HKMDB Daily News

February 14, 2014

No Man’s Land (Screen Daily review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 7:11 pm

No Man’s Land
13 February, 2014
By Jonathan Romney

Dir: Ning Hao. China. 2013. 117mins

Widescreen sepia deserts, lashings of Spanish guitar and highway mayhem a go-go - Chinese actioner No Man’s Land (Wu Ren Qu) milks them for all they’re worth, and more so. This boisterous entertainment by Ning Hao - director of Crazy Stone and Mongolian Ping-Pong - is in a vein of pastiche updated spaghetti Western action that you might call ‘phoney Leone’. In the US, the vein has been milked variously by the likes of John Dahl, Oliver Stone and the Coens, and Ning gives the sub-genre a boisterous spin of his own, although the knockabout violence and escape-from-peril twists pile up to eventually numbing effect.

But it’s all very slickly executed, if impersonal, with much wham-bam road content. In Chinese markets, the film - completed in 2009 and released belatedly, reportedly because of censorship issues over its representation of police - made over $20 million in its first week of Chinese release in December. The film should export healthily, and play in festival cult slots - essentially, find a home wherever there’s a fanboy following for post-Tarantino genre-twisting fun.

The setting is in the vast, arid expanses of the Gobi Desert, which a Tex-Mex flavoured score gives that old Western borderline feel. The action begins with the arrest of a falcon rustler (Huang Bo) and a car crash caused by his leather-jacketed, dagger-toting boss (a memorably scowling, Van Cleef-like Duo Bujie). Self-serving city slicker attorney Pan Xiao (Xu Zheng) breezes into town and uses his cynical wiles to get the Boss acquitted of murder, then leaves with a sleek red car as his down payment. But once he comically manages to alienate the entire vicinity’s raggle-taggle population, it becomes clear that he won’t be seeing the big city again in a hurry.

Trying to manage his escape, with some caged falcons, a pile of loot and an apparently dead body (although stiffs have a way of resuscitating quickly here) Pan Xiao ends up with no allies except a roadside hooker (Yu Nan) - although her main role is the traditional one of screaming a lot and getting bound and gagged by whichever heavy wanders along next.

Engagingly cast with assorted character plug-uglies giving their all, the film goes gangbusters at the start, but once it hits the desert roads, the action really has nowhere much to go. More cars crash, more guns are fired, more (increasingly brutal) blows come Pan Xiao’s way, more mariachi trumpet blares on the soundtrack. Intermittently, the hero offers ponderous voice-over theories about man, monkeys and the dog-eat-dog world. The relentless cynical tone is hardly leavened by a bathetically soppy coda. But splashes of black humour and the occasional authentically knockout action moment at least make it hard to dislike the film - or to lose interest for too long. The caged wild birds don’t seem to have too happy a ride, though.

Production companies: China Film Group, Injo Films

International sales: China Film Company, katerina.warren@gmail.com

Producers: Sanping Han, Haicheng Zhao

Screenplay: Ning Hao, Shu Ping, Xing Aina

Cinematography: Du Jie

Production designer: Hao Yi

Editor: Cheung Yuan

Music: Nathan Wang

Main cast: Xu Zheng, Yu Nan, Huang Bo, Duo Bujie
ScreenDaily

January 16, 2014

No Man’s Land (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 12:39 pm

No Man’s Land
1/14/2014 by Elizabeth Kerr

The Bottom Line
A bleak and completely engaging Chinese neo-western thriller that works on almost every level.

Thieves, snobs, hot-tempered smugglers and petty mercenaries are among the unsavory characters that populate the arid No Man’s Land, a nihilistic and fatalistic romp on modern China’s bleak side. The latest by mainland filmmaker Ning Hao, who made a splash with his comedies Crazy Stone and Mongolian Ping Pong, is that rare movie that can pull off making such aggressively unlikeable people compelling. It’s familiar genre stuff—the average Joe caught in a situation spiraling out of control—but Ning takes such pleasure in exploiting its conventions the end result is a darkly humorous comment on disintegrating morality and unchecked, rampant selfishness.

Relegated to release limbo after running afoul of China’s SARFT, No Man’s Land finally hit Chinese screens in December with little in the way of explanation but great box office fanfare, hauling in over $20 million in its first week. Shot in 2009, the film was deemed inappropriate and “depraved,” and in the interim, Ning went on to make the bland but serviceable Guns and Roses. No Man’s Land is a welcome return to form for Ning (more likely Guns was a deviation in the service of penance), a pitch-black comedy-thriller reminiscent of the Coens and early John Dahl, though what version of the film this is and what’s been cut is anyone’s guess. Engaging performances, spectacular visuals and Ning’s name above the title should garner strong festival interest across the board, and release in Asia and targeted markets overseas isn’t out of the question.

