HKMDB Daily News

February 26, 2010

February 26, 2010

Restored treasure “Confucius” on screen during International Film Festival

Screenings of director Fei Mu’s lost classic, “Confucius”, in its initial phase of restoration last year met with overwhelming response. The film in its second phase of restoration will be unveiled in the 34th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) together with other works of the great director, including the masterpiece “Spring in a Small Town”. As a contribution to the HKIFF, the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) has organised a retrospective “Fei Mu, Film Poet” to showcase the work of one of the greatest filmmakers of Chinese cinema. (Original article, NYTimes)

CRI: “Little Big Soldier” Makes Over 100 Million Yuan at Box Office

Review: ‘Little Big Soldier’ Innovative for Chan

Chan’s new movie also shows that it’s possible to be creative within the often-soulless genre of the big-budget Chinese epic that has come to dominate the local industry.

CRI: “Mulan” Nominated in Hong Kong Film Awards

No mere copy: A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop

Sometimes the punchlines were culturally specific and were delivered very quickly. They do not translate well and result in hard-to-catch subtitles. The quick fire comedic exchange between Wang’s staff for instance, left non-Chinese speakers puzzled as the subtitles zoomed by.

Dante Lam’s Fire of Conscience opens Apr.1

Leon Lai plays a hot, violent detective, Richie Ren/Jen a gentle anti-drug cop


Jacky Cheung

Crossing Hennessy will be opening film at this year’s HKIFF.

Amphetamine from Taiwan will be the closing film.

(Sina) (HunanTV)

CRI: ‘Hennessy’ to Open HK Int’l Film Festival

Connie Chan and mother, Gung Fan-Hung (Sina)

Gung Fan-Hung (c) with Lydia Shum, Nancy Sit, Connie Chan

Connie Chan’s adoptive mother and mentor Gung Fan-Hung died after suffering chest pains while attending Connie Chan’s concert at Hong Kong Coliseum on the evening of Feb.24. She was 98 years old. In 1953, Gung and her husband Chan Fai-Lung opened the Hong Kong Cantonese Opera Academy and nurtured talent such as Ng Kwan-Lai. (Sina)

Connie Chan performed last night despite her grief. She was greeted with warm applause by fans.

Earlier, Connie told the media, ‘Mommy, since childhood, taught me everyone should play their part and perform their duties.’ (Sina)

Connie Chan held a brief press conference and said she would announce funeral plans after completing work.

(Sina) (2)

New Swordsman from Yuen Wo-Ping featuring Daniel Wu, Zhou Xun, Li Bingbing, Huang Xiaoming? (Xinhua)

Zhou Xun and Huang Xiaoming are also rumored to be leaving Huayi Brothers when their contracts expire to join Peter Lam’s Media Asia. (Xinhua)

HK singer Gigi Leung’s family disapprove of her beau

Cherie Chung

Cherie Chung shot new photo adverts for a collagen center promoting the ’secret of youth’ (!)

(Sina) (15)(Sina) (Xinhua)

Jennifer Tse Ting-Ting’s new slimming advert (Sina)

February 15, 2010

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 4:53 pm

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop
San qiang pai’an jingqi

(Mandarin dialogue; international version) A Sony Pictures Classics (in U.S.) release of a Beijing New Picture Film Co. (China)/Film Partner (2009) Intl. (H.K.) production. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by Zhang Weiping, Bill Kong, Gu Hao. Executive producer, Zhang Zhenyan. Directed by Zhang Yimou. Screenplay, Xu Zhengchao, Shi Jianquan, based on the 1984 film “Blood Simple.”

With: Sun Honglei, Xiao Shenyang, Yan Ni, Ni Dahong, Cheng Ye, Mao Mao, Zhao Benshan, Julien Gaudfroy.

Four years (and several Olympics duties) after “Curse of the Golden Flower,” mainland Chinese helmer Zhang Yimou returns with the much more ascetic, chamber-like dramedy “A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop.” A pretty close adaptation of the Coen brothers’ 1984 “Blood Simple” but relocated from the flatlands of contempo Texas to the hilly deserts of Shaanxi in Ancient China, pic is spiced up with some pratfall humor (trimmed in Sony’s international version screened at the Berlinale) and visually enhanced by saturated lensing of the dusty red landscapes that slightly recalls Zhang’s earlier “Hero.” Modest specialized biz looks likely.

In China, where it was released mid-December (with the English title “A Simple Noodle Story”), pic took a tasty 261 million yuan ($38 million) in six weeks, more than recouping its sizable reported budget of around $12 million. Though way less spectacular than Zhang’s recent movies like “Curse,” “House of Flying Daggers” and “Hero,” the casting of popular local comics in several roles — including hot new name Xiao Shenyang as the young lead — was a contributory factor.

Plot adheres to the essentials (and even whole scenes) of the Coens’ script, though culturally the movie is utterly Chinese in its characterizations and occasional references to Beijing Opera (notably “San cha kou,” with its multiple double-crossing in an inn). Western auds familiar with “Blood Simple” will get a kick out of the reinventions — and the script by Xu Zhengchao and Shi Jianquan actually tightens up the original’s rather digressive second half prior to its final shootout.

In the middle of a vast empty desert, bisected by dusty gullies, stands a solitary roadside inn run by grouchy old skinflint Wang (Ni Dahong) and his vampy young wife of 10 years (Yan Ni). For the past couple of months, the wife has been canoodling with sappy young cook Li (Xiao). The only other staff are a bozo waiter, Zhao (Cheng Ye), and equally dim waitress, Chen (Mao Mao), who haven’t been paid for some time.

Zippy opening sets up pic’s comic element as a flamboyant Persian trader (Julien Gaudfroy) comes by and demonstrates the new western invention of guns, finally selling a three-barreled model (along with three bullets) to Wang’s wife, who’s just about had it up here with her old man’s ill treatment. The gun, with its three avaliable shots (referred to in pic’s Chinese title), will play a crucial role in the chicanery to come.

Alerted by the noise of the Persian’s demonstration of his wares (including a large cannon), the local police force drops by and the staff whip up a meal of noodles preceded by an impressive display of culinary kung-fu (this version’s only crowdpleasing action sequence). In local terms, the scene is mainly a showcase for a cameo by comedian Zhao Benshan as the police chief.

Some time later, however, the chief’s deputy, Zhang (Sun Honglei), drops by alone and tells Wang that his wife is having an affair with Li. Wang hires Zhang to murder the couple and bury them in the desert; when Zhang returns with “proof” of the dirty deed, he collects his money and shoots Wang with the wife’s gun.

Coen aficionados won’t be surprised by any of the subsequent twists in the tale, and general auds will be pleasantly amused, as Zhang tries to manipulate events for his own purposes (the small fortune in Wang’s office safe), the bozo employees also try to muscle in, and the bodies start to pile up.

Though helmer Zhang frequently lingers over this or that cloudscape, landscape or sound effect, and the utter isolation of the inn is frequently stressed, “Noodle” has none of the simmering, badlands atmosphere of “Simple,” with Sun (in the M. Emmet Walsh role) a taciturn, poker-faced cop with a procedural attitude to his crimes.

Apart from Cheng and Mao Mao, who provide most of the effective humor as the two dumb employees, it’s Yan (so good in her small role in Guan Hu’s recent “Cow”) who provides most of the color, from her duds to her temper. Xiao is OK but in a colorless role.

The exact era is never specified, and some design elements (such as the blue-black outfits of the police) are there simply for visual contrast, especially when set against the red-streaked, rusty landscape. P.d. Han Chung’s inn interiors are immensely detailed, with the borderline ramshackle look reflecting Wang’s meanness.

For the record, pic’s international version is four minutes shorter than that released in China and Hong Kong.

Camera (Technicolor, widescreen, DV-to-35mm), Zhao Xiaoding; editor, Meng Peicong; music, Zhao Lin; production designer, Han Zhong; costume designer, Huang Qiuping; sound (Dolby Digital), Steve Burgess, He Wei; sound designer, Tao Jing; story consultant, Zhou Xiaofeng; stunt co-ordinators, Cao Hua, Gao Xiang; special effects co-ordinator, Chung Do-ahn; visual effects producer, Jiang Yanming; assistant director, Zang Qiwu. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (competing), Feb. 14, 2010. Running time: 90 MIN.

A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop (A Simple Noodle Story)(Screen Daily review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 4:51 pm

A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop (San Qiang Pai, An Jing Qi)
By Dan Fainaru
Dir: Zhang Yimou. China-Hong Kong. 2009. 95mins.

Playing more like a slapstick version of the Coen brothers’ classic Blood Simple than a remake, Zhang Yimou’s latest moves the action back a few hundred years and switches location to the spectacular Yellow Earth landscapes of Northern China. Aimed primarily at local audiences – where it was a hit over the New Year – Zhang’s adaptation is multiplex matinee fare. Audiences oversees might miss the black humour of the original, though, while finding A Woman lacks the flamboyance of Zhang’s earlier films (House Of Flying Daggers, Hero).

Zhang Yimou’s broad version of Blood Simple is heavy on pratfalls and overacting and light on tension and black humour but is always a visual treat

The plot itself remains basically unchanged. Greedy old Wang (Ni Dahong) owns a noodle shop in the middle of nowhere. In the opening scene, his embittered wife (Yang Ni) buys a gun from a wandering Persian merchant and demands that her lover, Li (Xiao Shenyang), one of the noodle shop’s cooks, use it to kill her husband. Wang, suspecting his wife’s affair, hires policeman Zhang (Sun Honglei) to murder them both. Zhang pretends to kill the wife, and then shoots Wang, intending to rob him of his money.

The plot thickens, of course, with Li convinced that his lover is the murderer, the staff getting involved, all the principals developing an interest in the contents of Wang’s safe, and the bodies quickly piling up.

The Coen brothers drew every bit of tension, terror and irony they could muster out of their clever, cold-blooded portrait of human greed. Zhang opts to play it broadly, however, although initially A Woman… looks like it might be one of his bravura pieces, with the Persian merchant displaying his merchandise at the inn followed by a dazzling demonstration of flying dough being turned into Chinese noodles. Zhang then takes his camera out of the inn for a stunning look at the local scenery, the colours obviously enhanced for greater effect.

But once this prologue has finished, A Woman… moves into pratfalls and overacting, with the stage directions reminiscent of comic stances in Chinese opera. The characters quickly turn into caricatures whose fate seems inconsequential, and Zhang fails to convey the immediacy of the original film, when it seemed as if even the most far-fetched developments couldn’t have happened any other way.

With the local audience in mind, Zhang has cast mainly Chinese TV stars in A Woman…, with the exception of Sun Honglei (The Road Home, Forever Enthralled), who gives the crooked policeman a welcome dose of chilly sarcasm. Visuals, as always with a Zhang Yimou film, are enticing, courtesy of DoP Zhao Xiaoding.

Production companies
Beijing New Picture Film Co
Film Partner (2009) International

International sales
Wild Bunch
(33) 1 53 01 50 20

Zhang Weiping
Bill Kong
Gu Hao

Xu Zhengchao
Shi Jianquan
Based on Joel and Ethan Coen’s Blood Simple

Zhao Xiaoding

Production design
Han Zhong

Meng Peicong

Zhao Lin

Main cast
Sun Honglei
Xiao Shenyang
Yan Ni
Ni Dahong
Cheng Ye
Mao Mao
Zhao Benshan
Screen Daily

February 15, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 11:47 am

Growing pains of China’s animation movie

Chop Socky Chooks: Volume One

Playing more like a slapstick version of the Coen brothers’ classic Blood Simple than a remake, Zhang Yimou’s latest moves the action back a few hundred years and switches location to the spectacularYellow Earth landscapes of Northern China.

Variety: A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

For the record, pic’s international version is four minutes shorter than that released in China and Hong Kong.

Chinese remake of Coen brothers classic screens in Berlin

Screen Daily: Au Revoir Taipei

Asian-American director Arvin Chen’s boy-meets-girl romance coasts along on sheer goofy sweetness. A brightly-coloured Before Sunrise in Taiwanese screwball sauce with just a pinch ofUmbrellas Of Cherbourg thrown in, it does little except charm, seduce and mildly amuse. But it does so with enough grace and storytelling skill to keep most audiences hooked though to the end, even though the sugar-rush wears off pretty soon after leaving the cinema.

It’s the kind of larger-spanned movie that Taiwan should be attempting if the island’s industry is ever to get back on its feet again. Niu’s gamble looks to be repaid — at least locally — with “Monga” strong-arming a brawny $1.6 million in its first week since bowing Feb. 5.

Variety: The Actresses (South Korea)

Six movie stars — playing themselves — gather for a Vogue photo shoot in a Seoul studio in “The Actresses,” a talky but involving fakumentary that continually plays with the thin dividing line between reality and fiction. Hardly the catfight it’s expected to be, this cheekiest outing yet from writer-director E J-yong is a funny, sometimes surprisingly touching exploration of the role of actresses in South Korea’s still socially proscribed film world, though considerable knowledge of local showbiz and the thesps themselves is necessary to get the most from the movie. Asia-friendly fests should extend invites to these broads.

Variety: I’m In Trouble (South Korea)

Korean Academy of Film Arts alum So Sang-min makes a promising feature debut with “I’m in Trouble!,” a charmingly modest talking-eating-drinking movie — carved from the same rockface as helmers like Hong Sang-soo, Emmanuel Mouret and Woody Allen — in which a bunch of likable, indecisive losers endlessly repeat the same emotional mistakes.

