HKMDB Daily News

August 13, 2010

The Fantastic Water Babes (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 3:29 pm

The Fantastic Water Babes
By Maggie Lee
Bottom Line: A frivolous but endearing romantic fantasy.

BUCHEON, South Korea — Jeff Lau’s “The Fantastic Water Babes” is a kooky medley of the motivational sports movie, supernatural fantasy, romantic comedy and absurdist vernacular gags. The script, about a delusional Hong Kong girl from a sleepy outlying island who tries to one-up her love rival in a swimming contest with the help of a celebrity athlete from China, is skimpier than the bathing suits paraded on screen. Nevertheless, the film’s daffy humor is infectious. The three fetching leads Gillian Chung, Alex Fong and Liu Yifei charm by playing along with a happy-go-lucky attitude.

Amidst the tremors of “Aftershock’s” history-making ticket record in China and the deluge of Hollywood summer blockbusters in Hong Kong, “Water Babes’” earnings of about $1.2 million in China and $136,000 in Hong Kong may seem like a spit in the ocean. The defiantly regional setting and Cantonese colloquial humor are its commercial drawbacks, but ancillary sales could trickle in if they target audiences raised on ’90s Hong Kong “Mo Lei Tou” (nonsensical) comedies, which Lau helped pioneer.

At her high school graduation, Gillian (Chung) suffers the double humiliation of being dumped by her boyfriend and slapped by his new gal May. She jumps into the sea to commit suicide but while under water, she thinks she has seen Guan Yin, the patron saint of her native Cheung Chow Island. From then on, she is convinced that the deity has bestowed paranormal powers on her.

When Gillian spots a chance to get back at May by competing against her at a 4×100 swimming relay, she kidnaps Kwok Chi-yuan (Fong, former HK Olympic swimming representative), a swimming champion nicknamed “Prince of Flying Fish” visiting Guangzhou, to coach her.

How the egotistical, self-interested Kwok becomes gradually disarmed by Gillian’s eccentric friends and the Islanders’ rustic ways is predictable, but not without whimsical fun. Even though it’s obvious Gillian and Kwok will turn from bickering odd couple to lovers, the moment it happens is encapsulated with a swooning, romantic touch by the close-up of Kwok’s flip-flop falling off as he clasps Gillian’s waist as they ride a bike through a dark, wet alley.

Although Fong’s role is a variation on the two-faced lothario he played in many of Patrick Kong’s romantic satires, he brings enough sincerity to make his eventual transformation seem convincing. Chung is utterly lovable as ditzy Gillian, because her self-declared vengefulness is never gets serious.

Like all of Lau’s films, “Water Babes” treads the line between lunacy and epiphany. It starts off like a Japanese motivational sports film, but it does not follow its formula of the underdog winning through dogged effort. The old adage “believe in oneself” is on every characters’ lips, but everyone thrives on self-delusion. Gillian’s best friend Jade (Liu) is a hypochondriac who believes she’s terminally ill while other pal Hanna (Stephen Fung) is paranoid about being hounded by debtors.

Gillian’s encounter with Guan Yin (Tien Liang, former China Olympic diving champion) is playfully ambiguous — he can be interpreted as a god, a metaphysical representation of Gillian’s subconscious or an escaped mental patient. Gillian’s so-called paranormal powers are really the power of imagination.

That fantasy can reshape reality the way a psychic bends a spoon is symbolized by Gillian’s double vision which empowers her at the climactic contest. The CGI effects used for this sequence channels typical Hong Kong images like a hibiscus statue and litter in the sea and transforms them into something both visually gorgeous and marvelously kitschy.

The hyper-colloquial dialogue used makes Cheung Chau comes across vividly as a community with its own customs and outlook that sets it apart from materialistic and phony urban life on Hong Kong Island. This is reinforced by some very pleasing panoramic shots of its mountains and beaches. But the inhabitants are drawn like cartoon figures. The way they prop up Gillian’s belief in her superpowers or conspire to keep Kwok captive is endearingly balmy.

