HKMDB Daily News

October 29, 2010

October 29, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 5:49 pm

FBA: Break Up Club review (4/10)

FBA: Bad Blood review (6/10)

Mainland martial artist Jiang Luxia shines in a low-budget action movie.

FBA: When Love Comes (6/10)

Over-long but finally rewarding drama centred on a teenage daughter in a dysfunctional family.

FBA: The Red Eagle (3/10)

Messy Thai super-hero movie sledge-hammers the viewer into submission.

CRI: Faye Wong Stages Comeback Show in Beijing

Andy Lau’s younger brother, Lau Tak-Sing

Riding the minibus

Andy’s low profile brother is involved in post-production for Andy’s film. In addition, his real estate partnerships with Andy has reaped handsome returns. Andy also has a younger sister.


Plans to work on the Andrew Lau-produced Jay Chou-directed Initial D 2 next year. Edison is also considering a Mainland and Taiwan concert tour. Edison was in Beijing for a fashion event.


Kelly Chen performing at a recent sailing event (Xinhua)

CRI: Barbie Hsu Engaged to Wealthy Restaurateur

Wang, who is five years younger than Hsu, is executive director of South Beauty (Qiao Jiangnan), a high-end restaurant chain in China. He is the only son of the company’s founder and president, Zhang Lan. Wang had just ended a relationship with actress Zhang Yuqi.

MSN: Barbie Hsu engaged to Taiwanese millionaireTaiwan actress Barbie Hsu engaged

GlobalTimes: Confirmed! Barbie Hsu snatches wealthy and handsome fiancé

While attending a test screening of a film starring Zhang Yuqi, I heard her confess that she couldn’t pay a penalty for breaking her agent’s contract, which was hard to believe considering Wang’s wealth. I now know that their relationship ended as long as six months ago, shortly after they were spotted canoodling at the airport and that’s why Wang wouldn’t pay for Zhang.

MSN: HIM International: S.H.E is not breaking up

MSN: Nicholas Tse and family celebrates his mother’s birthday

MSN: Carina Lau will not consider surrogate births

October 28, 2010

October 28, 2010

“Heart” edition of Midnight Beating poster

Finally, an official English title. Of course, my orignal translations Midnight Pulse/Midnight Heartbeat didn’t prove out!

Simon Yam, Yang Yuyu

Li Nian, producer Ding Wei-Min, Francis Ng


THR: Huang Bo Joins ‘Black & White: Episode 1′

FBA: Monkey King gets 3-D IMAX treatment

Female leads include Faye Wong, Cecilia Cheung, Kelly Chen and Gigi Leung.

CRI: Angelababy Stars in CPC Anniversary Film

CRI: ’Lost in Panic Room’ Photo Stills

The film tells the story of a puzzling series of murders in a mountain villa. Writer Liu Yunfei (Alec Su), who is famed for writing detective stories, is accidentally involved in the case. His detective skills finally help him discover the real murderer.

Pre-screenings have triggered comments that director Gao Qunshu has copied Hollywood’s Western movies. Gao responded in an interview with China Daily, “I am not copying Hollywood. I am learning from it and using it in my own way.”

Ship captain Lin Quanhai (Wang Xueqi) abandoned his wife and their son when the boy was only 10. They never saw each other again. One day, Lin is informed that his son has been shot dead by the police for stabbing and taking a hostage in a shopping mall in Chongqing. Lin decides to come to Chongqing to search for the life and memories of his son after he left him.

Newcomer Aarif Lee Plays Young Kung Fu Legend

The production was based on input from Lee’s younger brother Robert and his two older sisters. Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee and widow Linda Lee Cadwell, however, were not involved and there have been suggestions of interfamily controversy.

IFC will release the film theatrically and on video-on-demand in early 2011.

In the tradition of Hong Kong cinematic storytelling, Perfect Wedding recounts how Xin (Miriam Yeung), a wedding planner who despite always arranges amazing wedding for others, is left at the altar by her fiancé. Still heartbroken years later, she continues in wedding planning yet no longer believes in love.