Based on a novel by one of Japan’s most acclaimed fiction writers of the 20th century, ‘Villon’s Wife’ possesses a cinematic presence rarely achieved by literary adaptations

All’s Well Ends Well Too 2010

Ronald Cheng, Raymond Wong, Louis Koo, Sandra Ng

Raymond Wong

Sandra Ng

Ronald Cheng, Louis Koo (Xinhua)

Jacky Cheung

Jacky Cheung promoting his new CD Private Corner on a TV program (Xinhua)

Chrissie Chau

Chrissie Chau will celebrate Valentine’s Day with boyfriend Avis (Sina)

Liza Wang, Law Kar-Ying (Sina)


James Parry, AngelaBaby (Sina)

Donnie Yen (Sina)

Rainie Yang (Sina)

Donnie Yen: I’m good in bedroom kungfu

Sandra Ng has no time to go online

Jackie Chan backs Vivian Hsu’s Jap comeback

Zhang Ziyi - Chinese art of reveling in another’s pain

With so many in Taiwan’s celebrity firmament embroiled in scandals over the past few years, 2010 may turn out to be the year when some turn to religion to change their evil ways. But don’t count on it.

Shannon Lee at Hollywood Madame Tussauds

January 4, 2010

A Simple Noodle Story (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , — dleedlee @ 9:49 pm

A Simple Noodle Story
By Maggie Lee

Bottom Line: An American Mid-west noir thriller gets a regional Chinese comic treatment.

HONG KONG — “A Simple Noodle Story” is Zhang Yimou’s remake of the Coen Brothers’ “Blood Simple” as a Chinese period thriller-farce in a desert setting. A high-rolling but garish production with untranslatable regional ribald humor, it is aimed squarely at the China market where the genre of “ejiao” (comic brawls and rascally hijinks) is all the rage. In less than three weeks, it has racked up $32.4 million from domestic cinemas.

You’d probably savor this more if you have some affinity with Northwestern Chinese culture than if you’re a Coen or Zhang aficionado. To promote the film, Sony Pictures Classics, which owns distribution rights in some continents including USA, could highlight the novelty of this cultural crossover and the film’s gung-ho energy.

The Texan bar in “Blood Simple” is transposed to a noodle shop in the desert of Shaanxi province, run by Wang Mazi (Ni Dahong). His shrewish wife (Yan Ni) buys a gun from Persian traveling salesmen, raising a cloud of suspicion among the staff.

When the Persians test fire a canon, it causes the local brigade to raid the shop. The brigade chief’s aide Zhang San (Sun Honglei) privately approaches Wang to tell on his wife’s affair with apprentice Li Si (Xiao Shenyang). Wang hires Zhang to murder the adulterers. More double-crossings and crossed purposes ensue when Zhang’s hidden agenda surfaces.

Although key plot points are taken lock, stock and barrel from the original, pacing is much more frenetic with characters and cameras in restless motion. The intervals are crammed with exotic sight gags and colloquial word play, such as a dough-making scene choreographed like a plate-spinning acrobatic show, or the group hip-hop dance routine accompanied by Zhang Yimou’s rap song in his native Shaanxi dialect.

Much of the film’s tone of is set by Wang’s servants Zhao Liu (Cheng Ye) and Chen Qi (Mao Mao), who function as hick Chinese versions of the leads in “Dumb and Dumber.” When they debate whether to bust Wang’s vault, they recite a chunk of tongue-twisting dialogue in one take — an instance when technical showmanship shines through even if the parody is lost in translation.

These elements and the deliberate use of anachronistic contemporary slang give the film its quintessentially Chinese character. However, their specific cultural references and the cast’s screechingly noisy acting style are what eventually wear out non-Chinese viewers.

Likewise, the Coens’ cool, noirish observations on humans’ cynical nature and mutual distrust are somewhat lost in the boisterous mood created by the stir crazy characters.

Panoramic shots of brick red sand dunes capturing the landscape’s barren beauty are juxtaposed with gaudy art direction and costume design that cockily flout the usual aesthetic sophistication in Zhang’s works, as if he has decided to dab all the separate color schemes of “Hero” onto one palette.

Opened in Hong Kong: Dec. 24
Production companies: Beijing New Picture Film Company, Edko (Beijing) Management Consultancy Co. Ltd, Sony Pictures Classics
Sales: Sony Pictures Classics, Edko Film Company
Cast: Yan Ni, Xiao Shenyang, Sun Honglei, Ni Dahong, Cheng Ye, Mao Mao
Director: Zhang Yimou
Comedy director: Shang Jing
Screenwriters: Xu Zhengchao, Shi Jianquan
Executive producers: Bill Kong, Zhang Weiping
Director of photography: Zhao Xiaoding
Art director: Han Zhong
Music: Zhao Lin
Costume designer: Wang Qiuping
Editor: Meng Peicong
No rating, 94 minutes

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