HKMDB Daily News

December 31, 2011

December 31, 2011 [HKMDB Daily News]

FBA: White Vengeance review

Impressive costume drama about two warring leaders loses the plot halfway.

THR: Flying Swords of Dragon Gate review

The Bottom Line

An effects-infatuated swordplay extravaganza with no down time.

CRI: ’Flying Swords of Dragon Gate’ audio review

Director Tsui Hark has succeeded in creating a lasting impression on viewers with many of his wuxia films, including “New Dragon Gate Inn”. But will his new film “Flying Swords of Dragon Gate” be as successful as its prequel?

Flying Swords of Dragon Gate: A new wu xia classic (CNA)

In sharp contrast to Peter Chan’s cerebral martial arts film “Wu Xia”, Tsui’s “Flying Swords of Dragon Gate” is a much more traditional wu xia film that is more boisterous and less melodramatic.

CRI: Tibetan Antelope Poacher Arrested 17 Years after Murder of Official(Variety)

Victim was subject of Lu Chuan’s “Kekexili: Mountain Patrol”

Orange Sky-Golden Harvest announced a series of classic film remakes for 2012. The first film will be the Cecilia Cheung-Richie Jen “Fly Me to Polaris”. No casting has been made yet. Also on the list of planned remakes: Stephen Chow’s “Fight Back to School”, “Tokyo Raiders” and “Marry a Rich Man”. (Sina)

CF: Shu Qi to Challenge Morality in “The Second Woman”

Shu Qi, best actress of the Golden Horse Awards, plays twin sisters who fall in love with a stage actor portrayed by Shawn Yue. The two sisters struggle with the discovery that they’ve slept with the same man.

Shu Qi

THR: Christian Bale’s ‘Flowers of War’ Already Top-Grossing Chinese Film of 2011

“Laughing Gor: Turning Point 2″ sees Laughing Gor go undercover as a prison inmate, to investigate the death of a police officer. 

And last week (51)

“The Flowers of War” bested “Flying Swords of Dragon Gate” at the mainland box office over first four-day run, by both admissions and box office income. Zhang Yimou’s “The Flowers of War” opened to the No.1 place of mainland box office with $24.07 million over four days, while Tsui Hark’s “Flying Swords of Dragon Gate”, which opened 4-hour earlier on the same day last Thursday, seconded the ranking with $22.42 million by Sunday night.

APA: Best of 2011: Chinese Films

Let the Bullets Fly, The Flowers of War, Love is Not Blind, and Piano in a Factory are amongst the best Chinese films of 2011.

“Love in the Buff” officially wrapped up shooting in Hong Kong on Christmas.

The movie is co-produced by Thailand and Hong Kong, China. Yue performs as a villain in the movie who going after a journalist and trying to kill her in order to keep his crime a secret.

Newly released stills from Johnnie To’s “Romancing in Thin Air” featuring Louis Koo and Sammi Cheng.

Louis Koo, Sammi Cheng

Doomsday romantic comedy, “Love Shock” (lit. 2012 Is Coming), opens today. The film’s stars are from the Mainland, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan: Tanaka Chie, Wong You-Nam, Cheung Tat-Ming, Huang Xiaolei, Jung Hsiang, Li Jing, and Lee Seong-hyun.

(Sina)

“The Great Magician” opens January 12. (Sina)

Vivian Hsu promotes “Puss in Boots” for which she dubbed her voice.

Zhang Jingchu poses for a photo spread featured in the December issue of the lifestyle magazine “Femina”.

Director Sun Zhou’s latest romance “I Do” released a batch of new still photos featuring four leading actresses of the movie recently. Up and coming actress Li Bingbing performs as the leading character in the movie — a left-over business woman who insists to find her true love disregarding her growing age and the pressure from her parents

Li Bingbing and Sun Honglei, lead actors of the soon-to-be-released urban fashion romance “I Do”, posed for a photo shoot for a renowned fashion magazine in promoting their new movie.

Is Viann Zhang Xinyu an absentminded person, or a crafty starlet staking out her territory so as to boost her career in the entertainment business? 

Jackie Chan has 3 new TV commericals for V8 juice. Caught one the other day but can’t remember which one. Here they are on YouTube.com

MSN: Miriam Yeung may be having a baby boy

While Miriam is elated with her pregnancy, she is also fraught with worries.

In an earlier test, the singer was told that her baby faces a high risk of Down Syndrome. The singer has been advised to take a further test. However the test comes with an average risk of 1% of having a miscarriage.

Bolin and Lun-mei met on the set of Blue Gate Crossing 10 years ago. In the movie, they played a pair of lovers, who did not end up together in the end.

[Sweet! Finally, just watched Blue Gate Crossing last week!]

The Taiwanese singer jokingly grumbled that filming movie ‘The Viral Factor’ was like toying with his life.

It was rumoured that despite having her own manager, Hannah needs to get the green light from Jay before accepting a job. She is also not allowed to wear revealing clothes, or be intimate with other male celebrities on set.

China says man dies of bird flu

The 39-year-old bus driver living in Shenzhen, just across the border from Hong Kong, developed symptoms on December 21 and was admitted to a hospital on December 25 because of severe pneumonia, the official Xinhua news agency said.

He died in the early afternoon of multiple organ failure, having tested positive for the H5N1 virus, the report added.

China says its most wanted man admits crimes (Canada Lai)

Beijing had sought the deportation of Lai Changxing for years, accusing him of running a multi-billion dollar smuggling ring in the southeastern city of Xiamen in the 1990s in one of China’s biggest political scandals in decades.

