HKMDB Daily News

April 29, 2011

April 29, 2011

First, “Yam bui” to Wills and Kate!

Charismatic Donnie Yen is a ‘legend’ in his own right

The American theatrical distributor, Variance Films, proudly points out that “Legend of the Fist” is presented as the original Hong Kong version, with no missing footage, no Western-music soundtrack substitutions, and with subtitles instead of dubbed dialogue.

“Legend of the Fist” takes its story and setting from history, but it embellishes facts with magnificent action sequences.

CRI: Beijing International Film Festival Ends in Success

Chinese film authorities called the inaugural Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) a great success at a press conference ahead of the closing ceremony on Thursday night.

CF: Stars at the Closing Ceremony of BJIFF

CF: Latest Stills of “The Secret Fan”

A love story that spans time and space

Li Bingbing


CF: ”Love On Credit” to Explore Female Happiness

High-profile new romance flick Xingfu E’du (Love On Credit), directed by upcoming young Taiwanese director Leste Chen and starring an A-list cast including Taiwanese model-turned-actress Lin Chiling, Chen Kun and Liao Fan, held a kick-off press conference Wednesday in Beijing.

CF: Feng Xiaogang the Most Popular Director among College Students

CF: “Welcome to Shama Town” to Open Far East Int’l Film Festival


Chapman To’s review of 3D Sex and Zen (Thanks, to Dave for passing me this.)

Most of us who went to see 3D Sex and Zen are horny little bastards, not necrophillic sadist freaks! If you find any dude still pitching a tent after watching these scenes in the theater, I suggest you get up and leave. He may be dangerous.

Wong Jing is planning a comedic version of The Founding of a Republic for the Lunar New Year. Called, literally,  ”Married to a 100 Men”, the film will gather dozens of well-known comedians and first line stars. (Sina)

Andrew Lau - Guangzhou

A Beautiful Life played to a preview audience and the sad film left many audience members in tears. Already, Shu Qi’s performance has been anticipated for a Best Actress award next year according to Shu Qi’s former manager Manfred Wong. Lau said that because of her life experiences, Shu Qi was able to reveal the emotional truth in the film and depict the wandering and loneliness of her character. One scene in the alley required her to cry for 6 minutes. It has to be shot 3 times, so Shu Qi had to cry for 18 minutes. Lau revealed that Sun Honglei was originally planned for Liu Ye’s role but he was unavailable due to working on The Warring States. Liu Ye was selected because his personality was the closest to matching. Hu Jun was tender enough but too tall, Huang Xiaoming was deemed too small and like a brother. Anthony Wong was responsible for maintaining comedy in the film. The viewing press thought the ending too abrupt. (Sina)2

Wilson Yip

Liu Yifei

Lin Peng, Liu Yifei, Kara Hui, Li Jing

A Chinese Ghost Story/A Chinese Fairy Tale held a press conference to celebrate reaching 100 million yuan box office in Beijing yesterday. (Xinhua) (Sina-gallery)

Latest photos of Gaile Lok dispels pregnancy rumours.


Rosamund Kwan in Chengdu

50 year-old Rosamund Kwan answered all questions while appearing for an optical brand. Only 16 years-old when she entered into a “flash marriage”, she was asked whether she would again. Earlier, Rosamund was spotted in Paris with longtime boyfriend, a Taiwan businessman. Rosamund said that she hoped to marry, flash is okay. But marriage is a serious matter and must consider many things.  She said she often secretly came to Chengdu to stroll, eat and play. Asked whether she would make another film, Rosamund said she had no impulse at the moment so she’s taken a short break but had not quit. But if old boyfriend Andy Lau invited her, she would certainly consider it. (Xinhua)(Sina)

Patrick Tse was spotted shopping for his beloved silver jewelry in Central. Rarely seen without sunglasses, he took off his sunglasses to inspect closer before he was snapped by photogs. Coming out of the shop later, Patrick mischievously threatened to beat the reporters. (Xinhua)

TaipeiTimes: Pop stop

Weddings past and future

“The lotus root breaks but its fibers remain joined together.”

MSN: Kelly Lin admits pregnancy2

The Taiwanese actress however, denied it was a shotgun marriage


Cecilia Cheung spends S$24 million on new property

The Hong Kong actress makes her money work hard for her

Just a photo of Ceci by Chapman To

Raymond Lam Fung’s impossibly busty ex-girlfriend Mavis Pan Shuang Shuang, looks set to complement the July release of her pictorial book with a TV role in a Mainland Chinese series, reported Apple Daily.

April 28, 2011

April 28, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — dleedlee @ 3:44 pm

CF: Cecilia Cheung, Xiao Shenyang to Play Wife and Husband

Joe Ma’s The Lion Roars 2

Guan Yu rules

The Lost Bladesman reviewed

CF: ‘Seal of Love’ Making Waves

Produced to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the Revolution of 1911, “The Seal of Love” (vide. White Flower in Autumn) tells the story of the romance between well-known political leader Qu Qiubai and his wife Yang Zhihua…Starring Dou Xiao and Dong Jie…

CF: Stars at the Closing Ceremony of BJIFF

FBA: A tale of two festivals

The elephant in the room throughout the Beijing event was the Shanghai festival that celebrates its 14th edition in June. Key staff were in attendance to observe the better-financed rival, but were seemingly ignored. While Beijing rejoiced in its large delegation of festival presidents, there to witness and advise the new event, Shanghai was present but not invited to speak.

THR: Sarandon, Dillon, Dafoe and Tomei all Shanghai-bound

Susan Sarandon, Matt Dillon, Willem Dafoe and Marisa Tomei are all bound for China this June on a visit to the world’s fastest growing film market as guests of the 14th Shanghai International Film Festival, organizers said on Thursday.

Celebrity imitators including doubles for Andy Lau and Chow Yun-Fat (Wen Xiang)

After a few years’ absence of what was once an annual summer tradition, 4 Star owner Frank Lee has once again ventured into the theater’s crawlspace and come up with some forgotten gems of martial arts, action and erotica and cobbled together an Asian Movie Madness series to last through July.

Ung said he does not see Hollywood filmmaking or its tendency toward cliched happy endings as the pinnacle of success, and he admires the creativity of foreign films. He refers to Hong Kong films from the 1980s, which often end tragically and abruptly.

“I thought, ‘Wow, you can really end a film like this?’ You wouldn’t see this anywhere in an American screenwriting textbook,” Ung said. “These guys have guts.”

Documentary film “Xmas Without China” to tell new kind of story

Jacky Cheung sings the theme song for A Beautiful Life in the MV. (Sina)

Chow Yun-Fat, Ann Hui

Chow Yun-Fat presented the award for Outstanding Artistitic Contribution to director Ann Hui last night at the Hong Kong Arts Development Awards Presentation Ceremony. Joseph Koo received the Lifetime Achievement award. (Xinhua)

New poster for No. 32, B District a domestic horror film co-produced with Thailand


Fan Bingbing won the award for Best Actress at the Beijing Student Film Festival today. Yao Chen was voted Most Popular Actress, Feng Xiaogang, Most Popular Director, Wen Zhang, Most Popular Actor. Aftershock won the award for Best Picture and Ge You received the Best Actor award. (Sina)

Fan Bingbing - Best Actress

Yao Chen - Most Popular Actress


Zhang Ziyi (Apr.27)

Zhang Ziyi attended the opening reception of an exhibition of Ralph Lauren’s collection of automobiles at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris.

Ralph Lauren

Zhang Ziyi with Jean Todt, Michelle Yeoh and Jean Reno


Fan Bingbing, Yao Ming

Astronaut Yang Liwei, Fan Bingbing

Fan Bingbing, Yao Ming and Yang Liwei spoke about being representatives of China’s national image at a cultural forum in Shanghai yesterday. (Xinhua)(Sina)

Chicken soup marriage proposal
Fan Bing Bing is the target of a very public marriage proposal from a man who claims he is not rich but is very good at making chicken soup, if billboards are anything to go by.

MSN: Isabella Leong spotted at a fast food joint with son

Netizens post pictures of the former Hong Kong actress online

The Taiwanese actress sudden weight gain sparks talks of pregnancy again


April 27, 2011

Aprl 27, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — dleedlee @ 6:21 pm

CF: ”Four Detectives” Reveals Cast’s Images

CF: Chen Kun’s New Love Trangle in Rest on Your Shoulder

Chen Kun is in love with three ladies and faces a dilemma to choose his true love.

Variety: Let the Bullets Fly review

An entertaining hot pot of wry political commentary and general mischief.

Wai Ka-Fai

Wai Ka-Fai to take break from filmmaking? In an excerpt from a Jet magazine interview, frequent Johnnie To collaborator, Wai says that after wrapping up current projects he is considering a career change.(Yahoo) (Jet) (Thanks, to Joyce!)

Is Andrew Lau replacing Teddy Chen as Peter Chan’s director for The Guillotines? That’s the current rumour. (Sina)

CF: Stars Gather to Promote Chinese Films

Vivian Hsu

The Founding of a Party opens June 15 in IMAX and regular theatres

Director Huang Jianxin was flooded with text messages from actors asking whether they survived the final cut.  With 178 actors to fill only 131 minutes, the director assured the press at a trailer release event that John Woo (cut from the Founding of a Republic) and Tang Wei (previously rumoured to be cut) were not excised, at least in the trailer. (Xinhua)

FBA: Ghost Story haunts China BO

Wilson Yip’s A Chinese Ghost Story, an adaptation of the 1987 classic, led the China box office last week with RMB72.5 million ($11.1 million) after six days on release.

The action-romance-fantasy opened on 19 April, three days earlier than originally scheduled, so as to give it additional headroom ahead of The Lost Bladesman after it moved its own release date forward.

The censorship process for “Buddha Mountain” was not completely trouble-free.

KL date for Hong Kong film

Dante Lam’s Against War

Posters for the mainland release of the 2009 Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends - The Movie to mark the 45th anniversary of Ultraman. Opens May 13. (Sina)

(Apr.27) At an event in Beijing promoting the 1987 A Chinese Ghost Story, Ng See-Yuen said he planned to rerelease more Hong Kong classics in the mainland.

