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August 31, 2005


There's a page up for Takeshi Kitano's TAKESHIS' here for the Toronto Film Festival. Apparently, Kitano will be playing the roles of Takeshi Kitano, celebrity, and Takeshi Kitano, cashier and struggling actor, as the two Takeshis lives cross paths.

Takeshi Kitano's TAKESHIS'

Although the movie still promises to be "500% Takeshi" I'd like to point out that Takeshi + Takeshi = 200% Takeshi.

August 31, 2005 at 10:51 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Aamir Khan's THE RISING has broken Hindi box office recordsAamir Khan's THE RISING based on the story of Indian martyr, Mangal Pandey, has broken Hindi box office records.

It made US$5 million in its opening week (US$3 million in its first three days alone) and looks like it's heading for about US$12 million at the box office.

Overseas takings are good, US$781,451 in UK and US$787,027 in North America, but given the huge number of prints playing overseas, they're not quite as big as anticipated.

August 31, 2005 at 10:45 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Initial D claimed Hong Kong's number one spot for 2005 in a mere four daysI don't like cars, I don't like sports and I don't like jocks, but I do like INITIAL D. Directed by the INFERNAL AFFAIRS team and based on a super-popular manga (but not the spin-off anime), this sleek good-time summer movie roared past the competition, claimed Hong Kong's number one spot for 2005 in a mere four days, and left the competition all over Asia choking on its dust.

Jay Chou (in a coma, but a cool coma) is Takumi, the accidental racing god of Mt. Akina: a tofu delivery boy who uses his supernatural racing skills to make it home as soon as possible so he won't get beaten up by his drunk dad, Anthony Wong. Working in a gas station by day, and delivering tofu by night, he doesn't even notice the various racing legends he leaves slowly spinning in his wake as he breezes by them every night.

Eventually, actors from Shawn Yue to Edison Chen and Jordan Chan show up demanding a race, and Jay does the right thing and beats the stuffing out of them in several displays of drifting that you know are CGI enhanced but are still kewl enough to make your nerves hum, even if they're humming against your better judgement.

Anthony Wong and Kenny Bee are on hand to provide some acting gravitas, and while they're both pretty cartoonish they bring their thing and shake their moneymakers with panache. Any movie that let's Anthony Wong start a story about the birth of a legend with "Four years ago, my hemorrhoids were killing me..." is a movie that's knows how to handle Anthony Wong.

Like the upcoming MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, INITIAL D is set in Japan with a Chinese cast playing Japanese characters. The one Japanese cast member is Anne Suzuki (KAMIKAZE GIRLS, A TASTE OF TEA) who winds up as cross-cultural road kill. The directors spent a great deal of time finding the most annoying voice artist in Hong Kong to dub Ms. Suzuki's Cantonese and if you plug up your ears you can tell she's bringing her A game to the part (okay, maybe her B game, but still...) but are you willing to plug your ears for the entire movie? Ms. Suzuki's plotline is also treated like a second class citizen in the movie, and the way her entire character arc is dispensed with in the final scene is so perfunctory that it takes your breath away.

While it sounds like I'm dissing INITIAL D, there's no dis here. This is perfect popcorn entertainment. It actually provides thrills and a story, the actors are all minding their P's and Q's and consequently they add a lot to the movie (even Chapman To is an asset, not a liability) (and you won't feel like slapping Edison Chen once. Honest). The directors have a whole lotta love for their source material, and they never commit the crime of blowing the movie's events into earth-shattering proportions, instead they find the drama that's native to their small stage: this is always a movie about amateur car racing on the same strip of rural road. But they squeeze, and they wring, and they manage to fill a bucket with every single drop of entertainment value they can get out of that micro-concept.

Challenging? No, of course not. But summer's for fun flicks, not weighty ones. And INITIAL D is as breezy and light as air.

August 31, 2005 at 10:41 AM in Film Reviews | Permalink | Comments (2)


Well, not my review, but Derek Elley's from Variety. It's one of the first Western industry reviews of SYMPATHY and it pretty much echoes what we've all been hearing: it's more like SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE than OLDBOY, and it's somewhat more restrained in its violence. Elley does add that Lee Yeong-Ae (the female lead in JSA) doesn't have the gravitas necessary to make her central role all that it could be, which is something I wondered about from the time it was announced that she was starring in this one.

So Park Chan-Wook's Vengeance Trilogy is finished. For all its ups and downs, I have to agree with Elley that this is one of the most original film trilogies to come out in a long time, and when the whole world is wrapped up in eye-for-and-eye politics it couldn't hit at a better time. Your mileage may vary.

August 31, 2005 at 10:32 AM in Film Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 30, 2005


Paul Spurrier's P, a movie best described as Thai lesbians fight monstersMonte Cristo Entertainment is handling the World Wide rights to Paul Spurrier's P, a movie best described as "Thai lesbians fight monsters".

It was at the New York Asian Film Festival and split the audience between people who thought it was the best thing they'd seen, to folks who found it lame.

Read more about the story behind P here. And I still don't think this movie has been okayed to be screened in Thailand.

August 30, 2005 at 04:04 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (4)


What happened to Cory Yuen in Transporter 2?Cory Yuen, what happened to your "e"? You used to be one of Hong Kong's most talented action directors, but somehow all this foolishness of Yuen Woo-ping becoming Yuen Wo-ping and Zhang Ziyi becoming Ziyi Zhang in Hollywood, you've dropped the "e" in Corey and with it, at least temporarily, you've dropped your talent.

The only reason to see TRANSPORTER 2 is Cory Yuen's action choreography, but in almost every single case, director Louis Leterrier shoots and edits it so poorly that it's a Hollywood jumble of mis-cuts and motion blurs. And this from the man who brought us Yuen Wo-ping's masterful work in UNLEASHED, shooting it in a manner that rested just on the line between Hong Kong and Hollywood action photography. Cory Yuen don't get no respect.

The plot involves Amber Valleta and Matthew Modine teaming up to have a dimbulb brat, which Frank (Jeremy Statham), the titular Transporter, drives to school. The kid gets kidnapped by Euro-trash and Amber Valleta implores Frank to bring him back. The two of them are bonded and in close up you can see why: both of them sport the most damaged skin seen onscreen in quite some time. Ms. Valleta's haggard, tired epidermis with its dry patches, sun damage and age spots matches Mr. Statham's grizzled, unshaven surface-of-the-moon skin so well that they could only be kindred spirits.

There's a big set-up involving the martial arts skills of the baddie but his ultimate showdown with Mr. Statham consists of rolling around on the floor of one of the creakiest CGI jets ever given the OK by an overworked director.

But there is one scene in this movie that contains so much nutty visual poetry that one suspects Cory Yuen went off and shot and edited it himself. One little scene that trumps almost every other action movie out there today. It's a scene with a firehose and you can save $10 and see it in its entirety here.

Otherwise, stay home and hope that Cory Yuen goes back to being the inimitable Corey Yuen soon.

August 30, 2005 at 11:33 AM in Film Reviews | Permalink | Comments (0)


Park Chan-Wook's second movie, SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCEPark Chan-Wook's second movie, SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE, is a pretty amazing film. It's not very enjoyable, and seeing it once is enough for most people, but it's hard to argue that it's not provocative and worth seeing. Unfortunately, many American critics just don't like it. It made about US$21,000 in its first couple of weeks in release, with a respectable per screen average of US$2-$3,000 and while some critics have sung its praises, I've been surprised at the number of critics who not only don't like it, but who just don't get it and aren't interested in getting it.

Maybe the movie is too Korean for them, maybe it's because OLDBOY was bound to generate some backlash and we're seeing it now, but I've been surprised at how many critics can't seem to see a serious movie here. Park Chan-Wook, for better or worse, is a serious director. He's not interested in cashing in, nor is he interested in exploiting trends or making movies that do nothing more than entertain (although there's nothing wrong with simple entertainment).

