HKMDB Daily News

September 16, 2013

Silent Witness (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 1:16 pm

Silent Witness

9/16/2013 by Clarence Tsui

The Bottom Line
A novel attempt for Chinese cinema in tackling the courtroom-thriller genre is weighed down by a denouement defined by an overarching belief in human goodness.

With a story revolving around a powerful political figure and his offspring being put on trial, multiple testimonies being overturned at the stand and courtroom proceedings spiraling into a poisonous expose of trysts and sexual misdeeds, Silent Witness somehow mirrors the very high-profile trials in China of, first, former Politburo member Bo Xilai (who was arrested and indicted for corruption, among other charges) and then Li Tianyi (the son of a top-ranking general and one of five men charged and tried for gang-raping a young woman). Such proximity to actual events unfolding in the country probably plays a part in the film’s steady progress at the local box office — its daily gross since opening on Friday was beaten only by the 3-D Smurfs sequel — and director Fei Xing’s experiment with nonlinear multi-perspective storytelling has certainly offered something new in a country where courtroom dramas are rare and mostly driven by state-sanctioned ideology.

While Silent Witness should be credited for making a step forward in trying to engage the mainland Chinese film industry with genre cinema — in this case, the courtroom-bound crime thriller — its flaws also illustrate the challenges of tackling such productions under a censorship regime that frowns on narratives deviating into any sort of moral ambiguity. While being entertained by all the intriguing twists and turns, domestic Chinese audiences will probably be let down by how Fei — who also wrote the screenplay — allows everyone to eventually emerge with their honor intact, when real-life events actually laid bare legal proceedings in which the accused, the witnesses and even the state itself are treading in pretty murky moral waters.

The film’s English title — as per its more obvious Chinese counterpart, which literally translates to “Observed by the Entire Public” — refers to how the trial of Lin Mengmeng (Deng Jiajia) is to take place: The proceedings — which revolve around the university student’s trial for murder — are to be broadcast live online and through Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter. The case has attracted much public attention because of the young woman’s background and the nature of the crime she is accused of. She is charged with murdering the starlet girlfriend of her father Lin Tai (Sun Honglei, Drug War), a tycoon with the checkered legal record of having been hit with multiple charges of fraud over the years.

The film’s first quarter is exactly as advertised on the can: It offers the proceedings as seen very much from above board, as state prosecutor Tong Tao (Aaron Kwok, Cold War) cruises to a seemingly easy conviction until defense counsel Zhou Li (Yu Nan, The Expendables 2 and Tuya’s Marriage) throws the case wide open as she manages to provoke Tong’s star witness, Lin Tai’s longtime subordinate Sun Wei (Zhao Lixin) into admitting he murdered the woman as an act of revenge against what he describes as Lin’s long-running affair with his wife.

The film has barely hit the half-hour mark as this happens, so the seemingly bizarre scenario of such a sudden breakdown in procedure, trust and allegiances is nearly destined to be a smokescreen: As the proceedings are rewound to the beginning and retold from different characters’ points of view — first from Tong’s, then from Zhou’s, and finally from that of the mastermind of the whole cover-up — the courtroom drama on show at first is dismantled, as the strange developments that shaped those initial exchanges gradually get embellished and explained, while the individual characters are seen putting behind-the-scenes machinations into place.

Indeed, the lawyers’ pursuit of the truth offers riveting drama, in which the prosecuting and defense teams are seemingly being manipulated in a game plan unfolding out of their control. The sense of helplessness, however, could have been amplified if only Fei could direct his leads from playing up heroism or cynicism to the level of caricature: While Yu’s distant demeanor could be explained by the illogic that defines her character’s move in sacrificing her client (and then herself) for the greater good, Kwok’s performance as a one-man champion of justice and truth ranks alongside some of the more over-the-top turns he has delivered in his career.

But to blame the actor alone for this is perhaps unfair: Kwok’s performance is nearly inevitable given how the film peels away its intrigue to reveal a web of good intentions wrapped around the deceptions placed before the public and the court. It’s perhaps ironic that one of the more damning critiques in the film is how cynical lawyers are happy to whip up public empathy for their clients to help their case, because sensationalism works best for the masses, who (as Zhou says, with a smirk) are “good-natured people.” Silent Witness also plays with the “good-natured” imagination of the viewer, but elects to provide a denouement defined by incredible acts of self-sacrifice. In this sense, Fei’s film stays true to its title: For all its aesthetic merits — Zhao Xiaoding’s camerawork has, with the help of Su Lifeng and Kwong Chi-leung’s editing, heightened the tension on screen as battles and schemes unfold — the film can only offer a taciturn response to the eye-popping manifestations of ugly human nature unfolding in real-life Chinese courtrooms today.