Ng See-Yuen

Director Tony Ching Siu-Tung

Actor Lau Siu-Ming from the classic film

Leslie Cheung’s costume (Sina)

Lin Chi-Ling

A new romantic comedy (lit. Happiness Quota) from director Leste Chen held a launch ceremony. The film stars Lin Chi-Ling, Liao Fan, Chen Kun and Tony Yang. The story has Lin Chi-Ling in a love triangle with three men.

Chen Kun

Liao Fan

Tony Yang

Leste Chen

Chen Kun, Liao Fan, Lin Chi-Ling, Tony Yang (Sina)

The boot ceremony for “Beasts and Flowers”(literally) was held at Hengdian today. The film directed by newcomer Zhang Lijia stars Ady An Yixuan, Jaycee Chan, Lam Suet, Ng Man-Tat, Frankie Ng Chi-Hung, Gong Xinliang, Ricky Chan, and others. The ensemble comedy is premised around the notion that we are all “Beasts and Flowers”.

Jaycee Chan

Ady An

Ady An, Jaycee

Director Zhang Lijia (Cheung Lap-Kar)

Frankie Ng

Group photo (Sina)

Shu Qi - A Beautiful Life

A Beautiful Life opens May 13. (Sina)

Hong Kong multi-hyphenate Stephen Chow Sing Chi is adding one more hyphen to his repertoire of skills – he has grand designs to open a dozen cinemas within one year in Mainland China, according to Xiao Xiang Morning Post.

Kelly Chen announced Tuesday on her blog that she will soon be getting back to work, after spending the past few weeks at home recovering from her recent miscarriage, reported Hong Kong media.

Kelly’s son, “Har Gow” (Sina)

Former TVB Number 1 Brother Gallen Lo Kar Leungrevealed that he has no regrets leaving TVB at the peak of his acting career in 2003 to pursue work in Mainland China, according to Chinese media.

Let the Bullets Fly (Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 11:18 am

Let the Bullets Fly

An Emperor Motion Picture, Beijing Buyilehu Film and Culture and China Film Group presentation of a Happy Blue Sea Film & Television Group, Emei Film Group and Chinavision Media Group production. (International sales: Emperor Motion Pictures, Hong Kong.) Produced by Ma Ke, Albert Lee, Yin Homber, Barbie Tung, Zhao Haicheng. Executive producers, Albert Yeung, Han Sanping, Ma Ke. Co-executive producers, Zhou Li, Dong Ping, He Shiping. Directed by Jiang Wen. Screenplay, Zhu Sujin, Shu Ping, Jiang Wen, Guo Junli, Wei Xiaon, Li Bukong, from “Ye Tan Shi Ji” by Ma Shitu.

With: Chow Yun-Fat, Jiang Wen, Ge You, Carina Lau, Zhou Yun, Zhang Mo, Aloys Chen. (Mandarin dialogue)
China’s biggest domestic hit thus far, Jiang Wen’s “Let the Bullets Fly” owes major debts to Sergio Leone, CGI technology and the prodigious talents of his co-star, Chow Yun-Fat, all of which make for a rollicking, violent, Western-cum-comedy that serves many masters, but adds up to an entertaining hot pot of wry political commentary and general mischief. Curiosity factor will certainly aid an inevitable U.S. release, though genre fans in particular will find much to revel in, with Jiang being a helmer of sharp commercial instincts and a sage satirical bent.

Set in the Warlord Era of the 1920s, pic opens with a horse-drawn steam train — a salute to “Once Upon a Time in the West” — which is carrying the new governor of nearby Goose Town (Feng Xiaogang), along with his wife (Carina Lau) and unctuous major domo, Tang (Ge You). Suddenly, the train is blown out from under them, killing the governor. Notorious bandit “Pocky” Zhang (Jiang) is to blame. Since no one in Goose Town knows the new governor’s face, Pocky decides to assume his identity. Tang and Mrs. Ex-Governor immediately fall in line with the masquerade.

Meanwhile, back at the Tang Dynasty-style hacienda, the paranoid Huang (Chow), a trafficker in humans and opium, is trying to get his idiot doppelganger (also Chow) to behave like a suitable target for any would-be assassins. Huang’s control over Goose Town is further threatened by the arrival of a new governor, especially when Pocky decides to assume a Robin Hood role, dividing the proceeds from the train hijacking with the less fortunate. Jiang deftly pulls off a riff on the classic “Fistful of Dollars”/”Yojimbo” gambit of having opposing characters play off each other while always disguising their underlying motives.

While a generous portion of “Let the Bullets Fly” is dedicated to computerized chaos, explosions and mayhem, the subtle is always in competition with the ostentatious: In one lengthy scene involving Pocky, Huang and Tang at a table, discussing their diverse worldviews and hinting at their ulterior motives, d.p. Zhao Fei’s camera virtually floats around them, rotating, making mute commentary and suggesting the camerawork in Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “Flowers of Shanghai.” It’s captivating.

