« July 2006 | Main | September 2006 »

August 31, 2006


Marco Muller, the director of the Venice Film Festival, has said he will reveal in a few days the last-minute addition of a major Chinese film to the Venice Film Festival competition section this year. What on earth could it be? Johnnie To's EXILED and Tsai Ming-liang's BLACK-EYED are already in competition and BANQUET and PROJECT BB are there, but out of competition, so what is it? CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER? I'm guessing it's either the Anthony Wong/Edward Norton movie THE PAINTED VEIL (slated for a December 15 release in North America) or the Wen Jiang/Anthony Wong movie THE SUN RISES AGAIN which we haven't heard from in a while.

Whatever movie it is, Muller better hurry since the festival has already begun.

(Thanks to the sharp-eyed reader who translated this article)

August 31, 2006 at 12:46 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


LUCKY LOSERLUCKY LOSER, the Thai movie about a Laotian team competing in the World Cup that looks to be COOL RUNNINGS for soccer, was deemed so potentially offensive to Laotians that it's been sitting on a shelf since it was completed earlier this year.

Now, Wisekwai tells us, it's been re-edited and re-shot into a completely non-offensive form. Re-shoots and clever editing got rid of Laotian flags and banners and the word "Laos" was dubbed into the name of another country. And what country is that? Instead of being from Laos, the team now hails from the fictitous land of Aa-wee.

My question is: what is it about Thai directors that makes them want to offend people? I've never seen a country get in so much trouble, what with GHOST GAME, LUCKY LOSER and CORPSE all in a row. It's almost like they do it on purpose, and if they're doing it by accident then I feel terrible for them. It must stink to keep getting into hot water over and over again for something you're not quite grasping. "You mean, Cambodians might get offended if we set a horror movie in a Khmer Rouge death camp? Crazy!"

August 31, 2006 at 11:38 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Johnnie ToJohnnie To keeps casting 'em, and bless him for it. First it was nearly-vanished 90's star Mark Cheng providing the performance of his career in ELECTION 2, and now it's nearly-vanished 90's star Ellen Chan who says that she's in EXILED and that she gets to fling around a little of the sexy stuff.

Chan is probably best known for ETERNAL EVIL OF ASIA in which any number of horrible things happen to her, often while she's naked. She's also played a psychotic lesbian in THE LOVE THAT IS WRONG and a minor role in MEN SUDDENLY IN BLACK.

In case anyone missed it, EXILED will be getting its North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.

Then it looks like TRIAD ELECTION (the retitled ELECTION 2) won't be getting a theatrical release in 2006 as planned. It'll still play at the New York Film Festival but according to ComingSoon it'll be released in 2007 instead.

Finally, rumors are laid to rest about Johnnie To's upcoming projects. Shan Ding, his assistant, gives the following news:
- To won't start shooting his Mainland movie, LINGER, until he returns from Venice and Toronto in mid-September. Cast in the movie are Li Bingbing and Vic Chou (of boy band F4).
- THE SPARROW, Johnnie To's pickpocket movie, is still being shot and is an ongoing project. Sort of like PTU and THE MISSION.

And, finally, let's all feel good about David Richardson, a man who proves that there are second acts in American lives. An editor who started off working on movies like CYBORG 2, Jean Claude Van Damme's REPLICANT, and Uwe Boll's HOUSE OF THE DEAD, he is now the editor of Johnnie To movies like BREAKING NEWS, THROWDOWN and EXILED. Although he is editing Uwe Boll's DUNGEON SIEGE I like to think he's just doing it to see the Matthew Lillard outtakes which are probably hilarious.

(Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader for keeping us up to speed)

August 31, 2006 at 10:17 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (6)

August 30, 2006


Kiyoshi Kurosawa's LOFT Giles Daoust's THE ROOM

Sometimes two poster designers will get the exact same idea at the exact same time. Check out these two posters, one for Kiyoshi Kurosawa's LOFT and the other for Giles Daoust's THE ROOM.

I mean, what are the chances? It's like the year ARMAGEDDON and DEEP IMPACT both came out: a case of genius lightning striking twice...at the same time! Right down to the fonts, man. That's eerie.

I'm also looking forward to works inspired by these movies: THE NOOK, THE WALK-IN CLOSET and THE JUNIOR ONE BEDROOM UES.

August 30, 2006 at 11:44 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)



The first trailer is up for Zhang Yimou's CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER and it looks very nice.

My thoughts?
- A lot more action than I expected.
- A lot more cleveage than I expected.
- Chow Yun-fat fighting? Not something I ever thought I'd see again and I really, really, really hope they make him look good.
- CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER is still a stinky name. It sounds like an old Republic Fu Manchu serial or a bad Woody Allen movie.
- Please let this be good.

(Thanks to the sharp-eyed reader who scorched his fingers sending this in)

August 30, 2006 at 10:04 AM in Trailers | Permalink | Comments (20)


Jackie Chan's protest against EasyFinder

Jackie Chan has found a new crusade that does not involve having one too many with "Japanese friends" and then climbing onto someone else's stage.

This time, he's taking the war to EasyFinder magazine for publishing the photos of Gillian Chung changing backstage at her concert in Malaysia. Forming an army of 100 celebrities he took them to a televised protest special where they denounced EasyFinder and spoke out for the right to privacy.

I can recognize a lot of these people, but what I'm most curious about is whose management companies are represented here. Isn't Jackie managed or connected with Emperor's Group, which also manages the Twins? And Daniel Wu as well, right? Sandra Ng was there, talking about her pregnancy (go, Peter Chan!) and I see Andy and is that Simon Yam whispering something in Jackie's ear? He's probably saying, "We're all going to Bar 96 after this, getting loaded and hitting the Alive show after this. Wanna come?"

August 30, 2006 at 01:17 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)

August 29, 2006


Lau Ching-wan revealed the basic plot of his upcoming Johnnie To project recently. It's about a cop who develops a mental illness and takes a leave of absence, but still insists on investigating a crime. And, surprise, the mental illness helps him to solve the crime. This sounds a little bit like the first great To/Lau collaboration LOVING YOU where Lau Ching-wan plays a jerk of a cop who loses his sense of smell and becomes a better person while tracking down a killer.

(Thanks to the sharp-eyed reader who sent this in)

August 29, 2006 at 04:21 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)


Leon_webLeon Lai, everyone's favorite Cantopop-star-turned-actor, is moving behind the camera.

In fact, he's already there. Currently shooting his directorial debut in New York City, Leon's untitled film stars Janice and Jill Vidal as well as Charles Ying.

This isn't the first time Lai Ming has done more than just act. In 2004 he co-wrote the script for the Wilson Yip, Leon Lai, Faye Wong movie, LEAVING ME, LOVING YOU.

August 29, 2006 at 02:47 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 28, 2006


MERCURY MAN, a big budget Thai superhero movie

Sahamongkol is probably the biggest and most internationally successful production company in Thailand with ONG BAK, TOM YUM GONG, and BORN TO FIGHT all under their belts. But they seem to have hit a run of bad luck lately. First there was the infighting surrounding the Federation of the National Film Association earlier this year which saw the head of Sahamongkol, Somsak Techratanaprasert, dealt a resounding vote of no confidence in his role as head of the FNFA and he stepped down from his role there. Then came their movie, CHAI LAI'S ANGELS, a Thai "girls with guns" flick that did okay business at the box office but is excruciating to watch.