2009: China’s most-wanted man hopes to sell real estate here

December 30, 2011

Flying Swords of Dragon Gate (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 8:06 pm

Flying Swords of Dragon Gate
12/29/2011
By Maggie Lee

MACAU — Props, instead of top-liner Jet Li, do most of the stunts in Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, Hong Kong director Tsui Hark’s extravagant and berserk 3D swordplay blockbuster which squeezes court intrigue, star-crossed love and a treasure hunt into one over-booked desert inn. Employing Avatar’s Chuck Comisky to supervise the 3D technology, the film is single-minded in its wham bam delivery of stereoscopic stimulation. By contrast, Tsui, who is also writer and producer, appears absent-minded when trying to fit a ragtag bunch of characters into a distended plot teeming with more cross-dressing and mistaken identities than Twelfth Night.

Premiering to compete head-to-head with Zhang Yimou’s historic-epic The Flowers of War, Flying has come up second after Flowers in the box office, passing the $50 million mark in less than 2 weeks. Made as pure mass entertainment with an A-list cast for the China market, Tsui’s target audience won’t feel short-changed. Business should take off in overseas genre-specialist markets.

Flying is supposed to be a sequel to Raymond Lee’s New Dragon Gate (1992), which Tsui wrote and produced. The latter is in turn a remake of King Hu’s classic Dragon Inn (1967). Just as The Legend of Zu, Tsui’s 2011 remake of his own 1983 Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain bears little resemblance to the original, the plot development of Flying barely picks up from where it left off. With enviable resources at his disposal, Tsui behaves like a kid in a candy store, bingeing on effect for effect’s sake. No sword strikes without splitting into darting daggers, no human or object moves without levitating or smashing into smithereens. It’s dazzling and more accessible than his last blockbuster, the politically nuanced Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame. Only, it lacks a human touch.

The setting is Ming Dynasty during the reign of Chenghua (1465-1487). The court is controlled by imperial eunuchs who consolidate their power by joining either the East or West Bureaus, organs of oppression and espionage whose in-fighting resembles that of the SA and SS in Nazi Germany. Wan Yulou (Gordon Liu), an enforcer of the East Bureau, is dispatched to execute Can Qianzhi, Minister of Five Armies. His plan is thwarted by Zhao Huai’an (Li), former protege of a noble courtier who fell foul of the East Bureau. Zhao now leads a band of maverick swordsmen in such guerrilla rescue missions. Wan’s humiliating defeat gives Yu Huatian (Aloys Chen), Chief of the West Bureau, an opportunity to flex his muscles. When Su Huirong (Mavis Fan), a palace handmaid escapes after her pregnancy is discovered, the jealous imperial consort Wan Zheng’er orders Yu to kill her. Yu assembles a squad of assassins to round up Zhao’s gang under the pretext of hunting down Su.

While assaulted by Yu’s henchmen, Su is rescued by Ling Yanqiu (Zhou Xun), who for reasons disclosed later, has been cross-dressing to pose as Zhao. Ling takes Su to Dragon Gate Inn, a lone desert outpost from whence she could escape across the westerly border of Shan Hai Guan. Legend has it that for every cycle of 60 years, a massive sandstorm in the region might uncover the treasure-laden lost capital of the Xixia (Tangut) Empire. Before Zhao and Yu arrive for their showdown, a motley crew has already converged at the inn, including thieving partners Gu Shaotang (Li Yuchun) and Yu’s deadringer Pu Cangzhou (also played by Chen), libidinous Tartar bandit queen Bu Ru Du (Kwai Lun-mei), her beefcake entourage and Jade, the inn’s mysterious owner who disappeared three years ago.

Flying feels like three short movies spliced into one, each set in an utterly different, but equally sumptuous mise-en-scene showcasing Hong Kong’s swordplay genre throughout its milestone eras. The open credits channel a melody and illustrated clouds which were fixtures in 1960s Cantonese wuxia films as a homage to the campily low tech animated rendering of flying swords of that period. The charismatic presence and still fearsome fighting skills of Liu reference 70s Shaolin-themed films of which he is a mainstay. The second act is a throwback to 80s and 90s action farces popularized by Wong Jing, while the climactic scenes reflect the recent vogue of setting Chinese blockbusters in desert locations, such as Daniel Lee’s 14 Blades and Kevin Chu’s The Treasure Hunter.

The first 20 minutes exhibits Tsui’s usual command of grand set pieces. Action director Yuen Bun choreographs an exuberant dance between breakneck, 90s-style high-wire action and weapons (especially flying logs) that strike with a graphic impact never seen in 2D films. The ensuing development should consolidate the physical momentum of the first part by easing off the pace to flesh out main characters and intensify the strategic standoff between Yu’s and Zhao’s followers. Instead, the narrative focus splinters as new figures keep popping up. Despite every inch of the inn being fully utilized for various action sequences and every character going through a mini-crisis or plot-counterplot reversal, the effect is only one muddled narrative impasse. After the claustrophobic middle act, the final leg feels liberating, with impressive cavalry battles set against the awesome desert location. The showdown in the lost city reflects an attempt to expose human avarice a la The Treasure of Sierra Madre, but the dramatic treatment is trite and the outcome predictable.

Li and Zhou both look worn out, not least from endlessly dodging things thrown in their way but more from having to run through monotonous roles of upstanding hero and self-sacrificing lover. Chen seems to have the most fun camping up his effeminacy as a eunuch and subverting his Prince Charming image as the wussy Pu. One of the enduring pleasures of watching a Tsui Hark film is the power, intelligence and feistiness he invests in his female protagonists. Though they are drawn with less depth than in Tsui’s earlier works, at least they are initiators of action, and express their desires with pride and openness.

Sets and costumes are loudly exotic but on the money. Cinematography is versatile but is given no room or time for more lyrical images. Visual effects sometimes could do with more delicacy and verisimilitude, especially a climactic fight in the eye of a crudely animated tornado.

