HKMDB Daily News

March 31, 2009

Night and Fog (Variety Review)

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 10:27 am

Night and Fog
Tin Shui Wai dik ye yu mo

(Hong Kong) A Mega-Vision Pictures presentation of a Class production. (International sales: Mega-Vision Pictures, Hong Kong.) Produced by Ann Hui. Executive producer, Wong Jing.
Directed by Ann Hui. Screenplay, Cheung King-wai.

With: Simon Yam, Zhang Jingchu, Jacqueline Law, Amy Chum, Audrey Chan, Ariel Chan, Yim Chau-wah.
(Cantonese, Mandarin dialogue)

By RUSSELL EDWARDS

Domestic violence gets a compelling once-over in Hong Kong vet Ann Hui’s “Night and Fog,” which rises above its low-budget limitations on the basis of its hot-button topic and stellar performances. Establishing an air of fatalism at the start, this is a distinctly grim companion piece to Hui’s 2008 pic, “The Way We Are,” which offered a more benign portrait of the same Hong Kong town. Hui’s home fanbase should ensure respectable B.O. upon release in May for a subject many would like swept under the carpet. Further afield, the pic will become a fixture of quality fest programs.

A TV news report, watched by several women in different locations, tells of a murder-suicide involving a couple and their twin daughters in the outer Hong Kong projects of Tin Shui Wai. Flashbacks gradually reveal the backstory, as police interview neighbors and associates of the dead woman, Wong Hiu-ling (Zhang Jingchu), originally from the mainland.

Initially, a nervous neighbor, Mrs. Au (Amy Chum), recalls the woman’s reserved nature and the explosive temper of the husband, Lee Sum (Simon Yam). Later interviews, with Wong’s former co-habitants in a women’s shelter (spearheaded by Jacqueline Law’s tough-as-nails Lily), directly testify to the dead woman’s severe bruising and the persistent harassment of her husband.

The flashbacks are driven more by narrative concerns than by personal ones, deliberately revealing details that interviewees could not possibly know. Cheung King-wai’s script succinctly outlines various aspects — financial constraints, a whirlwind courtship, alcoholism — that contributed to the relationship’s violent nature.

While making it clear the sexually violent Lee has a mile-wide mean streak, the screenplay astutely makes room for Yam also to portray Lee’s appealing side. This humanizes, without excusing, his thuggish side, and helps to explain Wong’s initial attraction.

Yam’s layered perf is further aided by a sequence that shows Lee being falsely accused of one transgression he didn’t commit, and the pic’s most chilling moment comes when the thesp actually snarls into the camera. As the abused Wong, mainland actress Zhang also impresses.

Overall, the helming feels a little rushed, and the HD-to-35mm lensing is unexceptional. Other tech credits are good enough.

Chinese title, meaning “Tin Shui Wai: Night and Fog,” directly links it to “The Way We Are,” whose moniker translated as “Tin Shui Wai: Days and Nights.” For foreign viewers, the English title’s direct citing of Alain Resnais’ classic 1955 Holocaust docu seems unfortunate.

Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Charlie Lam; editor, Kwong Chi-leung; music, Charlotte Chan; art director, Albert Poon; sound, Tu Duu-chih. Reviewed at Hong Kong Film Festival (opener), March 22, 2009. Running time: 117 MIN.
http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117939971.html?categoryid=31&cs=1

March 31, 2009

Brigitte LinCharlie Yeung
Carina Lau, Tony LeungWong Kar-Wai and wife
Hong Kong premiere of Ashes of Time Redux - gallery

Video tributes to Leslie Cheung from Maggie Cheung, Gong Li, Faye Wong, Cecilia Cheung and Lucas, Shu Qi, John Woo, Sandra Ng and others

Chow Yun-Fat
Confucius begins filming with low-key ceremony at a Confucian temple

Jay Chou and Lin Chi-Ling - Treasure Hunter
Stills from Ci Ling/Treasure Hunter - Jay Chou and Lin Chi-Ling