His first big film was JSA, a movie that went on to be a Korean blockbuster but was so unpopular when it was being made that his production office was actually occupied and his crew held hostage by Korean Army vets who objected to the movie. When JSA went on to be a mammoth success he used that as a blank check to make SYMPATHY, a grim relentless probing at societal decay and movie violence that audiences stayed away from in droves. Undeterred by total financial failure he announced that he would now make a "revenge trilogy" and produced OLDBOY which became a surprise hit. Then he ditched the comic book violence of OLDBOY to make the stripped-down SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE, a movie about emotional violence rather than the graphic kind that made him so much money and won him so much acclaim with OLDBOY.

But US critics can't seem to accord Park's movies the same benefit of the doubt that they give to a brittle ironist like Wes Anderson, a navel-gazer like Jim Jarmusch or even a "he was great once, but oh, what happened" nod that they give the now-doddering Robert Altman. SYMPATHY is not a complicated film to understand, but there seems to be a willed blindness to its rather obvious point on behalf of critics who don't like it.

The usually-perceptive Owen Gleiberman in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY suggests that SYMPATHY is "brutality for brutality's sake" after raving about the great insights into humanity given to us all by Quentin Tarantino's RESERVOIR DOGS, one of the most entertaining, and most shallow, movies ever made.

Brendan Bernhard of LA WEEKLY seems to think he's watching a revenge thriller designed to jiggle his adrenal gland, finds the movie lacking in the excitement category, and spends the rest of the short review lambasting Hamish McAlpine of Tartan (the movie's US distributors) for his anti-American views.

Manohla Dargis in the New York Times rejects the movie as pointless because, if I'm reading correctly, the images of violence are too beautiful and the virtuosity of the director is too readily apparent. This is a very American response (beautiful violence has always gotten up the noses of US critics: from THE WILD BUNCH to Peter Greenaway's films) and here she seems to feel it negates empathy for the characters onscreen.

There's a summary of more critical responses here, and you can see some of the good reviews here, but it does dazzle me that so many critics seem unable to grasp Park's simple point: revenge is essentially dehumanizing; the violence you think will make you feel better does nothing more than numb you and turn good people into monsters. I don't think this is that complicated to grasp, and I don't think it's a message that is exactly hidden deep inside SYMPATHY. The movie practically screams this point from every frame.

What's interesting is that so many well-educated, cultured members of the critical community complain that there's no point to the movie, and that it's meaningless, but a populist film geek like Harry Knowles of AIN'T IT COOL easily grasps the movie and goes on to call it the best of 2002.  How come Harry gets it, but supposedly more serious critics don't? Whether they like the message of the movie or not is up to them, but to suggest there's no message is just, well, pointless.

August 30, 2005 at 11:19 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (5)


Korea's having a bang-up movie year so farKorea's having a bang-up movie year so far. In the past, movies breaking the million admissions mark was an indicator of success beyond everybody's wildest dreams, but now 1,000,000 tickets sold is just so-so. This year alone the undeserving ANOTHER PUBLIC ENEMY, a blah sequel to a flick I didn't like the first time around, clocked in at just under 4 million admissions, MARATHON raced to over 5 million, and at least 10 other movies broke 1 million admissions with ease. SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE has hit well over 3 million admissions and WELCOME TO DONGMAKGOL has breezed up to 5.5 million admissions and it's still going strong, with ticket sales increasing rather than decreasing every weekend. This is a pretty stellar feat for a movie that looked pretty lame when it came out.

As for American movies in Korea, MR. AND MRS. SMITH comes in at about 3.5 million admissions, WAR OF THE WORLDS comes in at about 2 million, and the only other Hollywood flick to hit the top ten is the blechy CONSTANTINE with 1.8 million admissions. There's no accounting for taste.

August 30, 2005 at 11:13 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Maybe you want to be Maggie Cheung who just became a spokeswoman for Olay. In their new ad, she plays a Greek Goddess, wears a white dress, drives a "nice" car and "Each movement Maggie does, shows her inner beauty, making females want to do exactly the movements same." Me too. Me too.

Or you could be one of the celebs involved in a giving war over a 7 year old boy who was chopped up by two masked assailants. Chow Yun-fat has given the kid about HK$100,000 and not to be out-done Leon Lai, Kelly Chen and Miriam Yeung have each pledged HK$50,000. Now it's rumored the TWINS might get involved.

You could be Li Yuchun who became China's Super Girl after receiving 3.5 million votes via text message to win the MONGOLIAN COW SOUR YOGURT SUPER GIRL contest (it's like American Idol, only with a better name).

Maybe Kelvin Tong? The director of Singapore's first horror flick, THE MAID, is getting good reviews for the film (although they do say it's not very original).

Probably better to be Derek Yee, who won Best Director and Best Screenplay at this year's Hong Kong Film Awards for ONE NIGHT IN MONGKOK. His new film, DRINK DRANK DRUNK is already earning great reviews.

Personally, a lot of people want to be Jeroen, a Westerner, an English tutor and Cecilia Cheung's new boyfriend.

But no one wants to be Cisco Systems employee Tran Nghia Hong. This Vietnamese-American moved to Singapore, was found with 56 porn DVDs (including LORD OF THE STRINGS) and arrested. It was only when he revealed that it was his brother's stash that he had stolen, and not a cache of porn he planned to sell, that he was released without penalty to face an angry brother and an office full of co-workers who now know what he does on his nights off.

(Thanks to Hong Kong Entertainment in Review for the holy word of gossip)

August 30, 2005 at 11:08 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 29, 2005


Toshiaki Toyoda has been arrestedOne of Japan's most promising young directors, Toshiaki Toyoda, was arrested yesterday after cops raided his house and found "five packets of stimulants". I'm not sure what those are. Coke? Speed? Nutrasweet? Anyways, Director Toyoda has been held in custody and his newest film, HANGING GARDEN, which was supposed to be released in October has had its release date moved to some unspecified future date. Toyoda says the drugs were for personal use only but it doesn't matter, he's facing jail time.

Toshiaki Toyoda directed the brilliant 9 SOULS and HANGING GARDEN has an official site here and English language info here.

August 29, 2005 at 10:01 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


The Huabiao AwardsI bet you didn't even know the Huabiao Awards existed, but they do and they're China's big award's ceremony and they just happened last night. It's got a better (or is that worse?) sense of fashion than the now-snooze-worthy Oscars and it's all about sharing.

Best Actor went to Wu Jun for MODEL SOLDIER ZHANG SIDE and Pu Cunxin for A BRIGHT MOON, a bio pic about  Reverend Hong Yi, a Buddhist master.

Best Actress went to Vicky Zhao Wei for TIME TO LOVE and Zhang Ziyi for HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS.

Best Director went to Lu Chuan for KEKEXILI and Yin Li for MODEL SOLDIER ZHANG SIDE.

And BEST FILM went to ten different movies.

On another note, this has been a pretty spectacular year for Chinese film with a 50% increase in business over last year (vs. the US drop-off in business of between 9% and 14% so far this year).

August 29, 2005 at 09:56 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


The International Federation of Film Critics have awarded Kim Ki-Duk's 3-IRON their Grand Prix for 2005. The award goes for the "most audacious, original and personal cinema" and I doubt you'd find a director more committed to his bizarre personal vision of the world than Kim Ki-Duk. FIPRESCI says he has earned himself "...a place of honor on the world movie chessboard," and while Director Kim's winning of the Grand Prize has already caused some critics to froth at the mouth, I'm much more concerned by this giant chessboard thing.

