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

April 11, 2012

April 11, 2012 [HKMDB Daily News]

FBA: Cool Young review

Off-the-wall, very patchy curio centred on love and money in modern-day Shenzhen.

FBA: Young Dudes review

Undeveloped mix of fantasy and modern-hippy elements is more like an extended music video.

CF: Inaccurate Memoir Bumps up Release Date

Publicity stills for “An Inaccurate Memoir” featuring Zhang Yi

CF: Nostalgic Posters for ‘11 Flowers’ Released

Set at the end of the 1970s, the art-house film “11 Flowers” tells the story of an 11-year-old boy who witnessed a murder.


CF: Zhang Ziyi’s “Sophie’s Revenge 2″ to Begin Shooting Soon

CF: Presenters of Hong Kong Film Awards Unveiled


Latest poster for Ning Hao’s “Guns and Roses” features director’s filmography


CF: Box office chart for last week

Guan Hu (”Design of Death”, “Cow”) announced the cast of his new film “The Chef, The Actor, The Scoundrel”. In addition to the three leads, Zhang Hanyu, Huang Bo and Liu Ye; the cast includes Tanaka Chie, Wang Xun and Liang Jing in the action comedy. The director and three leads will also act as producers for the Lunar New Year film.

Liu Ye, Zhang Hanyu, Huang Bo

Guan Hu, Liu Ye, Zhang Hanyu

Huang Bo, Liang Jing, Tanaka Chie

Guan Hu, Liu Ye, Zhang Hanyu, Huang Bo (Sina)234

Stills from Guan Hu’s “Design of Death”.

Yu Nan plays a mute widow

Yu Nan and Huang Bo (Sina)2

Animated posters and a couple stills for “Full Circle”


MSN: Sammi Cheng used to suffer from depression

The Hong Kong singer’s co-star Louis Koo revealed that she only ate a “piece of vegetable” during her dark period

MSN: Is Joyce Cheng dating a Korean model?

MSN: Raymond Lam struck by mysterious illness

November 26, 2010

November 26, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 6:35 pm

FBA: The Jade and the Pearl (翡翠明珠) (4/10)

Routine local romp lacking real star power and sparky direction.

FBA: The Island (絕命島) (4/10)

Spotty attempt at a genre thriller with international reach.

CRI: Trailer Released for Xu Jinglei, Li Yapeng Film

The romantic film “Eternal Moment” starring Xu Jinglei and Li Yapeng is set for release on Valentine’s Day 2011. (Sina)

CRI: ”Lover’s Discourse” Depicts Modern Love Stories on Dec. 31

Through the telling of four different stories of four young couples, starring Eason Chan, Karena Lam, Mavis Fan, Eddie Peng, Kay Tse, William Chan, the film depicts the happiness and sadness people feel when they are looking for love in the modern city.

GlobalTimes: Yu Nan - Widening her repertoire

Starring in recently-released western Wind Blast and receiving several international acting awards, Yu Nan has earned herself the title in China of “international actress,” one that is much coveted in the local scene, although not one that she is keen to wear.

Yu Nan

CRI: ’If You Are the One 2′ Releases New Poster

Shu Qi - If You Are the One 2

Poster (Sina)

Rival Bruce Lee film Jeet Kune Do opens November 27.

Bruce Leung, Chen Tian-Xing

Chen Tian-Xing (Sina)

Zhang Jingchu

Stills from the Pang Ho-Cheung produced short ‘Love in the Time of Micro-blog’

Yoga Lin, Zhang Jingchu (Sina)

MSN: Ethan Ruan rejects role in Stephen Chow’s latest movie

MSN: Selina has a successful third skin graft

Cantopop singer Kay Tse reveals her brush with depression

CNNGo: How to make a pinhole camera out of a duck

August 23, 2010

August 23, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , , , — dleedlee @ 11:54 am

Global Times: The branding wars: Zhang Ziyi’s latest self-reinvention falls flat

The solution is really not that complicated. All she had to do to survive the scandals was to admit to the fraud and then blame it on her team, but she held on to her pride and refused to apologize. She denied the fraud and made excuses, which finally evoked public rage and large-scale media criticism.