Lin Chi-Lin and Eric Tsang
Photo gallery

“Ci Ling” has begun filming


Simon Yam

Nic Tse

Bodyguards and Assassins promotional material released

 



Examination 1977 poster

Officially released April 4
Zhou Xianxin - 'Little Gong Li'
Shanghai Normal University premiere gallery
Wong Kar-Wai sends public letter of support
 


Liu YeGao Yuanyuan
Nanking! Nanking!/City of Life and Death

Qin Lan
Gao Yuanyuan thought to be co-lead with Liu Ye rumored to be largely deleted, Qin Lan’s character becomes the lead

Edison Chen ‘tests water’ with role as sex pervert
According to Chinese media, a source revealed that for publicity purposes, the filming period has to be stated as before the uproar of the scandal.

WILL SMITH’S ‘KARATE KID’ GETS NEW NAME?:
Jackie Chan says producers don’t want to use original title.

Shinjuku Incident
Jackie Chan pitches his ‘different’ side in new movie
“I even had my first, mildly saucy scene but that’ll be censored in many countries, including Malaysia,” he said.
In the yakuza’s grip
Not just any Hollywood role for Daniel Wu & Jackie Chan


Cecilia Cheung
Cecilia Cheung shoots new bedding advert in Guangzhou

 Korea Times: Police to Question Journalists Over Actress Suicide

Google, music labels launch China download service


Forgery fight looms over Nina Wang’s will

Nina Wang was the widow of Teddy Wang whose kidnapping was depicted in Jackie Chan’s Crime Story

March 30, 2009

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 9:56 am

Wong Jing and Meng Yao
Wong Jing’s latest ‘Jing girl’ is Meng Yao
Meng Yao appears in both Wong Jing’s Future Cops and I Corrupt All Cops
I Corrupt All Cops
Meng Yao photo gallery

John Woo’s Titanic Runs Aground

California Chronicle: Oxide Pang’s Basic Love

Fan Bingbing
Stills from Wheat released

Fan Bingbing, Wang Xueqi film set for summer release
A Peek of the ‘Wheat’ Wedding



Bodyguards and Assassins recreates 1905 Hong Kong

100 acres and 43M yuan spent on construction costs in Shanghai

Tang Wei: “Lust Caution” is history
Chinese female star Tang Wei, blacklisted in China for her performance in “Lust Caution”, sees daylight again. Though a relatively new performer, her appearance at events is made so pompous, it is nothing less grand than that of an A-grade artiste.

Besides being paid almost RMB$1 million (about S$200,000) for being special guest at a brand’s flagship opening, it was a full crew - hair stylist, make up artiste, wardrobe coordinator, and a personal assistant - that traveled with her.

While the media is concerned about Tang’s future development in her career, she is taking it with an open mind. “Lust Caution is history and everything is brand new now. Currently I am just a new actress with one movie on my portfolio. In comparison to many female stars, I’m just too amateurish,” Tang said.

Desperate to break away from her image in “Lust Caution”, Tang said her current wish is to try as many different roles as possible. “As long as the script is good, there’s nothing else I can pick on,” she said.

Since she was made famous through “Lust Caution”, her market value soared and dipped; she was described to be an artiste with high value but no available market. On the press conference, Tang did not reply to any of these sensitive questions and also appeared dodgy when asked of her reward for being special guest at the opening ceremony. She merely said, “I’m already very satisfied with the glamorous outfit they arranged for me. I’m just a new artiste and will take on all assignments without considering the reward.”

According to a staff of the brand, Tang should be receiving about RMB$1 million for her appearance at both the press conference and opening ceremony which summed up to a total of an hour. “That’s her market rate in Hong Kong,” the staff said.

The well-rewarded artiste was also a diligent guest, taking on every question asked by the media and attended to every request of photographers.