Venue: Public Screening, Shenzhen (released in China on Sept. 13)

Production Companies: Beijing 21st Century Weike Pictures Investment, TIK Films (Beijing) Pictures, Anhui TV, Beijing New Film Association, Inlook Media, Beijing Maite Media,

Director: Fei Xing
Cast: Aaron Kwok, Sun Honglei, Yu Nan, Deng Jiajia, Zhao Lixin
Producer: Xiao Pingkai
Screenwriter: Fei Xing
Director of Photography: Zhao Xiaoding
Editors: Su Lifeng, Kwong Chi-leung
Music: Yang Chuoxin
Art Director: Chen Shikun
In Mandarin/Putonghua
No ratings, 120 minutes

July 17, 2012

July 17, 2012 [HKMDB Daily News]

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 7:53 pm

FBA: Lacuna review

Offbeat Beijing rom-com, mixed up in a puzzle, that’s beautifully played by its two leads.

CF: The “Taichi” Trilogy Set to Release 2 Films

Set in late Qing Dynasty, the movie concentrates on how an ordinary man becomes a Taichi master, fighting off foreign invaders and monstrous machines.

FBA: Tai Chi goes 3-D

CF: Latest Poster of the New Taichi Trilogy Released

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Leni Lan Yan, Francis Ng

Lan Yan

Lam Suet, Francis Ng, Kimi Qiao Ren-Liang (Sina)2

Poster for the kidnapping thriller “Lethal Hostage” set on the China-Burma border is produced by Ning Hao and directed by Cheng Er. Opens Aug. 17, stars Wang Luodan, Sun Honglei, Ni Dahong, and Zhang Mo.

Sun Honglei

Sun Honglei

Ni Dahong, Wang Luodan (Sina)

CF: The “Mou Girl” Ni Ni Talks about her Relationship with Feng Shaofeng

CF: A Graceful Fan Bingbing on Cosmopolitan Magazine

CF: Zhang Jingchu: To Pompeii with Love

Recently Chinese actress Zhang Jingchu has been to the city of Pompeii, a partially buried ancient town-city near modern Naples in Italy. She appeared in casual clothes and stolled around the ancient Roman wrecks and appreciated the beautiful scenes there

Stars of “Switch” attend a press conference in Beijing yesterday

Lin Chi-Ling, Andy Lau, Zhang Jingchu

Lin Chi-Ling

Zhang Jingchu


MSN: Cecilia Cheung calls Nicholas Tse “hubby”

MSN: Have Leon Lai and Gaile Lok split?

Rumours that the couple has gone their separate ways after rumours that their marriage was on the rocks

Yesterday, a source claimed that the two had already finalized their divorce last week and that Gaile has returned to the US, where her parents reside at.

MSN: Is Lynn Hung forcing Aaron Kwok into marriage again?

The 31-year-old was rumoured to be using pregnancy as her latest weapon to force the Heavenly King to tie the knot

SGYahoo: Chow Yun Fat is Hugo Boss spokesman for Asia

November 1, 2011

November 1, 2011 [HKMDB Daily News]

FBA: Village Roadshow Asia announces first titles

ZHANG Ziyi-starring My Lucky Star and Stephen CHOW-directed Journey To The West have been unveiled as the first two films to emerge from the new Village Roadshow Entertainment Group Asia company.

CRI: Xu Jinglei’s ‘Dear Enemy’ Eyes New Year Season

The inspiration behind “Dear Enemy” comes from Xu’s discontent with her previous piece “Go Lala Go!”, after she decided that she could do better in the genre of workplace romance…In order to ensure the quality of the film, Xu has cut out half of the commercials.

CF: Production on Chopstick Brothers’ New Project Wraps Up

The Chopstick Brothers, including Wang Taili and Xiao Yang, are an up-and-coming duo in the filmmaking industry. Normally, they fully participate in their films by writing scripts, directing, singing and acting by themselves. Their first musical flick “Memoirs of Male Geisha” launched online in 2007, caused a great sensation among netizens and made a name for the duo.

