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… On this day, I see clearly, everything has come to life.

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with 聚言莊﹕The House Where Words Gather.

Archive for the ‘Sexy Photos Gate’ Category

News Links: Ides of March 2009

Before we get to the links, some observations about the online response to “Gillian Week” as Gillian Chung Yan-Tung returned to the Gillian Chung at an event earlier this week for a clothing companyentertainment circle with an in-depth TVB interview, a press conference, a publicity event and a promotional trip to Taiwan all in the past week.

Based on monitoring the chatter on discussion boards, I would say that about 1/3 of the people are fully supportive of Gillian Chung, 1/3 still view her with scorn and derision and 1/3 are sympathetic but mostly indifferent.  This last group feels bad for Chung and her plight but I don’t think they would go out of their way to support her by buying her products or seeing her films.  I think the key for Ah Gil will be to see how much of this last group she can win over.  It’s too early to say right now if her comeback will be successful but I think it’s safe to say that she won’t be as profitable for EEG as she was prior to the fateful days of January 2008.

One thing is for sure, EEG and EEG-friendly media outlets are trying their hardest to sell the idea that Ah Gil is back and that the public is behind her.  Oriental Daily News ran some transparently biased reports this week suggesting that the crowd at Chung’s publicity event for a clothing store was fully supportive (other media outlets reported that some people were shouting insults) and that Chung had overwhelming support on the Internet even though it’s clear that she doesn’t.

As for the online reaction to her TVB interview, I would say that 30% of the people had a positive response to it while 70% viewed it negatively.  I believe the negative reaction stems from the credibility problems Chung and EEG have after the over-reaction to the EasyFinder photos in 2006, the initial “it’s fake! it’s fake!” response to the first Sexy Photos Gate images and the infamous “naive and stupid” press conference.

The main issue the detractors of the interview had was that it seemed like a staged piece of theatre in support of Gillian Chung’s comeback.  Some noted that while Cecilia Cheung’s interview felt like a free-flowing conversation held in a normal TV studio, parts of Chung’s interview felt like it was scripted by EEG media handlers.  From criticism that the interview was held at EEG boss Albert Yeung’s home (which included the usual snark about Yeung’s relationship with EEG starlets) to allegations that Chung threw Edison Chen under the bus because she saw that Cecilia Cheung received a positive response from doing it, many felt that Gillian Chung was still being fake and disingenuous.  It did not help that there was talk that Chung’s manager, Mani Fok, interfered during the interview by cutting in and limiting discussion of topics such as Chung’s rumoured relationship with Juno Mak Jun-Lung.  (Fok admitted later in the week that she was “acting like a lawyer” during the interview).

Many felt that Gillian Chung didn’t directly answer Stephen Chan’s questions as a hotly debated topic was Chung’s response to a question about her reaction to the EasyFinder scandal.  When Chan hinted that her reaction to the changing room photos may have been overplayed, Chung answered that her response was appropriate because she felt like she had been “raped” and that there was a big difference between consenting to have your picture taken and having your picture taken without your knowledge.  While some felt the answer was sufficient, most felt that Chung dodged the real question.  I think the majority view is best summed up by “Kiwi Pika”, a poster on a Chinese-language discussion board.  My translation of the post:

She didn’t answer the question about the changing room photos properly at all. Saying that it felt like “rape” is an insult to women who have been raped. Please, it’s so far from the same thing! We didn’t see anything! All we saw was a little bit of shoulder. All that crying was really over the top. I think the natural reaction would have been anger. Anyone in a similar situation would feel angry but I don’t think they would feel victimized. The pictures didn’t show anything! She or, more likely, her management decided to take the opportunity to make money from it by milking it for all the sympathy she could get. I find it hard to feel sorry for her because all of this is just karma for making a mountain out of a molehill.