Also according to the person-in-charge of the event, Tang’s outfit for the day was not as lavish as she had put it to be. “The necklace costs RMB$3,000, shoes RMB$3,500 and dress RMB$10,000,” total costing not more than S$4,000.

Tang WeiJacky Cheung
Danny Lee also in Ivy Ho’s Crossing Hennessy

Ashes of Time - Lovers and Fighters

Shu QiSylvia Chang
Shu Qi, Sylvia Chang and Chen Kun shoot jewelry ad

Singing Jane Zhang Debuts in Japan

Pretty singer gets hooked on DIY plastic surgery

March 29, 2009

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 10:59 am

Wisconsin Film Festival: ‘Daytime Drinking’ finds laughs in the cringe-worthy
“Daytime Drinking,” which is tentatively scheduled to enter U.S. cinemas April 10. The humorous indie flick revolves around an unfortunate man who is dumped by his girlfriend, stood up by his friends and victimized by the Korean drinking culture.

John Woo backs out of 1949?
Terence Chang has confirmed that John Woo has given up plans to film 1949 (太平轮) because of copyright issues over the script by Wang Hui–ling (Lust, Caution).

Jet Li
Jet Li, Zhang Yimou Named “Chinese of World Influence”
The 85-year-old martial art novelist, Jin Yong, was given the lifetime achievement award

Alan Mak and new bride
Felix Chong, Andrew Lau, Shawn Yu join new bride and groom
Alan Mak gets married
Photo gallery

Misfortune never comes alone
On the heels of the ‘bullet letter’ and his father’s declaration of bankruptcy, Hong Kong and Taiwan news reports that Gillian Chung and Cecilia Cheung met and have formed an alliance to vote Edison Chen off the island. According to the reports, upset over Edison’s failure to personally apologize to them, Gillian and Cecilia are using their entertainment connections to scotch Edison’s return to show biz. Infernal Affairs’ Alan Mak recently was cited as saying, looking from the market view, he would not consider using Edison Chen in the near future.


A-Mei
A-Mei Taipei concert photo gallery

Jang Ja Yun Had Received ‘Death Threats’ From Kim
Jang Ja Yun’s Former Manager May Be Arrested

Toronto: Investor ‘king’ admits sin, but denies stealing (Thanks, Brian!)
News of the OSC’s freeze order against Tang flooded Chinese-language news websites, blogs and chat rooms in North America, China and even Europe. Bloggers and columnists debated whether Tang was more like Nebraska-born investor guru Warren Buffett, who has an estimated net worth of $62 billion (U.S.), or Bernard Madoff, the disgraced New York businessman, recently convicted of running a $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

Ghostnet: Vast Spy System Loots Computers in 103 Countries
In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.

ChinaSmack: What Do Chinese Soldiers Eat On The Battlefield?

March 28, 2009

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — dleedlee @ 10:12 am

Zhang Ziyi
Still released from Zhang Ziyi comedy Perfect Life/Sofie’s Revenge

Hung Yan-Yan’s Coweb includes a 5 minute appearance by Edison Chen as a sex maniac pal of Sam Lee
Filmed just before Sexy Photo Gate broke out, the movie is scheduled for release in the mainland May 1. Edison took no pay as guest performer. His screen time might be cut by the time the film is released in Hong Kong.


Step by Step premiere gallery - Joseph Chang and Janel Tsai

A VERY SHORT LIFE (Cat. III)
Is “women are inherently doomed to get screwed by Men” the truth?

HKIFF: Edison Chen sex scandal sure to make Sniper a hit


 Lau Ching-Wan
Lau Ching-Wan appearing at an event for the blind

March has been Bash Stephen Chow MonthDanny Lee
This time, it’s Danny Lee’s turn.
HK Top Ten Central
:
(3/25/2009) Previously worked with Stephen Chow Sing Chi, both Manfred Wong (Man Jun) and Wong Jing recently criticized Sing Yeh’s personality and professionalism. Danny Lee Sau Yin who single-handedly gave Sing Yeh his start in film yesterday attended the Two Decades of Hong Kong Police Film forum and could not resist criticizing Sing Yeh, citing that one day he would fall and would no longer have any friend.

