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Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

The Golden Rock - March 4, 2012 Edition

This entry covers two major messes going on in the Chinese film industry, and a Golden Broom to sweep it all up.

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Photo from Sina Entertainment Weibo account

- The attention for action film SPECIAL IDENTITY meant to go to Donnie Yen, who is starring and producing under the direction of Clarence Fok. However, the attention has now shifted elsewhere before shooting has even wrapped.

This started when Apple Daily reported on February 24th that co-star Vincent Zhao essentially left the set due to complaints about the new script by Hong Kong writer James Yuen, which undermines his role and favors Donnie’s. The new script had been changed without Zhao’s approval, though Zhao’s contract said that he had the right to do so. There were also complaints about Zhao’s prima donna attitude on set (which includes an entourage of seven).

On February 27th, the SECRET IDENTITY production opened its own official Weibo account (verified as the real deal by Sina), followed by an official statement from the production on the night of February 29th announcing that Vincent Zhao has officially left the production, and that it was an amicable split. James Yuen (he’ll show up again later, by the way) also wrote his Weibo that he did not write one word of the film.

Two hours later, Vincent Zhao posted a e-mail from the IDENTITY production on his own Weibo:

vzhaoemail.jpg

As of noon on March 1, 2012, the SECRET IDENTITY production will no longer provide accommodation for Mr. Vincent Zhao. I hope you can understand; the production is seriously over-budget!”

At 6 am, Zhao also posted a statement on his Weibo discrediting the points in the Apple Daily report one by one, and that the statement from the production was released without his knowledge, which means Zhao has essentially been fired.

Zhao’s wife also joined in on the fun, defending her husband and accusing the production of using him as a scapegoat for the mismanagement of the film’s finances. Zhao calls himself the victim and left Shenzhen (where the film was being shot) for Beijing on the same day. Meanwhile, public support from Zhao’s past co-stars like Laung Ka Yan, Timmy Hung, Xu Jiao, and Wudang director Patrick Leung came Weibo-ing in.

Thing were quiet until today, March 4th, when Zhao held a press conference in Beijing essentially repeating his Weibo statement. He accused the production of changing the script that he’d signed up for without his approval, and that he was unilaterally dismissed by the production.

Several hours later, the production put out its own statements to counter Zhao’s points. They are as follows:

1) Zhao caused the start of production to be delayed by a day because he not only demanded to be upgraded to an executive suite, he also demanded that the production pay for the expenses for his wife, his two kids, the nanny, an English teacher, his agent, and his assistant, as well as a driver and bodyguards (a martial arts actor needing a bodyguard. Imagine that).

2) The script changes were done for the benefit of the film. As producer and action director, Donnie had approached Zhao to discuss the changes, only to be turned away. In fact, the production only agreed to take on Zhao based on Donnie’s recommendation.

3) Andy On is to replace Zhao on the production.

Zhao says he retains his right to take legal action, but with On joining the production and Zhao simply crying shenanigans, it looks like this will remain only a battle of words. Zhao has little more to say (unless he wishes to counter the production’s counter-argument), but it’s likely that SPECIAL IDENTITY will be remembered more for this scandal than anything else for the time being.

- Another person calling foul is writer James Yuen. The respected Hong Kong scriptwriter of films like LOST IN TIME, several Peter Chan films, and oh, HERE COMES FORTUNE, is crying foul because he claims that his script for SHADOWS OF LOVE, the latest Cecilia Cheung film, was stolen by the film’s investor.

 shadowlove.jpg

This all began on February 19th when Oriental Daily reported Yuen’s claims that he has written the original script for SHADOWS OF LOVE, and that its investor Allen Tan (a former talent agent) took it without giving proper credit or proper compensation. After a strong denial Tan himself, who says director Calvin Poon and his writer essentially rewrote the script, which means there’s not much traces of Yuen’s work. Tan also accused Yuen of demanding too much money. Angered, Yuen took it further by writing a complete account of his side on Weibo.

Here are the basic explanation of Yuen’s claims:

  • Yuen was asked by Tan in March 2010 if he had any scripts that Tan could produce.  Yuen then turned in a 6000-word outline that he wrote with two assistants back in 2009. However, he never heard from Tan again.
  • In June 2011, Yuen heard that a film with the same story and characters starring Cecilia Cheung had just wrapped shooting.  The film’s producer: Allan Tan
  • Yuen then called producer Stanley Kwan, who said that he knew they were Yuen’s material and even asked Tan to settle any copyright and payment issues. That was never done
  • The following month, Yuen and Tan had a meeting, and Tan asks Yuen to sell off the rights to him and his company. Yuen agreed and even signed a contract.
  • However, Yuen claims he never got his payment, and when he inquired Tan about it, Tan said that financiers China Film Group and DMG were unwillingly to pay.

