HKMDB Daily News

September 14, 2012

The Last Supper (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 8:21 pm

The Last Supper (Wang De Sheng Yan)

9/13/2012

by Deborah Young

Spectacularly beautiful and achingly poetic, Lu Chuen’s The Last Supper describes the bloody birth of the Han dynasty in the 3rd century BCE with the skill of an expressionist painter and the curiosity of a historian. Like the director’s much-admired City of Life and Death (2009) about the Nanking Massacre, it takes a real interest in the period it depicts, pinpointing the gap between the historical record, revisionism, and what really happened. This all makes for a gripping Chinese epic of Shakespearean proportions that will entrance audiences well-disposed to the genre, starting from its Toronto premiere. Not for the distracted, the film has multiple characters who are quite hard to keep straight, though it is possible to do so with careful viewing.

The first Han emperor is dying and the court is full of intrigue. Emperor Liu (City of Life and Death’s Ye Liu), an ancient-looking man with long gray hair and beard, is so sick he can barely tell his aged wife (Qin Lan) from his young concubine. Haunted by nightmares and ghosts of the past, he is horrified to see the severed head of General Xin (Chang Chen) brought before him.

He then remembers when he first saw the dashing young nobleman Lord Yu (Hong Kong actor Daniel Wu) riding by. Back then, Liu was a rough-hewn country man who dreamed of serving in Yu’s army. Later, he humbly applies to the grave, 24-year-old aristo for soldiers to liberate his town where his wife is held captive, and Lord Yu gives him 5,000 men.

This noble gesture allows Liu to free his tortured spouse, and Lord Yu and Liu fight side by side with other warlords against the decadent and despised Qin empire. Their victory in 207 BCE allows Liu, not Yu, to be the first to set foot in the forbidden city of the time, the Qin Palace. Viewers will marvel along with these semi-barbarians at the extraordinary stone palace and its cultural artefacts, including a vast library of historical records written on linked wooden slats, which are delivered in the blink of an eye by an ingenious mechanical system. It may have been the kind of empire that forced “100 minds to think as one,” but how not to shed a tear for the delicate but defiant young Qin emperor, hacked to death in the public square after undergoing excruciating torture?

Trouble is afoot when Lord Yu learns that Liu has usurped his right to be the first to enter the hallowed palace walls. This time it looks like curtains for the peasant commander, yet once again Yu chooses to overlook his faux pas. Too nobly, it turns out, because they end up struggling for power at the head of rival armies.

In the final reels, the underlying theme of commoners who topple an empire becomes more explicit, though the film’s take on contemporary Chinese politics is too veiled for easy comprehension. In any case, noble Lord Yu’s democratic idea of dividing the empire into 19 independently run kingdoms, each speaking its own language, ends in blood.

Another theme is the falsification of history by the victors. Old minister Xiao (Yi Sha), an idealist like Yu, lectures an obedient army of scribes on how General Xin was falsely vilified by history. Xiao was an eyewitness and recounts, Rashomon-style, a very different version of the facts than the one written in the official records. His honesty is punished even more horribly than Lord Yu’s.

Cinematographers Li Zhang and Ma Cheng follow one breath-taking image with another, soulfully underscored by composer Liu Tong. Yet for all its lyricism, the film is remarkably believable in reconstructing a long-ago era lost in poetic mists and long telephoto shots, but still having its own dense reality. Poetic and terrifying at the same time are the armies arranged in orderly files; warhorses flying over the plain; the emperor’s magical candlelit chambers; clouds animated with human figures; a dangerous barbarian sword dance, as the camera slides around the dancers.

With the action shifting back and forth 14 years and the men mostly bearded and wearing heavy armor or elaborate period costumes, there is ample room for the characters to blur. The very fine cast helps keep confusion to a minimum with strongly individualized performances even within the formal confines of the period aesthetic. Ye Liu’s emperor is quaking and terrified, ready to run for his life when danger threatens, yet there is something in this “Son of the Dragon” that towers above the crowd. As his Lady Macbeth of a wife, made to age painfully as the film progresses, Qin Lan shows who wears the pants in the beautifully lensed and edited summoning of General Xin.

