HKMDB Daily News

November 25, 2013

The White Storm (Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 5:27 pm

The White Storm

November 24, 2013
Jay Weissberg

A trio of BFF cops find their ties strained following a flubbed operation in Benny Chan’s enjoyable but routine shoot-’em-up “The White Storm.” More in keeping with the action helmer’s strengths than his previous “Shaolin,” the pic reunites him with three of Hong Kong’s charismatic high-wattage actors, and if its tale of an undercover narc trying to bring down the most powerful drug lord in the Golden Triangle sounds familiar, at least it has some rousing sequences to balance the sense of deja vu. Strong returns can be predicted when “Storm” is released domestically in early December.

Chief inspector Tin (Sean Lau), covert agent Chow (Louis Koo) and probationary inspector Wai (Nick Cheung) have been buddies since way back, their camaraderie occasionally tested by the job but always patched up by singing a few bars of their old song. Together they’re working on busting a local hood with connections to an Indonesian cartel; Chow is looking forward to wrapping it up so he can be around when his heavily pregnant wife, Chloe (Yuan Quan), delivers.

Just when Tin is ready to move in with his team, he gets a call from the commissioner aborting the operation. Chow is furious, as this means he has to remain a plant. The higher brass now want them to go after the big cheese: Eight-Face Buddha (Lo Hoi Pang), a major heroin supplier operating on the Thai-Cambodian border. Tin and Wai convince Chow to do his duty, but Chloe can’t take any more disappointments and tells him to move out.

In Thailand there’s a power struggle between Tin’s team and the local police who want control of the operation, but after a Thai mole is discovered passing info on to Eight-Face, the Hong Kong cops take charge. Chow’s still ambivalent, though, upset that he’s lost his family and angered by Tin’s duty-is-all mindset; shortly before they’re meant to make the big pinch, Chow (still undercover) calls Eight-Face’s men warning them it’s a setup. This is a weak plot point, since surely Chow could guess the ruthless cartel wouldn’t simply back down.

Whatever its logic, the twist allows Chen to stage the most spectacular scene in the pic, when Eight-Face’s helicopters come roaring across the jungle plain, guns a-blazin’. The ensuing carnage is edited swiftly yet clearly, with rat-a-tat-tat energy, as Tin’s plans go spectacularly wrong and in a tense moment, he has to sacrifice one of his friends to save the other. The choice haunts him even five years later and, despite a major demotion, Tin remains determined to go after Eight-Face Buddha one more time.

“White Storm” overdoes the shootouts, piling them on indiscriminately until they practically lose meaning except as calculated sops to the action crowd. Aside from the helicopter sequence, there’s another strong scene when the Thai mole is discovered and hell breaks loose, but otherwise there’s a sameness to it all, and a final act set in a nightclub lacks the elegantly choreographed carnage Johnnie To brings to similar finales (though fight choreographer Li Chung Chi also worked on To’s “Vengeance.”).

More original are the compelling protags, from Tin’s driven sense of invulnerability to Chow’s wounded pride and Wai’s good-natured loyalty. Of the three actors, Nick Cheung (“Unbeatable”) is the standout, his chameleonlike switch following an unexpected (and unbelievable) shift giving the role a compellingly potent energy. As usual in Chen’s pics, women get the short end of the stick.

An opening montage of nightclubs, city streets and cocaine is so standard it may as well be rentable stock footage, but once the movie gets going, the visuals have a pacey flair, and the helicopter shots are especially well done. However, using Nana Mouskouri’s “Amazing Grace” during a funeral scene wasn’t the best idea, and the few scenes in English are stilted.

Rome Film Review: ‘The White Storm’
Reviewed at Rome Film Festival (noncompeting), Nov. 18, 2013. Running time: 133 MIN. Original title: “Sou duk”

Production
(China-Hong Kong) A Universe Entertainment presentation of a Sirius Pictures Intl., Sun Entertainment Culture, Bona Film Group, Golala Investment, Sil-Metropole Organization production. (International sales: Universe Film Distribution, Hong Kong.) Produced by Benny Chan, Alvin Lam, Wendy Wong, Stephen Lam. Executive producer, Daneil Lam. Co-executive producers, Chau Cheok Wah, Yu Dong, Song Dai.

Crew
Directed by Benny Chan. Screenplay, Chan, Manfred Wong, Ram Ling, Wong Chun, Tam Wai Ching. Camera (color/B&W, widescreen), Anthony Pun; editor, Yau Chi Wai; music, Nicolas Errera, Rubberband; production designer, Chong Kwok Wing; costume designer, Joyce Chan; sound (D-Box/Dolby Atmos/Dolby Digital), Kinson Tsang, Yiu Chun Hin, Chow Yuk Lun; visual effects supervisor, Ng Yuen Fai; visual effects, Fat Face Prod.; fight choreographer, Li Chung Chi; line producers, Chan Sing Yan, Zhang Hao, Sze Yeung Ping, Chaipat Sitthisarankul; administrative producers, Alex Dong, Jeffrey Chan, Dong Pei Wen, Ren Yue, Cheung Hong Tat; assistant director, Yiu Man Kei.

