Main | April 2005 »

March 31, 2005

Eye 10

Pang Brothers' Eye 10 aka Eye Infinity The latest horror effort from the spookily identical Pang Brothers is not garnering any online hype or reviews for a simple reason: it's not very good. EYE 10 (or EYE INFINITY as the directors have ominously named it) is one of those "callow Hong Kong teenagers go to Thailand on vacation, encounter ghosts, return to Hong Kong variously deader and wiser, try to get rid of ghosts, die in twist ending" movies.

There's a great sequence in an underground pedestrian walkway, and a nice segment with some hungry ghosts, but overall it's a disjointed messy film that zings out dozens of vignettes with only one or two cool ideas among them, sort of like a batch of chocolate chip cookies featuring only three chocolate chips. It's a jokey, disappointing closer to the EYE trilogy, that was always a little half-baked to begin with.

March 31, 2005 at 11:16 PM in Film Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 24, 2005

HK Fest Newsletter

The Hong Kong film festival puts out a newsletter as fast as they can print it. Read interviews! Learn about dozens of Lolita Goths showing up for the opening of KAMIKAZE GIRLS! Feel smart!

All you have to do is go here .

March 24, 2005 at 08:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 23, 2005

Brigitte Lin Hymnal on sale now

Akiko Tetsuya spent forever and a day working on her book about Brigitte Lin, and if you don't know who that is then go immediately and feel ashamed (after buying a copy of CHUNGKING EXPRESS, or ASHES OF TIME, or SWORDSMAN 2, or PEKING OPERA BLUES, or BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR).

Akiko's book is now on sale (and it's in English). Click over to her Web site and begin your Brigitte worship immediately.

March 23, 2005 at 09:01 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Why Michael Wong has a Career

For decades Michael Wong has been Hong Kong's resident great white dope. A Caucasian actor in an Asian industry, he's elicited shrieks of laughter for his sorry Cantonese and his wooden acting from audiences around the world. Recently he starred in Stephen Fung's HOUSE OF FURY playing a bald meanie who's paralyzed from the neck down.

Fans have torn their hair out over Michael Wong -- why is he in movies? Who casts him? What's their problem?

An answer is here. Michael Wong is a really, really nice guy.

He appeared at the HOUSE OF FURY opening with Stephen Fung and Daniel Wu and the audience loved him. Fung was almost totally silent, and Daniel Wu did his level best to bring some life to the proceedings. But Michael Wong had the whole house in his hands from the moment he opened his mouth, gave Wu and Fung hyperbolic props and then introduced himself with, "I haven't done a whole lot. But that's okay." He went on to joke that although he only speaks English in the film "my Cantonese is good."

The presenter ushered a supermellow Fung and Wu offstage while Michael Wong was left to his own devices, blundered off in the other direction, couldn't find his way offstage, bantered with the audience, and then dropped the fabulous non-sequitir, "Watch me breakdance!" and he proceeded to do the wave and slice off some smoking hot pop and lock moves (not technically breakdancing, but still...)

Truly this man is magic. I will never laugh at Michael Wong again. He is a gentleman's gentleman.

March 23, 2005 at 02:53 AM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

"House of Fury" review

HOUSE OF FURYHOUSE OF FURY, directed by and starring Stephen Fung, is the kind of movie Hong Kong used to knock off without event thinking. In the late 80's this was the kind of hard-hitting, emotionally alive, shamelessly mainstream crowdpleaser that HK directors could release without even getting out of bed. These days it's an event.

Anthony Wong stars as an embarrassing dad who gets kidnapped and his kids (Stephen Fung and Gillian Chung) have to rescue him. Wu Ma is there, as is Daniel Wu (his presence in every movie is now required by law) and Michael Wong plays an evil guy who's bald and in a wheelchair sort of like Christopher Reeve gone bad. Josie Ho does her by-now trademarked silent killer lady thing, and the action is by Yuen Wo-ping. It's a lot more reminiscent of his ruff stuff TIGER CAGE days, rather than his more recent, more elegant choreography.

But is it any good? Yes -- there's wall to wall action, the storyline is actually funny and original (until the plot mechanics overwhelm it in the last third -- leaving you with just the action), and there's even a cute little pig for those who require such things.