Venue: Toronto Film Festival

Production companies: Beijing Chuanfilms Co., Stellar Megamedia Group, China Film Group

Cast: Liu Ye, Daniel Wu Chang Chen, Qin Lan, Sha Yi, Nie Yuan, Huo Siyan, Cuckoo He, Tao Zeru, Li Qi, Qi Dao, Lu Yulai, Hao Bojie

Director: Lu Chuan

Screenwriter: Lu Chuan

Producers: Albert Yeung, Alan Zhang, Yang Ten-Kuei, Zhao Xiaowen, Gu Guoqin, Lu Chuan, Xin Wen

Executive producer: Qin Hong

Directors of photography: Li Zhang, Ma Cheng

Production designers: Chen Haozhong, Lu Tianhang

Editor: Liu Yijia

Music: Liu Tong

Sales Agent: Wild Bunch

No rating, 115 minutes

THR

September 10, 2012

The Last Supper (Screen Daily review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: — dleedlee @ 5:25 pm

The Last Supper
Dir/scr: Lu Chuan. China. 2012. 115mins

9 September, 2012
By Dan Fainaru

A companion piece to Chen Kaige’s award-winning The Emperor And The Assassin (1998), which portrayed the rise of the Qin dynasty and the unification of the Chinese empire and running on parallel lines with last year’s Hong Kong production White Vengeance, Lu Chuan’s new and visually spectacular historical pageant is dedicated to the fall of that same house of Qin, at the end of the Third Century BC.

Lu Chuan, best known in the West for his City Of Life And Death, has been at work for years on this complex project, involving not only a large cast and enormous production means, but also a plot - or more exactly a myriad of intersecting plots - whose details could mystify any audience unfamiliar with the Chinese history.

He has finally come up with a Chinese version of Macbeth. A tale about a king who is the victim of his own ambition and haunted by guilt, and about his wife who would stop at nothing to preserve her power. The moral of this tale, however, offers some surprisingly updated hints about modern China and its rulers, likely to be frequently discussed in Western reviews.

A lesson in Chinese history, this isn’t. The plot is far too intricate and its presentation is too convoluted to make much sense for an unprepared audience. Lu, who also wrote the script, chooses the point of view of a raving Liu (Liu Ye), the almighty emperor who started the Han dynasty, troubled by nightmares in which his closest assistants are plotting to get rid of him.

The film constantly goes back and forth in time, from the early days when Liu was a humble peasant leader joining forces with the young and highly respected noble Yu (Hong Kong star Daniel Wu) to topple the corrupt Qin rule, through the various pacts and treacheries established between the various chieftains, climaxing at the famous banquet when, despite the attempts of Yu’s advisers to kill him, he manages to come out, alive.

He later defeats Yu’s armies thanks to General Xin (Taiwanese Chang Chen), who defected from Yu’s camp. But after subsequent plots and counterplots Liu is lead to believe that Xin will now betray him as well to take away his crown. His wife, Empress Liu (a subtle, fiercely controlled Qin Lan), who has been at his side all along, engineers one cold blooded murder after another to prevent any attempt in stopping her from taking over once her ailing husband is dead.

To make some sense out of this complex plot is very much like assembling a large puzzle whose pieces have been scattered in all directions. And once assembled, there will still be quite a few of them missing. No wonder it is difficult to follow, but at least all the production departments have spared no effort or imagination in making the film look fabulously eye-catching.

A pageant mostly concerned with the lessons of history rather than history itself, it constantly points at the bitter fruits of ambition; suggests acquisition of power is a long procession of deceptions, conspiracies, corruptions and treacheries, and suggest one never relies on historians to tell you the truth. Whether the decision to spurn chronological narrative was the outcome of production difficulties or editing problems, it will certainly constitute a major obstacle for this handsome picture, at least outside its home territory, where audiences might be more familiar with the material it is presented.