I’ll be back later this week with my thoughts on this whole brouhaha.  Until then, enjoy these links:

SEXY PHOTOS GATE:

The Observer on Sexy Photos Gate

Gillian Chung’s secret romance

Gillian Chung’s press conference: Gillian Chung makes high profile comeback, Gillian the toughie

Gillian Chung goes to Taiwan for promotional event

Gillian Chung admits Juno as boyfriend

Edison Chen gets death threat: Stamps with ’sinister’ meaning QING MING DEADLINEEdison laughs off death threats, Edison Chen receives death threatening letter, Bullet death threat aimed at ChenLetter threatens harm to Chinese-Canadian star involved in racy photos scandal, Edison gets threats

Edison Chen vows: “I’ll come to Singapore again”

Nic Tse pledges undying love for Cecilia Cheung

Cecilia Cheung expecting her second child

Joey Yung expresses full support for Gillian Chung

Summary: A Seemingly Endless Scandal

IN PRODUCTION:

Jackie Chan starts shooting historical epic

Villagers disrupt ‘Mulan’ shoot

Chow Yun-fat to star in Dadi Century’s Confucius biopic

John Woo to make “Titanic of the East”: CRIENGLISH.com article, AFP article

John Woo eyes film on Hard-Boiled game

GENERAL NEWS:

“Dragonball” Premieres in Tokyo

Will Rain be able to save his Hollywood career?

Jackie Chan cheated of HK$3 million over car deal

Kelvin Kwan, Jill Vidal: Pop pair face more time behind bars

Taipei Times Pop Stop: Edison Chen, more

Hollywood-Asia marriage matures

Zhang Yimou: Insider story of the Beijing Olympic

San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival: 10 Glorious Days of Asian American Film

Hong Kong’s Celestial strikes Canadian licensing deal

FEATURES:

Chow Yun-Fat: Chow on this!

Heroic pairs in Dragonball: Evolution

F4’s Vanness Wu: Anything for Ang Lee

Jaycee Chan smitten by Bollywood

Rainie Yang: I’m a tomboy around guys

Edmond Chen: Hollywood can be a pain

Chen Kaige: Capturing the best and worst of times

Chen Kaige wants to make Cultural Revolution film

FILM REVIEWS:

Variety reviews DESIRES OF THE HEART (Ge You, Vivian Wu, Fan Bingbing)

CRIENGLISH.COM FILM PREVIEWS:

Ann Hui’s NIGHT AND FOG (Simon Yam, Zhang Jingchu)

THE SHINJUKU INCIDENT (Jackie Chan, Daniel Wu)

PHOTO GALLERYS:

Gillian Chung’s “Be Tough” ad campaign

Vicki Zhao Wei in Elle Magazine China edition

News Links: March 9th, 2009

SEXY PHOTOS GATE:

A mirror has two faces

Gillian Chung Interview articles:  Secret romance, ‘I blame myself’, Edison Chen was her ‘greatest love’, HK starlet contemplated suicide over photo scandal, Gillian Chung Walks Out of Scandal’s Shadow

Joey Yung’s point of view

FEATURES:

Malaysia Star feature on Chow Yun-Fat

HK Magazine feature on Liza Wang Ming-Chuen

Boston Globe feature on Chris Yen (little sister of IP MAN’s Donnie Yen Chi-Tan)

Palisadian-Post feature on Shannon Lee (daughter of Bruce Lee, little sister of Brandon Lee)

GENERAL NEWS:

Wong Kar-Wai signs with Hollywood agency

Nic Tse releases album: The Last Nicholas Tse?

Paulyn Sun’s boyfriend pleads not guilty (It appears that someone at the Electric New Paper is reading the ol’ blog.)

Jill Vidal arrest: I’m sorry, sobs father of singer in drug arrest

Jolin Tsai Tunes up for ‘Butterfly’

Man behind Oscar’s Best Foreign Film was a porn director

IN PRODUCTION:

Woo Making Hard Boiled 2

MOVIE REVIEWS:

Tapei Times reviews of: LOOK FOR A STAR, L-O-V-E,

Malaysia Star Online reviews of: ONG BAK 2, LOOK FOR A STAR, RED CLIFF 2

Return Of The News Links

I know, I know.  Three posts in a week.  You’re probably thinking: “What gives?  Why the sudden burst of activity?”

Well, I’m entering a contract year with LoveHKFilm so I’ve shot myself up full of steroids and HGH in the hope of raising my performance to the point where I can get some fool (I’m looking at you, owners of the Kozo Entertainment Group) to sign an aging veteran like me to a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract.

OK, OK.  The truth is I’m trying to give up laziness for Lent this year.  I know that upping my activity here on the blog for Lent goes in direct contradiction with church leaders urging the flock to eschew technology during the Lenten season but, hey, you gotta do what ya gotta do.

I can’t say if I’ll be posting news links on a regular basis.  Let’s just enjoy today and let tomorrow take care of tomorrow.  However, I will be back next week to add my noise to the ongoing Sexy Photos Gate cacophony.