(Thanks to Steve for the heads up)

August 29, 2005 at 09:52 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Director Lee Myung-Se will be premiering his latest film, THE DUELIST, at the Toronto International Film Festival and he's hoping that his entry in the "Big Director Makes Period Action Film" Sweepstakes will be his ticket to the global high roller club he should have gotten access to with NOWHERE TO HIDE. Like NTH, the actors in THE DUELIST didn't get much access to stunt doubles and instead of trying to portray movement, the philosophical game behind the movie is Director Lee trying to portray the emotions that motivate action.

Read a full interview on Twitch here.

August 29, 2005 at 09:51 AM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 25, 2005


Daniel Wu, hardest-working man in Chinese showbizExhaustion has long been the "covers everything" explanation of choice for a variety of celebrity ailments ranging from severe crack addiction to...well, exhaustion. Many child actors learn "exhaustion" as their first word. But Hong Kong celebs have been exhausted since way before being exhausted was cool.

Now, the exhaustion hall of fame adds Daniel Wu to its ranks. The hardest-working man in Chinese showbiz has been the victim of a PRC law that requires him to appear in every single Hong Kong movie. In 2004/2005 alone he's been in at least 12 of them. While promoting the latest (DRINK, DRANK, DRUNK, ironically) he left an event, walked out into the parking lot, threw up for a while, and then collapsed. Sounds like he needs too get some rest.

August 25, 2005 at 12:31 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (5)


Prachya Pinkaew, the director of ONG BAK and TOM YUM GOONG and THE SWORD, is turning from twentysomething Tony Jaa to a 15-year-old girl who's a tae kwon do expert for an upcoming project.

Why can't we replace all action stars with 15-year-old girls?

(Thanks to Twitch)

August 25, 2005 at 12:30 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Ang Lee's new movie, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, is all about gay cowboys. For those who don't know: "Brokeback Mountain" is also a term used in the sexual underground for a specific sexual act that goes horribly wrong and leads to severe injuries.

A trailer is up over here in Windows Media, the format of the devil.

August 25, 2005 at 12:29 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Japan's great leading man, Koji YakushoFans of Japan's great leading man, Koji Yakusho, are like birdwatchers. We spot him here, we spot him there, we hope to spot him everywhere. His projects are rarely covered in the fan press until they're almost right upon us, and that's not right.

(If you're wondering who we're talking about, then run quick and watch Kiyoshi Kurosawa's CURE or DOPPELGANGER, or SHALL WE DANCE? or UNIVERSITY OF LAUGHS. He's great in all of them.)

He's got three upcoming projects, one blah, one rah, and one that sounds tentative. The blah is MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA but Mr. Yakusho brings a ray of sunshine to this bleak project. He plays Nobu (the guy who loves the geisha but she doesn't love him back) and expect him to break your heart. There's a translation of a press conference he gave about the movie here.

The rah is ECSTASTY HOTEL in which Mr. Yakusho joins a cast of 23 characters in a real-time movie set in a hotel during the two hours before New Year's. There's info here, and the website is here which features a very complicated chart. It's being released on January 14, 2006.It's being directed and written by Koki Mitani who wrote the fantastic Koji Yakusho flick, UNIVERSITY OF LAUGHS.

The tentative one is the Cate Blanchett/Brad Pitt/Koji Yakusho three-parter, BABEL, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 GRAMS) which is three stories set in Japan, Morocco and Tunisia.

Many thanks to Stauffen for pointing this stuff out and to Pymmik's Unoffical Page on Koji Yakusho Movies.

August 25, 2005 at 12:28 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

August 24, 2005


THE SUSPECT -- MUROI SHINJIThe BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN franchise adds a new member to its ever-growing family this week: THE SUSPECT -- MUROI SHINJI. This time the focus is on the tight-ass elite cop, Muroi Shinji, played by Toshiro Yanagiba in the films, who's arrested for murdering a suspect. It's apparently more of a drama (you can see the trailer here) but it's getting good reviews and the cast seems more than happy to reunite once more, this time with new addition, Sho Aikawa.

This is the second BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN movie this summer, the first being THE NEGOTIATOR, which spun off from BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN 2, the most successful live action movie ever released in Japan.

You can pick up BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN 1 (which is truly great) and 2 (which is good, but more of the same) here.

August 24, 2005 at 10:47 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 23, 2005


The Toronto International Film Festival has finished announcing its entire line-up, and here's the SHOCKING! EXCITING! ALL TRUE! account of what's there:

CITIZEN DOG - Wisit Sasanatieng's colorful Thai confection is right out of Gogol with its story about lost love and missing fingers. It's earned mixed reviews but it looks fantastic and features an appearance by film writer, Chuck Stephens. How can you resist?

LINDA LINDA LINDA - Korean actress, Bae Doo-Na, stars in this Japanese flick about three high school girls starting a rock band and trying to learn one song.

THE PRESIDENT'S LAST BANG - a Korean movie about the assassination of President Park back in the 1980's, it's been slapped with a court injunction and forcibly re-edited, it's still managed to stir up plenty of trouble . Kino plans to release it this Fall in the US.

SUNFLOWER - Zhang Yang directs a family story set during the Cultural Revolution with visual consultant Christopher Doyle and starring Joan Chen.

THE WILD WILD ROSE - Cathay's 1960 musical version of CARMEN starring Grace Chang. Not so well known today, but ridiculously good.

TAKESHI'S - no one knows nothing about Takeshi Kitano's latest, except that he promises "500% Takeshi Kitano".

THE GREAT YOKAI WAR - programmer Colin Geddes says it's one of the wildest things Miike has done in a long time. A horror movie for children. Say no more.

BANGKOK LOCO - no one else loves this movie as much as I do, but if you're willing to take a chance you'll be treated to one of the best comedies to come out of Asia in a long time. Something of a send-up of the staid n'sincere Thai xylophone flick, THE OVERTURE, it also takes time out of its manic schedule to poke, kick and pinch every other Thai movie you've ever heard of and many you haven't.

SHA PO LANG - Donnie Yen kicks Wu Jing...a lot. Then he kicks Sammo Hung. Sammo Hung proceeds to kick him back.

SEVEN SWORDS - Tsui Hark's hack n'slash epic has earned mixed reviews but raked in a bundle in China. Now you can see it and judge for yourself.

SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE - Park Chan-Wook finishes his revenge trilogy with this flick so now he can move on and make movies about people being nice to each other for a change.

THE MYTH - Stanley Tong and Jackie Chan's collaboration makes its world premiere at Toronto. Classy!

THE DUELIST - Lee Myung-Se just wants to break your eyes open and fry them up on the sizzling griddle of his wild visual sensibility. You just want to let him do it.

THE WAYWARD CLOUD - no one has much love for Tsai Ming-liang's latest, but come on. A musical about porn? We need more movies like that.

August 23, 2005 at 04:42 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


TIME Magazine's Bryan Walsh reviews Tsui Hark's SEVEN SWORDS here.

And Chelle over at the Donnie Yen fansite has posted a new, pretty hard rockin' SHA PO LANG trailer here (Realplayer Download).

Also, Tracy Ip (Miss Hong Kong -- duh!) is so not upset by the rumors that she had plastic surgery on her nose, jawline and eyes that she's gone to the South China Morning Post to say that she didn't have plastic surgery and that she's not upset by the rumors because they simply aren't true. She attributes her new nose, eyes and jaw to weight loss.

August 23, 2005 at 11:06 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


BORN TO FIGHT remake Panna Ritthikrai, the legendary Thai stunt choreographer, gave this interview back when his mind-boggling BORN TO FIGHT remake was released.

August 23, 2005 at 11:03 AM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (0)


Lots of Chinese directors are signing up for the Pusan Promotion Plan as they search for investors during the Pusan Film Festival.

