HKMDB Daily News

June 28, 2010

June 28, 2010

Lessons from ‘The Karate Kid’ — Japan out, America down, China on the rise

Meat Grinder (Thailand)

Imagine Joerg Buttgereit’s early movies remade by Wong Kar Wai and you’re halfway there.

Pic introduces its title character — plump, middle-aged Buss (Mai Charoenpura) — when a young guy from the country arrives to meet his fiancee, Aoi, who’s been working at Buss’ noodle shop. Buss tells him Aoi ran off with her husband; after inviting him in, she chops off one of his legs, nails him to the floor by his fingers and then stuffs him, still alive, with herbs…Original Thai title roughly means “Carve Before Tasting.”  (Variety) Now available on DVD. ;D

THR: China media regulator cited for misuse of funds

SARFT named China’s second-most corrupt agency

  • On Monday, an online chart illustrating the annual audit and naming SARFT — and the No. 1 and No. 3 offenders, the State Bureau of Survey and Mapping and the Ministry of Culture — had disappeared from the China Daily’s Web site, apparently nixed by censors.
  • SARFT and the Ministry of Culture both already are under international pressure to loosen their control of the import and distribution of cultural content. The pressure comes largely from the Motion Picture Association and the World Trade Organization, which in November ruled China was in violation of free trade.

Shu Qi and Aaron Kwok in City Under Siege (Sina)

CJ7 The Cartoon posters

Movie opens July 9 (Xinhua)

Stephen Chow

Stephen Chow and Xu Jiao have been quietly filming commercials for CJ7: The Cartoon.

While in Changsha, Hunan Chow reportedly visited Mao Zedong’s former home. (Xinhua)

Edison Chen is Disney-friendly

Edison Chen’s Clot and Disney collaborate in Shanghai on a new line of clothing.

Commerce makes for strange bedfellows.


Looking like they just stepped out of an advert, Michelle Reis and her husband, Julian Hui, were spotted hand in hand in Macau celebrating her 40th birthday. (Xinhua)

Chrissie Chau

Attending a breast cancer self examination event Chrissie called the Book Fair banning by the Trade Development Council hypocritical. She said she considered appealing the ban but softened her stand.


Gillian Chung’s appearance was ‘disappeared’ from the popular Changsha, Hunan TV program ‘Happy Camp’ broadcast. The program which also featured fellow Fantastic Water Babes’ Jeff Lau, Stephen Fung and Alex Fong Lik-Sun deleted all references to Gillian. Taped earlier, all traces of her were eliminated according to reports despite official previews saying that Gillian would appear for a few minutes. According to  those involved in the taping Gillian introduced the film plot, and performed a dance. There was no mention of the ‘photo-gate’ incident so the reason for her removal were not clear. A call to Hunan TV’s chief editor was not returned. (Xinhua)

Cecilia Cheung spotted at the Hong Kong International Airport heading to Shanghai (Xinhua)(Sina)

Tony Leung Chiu-Wai posted a photo showing his 48th birthday celebration at home.

Wife Carina Lau was recently implicated in a developing real estate scandal in Chongqing. (Xinhua)

Adrien Brody, Zhang Ziyi - Los Angeles


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 13, 2010

June 13, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — dleedlee @ 8:11 pm

First domestic poster for Alan Mak and Felix Chong’s The Lost Bladesman (General Guan Yu)


THR: Ocean Heaven review

Bottom Line: Drama on dying dad and autistic son is less tear-jerking than it sounds.

THR: ‘Ocean Heaven’ opens Shanghai Fest

THR: Weinstein Co. picks up ‘Reign of Assassins’

Reign” is expected to be released in China later this year, and TWC is considering coinciding releases in North American and South Africa, the company said.

THR: Chinese director calls Weinstein ‘a cheater’

Harvey Weinstein drew tough criticism at the Shanghai International Film Festival forum on Sunday from popular Chinese director Feng Xiaogang, who accused him of promising financial backing then backing away.

Feng didn’t restrict his criticism to Weinstein. He dismissed both “Hero” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” by Chinese American director Ang Lee as “Hollywood movies.” “They’re not Chinese movies,” he said, again drawing scattered laughter and applause.

