HKMDB Daily News

October 28, 2010

October 28, 2010

“Heart” edition of Midnight Beating poster

Finally, an official English title. Of course, my orignal translations Midnight Pulse/Midnight Heartbeat didn’t prove out!

Simon Yam, Yang Yuyu

Li Nian, producer Ding Wei-Min, Francis Ng


THR: Huang Bo Joins ‘Black & White: Episode 1′

FBA: Monkey King gets 3-D IMAX treatment

Female leads include Faye Wong, Cecilia Cheung, Kelly Chen and Gigi Leung.

CRI: Angelababy Stars in CPC Anniversary Film

CRI: ’Lost in Panic Room’ Photo Stills

The film tells the story of a puzzling series of murders in a mountain villa. Writer Liu Yunfei (Alec Su), who is famed for writing detective stories, is accidentally involved in the case. His detective skills finally help him discover the real murderer.

Pre-screenings have triggered comments that director Gao Qunshu has copied Hollywood’s Western movies. Gao responded in an interview with China Daily, “I am not copying Hollywood. I am learning from it and using it in my own way.”

Ship captain Lin Quanhai (Wang Xueqi) abandoned his wife and their son when the boy was only 10. They never saw each other again. One day, Lin is informed that his son has been shot dead by the police for stabbing and taking a hostage in a shopping mall in Chongqing. Lin decides to come to Chongqing to search for the life and memories of his son after he left him.

Newcomer Aarif Lee Plays Young Kung Fu Legend

The production was based on input from Lee’s younger brother Robert and his two older sisters. Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee and widow Linda Lee Cadwell, however, were not involved and there have been suggestions of interfamily controversy.

IFC will release the film theatrically and on video-on-demand in early 2011.

In the tradition of Hong Kong cinematic storytelling, Perfect Wedding recounts how Xin (Miriam Yeung), a wedding planner who despite always arranges amazing wedding for others, is left at the altar by her fiancé. Still heartbroken years later, she continues in wedding planning yet no longer believes in love.

The film stars Wang Qianyuan, who earned a nomination for best actor at TIIF. Born and raised in northeastern China, Wang said he is very familiar with characters like Chen, “Chen is a typical northeasterner, very relaxed and optimistic, he always finds the fun in life,” Wang told the Global Times.

Sandra Ng and Tony Leung Ka-Fai, will costar in Eric Tsang’s Lunar New Year film I Love Hong Kong. Wong Cho-Nam and Bosco Wong will play younger versions of Eric and Tony in the happier version of the Echoes of the Rainbow-like nostalgic comedy. (Xinhua)

Donnie Yen deleted earlier comments from his weibo complaining that The Legend of the Fist was not very good and had too much of the story deleted. He said that the box office would have been better and matched rival film Detective Dee otherwise. The posts attracted much media attention and Donnie said they were deleted so as not to be misunderstood. (Xinhua)2

Late Autumn stills (Xinhua-gallery)

CRI: Karen Mok Graces Fashion Magazine(Xinhua)

Huang Yi, Karen Mok (qq)

Found the MV for the theme song for Derek Chiu’s Road Less Travelled sung by Karen Mok. It’s an old Lowell Lo hit from 1986. Searching the interwebs, the film looks to have been filmed way back in 2009(!).

It plays fairly smoothly: (Tudou-MV)

MSN: Cecilia Cheung is not invited to Jordan Chan’s wedding

Jordan Chan and Cherrie Ying are not inviting their rumoured exes Cecilia Cheung and Eric Suen to their wedding bash.

Rumour has it that the actress has offered a high remuneration for Carina Lau’s assistant, Siqi, as the latter is well-connected and familiar with China’s film market.

“When I studied at the teaching college in China, my teacher told me ‘Zhao Wei, you should change your profession.’

July 27, 2010

July 27, 2010

CRI: Zhang Yimou’s ‘Hawthorn Tree’ Due out Sept. 16

Zhang Yimou’s new film “The Love of the Hawthorn Tree” will open in Chinese cinemas on September 16, the director’s producing partner Zhang Weiping has announced.

CRI: Stills Released for John Woo’s ‘Reign of Assassins’

The film will premiere at the 67th Venice International Film Festival which will open on September 1. Theatrical release is set for September 28.

CRI: Zhang Ziyi Turns into 3D “Mulan”

On top of playing the main character, Zhang will also serve as the producer of the film. The lead actor has been confirmed as Taiwan pop singer Lee-Hom Wang, who speaks fluent English.

Variety reports that Isaac Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves featuring Maggie Cheung and Zhao Tao is short-listed for screening at the Venice International Film Festival. [Maggie Cheung is a Goddess]

2 classics return to former glory

The Hong Kong Film Archive will present restored classics Cold Blade (1970) and The Story of Wong Fei-hung (Part I) (1949) in August and September as part of the Restored Treasures series.