The film stars Wang Qianyuan, who earned a nomination for best actor at TIIF. Born and raised in northeastern China, Wang said he is very familiar with characters like Chen, “Chen is a typical northeasterner, very relaxed and optimistic, he always finds the fun in life,” Wang told the Global Times.

Sandra Ng and Tony Leung Ka-Fai, will costar in Eric Tsang’s Lunar New Year film I Love Hong Kong. Wong Cho-Nam and Bosco Wong will play younger versions of Eric and Tony in the happier version of the Echoes of the Rainbow-like nostalgic comedy. (Xinhua)

Donnie Yen deleted earlier comments from his weibo complaining that The Legend of the Fist was not very good and had too much of the story deleted. He said that the box office would have been better and matched rival film Detective Dee otherwise. The posts attracted much media attention and Donnie said they were deleted so as not to be misunderstood. (Xinhua)2

Late Autumn stills (Xinhua-gallery)

CRI: Karen Mok Graces Fashion Magazine(Xinhua)

Huang Yi, Karen Mok (qq)

Found the MV for the theme song for Derek Chiu’s Road Less Travelled sung by Karen Mok. It’s an old Lowell Lo hit from 1986. Searching the interwebs, the film looks to have been filmed way back in 2009(!).

It plays fairly smoothly: (Tudou-MV)

MSN: Cecilia Cheung is not invited to Jordan Chan’s wedding

Jordan Chan and Cherrie Ying are not inviting their rumoured exes Cecilia Cheung and Eric Suen to their wedding bash.

Rumour has it that the actress has offered a high remuneration for Carina Lau’s assistant, Siqi, as the latter is well-connected and familiar with China’s film market.

“When I studied at the teaching college in China, my teacher told me ‘Zhao Wei, you should change your profession.’

October 27, 2010

October 27, 2010

Mavis Fan and Li Yuchun (Chris Lee) have joined the cast of Tsui Hark’s 3D Flying Swords of Dragon Gate.

Li Yuchun

Mavis Fan


CRI: Li Yuchun, Mavis Fan Join Cast of Tsui Hark’s 3-D Film

FBA:  Tsui has fun with Catching Monkey

Tsui Hark has secretly made a movie in 3-D, which will be pitched for sale at next month’s American Film Market in Santa Monica.

CRI: Horror Movie ‘Lost in Panic Room’ Set for Halloween Release (previously Hidden Chamber of Secrets, here)

Pace Wu and Yuan Chengjie are reportedly planning on skipping the premiere in anger over the ‘assistant gaffer’ (lighting assistant) nude scene leakage threats. (Xinhua)

CRI: Ang Lee Gets Male Lead for His First 3-D Work

Seventeen-year-old Indian boy Suraj Sharma has been chosen by director Ang Lee to star in his 3-D film. The movie is an adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel “Life of Pi”.

FBA: Lee brings Pi to Taiwan and India

“Under the Hawthorn Tree” actor Shawn Dou Xiao will play Qu Qiubai in a biopic to be directed by Huo Jianqi.

Chrissie Chau - Vampire Warriors

With director Dennis Law distributing limited edition vampire dolls in Mongkok (Xinhua)

Director Alexi Tan

Liu Ye

Yao Chen

Color Me Love launches official website


October 26, 2010

October 26, 2010

THR: Peaceful ‘Buddha’ Bow

Taiwan-China Co-Prod. Rises Above Politics

The world premiere of director Li Yu’s China-Taiwan co-production Buddha Mountain spooled without a hitch Sunday in competition at the Tokyo International Film Festival, proving that once in a while the culture of filmmaking can trump both sticky cross-Straits politics and past squabbles with China media authorities.

THR: Juliets review

The Bottom Line: Love is not rosy in this romantic omnibus sporting sexy, flowery styles.

Variety: The Intruder (Thailand)

Killer cobras create carnage in “The Intruder,” a lively exploiter pitting trapped residents of a Bangkok apartment block against an army of angry asps.

FBA: Black and White has arresting cast and budget

CNNGo: Lover’s Discourse’ star Kay Tse has a secret crush

The romantic flick focuses on the intersection of six love stories. Tse portrays a shy laundry girl who has a secret crush on one of her customers.