In addition to being a versatile and stylish director, Jiang (”Devils on the Doorstep,” “In the Heat of the Sun”) is also a charismatic actor; Pocky is a sly, devious but righteous hero whose outlaw sensibility provides the moral spine to “Let the Bullets Fly.” His leadership of his band of brigands is enthralling and funny. Chow, on the other hand, makes Huang purely venal, but also complex — he’s too arrogant to hide the machinations of his always-underhanded criminal thinking, and his transparent Machiavellian pseudo-intrigue is often hilarious.

Pocky promises to bring law to Goose Town, but once his adoptive son, Lao Liu (Zhang Mo), kills himself during a dispute with Huang’s sidekick Hu Wan (Aloys Chen), Pocky and his men swear to avenge Lao’s death. When Huang finally meets Pocky, he offers Pocky money to kill the bandit who’s been creating trouble for his business — in other words, Pocky himself. A Kurosawan game of cat-and-mouse is under way.

The production is an orgy of CGI, with stuff and people flying everywhere, quite often in slo-mo. But Jiang balances the sensational with the thoughtful, aided by a first-rate cast that includes his actress wife, Zhou Yun, as the sweet-natured Flora, who tempers the heat of Pocky and his pirates.

Camera (color), Zhao Fei; music, Joe Hisaishi, Shu Nan; art directors, Wong Kar-lang, Gao Yiguang, Yu Qinghua; costume designer, William Chang; sound (Dolby), Bo Wen; choreographer, Ailen Sit. Reviewed at Tribeca Film Festival (Spotlight), April 24, 2011. Running time: 132 MIN.

April 26, 2011

April 26, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 4:47 pm

FBA: The Piano in a Factory review (9/10)

A lightly comic gem with an ensemble cast and stylised look in perfect synch.

CF: “Let the Bullets Fly” Premieres in New York

CF: Chinese Filmmakers Encouraged to Work with Foreign CounterpartsFilmmmakers Discuss China-Europe Film Coproduction

FBA: More Panic in China

Zhang Panpan, the director of Lost in Panic Room, will begin shooting a sequel to the hit thriller next month.

The Lion Roars (2002)

Joe Ma is set to begin filming the sequel to The Lion Roars in July with Cecilia Cheung returning. Cecilia had contracted for the sequel years ago. Whether Louis Koo also returns has not been finalized. Filming will take place in Shandong and Ningbo. (Sina)

The Detective 2

The early report from one viewer who saw the media preview of The Detective 2 (B+ Detective) says that the visual impact of the film is worthy but finds that the storytelling aspect is less impressive and an insufficient level of suspense. The film focuses on human nature and the darker side of man rather than ghostly type horrors which the director feels is more terrifying and lasts a lifetime. The film closes with an open ending and the author wonders whether there should be a future promotion to A+ Detective. (Sina) [Update: It seems that the mainland and Hong Kong version may not be the same?]

Stills from Jacob Cheung’s Rest on Your Shoulders. The story is a romance of one man, three women and will be released this summer

Chen Kun

Guei Lun-Mei, Chen Kun

Jiang Yiyan, Chen Kun

Gigi Leung, Chen Kun

Gigi Leung, Chen Kun


Angelababy on poster for an upcoming show in Japan (Xinhua)

MSN: Barbie Hsu to use body doubles for sexy scenes

MSN: TVB to save Raymond Lam’s career

The broadcast station is said to be promoting the Hong Kong actor through his dramas, songs and new movie role

MSN: Selina Jen’s fiancé wants to file for marriage first

April 25, 2011

April 25, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 6:10 pm

FBA: The Warring States review (8/10)

Seamless technique and some fine performances help turn a rich mix into an entertaining whole.

Variety: The Warring States review

A well-armored, blood-spewing and often furious addition to the Chinese feudal epic genre.

ScreenDaily: The Warring States review2

A grand historical epic that evinces some impressive costume design and much natural scenic beauty, but never locates a particularly persuasive or enrapturing tone

Despite criticisms from some Chinese netizens, the mainland box office has been growing steadily since its release. (Sina)

FBA: Guillotines suspended in mid-air

Hong Kong and Chinese production group We Pictures has halted its period martial arts action film The Guillotines, (formerly known as The Flying Guillotines), which was to have begun shooting this month.

FBA: Feng to return to disaster genre

Speaking on a live webcast, Feng [Xiaogang] said that he will shoot an adaptation ofRemembering 1942, a 1993 novel by Liu Zhenyun. It details the human crisis and famine that evolved as a result of the drought and the government’s distraction with the war against Japan’s occupying armies.

LATimes: Let the Bullets Fly at Tribeca

Audiences in this country were more divided on “Bullets.” At least a few people on Sunday were spotted walking out of the theater, but several of those who stayed welcomed the director to the stage with a standing ovation. Judging by the questioners, many of the most enthused were native Mandarin speakers.