Long-shelved Gillian Chung vehicle is an out-there HK “island movie” mixing the tender, silly and fantastical.

Aftershock has brought in 180 million yuan at the box office after 4 days. The original 500 million yuan goal is quite reasonable now. (Sina) Based on Sina comments and reviewers, Aftershock has a 85.9 /100 rating. 85.7 is the average rating, with 70 the lowest since the panel’s inception in early 2009. An accompanying chart shows ratings for various films. (Sina)

You can’t get these at the San Diego Comic-Con

12″ action figure of Donnie Yen

Limited Edition action figures of Donnie Yen will go on sale at the Hong Kong Book Fair to coincide with Donnie Yen’s birthday, July 27. Yen himself has ordered 10 sets to give away as gifts. It was announced today (July 27) that Fist of Legend: The Return of Chen Zhen will screen at the Toronto International Film Festival, and for the Venice Film Festival, Shu Qi will take 4 days off from shooting Feng Xiaogang’s If You Are the One 2 in order to attend the Venice premiere. A Mainland and Hong Kong release is scheduled Sept. 21 during the Mid-Autumn Festival (Sina)

CRI: Donnie Yen’s Action Film to Show at 35th TIFF

The music video of the title track “Baby” was just released on July 27.

Jane Zhang publicity photo for concert tour for I Believe CD that begins in Shanghai, Aug. 14


Zhou Xun - collection of magazine covers over the years (Xinhua)

Zhao Wei - on her way to shoot print adverts in Beijing (Xinhua)

Carina Lau - spotted in late-night outing with mystery man in Beijing (Xinhua)(Sina)

Gigi Lai could earn up to seven figures if she decided to make a comeback and endorse commercial products according to one appliance PR spokeswoman. Faye Wong and Michelle Reis earn roughly that much for their endorsements. However, the wife and new mother is unlikely to return to work. (Xinhua)

SG: A rift between Cecilia Cheung and mother-in-law?

Photos from yesterday show a happy family gathering (Xinhua-gallery)

Lucas and Cecilia Cheung

Quintus and Deborah


Lin Chiling and ‘Toilet Bowl Prince’ a couple?

Liu Qian, the Miracle Man

The 34-year-old magician became an international celebrity after an exceptional performance at the CCTV New Year’s Gala 2009 in China.

ChinaHush: Girl enters model contest to chase pop star Andy Lau

HKStandard: ‘Tentacle of lies’

Octopus Cards stands accused of having lied to 1.97 million cardholders.

June 22, 2010

June 22, 2010

Guei Lun-Mei’s sexy pole dancer scene was cut from Ocean Heaven. (Xinhua)

HKMagazine: Break Up Club

The real heroes of this film are the two leads—Jaycee Chan and Fiona Sit, regardless of whether they were an actual real-life item before (as the tabloids claim), they are the one of the most convincing on-screen couples we’ve seen in a long time…Who would have thought frigging Jackie Chan’s son would turn out to be a bit of an actor after all?

Variety: Once a Gangster

The directing bow of “Infernal Affairs” scribe Felix Chong, “Once a Gangster” covers familiar Hong Kong genre turf, but does so with a wacky comedic eye, if less overall success. Centered around a mild restaurateur with mob connections who’s forced to head a Kowloon Triad, the script shows brief flashes of wit and intelligence, and plays hit-and-run with local genre conventions in a way that will amuse Asiaphiles but leave others scratching their heads.

FBA: The Karate Kid (功夫夢) (5/10)(Chinese version)

Beijing-set remake of the 1984 film looks lush but is dramatically bland and culturally problematical.

Wong Kar-Wai’s Grand Master is said to have completed filming and now entered the editing phase. Ultimately, Brigitte Lin did not make a comeback appearance. Zhang Ziyi’s role is said to be that of a female killer. Zhao Benshan and Song Hye-Kyo also appear. A Lunar New Year opening is still anticipated despite some delays. It will compete against 4 powerhouse films: Chen Kaige’s Zhao’s Orphan, Zhang Yimou’s Love Under the Hawthorne Tree, Jiang Wen’s Let the Bullets Fly and Feng Xiaogang’s You Are the One 2. (Sina)

First look: ‘The Green Hornet’ trailer (THR)

CRI: Jay Chou in ‘Green Hornet’ Trailer

A new trailer for “The Green Hornet” has offered an early peek at how Jay Chou passes as the Green Hornet’s sidekick.

Kwok plays a circus clown who accidentally inhales a chemical gas while treasure hunting on a mountain. The gas left by the Japanese army in World War II turns him into a giant, mutated Orc-like creature from the movie “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”

This year’s Golden Horse Awards Ceremony will shift to Taoyuan County and be held on 20 Nov 2010.