BBC: Gong Li on Hollywood and hunger

Wired: 9 Things Parents Should Know About Karate Kid

NYTimes: In This Remake of an ’80s Martial Arts Fable, It’s Jacket On, Jacket Off

HKMagazine: Ex

Heiward Mak is on a roll—ever since her debut feature “High Noon” two years ago, this young director has become the hope of the industry and the most sought-after filmmaker in Hong Kong today, first co-writing “Love in a Puff” then editing “Amphetamine” this year. So the biggest question with “Ex” is, can the 26-year-old maverick work her magic again, and revive the doomed career of a certain fallen celeb named Gillian Chung? Er, no, not with this piece of crap.

HKMagazine: Cheng Dan-Shui, co-producer of Break Up Club

THR: Indie filmmaker gambles with ‘Close Encounter of Mahjong’

On the sidelines of the 13th Shanghai International Film Festival, a darkly comic story of a foreigner caught up in a Chinese love-triangle and a vicious game of mahjong highlights the grit it takes to get an independent film made these days, even in cash-rich China.

Global Times: One director, two knife wounds, three actresses and four gangsters

Who’s behind director Yan Po’s attack?

June 10, 2010

June 10, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 12:34 pm

Poster for The Legend Is Born - Ip Man

The film premiered June 10 in Foshan, then it will screen in Shanghai June 12 and open nationally June 25  (Sina)

Enter the remakes: The Karate Kid (SG)

The Hong Kong film industry is in a steep slump, but, at the senior-citizen age of 56, he is still gainfully employed not only in Asian flicks, but also in numerous ang moh ones.

Shu Qi, Aaron Kwok

Stills featuring Shu Qi in City Under Siege. Film is to be released Aug.6. (Sina)

Lin Huiyin to be portrayed by Zhang Ziyi

Famous architect and poet Lin Huiyin will be portrayed by actress Zhang Ziyi in the second half of the year according to media reports. In 1949 Lin, who died in 1955 of tuberculosis, was part of the design team that designed the new PRC’s national emblem and the People Heroes’ Monument in Tiananmen Square. Interestingly, last year, on the 60th anniversary of the republic, in a vote of the 12 most beautiful women Lin Huiyin was ranked first and Zhang Ziyi was voted 12th. Lin’s husband, also an architect, Liang Sicheng will be played by Chang Chen. Both studied architecture in the US at the University of Pennsylvania. Ethan Ruan will play poet Xu Zhimo whom she was also very close to. Chinese-American architect Maya Lin is the niece of Lin Huiyin.  (Xinhua)

Cheng Pei Pei

Cheng Pei Pei recently appeared on a Beijing TV program (Sina)

Lin Chi-Ling (DivaAsia)

Lin Chi-ling’s maiden J-drama may face cancellation (SG)

Taiwan model-actress Lin Chiling’s maiden Japanese drama serial “Moon Lovers” suffered from dismal ratings in Japan and may face cancellation, reported Taiwan media.

New office hours for the World Cup :D

Good luck to your team!

June 9, 2010

June 9, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 3:19 pm

THR: SARFT takes control of IPTV in China

China’s evolving plans for media convergence now appear to grant control of Internet Protocol TV to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, official media reported on Wednesday.

The apparent move by the State Council, China’s cabinet, could clarify a previously gray area in a potentially lucrative media arena in the world’s largest Internet market.

ChinaHush: Red Light Revolution

Nominated for Best Unproduced Screenplay at Australia’s 2008 Inside Film Awards, RED LIGHT REVOLUTION is the first feature film centered on China’s multitude of adult stores, and the everyday people who run them. RED LIGHT REVOLUTION follows a luckless Beijinger who risks it all to open a shop, sparking a sexual revolution in his conservative neighborhood.

Karate Kid: Watch this one for kicks

A lot of the film’s charm, like its predecessor, relies on its leads. And though it has to be said that Chan seems uninspired and Smith is annoyingly bratty to begin with, they both come into their own after the obligatory spirit-lifting training montages.

Overall, the film pays just enough homage to the original to appeal to both old-time devotees and new fans. This is the kind of movie where you find yourself cheering even though you know you’re being manipulated into doing so - and you’re okay with that because of its earnest naivete.

The film lurches back and forth between the past and the present, trying to explain too many things at once, and eventually spins out of control with its unnecessary twists and turns.

It is, however, a serious contender for Film With The Stupidest Character Names Ever. [Hey, I resent that!]

Check out the video poster for A Gan’s thriller ‘Video Cassette of 31 Degrees North Latitude’. Film opens June 11. Trailer looks like a Blair Witch Project-type premise. (Sina)

Wei Te-Shang’s (Cape No.7) Seediq Bale has been saddled with financial problems. Previously reported, Vivian Hsu sold her house to invest $5M in the film. Now it’s being reported that Jay Chou has lent the director tens of millions to complete the film. The film is scheduled to finish in July and take up to a year in post-production to be ready for next summer’s release. (Sina)

Liu Ye, a bit over PS’d?

Comfort Magazine (Sina)

Taiwan media reported on Zhou Xun’s close encounter with a fan. Arriving at a brand endorsement appearance, Zhou Xun stepped out of her car and in the middle of a media scrum she was greeted by a fan who was reluctant to let go of her. (Xinhua)

Cecilia Cheung’s $1,800 stroller for Quintus

Jay Chou would rather shed blood than tears

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.

June 4, 2010

June 4, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 11:24 am

Taipei Times: Summer Wars (Japan)

Summer Wars does a splendid job in representing one of the hottest topics of the modern world — computer security — and presenting it in a way that is both thoughtful and fun. This may be simple flat animation that harks back to technologies many decades old, but in terms of quality, it leaves many recent 3D animations trailing in its dust.

Variety: The Karate Kid

Never mind the bullies: A language barrier and East-vs.-West ethnic tensions are the chief opponents facing this new “Karate Kid.” While it boasts some high-concept novelty in its colorful Chinese backdrop and the sage casting of Jackie Chan in the Pat Morita role, Sony’s multiculti reboot remains largely faithful to the enduring 1984 crowdpleaser, albeit with enough tin-eared English and Mandarin dialogue to bring another famous Chan (Charlie) to mind. Results are often flatly formulaic but ingratiating enough to lure family audiences onto the mat, though the hefty runtime might undercut pic’s B.O. chops.

THR: The Karate Kid

Bottom Line: Won’t erase memories of the original.

CRI: Return of A Screen Goddess

Gong Li is to star in a Chinese remake of Mel Gibson’s What Women Want, marking her first performance in a local production since her role as the queen in Zhang Yimou’s Curse of the Golden Flower in 2006.

The initial list of candidates for the 30th Hundred Flowers Awards were announced yesterday. Zhou Xun received three Best Actress nominations for Confucius, Painted Skin and The Message. The Best Picture list includes Confucius, Bodyguards and Assassins and The Message. Wang Xueqi, Ge You and Chen Kun will compete for the Best Actor award. Best Picture nominations are based on the top 10 films voted by the association of film distributors, over 100 theatre managers, films with a two-year box office over 500M yuan while individual awards are voted by the top 10 films production companies. (?) The awards ceremony will be held October 16 in Jiangyin, Jiangsu Province. Final nominations will be made public August 31 by the organizing committee. (Xinhua)

THR: Shanghai Film Festival

But many local companies have opted out of the market this year — like market leaders Huayi Bros., China’s first publicly listed film studio. Huayi is passing because it, like many of its state-run peers, has few new titles ready, or few that have global appeal.

“That’s a major problem with quite a number of state-owned film studios — the lack of internationally appealing productions,” Zhou says. “Even when they do have them, they are co-produced titles with foreign or Hong Kong or Taiwan partners, for which (they) normally don’t hold international rights.”

CRI: Li Bingbing Advocates Wild Animal Protection

Taipei Times: Pop Stop

Amway sponsoring A-Mei in US concert tour, onstage marriage proposal for Selina of S.H.E.

CRI: Readers in A Flap over New Issue of Revered Magazine

The country’s most established literary magazine, Harvest, has caused quite a stir with its spring-summer issue, for carrying a novel by Guo Jingming in its Novels Special

The Harvest Literary Bimonthly, founded by Chinese writer Ba Jin (1904-2005) in 1957, has previously carried works by such literary heavyweights as Lu Xun, Lao She, Guo Moruo, and Wang Shuo.

“Lost and Found” by btr (Danwei)

They gathered around the Lost and Found

to look for the things they lost 21 years ago

“We want….”, they said

“Who are you?” a voice asked

They can’t say what exactly they lost

But they are sure something is lost

They can’t figure out what they have become

But they know they are no longer passionate

Gathering around the Lost and Found

becomes a ritual

Even the voice that asks back

is part of it

Cui Jian - A Piece of Red Cloth (lyrics)

June 3, 2010

The Karate Kid (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 11:33 pm

The Karate Kid
By Frank Scheck

Bottom Line: Won’t erase memories of the original.