Opened: Dec. 22 in Hong Kong
Production companies: Bona Entertainment Company Limited presents a Film Workshop production
Sales: Distribution Workshop
Cast: Jet Li, Zhou Xun, Aloys Chen, Kwai Lun-Mei, Mavis Fan, Li Yuchun, Louis Fan Siu Wong, Gordon Liu
Director-screenwriter-producer-original story by: Tsui Hark
Producers: Jeffrey Chan, Nansun Shi
Executive producer: Yu Dong
Director of photography: Choi Sung Fai
Production designer: Yee Chun Man
Costume designer: Lai Hsuan-wu
Music: Wu Wai Lap
Editor: Yau Chi Wai
No rating, 122 minutes
THR

December 27, 2011

December 27, 2011 [HKMDB Daily News]

FBA: Magic to Win review

Lame college fantasy involving a girls’ volleyball team and battling “magicians”.

FBA: A Big Deal review

Unoriginal get-rich-quick New Year comedy hobbled by a clumsily written script.

CRI: Flowers of War review

Does the film deserve the commotion it has caused?

CF: ”The Flowers of War:” A Special Case for China’s Film Industry

CF:From Art House to Box Office

Director Xu Jinglei is exploring less experimental and more commercial territory.

CF: ”Drug War” Holds Promo Event in Tianjin

Huang Yi, Sun Honglei (Sina-gallery)

CF: ”Hyperspace Rescue” Trailer Released

Hyperspace Rescue is the only film about “time travel” that integrates a large number of elements such as Hong Kong and mainland humour.

Director Chi Chung Lam also helped make the films “Shaolin Soccer” and “Kung Fu”. He’s confident the film will be a hit at the box office. (Sina-gallery)

CF: First Promotional Trailer of “I Do” Released

The movie is now in post-production and will be released on February 14 in time for the Valentine’s Day slot.

FBA: Flowers widens lead on Swords - Box Office News

CRI: Actress Zhou Xun Tries on Directing

The trailer of “Five Demon Traps” features actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai as a demon killer.

CF: Tony Leung in Zhou Xun’s Micro Movie

The movie will hit the national screens on January 12.

Hosted by Huayi Brothers, a concert of songs from prestigious Chinese director Feng Xiaogang’s movies will be held on January 3, 2012.

“Glory Days” cast attend a publicity event in Chuxiong, Yunnan Province

Co-director Eric Tsang

Xiong Xin-Xin

Felix Wong, Ni Hongjie, Max Mok

Rose Chan, Gigi Leung, Ni Hongjie

Rose Chan demonstrates “Blocking the Devil’s Kiss” (Sina)

“Wanted” posters showing Nick Cheung appeared on the streets of Hong Kong on Christmas Eve.

The posters were to promote the Roy Chow film “Nightfall” co-starring Simon Yam.

(Sina)

The year in review: Pop Stop

TaipeiTimes: Worst-case scenarios

The Golden Shrimp Awards name and shame Taiwan’s greatest cinematic blunders

Just Call Me Nobody won the Golden Shrimp Worst Film of the Year Award.

A1: Jet Li to focus on combating injustice(CF)

CF: Jet Li Jack of Many Trades, Master of Kungfu

A1: Laughing Gor gets serious

Laughing Gor was the only person who wasn’t laughing at the recent 44th TVB Anniversary Awards on Dec 5.

MSN: Benny Chan has yet to donate

…when Josephine Siao — veteran actress and founder of the End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation — was questioned about Benny’s donation at a recent event, she said, “I’ve been waiting for someone to ask me about this. I heard that the media had placed him under tremendous pressure.”

“We welcome any donation from kind souls. In truth, there are many perpetrators who have not been caught. If each of them makes a donation, we’ll be rich. I hope Benny can help to drive this moment,” she added, when probed if the foundation had received the actor’s donation.

Josephine Siao Fong Fong

Foundation president, Josephine Siao thanks Stanley Ho’s 3rd wife for 10 consecutive years of support. (UDN)(Sina)

Fan Bingbing, 30, went to court last week to battle claims that she eloped with the 65-year-old actor Wang Xueqi, and she appears to be winning the war. 
MSN: Zhang Xinyu reacts to online verbal attacks

Despite the endless rumours, Xinyu’s career did not seem to be affected. The model is currently in the midst of filming Legend of Yue Fei and had made an appearance at a new car launch in Suzhou, China yesterday morning. She was said to have made a whopping six-figure paycheck, for a mere 20-minute appearance.

A1: Hong Kong remembers ‘Black Christmas’ of 1941

December 22, 2011

Flying Swords of Dragon Gate (Screen Daily review)

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 8:30 pm

Flying Swords of Dragon Gate
Dir/scr: Tsui Hark. China. 2011. 125mins
22 December, 2011
By Edmund Lee

Action auteur Tsui Hark revisits the Dragon Gate folklore with a visually inventive yet dramatically lacking IMAX 3D production. Also credited for the new movie’s screenplay and ‘original story’, the director has indeed reshuffled the plot elements of both King Hu’s wuxia classic Dragon Gate Inn (1967) and the Raymond Lee-directed remake, New Dragon Gate Inn (1992), which was produced and co-scripted by Tsui.

Tsui’s follow-up to his excellent supernatural detective actioner Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010), certainly lives up to its English title: audiences will find flying swords (and daggers and arrows and chains) hurtling at them during martial arts battles of the most gravity-defying kind.

Despite its impressive action and nice comedic touch throughout, Flying Swords has, however, arguably the weakest story of the three Dragon Gate films. The film opened in Mainland China on December 15 and in Hong Kong a week later.