Venue: Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival
Production companies: Emperor Classic Films Company Limited
Cast: Gillian Chung, Alex Fong, Liu Yifei, Stephen Fung
Director-screenwriter: Jeff Lau
Producers: Albert Lee, Jiang Tao
Executive producers: Albert Yeung, Han Sanping, Chin Yiu-tong
Director of photography: Peter Ngor
Production designer: Bruce Yu
Music: Raymond Wong
Costume designer: Steven Tsang
Editor: Angie Lam
Sales: Emperor Motion Pictures
No rating, 90 minutes

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.

July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — dleedlee @ 1:36 pm

ATV hands over treasured films to Hong Kong Film Archive

This valuable collection includes Cantonese, Mandarin and Chaozhou dialect films from the 1940s to the 1990s, with classics such as The Judge Goes to Pieces (1948), A Star of Mischief is Born (1951), How Wong Fei-hung Set Fire to Dashatou (1956), She Married an Overseas Chinese (1957), Three Trials of the Number One Scholars Wife (1958), My Intimate Partners (1960), He is a Rare and Passionate Lover (1962), The Dragon and the Phoenix (1963), The Young Swordsman Lung Kim Fei (1964), The Flag of Death (1965), Dragon Inn (1967) and Incredible Rumour (1968).

HKStandard: Thanks for the memories

The collection includes classic Cantonese films from as early as the 1940s such as The Judge Goes to Pieces (1948), starring the renowned Cantonese opera singer and actor Sun Ma Sze Tsang, and the famous wuxia genre director King Hu’s Dragon Inn (1967).

CRI:Ge You’s Three Films Anticipate US$150 Million in Revenue

Ge You’s three films “Zhao’s Orphan,” “Let the Bullets Fly” and “If You Are the One 2″ will open in China by the end of 2010

Fantastic Water Babes

Mainland audiences are reportedly clamoring for the Cantonese version of the film. Recent Hong Kong films Love in a Puff and Crossing Hennessy were well received in their Cantonese forms. Younger viewers appreciate the nonsense comedy, idioms and slang, and feel it’s best reflected in the original. After pre-release screenings, audiences from all 31 provinces including the far northeast and southwest are requesting the Cantonese version. Those seeing the non-Cantonese version have expressed dissatifaction. (Sina)

Johnnie To’s Single Men and Women on a hot summer day

Daniel Wu looking sharp, Brother Sharp, in Central

Johnnie To, Louis Koo

Ukrainian model, Larisa (formerly Larisa Angela)

JJ Jia Xiao-Chen (l) (Xinhua)

Wang Ziwen - Aftershock

Wang Ziwen’s debut film was Post-Modern Life of My Aunt (Sina)

Homecoming queen Gong Li takes charge

No awkward questions, please.


CRI: Poster Unveiled for Faye Wong’s Concert Comeback

CRI:  Rebellious Taiwan Star Shows Ocean of Creativity - Richie Jen

SG: Cecilia Cheung denies signing no-pregnancy contract

SG: Wu Chun has not dated for 14 years?!

Danwei: Annoying fake accents on Chinese TV

Film and TV critic Meng Jing writes for Xinmin Weekly about actors adopting dodgy accents for regional TV dramas.

June 5, 2010

June 5, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 4:53 pm

Chinese poster for The Karate Kid


Jeff Lau’s Fantastic Water Babes opens July 22 (21cn)

Gillian Chung and Alex Fong Lik-Sun

Love in Cosmo poster

Love in Cosmo is a romantic comedy starring Yao Chen (Lurk, Go Lala Go!), Zhu Yuchen and Guo Xiaodong. (Sina)

CRI: Interview: Closer Look at Yao Chen

CRI: Opening of “Triple Tap” Postponed to Early July

This decision to postpone the film’s opening was in deference to Jet Li’s film “Ocean Heaven,” which is scheduled to open in cinemas on June 18. To support Li’s efforts to call attention to the situation of autistic children, the entire “Triple Tap” cast and crew decided to postpone the film’s opening to boost public awareness about autism, which is the theme of “Ocean Heaven.”