Fruit Chan is looking for funds for a movie called NEON GLOWS IN MYANMAR and Wong Ching-po and Lee Kung-lo are signed up with PG (PARENTAL GUIDANCE). Wong Ching-po is the director of JIANG HU and MOB SISTER and the two fellows collaborated previously on FU BO. PG is described as a black comedy about a dysfunctional family.

August 23, 2005 at 10:59 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


As an American it's a relief to see that ridiculous, puritanical lawsuits come from another country. In Hong Kong, the TVB series, HEALING HANDS 3, has received 47 complaints and lawsuits. They revolve around jokes that physical therapists aren't real doctors, a character who states that you have to become a doctor to get the ladies, and a scene where two characters stand on a rooftop waiting to jump off. Viewers (47 of them) say this sets a bad example.

The Miss Hong Kong pageant has also been slapped with a suit because viewers describe it as "inelegant".

Stupidity is global. It's such a relief.

August 23, 2005 at 10:54 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 22, 2005


This has popped up everywhere, apparently, but we wouldn't be a blog if we didn't jump on every bandwagon we could find, even if it's a bandwagon that has already passed.

Our dichotomy opens the combat

Apparently Jeremy, who lives in Shanghai, bought a pirate DVD of STAR WARS 8 (6? 5?): REVENGE OF THE SITH in the PRC and he's captured screenshots of the hilarious English subtitles.

My question is, why English subtitles? Was this dubbed into Mandarin in the PRC? And why subtitle it back into English? I'm suspicious, but it's still pretty funny.

(Thanks to The Beat for the heads up)

August 22, 2005 at 12:28 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Singapore's first homegrown horror movie, THE MAIDSingapore's first homegrown horror movie, THE MAID, opened in Singapore with a record-breaking US$700,000, the highest opening ever for a local film.

Telling the story of a Filipino maid who starts work in Singapore during the seventh month, when the spirits from the Seventh Hell are let loose, the pic was snagged by Fortissimo who plan on debuting it at the American Film Market in November.

And you can read about the real-life horror movie that is the fate of most foreign domestic workers (Filipino maids, almost exclusively) in Singapore here. Although cases of maid abuse have dropped, and convictions for maid abuse now earn jail time instead of a fine, the current debate raging in Singapore is whether maids should get one day off per week, or to stick with no days off per week. Average pay for a Filipino maid? About US$150/month.

Links to THE MAID trailer are here.

(Thanks to Twitch)

August 22, 2005 at 09:54 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Tracy Ip was crowned Miss Hong KongThird-place winner, Carrie LamTracy Ip was crowned Miss Hong Kong this Saturday and, despite rumors that she may have had plastic surgery, Ms. Ip has been the fan fave from the beginning.

Produced by television overlords, TVB, an acting contract on TVB comes with the first place prize and the pageant has introduced the following actresses to the world:
Maggie Cheung, Michelle Reis, Anita Yuen, Amy Kwok, Ada Choi, Gigi Lai and Chingmy Yau.

My personal fave for this year, however, was third-place winner, Carrie Lam, seen on the right keeping the pageant very MY FAIR LADY.   

August 22, 2005 at 09:50 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Miriam Yeung (Hong Kong's hottest comedienne) and Daniel Wu (required by law to appear in every single Hong Kong movie) appeared together in director Derek Yee's DRINK DRANK DRUNK which opened this weekend and took in a buzz-inducing HK$1.8 million in just a couple of days.

A romantic comedy about a French chef who is allergic to alcohol (Wu) meeting cute with a coffee shop owner who doesn't get drunk (Yeung) this is Yee's follow-up to his awe-inspiring ONE NIGHT IN MONGKOK (also with Wu). Derek Yee has quietly, and slowly, demonstrated that he's one of the big 1980's directors who has staying power while more impressive names (Ringo Lam, for one) have vanished from sight.

Even more impressive is the fact that Yee started out as a Shaw Brothers martial arts star, best known for his role in the eye-frying DESCENDANT OF THE SUN. He's one of the few remaining movie industry bigwigs who started in the Shaw era, continued through the New Wave 80's, kept on making movies during the film bubble of the 90's, and is still directing in the slimmed-down post-2000 Hong Kong film biz.

August 22, 2005 at 09:38 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


The Asian film biz has become a crazy quilt mix n'match game as name-brand players are shuffled around by wily producers looking for the next big hit. Here's the latest matches:

- Tsui Hark and Stephen Chow are reportedly going to make a live-action adaptation of WARM BLOODED SOCIETY, a cartoon about which I know nothing. It looks like those 6 sequels to SEVEN SWORDS are going to be delayed.

- Jackie Chan and his "older brother" Sammo Hung are teaming up to make PROJECT BB in which they play thieves who steal a baby. Benny Chan is directing, and Eric Tsang is also starring as the third thief. Now who's the fool who couldn't get Yuen Biao on board for this one?

- Tony Jaa (ONG BAK) and Wu Jing (SHA PO LANG) are teaming up with Yuen Wo-ping to do a martial arts movie, produced by the Thai-Chinese director Peter Chan. The deal hasn't been finalized yet.

- Zhang Yimou may be adding Jet Li to the cast of his upcoming Jackie Chan movie. The director is still working on the script, but says it'll present a new image for Jackie Chan (isn't this about the 5,000th time someone has presented a "new image" for Jackie Chan?) and mentions that he may approach Jet Li to appear, as well. Li has retired from action movies, but can reportedly still be lured back by the right script.

August 22, 2005 at 09:36 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 19, 2005


Twitch posted the news that Park Chan-Wook's SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE will be released by Tartan on February 3, 2006.

Yay. (The poster is so gorgeous I had to post the whole thing, so click on it for an even bigger look).

A gorgeous poster for Park Chan-Wook's SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE

August 19, 2005 at 08:52 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Kino picks up THE PRESIDENT'S LAST BANGKino, which has had some tough luck with some of its Asian releases, has picked up THE PRESIDENT'S LAST BANG. Re-edited by court order in Korea, it tells the true story of the assassination of President Park by his chief of intelligence, Kim Jae-Gyu, and it's been generating controversy wherever it goes.

With a filthy dirty title (come on, what kind of "bang" do you think they're talking about?) and impeccable tech credits (it's directed by Im Sang-Soo of A GOOD LAWYER'S WIFE) and acting (Kim is played by SAVE THE GREEN PLANET's industrialist, Baek Yoon-Shik) Kino may have a cross-over hit on its hands. Americans seem to love period Asian films that teach 'em a little something about another country, and you can't get much better than PRESIDENT's.

August 19, 2005 at 08:47 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Aamir Khan endorsing the new ToyotaAamir Khan (seen on the right endorsing the new Toyota) has a big challenge this weekend: will THE RISING keep on climbing the box office ladder or drop to the bottom of the dog pile? It had a big post-Tuesday decline and everything depends on its second-weekend performance.

The competition is the Ram Gopal Varma-produced thriller, MY WIFE'S MURDER, and a love triangle flick starring Bobby Deol, BARSAAT.

I'm betting on THE RISING.

August 19, 2005 at 08:42 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


In this less-than-favorable review of TOM YUM GOONG the Bangkok Post says that the movie is "not a spicy soup, but a scrambled egg" it doesn't "boil up the expected level of adrenaline" that it's a "spicy soup cooked up to thrill foreign tongues" and that, overall, it's "mucky."

It's still going to wind up being the second most profitable Thai movie ever made.

August 19, 2005 at 08:34 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Lee Myung-Se's The DuelistThe Toronto Film Festival announced a bunch more films yesterday and, well, what can I say except I'm trying to blink back my tears of joy.