Following a similar narrative trajectory to its two predecessors, the Ming Dynasty-set movie tells of the eunuch-headed West Bureau’s murderous pursuit of their vulnerable target (in this case a pregnant palace maid on the run, played by Mavis Fan), which leads to ultimate showdowns among heroic swordsmen (Jet Li and Zhou Xun in male drag), imperial assassins (Chen Kun in a double role, and Louis Fan) and mercenary treasure hunters (Kwai Lun-mei and Li Yuchun) at the desert resort of Dragon Gate Inn.

Spicy story threads from the two previous films, such as the implied cannibalistic practice of the inn, are flirted with but not engaged in any depth. The obsession of Xun’s character with a certain flute – a love token, as it unsurprisingly turns out – provides a direct reference to Bridget Lin’s character in the 1992 film, although the romantic subplot here is utterly undermined by the negligible romantic chemistry between Li and Xun as would-be lovers (or former lovers, which is never made clear).

As an epic sword fight between Li and Chen’s fighting experts (inside a gigantic twister!) uncharacteristically fizzles out, the movie’s last reel turns into a treasure hunt at a buried palace, which only comes into daylight following a vicious sandstorm that arrives once every 60 years. It is with such slapdash plotting that the director’s preference for intermittent cheers and thrills over consistently developed storylines becomes palpable.

The movie’s brief coda – in which two of the treasure hunters disguise their way into a royal palace, eventually poisoning the imperial concubine who has previously ordered the assassination of the pregnant maid – is seemingly tagged on for laughs, and feels as incongruous to the tone of Hu’s original as it’s possible. By putting on the prestigious front of the wuxia tradition, Tsui, like his mischievous characters, may merely be playacting his way towards more outrageous fun. Flying Swords is pure entertainment and little more – which may be enough for many.

Production companies: Film Workshop, Bona International Film Group, China Film Group, Shanghai Media Group, Beijing Poly-bona Film Publishing Company, Beijing Liangzi Group

International sales: Distribution Workshop
Producers: Tsui Hark, Shi Nansun, Jeffrey Chan
Executive producers: Yu Dong, Jeffrey Chan
Cinematography: Choi Sung-fai
Action director: Yuen Bun
Art director: Yee Chung-man
Production designer: Bill Lui
Editor: Yau Chi-wai
Music: Wu Wai-lap

Main cast: Jet Li, Zhou Xun, Chen Kun, Kwai Lun-mei, Li Yuchun, Mavis Fan, Louis Fan
ScreenDaily

December 21, 2011

December 21, 2011 [HKMDB Daily News]

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 9:32 pm

CRI: Karen Mok Is Keanu Reeves’ Tai Chi Girl(FBA)

The movie is expected to start shooting in February in Beijing.

CRI: Tony Leung Plays Blind ‘Windseeker’

Tony Leung plays a blind man who uses his unusually good hearing to complete a mission. The film is slated for release in the summer of 2012

CRI: Movie Ticket Price May be Too High: Survey

“Many excellent home-grown Chinese movies are coming out these days. But since the ticket prices are too high, no one will pay 60 yuan for a small-budget film. So those films are often box-office disasters. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone.”

CF: “Dear Enemy” Premieres in Beijing

Most Spring Festival movies tend to be sentimental, but “Dear Enemy” takes the route of fashion and romance, giving it a lot of entertainment punch for the Chinese New Year holiday.

Xu Jinglei: From art house to box office

Despite centering on workplace romance like Go Lala Go!, Xu says Dear Enemy is her first entertainment-oriented directorial work tinged with suspense and aiming to excite audiences at every twist and turn.

CF: New Posters out for “The Great Magician”

MSN: Jordan Chan harassed by phone pranksters

When fans learnt that the actor received threatening text and calls from unknown pranksters, they took it upon themselves to investigate and inform the police

MSN: Newly pregnant Miriam Yeung splurges on million-dollar bungalow

MSN: Is Anita Yuen pregnant?

MSN: Lisa S plans to have babies “in the next 2 years”

Lisa Selesner is no trophy wife. Although married to Hong Kong actor Daniel Wu for more than a year, she is not resting on her husband’s laurels.

MSN: Karen Mok’s exes absent at wedding reception

MSN: Nicholas Tse makes appearance at Jay Chou’s concert

Fans initially thought they had seen the wrong person, only to go wild when Jay appeared with a keyboard, sharing a duet with Nicholas.

MSN: Hannah Quinlivan’s father spotted at Jay Chou’s concert

December 16, 2011

December 16, 2011 [HKMDB Daily News]

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 11:32 pm

FBA: Battle of the Brides (Vietnam) review

Unoriginal but smoothly mounted rom-com of a serial Romeo and his multiple brides.

THR: Police Stop Christian Bale from Visiting Blind Activist in China

The situation is also awkward for director Zhang, who spent most of his early career seeing his films banned by the government despite international acclaim. However, Zhang is now the Chinese government’s favorite director, having overseen the production of the opening ceremonies for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

CDT: Batman Star’s Visit to Chen Guangcheng Blocked

Christian Bale and wife, Sibi - Best Supporting Actor, The Fighter (THR)

FBA: China BO crosses RMB12b in 2011

Although there are various online rumours, there are no clear signs yet of any impact on Flowers distribution as a direct result of Christian Bale’s CNN-recorded visit to a human rights activist that aired internationally today.

While Bale appears sincere, the news report comes soon after actress Hilary Swank came under attack for her political naivete. Earlier this month, Swank apologised for appearing at the birthrday celebration of reviled Chechen autocrat Ramzan Kadyrov.