Yesterday at the forum were Lee Sau Yin, Gordon Chan Ka Seung,
Andrew Lau Wai Keung, Alan Mak Siu Fai, Felix Chong Man Keung and others.
Lee Sau Yin was asked about criticism of Sing Yeh. He said, “I knew about
that a long time ago! That’s why I don’t work with him. After signing
him, I haven’t worked with him for years.” Did he think that he found out
too late? He said that they had to be around each other to know, like in
a marriage. He believed that perhaps he had more and more pressure and
his ideas changed. Reporter claimed that Sing Yeh should listen to him
as his elder. Brother Sau said, “He is Sing Yeh, what does he have to be
afraid of? (As an elder don’t you think you should ask him to take a look
at himself?) So what if I am an elder, he doesn’t know me from a rat.”

Has he given up on Chow Sing Chi? He said, “A long time ago.” He
expressed that earlier he signed Shing Fui On and gave him his start,
everyone are still friends now and could meet for dinner except this “Sing
Yeh”. When asked what he was upset at Sing Yeh for, he said, “The grace
of friendship, when people ask him to meet and talk, behind the doors you
were thinking about something else. (Do you feel he is very calculating?)
He calculates too much.” Are they still friends now? Brother Sau said
that he had no enemy.

Brother Sau revealed that back then 14 mobsters came to him with
guns to look for Chow Sing Chi to make a movie, but he did not tell him
and only warned him to be careful in the streets. Did he protect Sing Yeh
that time? He said, “Many times! They are in the past so it’s just good
for a laugh. (Will you protect him this time?) What is there to protect?
Do I have to be so blatant?” he pointed out that back then after Sing Yeh
made FINAL JUSTICE (PIK LIK SIN FUNG) and won the Golden Horse award, he
demanded a salary increase. Over the years he has accepted so many offers
for him but he did not receive even a cup of tea. He said, “However, I
don’t even want one that badly.”

Has Sing Yeh called him? He said, “No, I don’t know if he still
knows me. I haven’t changed my number in such a long time. (Are you
disappointed?) No, this is human nature, he doesn’t owe me anything.”
Yet Brother Sau advised him to be honest, money was not omnipotent and
friends was more valuable. He expressed that after working on two movies
with Sing Yeh he no longer wanted to work with him again. He said, “I
covered him from 14 mobsters, I never even mentioned it to him to scare
him. I am very reasonable. Should I have told him, be careful of getting
chopped outside?” How much space did he feel Chow Sing Chi had to
survive? He said, “He is smart, he can hold his own; but for how long?
Nothing lasts forever. When he falls, I am not talking about fame or
fortune, he just won’t have any friend.”

Brother Sau also said that if they had the chance to run into each
other again, he still would greet him. Although he was not an enemy, he
was not a friend either. Would Chow Sing Chi take the initiative to greet
him? Brother Sau said, “He would, even if it’s just an act.” Would they
have a chance to work together again? He joked, “Maybe he would tell him
he would work for free and help me with this movie? You never know.”
http://www.takungpao.com/news/09/03/25/UHK-1054484.htm

Stephen Chow

In an interview yesterday, Chow said he was unfazed by the idle talk about him. When the reporter noted Chow’s tired look, he said it was due to working late on his new film and meeting with his screenwriter.

Old Partner - To a South Korean farmer, this cow was sacred
South Korean documentary made instant stars of two elderly farmers and their aged ox. Now if the public would just stop sticking its nose into the couple’s lives.

Daniel Wu willing to sacrifice privacy for movies
Daniel Wu seems to have plans for marriage already. The actor, who has been cohabiting with girlfriend Lisa S. for several years, faced constant pestering by the media about their wedding plans. Though their past responses have always been negative, Wu revealed otherwise recently in a TV interview with Taiwan media.