GENERAL NEWS:

Reluctant action hero: Chow Yun Fat is resigned to being typecast in Hollywood

Picture Perfect: HK Magazine previews the upcoming Hong Kong International Film Festival

Taipei Times Pop Stop: Jill Vidal and Kelvin Kwan busted for drugs, Sexy Photos Gate, Niki Chow and Jay Chou

More Jill Vidal and Kelvin Kwan: Arrested HK pop stars hope for deportation, HK stars in Tokyo drug bust

Andy Lau: Andy Lau clarifies wedding news on official website, Not Married, No Kids, No Plans to Work with Gillian Chung, Andy Lau to Marry Carol Zhu in April?

Karen Mok offers free service as ambassador of Hong Kong Film Fest

Vivian Chow Wai-Man: A perfectionist in life , Vivian Chow Two Months Pregnant?

Zhang Ziyi’s latest Hollywood film THE HORSEMEN opens on March 6th

Jackie Chan returns to Chinese film with gang thriller

World’s first Jackie Chan museum to open in Shanghai

Movie and media empire Shaw Brothers’ privatization deal approved

Painted movie stills are a reflection of the times

MOVIE REVIEWS:

James Marsh of bc magazine reviews the Love films quartet: LOVE CONNECTEDGIVE LOVEBASIC LOVE and L.O.V.E.

James Marsh reviews Wayne Wang’s latest A THOUSAND YEARS OF GOOD PRAYERS and Zhou Xun’s latest THE EQUATION OF LOVE AND DEATH

IN PRODUCTION:

Chow Yun-Fat to play Confucius in biopic: CRI English articleYahoo! News Singapore article

Feng Xiaogang’s next film will be about the 1976 Tangshen earthquake: CRI English articleChina Daily articleAssociated Press article

Zhang Yimou to direct movie dedicated to New China’s 60th anniversary

Zhang Ziyi to co-star in new film with Fan Bingbing and Peter Ho

SEXY PHOTOS GATE NEWS LINKS:

Reopening the Edison Files

Cecilia Cheung: Cecilia Cheung Talks about Her Sex Photo Scandal on TVCecilia Cheung lashes out at Edison Chen, HK actress Cecilia Cheung lashes out at Edison Chen over sex photos, Cecilia to Ed: You’re lying, Cecilia Cheung writes diary to educate son on her misdoings

Edison Chen: Edison Chen wants to return as film producer, not actorEdison Chen avoids commenting on return to showbiz, Chinese pop star hopes to move on from nude photo scandalLights, camera,… Edison!Edison Chen in court over sex photosStalking Edison Chen, Edison’s past no issue for some, ‘We don’t want him’

Gillian Chung: Unaffected Gillian Chung Plans Comeback after Edison’s HearingGillian Chung to talk about Edison, Gillian finally at ease with cameras againGillian earns seven-figure paycheck for first assignment, Gillian Chung’s Comeback to ‘Be Tough’

PHOTO GALLERYS:

Zhao Wei’s Portrayal as Mulan Unveiled

Lin Chiling Takes A Bike Ride for Charity

Karena Lam Ka-Yan

Out With The Old, Part II

It’s time.

It’s definitely time.

It’s time for me to come in from nude sunbathing out on the beach and get to work on my first post for 2009 — a post about my “mosts” of 2008.

Before I begin, a caveat:  If my picks for the “mosts” of 2008 seem a bit vanilla, a bit uninspired and a bit dated, it’s because torrents and illegal downloads have killed my local Chinese video store so I now have to order in HK films.  As a result, I’ve been limited to the major releases (like RED CLIFF) or films that I have an interest in seeing (like Tissot Presents CONNECTED: A Motorola Film Presentation).  I’ve had to pass on films with negative reviews (like AN EMPRESS AND THE WARRIORS) and the marginal titles (like those Wong Jing productions: MY WIFE IS A GAMBLING MAESTRO and THE FORBIDDEN LEGEND: SEX & CHOPSTICKS).  Ah, who’s kidding who?  I’m going to be seeing SEX & CHOPSTICKS at some point in my life …

In the past, I would have seen everything but having to pay fifteen to twenty bucks to see a film is a much different steaming tray of cha siu bao than having to pay four bucks to see a film.  I need to save some money for hookers and blow … OK, OK, the truth … Doritos and porn.  ;-)