CRI: Cecilia Cheung Is Back at Work on Three Films

CRI: Chen Kun’s ‘Bullets’ Look

Photo stills featuring actor Chen Kun in the upcoming gangster movie “Let the Bullets Fly” have been released.

CRI: More Love Scenes Expected in ‘Tale of Magic’

As a result, the public release of the movie will be postponed to next year, probably around Valentine’s Day.

CRI:  Chinese Film ‘Assembly’ Gets 3-D Boost in Germany

Kungfu Wing Chun poster

Poster for preview of Kungfu Wing Chun

Joe Cheung Tung-Cho’s martial arts story features romance and comedy which opens Nov. 2. The cast includes veterans Collin Chou, Yuen Wah, Yuen Qiu and Kara Hui besides Bai Jing and Yu Shaoqun in the leads. (Sina)2

Hidden Chamber of Secrets opens Oct. 29

Alec Su and Pace Wu star in the thriller (Sina)

Stills from Alan Mak and Felix Wong’s Lost Bladesman

Andy On Chi-Kit


Wind Blast promotion takes Francis Ng to Shanghai (Sina-gallery)

Fan Bingbing has dropped out of The Founding of a Party due to conflict with the shooting schedule for her South Korean film My Way (Sina)

Follow up on the East Asia All Star Concert in Shanghai: Typhoon Megi was responsible for the wet look on stage, not a production design element of the show. Denise Ho complained about the lack of available umbrellas, dancers slipped on the wet stage, and Edison Chen looked like a drowned rat. Other artists simply muddled through.

Soaked Sammi Cheng (Xinhua)

CRI: Cherrie Ying, Jordan Chan in Honeymoon

MSN: Aaron Kwok rumoured to have spread STD to Lynn Hung (Xinhua)2

MSN: Selina Jen braves 5-hour surgeryHebe’s mother donates skin to Selina

S.H.E’s Selina Jen undergoes surgery for severe burns on body

Eyewitnesses said that Jen’s clothes were on fire and she was screaming “It burns! It burns!” immediately after the explosion.

Yu on the other hand, appeared to be in shock and had a glazed look in his eyes as the production crew rushed forward to help the still-smouldering pair.

Selina suffered minor burns to face, too

Speculation was rife that the television drama’s production company would replace Jen and Yu and resume filming. The rumours riled fans, who took to the Internet slamming the producers for being heartless.

Taiwanese director Chen Ming-chang has come out to address the issue on his microblog, stressing that the crew will wait for the condition of the two actors to improve before checking with them whether they would resume their roles. Only if they decline to return, wrote Chen, would they consider replacing the actors.


October 25, 2010

Juliets (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 4:55 pm

by Maggie Lee

The Bottom Line
Love is not rosy in this romantic omnibus sporting sexy, flowery styles.

“Juliets” is a bewitching omnibus of romances that are teasingly anti-romantic, or post-romantic, by Hou Chi-jan, Shen Ko-shang and Chen Yu-hsun. As the Shakespearean reference of the title implies, love is in the air in all three stories, but it is more often bitter than sweet, and always comes with a twist. In fact, the first two works are smoldering accounts of l’amour fou that remind one “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Aside from the farcical, out-of-character third segment, “Juliets” is a sensual affair which match-makes art house aesthetics with commercial production quality and entertaining storytelling. It should charm its way into festivals, select cinemas in its native Taiwan and other Chinese-speaking territories. Casting directors may want to put out feelers for actress Lee Chien-na who makes an electrifying debut, and the impassioned efforts of idol Vivian Hsu to play against her angel-nymphet image.

While the directors exhibit markedly different tastes and styles, the central figures are all named Juliet (at least in Chinese pronunciation) and they all dress in red at some point. The stories embrace their feminine perspectives, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. Red is the color of passion and danger, as well as luck and happiness (in Chinese culture). Each short is driven by some of these elements.

“Juliet’s Choice” convincingly expresses the anguish of unrequited love. Ju (Hsu), a printer’s daughter with a leg disability, fantasizes about escaping from her boxed-in existence when a dissident college student Ro (Wong Po-chieh) pays her suggestive attention. Sumptuously shot to capture the nostalgic ambiance of the 70s, the chiaroscuro lighting wraps the heroine in a tight embrace that evokes her claustrophobia and obsession.