Vivian Hsu, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Ma Ju-Lung

Vivian Hsu

(Sina-slide show)

Charlene Choi - Shanghai (June 20)

Charlene Choi was is Shanghai to promote her new Mandarin album ‘As a Sa’. She said Twins was not disbanding and the duo would release an album next year. (Sina-slideshow)2

HK actress Charlene Choi tired of comedies

Charlene Choi revealed that she is tired of doing comedies and hopes to some day do a romantic tragedy, reported Chinese media.

“A lot of people approach me to do comedies and I generally don’t turn them down, but I hope a director will ask me to do a romantic tragedy,” she said during a promotional event for her new film “Jade Pearl” - yet another comedy - in Shanghai on Sunday.

“In almost every film, the director asked me to dress like a man,” Choi lamented. “Maybe I just look like one.”

Edison Chen to make comeback by October

Controversial Hong Kong actor Edison Chen has announced his plans to return to the music scene by October. He revealed this in an interview with Sina after performing John Lennon’s Imagine at Hong Kong rapper duo Fama’s recent concert at the Hong Kong Coliseum.

Sammi Cheng spotted with ex-squeeze

Sammi Cheng and Andy Hui have fuelled more speculation that they are back together, after they flew back from Taipei together.

Hui, 42, who was the first to be seen in the arrival hall of the Hong Kong International Airport on Thursday, was adamant that he had gone to Taiwan for business - to get a director for a new music video, he told Ming Pao Daily News.

Lin Chiling expressed her disappointment over the dismal ratings of her Japanese drama serial “Moonlight Lovers” and revealed that she hopes to take some acting classes next year, reported Chinese media.

Speaking to reporters while attending the high-profile Royal Ascot horse races in the UK, Lin was evasive and said, “Could we not talk about the ratings (of “Moonlight Lovers”)? Frankly, I am a little depressed at the moment.”

SG: Cecilia Cheung plans return for mom

One month after giving birth to her second son, Cecilia was reported to be on the prowl for opportunities to resume her acting career. Cecilia is believed to need to supplement her mother’s expenses.

It was reported that Stephen was offering Cecilia the leading role for the upcoming sequel to his widely-successful King of Comedy, a 1999 comedy in which Cecilia’s turn as a club girl propelled her to fame.

Stephen Chow is the second director who has approached Cecilia for movie roles - director Derek Tung had previously indicated his interest in casting both Cecilia and her son Lucas in a movie.

SG: Michelle Reis’ 40th birthday ’surprise’

Michelle Reis was celebrating her 40th birthday at a restaurant with husband Julian Hui, billionaire and son of Hong Kong’s shipping and property tycoon Hui Sai Fun, when she ran into her old flame, Joseph Lau…Just the day before Michelle had put up a picture of her in a bikini on the Web, apparently in a bid to dispel rumours of her pregnancy.

Michelle Reis’ 40th birthday

SG: Andy Hui and Sammi Cheng continues to evade rumours

Jean Todt, Michelle Yeoh - Moscow

June 19, Montblanc Moscow White Nights Festival (Xinhua)

Huang Xiaoming Harbour City appearance for UNICEF (Sina)

June 1, 2010

June 1, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — dleedlee @ 12:40 pm

Illusion Apartment

CRI: “Illusion Apartment” Debuts June 4th

Illusion Apartment” tells a story about the devil which lurks in people’s hearts. Considering the impact of horror films on youngsters, there will be a warning sign on the posters displayed in cinemas; however they will not be restricted to see the film.

Jackie promoting Karate Kid

Jackie, Jaden Smith appearing on Good Morning, Dallas

CRI: “The Karate Kid” Premieres in Dallas

LATimes: ‘Karate Kid’ update breaks down some Chinese walls

Action packed trailer for Wind Blast (Thanks, Valerie)

Global Times: Everything’s an act, from Cannes to the coming-out young actor

Chongqing Blues’ publicist said that the film was “Wang’s first attempt at commercial films” while Wang insisted on his “artistic director” status.

WSJ: Cannes 2010: Young Director from Singapore Builds a ‘Sandcastle’

CRI: “North Latitude 31 Degrees Videotapes” Premieres on June 11

The Chinese horror-adventure film “North Latitude 31 Degrees Videotapes,” directed by A Gan and is based on a mysterious tape he purchased.

The producer refused to unveil if there is indeed a wild man recorded on the tapes.