Jiang Wen said that he would shoot Let the Bullets Fly 3 which is tentatively set in 30’s era Shanghai where his character, Zhang Muzhi, and his brothers traveled to after the original story.  The plan was for him to direct films 1, 3, and 5 and others would directed films 2, 4 and 6. He has talked to Hollywood writers including Jeffrey Krueger to collaborate on Fly 3. Robert DeNiro who offered to produce the sequel promised that Fly 2 would also premiere in New York. Jiang Wen said the sequel would contain elements of New York. (Sina)

Jiang Wen and wife, Zhou Yun

Tribeca Film Festival (Apr.24)

Happy ticketholder (Sina)

Andrew Lau’s A Beautiful Life with Shu Qi, Liu Ye and Tian Liang will be released in Beijing one week earlier, on May 13, ahead of the original May 20 date. This is to avoid competition with Kung Fu Panda 2 which also opens on May 20. (Sina)

Former diving champion Tian Liang’s performance has received praise from critics as well as from Andrew Lau.


FBA: Beijing festival opening is signal of intent

The lavish scale and precision of the opening ceremony may have outpaced the festival organisers’ abilities on other fronts.

And bafflingly, the much-touted forum of international festival bosses is now to be held behind closed doors with the press invited to follow proceedings via a webcast.THR: Jackie Chan, Zhang Ziyi Kick Off Inaugural Beijing Film Festival

Director John Woo is also on hand Saturday to help launch the six-day event.

CF: 1st Beijing International Film Festival Kicks off

FBA: Festival heads offer lessons for Beijing

Whether the newly-minted Beijing festival is yet ready for that remains a matter of conjecture. City leaders and culture sector administrators appear keen to first establish the festival as an event that is as mainstream and weighty as possible.

“Things are pleasant and easy here. While SAG actors are asking for private dressing rooms, Chinese actors like to hang out with each other,” said Yang, who’s been coming to China to work on films since the early 1980s. “In some ways it’s easier to shoot here. People here tend to be friends with one another. There’s not as much back-biting here and sense that everyone’s trying to make things better for each other. We know what the hot button issues are, such as a movie about Tibet, then we avoid them, but then the space you can work within is actually very large.”

Zhang Ziyi

Zhang Ziyi attended the press conference for the Gu Changwei-produced documentary Together (Sina)

Li Chen, Zhang Jingchu

Li Chen and the cast of Aftershock on the red carpet at the BIFF (Sina)

CF: Director John Woo Takes the Interview during BJIFF

CF: Top Directors Gather for “Director’s Dialogue”

Feng Xiaogang: “Audiences don’t want lousy movies. They don’t want a crappy story that has nothing but a bunch of stars in it. They want something that can truly touch them. Han Sanping and I talked about this, and I realized I needed to change my focus. From then on, I shot films like ‘A World Without Thieves’, ‘Assembly’, ‘Aftershock’ and so on. Even ‘If You are the One’. It may strike you as a romantic comedy, but it also discusses serious topics like the meaning of life and death.”

CF: Peter Chan and Tang Wei Talk about “Wu Xia”

CF: ”Crisis of Great Tang Dynasty” Kicks Off in Beijing(Sina)

Kwak is one the most famous contemporary Asian directors. His work “My Sassy Girl” in 2001 caused a sensation in the region. He told media at the kick-off of his newest film that he was very confident about satisfying audiences in the three countries that are co-producing the film.

The Devil Inside Me opens in June.

Kelly Lin, Tony Leung Ka-Fai


Classic Hong Kong ghost film remade 24 years later with new cast, computer effects

Oxide Pang on the cover of New Youth magazine (Sina)

The Wedding Diary: “Sorry, Elanne!”

Aniu coyly apologised to his co-star Elanne Kwong, for being picked by producers to play her leading man in upcoming rom-com “The Wedding Diary”.

Christian Bachini and Shangdown

Bachini shot his first full-length feature, Shangdown, which is scheduled for release in September, in time to compete at the next Venice Film Festival. As he describes it, the film pays homage to the old “spaghetti Western”: a mixture of western, action movie and Italian-style drama.

SG: More 3D sex to come

There will be 3D sex scenes in what is being touted as Southeast Asia’s first 3D movie - “The Hunter” - according to the film’s director Bjarne Wong/Other cast include Carmen Soo, Sharifah Amani, Cindy Chen, Smythe Wong, Koe Yeet and Lou Qi.

Chinese parents worry about children’s time-traveling fantasies

Coma girl wakes, asks to watch favorite soap opera

The Warring States (Screen Daily review)

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 10:34 am

The Warring States
By Brent Simon

Dir: Jin Chen. China. 2011. 125mins

A grand historical epic that evinces some impressive costume design and much natural scenic beauty, but never locates a particularly persuasive or enrapturing tone, The Warring States tells the story of two historical Chinese figures whose head games and obstinance threaten to bring ruin to competing kingdoms.

Opening Stateside in major metropolitan markets as part of distributor China Lion’s exclusive deal with AMC Theatres (only Vancouver and Hawaii have separate distribution arrangements), the film, in Mandarin with English subtitles, should play solidly to Chinese-American audiences, but will otherwise not be an impact player with English-speaking filmgoers, even of the arthouse variety.