No action for Jet Li

The film, slated for a summer release in China, revolves around a cancer-stricken man (Li) who devotes himself to taking care of his autistic son and tries to find a sanctuary for him before he succumbs to cancer.

Taiwanese pop idol Jay Chou, whom Li worked with in 2006’s “Fearless”, has agreed to sing the film’s theme song at his behest.

Li also took a pay cut to appear in the film.

“It is a film that has a budget of just seven million yuan, what acting fees can I ask for,” said the action star, who usually demands millions for each film appearance.

Petrina Fung Bo-Bo

Arriving at HKFA

Greeting fans

The Magic Cup (1961)

Child star Petrina Fung Bo-Bo made a special appearance at the Hong Kong Film Archives (HKFA) screening of her film The Magic Cup. She flew in from Malaysia where she now lives. Fung revealed that she plans to begin writing her memoirs in October and that she will contact the other Seven Princesses. (Sina)

Gigi Leung is in Mexico filming a segment for the program One Earth.

Besides staying at a Cancun resort, Gigi will visit a Mayan city and see a Mexical wrestling match. (Sina)

Memorial to Zhang Ziyi

In Chengdu, a grave and tombstone memorial to Zhang Ziyi was discovered in a park. After some investigation, it was thought to be the result of some promotional marketing by an online game company. The tombstone was professionally made of wood with a portrait of Zhang Ziyi above it and the words, ‘Tomb of Internationally Dirty Miss Zhang’ and set next to a trash can. The grave was littered with paper money. In addition, business cards, posters and laptop bags led to the belief that this was all the work of an online game company that was co-sponsoring a dance competition. A company executive denied it and said the cards were fake. (Xinhua)

Acclaimed novelist Louis Cha Jin Yong has become the latest victim of a series of death hoaxes that have circulated in the entertainment industry lately.

May 20, 2010

May 20, 2010

Variety: Poetry (Sourth Korea) Latest film from Lee Chang-Dong

A woman takes up writing poems as a means of coping with her difficult grandson and the onset of Alzheimer’s — a description that conveys little hint of the subtle intelligence at work in Lee Chang-dong’s quietly haunting new picture. Calmer and less shattering than his masterly psychodrama “Secret Sunshine” (2007), “Poetry” is a deceptively gentle tale with a tender ache at its center, as well as a performance from Yun Jung-hee that lingers long in the memory.

CRI:Movie Guide: ‘Gallants’

Although the story is set in present-day Hong Kong, the film’s trailer easily conjures up the Shaw Brothers movies of the 1970s and ’80s. The background music is familiar, and text in old-school fonts is deliberately printed from right to left. A cast of ’80s stars also adds to the retro feeling.

“Gallants” will open on the Chinese mainland on June 4 without a Mandarin version, unlike most Hong Kong movies, which usually are released in an additional Mandarin version to cater to mainland audiences.

CRI: Chinese Crime Thriller ‘Wind Blast’ Unveils Trailer, Poster (Previously, Fierce West Wind here)

September 2 release date.

Lam Suet, Huang Yi - Legend is Born

To Yu-Hang - Legend is Born

CRI: ‘The Legend Is Born - Ip Man’ Set for Release in June

CRI: Jet Li’s Father-Son Film Competes in Shanghai

Jet Li’s first non-action drama, “Ocean Heaven” [Ocean Paradise], is among the 16 films competing for the top Golden Goblet award at this year’s Shanghai International Film Festival, the organizer announced Thursday.

Guei Lun-Mei’s pole dance scene was, regrettably, deleted

Wen Zhang, Guei Lun-Mei - Ocean Paradise (HunanTV)

(May 18) Jeff Lau’s Fantastic Water Babes began its publicity tour in Changsha, Hunan. A July 9 release is planned.