Production company: Beijing Chuanfilms Company Ltd.

International Sales: Wild Bunch, www.wildbunch.biz

Producers: Albert Yeung, Alan Zhang, Yang Teng-Kuei, Zhao Xiaowen, Gu Guoqin, Lu Chuan

Executive producer: Qin Hong

Cinematography: Zhang Li, Ma Cheng

Editor: Liu Yijia

Production designer: Chen Haozhong, Lu Tianhang

Music: Liu Tong

Main cast: Liu Ye, Daniel Wu, Chang Chen, Qin Lan, Sha Yi, Lv Yulai, Nie Yuan, Huo Siyan, Cuckoo He, Tao Zeru, Li Qi, Ki Dao, Hao Bojie
ScreenDaily

July 26, 2012

July 26, 2012 [HKMDB Daily News]

Filed under: News — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 6:09 pm

CF: ”The Last Supper” to Premiere at 37th Toronto Film Fest

“Last Supper” was scheduled to be released on the mainland on July, but the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television dashed that plan citing “nonbusiness reasons.”

Daniel Wu

Liu Ye

Chang Chen

(Sina)

CF: 3rd NY Chinese Film Festival to Open in Oct.

At the press conference, M1905 also unveiled an Internet high definition movie player, which is a Netflix-like movie-streaming service.

The film’s cast features a strong lineup, including Tom Cruise, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, Hally Berry, Du-na Bae from South Korea and Zhou Xun and Ju Ju from China.

Zhou Xun, Tom Hanks - from the trailer (Sina) (VH1-trailer)

CF: Jiang Yiyan: Zombie-like Makeup in “The Bullet Vanishes”

CF/THR: China’s Wanda Group Gets Regulatory Approval to Buy AMC Entertainment

‘The Thieves’ Breaks Record for Biggest Opening in Korean Film History

Director Choi Dong Hun of Tazza: The High Rollers and Woochi directed the film, and cast a variety of actors from Kim Yun Suk to Kim Hye Soo, Lee Jung Jae, Jun Ji Hyun, Kim Hae Suk, Oh Dal Su and Kim Soo Hyun. [Chinese cast includes: Simon Yam, Zhang Jingchu, Derek Tsang and Angelica Lee]

Celebrated Korean Feature Film “Tazza: The High Rollers” Comes to DVD as a 2-disc Special Edition on September 18, 2012 [Highly recommended - the film, don't know about this DVD edition]

TaipeiTimes: Pop Stop

Edison Chen, Zhang Ziyi, Shu Qi, et al.

MSN: Is marriage on the cards for Zhang Ziyi?

The Chinese actress has reportedly accepted Chinese host Sa Bei Ning’s proposal

June 14, 2012

June 14, 2012 [HKMDB Daily News]

FBA: First Time review

Chinese re-working of a South Korean romance is far richer than the original.

FBA: Racer Legend review

Rote drama of motor-racing rivalries, with performances way above the script. 

CF: ”The Last Supper” Release Date Postponed

Director Lu Chuan immediately responded to the news by joking that his “baby is waiting for a hukou” (household registration), meaning that State Administration of Radio, Film and Television had not yet approved the film..

Liu Yifei plays a wheelchair-bound detective in Gordon Chan and Janet Chun’s “The Four”.

In addition, she is ruthless, a friend of birds and has an iron hand

Liu Yifei

Anthony Wong

Deng Chao

Jiang Yiyan

The cast also includes Ronald Cheng, Collin Chou and Wu Xiubo (Sina)23

Adapted from Wen Ruian’s novel. The novel tells the story of four young constables: Heartless, Iron Fist, Chaser, and Cold Blood, who work together to solve mysterious cases and discovers the plan to overthrow the capital by flooding it with an army of undead.