None of documentary filmmaker Shen’s previous output (not even “Baseball Boys” which swept the board at 2009 Golden Horse Awards) can prepare us for the irresistibly sexy film language and narrative artistry of “Two Juliets.” In a seaside village in the 80s, a vaudeville performer’s daughter Julie (sizzling singer Lee Chien-na whose family runs genuine vaudeville shows) and a puppeteer’s son (River Huang) are forbidden to love because of their fathers’ feud. A mental asylum becomes their love nest — or prison?

This vignette comes closest to “Romeo and Juliet”’s plot yet its ending has a wicked sting that subverts the Bard’s motif of undying love. The atmosphere is as fantasmagorical as Victorian Gothics like “Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights.” The narrative structure, which traverses two eras and connects two love-lorn women, has the sophistication of a feature length film.

“One More Juliet,” sends up the profession of its creator Chen, a top-ranking comic TVC director in Taiwan. Chu Li-ye, a bachelor with a record of 28 failed dates, attempts suicide on his 40th birthday, but he is accidentally scouted to star in a TVC. A farcical trifle, its attempt to couch its message that everyone longs for and deserves love in a gender-bending twist is soiled by lavatory humor and unflattering caricatures of middle-aged men.

Tokyo International Film Festival
Sales: Good Films Workshop
Production: Khan Entertainment Co.

Cast: Vivian Hsu, Weng Po-Chieh, Lee Chien-na, River Huang, Kang Kang, Liang He-chun.
Directors: Hou Chi-jan, Shen Ko-shang, Chen Yu-hsun.
Producer: Khan Lee
Executive producer: Khan Lee
Cinematographers: Mahua Feng, Tai Chien, Chen Chien-Li
Production designer: Tsai Pei-Ling, Tang Chia-Hung, Chen Ming-Huei
Writers: Hou Chi-Jan, Yang Yuan-Ling, Shen Ko-Shang, Lu Hsin-Chih, Chen Yu-Hsun
Music: Han Cheng-Yieh, Pigskinhead, Chris Hou
Editor: Ku Hsiao-Yun
Sound: Frank Cheng
No MPAA rating, 106 minutes.

October 25, 2010

THR: The Piano in a Factory review

A light though tad melancholy comedy set in a fading factory town in northeastern China.

THR: A Better Tomorrow review

Variety: The Drunkard review

“The Drunkard” reps a sincere if uneven adaptation of Chinese author Liu Yichang’s celebrated 1963 novel about a middle-aged writer whose artistic ideals evaporate in a fog of booze and dames.

FBA: All About Love (5/10)

Gender-reversal, “lesbian” comedy is let down by a lack of style and clumsy script.

FBA: The King of Fighters (4/10)

Gordon Chan directs international cast in video game adaptation.

THR: Josie Ho Joins the Cast of ‘The Courier’

Hong Konger Ho plays Anna, a woman with a mysterious past who meets the daredevil international delivery man of the film’s title (Morgan) during what may be his last drop, to someone who may, or may not, exist.

THR: TIFF Offers Its Own Look at Booming Chinese Film Industry

Chinese film officials heralding a cinema revival not seen since the 1930s.

With Hong Kongers firmly established in the mainland, Hollywood studios are homing in. Where 10 years ago it was Sony Pictures and five years ago it was Warner Bros. leading Hollywood’s China charge, now it’s Fox and Disney working on their co-production chops.

CRI: ’Wind Blast’ Gets Starry Premiere

Guests attending to lend support included Huang Xiaoming, Zhang Yibai, Ma Liwen, Huang Bo, Huo Siyan, Song Jia, Zhang Yang and Zhang Guoqiang.

Charlie Young, Xia Yu

Francis Ng

Ma Su

(Sina-slide show)23

Jeet Kune Do poster

Jeet Kune Do opens Nov. 16 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Bruce Lee’s birthday. The film stars Chen Tian-Sing and includes Wu Ma and Bruce Leung Siu-Lung. Billy Chan Wui-Ngai, frequent action director for many of Bruce Lee’s films, is the executive producer.