THE DUELIST - Lee Myung-Se (NOWHERE TO HIDE) is nothing short of a genius. Alfred Hitchcock comes to him in his dreams and tells him what movies to make (seriously). He's got a thing for fish analogies. And he just finished this period martial arts female detective story.

TAKESHIS - Takeshi Kitano's latest movie, he just finished shooting it so it'll be hot off the grill and "500% Takeshi". What is it? Who is it? What does any of that mean? No one knows but Takeshi.

CITIZEN DOG - I've been wondering (a lot) (sometimes I stay up all night just thinking about it) what's going to happen to new movie, CITIZEN DOG, that seemed to be stuck in limbo. Well, it's going to Toronto and you can see it there in all it's candy-colored glory.

SEVEN SWORDS - Tsui Hark's latest is big in China, but some folks grumble that there's nothing new to see here. And Derek Yee (ONE NIGHT IN MONGKOK) says Charlie Yeung and Leon Lai suck out loud in it. But here's your chance to see it for yourself and make up your own mind.

APRIL SNOW - Hur Jin-Ho's melodrama has been much anticipated and that probably includes everyone reading this blog. Now it's here (if you live in Toronto, if you live anywhere else it's "there").

A bunch of non-Asian movies were also announced but does anyone watch movies that aren't from Asia? I don't even think they actually exist. Non-Asian movies, huh? It sounds like an old wives tale to me.

(Thanks to Twitch for the news.)

August 19, 2005 at 08:30 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 18, 2005


The New York Film Festival (Sept. 23 - Oct. 9) has announced its line-up and there's some great Korean movies in there. SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE! THE PRESIDENT'S LAST BANG! A TALE OF CINEMA!

There's also a screening of Hou Hsiao-hsien's new movie, THREE TIMES!

A new short by Shinya Tsukamoto, HAZE!

And a retrospective of Japan's Shochiku Studio to celebrate their 110th birthday!

August 18, 2005 at 08:55 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Casshern, UK posterThe best movie of 2004 was CASSHERN. My biggest regret in the New York Asian Film Festival is that Dreamworks/Go Fish wouldn't let us screen this amazing, gob-stopping, head-smacking, space Nazis versus robo-Commies flick based on an old anime series. And the most flabbergasting thing is that the whole epic project only cost about US$6 million. It's the movie SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW should have been, if only it had had a brain or a heart.

CASSHERN has a confusing plot, about 50 different things going on at once in the opening half hour, and a super-stylized use of special effects that may leave some people cold, but in my opinion it's one of the most exciting science fiction movies to come along in ages. If you can just turn off your critical faculties and open up your head you're going to get a transcendent experience. CASSHERN takes Tsui Hark's TIME AND TIDE experiments with CGI to their logical conclusion, ditching attempts at photorealism off the side of the ship and using digital effects as a purely emotional graphic design element. Images switch from 3-D to 2-D in the blink of an eye and during scenes of massive carnage the action will suddenly become as theatrical and gestural as Kabuki or Chinese opera. It's absolutely staggering. When I hear the word CASSHERN, my eyeballs automatically lubricate themselves in preparation for massive visual penetration.Casshern was the best film of 2004

Yours will too.

Don't believe me?

Go check out the Dreamworks/Go Fish website and the Japanese trailer in Quicktime.

Shochiku seems to believe that Dreamworks/Go Fish is looking at a 2006 US theatrical release.

CASSHERN'll make about five bucks at the US box office, but Go Fish (Dreamwork's anime/Asian subsidiary) hasn't seemed to care too much about movies not doing so well at the box office so far. Cross your fingers that a Jan/Feb theatrical release will happen.

Read an exhaustingly in depth review at Midnight Eye here.

Click on the poster above to see a larger-size version.

August 18, 2005 at 08:52 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Shochiku is 110 years old

Shochiku is 110 years old and the New York Film Festival will screen 44 of their movies (yes...FORTY-FOUR!!!) to celebrate. Well, Shochiku says they'll screen 45, but who's counting?

What'll they be screening? Hard to say, but this retro package has appeared at the Germany FilmFest and there's been some announcements, so here's what looks likely:

THE CASTLE OF SAND, digitally remastered, will open the retro.

These Keisuke Kinoshita movies showed in Germany as part of the celebration:
PORT OF FLOWER (1943 b/w)Shochiku's logo
ARMY (1944 b/w)
WOMAN (1948 b/w)
CARMEN COMES HOME (1951 color)
TWENTY-FOUR EYES (1954 b/w) *New Print
SNOW FLURY (1959 color)

As well as these:
THE HIDDEN BLACE, by Yoji Yamada (2004)
THE HOUSE OF BUGS, by Kiyoshi Kurosawa (2005)
FACE, by Junji Sakamoto (2000)
TOKYO LULLABY, by Jun Ichikawa (1997)
SONATINE, by Kitano Takeshi (1993)

August 18, 2005 at 08:51 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


The Motion Picture Association is the United States' largest studio lobbying group and they're the folks who rate the movies and sue people over piracy. They're always issuing press releases and "studies" about the impact of piracy but...where on earth do they get their numbers?

They estimate that the US entertainment industry loses $3 billion/year in "potential worldwide revenue". How can you estimate money that isn't actually earned? Apparently, not very well.

They really make my heart bleed with this example:

"One real-world example of piracy’s devastating impact on the legitimate marketplace is with the 1999 release of the film Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace. Pirate copies of the film (created by using camcorders in US theaters) flooded the Asian marketplace while the film was still in U.S. theatrical distribution. When the film opened legitimately in Asian theaters, attendance was far below expectations..."

God forbid the studios over-estimated the Asian audience's interest in this DOA stinker. Instead, just think about George Lucas having to comfort himself with only $924 million. He probably wakes up screaming: "I coulda hit a billion! I swear I coulda hit a billion!" I bet he hasn't maintained an erection once since being unmanned by wily Asian pirates.

Then there's their ten-country review of piracy, that you can download a pdf here.

Ignoring the fact that the Taiwanese film industry is a giant smoking crater where no films do very well, the MPA says that the US lost $41 million to piracy in 2002 in Taiwan, up from $30 million in 2000. Where are they getting these numbers? They claim that the seizure of "items related to piracy" went from 1.16 million items in 2001 to 2.32 million in 2002. "Based on the seized material, there has been a significant increase in piracy in two major areas, including pirated DVDs..."

However, in the same paper when talking about South Korea's market they claim that the pirates have become "larger, more secretive, and more sophisticated..." and cites as proof that in 2001 there were  3.5 million items related to piracy seized, whereas in 2002 only 232,000 items were seized. Apparently, this decrease means the problem is getting worse, not better, and "more pirated product is getting into the hands of consumers." Huh?

So an increase in Taiwanese seizures mean the problem is getting worse, but a decrease in South Koreean seizures mean the problem is also getting worse?

Could it be any coincidence that the MPA has been lobbying for South Korea to drop its screen quota system since 1999 (a quota system that many South Koreans credit for creating a marketplace ready for the 1999 renaissance of mainstream Korean cinema) whereas Taiwan has been opening up its marketplace for decades, a practice that some Taiwanese blame for the destruction of Taiwan's domestic industry? In fact, some Taiwanses filmmakers claim the glut of Hollywood product in Taiwan is keeping even popular Taiwanese films from getting competitive screen space.

Taiwan has toed the MPA line, but South Korea hasn't. So maybe South Korean piracy will always be getting "worse" according to the MPA?

Or maybe the problem is that calculating "potential worldwide revenue" (the money that the studios expect to earn based on their projections of past performance) is a fool's game where anyone can say anything they want, and there's no downside in overestimating performance since you can always blame piracy, rather than crappy movies, if your guesstimates aren't met?