Brendan Gleeson (left) and Colin Farrell in IN BRUGESI saw 24 Hong Kong films in 2008 (yeah, I keep movie-viewing stats … a side effect of being a sports geek) but a number of those were catch-up titles from 2007. Consequently, some older titles will be in my “mosts” selections.  I’m also not going to be able to offer any “diamond in the rough” suggestions like CLEAN MY NAME, MR. CORONER.  The closest I can come to making a recommendation of that ilk is the Martin McDonagh film IN BRUGES.  It tells the tale of two hitmen who are forced to cool their heels in the Belgian city of Bruges and has some definite Hong Kong movie DNA in it.  In fact, it reminded me a lot of EXILED.  So, if you like Johnnie To films and the “honour among thieves” genre, I think you’ll enjoy giving IN BRUGES a look.

On to my “mosts” of 2008:

Most Enjoyable Film Experience: RED CLIFF

Since the phenomenal success of CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON, movie fans have been left looking in dismay over an immense wasteland filled with the carcasses of ambitious but fatally flawed “costume epics made for the international market”.  Look over there!  It’s the empty shell that used to be known as THE BANQUET.  And here, we have the corpse of THE PROMISE.  What’s that smell?  It’s the rotting flesh of SEVEN SWORDS.

Finally, after eight long years, a big-budget, star-studded production has come along and delivered on its promise.  Unlike some of its predecessors, it doesn’t leave viewers feeling disappointed (I’m looking at you THE BANQUET), puzzled (SEVEN SWORDS) or laughing derisively at the unintentional comedy (THE PROMISE). While RED CLIFF VOL. 1 (volume 2 comes out later this month) isn’t a pantheon-worthy masterpiece, it is solid entertainment and thoroughly enjoyable.  It’s well-made with the familiar Woo style, doesn’t indulge in over-production, tells a coherent story that satisfies and, while the comedy can be a bit corny, viewers are likely to laugh with it instead of laugh at it.Some of you may be thinking that RED CLIFF was OK but it wasn’t the most enjoyable film experience of 2008.  Well, it was the most fun I had watching a movie from the three Chinas (Mainland, HK, Taiwan).  For the record, the most fun I had at the movies in 2008 was IRON MAN.

Two factors enhanced my enjoyment of the film:

One, I’m a ROMANCE OF THE THREE KINGDOMS geek.  I own the book.  I own the original KOEI PC game when everything fit on one 5 1/4″ inch diskette and used less memory than a Lin Chi-Ling JPEG.  Even though they are all essentially the same game, I own the PS2 versions of DYNASTY WARRIORS 3, DYNASTY WARRIORS 4 and DYNASTY WARRIORS 5.  By the way, my high score at the Battle of Chi Bi is 1383 KOs with Zhao Yun.  Yes, I am a true hero of the Three Kingdoms. :-)

Hulk HoganTwo, I’m a John Woo fan.  A BETTER TOMORROW and HARD-BOILED are enshrined in the Republic of Sanneyistan movie pantheon.  Coupled with the fact that John Woo had not directed a Chinese film since 1992, I was all geeked up for RED CLIFF and the familiar John Woo flourishes: the bromance, the notion of honour between men, the slow motion shots and, of course, the pigeons.  It’s sort of like how WWE fans go insane whenever Hulk Hogan appears.  It doesn’t matter that he’s well into his 50s and that he has the agility of a hippopotamus.  People still go nuts whenever “Real American” starts blasting on the loudspeaker and he does the familiar posedown, the waving at the fans to cheer and the leg drop. Whatcha gonna do when John Woo unleashes a bromantic action drama on you?  Sit back and enjoy it, that’s what.

One more thought about RED CLIFF:  Before I saw her performance in the film, the prevailing image I had in my mind of Taiwanese Lin Chi-Ling dancing with Terry Guosupermodel Lin Chi-Ling was of her dancing with business magnate Terry Guo.  Apparently, back in February 2007, she was paid to make an appearance at a business dinner thrown by Guo and somehow ended up dancing with him.  It caused a minor brouhaha when director Tsai Ming-Liang spoke out against her by saying that making such appearances was “cheap” and “disgusting”.  The incident sticks out in my mind not because I worship at the Temple of Righteous Propriety with director Tsai but because I saw the pictures and thought to myself: “whoa, Lin Chi-Ling is kinda hot.”