CF: Fan Bingbing Shows her Strong Side in her First Micro Film

CF: ’Lost in Panic Cruise’ Released New Promotional Posters

The company behind the movie, “Lost in Panic Cruise”, starring Alec Su and Yang Kun, recently released new promotional materials including posters that feature the depths of space. The blockbuster ‘Lost in Panic Cruise’ has already made 10 million yuan since its opening on October the 27th.

CF: New Trailer of “A Big Deal” Released

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg all made guest appearances


CF: Jin Sha to Star in “Lemon”

In reference to her involvement in the movie, Jin revealed that she is very excited, as she likes the director’s previous works, such as “Red River” and “The Road” which were considered arthouse films.

Poster for “Cold Steel”, opening Dec. 2

Tony Leung Ka-Fai costars with Song Jia, Peter Ho, Mickey He (Sina)

Raymond Yip’s “Blood Stained Shoes” opens early next year. The horror-thriller features Ruby Lin, Mo Xiaoqi (Monica Mok) and Kara Hui.


More posters for “Starry Starry Night” featuring Xu Jiao and Lin Huimin


Huang Xiaoming is described as looking like a werewolf in these stills for Andrew Lau’s “The Guillotines”.

He plays a mad man.

Huang Xiaoming


Sun Honglei and Duan Yihong play rivals for the heart of Li Bingbing in “Yes, I Do”

Sun Honglei, Duan Yihong

August 10, 2011

August 10, 2011

Hong Kong film to conclude Venice film festival

Johnnie To’s new movie “Life Without Principle” about financial greed will wrap up the official selection for this year’s Venice film festival, organisers said on Tuesday.

Variety: Venice adds ‘Life’ to competish

Johnnie To’s crime thriller joins lineup

CRI: Johnnie To’s Film Joins Golden Lion Competition(FBA)

THR: Celestial Pictures Enters the Gaming Realm with ‘My Kingdom’ Tie-in(FBA)

More games to come from Celestial’s 760-title Shaw Brothers library.

THR: Stephen Chow Producing New Take on China’s ‘Odyssey’

‘Journey to the West’ redux will co-star Shu Qi as a swordswoman absent from earlier versions.

THR: Jackie Chan’s ‘1911′ Added as Second Opening Film for Tokyo Fest(FBA)

CF: Superstar Sun Honglei Joins Sun Zhou’s New Project

Sun Honglei

Sun Zhou

Yes, I Do book cover (Sina)

CF: Sun Yat-sen Biopic to Be Released in October

CF: Yan Ni in Supremacy(Sina-gallery)

Fantasy film “Mural” saw its new still photos released recently. The stills feature actress Yan Ni who portrays Coldblood Queen who is in charge of the mural wonderland and enjoys the mightiness of supremacy.

Huang Yi and Raymond Lam Fung attend the launch of the official web site for It’s Love/The Sorcerer and the White Snake.

Yang Zi, Tony Ching Siu-Tung, Huang Shengyi, Raymond Lam


Lau Ching-Wan and Huang Yi shoot a bedroom scene in Overheard 2

Huang Yi plays a lawyer who helps her husband, Lau Ching-Wan, evade justice (Sina)2

Huang Yi in Woman Knight of Mirror Lake (HunanTV)

Xu Fan has a 1950s retro look in Love in Space

Xu Fan, Liu Jinshan (HunanTV)(Sina)2

Online trailer for horror film Harpoon is drawing lots of netizens’ attention for featuring a naked Zhao Ming. Hu Bing and Monica Mok (Mo Xiaoqi) co-star and opens in December, just in time for the holidays. (Sina)Trailer

Zhang Ziyi on upcoming cover of September Elle

Shu Qi Elle Extra cover

Tang Wei in Hong Kong shooting a skin care advert


CF: Huang Shengyi Poses Backless for “Sunshine” Magazine

CRI: Rene Liu Announces Marriage(CNA)

MSN: Nicholas Tse suffers an asthma attack(CNA)

Next Miracle boot ceremony (Sina)

MSN: Karena Lam returns to Hong Kong

MSN: Elaine Ng rumoured to bring daughter into showbiz

Jackie Chan’s son caught dating a busty woman

April 5, 2011

April 5, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 5:41 pm

KoreaTimes: Coming full circle in Chinese cinema: Jia Zhangke passes on inspiration

While China’s large consumer pool opens up a great opportunity for commercial filmmaking, he voiced concern about Cantonese filmmakers “sacrificing Hong Kong flavor” in order to cater to mainland tastes.