May 30 - Feng Xiaogang and wife, Xu Fan, at web site launch event for After Shock

Co-star Zhang Guoqiang


To Yuhang promotes Legend is Born at a press conference. The actor has studied Wing Chun for eight years and co-star Louis Fan Siu-Wong has spent the past year learning it, so the film promises authentic Wing Chun.The film opens just as the World Cup begins at the end of June. (Sina)

Teresa Mo

Teresa Mo made an uncompenstated endorsement for a health product brand. She was grateful when the brand chairman Dr Helen Chan treated Teresa’s daughter after she came down with the swine flu last year.(Sina)

31 year-old Karena Lam is reportedly preparing to return to show business. After spending the past few years studying in Canada, Karena has indicated an interest and willingness to accept suitable scripts. She will attend the Shanghai promotion of Don Quixote in which she appears. (Xinhua)

Joan Lin Feng-Chiao

Jaycee Chan and mom

Jaycee Chan

Jaycee’s mom Lin Feng-Chiao made a surprise appearance at an album release event. Jaycee recently posted childhood pictures on his blog in advance of Children’s Day, June 1, that will also be included in his album. (Xinhua)(Sina)

Huang Yi

As a child, Huang Yi was very energetic, later she was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Once, in primary school, Huang Yi came home but was locked out without a key. Hovering by the gate she figured out a solution, Huang Yi climbed up an outdoor gas pipe to the third floor to jump into the apartment!  ”It was a great feeling!” The young girl had a lot of courage but Huang Yi once did something that was really worried the whole family. She lived in Shanghai with her grandmother while her parents worked in Beijing at a primary school. During summer vacation, Huang Yi decided to visit her parents. She bought a sleeper ticket and took a 12-hour train ride to Beijing. Because her parents didn’t know she was coming, Huang Yi arrived at the train station and didn’t know what to do next. She found a kindly grandfather at the station and explained her situation. The grandfather took the little girl home and fed her then helped her find her parents the next day. (Xinhua)

Sister Lee Ka-Ming, Michelle Reis

Michelle Reis’s elder sister reportedly married in a low-key ceremony. She is said to be 5 months pregnant. The groom is a 43 year-old optics mogul introduced by Michelle. (Xinhua)

Lisa S flashes her ring in Taipei appearance (May 28)

Pretty in pink (Sina)

Bai Ling (Xinhua)

(May 31) Carina Lau appearing for luggage brand


Angie Chiu (1973, 3rd runner up) and other former Miss Hong Kong contestants visit Sichuan for post-earthquake reconstruction fund raising.

Monica Chan (Miss Hong Kong, 1989) (Xinhua)

Zhang Ziyi spent Children’s Day in Sichuan and renewed her commitment to raising funds for earthquake reconstruction.

Zhang Ziyi visits an orphanage in Deyang, Sichuan (Sina)

Lin Peng visited autistic children in Beijing on behalf of Jackie Chan’s Charitable Foundation while Jackie is in the US promoting The Karate Kid. (Sina)

CRI: Huading Night Awards(Xinhua)

The annual Huading Awards were held in Beijing on Saturday, May 29, 2010. The Awards recognize Chinese celebrities’ public images and social influences based on a jury panel’s decisions and results of nationwide polls. Honored celebrities are from the film, television, opera, pop music and broadcasting fields.

Zhou Xun was later spotted dining with Doze Niu Cheng-Tse (Monga) leading to reports that she will star in his next film which he is currently planning in Beijing. (Xinhua)

Despite an earlier donation controversy that almost damaged Zhang Ziyi’s reputation, the actress was listed among the Top 10 Chinese Celebrities with the Best Public Images announced by the Huading Awards on Saturday.

May 14, 2010

Chongqing Blues (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 11:30 pm

“Chongqing Blues” an average story of family angst
By Maggie Lee

CANNES (Hollywood Reporter) - Even though upgraded to a competition slot from its original place in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, “Chongqing Blues” represents no notable artistic leap in filmmaker Wang Xiaoshuai’s repertoire.

Flowing with the same pensive, heavy cadence of the river that visually and metaphorically dominates the film, it is an old-style exploration of the new face of China through an itinerant father’s return to the titular city to make sense of his son’s death after abandoning his family for 15 years.

It may be solidly directed with Bressonian detachment and anchored by an absorbing performance by lead actor Wang Xueqi, but it is neither outstanding nor revelatory enough to play outside of a cluster of European art house cinemas.

While away on a long voyage, ship captain Lin Quanhai (Wang)’s 24-year-old son Bo (Zi Yi) was shot by police for a random stabbing and hostage taking incident in a mall. Lin left his native city Chongqing when Bo was only 10. He goes back to talk to those involved in the case or close to Bo’s life in order to understand the circumstances of his death.

Lin’s journey is both that of an errant father taking stock of his guilty past and the return of a prodigal son to his hometown to find himself an outsider. However, other than a vague suggestion of wanderlust and phone calls from Lin’s new wife expressing agitation at his long absence, there is no penetration into why he was unwilling to stay put with either of his families. Wang’s director’s statement citing Lin as a symbol of restless, ever-changing contemporary China doesn’t explain or convince.

