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The Golden Rock 32nd Hong Kong Film Awards Not-so-live Blog

I promised I would do this, so here’s the not-live edition of the Golden Rock 32nd Hong Kong Film Awards, er, blog! 

The time code this year would be the running time of the show based on the video copy of the TVB broadcast I have (really, don’t ask where I got it) instead of the time of the broadcast. Sorry if it confuses a few people. The total running time of the show is just over 3 hours (no commercial breaks, obviously).

Here we go!

00:01:01: A highlight of the red carpet footage kick off the show. I wonder how furious TVB is for having to show all these non-TVB artists.

00:02:10: Show kicks off now with introduction of Best Picture nominees. MOTORWAY gets a car on the stage

00:02:45: Is that….a video background???? Also, that is clearly on a rig they stole from an old Universal Studios ride.

00:03:30: Chin Ka Lok gets of the car and says a few lines representing the film, then makes fun of cops not caring about film shoots.

00:04:15: Camera accidentally gets a few late comers on camera.

00:04:35: Best New Artist nominee (heh heh) Tsui Ka Kit says a few lines about COLD WAR and looks super stiff doing it. Can someone take back his nomination?

00:05:35: Some lame jump stunt representing THE BULLET VANISHES, then Liu Kai Chi shows how much better he is at delivering scripted lines than Tsui Ka Kit.

00:06:30: Lots of pyrotechnics for VIRAL FACTOR, then represented by Elaine Kam - who doesn’t fire a single shot in the film. “This is a film about a family - about two parents and two sons”. Then she goes on to describe the entire plot and that the film is about the importance of family. I TOLD YOU IT WASN’T JUST AN ACTION MOVIE.

00:07:55: Time for VULGARIA. I don’t even want to guess what they come up with here.

00:08:10: And Susan Shaw brings out a fake mule. “Tyrannosaur is a host tonight, so he’s not going to swear tonight” 

00:08:50: Camera captures a few more empty seats with GIFT BAGS. They should take those away from those people.

09:10:00: Tonight’s hosts: Gordon Lam, Eric Tsang, Ronald Tsang, and a bald Jerry Lamb.

00:09:50: The hosts tell us that Hong Kong made five additional films in 2012 thanks to the lowered cost of digital filmmaking.

00:10:45: Each guest gets several strips of film from the five nominated films. Wait, was any of them even SHOT on film?

00:12:00: Pang Ho Cheung and Ronald Cheng up first to present Best New Director and Best New Artist.

00:13:00: Chapman To reminds Pang that June Lam was not eligible for the Best New Artist. Pang: “No, I was feeling sorry for the mule in VULGARIA”.

00:13:40: Chapman To reveals that the VULGARIA mule was actually already in ASHES OF TIME and DETECTIVE DEE, and hence, not eligible for the Best New Artist award.

Pang: “That’s a deer”
To: “Any great actor can transform from a mule to a deer”

00:15:00: Best New Actor up first. I passed on all the nominees because I didn’t feel any of them was particularly deserving. Did they pretty much just show all of Tsui Ka Kit’s lines in that nomination clip?

And the winner of Best New Artist is….Tsui Ka Kit for COLD WAR. I think even Pang gave a “WTF” face there.

00:16:35: And with that, the HKFA committee just avoided an ICAC audit.

Tsui Ka Kit: “My acting wasn’t good enough, not as good as our past Chief Executive.” BURN.

I think Tsui is either a great public speaker or rehearsed this speech for a long time.

00:18:00: Tsui was the Deputy Director of Operations at the ICAC before a controversial dismissal in the 1990s

00:18:40: Best New Director now. Pang reveal now that co-directors are not eligible for the Best New Director award

00:19:10: To: “There are great directing teams out there. Pang Brothers, Coen Brothers, Wong Jing”

Pang: “Wong Jing is a solo director”

To: “That’s what he tells you”

00:19:45: Time for Best New Director. I predicted Roy Chow, but wanted Brian Tse for MCDULL.

And the winner of BEST NEW DIRECTOR is: Roy Chow for NIGHTFALL. Toldja.

00:20:50: Roy Chow thanks Edko’s Bill Kong. The first of a long line of wins for Edko tonight.

00:21;25: Roy Chow thanks Christine To and ends with an “I love you”. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

I think that’s the first public acknowledgement of their relationship.

00:23:30: Giddens and a little 6-year old girl out now to present Best Screenplay.

Poor little girl looks so nervous. Giddens keeps reminding her of that. too. Apparently, the little girl will be the star of his next film KUNG FU

00:24:40: I predicted COLD WAR to win, though I wanted VULGARIA.

Will this be a case of split votes for Pang?

00:26:30: And the winner is COLD WAR for Longman Leung and Sunny Luk. This is their first screenplay.

This sets in motion COLD WAR’s big night.

00:27:00: Sunny Luk is a longtime Assistant Director, but industry gossip says that he was never very good at it.

00:28:09: I’m really liking this no commercial break thing.

00:28:30: One award is voted for live at the show: The best-dressed award. Tonight’s winners are Lau Ching Wan-Amy Kwok and Sammi Cheng. Gordon Lam apparently missed that photo.

00:29:30: Ronald Cheng forgets his lines and Gordon Lam saves the day.

00:30:50: Alex Man (Best Supporting Actor nominee) and Janice Man on stage now to present Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.

Wait, Alex Man sells clothes now?

00:31:50: That video background is insanely distracting.

00:32:30: Alex Man demonstrating multiple styles of acting, from stage to film. Save us now.

Look up Alex Man’s little extended display last year at the Udine Far East Film Festival on Youtube and see why I dread this.

00:33:45: Alex Man forgot he’s on stage to present an award!

00:34:00: Best Art Direction. I predicted THE BULLET VANISHES, but wanted TAI CHI 0.

I just noticed that these are all period films.

And the winner is….THE LAST TYCOON. Oh, I’d forgotten about those sets.

00:35:55: Lau Ching Wan accept the award on behalf of Yee Chung Man. The other winner is here, though.

00:36:30: Alex Man and Lau Ching Wan chatting in the background is kind of distracting, too.

00:37:10: The two stay on stage to present…..oh, they both don’t know what they’re presenting. Professional.

00:37:30: This is Best Costume Design. I predicted THE SILENT WAR due to its Asian Film Awards win, but wanted THE GREAT MAGICIAN to win.

Again, all period films.

And the winner is………THE GREAT MAGICIAN. Alex Man tells Lau Ching Wan to come back to the stage. Yee Chung Man wins second award in a row.

00:39:25: Lau Ching Wan: “Don’t worry, you won’t see me on stage again tonight”

00:40:05: I still see a few gift bags.

00:40:20: Leo Ku on stage now to sing Best Original Song nominee from Lan Kwai Fong 2. A ballad…representing a film about clubbing. Such is Cantopop.

00:42:00: I’m sure this is bringing back many fond memories of the fine motion picture that is LAN KWAI FONG 2. Oh, wait none of these old geezers saw the film.

00:44:30: There’s an old guy in the extended leg room row who just flat out REFUSED to applaud.

00:45:10: Gigi Leung and someone that Ronald Cheng forgot now on stage to present Best Supporting Actress.

Oh, wait, that’s Andrew Lau. Ouch.

00:45:45: Leung: “I hear that Assistant Directors pick the supporting actress now. What do you think about that?”

Lau: “I don’t know how to answer that.”

Leung: “I was just reading from the script.”

Lau: “So I hear you recently got married.”

Leung: “I did, yes”

Lau: “So did Ekin Cheng.”


00:47:20: OK, I predicted Elaine Jin for the Best Supporting Actress award, but wanted Mavis Fan or Jiang Yiyan

The winner is…….Dada Chan for VULGARIA. This is for the Golden Forum brothers.

Dada seriously owes Pang Ho Cheung. The win was definitely for the character, not the performance.

00:48:35: Dada first thanks Pang Ho Cheung. She looks seriously caught off-guard.

00:50:30: No commercial break means we keep on trucking. Jerry Lamb and Eric Tsang share the stage now for some banter.

Lamb asks Tsang about film. Is this the beginning of the tribute to film? I mean literally film, not movies film.

00:51:40: Pioneer award now being presented to Kodak Eastman. Arthur Wong - finally not nominated for Best Cinematography this year - presents the award.

00:52:50: Wong: “Film is like human nature, some warm and some cold”

00:53:30: Wong: “Film gave us cinematographers a sense of authority and a sense of unease while the film gets developed.”

00:54:40: They better not pick any digitally shot movies in this montage tribute to FILM.

00:55:20: The Asia-Pacific Chairman of Kodak Eastman Lois Lebegue (is it supposed to be Louis?) accepts the award and gives a speech in English.

00:56:40: Lebegue: “Film remains the gold standard.” I will never learn to shoot on it, but indeed it is.

00:57:55: Lo Hoi Pang on stage now to present Best Visual Effects and Best Sound

Lo is known for his rhyming skills (the full story takes too long to translate), and delivers two for the audiences.

Lo’s story has to do with testing microphones, and uses that to emphasize the importance of sound in films. Heh heh.

Lo just says something about mothers on stage. Chapman To looks shocked.

1:00:45: Best Visual Effects up first. I predicted CHINESE ZODIAC to win, but want TAI CHI 0.

They just showed the fake-ass billiard scene and a crane shot from MOTORWAY because they had no idea what visual effects are.

And the winner is…..COLD WAR. Seriously? For that crappy explosion?

1:02:50: Lo forgets to give a speech and goes straight to Best Sound Design. I wanted THE BULLET VANISHES, but predict COLD WAR or VIRAL FACTOR to win.

Jesus, THE VIRAL FACTOR is such a loud movie.

And the winner is……COLD WAR. Kinson Tsang’s 29th nomination?!

1:04:50: Jerry Lamb: “The star of DIVA has apparently won many awards, but never won one.” Well, that’s not a big secret. Come on, Joey Yung.

Oh, she’s not here tonight.

That leaves Mag Lam to sing the DIVA theme song on her own (it’s supposed to be a duet)

1:07:00: I remember when UA Cinemas played this song on loop to promote DIVA. It’s not bad, actually.

1:10:20: Wong Kar Wai on stage by himself, first wishes Eric Tsang a happy birthday.

He’ll be back next year.

He’s here to give a speech about….shooting on film?

WKW: “Anyone on the set can mess up, but film developers can’t mess up”

1:12:00: WKW: “Film developers will never win awards or applause. We pay tribute to those film developers tonight”

1:13:00: Two Production Achievement Awards go to two professional film developers tonight.

1:14:30: These two hold especially important jobs. If a reel of master print is ruined, that entire reel has to be reshot.

1:18:00: All four hosts on stage now. It’s time for the Best Supporting Actor award - two of the four hosts are nominated this year.