NewYorker: Independent Filmmaking in China: The Age of Dissent

CRI: Nominees Warm up for HK Film Awards

CRI: Fans Commemorate 8th Anniversary of Leslie Cheung’s Death

Faye Dunaway is featured on the poster for 64th Cannes Film Festival (Sina)

CRI: Big-budget Picture Starts Secret Filming

Romance in Thin Air?

Filming in Yunnan at 3000m, Angelababy says even oxygen is a luxury.

Photo by Chapman To (Xinhua)

Anthony Wong and son attend the premiere of Punished.

In the film, his son has a cameo playing Anthony’s son. (Apr.4)

Anthony Wong

Richie Ren, Janice Man

Candy Lo, Maggie Cheung Ho-Yee and Miriam Yeung also attended.

Anthony Wong, Maggie Cheung, Janice Man

(Xinhua-gallery) (Sina-slideshow)23

The day before, Anthony Wong posted a picture with himself and Edison Chen under the caption, “Father and son reunion.”


Preparing for a press conference?

Jiang Wu featured in a new set of stills from Warring States, opening April 15.


Sun Honglei shoots a milk bath scene in The Warring States


Depressed from 3D sex?

Sex And Zen: Extreme Ecstasy” lead actress Leni Lan Yan has gone missing and the police have been called in to find her, reported The 25-year-old temptress has been missing two weeks and has reportedly been on medication for depression.

Bladesman in business

Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen and long-time filmmaking collaborators Alan Mak and Felix Chong kicked-off the promotion campaign of the martial arts biopic “The Lost Bladesman” at Mo Tai Temple by worshipping the Kwan Tai deity.

MSN: Andy Lau’s wife rumoured to be pregnant

MSN: Cecilia Cheung: My heart was hurt

The Hong Kong actress talks about her traffic accident

MSN: Has Vic Chou’s depression returned?

March 4, 2011

March 4, 2011

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 2:55 pm

CRI: China through the Lense: National Film Museum

FBA: Korean major takes self distribution route in US

The film [Detective K: Secret of Virtuous Widow ] is released in the US through deals with two exhibitors: CGV America, operates a multiplex in Los Angeles’s Koreatown and a subsidiary of Korea’s CJ-CGV; and US giant AMC from next week in other cities including San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Hawaii and Vancouver.

CRI: Sun Honglei Concerned about Image in ‘Warring States’

GlobalTimes: Mountain’s peak (Buddha Mountain)

Having triumphed in last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, winning Best Artistic Contribution and Best Actress for star Fan Bingbing, Li Yu’s youth film Buddha Mountain begins showing nationwide Friday.

The female Li is known for previous artistic works including Fish and Elephant (2001), known as China’s first lesbian film, and won awards in the Berlin and Venice film festivals. Her Dam Street (2005) also received international acclaim as did Lost in Beijing (2006), the graphic sexual content of which led to a long and unsuccessful battle with domestic censors. Indeed, none of Li’s films have enjoyed a cinematic release in her own country.

But her fourth feature film, Buddha Mountain lacks sexual, violent or political content and is, in fact, a relatively mild story. “It [the banning of Lost in Beijing] got on my nerves and I couldn’t sleep at nights. I was too stubborn at that time. I have now formed a better relationship with the censorship people, and found a win-win solution: a good film for me that also caused no problem for them,” Li told the Global Times.

Together poster features Ni Dahong, Daniel Chan (Chen Xiaodong) and Li Feier

Opening March 8. (Sina)

TaipeiTimes: Pop Stop

Isabella Leong, Selina Jen…

MSN: Andy Hui and Sammi Cheng are back together

MSN: Nicholas Tse and Cecilia Cheung show affection in public

MSN: Barbie Hsu’s wedding details revealed

CNA: Lin Chiling says ‘no’ to public romances

MSN: Netizen accuses Ella Chen’s boyfriend of being a playboy

Bob Dylan is coming to BeijingCNA: Bob Dylan to perform in China

July 3, 2010

July 3, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 8:44 pm

Lucas recording song for CJ7 MV

Cecilia, Lucas, Stephen Chow, Xu Jiao in studio (Xinhua)

CRI: Cecilia Cheung and Son, Lucas, Sing For “CJ 7: The Cartoon

Chow appears in the music video based on his new movie “CJ 7: The Cartoon” along with Xu Jiao, the lead star of the original “CJ 7″ film, and Hong Kong actress and singer Cecilia Zhang and her older son, Lucas.


