HKMDB Daily News

August 30, 2013

Rigor Mortis (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 11:56 am

Rigor Mortis

The Bottom Line
A lavish, heavy-handed retreading and reinvention of Hong Kong and Japanese horror-film tropes, saved from clinical inhumanity by its veteran cast.

8/30/2013 by Clarence Tsui

Produced by J-Horror icon Takashi Shimizu, Hong Kong singer-actor Juno Mak’s directorial debut revolves around a suicidal, washed-up actor’s confrontations with supernatural beings in a dilapidated tenement block.

As a first-time filmmaker, the popstar-turned-director Juno Mak has arrived with his influences sewn brashly on his sleeves.

Set in a dank ambience de rigueur to Japanese supernatural flicks –a visual debt probably owed to The Grudge director Takashi Shimizu,Mak’s co-producer here – zombies and shamen made famous by the cult Hong Kong 1980s franchise Mr Vampire runs amok. And in a nod to the metatextual tropes of Scream or Cabin in the Woods, one of the stars of that seminal horror-comedy classic actually appears here as a washed-up version of himself, sucked into what could be his life’s final achievement as he leads the line in a battle between the human and supernatural realms.

It’s a mix which will be play well to audiences seeking extreme, unflinchingly gory thrills – indeed, a premiere at the Venice Days sidebar will be followed by screenings in Toronto’s Midnight Madness showcase – and also to the Hong Kong cinema aficionados eager to spot some of the city’s veterans in action. Rigor Mortis’ strongest suit lies with its cast. The film comes with lavish (and sometimes distractingly so) digital effects, but it’s the old-timers who are instrumental in injecting humanity and life into the film.

The film begins as strains of Mr Vampire’s haunting folk-tinged theme song play over a shot of a piece of ground strewn with bodies and debris: a charred corpse here, a dying Taoist exorcist there, and finally the bloodied and muddied (and muddled) protagonist turning over – perhaps one last time – as his voiceover begins: “I left this village when I was 13, and became a leading man when I was 16 – I never thought it would be when I hit 50 that I finally become human. They say film stories are absurd – but I think real life is more so.”

The “village” he said he left is not the rustic hamlet ingrained in many a (Western) imagination about traditional Chinese societies, though. As the camera pans upwards at the end of the opening shot, the village is revealed to actually be a tenement block in a government-subsidized housing estate – and it’s here that the main action takes place, as a flashback to the beginning of the tale reveals the lead character moving into of the vacant apartments in the complex.

As the man unpacks his luggage – complete with costumes from zombie-horror films and authentic photographs with Chow Yun-fat and Maggie Cheung – he reveals his past as a one-time movie star who has struggled to maintain both his career and his family. Played by the 1980s A-lister Chin Siu-ho, who was one of the on-screen ghostbusters in Mr Vampire, the has-been actor remains nameless throughout the film, until the end when he’s revealed to be – who else? – “Chin Siu-ho”.

After a failed attempt in hanging himself, the washed-up ex-celebrity finds himself living in a community of retirees whiling away their time as they find their days of “being useful” over. Uncle Yau (Anthony Chan Yau, one of Chin’s co-stars in Mr Vampire), the food-stall owner who saved him from the rope, reveals himself to be a former zombie-hunter whose services are no longer sought; Uncle Gau (veteran martial arts actor and choreographer Chung Fat, who has made a fair share of zombie films in the 1980s too), meanwhile is a sage also providing neighbors with the odd guidance and not much else.

Chin’s frequent encounters with the estate’s resident lunatic Yeung Fung (Kara Wai, At the End of Daybreak) leads to the film’s first all-out paranormal activity – a half-baked component which seemingly exists merely to showcase the long-haired, eye-rolling ghouls which is Shimizu’s specialty – but Rigor Mortis’ central line is driven by another more engaging and fully-formed strand, when a kind, soft-speaking seamstress Aunt Mui (Nina Paw Hee-ching) resorts to ever-more desperate (and deadly) measures to bring his husband (Richard Ng) back to life.

Just as most misguided efforts in the name of love, Mui’s attempts only leads to the nurturing of a monster. And it’s from this that Chin is pitted against the beast, in a last chance saloon (or apartment block corridor) to redeem himself and his much-battered image – or self-image, to be exact, as an end-of-film twist which gives a reinvention of the much-used cliché of seeing the past flashing in front of a dying person’s eyes.

It’s a coda which is curious yet potentially self-defeating, a situation which could have been avoided if the screenplay – co-written by Mak and critic-cum-director Philip Yung and Jill Leung – was more layered with allegory and less dependent on distracting special effects and side plots.

One interesting allegory Mak could have explored more is the (haunted) tenement block as the place people past their prime go to die – with the onscreen version of Chin, which boasts of many similar biographical details of the actor himself, seemingly destined for demise, only to (at least to him) rediscover a sense of worth in what appears to be the margin of society and the dustbins of history.