(Sina) (JKD website)

World’s first 3D sex film attracts Chinese tourists to Hong Kong

Producer Stephen Shiu told the newspaper he had already been approached by six travel agents who wanted to arrange private screenings and “meet and greet” sessions with cast members.

CRI: ’Color Me. Love’ Postpones Release Date

The original October 28 release date had been pushed ahead to November 5, because of unexpected post-production work.

But it was reported that some film industry insiders suggested the movie failed to pass a review by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television because of a nude scene.

Liu Ye, Yao Chen (Sina)

A 3D DVD version of Feng Xiaogang’s The Assembly (2008) is planned for Europe. A German company in cooperation with Huayi Brothers plans to release it in Europe where the film is still popular. (Sina)

Jia Zhangke awarded Best Documentary prize for I Wish I Knew at HIFF

With Hollywood producer Chris Lee (Sina)

[Many articles are now recalling Anthony Wong's controversial remarks he made in the spring about unprofessional Mainland crews and deadly working conditions. At the time, his costar Tse Kwan-Ho was burned in the face while filming the TV series Secret History of the Yang Family. (Xinhua) ]

MSN: Kenny Bee will not marry girlfriend

CRI: Gong Li Walks the Red Carpet at China Fashion Week (Xinhua)

The Drunkard (Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 10:22 am

The Drunkard
Jiu tu

(Hong Kong, China) A Connoisseurs Production & Marketing presentation of a Connoisseurs production supported by Hong Kong Arts Development Council. (International sales: Connoisseurs Production & Marketing, Hong Kong.) Produced by Freddie Wong, Edmond Chau, Samuel Lai, Kawah Wong. Executive producers, Freddie Wong, Kingman Cho, Carol Lai. Directed, written by Freddie Wong, based on the novel “Jiu Tu” by Liu Yichang.

With: John Chang, Irene Wan, Joman Chiang, Katie Kwok, Wei Wei, Amy Chum, Yim Ho, Cheung Chin, Lam Chiu Wing, Elena Kong. (Cantonese dialogue)

“The Drunkard” reps a sincere if uneven adaptation of Chinese author Liu Yichang’s celebrated 1963 novel about a middle-aged writer whose artistic ideals evaporate in a fog of booze and dames. Helmed by film critic-turned-filmmaker Freddie Wong, pic stylishly evokes a long-gone Hong Kong, but the protag’s downward spiral lacks the high-voltage physical and emotional energy the story calls for. A modest future in regional arthouses and specialized broadcast is indicated; domestic release details are yet to be confirmed.

Regarded as the first stream-of-consciousness work in Chinese literature, Liu’s novel presented its central figure as a casualty of Hong Kong’s economic boom of the late 1950s and early ’60s. A serious-minded writer of short fiction and newspaper articles, Lau’s (John Chang) work is no longer demanded by a populace obsessed with money and frivolous entertainment. Criticized by editors for not including enough action in his stories, Lau drifts down the path of pulp novels and is eventually lured into writing a serial titled “Golden Lotus” for Lee (Lam Chiu Wing), a sleazy publisher of pornography.

Entertaining notions of becoming a screenwriter, Lau discovers there’s no call for highbrow material, and the screenplay he does produce is stolen by unscrupulous filmmaker Mo (Taiwanese helmer Yim Ho, in a rare thesping turn).

Artfully employing voiceover and graphics to illustrate Lau’s painful memories of his youth in war-torn Shanghai, Wong crafts a potent portrait of a man with no sense of place or purpose. Less successful is the concurrent depiction of Lau’s surrender to alcohol and women, including 17-year-old seductress Mary (Katie Kwok), needy housewife Mrs. Wong (Irene Wan, excellent), and Lulu (Joman Chiang), a beautiful young prostitute.

Finely conveying the intellectual and artistic side of Lau’s downward spiral, pic can’t muster much passion or excitement for Lau’s affairs. Respected Taiwanese vet Chang (who was also featured in 1991’s “A Brighter Summer Day”) appears tentative in scenes requiring Lau to demonstrate why women many years his junior would find him attractive.