Whatever the reason, the MPA seems intent on painting a picture of a massive Asian piracy threat, whether a country's seizure numbers are up or down. My question is: where are they getting their numbers?

August 18, 2005 at 08:49 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (10)


Piracy is normal with a national distribution model. I'm not sure dressing like this is.Indiewire has an article about piracy, parallel imports and their impact on American distributors. You can even see me in there, foaming at the mouth about something or other. Since the flecks of foam blocked my larger point, let me take a minute to talk about piracy.

It's normal. It's not a problem that needs to be defeated, but simply a growing pain that the business is experiencing as studios move from a national distribution model to a global distribution model. Granted, massive piracy can have an impact on a film industry's bottom line, but if you look at Hong Kong in the late 90's where piracy was blamed for the near-death of the industry there, you'll see that while piracy certainly played a part the real story was an over-inflated film production bubble bursting. In the 90's everyone started making movies in Hong Kong, stars got spread too thin, too many bad movies were dumped on the market and audiences just started staying away in droves.

Which sounds like America now.

Back when the antitrust legislation in the late 40's forced studios to divest themselves of their theaters a bunch of fly-by-night operators sprung up. Piracy of product ran rampant, shoddy movies flooded the market, television was hailed as the final nail in the coffin (just like P2P is proclaimed to be such today) and things looked bleak. Gradually the small producers were absorbed into the big studio motherships, and we wound up with a system like we have today where any theft on the part of theater owners is minor and big nation-wide releases are the order of the day. It took about 20 years for things to standardize. And it didn't happen because the studios sued their competition out of business, but because they adjusted their business model and competed.

Now distributors need to realize that they have to think globally or someone else will and they'll suck the money right out of their pockets. I think the smartest people on the planet right now are the producers of SHA PO LANG. Their movie was finished back in April, but they're holding off to premiere it globally at Toronto in September and then they'll probably make a sale and it'll be worth more money since whoever picks up the North American rights won't be competing with a video or theatrical release before their US release.

Think globally -- that's the future.

August 18, 2005 at 08:48 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 17, 2005


Today people aren't just getting pissy, they're getting controversial. Again: is it the heat? The humidity? The stress of geopolitical tension? Dunno. But suddenly everyone seems to have a problem with everyone else.

If you're the Korean Broadcasting Commission you've got a big problem with two shows: MUSIC CAMP and OLD MISS DIARY. On MUSIC CAMP two rockers dropped trou and showed the audience what they were packing during a broadcast. The musicians were arrested, the show was canceled, and KBC is still coming up with more punishments for the employees who let this horror happen. OLD MISS DIARY is a sitcom about life with the elderly, and they crossed the line when they aired an episode with an aged mother-in-law getting slapped across the face. They have to issue an official apology before their next episode and they can never, ever, ever show the slapping episode again. But, hey, we've all lived with the elderly and sometimes they do need a good slap, just to let them know what's what. Am I right, or am I right?

Stephen Chow is finally talking about his own little bowl of controversy, the scandal with KUNG FU HUSTLE leading lady, Huang Shengyi, suing to leave his company, Star Overseas. His comment? "It's the company's business." Yeah, but it's your company. And, by the way, what is fuggy?

In Japan, the people are getting nervous about the new movie, AEGIS OF A DOOMED COUNTRY (Bokoku no Aegis, in Japanese), about a hijacked warship with a chemical weapon that North Korean agents are trying to use to destroy Tokyo. It features immortal bits of philosophy, like: "A self-defense force that can't strike first isn't a real self-defense force," and "A country that doesn't recognize that is a failure as a country." But wouldn't it automatically not be self defense if you struck first? I'm confused. Anyways, Japanese people aren't confused. They say the movie, and the book it's based on, are calls for Japan to re-militarize. And the movie's been seen by almost a million people so far. (Read a review of the movie and the book by a big fan of both) (And look how young the author is)

And those reports of Vicky Zhao Wei getting drunk and ticking off triads in a Beijing bar? Fake, fans say. Just fake. And here I was just starting to like Vicky.

And although it hasn't caused controversy yet, I bet Hong Kong Councillor Lam Kit-sing's suggestion that HK open up a suicide theme park, will. Councillor Lam suggested that Cheung Chau, one of Hong Kong's out-lying islands, turn a beach house that's hosted 20 suicides and 5 attempts in the past 8 years be turned into a spoooky theme park. He thinks that the millions of folks visiting HK Disneyland would be willing to stop off afterwards and visit KillYourselfLand. He's got a point.

August 17, 2005 at 11:15 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

August 16, 2005


Boy Scouts of Hong Kong are angryI don't know if it's the heat or the humidity or the war in Iraq, but everyone is getting their rage on this week. In the absence of any real news, here's a handy guide to who's seeing red:

The Boy Scouts of Hong Kong are mad that Andy Lau dressed as a Scout for a television concert and he got the hat, the tie and the position of his badge all wrong, wrong, wrong.

The Mangal Pandey Memorial Committee is ticked off that Mangal Pandey's home village of Nagwan isn't even mentioned in Aamir Khan's Mangal Pandey movie, THE RISING. They're so mad that they've filed suit to ban the movie, damaged a store selling CDs of the movie, kept it off the screens in one cinema in Nagwan itself, and even stalled a train for some reason.

Their anger is backed up and reinforced until it becomes an unstoppable force for truth and justice by the BJP (India's Hindu Nationalist Party) who are demanding that THE RISING be banned because it shows Mangal Pandey visiting a brothel and everyone knows that just isn't true. (To be honest: he actually just gets in a fight that spills over into a brothel, and then he platonically lurks a little on the brothel balcony)

Triad dudes from the Bamboo Union are PO'ed that Vicky Zhao Wei can't handle her liquor. SHAOLIN SOCCER's leading lady got drunk as a skunk and as irritating as a wasted sorority sister at a Beijing Bar, prompting Bamboo Union-ers to slap around her escort for the evening (since they wouldn't hit a lady) hoping that this would teach Ms. Vicky moderation in all things.

Brigitte Lin is mildly put out that Tsui Hark is planning to shoot a film version of her life story and she's reportedly withdrawn her permission for him to do so. Ms. Lin is happily retired and besides, Tsui is rumored to be casting Cecilia Cheung as Lin. This wouldn't be the first time Tsui Hark cast Cecilia Cheung as a "younger" Brigitte Lin (see: LEGEND OF ZU). Just what every actress wants, a younger version of herself reminding her that time holds still for no great lady of the silver screen.

Mainland Chinese authorities are annoyed that Stanley Kwan's latest film, EVERLASTING REGRET, suggests that the Cultural Revolution wasn't a great big party that never stopped. Kwan had better hop to it and trim those ridiculous suggestions from the film, pronto, or he and the cast will be blacklisted in China. Stanley Kwan says he's trimming just a few more minutes from the movie anyways before it premieres at the Venice Film Festival so it's not a big deal. Whew! Tony Leung Kar-fai has already been blacklisted in Taiwan (for shooting a film in the PRC) and Stanley Kwan has run into PRC problems with his films RED ROSE, WHITE ROSE and LAN YU -- the last thing these guys need is another black mark against their names. Go, Stanley. Trim, trim, trim!

August 16, 2005 at 11:54 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 15, 2005


Kiyoshi Kurosawa's next film is LOFTKiyoshi Kurosawa's PULSE is coming in October, but news of his mummy movie, LOFT, continues to trickle out like thick n'sticky blood.

According to this interview (where Kurosawa talks about his own source of "anxiety and dread" - Hollywood remakes) it'll be out in early 2006, but there's been problems figuring out whether to sell it as a love story with horror or a horror movie with love.

The official site for the movie gives a brief plot description and a glimpse of the mummy.

