be a warrior sent to send a woman who thinks she is a mermaid back to the sea, won the Busan Screenwriting Competition, which gives him a grant of 20 million won (roughly US$20,000).

- Under “I just can’t get interested in this” news today, Taiwanese idol Wu Chun will be joining the cast of Jingle Ma’s Wu Xia Liang Zhu (or a martial arts version of the classic tale Butterfly Lovers). Twins’ Charlene Choi will be playing the other ill-fated lover, and Nicholas Tse is also in talks to join as another potential suitor for Charlene’s cross-dressing character who will probably fight while hooked on some wire.

Honestly, this sounds like it’ll be a pretty shitty movie already.

- From Variety Asia is a short profile of China Film Group head Han Sanping. He’s the one that said China needs more “ethically inspiring movies” and said any China-basher is “mentally challenged.” Actually, Quentin Tarantino is still saying dumber things (look at the second-to-the-last paragraph).

- From Twitch is a few small paragraphs devoted to the Japanese comedy Maiko Haaaan!!!, which I’ll be catching this Friday night.

- Before you in the West go watch it, Ang Lee would like to tell you that his latest film will probably disappoint you and whomever you go watch it with in your local American arthouse.

- EastSouthWestNorth writes about a set of commercials for a Hong Kong theme park not named Disneyland that are freaking some people out. True, the version with both ads on Youtube isn’t all that scary, but the original version of one of them is actually pretty freaky stuff.

The Golden Rock - September 22nd, 2007 Edition

The Golden Rock just finished his first short film in Hong Kong yesterday, so we decided to take a little break yesterday. Plus, there’s just not enough news to spread out over three days anyway.

- After last reporting that the US-based Viz Media picked up the two Death Note movies, they have also announced that they picked up the film festival-favorite/weirdfest Funky Forest.

In a related note, Grady Hendrix also has an interview with Manami Iiboshi, the Director of Marketing for Viz Pictures, who mentions that Viz is actually building their own arthouse theater is San Francisco to push their Japanese live-action film acquisitions.

- It’s not a first in terms of film, but I guess it’s a first for him. Korean actor Kim Rae Won will be starring in his first Japanese film alongside Japanese actress Mirai Yamamoto. As always, it’s yet another love story between characters whom I presume to be Korean and Japanese, and hey, you won’t have to wait long: the filming already took place this past Spring.

- Two more Asian countries decide on what film to submit to compete for the Academy Awards for the best foreign film - Singapore will send the hit musical 881, while the Philippines will send Donsol, which has won awards at several film festivals.

- This weekend, the Japan Times’ Mark Schilling has a review of Naoko Ogigami’s Megane, her long-awaited follow-up to the indie hit The Seagull Diner.

That’s it for today, but look for a long-awaited entry in the spin-off

 
 
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