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking:  “Lin Chi-Ling is hot.  What a revelation.  What’s Sanney going to discover next?  The sky is blue and snow is cold.  Is he going to kiss a girl and like it?”  In response, let me just say that I see gorgeous beauty every day when I look in the mirror so it takes a lot for me to recognize beauty in others.  :-)

Basically, I wasn’t expecting much from Lin Chi-Ling beyond the usual “flower vase” routine.  To my surprise, Lin turned in a decent performance and held her own opposite my cousin Tony, Takeshi Kaneshiro and that scene-stealing but peculiarly-clean newborn foal.  I wouldn’t put it in the same league as some outstanding debut model-actress performances — like Qi Qi (aka Mrs. Simon Yam Tat-Wah) in the criminally underappreciated THE KID and Yoyo Mung Ka-Wai in EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED –  but it isn’t bad for a rookie.

Most Disappointing Moment: Sexy Photos Gate

No, no, no.  I’m not going to be like the Hong Kong Performing Artistes Guild and descend from Sanctimony Peak to deliver a lecture on how Sexy Photos Gate was a tragedy for society and a tragedy for members of the entertainment industry.  Yes, having very personal photos exposed for all the world to see is beyond the pale and very traumatic and very mortifying for those involved.  However, if you create an interest in yourself so that you can profit from that interest, you can’t really complain when that interest turns on you in ways you can’t control.  If you live by the sword, you can’t complain if you end up dying by the sword.

Nope, my “disappointment” with Sexy Photos Gate is actually more of a lament.  For the past few years, news about the health of the Hong Kong movie industry has been grim (read Tim Youngs’ article in Time Magazine about the issue for a good overview).  However, I’ve always believed that the industry would survive because I’ve seen what the ingenuity and grit of Hong Kong people can do.  I was confident that the industry would find some way to keep going.  It’s like what the Jeff Goldblum character said in JURASSIC PARK: “Because the history of evolution is that life escapes all barriers.  Life breaks free.  Life expands to new territories.  Painfully, perhaps even dangerously.  But life finds a way.”  I was sure the industry would find a way.

Athena Chu Yan and Monica Chan Fat-Yung in THE LOVE AND SEX OF THE EASTERN HOLLYWOODNow, I’m not so sure.  Why?  Because no quickie “ripped from the headlines” movie about Sexy Photos Gate has popped up.  During the Asian Economic Crisis of the late-1990s, the industry still managed to produce THE LOVE AND SEX OF THE EASTERN HOLLYWOOD — a movie based on rumours that swirled around Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk, Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu and Veronica Yip Yuk-Hing among others.  After the tech bubble burst, not one but two movies about an infamous murder case turned up: THERE IS A SECRET IN MY SOUP and HUMAN PORK CHOP.  Mere weeks after the Melody Chu Mei-Fang sex scandal broke, the HK movie industry offered THE PEEPING.  Yet, almost a year after the first photos surfaced, no “ripped from the headlines” exploitation flick based on Sexy Photos Gate has been released.

Perhaps there is some reluctance to produce a movie because of the rumoured triad connections involved but you would think that the money a Sexy Photos Gate film could generate would be too enticing to pass up.  Maybe the physical and fiscal risk outweighed any potential reward.  Maybe the industry is too weak for a movie on the biggest scandal of this decade to generate any significant profit.  Whatever the case may be, it is another sign that the health of the Hong Kong movie industry isn’t as robust as it used to be.

Most Shameful Moment: Watching CJ7

If I lived on Sanctimony Peak with the Hong Kong Performing Artistes Guild, I’d go on a self-serving pious rant about how my most shameful moment as a HK entertainment fan came when I was looking at those Sexy Photos Gate pictures.  Alas, I’m a ham sup lo so I had no compunction about looking at the photos.  I’m not condoning the actions of those who were rabidly waiting for the latest pictures or those who were obsessed with collecting every last image.  I’m just saying that the natural reaction of any normal fan would be to look at the pictures so — despite the whines and moans about the destruction of society — no one should feel shame for looking at the photos.

Kitty Zhang in CJ7

No, my most shameful moment came while I was watching Stephen Chow’s CJ7.  Here I was watching a warm-hearted family movie about the relationship between father and son yet I was constantly distracted by salacious thoughts about Kitty Zhang.  I kept thinking how different my life would have been if I stayed in Hong Kong and was schooled by hot women wearing tight-fitting cheongsam instead of the likes of the stern Father Ernie and dour Sister Olga here in Canada.  One thing’s for sure, if I never underwent the tutelage of Father Ernie and Sister Olga, I’d be feeling no shame over, uh, admiring Kitty Zhang. ;-)

On a side note, anyone out there see Kitty Zhang in SHAOLIN GIRL?  Kozo killed the film in his review so I’ve stayed away but is it enjoyable on a “turn off your brain and look at the pretty pictures” level or is it, as Kozo contends, so bad that I’d get more enjoyment lighting the $16 the DVD costs on fire and watching the money burn?