It’s a measure of the times that the new version of “The Karate Kid” manages to be longer and bigger-budgeted than the original while having lesser impact. Featuring Jaden Smith in the title role and Jackie Chan as his unlikely mentor, the reboot certainly will appeal to younger audiences and nostalgic baby boomers who made the 1984 film (if not its several sequels) a smash hit. But there’s no doubt that much of the original’s charm has been lost.

The primary difference in this version is that the central character is transplanted by his widowed mother (Taraji P. Henson) not to sunny California but to China. This affords plenty of opportunities for more dramatic culture clashing and highly exotic locations — one can rest assured that the Great Wall makes a cameo appearance.

The plot, with minor embellishments, remains largely the same. Almost immediately upon settling in to his new home, 12-year-old Dre Parker (Smith) finds himself beset by class bullies, especially the vicious youngster Cheng.

During the course of getting beaten up in regular fashion, Dre finds that his modest karate skills are no match for his tormentors’ kung fu proficiency. But, much to his astonishment, one particularly brutal pummeling is suddenly interrupted by Mr. Han (Chan), his building’s nebbishy middle-aged maintenance man, who dispatches the bullies with an expert display of martial arts prowess.

Thus begins the unlikely friendship, with Mr. Han mentoring Dre in the mysterious ways of kung fu in preparation for a tournament in which the youngster will have the opportunity to face his enemy under more equal circumstances. Unfortunately, Cheng’s kung fu teacher is a particularly sadistic sort who has no compunction about instructing his charges to brutally maim their opponents.

Christopher Murphey’s screenplay pays suitable homage to its predecessor, with variations like Mr. Han forcing Dre to repeatedly put on and remove his jacket in lieu of the original’s car-waxing sequence.

The chief problem with this version is, ironically, the leads. Although Smith (who made a strong impression in his debut, “The Pursuit of Happyness”) and veteran action star Chan might have seemed like good casting on paper, they’re not suited to their roles.

The genetically blessed Smith (son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, who are among the film’s producers) is so preternaturally charismatic and assured that even when his character is being beaten up, he never seems as vulnerable or as likable as Ralph Macchio was in the original.

And though Chan is highly appealing as the quirky sensei, the impact of his performance can’t compare to Noriyuki “Pat” Morita’s Oscar-nominated turn. When Morita’s seemingly meek and unassuming Mr. Miyagi finally displayed his prodigious fighting prowess, it was a delightful surprise. Here, the effect is lost; despite his bad haircut and shuffling manner, from the first minute he appears, one is aware that Chan’s Mr. Han is capable of kicking serious ass.

Technical elements are first-rate, with particularly good use of numerous scenic Chinese locations, including the Forbidden City.

Opens: Friday, June 11 (Columbia)
Production: Overbrook Entertainment
Cast: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson
Director: Harald Zwart
Screenwriter: Christopher Murphey
Producers: Jerry Weintraub, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, James Lassiter, Ken Stovitz
Executive producers: Dany Wolf, Susan Ekins, Han San Ping
Director of photography: Roger Pratt
Production designer: Francois Seguin
Costume designer: Han Feng
Editor: Joel Negron
Music: James Horner
Rated PG, 135 minutes

The Karate Kid (Korean Herald review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 11:21 pm

The Smiths might be on the cusp of beginning an acting dynasty. Will and Jada’s son Jaden turns in a star making performance in the reboot of “The Karate Kid” — an inspirational family film both kids and fans of the original will get a kick out of.

The remake of the much loved but schmaltzy 1984 family film that popularized Karate as much as it ushered in a litany of jokes about its practitioners retains much of the inspirational charm of the original.

Jaden Smith echoes the young Ralph Macchio — the star of the original.

He convincingly exudes both confidence and the social awkwardness that comes with pre-adolescents settling into a new environment.

However, this time around the film ups the stakes by taking Dre — its 12-year old hero from Detroit — to the Far East with his mom after she gets transferred to a Beijing auto plant by her American employers.

Dre’s mother is played endearingly by Taraji P. Henson, even though her main role is to provide comic relief.

In the first film Ralph Macchio portrayed a New Jersey teen who moves with his single mother to Los Angeles.

By setting the story in modern-day China, the original fish-out-of-water plot becomes magnified, making way for a far more compelling drama.

Here, Smith turns in a convincing performance of a boy also struggling to adapt in a completely foreign world, where he can only communicate with hand gestures.