The wide-open Gobi desert landscape serves as the perfect dusty, barren backdrop for the action as well as an indicator (hoary though it is) for the characters’ moral landscape. In the grand tradition of the urban neo-western that would rival anything unfolding on the Texas-Mexico border (what Ridley Scott’s The Counselor and Zhang Yimou’s Blood Simple retread; A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop aspired to) No Man’s Land starts with a vicious falcon poacher (a suitably stoic Duo Bujie) and his right hand man (Huang Bo) trapping a bird. The criminal pair has a run-in with a local cop that winds up dead, and next thing you know the poacher is in jail. Enter arrogant lawyer Pan Xiao (Xu Zheng), arriving in the backwater town to represent the poacher pro bono, fully expecting to generate headlines that will lead to fame and fortune.

All that is a set up for a classic scenario wherein one bad decision—an unreported traffic accident—is the catalyst for a personal and professional nightmare that includes a pair of angry truck drivers (Wang Shuangbao, Sun Jianmin), a ramshackle truck stop run by a price-gouging pervert (Yan Xinming), a young prostitute desperate to get out the Podunk “town” (Yu Nan), a bitter cop (Zhao Hu) on a mission to mess with Pan and a horse. Pan’s every decision is a bad one or the wrong one, and as he digs himself deeper and deeper into a moral and ethical quagmire rooted in greed and ambition, it becomes painfully clear there’s no way out for him, and by extension, the everyman Ning has him representing.

Unlike Jia Zhangke’s similarly nihilistic SARFT-challenging A Touch of Sin, Ning has a better understanding of genre convention and how to manipulate it, and though the film shines a glaring light on how little life is valued in modern mercenary China, Ning is having a gleefully nasty time with it. The cast is also uniformly adept at getting a handle on their characters, and the best segments put viewers on edge predicting how each is likely to react to given situations. As the truck stop owner’s wife, Guo Hong creates a vivid busybody-for-profit in just a few scenes, making her fate simultaneously inevitable and surprising. Huang is particularly amusing as the partner in crime that’s had it with working with idiots, and though Pan is just a reprehensible as the rest, Xu manages to shade him, if not totally redeem him, as the story progresses. It isn’t a spoiler to say no one comes out of the story intact, but the film does end on a vaguely hopeful note, though nothing that would negate all that came before it.

No Man’s Land could use some streamlining; there are segments that would benefit from brevity and Ning often winds up belaboring his point. But Du Jie’s outstanding cinematography—of the opening panorama, a nighttime canyon chase and the final ghostly frontier town as just a few—and Nathan Wang’s evocative Sino-western score make the film’s dead zones bearable.

Opens: General release, China
Production company: China Film Co., Beijing Orange Sky Golden Harvest, Guoli, DMG Entertainment, Galloping Horse, Bad Monkey
Distribution company: Emperor Motion Pictures
Producer: Zhao Haicheng, Han Sanping
Director: Ning Hao
Cast: Xu Zheng, Yu Nan, Huang Bo, Duo Bujie, Wang Shuangbao, Zhao Hu, Yan Xinming
Screenwriter: Shu Ping, Xing Aina, Cui Siwei, Wang Hongwei, Shang Ke, Ning Hao
Executive producer: Ning Hao, Yu Weiguo, Lin Fanxi
Director of Photography: Du Jie
Production Designer: Hao Yi
Music: Nathan Wang
Editor: Du Yuan
No rating, 117 minutes
THR

December 16, 2013

No Man’s Land (Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 12:51 pm

No Man’s Land

December 16, 2013
Maggie Lee

With a nod to the Coen brothers’ jet-black humor and twisty plotting, mainland helmer Ning Hao takes his personal brand of Chinese picaresque to nihilistic levels in “No Man’s Land.” An oater-cum-road-movie in which a lawyer’s misadventures on a lawless Xinjiang highway becomes a metaphor for a society governed by base human instincts, the film delivers white-knuckle suspense and mean action sequences spiked with an undercurrent of misanthropy and outrage. Ning’s acerbic wit has been endorsed locally with a nine-day B.O. haul of more than $27 million; offshore, the pic’s cool noir style and breathtaking desert vistas should draw Asian-friendly arthouse and genre crowds.

Completed in 2009 and scheduled for release six times over the past few years, only to be held back each time, “No Man’s Land” is rumored to have run afoul of China’s film bureau due to its allegedly negative portrayal of police (not noticeable in the current version). It’s impossible to tell from the final screened version how many edits or reshoots it has gone through, but except for a mawkish ending that feels tagged on, the yarn is tautly paced and structured.