Wang’s usual strength of depicting without condescension youth boxed in by their backgrounds (”Beijing Bicycle”) or political milieu (”Shanghai Dreams”) are compromised by contrived scenes to emphasize Lin’s disconnect from his son’s generation — like his gawking in the club where Bo’s buddy Hao (Qin Hao) dances, or his attempt to enlarge a screen-capture image of Bo (the pixilated effect symbolizes his blurry impression of his son). Nor do accounts or flashbacks by Hao, Bo’s girlfriend Xiaowen (Li Feier) or the hostage (Fan Bingbing) provide enough insight into Bo’s inner world and eventual breakdown (except that he misses his dad), to make him speak for China’s disaffected youth.

The city’s grungy character is captured by a roving handheld camera that follows Lin’s from behind as he wanders around muggy streets strewn with dank and weathered buildings, always teeming with scruffily dressed crowds wearing stressed out frowns. These downcast images are intermittently juxtaposed with splendid wide shots of the riverside cityscape, veiled in layers of fog and haunting compositions of a pier filled with scrap construction vehicles.

Editing is clean and maintains a comfortably measured pace even if the film is overall too long at 115 minutes. Occasional use of a romantic piano score sits awkwardly with the gritty realism conveyed by the ambient sound and natural lighting in outdoor scenes.

May 14, 2010

Variety: Chongqing Blues

An irreparable father-son bond triggers a study in bleak cityscapes and pervasive intergenerational malaise in “Chongqing Blues.” Initially as glum as its title would suggest, Wang Xiaoshuai’s poignant if plodding ninth feature — which follows an absentee father trying to glean information about the dead son he never knew — eventually opens up with a handful of quietly affecting moments, but elsewhere bogs down in psychodramatic flashbacks that ultimately sentimentalize as much as they clarify.

Screen Daily: Chongqing Blues

A strong performance by Wang Xueqi as the father provides emotional ballast but fails to make up for the glacial pacing of the drama; and although there are some effective emotional tugs and an evocative use of the film’s dirty industrial city setting, the audience’s investment in the slowbuild structure is never paid back in full.

THR: Wang Xiaoshuai returns to Cannes

CRI: “Chongqing Blues” Screened at Cannes Film Festival

Fan Bingbing

Li Lingyu, Zi Yi Cannes red carpet (Xinhua)

Fan Bingbing in dress from Elie Saab for film’s premiere (Sina)2

He Yumeng

Be sure to check out ewaffle’s take on the premiere’s red carpet.

CNNGo: Josie Ho in Dream Home: Incredibly gruesome must-see slasher film

Jeon Do-Yeon - Cannes (Sina)

Tasty, full of black humour, but finally upended by the mannerist games it plays so ably, erotic thrillerThe Housemaid is a smart but shallow remake of Kim Ki-young’s cult 1960 Korean movie of the same name.

THR: The Housemaid

Bottom Line: An operatic, sensuous social satire that dares to be different from the original classic.

Screen Daily: Sandcastle (Singapore)

Sandcastle marks a quietly assured debut feature from writer/director Boo Junfeng. The blending of guilty family secrets and the ghosts of Singapore’s recent past create an involving narrative that is related with tenderhearted understatement.

Variety: Bedevilled (South Korea)

A young mother understandably wants to get off a remote island filled with violent and misogynistic miscreants and slave-driving old hags in “Bedevilled,” a confused genre hodgepodge that marks the feature debut of Kim Ki-duk’s former assistant director Jang Cheol-soo. Part limpid study of city-country contrasts, part one-sickle-kills-all revenge fantasy, Jang’s film drifts from one genre to another without ever fully coming into its own.

Taipei Times: Taipei Exchanges

‘Taipei Exchanges’ juxtaposes capitalism against a more idealistic way of life in the form of two sisters, one practical, the other utopian.

Eight films and two TV dramas in the works

First up for Chan himself is the martial arts film “Drunken Master 1945.” Though neither a remake nor sequel to Chan’s 1978 hit “Drunken Master,” the new film is intended to capture the martial arts spirit that the earlier film also celebrated.

Beginning in August, Steve Woo will direct “The Break-Up Artist,” a Chinese Mandarin-language romantic comedy about a young woman who runs an agency that helps couples break up.

Jackie Chan a ruthless boss?

Ken Lo, William Duen Wai-Lun sacked with little compensation; Xinhua2

Zhao Benshan as a river pirate in “Laughter of the Water Margins”

Director is Chu Yen-Ping (TreasureHunter)


Ning Hao’s No Man’s Land too dark? (Xinhua)

Former Olympic diver Tian Liang has joined the cast of Andrew Lau’s love story Beautiful Life

Beautiful Life stars Shu Qi, Liu Ye (file photo) (HunanTV)

CRI: Tsui Hark’s 3-D Animation “Animen” to Hit Cinemas on Children’s Day(Sina)