Here, Mak has provided a platform for Hong Kong cinema’s veterans to shine. And the men here are all eclipsed by Paw’s riveting performance: known for one of the city’s best thespians and an award-winner with Ann Hui’s much-acclaimed 2009 social drama The Way We Are, the actress gives shape to a tortured soul struggling to contain her loss, and to reconcile her horrible deeds so as to prove her love and fulfill her duty as a wife – a situation best manifested in a sustained closed up of Mui breaking down in a mix of fear and self-loathing after a particularly murderous move. Who would have thought that a film called Rigor Mortis could contain such moments of emotional vigor?

Premiere at Venice Days, Sept 4; Toronto, Sept 11
Production Company: Great Sound Creation for a Kudos Film presentation
Cast: Chin Siu-ho, Nina Paw Hee-ching, Anthony Chan, Kara Wai, Richard Ng, Chung Fat
Director: Juno Mak
Producers: Takashi Shimizu, Juno Mak
Executive Producers: Steven Lo, Bernard Lai
Screenwriters: Philip Yung, Jill Leung, Juno Mak
Director of Photography: Ng Kai-ming
Editor: David Richardson
Production Designer: Irving Chen
Costume Designers: Miggy Cheng, Phoebe Wong
Music: Nath Connelly
International Sales: Fortissimo Films
Running Time 101 minutes

October 25, 2011

October 25, 2011 [HKMDB Daily News]

TimeOutHK: Juno Mak interview

After the ultra-violent Revenge: A Love Story, Juno Mak is reuniting with director Wong Ching-po for a twisted superhero movie, Let’s Go!. He tries to convince Edmund Lee it’s not all doom and gloom.

CF: Peter Pau: Winning an Academy Award is Predestined

Directed by Sun Zhou and photographed by Peter Pau, the romance film “Yes I do,” starring by Li Bingbing and Sun Honglei, is secretly being shot in Beijing right now.

CF: Bond Girl Maria Grazia Cucinotta to Cooperate with Chinese Actor Huang Bo

Maria Grazia Cucinotta, the Italian Bond Girl from “007: The World is not Enough,” recently turned up for the launch ceremony of her new romance comedy “All about Marriage” on October 24 in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, in Southwest China.

CF: ”Painted Skin 2″ Set to Begin Filming in Tibet

Fantasy romance film, “Painted Skin 2″ has finished filming scenes in Beijing, Hebei and Inner Mongolia. The location of filming has now switched to Tibet, where the creators and cast members will work intensively for a 20-day period.

CF: The Film “Marry a Perfect Man” in Post Production Stages

Directed by Wong Jing, and starring Gigi Leung, Chapman To, Ronald Cheng and Xie Na, the film tells the tale of the events following an encounter between a “leftover” lady, unmarried in her thirties, and a comical billionaire.

Award-winning actor Zhang Hanyu aims to inject charisma into the role of the most skilled army counselor of the late Qin dynasty in his latest project, costume blockbuster “White Vengenace”.

The film tells the tale of men and women living in a busy city, who pursue love. Their pursuits lead to several soul-stirring accidents, as they attempt to secure true love. The plot follows three separate stories of three couples, with Cecilia Cheung and Kwon Sang-woo playing one of the couples.

CF: New Trailer of “A Big Deal” Released

New poster for “Lost in Panic Cruise” featuring a maze was unveiled at today’s Beijing premiere.

Director Zhang Fanfan (Zhang Panpan)

Zhou Weitong

Alec Su


“Starry, Starry Night” poster features Xu Jiao and Lin Hui-Min

Rene Liu as Xu Jiao’s mother (Sina)2

This is how you promote Battlefield 3

DaDa Chan

Jacqueline Chong

Samantha Ko

Samantha Ko, Jacqueline Chong, DaDa Chan (Sina)

An online source reported today that Jessica C admitted to making the video with her first boyfriend. She said she was in love and did not think about the consequences.

A1: Tokyo International Film Festival 2011

Photos: Chinese actresses at Tokyo film fest

The 24th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) opens at its main venue in Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills on Saturday and will run until Oct 30. Fan BingbingHuo SiyanJiang YiyanZhang Xinyu

August 12, 2011

August 12, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 5:20 pm

ChinaPost: Jump Ashin! review

A story about loss, redemption and coming-of-age, “Jump Ashin!” split its soul into so many pieces for maximum commercial appeal that it eventually reminds us of Harry Potter’s Voldemort, whose soul degenerated because he split it into seven pieces to bid for power and immortality.

FBA: A Beautiful Life review

San Francisco’s chance at seeing 3D porn goes flat

Keep your hands at your sides, San Franciscans; unfortunately the film’s debut in our city will only be offered in standard 2D. (Thanks, Dave!)

First Person: Juno Mak

CRI: Actress Shu Qi Attends Environmental Protection Event in Taipei

Carina Lau was in Chengdu yesterday promoting Haagen Dazs mooncakes. [Mmmm, mooncakes]


MSN: Elaine Ng calls Jackie Chan the “third party”

Recently, it was reported that Jackie’s wife Joan Lin left Hong Kong after knowing that Elaine returned.