Although speculation surrounding the film’s delayed opening no doubt stirred curiosity, it owes its commercial success primarily to the casting. While male leads Huang Bo and Xu Zheng have both appeared in Ning’s hit crime capers “Crazy Stone” (2006) and “Crazy Racer” (2009), it was their pairing in this year’s “Lost in Thailand,” China’s highest-grossing domestic film, that hyped up expectations for this particular outing.

Neither as crowdpleasing as the “Crazy” series nor even classifiable as comedy, “No Man’s Land” is instead a social allegory that harks back to the dyed-in-the-wool cynicism of Ning’s 2003 debut feature, “Incense”; both films portray spineless protags who find themselves shortchanged by an even more immoral society. Compared with that earlier work, this one is less dry and formalistic, expanding the same theme in a more entertaining genre framework. And although it alludes to Hollywood genres, it’s more stylistically coherent than the kitschy fusion of martial arts, noisy farce and Indiana Jones-style cliches represented by past Chinese Westerns set in desert locations, from Gao Qunshu’s “Wind Blast” to Liu Weiran’s “Welcome to Shama Town” and Zhang Yimou’s “A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop.”

“This is a story about animals,” announces the voiceover of protagonist Pan Xiao (Xu), setting up a running motif about man’s instincts toward predation and self-protection. These ideas are underlined by an arresting opening action sequence in which an illegal poacher (Huang) hunts down two endangered falcons in the Xinjiang desert. He is caught by policeman Wang (Zhao Hu) but escapes with the help of his boss, Lao Da (Tibetan thesp Duo Bujie, imposing), who stages a road accident as part of their getaway.

It is to this barren outpost that big-city lawyer Pan is summoned to defend Lao Da against allegations of dangerous driving. When the lawsuit wraps in the defendant’s favor, Pan coerces his client into giving him his late wife’s car as collateral for deferred payment. As the red Mustang roars along the lonely highway, the city slicker who can’t wait to get out of Hicksville unwittingly trespasses into 500 kilometers of no man’s land.

What follows bears some resemblance to Oliver Stone’s “U-Turn,” turning into a freakshow of roughneck nasties, who take turns insulting, scamming, thrashing and seducing Pan. Unlike the small-time crooks in Ning’s crime capers, whose colorful speech and goofy shenanigans give them a touch of quirky charm, the characters in “No Man Land” are physically and morally repugnant. Setting a new standard of grotesquerie in mainland comedy are a scuzzy family of three who run the world’s filthiest rest stop, and two loutish truck drivers whose idea of courtesy is to spit on the windshields of passing vehicles.

Every time Pan invokes the law, he invites more injustice, and audiences may feel torn between deploring his situation and enjoying the comeuppance of someone who routinely bends the law to his own advantage. Though the majority of the narrative is set on one straight highway, the ace car crashes and chase sequences devised by Hong Kong stunt coordinator Bruce Law (“Man of Taichi,” “The Raid 2″) keeps delivering visual thrills, while Pan’s endless reversals of fortunes and the other characters’ elusive comings and goings sustain an air of unpredictability. The appearance of Jiaojiao (Yu Nan), a sassy prostitute who becomes Pan’s unwanted travel companion, finally lends the narrative some human connection and dramatic heft.

Xu’s unscrupulous Pan bears a superficial resemblance to the mercenary yuppies he played in “Lost in Thailand” and its prequel, “Lost on Journey,” but in contrast with those trips, he’s on a less redemptive path. The actor is more low-key than usual here, his character evincing few signs of growth or emotional development, even when his conscience is tested in various life-and-death scenarios.

Playing an ingenue one minute and a hustler the next, Yu convinces as both, but is finally let down by an arbitrary epilogue that reduces her to a platitudinous mouthpiece. Huang amuses with his zombielike mannerisms without skimping on the character’s malevolence, while Duo’s quietly unhinged sociopath recalls Anton Chigurh from “No Country for Old Men.”

The harsh landscape (the film was shot around the craggy dunes of Xinjiang’s Hami region) evokes a godforsaken wasteland where every shred of human propriety has been discarded. Ning’s regular lenser, Du Jie, makes spectacular use of widescreen format to convey the velocity of the driving sequences as well as the vastness of the desert. Production designer Hao Yi’s grimy sets, beat-up vehicles and shabby costumes are totally of a piece with the dusty sepia tones of the imagery, and Nathan Wang’s thunderous, Ennio Morricone-inspired score goes well with the potent sound mix.

Production
Directed by Ning Hao. Screenplay, Shu Ping, Xing Aina, Cu Xishu, Wang Hongwei, Shang Ke, Ning. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Du Jie; editor, Du Yuan; music, Nathan Wang; production designer, Hao Yi; set decorator, Maimaitiyiming Kelimu; sound (Dolby Digital), Wang Gang; re-recording mixer, Wang Gang; visual effects supervisors, Wang Lifeng, Steve Katz, Miao Chun; stunt coordinator, Bruce Law; associate producers, Miao Xiaotian, Ling Hong, Kuan Xiaoze; casting, Li Kai.