Color-saturated lensing by Henry Chung, as well as the smoke-filled hostess bars in Yank Wong’s production design, and the beautiful frocks, pant-suits and figure-hugging cheongsams created by costumer Petra Kwok, all recall the look of Wong Kar-wai’s “In the Mood for Love,” which drew inspiration from Liu’s 1972 novella “Tete–beche,” set among displaced Shanghainese in early ’60s Hong Kong. Soundtrack includes a terrific collection of Western love songs and jazzy numbers, many of them refreshingly obscure. The rest the of technical work is impressive on a modest budget.

Camera (color), Henry Chung, editor, Mary Stephen; music, Da Jamz; production designer, Yank Wong; costume designer, Petra Kwok; sound (Dolby Digital), Tse Yiu Kei; associate producer, Albert Leung; assistant director, Chan Wai-keung. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (A Window on Asian Cinema), Oct. 11, 25, 2010. (Also in Vancouver, Hong Kong Asian, Asia Pacific film festivals.) Running time: 106 MIN.

October 24, 2010

A Better Tomorrow (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 11:17 pm

A Better Tomorrow
by Maggie Lee

The Bottom Line
A mediocre remake stunted by the tall order of the original.

John Woo’s “A Better Tomorrow” is not about gangs or guns, but all about the swish of an Italian coat, the dandy way a toothpick is chewed, and the graceful arc in which its heroes (not protagonists) cock their guns.

None of these can be found in Song Hae-song’s Korean remake, executive produced by Woo and his regular partner Terence Chang. In Korea, where the 1986 version has TV re-runs as ritualistically as “The Sound of Music” is aired during Christmas, under-performing box office is said to be accompanied by mobs of angry bloggers slamming it online.

To be fair, the production is on the money, with plenty of bombastic action balanced by some dramatic heft. But the film raised the bar to the skies by brandishing itself as a remake of a classic, without understanding what makes the original click — namely pose and self-parody. The film should be judged less harshly abroad, as the four dashing leads and its fiery Korean brand of machismo have enough allure in most Asian markets.

For the rest, the screenplay follows the original story fairly closely, but with the love subplot taken out. The main stage has been moved from Hong Kong to Busan, which gains in gritty hardboiled atmosphere as a hub for illegal trafficking. The pivotal early scenes which define the heroines’ stances and determine their fates are shifted to Thailand. Since locations are unexciting and the heroes can’t wear coats in the sweltering heat; thus making the surprise of betrayal and climax of revenge are slow to warm up.

The conflict between the original’s gangster brother and his policeman younger brother is intensified by making the brothers, Hyuk (Joo Jin-mo) and Chul (Kim Gang-woo), North Korean defectors.

The plot of “A Better Tomorrow” is a potboiler to begin with. What elevated it is Woo’s chivalric ideal of heroism and the iconic gestures or poses that go with it. His gun fights are described as “balletic” because they are as formalistic as duels. In the remake, the men just bash each other to a bloody pulp. Style is what’s lacking in overall proceedings.

Several action setpieces take place in huge spaces, deploying hundreds of extras but the larger their scale, the messier the choreography. The cast scurry all over the place and shots are fired aimlessly. And if in doubt, the filmmaker stages an explosion.

The rift between guilt-ridden Hyuk and self-righteous Chul caused by the former’s abandonment of the latter, takes precedence over Hyuk’ bonding with fellow gangster Young-chun (Song Seung-heon). Joo and Kim play their roles in earnest, externalizing the male rivalry that was submerged in the original, and giving the characters more complexity. Complex is the last thing in the characterization of Young-chun, the man of honor who got crippled trying to avenge Hyuk’s betrayal by their junior Tae-min (Jo Han-sun). Song has Chow Yun-fat’s cockiness, but not his non-chalant charm. With his odd mixture of goofball, Machiavellian and psychopath, Tae-min becomes the most flamboyant but least formidable role.

