HKMDB Daily News

June 18, 2013

Unbeatable (Variety review)

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

Unbeatable
JUNE 18, 2013
Maggie Lee

Although “Unbeatable” contains a few pugilist-pic cliches, the storytelling artistry of Hong Kong helmer Dante Lam and Nick Cheung’s powerhouse performance make a raw and compelling experience out of this action-drama set in the world of mixed martial arts. While Lam never loses his grip on the action, he also beautifully modulates his characters’ turbulent ups and downs like musical movements, expressing the protagonist’s motto that fighting is all about setting your own rhythm. Critical opinion is likely to generate very positive word of mouth, but any potential to become a B.O. champ will depend on novelty interest in MMA.

What puts Lam a cut above most Hong Kong genre helmers is that he lets the drama drive the action rather than play second fiddle to it. Inherent in all his films is the idea that life is a battle, and in “Unbeatable,” whose Chinese title mean “Raging War,” the fighting is scarcely confined to the ring. Although Lam pulls no punches, so to speak, in presenting the physical brutality of MMA, his characters’ traumas and personal relationships prove no less engrossing.

Lam’s best films, like “Beast Stalker” and “The Stool Pigeon,” often pit male protagonists from opposite sides of the law against each other, then allow them to develop mutual empathy. In “Unbeatable,” that relationship is reworked into a redemptive mentor-pupil bond in which the protagonists learn from each other while dealing with guilt and penance.

The prologue grimly tracks three people hitting rock bottom. After a carefree holiday in Yunnan province, 30-year-old Lin Siqi (Eddie Peng) returns to Beijing to find his tycoon father (Jack Kao) has gone bankrupt overnight. In Hong Kong, washed-up former boxing champion Chin Fai (Cheung), or “Scumbag Fai” as he’s known locally, is up to his ears in debt. Gwen (Mei Ting), a single mother living in Macau, struggles with mental disorder triggered by a family tragedy.

Fai flees to Macau to take on a menial job at the boxing school run by old friend Tai-sui (Philip Keung) and sublets a room in Gwen’s rundown tenement home. Siqi, who’s also come to Macau, barely scrapes by with back-breaking construction work. To prove himself to his dad, who’s gone into a slump, he decides to enter the world-famous MMA championship, the Golden Rumble, and enrolls in Tai-sui’s school, where he eventually persuades Fai to be his personal coach.

With offbeat humor and warmth, Lam deftly brings these wounded souls into each other’s orbits, with transformative results. Gwen’s daughter Dani (Crystal Lee, splendid) warily opens up to Fai, and their developing bond helps to pull Gwen out of the doldrums. Turning Gwen’s hypersensitivity to noise into a metaphor for her social estrangement, the script builds a devastating chain of events using headphones as a motif, adding resonance to the film’s use of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence.”

As Fai cultivates a surrogate family at home, his initially mercenary reasons for coaching Siqi give way to recognition of the rookie’s tenacity and talent. Eventually the film reveals Fai’s backstory, how he threw away his career through youthful folly; in their shared anger, regret and need to prove themselves, these two men strongly recall the leads in Ryoo Seung-wan’s “Crying Fist.” But Lam tempers the genre’s scowling machismo with a lighthearted touch, as when the two men cheekily lock lips while wrestling each other to the ground.

In contrast with the playful, feel-good tone of the training scenes, the matches are thoroughly vicious, underscoring Siqi’s endurance and desperation. Consciously differentiating itself from traditional Western-style boxing or Chinese chopsocky fare, action director Ling Chi-wah incorporates hot MMA moves, like the “lock technique,” rarely seen in Hong Kong films. The exceptional attention to fighting strategies also enhances the film’s feel of technical authenticity; Kenny Tse Chung-to’s camera prowls nimbly around the boxers to catch their swift movements, while his tight closeup shots magnify their pain with punishing intensity. A final-act twist delivers the payoff of not one but two action climaxes.

