HKMDB Daily News

November 10, 2010

November 10, 2010

Variety: The Star and the Sea review 2

A well-appointed if very old-fashioned meller charting the impoverished childhood of early 20th-century Chinese composer Xiang Xinghai.

CRI: Zhao Benshan Brings Comedy to New Year’s Screens

Zhao Benshan, one of China’s most popular comedians, will bring laughs to moviegoers this New Year’s season with the action-comedy film “Just Call Me Nobody”.

Xiao Shenyang (Xinhua)

An exclusive deal between AMC Entertainment and China Lion Film Distribution will bring up to 15 Chinese films per year to American cinemas to be released on the same dates in both countries, “The Washington Times” reports.

Tang Wei in Peter Chan’s Wu Xia

Takeshi Kaneshiro

Donnie Yen

Jimmy Wang Yu, returns to the screen after a 17 year break


Andy Lau is busy rehearsing for his December concerts

(Sina-slide show)

MSN: Edison Chen’s business woes in Hong Kong

MSN: Selina Jen plagued by nightmares

MSN: Andy Lau dismisses surrogate birth issue

Chrissie Chau - Hong Kong model rejects expensive dinner

“I am not Mrs Cheng, I am Ms Choi,” says HK’s Charlene Choi

Luxury brands Oakley, Calvin Klein, and Gucci offer sunglasses that double as 3D viewing glasses

Oakley ($150), Calvin Klein ($180)

Gucci ($275)

At better retailers everywhere (Sina)

July 28, 2010

July 28, 2010

Curse of the Deserted poster

Directed by Law Chi-Leung (Lo Chi-Leung)

Kitty Zhang Yuqi

Shawn Yue


Curse of the Deserted - Gossip Edition poster

Shawn Yue


Zhang Yimou

“I can not wait for you one year and one month, and I can not wait until you are 20 years old, but I will wait for you forever … …” (from the opening page of the novel)

Yesterday’s announcement that Love of the Hawthorne Tree would be released in September and not during the Spring Festival was an unexpected surprise. Did Zhang Yimou blink against the competion of Chen Kaige’s  Zhao’s Orphan, Jiang Wen’s Let the Bullets Fly, Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grand Master, and Feng Xiaogang’s If You Are the One 2? Still, he will have to face Detective Dee, Fist of Legend: Return of Chen Zhen and Reign of Assassins in the fall. In comparison, the arts and letters Hawthorne looks weak in comparison. (Xinhua) (Sina-April stealth set photos)

A TV version of Love of the Hawthorne Tree begins shooting in August. (Sina)2

Variety: Gallants

Two over-the-hill kung fu fighters sitting around a teahouse, waiting for their master to awaken from a 30-year coma, hardly sounds like the stuff of side-splitting comedy. But the pair in question, charismatic ’70s Hong Kong martial-arts legends Bruce Leung and Chen Kuan-tai, keep the drollery bubbling nicely in “Gallants!,” bestirring their arthritic joints to kick younger, nastier ass. The sudden awakening of their diminutive, dictatorial master, unaware of the passage of time, ups the antics exponentially as Teddy Robin happily steals the show.

Au Revoir Taipei: Delightful romp

Director Arvin Chen has delivered one enjoyable feature debut. With smart, economical dialogue and snappy editing, this movie has just the right amount of empathy for all the players in this ensemble flick.

More “Restored Treasures” to screen at HK Film Archive

The HKFA will continue to screen a restored film on the first Sunday of every month, featuring a mix of works from Hong Kong and abroad. Chor Yuen’s “Cold Blade” is a film of great importance as it marks the turning point in the career of the great director. Chor had enjoyed a successful career in Cantonese cinema.

THR: Records tumble on ‘Aftershock’ opening weekend

FBA: Giant screen BO for Aftershock

IMAX screens in China clocked up an exceptional $640,000 over the weekend with their screenings of Feng Xiaogang’s Aftershock.

Sheng Wenjie

Aftershock MV, theme song, ‘23 seconds, 32 years’ sung by Sheng Wenjie. (Xinhua)

Zhao Wei

Zhao Wei appearing at health drink endorsement event in Beijing.

She would not confirm working on Painted Skin 2 or signing with Polybona, a switch from Huayi Brothers. Zhao Wei only said that she would resume filmmaking in two months. (Xinhua-slide show)

CRI: Zhao Wei Announces New Film, Not ‘Painted Skin 2′

CRI: Latest Stills of “All about Love” (Ann Hui)

“All About Love” featuring Vivian Chow, Sandra Ng and William Chan tells a cradle-snatcher’s love story.