Jeff Lau, Alex Fong Lik-Sun, Gillian Choi, Stephen Fung

Gillian Chung

Jeff Lau

Stephen Fung, Alex Fong (HunanTV)

Jiang Wen is busy in Cannes promoting Let the Bullets Fly (Xinhua)

CNNGo: Complete guide to the best Hong Kong movie experiences

[I'm guessing the Fanling Theatre is the one that's often seen in the old Connie Chan films.]

THR: Bangkok cinemas burned by rioters

Multiplexes, classic theater destroyed by arsonists

The classic Siam Theater nearby was gutted by fire. The 1,000-seat, single-screen cinema opened in the 1960s, and was considered a Bangkok landmark, especially among film fans.

The fires were sure to slow the boxoffice of Tony Jaa’s newest martial arts release, “Ong Bak 3,” released May 5.

Wang Xueqi

Wang Xueqi, lead actor in Chongqing Blues, missed the Cannes red carpet due to problems obtaining a visa. He is hoping to join the rest of the cast and crew before the closing ceremony and also get in some sightseeing. In 1998, he won the Special Grand Jury Prize at the Montreal Film Festival for Sun Bird a film that he co-directed. It’s also reported that the crew has been asked to stay in Cannes, a hint and usual indicator that the film may collect a prize or two. (HunanTV)2

Andy On Chi-Kit’s birthday

Andy On, Donnie Yen

Cast and crew conspired to surprise Andy On with two large birthday cakes on the set of Felix Chong’s and Andy Mak’s Guan Yun Chang (Lost Bladesman) (Sina)

Sammi Cheng gets a (temporary) tattoo for a cause

July 7 (7.7) is MSF (Doctors Without Borders) 2010 Day

Sammi is donating part of her album royalties as Action Ambassador for MSF (Sina)

Fan Bingbing, Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele of Chopard

Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele is the co-president of luxury watch and jewelry brand Chopard. Chopard redesigned Cannes’ highest award the Golden Palm (Palme d’Or) in 1998. (Sina)

April 28, 2010

April 28, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 1:14 pm

Poster for The Love of Three Smiles, an update of Stephen Chow’s Flirting Scholar (HunanTV)

Olga Kurylenko and Shi Yanfei

Empires of the Deep

Shi Yanfei

Olga Kurylenko

Steve Polites

Shi Yanfei, Olga Kurylenko (Sina)(HunanTV)

CRI: China, US Create Colossal 3-D ‘Empires’

THR: ‘Empires’ has deep Chinese pockets

China real estate tycoon bankrolls $100 mil, 3D film

On Tuesday, first-time film producer Jon Jiang opened the set of his self-financed $100 million digital-3D underwater action-adventure film, “Empires of the Deep.”

Marked as the biggest 3D film currently in production in China, the film is co-directed by Michael French (Heart of a Dragon) and Jonathan Lawrence (The Family Mancuso, Dream Parlor) and scripted by Frank Randall and Jon Jiang, with Harrison Liang and Jon Jiang producing.

Set in ancient Greece, Empires tells about a young man’s adventure in the undersea mermaid kingdom in order to save his father, while encountering ferocious sea monsters and gets involved in large-scale battles in the seabed between mermaids, monsters and demons.

Kurylenko stars as the Queen of the Mermaid Empire and plays opposite leading actor Steve Polites and Chinese actress Yanfei Shi.

CRI: ‘The Fantastic Water Babes’ to Hit Summer Screen

CRI: Mel Gibson’s First Chinese Film

Ip Man 2: Ip Man delivers another hit

Gong Li in Shanghai


Sandra Ng plans to conceive again

Andy Lau rallies support with 300 celebs

HK celebrities raise HK$35 million for China quake victims

Zhang Ziyi visits a young Tibetan woman recovering from multiple surgeries in Beijing

With father

Presenting her with red dance shoes.

