Thanks for everything, pal.
this column is called Life with Kozo, this edition
is anything but. Exactly one week before the anniversary of
the most infamous recent day in American History, I write
this to eulogize reviewer LunaSea. Or, as his friends and
I called him: Lee Wong.
I met Lee back in March of 2002
on the forum at the Asian DVD Guide. Lee was looking for reviewers
for a site he was hoping to create, as was I. We traded URLs
and ideas, and made tentative plans to maybe write guest reviews
for each other's sites.
Though both of us shared a few common
loves (Tsui Hark, Wong Kar-Wai, Shu Qi), our writing styles
and modus operandi were as different as possible. I
watched everything, including lots of crap disguised as movies.
Lee watched primarily the movies that he wanted to see. He
went in looking to enjoy the films he had chosen, and more
often than not he escaped with much to say about them.
As the person who edited his reviews,
I will say this: Lee liked to talk about movies. A lot. In
fact, he loved to talk about movies so much that he abandoned
his own website to write only for mine. The ins and outs of
layout and web design held apparently no joy for him - he
cared mainly about the films and what he found in them. Truthfully,
I envied that. After spending countless hours screwing with
tables, browser incompatibilities and cascading style sheets,
the idea of throwing a DVD on and writing a review can be
extremely unattractive. Lee found a way around that: he had
me do all that crap, and he got to watch and enjoy the movies.
Not that I resented that. Not
at all. In fact, I was honored that he would even ditch his
own web site to contribute to mine. I can't be entirely sure
of his reasons, though I hope part of it was that he found
this web site something worth contributing to. I believe he
did. Besides sending reviews my way, he also suggested, cajoled,
and inquired about multiple aspects of the site. He wanted
to know who was visiting the site. He wanted to know what
they read. He wanted to know if he could review Korean films.
And Thai films. And Japanese films. And maybe a Hong Kong
film here or there.
section on LoveHKFilm.com
was entirely inspired by Lee. It was his knowledge and love
of those films that made the decision possible. Though this
site was - and still is - a Hong Kong film site, the reality
is that Hong Kong has receded while its neighbors have flourished.
Lee recognized that, and he made me see that as well. The
Pan-Asia section will stay, and will be dedicated to Lee.
It was - and always will be - his designated portion of the
Except the Pan-Asia section
will suffer greatly without him. I'll try to write some reviews
for the section, as will the other reviewers (thanks Jennifer
and Calvin). But, I can't imagine the Pan-Asia section beings
anywhere near as good without Lee. And by that token, I can't
being anywhere near as good without Lee.
Lee cared a great deal about
Even when he traveled to Guangzhou and Korea, he would keep
in touch with me and even send reviews of the films he had
just seen. When he didn't have a computer handy, he would
call his sister and tell her to e-mail me. He was always making
suggestions on how to improve or add to the site, and sometimes
I simply had to say, "Uh...I don't have enough time to
do all that." There were times that I grew tired and
annoyed at the site (it's a lot of work), but Lee's constant
communication would get me back to work. I had to get
back to work, if anything just to deal with the backlog of
reviews he had sent.
Not that it was always a joy.
Looking at the copious text, sometimes difficult grammar (English
was Lee's second language.), and largely unfamiliar references
(Yeah, like I can even pretend to know who all these Korean
filmmakers are.) could be extremely daunting and even annoying.
But really, I wouldn't have had it any other way. Lee wrote
for this site out of love for the cinema, and I can't think
of any way I could have asked him to stifle that.
I was aware that Lee had some
health issues, but he largely kept them from me. This sudden
event leaves me shocked, but not entirely surprised. He actually
e-mailed me a day before he passed away to tell me that he
had completed five or six more reviews, but he would hold
them back until I finished the other ones (I'm sitting on
nine of his reviews) that I hadn't edited yet. Now I don't
know if I'll ever get to read them.
Honestly, there isn't much I
can really say. I probably didn't know Lee all that well.
After all, can you really know someone you've never seen or
spoken to, and have only communicated with via ones and zeroes?
Lee lived in Italy. I've been to Italy. Once. And I don't
think Lee was even born at that time.
In the end, I can't really say
I knew him all that well. But, I do know that he considered
me a friend. And I, most definitely, considered him mine.
Sure, now there won't be someone around who cares about this
web site as much - or even more - than I do. There won't be
a "Pan-Asia Guy" for the site anymore. And there
won't be someone who'll bother me about movies I've never
even heard of. But really, none of that matters. What does
matter is that a friend is gone, and I owe him more than I
can possibly ever repay. Perhaps the only thing I can do is
resolve to keep this site - and its beloved Pan-Asia section
- going as long as I possibly can. I'm pretty sure that Lee
would have wanted that.
Correction: I'm absolutely positive
that Lee would have wanted that.
Thanks for everything, pal.
- Kozo 9/04/2002