John Woo will play Lin Sen

Lin Sen

CRI: John Woo Signs on to Act in CPC Anniversary Film

CRI: Horror Film “The Island” Holds Press Conference

The film tells a story of a billionaire who sets up a deadly game on an island in Southeast Asia in an attempt to save his son who is in need of a heart transplant. He picks up 7 Asians from different areas, but only one of them can survive. The seven people have to go through five obstacles testing their bravery and wisdom in order to survive.

CRI: 7 Scenes from Film “Reign of Assassins” Released

A short article speculates that Faye Wong’s 10 concert 100 million yuan payday is to fix her husband’s cash flow problem with his 3D online game venture. (Xinhua)

Tang Wei: “a good foundation, skin a bit dry”

Photo essay: This photo gallery inspects, up close, up the nose, the pores of your favorite celebrities and makes random snarky remarks: Tang Wei, Sandra Ng, A-Mei, Lin Chi-Ling, Wang Lee Hom, Richie Jen, Jane Zhang, Liu Yifei, Faye Wong, et al. (Xinhua-slide show)

Lynn Xiong (Hung Doi Lam): Before/after photos to ‘prove’ boob-job speculation. (Xinhua)

Li Bingbing and Tony Blair

Li Bingbing

Tony Blair, founder of The Climate Group met with Li Bingbing, UN Environmental Ambassador in Shanghai. (Xinhua)

CRI: Tony Blair and Li Bingbing Promote Million Forest Campaign

Allowed at ACGHK

Transformers (seibertron)

Not allowed

Jessica C.

Jessica C.

Chrissie Chau


Chrissie Chau

from Weibo (microblog)

(It’s an app!) (No, it’s a growth stock!)

HKStandard: `No comic capers’ warning as teen models draw another ban

The ban on so-called teen models holding sexy promotions at the Book Fair has been extended to the annual Animation- Comic-Games Festival which begins on Friday.

Organizers have told pseudo-models Chrissie Chow Sau-na and Jessica C they will not be able to take part in a Microsoft promotion, though they will be allowed to enter the event as visitors…

According to one report, Chow and Jessica C were informed on Monday they would not be allowed to take part in a Microsoft online sports game promotion on the first day of the fair…

The models are allowed to attend as visitors, the spokeswoman said, adding: “If they cause chaos they will be asked to leave.”

Latest book sales tallies (Sina)

Angelababy has replaced Namie Amuro in Japan as Sassoon’s spokesperson

(Ooh, la la, Sassoon!)


Wearing one-of-a-kind Christian Louboutin red crystal red high heels (Xinhua)

SG: Lee Hom raises a storm

However, due to the sheer number of people at the event and the lack of space, two reporters had a tussle over standing positions and stage crew had to allocate extra space to alleviate the tension…The troubles did not end there.

Southern Entertainment Weekly cover with Carina Lau (Xinhua)

Carina Lau more than friends with property magnate?

In one of the photos, Lau was resting her chin on Jing’s shoulder while the 39-year-old billionaire had his hand on her thigh, sparking rumours that Lau, 44, and Jing, who is reportedly a married man, were more than friends.

The actress was even reported to have eschewed spending time with husband, Hong Kong actor Tony Leung on their second wedding anniversary on July 21, to be with Jing in Beijing.

HKStandard: Fair attendance one for the books

The weeklong Hong Kong Book Fair closed yesterday with a record 920,000 visitors but with mixed fortunes at the cash register for exhibitors.

Hong Kong’s most infamous tour guide Li Hau-chun broke down in tears yesterday as she apologized for bringing the tourist trade into disrepute with a seven- minute rant at a group of mainland tourists that was secretly filmed and went viral on the internet and TV.

Background: HKStandard: There’ll be hell to payWSJ: Hong Kong: Don’t Shop? Don’t Come

April 5, 2010

April 5, 2010

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

CF: Tao Hong Fulfills Her Promise

[Death Dowry] tells the story of a poverty-stricken woman who travels to a new place with her mentally retarded son to seek a living. After suffering a number of difficulties, she meets a man who changes her fate.