This month saw them release MERCURY MAN, a big budget Thai superhero movie (budgeted at about US$1.1 million, which is twice the budget of most Thai films). The film was given a mild sniff by local critics and bowed with a first week gross of 12 million baht (about US$320,000) which is a disappointing figure for all invovled. Director Bandid Thongdee says, "Maybe Thai audience still doubt whether a homegrown superhero will be as exciting to watch as 'Spider-man' or 'Superman'. However, we believe that the film has a strong potential for international sales." Whether it sinks or finds its legs and swims, MERCURY MAN is Sahamongkol's centerpiece of its international sales plan. This is all reminiscent of the early 2000's when Hong Kong companies where risking the farm on big, international productions that weren't Hong Kong enough to excite foreign buyers, but were too international to really make it at home.

Now, Sahamongkol has become the latest company caught in the "My movie has offended someone," sweepstakes. First it was GHOST GAME, then it was LUCKY LOSER, and now it's CADAVER. Originally called AJAAN YAI, a term of respect for a body donated to science, this aroused the ire of a bunch of doctors. So the movie has now changed its name to SOPE, or "Corpse."  Wisekwai posts this statement from Sahamongkol:

"We're doing everything we can to comply with the requests of the group in order to be able to release the film on schedule," the Sahamongkol Film marketing director Awika Techaratanaprasert is quoted as saying. "We have already called back all the promotional materials they found offensive and have put out information to make it clear that this is a work of fiction, not a true story."

You can see a trailer of CADAVER here and judge for yourself: would you spend money to see this movie?

August 28, 2006 at 10:38 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 25, 2006


The movies, they are killing us. Or they're at least putting us to sleep like in this supposedly overheard conversation between two young Japanese women who decide that TALES OF EARTHSEA is the perfect sleep aid if you don't have pills and air conditioning dries out your skin too much.

But they're killing us literally in the case of this guy in India who took his estranged wife to see Karan Johar's KANK, hoping that it would convince her to let him marry his girlfriend. It didn't work so he shot her then threw her out on the road. She survived (oops) and turned in a statement against him to the police (double oops). Karan Johar was shocked. He just wanted his movie to make a lot of money, not start a crime spree. “When I made the film, I never thought it would incite such strong emotions,” he said.

But no one is killing people the way Futoshi Matsunaga killed people. Currently appealing his death sentence for crimes he committed in 1998, Matsunaga should win some kind of award for his complete and total insanity. He managed to get his psychic talons into his 44-year-old lover, Junko Ogata, and then used her as leverage to take control of her family. He turned all seven of them into his slaves and kept them confined to a single room in an apartment.

Using electric shocks he broke their wills and turned them against one another, goading them into fighting each other for his favor. Then killing each other. They would grind the dead bodies of their family members into a thick paste that was flushed down the toilet, one by one. And how does this tie into the movies? Well Ogata says he isn't responsible for what happened.

"I was only the producer who showed them what they needed to do," he says.

And, as we all know, the producer never gets blamed. Just the director.

In that spirit, let's ring out the week on an evil note with a picture of scary, bicycle-riding, phallus devil man.

(Thanks to Al for sending in the good stuff)

scary, bicycle-riding, phallus devil man

August 25, 2006 at 01:32 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


GILLIAN CHUNG'S BRA EASYFINDER weekly magazine in Hong Kong published its most recent cover and it all hit the fan. Hong Kong has gone berserk. There is rioting in the streets. Copies are flying off the stands and newspaper vendors are having to reorder from their distributors. Miriam Yeung screams, "This is outrageous! It's very wrong!" Karen Mok is increasing her security. Alex Fong ejaculates, "I think it's way overboard and against morality." Management companies are looking into legal recourse.

So what happened?

Gillian Chung of the Twins was photographed in a backstage changing area and you can see her bra and part of her breast. Let the apocalypse begin.

You may think this is much ado about nothing, and play the world's smallest violin for Gillian, but after reading that Gillian and Charlene take their trash with them when they check out of a hotel so reporters can't go through it, you may feel a little sympathy for these gals. And I thought the American paparazzi was bad.

August 25, 2006 at 11:08 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (9)


Thailand had MERCURY MAN. The Philippines had GAGAMBOY. And now Malaysia has CICAK MAN. Set in the fictional city of Metrofulus, the movie uses CGI and live action to tell the story of two best friends. One is turning into a superhero and it seems to be killing him, while the other is racing for a cure.

40% of the movie will be green screen and it'll use a host of special effects. The genre is comedy-action and it's slated for a release at the end of 2006.

The official site is here and it's loaded with behind the scenes photos so we at least know it's really happening.

(Thanks to 24 Frames per Second for the heads up)

Cicak Man

August 25, 2006 at 09:37 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (31)


THE PAVILLION SALAMANDREWho is Masanori Tominaga? And why do we care about his new movie? He previously directed the KAMEMUSHI short film series which earned him the title of one of Japan's hottest up and coming directors, and now he's busting loose with his first feature THE PAVILLION SALAMANDRE.

Starring Jo Odagiri as an X-ray technician sent to verify that the giant salamander, Kinjiro, a Japanese national treasure exhibited at the 1867 Paris World Expo is actually what it is claimed to be, it looks like good stuff. The salamander has been entrusted to the care of four sisters who have made out like bandits in government grants ostensibly slated for the care and feeding of Kinjiro but now it looks like their long-lived salamander might be a fake.

If all of that has you intrigued, then check out the trailer. I have to admit that I'm more than a little interested in this very weird movie starring a very fake giant lizard. And check out who else is starring in it over on Ryugangi.

August 25, 2006 at 05:55 AM in News, Trailers | Permalink | Comments (0)


Every year the New York Korean Film Festival (August 25 - September 3) haul in a heap of Korean movies that you may not have heard of. They don't show the major titles like THE HOST, but what they do show are the movies that slipped between the cracks and have a much lower profile in the West but which make up a majority of what fills Korean cinemas year round. While not every title is an undiscovered masterpiece, there are some unexpected finds and it'll give you a totally different picture of the Korean movie scene.

There's full festival info over here and the stand-out movies are MY SCARY GIRL, which was a big word-of-mouth hit in Korea, the aggressive HOLIDAY, and GRAIN IN EAR which got a lot of festival play. They're also doing a four-film Lee Man-Hee retrospective. Lee was a genre craftsman in the 60's and prints of his films have been making the rounds this year.

August 25, 2006 at 01:20 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

August 24, 2006


Video clips of what Tony Jaa did at the Museum of the Moving Image this past Sunday after he ran out of gum.

(Thanks to Goran and Joe)

August 24, 2006 at 11:07 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)

August 23, 2006


KILL ZONE DVD coverOkay, so not many people really like SHA PO LANG's new title, KILL ZONE, and some people may not like the name of the Weinstein Company's new line of Asian movies, Dragon Dynasty ("Dragon Dynasty. May I take your order, please?"), but after making a lot of noise about how they're committed to releasing top notch DVDs of Asian action movies and hiring Brian White from Hong Kong Legends to oversee Dragon Dynasty's DVD post-production, the real question about the KILL ZONE dvd is: does it suck?

