HKMDB Daily News

May 31, 2011

May 31, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 5:05 pm

Variety: A Beautiful Life review

Despite an excess of melodrama, helmer Andrew Lau reteams with scripter Tang Kit-ming (”Look for a Star”) to deliver a lush tearjerker that aims to do for Beijing what Woody Allen once did for Manhattan.

CF: Li Bingbing in “The Secret Fan”

A batch of still photos was released for the imminent drama, “Snow Flowers and the Secret Fan.

CF: Tang Wei: Despaired Housewife in “Wu Xia”

The production company of the Peter Chan’s “Wu Xia” released new still photos featuring Tang Wei as a village woman.


Concept poster of Zhang Zilin as the Sky Goddess in The Monkey King (Sina)

Zhang Hanyu

Lam Suet, Fu Yong

Lam Suet will be starring in a comedy, working title Island Paradise, produced under China Film Group’s new talent development program. The film will be directed by newcomer Fu Yong. (Sina)

3D version of The Fruit is Swelling from Cash Chin Man-Kei who hopes to land Mavis Pan Shuang Shuang

Gong Li was one of the many celebrities attending a Louis Vuitton event in Beijing at the National Museum of China.

Gong Li

Wang Xueqi

Chen Kun

Zhang Jingchu

Zhang Jingchu (Xinhua-gallery)(Sina)

MSN: Cecilia Cheung’s parents-in-law to help save her marriage?

This article includes the prospect of Cecilia going to visit Nicholas on set in Malaysia with their two sons and publicly apologizing. (Xinhua)

CNA: Late Anita Mui’s mother vows to “seek justice on television”

Anita Mui’s mother, Tam Mei-Kam, held a press conference in her hospital ward on Monday, to voice her unhappiness over not getting control of her late daughter’s estate

Anita’s brother and mother (Xinhua)

Baby bump? (Xinhua)

The queen of Cantopop claims that she does not like the idea and thinks that it is “old-fashioned and gross”.

A Beautiful Life (Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 9:54 am

A Beautiful Life
A China Lion Film Distribution (in North America/Australia)/Media Asia Films (in China/Hong Kong) release of a Media Asia Films, Beijing Bona Film and Cultural Communication, China Film Media Asia presentation of a Basic Pictures production. (International sales: China Lion, Los Angeles.) Produced by Andrew Lau. Executive producers, John Chong, Yu Dong. Directed by Andrew Lau. Screenplay, Tang Kit-ming.

With: Liu Ye, Shu Qi, Tian Liang, Fairy Feng, Anthony Wong, Andrew Lien, Sarina. (Mandarin, English dialogue)

By Russell Edwards
Strong visuals elevate classy Chinese romancer “A Beautiful Life,” despite an excess of melodrama. “Infernal Affairs” franchise helmer Andrew Lau reteams with scripter Tang Kit-ming (”Look for a Star”) to deliver a lush tearjerker that aims to do for Beijing what Woody Allen once did for Manhattan, aided by lead thesps Liu Ye and never-better Shu Qi, who successfully navigate the yarn’s insistent heartstring-tugging with credible perfs. On its mainland China bow, pic took an underwhelming $2 million, but will perform better in the Asian hinterland, although slights against Hong Kong residents won’t endear the pic in that territory.
Story begins with a meet-cute moment between lonelyheart policeman Fang Zhangdong (Liu) and Hong Kong good-time girl Li Pei-ru (Shu) in a glitzy, labyrinthine karaoke palace in Beijing. While Fang answers nature’s call, drunken Li enters the wrong bathroom and literally throws herself at the cop. Excited by his demure response, Li pesters Fang to help her back to her luxurious apartment, where she further presses her affections before passing out. Despite Li’s invitation to stay over, Fang makes a gentlemanly exit and leaves for the much more humble abode he shares with his autistic brother, Zhencong (Chinese Olympic diver-turned-thesp Tian Liang).

Pic strains credibility by engineering two subsequent serendipitous meetings for the pair in the Chinese capital, the second of which occurs at a grocery store, where Li forces Fang to pursue her by stealing his vegetables. It transpires that Li is already romantically involved with property developer Andrew (Andrew Lien), to whom she has lent most of her money for real-estate deals.

Fang, whose knees turn to butter every time Li calls his full name, knows she’s way out of his romantic league, but nevertheless lends her money. Dramatic tension tightens as Li’s fascination with the honest, plain-living cop conflicts with her gold-digging inclinations.

Liu, who garnered acclaim for his riveting work in Lu Chuan’s Nanjing massacre movie “City of Life and Death,” captures the essence of a handsome enough, lovestruck guy who can’t help falling for a beautiful woman. Shu matches him with one of her best perfs, and although her character is designed to embody the mainland view of Hong Kong as a hotbed of decadence and greed, she makes Li sympathetic even as she keeps auds guessing about the character’s plans. Supporting perfs exude warmth, and an extended cameo from Anthony Wong as a blind drinking buddy is entertaining, even if he does seem to be channeling Al Pacino in “Scent of a Woman.”

Increasing the melodrama by strategic increments, Tang’s script reps an improvement on her previous efforts. A moment that uses apparent evidence of Fang’s swooning romanticism is later revealed to be the first step in a larger arc of tragedy that dominates the pic’s last third. Unfortunate, the finale sees fate twist the knife once too often, and Tang’s script gets caught up in its own indecisiveness, though Lau’s steady command prevents the proceedings from spinning into hysteria.

Helmer’s stylish work evinces an eye for locations born of his experience as a d.p., and he films his thesps as if they were an integral part of the cityscape, rather than just passing through it. Lensing by Lau and sometime collaborator Lai Yiu-fai captures Beijing’s Olympic-era modernity, and imbues the city’s aging alleyways with lively, colorful charm. All other tech credits are polished.

Camera (color, widescreen), Lau, Lai Yiu-fai; editor, Azrael Chung; music, Chan Kwong-wing; art director, Eric Lam; costume designer, Dora Ng; sound (Dolby Digital), Kinson Tsang; associate producers, Lorraine Ho, Ellen Chang. Reviewed on DVD, Sydney, May, 24, 2011. Running time: 122 MIN.

May 30, 2011

May 30, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 5:00 pm

THR: South Korea’s Kwon Sang-woo Eyes Chinese Film Caree

The Korean actor is set to star in Jackie Chan’s upcoming ‘Chinese Zodiac.’

CRI: Kwon Sang-woo Joins Cecilia Cheung in New Film

First Person: Heiward Mak Hei-yan (Interview)

An up-and-coming star of Hong Kong cinema, 26-year-old director Heiward Mak Hei-yan recently won the award for Best Screenplay for her light-hearted romance “Love in a Puff” at the 30th Hong Kong Film Awards.

Rest on Your Shoulder poster (Sina)

CF: ”Treasure Inn” Releases Funny Photos

Wong Jing’s martial arts comedy Treasure Inn opens June 28.

Nick Cheung

Huang Yi, Charlene Choi

Nicholas Tse, Nick Cheung

Mavis Pan Shuangshuang (Sina)2

CRI: Stars Return for the Launch of ‘Painted Skin 2′

Like the original, the sequel will be a supernatural thriller, but instead of a mere love triangle, the sequel will feature a love square, or perhaps even a pentagon.

Actress Zhao Wei who returns to the big screen after childbirth indicated the supernatural and raunchy paintings hung at the launch ceremony imply a strong taste of Uershan’s movie.

The official launch ceremony for Painted Skin 2 was held in Beijing yesterday, May 29

Director Wuershan

Producer Chen Guo-Fu

Zhou Xun, Chen Kun, Zhao Wei

Yang Mi, Feng Shaofeng

Chen Tingjia

Zhao Wei

Group photo (Sina-gallery)

(May 27) Maggie Cheung, Zhao Wei and Jet Li were among the celebrities who helped officially open the Universal Studios in Singapore.

A1: Asian stars shine at Universal Studios Singapore’s grand opening

Paula Abdul also attended the opening while American Idol Fantasia Barrino  cancelled at the last moment.

CNA: Jet Li, Maggie Cheung grace Universal Studios grand opening gala

However, beleaguered ex-California governor, “Terminator” star Arnold Schwarzenegger, terminated his appearance at the event due to personal problems.

Maggie Cheung

Zhao Wei

Jet Li (Xinhua)

Lin Chi-Ling promoting a real estate venture (May 28)


And Lin Chi-ling at a Longines event



MSN: Nicholas Tse and Cecilia Cheung filed for divorce?

According to hearsay, Nicholas had already filed for separation through a lawyer’s letter and that Cecilia has since moved out from the couple’s love nest and is staying at a rented place.

Terence Yang, the boss of Emperor Entertainment, and Mani Fok, a senior executive of the company, was also recently seen traveling to Malaysia to comfort Nicholas.