Immediately upon his arrival, Dre gets into a scuffle with a posse of local bullies led by its Kung-fu savvy leader Cheng (Zhenwei Wang) after he is spotted flirting with a girl Cheng secretly has a crush on.

The new version has almost the same structure of the original. Dre is constantly picked on until Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), the apartment maintenance man, takes him under his wing to train him for a kung-fu tournament, where the young Dre and his nemesis ultimately meet.

Chan, popular for his action spectacles featuring stunts no sane man would ever take part in, is a revelation throughout the film.

Perhaps his best dramatic performance to date, his portrayal of a man haunted by personal demons is done with subtlety and restraint.

It’s not a “look at me I can cry on screen” type of role some might expect from some of Chan’s contemporaries of the 80s and 90s.

His dramatic chops might get fans wanting to see more of him in this kind of role in the future. This is to be expected as his face and physical stature shows clear signs of wear and tear from decades of stunt work.

And in films such as these, it is inevitable — even required — that there would be its fair share of training sequences. And this is where it is obvious that Chan is no longer the man who used to jump across sky rises without safety harnesses.

The obligatory training montages are done with epic scope featuring some breathtaking scenery shot around some of Beijing’s key landmarks, such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and an almost ethereal Wudang Mountain where Dre learns to “control oneself.”

As one might imagine after such romantic portrayals of the Chinese landscape, the film is a co-production with the state-run China Film Group and Columbia Pictures.

The former contributed a reported $5 million to the production’s $40 million budget.

For years, Sony Pictures considered and then decided against re-launching the franchise as the studio had by then pounded the series into submission.

The third installment, 1994’s “The Next Karate Kid” starred a 19-year-old Hilary Swank which was both a commercial and critical disaster.

So when Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment pitched Sony on a remake featuring Smith’s 11-year-old, martial-arts-obsessed son Jaden, the studio remained unconvinced.

It was only when China was factored in just before the kick-off of the Beijing Olympic Games that the studio gave the green light, seeing the box office potential for an emerging Chinese film market.

There’s more riding on the film than most people realize.

Although the film’s production formed the biggest movie co-production between an American studio and China, it also conceded to government-mandated control of its content — resulting in two slightly different cuts of the final version.

Chinese censors requested that several scenes, including sequences of bullying and a kiss between Dre and his Chinese love interest, be left on the cutting room floor.

But even without the Chinese government-enforced deleted scenes, the film’s authenticity remains untouched.

By Song Woong-ki
Korean Herald

The Karate Kid (Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 11:12 pm

The Karate Kid

(U.S.-China) A Sony Pictures Entertainment (in U.S.) release of a Columbia Pictures presentation of an Overbrook Entertainment/Jerry Weintraub production in association with China Film Group Corp. Produced by Weintraub, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, James Lassiter, Ken Stovitz. Executive producers, Dany Wolf, Susan Ekins, Han San-ping. Co-producer, Solon So. Directed by Harald Zwart. Screenplay, Christopher Murphey; story, Robert Mark Kamen.

Dre Parker - Jaden Smith
Mr. Han - Jackie Chan
Sherry Parker - Taraji P. Henson

Never mind the bullies: A language barrier and East-vs.-West ethnic tensions are the chief opponents facing this new “Karate Kid.” While it boasts some high-concept novelty in its colorful Chinese backdrop and the sage casting of Jackie Chan in the Pat Morita role, Sony’s multiculti reboot remains largely faithful to the enduring 1984 crowdpleaser, albeit with enough tin-eared English and Mandarin dialogue to bring another famous Chan (Charlie) to mind. Results are often flatly formulaic but ingratiating enough to lure family audiences onto the mat, though the hefty runtime might undercut pic’s B.O. chops.

“Kid” might also find an audience among devotees of the John G. Avildsen-directed original (and, to a lesser extent, its three increasingly disposable sequels). While it’s easy to laugh now at that film’s ’80s accoutrements and “Rocky”-for-runts uplift, its blend of earnest naivete and underdog-saga manipulation still goes down pretty smoothly, thanks to the warm yin-yang rapport of leads Ralph Macchio and Morita.

As helmed by Harald Zwart (”Agent Cody Banks,” “One Night at McCool’s”) from a script by Christopher Murphey, this remake is an even more calculated item — shrewdly updated for our era of globalization, dislocation and parkour, but engineered to deliver the same dramatic satisfactions as the original, almost beat for beat. A reassuring familiarity seeps in as early as the opening frames, when we meet 12-year-old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith), who’s far less excited than his mother, Shelly (a wonderful Taraji P. Henson), about their move from Detroit to Beijing.