Crew
(China) A China Film Group release of a China Film Co., Beijing Orange Sky Golden Harvest TV & Film Prod. Co., Beijing Guoli Changsheng Movies & TV Prod. Co., Yinji Entertainment & Media, Beijing Galloping Horse Film Co., Emperor Film and Entertainment (Beijing) presentation, production. (International sales: Emperor Motion Pictures, Hong Kong.) Produced by Han Sanping, Zhao Haicheng. Executive producers, Han Xiaoli, Peisen Li, Shirley Lau, Ning Hao, Yu Weiguo, Lin Fanxi; Co-executive producers, Zhang Qiang, Dan Mintz, Ivy Zhong, Albert Lee.

With
Xu Zheng, Yu Nan, Duo Bujie, Huang Bo, Wang Shuangbao, Sun Jianmin, Yang Xinmin, Guo Hong, Wang Pei, Zhao Hu, Tao Hong. (Mandarin dialogue, Xinjiang dialect)
Variety

October 26, 2011

October 26, 2011 [HKMDB Daily News]

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 8:42 pm

Aung San Suu Kyi: Not Interested in ‘The Lady’ (WSJ)

A1: Michelle Yeoh to join Malaysian politics?

But when contacted, her parents - Datuk Yeoh Kian Geik and Datin Janet Yeoh deny having any knowledge of their famous daughter’s political ambition.

FBA: Kora review

Engrossing two-wheel road/survival movie set in the wilds of Yunnan and Tibet.

Kora - Li Tao

Li Tao, director Du Jiayi

Li Tao (Sina)

ChinaPost Abba review No, not that Abba

“Abba” is a musical documentary about the life and legacy of Hong Yi-feng (1927-2010), one of the most iconic popular musicians in post-World War II Taiwan. The film, produced by Hong’s three sons, offers great music, nostalgic discoveries, a glimpse into creative minds, a complex and tender family story and some food for thought on the possible healing power of religion.

China orders cutback on TV entertainment

China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television starting next year will restrict shows that “record the dark and gloomy side of society,” the Southern Metropolis Daily said.

CF: ”The Tale of Two Cities” to be Released

Directed by the young Chinese director Pan Anzi, and starring Richie Ren, Teng Ge’er, Yvonne Yung and Xiong Naijing, the film “The Tale of Two Cities” is set to hit cinema screens during the Spring Festival of 2012…Set in the turbulent days of the Republic of China, the film tells the tale of grassroots outlaws and rivals.

The film is set in the thirties, in old Shanghai, and documents the filming of a horror movie in an old mansion. As part of the storyline, the lead actress of the movie being filmed, which is set in the ancient times, dies uncannily. A policewoman, played by Han Yifei, is sent to apply for the role of lead actress, lurking among the cast to investigate the case. However, actors and actresses start to die one after another, plunging everyone into a terrible dilemma.

Ning Hao’s “No Man’s Land” to get a November release? Frozen for two years, reporters last night spotted an entry on China Film Digital Development’s web site a table of distribution dates, including one for an entry for Nov.29 listed only as ‘WRQ’, i.e., Wuren Qu/No Man’s Land. The entry was later deleted. When reporters questioned the company, a spokesman denied it. But reporters claimed to have a screen capture showing it. The spokesman said he would investigate and see if it was a staff member’s entry error. (Sina)

“Lost in Panic Cruise” is the usual array of detectives, high suspense and murder. The movie is expected to thrill audiences during the week of Halloween and is due to start screening tomorrow.

“Sleepwalker in 3D” posters. Put your glasses on now!

Angelica Lee

Calvin Li Zong-han

Charlie Young

Huo Siyan

Charlie Young at the Beijing premiere this afternoon

Huo Siyan, Charlie Young, Angelica Lee

Charlie Young, Angelica Lee

Calvin Li, Huo Siyan, Charlie Young, Angelica Lee

(Sina)2(Sina-gallery)

Aaron Kwok celebrated his 46th birthday today at an event for “Cold War” in Hong Kong

Aaron Kwok, Tony Leung Ka-Fai

Aarif Lee, Eddie Peng (Sina)

The Hong Kong singer denies that she is in a relationship with fellow singer Denise Ho

The photo was said to be taken by the Hong Kong singer’s assistant

March 8, 2011

March 8, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 11:58 pm

Happy International Women’s Day! But don’t be a 3-8 po, okay?

Today is also the 76th anniversary of the suicide death of Ruan Lingyu at the young age of 24.

R.I.P.