Dolma is a dance student, like Zhang Ziyi who heard through the media that her dream was to meet her. (Sina)

February 24, 2010

February 24, 2010

CRI: Tang Wei Returns to Mainland Screens

Ang Lee Protege to Return to Chinese Screens

Hot Summer Days: A hunka-hunka burnin’ love

Forget “Valentine’s Day” and head East instead. From directors Tony Chan and Wing Shya comes the Hong Kong take on the star-studded rom-com, “Hot Summer Days”.

Like its American counterpart, “Hot Summer Days” follows the intertwined stories of various couples as they embark on the arduous journey to find true love - giggles, tears and “Aww …”

All’s Well Ends Well Too 2010: Happy endings

All’s Well Ends Well Too 2010″ may not be the most profound movie but you can’t deny its entertainment value (what, were you expecting Shakespeare?). Starring some of the biggest names in the Hong Kong film industry, it knows not to take itself too seriously and go straight for the funny. It’s a fine blend of mischief and mayhem that is guaranteed to generate more than its fair share of guffaws.

72 Tenants of Prosperity: Prosperity you can do without

Loosely based on an older version of the film, “72 Tenants” has a plot that is scattered, disjointed and, at times, completely haphazard.

New characters and developments spring up randomly, and the jokes often go beyond slapstick into the realm of the ridiculous.

At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss “Little Big Soldier” as yet another war epic set in ancient China. Any movie produced by Jackie Chan, however, is bound to generate a few giggles.

Vincent Kok will direct Sandra Ng and Louis Koo in a martial arts comedy produced by Peter Chan. Tentatively titled ‘Heroine’, Chan described the story as similar to The Incredibles and, hopefully, reminiscent of A Touch of Zen. Filming will begin soon at Hengdian. (Sina)

New Shaolin Temple - Nic Tse, Benny Chan

Nic Tse training to face against Andy Lau


Corey Yuen, Benny Chan (HunanTV)

Miriam Yeung, Alan Tam

Here Comes Fortune Hong Kong premiere last night

Ella Koon


Jay Chou’s image from True Legend was used without authorization for marketing beer. In the film, Jay plays Drunken Master Beggar So’s mentor.


Gillian Chung’s 2008 film Fantastic Water Babes, after a two year delay, is slated for a summer release. In addition, Gillian will possibly work on a mainland drama ‘Ling Zhu’. Albert Yeung reported paved the way for Gillian’s return by donating RMB$40M to various charities. For her part, Gillian resigned with Emperor through the year 2020. (HunanTV)

Variety: China Film Group set to float in 2010

China’s state-run film colossus China Film Group will seek a stock market listing this year, with revenue likely to grow at 40% annually, according to its vice-prexy Shi Dongming.

An emotionally wrenching portrait of migrant workers in China, Last Train Homehas already become one of the most acclaimed Canadian documentaries in recent years.


Cherie Chung

At the Taipei National Palace Museum buying souvenirs (Xinhua)

Charity premiere of Nine - Lau Ching-Wan, Amy Kwok

(HunanTV) (Sina)

Also Marsha Yuen, Pau Hee-Ching, Monica Chan (Sina) (CRI)

19 year-old Gong Mi signed with music label Amusic,

the same label as Leon Lai, Miriam Yeung and Janice Man. (Gong Mi first became famous for her resemblance to Cecilia Cheung when she competed in the Super Girl contest.)


Grieving Hong Kong actress Michelle Yim may finally fulfill her late boyfriend Wan Chi Keung’s longtime wish to marry her.

The actress is considering arranging minghun, or a ghost marriage according to Chinese traditions, to formalize their relationship, said reports. (Xinhua)

Her suspicious were aroused after she discovered that her jewellery worth an estimated NT$1 million, diamond watch, and other valuables were left intact, except for a missing laptop kept in her Louis Vuitton handbag. She also revealed that the intruder also left traces and went through her personal documents.

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