The short answer: no. SHA PO LANG is not the world's greatest movie, but it was a very well-made, solid action flick with three dazzling action sequences that hit at a time when a lot of fans had written off the genre and figured Hong Kong couldn't do action anymore. To my mind, it's a B-list title, but a really well done one; more of a great hamburger than an excellent steak. It was also the movie that saved director Wilson Yip from vanishing down a rabbit hole of crummy films, made Wu Jing a bad guy and gave Sammo Hung his best performance in longer than I care to remember. And the KILL ZONE DVD is as good of a treatment as this movie can get.

So let's break it down:

KILL ZONE uses the same HD transfer as the Hong Kong disc, but it's a very nice one with strong blacks and super-saturated colors. This movie can't look any better. KILL ZONE is an anamorphic 16:9 disc, however, which the Hong Kong disc was not (if I remember correctly).

Sounds the same to me. Which is to say that it sounds good. There's an English dub track in addition to the original soundtrack and it's nicely cheesy, sounding like one guy in a sound booth doing all the voices.

Sha Po LangSubtitles
The subs between the two discs are almost exactly the same. The timing and the translation were exactly the same everywhere I checked except for one punctuation change. According to Brian White there are probably a few timing and spelling changes here and there, but his team used the Hong Kong subtitle file as a starting place and so the changes are probably not too drastic. No characters are suddenly named "Larry" or "Don" and all the extras are subtitled.

There's been some backing and forthing on the extras available on the KILL ZONE DVD but what they've wound up with is a solid selection of features. The biggest and best are two exhausting, and exhaustive, looks at shooting the Donnie Yen vs. Wu Jing alley fight and the Sammo vs. Donnie nightclub fight. These are long, behind-the-scenes dissections of the two fights and they cover every square inch, showing the actors arguing, rehearsing, getting exhausted, and finally busting out the champagne at the end.

There's a Bey Logan/Donnie Yen audio commentary over these two features and Donnie talks about absolutely everything. He may not be anyone you want to go on a car trip with, but he's very clear, precise and revealing about what goes into shooting a fight scene.

Then there are individual interviews with Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Sammo Hung, Wilson Yip and Wu Jing. Sammo is refreshingly frank ("To be honest, my character didn't have that much to do. It was pretty easy."); Simon pitches a new movie for himself (and reveals that while his brother is a police officer they don't talk about work and he learns about cops from movies); Wu Jing is hilariously self-effacing (revealing that he had no idea he was starring in his first movie until after shooting began); and Wilson Yip talks about why he made the movie and discusses what the prequel will probably look like.

But Donnie Yen doesn't do himself any favors. The guy's head is as big as the Goodyear blimp and it's infuriating that he's such an obviously talented action star that he can't be ignored. Throughout his commentary and interviews he refers to the movie as his own film, giving the impression that he made editing, script and cinematography decisions himself and he's patronizing towards the other actors, talking about what a legend Sammo is out of one side of his mouth while calling him slow and difficult to make look good out of the other. The honesty is appreciated, and he's got lots of interesting things to say, but his confidence comes across as arrogance and stands in stark contrast to the humility and graciousness of the rest of the cast.

The "Making of" featurette is the same as the one on the Hong Kong DVD.

There's also a trailer gallery.

Finally, there's an audio commentary from Bey Logan that runs during the film and it's perfectly serviceable. Logan doesn't have a lot of production information to add to the mix but he's good at giving bios on different actors and locations. If you want to know who that guy is over on the side of the screen or where they found that alley then click on over to the commentary track. Chances are, Logan'll tell you.

Sha Po LangDesign and Packaging
KILL ZONE has rejected the black and red design of the SHA PO LANG promotional materials for a black and desaturated blue tones but it looks far better than the frugly Photoshopped monstrosities that graced the covers of most of the previous Miramax Asian action DVDs. The layout is clear and, despite being a little hyphen heavy, the blurb on the back is simple and does a good job of selling the film. The cover features a blurb from Variety, which is a classy touch, but no mention that this was an official selection of the Toronto Film Festival. I personally preferred some of the pitch black posters of SHA PO LANG to the cover of KILL ZONE but this is hardly embarrasing and it sells the movie well, and that's the point.

If you liked SHA PO LANG and can get over the title change then this is indeed the "Ultimate" edition of the movie that it claims to be. For a straight-forward action flick this is an exhaustive disc and while I wish the "Making of" featurette was more interesting (dealing more with concepts and promoting the movie than documenting the production) it was something that was shot previously and couldn't be changed. The interviews are surprisingly informative and interesting and the two behind-the-scene featurettes are some of the best I've seen.

The Weinsteins have a lousy reputation for their treatment of Asian movies on DVD and rightly so. They have constantly re-edited, re-scored, re-titled, and generally savaged classic movies from Asian filmmakers with all the grace and refinement of a dog going after a dropped drumstick. But KILL ZONE is a step in the right direction. Actually, it's a bit more than that and it puts me in a weird position. I'm used to ignoring whatever these guys do, but if KILL ZONE is an example of their plans for their library of Asian action movies then I'm actually looking forward to their upcoming titles. (You can see some of them here. It looks like POLICE STORY, BORN TO FIGHT, THE PROTECTOR, SEVEN SWORDS and some Shaw Brothers films are coming up next).

For me there was one telling detail in this whole package that really told the tale. When you pop in the disc, the default mode is the original Cantonese soundtrack rather than the English dub track. That may be a tiny detail, but I'm glad that these discs are worried about getting the tiny details right.

August 23, 2006 at 12:43 PM in DVD Reviews | Permalink | Comments (46)


In a recent talk show interview, Korea's most successful overseas export, director Kim Ki-Duk, went on a bit of a tirade. Calling THE HOST “the apex where the level of Korean movies meets the level of Korean audiences” and stating that this wasn't entirely a positive thing he went on to say that it was unfairly dominating Korean screens.

There was an immediate online backlash which Kim responded to by claiming that he was being attacked by people "out of an inferiority complex demonstrating their level of understanding." Meow. Does catty want a bowl of milk?

Kim has now offered up an apology that is also a statement of future plans. Saying that his comments were intentionally over the top but not meant to offend, he also apologized to everyone involved with THE HOST.

"After winning several awards and seeing them screened overseas, I took the arrogant attitude of trying to educate Korean viewers, and I later regretted saying things that should not have been said. I hope that the public can forgive my brutal way of expressing the point that this is a market where it is difficult to release lower-budget films."

He also said that if his new movie, TIME, fails he will stop "exporting" his movies to Korea and may leave the country entirely.

"The scolding I got from the public made me look back at my films, and I’m starting to think that I made miserable, self-regarding films and exaggerated the dark and ugly side of Korean culture in an overbearing manner and so made audiences uncomfortable. I became aware of the fact that I’m consciousness-disabled, and that makes it very difficult to live in Korea."

It all seems to be a brutally honest self-assessment but all this brouhaha occurs right as his latest movie TIME is about to be released. Is there no such thing as bad publicity? This may cause the large number of Koreans who don't like Kim's films to stay home (where they would have stayed anyways) but it may also put the spotlight on his latest movie which probably doesn't have the biggest marketing budget in Korea. But maybe they do have a controversial director who's willing to go out in public and get himself crucified for the sake of headlines.