Set during China’s Warring States Period of 475-220 B.C., the movie centers on the historical rivalry between military strategists Sun Bin (Honglei Sun) and Pang Juan (Francis Ng), former colleagues whose friendship degrades into a rivalry that involves bitter jealousy and accusations of treason. Sun, presented as the affable protagonist of the picture and a sort of Zen anti-warrior, falls for Qi warrior princess (Jing Tian), who spurns his hapless romantic advances.

After Pang becomes a top military general for the Wei State, he kidnaps Sun and tries to tap into his strategic knowledge to compile a masterful book on the subject of war, with the intention of killing Sun after its completion. After having his legs amputated, though, Sun feigns madness, gets paroled, and escapes to the Qi State, where he later leads an army against Pang in battle.

Helmed by former Xi’an Film Studio director Jin Chen (Crossing Over), the movie, shot by cinematographer Hyung-Ku Kim, takes advantage of some wonderful outdoor locations in the northern Henan province of China. Its action staging and editing, however, come across as jumbled and nonsensical, mixing slow-motion, quick edits and some CGI effects in an unconvincing manner.

The screenplay jumps back and forth between kingdoms, never really convincingly digging into the competing political motivations over a disputed border city, nor catching fire as a stirring action entry. Furthermore, some of the subtitles, which unfold at a quickened clip, seem a bit off, and/or out of step with the era (“What’s up?” quips one character, at an awkward moment).

The varied nature of The Warring States’ pan-Asian cast (comprised of Chinese, Hong Kong, South Korean and Japanese actors), which was a big pre-release issue for Memoirs Of A Geisha, seems to have elicited no particular outcry here. And the cast gamely perform their roles.

The exception is one of China’s more popular actors, Honglei (The Road Home), who is given material and makes choices that play up Sun’s goofiness. While this approach is sometimes of short-term benefit, injecting scenes with a humanising comedic value, in the long run it undercuts any sense of accumulated gravity or tension.

Production companies: Beijing Starlit Movie & TV Culture Company

US distribution: China Lion

Producer: Lu Zheng

Screenplay: Shen Jian

Cinematography: Hyung-Ku Kim


Main cast: Honglei Sun, Jing Tian, Kim Hee-Seon, Francis Ng, Kiichi Nakai, Jiang Wu
Screen Daily

April 23, 2011

The Warring States (Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 9:18 pm

The Warring States

A China Lion Film Distribution release of a Beijing Starlit Movie and TV Culture Co. production. Produced by Lu Zheng. Directed by Chen Jin. Screenplay, Shen Jian.

With: Sun Hong-lei, Jing Tian, Francis Ng, Kim Hee-Seon, Kiichi Nakai, Jiang Wu. (Mandarin dialogue)

A well-armored, back-kicking, blood-spewing and often furious addition to the Chinese feudal epic genre, helmer Chen Jin’s “The Warring States,” is also a humorous, character-driven and occasionally stirring melodrama that should help spearhead distrib China Lion’s ongoing dissemination of mainland Chinese fare into mainstream U.S. theaters. Various existing auds — ethnic, action and anthropological — should respond favorably to the pan-Asian perfs and audacious storyline.
Amid a cast drawn from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and China, Sun Hong-lei (”The Road Home”) portrays Sun Bin, a renowned military strategist and world-class eccentric: That this goofball character might actually be the savior of the Qi people seems absurd, until his prediction of a solar eclipse — and an attack under darkness — leads to a victory against Wei state, from which Sun has just escaped. Along with his “sworn brother” Pang Juan (Francis Ng), Sun studied under the great Gui Guzhi. Now Pang plans to steal Gui’s strategies and have him killed, thus making the Wei province supreme.

Meanwhile, romance blooms between Sun and the ferocious but beautiful Tian Xi (Jing Tian), daughter of the king of Qi (Kiichi Nakai), an unlikely matchup but one that imbues the film with a sweetness that elevates it beyond the adrenalin-fueled thrill ride it seems to want to be at the start (pic’s opening sequence is such a whirlwind of epileptic editing as to be visually unintelligible). As the movie settles down (too much for some tastes, no doubt) it becomes far more of a love story, and one of ambition and betrayal.

Pang and Tian have a history; so do Sun and Pang’s sister, Pang Fei (South Korea’s Kim Hee-seon, in her first role in five years). The fractured romances may all be preludes to chaos, but they give the film a human texture, and the mayhem meaning.

Set during the Warring States Period, circa 475-221 B.C., the film boasts a cast that’s first-rate, with a standout perf from Sun, who has to take his character from unfocused nerd through calculating genius to tortured war prisoner (these latter scenes are horrific, and serve to shift the tone of the film drastically). And yet, after his suffering, Sun becomes a man who achieves a sort of serenity, but without losing his tactician’s guile. The role is the movie’s centerpiece, calling for unusually broad acting skills.

The special effects, which range from flying bodies to oceanic armies, are often clumsy, as are some of the camera techniques employed by d.p. Hyung-Ku Kim and the post-production crew. Editing is often out of control; the weird dissolves seem anachronistic, the freeze frames are overdone and one sequence involving split screen — split both vertically and horizontally — is simply confusing. Occasionally, however, it all clicks, and when it does, the pic fulfills its promise.