Venue: Tokyo International Film Festival, Special Screenings
Sales: CJ Entertainment Inc.
Production: Formula Entertainment presents in association with CJ Entertainment/ Michigan Venture Capital a Fingerprint production in association with Lion Rock Productions/Fortune Star Entertainment
Cast: Joo Jin-mo, Song Seung-heon, Kim Gang-woo, Jo Han-sun
Director: Song Hae-song
Screenwriters: Kim Hyo-seok, Lee Taek-kyung, Choi Geun-mo, Kim Hae-gon
Produced by: Park Hyung-jun, Daisuke “Dais” Miyachi
Executive producers: John Woo, Terence Chang, Daniel Chun-on Cheung, Lim Byeong-woo, Peter Poon, David Matsumoto
Director of photography: Kang Seung-gi
Production designer: Yang Hong-sam
Costume designer: Kim Jung-won
Music: Lee Jae-jin
Editor: Park Gok-ji
No rating, 124 minutes

The Piano in a Factory (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 11:00 pm

The Piano in a Factory
by Kirk Honeycutt

The Bottom Line
A light though tad melancholy comedy set in a fading factory town in northeastern China.

While the Chinese film “The Piano in a Factory” is designed a little too carefully to be a crowd-pleaser for international audiences as well as domestic ones, the film is certainly not without its charms and good humor.
Music, comedy and a heart-tugging story about a man and his daughter get thrown into the mix along with a crew of motley characters whose actions are aggressively “madcap.” It’s every bit as Chinese as chop suey.
Little wonder the film premiered in Toronto last month before heading immediately to Tokyo for its Asian debut. “Piano” is certain to make the festival rounds and possibly even win theatrical exposure in non-Asian territories.

The whimsical tale from writer-director Zhang Meng nicely brings in music at every opportunity. Its protagonist, a laid-off steelworker named Chen (Wang Quin-yuan), has two passions in life — his young daughter and music. When not minding his daughter and mentally deteriorating father, he plays accordion in a band composed of close friends and his girlfriend/singer (Qin Hai-lu).
Despite a lack of income, he pays mightily for his daughter’s piano lessons. The music is occasionally Chinese but just as often Russian — tunes apparently fondly remembered from the Sino-Soviet era — while the movie’s background music reaches far back into Western pop.

Then his estranged wife (Jang Shin-yeong) suddenly materializes after a prolonged absence to demand a divorce (easily granted) and custody of their daughter (a wrenching thought). The little girl proposes that she will go with whichever parent provides her with a piano.

This wish certainly makes the daughter every bit as heartless as her mother, but Zhang’s plot turns spring less from character than a need for comic action. So first, Chen tries to borrow money from his generally hapless friends and relations, then to steal a piano with those same hapless souls as his partners in crime. The latter attempt sets the stage for a prolonged comic sequence where failure is preordained.

What left to do but construct his own piano, enlisting the help of his loyal friends and girlfriend? The group salvages material from the remains of the now-shuttered steel factory and other remnants of defunct state-run industries, which is as close to social commentary as this movie ever gets.

Many snags occur in the design and construction of a steel piano although the biggest one happens between the obsessed father and his long-suffering lover. All these sequences get interrupted by comical fights, chases and run-ins with police, none of which are treated as very serious by the filmmaker.

Zhang deliberately avoids social realism. For all the dreariness of the faded factory town, a tone of gentle whimsy embraces all situations and characters, although Zhang is sentimental enough to add a touch of melancholy to his climax.

Wang is a delight as the perplexed but persevering father, while Qin possesses a warmth and genuineness as the lover who is never quite sure where she stands with her distracted man.

All tech credits are first rate as cinematography, set design and editing are in perfect sync with the director’ comic intent.

Venue: Tokyo International Film Festival, In Competition
Production company: Etoile Pictures/Liaoning Film Studios
Cast: Wang Qian-yuan, Qin Hai-lu, Jang Shin-yeong, Liu Xing-yu, Liu Qian, Luo Er-yang, Tian-yu, Guo Yong-zhen
Director-screenwriter: Zhang Meng
Producers: Jessica Kam, Choi Gwang-suk
Executive producer: Kwak Jae-young
Director of photography: Shu Chou
Music: Oh Young-mook
Editor: Gao Bo
Unrated, 124 minutes

October 22, 2010

October 22, 2010

TaipeiTimes: The Fourth Portrait

After winning the Best Feature Film award at this year’s Taipei Film Festival, ‘The Fourth Portrait’ is ready for the upcoming Golden Horse Awards, with nominations in seven categories.