A1: Elaine Ng wants to hear no more of Jackie Chan

August 2, 2011

August 2, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 3:36 pm

THR: Willie Chan Establishes Production Shingle Kudos Films, Plans Film with Stanley Kwan

Juno Mak will star in Kwan’s adaptation of Han Han novel ‘To The End of Love.’

FBA: Chan, Mak open Kudos

Willie Chan

Juno Mak

Friends Conroy Chan and Josie Ho (Sina-slideshow)

FBA: Mysterious Island review

CF: Yang Mi to Star in Four Tailor-made Films

FBA: Mei Ah unveils weighty China slate

Poster for Harpoon

Harpoon is a horror film starring Hu Bing and Mo Xiaoqi (Monica Mok) and scheduled for a December release. (Sina)

CF: Tang Wei Graces BAZAAR Magazine

CF: Chen Kun Covers August Issue of Esquire

MSN: Nicholas Tse brought lawyers to Lucas’ party to divorce Cecilia Cheung

MSN; Cecilia Cheung goes shopping with her sons

MSN:Netizens praises Vicky Zhao’s daughter for her cute swim wear

MSN: Is Miriam Yeung pregnant?

The Hong Kong singer was speculated to be pregnant, after she gave her husband a birthday cake with the word ‘Dad’ on it

Attention-starved Phoebe Hui


December 16, 2010

December 16, 2010

Here’s a full list of the 668 Shaw Brothers titles available on the ZiiEagle mentioned yesterday. Trying to figure out which titles haven’t been released on DVD, was Best Hustler Wins released? Cunning Hustler? Dear Murderer? Queen Hustler? Murder on the Wedding Night? The Gambling Syndicate? Trapeze Girl? (ZiiEagle’s list of 668 films)

This list at Shaw Brothers Reloaded might correspond to some of the new titles.

Also, check out duriandave’s “Missing” Shaw Films Found in Creative’s ZiiEagle Movie Box

THR: Celestial Signs Deal for Shaw Digital Distribution in Singapore (Dec.2)

500 hours of TV next?

THR: ‘If You Are The One 2′ Gets US Day-and-Date Release

‘If You Are The One 2′ Gets Dec. 24 US Release

If You Are the One 2, by Aftershock director Feng Xiaogang will be the first Chinese film ever to release in North America on the same day as it premieres at home, marking a milestone in China’s push to raise its movie industry profile around the world.

On Christmas Eve, China Lion Film Distribution is set to release the second installment of the comedic on-again-off-again love saga starring Ge You and Shu Qi in 20 AMC and Cineplex Theatres in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C., Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa, all cities with significant Chinese populations.

GlobalTimes: Strap on the six-shooters

Jiang Wen’s Let the Bullets Fly, set in Southwest China in the 1900s, premiers nationwide Thursday, following on from hits like Korean director Kim Ji-Woon’s The Good, the Bad, and the Weird (2008).

At a preview screening in Beijing last week, laughter filled the theater. “I cannot recall what is the funniest part of the film, because there was a constant barrage of comedy,” 28-year-old white collar worker Tan Li told the Global Times.

Interview with Juno Mak on ‘Revenge: A Love Story’

His new film may be full of gross-out sex and violence, but it’s really all about love

Mr. and Mrs. Incredible held an opening ceremony and trailer release in Shenzhen’s IMAX theater on Dec. 15

Sandra Ng

Director Vincent Kok, producer Peter Chan and Sandra Ng attended the event

Miyazaki edition of the Mr. and Mrs. Incredible poster

Sandra Ng, Louis Koo

Opens January 31

(Sina-slide show)(Sina-gallery)

Here’s the Peter Chan-produced animated short film promoting Hong Kong Tourism (i.e., shopping) that was released earlier.

New fan-made Midnight Beating poster (Sina)

Apparently when the photos originally circulated on the internet netizens thought that they were real personal  photos of Francis Ng and an unknown girl. A statement had to be issued to confirm that they were publicity photos for Midnight Beating. The phrase, hoisted by their own petard, comes to mind. (Sina) (Thanks, V)

Four prospective ‘Mou girls’ training in Nanjing for Zhang Yimou’s 13 Women of Jinling/Thirteen Girls in Jinling were expelled after they were caught micro-blogging. The four unfortunates admitted their error but were cast out nevertheless thus ruining the future hopes of stardom. (Photos) (Sina)2

Mavis Fan - deleted scene

Mavis Fan’s love scene will be deleted from the theatrical version of Derek Tsang’s Lover’s Discourse. The scene will be included in the DVD. (Sina)

Huang Yi and Louis Koo in an emotional scene from The Road Less Traveled (Sina)

MSN: Vivian Hsu announces she is single

A few days ago, when Vivian received the Yahoo! Most Searched Chinese Actress award on stage, the actress however strongly expressed that she is single and does not have a boyfriend. Her strong attitude and self-contradictions created speculations of a split.

Vivian Hsu

Stephen Fung and Vivian Hsu in Japan this August. (Xinhua)

Fortune teller claims that Teresa Teng died of black magic

Lydia Sum once experimented with drugs

Joyce was speaking at an anti-drug event with MC Jin (Xinhua)

No kids for Joey Yung

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