Most Egregious Use Of CGI: KIDNAP

SPOILER WARNING!  SKIP THIS SECTION IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED ABOUT THE ENDING OF KIDNAP.

Bugs BunnyIf you’ve seen KIDNAP then you probably know precisely what I’m going to write about: the scene where Karena Lam Ka-Yan’s character gets nailed by a car.  The effect was so cartoonish and so out-of-place for the taut thriller that director Law Chi-Leung had going, I half-expected Bugs Bunny to poke his head through the pavement and say: “… I knew I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque … {sees the body of Karena Lam’s character} … oooh, that’s gotta hoit.”

Instead of using that ridiculous CGI, it might have been more effective (and cheaper) to do it old school — the way they did it in Shaw Brothers movies and TVB dramas before the advent of computers — stick a bad wig on a stuntman and do the stunt for real.

Most Memorable Scene: The Stephanie Cheng Yung - Edison Chen Kwoon-Hei scene from TRIVIAL MATTERS

Stephanie Cheng Yung and Edison Chen Kwoon-Hei in TRIVIAL MATTERS

I wish I could say that the scene sticks in my mind because of the cute as a button Stephanie Cheng Yung.  Sadly, no.  The scene sticks in my mind because of the warped notion of “good citizenship” espoused by Edison Chen.  The stupid scene stuck in my mind like an ear worm every time I visited a public toilet in 2008.  It didn’t matter where I was: a pay toilet near the famous Piazza San Marco in Venice, a washroom in a pub just off of Leicester Square or the downstairs facilities in the Columbia Icefields Visitors’ Centre, I couldn’t help but think of Edison Chen’s idea of “public service”.   Thank you Edison Chen.  Thank you Pang Ho-Cheung.

I suppose that I must now make the obligatory comment about how it’s ironic (or at least prescient) that the scene involved a certain part of the male anatomy that Chen would, months later, go down in history and become synonymous with due to Sexy Photos Gate.

Most Memorable Moment Of Bad Acting: Gigi Leung Wing-Kei in WONDER WOMEN

I don’t mean to single out Gigi Leung as a “bad actress” with this selection.  On an absolute scale, her acting skills are fairly decent and I saw many, many poorer performances in 2008.  However, her work in WONDER WOMEN is the bad performance I remember most out of all the ones I saw last year.  Overall, Leung’s effort in WONDER WOMEN is pretty good, it’s just that in key moments she’ll use an exaggerated expression or an exaggerated gesture that belongs more in a TVB drama than a sweeping epic about Hong Kong since the Handover.

Kevin Cheng Ka-Wing (left) and Gigi Leung Wing-Kei (right) in WONDER WOMEN

The moment that sticks in my mind is early in the film shortly after she discovers that her trusted “uncle” (played by Hui Siu-Hung) is conning her with a real estate scam.  Instead of attempting to portray genuine emotion, she uses one of those melodramatic TVB “hrrmph” expressions that’s so jarring it kills the narrative momentum of the film.  Sure, an argument can be made that the entire production is plauged by such inconsistency but a really good actress should have the ability to rise above bad directing and bad production (Karena Lam, for instance, has delivered the goods in many questionable movies).   It’s this lack of acting chops that kept Leung from progressing beyond the “It Girl” level earlier in her career.

Most Memorable Moment of Good Acting: Eddie Cheung Siu-Fai in KIDNAP

Eddie Cheung Siu-FaiThere wasn’t any particular instance of great acting that prompted me to pick Eddie Cheung for this section.  It’s just that while I was watching him in KIDNAP, it dawned on me that Cheung is an outstanding actor.  I never really noticed it before because he started his career playing thankless roles in TVB series.  From the late-1980s to early this decade, Cheung spent his time at TVB playing villains, dorks or the third wheel in romantic triangles.  Consequently, you never really paid attention to him because the focus was always on the leading man and the leading lady.