With
Louis Koo, Nick Cheung, Sean Lau, Yuan Quan, Lo Hoi Pang, Ng Ting, Yip Berg, Lam Kwok Pun, Kenneth Low, Hugo Ng, Treechada Malayaporn, Marc Ma, Shi Yanneng, Law Lan, Lee Siu Kei, Vithaya Pansringarm. (Cantonese, English, Thai dialogue)

Variety

February 10, 2011

February 10, 2011

Variety: In search of that mainland market

The refocus on the greater China market has meant a change in the kind of films that Hong Kong directors are making. Hong Kong directors have to learn to live with censorship rules. This means no ghost stories and the cops all have to be good guys - some of Hong Kong’s finest movies have focused on the antics of hyperactive ghosts and corrupt officers of the law.

Eyeing Chinese market, Hong Kong’s Johnnie To shoots second straight romance (ABCNews)

The film, called “High Altitude Romance II” in Chinese, doesn’t have an English title yet.

To also revealed that he will start shooting a third movie geared at the Chinese market in July or August — a comedy starring Sammi Cheng and superstar Andy Lau.

To is juggling a third project, a thriller starring veteran Hong Kong actor Lau Ching-wan and Taiwanese actor-singer Richie Jen. To said that movie, called “Lethal Gold” in Chinese, has been delayed because the actors have other commitments, but he still aims to finish it by the end of the year.

WSJ: ‘Shaolin’ and Director Benny Chan

FBA: Vampire Warriors (4/10)

Disappointing modern vampire movie gets some heft from Mainland action queen Jiang Luxia.

FBA: Amazons added to JJ’s Berlin slate

Legendary Amazons new title for Lady Generals of the Yang Family

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart fight scene between Louis Koo and Daniel Wu

Opening Mar. 31 (Sina-slide show)

New billboards promoting Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grandmasters appeared in the streets of Berlin prior to the upcoming film festival. The festival begins today and run until the 20th.

(Sina) (2)

Tang Wei arriving in South Korea, Feb. 8, to promote Late Autumn.

Sandra Ng family photos

Sandra Ng recently released nostalgic photos from the past (Sina)2

Shu Qi spent the holidays shooting a watch advert in Paris, later she went to Geneva and visited at Peter Lam’s nearby villa with a view of Mont-Blanc.

(Sina)2

Zhang Ziyi spotted in Tokyo during Spring Festival

New boyfriend or just a shopping buddy?

Zhang Ziyi turned 32 years-old yesterday (Feb.9) (Sina)2(Xinhua)

Recovering mom, Michelle Reis (Xinhua)

Cousin Ayden meets JM (Jayden Max)

JM also happens to be initials of parents Julian and Michelle

Ayden is Michelle Reis’ sister’s baby boy (Sina)

MSN: First look at Michelle Reis’s son (Sina)

MSN: Sandy Lam and rumoured boyfriend performed in Australia

Jay Chou rumoured to have a new girlfriend

The new ‘J girl’ is said to be a 17-year-old Australian Taiwanese

September 7, 2010

September 7, 2010

Screen Daily: Detective Dee and the Mystery of Phantom Flame

There’s a tasty idea in here, and its entertainingly executed: graft a detective story onto a historical martial arts actioner set during the Tang dynasty, and see what emerges. Director Tsui Hark has never been a less-is-more kind of guy, and the sheer abundance of plot threads and sumptuous, FX-enriched set pieces threatens to swamp the story at times.

Strait Times/AFP: Tsui’s film wows

Screen Daily: The Child’s Eye 3D

While the script of cult directors Danny and Oxide Pang’s 3D horror movie is a strictly by-the-numbers affair, there are more than a few nicely set-up 3D moments and a healthy moment of surreal filmmaking in amidst the film’s horror-in-a-hotel tale.

Screen Daily: Reign of Assassins

As a action-packed tale of martial arts revenge and killings, the impressively staged Reign of Assassins certainly delivers the goods in stylish fashion. It might lack the sheer visual poetry of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but its scenes of sword-play are wonderful and once the story gathers momentum it is absorbing and entertaining.

Poster for national release

(Sina)

Screen Daily: Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen

Screen Daily: Showtime

Macau-born Clara Law at Venice Festival

Law will present “Red Earth”, which is one segment of a larger project, “Quattro Hong Kong,” featuring the independent contributions of four Hong Kong directors: Herman Yau, Clara Law, Heiward Mak and Fruit Chan.

CRI: Li Bingbing in Venice(Sina-slide show)

CRI: Shu Qi Models ‘Legend of the Fist’ Costumes

Lam Suet

Lam Suet, Liu Hua

Lam Suet plays his first lead role in the Hollywood-style Mainland action thriller Adventure Island directed by Feng Chao. Starting as a stage manager in the ’80s, Lam Suet became a regular in Johnnie To’s films and won a Best Supporting Actor Award for his role in PTU. (Sina)

Up Close With Benny Chan2

FBA: Seediq Bale finally wraps

FBA: Hawthorn to open Pusan festival

Guests include Tang Wei and a gala screening of Late Autumn.

Karena Lam break due to pregnancy? In July, a pregnant woman resembling Karena Lam has been regularly seen visiting a Toronto hospital for check ups. To confirm suspicions, documents were checked and indicated the patient’s English name was indeed ‘Karena Lam’. This was reported by someone who is a friend of a nurse. A call by reporters to a GM at Filmko said that there were no signs of pregnancy and that Karena’s break was for education purposes in order to get a degree in Canada. (Xinhua)

CRI: Film-goer Jolts Cinema, Distributor with Lawsuit over “Aftershock” Ads

Chen, who saw the movie twice at the Xi’an Polybona International Cinema (Polybona), said in her suit that audiences were given no warning or indication on the ticket that ads before the film ran to 20 minutes.

October Elle - Zhao Wei

(Xinhua)

Sam Lee, Edison Chen

Edison Chen and Sam Lee sold out a club in Hangzhou with 1000 tickets at 200 yuan each. One caller offered 80,000 for a box. Outside the club, it was like an auto show, Lamborghinis, Porsches, and Ferraris filled the street. Out of town license plates indicated that many had made special trips to come. Edison’s rapping in Mandarin was bad yet the crowd screamed like crazy. Female fans were especially excited as he left the stage and they grabbed to touch him. (Xinhua)

HKStandard: Bullets that silenced the hired guns

There were several robbery cases involving banks and goldsmiths between the mid-1980s and the early 1990s. The robbers used nine-millimeter automatic pistols (like the Black Star made for the People’s Liberation Army), assault rifles such as the AK47 and even grenades…

September 6, 2010

Up Close With Benny Chan

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 10:35 am

Up Close with Benny Chan

Sci-Fi Foray

Hailed as a first in Hong Kong cinema, director Benny Chan brought to movie-goers the action-packed and special-effects heavy City Under Siege, a sci-fi flick in the likes of the X-Men. But make no mistake, Chan brooks no comparisons to Hollywood; he is ready to take on the challenge of breaking through boundaries. Malaysian Today recently had an interview with him.

Malaysian Today: Tell us more about the casting, creation and concept of City Under Siege?
Benny Chan: I’ve always wanted to create a movie that was about science fiction, mutants and supernatural heroes. It’s and idea I’ve toyed with for a long time in my mind, and when I finally got this off the ground, it was only natural that I sought out an actor I was familiar with, in this case, Aaron Kwok. And since this is an action film as well, I had to look for stars that are well-known in this genre, in this case, Wu Jing and Colin Chou. I have often heard that this kind of movie is the domain of the Hollywood’s big guns, but I wanted to prove them wrong. It is a misconception that the Hong Kong film industry cannot make a movie like this.

Q: What was it like working with both veteran action stars (Colin, Wu Jing) alongside a first-time action star (Zhang Jing Chu)?
A: It wasn’t only me - it was an entire team effort where the experienced guided and helped the inexperienced. There is a lot of cost involved in the training and in the practising of the more demanding action roles, but it is a collaborative effort of the stuntmen, and not only myself. I cannot take credit for the hours that they all put in to train Jing Chu, I had the help of very highly trained experts to make the movie work. Besides, whether it is difficult or easy, we had to make it work! (laugh)

Q: Being in the industry for so long then, how have you seen the HK movie industry grow?
A: I can confidently say we are as good as and on par with Hollywood, even though I don’t like to compare. Over the years, I have seen a 100 per cent growth in the HK film industry, I’ve seen us keep the Chinese element in our films yet still come out on par. It is different and competitive, but this industry has its own standards and even the big guys like Columbia, Disney and Pixar have set up base in Hong Kong. We need to keep thinking of ourselves first, and even in City under Siege, I faced a lot of naysayers who believe this kind of movie is the territory of Hollywood. But it isn’t.

Q: What about the Asian film industry? What do you see for its future?
A: I see a great growth, but it really depends on the support in each country. The Hong Kong government has been incredibly supportive of filmmakers through refunds, tax exemptions, rebates and monetary/financial support.

