November 17, 2005


Ang Lee vs. Stephen ChowIn a Ming Pao article, Ang Lee expressed surprise that Stephen Chow's KUNG FU HUSTLE beat out Hou Hsiao-hsien's THREE TIMES and Tsai Ming-liang's WAYWARD CLOUD at this past weekend's Golden Horse Awards. Ang Lee think that Stephen Chow's victory is a surprise since he believes THREE TIMES was a better film than KUNG FU HUSTLE. Lee then said that whereas Tsai and Hou were adults, Chow was just a kid. Then, while Chow was down, he delivered the coup de grace, saying that whereas Hou Hsiao-hsien's movies can make people think, KUNG FU HUSTLE left people feeling empty.

He closed brilliantly by offering Chow a compliment. At least Chow's KUNG FU HUSTLE was a box office success.

Ladies and gentlemen: ouch.

(This first appeared in a post in the Kung Fu Cult Cinema forum, but a sharp-eyed reader went back to the source and translated the Chinese again just to make sure there was no mistake in the poster's interpretation of the article. There wasn't.)

November 17, 2005 at 06:26 AM in News | Permalink


This was somewhat unexpected. I'd always pictured Ang Lee as a somewhat nice fellow. I'm a bit startled at this sort of reaction coming from him on two levels.

a) Ang Lee is a film-maker and as such, I'm surprised he would come down on Stephen Chow so hard, since Chow is a comedian, and a good one, at that (usually). Just because he's making films in a genre which Ang Lee hasn't, you would imagine there would at least be some level of respect there. This sounds vaguely bitter to me.

b) Box Office $$$ + Good Reviews=Award. It's true in virtually every film market. I don't see how this would have come as a surprise to anyone.

Posted by: FiveVenoms | Nov 17, 2005 11:08:57 AM

He's just jealous. He must still be sulking from the Hulk, and from the fact that Stephen Chow's left thumbnail has more humor than the entirety of Ang Lee's balding head.

Posted by: David | Nov 17, 2005 1:09:59 PM

"He's just jealous."

That's mature.

Posted by: Nix | Nov 17, 2005 2:51:46 PM

You mean as mature as Ang Lee calling Stephen Chow a kid? Why? Because Chow's films actually make money? Because he wasn't allured by Hollywood to make films like the Hulk?

Oh wait. No, I suppose he's mature because he has elitist intellectual friends who make films that leave people full. Well, the 2 people who saw them anyway.

Posted by: David | Nov 17, 2005 3:04:43 PM

KFH didn't leave me feeling empty, and that's all that matters to me.

Posted by: quadshock | Nov 17, 2005 4:32:55 PM

I liked the Hulk (I know I'm one of a few).
I also liked KFH, but I haven't seen the other two movies mentioned. Do either contain any kung-fu?

I hope Chow strikes back not with insulting comments, but rather some gay cowboy (Brokeback Mountain) gags in his new film and maybe a Hulk spoof, or something that combines the two.

Posted by: Edshugeo | Nov 17, 2005 5:03:10 PM

I think part of Ang Lee's criticism is part of what I'm hearing in general about the Golden Horses this year, which is that some folks are disappointed that they seemed to reward BO success and not achievement. Which is what folks always say about every award ceremony.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Nov 18, 2005 2:30:52 AM

One piece of information that has been left out of these reports is the fact that this statement was made by Ang Lee at a private event hosted by Hou Hsiao-hsien, who was also standing beside Lee when the question was asked. Considering Hou just "lost" to Chow (an injustice in the eyes of many), I think that puts things in a better perspective. We should also take into consideration the years of controvery surrounding the Golden Horse FF, especially in terms of the way it has panned several of HHH's most brilliant works (ie. 1989 when Stanley Kwan's FULL MOON IN NY beat out CITY OF SADNESS...).

I don't think Lee's comments are really a criticism of Chow, but, rather, the commercialization of the Golden Horse FF. After all, the reward of overtly commercial films is box office numbers. But we would hope festivals to look beyond that and honor true cinematic art...(This is not to negate Chow's wonferful accomplishments...but the commercialization of international film festivals poses a real threat to directors like Hou and Tsai...and the future of cinema...)

Posted by: Michael | Nov 21, 2005 10:29:09 AM

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