Zhang made the right choice by keeping a low profile for some time, enough for the scandals to dissipate and Zhang and her team to create a new public image…

CRI: Call For Control on Smoking in Chinese TV and Movies

The Chinese Association of Tobacco Control (CATC) is calling on The State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) to exert tougher controls over TV and movie scenes showing people smoking.The Chinese Association of Tobacco Control (CATC) is calling on The State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) to exert tougher controls over TV and movie scenes showing people smoking. (Xinhua)

FBA: Kung Fu Hip-Hop 2 (精舞門2) (4/10)

Weak follow-up to the 2008 original, with plenty of dancing but not much else.

The Stool Pigeon: Excellent male leads carry the show

The storyline is gritty and engaging but is completely eclipsed by the excellent acting of its two male leads.

Chen Kun and Dong Jie have joined the cast of The Founding of a Party. Chen Kun will play Zhou Enlai while Dong Jie will play Soong Ching-Ling. (Xinhua)(Sina)

CRI: Gordon Chan Casts Foxy Lady in Latest Movie

The new film, “Wall Paintings” (”Hua Bi”), has two young men seeking shelter from the rain in a dilapidated temple and being attracted there to two beautiful women who turn out to be a fox and a snake in human form.

Actress Yan Ni, the heroine of Zhang Yimou’s “A Simple Noodle Story”, stars as the fox. Other cast members are yet to be announced.

Takeshi Kaneshiro

Tang Wei

Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tang Wei were spotted leaving a hotel restaurant where the cast of Peter Chan’s Wu Xia were dining in Tengchong, Yunnan Province. Earlier this month, Peter Chan had denied rumors Tang Wei was cast to play Takeshi Kaneshiro’s wife and no such role existed. When contacted, Peter Chan issued a statement that the standard practice of the industry is to not acknowledge cast lineups until contracts have been signed.  (Xinhua)(Sina)

Tang Wei’s arrival at airport in Tengchong. (Sina-gallery)

Pang Brothers Perfect Fairy Tale shoot in Hong Kong mall attracts onlookers

Wang Baoqiang, Lau Ching-Wan

Oxide(?) Pang, Wang Baoqiang

Wang Baoqiang, Oxide Pang, Lau Ching-Wang, Joey Meng Yee-Man (Xinhua)

Dante Lam’s Stool Pigeon

Nick Cheung

Nicholas Tse

Liu Kai-Chi (Sina)

Yu Nan - I kill men for fun in Wind Blast

Film opens Oct.28


Zhang Jiarui’s (Red River) thriller Lost City (previously Distant Thunder/Secrets of the Past) has been pushed back to an October release. Originally set for a Aug. 20 release, the schedule was adjusted to avoid facing The Expendables with Sylvester Stallone and Jet Li and also fit into the Halloween season.

Ge Siran (Sina)2

Karen Mok - Taipei

Karen Mok denied allegations that her single Precious/Baby was plagiarised from ’80s Captain and Tennille song, Do That To Me One More Time. (Sina)

Cecilia Cheung, Charlene Choi

Charlene, Ceci, Nicholas Tse

Charlene Choi posted photos of her dinner visit at Ceci and Nicholas Tse’s home. (Aug.21) (Sina)

Global Times: Believing in Jane, Zhang begins tour

Jackie Chan wants kung fu as Olympic sport

Taiwanese singer claims sex trade in Korea’s show business

Global Times: Hello kitty themed children’s hospital (slide show)

October 28, 2009

October 28, 2009a

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 11:37 am

Cast of Four Marshals Meets Sina

Gao Qun Shun, director

Francis Ng

Charlie Young

Yu Nan

Wu Jing

Ni Dahong

Xia Yu


October 27, 2009

October 27, 2009

Francis Ng, a bounty killer?

Yu Nan, his partner

Four Marshals ( 四大名捕): two directors, one title, made famous by a martial arts novel written by Wen Rui’an .

Gordon Chan and Gao Qun Shu (co-director of The Message)  are contending for the use of the title 四大名捕. Gordon Chan has acquired adaptation rights to the wuxia novel and wants to make a costume martial arts (film?) series based on the novel. Gao Qun Shu has already been filming a modern tale in Gansu under the same title but the story is unrelated to the novel.