Since leaving TVB, Cheung has put together a nice string of supporting roles in some notable movies (from RUNNING ON KARMA to THROWDOWN to MAD DETECTIVE).  In the past couple of years alone, he’s played a supremely competent badass cop in KIDNAP, a sympathetic hardass cop in DOG BITE DOG, a jerkass police superintendent in CONNECTED and an explosively violent personality in MAD DETECTIVE.  Here’s hoping that his talent, his skill and his range are recognized someday with a Hong Kong Film Award.  Hong Kong Movie Gods, I beseech you, please make it so.

Looking Ahead To 2009: Growing a Lamstache

George Lam Chi-CheungNow that I’ve finally put 2008 to rest, here’s what I plan to do in 2009: grow a George Lam Chi-Cheung style moustache.  Why?  In real life, the guy is married to Sally Yeh.  In his last two movies, his characters were married to ones played by Gigi Leung Wing-Kei and Loletta Lee Lai-Chun.  In addition to having such good luck with the ladies, he played a badass gangster in THE PYE-DOG.  Surely, the secret to his success is the ’stache. :-)

OK, OK, maybe I’ll take a pass on the idea of the Lamstache.  What I will do in 2009 is wait for the Hong Kong Film Awards nominations to come out and see all the nominated movies and performances.  I have a feeling that means I’ll be seeing films like RUN PAPA RUN and THE WAY WE ARE.  Of course, I’ll be seeing RED CLIFF 2.  In fact, if I was a crazy rich guy, I would hop a flight to Hong Kong just so I could see the movie instead of waiting for it to come out on DVD.  Alas, I’m not rich, just crazy.

Do any of you have suggestions on movies from 2008 that I should see?  Does the accumulated babeage in LA LINGERIE make it worth a look?  How about NOBODY’S PERFECT?  Is there enough Jo Koo in THE VAMPIRE WHO ADMIRES ME to justify a purchase?  If there’s a film that you saw in 2008 that tickled your fancy, let me know.  It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I enjoy the fartsy just as much as the artsy.

* * * * *

Be seeing you, Patrick McGoohan.

Image credits: Blueprint Pictures (IN BRUGES still), WWE (Hulk Hogan), Wenhui Xinmin United Press Group (Lin Chi-Ling/Terry Guo), Mei Ah Entertainment (THE LOVE AND SEX OF THE EASTERN HOLLYWOOD still), Star Overseas (Kitty Zhang), Bugs Bunny (Warner Bros.), Not Brothers (TRIVIAL MATTERS still), Mandarin Films (WONDER WOMEN still), George Lam’s Official Website (George Lam)

Travelin’ Man

Much to my embarrassment, I have to begin with a familiar refrain: Apologies for the long gap in between posts. My cousin Tony recently married his longtime girlfriend in, of all places, Bhutan so I’ve been on the road slowly making my way to the remote mountain region by plane, train, automobile and, for the last few rugged kilometres, yak. The ceremony was fantastic but Bhutan isn’t easy to get to so everyone in the Leung clan sort of wished that he had the wedding at a Marriage Registry office like everyone else.

I am, of course, kidding. I didn’t go to Bhutan for the Tony Leung Chiu-Wai-Carina Lau Ka-Ling wedding but I have been on the road. I’m back home from a trip to England and Italy. I had a fabulous time made all the more enjoyable because it was my first significant trip in more than ten years and, naturally, because of what I’ve been through in the last little while. I savoured every minute — even the moments I was crammed like a sardine in the London Tube during rush hour. I didn’t mind the tight, smelly, sticky situation one bit because I consider myself very, very lucky and very, very blessed just to be able to have the experience.

As I am a bit of a history buff, I went to many famous sites and often had moments where I was enveloped by a pervasive sense of history. When I stood in front of Stonehenge, I could picture pre-historic men working together to drag those massive stones. When I surveyed the panoramic countryside view from the “Pink Terrace” at Chartwell (the family home of Winston Churchill), I was blown away by the fact that the legendary Churchill used to enjoy the very same view. In Rome, when I visited the Temple of Julius Caesar, I couldn’t believe that I was looking at the funeral pyre of one of the men who helped expand the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

View from the Pink Terrace at Chartwell
View from the “Pink Terrace” at Chartwell

The Funeral Pyre of Julius Caesar
The Funeral Pyre of Julius Caesar

Longtime readers will know that I enjoy the fartsy side of life just as much, if not more, than the artsy side. So, contrary to the paragraph above, my trip wasn’t all about historic sites, I made my share of pop culture pilgrimages as well. When I went to the famous Colosseum, I could barely concentrate on what the tour guide was saying because all I was thinking was: “wow, that’s where Chuck Norris stood in WAY OF THE DRAGON“. Even though I knew that the climactic Norris-Bruce Lee fight from the film was shot on a soundstage, I was looking for the spot where the fight would have taken place. I also resisted the urge to yell out: “Tang Lung, you are a very brave man! Tang Lung, the man you just saw will kill you! Tang Lung, you are trapped!”