August 23, 2006 at 11:49 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (4)


I'M A CYBORG (BUT THAT'S OKAY) has completed principal photographyPark Chan-Wook's latest movie, I'M A CYBORG (BUT THAT'S OKAY), has completed principal photography, according to this post over on KoreanFilm.org.

I sort of thought that Park's "Vengeance Trilogy" was a case of diminishing returns (even though they were all nice to look at, and passionately made) so I'm excited that he's driving somewhere new.

The plot, for those who don't remember (and this movie has been flying below the radar), is a love story between two people in a mental institution. Pop star Rain is the male lead and the female lead is Lim Su-Jeong (A TALE OF TWO SISTERS) who thinks she's a cyborg.

You can see a close-up of that still here.

August 23, 2006 at 09:37 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)

August 22, 2006


Bad news for Pang Brothers fans, but good news for people who like good movies. Ghost House (Sam Raimi's production company that released THE GRUDGE) had hired the Brothers Pang to direct THE MESSENGERS, a Canada-shot horror movie about a haunted sunflower farm starring Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott and John Corbett. But apparently they weren't happy with what they got and they just did reshoots...with another director. Bloody-Disgusting has the news, but they can't reveal the director's name. I recommend not heading over there, however, because their site features some annoying new pop-ups that are almost as bad as what you get on a Bollywood site. The film is set for a January 19 release.

(Thanks to the sharp-eyed reader who sent this in)

August 22, 2006 at 05:26 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (10)


Michelle_yeoh This is old news for a lot of folks, but Michelle Yeoh and Hiroyuki Sanada are both co-starring in Danny Boyle's new movie, SUNSHINE. A hard sci fi film set 50 years in the future when the sun is dying, Yeoh and Sanada play part of a crew sent on a mission to the sun to reignite it. Most folks know Boyle from 28 DAYS LATER and TRAINSPOTTING but if you haven't seen his kids' movie, MILLIONS, you should check it out. All the years that Yeoh has spent making crummy action movies are worth it if she winds up in a Danny Boyle sci fi film. Here's a larger version of that pic, taken on her birthday on the set, and here's a Michelle Yeoh site with more images and info on her in the movie. Nothing for Sanada, yet, though.

August 22, 2006 at 12:29 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

August 21, 2006


The popular Steven Spielberg site, Spielberg Films, have cut straight to the chase regarding the "Steven Spielberg and Zhang Yimou team up and make the coolest JOURNEY TO THE WEST movie ever" rumors that popped up around the internet like little toadstools last week. Calling Spielberg's offices directly, the site reports that the official word is that the Zhang/Spielberg super team-up is not a team-up at all. Saying that Spielberg hasn't decided on his next film, let alone a project two years in the future, the Spielberg offices say: "It's not impossible that something vaguely might have been said which was interpreted that way," but  "...there does not appear to be anything to it."

A day or two later, Zhang Weiping (Zhang Yimou's producer whose comments spawned this rumor), corrected his comments with the following statement (printed on Monkeypeaches):

"Producer Zhang Weiping just told Beijing's Star Daily that the press has miss-understood what he said. He means the if Zhang Yimou and Steven Spielberg were doing a movie, they should pick a Eastern subject such as 'Journey to the West.'"

So there you go. Blame the press.

August 21, 2006 at 03:57 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Tonyjaa2 Tony Jaa (ONG BAK) strutted his stuff at the Museum of the Moving Image yesterday, giving a martial arts demo before a screening of THE PROTECTOR (aka TOM YUM GOONG). I didn't stick around for the movie, but the demo was good stuff although it was over before it began. Taking place on a portable dance floor set up in a parking lot behind the museum (they called it "the courtyard" but if I'm standing on asphalt within ten yards of a dumpster then it's a parking lot) and a surprisingly large number of folks showed up, formed a humid little crowd and waited for Tony, who finally made an appearance in a natty white outfit. Graceful and gracious, as he always is in these public appearances, he did a lot of bowing and smiling, a few forms, and then proceeded to make an attempt to pound his stuntmen through the ground with his feet. As someone pointed out, if filmmakers could capture a tenth of charisma and charm that Tony Jaa demonstrates in live appearances on film then he'd be a Jackie Chan-sized celebrity already.

Unfortunately, after a few kicks and punches and an abortive attempt to kick signed soccer balls into the audience (called off by the museum staff, it seemed, who probably had images of the liability issues involved when someone got decapitated by a flying ball), there was a contest to win some of the soccer balls. "Name the other Tony Jaa movies!" an eager MC shouted. There was silence. "There's two of them," someone volunteered. Silence. Crickets chirped. Now this was weird. He's only made two movies that have been released in the US, and the audience was there to see one of them. And I think it's a fair bet that if they've come out on a sweaty Sunday to see the second Tony Jaa movie then they've probably seen the first one. But no. And so the increasingly desperate MC tried "How many elephants are in Tony Jaa's THE PROTECTOR?" More silence. Finally they gave up and just threw the ball into the crowd - to great cheers - the demonstration was over and everyone headed indoors to watch the movie.

The screening was sold out, which is either a good thing or a bad thing. From a glass half full point of view, it's a good thing showing that lots of people are interested seeing THE PROTECTOR. From the glass half empty point of view, the entire audience for THE PROTECTOR just saw it at the Museum of the Moving Image and they won't be seeing it when it's released in theaters. Fortunately, lots of kids were in the crowd and I hope they saw the movie because according to the TV ads for THE PROTECTOR (and there are a lot of them airing, which is nice to see), the flick is rated R so absolutely no one under 18 will be admitted. I guess you can get an R for depicting graphic violence or for having Tony Jaa in a movie, since ONG BAK was R-rated, as well. What is it about Tony that causes the ratings folks to see R-ed?

And, in the meantime, a trailer on YouTube featuring lots of fight footage from Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai's SPIRITED KILLER, which is way better than being a DISPIRITED KILLER, will tide you over until THE PROTECTOR's release.

August 21, 2006 at 03:56 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (4)


Queen_of_l_2 Thai director, Nonzee Nimibutr (NANG NAK, OKAY BAYTONG), has announced his next project and...wait for it...it's a pirate movie! A fantasy pirate movie! That soft thump you hear is your frontal lobe exploding. His latest movie, QUEEN OF LUNG-GASUKA, is a pirate fantasy flick about three sister queens in Thailand's Southern Peninsula who seek the help of a Chinese sea wizard (Ananda Everingham, SHUTTER) to put the kibosh on a gang of scurvy pirates led by a wizard princeling who's gone feral. Promising sea battles, whale attacks (whale attacks!?!), and wizards who communicate Aquaman-style with underwater monsters, the flick began filming earlier in August and will take a year to complete. The US$3 million picture was originally slated to be a LOTR-sized, three-part epic but the producers, Sahamongkol, have been in turmoil recently so part one was greenlit with parts two and three dependent on the first movie's reception.

The Bangkok Post are the first reporters on the set, and you can see a huge number of astounding production sketches and concept art over here (that's a sample on the right). Although Southeast Asian fantasy movies can sometimes go terribly awry (EXODUS, anyone?) I'm nothing but psyched that the man behind OKAY BAYTONG is now tackling an action epic.

(Thanks to 24 Frames Per Second for the heads up)

August 21, 2006 at 03:55 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 18, 2006


Sumolah Good news from Malaysia's actor/director, Afdlin Shauki: SUMO-LAH is almost done shooting. Described as "ONG BAK for sumo" this comedy-action film is about waiters at sushi restaurants in Kuala Lumpur who blow off steam by participating in underground sumo matches by night. Originally SUMO-LAH was supposed to start production months ago, but Shauki's LOS AND FAUN came up and went into production first and SUMO-LAH went on the backburner.

But now, according to Shauki's blog, SUMO-LAH has not only started shooting, it's almost finished. He says the footage looks like "a foreign film with Malaysian actors" and you can keep up with it on its very own, super special SUMO-LAH blog or check out this behind the scenes footage of Outback Sushi versus Diamond Sushi. Watch this space for updates.

August 18, 2006 at 12:42 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Cinderella They're out there...clogging up the internet, taking up our time...trailers. And here's a crop of trailers for new Asian movies that have been making the rounds recently:

CINDERELLA - a Korean horror movie, set to open in August 2006, about young girls who had plastic surgery turning up murdered. If you go to the website you can find the trailer by going to mulimedia (on the far right at the very very bottom - you may not even be able to see it on your monitor) and click on trailer 2. Or else you get lost in an endless maze of Flash animation and creepy sound effects. Korean horror movies aren't such a big deal these days, but the scene of the two girls cutting up each others' faces was enough to make my toes curl.

UDON - the comedy about cooking the perfect bowl of UDON noodles from Fuji TV that we've been writing about quite a bit finally has a trailer. Do not watch on an empty stomach.

BRAINWAVE - this ultra low budget sci fi film from Korea looks like it could either be really fun or really lame. You be the judge.

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS - Clint Eastwood does SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. But this Japanese trailer also has excerpts from the companion movie, RED SUN, BLACK SAND, which stars Takakura Ken and tells the story of the same battle from the Japanese side.

SHIVA - Ram Gopal Varma's crime film makes its North American debut tonight (Friday, 8/18) at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles. And here's a second, less brutal, trailer for the movie that should whet your appetite. If you want to see what's bound to be a great crime film you should check it out or you'll hate yourself in the morning.

(Thanks to 24FramesperSecond and Twitch for most of these)

August 18, 2006 at 12:40 PM in Trailers | Permalink | Comments (1)


Exiled_still It's been selected for Venice (based on a one hour tape) but it's still not finished. Johnnie To is still shooting EXILED as I type, according to an article sent in by a sharp-eyed reader. To chalks up the delays to the series of typhoons that have hit Hong Kong recently which have kept him from bringing the shoot to a timely conclusion. According to the article, he's shooting the final part of the film now.

(And check out that photo from the set -- Johnnie To showing Anthony Wong and Lam Suet how to kneel?!?)

August 18, 2006 at 12:39 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Paprika_1 This year's New York Film Festival (Sept. 29 - Oct. 14) looks to be one of the best in years. There's new Almodovar (VOLVER), new del Toro (PAN'S LABYRINTH), new Lynch (INLAND EMPIRE), and old Warren Beatty (REDS). But you want to know what they're showing from Asia, and here it is, with the biggest news held for the end.

THE GO MASTER - I'm not a fan, but Tian Zhuangzhuang is one of China's most respected arthouse directors and this biopic of a Go master torn between Japan and China sounds more eventful than some of his earlier movies.

THE HOST - what kind of film festival would they be if they didn't have Bong Joon-Ho's monster movie?

INSIANG - Lino Brocka has been called the Fassbinder of the Filipines and he's generally considered that country's greatest director, with his films making their way to Cannes on a regular basis in the 70's. Now, the New York Film Festival screens his 1976 classic as a reintroduction to one of those great directors whom the West has forgotten about.

PAPRIKA - Satoshi Kon (PERFECT BLUE, PARANOIA AGENT) is one of the best animation directors working in the world right now, and it's easy to forget that. His latest movie is described as a mix between Hello Kitty and Philip K. Dick - about a machine that lets therapists enter their patients' dreams. You can watch a trailer here.

SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY - Apichatpong Weerasethakul's entry in the series of films commemorating the birth of Mozart.

WOMAN ON THE BEACH - Hong Sang-Soo can't seem to break through in the West, but that doesn't mean he doesn't keep trying and his latest movie looks like one of his most relaxed yet. You can watch a trailer for it here.

TRIAD ELECTION - huh? What's this movie? This is the new title for Johnnie To's ELECTION 2. Tartan is definitely planning to release ELECTION 2 in theaters this year, and they'll most likely release ELECTION on DVD at roughly the same time. But rather than go the Magnolia route and release both movie and sequel simultaneously, they're sticking with the stronger ELECTION 2 and giving it a new name so that people don't stay away assuming it's a sequel to a movie they haven't seen, which it will be. To me, ELECTION 2 was so tied to ELECTION that taking one without the other robs it of a lot of meaning and resonance, but I can't blame them for going in this direction. Selling Asian movies theatrically is a fool's game so trying anything that works is as good a strategy as anything else. Here's their synopsis from the NYFF press release:

"Jimmy (Louis Koo, one of the superstars of Hong Kong cinema) is in the running for the coveted post of Triad president. He faces resistance from his “godfather” Lok (Simon Yam), who has served his two-year term and makes an increasingly desperate effort to throw tradition to the wind and maintain his position. As the power plays escalate, so does the violence ... not to mention the virtuosity of director Johnnie To, who creates one spectacular cinematic set piece after another. To is working deep within the gangster genre, whose traditions he observes with the greatest respect even as he’s busy revitalizing and re-contextualizing them. But he’s also given Triad Election a genuinely political edge: in To’s dog-eat-dog vision, the body of free-market expansion beats with a savage heart."

(Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader, Steve, Raymond and Twitch for the info)

August 18, 2006 at 12:37 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)

August 16, 2006


Earthsea_3 Ursula K. LeGuin, bless her irascible old heart, has written an open letter on her website about the Ghibli Earthsea movie. In it, she proceeds to tear Goro Miyazaki a new one.

LeGuin is a great writer, and reading her blow by blow beatdown of Ghibli is a pleasure. She says that Ghibli's TALES FROM EARTHSEA misses the point of her books, is not very good, and that she is deeply disappointed that Hayao Miyazaki not only didn't direct the picture, but that he was totally uninvolved with the movie. She says she's only speaking out because Goro has posted personal comments she made in support of the movie on his blog, and that she made those comments privately and in order to be polite and they were in no way to be taken as an endorsement of what she sees as a subpar effort.

The most interesting part of the letter is the genuine hurt she seems to feel over Goro replacing Hayao Miyazaki as director of the film. Apparently, Hayao Miyazaki asked about adapting the Earthsea novels 20 years ago and she turned him down, being unfamiliar with his work and not liking animation very much. Then she saw MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO and was sold. She approached Miyazaki and said if he ever wanted to make a movie out of her books she'd be delighted, and she made him an offer of authorship, telling him that he could feel free to explore the gap of 15 years between the first and second EARTHSEA books in order to give his imagination free reign and develop that time as he saw fit. This is an amazingly trusting thing for an author to say to a director and it really testifies to how much confidence she had in Miyazaki. When Goro was proposed as the director, LeGuin says she only said yes because Hayao Miyazaki said he would be involved, but to her it soon became apparent that he wasn't and she was told he had retired from filmmaking. You can hear the betrayal in her voice when she writes: "I am told that Mr Hayao has not retired after all, but is now making another movie. This has increased my disappointment. I hope to put it behind me."

Anyways, read the letter. It says it all, and more, better than I ever could. This isn't the first time LeGuin has spoken out about a film adaptation of her work that she finds subpar. This open letter is a sequel of sorts to a much harsher open letter she wrote regarding the Sci Fi Channel's EARTHSEA miniseries.

(Thanks to Michi at HogaCentral for the news)

August 16, 2006 at 01:04 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


THE HOST, Bong Joon-Ho's monster movie, is a monster hit and it's set to pass the 10 million admission mark this coming Thursday which will put its gross at about US$68 million (not bad for a flick that cost US$15 million to make). It'll be the fourth Korean movie to sell this many tickets, (SILMIDO, TAE GUK GI and KING AND CLOWN are the others) but what's mind-blowing about this is that THE HOST will have done it in only 21 days -  about half the time it took the other movies cross the same benchmark.

But not everyone is happy with so many movie screens (550) playing host to THE HOST. According to a poster over at KoreanFilm.org, THE HOST, unlike KING AND CLOWN, is seen as benefitting at the expense of other movies, and the staff of the production and distribution companies are having to be careful not to appear too celebratory over their success. It also appears that this may prompt industry talks to set up guidelines that will limit the number of prints in distribution of one title or establish an "arthouse" circuit that can counterprogram.

But the good news is that Bong Joon-Ho now has a free pass to make any movie he wants to make, for the rest of his life. And if they're anything like BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE or MEMORIES OF MURDER then that's something to look forward to.

August 16, 2006 at 01:01 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)

SHAH RUKH KHAN: KING OF THE WORLD (except for his security guards. who shoot each other.)

Shahrukhkhan_1 If you want to read the post with the most number of comments on this blog, then hop on over to this 53 word entry entitled "Shah Rukh Khan and Rani in NYC" and read the endless string of personal messages, complete with email addresses, poetry and astrology, addressed to SRK. Why so many comments? Because Shah Rukh Khan is the reigning King of Bollywood. His new movie, KANK (aka KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA) is the latest  mega-romance from Karan Johar and it's a bit like CLOSER with two different couples experimenting with infidelity. It's been invited to the Toronto Film Festival with SRK and co-stars in attendance, so if you want to see what real celebrity madness is then I advise you to head on over.

KANK broke box office records based on its prebooking but it may not be able to keep the fires burning in India. Reviews have been harsh (like this one which sums up Shah Rukh's performance thusly, "Shah Rukh hams supreme...each facial twitch exaggerated to painful proportions. From heavy breathing to simpering, breathless sobs to caricatured anger, KANK provides a virtual gallery of Khan at his most over-the-top...") and there's even been talk that the movie is too expensive to make back money, and that some exhibitors are trying to renegotiate the terms under which they booked the flick because of its bad word of mouth. But overseas it's going gangbusters - the New York Times called it "suprisingly engaging" and it's made $3.5 million in the overseas market in just 3 days, $1.35 mill of that in North America alone, breaking previous box office records. And look at this trailer! I haven't seen framed pictures and glassware smashed like this since...well, since the last movie about marriage.

KANK isn't the only mega-project that Shah Rukh has on his plate. He's also involved in the remake of funkalicious 70's gangster film, DON, which will come out this November. The original DON was a joyous chunk of 70's cheddar and based on this teaser it looks like the new DON will be a splendiferous celebration of late 90's corn. Although the MATRIX-style fashions have got me down, shots of SRK spitting fire and sloshing his face with champagne get me back up again.

The original DON was played by Amitabh Bachchan and he was a man who could kill another man over the style of his shoes. In SRK's house, it takes less than that to get killed. Yesterday, one of his security guards shot and killed another security guard who made fun of him. Yatendra Singh Chauhan had only been on duty for two weeks when Sandeep Vijaysingh started making fun of him for sitting in a chair. The two were posted at a side entrance to SRK's bungalow and so they had plenty of free time and to Vijaysingh free time meant making fun of the new guy. What followed was inevitable:

"Vijaysingh poked fun at Chauhan, saying he earned a salary of Rs 15,000 per month for just sitting in a chair. He also said he doubted whether the revolver Chauhan was carrying could actually be used. In a fit of rage, Chauhan placed his .32 bore revolver on Vijaysingh’s chest and fired a shot, killing him on the spot," says the deputy commisioner of police.

Police say security around Shah Rukh has been increased following this incident, which doesn't really sound like the best solution to me.

August 16, 2006 at 12:59 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (6)

August 15, 2006


Leekspin Whatever this is...

Wherever it's from...

However it got here...

...it will hypnotize you.

August 15, 2006 at 10:40 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (6)


Zhangspierlberg Let's see how far this most slender of internet rumors can go. Will it be picked up by Entertainment Weekly? Will it be reproduced far and wide?

Producer Zhang Weiping says that Spielberg and Zhang have discussed shooting JOURNEY TO THE WEST together but that they'll have to wait until after their 2008 Olympic commitments in order to do so.

"Shooting JOURNEY TO THE WEST is just a plan," he says. "Everything has yet to be decided. We have been longing for a chance for them to co-direct a blockbuster. And Spielberg has shown his interest and intention to do so."

Let the cross-posting begin.

August 15, 2006 at 10:39 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


Gubra Hong Kong's Golden Bauhinia Awards were distributed on their tenth anniversary and the list of winners looks like a journey into the land that time forgot, with the categories full of movies from 2005 that I had forgotten were even released (like CRAZY N THE CITY). I'm so used to China living in the future that I forgot they also had a past. So here's the winners, a veritable trip down memory lane:

Best Director: Peter Chan, PERHAPS LOVE
Best Actor: Simon Yam, ELECTION
Best Actress: Zhou Xun, PERHAPS LOVE
Best Supporting Actor: Anthony Wong, INITIAL D
Best Supporting Actress, Teresa Mo, 2 YOUNG
Best Screenplay: CRAZY N THE CITY and ELECTION

Best New Actor: Isabella Leong, ISABELLA

And my favorite category:
Best Idea for a Film: RE-CYCLE

And it's not just Hong Kong handing out the awards. This past weekend also saw viewers trying to choose between watching the Golden Bauhinia Awards and the 19th Malaysian Film Festival Ceremony. With only a fistful of real contenders to choose from, the jury went with Yasmin Ahmad's GUBRA (the follow-up to her other award-winner, SEPET) which won "Best Film", "Best Screenplay" and "Best Actress". Shuhaimi Baba won "Best Director" for his horror flick PONTIANAK HARUM SUNDAL MALAM 2, as well as "Best Art Direction" and "Best Theme Song". Director Afdlin Shauki won "Best Supporting Actor" for his role in his own movie BULI BALIK. 

(Thanks to MonkeyPeaches)

August 15, 2006 at 10:36 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


Akikoyada_1Celebrities. It's hard to be them. Sometimes people act like you're the devil, and sometimes you are the devil, but that's usually just because you're misunderstood. Like poor Taiwanese rapper Jeff Huang. In 2003 there was legislation to limit the fees performers could be paid for legally downloaded music and Huang, never one to back down from an opportunity to spit rhymes, named the 43 legislators supporting the bill in a song, claiming they were being "bribed by the website owners" and that they should watch out and might die unexpectedly. Stunned that Huang was organized enough to kill 43 legislators, the Taiwanese legislature swung into action and three years later, Huang is being indicted for the threats. Former party leader Chiu Yi-ying wants to make Huang apologize and says she'll drop the suit if he does. Huang says he's not apologizing and Huang fans are supporting their hero Naomi-Campbell-style by calling Chiu's office and verbally abusing her staff.

"She is complaining about the truth, and I will not compromise when it comes to that," Huang says.

Which is exactly how Aflac Japan feels about Japanese star, Akiko Yada. A spokesmodel for insurance giant Aflac for the last 4 years, Yada has kept her image so clean that it squeaks. That is until she was spotted on a Hawaiian vacation with Manabu Oshio a notorious bad boy who spits at the paparazzi. Aflac dropped her from the campaign like a hot potato and a producer for the commercials refused to compromise about the truth when he said, "When the women's magazine took photos of her pouring suntan lotion over the back of guy whose body was covered in tattoos she looked like nothing more than a typical yakuza whore."

Perhaps he should have attended the Hong Kong Sex Workers' Film Festival so he could have a reference point. Featuring movies by and about sex workers from all over the world, it opened August 10 and the organizers are already complaining that it's underfunded. There's a simple solution to that problem right there in the title of their festival, and I bet when they realize it they're going to be kicking themselves.

This would be a better way to make money than the eight recently-raided Malaysian DVD pressing plants which were making pirated discs at the same time that they made officially licensed DVDs and VCDs of the exact same movies. How they thought they wouldn't get caught is a puzzlement, but it was fun while it lasted. Then the MPA swung into action and arrests were made.

But let's not forget that there is also goodness in the world. Gwyneth Paltrow's "I am African" ads. Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Imaginary Suri stopping to lift a burning car off six homeless orphans and their pet baby seal. And Zhang Ziyi making soup. Apparently the much-loathed Chinese star is such a swell gal that she made soup for the art and cinematography departments on THE BANQUET and spooned it into their mouths herself while they desperately assembled her mile-long silk gowns with bloody, shredded fingers for three dollars an hour.

But what if you really are the devil? Is there any hope? The short answer is: no. Akuma was just a normal kid born in 1993, like millions of others, but his parents named him "Akuma" which means "devil" in Japanese. The Tokyo Legal Affairs Bureau challenged the name and it became a national obsession for a while until poor Akuma was allowed to be named Akuma after all and the fame clock hit the fifteen minute mark. Akuma Update: his dad lost his business in 1994, and in 96 he got divorced from Akuma's mother and was subsequently convicted on drug charges and went to prison. Akuma was sent to a Boys Home. Dad's out of prison now, but says Akuma's too expensive and is keeping him in the home. But he's a good soccer player and as a relative says, "He spends his summer holidays with relatives and always goes back to the Boys Home with a really good tan."

See, Suri Cruise-Holmes. Just because you bear the name of the devil, it doesn't mean things are going to turn out badly for you. You can always get a really good tan.

(Thanks to Jennifer for all the hope, and to Suri Cruise-Holmes for proving that being imaginary doesn't mean that you can't inspire everyone)

August 15, 2006 at 10:35 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 14, 2006


Kellychentoilet China. So large. So many different patterns. And...They Live In the Future! You think banning liquids on airplanes is a new security regulation? China has been doing it for years, because they like plane passengers to be slightly dehydrated when they fly because that makes them lighter and less expensive to transport.

But that doesn't mean that China doesn't like all liquids. Chinese celebrities like to brag in public about washing their privates with water. Like Kelly Chen who is spokesmodel for a new kind of ToTo toilet which is part toilet, part bidet. As the giant billboard says: "Have you started washing already? She's started washing..."

Soon, children in China will have more time to wash just like Kelly Chen because China has banned foreign cartoons from primetime. Between 5pm and 8pm kids can only watch Chinese cartoons on TV, which kind of stinks since foreign cartoons are popular and domestic cartoons can't seem to get an audience. Oh well, that'll all change now since the kiddies don't have a choice in what to watch -- which might make them angry. And if they get really angry they can head on over to...

...the Rising Sun Anger Release Bar. Located in Nanjing, this bar encourages customers to scream, break glasses, verbally abuse the staff, and beat designated employees. Sometimes the employees will even dress up like someone you really hate - like the folks at SARFT who won't let you watch foreign cartoons during primetime. But if you're still angry you can be counseled by psychology students. Who can also be beaten for a fee. Why does this bar exist? Because the owner, Mr. Wu Gong, learned about the anger in China firsthand when he was an immigrant worker. He says most of his customers are women. Why is this? Because...

China Lives in the Future.

(Thanks to Danwei, Matt and Steve for this broadcast from tomorrow)

August 14, 2006 at 11:53 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)


Mcnugget_reviews_1 Little tidbit reviews trickle out of Asia today the way Kelly Chen has water trickle on her...never mind. Wisekwai weighs in briefly on MERCURY MAN, the much-anticipated Thai superhero movie. His verdict, not great, but not bad.

Then a sharp-eyed reader in Hong Kong weighs in on THE HOST (it has "...many very clever, off-beat moments..." but the ending isn't so great and keeps it from becoming "...a real cult masterpiece.") and DOG BITE DOG ("...DOGBITE DOG and SHA PO LANG are the same kind of movie, but DOG BITE DOG's story make more sense, DOG BITE DOG also has more emotion impact..." however it has some problems that may keep it from wider appeal.)

August 14, 2006 at 11:50 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Dasepogirls_1 The new movie from E-J Young is DASEPO NAUGHTY GIRLS, a live action adaptation of a popular webcomic about a school full of perverts where even the youngest kids are into S&M, and it opened over the weekend. (You can download a trailer here, featuring Sir Mix-a-Lot's "I Like Big Butts") The movie features Bollywood-style song and dance numbers and it's apparently more sophisticated than audiences expected. In a discussion over on KoreanFilm.org it becomes clear that marketing DNG to a teen audience has resulted in something close to a disaster as it earns huge negative word of mouth online (with kids calling it "the worst movie ever made") despite largely positive reviews.

No matter. Berlin has invited DASEPO to this year's festival and it's going to attend. It's a little early, but someone leaked the news and now everyone in Korea knows that the movie will most likely make its international premiere in Berlin 2007.

August 14, 2006 at 11:49 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


Over on the official Cineclick Asia website there's a write-up about their monster movie, THE HOST, which continues to suck up all the money in Korea. In their write-up they say that THE HOST will be released in the US in Spring, 2007. This is very different from the original news that it would hit American screens later this year, but since it's making its North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival (in September) and some people have said that this is Magnolia's chance to see how an audience reacts to give them ideas about marketing, then a Spring release makes far more sense than a Winter release.

August 14, 2006 at 11:42 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (7)

August 11, 2006


Last week in Japan, two animated big budget features went toe-to-toe: Fuji TV's BRAVE STORY and Studio Ghibli's TALES FROM EARTHSEA directed by Hayao Miyazaki's son, Goro Miyazaki. The movies opened to okay business but who was the winner? Which charming, childhood fantasy pummeled the other into a pile of shattered teeth and bloodied bones? Which adorable animated film made the other its jailhouse punk? Who was ZOMG PWND?!?