Lam downplays any attraction between Fai and Gwen, depicting instead a day-to-day companionship that brings out Fai’s protective instincts. In a real sense, the true romance is between Fai and Dani, the film’s toughest fighter, whose optimism reminds adults what makes life worth living; watching the bossy, impish moppet run rings around the uncouth yet good-natured coach is pure delight. Malaysian child actor Lee also played Cheung’s daughter in Lam’s previous film, “The Viral Factor,” and they display an even greater rapport here.

Peng, who showed off his impressive physique in the gymnastics-themed film “Jump! Ah Shin,” is most captivating when he lets his body do the emoting; he has an easy chemistry with Kao and Cheung, but these character relationships don’t deepen sufficiently as the film progresses. Ultimately, it’s Cheung who owns the film, bringing considerable complexity to his portrayal of a flawed, troubled, passionate fighter who still retains the capacity to inspire and be inspired by others. Flaunting a ripped torso from intensive training, Cheung calibrates his fighting style to gain in strength and dignity as Fai gradually gets his act together.

Shooting is mostly confined to the ring, the school and the flat, all of which have a suffocating grunginess, interspersed with romantic, stylishly saturated images of Macau and some atmospheric scenes set on the rooftop. Other craft contributions are controlled and polished.

Reviewed at UA iSquare, Kowloon, June 11, 2013. (In Shanghai Film Festival — competing.) Running time: 116 MIN. Original title: “Ji zhan”

Production
(Hong Kong-China) A Distribution Workshop (in Hong Kong)/Bona Entertainment Co. (in China) release of a Bona Film Group Co., Bona Entertainment Co. presentation of a Film Fireworks production. (International sales: Distribution Workshop, Hong Kong.) Produced by Candy Leung. Executive producers, Yu Dong, Jeffrey Chan.

Crew
Directed by Dante Lam. Screenplay, Lam, Jack Ng, Fung Chi-fung, based on the story by Lam, Candy Leung. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Kenny Tse Chung-to; editor, Azrael Chung; music, Henry Lai; production designer, Cheung Siu-hong; costume designer, Stephanie Wong; sound (Dolby Digital); visual effects, Free-D Workshop; action choreographer, Ling Chi-wah; mixed-martial-arts consultant, Henry Chan; line producer, Lo Sheng-ching; assistant director, Jay Cheung Wan-Ching.

With
Nick Cheung, Eddie Peng, Mei Ting, Crystal Lee, Philip Keung, Jack Kao, Andy On, Wang Baoqiang. (Cantonese, Mandarin, English dialogue)
Variety

February 15, 2012

February 15, 2012 [HKMDB Daily News]

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 5:39 pm

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CF: ”Flowers of War” Premieres in Berlin

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According to the report, four minutes of war scenes were cut prior to the screening in order to meet the demands of foreign audiences. “Foreign audiences want to see an intensive story,” Zhang said, “To meet their interests we altered it so that the story develops faster than the original version.”

CF: Stars at the After Party of “Flowers of War” in Berlin

Chinese netizens were unimpressed with Ni Ni’s first appearance on the red carpet at the Berlin Film Festival. Ni Ni was inexplicably absent from the Golden Globes in the US earlier this year. Zhang Yimou was accompanied at that time with little-known actress Han Xiting.

Ni Ni in Dior

(Sina-slideshow)

Ni Ni in an ill-fitting red dress

Christian Bale, Zhang Yimou, Ni Ni

Zhang Doudou (2r), Tong Dawei (Sina) (Sina-gallery)

CF: Stills of “Joyful Reunion” Released

Poster for “Crazy Stupid Thief” opening March 1

The film is said to be about a group of stupid thieves fighting over a large estate.  According to the film’s website on Sina, the director is Li Kai (”Who Killed Paul the Octopus?”, assistant director on “Crazy Stone”). (Sina)

Stills of Nick Cheung in a fight scene from “Nightfall”

(Sina)

Angelababy and Mark Chao attended the trailer release for “The First Time” in Beijing on Valentine’s Day.