On February 22nd, Yuen writes that this mess has entered legal proceedings, which means there won’t be any more public comments from either side. However, this may also block the film’s release until the case is settled and turn this into another case of bad luck/bad career choice for Cecilia Cheung.

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- On Saturday, March 3rd, the 3rd Annual Golden Broom Awards was held in China. Much like the Razzies in America, the award (dis)honors the worst in Chinese cinema. After nominations from the public, the awards are decided by a jury of 27, which includes scholars, film critics, authors, editors, and members of the media. The award ceremony also included a respectable guest list that included director Wang Shaoshuai, Li Yu (BUDDHA MOUNTAIN), Manfred Wong, Lou Ye (SUMMER PALACE), Gu Changwei (LOVE FOR LIFE), Zhang Meng (PIANO IN A FACTORY), Yu Dong (head of Bona Group), and actress Qin Hailin. By the way, none of them won any of the dishonors.

Here is a list of (lose-)winners:

Most Disappointing Films: WARRING STATES, LEGENDARY AMAZONS, THE LOST BLADESMAN

Most Disappointing Mid-Low-Budget Films: NO. 32, B DISTRICT and LOVE NEVER DIES

Special Jury Prize for Most Disappointing Film: FLOWERS OF WAR (for using the Nanjing Massacre to sell sex)

Most Disappointing Directors: Frankie Chan (LEGENDARY AMAZONS), Gao Xiaosong (MY KINGDOM)

Most Disappointing Actor: Sun Honglei (WARRING STATES)

Most Disappointing Actress: Cecilia Cheung (LEGENDARY AMAZONS and TREASURE HUNT)

Most Disappointing Ensemble: EAST MEETS WEST

Most Disappointing Animated Film: XI BAI PO

Most Disappointing Imported Film: THE GREEN HORNET

Since the award was being held by the mook (magazine-book) YOUTH FILM HANDBOOK, there were also positive awards handed out to good films, but we won’t mention them here.

As expected, no one that won any of the disappointing award actually showed up. Instead, you got the Cecilia imposter above and the Sun Honglei imposter here:

 sungoldbroom.jpg

 

Of course, we can’t expect anyone to have Halle Berry or Sandra Bullock’s sense of humor, right?

 

SOURCES

Sina Weibo
Mtime

The Golden Rock - February 17th, 2012 Edition

 

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The biggest story in Hong Kong entertainment these last several days is not any movie or celebrity gossip, but rather the image breakdown of a man named Henry Tang.

For more about who Henry Tang is, you can read his wikipedia page. The simple explanation is that he is one of the several people running for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive position. He’s been behind in the polls, but his unpopularity goes all the way back before he quit his job as the Chief Secretary to run for his boss’ job, including an antagonistic attitude towards young critics of the government and other public speaking gaffes (all detailed in Wikipedia). He was also involved in an infidelity scandal that broke out (and almost forgotten) just several months ago. However, he is still a heavy favorite due to backing from Hong Kong’s tycoons.

But now, his campaign seemed to have been dealt the ultimate blow due to a 2,400 square feet basement in his luxury home.

How, you ask? Let us go back to half a year ago, when the government decided to crack down on illegal structures built in/on Hong Kong houses.

What constitutes as illegal structures, you ask? When you build a house in Hong Kong, you’re supposed to submit plans to the relevant authority, who would then go by its criteria to decide whether you’re following building codes or not. However, many house owners tend to build extra structures on their home - like a balcony or a shack on the roof - without obtaining government approval, thus running the risk of violating building codes.

When the government had its crackdown, the media discovered that several high-ranking officials also have such illegal structures in their homes, which prompted a whole lot of wrist-slapping and promises to take down the illegal structures. Tang was not one of the people who admitted to having built an illegal structure in his home at the time.

Just when everyone though the illegal structure controversy was over in the government, this happened this week. 

A longtime target of ridicule by netizens, Tang has finally given netizens the ultimate target, and over the last 24 hours, they have been having a field day filling the internet with memes that ridicule the situation.

This is where this blog comes in. Since many of the memes are photoshopped version of Hong Kong movie posters, I’m going to share several posters I found on the “Tang Earthquake” Facebook page (The Chinese title for AFTERSHOCK is “Tangshan Da Di Zhen”, and “Tang Shen” in Cantonese means “Mr. Tang”). This not only reflects Hong Kong cinema in pop culture; it also proves that creativity (especially in satire) is still alive and well here in Hong Kong:

(By the way, any woman you see that isn’t an actress would be Tang’s wife, who is shouldering the blame for this mess)

tang1.jpg
Mr. Tang’s Earthquake

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Tang’s home is at 7 York Rd., hence the CAPE NO.7 reference.

tang3.jpg
Henry Tang as Tony Leung

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The Tang Palace, in 3D

tang5.jpg
No longer Laughing Gor

 tang6.jpg
You are the Basement of My Eye

tang7.jpg
Ip Man—>葉問—>別問—–>Don’t Ask

tang8.jpg
Produced by “Pig Dragon” - Tang was once asked how he felt about netizens saying that he looks like a pig. His answer: “I was born in the year of the dragon”

tang9.jpg
I’d rather see this than the Jay Chou movie

tang10.jpg
Stephen Chow is actually a Tang supporter, which adds extra comedic value to this poster.