In Taiwan to promote new movie “Shinjuku Incident”, Wu revealed in the interview that he dreams of having a family of his own. When asked if he has plans for marriage and children, Wu said he does not have a definite schedule or time frame but will get married when he feels like it and has a child when he wants to, revealing wishes to have a family with Lisa S.

Last year, Wu was seen secretly meeting Taiwanese actress Kelly Lin and dating Shu Qi. However, he later appeared in public with Lisa S. on a high note, crushing rumors of their relationship crisis.

In the movie, Wu had a scene where he bared his buttocks to the public. When asked if he would be willing to bare it all like Tony Leung in “Lust Caution”, Wu said he would need to pick the script and the director; he laughed and added that he will be most willing if the director is Yee Tung-Shing.

Eileen Chang Reveals All in Newly-Published Novel

WSJ: Pun Choi Is Purely Hong Kong
A Basin Chock Full of 14 Ingredients

Everything causes cancer: Hot tea edition

March 27, 2009

Tang Wei
Tang Wei earns a big payday at Emporio Armani ribbon cutting in Changsha

Modestly attired and unrecognized by many


Zhang Jingchu - Red River

Red River photo leaked
Netizens have debated whether it is actually Zhang Jingchu or a double. Director evasive when questioned. Red River has been compared in some respects to The Lover which starred Tony Leung Ka-Fai. Previous reports have said Tony declined the role played by Nick Cheung due to his wife’s objection. In addition, some passionate scenes have already been reduced.

Strictly ballroom - Step by Step
Award-winning director Kuo Chen-ti tackles a tale about life in the slow lane with a combination of star charisma, comedy, dance and music

Tokyo Sonata - Japanese flick hits on global unemployment woes

The Tragic-Comic Cucumber
Debut film from director Zhou Yaowu


Zhang Ziyi and Leon Lai
Forever Enthralled - Seoul gallery

Painted Skin, Ip Man, Pleasant Goat to get new installments

Raintree, Wayne Wang prepare Singapore historical thriller 1965


Korea Times: ‘Private Eye’ Signals New Detective Genre

Variety Review - Dragonball: Evolution

Louis Koo
Louis Koo attends opening of Teruhisa Kitahara toy museum

Taipei Times Pop Stop


Elephant legs?

Gillian Chung was laughed at for having small elephant legs
Gillian Chung
Gillian returns to Hong Kong

Quizzed about rumor of Edison Chen’s suicide in Beijing. Hong Kong media reported that Edison leapt from a building in Beijing after learning that his father filed for bankruptcy. Chen Chak-Man said that the rumor was unfounded and that he had spoken by telephone with Edison.
Edison Chen rumoured to jump off building and commit suicide; father denies

Probe of Actress Jang’ Ja Yuns Suicide Stuck in Stalemate


Hello Kitty Sweets server

Restaurant review: Hello Kitty Sweets
One blogger’s photos of trip to Hello Kitty Sweets

March 26, 2009




Ashes of Time Redux Beijing press conference gallery

‘Ashes of Time Redux’ Premieres


Kenny Bee and Sylvia ChangWith Nansun Chi and Tsui Hark
Kenny Bee and Sylvia Chang attend HKIFF exhibition organized by Tsui Hark and Nansun Chi titled ‘Romantic Historical Novel’

Angelica LeeBrigitte Lin
Kwai Lun-MeiEric Tsang
Gallery of guests

Q&A: Noh Young-seok
“Daytime Drinking”

Korean Films to Return in April
10 domestic titles are slated for release next month

BC Magazine Film Reviews
Tokyo Sonata
Oxide Pang’s Basic Love
The Equation of Love and Death
Love Connected
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

Love triangle
Oxide Pang Chun offers a melodramatic teen love story in Basic Love