THR: Zhang Yimou, Feng Xiaogang Push Beijing for Piracy Crackdown

Tang Wei portrayed Mao’s girlfriend

There are unconfirmed reports that Tang Wei’s scenes in The Founding of a Party have been all deleted. The film has been edited down from 2 hours 50 minutes to 2 hours 20 minutes currently.(Xinhua) (Sina)

Poster for The Detective 2 (B+ Detective) starring Aaron Kwok, directed by Oxide Pang. (Sina)

Ning Hao’s No Man’s Land is reportedly going to be released April 20 according to anonymous sources. Distributor China Film Group could not give a definitive answer. (Xinhua)(Sina)

Jordan Chan demonstrates his Pushing Hands technique (Sina)(Sina-gallery)

Beijing premiere press conference for Dragon Pearl costarring Jordan Chan and Wang Ji. (Mar.7) (Xinhua-gallery)

Chen Kun and Zhang Yuqi reproduce a photo of Tsien Hsue-Shen and wife for the upcoming biography Qian Xuesen

Tsien Hsue-Shen (Qian Xuesen) became the father of the Chinese missile program after being deported from the US under suspicion of being a spy. (Sina)

The Butcher, The Chef and The Swordsman will be without the promotional services of Kitty Zhang Yuqi.

Multiple explanations were cited, it was either due to a work schedule conflict with Qian Xuesen or the issue of her breakup with former boyfriend Barbie Hsu’s fiance, according to sources.

Liu Ye He-Man (Underdog Knight 2)

Liu Ye said that he hoped to emulate the Japanese Tora-san film series and create a long-lived Chinese film series. He-Man opens April 1. (Sina)

Poster for Chase Our Love (lit. Otaku Story)

The film opens April 1 and features a cast that includes Kenny Bee, Stephy Tang, and Alex Fong Lik-Sun. (Sina)

79 year-old Lee Heung Kam is suffering from Parkinson’s Disease according to HK media reports. She does not want to disclose it but was spotted going to the doctor’s with Susanna Kwan. Still working tirelessly on various TV series, Lee suffered a fainting spell on set last year.  (Xinhua)

Poster for upcoming Joey Yung concert in London (Sina)

Additional photos of Yao Chen in Paris

(Xinhua-gallery)

Backstage at the showroom for the Chanel show (Sina-slide show)

A few more of Fan Bingbing in Paris at the Dior fashion show (Sina-slide show)

Nicholas Tse

Jordan Chan, Jan Lamb

Jeff Lau, Andrew Lau

Ekin Cheng, Pakho Chau

(Sina) Backstage celebration (Sina-slide show)

MSN; Michelle Reis shares photo of son on microblog

MSN: Isabella Leong initiated split from Richard Li

Craving for her previous glamourous lifestyle, the actress chose to split with the Hong Kong tycoon

MSN: Andy Hui admits to relationship with Sammi Cheng

CNA: Sammi Cheng wants “a normal relationship” with Andy Hui

“This news fits the will of the people better than any Government policy or budget plan. I was very happy when I heard about it,” said Hui’s Big 4 band mate William So.

Police may reopen probe into suicide of Korean actress

THR: China Roughs up Journalists over ‘Strolling’ Protests

Three Sundays running, online calls for organized “strolls” and a “Jasmine Revolution,” inspired by the recent popular overthrow of Tunisia’s government, were posted to Chinese social networking sites.

February 21, 2011

February 21, 2011

Director of new China’s first film with kissing scene dies at 90

Huang Zumo, director of the classic Chinese movie, Romance on Lushan Mountain, died Saturday night in Shanghai.

1981 - Huang Zumo, Zhang Yu, screenwriter Bi Bicheng (Xinhua)

A Woman, A Gun, and A Noodle Shop - Coen remake released on DVD

On Blu, the visuals and soundscapes are stunning. On DVD, they are good. Both formats share an exhaustive documentary that, at 119 minutes, runs 29 minutes longer than the brisk feature. You see Yimou’s exacting filmmaking techniques. His bravado is even more impressive because you see he was in pre-production while concurrently planning the opening ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

CRI: Theme Song MV of ‘Buddha Mountain’ Released

Chen Bo-Lin, Li Yu, Mavis Fan, Fan Bingbing, Fei Long

Mavis Fan, Fan Bingbing

(Xinhua-gallery) (Sina-gallery)

CRI: New Director Debuts with Two Films

Journalist-turned filmmaker Yan Ran will make his directorial debut with “Sweet Journey” and “Together”

ScreenDaily: Stool Pigeon review 2

A tasty Hong Kong cops and robbers movie marred by a cliched plot and over-melodramatic backstory