CF: China Plans to Trim Cinemas’ Pre-movie Ads with New Law

CF: Box Office Performance in Week 50

“White Vengeance” led the charts with $8.03 million at mainland theaters this week, accumulating to a debut of $20.64 million in its second week run

Angelababy and Mark Chao will play “First Time” lovers in a film to be directed by Han Yan (”Winds of September: Mainland Ediiton”) and produced by Bill Kong. Angelababy plays a girl with a hereditary illness.

Mark Chao, Angelababy

Mark Chao (Sina-gallery)

I Love Hong Kong 2012 held an official launch ceremony yesterday. Producer Eric Tsang shielded Viann Zhang Xinyu from questions from the press about Ron Ng. Denise Ho, Maggie Siu and other cast members were in attendance.

Maggie Siu (Sina-gallery)

Benny also emphasised that he had learnt the severe consequences of getting drunk and hoped that Rose and her family would accept his apology. He added that he will make a donation to the End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation, so as to serve as a reminder not to repeat the same mistake.

According to an insider, both parties had reached a mutual agreement. Rose had decided not to file charges against Benny, and Master Sin was to have made an announcement at 2.30pm yesterday to put an end to the case

CNA: Benny Chan off the hook for drunken groping after newspaper apologies

Interestingly, the letter was published on the last day for Rose Chan and her martial arts instructor Sin Kwok Lam to file a complaint with the Chinese police about Benny Chan’s drunken groping – according to police procedures in China, complaints must be filed no more than 30 days after the incident occurred.

CNA: Edison Chen vows to have no more photo scandals

“When I do something good, nobody says anything,” Chen lamented.

“But when I do something a little, little bit bad, it becomes a very big story. I can’t be that bad right?”

MSN: Edison Chen to quit showbiz?

When the media probed if he would still take intimate photos with his girlfriend again, the singer did not give a direct answer and replied, “I don’t think it’s that simple. I’m not answering (the question), because that’s my private life.”

To show his determination to change, Edison declared, “These things will not happen again. If it does, you will not see Edison Chen again.”

No pause at menopause

Chinese-American novelist Xu Xi’s new book is a collection of 13 short stories, titled Access, in which the distinguished academic, author of nine books and the editor of three anthologies about Hong Kong is largely concerned with middle age.

December 15, 2011

December 15, 2011 [HKMDB Daily News]

FBA: Universal boards Reeves’ Man of Tai Chi

The contemporary, Beijing-set story is the “spiritual journey of a young martial artist (Tiger Chen), whose fighting skills brings him to a realm opportunities and painful choices.”

CRI: Zhang Yimou’s Latest Epic Lauds Humanity in Wartime

A review of Beijing-based Jinghua Times described the film as “having both strong sound and visual effects as well as humanistic power,” calling it “very Oscarish.”

However, renowned critic Zhu Dake didn’t approve filmmakers to take advantage of a serious historical event to fulfil box office ambitions.

CF: Film Adds Depth to Wuxia

Although “Flying Swords of Dragon Gate” is based on the iconic “New Dragon Gate Inn”, Tsui wanted to ensure originality in the new story while presenting the same characteristic morality and code of honor of those chivalrous men and women from the world of jianghu.

Although Monday’s premiere has drawn generous approval, the critics are not unanimous. Some have pointed out flaws in the movie’s 3D effects. In answer to this, Tsui Hark said the new movie is merely a knock on the door of innovation, a door that will lead China to new arenas in the film industry.

CF: Chen Kaige Surprises His Wife on set of his New Movie

Based on the popular online novel, “Please Forgive Me,” his new movie “Search” revolves around the problems caused by searching for human flesh on the Internet. It will finish its shooting schedule within three months in Ningbo and is slated for release in 2012.


CF: ”The Allure of Tears” Premieres in Hangzhou

Zhou Dongyu will likely skip most promotional activities due to year end college academic requirements. She had previously missed classes for her other recent film events already. (Sina-gallery)2

FBA: China seeks BO controls, limit on cinema ads

The draft contains 13 articles on forbidden content in movies made in China. [13 Noes]

CF: First Promotional Trailer of “Romancing in Thin Air” out

Horror film “Harpoon”’s release has been delayed even though post-production is completed and it has finally received the necessary state approvals. A Spring Festival release is now expected. The setting for the film is a desert island survival tale and has drawn much attention and expectations. (Sina)

“Harpoon”

Mo Xiaoqi, Hu Bing (Sina)

Return of the zombie movie? In “Crescent Moon Phantom”(lit.), a town is plagued by murders, rumors of zombie killings spread like wildfire. A female detective does not believe in zombies and tries to crack the mystery. Directed by Johnny Chen (Chen Long) and features young Mainland actors.

(Sina)2

All of Ivy Chen’s scenes have been reportedly cut from Tsai Yueh-Hsun’s “Black & White, Episode 1: The Dawn of Assault”. In addition, Angelababy’s scenes have been resurrected. Her role as heroine was downgraded to supporting actress and practically invisible.. In a dramatic turnaround, Angelababy was revived but that meant Ivy Chen’s scenes had to go due to excessive length. Director Tsai said that it was not personal and had nothing to do with her terminating an agency contract with him. Other actors’ scenes, such as Paul Chun, Matt Wu and Ken Lin, were also trimmed to reduce the running time.

Ivy Chen, scenes deleted

A few days ago while doing publicity for Doze Niu’s “Love”, Chen sighed and said, “this is life, the director said the film is too long.” When she first heard the news, she broke down in tears but then distracted herself by throwing herself into her work on “Love” and accepted the reality. However, the cuts left a mark on Chen as she became worried about her scenes in “Love” being cut out and she often asked Doze Niu to see the editing.

