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19th Annual LoveHKFilm Awards

The LoveHKFilm Awards Jury finally handed out its 2013 film awards — a full 10+ months after 2013 ended. We never claimed to be a punctual bunch. However, due to our lateness, the films mentioned herein now look really old. Seriously, we're talking about movies that came out back when Twilight was still a thing.

Anyway, films eligible for these awards include all Hong Kong and China films released in Hong Kong cinemas during the 2013 calendar year. Like in 2011 and 2012, we've expanded the eligible films to include pure China films and not strictly Hong Kong-China co-productions. We wrote about the rule change in this blog post from a while back.

Next year is the 20th edition of these awards, which really doesn't mean all that much but is a nifty number to celebrate anyway. We promise that we'll report the 2014 winners before September 2015. That's a pretty low hurdle so I'm assuming we'll clear it.

A full list of jury members can be found below. Thanks to each of them for their participation, patience and tolerance of, well, everything.


Best Picture
Defying conventional wisdom and a precedent set by nearly every Asian film awards body, our top honor goes to a movie that isn't The Grandmaster. Maybe we just identify more with a film about a couple of shlubs who bromance each other while training for a vaguely credible MMA tournament. Maybe Unbeatable feels more like a Hong Kong movie. Or maybe we just like abs.


Best Director
Dante Lam Chiu-Yin (Unbeatable)
Possibly a career high for the already well-regarded Dante Lam, Unbeatable shows off the director's abilities superbly. Fine characters and emotions, development through story over dialogue, and sharp acting and action are all in effect here. While not the most consistent director, Lam is among the best when he brings it. He brought it with Unbeatable.


Best Actor
Nick Cheung Ka-Fai (Unbeatable)
Acting + abs = awards. The Tony Leung Chiu-Wai award-winning juggernaut is toppled by Nick "I used to star in mainly Wong Jing crap" Cheung, who sculpted his body into a Men's Fitness fantasy for Dante Lam's rousing MMA-themed drama. A decade ago we would have been laughed out off the Internet for saying so, but Nick Cheung is an acting god.


Best Actress
Zhang Ziyi (The Grandmaster)
Conventional wisdom wins out with Zhang Ziyi's fifty-third consecutive award win for her work in Wong Kar-Wai's The Grandmaster. Normally we would pride ourselves on giving this award to someone other than the widely-lauded ZZY, but this is a career-best perf from the former lil' Gong Li and it should absolutely be recognized.


Best Supporting Actor
Huang Bo (Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons)
Both funny and scary, Huang Bo did the most with his meager screen time in Journey to the West, and was an inspired choice as Stephen Chow and Derek Kwok's reimagined Monkey King. Now one of China's top stars — if not their actual #1 box office draw — Huang proves that nice guys (and maybe also ugly guys) finish first.


Best Supporting Actress
Bau Hei-Jing (Rigor Mortis)
If we told you that Bau Hei-Jing should win an award for one single scene in Rigor Mortis, you would undoubtedly know which horrifying scene we're talking about, because she was just that amazing in it. A loser at the Hong Kong Film Awards because someone decided she should be placed in the Best Actress category and therefore be steamrolled by Zhang Ziyi.


Best Screenplay (tie)
Wai Ka-Fai, Yau Nai-Hoi, Ryker Chan, Yu Xi (Drug War)
Erica Li Man (Ip Man - The Final Fight)
Ip Man - The Final Fight featured a remarkable humanist take on the Wing Chun master peppered with rich local history, while Drug War offered a deceptively simple narrative about cops chasing drug-running gangs. We liked both so we're calling this one a tie. If there was an improv award, The Grandmaster would have won that.


Best New Artist
Kenny Lin (Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon)
China TV star Kenny Lin Gengxin snuck up and totally stole Best New Artist from Babyjohn Choi of The Way We Dance, which sucks for Babyjohn but rules for Kenny Lin's screaming fans. Lin brought the right mix of comedy relief and puppydog pathos to his Detective Dee sidekick, and was a fun third wheel to the Mark Chao-William Feng bromance. His dancing skills are unknown, however.


Best Action
Yuen Woo-Ping (The Grandmaster)
Action doesn't get more artful or articulate than Yuen Woo-Ping's astonishing work in The Grandmaster. Each action sequence is meticulously arranged and choreographed, with emotion and character as key to every scene as the countless punches and kicks. Also, the film has a nifty story with dialogue. You know, in case you get bored.


Worst Picture
Was there any doubt that totally inept spy thriller Switch would win this award? Sure, you could make a case for Kick Ass Girls or The Stolen Years, but neither of those films starred megastar Andy Lau or cost a trillion dollars (well, maybe a little less than that). The only saving grace of this craptacular achievement is that it's riotiously funny for all the wrong reasons.


Most Underrated Film
The Last Supper
Directed by Lu Chuan, starring awesome actors and featuring one of those "this movie isn't critical of China — OH WAIT, IT TOTALLY IS" stories that sometimes slip through SAPPRFT, The Last Supper deserves much more attention than it's received. Hell, this movie is so underrated that we even forgot to review it.


Most Overrated Film
The White Storm
For an overblown Better Tomorrow clone, The White Storm is actually not that bad. It's got good acting and the action is spot-on. However, the film received multiple award nominations from numerous award-giving bodies and is up for more Golden Horse Awards than any Hong Kong film this year. Honestly, we like The White Storm. But not that much.


Most Bizarre Film
It's bad and it's also so very, very weird. Ostensibly a spy thriller about customs agents chasing art thieves, Switch is also mystifyingly odd, with weird production design, inexplicable details, unfathomable characters and ridiculous action. If Switch had been a deliberate spoof, it might qualify as a justifiable comedy classic. Spoofs shouldn't run 2 hours though.


Most Disappointing Film
American Dreams in China
Great director, terrific cast, relevant subject matter and some great scenes do not a complete film make. American Dreams in China works for a portion of its running time but jumps the shark with a bizarre turn into self-righteous China vs. USA grandstanding. All things considered (the China market, etc.) this result is not surprising. But it's most definitely disappointing.


Funniest Performer
Huang Bo (Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons)
Hey, it's Huang Bo again. The former character actor is now a bankable force, in large part due to his ability to handle both drama and comedy, or to combine them as he does in Journey to the West. Besides timing or line delivery, superior comedy requires an element of the unexpected and Huang delivers the complete package in this deserved blockbuster.


Most Annoying
The entire cast of The Best Plan is No Plan
Patrick Kong's ensemble comedy was an insufferable mess, in large part due to its all-over-the-place cast, who apparently can't tell the difference between funny and mentally-challenged. Some performers might get a pass — like Sammy Sum or Jinny Ng — but Hanjin Tan absolutely does not for his appalling Indian person impersonation. If we could give these people a collective wedgie, we would.


Most Awesome
Chang Chen (The Grandmaster)
Chang Chen totally owns in The Grandmaster, for which he trained so seriously in the martial art of Bagua that he won an actual fighting tournament. Also, the guy still works with Wong Kar-Wai despite being all-but-excised from 2046 and always having to play second-fiddle to that Tony Leung Chiu-Wai guy. Dedication + tolerance + humility + the ability to beat up people = awesome.


Most Underrated Performer
William Feng (Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon)
The standout performer in a movie that didn't really have any (besides Carina Lau, she was pretty good), William Feng deserves some mention for his haughty but enjoyably kickass officer of the peace in Tsui Hark's Detective Dee prequel. He was the closest thing in the film to a foil for Mark Chao's Detective Dee and honestly, we probably liked him more. Sorry, Mark!


The Liu Kai-Chi Overacting Award
Sammy Sum Chun-Hin (Young and Dangerous: Reloaded)
He doesn't come close to Francis Ng's iconic performance, but Sammy Sum's new take on Ugly Kwan in Young and Dangerous: Reloaded gets its own place in the overacting hall of fame. Besides being the best live-action version of Wile E. Coyote to date, Sum gives this tepid reboot some sorely-needed spark. Too bad he won't be back for a sequel. That is, if they ever make one.


Taking Up Space
Du Juan (American Dreams in China)
Model Du Juan starts out fine as Huang Xiaoming's object of desire in American Dreams in China, but she never really becomes a full-fledged character despite having ample opportunity to do so. Her work here is nowhere near as bad as that of Taking Up Space Hall of Famers like Michael Wong but hey, someone had to win this year. Improvement is always possible and genuinely hoped for.


The "Best Man Ever" Award
Wu Xiubo (Finding Mr. Right)
This award is given yearly to a male character who's just so awesome and decent that we can't help but respect and/or love him regardless of our race, creed, gender or sexuality. As the kind, patient, supportive, principled and forgiving Frank in Finding Mr. Right, Wu Xiubo is such a man. Also, his salt-and-pepper beard makes him look incredibly manly.


Most Indestructible Hair
Andy Lau Tak-Wah (Firestorm)
There's regular hair and then there's super hair, the latter of which Andy Lau sports in the loud and ludicrous actioner Firestorm. Lau escapes explosions, crashes cars, falls off buildings and sometimes bleeds — and all through these adventures, his hair is a meticulous marvel of carefully-combed coiffery. The exact sorcery behind this achievement is a question for the ages.


The Team Player Award
Derek Tsang Kwok-Cheung (SDU: Sex Duties Unit)
When your character gets body-sprayed with a male sexual performance enhancer and must spend nearly the entire film in a state of arousal despite being in situations where you should not and would not want to be aroused — well, congratulations, you've taken one for the team! Chapman To, Shawn Yue and Matt Chow owe Derek Tsang drinks.


Best (or Worst) Victim Blaming
Christmas Rose
SPOILER ALERT: Everybody loves a film where a person suffering from mental illness is revealed to be the unintentional mastermind behind a three-ring media circus and the potential ruining of many lives. But hey, let's not blame them: They're mentally ill! Just kidding, the above as a narrative device is lazy and completely irresponsible and we should all go see a good movie instead.


Most Entertaining Troll
Hu Jun (Firestorm)
Being a bad guy is already tough work, so it takes a special kind of bad guy to "coincidentally" show up at the police station to assist in an investigation while smirking the whole time because you know you're the prime suspect and that the cops HATE you. In Firestorm, Hu Jun is such a bad guy and we salute him for his trolling. Four out of five times, he wins the Internet.


Best Star Trek Homage
Nick Cheung Ka-Fai (The White Storm)
SPOILER ALERT: Nick Cheung disappears about halfway through The White Storm but when he returns, he's transformed from a stalwart beta male into a smarmy cauldron of manly danger. Such a complete 180 comes naturally with sinister-looking facial hair, courtesy of the Mirror Universe™. The Gene Roddenberry Estate has their legal team on this.


The Dynasty Award
Badges of Fury
Quality-challenged but gleefully so, Badges of Fury is the type of no-holds-barred nonsense that once made Hong Kong Cinema an enjoyable populist playground. Hey, just because Jet Li is a serious martial artist doesn't mean he can't make a fun-filled farce once in a while. If you must see Badges of Fury, seeing it at the Dynasty Theatre is the way to do it.


The Andy Lau Product Placement Award
Tiny Times 1.0 and Tiny Times 2.0
While other films advertise brands like Pepsi or Osim, the Tiny Times movies shill for materialism. Seriously, these vapid youth dramas are all about living in an amazing bubble of fabulous fashions, gorgeous playmates and ritzy soirees that the help needn't attend. Sure there's cheating and rhinoplasty but Prada! Ferragamo! Armani! Louis Vuitton! Pizza Hut! Maybe not that last one.


The Next 10 Best Films of 2013
The Grandmaster
Ip Man - The Final Fight
Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
Drug War
The Last Supper
The Way We Dance
Blind Detective
Silent Witness
Finding Mr. Right


The Next 10 Worst Films of 2013
Kick Ass Girls
The Stolen Years
The Incredible Truth
The Best Plan is No Plan
Christmas Rose
Baby Blues
The Midas Touch
I Love Hong Kong 2013

The LoveHKFilm Awards Jury

Ross Chen (a.k.a. Kozo)

Shelley Cheung
Minion of Kozo
Editing Monkey,

Paul Fox (a.k.a. Foxlore)
College Lecturer, Media Studies, HKU Space
Creator and Host, East Screen/West Screen Podcast


Tim Youngs
Film Festival Consultant

Yuen Man (a.k.a Garden)
Chinese Editor,

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