Camera (color), Hyung-Ku Kim. Reviewed at the AMC Empire 25, Manhattan, April 20, 2011. Running time: 125 MIN.

April 22, 2011

April 22, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 8:26 pm

THE WARRING STATES officially opens today here in the US via AMC Theatres, as well as various other countries. So be sure to catch it and support the latest film from China Lion Film Distribution. Okay, The Warring States sounds like it might be a vanity production, albeit star-laced, but still…


FBA: The Lost Bladesman review (6/10)

Serviceable costume action drama that’s just about held together by its starpower.

CF: Latest Photos of “Till Death Do Us Part”

CF: Feng’s Banquet

“White Vengeance,” the next likely blockbuster from director Daniel Lee, unveiled its cast at a press conference in Beijing Tuesday, with William Feng [Feng Shao-feng] selected to play the main role of Xiang Yu,

CRI: Feng Xiaogang’s Next Film to Begin Shooting in Oct.

China’s entertainment group, Huayi Brothers, announced Thursday that director Feng Xiaogang’s next film would be “Memory of 1942″.Chinese director Feng says next disaster pic set against 1942 drought that killed 3 million

Feng Xiaogang announced in a live webcast on Chinese portal on Thursday that he will adapt Liu Zhenyun’s 1993 novel called “Remembering 1942.” Liu’s work examines the suffering in China’s Henan province when the then-ruling Nationalist Party was preoccupied with a Japanese invasion.

THR: Shanghai Film Festival Launches Mobile Film Competition

Organizers of the first mobile phone film competition at The 14th Shanghai International Film Festival will accept submissions until April 30 and announce the final selections in mid-May, offering the winners in June more than $15,300 in cash prizes.

THR: China’s Phoenix New Media plans U.S. IPO Worth up to $200 mln

The company, which traces its roots to Hong Kong-based Mandarin-language TV network Phoenix Satellite Television Holdings Ltd. — one of whose major shareholders is a News Corp.

Change of plans

John Woo’s “1949″ (aka “Pacific Steamer”) which ran aground due to copyright issues may be restarted and begin production in the autumn of this year. If so, this would push back his Flying Tigers film to 2012. Announced in May 2008, plans were scuttled for “1949″ in March 2009 after a dispute over copyrights surfaced; Chang Chen and Song Hye-Kyo (Reign of Assassins) were initially cast. Recently, a company in Zhejiang obtained the rights and made agreements to collaborate with Lion Rock’s Terence Chang and John Woo. In addition, Flying Tigers is rumoured to be financially underfunded. (Sina)

March 13, 2009: John Woo to Film Chinese Sunken Titanic

The Detective 2 has escaped the censors scissors. Oxide Pang’s latest film has managed to avoid the fate of earlier Hong Kong film like Election, Election 2, The Mad Detective, Protege, Running on Karma, etc, through a combination of timing and talent.


A Sentimental Story with Huang Xiaoming and Angelababy

Huang Xiaoming

Angelababy, Gao Qunshu

A Sentimental Story, directed by Gao Qunshu (Wind Blast) is filming in the high altitudes of Shangri-La in Yunnan. Huang Xiaoming has an English teacher accompanying him so he can practice his English. The story involves a young policewoman trying to recover national treasures. (Xinhua)

Louis Fan Siu-Wong uses one-armed style in A Chinese Fairy Tale (Sina)

CF: Zhou Xun Graces “ADStyle” Magzine

TaipeiTimes: Pop Stop

Lin Chi-Ling, Mavis Pan, and Taiwan prostitution ring

An inside look at the late Anita Mui’s residence which her estate is giving up 7 years after her death. The reason is that due to litigation (with her mother) the cost of administering her estate has exceeded 10M yuan. In addition, Mui’s mother receives 1.2M per month for living expenses and 107,000 per month for the lease of the residence.

A1: Donnie Yen throws surprise birthday party for wife

Hong Kong action superstar Donnie Yen held a million-dollar birthday party for wife Cecilia Wang recently.


Edison Chen held a press conference for his new album “Confusion” in Beijing at the International Gallery of Exhibition last night.


MSN: Lynn Hung said to have brain tumour?

The Hong Kong actress clarified that she was only suffering from gastritis

MSN: Kenny Bee asks ex-wife Teresa Cheung to move on

MSN: Selina Jen tours the Taipei International Flora Expo

CDT: Tiananmen Confucius Statue Relocated

Third day of Shanghai strike threatens China exports

Striking truck drivers protested for a third day on Friday in Shanghai’s main harbor district amid heavy police presence and signs the action has already started to curb exports from the world’s busiest container port.

April 21, 2011

April 21, 2011

CRI: Lynn Xiong Rumored to Have Brain Tumor

According to Next Magazine, Lynn Xiong (Hung Doi Lam) was reported to have been secretly hospitalized last week and diagnosed with a 2.5cm brain tumor last week after suffering from a persistent headache. Aaron Kwok rushed back to Hong Kong after his April 17th concert in Shanghai. Lynn’s manager denied the report saying that she only went to the hospital for a stomach ache. The article reports that Lynn was overheard talking on the phone about worries of brain surgery. Doctors recommended that she stay in the hospital for observation but she was too anxious to remain and returned home. (Xinhua)2

FBA: Kara Hui is engaged for Wedding Diary

FBA: Huayi’s Resistance comes to a halt

CRI: ’The Lost Bladesman’ Opens Beijing Film Panorama

CF: Jackie Chan’s Cinema Opens in NE China

Christopher Doyle

From Los Angeles, Doyle discusses Chungking Express, the revitalization of Asian cinema and the appeal of revisiting a masterwork.