 And while this one has nothing to do with films, here’s one to take us out:

 tang11.jpg

Who says Hong Kong cinema is dead? I’d say the art of satire is alive and well!

All the photos that have been used here can be found on the Tang Earthquake Facebook page, where many more memes can be found. The Hong Kong Film blog also has a post about the parody posters today, and webmaster Ryan has even taken the effort to put up side-by-side comparisons.

 

The Golden Rock - August 6, 2011 Edition

Today is what is known as Chinese Valentine’s Day. So what better way to spend the night than to write a blog entry?

Like many other places in the world, summer is when Hollywood shines in Hong Kong cinemas. With films like TRANSFORMERS and HARRY POTTER dominating literally more than half of the city’s multiplex screens, it’s hard to imagine any big local/Chinese-language films having the guts to compete.

However, there have always been a few tentpoles that is able to attract audiences over the years - INITIAL D, STORM RIDERS, INVISIBLE TARGET, and RED CLIFF. Even in 2010, we saw a good share of Chinese-language (co-production) blockbusters (regardless of their quality) like STOOL PIGEON, TRIPLE TAP, CITY UNDER SIEGE, AFTERSHOCK. Even BREAK-UP CLUB made a nice chunk of change for a film in its genre.

And now, here we are in 2011. Between June 1 and September 1, Hong Kong cinemas only have these Chinese-language films getting wide releases: MICROSEX OFFICE, TREASURE INN, BEGINNING OF THE GREAT REVIVAL, BEACH SPIKE, LOVE IS THE ONLY ANSWER, WU XIA, FORTUNE BUDDIES, OVERHEARD 2, SUMMER LOVE, and THE WOMAN KNIGHT OF MIRROR LAKE. By this week last year, AFTERSHOCK and BREAK-UP CLUB already managed to break the HK$10 million mark at the box office.

On the other hand, from June 1 to August 6, 2011, none of the Chinese-language films listed above managed to reach that mark yet. Even WU XIA, the most likely candidate, will likely only gross HK$8 million when its theatrical run is over.

So, what the hell happened? Not to undermine GREAT REVIVAL and TREASURE INN, but there has been a clear lack of tentpole this year here in Hong Kong, with audiences all flocking to Hollywood films for their fix of spectacle, dimmed 3D projection, and pretty foreigners. Instead, we get low-budget Hong Kong productions made for audiences under the age of 25. While we saw LA COMEDIE HUMANIE do moderately well last year, the only adult-skewing comedy Hong Kong has to offer this summer is MICROSEX OFFICE.

It’s China’s fault.

Opening mid-June, BEGINNING OF GREAT REVIVAL essentially cleared the path for most Chinese blockbusters in Chinese cinemas, including Hong Kong-China co-productions. Granted, Lunar New Year and December are actually Chinese cinema industries’ strongest periods, but at least we got Benny Chan’s big-budget mutant movie and Derek Yee’s “I’m selling out to China” action films in 2010.

Instead, China opened smaller, local-oriented productions like LOVE FINALLY, THE DEVIL INSIDE ME, PRETENDING LOVERS, and MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, with WU XIA being the big tentpole in July. There was also the big-budget, China-oriented fantasy REST ON YOUR SHOULDER, which flopped due to it being distributed with little promotion and it sucking.

Instead, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND scored big, making 80 million yuan all thanks to young audiences not interested in WU XIA and a young starlet named Mini Yang. Even the PRETENDING LOVERS made a decent amount of change at 31 million yuan, which is not bad for a film starring Huang Bo and a director who got so fired that he was literally just credited as the “pre-production director”.

miniyang.jpg
Yes, this immense talent(s) put more asses in Chinese cinema seats than Jordan Chan and Hiro Hayama combined. Really.

However, what appeal do films like MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, PRETENDING LOVERS, and REST ON YOUR SHOULDERS have for us Hong Kongers? None - as PRETENDING and REST have yet to have any Hong Kong release date, while MYSTERIOUS ISLAND only got a small, seven-screen release (Mei Ah probably wasn’t even interested in booking more cinemas than seven). As a result, cinemas needed low-budget comedies like SUMMER OF LOVE, BEACH SPIKE, LOVE IS THE ONLY ANSWER, and MICROSEX OFFICE to fill the gap. I suspect that the combined budget for these films don’t even pay Donnie Yen’s salary on WU XIA.

It’s Hong Kong’s fault. 

As mentioned earlier, Barbara Wong’s BREAK UP CLUB was the surprise hit in summer 2010, and even MARRIAGE WITH A LIAR managed to turn a profit in  Christmas 2010. What’s a film investor to do but to invest in films that attract vapid, young consumers who have to leave the house, but need an air-conditioned venue to pass the time? That’s where BEACH SPIKE, LOVE IS THE ONLY ANSWER, and even SUMMER LOVE (which ironically opens 6 days before the school year starts) all come in.

However, what the producers didn’t anticipate was that many films avoided the double-whammy of TRANSFORMERS and HARRY POTTER, allowing the two to take up so many screens that it could fit in all the audiences that wanted to flock to them. Also, producers didn’t realize that the demographic they were trying to appeal to was also the most likely demographic that would download these low-budget films on their computer/iphones/MP4 players because, well, they look like they deserve to be played on those platforms. In fact, these films were made at such a low budget that LOVE IS THE ONLY ANSWER is already considered successful at its currently HK$5 million gross.

While people like to blame China and its money for the lack of Hong Kong-oriented productions worth watching, it was also Hong Kong audiences who marginalized themselves with their viewing behaviors and tendency to turn to the cheapest way to get anything. When BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS made 320 million yuan in China, it only made HK$15 million in Hong Kong. When OVERHEARD made 86 million yuan in China, it also made just HK$15 million. Where were Hong Kong audiences for films like ISABELLA, WRITTEN BY, GALLANTS, ONCE A GANGSTERS, and ACCIDENT? When Chinese audiences became so much more receptive to films by Hong Kong filmmakers than audiences of their own home, can you blame these Hong Kong filmmakers for having to look up north? Hong Kong filmmakers are trying to make a living, too, and they will go where they can survive, because seriously, when will Andrew Lau and Gordon Chan ever make a film for its artistic merits?

Before you get ashamed of having Patrick Kong using labels like “support Hong Kong cinema” as a selling point for his next crappy idol-driven romantic comedy, ask yourself, what have you done to prevent that from happening by supporting the good films that ought to be representing Hong Kong cinema?

It’s Hollywood’s fault. 

Comic-book heroes, magical wizards, and fightin’ robots are all that we’ve seen here in Hong Kong this summer, and it’s not only because the audiences asked for them - it’s because the distributors demanded it. Distributors of major Hollywood blockbusters here in Hong Kong, knowing their clout over multiplexes, reportedly force cinema chains to follow terms like not cutting shows in the first week and demanding them to carry 3D versions in order to cash in on the higher ticket prices. Instead of lowering the number of 3D screens for a more balanced ratio between 2D and 3D versions, these films simply took up even more screens to fit in limited showings of 2D versions.

In fact, the reason that WU XIA had to open three weeks late in Hong Kong was because it simply wouldn’t be able to withstand TRANFORMERS and HARRY POTTER, and We Pictures felt it needed a two-week gap to even make a dent. That’s how afraid we are these days.

No matter whose fault it is, I think it’s pretty accurate to say that Hong Kong cinema in the summer of 2011 has sucked. It’s a vicious cycle - you make movies that no one wants to see, then no money comes back to you. You have no money to make the next movie, so you go to another place that’ll have money for you. Perhaps this may also shed some light on why the blog has such a heavy China focus now - While Apple Daily puts up daily reports of scandals from Miss Hong Kong, Chinese reporters are busy going to one press conference after another, actually reporting news about THE FILMS. Regardless of how many shady practices are going on behind the scenes of those press conferences, at least people are actually informing people about the movies, not the gossip.

Of course, there’s also the idea of scheduling to deal with, but that’ll be a focus story some other time.

- Speaking of press conferences, CRAZY RACER/STONE director Ning Hao has finally unveiled his latest film to the press. His most expensive film to date at 50 million yuan, HUANG JIN DA JIE AN is another heist film, this time taking place in 1930s Manchuria. That means expect double-crosses, nice period set designs, and of course, evil Japanese people. While the cast is mostly new actors with little experience, Huang Bo also will have a small role in the film.

As for NO MAN’S LAND, his desert heist film that is still stuck in distribution limbo, Ning Hao only said that production on the film has finished a long time ago, and that the production company is responsible for its distribution. This is why he felt he was free to move on to another film.

Meanwhile, insiders tell me that those who saw it said NO MAN’S ZONE is great, but it’s likely that it’ll be stuck in censorship limbo for a while.

- Here in Hong Kong, director Herman Yau also unveiled his latest film, produced by prolific local producer Ng Kin Hung (GIRL$, HI, FIDELITY). It’s a romantic comedy starring Chapman To, Elanne Kwong, and Tien Niu. Chapman and Elanne will be playing husband and wife, so you already know it’s a comedy. The film just began shooting, and knowing Yau’s efficiency, it’s probably in the editing room already.

Seriously, though, it’ll probably be out by the end of the year.

- Both Zhang Hanyu and John Woo’s representative have pretty much confirmed that John Woo will be shooting a film based on the sinking of the Taiping instead of FLYING TIGERS at the end of the year. In addition to Zhang, Korean actress Song Hye-Kyo will be co-starring as Zhang’s wife. With a real-life ship sinking and a love triangle as its core, it’s no surprise that this is being dubbed as the “Chinese TITANIC”.

- In more production news, I reported earlier about Chen Kaige’s next neorealism project will start shooting in September. More details have emerged, revealing that it’ll be a drama about internet bullying that’s based on an internet novel. The film will be shot while sets are being built for his big-budget fantasy project, and insiders say that the small-scale film will star Ge You and Yao Chen.

- I also reported earlier that director Wang Quan’An’s latest will not be making it to Toronto and Venice. At a retrospective of his films in Beijing, Wang revealed that he has completed editing a rough cut of his latest film WHITE DEER PLAIN. Initially five hours long, Wang managed to cut another hour out of the film after his honeymoon with wife/the film’s star Kitty Zhang, and the current four-hour cut is being submitted to censors. After it’s approved, Wang will likely take another crack at cutting it to a manageable length. The film will be released in October at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Wang’s award-winning APART TOGETHER still hasn’t been distributed in China in cinemas nor video (though it was screened at the retrospective). What’s the hold up??!!

- Those who still care about box office: HARRY POTTER 7.2 finally opened in China, and unofficial figures put it at a 48 million yuan opening day. That means it’ll beat 7.1’s first weekend gross of 81 million yuan in two days. It won’t beat TRANSFORMERS at this rate, but it’ll probably make around 400 million yuan, which means it will also beat BEGINNING OF THE GREAT REVIVAL at the box office. Meanwhile, a Weibo insider also noticed a huge surge in the box office for YANG SHAN ZHOU (one of the propaganda films) on the day of HARRY POTTER’s opening. Make what you will out of that on your own.

- The head of Xiangtan City’s Bureau of Radio, Film, and Television in Hunan Province wants to make a big-budget outdoor production of a Mao Zedong biopic, and he wants some western production values for his play. To achieve his goal, he took to his Weibo (he has a verified account), and literally wrote this:

“Can anyone help provide the contact information for Canadian director James Cameron? His films TITANIC and AVATAR set new records at the box office records. The recently-established Shaoshan Red Culture Tourism Group is currently looking for collaborators to produce a big-budget outdoor production of ZHONG GUO CHU LE GE MAO ZEDONG (Literally “China Made a Mao Zedong”), and I want to hire him as a creative consultant. Please provide, please repost. Thanks!”

Within a day, the message was reposted 37,000 times, with 15,000 comments, most of those ridiculing the poor government official of trying to be funny.  Finally, a netizen posted a phone number for what he claims to be James Cameron’s production company.  However, Lightstorm Entertainment said they haven’t heard anything about this possible collaboration.

In case you don’t know, Xiangtan is the hometown of several Chinese Communist Party founders, including Mao himself.

Next time: THE HORROR, oh, THE HORROR in China, and more.

Sources:

M1905 1
M1905 2
Mtime
Sina 1
Sina 2
Sina 3
Sina 4

The Golden Rock Meets A Man Called Ekin Edition

Before this blogger gets into the Korean film blogathon and talking more about China, I want to get into detailing one of the greatest experiences in LoveHKFilm’s history. Yes, we went to see an Ekin Cheng concert.

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No, I don’t get the Russian influence, either.

Boss Kozo hass already seen the last Ekin concert, but this marks the first time half the LoveHKFilm writers (yes, all two of us) went out and saw the unofficial ambassador of LoveHKFilm.com, making this THE LoveHKFilm.com event of the year so far.

Besides, we couldn’t get tickets to the Faye Wong concert.

Of course, beyond the LHKF context, I have my own reasons for going. Growing up in the United States during Ekin’s popularity peak, I was exposed to my Chinese-American classmates worship the YOUNG AND DANGEROUS series and its star, Dior/Ekin/Noodle Cheng. I literally spent my teenage-hood listening to his music, both voluntarily and involuntarily. It didn’t (and still doesn’t) matter whether Ekin has any real musical talent - they will always be a big part of my life’s soundtrack.

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Yay!

Because of his history as an actor, at least half the setlist comprised of movie songs like those from YOUNG AND DANGEROUS, LEGEND OF SPEED, STORM RIDERS, FEEL 100%, and of course, A MAN CALLED HERO. The other half consisted of songs from pop singer Ekin, which surprised me quite a bit because I didn’t know 1) He had that many songs to share, and 2) I would know so much of them.

Of course, a certain webmaster wasn’t so familiar, and had to kill time some other way:

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And he STILL had to use the Mighty Eagle.

So, to see Ekin live and perform those songs again was most definitely a rewarding experience. Yes, he missed lyrics, he missed notes, and the tree on the stage was weird, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun.

And now, some more cool pictures:

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“Let me gather my chi and aim at that Kozo guy…”

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Musical guest Pakho Chow (SPLIT SECOND MURDERS) and Noodle.

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Ekin Cheng for President!

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“Holy crap, Kozo still write movie reviews?!”

And ladies and gentlemen, I save the best for last. I give you THE best Ekin Cheng expression EVER:

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Just make your own caption.

The Golden Rock - Most Awesome Music Video Edition

Apologies for not catching up on the news lately. But as a compensation, I would like to give you the most awesome music video in contemporary Hong Kong pop culture:

It’s Ekin. Aaron. Not just together in movies anymore. They’re now joined in song:

You gotta love the man-brace in the end.

Storm Warriors better be the most super-duper awesome-est movie ever made. After Founding of a Republic, of course.

The Golden Rock - May 20th, 2008 Edition

- As expected, The Chronicles of Narnia opened first place at the Korean box office. However, as Korea Pop Wars reports, the sequel opened slightly lower than the first film. Meanwhile, Speed Racer didn’t experience a real free fall, already having 745,000 admissions after two weekends, meaning it should move past the million admission mark. Iron Man continues to perform strongly with 3.7 million admissions after three weekends. Full chart over at Twitch.

- The full list of films to be featured at this year’s New York Asian Film Festival is out, and you can find a full list via Tokyograph. Also, Subway Cinema’s Brian offers his thoughts on this year’s picks.

- The Oriental Daily reported it, and now Variety’s Derek Elly confirms it in his review: The new Ashes of Time Redux isn’t much different from the original film in terms of structure and length, although the new score seems to make a world of difference.

- A new English-subtitled trailer for John Woo’s Red Cliff is now online. However, like the trailer for The Good, the Bad, and The Weird yesterday, there’s no guarantee how long it’ll be online. Besides, it didn’t really get me any more excited for the film.

- That was fas, after Thelma Aoyama’s “Soba ni Iru ne” broke the record for reaching one million cell phone downloads in the quickest time about a month ago, previous record holder GReeeen came right back and recaptured the record with their latest song.

- Film buyers, time to add another festival on your schedule: The popular Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival is launching its own film market for genre films. Question is, are there that many films for sale these days?

- The first posters for Derek Yee’s The Shinjuku Incident, featuring Jackie Chan in his first dramatic/non-action-oriented role, showed up at the Cannes film market. Also, someone in the comment section revealed that the film may be due for a ban in China because it involves the Japanese yakuzas, even though the film is a co-production that filmed in China.

- Those who don’t get who the newly popular Japanese male trio Shuuchishin is can get a brief explanation here. Japan has a thing for gimmick pop, and it looks like this is one of them.

- Lastly, the American sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live did a Japanese take on The Office that’s funny at first, but only ended up growing annoying as it went on. Still, at least the Japanese was correct despite the heavy accent. And Ricky Gervais is still brilliant.

The Golden Rock - May 7th, 2008 Edition

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! Muri Na Renai (the drama about the 60-year-old man in love with a woman 25 years younger) continues its freefall with a drop to 6.9% rating in the previous episode (we’ll talk about the latest episode next week(. Meanwhile, the Yu Aoi-led drama Osen drops quite a bit in its second week to an 8.7% rating. Last Friends continues to perform strongly, as its ratings went up to a 15.9% again for its 4th episode. However, it’s still the third installment of Gokusen that’s winning the season, though its ratings fell again for the second week in a row, now down to a 23.3%, although the Golden Week holidays may have something to do with it. Another freefalling drama to watch out for is Ryokiteki na Kanojo (aka the drama adaptation of Korean film My Sassy Girl), whose rating dropped by another 2.8% to only an 8.7% for its third episode.

Japanese drama info at Tokyograph.

- It’s Japan music charts time! On the Oricon charts, Koichi Domoto, under the name of his character in the movie Sushi Ouji got the number one single. Shuchishin (what is the big deal with these guys?) continue their stand at #2, beating all the other new releases of the week.

Meanwhile, Madonna topped the album charts with her latest album, as the other new release, the Sushi Ouji soundtrack barely got on the chart.

More at Tokyograph.

Meanwhile, the more comprehensive Billboard Japan 100 charts put British artist Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love” at the top and Hata Motohiro at 2nd place, with the latter due to radio play. Since the Billboard charts have different criteria such as radio play and surveying possibly a different number of stores, it’s interesting to see the different ways of gauging musical popularity.