“Windseeker”/”The Silent War” directed by Alan Mak and Felix Chong will be released Aug. 10 in Asia, China and the US. Besides Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Zhou Xun, the cast also includes Mavis Fan, Wang Xuebing and Carrie Ng.

On Sunday night, Ekin and Charlene Choi met with the media to promote their new movie, My Sassy Hubby. It is the pair’s first collaboration since My Wife is 18 in 2002 but they showed good rapport.

The album, which contains Buddhist teachings in Cantonese recited by Andy, was released in August 1998 under the singer’s monastic title “Hui Guo”.

March 26, 2012

March 26, 2012 [HKMDB Daily News]

Variety: Studio complex puts China in the picture

Huairou Film Base hopes to lure Westerners

In a recent coup for Huairou, Keanu Reeves signed on to shoot “Man of Tai Chi,” a $32 million contemporary chopsocky and tai chi actioner that will film here. The cast includes Tiger Chen and Karen Mok, with Reeves as a bad guy — and martial arts choreography by Yuen Woo-ping (”The Matrix”).

Variety: Film is art to Chinese helmer Lu Chuan

Local auds didn’t flock to “City of Life and Death” in expected numbers, partially because Lu made the Japanese general in the war movie a real character.

Now the director wants his vision to appeal to auds in the booming China market as he gets ready to unveil “The Last Supper,” a costume drama about two warring generals, toplining mainland-friendly stars Liu Ye, Daniel Wu and Taiwanese thesp Chang Chen.

FBA: Audience invited to all or nothing Supper

Qin Lan as Empress Lu in “The Last Supper”, opening July 5th

Qin Lan

Liu Ye, Qin Lan, Daniel Wu, Chang Chen at recent Beijing press conference (Sina)

Daniel Wu

Liu Ye

Chang Chen (Sina-gallery)

Trailer for “The Last Supper”

Gong Li will play Empress Wu in “Tang Dynasty Mystic/Mystery Map”

Two versions of the film are in the pipeline, with Jacob Cheung Chi-Leung directing and Tony Ching Siu-Tung producing and filming to begin in July. An international US-China version hopes to get Danny Boyle to direct with an unnamed actress in the lead.

Gong Li

(Sina)23

First stills from Guan Hu’s black comedy “Design of Death”

A quack doctor (Simon Yam) performs an autopsy to determine whether the cause of a death is a murder or an accident. The setting is an ancient village in the mountains.

Simon Yam

Yu Nan atop a coffin

Huang Bo

Alec Su (Sina)

CF: China’s First Banned Film Released after 60 Years

After its premier in 1951, the film was soon caught up in ideological disputes, which saw it pilloried as being pro-capitalist, a severe accusation in an era characterized by its black-and-white politics. However, Mao Zedong’s criticism of the film, in which he labeled it as carrying a message detrimental to the principles of socialism, was perhaps the main reason behind the banning of the film.

(Sina)

MSN: Showbiz boss Albert Yeung dishes the dirt on celebrity scandals

Jackie Chan, Elaine Ng (Sina)2

WaPo: Hong Kong selects new leader after tumultuous contest

After a boisterous but highly undemocratic contest featuring feuding tycoons, dark rumors of closet communism and a host of scandals over sex, gangsters and an illegal wine cellar, Hong Kong elites on Sunday selected a wealthy, China-backed populist as the new leader of this former British colony.

SCMP: Leung wins chief executive race

“We, Hong Kong people, have no rights to cast our votes, We come here just to voice our anger,”

“We already have no right to vote in the real election. Why should we be deprived of our rights even in a fake one?”

September 30, 2011

September 30, 2011 [HKMDB Daily News]

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 4:45 pm

WSJ: A Revolutionary Role for Jackie Chan

‘Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose’

Eileen Chang’s works are roses with thorns for filmmakers.