Eric Tsang: “All four of us have been nominated before, but I’m the only one that has won before”.

1:20:20: Nick Cheung and Miriam Yeung on stage now to present Best Supporting Actor.

Tsang: “Miriam, I thought your dress is reversed”

The four hosts remain on stage. The banter now clearly off-script.

1:21:50: What is that digital waterfall doing in the back?!

1:22:05: Nick Cheung: “I’ve never won Supporting Actor before. I went straight to Best Actor”

Oh, everyone just remembered that Ronald Cheng and Miriam Yeung were a couple.

Miriam to Ronald: “Hey, haven’t seen you for a while!”

1:23:30: There was a lot of jump cuts in that nomination clip for VULGARIA.

OK, I guessed Ronald Cheng would win, and wants Ronald or Chapman To to win.

And the winner is……….Ronald Cheng for VULGARIA!!

Ronald and Miriam politely shake hands.

Nick Cheung asks if Ronald and Miriam have anything else to say before giving Ronald the stage.

1:26:00: Ronald Cheng: “Tonight’s script came too late, so I forgot about my own speech.”

Ronald starts to cry. “I know I didn’t give people a good impression when I first entered the industry because my father is a record company executive”

1:28:00: Ronald now talks about giving up music to put his heart into acting. Now, it finally pays off.

1:28:50: Eric Tsang: “I’m so touched [to Gordon Lam] It’s right that you didn’t win”

1:29:40: Jacky Cheung on stage now to perform the theme song from THE LAST TYCOON. Hey, buy the DVD and you can see my translation of the song lyrics!

1:32:50: Jacky Cheung is a really good singer.

1:33:40: Stephen Fung on stage now to present Best Cinematography and Best Editing.

Stephen Fung almost switches to Mandarin by accident.

1:34:45: First up is Best Cinematography. I guessed VIRAL FACTOR or COLD WAR. but think LAST TYCOON should win.

And the award goes to: Poon Yiu Ming for THE SILENT WAR.

Not a bad choice, just wasn’t one that I had expected.

1:37:00: Straight into Best Editing now. I expected COLD WAR to win, and want MOTORWAY or COLD WAR to win.

And the winner is……COLD WAR

Editing played a huge part in keeping COLD WAR’s intense pacing, which is why audiences loved it so much. So, there ya go.

1:39:30: Co-winner Wong Hoi’s first job was INITIAL D, which I absolutely HATED, especially for its editing. Oh, well.

1:40:50: Eric Tsang introduces this year’s In Memoriam segment.

“You Raise Me Up”? Seriously?

Screen on stage messes up and cuts off part of the screen. We see the names on TV, but it’s clearly too small for people in the venue to see.

1:44:30: Oliver Wong, Szeto Kam Yuen, Joe Cheng, Kong Ngai, Jacqueline Law, Austin Wai are just a few of the names recognized.

1:46:20: Jackie Chan on stage to present Best Film from Mainland and Taiwan. He’s mixing Mandarin and Cantonese on purpose for our Mainland Chinese guests. This is annoying.

1:48:40: OK, I predicted BACK TO 1942 to win Best Film from Mainland and Taiwan, and would be happy to see it win.

The winner is…………..BACK TO 1942. No surprise here. Zhang Guoli, Xu Fan and Huayi’s Wang Zhonglei accept the award.

1:52:00: I don’t think half the audience even knows that Xu Fan is speaking as Feng Xiaogang’s wife.

1:54:40: Mavis Fan and Choi Si Won (yeah,he’s Korean) on stage to present Best Original Score.

Wait, Choi Si Won speaks Mandarin? Why is he spending his banter saying hi to people in the audience.

1:56:40: I predicted that COLD WAR would win Best Original Score, but want DIVA to win.

And the winner is…………COLD WAR, for its unnecessary in-your-face film score. I forgot to keep score. How many has COLD WAR won now?

1:58:30: Now, the Best Original Song award. I expected the LAST TYCOON song to win, but want the ROMANCING IN THIN AIR song to win. This is a pretty competitive year in this category, IMHO.

And the winner is………..THE LAST TYCOON. Clearly, we all miss Jacky Cheung.

2:02:40: Jacky Cheung hasn’t accepted an award for a long time because he no longer accepts music award and hasn’t been nominated for a film award for a while. Eric Tsang: “It’s good to be nervous at your age. Come back once in a while!”

2:03:50: And now, Raymond Chow on stage to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Ng See Yuen.

Personal story about Ng See Yuen: He shows up at all the big functions at my film school, and that’s pretty much all we see of him in Hong Kong these days. He now operates a chain of cinemas in Mainland China.

2:05:00: Ng established several Hong Kong Filmmakers groups, including the Directors’ Association.

2:06:15: And Raymond Chow takes a 5-second break in his speech to reset his hard drive.

2:07:15: Raymond Chow finishes his speech and thanks the audience. Whew.

2:08:25: Ng gave Yuen Woo Ping, Tsui Hark, Jackie Chan their first chance at filmmaking. He’s also an important representative of the film industry and led protests against the triads in the film industry and film piracy. He also apparently came up with the idea for the Walk of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui.

2:15:00: Ng See Yuen’s speech is giving me a lot of facebook surfing time.

2:15:39: Ng See Yuen to young people: “stop complaining about your parents and your government”. Well, we know where he stands politically.

2:16:45: And now, Anthony Wong Yiu Ming pays tribute to, er, Leslie Cheung movie theme songs, I guess.

Anthony Wong admits that he often forgets lyrics, and he just did it.

2:23:44: A series of movie theme songs to remind us what a great star we lost - and the great films that no one makes anymore.

2:24:40: Gordon Lam: “Hong Kong action cinema has been great in the last few years because Eric Tsang hasn’t participated in it.”

02:25:30: Are they so devoid of presenters now that Eric Tsang has to be one of the presenters? He and Chrissie Chow now present Best Action.

02:27:00: Time for Best Action Design. I guessed that CHINESE ZODIAC would win, but wanted MOTORWAY to win.

Eric Tsang: “Is Chin Kar Lok that good, or is he just really cheap?”

And the winner is…..CHINESE ZODIAC. Regardless of the film’s quality, the action design’s actually not bad.

Jackie Chan lets the new kid give the acceptance speech. That’s a good call after that.

Jackie then translates for the Mandarin speaker. “He thanks me, he says” 

Thanks to Eric Tsang for getting a couple of jabs in.

Eric Tsang: “He just won for doing what he’s always done”

02:32:11: Gordon Lam reminds Eric Tsang that he’s never won Best Director before.

02:32:40: Aaron Kwok now here to present Best Director. Try not to overact this one.

02:34:25: OK, I realized that I didn’t make a prediction for Best Director. Since I already know who wins, I won’t make any prediction.

And the winner is………Longman Leung and Sunny Luk for COLD WAR, setting up for their Best Picture win.

I wonder the fact that many of the voters have worked with them before has anything to do with their win.

02:37:35: Sunny Luk thanks Wong Jing and another director as the people who taught him how to be a PA/Assistant Director.

02:38:20: And time for Best Actress. Going into the home stretch now.

Jacky Cheung’s back on stage to present. The Best Actor winner from last year should be here to present this. Where’s Andy Lau?

02:39:15: Jacky Cheung: “Actually, you know I’ve been acting since 1989, I just haven’t had much luck.

Cheung: “I was actually quite uncomfortable with presenting an acting award. Then I realized, hey, all the nominees are singers! Then I felt a lot more comfortable”

02:40:50: OK, I guessed Sammi Cheng or Miriam Yeung would win, but prefers Sammi.

And that was HUGE spoiler for THE SILENT WAR

Cheung: “Usually, the nominated singer who doesn’t show up doesn’t win”. He’s talking about Zhou Xun.

And the winner is……Miriam Yeung, for her first Best Actress win ever. Sammi looks like a load just came off her shoulders.

02:42:39: Miriam is crying on stage now. She seems to have no speech.

02:43:40: Yeung thanks Joe Ma and James Yuen. Gordon Lam breaks her speech and asks Ronald Cheng to say something. Ouch. 

Yeung also thanks Pang Ho Cheung for picking her, even though she heard that she wasn’t the first choice for the role.

Hmm, she’s forgetting to thank Shawn Yue.

02:46:45: Anthony Wong and Deanie Ip now on stage to present Best Actor. What a strange pairing.

And Wong is going to run his mouth off. I know it.

02:47:30: Anthony Wong says that Deanie Ip isn’t feeling well and isn’t going ahead with the banter. Wong asks if that means he has to do two people’s lines by himself.

Wong: “The awards people thought I’ll run my mouth off again, so they asked Deanie to watch me, but since she can’t speak, this is great for me.”

And Wong proceeds to read out two people’s lines.

Wong: “Why are you winning so many awards, Nick Cheung? You just let your daughter play with them!”

Wong: “Lau Ching Wan is a good choice, he looks a bit exotic. But the awards people rarely vote for foreigners.”

Everyone wants to hear what he has to say about Chapman To due to their reported feud. Wong takes out a long stack of paper for it, and To stands up pretending to leave.

Wong shuffles the paper and simply says “let’s just encourage each other”

02:52:00: Finally time for the award. I guessed Tony Leung will win, but wanted Chapman To or Nick Cheung.

And the winner is…….Tony Leung for COLD WAR. He’s been nominated 15 times at the HKFA, and this is his 4th win as Best Actor. A solid performance, and not a terrible choice.

Leung: “My daughters said I’ll have to thank them, and I ask them why. They said it’s because they saw the film four times. Then I asked them why don’t they ask the boss to thank them. Then they said it’s because they paid for their friends’ tickets. With my money.”

Classy speech by Tony Leung, in which he thanked the film’s major members and saluted them.

02:57:50: Eric Tsang: “Hong Kong cinema isn’t dead because we’re united. Look at how we talk to each other like family!”

02:58:30: And now, Andy Lau and Carina Lau on stage to present Best Picture. Oh, so there he is.

Andy Lau asks Carina Lau what she thinks about the nominees.

And Andy Lau goes to calls VULGARIA by the wrong name. But congratulates Dada Chan on stage. Classy.

Carina goes to call all the Best Film nominees just OK.

Andy Lau: “But I’m in COLD WAR”
Carina: “So what? It doesn’t have Tony Leung!”

And there’s that expected punch line.

03:02:00: OK, I predicted COLD WAR will win, but wanted VULGARIA or MOTORWAY to win the award. Sigh.

And the winner is……….COLD WAR. OK, then.

And this is now the year of COLD WAR and Edko.

Bill Kong is the first to speak as the producer/boss. Followed by the co-producers.

Eric Tsang: “Since it won the most prizes, therefore its Best Picture win is deserving”

And that wraps up this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards blog. Hope that we’ll return live this year. It’s just not as fun without you guys.