Taipei Times: Au Revoir Taipei

Variety: To Whom It May Concern: Ka Shen’s Journey

Hollywood’s postwar Asian superstar, Nancy Kwan, acts as tour guide around her personal and professional history in the solid if pedestrian docu “To Whom It May Concern: Ka Shen’s Journey.”

CRI: Cast of “Ocean Heaven” (formerly Ocean Paradise) Attend Autism Awareness Day Event in Beijing

The movie is about the relationship between a terminally ill man played by [Jet] Li and his autistic adolescent son played by rising actor Wen Zhang. Actress Kwai Lun-Mei stars in the film as a clown who performs at the aquarium and meets the father and son.

Actress, director Jiang Wenli

John Woo

Stanley Tong

Gu Changwei, John Woo, Jiang Wenli, Woo’s wife, Jiang Wen

Chinese actress Jiang Wenli on Sunday invited her celebrity friends for a special screening of her directorial debut film, “Lan”. (Sina)

CRI: Echoes of the Rainbow stills

Sandra Ng, Simon Yam

A celebration banquet was held in Tsimshatsui by the cast and crew of Echoes of the Rainbow. (Sina)

Chrissie Chau attending screening of Barbara Wong’s Break Up Club (Sina)

Karen Mok was one of many stars to help Andrew Lau celebrate his 50th birthday in Sai Kung yesterday.


Andy Lau gets emotional at Southwest drought relief fundraiser in Beijing (Sina)

ESWN: Gigi Leung Microblog Post Censored

CRI: Jackie Chan Records Song for Those Affected by Drought

Zhang Ziyi was not invited to Harper’s Bazaar’s upcoming Charity Night in Shanghai. On the invitees list were celebrities John Woo, Lin Chi-Ling, Zhang Hanyu, Carina Lau and many others. The eighth annual gala will be held on Apr.25 the eve of the opening of the Shanghai World Expo. (Xinhua)

CRI: Pop Queen Faye Wong to Start Concert Tour In Oct

Taipei Times: Pop Stop

Carina Lau desperate trying to get pregnant

Eason Chan spotted with unknown female companion

Andy Lau: “no regrets” having kept his 24-year romance a secret

1970s screen siren Cleopatra Wong looking to film a movie

April 3, 2010

Au Revoir Taipei (Taipei Times review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 2:44 pm


Arvin Chen’s feature debut shines with a deftly constructed script, strong cast and wide international appeal that has already won the film two awards on the festival circuit

By Ho Yi

During the height of Taiwanese new wave cinema, directors portrayed Taipei as a city of bleakness and anomie. Now younger generations of filmmakers have injected color and zest into their depictions of the capital.

In his feature debut Au Revoir Taipei (一頁台北), Taiwanese American director Arvin Chen (陳駿霖) evokes a city that is lively, splashy and heavenly matched for his fun-filled romantic comedy mostly set during the young protagonist’s final night in the city.

Writer-director Chen paints nocturnal Taipei as romantically as cinematic depictions of Paris. The boisterous Shida night market, winding downtown alleys and narrow neighborhoods evoke a sense of magic as Taipei 101 flickers in the distance. The vivacious cinematography basks the city in opulent colors, while briskly moving scenes accelerate the plot at an energetic pace. The sound track by Chinese American composer Hsu Wen is an absolute delight, lending the story an irresistibly jazzy tone.

Kai (Jack Yao, 姚淳耀) bids farewell to his girlfriend before she heads off to Paris at the beginning of the film. Obsessed with joining her in Europe, Kai reads up on French in a bookstore when he is not waiting tables at his parents’ noodle stall. His absent lover hardly calls, but bookstore assistant Susie (Amber Kuo, 郭采潔) shows interest.

When Kai’s girlfriend dumps him over the phone, he seeks help from gangster boss and real estate shark Bao (Frankie Gao, 高凌風), who offers the heartbroken lad a ticket to Paris in exchange for carrying out a courier delivery.

Believing the package Kai couriers contains something extremely valuable, Bao’s nephew Hong (Lawrence Ko, 柯宇綸) and three bumbling sidekicks embark on a scheme that sees Kai, Susie, Kai’s goofy friend Gao (Paul Chiang, 姜康哲) and the two cops who are staking out Bao’s operation all enmeshed in a night of high jinks that involves kidnapping, dancing in a park, and a love motel.

Kai and Susie traipse across the city and meet a number of likable oddballs, most of whom have their own problems involving love: Bao is an old gangster boss who wishes to retire with his much younger sweetheart, while cop Ji-yong, played by an amusingly gawky Joseph Chang (張孝全), is ditched by his girlfriend for being an indifferent lover. Ko is a likeable character, a slightly neurotic small-timer who dreams of making something big out of his dull life as a real-estate salesman. The brightest new find is Chiang, who possesses an instantly lovable goofiness that is well expressed in his character Gao, a tall, fumbling convenience-store worker.

The boy-meets-girl romance can be a tiresome genre, but Chen has enough in his scriptwriting bag of tricks to keep the audience engaged pretty much to the end. Sugar-coated with warm humor and kooky charm, the film is sweet and lighthearted, and audiences should not expect anything that even slightly resembles the oeuvre of Wim Wenders, one of the film’s executive producers.

Au Revoir Taipei, with a few character modifications, could be an expanded sequel to Mei (美), Chen’s graduation film at the University of Southern California that won the Silver Bear in Berlin’s International Short Film Competition in 2007. The 12-minute short tells the love story between a young man (also played by Yao) and a girl who plans to go to New York City, compacting emotions that linger much longer than its glossier follow-up does.
Taipei Times

March 17, 2010

March 17, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 3:47 pm

CRI: ‘Lust, Caution’ Star Tang Wei Returns on April 2

The Taiwan romantic film “Au Revoir Taipei,” directed by Arvin Chen, won the Jury Award at the Deauville Asian Film Festival in France on March 14, reports.

The film had just been awarded “Best Asian Film” at the 60th Berlin Film Festival, and the filmmakers never expected another surprise win.

Famous TV host Li Xiang will invest in Han Sanping’s upcoming new project, a prequel to the 2009 blockbuster film “The Founding of a Republic,” Hunan-based reports.

Fairy-tale ending

It’s a happy ending good enough to grace any award-winning movie. Wing Lee Street in Central has been saved from the wrecker’s ball and film director Alex Law Kai-yui’s heart-warming tale of Hong Kong in the 1960s, Echoes of the Rainbow, likely played a big part in it.

Vivian Chow’s recent appearance in a hole-y dress.


Vicki Zhao breaks her silence after pregnancy photos exposed

Previously, a Hong Kong publication reported that her husband cheated on her with another Chinese actress, Zhang Ziyi.

“Maybe I have been too low-profiled and got involved in unnecessary rumours, suspicions and conjectures. I would like for the people concerned of me to stop worrying. My life is now very peaceful, ordinary, and happy! After working for so many years, I have not given myself sufficient time to rest and recuperate.

“To be honest, I am in the midst of picking from a few good movie scripts. I have also completed talks for a few advertorials earlier in the year and I plan to carry out these work plans soon. I hope to prep myself with a positive attitude to eagerly live my life and face the future. Thank you for your concern and love.”

February 18, 2010

February 18, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 11:58 am

HK Magazine: Hot Summer Days

I’ll tell you why the film is really enjoyable: Angelababy.

THR: Apart Together (Tuan Yuan)

Bottom Line: Drama about a family separated by civil war has universal resonance but skims over deeper historical and psychological trauma.

Screen Daily: Little Big Soldier

Compared with Jackie Chan’s usual frenetic extravaganzas, Little Big Soldier is almost low-key, a reflection on the pointlessness of war, even though reflections have not traditionally been action star Chan’s strong point.

Variety: Little Big Soldier

An “Odd Couple”-cum-martial-arts-road movie set some 2,000 years ago during the end of China’s chaotic Warring States prior to unification, “Little Big Soldier” is a Jackie Chan vehicle without any surprises.

Variety: Au Revoir Taipei

Far from the closeted capital of Asian anomie so often portrayed in Taiwanese fest fare, Taipei becomes a warm, romantic city, peopled with likeable oddballs, in Boston-born American Chinese Arvin Chen’s immensely likable feature debut, “Au Revoir Taipei.”

Formosa Betrayed: New movie ties Taiwan’s messy politics to a Bay Area murder

Jay Chou can be an action star: Yuen Woo-ping

CRI: Jackie Chan Brings ‘Soldier’ to Berlin

Taipei Times: ‘Monga’ wins special incentives

Monga grossed more than NT$200 million at the box office during its first two weeks of release in Taiwan, entitling its producers to hefty incentives, said Chen Chih-kuan, director of the Government Information Office’s (GIO’s) Department of Motion Pictures, at a GIO reception in Berlin.

Chen said that under the government’s program of special incentives for the film industry, any locally produced movie with box office receipts exceeding NT$50 million entitles its makers to receive 20 percent of its revenues as a subsidy for the company’s next production.

HK Magazine: Paula Tsui interview

Actress Maggie Cheung Ho-Yee kicked out of boyfriend’s home after split

The reason for their separation is rumoured to be Cheung’s bad temper. Many said Tsang could not put up with Cheung’s behaviour and ended their relationship.

Cheung’s close friend claimed Cheung’s bad temper could have been the result of the rare Grave’s Disease which Cheung contracted five years ago. The autoimmune disease can result in an overactive thyroid which makes the sufferer irritable.

Michael Miu admits there was a ‘third party’ during marriage

Aaron Kwok

Aaron Kwok attended New Year’s festivities at Harbour City yesterday. (Sina)

Jimmy Lai interviewed on CNN about animated news

February 17, 2010

Au Revoir Taipei

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 11:37 pm

Au Revoir Taipei
Yiye Taibei

An Atom Cinema (Taiwan)/Greensky Films (U.S.) production. (International sales: Beta Cinema, Munich.) Produced by Lee In-ah, Liu Wei-jan. Executive producers, Wim Wenders, Meileen Choo. Co-producers, Michael Leow, Michelle Cho. Directed, written by Arvin Chen.

With: Jack Yao, Amber Kuo, Joseph Chang, Lawrence Ko, Frankie Gao, Jack Kao, Liu Jui-chi, Paul Chiang, Peggy Tseng, Vera Yen.

Far from the closeted capital of Asian anomie so often portrayed in Taiwanese fest fare, Taipei becomes a warm, romantic city, peopled with likeable oddballs, in Boston-born American Chinese Arvin Chen’s immensely likable feature debut, “Au Revoir Taipei.” Ensemble criss-crosser mostly set during a young guy’s final night in his hometown is a well-crafted romancer that could build sufficient traction as an audience pleaser on the festival circuit to make some specialist distribs take a chance on saying bonjour for niche play.

As Kai (Jack Yao) bids g.f. Faye farewell as she heads off to the airport to catch a flight to Paris, and Kai’s v.o. slips into French, pic initially raises fears of cross-cultural pretension that — happily — aren’t fulfilled. Obsessed with leaving Taipei and joining her in Europe, Kai is a hopeless dreamer who wiles away his time working at the backstreets noodle eaterie of his parents (Jack Kao, Liu Jui-chi) and trying to master French at night in a bookstore.

Film slowly spins its web of quiet humor as a pretty young shelf-stacker in the bookstore, Susie (Amber Kuo), circles around him, clearly attracted, though Kai himself hardly notices.

Other characters in the nabe swim into view: vet gangster Brother Bao (Frankie Gao); his louche nephew, Hong (Lawrence Ko), who’s due to inherit the business; and handsome married cop Ji-yong (Joseph Chang), who’s staking out Bao’s operation. When Kai is dumped over the phone by Faye and decides to hightail it to Paris to win her back, Bao offers him the airfare — but on condition he takes a mysterious package with him that becomes much sought after by various parties.

The stage is set for a long night, prior to Kai’s flight, in which he has a farewell meal with a friend, Gao (Paul Chiang), bumps into Susie (who insists on sticking with him) and becomes drawn into a web of greed, kidnapping and emotional turmoil as to whether he should even leave his hometown. All characters undergo some kind of catharsis or life change — from the cop and his unhappy wife, Yuan (Peggy Tseng), to schlonky Gao who falls for a girl, Peach (Vera Yen) — as they follow each other around through the nighttime backstreets.

Working with U.S. d.p. Michael Fimognari and American-Chinese jazz composer Hsu Wen, Chen evokes a romantic, borderline unreal Taipei in which anything is possible. Well-constructed script, which neatly sets up ideas and rounds them off later on, pretty much sustains interest during the tight running time, and when the cogs start to click into place after the opening 30-minute setup Chen hardly puts a foot wrong.

Kuo is especially good as the bookshop girl quietly carrying a torch for the single-minded Kai, and older players like Gao and Chang add some heft to the movie as the gangster and cop. Things get a bit too sophomoric in the subplot of Hong and his nerdy, kidnapping colleagues, but the ensemble of the film is overall strong, with every character well defined.

For the record, Wim Wenders offered behind-the-scenes support after being introduced to Chen via L.A.-based Korean American producer Lee In-ah. Original Mandarin title literally means “A Page of Taipei,” but also sounds identical to that for “One Night in Taipei.” Mandarin, Hokkien, French dialogue

Camera (color), Michael Fimognari; editor, Justin Guerrieri; music, Hsu Wen; production designer, Huang Mei-ching; art director, Chen Bo-ren; costumes, Hsieh Ching-liang; sound (Dolby Digital), Tu Duu-chih; assistant director, Lin Li-shu. Reviewed at Arsenal 1, Berlin, Jan. 28, 2010. (In Berlin Film Festival, Forum.) Running time: 84 MIN.

February 17, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 12:59 pm

THR: Besouro (Brazil)

Bottom Line: Martial arts meet Brazilian history in an original mythic story.

THR: Au Revoir Taipei

Bottom Line: A perky urban dramedy that makes one smile from ear to ear.

Variety: Echoes of the Rainbow

A nostalgic family melodrama with its heart in the right place, “Echoes of the Rainbow” is diverting and even affecting while never quite straying from tried and tested formulas.

Echoes of the Rainbow - Berlin

Simon Yam

Aarif Lee, Simon Yam (Xinhua)

Korean film ‘Late Autumn’ headed to Whidbey Island

In an interview, Jackie said he plans to begin shooting Zodiac in May. It will be shoot in France, Britain and other locales. He is searching to cast a French-Chinese actor fluent in Mandarin. (Sina)

AngelaBaby wears a dress by Lady Gaga designer Petra Storrs and becomes ChocolateBaby

Jay Chou has lashed out at rapper Dog G for writing a song about ex-girlfriend Patty Hou’s virgin bride status that indirectly insulted him.

The Taiwanese rapper, inspired by media reports that the soon-to-be-married television host Hou is a virgin bride, wrote in his song that Chou “writes about being ‘diao’ [cool, powerful] in his songs, but is all talk and never used it”.

The word ‘diao’ can also refer to the male genitalia in the Taiwanese dialect.

Au Revoir Taipei (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 11:46 am

Au revoir Taipei
By Maggie Lee
Bottom Line: A perky urban dramedy that makes one smile from ear to ear.

BERLIN — A romantic comedy match-made with a crime caper, “Au revoir Taipei” is best compared with Taiwan delicacy “Pearl Milk Tea” — sweet, bubbly, with something tasty to chew on. Directed with panache by American-Chinese first-timer Arvin Chen, this delightful tale of fumbling love and daydreaming in the city has a sound script idea that can be transposed to any metropolis from Bangkok to Barcelona.

The influence of executive producer Wim Wenders, combined with upbeat critical response could help the film rendezvous with some art house cinemas in the West and more commercial releases in Asia.

“Au revoir” follows the trend of new Taiwan films (like “Parking” and “Cape No. 7″) in weaving a circus of zany figures into a tapestry of multistranded stories. Unlike most, the characters actually connect on a narrative as well as heart-to-heart level. The story also stays focused by sticking to one small, cozy neighborhood and climaxing in a single night.

The film begins with the departure of Kai (Jack Yao)’s girlfriend Faye. He parks himself in a bookstore to learn French the stingy way, and catches the eye of shop assistant Susie (Amber Kuo). His break comes when Bao (Frankie Gao), a gangster who frequents his parents’ noodle shop, offers him a ticket to Paris in exchange for “courier delivery.”

The pot heats up the night before Kai leaves, when Bao’s nephew Hong (Lawrence Ko) tries to pull off a slick crime that drags Kai; his friend Gao, a gawky, lovesick convenience store worker; Susie; and two bungling cops into two hours of adventure and a farcical surprise resolution.

The cast is chipper and likeable across the board, conveying the naivete of small-timers dreaming big. Also lending the film charm are mouth-watering food scenes, which make fun of the Taiwanese habit of tending to their rumbling stomachs under ANY circumstance. Taipei sizzles as a 24/7 snack haven.

Apart from deadpan colloquial dialogue, Chen orchestrates physical slapstick with spot-on timing, such as three dance acts that crop up in unexpected moments, or a Woody Allen-esque escape from chair bondage. These tricks have been done before, but Chen somehow gives it a fresh touch.

The nocturnal yet jazzily lit cinematography is composed of peppy short cuts while the camera often remains stationary or slow moving before ending in a dazzling track in the bookstore with the rhythm of a dance.

Music is well considered, especially a French violin score spurring associations with “Amelie” that campily accompany images of dusty, densely built-up Taipei at crack of dawn.

The Chinese title, “A Page of Taipe,i” refers to Kai’s and Susie’s biblio-romance while punning on “One Night in Taipei.” End credits give thanks to “Director Yang,” hinting at homage to the late Edward Yang.

Venue: Berlin International Film Festival

Director-screenwriter: Arvin Chen
Cast: Jacky Yao, Amber Kuo, Lawrence Ko, Frankie Gao
Produced by: In-Ah Lee, Wei-Jan Liu
Executive producers: Wim Wenders, Meileen Choo
Producer: Oi Leng Lui
Director of photography: Michael Fimognari
Production designer: Mei Ching Huang
Music: Wen Hsu
Editor: Justin Guerrieri
Sales: Beta Cinema
Production: Atom Cinema, Greenskyfilms Inc.
No rating, 85 minutes

February 15, 2010

Au Revoir Taipei (Screen Daily review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 5:00 pm

Au Revoir Taipei
By Lee Marshall

Dir/scr. Arvin Chen. Taiwan-US-Germany. 2010. 84mins.

Asian-American director Arvin Chen’s boy-meets-girl romance coasts along on sheer goofy sweetness. A brightly-coloured Before Sunrise in Taiwanese screwball sauce with just a pinch of Umbrellas Of Cherbourg thrown in, it does little except charm, seduce and mildly amuse. But it does so with enough grace and storytelling skill to keep most audiences hooked though to the end, even though the sugar-rush wears off pretty soon after leaving the cinema.

The romantic, Parisian mood announced by the title is conveyed by a visual style that is all colours reflecting off rain-soaked downtown streets and warm light on faces

What does linger is the affectionate, magic-realist portrait of nighttime Taipei that the director and his crew create here. This and the presence of name stars including pop singer Amber Kuo will attract audiences across Southeast Asia.

Like Johnnie To’s Hong Kong, Chen’s Taipei has its roots in a strand of sixties European arthouse cinema that itself is a mashup of Hollywood noirs and musicals, so there’s a certain international appeal here as well, which could be boosted by the endorsement of executive producer Wim Wenders.

Sweet but directionless young Kai (Yao) waves his girlfriend off for Paris at the start of the film. When he’s not waiting tables at his parents’ noodle stall, he teaches himself French at the local book store in order to impress her. Kai’s calls to his absent paramour initially receive no response, but he does attract the attention of timid bookshop assistant Susie (Kuo).

When his girlfriend dumps him over the phone, Kai decides to fly to Paris, and in order to raise the money for the ticket, he agrees to courier a package for gangster boss and real estate shark Brother Bao (veteran crooner Frankie Gao).

Further complications are provided by Bao’s nephew Hong, played by Lawrence Ko in a comic register unrecognisable from his intense turn in Lust, Caution. Hong, a fussily fey trainee gangster, is attended by three hopeless sidekicks; all four wear garish orange suits. The other main character is career cop Ji-yong (Chang), whose investigation of Bao and his mysterious package is disrupted when his long-suffering wife leaves home.

The separate stories coalesce deftly in the film’s second half, when Susie and Kai bond as they are caught between gangsters and cops on the night before he is due to fly to Paris. A scene set at an open air dance class in a Taipei park provides a magical, skilfully handled moment of transformation for both of them.

The romantic, Parisian mood announced by the title is conveyed by a visual style that is all colours reflecting off rain-soaked downtown streets and warm light on faces. And the jazzy soundtrack is a delight: with its violin licks reminiscent of Stephane Grappelli and its cool double bass and drum breaks, it sounds as fresh as if it’s being improvised in front of the screen by a live quartet.

Production companies
Atom Cinema

International sales
Beta Cinema
(49) 89 67 34 69 80

Lee In-ah
Liu Wei-jan
Oi Leng Lui

Executive producers
Wim Wenders
Meileen Choo

Michael Fimognari

Production design
Huang Mei-ching

Justin Guerrieri

Wen Hsu

Main cast
Jack Yao
Amber Kuo
Joseph Chang
Lawrence Ko
Frankie Gao
Screen Daily

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