In other related reports, one “senior executive of an entertainment company” alleged that Nicholas and Cecilia had filed for divorce before Cecilia’s accidental meeting with Edison Chen, and that their marriage was already on the rocks.

CNA: Cecilia Cheung threatens reporters at airport

“You can’t afford it, don’t play with me,” Cheung told reporters

Patrick Tse defends daughter-in-law: “She is the pride of the Tse family”

Lucas and Ceci dining at the airport VIP lounge (Xinhua)

[Elsewhere, it was reported that Ceci's apparent pregnancy could affect her participating in the upcoming Lion Roars 2. Or, her pregnancy would be incorporated into the storyline. (cri)]

CNA: Jordan Chan’s wife Cherrie Ying: “I am just like his mother.”

Jim Chim, Isabella Leong (Xinhua)

MSN: Isabella Leong returns to Hong Kong

On May 29, a reporter spotted Isabella at a country restaurant in Sai Kung, Hong Kong, decked in a pastel low-cut shirt and without any makeup.

Looking happy and relaxed, Isabella was accompanied by her mother, her mentor Jim Chim and his wife, and her best friend Coco Chiang and her boyfriend. However, there were no signs of her three children.

MSN: Andy Hui and Sammi Cheng to wed next year

Vonnie Lui gone AWOL?

Anita Yuen: “No more period dramas!”

Gizmodo: Bake Your Meals the Sino-Scandinavian Way

May 27, 2011

May 27, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 9:04 pm

THR: China Studio Huayi Brothers to Build Theme Park Near Shanghai

The announcement comes on the heels of Huayi’s February announcement that it would build East Asia’s largest indoor film and TV studio in Shanghai as a part of a one billion yuan ($152 million) cultural tourism complex, and follows The Walt Disney Company’s April groundbreaking on a $4.4 billion theme park, also in Shanghai.

FBA: Huayi unveils $460m theme park plans

Meanwhile Chinese films stars including Jet Li and Maggie Cheung are expected to turn out for the official opening of the Universal Studios park in Singapore.

Tang Wei

With Best TV Actress winner, Han Hyo Joo (Sina)234

Wang Quan’an and actress Zhang Jingchu will join American director Barry Levinson in the main competition jury for next month’s Shanghai International Film Festival, the organizer has announced.

Set in 1920s, the film featuring Wu Chun and Han Geng as two Peking opera-singing brothers who are searching for fame, love and revenge.

Mysterious Island poster

Jordan Chan, Yang Mi and other pop idols are cast in the thriller which opens July 8. (Sina)

Cherie Chung, Chingmy Yau and Simon Yam were among the celebrity visitors to the Hong Kong International Art Exhibition yesterday.

Cherie Chung wearing a cool t-shirt

Simon Yam and wife, Qi Qi (Xinhua)

According to a Hong Kong magazine, 90’s-era actress, Jacqueline Law, is recovering from 6 months of chemotherapy. Diagnosed with stage 3 cancer last year, the actress suffered from depression and contemplated suicide. A former girlfriend of Stephen Chow, Law married Singapore businessman Liu Chee Ming in 2008. Law is deaf in one ear due to a diving accident. Law’s father died of lung cancer in 1998 and Liu’s ex-wife also died of cancer, so the word ‘cancer’ is taboo between the couple. Law is thought to have NPC, Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma.

With Stephen Chow

Wearing wig

On right

Wedding photo (Xinhua)

Appearing at a store opening event for Juicy Couture, Gaile Lok was asked once again whether she’d had plastic surgery.


TaipeiTimes: Pop Stop

MSN: Joey Wong’s father denies pregnancy rumour

MSN: Nicholas Tse giving Cecilia Cheung the silent treatment?

CNA: Donnie Yen to groom son as successor

Selina Jen plans October comeback

May 26, 2011

May 26, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — dleedlee @ 9:23 pm

THR: Ip Man’ Director Wilson Yip’s Comedy Debut ‘Magic To Win’ Sells in Europe, Southeast Asia

Filming will begin in June in Hong Kong for a late 2011 release in Hong Kong and China.

Tang Wei appearing for a TV brand in South Korea. Tang Wei was unfazed by news that her name was not among the 109 actors listed in the official cast list released for The Founding of a Party. Over 170 actors were originally cast but many were left on the cutting room floor. Director Huang Jianxin called them the ‘unsung heroes’ and apologized to them. An 18 minute clip of their scenes would be posted on the internet as compensation to them.

Tang Wei


Frankie Chan and Ti Lung have been signed on for a remake of Blood Brothers. The film is a co-production that includes Aoying Media and Shanghai Heying Media

Frankie Chan Fan-Kei

Ti Lung (Sina)2

Joey Wang (Xinhua)

MSN: Joey Wong rumoured to have a 17-year-old daughter(Xinhua)

MSN: Cecilia Cheung celebrates birthday in Taiwan

MSN: Selina Jen will not wed in December

Two nights ago at a pub in Hong Kong a female Hong Kong Apple Daily journalist met two US servicemen from the USS Carl Vinson. The journalist managed to get a basic illustration that explains Bin Laden’s burial process.

May 25, 2011

May 25, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 5:15 pm

THR: 3D ‘Sex & Zen’ Sells to China Lion for North America

“It is just like being a voyeur near someone’s bed,” said producer Stephen Shiu Yeuk-Yuen

Hong Kong Oriental Daily News reports that Andrew Lau and Andrew Loo (IMDB) are co-directing Revenge of the Green Dragons, executive produced by Martin Scorcese. However, production which began at the end of last year, stopped due to a copyright dispute. It’s an action drama set in New York’s Chinatown. The project was originally announced in 2009. The film is based on an investigative article written for the New Yorker by Fredric Dannen, author of Hong Kong Babylon: : An Insider’s Guide to the Hollywood of the East.”

IMDB:  A gritty, violent take on a true immigrant story set against the vibrant backdrop of New York City’s China town. (Sina)

MSN: Cecilia Cheung’s manager admits the star and Edison Chen met

In other related reports, Edison was said to be writing a musical based on his life…He also expressed his wish to meet with Cecilia’s husband Nicholas Tse, and hopes that “it would not be a big issue by then”.

CNA: Cecilia Cheung spends birthday without husband: Edison Chen to blame?

Hong Kong’s Next Magazine is reporting that Joey Wang is the mother of 17 year old illegitimate daughter. The deaf and mute girl living in Taipei and the foster mother, a midwife, is confirming the claim. According to the report, Joey had induced labor at 6-7 months and the baby was thought to have died but was saved in the incubator room. Fu Rui Jiao, received a call from the hospital and the baby girl was adopted by a woman surnamed Du. Fu told her that the mother was a Hong Kong star, single and was involved in a sex scandal with Andy Lau. Du asked, “It’s not Joey Wang is it?” And Fu said, yes it was. Fu Rui Jiao, is serving a maximum sentence in jail the past 10 years in the largest baby trafficking case ever. Fu sold more than 40 babies, many reported to be the babies abandoned by those in the movie business.

Joey Wang’s daughter?

Photos of Joey (l) and daughter (r) compared


Zhao Wei

Chinese actress and pop singer Vicki Zhao Wei has a hot body and she wants you to know it

Zhao Wei in upcoming Grazia issue

A Beautiful Life (Screen Daily review)

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 1:27 pm

A Beautiful Life
25 May, 2011
By Brent Simon

Dir: Andrew Lau. China. 2011. 122mins

Director Andrew Lau takes a break from the crime thrillers and martial arts period pieces for which he is better known Stateside to tackle more tender affairs of the heart with A Beautiful Life, an uncommonly well sketched romantic drama about the tractor-beam allure that a certain type of wild, damaged women possess for a particular corresponding type of lonely men. Unfolding in present-day Beijing, the movie uses an appealing visual palette and solid performances to communicate and luxuriate in universal feelings about longing, love and connection.

Opening in major metropolitan markets in the United States and Canada 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, and could even woo a small but likely contented cross-section of English-speaking arthouse patrons.

Headstrong Hong Kong transplant Li Peiru (Shi Qi) is young and ambitious in business, but also an alcoholic, and hamstrung by a terrible taste in men. Her boyfriend is married, and additionally “cheating” on her with another mistress, but Peiru finds a comfortable protector in Fang Zhendong (Liu Ye), an overly servile local policeman and precinct chief who also cares for his brother Zhencong (Tian Liang). After a drunken Peiru accosts him at a party and he takes her safely home, she and Zhendong keep running into one another, and Peiru keeps taking advantage of him in the sort of way that pretty girls are often able to get away with.

Later, Zhencong falls for a mute girl, Xiaowan (Fairy Feng), and proposes marriage to her, giving his brother an extra person for whom to look out. While Peiru talks some money out of Zhendong to try to start up a business, he starts to exhibit signs of slowly losing his own memory and facilities. Suddenly faced with the possibility of becoming a potential burden to those around him, Zhendong makes some tough decisions about his future, which in turn causes Peiru to change how she views her relationship with him.

The film’s subtitled translations sometimes stumble (the word steel is at one point substituted for still, and other exclamations seem to lack a rooted cultural specificity), but Lau crafts longer takes that let his characters interact in meaningful ways, and truly seem a part of a larger whole. Taking a cinematographer credit alongside Lai Yiu Fai, he also crafts a vivid, modern cityscape that feels neither feverish and frenzied nor overly romantic, but instead poised somewhere between the two.

When a Man Loves a Woman this isn’t — Tang Kit Ming’s screenplay doesn’t really sincerely address what is quite obviously Peiru’s alcoholism, apart from Zhendong occasionally leaving Post-It notes reading, “Alcohol is bad,” when he has to clean up after her various boozy bouts. It is, however, exceedingly honest about the shifts in attitude its characters experience, and in particular provides some nice grace moments for Zhencong and Xiaowan, whose roles deepen in interesting ways as the film progresses.

Liu and Shu evince a nice rapport, and although Shu’s performance at first seems full of only surface beguilement, and not invested in a deeper emotional state other than histrionic acting out, the film’s final act provides her the opportunity to better flesh out her character, and she delivers wonderfully.

Production companies: Media Asia Films Group, Beijing Bona Film and Cultural Communication, China Film Media Asia, Basic Pictures

US distribution: China Lion

Executive producers: John Chong, Yu Dong

Producer: Andrew Lau

Associate producers: Lorraine Ho, Ellen Chang

Screenplay: Tang Kit Ming

Cinematography: Andrew Lau, Lai Yiu Fai

Editor: Azrael Chung

Art director: Eric Lam

Music: Chan Kwong Wing


Main cast: Liu Ye, Shu Qi, Tian Liang, Fairy Feng, Anthony Wong

May 24, 2011

May 24, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 5:12 pm

China Lion pursues America: AMC Entertainment courts Chinese moviegoers with monthly imports

Looking ahead a few months, China Lion will deliver to AMC its first 3D concert film, which features world-music star Cui Jian, also considered the father of rock ’n’ roll in China. Says Barlow, “He’s like the Springsteen of China and the film catches him in concerts in Beijing. The film is in post now and will come out sometime between late July and September. We’re hoping it may even be a crossover.”

CF: June Debut for ‘The Devil Inside Me’

CRI: Jet Li Promotes 3-D ‘Flying Swords’

CRI: ’Rest on Your Shoulder’ Trailer Released

Fan Bingbing

Fan Bingbing portrays the Empress Dowager in Founding of a Party

Myolie Wu’s role was reduced to just one second and only due to an intervention by Chow Yun-Fat. (Xinhua)2

CF: Michele Reis Covers “Elle” Magazine

CNNGo: Pop ‘Twins’ to market Queensland to Chinese

Avoiding stereotypical campaigns, North Queensland Tourism picks Canto-pop stars to promote the region’s beauty to Australia’s fastest-growing tourist market

CNA: Cherie Chung doesn’t need romance to be happy

CNA: Zhang Ziyi named ScreenSingapore 2011 event ambassador

MSN: Michelle Reis’ never-ending family feud

MSN: Fan Bingbing to wed 65-year-old actor?

Fan also responded to the rumour in public, and said, “Brainless while making up stories…If there’s anything, take it out on me directly, and stop involving [my] seniors

Gillian Chung vs. Shao Xiaoshan

Gillian Chung had recently engaged in an online battle with mainland actress Shao Xiaoshan on the Twitter-like networking site Weibo

Annie Yi Nengjing: ”Not me in the video!”CNA: Annie Yi lashes out at tabloid over explicit article

May 23, 2011

May 23, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 4:27 pm

A sampling of reviews of Andrew Lau’s A Beautiful Life:

NYPost: A Beautiful Life - Chinese-made cloys

Is the Chinese export “A Beautiful Life” a light ro mantic comedy or a sappy melodrama? Sadly, it’s both.

NPR: In Booming Beijing, A Bad Girl Meets A Good Cop

A Beautiful Life is hardly the only Chinese-language film to play off the culture clash between Hong Kong and the mainland. But the movie is among the first to suggest that the balance of power has shifted north. Economic migrants now travel from Hong Kong to Beijing to make their fortunes, and are regarded with suspicion by their new neighbors.LATimes Review: ‘A Beautiful Life’

THR: Beijing ‘Sparkles’ Like an ‘Urban Wonderland’ in ‘A Beautiful Life’

This Chinese romantic melodrama proves that cinematic clichés are an international commodity.

Slant: A Beautiful Life

Not every story has a happy ending but we strive to get by - Shu Qi’s Weibo

Shu Qi can’t sleep - Weibo

FBA: No Asian winners at Cannes

Wu Xia and The Yellow Sea both screened in “Cannes versions” that may never be screened again. The former, receiving its world premiere, was specially edited for the festival slot. It will be extended before it screens in Asia.

FBA: Sauna on Moon review

Loosely structured but engaging portrait of characters around a sauna/brothel in southern China.

Variety: China propaganda film to U.S.

Chairman Mao’s grandson Mao Xinyu, a major-general in the People’s Liberation Army, apparently intervened to have her [Tang Wei] cut out of the movie.

FBA: Party becomes Revival for int’l release

China Lion Film Distribution has given the new title of Beginning of the Great Revival to its planned release of The Founding of a Party

A report has come out that the film has not yet passed approval/review by China’s SARFT and the June 15th release may be in jeopardy. However, a China Film Group spokesman said that SARFT has said never said that it did not pass review. Instead, post-production changes were being made to accommodate younger viewers so that they would better understand the story according to the rep. A dozen actors could be affected under this scenario. [Does that mean cut?] (Sina)

Tsui Hark, Jet Li


Jet Li and Tsui Hark promote Flying Swords of Dragon Gate in Beijing. Jet Li discounted old rumours of a rift with Tsui Hark. He revealed their ’secret history’ and that the director once advised him not to make Black Mask when he was searching for investors. Jet also cited his starting up of The One Foundation as the reason for missing out on Tsui’s production of Detective Dee but had read the script. Tsui Hark said that he was quite proud of his 3D work for the upcoming film and felt it was comparable to Hollywood. A brief clip was shown to the assembled press.

Current poster for The Piano in a Factory (Sina)

[Another story on the studio at Hengdian, this one is pretty good.]

Productions must use the studio extras, says Nansun Shi, a Hong Kong film producer. “They stick out like a sore thumb,” she says.   Official Hengdian web site.

CF: Eva Huang Shengyi Graces Fashion Weekly

CNA: Cecilia Cheung reconciles with Edison Chen?

Edison Chen admitted that he met actress Cecilia Cheung, one of the women he was photographed with in his 2008 sex photo scandal, at the airport earlier this month on May 8.

MSN: Andy Hui talks about his relationship with Sammi Cheng

May 22, 2011

A Beautiful Life (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 12:23 pm

By Frank Scheck
CANNES, France (Hollywood Reporter) - Most Chinese films that land on our shores are either grandiose historical epics or kung-fu extravaganzas. Andrew Lau’s “A Beautiful Life” breaks the mold, but only succeeds in demonstrating that Chinese filmmakers are just as capable of creating maudlin romantic melodramas as Hollywood.

Two of China’s reigning stars play the lead roles in this formulaic love story, which features characters suffering from alcoholism, muteness, blindness, autism and early onset dementia.

In traditional Hollywood fashion, the main protagonists meet cute, in this case when Li Peiru (Shu Qi), a beautiful real-estate agent, gets drunk at a karaoke bar and throws up on Fang Zhendong (Liu Ye), a principled, lonely cop. Not only does he take her home and pour her into bed, he also leaves a note warning her of the dangers of alcohol and reminding her that he owes her money for a cab.

As formula would have it, they meet again, and Zhendong quickly falls for the flirtatious Peiru despite the fact that she’s having a tortuous affair with a married man who she hopes will further her career.

As the relationship sputters along in would-be adorable fashion, we are introduced to such characters as Zhendong’s autistic brother, who makes his living handing out flyers while dressed in a silly animal costume, and the brother’s mute girlfriend. Then, as Peiru gradually abandons her materialistic values and falls in love with the good hearted Zhendong, it becomes apparent that he is suffering from a disease that is robbing him of his mental faculties.

Considering that director Andrew Lau (the “Infernal Affairs” trilogy) is also a renowned cinematographer, the film not surprisingly looks gorgeous. The romantic convolutions occur in a Beijing that sparkles like a neon-lit urban wonderland. And the two leads have charm and charisma to spare. They invest their broadly written characters with subtle and comic grace notes that nearly, but not quite, compensate for the screenplay’s endless contrivances.
[mild spoiler]

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