(Sina)

MSN: Cecilia Cheung to cook her way to Nicholas Tse’s heart

SGYahoo: Asian stars’ plastic surgeries!

Recently, rumours of multiple Hong Kong celebrities undergoing the knife for enhanced facial features and physiques have been spreading like wildfire, leaving fans to wonder how many beautiful stars are left untouched and unmodified in the film industry.

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September 6, 2010

THR: De Bont to direct Zhang Ziyi in ‘Mulan’(CRI)

“Mulan” is set to start shooting this fall outside Shanghai, where de Bont, the director of “Speed,” “Twister” and “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” will attempt to bring romance, action and drama to screenwriter John Blickstead’s recreation of the Chinese Joan of Arc story that was first described in a 6th century poem

“Carmen”: Shu Qi’s Version for “Legend of the Fist” (CRI)

Seediq Bale: Taiwanese director completes epic film after 13 years

The four-hour film will be shown in two parts when it hits the big screen next July. (Sina)

Global Times: Local filmmakers bitter but can’t make films like Inception

Variety: China ready to ‘Party’

After the success of “The Founding of a Republic,” an epic tribute to China’s 1949 revolution, work has begun on “The Founding of a Party” to mark the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party’s foundation on July 1 next year.

WPost: Chinese firms look to team up with Hollywood

“The Hollywood infrastructure is very open to other people’s money,” he added, “but they really only want to do creative deals within the community and to hire from within.”

BAW’s 007 SUV to launch in third quarter

Coincidence?

Peter Chan’s Wu Xia crew was trapped for two hours due to a landslide caused by rain in Tengchong. Four large vans were blocked but no serious damage or injuries occurred. Donnie Yen is currently in Venice and Tang Wei is in Beijing for the Founding of a Party press conference. Only Takeshi Kaneshiro is in place. The mountain route is under heavy private guard ever since Tang Wei and Takeshi Kaneshiro were photographed at the nearby hotel. Only those with work permits are allowed to pass and foreign vehicles are not allowed to remain. (Sina)

Nick Cheung and Liu Yunlong latest to join cast of Founding of a Party

Liu Yunlong, Nick Cheung

Nick Cheung (Sina)

Wind Blast stills with Francis Ng (Sina)

Shu Qi gets wet for Feng Xiaogang’s If You Are the One 2

Taking a plunge

(Xinhua)

Jiang Yiyan - I Phone You

Jiang Yiyan

Jiang Yiyan stars in the China-Germany coproduction (Sina)

Chrissie Chau is reportedly supplanting Stephy Tang in Patrick Kong Pak-Leung’s next installment of his Love series films. Stephy starred in his previous films My Sweetie, Marriage With a Fool, Love is Not Around, L is For Love, Nobody’s Perfect and Love Connected. (Xinhua)

Guei Lun-Mei attending a charity auction in Taipei

Guei Lun-Mei

December 21, 2009

December 21, 2009

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 5:22 pm

THR: John Woo to get Venice fest career award

Screen Daily: John Woo to receive Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at Venice

Kelly Chan

Nick Cheung was welcomed home with Champagne by Emperor’s CEO after winning Best Actor Award at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival in Taiwan. By chance Kelly Chan was returning from Malaysia from her concert tour. (HunanTV) Red carpet slide show (Sina)

THR: Quake fails to shake awards

Faye Wong, Li Yapeng

Carina Lau

CRI:Lis Steal the Show at Celebrity Fundraiser

The Smile Angel Fund organized a charity gala dinner on December 18 in Beijing, drawing a star-studded crowd of some 100 celebrities.

CRI: A-Mei Rocks Beijing

Shu Qi

Ekin Cheng and Shu Qi kiss in concert HD (97) (Sina)

Guests included Rebecca Pan, Karena Lam

December 1, 2009

December 1, 2009

CRI: ‘Once Upon a Chinese Classic’ Launches Official Website

Jeff Lau updates A Chinese Odyssey with Athena Chu, Ronald Cheng

Michelle Ye and her new movie

Variety: Kitano plots gangster pic ‘Outrage’

Japanese director also writes and stars in pic

(HunanTV)

Kung Fu Kid slide show (Sina)

Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan

CRI: Actress Xu Qing Signs up with Huayi Bros.

THR: HBO, Mei Ah to launch Asian movie channel

Singer Faye Wong to stage comeback concert tour

Faye may return with tour

Also, Wong may perform at state-run broadcaster Central China Television’s annual Spring Festival gala show in February.

Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Carina Lau

Tony and Carina lent their childhood photos to be used for UNICEF fund raising (Sina)

Nick Cheung returns to Hong Kong with his Best Actor Golden Horse

Kara Hui Best Supporting Actress for At The End of Daybreak

(Sina)

Big Soldiers Launches Official Website

Jackie Chan

Director Ding Sheng

Lin Peng

Xu Dongmei

Wang Lee Hom was absent but taped a greeting. Big Soldiers is scheduled for a Feb. 14 release. (Sina)

November 30, 2009

November 30, 2009a

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 4:10 pm

Leon Dai

Taiwanese tear-jerker wins “Chinese Oscar”

Taiwan director Leon Dai’s harsh real-life drama “No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti” won best feature on Saturday at the Golden Horse Film Awards

Screen Daily

Variety: Taiwan wins Horse race

THR: Taiwan film wins big at Chinese awards

‘No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti’ leads island wins at annual gathering

Best leading actor: Nick Cheung, “The Beast Stalker;” Huang Bo, “Cow”

Best leading actress: Li Bingbing, “The Message”

Best supporting actor: Wang Xueqi, “Forever Enthralled”

Best supporting actress: Wai Ying-hung, “At the End of Daybreak”

Best original screenplay: Leon Dai, Chen Wen-pin, “No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti”

Best screenplay adaptation: Guan Hu, “Cow”

Best cinematography: Cao Yu, “City of Life and Death”

Best visual effects: Wang Jianxiong, Jimmy Chen, Li Liping, “Crazy Racer”

Best art direction: Lee Tian-jue, Patrick Dechesne, Alain-Pascal Housiaux, “Face”

Best makeup and costume design: Christian Lacroix, Wang Chia-hui, Anne Dunsford, “Face”

Best action choreography: Sammo Hung, “Ip Man”

Best film editing: Cheung King-wai, “KJ: Music and Life”

Best sound effects: Cheung King-wai, “KJ: Music and Life”

Best original film score: Dou Wei, Bi Xiaodi, “The Equation of Love and Death”

Best original film song: Zeng Yan, Tao Hong, Tan Weiwei, “For My Heart”

Best documentary: “KJ: Music and Life”

Lifetime achievement award: Ming Ji

Special contribution award: George Wang


Shu Qi

Golden Horse Awards 2009 - Photo gallery

Best Leading Actress, Li Bingbing - The Message

Gallery: Golden Horse Awards Ceremony

Celebration back in Beijing

(Sina)

Ang Lee, Maggie Cheung

Golden Horse Red Carpet

Nick Cheung, Li Bingbing, Huang Bo

CRI: Mainland Stars, Movies Win Golden Horse Awards

Maggie Cheung, guest presenter

More (Sina)

November 16, 2009

November 16, 2009

Stool Pigeon - On location with Nic Tse and Kwai Lun-Mei

Nic Tse

Kwai Lun-Mei

(12) (HunanTV)

To Live and Die in Mongkok - Nick Cheung and Monica Mok

Nick Cheung’s hot scene with Monica Mok. Film opens Thursday in Hong Kong. (HunanTV)

CRI: Jackie Chan Reunites with ‘Little Fortunes’

THR: Chan marks Peking Opera school anniversary

Chan, Hung, Yuen celebrate half-century of institute

CRI: Fan Bingbing Promotes “The Last Night of Madame Chin”

CRI: Jiang Wen Reveals Details about New Film

Actor turned director Jiang Wen’s upcoming film Let the Bullets Fly is still in production, but Jiang and his cast discussed the film recently with reporters in Beijing.

Carina Lau skipping Golden Horse awards because of Maggie Cheung?

Hong Kong actress Carina Lau is reportedly skipping this year’s Golden Horse Film Awards in Taiwan because of rumoured love rival Maggie Cheung.

Five-time Golden Horse award winning actress Cheung has agreed to be a presenter at the November 28 award show, her first appearance in nine years. The awards is seen as the Chinese-language “Oscars”.

Shortly after the news made headlines, Lau who was invited to represent husband, actor Tony Leung, at the film festival’s executive committee meeting, declined the invitation, citing work commitments as an excuse.

Leung, 47, is unable to attend the prestigious event as he is busy filming martial arts movie “The Grand Master”, which is scheduled to be released next year, while Lau, 43, is involved in Chinese film “Let The Bullets Fly”.

Lau’s manager has played down the matter, saying, “Things are fine between Carina and Maggie. Carina would very much like to attend the meeting but the crew refuse to let her go. She is still trying to fight for it.”

The long-running feud between love rivals Lau and Cheung, 45, over Leung is no secret and a rendezvous between Leung and Cheung in August this year has reignited rumours of the love triangle.

Exposed: The Real deal on Miriam Yeung’s hubby

Lin Chiling faces resistance on her return as a TV host

Memoirs of a travel host - Zhang Ziyi Travel Series

Joey Yung diagnosed with degenerative knee condition

Andy Lau and wife make pact to thwart media

Lau and Choo in ‘theatre of dreams’

Vivian Chow

(Sina)

Gong Mi (Little Cecilia Cheung) endorsing a Shenyang mall (Sina)

September 10, 2009

September 10, 2009

Mei Ting

Chinese Actress Mei Ting Hits The Red Carpet in Venice
Chinese film “Dialysis” (Judge) premieres at the ongoing 66th Venice Film Festival.

(Xinhuanet.com) Photo gallery (Sina.com) (Sina.com)


Zhang Yuan

Li Xinyun

Li Xiaofeng

Dada’s Dance Beijing premiere press conference


Nic and Patrick Tse

Nic’s father Patrick Tse visited the set of Yit Lat Lat (Spicy Hot)


Nick Cheung on set in streets of Mongkok

Natalie Meng, Monica Mok play country girl and prostitute in Wong Jing’s To Live and Die in Mongkok (literally Mongkok Prison)

(Sina.com)


Hollywood Reporter: TGIO strips ‘Prince of Tears’ of subsidy

Film by Taiwan director chosen as Hong Kong’s Oscar rep

Screen Daily: Taiwan’s GIO to revoke Prince Of Tears subsidy

Variety: Formosa Betrayed review

U.S.-Thai co-production “Formosa Betrayed” is a decent political thriller set in Taiwan with the requisite Western-market-friendly lead and a determinedly pro-independence message embedded in a formulaic but diverting tale of intrigue and oppression.

Cast includes Tzi Ma, Kenneth Tsang

Korean Herald: Hur Jin-ho’s new film has no tragic twist

“A Good Rain Knows” (aka Season of Good Rain) reviewed

Sketches of Jay Chou’s Pandaman exposed

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Nicholas Cage drops out of “The Green Hornet”

China action to control online music: state media

China has announced that every foreign and domestic song posted on music websites must receive prior approval, state media said Thursday, in the nation’s latest efforts to control online content.

August 3, 2009

August 3, 2009


Michelle Ye in Cheang Pou-Soi’s Accident (formerly Assassins)

Hong Kong art-house director Stanley Kwan tackles science fiction film

Zhang Yimou’s Three Guns story summary
The comedy-thriller is about the owner of a Chinese noodle shop whose plan to kill his cheating wife and her lover “spins out of control after the introduction of a gun into the lives of characters more accustomed to knives and swords,” Sony Pictures Classics said in a statement sent to The Associated Press late Friday.