See you in the fall for the Golden Horse Awards!

The Golden Rock - 32nd Hong Kong Film Awards Prediction Edition


Some of these people will be going home happy tonight

Despite my own spotty blog writing schedule, the Hong Kong Film Awards live blog has always been something that I’ve consistently done over the last few years. Unfortunately, due to scheduling problems (the problem being me being stupid in forward planning), I will not be able to do a live blog this year. I will likely do a play-by-play after the broadcast as a translation for people, but they will not be up during the broadcast of the show.

However, I will follow tradition by offering my own predictions for the awards this year. For an alternate (and very well thought-out) set of predictions, I first suggest you all go take a look at Sanney Leung’s predictions and the list of nominees before coming back to read mine.

Done? OK, let’s do this:

Best New Director

Will win: Roy Chow (NIGHTFALL)
Should win: Brian Tse (MCDULL THE PORK OF MUSIC)

I’m not sure which is funnier: That only one nominee in this category is actually nominated for a directorial debut, or that the director who’s only made one film is the least deserving nominee in the category. With 16 million HK dollars at the box office and a lot of positive reviews, NIGHTFALL will likely give Roy Chow that Best New Director award that he thought he’d deserved for MURDERER. However, when the possibility of MCDULL winning a Hong Kong Film Award comes up, I will always choose MCDULL for my preferred choice. 

Best Film of Mainland and Taiwan

Will Win: BACK TO 1942 (China)
Should Win: BACK TO !942 (China)

The other four nominees are all good in their own way, but none of them are playing at Feng Xiaogang’s level, who delivered a famine film that actually managed to balance spectacle, tragedy, and black comedy. It was never meant to be a blockbuster tearjerker like AFTERSHOCK, and kudos to Feng Xiaogang for not trying to repeat past achievements.

Best Visual Effects

Should Win: TAI CHI 0

All the visual effects nominees are actually pretty weak this year, but I predict that the committee will give it to the most expensive film. However, I prefer to give it to the film in which the special effects made the most sense. The video game effects of TAI CHI 0 really served the film’s style, whether you like it or not. Many people didn’t like it, so it probably won’t win.

Best Sound Design


Remember how loud THE VIRAL FACTOR and COLD WAR were? The voters probably remember that, too. THE VIRAL FACTOR will get the big-budget movie win, or COLD WAR will get the prestige film win, but I personally thought THE BULLET VANISHES had a nice, understated sound mix that delivered when it needed to. Check out the finale to (or hear) what I’m talking about.

Best Original Song 


One of the most competitive years in recent memory in this category, there are at least three very solid songs running for the award. While the song from THE LAST TYCOON is a great song (Jacky Cheung’s presence will probably elevate its chances for a win as well), Sammi Cheng’s ROMANCING IN THIN AIR theme song works well with the film and serves the film than the LAST TYCOON song does.

Best Original Film Score

Will win: Peter Kam (COLD WAR)
Should win: Eman Lam, Veronica Lee (DIVA)

The only reason I prefer DIVA is because the other nominees are pretty typical film scores without anything special to distinguish it. Peter Kam’s score for COLD WAR actually even hurt the film. However, if a COLD WAR sweep is coming, then Kam will probably go home with another HK Film Award tonight.

Best Action Design

Should win: MOTORWAY

Jackie Chan is always a frontrunner in this category, but the complex chase choreography of MOTORWAY (especially in the hillside chase sequence in the middle) deserves recognition in my book. I would not be upset at a VIRAL FACTOR win, either, since it’s easily the most accomplished thing in the film. That helicopter sequence was really not easy to pull off (as dumb as the execution is).

Best Costume Design and Make-Up


Man Lim Chung likely have his supporters, judging from his win at the Asian Film Awards, but THE GREAT MAGICIAN was the most accomplished film in this department for its colorful variation of fashion styles.

Best Art Direction

Should win: TAI CHI 0

In my opinion, THE BULLET VANISHES and SILENT WAR already cancel out each other for so obviously recycling the same set, but THE BULLET VANISHES’ factory and town sets are likely to be memorable enough to catch voters’ attention. At the same time, Tim Yip’s prestige and his effort in building the enormous sets in TAI CHI 0 (including the metal monster) may earn him another HK Film Award after all.

Best Editing

Will win: COLD WAR
Should win: MOTORWAY or COLD WAR

Getting a film like MOTORWAY down to a lean 89 minutes with just the right pacing is an award-worthy achievement, but editing did play a huge part in giving COLD WAR the breathless storytelling that audiences loved. Again, if a sweep is in store tonight for COLD WAR, this will be one of the awards it picks up.

Best Cinematography


THE VIRAL FACTOR may pick up the big budget film technical award for the action sequences, and COLD WAR may win this as part of the sweep, but voters may remember the grandeur of Andrew Lau and Kenny Kwan’s work on THE LAST TYCOON. It’s such a good-looking film that no one will believe that it was directed by Wong Jing (though let’s face it, it was probably partly directed by Andrew Lau anyway. 

Best New Artist

Will win: Pass
Should win: Pass

The field is so weak this year that no one deserve this award this year. Luckily, I’m not in the committee, and I’m sure the HKFA won’t be pulling a HK Film Critics Society this year. Congratulations to whoever wins, but that person probably doesn’t deserve it. 

Best Screenplay

Will win: Longman Leung and Sunny Luk (COLD WAR)
Should win: Pang Ho Cheung, Luk Yee Sum, Lam Chiu Wing (VULGARIA)

Filled with technical talk and award bait moments for its stars, COLD WAR will probably win with little resistance from the general public. Despite its flaws, the best thing about VULGARIA really is its profanity-filled script. Pang deserves his second screenplay award at the HKFA (ironic since his first win was for LOVE IN A PUFF), but the wind really is blowing towards COLD WAR winning it all.

Best Supporting Actress

Will win: Elaine Kam (THE VIRAL FACTOR)
Should win: Mavis Fan (THE SILENT WAR) or Jiang Yiyan (THE BULLET VANISHES)

Elaine gets to cash in her veteran cred here and pick up the award for her award bait monologue in THE VIRAL FACTOR (came too early in the film for impact, if you ask me), but if voters know what they’re doing, they should recognize Mavis Fan (for having a character more interesting than the lead actress) or Jiang Yiyan (for giving a better performance than the lead actress) for their work.

Best Supporting Actor

Will win: Ronald Cheng (VULGARIA)
Should win: Ronald Cheng (VULGARIA) or Chapman To (DIVA)

Both of these actors stole the show in their respective films, so I would be very happy if either Chapman or Ronald wins tonight. If Chapman loses for DIVA (which may happen since Ronald has Golden Horse momentum behind him), he may still win Best Actor, so that’s OK. However, I am leaning toward Chapman for being the only great thing in DIVA. Ronald was just the icing on the VULGARIA cake. 

Best Actress

Will win: Sammi Cheng (ROMANCING IN THIN AIR) or Miriam Yeung (LOVE IN THE BUFF)
Should win: Sammi Cheng (ROMANCING IN THIN AIR)
Dark Horse: Elanne Kong (LOVE LIFTING)
To ensure a riot in the Cultural Center: Zhou Xun 

It’s finally Sammi’s year, and she could do a lot worse than winning for Johnnie To/Wai Ka Fai’s romance drama. The film had a LOT of problems, but Sammi wasn’t one of them. Elanne winning will be a pleasant surprise, and a huge “eff you” to the Hong Kong Film Critics Society. Actually, any actress winning would be a huge “eff you” to the critics group, since they didn’t like any of them for their awards.

Best Actor

Will win: Tony Leung Ka Fai (COLD WAR)
Should win: Chapman To (VULGARIA) or Nick Cheung (Nightfall)

I didn’t like NIGHTFALL, but I thought Nick Cheung’s performance was very strong. On the other hand, I didn’t think Chapman To was particularly good in VULGARIA, but I like the film and would rather see him win over a COLD WAR win for Tony Leung. Again, if a COLD WAR Best Picture win is coming, then expect Tony Leung to pick up Best Actor for his solid turn tonight.

Best Picture

Will win: COLD WAR

Sanney felt that VULGARIA should take the top award as a statement to the co-production system, and I’m inclined to agree. It’s not the best film of the bunch, but neither was GALLANTS when it picked up its Best Picture award. However, I personally prefer MOTORWAY for being well-crafted and hitting the mark so well. On the other hand, there is a lot of industry support for COLD WAR, and it certainly seems like it’s set to take the top prize of the night.

If you get to watch the ceremony live tonight, then have fun. Otherwise, we’ll be back in the next few days with the play-by-play Hong Kong Film Awards not-so-live blog!



The Golden Rock - THE GRANDMASTER Review Edition

(Below are thoughts on the film that I wrote down just hours after seeing the film for the first time with only Chinese subtitles and without considering the complex philosophies behind the film. For a more detailed and thoughtful take on the film, I would recommend Kozo’s upcoming review on and Maggie Lee’s review on Variety)


For a while, Wong Kar-wai’s THE GRANDMASTER had an “s” at the end of the title, and it’s easy to see why from the final product. Originally envisioned as the biography of Ip Man - the Wing Chun master best known as Bruce Lee’s master - THE GRANDMASTER is and isn’t the story of Ip Man. Ip is simply one of the major players in Wong’s epic about “Wu Lin”, or what one may call the martial arts world. The story covers part of Ip’s life from 1936 to 1960 (his death is also expressed in intertitles), but its scope is far wider than just one man’s life. This is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a contemporary wuxia film, and it is indeed every bit as arty AND as exhilarating as anyone can expect from a (real) wuxia film by Wong Kar Wai.

In ASHES OF TIME, Wong used the world of Jin Rong’s wuxia novels to examine themes like longings, regrets and unrequited love, going to the lengths of even taking out action scenes when he revisited it for the REDUX version. While THE GRANDMASTER visits such themes once again, they are not the focus in what is first and foremost a film about the “Wu Lin” world. Specifically, it’s about the different philosophies and traditions held by the schools that occupy it. In one breathtaking sequence, the masters of several northern style martial arts each spar with Ip Man (Tony Leung) to show him how to take on Gong Bao Shen, the retiring chairman of the Chinese Martial Artists Union in Foshan. With this sequence, not only does Tony Leung show how well he has acquaint himself with the style of Wing Chun, Wong Kar Wai also shows off his (and his collaborators - including martial arts scholar Xu Haofeng) dedication in faithfully depicting the various forms of martial arts in his film.