(and click on the poster to see a full-size version)

August 15, 2005 at 11:25 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Ram Gopal Varma will remake SHOLAYBollywood's most versatile director, Ram Gopal Varma, has two dreams: to remake THE GODFATHER (done! See: SARKAR) and to remake SHOLAY. With SARKAR doing big box office biz he's now turned his attention to remaking SHOLAY and, surprisingly, no one has burned him at the stake. Yet.

SHOLAY is the monster classic of Bollywood. Often called a "curry Western" it's a classic that ran for almost five years and most Bollywood fans have seen it a fistful of times (RGV says it's 27 times for him). It tells the story of two thieves who are hired to save a village from a bandit, Gabbar Singh, and stars acting icon Amitabh Bachchan.

RGV has relocated the movie to an urban setting, gotten a blessing from the original director, G.P. Sippy, cast Mohit Ahlawat (a newcomer) in Amitabh Bachchan's original role, cast Amitabh Bachchan himself in the Gabbar Singh role, and may re-title his movie RAMGOPAL VARMA KI SHOLAY if Sippy's kids don't cough up the rights to the original.

(On a related note, Amitabh Bachchan's classic slice of 70's cheese, DON, is also being remade with Shah Rukh Khan in the lead role of the gangster so evil he will kill a man if he doesn't like his shoes.)

August 15, 2005 at 11:22 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (144)


In this interview in the International Herald Tribune Hong Kong's must unruly and talented actor, Anthony Wong, announces that he's appearing in his first Hollywood movie. It's THE PAINTED VEIL and soon Naomi Watts and Edward Norton will be dealing with the man who once said of a co-star on a DVD commentary track: "See, she is trying to act here but it is very poor. Really, I feel sorry for her."

Later in the interview Mr. Wong reveals that he will also be in the Mainland Chinese movie THE SUN RISES AGAIN (directed by Jiang Wen) and that his role in THE PAINTED VEIL is "very easy."

(Thanks to Monkey Peaches for the heads up)

August 15, 2005 at 11:20 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Tony Jaa in TOM YUM GOONG action figureWhat I dismissed on Friday as just another one of those Ain't it Cool reviews that doesn't really say anything is coming back to haunt me.

Now there's a review of TOM YUM GOONG on WiseKwai's Rotten Tomatoes site that says the movie a) has good action, b) not much of a story, c) CGI special effects.

I'm still psyched to see it, but shaken that the sequel to ONG BAK may be turn out to just be a movie and not the second coming of Christ.

August 15, 2005 at 11:16 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 12, 2005


Those wily folks at the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (that's HAF to you) are financing more upcoming projects than you can shake a stick at.

Wilson Yip, hot off his jaw-shattering Sammo Hung/Donnie Yen/Wu Jing action flick, SHA PO LANG, (to be released in November 2005) is doing a US$5 million martial arts movie, DRAGON TIGER GATE. It's an adaptation of a Hong Kong comic book from the 70's about three righteous brothers.

McDull is Hong Kong's lovable piglet, and his animated movies (two released, and a third one on the way) are classics. McDull number 4, MCDULL, THE ALUMNI, spends half its time animated hanging out with McDull's kindergarten class while they fantasize about what they're going to do when they grow up (be a capuccino foam blower, a chicken liver chopping expert). The other half of the movie is live action and depicts what actually happens to them when they do grow up. Expect toddlers to blow their brains out after watching this.

Barbara Wong is shooting THE MARRIAGE CELEBRANT in Vancouver, with Tony Leung Kar-fai, Karena Lam and Daniel Wu (who is mandated by law to appear in every single Hong Kong movie). The flick is about a chick who performs weddings.

The director of the Thai film BEAUTIFUL BOXER, Ekachai Uekrongtham, is working on THE COFFIN, a near-death-experience horror movie.

The director of the Japanese film GO and Shunji Iwai's one-time assistant director, Yukisada Isao, is shooting a juvenile delinquent flick, INNOCENT SIN.

August 12, 2005 at 02:05 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Harry_webAin't It Cool has what seems to be the first review for TOM YUM GOONG, the new Tony Jaa movie that's a follow-up to ONG BAK.

The review isn't very good, but that's okay. If it was good it wouldn't be on Ain't It Cool.

There's also an exhausting and exhaustive review of Tsui Hark's SEVEN SWORDS up as well.

August 12, 2005 at 02:02 PM in Film Reviews | Permalink | Comments (2)


Dear Angelina Jolie,
As a new Cambodian citizen you must be very excited. Congratulations!
Remember, your new motto is "Nation. Religion. King." Say it often.

On the downside, you now have a duty to "participate in national reconstruction and to defend the homeland." Since you're barely 30 (born in 1975, right?) you can be drafted to do National Service. Hooray! See you in two years when you're done! Just keep thinking of Maddox while you're out there digging ditches.

August 12, 2005 at 02:00 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 11, 2005


Feng Xiaogang's Chinese HAMLET, NIGHT BANQUET, is looking better and better, with music by Tan Dun and action by Yuen Wo-ping. Here's an update on the cast:

Zhang Ziyi = Gertrude, she's apparently going to be a bit dreamy in this movie, but will be the lead

Daniel Wu = Hamlet, he'll be doing a lot of kung fu

Ge You = Claudius, the Emperor role, he's been in almost all of Feng Xiaogang's movies

Huang Xiaoming = Laertes

Ma Jingwu = Polonius

Zhou Xun = Ophelia, she's apparently a dancing queen in Peter Chan's PERHAPS LOVE and will be hoofing up a storm in THE NIGHT BANQUET.

Read the full article in the Shenzhen Daily and learn who the four Chinese "Queens of Filming" are.

August 11, 2005 at 12:30 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Action choreographer Corey Yuen continues his journey towards becoming Hong Kong's weirdest action choreographer (that used to be Yuen Wo-ping -- not anymore) with his work on TRANSPORTER 2. Check out this footage of one of the weirdest and most exhiliratingly silly fight scenes you'll ever see.

August 11, 2005 at 12:29 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Stephen Chow goes through his female co-stars like Kleenex these days. DHuang Shengyi, the ice cream lady from KUNG FU HUSTLEoesn't this feel inevitable?

A Stephen Chow movie comes out all over the world and a few months later the rumors about unhappy leading ladies begin to circulate.

This time it's Huang Shengyi, the ice cream lady from KUNG FU HUSTLE. Apparently she's managed by Chow's Star Overseas Company but she appeared on some magazine covers without their permission, pissing them off. Now she's written them a letter saying she wants to be released from her contract, but someone in Star Overseas says there's no way the company will let her go. Rumors are flying as to why she's leaving. Huang isn't giving interviews, leaving the press with lots of room to make things up. Yay.

(Courtesy of Kung Fu Cult Cinema)

August 11, 2005 at 12:28 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Air Conditioner/Hand Warmer via HANZI SMATTERHanzi Smatter is a page dedicated to the people who get Chinese characters tattooed onto their naked flesh without being exactly sure what they mean. The guy in the picture? He's a big bad "Air Conditioner/Hand Warmer". Seriously, what could be worse than enduring hours of pain for a bad azz tattoo and when it's finished you stand up, skin burning, blood running down your back, and some Chinese guy informs you that one of the characters is upside down, two are missing horizontal strokes, and the rest look like a two-year-old drew them.

Go and mock.

August 11, 2005 at 12:26 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


THE NEGOTIATOR is the spin-off movie to last year's BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN 2 and it's all about terrorists in the Japanese subway system and it's the number one flick in Japan right now.