Hong Kong cartoon piglet debuts - McDull
CCTV video in English

Nick Cheung – a late bloomer
CCTV video version (English)

Tangshan Earthquake represented on big screen
CCTV video in English
 Huayi Bro. Denies ‘If You Are the One’ Sequel in the Pipeline
Feng Xiaogang has decided that following his current project “The Tangshan Earthquake”(formerly named “Aftershock”), he will film a comedy but he has yet to choose a story.

Hollywood Reporter: Meat Grinder — Film Review
Thanks to “Meat Grinder,” Thai cinema now boasts its own Sweeney Todd in the form of a female psychopath who grinds her victims into meatballs for noodle soup

NY Times: Chasing Society’s Hidden Dragons - Ang Lee

Venice Launches 3D Film Prize, Ang Lee Heads Jury Panel

‘Talentime’, Yasmin’s final masterpiece?
[Related note: iTunes Store has three free podcasts available with interviews/discussions with Yasmin Ahmad and Sharifah Amani]

Actress Lee Sinje bags beauty ambassador role
Lee Sinje in Singapore as SK-II beauty ambassador - photos

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Patrick TseKelly Lin, Simon Yam
Kenny BeeJordan ChanAndy On, Jennifer TseJet LiLau Ching Wan
Stars open Lan Kwai Fong Hotel in Macau promote child adoption - photos

More photos


Aaron Kwok Taipei concert


Photo gallery


SCMP: Gillian Chung interview with subtitles
Plays Carmen Mok in remake of Neil Simon’s I Ought To Be in Pictures

July 31, 2009

July 31, 2009



Storm Warriors limited editon posters released at Anime Festival

Ekin Chen, Ma Wing-Shing (original manga illustrator, writer), Aaron Kwok

Variety: Coweb review

Variety: Chaw review

Yu Shaoqun, Liu Yifei Tapped for another ‘Chinese Ghost Story’

bc Magazine: Overheard reviewed

Taipei Times Film Review: ‘Empire of Silver’ short changes audiencesThe world of finance is barren ground for a good story in ‘Empire of Silver,’ a big-budget period drama about the Wall Street of imperial China

Taipei Times Film Review: Sons are for fathers the twice-told tale in How Are You, Dad
Best known for directing Hoklo and Hakka films, Chang Tso-chi shot a movie in Mandarin as a response to his late father’s wishes

Two Chinese Films to Vie for Golden Lion
Venice Film Festival unveils lineup
Hong Kong helmer Yonfan’s “Prince of Tears,” set in Taiwan during the 1950s anti-Communist period known there as “White Terror.
Cheang Pou-Soi’s thriller “Accident,” [previously Assassins] produced by Johnnie To

http://ent.sina.com.hk/cgi-bin/nw/show.cgi/2/1/1/302328/1.html
Yonfan’s Prince of Tears to compete at Venice Film Festival
[see May 19 entry for additional background]

‘Taking Woodstock’ Premieres in New York

Premiere photos

From farmer to A-lister: Wang Baoqiang’s unchanged smile
Blind Shaft earned him 1,000 yuan ($146), and a Best New Performer award at the Golden Horse Awards.

Star-studded film to open for 60th anniversary of PRC

Children Of Workers: 24 City

Life in China through a foggy lens


Meng Yao, Nick Cheung and Monica Mok attend launch ceremoney for To Live and Die in Mongkok

Korean stars take their shot at Hollywood
Supporting roles seen as opening door to larger parts

Li Bingbing Denies Rumors of Foreign Boyfriend

Taipei Times: Pop Stop
Eason Chan, A-Mei and so much more

Zhao Wei reported to be marrying Singaporean businessman

Kelly Chen ruffles mother-in-law’s feathers



Shu Qi ambassador and Hou Hsiao-Hsien executive director attend press conference for 2009 Golden Horse awards

Zhou Xun shampoo advertising photos

Zhao Wei


New Zhao Wei pictures

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