Variety: Real estate to fund China films

The real estate sector is awash with cash as it’s one of the few vehicles available to Chinese private investors, who get little return from bank deposits in a time of rising inflation; where better for the real estate sector itself to invest than in the film biz, which is yielding high returns as more theaters are built and a cinemagoing culture starts to kick in. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

“The standing joke is that funding comes from coal mine owners with cash to burn [like The Warring States?], but it is a combination of wealthy individual investors, funds and traditional sources,” said Celestial Pictures CEO Ross Pollack.

Variety: Songzhuang docu fest cancelled

Beijing festival shadow falls on smaller event

A well-known Chinese indie docu fest, the Songzhuang Documentary Film Festival China, was forced to cancel its May 1-7 event, bowing to pressure ahead of the first state-run Beijing Intl. Film Festival, which opens at the weekend. Film Festival Pulls Own Plug

GlobalTimes: New film recycles Three Kingdoms story(CF)

With mainly male actors and action scenes, The Lost Bladesman is a macho film with only one female character, Qi Lan.

It is well-known historical supposition – and common sense – that Cao admired Guan’s extraordinary talents and martial-arts ability and tried to coerce him to join his side, while Guan steadfastly refused to betray his master Liu Bei. The Lost Bladesman highlights the two’s love-hate dynamic and even hints at something of a homoerotic relationship. It’s certainly a fresh angle to the tired Three Kingdoms formula Chinese audiences have long been spoon-fed.

It was reported that the film’s original print underwent an exacting digit refurbishment in the lead up to the re-release.

A not-so-scary Chinese ghost story -  review from Malaysia

What started off as a promis­ing premise turns choppy and relies very much on fast edit­ing to make the plot really pop out. While it is commendable to experiment with cameraworks, but tilting the camera again and again is just plain sick. I don’t feel any artistic twist to it every time the filmmaker does that; more like a vomit-inducing effect that I am more than please to take it off…

At times her jumpy character can be really annoying, but it’s her innocence that actually draws people to her - like it or not. And she so much reminds me of Joey Wong, when she broke into the Hong Kong entertainment industry. Not bad.

One more A Beautiful Life poster.

A May 20 simultaneous release was previously reported. (Sina)

The Peter Chan-Teddy Chen production of the martial arts film The Flying Guillotines has been delayed according to Taiwan media due to not having received necessary approvals from the mainland. Production was due to begin filming this month. Ethan Ruan returned to Taiwan from Beijing where he had been training. (Xinhua)(Sina)

Poster for Law Wing-Cheong’s Punished, scheduled for a May 5 release (Sina)

Stills featuring Gong Beibi and Aaron Kwok from The Detective 2.

With no classification system, mainland audiences are warned that this is ‘ not another teen movie’. With scenes of a tongue being cut out, rotting corpses and other horrors, the words ’see with caution’ have been added to all advertising posters, trailers, and other publicity materials in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other cities.. A promotional gimmick or an informal rating? (Xinhua)23 In other news, Feng Xiaogang’s cameo scene revealed in online photos in Gu Changwei’s Till Death Do We Part has been deleted.

CRI: Top Directors Play Cameo Roles in Gu’s Film

No. 32, B District poster

The Chinese-Thai co-production is called the Asian “Paranormal” and opens June 3. (Sina)

Karen Mok posted pictures of herself taken while filming on Rt. 66 outside of Los Angeles and Las Vegas while filming a micro-film for Cadillac. The road was closed for shooting with the help of the police.

Poster for Committed to Freedom

The micro-film is a follow up to the first one starring Daniel Wu entitled On the Verge filmed in Hong Kong and Shanghai. (Xinhua)23

Cherie Chung’s first TV advert in ages, directed by Lawrence Ah Mon and photographed by Cheung Man-Wa/Zhang Wenhua. [You can also look forward to seeing Cherie on the May cover of Elle.]


Li Bingbing promoting environmental protection in Beijing

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan will be released in July after screening a 10 minute clip at Cannes.


CNA:  Nicholas Tse says wife Cecilia Cheung is much more important than children

His comment took the blogosphere by storm, with come netizens even conferring upon him the title “Best Man of the Century” and expressing envy that Cheung had scored a husband whose love for her eclipsed his love for their children.

CNA: Kenny Bee’s ex-wife claims Fan Jiang abused her daughter, goes to police

CNA: Kitty Zhang marries director 21 years her senior

For those who missed Rock Records’ 30th anniversary in Taipei five months ago, its upcoming Beijing gig will offer another chance to catch up with the largest-ever line-up of Mandopop singers, responsible for 1,800 albums and 20,000 songs on Asia’s largest independent label from the 1980s.

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