Also, Thelma Aoyama’s hit single “Soba Ni Iru Ne” is now the top single of 2008…so far.

- No Japanese box office numbers yet, but different reports are coming in about Aibou’s phenomenal opening. Over the 5-day holiday weekend, the drama adaptation already racked up over 1.2 billion yen, and its attendance figures is at 150% of YAMATO’s opening, although I don’t think YAMATO opened on an extended weekend such as this.

report from Tokyograph.

report from Variety Asia.

- Hollywood Reporter’s Maggie Lee has a review of Daniel Lee’s Three Kingdoms - Resurrection of the Dragon. What, no mention of Maggie Q’s “when my men battle, I rock the ancient guitar” routine?

- The troubled Bangkok Film Festival is back this year, but it’s now been shifted from July to September, and it will probably be part of the new Bangkok Entertainment Expo, modeled after the successful Hong Kong Entertainment Expo.

- Question: How the hell do you pull off a concept single with “vivid” as a concept?

- Grady Hendrix looks at what’s wrong with Korean films this year just from looking at the trailer for The Legendary Libido.

- Under “your daily Edison Chen news” today, actor/director Stephen Fung confirmed that his latest film Jump is currently stuck in limbo while awaiting approval from China’s SARFT. Also, he said that he did not cut one frame of Edison’s role in the film.

- Lastly, Nippon Cinema gives us a look at just how hard it is to promote a blockbuster film in Japan these days.

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The Golden Rock - May 6th, 2008 Edition

Japan is at the tail end of its Golden Week holiday, so no Japanese drama numbers yet.

- However, we do have the Japan box office attendance figures for Saturday and Sunday (the “weekend” in Japanese box office terms since Saturday is opening day), and popular drama-now-movie Aibou (aka Partners The Movie) is at the top as expected. Meanwhile, 10,000 B.C. fell to 5th place already, Shaolin Girl hangs on at 3rd (despite poor English-language reviews), and Conan also hangs on by falling only to second place. Believe it or not, the only film that didn’t fall in placing is Nicholas Cage’s sci-fi thriller Next, which stayed at 8th place.

- Twitch also has the Korean attendance figures for the past weekend. Iron Man has already passed the 1 million mark, not including the Monday holiday. Also, The Legendary Libido attracts only 181,000 admissions, while the French action film Taken has already reached 1.7 million admissions.

- Kaiju Shakedown brings to our attention to the Kankuro Kudo-penned, so-crazy-it-might-be-good stage show Metal Macbeth. Its cast actually features Takako Matsu, who is actually quite an accomplished stage actress in addition to her success on TV dramas. Do I dare spend 6800 yen on a 210-minute stage with no subtitle at all on DVD?

- Twitch offers us the full-length trailer for the Japanese action film Chameleon, which I hope won’t have as much slow-mo hair moments as Donnie Yen movies often do. Actually, the behind the scenes video of star Tatsuya Fujiwara doing stunts were more interesting than the trailer.

There’s also a trailer for Kami ga Kari, the latest film from director Minoru Kawasaki, better known for cult favorites such as Crab Goalkeeper, Calamari Wrestler, and Everything but Japan Sinks. It seems to be a more mature film about…a magical stylist?

- Ahead of the release of his latest film, director M. Night Shyamalan will be receiving the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian honors.

- It’s Cannes Film Market news time! First, Variety takes a look at the films Japanese studios will be taking to the market, including the second film by Kenji Uchida (Stranger of Mine) and Mamoru Oshii’s The Sky Crawlers.

Also, the Thai-Singapore-Hong Kong co-produced horror film The Coffin will be premiering at the market. The film stars Hong Kong-based actress Karen Mok and has a Thai-based director.

- Bollywood, after remaking plenty of overseas films without buying any rights, are now talking with Warner Bros. about buying the rights to remake The Wedding Crashers.

- Remember a few months ago, Yuen Wo-Ping wanted to train people to kick ass? It may be for the film Iron Mask, the supposed sequel to Iron Monkey that will star Louis Koo and Shawn Yue that will start shooting in July.

- Lastly, I give you all the Stephen Colbert-Rain dance-off:

Remember, guys. It’s all played for laughs.

The Golden Rock - January 21st, 2008 Edition

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! The first full week of the winter 2008 season is over, and the Shingo Katori-Yuko Takeuchi drama Bara No Nai Hanaya leads the pack with a 22.4% rating for its premiere episode. Not far behind is fellow Smap member Goro Inagaki and Koyuki’s starrer Sasaki Fusai No Jingi Naki Tatakai (Jason Gray writes about it here) with its premiere episode scoring a 17.3 rating last night. Binboman, starring Shun Oguri, also did pretty well in its first episode with a 16.5% rating.