CF: Snake Meets Sorcerer

The original legend mostly focuses on Bai and Xu’s doomed romance but the latest version brings Fahai (Jet Li) to the foreground.

In 2010, Zhang Yuan: Unspoiled Brats was exhibited at Ullens Center for Contemporary Arts in Beijing and the namesake film was completed in 2011. The film focuses on the life of China’s youths in Beijing and the exhibition portrayed the life stories of young Chinese. Over 200 young people applied for major characters in Zhang’s work, and finally ten got the chance to tell their stories in pictures.

Poster for Lu Chuan’s The Last Supper

Filming will complete at the end of October after extending the five month shoot. Liu Ye publicly stated that there is no time limit for the film and scheduled no other films for the rest of the year. Daniel Wu and Chang Chen expressed full support and stood behind the director. Lu Chuan’s demand for detail and texture required many sets to be (re)built(?). (Sina)

Yao Chen watches as Huang Xiaoming get eyedrops prior to the ceremony launching Chen Kaige’s new film, an adaptation of a Japanese fantasy story of a monk set in the Tang Dynasty. Huang recently suffered sudden eye problems while working on Andrew Lau’s The Guillotines.

(Sina)

Boiling water?

Carina Lau and Richie Jen film a TV program to promote water conservation in northwest China (Sina)

TaipeiTimes: Pop Stop

Shu Qi on Lee Hom: He’s really just my good friend (MSN)

MSN: Karen Mok to wed tomorrow

CRI: Karen Mok Releases Photos with Fiance

Karen Mok in Florence

Sketch of wedding shoes (Sina)

MSN: Selina Jen’s wedding to go on despite grandfather’s death

Yang Mi mistaken as Fan Bingbing

[Not surprising, given her Fan-like assault at the Milan fashion shows]

Zhou Xun’s naked photos found

September 16, 2011

September 16, 2011 [HKMDB Daily News]

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — dleedlee @ 5:53 pm

WSJ: Ann Hui on Aging and ‘A Simple Life’

WSJ: Will China Fall in Love With Rom-Coms?

Maggie Cheung promoting Hong Kong cinema in London

Maggie Cheung said, “Either they are ones that love Wong Kar-wai and are just in that world or the ones go for Jackie Chan, you know. And I think they’re both as strong as each other actually, coming from, I’ve done both and I think it’s part of it. I just can’t think of Hong Kong cinema without one or the other, the action and the more mellow dramas or the more personal films.”

FBA: Disney closes local-language film unit

Zhang Ziyi

Cecilia Cheung

Zhang Ziyi has been reportedly confirmed as joining Jang Dong-gun in Heo Jin-ho’s remake of Dangerous Liaisons for a RMB$20 million fee. Unofficial reports have Cecilia Cheung joining for a RMB$16 millon fee. Filming is set to begin in September and the story has been reset in Shanghai. (Sina)23

Lu Chuan’s The Last Supper (aka King’s Feast) may be in serious trouble as major investor, Stellar Media, has reportedly pulled out. The reason is unclear but a number of reasons have been suggested: Stellar is focusing on another project, Peter Chan’s Guillotines, which has incurred additions expenses due to the shuffle of directors (Teddy Chen for Andrew Lau); Stellar was unhappy with the choice of one of the key roles, He Du Jean as the concubine; the film has also been in conflict/competition with a similar film, Daniel Lee’s White Vengeance. Lu Chuan and Stellar chief, Qin Hong, have engaged in a war of words via Weibo. (Sina)2

Still from the set of Daniel Lee’s White Vengeance

Zhang Hanyu

Jordan Chan

Andy On Chi-Kit

Andy On

Leon Lai (r)

Zhang Hanyu (l)

TaipeiTimes: Pop Stop

Nicholas-Cecilia-Edison-Vincy-Gloria-Jay-Hannah-Maggie-Ole et al

CNA: Donnie Yen makes wife weep with self-penned song on her birthday

Donnie Yen made his wife of eight years Cissy Wang weep tears of joy during her 30th birthday party recently, by singing her a song he composed for her while playing the piano

Wolverine on Weibo!