In Gao Qun Shu’s film, the story is about four police and a fugitive. Casting includes Duan Yihong, Ni Dahong, Wu Jing (replacing Wang Baoqiang, though rumors persist that he may be filming secretly), Zhang Li, Francis Ng ,Charlie Yeung (Francis’ girlfriend), Yu Nan,  (Xinhua) (2) (ifeng) HD slide show (4) ( Francis and Yu Nan play world weary bounty killers who look to retire in Gansu after one last expedition. His favorite song is The Eagles’ Hotel California.

Xia Yu, a fugitive

Filming in Gansu


Director Billy Chung, Cherrie Ying (2nd left), Wang Zi (left) promote New Year’s action film Wu Lin Xiao Zhuan (lit.Martial Arts Comedy).

The film is a joint Mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan venture. (Sina) (Xinhua)

Jaycee Chan

Zhao Wei

Mulan cast and crew become honorary citizens of Mulan’s hometown Shangqiu, Henan Province. The crew also donated movie props to the city. (Sina)

The Robbers (lit.Tang Dynasty Brothers)

A martial arts comedy starring Hu Jun and Jiang Wu opens November 20 kicks off the New Year early. It has been positively received at the Shanghai and Pusan International Film Festivals. (Sina)

Radish Warrior successfully opened the weekend with $8.7M at the box office (Sina)

Love At Seventh Sight (lit.Seven Days To Fall in Love With You)

Alfred Cheung’s romantic comedy opens Nov. 3 and features Mike He and Li Xiaolu (Sina)

CRI: Director Zhang Yimou Tells “Amazing Tales” in Color

The Message has surpassed $220M at that box office and the prequel is set to begin filming next summer. (Sina)

Chinese movie-makers keep faith with martial arts

The Chinese film industry is hoping a little more martial arts magic will woo international audiences over the next 12 months with two productions set to take familiar stories one step further.

First up comes the US$12 million (eight million euro) budgetedThe Storm Warriors, directed by Hong Kong-based twins Oxide and Danny Pang, and set to make its film industry premiere at next month’s American Film Market ( as they try to sell it to the world.

The film is taken from the wildly successful Hong Kong comic series Fung Wan (Wind and Cloud), by Ma Wing-shing, which also inspired the Andrew Lau-directed The Stormriders (1998).

That film starred Asian idols Aaron Kwok and Ekin Cheng, and raked in HK$42 million (3.6 million euros) from the local box office that year. It still ranks as Hong Kong cinema’s 12th all-time top earner.

The Pangs — who built an international reputation thanks to the success of horror film such as The Eye (2002) — say they have tried to reinvent the martial arts genre with their production, reuniting Kwok and Cheng and mixing live action and cutting-edge computer generated imagery.

They also claim the story should stand on its own and not be thought of as a sequel, even thought it features the same characters.

The same line is being taken by the people behind the US$29 million (19 million euro) budgeted Shaolin Temple - which shares the same name as the 1982 film that launched the career of martial arts star Jet Li, and is obviously set around the same legendary martial arts school.

The film is set to star box office draws Jackie Chan, Andy Lau and Nicolas Tse — alongside more than 1,000 monks from the temple.

The film starring Li took in 100 million yuan (9.7 million euros) in China and saw the Shaolin monks start to take their martial arts skills on international tours, a trend which continues today.

But director Benny Chan — who made the award-winning New Police Story (2004) with Chan — told Chinese media that while his production shares a number of things in common with Li’s film, he plans to move the story of the monastery forward from the seventh century to the early 20th century.

Shaolin Temple will have its fight scenes choreographed by Hong Kong’s Corey Yuen (Red Cliff, X-Men) and is set for an end-of-2010 release. ([site flagged for trojan virus]

September 18, 2009

September 18, 2009 (Weaving Girl)

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — dleedlee @ 10:33 am

Yu Nan


Director Wang Quan’an

Yu Nan

Weaving Girl cast returns from the Montreal International Film Festival with the

Jury Award and Critics Award. An October release is possible. (

September 16, 2009

Weaving Girl (Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , , — dleedlee @ 10:11 am

Weaving Girl
Fang zhi gu niang

(China) A Xi’an Quijang Cultural Industry Investment Co., Xi’an Movie and Television Prod. Co. production. (International sales: China Film Promotion Intl., Beijing). Produced by Zhou An, Zhou Dejia, Wang Le. Executive producers, Liu Hongmei, Ma Rui, Qiao Xinfeng, Lu Xiaoli. Directed, written by Wang Quanan.