CRI: “Aftershock” to Premiere in Tangshan on July 12

A premiere ceremony for director Feng Xiaogang’s tearjerker “Aftershock” will be held in Tangshan, the city where the devastating earthquake that is the subject of the movie occurred 34 years ago, the local newspaper the “Tangshan Evening Post” reports.

THR: China’s Xinhua debuts 24-hour news channel

The official state-run news agency of the Chinese government launched a global English-language television channel Thursday as part of efforts to expand its influence abroad.

CNC World has begun broadcasting in Hong Kong and will continue to expand to Europe, North America and Africa by the year-end, he said.

Sun Honglei

Models new hair for upcoming The Warring States


Zhao Wei - how she looks

Original Chinese caption: Zhao Wei short shorts with mesh stockings, full hot mom. :D

How she rolls

Zhao Wei was picked up last month at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport by this car driven by her brother. The status plates from Anhui Province is her initials and birthdate, March 12.


Mavis Fan

Mavis Fan at a recent hair care brand appearance. (Xinhua)

Miriam Yeung for Seiko watches

Photograhed by Wing Shya, make-up by noted stylist Zing


Chrissie Chau’s banned photo album cover

Also banned from the Book Fair (Xinhua)

Elsewhere, another banned model resorted to creating a ‘rape video’ to promote herself. (Sina)

May 25, 2010

May 25, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — dleedlee @ 4:08 pm

Welcome to Shamatown poster features Sun Honglei


Variety: I Wish I Knew

Treasurable images from Chinese cinema and moving personal histories from the people of Shanghai lend potent human and aesthetic dimensions to “I Wish I Knew,” Jia Zhangke’s lengthy survey of the city’s eventful past and ever-changing present.

CRI: ‘Chongqing Blues’ Set for June 8 Release

CRI: “If You Are the One 2″ to Be Shot in Sanya

The sequel’s story continues from “If You Are the One” (2008). Renowned Chinese mainland actor Ge You and Hong Kong actress Fanny Shu [Qi] will co-star the new film as they did in the previous one. [Elsewhere, Shu Qi has said she would not participate due to a schedule conflict with filming Andrew Lau's Beautiful Life.]

Wind Blast poster unveiled (Sina)


A two and a half hour rough cut edit has been completed. Of the four, Wu Jing’s character is that of  ’speed king’, Ni Dahong is the sharpshooter, Zhang Li and Duan Yihong are strength and wisdom, respectively.  Xia Yu and Francis Ng are slated to appear at the next press conference. (Xinhua)(HunanTV)

Eric Tsang has been filming Seven Little Lohans, a Chinese version of Home Alone, at the Shaolin Temple. Actually, there are eighteen little martial artists. Each one has a different personality and shortcoming which plays into the comedy. The movie will be released this summer.


CRI: Jackie Chan and the Karate Kid

Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith attended “The Karate Kid” screening in Miami, Florida on Monday.

Cecilia’s mother (Sina)

Lucas and grandma, Ceci’s mother - 2008 (Xinhua)

Hong Kong media claimed Deborah is preventing Cecilia from meeting her Chinese-British mother due to the Cheungs’ complicated background.

This year, she will take her [mother] on a two-week cruise vacation in Northern Europe. For that, Mrs Leon Lai is expected to miss out on engagements which could have brought in an estimated income amounting to a seven-figure sum.

September 22, 2009

September 22, 2009

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

Storm Warriors

Charlene Choi

Ekin Cheng (

My Fair Gentlemen - Beijing Premiere

Sun Honglei, Kelly Lin

Making mooncakes - Sun Honglei, Kelly Lin

Director Lee Gui-Yuen, Yuan Xinyu, John Woo, Kelly Lin, Sun Honglei

( (



Fan Bingbing - Beijing, Wheat premiere

Huang Jue

Director Ho Ping ( (

Kaohsiung fest removes controversial doc from line-up

Hackers attack Kaohsiung festival Web site

Taiwan director: Art movies are on the decline

Tsai Ming-liang, known for his highly experimental style, said Tuesday that art movies are shrinking for one reason: the box office drives the movie industry.

RTHK hears victory cry

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