Charlie Yeung
HAF lauds Charlie Yeung for financial acumen
‘Christmas Rose’ is first project to get fully financed at HAF

China takes on Hollywood in box office battle
Directors offer ways to defeat dominance of imports

 
Feng Xiaogang created a stir when he made some controversial remarks. [fuzzy and partial translation follows]

Feng XiaogangSpeaking on a panel with John Woo and Wei Desheng (Cape No. 7), Feng said that although many mainland films are screened in Hong Kong, Hong Kong and Taiwan do not sufficiently understand mainland culture, “therefore I simply do not want to make films for overseas market. Mainland culture to Taiwan and Hong Kong is strange.”

“In the mainland, my movie in one day makes 20,000,000 Yuan box office, but here (in Hong Kong) only takes in one month 2,000,000 Yuan. Is my film really not good?”

“I must tell the truth, Hong Kong audience look down upon us.”

Feng Xiaogang is quite confident in his brand and thinks he does not need Zhang Ziyi to make Tangshan Earthquake  (his upcoming film). He said, To use her, I’d have to pay her $20M yuan, I will simply use a new person. I want that $20M yuan to be put into the filmmaking.
http://news.xinhuanet.com/ent/2009-03/26/content_11073453.htm

Andy Lau wedding on hold?
Falsely led to believe Carol Chu was pregnant?
Carol not pregnant, Andy plans to call off wedding


Faye Wong in Hong Kong
Faye Wong recently signed an 8-digit contract to film a shampoo ad

The ad is set to be broadcast on regional TV in April. The brand was previously promoted by Jackie Chan for $14M yuan. Faye’s fee is estimated at betwee $15M - $20M yuan. This has sparked speculation of Faye’s return to stage. Today marks the 20th anniversary of her debut.

Faye Wong makes return with S$4million advertisement
New CD? Role in Feng Xiaogang’s Tangshan Earthquake?


Gigi Leung
Gigi Leung celebrates birthday and CD release with fans

Joey Yung has no love for Edison Chen; only resentments
There is no pity for Edison Chen; neither is there love. Hong Kong singer Joey Yung, who will be holding her concert in Singapore in April for the first time, tells local media in a phone interview that she has never had good impression of Edison and disdained any interactions with him.

“I do not want to have any relations to him. I’ve always never had any good impression of him or admiration for him. I have no feelings about his ordeal,” she said.

On the other hand, she is supportive of her good friend Gillian Chung, who has had a sexual relationship with Edison and was twirled into a sex photos scandal last year. To relieve Gillian’s stress and cheer her up, Joey was seen out shopping with the former; she said that was the only thing she can do for a friend in such crisis.

“Nobody can ever relieve her of the hurt and sorrow she suffered. But I hope it is a lesson learned and she can learn to love herself more. I hope everyone can give her a second chance,” Joey said.

Though fully supportive of Gillian’s comeback, Joey said she will not invite her as the concert performing guest. “I think she is more than a special guest; Gillian should always be the center of attraction,” she said. However, Joey will not hesitate to invite Gillian to Singapore as guest of the concert if the latter is available.

Joey is now among the top female singers in Hong Kong music industry and has even been named the Queen of Pop; she is now hoping to extend her performing career further in acting. Since “The Return of the Condor Heroes”, Joey has not received any new scripts. She hoped to be landed with a role that offers room for character development.

When reporters hypothesized for the male lead of Joey’s next movie to be Edison, she was stunned and speechless for a moment. After seconds of pauses, she replied, “I’ll let the company decide for me. I believe their decision is the best for me.”

Her friendship with Hong Kong female singer Denise Ho was rumored to be more than just that. Joey said she was indeed vexed and afraid initially, but got used to the rumors as years passed. However, she wished those meaningless rumors would not affect their friendship.

“Denise is a very special girl with her own unique perspectives about things; she will also offer me opinions on my work. To get such a loyal and reliable friend in showbiz is rare. I will do everything to treasure this friendship,” she said.