THE GRANDMASTER is indeed about Ip Man’s road to become the last one standing, but Wong never indulges in the glamorous myth-making that Tsui Hark did with Wong Fei Hung in ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA or Wilson Yip did with his IP MAN films. Ip Man here is not unlike the Chow Mo Wen character in IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE and 2046 - introverted, contemplative, cool in the face of any situation, and a man who finds himself caught in circumstances beyond his control. As a result, Ip Man isn’t a particularly interesting character if not for his skills in Wing Chun.



Instead, THE GRANDMASTER will be remembered for Zhang Ziyi, who plays Ip’s rival Gong Er, also Gong Bao Shen’s daughter and the heir to her family’s 64 Stance move. A strong-willed female martial artist out to reclaim her family honor despite her father’s rejection, Gong Er is such a strong character (thanks to Zhang Ziyi’s performance) that her story alone could’ve easily been made into a separate film. Wong has always been great at creating strong female characters, and Gong Er is definitely one of the best he has ever written.

At the same time, that shift in focus is ultimately THE GRANDMASTER’s major weakness. From the parallel narratives and Chang Chen’s brief, but memorable appearances, one can tell that Wong was trying to make a film that shows the contrast in the philosophies of the three masters/martial art styles: Leung’s Ip Man (Wing Chun), Zhang’s Gong Er (Baqua Quan), and Chang Chen’s Yi Tian Xian (Baji Quan). Each of the narrative would’ve been strong enough to become an individual film, but the film feels loose and not cohesive enough when put together in its current truncated form. There are parts of the film that are simply gorgeous and/or breathtaking, but those parts are ultimately greater on their own than the film as a whole.

An even bigger weakness? Chang Chen only shows up in three scenes that have no bearing on the two main stories. Yet, he is so good here (especially in his bloody fight scene in the rain towards the end of the second act) that you may wish the film is half an hour longer just so WKW could fit him in.

As a result, THE GRANDMASTER isn’t a film that will send anyone out of the cinema fired up. There’s no Bruce Lee or teeth-grinding foreign villains here to excite anyone. It’s a film about lamenting a bygone era, the price of pride and honor, and - being a Wong Kar Wai film - it also becomes a film about longings, regrets, and unrequited feelings. It is a beautiful art film a la Wong Kar Wai, but it is also a great martial arts film as well, though not in the traditional shallow way. Each of Yuen Wo-Ping’s moves is as intricately calculated and breathtaking as Wong Kar Wai and cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd’s shots, but the choreography is simply part of what Wong and his co-writers are trying to express. THE GRANDMASTER is a martial arts film on both a physical and a spiritual level; a true examination of “Wu Lin” and how martial styles apply to life instead of just simple action escapism that most martial arts film fans would usually look for. In other words, as long as Wilson Yip sticks to his usual formula for IP MAN 3, he has nothing to worry about.

Despite what seems to be a muted praise, THE GRANDMASTER is still an excellent film – the technical aspects are top-notch, the actors are excellent (especially in their fight scenes), the dialogue are as quotable as ever, and its philosophical approach to martial arts will be appreciated by many wuxia fans. It also suffers from usual WKW weaknesses – the storytelling can be muddled at times, and most of the characters simply embody ideas rather than becoming real characters (Think Chang Chen or Song Hye Kyo, who has only one line and 5 minutes of screen time as Ip’s wife). It’s not a ground-breaking film in the genre, but it’s refreshing as a film that recognizes martial arts as a way of life rather than a nationalism tool. THE GRANDMASTER will certainly remain as one of the top Chinese films of 2013, and it was definitely worth the wait.

Me getting to the subway station after watching THE GRANDMASTER

The Golden Rock - 2012 Golden Horse Awards Live Blog Edition

This is it! Today is November 24th, 2012, and it’s the day of the 2012 Golden Horse Awards. In the household of the Golden Rock (population: 1), we celebrate the best and brightest of films from the Greater China Region (that were submitted) with snark and live-blogging!

So without further ado, read below all that happened at this year’s Golden Horse Awards:

10:58pm: And 4 hours later, we’re done with our Golden Horse Awards coverage. Thanks to everyone on Twitter, Facebook, and those who read the last 4 hours. Our next live blog will be in April with the Hong Kong Film Awards, and we’ll of course be back to cover the 50th Golden Horse Awards next year, too. See ya!

10:56pm: So the final count: BEIJING BLUES and LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE tied at 3. Mainland China cinema is the ultimate winner of the night with most wins.

10:55pm: Wow, that was a major, major surprise. BEIJING BLUES take home Best Picture without winning Best Screenplay, Best Director, or any of the acting awards.

10:54pm: Finally, here we go. Oh, god, the clip for BULLET VANISHES is a major spoiler

The winner of Best Feature Film is……BEIJING BLUES!!!!!!!! WHAT??!?!?!?!?!?!

10:49pm: Waste of time banter happening. Please stand by.

10:47pm: Seen on Weibo: Leon Dai writes brief Weibo post called “Ten Years”. No names on it, of course.

10:46pm: Now, Andy Lau on stage to present the Best Picture award. I predicted GF*BF to take the top prize, but it’s all up in the air now.

Andy Lau is the Chairman of this year’s Golden Horse Award jury.

10:44pm: Huang Bo: “I always look up to Uncle Andy when I was growing up…….then people told me that Andy Lau would be perfect as my younger brother.”

10:43pm: Bowie Tsang explaining why she was so emotional about Lau Ching-Wan winning the Golden Horse Awards: He’s never won a Golden Horse before, and she was also present the only time he won a Hong Kong Film Award.

10:40pm: Next up is the final award, Best Film.

Current count: LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE at 3 awards, MYSTERY at 2, and BEIJING BLUES at 2

10:36pm: “I don’t make movies for awards….I’m just kidding, of course I want awards.”—Lau Ching-Wan

10:34pm: And the winner for Best Actor is…………….Lau Ching-Wan for LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE!!!! This is his first Golden Horse Best Actor win.

10:32pm: I don’t understand what Deanie Ip is saying. Seriously.

10:30pm: Deanie Ip now on stage to present the Best Actor Award. I’m rooting for Lau Ching Wan, but feel a bit sorry for Taiwan now, so a Joseph Chang win would be a nice moment.

10:29pm: Huang Bo mentions that Joseph Chang must be feeling a lot of pressure. His win would give Taiwan a great morale boost.

10:27pm: The two hosts now discuss the Best Actors nominees. Nick Cheung shared his Best Actor Award with Huang Bo when he won.

10:20pm: Sadly, Gooey does NOT thank Leon Dai in her acceptance speech.

10:17pm: And the winner for Best Actress is………………….Guei Lun-Mei for GF*BF!!!!! Taiwan finally nabs a big award!

10:14pm: Li Bingbing and some guy named Jackie Chan on stage to present the Best Actress award. Jackie Chan attempts to speak Taiwanese and fails miserably…and I don’t even speak Taiwanese!

Jackie Chan says he was asked to drag out his time on stage. Threatened to start singing.

I predicted Sandrine Pinna for the win, but this is a really tough one.

10:13pm: “Maybe you should win the Best Actress Award” — Hao Lei to Huang Bo.

10:10pm: I prefer Bai Baihe in LOVE IS NOT BLIND to Bai Baihe in real life.

10:08pm: Huang Bo and Bowie Tsang go into the audience to interview the Best Actress nominees.

10:03pm: Still no clear frontrunner tonight, as BEIJING BLUES, LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE, and MYSTERY each has two awards.

10:02pm: To winning Best Director paving the path for LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE to pick up Best Film, but remember all paths were leading to A SIMPLE LIFE last year when SEEDIQ BALE won.

10:01pm: And now, it’s the one commercial break per major award phase of the night.

9:59pm: And the winner for Best Director is………………..Johnnie To for LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE!

Lau Ching-Wan goes up to the stage and says: “I am not Johnnie To”.

9:57pm: Of course. Huang Bo and Lin Chiling take the chance to promote SAY YES, their upcoming Valentine’s Day movie.

9:56pm: Give Lin Chiling the award for Best Script Reader tonight.

9:54pm: Lin Chiling now on stage to present the Best Director Award. As I typed earlier, was expecting a Taiwanese director to get it, but now leaning towards Johnnie To or Gao Qunshu.

Lin Chiling is so thin that she looks like she’s tied up in bondage.

9:52pm: Time for some witty banter before the Best Director Award. OK, guys, let’s get to it, we’re getting into the 4th hour……….

9;50pm: Also forgot to mention that Taiwan has yet to figure out how to send out HD signal abroad: Star Movies Chinese HD channel’s broadcast is in 4:3 aspect ratio.

9:48pm: Had expected Gilles Yang or Doze Niu to have pretty good chance at Best Director tonight, but now leaning towards Gao Qunshu or Johnnie To. What happened, Taiwan??!!!!!

9:47pm: Camera captures Doze Niu taking photo of LOVE theme song being performed onstage with his iPhone. Oh, he’s one of THOSE people…..

9:45pm: OK, I get it. A classic theme song from a film by each of the Best Director nominee. Try explaining that idea at the pitching meeting.

9:44pm: Someone please tell Sammi on Weibo that they’re singing another one of her songs. Since, you know, she’s clearly not paying attention.

9:43pm: Um, didn’t we already get a movie theme song medley already? Not that I’m not liking this one better…….

9:42pm: But before the major awards, we get another musical performance by Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker award winner Huang Yu-Siang and singer Lala Xu.

Did I say that Huang Yu-Siang is a really good pianist?

9:40pm: This commercial break is feeling extra long…..

9:34pm: Good, humble speech by Mr. Shih. Up next to present is Lin Chiling, after the commercial break.

Looks like we’re coming into home stretch, as the four major awards are the only ones left.

9:27pm: Shih Chun was discovered by King Hu. In addition to being one of the best-known wuxia stars (including in King Hu films), he will also be in Hou Hsiao Hsien’s upcoming wuxia film THE ASSASSIN

Shih now works in preservation and promotion of King Hu’s works.

9:26pm: Hou Hsiao-Hsien now on stage to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Shih Chun.

9:24pm: Just seen on Weibo: Sammi Cheng found out her ROMANCING IN THIN AIR song’s Golden Horse win on Weibo.

9:20pm: I didn’t make a prediction for this award. Guessing Taiwan doesn’t have to worry about this award, either.

The winner for Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year is…………Huang Yu-Siang! The blind star and composer of TOUCH OF THE LIGHT!

9:19pm: Wang Wei-Liu, last year’s Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year, now on stage to present this year’s Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker award.

Wang clearly nervous as he makes his way through his speech.

9:16pm: Already known: GF*BF wins the Golden Horse Audience Award.

9:14pm: This year’s jury Chairman is Andy Lau, which is why he’s sitting front and center at the ceremony.

9:12pm. Whew, getting a few minutes’ break, finally.

9:10pm: Wang Wei-Liu up after the commercial break. I’m guessing it’s time for the Lifetime Achievement Award

9:08pm: Szeto Kam-Yuen and Lo Wei-Kuen both got mentions, so I guess it’s not just Taiwanese………

9:05pm: Now, the In Memoriam sequence, remembering Taiwanese film figures who left us this past year.

9:03pm: And now, a montage about the success of Taiwanese films…….on the night when Taiwanese films are losing to Mainland Chinese films. Whoops.

9:02pm: TOUCH OF THE LIGHT is produced by Wong Kar-Wai’s Jet Tone Films, which is why Chang thanks Wong Kar Wai.

9:00pm: And the winner of Best Director is……….Chang Jung-Chi for TOUCH OF THE LIGHT!

8:58pm: Now it’s time for Best New Director, presented by Wei Te-Sheng…..and sorry, I don’t know who the other one is….total fail.

Also, Taiwan doesn’t have to worry about this category: All 5 nominees are Taiwanese.

I predicted Chang Jung-Chi or Fung Kai to win for TOUCH OF THE LIGHT or DIN TAO

8:55pm: Angelababy was wondering which of her two nominated films would win Best Action Choreography. Neither did.

Bowie Tsang: “I think this is the time to say…’TAIWAN FILMS JIA YOU!’” Someone’s getting nervous….

8:54pm: Chin Ka Lok having a really good week: Marriage, baby on the way, and now, a Golden Horse Award!

8:53pm: Time for Best Action Choreography. I predicted JUDGE ARCHER or TAI CHI

The winner for Best Action Choreography is………….MOTORWAY!!!!!!!

8:51pm: Also forgotten: One of the three winners for DRAGON GATE is Korean, so I can’t translated his speech. The American guy: “This place is wonderful. The food, wow!” I think that was a euphemism.

This is like a bad joke: A Korean, a Hong Konger, and an American step onto an award stage……….

8:50pm: And the winner for Best Visual Effects is………FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON GATE. Oh, I forgot the 3D thing.

8:49pm; Stephen Fung and Angelababy now on stage to present Visual Effects and Best Action Design.

I predicted Best Visual effects would go to PAINTED SKIN.

8:46pm: Four Hong Kong winners so far tonight. Is LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE heading to major winning night after Best Screenplay win?

8:43pm: Next up after commercial: Stephen Fung and Angelababy present.

8:42pm: And the winner of Best Original Song is…………DoReMi from ROMANCING IN THIN AIR. Lo Dayu’s first Golden Horse Award.

8:41pm: Now, Ronald and Richie present Best Original Song. I guess the other two nominated songs will not be performed, then. I predicted Sammi Cheng’s DOREMI for ROMANCING IN THIN AIR.

8:39pm: They are first presenting Best Original Film Score. I predicted LOVE, but I’m not really rooting for any film in particular.

And the winner of Best Original Score is…………..MYSTERY

8;37pm: Now that’s over, Ronald Cheng and Richie Ren come on stage to present.

Ronald: “Why are you always playing cops and heroes, while I play a man in drag, a man in drag, and a man in drag?”

8:36pm: Oh no, Sally Yeh is going to try and pretend to be dancing. I need some more yakitori.

8:34pm: Camera gets half a second of Jackie Chan singing along, then quickly cuts back to Andy Lau. Hmmmmmmmmm…………

8:33pm: Quick check of Weibo says Taiwan cinema is in a bit of danger this year, as Mainland films take up the awards.

8:30pm: Camera gets a shot of Andy Lau singing along. Hmmmmmm……

8:27pm: Time for another musical performance. A medley of classic film theme songs performed by Sally Yeh. This means only one thing: Yakitori break!

8:25pm: No win for GF*BF so far, which does not bode well for its Best Picture chances. But remember, SEEDIQ BALE went through similar process last year.

8:21pm. Time for Best Original Screenplay. I predicted GF*BF or CHA CHA FOR TWINS.

The winner of Best Original Screenplay is…………….LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE! Third Hong Kong win of the night!

Denise Ho accepts the award on behalf of the winners.

8:20pm: LOVE IS NOT BLIND writer wrote her book after an argument with her boyfriend.

8:19pm: The writer of LOVE IS NOT BLIND is absolutely effing ADORABLE

8:17pm: And the winner for Best Adapted Screenplay is…….LOVE IS NOT BLIND! I got another one right!

8:15pm: Bad mic disaster just as Alec Su begins to speak. Awkward moment no. 4 of the night. The two then recite their favorite dialogue of the year……but no one seems to be recognizing them.

Sonia Sui and Alec Su are presenting Best Adapted Screenplay. I predicted LOVE IS NOT BLIND

8:14pm: A few of the ones I wanted to win have been winning, but my “should win”’s have been way off tonight. Expected advantage for Taiwan not happening this year.

8:13pm: Next up as presenters: Sonia Sui and Alec Su.

8:11pm: Liang Jing thanks DESIGN OF DEATH co-star Huang Bo for the fake set of teeth she wears in the film.

That’s two wins for DESIGN OF DEATH and two wins for BEIJING BLUES.

8:09pm: And the winner for Best Supporting Actress is………….Liang Jing for DESIGN FOR DEATH!

Liang Jing is director Guan Hu’s wife. Kitty Zhang is Wang Quan’an’s wife. Xu Fan is Feng Xiaogang’s wife. Hey, see a pattern?

8:08pm: Chou and Gooey remain to present Best Supporting Actress. Gooey: “Jay…you’re not nominated this year for it”. Jay follows with a shout-out to Nicholas Tse, who IS nominated for Best Actor.

I predicted one of the LOVE actresses.

8:06pm: Um, pretty clear that the director of CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT doesn’t really speak Mandarin. Congrats anyway, dude.

8:05pm: CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT marks another win for documentary distributor CNEX.

8:04pm: And the winner of Best Documentary is……CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT!

8:03pm: Jay Chou and Gooey address each other by their character names. Gooey says “My favorite role of yours is….GREEN HORNET”

The two are presenting Best Documentary. I didn’t predict this category.

8:00pm: From Twitter again: “Tony Yang’s girlfriend=Amber Kuo, yo”. Thanks, Shelley! Also from her: “NIGHTFALL should never win for anything”

7:59pm: From Twitter “Tony Yang’s gf is Amber Kuo”. Thanks, @yupkigirl!

7:58pm: Jay Chou and Guey Lun-Mei (aka Gooey) up next as presenters.

7:57pm: And the winner of Best Editing is……………..BEIJING BLUES! Second award of the night

7:56pm: Sorry, Chen and Yang’s second award is Best Editing. I didn’t predict anything, but would like to see MYSTERY win. BEIJING BLUES also a possible winner.

7:55pm: And the winner is……………NIGHTFALL????!!!!!!!!!

Nick Cheung accepts the award on behalf of the winners.

7:54pm: The first award they’re presenting is Best Sound Effects. I predicted BLACK AND WHITE, but want BULLET VANISHES or SILENT WAR

7:52pm: Ivy Chen and Tony Yang now presenting Best Sound Effects and Best Special Effects. Chen is nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and apparently Yang’s girlfriend is also nominated. Tell me on Twitter who they’re talking about.

7:50pm; Alan Kuo performing DIN TAO, nominated for Best Original Song tonight.

7:47pm: Lead cast of DIN TAO and drumming troupe perform. First performance of the night.

Friendly reminder: Tweet your thoughts about tonight’s awards in Twitter with the hashtag #2012GHA!

7:45pm: Huang Bo and Bowie talk about the success of local films, from PAINTED SKIN to VULGARIA to DIN TAO

7:42pm: No clear front runner yet. GF*BF already lost out at least two categories, one of which had a pretty good chance of winning.

7:41pm:  Next up: Ivy Chen and Tony Yang present….something. We’ll find out after the commercial break

7:40pm: Chapman To lost, but looks very happy that Ronald won for VULGARIA….co-produced by To

7:38pm: And the winner for Best Supporting Actor is………Ronald Cheng!

7:37pm: And now, Niu and Peng remain for Best Supporting Actor. I predicted Ronald Cheng to win for VULGARIA.

7:36pm: Winner Wu Di says it was the first time he’s ever shot on digital.

7:35pm: And the winner for Best Cinematography is…………..BEIJING BLUES! Good night for Mainland Chinese cinema tonight.

7:34pm: Niu and Peng say they don’t know why they’re presenting Best Cinematography. Skips to nominee clip. Ouch.

I predicted Jake Pollock to win for GF*BF, but wanted WHITE DEER PLAIN to win.

7:32pm: Doze Niu and Eddie Peng up next as presenters after this commercial break.

7:31pm: And the winner of Best Art Direction is………..DESIGN OF DEATH! A pleasant surprise!

7:29pm: Winner just says thanks and takes off. Pinna and Chang caught off-guard

Time for Best Art Direction now. I predicted FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON GATE

7:28pm:  And the winner is………THE BULLET VANISHES! Whoo-hoo, I got one right.

7:27pm: An awkward “whose turn is it to talk now” moment there with Chang and Pinna. The latter keeps missing her cue.

They’re presenting Best Make-up and Costume Design. I predicted TAI CHI or BULLET VANISHES

7:26pm: And time for our first commercial break. Next presenters: Joseph Chang and Sandrine Pinna

7:25pm: That was a bit of a surprise. Does that signal the beginning of a good night for Lou Ye’s MYSTERY?

7:24pm: And the winner of Best New Performer is……….Qi Xi for MYSTERY!

7:22pm: I predicted that Peijia Huang would win this category with CHA CHA FOR TWINS.

7:20pm: Ko and Kuo remain on the stage to present Best New Actor. Ko Chen-Tung won this awards last year.

7:19pm: And the winner of Best Short Film is……..THE HOME GLEANERS

7:18pm: Amber Kuo and Ko Chen-Tung are the first presenters. Presenting Best Short Film.

7:17pm: Of course, they throw in an anti-piracy message at the end of the dance sequence

7:15pm: This is the first year that the nominee list expanded to five?

7:14pm: “All of this year’s Best Actor nominees have beautiful wifes, too!” Lau Ching Wan shakes his head.

Huang Bo: “What about Nicholas Tse?”

Bowie Tsang: “Let’s not go there”

7:12pm: Huang Bo: “Look, I was beaten up this year, too! Why wasn’t I nominated? Chapman To didn’t get beaten up, either.” This was followed by a clip of VULGARIA. Yes, that clip.

7:11pm: “All of this year’s Best Actor nominees had to withstand a good beating!”

7:10pm: I am not kidding that when I type that Huang Bo is a surprisingly good singer.

7:08pm: Tonight’s hosts are Bowie Tsang and HUANG BO! The two start with speech about dreams and being happy to be there. Leads to a song & dance!

7:07pm: As always, just keep reloading this page to see the latest entries.