Angelababy, scenes restored

Director Tsai Yueh-Hsun, the Decider

(Sina)2

More on Black & White:

In movie news, the film Black and White, scheduled for release next month, is having woman trouble. The flick, based on the hugely successful police drama of the same name that hit TV screens in 2005, is clearly intended as the big release for the Lunar New Year season, and the production company has been pulling out all the stops in marketing the film.

Unfortunately for the film’s producers, two of its leading female stars are being uncooperative. Taiwanese actress Ivy Chen was incensed to discover that all the scenes in which she appeared had been left on the cutting-room floor, though she was given an acting credit. In response, she refused to participate in any of the marketing activities.

Meanwhile, Chinese actress Angelababy made exorbitant demands as a condition of coming to Taiwan to promote the film, including five-star accommodation and expensive spa treatments, but ultimately attended only a single press conference. TaipeiTimes: Pop Stop

Stills from trailer for Jingle Ma’s “Speed Angels”, opening Jan. 5

Cecilia Cheung, Rene Liu

Han Jae-suk, Tang Wei

Rene Liu and Cecilia Cheung come to blows

(Sina)23

Racing edition of trailer

Lam Chi-Chung (as poet Li Bai), Wallace Huo

Lam Chi-Chung directs and acts in the upcoming time-travelling comedy “Super Reinforcement” (lit.) which opens January 13. Dylan Kuo, Lam Suet, Jing Tian and Cheung Tat-Ming co-star.(Sina)

Louis Koo and Sun Honglei will star in Johnnie To-Wai Ka-Fai “Drug War”. Filming will mainly take place in Tianjin. This is Sun’s first time working with Johnnie To. Specific roles have not been revealed but netizens polled said that expected Sun Honglei to play a villain.

Louis Koo, Sun Honglei

Sun Honglei

Sun Honglei (Lurk, TV series)  (Sina), 2

A1: Karen Mok is in love with married life

He has as appeared in a supporting role in a slew of TV dramas, with the most famous being the Lurk (Qian Fu) in 2008 where he played a secret service official.

Once billed as the largest amusement park in Asia, the unfinished “Wonderland” park now stands derelict, a worrying sign of China’s property market.

December 14, 2011

December 14, 2011 [HKMDB Daily News]

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 8:07 pm

TimeOutHK: Magic to Win review

Raymond Wong’s little inside joke

CF: Film “My Way” Promoted in Seoul

Fan Bingbing and South Korean actor Jang Dong-gun attend a press conference to promote the film “My Way” in Seoul, capital of South Korea, Dec. 13, 2011.

Fan Bingbing

In October, Huo Siyan wore the same dress to the Beijing Sleepwalker 3D premiere

Fan Bingbing, Jang Dong-gun at the premiere (cri-gallery)234

CF: Still Shots of “Flying Swords of the Dragon Gate 3D” Released

The makers of the upcoming martial arts blockbuster, “Flying Swords of the Dragon Gate 3D”, recently released a collection of still shots featuring the leading roles in the film.


And in-the-news Viann Zhang Xinyu attended the Beijing premiere of “Flying Swords of Dragon Gate 3D”. She plays a concubine in the film.

Li Yuchun, Chen Kun, Viann Zhang Xinyu

(Sina)

On to Guangzhou, Dec. 13

Chen Kun, Guei Lun-Mei

Sweet smile says the capion. Who’s to disagree? (Sina-gallery)

Close up look at a masked Louis Fan Siu-Wong

Li Yuchun

Zhou Xun

(Sina)234

Ni Ni in black and white at the Beijing premiere of “The Flowers of War” (Sina)

CF: ”City of Life and Death”: Best Foreign Language Film in LA

CRI: Book Marks the Making of ‘Flowers of War’

A press conference has been held in Beijing to promote the publishing of a book entitled “The Days We Have Together”, which consists of articles written by 91 members of the production team behind Zhang Yimou’s film “The Flowers of War”. [In English, I've read elsewhere.]

CRI: China Offers Its Own Digital IMAX System, DMAX

Twins will party down Christmas Eve at Harbour City for the Hong Kong Leukemia Foundation

Twins

They’ll be singing and dancing to countdown to Christmas (Sina)

NPR: And You Thought The Tiger Mother Was Tough

Wolf Dad, as he’s been nicknamed, wrote a book that was originally titled Beat Them Into Peking University. It was later changed to the not-quite-as-catchy So, Brothers and Sisters of Peking University.

SGYahoo: Gigi Lai is worth HK$4mil, for comeback

MSN: Aarif Lee’s driving license suspended

Aarif appeared calm during the trial, although he fumbled through his answers when he was questioned in court.

MSN: Ron Ng’s after-party lies exposed

Viann Zhang Xinyu (Source)

MSN: Xiao Bin Bin ties the knot in a lavish banquet

His two adorable sons, Xiao Xiao Bin and Mini Bin, doubled up as page boys and the family of four made their grand appearance on the red carpet together.

Faye Wong in Chengdu (Dec.9)

(Sina-slideshow)

See ewaffle’s: Faye Wong concert in Chengdu

December 13, 2011

December 13, 2011 [HKMDB Daily News]

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 8:05 pm

THR: The Flowers of War review

The Bottom Line: An unconvincing yarn of hookers, convent girls and a phony priest during the Nanjing massacre.

ScreenDaily: The Flowers of War review(HKMDB)

Bale is a tad hammy as the self-interested American who finds his heroic streak, but the supporting actors are all luminous.

Variety: The Flowers of War review

Zhang Yimou’s great gift for stories of resilient women serves him well in this uniquely harrowing account of the rape of Nanjing.

THR: ’Flowers of War’ Director Zhang Yimou Reveals Steven Spielberg’s Role in Casting Christian Bale

“I asked Steven Spielberg, who is a friend, to read the English script and recommend actors,” Zhang said at a press conference following the premiere.

Flowers’ female lead, newcomer Ni Ni, put herself out on a limb when asked if she felt a steamy scene between her character and Bale’s was necessary, as in Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution — which had its sex scenes removed and earned a two-year industry ban for actress Tang Wei.

CRI: ’The Flowers of War’ Debuts in Beijing

Ni Ni at Beijing premiere (Sina)

The comedy is broad and physical and the sometime confusing narrative takes a long time to gel.

Movie Review: ‘White Vengeance’ (CRI)

We Chinese are weird, weird people. We always expect something extra out of what we do. And that extra is a big deal. For example, when ancient historians wrote history, they were not content with just recording exactly what had happened, so they embellished it to show off their literary talent. The result is that we now read these historical records as literature - good literature though - without knowing for sure what exactly happened.

Another example: When we watch a movie, we not only expect it to be entertaining, but also want it to be educational. If it’s a historical film, we want it to reflect history as it was, although there is no way of ascertaining which version is the true one, because the historical records are more literary than realistic.

CRI:  Tsui Hark Premieres His 3-D ‘Dragon Gate’

Director Tsui Hark led the star-studded cast of his new 3-D martial-arts film “Flying Swords of Dragon Gate” in promoting the movie’s premiere Monday in Beijing.

Mavis Fan, Zhou Xun - Still (Sina)

Li Yuchun, Tsui Hark, Chen Kun, Guei Lun-Mei

Shanghai premiere (Dec.13)

(Sina-gallery)

FBA: The battle after Seediq Bale

How do the various versions of the film differ?

CF: ’Love’ to Highlight Next Year’s Valentine’s Day

MSN: Ethan Ruan and Vicki Zhao talk ‘Love’

Featuring a star-studded cast that comprises of Vicki Zhao, Ethan Ruan, Eddie Peng, Mark Chao, Shu Qi, Ivy Chen and Amber Kuo, Love tells of four different love stories based on different themes

CF: ”Chinese Zodiac” Eyes IMAX

The first promotional trailer revealing the concept behind the upcoming movie “Chinese Zodiac”, co-produced by JCE Entertainment Ltd., Huayi Brothers and Emperor Mothion Pictures, was released on December 12.

Accompanied by a rapid and fierce rhythm, and presented in a chilling style, the trailer provides glimpses of thrilling gun battles, parachute dives, car races and ferocious dogfight combat scenes; declaring that the authentic Jackie Chan kung fu movie is back.

FBA: Chinese group (Bona Film Group) raises stakes in English-lang film

Yu confirmed that Wong Kar-wai’s long awaited The Grandmasters, once scheduled to be part of this year’s Christmas crush, is still some months away from being ready. “It will be released some time between next summer and Christmas 2012.”

CF: Bai Baihe in Pure and Fresh Look

Bai Baihe, lead actress of the hit romance film, ’Love is not Blind’, recently poses for a photo shoot to cover a Japanese style magazine in pure and fresh look

Viann Zhang Xinyu

Boyfriend actor Ron Ng declined to comment on [Viann] Zhang Xinyu’s photos with her ex-boyfriend.

A number of intimate photos of Chinese model-actress was leaked and circulated online since yesterday.

HK actor Ron Ng has stepped forward to explain why a photo of model-actress Viann Zhang [No Liar, No Cry] lounging in a bed was published on his micro-blog.

Ng also side-stepped queries on whether Zhang had deliberately posted the photo on his blog, saying that he “never bothered about that”.

Reports have been speculating on whether Zhang’s motivation could have been to promote herself as a newcomer.

CRI:  Edison Chen Apologizes for Recent Photo Scandal

The young model had been left red-faced at the event after falling on her butt during the show.

Decked in a long red dress with plunging neckline, Hannah was reportedly worried about wearing a pair of 15-inch heels for the show.

MSN: Vivian Chow spotted at the gynaecologist

The Hong Kong actress is said to be making preparations for a ‘Dragon baby’

Shiu, who appeared smiling radiantly at a promotional event yesterday in Hong Kong, promised that she will explain the matter next time, which is taken to mean that she is silently admitting her marriage.

Chan explained that he had already planned to resign for some time, in order to embark on an overseas study tour and gain new experiences.

MSN: Netizens blast Vanness Wu for lack of respect towards God

After a tree-lighting ceremony, the singer uploaded a picture of himself at the toilet urinal on to his microblog, and was condemned by netizens for his blasphemous deed

Responding to the outburst, the singer’s manager Katie explained that Vanness thought that the plants in the toilet were special, so he asked a staff member to help him take the picture.

Sun Fei Fei walked away from a photo session on the red carpet without realising that TV host Fang Ling was stepping on her dress. Some netizens said her look of suprise looked too fake. This has led to speculation that this was all a publicity stunt. A1: More photos, and a gallery of wardrobe malfunctions:

December 12, 2011

The Flowers Of War (Hollywood Reporter review) [HKMDB Daily News]

Filed under: Reprints — dleedlee @ 12:54 pm

The Flowers of War
by Todd McCarthy

Based on Yan Geling’s novel “13 Flowers of Nanjing,” the Nanjing massacre plays front and center in director Zhang Yimou’s tale.

It’s something you’d think only the crassest of Hollywood producers would think up — injecting sex appeal into an event as ghastly at the Nanjing massacre — but it’s an element central to The Flowers of War, a contrived and unpersuasive look at an oft-dramatized historical moment. One of the first Chinese-financed features to topline a major American star (Inseperable, with Kevin Spacey, debuted at Pusan in October), Zhang Yimou’s elaborately produced drama will automatically draw attention due to the presence of Christian Bale atop the cast but has the misfortune of coming so close on the heels of a truly outstanding film with the same setting, Lu Chuan’s City of Life and Death. After a Dec. 16 commercial launch on home turf, Wrekin Hill has set one-week runs beginning Dec. 23 in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, with wider release to follow next year. But commercial prospects, at least in North America, look very limited.

Based on a historical novel by high-profile Chinese writer Yan Geling that will be published in the U.S. next year and scripted by Liu Heng, whose collaboration with the director extends back to Ju Dou, Flowers makes a conscious bid to make the horrors of the Nanjing story dramatically accessible to a wider audience by placing a politically unaligned American in the middle of a desperate group of local civilians comprised of convent schoolgirls and exotic courtesans.

Offering little historical background, other than to state that more than 200,000 people were slaughtered during and after the Japanese invasion of China’s then-capital (City put the figure at over 300,000, reflecting ongoing controversy over the extent of the casualties), the action begins in the city’s rubble after its fall on Dec. 13, 1937. In a position of tenuous safety are the female students at Winchester Cathedral, which sits behind walls and offers places to hide from the victorious Japanese soldiers who are widely rampaging without restraint.

Taking refuge there as well is lone wolf American John Miller (Bale) who, with his bushy beard resembles a ’60s hippie and in his manner of speaking sounds both silly and anachronistic (he makes repeated use of “whatever”). His description by one of the Chinese as a “jerk” could not be more apt, as Miller starts raiding the sanctuary’s wine stash, demands nonexistent money and behaves selfishly in every instance. There could be various motives behind portraying the white guy in the story as a money-grubbing, unintelligent and uncouth mercenary but, of course, the ideologically uncommitted Yank in foreign climes is a standard movie character, with Bogart’s Rick in Casablanca as the most memorable standard-bearer. Let’s just say Bale’s Miller doesn’t quite measure up to that standard.

It’s clear from the outset that Miller needs to start at such a low point so that he’ll have an impressive dramatic arc to forge, from self-centered sot to noble knight. Unfortunately, neither the script nor the actor provide the character with any backstory, real or invented; he expresses shock at the suffering he witnesses, but where has he been for the past few weeks? The character brings no viewpoint or power of observation to anything and is morally just an empty vessel, waiting to be filled.

Scaling the walls to find some protection of their own are 13 fancy ladies from a local brothel. Decked as if ready to do a chorus number from Flower Drum Song, the loud, boistrous gals push the cowed teenage students aside and make themselves right at home. For his part, Miller can’t believe his good fortune and takes an immediate special interest in the haughtiest of them all, the gorgeous Yu Mo (expressive newcomer Ni Ni), who also has by far the best English. Reassuring Miller that the Japanese “won’t touch Westerners,” Mo withholds any favors for the moment, promising the eager fellow, “If you help us, I will help you in ways that you can’t imagine. All of us will.”

Miller’s inadvertent transformation from miscreant to saint of sorts begins when he dons priestly robes for fun and thus deters intruding Japanese soldiers who run into the church shouting, “We’ve got virgins!” Seeing the advantages of the pose, Miller continues to wear the vestments, shaves his beard and grows into the personage of “Father John.”

A “good” Japanese officer later apologizes for his men’s waywardness and supplies protection for a while. But he eventually requests that the convent girls sing at a “party” for Japanese officers, which everyone knows will result in rape and worse, triggering an exceptional climactic act of self-sacrifice on the part of the heretofore superficial, materialistic prostitutes, with the heroic participation of Miller.

An undeniable emotional and moral potency lies behind the way these good-time lowlifes rise to the occasion to perform one great selfless act when called upon to do so. But too much about the circumstances and the manner in which the ruse is pulled off is unrealistic and unbelievable, from both a real-world or cinematic point of view, to make the payoff credible or as powerful as it means to be.

Although some scenes venture out into the corpse-strewn city streets to provide an idea of the surrounding barbarity and horror, most of the picture is confined to the church and immediate surroundings. One of the young girls, Shu (Zhang Xinyi), provides prospective through narration, and a couple of other interesting characters emerge, including a smart, bespectacled boy George (Huang Tianyuan) who looks after his pubescent female colleagues, and Mr. Meng (Cao Kefan), a collaborationist with an uncertain lease on life.
Once the gears are set in motion for the big finale, there’s too much dawdling over the details, which has the double negative effect of slowing dramatic momentum and accentuating the far-fetched nature of the plot being perpetrated. When Miller, who has unaccounted for skills as a hairdresser and makeup artist, finishes work on Mo, he’s told, in the film’s most unfortunate lapse into modern parlance, that the rest of the girls “all want you to give them a makeover!”

If Warner Bros. had made a film with this plot back in 1942, it would have made effective anti-Japanese propaganda and probably absorbing drama in the bargain. Today it just plays like hokum.

Opens: Dec. 23 (Wrekin Hill Entertainment)
Production: Row 1 Productions, New Pictures Film Corp.
Cast: Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Zhang Xinyi, Huang Tianyuan, Han Xiting, Zhang Doudou, Tong Dawai, Cao Kefan, Atsuro Watabe,Yangyang Chunzi, Sun Jai, Li Yuemin, Bai Xue, Shigeo Kobayashi, Takashi Yamanaka, Paul Schneider
Director: Zhang Yimou
Screenwriter: Liu Heng, based on the novel 13 Flowers of Nanjng by Geling Yan
Producer: Zhang Weiping
Executive producers: Chaoying Deng, David Linde, Bill Kong
Director of photography: Zhao Xiaoding
Production designer: Yohei Taneda
Costume and makeup designer: William Chang Suk-Ping
Editor: Meng Peicong
Music: Chan Quigang
142 minutes

THR

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