Chuck Norris in WAY OF THE DRAGON

I made another pop culture pilgrimage to Rome’s Piazza Navona — the location of the scene in WAY OF THE DRAGON where Nora Miao lectures Bruce Lee about being too uptight around foreigners. For about ten minutes, I sat on the bench in front of the Fountain of Four Rivers where Bruce Lee sat but, sadly, no Italian beauties like Malisa Longo showed up to bring me back to her apartment. I like to think that it was because the Fountain of Four Rivers was closed for restoration since, as the movie demonstrated, handsome Chinese guys like myself are irresistible to Italian beauties. :-)

Piazza Novana in WAY OF THE DRAGON
Piazza Navona in WAY OF THE DRAGON

Italian Beauty Malisa Longo
Italian Beauty Malisa Longo

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Nora Miao, Bruce Lee and Malisa Longo

Fountain of the Four Rivers
Fountain of Four Rivers closed for restoration

Enough about me … since this is nominally a blog about Hong Kong entertainment, I better earn my keep and talk a little bit about the entertainment circle. I dragged my friend Ah Wing away from his three-year old daughter and one-year old son this past weekend for a screening of THE DARK KNIGHT. While everyone else was interested in seeing the highly-hyped sequel to BATMAN BEGINS and the vaunted Heath Ledger performance, I was interested in seeing if the rumours that Edison Chen Kwoon-Hei was cut from the film were correct. I suspected that he was still in the film but that he would have a very, very small role. I pegged the over/under for the number of lines for the man with the hand worth HK$500,000 at 2.5. If I were a betting man, I would have placed a small wager on the under.

As it turned out, I would have collected on my bet because Chen only had two lines. Since he wasn’t even on screen for one of those lines, I don’t think the role will have Hollywood beating at his door as his performance definitely was not a Jet Li in LETHAL WEAPON 4 situation.

Speaking of “Sexy Photos Gate”, reader Mark — who is supposedly teaching English in Japan but is probably there stalking Miki Nakatani (oh wait, that’s what I would do if I was in Japan) — sent in an e-mail to let us know that “Sexy Photos Gate” has even been a source of inspiration for the prodigious Japanese adult video industry. In June, an adult video titled “Leaked Photos! Former Boyfriend Films Private Intercourse!” was released by Alice Japan (go here for the official websiteWarning: Adult Content).

Back to THE DARK KNIGHT … I don’t know if I can join the chorus of those proclaiming it to be an Oscar-worthy masterpiece. I have decidedly mixed feelings about it. The film is indeed very good but it’s also a little too long and very dark and very pessimistic. Perhaps expectation is playing a part in my perception of the film. I was anticipating a repeat of the “hell yeah!” feeling I had after seeing BATMAN BEGINS. I was not expecting to be gut-punched with a shockingly somber movie. When I walked out, I didn’t feel like I’d just seen a superhero movie, I felt like I’d just seen GOTHAM ON FIRE — the followup to Ringo Lam’s intense and depressing movies CITY ON FIRE, PRISON ON FIRE and SCHOOL ON FIRE. I suspect I’m not alone in feeling stomach-punched because, apart from the laughs inspired by the Joker’s disappearing pen trick, the crowd in the theatre was deathly quiet and, when we came out, we all had dazed expressions on our faces.

That’s all for today, I’ll be back sometime in the next sixty days with a post about TVB.

By the way, if you picked me up at the airport and I circled your car and said: “BMW? Mustang? It’s a Rolls!” would you think I was funny or weird? When my cousin picked me up at London’s Heathrow Airport, I did the car bit from WAY OF THE DRAGON but all I got was a puzzled look because she hadn’t seen the film. I did, however, achieve a small victory by eliciting the Nora Miao “just get in the car” face from my cousin. Good times.

car_wod.jpg

Image credits: Sanney Leung (Stonehenge, Chartwell, Temple of Julius Caesar, Fountain of Four Rivers), Golden Harverst (WAY OF DRAGON screen shots)

 
 
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