Q: In your years in the industry, you’ve seen so many new, young and hungry talents come and go - what will be your advice to them?
A: Creativity. It all boils down to creativity. They need to be creative people with creative outlooks, and a determination to create what I call a ‘high concept’ film or idea, where it is driven by creativity and imagination. They must not be afraid to try to do it themselves - nowadays, everyone has a HD camera or a video camera that they can use to record their own amateur film or show their creativity. I would tell them not to worry about the small stuff, or to be distracted by negativity.

Q: And finally, City Under Siege is partially set in Malaysia, so would you like to work with Malaysian filmmakers someday on a collaborative movie?
A: Definitely, yes! I love Malaysia - the food, the people and the roads even! (laugh) Hong Kong is very small and you don’t get much space to drive. I’ve also been here in the 90’s, when I was filming Who Am I? with Jackie Chan, so I am familiar and very happy to be back in Malaysia. Malaysians also enjoy a good action movie, and Hong Kong movies get a lot of support here too!
Malaysian Today

October 21, 2009

October 21, 2009

14 Blades poster

(cri.com)

\

Terri Kwan, Oceane Zhu Xuan

Cheng Pei-PeiKarena Lam, George Lam, Daniel Wu, Kenneth Tsang and wife

Prince of Tears Hong Kong premiere - slide show (28) (Sina.com)

(Sina.com)

THR: Chow Yun-Fat to star in Jiang’s ‘Bullets’

CRI: Chow Yun-Fat Joins “Bullets” Cast

… there were no less than ten options for the ending of the movie. The director and Chow came up with the final version when they were drinking and chatting…

The 11 major male roles will go towards assembling a Chinese “Ocean’s Eleven”, according to earlier reports.

Investment in the movie has hit 150 million Hong Kong dollars, or about 20 million US dollars.

Michelle Yeoh goes back to gongfu

In Jianyu Jianghu, loosely translated as Rain Of Swords In The Martial Arts World, she will play an assassin.

Co-directed by acclaimed Chinese director John Woo (Face/Off) and Taiwanese film-maker Su Chao-pin (Silk), filming for the movie will start in China next week.

Emi Wada: A many-hued Oscar

The world knows Emi Wada for her Academy Award-winning costumes for Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, but most Chinese know her as the brains behind the techni-colored wardrobe of Zhang Yimou’s 2002 Hero (Yingxiong).

Astro Boy’s Huge Comeback

Deng Chao’s Astro Boy haircut

Deng Chao as Astro Boy

THR: Golden Harvest promises rebirth

New managers vow to resurrect storied HK studio Golden Harvest

Benny Chan’s New Shaolin Temple won’t be like the Jet Li version. Filming begins in December and will feature Nic Tse, Fan Bingbing, Andy Lau, Jackie Chan, and Wu Jing. But the female lead has not been cast yet. Fan Bingbing replaces Zhou Xun who was originally announced but had a schedule conflict. Script is by New Police Story’s Yuen Kam-Lun. Filming will take place at the actual Shaolin Temple then move to Hengdian Studio. (Xinhua)

Keanu Reeves will act in producer/investor capacity and ’spiritual pillar’. He will not star, as previously reported, in Kung Fu Hero. Keira Knightly is slated to guest appear. Ning Ying will direct.[An odd choice as she is noted for harder hitting films like On The Beat and Railroad of Hope.] Beijing launch ceremony photos below. (Sina.com)

Tiger Chen Hu

Chen Hu, Lin Shen

Director Ning Ying

Three leads - Chen Hu, Jiang Mengjie, Lin Shen

Brandy Yuen, action director

July 18, 2009

July 18, 2009


Aaron Kwok has started working in Benny Chan’s City Under Siege in Hong Kong

Stephen Chow salvages romance ‘Jump’
Original film featured Edison Chen

Nick Cheung begins shooting To Live and Die in Mongkok - photos
Monica Mok plays a prostitute


Yu Feihong’s Directorial Debut ‘Eternal Beloved’ Looks Set to Be a Hit

Charlie Yeung sacrifices hair for arts - 37

Hong Kong in tune with mainland biz
It’s getting harder to tell mainland Chinese and Hong Kong movies apart.

Jackie Chan praises kung fu of Will Smith’s son
“He put my son to shame! I provided my son with the best martial artists in the world, and he could not be persuaded to try it.” Poor Jaycee.

Kelly Chen goes home with baby
Slim New Mom Kelly Chen In ‘Surrogate Mother’ Suspection
The slim, post-pregnancy physique of singer-actress Kelly Chen has prompted rumors that the new mother could have had a surrogate give birth to her son.


More photos of Gillian Chung in Malaysia

Pace Wu
Pace Wu in Guangzhou for a fashion event

Louis Vuitton opens in Shenzhen
Li Xiaolu
Fan Bingbing

Death threat sent to legislator after Tiananmen stand

Kim Jong-il’s grandson seen at concert

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