Meanwhile, several dramas saw a rise in ratings after their premiere episode. Saito-san, which the Daily Yomiuri’s Teleview column wrote about last weekend, saw its second episode score a 17.4% rating, up from the 15.3% for its first episode. The Kenkuro Kudo-penned drama Mirai Koushi Meguru saw its second episode go up to a 10.6%, up from the 9.0% for its premiere episode.

However, other dramas took the usual fall. Last week’s big premiere The Negotiator dropped from the 16.7% for its first episode to a 13.8% for this past week, the boxing drama One-Pound Gospel dropped from 13.0% to 11.4%, and the manga adaptation Honey and Clover drops to 10% from its 12.9%-rated premiere.

All Winter 2008 drama information from Tokyograph

- The Hong Kong Film Critics Society has announced their 2007 awards, and they are not as nutty this year:

Best Picture: The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
Best Director: Ann Hui - The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
Best Screenplay: Wai Ka-Fai, Au Kin-Yee - Mad Detective
Best Actor: Tony Leung Ka-Fai - Eye in the Sky
Best Actress: Siqin Gaowa - The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
Recommended films (only 8 this year, as opposed to 10): Eye in the Sky, The Warlords, Whispers and Moans, Hooked On You, Mad Detective, Triangle, Protege, The Detective.

No Pang Ho-Cheung (no, he wasn’t even in the finalists list)? No Exodus? No Invisible Target? No Trivial Matters? At least no Wong Jing.

(courtesy of Hong Kong Film Blog)

- While the news of Johnnie To’s Sparrow heading to Berlin is not news, his assistant said that the possible English-language remake of The Red Circle is currently on hold because of the writer’s strike in America.

- While the Chinese government is admitting that the battle against piracy is a struggle, it’s interesting to read that people are downloading Hong Kong and Taiwanese television series that are usualy banned there. This means the government may be battling piracy not just because of copyright infringement, but to also keep the lid on banned materials.

- The teaser for Ping Pong director Fumihiko Sori’s Ichi, a re-imagining of the Zatoichi tale, is on the website. They’ve done something like this before, it was called Azumi, and it wasn’t that good.

- Meanwhile, the legendary Sonny Chiba has announced his first film under his new name Rindo Wachinaga. Za Toichi (The Toichi) will be about a blind moneylender. Chiba may act in the film under his acting name (as in Sonny Chiba).

- I already found this out on imdb: Ken Watanabe has signed up for his first Hollywood studio role since Letters From Iwo Jima for the vampire film Cirque du Freak. Of course, it’s probably just another supporting role with not much to do.

- Under “what the hell were they thinking?” news, an NHK crew was filming a drama when they attached a fake license plate to a background car in order to give the illusion that they are in another prefecture. However, they managed to take a break without removing the plate, and the car drove off with the fake license plate.  Always be careful with cars you’re not allowed to put fake license plates on, people.

- Thailand’s now-defunct iTV was first conceived as a fair and balance news network free of government influence. Ironically, its editorial control have now been given to the Thai military-run government after it was forced into bankruptcy.

- Meanwhile, Thai Airways stewardess are complaining about a new soap opera about air hostess that depicts immoral sexual relationships amongst stewardess and pilots. I guess the show isn’t sponsored by any major airlines then.

-  Kaiju Shakedown covers all the musicals going to South Korean stages that are based on movies. In fact, 30% of all musical on South Korean stages will be based on movies.

The Golden Rock - January 13th, 2008 Edition

- An interesting discovery today that borders on lame. A Hong Kong cram school commercial that parodies the CJ7 teaser with a guy walking around a dump looking for A’s. Isn’t it a little too early to be parodying it already?

- The Daily Yomiuri’s weekly Televiews column takes a look back at this year’s Kohaku and other lame Japanese New Year’s  Eve programming, many of which I missed because i was watching Kohaku like any Japanese person ought to.

- Singapore and Malaysia’s first gangster flick is coming out this Lunar New Year. Too bad it looks like successful commercial director Jack Neo’s seemingly lame telling of the My Wife is a Gangster formula. This may just be worse than Kung-Fu Dunk for Singapore’s Lunar New Year market. I shudder at that thought.

- Another Asian film is heading to Berlin. This time it’s Shin Onna Tachiguishi Retsuden, the omnibus film co-directed by Momoru Oshii along with five other directors. I didn’t even know it opened in Japan already.

- It’s hard to believe, but 50 Chinese websites have apparently “voluntarily” stopped providing illegal downloads of movies in a crackdown by authorities to stop piracy in China.

- Twitch’s Stefan has a review for Johnnie To’s Linger, which follows my general feelings towards the film. However, The Taipei Times seems to like it quite a bit. Does the Mandarin version make that much of a difference?

- The picture link below is of the latest Japanese pop duo to hit the pop world:

sisters.jpg (not work-safe)

 
 
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