Joey, who denied to be homosexual, shyly said she has never been molested. “Perhaps people do not have any fantasies of me. If you don’t give people the “Welcome” message, he will not come over. I am someone who is very self-protective.”

Mid April, Joey will be holding a concert for the first time in Singapore and challenging tough dance steps; she is not just going to do somersaults but also stunts. Without a background in action and dance, Joey spent one month practicing for a 20 minute performance and ended up with injuries.

When asked if her company will increase her insurance coverage, Joey was bold and uninhibited. “I’ve never asked my company about this, but it’s an honour to die on the stage!”


Gillian Chung appears in Shanghai for an online game, FIFA Online

Annie Yi shouts for justice

Caged in by poverty - Cage Men
Hong Kong art gallery exhibits ‘cage homes’ to highlight wealth gap

Shinjuku Incident (Variety Review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 1:40 am

Shinjuku Incident
Sansuk sigin

(Hong Kong) An Emperor Motion Pictures release of an Emperor Dragon Movies presentation of a Jackie Chan production. (International sales: Emperor Motion Pictures, Hong Kong.) Produced by Willie Chan, Solon So. Executive producers, Jackie Chan, Albert Yeung. Directed by Derek Yee. Screenplay, Yee, Chun Tin-nam.

Steelhead - Jackie Chan
Inspector Kitano - Naoto Takenaka
Jie - Daniel Wu
Xiuxiu/Yuko - Xu Jinglei
Lily - Fan Bingbing
Gao Jie - Jack Kao
Old ghost - Lam Suet
Eguchi - Masaya Kato

By RUSSELL EDWARDS

Ethnic Chinese gangs stumble as they cross swords with the Japanese mafia in Jackie Chan starrer “Shinjuku Incident,” an over-ambitious, narratively untidy urban crimer. Though hyped as a rare straight dramatic outing by Chan, the pic still has him displaying his action skills, if less sensationally than usual. Some extreme violence and unsavory elements will provide a challenge for Chan’s wholesome fan base, but overall Asian B.O. should be robust. Following its opening-night slot in the Hong Kong fest, the film goes out locally (and in Southeast Asia) April 2, followed by Japan a month later.

The film’s strong violence and Tokyo setting will play especially well with Japanese auds, with whom Chan is still popular. Business there may compensate for the loss of the China market, where the pic has been nixed by authorities due to its violence and depiction of malcontent mainlanders fleeing to Japan.

Story begins with Chinese refugees landing at Japan’s Wakasa Bay and chaotically running for shelter before immigration authorities arrive. Among the illegals is Steelhead (Chan), who heads to Tokyo to find his long-lost love, Xiuxiu (mainland thesp Xu Jinglei).

Hitting Tokyo’s red-light Shinjuku district, Steelhead teams up with fellow refugees, including Jie (Daniel Wu, electric) and Old Ghost (portly Johnnie To regular Lam Suet, effectively displaying his tough-guy shtick). Living off petty crime and grueling work that Japanese workers won’t touch, Jie and Old Ghost show Steelhead the ropes and warn him about crossing mobsters.

Steelhead discovers Xiuxiu has adopted a Japanese name, Yuko, and is now married to rising Japanese gangster Eguchi (Masaya Kato). Meanwhile, Jie pays a steep price for inadvertently antagonizing Taiwanese mobster Gao (Jack Kao).

Plot strands featuring gang rivalries and clashes are more tangled than interwoven. However, the yarn belatedly builds momentum with an intense middle section, undercut by an extended denouement.

Pic defiantly establishes a new dramatic frontier for Chan, who’s clearly the star and acquits himself admirably. However, a scene in which Steelhead visits a hooker with a heart of gold (mainland actress Fan Bingbing) is likely to be more problematic for his fans than any grisly violence.