Opening in China, Europe and US simultaneously

Rumor Mill:  Previously, Edko announced that Tsui Hark would remake a 3D version of New Dragon Inn. No cast has been announced yet. Earlier rumors has Gui Lun-Mei and Ethan Ruan as Tsui Hark’s favorite candidates. A current rumor from an ‘insider’ on the micro-blogosphere has Jet Li, Li Yuchun and Zhou Xun in the new love triangle with filming to begin in September. (HunanTV)

Taipei Times: Pop Stop - Mother’s Day

Huang Yi and her cat

Practicing her piano (Photos from micro-blog)

CRI: Gigi Leung Breaks up with French BoyfriendChannel NewsAsia

Gigi Leung breaks up with French boyfriend of four years

May 13, 2010

Chongqing Blues (Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 10:41 pm

Chongqing Blues
Rizhao Chongqing

(China) A Tempo Films, WXS Prods. and Beijing Bona Films & Television Culture Co. presentation. (International sales: Films Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Hsu Hsiao-ming, Wang Xiaoshuai, Hsu Bing-his, Zhang Hao. Co-producer, Isabelle Glachant. Directed by Wang Xiaoshuai. Executive director, Li Shuang. Screenplay, Yang Yishu, Wang.

(Mandarin dialogue)

An irreparable father-son bond triggers a study in bleak cityscapes and pervasive intergenerational malaise in “Chongqing Blues.” Initially as glum as its title would suggest, Wang Xiaoshuai’s poignant if plodding ninth feature — which follows an absentee father trying to glean information about the dead son he never knew — eventually opens up with a handful of quietly affecting moments, but elsewhere bogs down in psychodramatic flashbacks that ultimately sentimentalize as much as they clarify. Respectable fest run looks assured for a downbeat drama that won’t do much to widen the Chinese helmer’s commercial following offshore.

Forming a loose urban triptych with Wang’s “Beijing Bicycle” (2002) and Cannes jury prizewinner “Shanghai Dreams” (2005), “Chongqing Blues” opens with a blunt, effective evocation of its title: It’s Chongqing, and it’s blue. A cable car carries sea captain Lin Quanhai (Wang Xueqi) above the harbor and into the city, located in China’s Sichuan province and captured here at bustling street level.

Quanhai is on a sad and lonely mission: Returning from several months at sea, he’s seeking firsthand accounts of the recent death of his son Bo (Zi Yi, seen in the past), who knifed two people in a mall, took one hostage and was eventually shot dead by police. Angrily rebuffed by the boy’s grief-stricken mother — who, like Quanhai, now has a family of her own — the father patiently, doggedly reaches out to those involved: the two stab victims, the brave hostage (Fan Bingbing), even the cop who fired the gun. With some persuasion, most of them prove willing to talk, their firsthand accounts murkily illustrated by flashbacks and security-cam footage.

Pic is shot in a key of dour naturalism, with little artificial lighting and a searching handheld style that mirrors the restless probing of Quanhai’s quest; Wu Di’s camera frequently favors a position from directly behind the man’s head, suggesting a Sino spin on the Dardenne brothers’ “The Son,” also a fable of fatherly redemption. Yet there’s a rather studied quality to the bleakness here, which is interrupted periodically by explosive emotional outbursts that don’t always feel organic.

Quanhai is obsessed with piecing together a portrait of his son (quite literally, when he demands a blown-up poster of Bo’s face from a low-grade screen capture), setting up a psychological mystery that the flashbacks dispel rather too quickly. These scenes do energize the film to a degree, administering a jolt of hostage drama to the proceedings. But the more we see of this troubled teen, the less interesting he becomes, especially in a contrived memory sequence, set at the port city of Rizhao (pic’s Chinese title is “Rizhao Chongqing”).

As ever with Wang’s films, “Chongqing Blues” is invested in thematic questions that loom large over the central drama, as signaled by repeated shots of the city’s fog-enshrouded skyline. An immersive sequence set in a nightclub jammed with revelers blissing out on teen pop conveys the profound alienation Quanhai (and by extension, all parents his age) feels toward the younger generation — depicted here as almost uniformly aimless party animals, too busy texting and shooting pool to show their elders the proper respect.

Countering this ungenerous view somewhat is the character of Bo’s best friend, Xiao Hao (well played by Qin Hao), who resists Quanhai’s company at first but eventually comes around. So, too, does the audience, helpfully enabled by vet thesp Wang Xueqi’s stoic, stubborn yet affable presence as a dad trying to bridge the generation gap and atone for his negligence — and, in the film’s relatively optimistic view, succeeding as best he can.

Music, withheld at first but for a few wryly plucked guitar strings, gradually trickles into the picture and threatens to turn downright treacly in the final stretch.

Camera (color, widescreen), Wu Di; editors, Yang Hongyu, Fang Lei; music, Peter Wong; art director, Lu Dong; set decorator, Guo Zhen; costume designer, Pang Yan; sound designer, Fu Kang; line producer, Yuan Yi-hsin. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (competing), May 13, 2010. Running time: 114 MIN.