With: Yu Nan, Lu Nian, Zhao Luhan.

Chinese helmer Wang Quanan’s third feature, “Weaving Girl,” takes an unblinking look at the plight of beautiful factory girl Li Li (Yu Nan, star of all Wang’s films). Not only must Li Li contend with exploitative working conditions and the imminent closing of the textile mill at which she works, but she learns she’s dying of leukemia and cannot afford potentially life-saving procedures. Winner of the grand jury and Fipresci prizes in Montreal, “Girl” lacks the exoticism of Wang’s Golden Bear-crowned “Tuya’s Marriage.” Still, the pic may travel far with its canny combination of social commentary and humanist meller appeal.

Next to his compatriots’ modernist work (Ling Yiang’s femme-centric “The Other Half” comes to mind), “Weaving Girl” feels comparatively old-fashioned in the way it solicits straightforward identification with its gorgeous heroine. Yet Wang places a major stumbling block in the path of our empathy: Li Li’s profound dissatisfaction with every aspect of her life.

In the factory, that frustration manifests itself in an attractive “Norma Rae”-ish feistiness, as she loudly contests unfair labor practices. At home, however, it translates into peevish impatience with her older, careworn fishmonger husband and the son who clearly prefers his dad to his moody mom.

Once she learns of her impending death, Li Li veers between listless melancholy and febrile energy. On a trip to Beijing to visit her ex-fiance, she finds the answer to the question of why she was seemingly abandoned, as well as a rare moment of happiness by the sea. Li Li is completely transformed by these flashes of joy, which offer glimpses of the woman she might have become. They arrive unheralded, as when she and the factory chorus sing the Soviet standard that gives the film its title.

Meanwhile, the town itself undergoes massive change as the factory closing drives Li Li and the other weaving girls to the only source of employment left: taxi dancing at the local nightclub. Wives are ferried to and from the sleazy dance hall on the back of their waiting husbands’ bikes.

Wang, ably abetted by regular lenser Lutz Reitemeier, anchors his tale and his characters in a finely observed web of telling details: the lint that festoons the factory doors and windows like lethal fairy dust, or the absurd regimentation of a holiday excursion to the seashore. Wang contrasts the colorlessness of Li Li’s surroundings, and the all-white output of the textile mill, with the Beijing factory where her old boyfriend works, awash in vibrant patterns and colors.

Camera (color), Lutz Reitemeier; editor, Wang; art director, Cao Anjun; sound (Dolby Digital), Wu Lala. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (competing), Sept. 1, 2009. Running time: 97 MIN.

February 25, 2009

Zhao Wei as Mulan
Zhao Wei - Mulan

Zhao Wei’s Portrayal as Mulan Unveiled

Jackie Chan returns to Chinese film with gang thriller Shijuku Incident

Photos of actress Tang Wei at Reading University in England were recently uploaded to the internet

Hu Jun in sci-fi comedy Kungfu Cyborg

Ning Hao to begin shooting new film in March 無人區(Uninhabited Region)
Regular cast members Huang Bo and Xu Zheng will join Wang Shuangbao, Ba Duo
Yu Nan

Director Ning Hao

Hong Kong East Week is reporting that Andy Lau is planning to marry longtime girlfriend in April.
According to reports, Andy bought a HK$7M home in Malaysia as a gift to her parents. The bride is the long rumoured Carol Chu/Zhu Liqian. April 6 is one speculated date as it is Carol Chu’s 43rd birthday. Last year, Andy sang at the wedding of  Carol’s sister. Photos of the couple making plans with her parents in Malaysia were published.

Andy Lau to Marry Carol Zhu in April?
Andy Lau - Not Married, No Kids, No Plans to Work with Gillian Chung

‘Dragonball’ fans fired up over manga movie

Chinese pop star hopes to move on from nude photo scandal (video)
Edison Chen says some sex photos were taken by the girls

Unaffected Gillian Chung Plans Comeback after Edison’s Hearing

Hong Kong pop star Karen Mok bound for Canada to protest seal hunt,hong-kong-pop-star-bound-for-canada-to-protest-seal-hunt.html

Vivian Chow Two Months Pregnant?

Doctors to man: you’re no Andy Lau

Powered by WordPress