The Butcher, The Chef and The Swordsman poster, opening Mar.17

Ning Hao in guest appearance (Sina)2

Ning Hao’s aptly-named and ill-fated No Man’s Land has seen its release delayed again. Rescheduled for a tentative April release, the film was once again postponed. The film began shooting in May 2009 and originally slated for a December 2009 release. After criticisms from the film review board for having no good characters and too many bad guys, the film has struggled to find approval for its release. Meanwhile, Ning Hao has begun work on a new film for 2011 audiences. (Sina)2

Poster for the thriller Fatal Invitations (Deadly Invitations) based on a best-selling Japanese novel

The film stars Cheung Tat-Ming and opens Mar.4 (Sina)

Poster for Lock Destination, formerly J-10’s Sortie

Huang Yi

Huang Yi costars in the film, a tribute to the 60th anniversary of the mainland’s Air Force (Sina) [3.2.2010]

Dragon Pearl poster

Dragon Pearl is a Chinese-Australian co-production and will be released on Mar. 11

Jordan Chan costars in the archeological action film. Mario Adreacchio directs Sam Neill and Heidi Wang Ji in the leads.  (Sina)(Xinhua)

Cherie Chung appearing in Beijing for jewellry brand Chaumet (Feb.19) (Xinhua)

MSN: Selina Jen’s wedding put on hold indefinitely

MSN; Kristen Jen rumoured to replace Selina Jen in drama

MSN: Kevin Tsai to host Barbie Hsu’s wedding

MSN: Patty Hou confirms April wedding

Italian seeks kung-fu stardom in Shanghai (AFP)

“Shangdown: The Way of the Spur” is an independent kung-fu spaghetti western, and the cowboy is Christian Bachini, a 25-year-old Italian actor who came to Shanghai to become an action star.

October 15, 2010

October 15, 2010

Variety: Addicted to Love (China) review

A Chinese senior citizen rediscovers the power of the heart in the beautifully observed and played “Addicted to Love.”

Reign of Assassins - Michelle Yeoh’s swordplay gem

CRI: ’If You Are the One’ Sequel in Theaters Dec. 22

CRI: ’The Butcher, The Chef and The Swordsman’ Releases Final Trailer

CRI: Latest Stills of ‘Wind Blast’

THR: Pang Brothers’ 3D horror films bows in HK

Pang went to the cinemas to observe the opening day crowd for “The Child’s Eye” on Thursday in Hong Kong, and saw firsthand the three main advantages that 3D brings to the film industry as a whole.

Also: Filming for “The Sleep Walker” is scheduled to start at the end of this month in Hong Kong and Thailand for a 2011 release.

Indomina Releasing has acquired domestic rights to Hong Kong martial arts thriller “Bodyguards and Assassins” from We Distribution.

Indomina also recently acquired “Griff the Invisible,” “Wasted on the Young,” “True Legend” and “Fire of Conscience.”

Midnight Heartbeat/Midnight Pulse new poster

The Simon Yam, Francis Ng hospital horror film has finally received an official release date after passing a final cut and review following another round of edits. The release date is set for December 24th. Ho, Ho, Ho! (Sina)

Ning Hao’s film No Man’s Land has finally been freed from limbo. Originally scheduled for a December 8, 2009 release, the film had been held up by authorities and now finally granted a December 18, 2010 release. Reportedly too dark for censors, the film has been reedited many times. Though Ning Hao had previously said the changes were minor, netizens were expressing doubts. (Sina)

Zhou Dongyu, Shawn Dou Xiao

Zhang Yimou brought Under the Hawthorn Tree to the Hawaii International Film Festival. As Dou Xiao is fluent in English, he acted as Zhou Dongyu’s translator.

(Sina)23

Alec Su, Pace Wu

Pace Wu

Hidden Chamber of Secrets unveiled the film’s poster and officially launched its website yesterday. The film opens October 29. (Sina)2


The cast of Jingle Ma’s Dynamic Angel (Race Car) celebrate Jimmy Lin’s 36th birthday.

Cecilia Cheung, Jimmy Lin, Tang Wei, Chie Tanaka, Han Jae-Seok

Jimmy Lin, Rene Liu, Jingle Ma (Sina)

On the set of Love Island

Simon Yam, Francis Ng

Francis Ng

The cast also includes Song Jia, Janice Man, Chang Chen and Joan Chen

(Sina) (Thanks, to Valerie)

Stanley Fung

Stanley Fung appeared on a Beijing TV program recently (Sina)

May 14, 2010

May 14, 2010

Variety: Chongqing Blues

An irreparable father-son bond triggers a study in bleak cityscapes and pervasive intergenerational malaise in “Chongqing Blues.” Initially as glum as its title would suggest, Wang Xiaoshuai’s poignant if plodding ninth feature — which follows an absentee father trying to glean information about the dead son he never knew — eventually opens up with a handful of quietly affecting moments, but elsewhere bogs down in psychodramatic flashbacks that ultimately sentimentalize as much as they clarify. http://hkmdb.com/news/?p=5453

Screen Daily: Chongqing Blues

A strong performance by Wang Xueqi as the father provides emotional ballast but fails to make up for the glacial pacing of the drama; and although there are some effective emotional tugs and an evocative use of the film’s dirty industrial city setting, the audience’s investment in the slowbuild structure is never paid back in full. http://hkmdb.com/news/?p=5456

THR: Wang Xiaoshuai returns to Cannes

CRI: “Chongqing Blues” Screened at Cannes Film Festival

Fan Bingbing

Li Lingyu, Zi Yi Cannes red carpet (Xinhua)

Fan Bingbing in dress from Elie Saab for film’s premiere (Sina)2

He Yumeng

Be sure to check out ewaffle’s take on the premiere’s red carpet.

CNNGo: Josie Ho in Dream Home: Incredibly gruesome must-see slasher film

Jeon Do-Yeon - Cannes (Sina)

Tasty, full of black humour, but finally upended by the mannerist games it plays so ably, erotic thrillerThe Housemaid is a smart but shallow remake of Kim Ki-young’s cult 1960 Korean movie of the same name.

THR: The Housemaid

Bottom Line: An operatic, sensuous social satire that dares to be different from the original classic.

Screen Daily: Sandcastle (Singapore)

Sandcastle marks a quietly assured debut feature from writer/director Boo Junfeng. The blending of guilty family secrets and the ghosts of Singapore’s recent past create an involving narrative that is related with tenderhearted understatement.

Variety: Bedevilled (South Korea)

A young mother understandably wants to get off a remote island filled with violent and misogynistic miscreants and slave-driving old hags in “Bedevilled,” a confused genre hodgepodge that marks the feature debut of Kim Ki-duk’s former assistant director Jang Cheol-soo. Part limpid study of city-country contrasts, part one-sickle-kills-all revenge fantasy, Jang’s film drifts from one genre to another without ever fully coming into its own.

Taipei Times: Taipei Exchanges

‘Taipei Exchanges’ juxtaposes capitalism against a more idealistic way of life in the form of two sisters, one practical, the other utopian.

Eight films and two TV dramas in the works

First up for Chan himself is the martial arts film “Drunken Master 1945.” Though neither a remake nor sequel to Chan’s 1978 hit “Drunken Master,” the new film is intended to capture the martial arts spirit that the earlier film also celebrated.

Beginning in August, Steve Woo will direct “The Break-Up Artist,” a Chinese Mandarin-language romantic comedy about a young woman who runs an agency that helps couples break up.

Jackie Chan a ruthless boss?

Ken Lo, William Duen Wai-Lun sacked with little compensation; Xinhua2

Zhao Benshan as a river pirate in “Laughter of the Water Margins”

Director is Chu Yen-Ping (TreasureHunter)

(Sina)

Ning Hao’s No Man’s Land too dark? (Xinhua)

Former Olympic diver Tian Liang has joined the cast of Andrew Lau’s love story Beautiful Life

Beautiful Life stars Shu Qi, Liu Ye (file photo) (HunanTV)

CRI: Tsui Hark’s 3-D Animation “Animen” to Hit Cinemas on Children’s Day(Sina)

Opening in China, Europe and US simultaneously

Rumor Mill:  Previously, Edko announced that Tsui Hark would remake a 3D version of New Dragon Inn. No cast has been announced yet. Earlier rumors has Gui Lun-Mei and Ethan Ruan as Tsui Hark’s favorite candidates. A current rumor from an ‘insider’ on the micro-blogosphere has Jet Li, Li Yuchun and Zhou Xun in the new love triangle with filming to begin in September. (HunanTV)

Taipei Times: Pop Stop - Mother’s Day

Huang Yi and her cat

Practicing her piano (Photos from micro-blog)

CRI: Gigi Leung Breaks up with French BoyfriendChannel NewsAsia

Gigi Leung breaks up with French boyfriend of four years

May 13, 2010

May 13, 2010

Behind Chongqing Blues

In Wang’s opinion, the potential success of Chongqing Blues proves the exceptional efforts of his film crew, but it is not representative of China’s film industry, especially not the artistic film scene that has been “gradually dying,” according to Wang, since 2003 when the market opened up to high budget, profit-geared blockbusters.

China Daily: Wang film up for Palme d’Or

Lin Peng was mistakenly introduced on the red carpet as Fan Bingbing by the red carpet host. Later, the publicity director explained that the confusion and embarrassment was due to a delay in Fan Bingbing’s car arriving.  (Xinhua)

Screen Daily: Bill Kong’s Edko sells Life Is A Miracle

Bill Kong’s Edko Films is launching international sales on award-winning Chinese director Gu Changwei’s Life Is A Miracle, starring Zhang Ziyi and Aaron Kwok, here at Cannes.

Set in a small Chinese village, where an illicit trade in human blood has resulted in the spread of HIV, the film follows two fellow AIDS sufferers, played by Zhang and Kwok, who fall in love with each other.

Meanwhile Edko has also picked up international rights to Jacob Cheung’s Rest On Your Shoulder, a fantasy romance that combines live action with CGI animation.

The story follows a young woman who makes a pact with a mythical being to become a butterfly in exchange for the recovery of her sick fiancé. The cast is headed by Aloys Chen, Gigi Leung, Kwai Lun-mei and Jiang Yi-yan, while the crew includes award-winning Japanese composer Jo Hisashi (Departures, Spirited Away).

Fox Searchlight has taken North American rights from IDG China Media to Wayne Wang’s sweeping epic Snow Flower And The Secret Fan.

Gianna Jun and Li Bing Bing star in the adaptation of Lisa See’s bestseller about female friendship in 19th century China. Hugh Jackman also appears.

However, producer An Xiaofen says the film could have earned much more. “Ip Man 2″ was leaked online on May 4, one week after its release. The pirated version has attracted more than 10 million clicks. That would amount to 300 million yuan (US$44 million) at the box office, the producer estimated.

No Man’s Land in limbo

Update on Ning Hao’s No Man’s Land. According to reliable sources, Ning Hao’s oft-delayed, highly anticipated film has been ’smothered’, i.e., cancelled, last week. Even after numerous changes, the film had failed to meet the approval of the film review board. If this is accurate,  film producer, China Film Group, stands to lose huge amounts of money that it has invested in it. However, a Sina Entertainment spokesman denied that the film had been killed. Aptly named, No Man’s Land, indeed. (Sina)2

Lucas has a new little brother

Cecilia Cheung gave birth to a little boy weighing 7.7 pounds yesterday at 10pm (Sina)

Deborah Li, Patrick Tse Yin, happy grandparents (Xinhua)

Nicholas Tse, Cecilia Cheung welcome second son

Although Nicholas’ parents, 1950s heartthrob Patrick Tse and former actress Deborah Li, told the media that the child hasn’t been named, sources previously said the parents have decided on ‘Marcus’.

Charlene Choi, Ronald Cheng officially divorced

Sam Lee with Myolie Wu, Sharon Chan and Joyce Tang in TVB drama Fury Street Corner

(AnD)

Marsha Yuan guest performed at Michael Wong’s Legend Reborn Macau show while mom Cheng Pei Pei watched from the front row.

Josie Ho also guested (AnD)

CRI: Song Commemorates Rebuilt Sichuan

Lisa S made first move on Daniel Wu

Glamour girl comes down to earth

April 26, 2010

April 26, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 2:08 pm

CRI: Wang Xiaoshuai’s Film Competes for Golden Palm

Wang Xiaoshuai has earned his second Golden Palm nomination for his latest film “Chongqing Blues” (aka Mosaic).

CRI: Release of ‘No Man’s Land’ Delayed Again

Release of Chinese director Ning Hao’s film, “No Man’s Land”, was delayed because of its controversial content.

The 2006 film “Crazy Stone” brought director Ning Hao great fame among movie-goers, but his latest film has been delayed several times since the end of last year. It has been criticized for having no sense of social responsibility because there are no heroic characters in it, only bad guys.

CRI: ‘The Double Life’ Premieres in Guangzhou

During the premiere, a full-on naked shot of lead actor Yuan Wenkang caused a sensation. At the press conference, when Yuan was asked whether he would do more nude scenes, director Ning said she believed Yuan is a good actor who realizes the value of nudity in art.

Karen Mok

Kay Tse, Kenny Bee and Karen Mok promote anti-drug awareness for Girl Scouts

Chrissie Chau is off to Monte Carlo to shoot her new photo album (Sina)

A-Mei whips the crowd into a rocking frenzy

Taiwanese pop diva A-Mei unleashed the raw power of her aboriginal rock-chick alter-ego, Amit, with her Amit First World Tour Live concert here yesterday night to thousands of screaming fans at the Putra Indoor Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

The three-hour concert, titled after her aboriginal name, Gulilai Amit, sees the singer-songwriter clad in leather outfits, leopard-print skirts, complete with heavy Goth make-up…

To the delight of her fans, A-Mei brought along renowned American guitarist Marty Friedman, the former lead guitarist of trash metal group, Megadeth.

CRI: Richard Li to Be a Father Again Soon

Li’s girlfriend, Isabella Leong, was confirmed pregnant with his second child and has flown to Vancouver to prepare for the delivery. Hong Kong media say Leong is expected to give birth in November.

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