Chongqing Blues (Screen Daily review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 8:49 pm

Chongqing Blues (Rizhao Chongqing)

By Lee Marshall
Dir: Wang Xiaoshuai. China. 2010. 110mins

Not so much a whodunnit as a what happened, the tenth feature by mainland Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai (Beijing Bicycle, Shanghai Dreams) traces an absent father’s attempt to discover the circumstances behind the police shooting of a son he abandoned fifteen years previously.

A strong performance by Wang Xueqi as the father provides emotional ballast but fails to make up for the glacial pacing of the drama; and although there are some effective emotional tugs and an evocative use of the film’s dirty industrial city setting, the audience’s investment in the slowbuild structure is never paid back in full.

Wang’s films are virtually invisible in China, and while there is little except its portrayal of disaffected youth to trouble the censors in Chongqing Blues, its resolutely arthouse target means it is unlikely to be an exception. Elsewhere in the world continued festival action is likely after the film’s Cannes competition berth, and theatrically it may just add a territory or two to the pair (France and Greece) notched up by the director’s previous, the high-concept but low-tension leukaemia drama In Love We Trust.

Chongqing is a big, ugly river-port city in Sichuan province. Dop Wu Di’s atmospheric camerawork presents it as a reticent, unromantic place, offering grey skies and walls of dirty concrete (in the city) or rusting metal (in the shipyards) to the inquiring eye.

And reticence, not to say downright hostility, is what weathered ship’s captain Lin Quanhai (Wang Xueqi) encounters at every turn as he tries to find out what happened to his 25-year-old son Lin Bo (Zi Yi), news of whose death reached him six months after the fact, on his return from a long sea voyage.

His former wife Yuying (Li Lingyu) refuses to let him in, but from some old newspapers she throws at him, Quanhai discovers that Bo was shot by police after stabbing two people in a supermarket and taking a woman doctor (Li Feier) hostage.

Bo’s best friend, Xiao Hao (Qin Hao) initially refuses to tell Quanhai anything, but agrees to enlarge and print the only photo the father can find of his dead son - a still from the CCTV camera footage of the supermarket incident. There’s a poignancy here as Quanhai contemplates the blurred and pixellated face of the 25-year-old Bo, who he last saw when he was 10; the not-so-hidden subtext is that the father’s investigation is actually an attempt to build some kind of rapport with a son he never knew, and assuage the demons of guilt.

But although all this is there for the reading in the twitches of Wang Xuegi’s impassive face the director never quite seems confident that we’ve got the message, repeatedly flogging the delicacy out of the pixellated-portrait metaphor.

And although some of the meetings the stubborn father forces on friends and witnesses in the course of his quest are affecting, they also have a plodding inevitability about them: it comes as something of a relief to finally meet the policeman who shot the fatal bullet after ticking off the supermarket guard, the girl who was stabbed, the doctor who was taken hostage and the girlfriend whose dumping of Bo triggered his cry for help.

Emotionally, the film is no less linear, moving from tight-lipped closure to something very close to sentimentality (underlined by sparse string melodies that become more insistent and weepy towards the end) as the father discovers that his lost son was obsessed with him, and the sea.

As a film about fathers and sons, Chongqing Blues has some resonance. The film is also chock-full of images of passage and change: the river that flows down to the sea where two key scenes are set; the rusty cable car that connects port and town; shopping mall escalators, monorails, motorway ramps and bridges: all connect with the constant movement that is Quanhai’s career, and also, until he begins questioning it, his life strategy. But the slight, mushy story, and the overly pretty actors cast in the three main youth roles, are not really up to the task of carrying what would otherwise be a stimulating symbolic load.

Production companies: Tempo Films, WXS Productions, Beijing Bona Film & TV Culture Co
International sales: Films Distribution, +33 1 5310 3399
Producers: Hsu Hsiao-Ming, Wang Xiaoshuai, Hsu Bing-His, Zhang Hao
Screenplay: Yang Yishu, Wang Xiaoshuai
Cinematography: Wu Di
Production designer: Lu Dong
Editors: Yang Hongyu, Fang Lei
Music: Peter Wong
Main cast: Wang Xueqi, Fan Bingbing, Li Lingyu, Qin Hao, Zi Yi, Li Feier
Screen Daily

May 13, 2010

Behind Chongqing Blues

In Wang’s opinion, the potential success of Chongqing Blues proves the exceptional efforts of his film crew, but it is not representative of China’s film industry, especially not the artistic film scene that has been “gradually dying,” according to Wang, since 2003 when the market opened up to high budget, profit-geared blockbusters.