Mainland Chinese actress Li Bingbing, his co-star in “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan”, wrote “Scatter flowers to welcome you”.

April 18, 2011

April 18, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 7:41 pm

CRI: ’Detective Dee’ Sweeps HK Film Awards

FBA: Gallants and Dee split HK Film Awards

Carina Lau: “It doesn’t compare to Tony”

Carina arrives in Versace

Carina Lau’s mother at the awards

The young grandmaster posted by Carina on her weibo (Xinhua)

[Photos] The 30th Hong Kong Film Awards (CRI)

CF: Movie Stars Shine 30th HKFAA1-slideshow

A1: List of winners from the 30th Hong Kong Film Awards

CF: Ancient Beauty of “The Last Supper” on the Way

Lu said in his interview that “I can only tell you the actress is a new face. And she will appear at Xiangshan with the cast too. I just haven’t figured out how to introduce her yet.”

WSJ: Bullets, Love and Beijing’s Heavy Hand

On the 35th HKIFF, Jia Zhangke and Jiang Wen. [Nice article and I especially like the poem at the end.]


When I was young I did not understand melancholy.
I just wanted to climb, higher and higher.
Nowadays I understand the taste of melancholy.
I want to talk about it, but I give up even before I try.

(¬_¬)



New stills of Liu Ye and Shu Qi in a drunk scene from A Beautiful Life released

CRI:  [Special] The 1st Beijing Int’l Film Festival

CF: ’Looper’ Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Shanghai

AP: After ‘Inception’ success, Gordon-Levitt tackles new sci-fi film set in China

(Sina-slideshow)

FBA: Sex and Zen opens strongly in HK, Taiwan

CF: ”Nanjing Heroes” Eyes a Box Office of One Billion

Zhang Yimou’s new epic war film “Nanjing Heroes” will finish its shooting process in June. Producer Zhang Weiping agreed to an interview with Beijing Evening News on Apr 12 to talk about his expectation of this film, saying, “‘Nanjing Heroes’ will at least gain one billion RMB in China.”

CF:Final Poster Released for “The Lost Bladesman”

This film will open in theaters on April 26.

Two concept posters for One Wrong Step (lit. Bottomless Pit), a suspense comedy film, directed by first time director Jiang Tao.

(Sina)

Aaron Kwok kicks off his 2011 Reel World Concert Tour in Shanghai.

Actress Zhang Yuqi admitted Friday, she has gotten engaged to Berlinale-winning director Wang Quan’an.

March 25, 2011

March 25, 2011

Please consider making a donation

ICRC (Red Cross)IFRC (Red Cross/Red Crescent)

CRI: HK Entertainers to Raise Fund for Quake Victims

It’s been confirmed that Hong Kong artists will hold a three-hour charity concert titled “311 Love beyond Borders” to raise funds for victims of Japan’s massive earthquake and tsunami.

THR: Jackie Chan, Hong Kong Stars Set Japan Charity Concert

The group has recorded the song “Succmb Not to Sorrow” which is based on a Japanese poem and serves as the theme for the concert. (Xinhua)

(Sina-slideshow)

Japan live blog: More than 27,000 dead, missing (CNN)

Breach suspected at troubled Japanese power plant (Yahoo)

(more…)

March 17, 2011

March 17, 2011

Honestly, the situation in Japan seems dire. Circumstances are worsening, official reports appear sugar-coated and the response so far does not appear effective. The citizens, surely, feel frustrated and abandoned. But let’s, at least, recognize the bravery of the Fukushima 50.

Charity for Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (NHK)

Donate to the American Red Cross - select the International Relief Fund option.

THR: What Hollywood Is Doing to Help Japan (List)

MSN: Taiwanese celebs come together for Japanese disaster relief

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