CRI:  Huang Xiaoming Teams Up with Angelababy in New Film

Huang Xiaoming and Hong Kong model Angelababy will co-star in the film “A Sentimental Story,” reports.

The film entitled “Yi Chang Feng Hua Xue Yue De Shi” in Chinese is being directed by Gao Qunshu who shot “The Message” and “Wind Blast.”

Hong Kong kicks off film fest with China focusAFP

The seventh annual Hong Kong Asian Film Festival features more than 60 independently-made films from across Asia, but this year it will shine a spotlight on the work of Chinese directors, organisers said.

Hong Kong director Barbara Wong has never worked in Hollywood, but you might not know that from watching her new film. “Perfect Wedding” seems right at home among Hollywood romantic comedies like “Runaway Bride” and “The Wedding Planner.”

FBA: Josie Ho runs with The Courier

ScreenDaily: Rourke, Ho join cast of Hany Abu-Assad’s The Courier

Mickey Rourke and Josie Ho have joined Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Til Schweiger in the cast of Arclight Films’ action thriller The Courier which started shooting in Louisiana this week…The Courier revolves around an international carrier who delivers things to people who can’t, or don’t want, to be reached. Ho plays a woman with a mysterious past whom the courier meets.

Josie Ho

Husband Conroy Chan has accompanied Josie Ho to the set everyday. Does it have to do with the fact that Josie has a bed scene with Jeffrey Dean Morgan?


Latest Late Autumn poster (Sina)

Cecilia Cheung has joined the cast of the Jackie Chan-produced, Frankie Chan-directed Yang Women Generals/14 Amazons! This makes the third film that Ceci has signed up for, besides Dynamic Angel/Race Car with Jimmy Lin, Tang Wei and Rene Liu and Raymond Wong’s Lunar New Year film All’s Well End’s Well 2011. This role will be considerably more challenging as she plays the key role of Mu Guiying. It has been previously played by Ivy Ling Po and Liza Wang in previous versions. Ceci is also reported to have agreed to a guest cameo in Stephen Chow’s New Journey to the West. (Sina) (Xinhua)23

MSN: Cecilia Cheung takes up Jackie Chan movie

Mu Guiying: Chinese Woman Warrior

“Her swinging sword flashes like nine falling suns shot by Yet the legendary bowman; she moves with the force of a team of Dragons driven by the gods through the sky; her strokes and attacks are like those of terrible thunder; and when she stops all is still as water reflecting the clear moonlight.”

Cecilia Cheung imagined as Mu Guiying

Liza Wang

Ivy Ling Po

Frankie Chan Fan-Kei (Xinhua)

Stills from Zhang Jiarui’s thriller Distant Thunder

Guo Xiaoran, Huo Siyan


Mani Fok to the rescue?

Emperor’s super manager Mani Fok and so-called “bomb expert” has been recalled from the US where she was on leave to handle the Charlene Choi-William Chan Wai-Ting (Sa-Ting) affair. The publicity stunt/romance has had unintended effects requiring Mani to come back to handle matters. Since it came to light, the Sa-Ting Love has raised the popularity of William Chan  but is not popular with Twins fans. Chan is said to be a playboy and Charlene has been accused of bad taste. Chan is alleged to have  had many ‘pedal boats’, including Gillian Chung causing a secret rift between the singing duo in the past. Mani is said to have had private communications with Chan and the Twins to discuss how to handle events. The Twins are scheduled to hold a concert in Macau in November. (Sina)

Edison Chen attending an Adidas event will be releasing two new songs tomorrow

Edison will be performing at the East Asia All Stars Concert in Shanghai with Anthony Wong and Sammi Cheng for support in his return to the stage. Edison and Sammi recorded a new version of Mr Sandman on his new album. (Xinhua-gallery) (Sina)2

Invitation to Jordan Chan-Cherrie Ying 50 table wedding banquet


MSN: Tony Leung is “Property King”

MSN: Andy Lau and Nicholas Tse’s love woes in Year of Rabbit

Four famous Hong Kong Feng shui masters look into 2011, year of the Rabbit, and predict that both Andy and Nicholas will face troubles in love

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