Two questions: can Anthony Wong be bad in a movie? Playing a painfully awkward dad he dishes out the action and the pathos by the heaping handful, and one wonders what it would take to get a bad performance out of this guy. Question two: Charlene or Gillian? The Twins (Hong Kong's ubiquitous pop duo who are not only not twins but who aren't even related) are both in HOUSE OF FURY but Charlene just has to look fresh and unblemished, while Gillian gets to throw down on the kung fu (watch for her stunt doubles -- there's a great shot that could be Gillian except for the hairy, muscular forearm of some guy down in the front of the frame). I used to favor Charlene with her great big pumpkin head, but my allegiances have wandered over to Gillian with this flick. Her cuteness zips along at mach 5 while her butt-kicking is so completely ferocious that it might make fluffy puppies cry.

March 23, 2005 at 01:42 AM in Film Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Learn Something

Bryan Walsh sums up the current state of the Hong Kong film industry here without resorting to hysteria.

(Thanks to for the link)

March 23, 2005 at 01:13 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 22, 2005

Dateline: Hong Kong Filmart

Hong Kong has rolled all its film events into one great big ball in an attempt to regain some film industry momentum, and the supernova-esque film market is whirling away madly at the Hong Kong Convention Center -- the building that seems to blow up in almost every movie.

The opening gala kicked off with the current chief executive, Donald Tsang, quoting Karen Carpenter AND Bruce Lee before a 10-minute montage of Great Hong Kong Movie Moments unfurled with live orchestral accompaniment (oddly enough, there wasn't a single shot from a Cathay movie -- for shame!) Then came an endless parade of stars: Chow Yun-fat being too cool for school; Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Maggie Cheung looking startled to receive an award for "Most Adorable Screen Couple. The audience was also occasionally horrified by a presenter who did the robot.

Jackie Chan worked the room like a pro -- love him or hate him he's a star because he's good -- and was one of the only people onstage who seemed to know where he actually was.

INFERNAL AFFAIRS power couple, Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, screened a clip from their car racing flick, INITIAL D, that didn't include a single shot of a human being.

The three show-stoppers were trailers for upcoming films. The first was for for Johnnie To's new flick, ELECTION, the first in a two-part triad drama starring Simon Yam and big Tony Leung. Edited by Patrick Tam it's got a thick n'hot, atonal orchestral score and the stage positively reeked of machismo as the entire cast strutted up in natty black suits (Lam Suet boldly wore a leather smock that looked like something from the PLANET OF THE APES costume department - go, Lam!)

Then there was SHA PO LANG -- this trailer keeps looking better. Sammo Hung (unfortunately wearing a white jacket and black pants), Donnie Yen (looking sleek), and Simon Yam (looking studly) all seemed as cool as a bunch of actors who know they've got a slam dunk on their hands should seem. Some film details: it's set on Father's Day and concerns fathers and sons reconciling their differences by hitting each other a lot. The claim is that the action is wireless. Wu Jing plays the baddie (he's the guy in the trailer with the Kid N'Play haircut) and he's getting a big push from the producers -- he trained on the same wu shu team as Jet Li and is a four time Chinese national champion. He's also a Yuen Wo-ping protege' who was in TAI CHI 2, LEGEND OF ZU and DRUNKEN MONKEY.

EYE INFINITY from the Pang Brothers was there and it's kind of wacky looking, but its short li'l trailer still squeezed out some chills with its phantasmagoria of funky Chinese ghosts. What was somewhat scarier is how identical the Pang Brothers look.

Stanley Kwan is doing an IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE thing with the aptly titled EVERLASTING REGRET -- Sammi Cheng and Tony Leung Ka-fai as starcrossed lovers in old Shanghai (well, Shanghai from 1929 - 1981). William Chang (Wong Kar-wai's art director) is the art director and editor and the trailer was so lush it was dripping all over the audience. Lots of close-ups of fabric and neckties.

There's a new law in Hong Kong that every movie must include Daniel Wu -- he was onstage so much they finally pulled up an E-Z Boy recliner for him and just let him stay onstage for every single film.

March 22, 2005 at 01:40 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack