and the Beginning of the Future
unchecked rambling ahead.
Life with Kozo
is an oddity. Basically, it's a series of columns where the
Webmaster AKA: Kozo AKA: Me discusses topics ranging from
the current status of my websitewhich
if you haven't heard of it, is called LoveHKFilm.comto
the fantastic bagel dog I had just the other day. Topics usually
have had something to do with how I feel about my website,
though the occasional serious issue (the passing of reviewer
Lee Wong, as well as the various surprising celebrity deaths
over the past two years) has made an appearance.
Inevitably, however, the columns
are usually one or the other: a somber postmortem to surprising
tragedy, or a snarky diatribe filled with questionable wit
and wisdom. Given the polar extremes in tone, it's logical
that only one or the other type of writing gets play. Jokes
during a postmortem are the height of bad taste, and serious
thought during an article on my Ekin Cheng-related hate mail
would just be stupid. Mixing and matching these two types
of writing just seems like a bad idea.
Screw it: I'm going to try anyway.
Recently I've been drawn into
a mini-war with certain readers over the fate of the infamous
reader polls. For those not familiar with them, they're usually
short, semi-serious questions about everything from celebrity
gossip to film quality to the contenders for the recent NBA
Championship (The Lakers lost, woohoo!). The polls were never
to be taken seriouslytheir function was purely entertainment,
which should have been obvious from the frequent "joke"
choices on each poll. When one of the possible answers to
the question, "Which Twin do you prefer?" is "I
like bacon", you should know not to get riled up over
any possible disagreement. If anything, who cares? An opinion
is an opinion, not everyone will agree with you, and that's
just the way it is. Deal.
However, things went sour for
the polls very quick. Aside from the occasional sniping between
readers via the optional "poll comments," there
were a few awesome people who decided it fell upon them to
critique the quality of the polls themselves. "Idiotic"
and "a waste of time" were some of the words bandied
about, which angered me so much that I considered getting
a decaf Frappucino instead of the standard caffeinated variety.
For those who don't understand my sense of humor, here it
is literally: I don't care whatsoever what people think of
the polls. Don't like them? Fine, then don't pay attention.
As long as I don't hurt anyoneand I doubt I doI'll
continue to run the polls every week.
Sadly, it was another part of
the sudden caustic nature of the poll comments which made
me send them packing. Besides attacking me or the site, some
commenters began attacking each other with frequent misunderstanding
and ignorance as their chief weapons. At that point I decided
enough was enough: the polls were sent on indefinite vacation.
If people wanted to rattle illogically without fear of consequence,
I would prefer they do it somewhere else, and not here. Yes,
has a forum, and yes, lots of debate occurs there, but usually
those forum faithful are a little more sensitive of other
people's feelings. They certainly wouldn't tell someone to
"kiss my ass", or start throwing around four-letter
words like badges of unearned authority. And if someone on
the forum did mouth off in a way unbefitting a rational human
being, usually that's what would get attacked and not the
fact that they happen to dig Aaron Kwok. Opinions are cool;
disregard for the opinions and feelings of others most certainly
Not that what I say should matter,
because anyone I would direct this diatribe at probably could
care less what I have to say. Which is fine. Despite my all-powerful
position as webmaster of LoveHKFilm.com,
I cannot predict the rational abilities of the people who
drop by this place. All I can really do is take responsiblity
for what I say or dowhich has its own share of bumps
and bruises. Recently I received an e-mail which took me to
task for my "emotional" response to people who like
Future Cops. At the
end of my scathing review, I proclaimed to the world that
(and I paraphrase) "if you like Future Cops, then
I hope never to meet you." Someone thought I was being
way too harsh, and told me so. Their message: don't be so
In truth, I probably deserve
censure IF you took my words literally. Well here's what I
think: people shouldn't take all my words literally. I was
basically kidding; I know many people who find Future Cops
to be a gas, and I have yet to sever personal ties with them
as a result. I write the way I write, which happens to be
in a weird, somewhat facetious manner which attempts critical
thought without ever removing tongue from cheek. Most of the
time I think it works, though it's apparent that my efforts
are lost on some people. Not that there's anything wrong with
that; if my writing does not entertain or inform you, then
I guess that's just the way it is. Sorry I couldn't help you.
To take it further, they might want to seek out a film reviewer
that they actually have a rapport with, i.e. someone who speaks
the same language. I speak my own language, which is probably
understood by about thirty-odd people worldwide. Bottom line,
if my writing annoys you, then that's too bad. The world is
not a perfect place, and I can't be responsible for everything
everyone thinks or feels. I could probably try, but it'd likely
drive me insane.
If I were younger, this would
probably be another story. Ten years ago, when I was in college,
I made it my business to try to be responsible for the feelings
of EVERYONE around me, an experiment in personality that failed
spectacularly. Aside from the fact that it was metaphysically
impossible, it annoyed me so much that I became a nightmare
of a human being to be around AND I ended up feeling like
complete and utter crap. I learned my lesson, but there was
collateral damage to spare. I'm sure there have been many
weddings I was not invited to.
Luckily, despite my misadventures
in growing up, I still managed to make a few very good friends
during my college days. One of them was a guy named Barry
Long, who worked the counter at Kim's Video in New York City.
Aside from being a nice guy, Barry was also the world's biggest
English-speaking advocate of Hong Kong film. The guy devoured
the stuff with a passion that makes me look like a casual
fan. I went into the whole HK Cinema thing with only John
Woo and Jackie Chan as my references. Barry introduced me
to Stephen Chow, Wong Kar-Wai, Peter Chan, Stanley Kwan, Johnnie
To, Wong Jing, Brigitte Lin, Tsui Hark and other names that
constantly pop up on this site. My burgeoning interest in
the cinema had no focus. Barry pointed me in all sorts of
directions, never once mistaking his own tastes for mine,
or vice-versa. We disagreed on some films (Barry happened
to find Future Cops amusing), but that never stopped
us from being friends.
It's rather sad, but I lost
touch with Barry after I left New York City. In 1996, I returned
to California and began my illustrious career as a video buyer
for some dinky San Jose home theater store. I created a Hong
Kong Cinema section, found laserdisc rental stores in the
area, and generally kept up using all the tools Barry had
given to me. We spoke once or twice after I returned, but
as with many things, you just lose touch. I currently speak
to no one from my college years save two people, and of those
people I've only seen one since I left New York. Since creating
a total of two other people from my college years have contacted
me. Sadly, neither of those people was Barry. I had always
assumed that this website would one day catch his attention.
After all, if he still had any interest whatsoever in Hong
Kong Cinema, I figured he would run across the site someday.
Unfortunately, I will never
know if he ever found this site. I learned recently through
a friend of a friend that Barry had passed away. Grady Hendrix
over at the Mobius Home Video Forum gave him a touching eulogy
which perfectly encapsulates what it was about Barry that
made him different. Unlike a lot of people, Barry believed
in the films he loved, even if nobody else could see what
made them so enchanting to him. When faced with something
as assailable as Hong Kong filmand let's face it, when
you factor in all the tasteless Category III shlock and wacky
comedy, Hong Kong Cinema seems like pretty strange stuffBarry
would promote the stuff like it was his purpose to do so.
Hell, Barry thought Chiu Yen-Ping
had talent, which is something I would never, ever agree with,
but give him credit: Barry would tell you this, and then show
you scenes from Flying Dagger or China Dragon
to illustrate his point. My reaction was to lose my lunch,
but Barry was never embarassed or annoyed that I didn't agree
with him. Our disagreements didn't matter; what mattered was
that we both cared enough about Hong Kong Cinema to even bother
having a conversation about Chiu Yen-Ping, or Wong Jing, or
even those terrible "Shaolin Popey" kids. You remember
them: the kung-fu fighting one, Sik Siu-Lung, and the little
fat one, Kok Siu-Man, whose primary shtick was to run around
naked showing off his hairless privates to middle-aged women
everywhere. Yeah, I won't be revisiting those films anytime
But Barry was a guide for me,
and showed me pieces of Hong Kong Cinema that would determine
my viewing habits and film choices for the next ten years.
Knowledge of stars, directors, and the minute pleasures of
HK's commercial cinema were all things that Barry imparted
upon me, just as he did for many other people who walked into
Kim's Video. He even gave me a job at Kim's, and after he
left the place, I made the Hong Kong Cinema section my new
responsiblity. It's safe to say that I did nowhere near as
good a job as Barry, and my HK Cinema disciples at Kim's probably
never numbered more than three. I didn't have the charisma
or personality to invite people into Hong Kong Cinema with
the confidence that Barry did. In a fair world, LoveHKFilm.com
should have been Barry Long's website.
For better or worse, though,
it happens to be my websitea fact which probably entertains
some and annoys others. But if any one person were to receive
credit for this site existing, it would have to be Barry.
Learning about Hong Kong Cinema according to Barry Long is
what led me to this point. That I would even attempt to qualify
HK movies in a rational, discursive manner are a product of
the hours spent discussing HK films with Barry. The fact that
the site ever came to be is something I attribute directly
to my friend. In every way, the critical eye and loving attention
paid towards a film as culturally insignificant as Protégé
de la Rose Noire is a product of that man's same affection
towards that which is Hong Kong Cinema. It may not seem like
much, but it's something.
I'm not sure if it's a compliment,
but I consider Barry Long to be the soul of LoveHKFilm.com.
Yeah, I run the thing, but as some readers have been all-too-willing
to point out, a bunch of monkees could do what I do. I'm not
sure those same readers could do it, but if they think they
can then more power to them. I'll just continue to keep this
thing running, week after week, month after month, and hopefully
one day it'll all make sense. I sincerely hope that Barrywherever
he is nowapproves of LoveHKFilm.com
and whatever meager things it tries to accomplish. As it is,
I plan on doing my very best to make sure that it stays around
for quite a while.
Unchecked rambling off.