Among several strong supporting players, Wu impresses with his ability to steer his character through major (and too sudden) transformations. On the Nipponese side, Naoto Takenaka is pitch-perfect as a cop who becomes indebted to Steelhead. Distaffers make much less impact: Fan’s prostie role is so slight it should have been excised at the script stage.

Derek Yee’s direction is strong within individual scenes but fails to mold the unwieldy script into a cohesive whole. As in Yee’s previous “Protege,” the depiction of gang life aims to explore the machinations of criminal orgs in depth. Drama and characterization both suffer as a result, leaving the pic far short of the “Election” or “Godfather”-like heights to which it aspires. Tech credits are solid, though Peter Kam’s score is intrusive.

Version caught at the Hong Kong fest was given a Category III rating by local censors, usually reserved for sex and extreme violence. Local-release version will be slightly edited for a milder Category IIb rating.

Camera (color), Nobuyasu Kota; editors, Cheung Ka-fai, Kwong Chi-leung, Tang To-man; music, Peter Kam; production designer, Oliver Wong, Chin Kar-lok; action choreographer, Chin Kar-lok; sound (Dolby Digital). Reviewed at Hong Kong Film Festival (opener), March 22, 2009. Running time: 114 MIN.
(Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, English dialogue)
http://www.variety.com/story.asp?l=story&r=VE1117939938&c=31

March 25, 2009

Glamourous Youth (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 7:01 pm

Glamourous Youth
3/24/2009 by Elizabeth Kerr

HONG KONG — Hong Kong film critic Philip Yung makes his directorial debut with “Glamorous Youth,” an almost episodic drama centering on three high school boys and their families in a search for the perfect life after 1997.

Hong Kong’s relation to China is becoming more and more of a common topic within the industry’s independent scene, and here Yung tries to bring a little social realism to the game. The rambling, lackadaisical pace suits the subject, and Yung is almost guaranteed a slot in a wide range of film festivals. An art house release at home is a distinct possibility, but it’s too geographically specific for limited release elsewhere in Asia.

Kin-hong (Nelson Yung) and his friends Tai-hong (Kwok Hiu-fai) and Spiderman (Cameron Lau) all have teenage problems. Kin-hong is mired in boredom and familial disillusionment, Tai-hong is experiencing early sexual problems and is already reliant on masturbation and hookers, and Spiderman is desperate to break free of the apathy to which Kin-hong seems resigned.

The adults that surround them aren’t much better off: Kin-hong’s parents exist in fantasy worlds, his girlfriend Kaka’s (Louise Wong) single mother is lost to depression, and teacher Mr. Chong (Joey Leung) is lonely despite his friendship with the school’s principal (Pai Piao). The characters flail about looking for something, anything, they can latch onto as a goal — love, success — feeling lost when nothing materializes.

Yung, who also wrote the screenplay, has a keen eye for small details that have more of a cumulative impact, though things could be heightened with some tighter editing. But his portrait of everyday life in the shadow of expectation is vivid, and the rhythms of the main characters’ decidedly unglamorous (yet sweetly nostalgic) youth is a strength. The camera work is unfussy (with properly lit HD photography).

When Kin-hong meets Siu Yue (Sherry Lee), a Shenzhen girl with money problems, he packs up and runs off with her, looking to the newly accessible Mainland for what’s missing at home. Whether he finds it is the film’s final grace note, ambiguously melancholic and appropriately low-key.

Production companies: Digital Jungle Production Ltd.
Cast: Nelson Yung, Kwok Hiu-fai, Cameron Lau, Tai Bo, Louise Wong, Joey Leung, Pai Piao, Sherry Lee
Director: Philip Yung
Screenwriter: Philip Yung
Producer: Chang Wen
Director of photography: Harry Lee
Art directors: Tempo Cheung, Erica Chan
Music: Rachel Kar
Editor: Eddie Chu, William Ho, Chan Ho-chun
Sales: InD Blue
No rating, 136 minutes
THR

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 9:45 am

 


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