7:06pm: Awards officially starting now. Starting with montage of nominated films.

7:03pm: Holy crap, Lin Chiling is really tall. I also call the kettle black.

7:02pm: The feed starts with red carpet footage, Lin Chiling walking the red carpet now.

7:00pm: And we’re off. Star Movies Chinese feed starting now.

14:30: Four and a half hours away from the show. Tonight’s live blog is brought to you by the iPad, my generic keyboard, my desktop computer, and Splashtop 2. We’re hella hip with technology like that. Since this seems to be working, I’ll be back at 7:00pm Hong Kong time! 

Don’t forget to join and post comments on twitter with hashtag #2012GHA!

The Golden Rock - 2012 Golden Horse Awards Predictions Edition


“I’m ready to get that Golden Rock guy when he gets in the car”

Before every awards live blog, I post my predictions for most, if not all, categories. This year’s Golden Horse Awards is no exception. So the below are my predictions for the awards.

Have no idea what I’m talking about? Check out my post from several days ago and get ready to join us for the Golden Horse Awards live blog!

“If we had known that we’d be a frontrunner at the Golden Horse Awards, we would’ve made out a little longer! You know, for more votes!”

Best Picture

- Beijing Blues
- The Bullet Vanishes
- Life Without Principle
- Mystery

Will Win: GF*BF

Taiwanese films tend to have a slight advantage at the Golden Horse (for obvious reasons). Since the other four films aren’t significantly stronger than the Taiwanese entry, GF*BF actually does have a chance to take the top prize. However, in my own opinion, LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE is the strongest of the five films - but just barely.

Best Director

- Gao Qunshu (Beijing Blues)
- Yang Ya-Che (GF*BF)
- Johnnie To Kei-Fung (Life Without Principle)
- Doze Niu (Love)
- Lou Ye (Mystery)

Will win: Doze Niu (LOVE)
Should win: Gao Qunshu (BEIJING BLUES)

In the past two years, the winner of the Best Director prize didn’t win Best Picture, and it would be no surprise if that trend continues this year. Note that Law Chi-Leung was not nominated, replaced by Doze Niu, which means that the committee must’ve saw something in Niu’s skill to juggle multiple plot strands and 10 major characters in a single film - even if that film wasn’t the top 5 films of the year. The GHA has made strange choices before, and Niu winning would not be their strangest decision (Aaron Kwok, I’m looking at you). Gao Qunshu picked up the Best Director prize at the Shanghai Film Festival for BEIJING BLUES, and it’s easy to see why from the film. I wouldn’t mind if Johnnie To wins, either.

Best Actor

- Joseph Chang (GF*BF)
- Lau Ching-Wan (Life Without Principle)
- Nick Cheung Ka-Fai (Nightfall)
- Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung (The Viral Factor)
- Chapman To Man-Chat (Vulgaria)

Will win: Joseph Chang (GF*BF)
Should win: Lau Ching-Wan (LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE) or Nick Cheung (NIGHTFALL)

I’m going to insist that the Taiwanese entry in any major category with just one Taiwanese nominee has a better chance of winning. Since Joseph Chang actually does give the best performance in the film, and his category is in dead heat, I will predict that he will win. However, Lau has never won a Golden Horse award, and Nick’s dialogue-less performance is flashy award bait, so they might be the more deserving ones here. I think Chapman is just happy to be there.

Best Actress

- Bai Baihe (Love Is Not Blind)
- Hao Lei (Mystery)
- Denise Ho Wan-Si (Life Without Principle)
- Guey Lun-Mei (GF*BF)
- Sandrine Pinna (Touch of the Light)

Will Win: Sandrine Pinna (TOUCH OF THE LIGHT)
Should win: Pass

Not having seen TOUCH OF THE LIGHT, I don’t want to make a call about who should win. However, wouldn’t be surprised if Sandrine Pinna takes the award in Taiwan’s representative at the Academy Awards Best Foreign Film race. If you force me to choose one between the four that I’ve seen, I would take Hao Lei or Bai Baihe. Yes, I chose two.

Best Supporting Actor

- Chapman To Man-Chat (Diva)
- Bryan Chang Shu-Hao(GF*BF)
- Zhuang Kai-Xun (Stilt)
- Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei (Vulgaria)
- Wu Gang (White Deer Plain)

Will win: Ronald Cheng (VULGARIA)
Should win: Ronald Cheng (VULGARIA)

Ronald Cheng is the best thing in Pang Ho-Cheung’s comedy, and he also has the flashiest performance out of the four nominees I’ve seen in this category (Chapman was good in DIVA, though). Even with two Taiwanese nominees, they will have to be pretty damn good to beat Ronald Cheng here, and Bryan Chang was not good enough. STILT, however, seemed to have been well-liked at home, which could work in Zhuang Kai-Xun’s favor. I haven’t seen the film.

Best Supporting Actress


- Liang Jing (Design of Death)
- Amber Kuo (Love)
- Ivy Chen Yi-Han (Love)
- Mavis Fan Hsiao-Shuan (The Silent War)
- Dada Chen (Vulgaria)

Will Win: Ivy Chen or Amber Kuo (LOVE)
Should win: Liang Jing (DESIGN OF DEATH)

Forget Mavis and Dada, which leaves us the two LOVE actresses and DESIGN OF DEATH’s Liang Jing. Amber and Ivy are both fine, and should be likeable enough to get the votes. However, Liang Jing gave a flashier performance (without dialogue, too, if I remember correctly) and a better performance overall as well.


Despite not being nominated, Liu Kai-Chi will show up uninvited like this

Best New Director

- Tsai Yueh-Hsun (Black & White Episode 1: The Dawn of Assault)
- Yang Yi-Chien, Jim Wang (Cha Cha for Twins)
- Fung Kai (Din Tao: Leader of the Parade)
- Hero Lin (Silent Code)
- Chang Jung-Chi (Touch of the Light)

Will Win: Chang Jung-Chi (TOUCH OF THE LIGHT) or Fung Kai (DIN TAO)
Should win: Pass

Chang Jung-Chi has the country’s Oscar representative, while Fung Kai has the breakout hit of the year. BLACK AND WHITE was a total flop, I personally felt nothing for CHA CHA FOR TWINS, and I haven’t seen SILENT CODE or LIGHT. So I won’t be speculating on who should win.

Best New Performer

- Peijia Huang (Cha Cha for Twins)
- Chun-Mei Guo (Flying Dragon, Dancing Phoenix)
- Zhang Zixuan (Love Is Not Blind)
- Qi Xi (Mystery)
- Eric Lin Hui-Min (Starry Starry Night)

Will win: Peijia Huang (CHA CHA FOR TWINS)
Should win: Peijia Huang (CHA CHA FOR TWINS)

The only thing I liked about CHA CHA FOR TWINS was Peijia Huang’s dual-role performance. It seems to be the flashiest out of the five (I haven’t seen FLYING DRAGON), and it’s a well-liked film, so Huang is currently the frontrunner.

Best Original Screenplay

- Dai Yan, Gao Qunshu (Beijing Blues)
- Yang Yi-Chien (Cha Cha for Twins)
- Yang Ya-Che (GF*BF)
- Milkyway Creative Team, Au Kin-Yee, Wong King-Fai (Life Without Principle)
- Mei Feng, Yu Fan, Lou Ye (Mystery)


The two Taiwanese films are likely favorites in a field where the quality is pretty even across the board (except for CHA CHA, in my opinion, but it has awards to tell me otherwise). PRINCIPLE is just a personal favorite. Also, MYSTERY should be in adapted screenplay.

Best Adapted Screenplay

- Xu Haofeng (Judge Archer)
- Guan Hu (Design of Death)
- Bao Jingjing (Love Is Not Blind)
- Tom Lin Shu-Yu (Starry Starry Night)
- Wang Quan-An (White Deer Plain)


Have not seen JUDGE ARCHER, so it has a chance of winning. However, if I have to choose one out of the four, WHITE DEER PLAIN is close for ambition, but LOVE IS NOT BLIND is the most successful out of the four.

Best Cinematography

- Wu Di (Beijing Blues)
- Song Xiao-Fei (Design of Death)
- Jake Pollock (GF*BF)
- Cao Dun (Love Is Not Blind)
- Reitemeier Lutz (White Deer Plain)

Will win: Jake Pollock (GF*BF)
Should win: Reitemeier Lutz (WHITE DEER PLAIN)

Lutz ought to win just because of scale and how attractive the whole package of WHITE DEER PLAIN looks. Otherwise, Jake Pollock has won before, and he should be in a good position to win again partly because of that. Plus, GF*BF is a very pretty film.

Best Editing

- Yang Hongyu (Beijing Blues)
- David Richardson (Life Without Principle)
- Chen Po-Wen (Money and Honey)
- Simon Jacquet (Mystery)
- Cheung Ka-Fai (Nightfall)

Will win: pass
Should win: Simon Jacquet (MYSTERY)

Not having seen MONEY AND HONEY, I can’t make a call on who should win. However, Simon Jacquet did a great job sorting out Lou Ye’s active camerawork, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is recognized for his work here.

MYSTERY star Qin Hao waiting to hear the news outside the Golden Horse Awards venue, shovel in hand.

Best Art Direction

- Lin Mu (Design of Death)
- Yee Chung-Man, Ben Lau Man-Hung (Flying Swords of Dragon Gate)
- Mam Lim-Chung (The Silent War)
- Penny Tsai (Starry Starry Night)
- Huo Tingxiao (White Deer Plain)


Money buys you the best set, and that goes for FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON GATE. Also, Yee and Lau picked up the same award earlier in the year at the Hong Kong Film Award, so it would be no surprise if they pull a repeat here. However, the
category is pretty even this year, with strong work in DESIGN OF DEATH and WHITE DEER PLAIN as well.

Best Make-up and Costume Design

- Stanley Cheung (The Bullet Vanishes)
- Lin Mu (Design of Death)
- Fang Chi Luen, Li-Wen Hsu (Love)
- Man Lim-Chung (The Silent War)
- Tim Yip Kam-Tin (Tai Chi 0)


Both films are heavier on the make-up end than the Costume Design part, but the teams on both films churned out strong work that’s apparent on screen. I’ll be happy if either of those two films win.

Best Action Choreography

- Xu Haofeng (Judge Archer)
- Cyril Raffaelli, Li Chung-Chi (Black & White Episode 1: The Dawn of Assault)
- Yuen Bun, Sun Jian-Kui, Allen Lan Hai-Han (Flying Swords of Dragon Gate)
- Chin Kar-Lok (Motorway)
- Sammo Hung Kam-Bo (Tai Chi 0)


Sammo Hung’s work is more clearly seen in part two of the TAI CHI trilogy, but he may get an award based on seniority here. I haven’t seen JUDGE ARCHER, but Xu Haofeng is a well-known martial artist who devotes his life to martial arts (he writes novels and is a co-writer on THE GRANDMASTERS). Nevertheless, Chin Kar Lok and his team deserves to be recognize for their car stunts in MOTORWAY, and FLYING SWORDS is a previous winner at the HK Film Awards.

Best Original Film Score

- An Wei, Wang Fan (Judge Archer)
- Teddy Robin, Tommy Wai (The Bullet Vanishes)
- Chen Chien-Chi (Love)
- Ding Wei, Lin Zhaoyang (Love Is Not Blind)
- Peyman Yazdanian, Johann Johannsson (Mystery)

Will Win: LOVE
Should win: Pass

The four scores here weren’t particularly memorable, so I will fall back to the Taiwan advantage and choose the Taiwanese film. I have not heard the JUDGE ARCHER score, so that win may happen as well.

Best Original Song


- “She & Me” (from Cha Cha for Twins)
Music: ciacia
Lyrics: ciacia
Performer: ciacia
- “Din Tao” (from Din Tao: Leader of the Parade)
Music: Lui Wei-Ren
Lyrics: Lui Wei-Ren
Performer: Alan Kuo
- “DoReMi” (from Romancing in Thin Air)
Music: Lo Tayu
Lyrics: Lin Xi
Performer: Sammi Cheng Sau-Man


Seen all three films, heard all three songs, and only remember one of them. DIN TAO has a better chance of winning than CHA CHA’s song, but I have a feeling Sammi will come out on top.

Best Visual Effects

- Frankie Chung (Black & White Episode 1: The Dawn of Assault)
- Kent Chen, Horn Hsu (Cha Cha for Twins)
- Wook Kim, Josh Cole, Frankie Chung (Flying Swords of Dragon Gate)
- Koan Hui, Chang Hongsong (Painted Skin: The Resurrection)
- Xiao Yang, Chang Song, A Law, Li Ming-Hsung, Li Jin-Hui (Starry Starry Night)


CHA CHA FOR TWINS did pull off the twins concept very well because of its special effects team, though their work are virtually invisible compared for PAINTED SKIN and FLYING SWORDS. STARRY STARRY NIGHT also used effects to good measure - a restrained, but fairly strong effort.

Best Sound Effects

- Frank Cheng (Black & White Episode 1: The Dawn of Assault)
- Phyllis Cheng (The Bullet Vanishes)
- Dong Xu (Design of Death)
- Kinson Tsang King-Cheung, Lai Chi-Hung (Nightfall)
- Traithep Wongpaiboon, Nopawat Likitwong (The Silent War)


BLACK AND WHITE is an easy choice because of the action portions, but THE SILENT WAR has a very intricately designed sound mix (though it was far too soft when I saw it in the cinemas), and BULLET uses the sound to drive the tension, especially towards the end of the film.

I will be referring to these predictions throughout the night of the awards. I predict that I’ll get a lot of these wrong, but I did try to put in as much informed opinion in this as I can. If i come out over 50% right, I would’ve had a good night.

Hope to see you on on November 24th on Twitter!

Detective Hunter Zhang being told why LOVE IS…PYJAMAS should’ve been nominated for Best Picture


The Golden Rock - 2012 Golden Horse Awards Live-blog Preview

Yet another empty promise to blog gone unfulfilled, just like the most unreliable boyfriend you’ve had in your life.

BUT, there are some things that can bring this blogger back, and one of the them is awards season! I try to do a live blog for the two major Chinese cinema awards (Sorry, Mainland China, you don’t have one of them), so this return means it’s time for the Golden Horse Awards!

What this blogger does when he isn’t blogging

As always, the awards will be broadcast live on Star Chinese Movies channel here in Hong Kong, and yours truly will be following all the action with snarky snark snark…with a few second delay because my Mandarin isn’t as good as my Cantonese.

Here are the deets:

Time: Saturday, November 24th, 2012. 19:00 (7pm) Hong Kong Time (Use World Time Server or a world clock of your choice to figure out your local time)

Place: Right here! 

How it works: A new blog entry will be created on the day of the show. Just keep reloading that entry during the course of the show to see the latest updates.

How to interact:  In the past, I’ve opened up comments and set up live chats. This year, I’m taking it all on Twitter. Just tweet @TheGoldenRock with #2012GHA, and I will retweet and respond accordingly.  

Made plans this weekend? Just come back and reread the whole thing later on. It won’t be so fun, but it’ll be here as long as the blog is here.

Simple enough? Good! Some time later this week, I will post my predictions, and we’ll be back here to waste a Saturday night watching the Chinese-speaking film community congratulate themselves!

She’ll probably be there, just not wearing this.

Concept ad for this year’s Golden Horse Festival, by JUMP! ASHIN director Lin Yu-Hsien and starring Eddie Peng:

The Golden Rock - August 17, 2012 Edition



In just 8 days, Pang Ho-Cheung’s VULGARIA has already grossed HK$11.9 million at the Hong Kong box office, which means both of Pang’s films in 2012 - LOVE IN THE BUFF and VULGARIA - will surely be two of the top ten highest-grossing Hong Kong films of 2012. BUFF has already made HK$27 million and currently holds the top spot at this year’s Hong Kong box office, and if VULGARIA makes more than HK$23 million, it would officially make Pang the first director since Stephen Chow whose film(s) managed to gross over HK$50 million in a single year. However, the difference will be that Chow did it with one film (CJ7), while Pang will be doing it with two.

How did a foul-mouthed category III film about making movies manage to become one of the highest-grossing local films of the year? My own opinion of the film aside (my audio review on East Screen West Screen), let’s first acknowledge that VULGARIA being a good film is not enough. Anyone who thinks that good movies make money and bad movies don’t make money is just being naive.

If the movie being good is not the reason, then why else would VULGARIA be such a hit?

Warning: The following includes many Cantonese profanities and possible spoilers for VULGARIA

1) Thank EXODUS


There are several specific Cantonese curse words that are considered no-no for Hong Kong censors. Traditionally, use of those words would automatically warrant a category III (no one under 18 admitted) for the film, which is why commercial Hong Kong films typically stay away from them. However, in 2007, Pang Ho-Cheung’s EXODUS became one of the first Hong Kong films to use these Cantonese cuss words liberally (you can see on the clip above) and still managed to avoid a category III rating. Reportedly, Pang pointed out to the censors that films with English profanity are often passed with IIB (not an age-restricted rating) and that the use of profanity actually reflects everyday reality. The censors agreed and allowed EXODUS to pass with a IIB.

This actually became a game changer of sorts, as other filmmakers began to follow suit. Wong Jing’s MR. AND MRS GAMBLER features several jokes involving Cantonese cuss words, Heiward Mak had his idol stars mouth them in EX, and Pang Ho-Cheung continued to include them in his films until LOVE IN THE PUFF got the category III because TELA had a problem with the characters using profanity too casually (according to Pang). However, PUFF then became immensely popular among young audience, and Pang knew that it was partly because young people find Cantonese profanity amusing.

After making LOVE IN THE BUFF, his first China co-production, Pang returned to Hong Kong and managed to get HK$7 million from Paco Wong’s Sun Entertainment to make what was called at the time WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT HONG KONG MOVIE. It was going to be packed with Cantonese profanity, raunchy humor, a load of star cameos (many of whom worked for free), and most importantly, it would have the label “Hong Kong movie” taped tightly to it.

2) Using China’s Weibo

Pang Ho-Cheung currently has 1.9 million followers of Weibo. He knows he’s a popular man on Sina Weibo and other Chinese social media, which is why he has been using it as a tool for the last year and a half. He used it to get extras for LOVE IN THE BUFF, and he had been counting on those same fans to mobilize and enter the cinema for BUFF. Before that turned out to be a disappointing venture, he used Weibo to report the progress of WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT HONG KONG MOVIE. Pang and producer/star Chapman To had been uploading photos from their meetings and the set of the film for a month before the local press even got to visit the set. On the surface, they seemed like a celebrity’s everyday post, but every single post included the film’s Chinese name (which translates to “A Vulgar Comedy”) and teased the various star cameos. That’s where hype starts.

3) Picking the right handlers

In 2010, local independent distributor Golden Scene premiered LA COMEDIE HUMAINE at the Hong Kong International Film Festival - a full four months before its theatrical release. The film was a tough sell - a buddy comedy about a professional killer and a scriptwriter that was about the magic of movies - but the distributor has proven to be able to sell summer comedies with surprise hit SIMPLY ACTORS. Not only would the HKIFF launch give the film a quality label, but by having only one screening to 1,000 enthusiastic audience members in the Hong Kong cultural center, the amplified response became a good word-of-mouth starter.


When opening weekend arrived in August, Golden Scene also sent the film’s stars on a series of meet-and-greets in Hong Kong cinemas, meeting enthusiastic audiences with what is essentially a stand-up routine. It brought the film festival experience to general movie-going, and it kept the film in the media spotlight.

The result? A film that usually would not have made more than HK$4 million ended up with more than double that. With HUMAINE and the HK$10 million-plus gross for BREAK-UP CLUB, Golden Scene became THE distributor for hip and alternative Hong Kong commercial films.

Golden Scene knew that WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT HONG KONG MOVIE - now re-titled VULGARIA - would once again be a tough sell to local audiences. It’s category III, it doesn’t have a star that guarantees a huge gross, and it was from a filmmaker who’s only made one commercial hit in his career. As they had done with HUMAINE, they started with one exclusive screening at the HKIFF:


Knowing that Pang is a darling in film festivals, Golden Scene also used Filmart (happening at the same time as HKIFF) to aggressively push to the film to overseas visitors - buyers, programmers, and critics - at the film’s market screening. Ironic for a film selling itself as a pure Hong Kong film, yes, but that’s when one can see Pang and his company had picked the right people.

4) Your audience - and Youtube - are your friends

After a run around the world at film festivals like the Udine Far East Film Festival and the New York Asian Film Festival, Golden Scene kicked off the local advertising campaign for the film. Thanks to LOVE IN THE BUFF becoming the highest-grossing Hong Kong film of the year (eat your heart out, Deanie Ip!), Pang suddenly became a marketable name. This is the guy who once made dark, alternative films (at least considered so in Hong Kong) like YOU SHOOT I SHOOT and DREAM HOME, and now he’s made a super vulgar movie that’s category III? Let’s push him out there:


The above is one of the five making of videos that Golden Scene uploaded, and it contains many of the Cantonese curse words featured in the film. Thanks to the censor-free world that is free internet, this video now has over 200,000 hits on Youtube. In comparison, the cleaner making of videos have only attracted 20,000-70,000 views.