Dre has barely mastered chopsticks when he becomes smitten with cute violinist Meiying (Han Wenwen), only to immediately run afoul of some aggressive young thugs led by Cheng (Wang Zhenwei), who subjects the shrimpy foreigner to a merciless demonstration of his kung fu prowess. Indeed, “The Kung Fu Kid” would have made a more accurate if less marketable title, as Mr. Han (Chan), a local maintenance man and dormant kung fu master, reluctantly takes Dre under his wing in hopes of getting him in shape for an upcoming martial-arts tournament.

So as to teach his disciple the importance of focus, obedience, inner strength and oneness with nature, Mr. Han takes Dre on several excursions to the scenic Wudang Mountains and, inevitably, the Great Wall, one of many easy-access cultural cliches on display here. (Among the lessons in store for impressionable youngsters in the audience: Chinese people are skillful classical musicians, value family honor above all else and really enjoy touching black people’s hair.)

While there’s a potentially compelling movie to be made about an African-American adolescent struggling to adjust to life in urban China, “Kid’s” engagement with its setting never goes far beyond the picturesque (and, as lensed by Roger Pratt in such locations as the Forbidden City, it is picturesque indeed). Scenic training montages aside, there’s never the sense that Dre is learning anything meaningful from his new surroundings (like the language, for starters) that will benefit him in the real world, once he’s beaten the bad guys.

Apart from routine attacks by pint-sized flying ninjas, Dre has it pretty easy: Never a scrap of homework, and just about all the locals revert to English in his presence. (Even tough guy Cheng seems weirdly accommodating when he snarls things like, “You are fast, but not fast enough!”)

All of which is to say that “The Karate Kid: Foreign-Exchange Edition” is essentially a glossy Far East fairy tale and, as such, its appeal rests on the flexed shoulders of its lead actors, both of whom have the unenviable task of stepping into iconic roles and acquit themselves reasonably well. Smith is saddled with a bit too much defensive/bratty attitude early on, but the plucky young actor comes into his own when the role’s estimable physical demands set in (Smith learned kung fu from Chan’s regular stunt coordinator, Wu Gang).

Ideally cast as a martial-arts maven who’s seen better days, Chan initially channels Morita in his use of terse, vaguely Buddhist aphorisms before his instinctive warmth and good humor as a performer take over. Thesp even manages to sock over the moment when Mr. Han boozily discloses a traumatic memory — a scene that didn’t work especially well in the original and still feels tacked-on here.

Overall, the filmmakers have largely opted to embellish rather than excise, suggesting their reluctance to depart much from the original template. Still, it’s a sign of that pic’s dramatic durability that “Kid” manages to be as absorbing as it is, despite its nearly 2½-hour running time, and that the climactic tournament (now with instant replay) sustains interest even when it’s clear when and where the blows will land.

Henson offers rock-solid support, while Han could hardly be more winning as Dre’s love interest. In lieu of the original’s Joe Esposito, the soundtrack includes tunes by John Mayer, AC/DC and the ubiquitous Justin Bieber, classily offset by some welcome snatches of Chopin and Rachmaninoff. With: Han Wenwen, Yu Rongguang, Wu Zhensu, Wang Zhiheng, Wang Zhenwei. (English, Mandarin dialogue)

Camera (Deluxe color, Arri widescreen), Roger Pratt; editor, Joel Negron; music, James Horner; music supervisor, Pilar McCurry; production designer, Francois Seguin; art director, Second Chan; set designer, Yang Zhanjia; set decorators, Jeffrey Kong, Lee Kin-wai; costume designer, Han Feng; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/DTS), Steve Chan; supervising sound editor, Steven Ticknor; sound designer, Martin Jacob Lopez; re-recording mixers, Tateum Kohut, Ticknor; visual effects supervisors, Rocco Passionino, Garrett Lam; visual effects, Zoic Studios, Menfond Electronic Art, Beau Studio; stunt coordinator, Wu Gang; line producers, Liu Er-dong, Lee Chiu-wah; assistant director, Marty Eli Schwartz; second unit director, Doug Coleman; casting, Poping Auyeung, Zoe Thompson. Reviewed at Sony Studios, Culver City, June 2, 2010. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 140 MIN.

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