Check out Joi Ito's blog. He's a computer guy hired by THE NEGOTIATOR crew to make sure all their hacking and technical stuff looks good onscreen and is accurate. There's lots of juicy nuggets on his site, like the following:

"They should also have developed a computer virus that installs backdoors on hundreds of broadband-connected Windows-running PCs, to use them as non-logging traffic relays/proxies. The IP traffic would travel from an unsecured WiFi AP to a relay daemon running on a hijacked PC, and thus be very difficult to trace."

I understand if you say this to a geek they actually spontaneously orgasm. He even has a wiki page.

August 11, 2005 at 12:22 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 10, 2005


The cute TWINS are dancing...EVEN WHEN THEIR FEET ARE SWELLING!!!What are the stars doing in Asia?

If they're Sammi Cheng they're getting tooth infections and acting crazy.

If they're multilingual hottie Karen Mok, they're starring in the Taiwanese stage version of RENT.

If they're cute little Tony Leung Chiu-wai, they're announcing that they're going to appear in an unnamed Hollywood movie.

If they're Jackie Chan they're getting out of the stunt game before their knees turn to dust and appearing in a Derek Yee-directed drama called SHINJUKU STORY.

If they're not only Chow Yun-fat, but also Gong Li, they're announcing they'll appear in Zhang Yimou's next period drama, AUTUMN REMEMBRANCE. If they're just Gong Li then they're appearing in the MIAMI VICE remake with Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell.

If they're Lucy Liu then they're producing and starring in a Charlie Chan remake.

If they're the cute TWINS then they're dancing...EVEN WHEN THEIR FEET ARE SWELLING!!!

August 10, 2005 at 11:46 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


SEVEN SWORDS is clinging to the box office by its fingernailsTsui Hark's SEVEN SWORDS opened to a flurry of dampened expectations, but it seems to be clinging to the box office by its fingernails and it might just start making some money. It's holding onto the number two spot at the Hong Kong box office and in China it's beaten INITIAL D at the box office and is looking at 20 days with hardly any other movie-going competition. Distributors who were originally pretty negative about the movie now say they think it might do REVENGE OF THE SITH-sized business in China. It's also got about 500 prints circulating in the PRC and it's no longer raining in Shanghai so things might start looking pretty good for it.

August 10, 2005 at 11:45 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Our movies make as many dollars 
as there is corn in this bagThere's been some media discussion that box office takings are down 5% - 15% across Asia. The numbers are reported by Motion Picture Association Distributor's Associations in each country and everyone is blaming the fact that this year's movies aren't so good.

What goes uncommented on is the fact that in every country, except China, local films are holding the top box office spot over films by foreign devils.

In Hong Kong the car racing flick, INITIAL D, holds the top spot (and this week, Tsui Hark's SEVEN SWORDS and MOB SISTER hold the number two and number one spots respectively).

In Korea it's autistic runners (MARATHON) and angry cops (ANOTHER PUBLIC ENEMY) that hold the top two spots.

In Japan, BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN spin-off film THE NEGOTIATOR holds the number one spot for the year, and with another SHAKEDOWN spin-off, THE SUSPECT, coming out at the end of August local films are looking strong in Japan. The huge number of BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN movies would be worrying if they weren't all so much fun.

Only two Thai films are in that country's box office top ten, but comedy THE HOLY MAN is in the number one spot, and the RAHTREE RETURNS is in number five.

Only Mainland China has seen an American film, REVENGE OF THE SITH, take the number one spot. Imagine that the little children in the poster on the right are taunting you with how much corn they can buy with the money their movies are making.

Go, Asia. Go!

August 10, 2005 at 11:41 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


2005 Asian Lesbian Film and Video FestivalThe Montreal World Film Festival will be hosting the North American premieres of dapper, Chinese crime flick, A WORLD WITHOUT THIEVES, as well as Kim Ki-Duk's latest movie, THE BOW. They'll also have the Sylvia Chang starring Hong Kong flick, RICE RHAPSODY.

Those crafty lesbians are having their first Asian film festival ever, over in Taipei, the First Asian Lesbian Film and Video Festival. The Korean Han News site calls it the First Asian Film and Video Festival. Can they not bring themselves to say "lesbian" or is it just a convenient typo?

Wisit Sasanatieng's third film, CITIZEN DOG, makes its international premiere at Locarno. On the one hand, it's out of competition. On the other hand it's getting shown on a giant outdoor screen.

And finally, Aishwarya Rai's latest movie, MISTRESS OF SPICES, directed by Gurinder Chadha's partner, Paul Berges will bow at Toronto.

(Thanks to all the folks who sent me news for this one)

August 10, 2005 at 11:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

August 02, 2005


Over on KoreanFilm.org there's an exhaustive and most excellent review of Park Chan-Wook's SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE where the writer dares to ask the question about violence in movies that's been going unasked: how come when Asians do it it's "Extreme Cinema" but when white people do it it's "Art". Well, except for Gaspar Noe. (And Variety's review can be found here.)

Also, Twitch Film has been out-doing itself with its Korean coverage this summer and if you're breathlessly waiting for the new monster movie, THE HOST, with Song Kang-Ho to be released, you can read Song talking about it here.

August 2, 2005 at 04:52 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Hello Ziyi, the Zhang Ziyi website is posting photos from MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA here, and they also link to an IMDB.com thread from some folks who saw it at an advanced screening in Pasadena. And an extra has kept a diary of their time on the shoot here.

Ah, there's nothing better than an American movie, about Japanese people, cast with Chinese actors, who all speak English.

August 2, 2005 at 04:51 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (5)


This story says that Tsui Hark's SEVEN SWORDS, which has been greeted with muted enthusiasm, is running into indifference in Beijing as well with only ten people attending the opening show over the weekend.

According to the distributor, SEVEN SWORDS made US$3 million (roughly) over the weekend in China and about US$300,000 in Hong Kong. Considering that the film cost US$18 million to shoot, they got a long row to hoe.

August 2, 2005 at 04:50 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Cathay's AIR HOSTESSTaiwanese auteur, Tsai Ming-liang, will be presenting a screening of the 1960 Cathay musical WILD, WILD ROSE at the Toronto Film Festival. Starring Grace Chang, this gorgeous movie is a Hong Kong adaptation of CARMEN and it's stunning. Everyone talks Shaw Brothers when they talk about old Hong Kong film, but Cathay turned out an avalanche of musicals, spiffy little action flicks, and romances that drip glamour. Someone needs to give them a big retrospective, and they're currently working on restoring a lot of their older prints and reissuing their movies on DVD so that they're ready when the time comes.

I couldn't find a good picture from WILD, WILD ROSE but here's one from the equally fabulous AIR HOSTESS. A musical about, well, air hostesses.

August 2, 2005 at 04:49 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Today we ponder the tragedy of being a famous Chinese movie director. First off, Tsui Hark's much-anticipated SEVEN SWORDS opened in Hong Kong and came in second with a take of HK$2.75 million over the weekend. In a globally anomalous event, it was beaten by Michael Bay's action stinker THE ISLAND, which raked in HK$4.04 million. Viewers are saying the movie is poorly dubbed and too scattershot. This won't be the first time Hong Kong audiences have rejected one of Tsui Hark's movies that later came to be regarded as a masterpiece (THE BLADE, anyone?) but given Tsui's recent track record...

Now, nothing would make Zhang Yimou happier than to laugh up his sleeve at Tsui Hark's troubles, but unfortunately he's got troubles of his own. Why wasn't his new flick with Japanese actor Ken Takakura QIAN LI ZOU DAN QI ("Riding Alone for a Thousand Li) in the Venice film festival competition? Has Zhang been snubbed by the Venetians? Does the world only want pretty action movies from him for the rest of his life?

Truly a day when Tsui Hark and Zhang Yimou should meet up in a bar somewhere and get drunk together.

August 2, 2005 at 04:48 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)