China Daily: Wang film up for Palme d’Or

Lin Peng was mistakenly introduced on the red carpet as Fan Bingbing by the red carpet host. Later, the publicity director explained that the confusion and embarrassment was due to a delay in Fan Bingbing’s car arriving.  (Xinhua)

Screen Daily: Bill Kong’s Edko sells Life Is A Miracle

Bill Kong’s Edko Films is launching international sales on award-winning Chinese director Gu Changwei’s Life Is A Miracle, starring Zhang Ziyi and Aaron Kwok, here at Cannes.

Set in a small Chinese village, where an illicit trade in human blood has resulted in the spread of HIV, the film follows two fellow AIDS sufferers, played by Zhang and Kwok, who fall in love with each other.

Meanwhile Edko has also picked up international rights to Jacob Cheung’s Rest On Your Shoulder, a fantasy romance that combines live action with CGI animation.

The story follows a young woman who makes a pact with a mythical being to become a butterfly in exchange for the recovery of her sick fiancé. The cast is headed by Aloys Chen, Gigi Leung, Kwai Lun-mei and Jiang Yi-yan, while the crew includes award-winning Japanese composer Jo Hisashi (Departures, Spirited Away).

Fox Searchlight has taken North American rights from IDG China Media to Wayne Wang’s sweeping epic Snow Flower And The Secret Fan.

Gianna Jun and Li Bing Bing star in the adaptation of Lisa See’s bestseller about female friendship in 19th century China. Hugh Jackman also appears.

However, producer An Xiaofen says the film could have earned much more. “Ip Man 2″ was leaked online on May 4, one week after its release. The pirated version has attracted more than 10 million clicks. That would amount to 300 million yuan (US$44 million) at the box office, the producer estimated.

No Man’s Land in limbo

Update on Ning Hao’s No Man’s Land. According to reliable sources, Ning Hao’s oft-delayed, highly anticipated film has been ’smothered’, i.e., cancelled, last week. Even after numerous changes, the film had failed to meet the approval of the film review board. If this is accurate,  film producer, China Film Group, stands to lose huge amounts of money that it has invested in it. However, a Sina Entertainment spokesman denied that the film had been killed. Aptly named, No Man’s Land, indeed. (Sina)2

Lucas has a new little brother

Cecilia Cheung gave birth to a little boy weighing 7.7 pounds yesterday at 10pm (Sina)

Deborah Li, Patrick Tse Yin, happy grandparents (Xinhua)

Nicholas Tse, Cecilia Cheung welcome second son

Although Nicholas’ parents, 1950s heartthrob Patrick Tse and former actress Deborah Li, told the media that the child hasn’t been named, sources previously said the parents have decided on ‘Marcus’.

Charlene Choi, Ronald Cheng officially divorced

Sam Lee with Myolie Wu, Sharon Chan and Joyce Tang in TVB drama Fury Street Corner


Marsha Yuan guest performed at Michael Wong’s Legend Reborn Macau show while mom Cheng Pei Pei watched from the front row.

Josie Ho also guested (AnD)

CRI: Song Commemorates Rebuilt Sichuan

Lisa S made first move on Daniel Wu

Glamour girl comes down to earth

May 7, 2010

May 7, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 3:14 pm

The martial arts comedy The Gallants opens in Hong Kong and the mainland June 4. It is produced by Andy Lau as part of his new directors program. Stars include Chen Kwun-Tai, Teddy Robin, Michale Chan Wai-Man and Bruce Liang Siu-Lung. (Sina)

Taipei Times: Pinoy Sunday

Hidden in plain sight

‘Pinoy Sunday’ will most likely not be playing at a theater near you because its subject is Taiwan’s migrant workers — a topic most cinemas think will be of little interest to mainstream audiences.

WSJ: 2010 Cannes Film Festival: Asian Films Come on Strong

WSJ: Asia in Cannes

Gong Li, John Cusack in Shanghai

Chow Yun-Fat, underworld godfather, resembling a mature version of his Hui Man-Keung character in The Bund (Xinhua)

Dream Home vomit bag (Sina)

Zhang Yimou will begin shooting 13 Women of Jinling (Nanjing) in October. Besides a 15 year-old newcomer from Nanjing Foreign Language School, a Hollywood actress is expected to be cast. 13 Women is based on an internet novel about 13 sex workers who volunteer to replace university students as ‘comfort women’ for the Japanese in 1937. (Sina)

Vivian Hsu

Launch ceremony (Source)

Vivian Hsu has begun filming ‘Juliet’ in Taiwan. She plays a woman with polio who enters into a taboo relationship with a younger man played by Wang Po-Chieh. Hou Chi-Jan directs. (Sina)2

CRI: Jackie Chan Advocates Protecting the Earth

Taipei Times: Pop Stop

CRI: Daniel Wu on Cover of Comfort

Cecilia Yip admits she drank and drove


HK celebs stripped for a good cause

CRI: Xidan Angel to Become Superstar

Subway singer was internet sensation

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