And then there were the audience meet-and-greets. Three weeks before the movie’s official release date, Golden Scene held midnight previews around town and had Pang Ho-Cheung and Chapman To do post-movie talks. Since this was a category III film anyway, Pang, To, and Dada Chan let it all loose with curse words left and right to full-house audiences around town. In the age of smartphones, everyone promptly pulled out their cameras and started filming.

At the first of these talks, To and Pang talk about the importance of making films for Hong Kong audiences, the absurdity of Mainland censorship, the beauty of Cantonese profanity, and sometimes Bosco Wong. Of course, with Ms. Popping Candy herself, there were also a bit of sexual harassment:


Multiple videos of these talks hit Youtube and received thousands of views, which then helped boost sales for the next week of preview screenings. In the second weekend, Pang and To took it further. Not only did they bring a fake mule on their press tour (You’ll get it after you’ve seen the film), they also started revealing the real people behind some of the film’s biggest gags. Here, Pang Ho-Cheung reveals that Chapman To was the real star behind the mule story.

Here, they then reveal that the real Ms. Popping Candy is the girlfriend of Pang’s stills photographer and that Billy Chung is the director who ran gambling dens:

By now, you probably realize you may not want to reveal your most intimate secrets to Pang Ho-Cheung

By the way, it’s clear that Pang and To didn’t count on these videos going online, which is why they repeated many of the same jokes.

5) Pop culture domination


The above is a newspaper column from last week. The subject is a certain Cantonese word in the film that was the subject of several jokes in the film (According to the subtitles, it’s supposed to be “nose diving”, but sounds like something very vulgar). This is only one way that VULGARIA references have dominated local pop culture. While the film’s response ranges from mixed-to-good, several jokes have become talking points among Hong Kongers. And unlike SEX AND ZEN 3D, the references are even about how much the movie sucks.

Over the past year, Hong Kong people has also grown increasingly dissatisfied with Mainland China - from the rudeness of tourists to their rumored influence over the Chief Executive election to the new National Education program. Suddenly, Hong Kongers feel like their superior Hong Konger identities are being threatened, and they will take anything they can get to enforce that identity.

Thanks to that, the idea of watching VULGARIA not only became the hip thing to do as a Hong Konger; it also became a way to show Hong Kongers’ love for Hong Kong.

Yes, a little comedy about people swearing a lot is now patriotic duty.

Will the success of VULGARIA bring on a new slew of real, China-less local movies? There will surely be copycats, but the success of VULGARIA was dependent on so many wild card factors (current events, box office success) that could not be foreseen that lightning is not likely to strike again. As a result, it’s like that everything else that follow will surely be dismissed as copycats. Besides, Pang and To are probably not very well-liked right now in certain circles of the Hong Kong film industry, especially those Hong Kong directors living up north that have been dubbed as traitors of Hong Kong for making movies for China (Hi, Gordon Chan, Peter Chan, Derek Yee, Andrew Lau, and Johnnie To!). Hell, even Pang’s next film is a Huayi Brothers production that will be shot in Beijing! Believe it or not, the Hong Kong film industry isn’t always a united place.

If anything, VULGARIA goes to show that to make money in the movies, it’s not always about making a good movie - it’s about making the right movie.

Well, that and swearing a lot.

The Golden Rock - Supercaptitalist Edition (Featuring Guest Blogger Marco Sparmberg)

Apologies for the long break, as various obligations have tied this writer down the past two months.

However, as Edison Chen once said, we are coming back harder than ever with some new content. And one of those is the first-ever guest blogger entry on The Golden Rock. Recently, we were kindly offered an opportunity to watch a new film called SUPERCAPITALIST, written by actor Derek Ting and directed by Simon Yin. Due to scheduling conflicts, we sent Marco Sparmberg, founder of Haexagon Concepts and Hong Kong-based director of HAEXAGON and web series SQUATTERTOWN. As he will mention in the review, Mr. Sparmberg also worked in development at Salon Films for a year, so he definitely knows a thing or two about developing a film here in Hong Kong. 

And now, without further ado, Mr. Sparmberg’s unfiltered, uncensored, but edited for grammar review of SUPERCAPITALIST:

Just to further throw Marco under that bus, Marco’s views about the film are his own, and they do not represent nor this blogger.

$uper-capitalization of clichés

The Skinny:

A rare English-language indie film from Hong Kong that tries to remake WALL STREET the Central way. Featuring common expat clichés, SUPERCAPITALIST offers a TV thriller without the thrills.


Before I start selling my shares, I need to put this disclaimer up front: In the summer of 2010, SUPERCAPITALIST was one of the projects that passed my desk seeking financial investment. I had actually recommended this project to my boss for further consideration at the time.

Now that the production is completed and has been screened in a theater, would I still recommend it? Unfortunately, I would not. A financial thriller set in Hong Kong, Macau and New York set up as a sophisticated international co-production by a group of young expat talents that might bring Hong Kong film back to the world map of cinema, the film’s premise is indeed intriguing and promising. So, what happened?


“You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

Conner Lee (Derek Ting) works at a New York-based hedge fund firm. When he starts to become a troublemaker for his boss, he is sent to Hong Kong as an expendable asset to “shake things up” in the local market. Arriving in the fragrant harbor, he takes the tourist bus and LKF bar tour. The message “we are in Hong Kong and spend money at random” is repeated, as we see Connor gets sucked into the generic urban life of decadence, which includes junk boat trips with two bikini models for each of his fingers.

Then, a plot suddenly emerges when Conner gets the order to rip off a local tycoon (Richard Ng). In the process of taking over his company, Connor falls for the tycoon’s attractive assistant (Katy Uyen). When he also finds out that he is being double crossed by his own boss (Linus Roache) and the tycoon’s brother (Kenneth Tsang), Conner joins forces with the locals to save the company.

The way local Hong Kong people are portrayed here should be a cause of concern.  The filmmakers navigate into dangerous waters by implying everyone can be bribed with red pockets in this city. At the same time, Richard Ng’s multi-billion dollar tycoon stubbornly holds on to his family traditions and old-school business models, effectively weakening him as his brother gets established as the greedy villain. Meanwhile, every other local character, including Katy Uyen’s, is mere accessory to the Asian-American hero who saves the day.



“Trust me, you gotta bribe that 7-eleven clerk if you don’t want her to spit on your fish balls!” 


SUPERCAPITALIST is an extremely rare independent Hong Kong feature film effort by expat filmmakers, fueled by the online artist community Alive Not Dead. It is Simon Yin’s first feature film as well as the first lead role for writer-producer Derek Ting. The film and its team clearly aimed for too much, all the while ignoring critical issues like the financial crisis or Hong Kong’s increasing rich-poor gap for the convenience of repeating an old story pattern. Even when Oliver Stone is struggling to pull off a decent financial thriller these days, why should Yin be able to bring anything new to this conference call? The team could have instead achieved much more by taking a cue from MARGIN CALL, which took a minimalistic approach and could’ve been produced easily in Hong Kong for instance.

Notable, however, was the short Q&A session with Richard Ng after the Hong Kong press screening (at IFC, of all places). Ng spoke about how he first rejected the young team and dismissed them as not serious but eventually agreed to take the role. However, he later changed his mind and says that he truly believes in the talent and the potential in his team of up-and-coming filmmakers - a statement that comes off more sincere than the usual promotion talk (”We are really pioneering!”) by some of the other speakers on stage.

Yin and Ting may have wanted to play like big brokers on the surface, but they end up coming off like they’re collecting leftovers from some company party. Production value is below average even for a Hong Kong film, with everything looking like TV. The film has technical issues that are so apparent on the big screen that I was constantly kicked out of the story, finding myself wondering what and who was responsible for such sloppy camera work.


“Look, we found the only street restaurant that puts blankets on their tables.”

Following what has become the current go-to distribution strategy for independent films in the States, the producers has struck a deal with All Rights Entertainment and will release SUPERCAPITALIST simultaneously in theaters, Cable VoD and on iTunes. In my opinion, the theatrical run is more or less a face-saving act by the traditionalists in the team, as the VoD downloads will bring the real numbers. Solid, but not profitable enough, returns from the Asian American community can be expected, especially since the film is acting as the Centerpiece Presentation at the 2012 Asian American International Film Festival in New York City. However, the film will probably only attract expats during its August release In Hong Kong.

Ultimately, SUPERCAPITALIST could have been so much more. As an expat filmmaker in Hong Kong, I would have liked to see it setting a precedence as a case of people wanting to do something outside of the usual RomCom and Martial Arts genres. However, it’s sad that I can see every single attempt and compromise that was made along the way while watching the film. From personal and professional experiences, I understand a production has its limits and constraint, as well as the effort and hard work that go into making such a product. However, there were simply too much sacrificed or approached with the wrong attitude. I would be delighted to see this underdog succeed as it had so much potential, but this is not the film we had hoped for, and it will probably vanish in the sea of insignificant investments soon.

So, let me close with a note to all the expat filmmakers out there: Hong Kong is not just that glittery thingy between Causeway Bay and Central. That place you call The Dark Side, most of us call the city. There are so much more relevant topics and amazing locations to explore. It really is worth a try!

Regardless of the film’s quality, we thank Marco Sparmberg for his review and the organizers of the special screening for this special opportunity. 

Photos courtesy of All Rights Entertainment. 

The Golden Rock - April 23, 2012 Edition

Note: Edited on April 25th with additional information and new English titles. 

The Beijing International Film Festival kicks off this week, which may be why the big Chinese film studios are rushing to announce their slate this week. Just a day after Huayi Brother announced their 2012-2013 lineup, Enlight Pictures (MURAL, LEGEND OF THE FIST, AN INACCURATE MEMOIR) announced their own 2012-2013 slate - and they’re looking to impress.

Photo from Sina Entertainment

Read the rest of this entry »

The Golden Rock - April 22, 2012 Edition

Note: Entry edited on April 23 to add additional information, as well as clear up information about Doze Niu’s film. 

In March 2011, major Chinese independent studio Huayi Brothers (DETECTIVE DEE, SHAOLIN, ASSEMBLY) announced a large slate of films dubbed “Plan H”. Surprisingly, Huayi managed to complete most of the projects on that slate, having released Doze Niu’s LOVE, Tom Lin’s STARRY STARRY NIGHT, and Tony Chan/Wing Shya’s HOT SUMMER DAYS. Wuershan’s PAINTED SKIN II, Stephen Fung’s TAI CHI 0, Ronny Yu’s SAVING GENERAL YANG, Feng Xiaogang’s 1942, and Jackie Chan’s CHINESE ZODIACS have all finished shooting and getting prepped for release.

Which means it’s time for round 2. On April 22, Huayi Brothers announced their latest Plan H line-up, as well as the release dates for their 2012 slate:

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