Japan's animated movie that has the most buzz and is doing the best business is THE LITTLE GIRL WHO CONQUERED TIME, which got a limited release on July 15 and is now expanding. It's directed by Hoosda, who was the original director of HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE before he was fired and replaced by Miyazaki. Now the blogs are buzzing that this is his revenge on Ghibli since THE LITTLE GIRL WHO CONQUERED TIME is getting great buzz and the nepotism-fest that is TALES FROM EARTHSEA is getting trashed. Japan's Eiga Seikatsu website that collected user reviews and assigns them a collective rating is putting EARTHSEA at 46.38 and BRAVE STORY at 51.66. LITTLE GIRL comes in at 89.69.

Not bad for an animated film that's a remake of the 1983 live action Kadokawa movie by the same name (which is screening at the Japan Society in November).

(Thanks to HogaCentral for the story)

August 11, 2006 at 11:59 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


K_shawbrotherscoversThe people in my head were very excited by the news last year that Image would be releasing super-fancy, remastered Shaw Brothers DVDs in the US in 2006. They said they were shooting for an April 2006 release date but that's long since come and gone with no DVDs. But now they're set to roll, and the line-up is looking good.

First up:

BLACK MAGIC - September 12 (disc details in the link)
SUPER INFRAMAN - October 3 (disc details in the link)
THE WATER MARGIN - October 17 (disc details in the link)
THE MAGIC BLADE - November 11 (disc details in the link)
THE BOXER'S OMEN - November 21 (disc details in the link)
INTIMATE CONFESSIONS OF A CHINESE COURTESAN - December 5 (disc details in the link)

There are lots of special features on these discs (trailers, and so on) and they're retailing for only $19.99. Image takes great care with their releases and so you can expect pristine sound and video. And, these will also present the mono soundtracks which are the original tracks from the movies, so there will be none of the audio futzing that affects so many of the Celestial Shaw Brothers discs.

While I'm not a huge fan of the covers (that's one for SUPER INFRAMAN right there) they did the best they could considering that (holy cow!) they had to have Celestial approve the cover art on every single DVD.

You can read more on this thread on the Mobius Home Video Forum.

August 11, 2006 at 11:57 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)


So how was this week? Good? Or evil?

ON THE EDGE from Herman Yau may actually be good.

K_week_good The new Karan Johar film is going to Toronto.

Fortissimo is distributing HULA GIRLS which looks like it's not their normal artsy fare.

There are action figures for DOG BITE DOG.

There are set photos and stills from PROTEGE, EXILED and CONFESSION OF PAIN.

KILL ZONE (ugh) is getting a great special edition release DVD from the Weinsteins (yay).

And it looks like those Image Shaw Brothers DVDs are going to hit stores this fall.

So the rating is...Good.

Take it, Sanrio Darth Vader!

August 11, 2006 at 11:56 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


Previously, several people (including me) reported that Peter Chan (PERHAPS LOVE, COMRADES: ALMOST A LOVE STORY) was remaking the Shaw Brothers movie THE BLOOD BROTHERS. It was supposed to be loosely based on Chang Cheh's classic Shaw Brothers movie and it was going to be called TZE MA or THE ASSASSINATION OF MA.

Now Variety is reporting (in the last sentence of this article) that this movie will not be a remake of BLOOD BROTHERS in any way shape or form. These movies will have nothing to do with each other. However, TZE MA looks like it will definitely be Peter Chan's next project after he finishes producing Derek Yee's PROTEGE.

August 11, 2006 at 11:54 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 10, 2006


Minoru Kawasaki's EVERYONE BUT JAPAN SINKSMinoru Kawasaki's EVERYONE BUT JAPAN SINKS is the latest comedy from the director of CALAMARI WRESTLER and BEETLE, THE HORN KING and it's a parody of this summer's big budget, special effects remake THE SINKING OF JAPAN. It's based on the novel by the same name that was a parody of the novel that inspired the original SINKING OF JAPAN movie back in the 70's.

I've been anxiously looking forward to this movie which is bound to be a journey into epic stupidity, and now a trailer has shown up over on Twitch. In the Twitch tradition there are a million different trailer formats to choose from and so many links that if you click on them all you'll actually wind up trapped inside the internet and unable to escape. So don't do that.

The trailer is exactly what you expect: machine guns, explosions and deliciously dodgy CGI.

August 10, 2006 at 10:46 AM in Trailers | Permalink | Comments (1)


K_kank_1KANK is going to the Toronto International Film Festival. The latest Bollywood flick from Karan  Johar, KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA, will have already been released all over the world by the time the festival starts but Toronto is bending its rules to accomodate this prestige flick which stars Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee - who will all be present at the screening, ensuring sell-out crowds and near-riot conditions.

Johar is best known for his other two blockbusters, KABHI KUSHIE, KABHIE GHAM and KUCH KUCK HOTA HAI - better known as K3G and K2H2. This is the first Bollywood film to screen at Toronto in 31 years leaving us to wonder: what happens when Karan Johar makes a movie that doesn't have a catchy acronym?

(Thanks to Al for sending this in)

August 10, 2006 at 10:44 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)


The movie that The Weinstein Company calls THE PROTECTOR but that you and I know as TOM YUM GOONG is moving its release date. Previously slated for August 25, it's now packing its bags and shuffling over to September 8. This puts it even closer to Rogue Pictures' September 22 release of Jet Li's FEARLESS.

(Thanks to the sharp-eyed reader who sent this in)

August 10, 2006 at 10:39 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)


K_confession_of_pain_1 The Tony Leung/Takeshi Kaneshiro cop film, CONFESSION OF PAIN, has some good looking set photos hit the internet this morning. Check out those studs rocking that beige, pleather jacket in Central. You can see more photos over here, including pics of Tony looking all casual and relaxed with Takeshi, like they're in some kind of fabulous wristwatch ad together.

(Thanks to MonkeyPeaches)

August 10, 2006 at 10:36 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 09, 2006


K_hulawebArthouse sales agent extraordinaire, Fortissimo Films, has picked up the world rights to HULA GIRLS. This is the new film from, surprisingly, Lee Sang-Il (SCRAP HEAVEN). Shot in Japan, produced by Cine Qua Non, and starring Yasuko Matsuyuki and Etsushi Toyokawa (IT'S ONLY TALK) it's based on the true story of a rundown coal mining village in 1965 that decides to build a Hawaiian Village tourist attraction in order to save its stagnant economy. No one knows how to hula, however, and so a dance instructor from Tokyo is brought in to teach the girls how to hula.

K_hulaweb2Set at the height of the Hawaiian/Polynesian craze that swept the world in the 60's and gave us Trade Vic's and Don Ho, this is a feel-good film from Fortissimo, a company better known for its arthouse flicks like LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE and 2046. But they must be doing something right because the flick just got invited to Toronto to make its world premiere.

Also, if anyone was wondering what happened to Kore-eda's HANA - it's making its international premiere at Toronto, too.

(And check out those HULA GIRL stills. I can hear the ukelele.)

August 9, 2006 at 10:17 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)


K_dogbitedog_figuresAccording to a sharp-eyed reader, DOG BITE DOG advertising is blanketing Hong Kong. There are some gorgeous posters out there that we haven't seen yet, including this one, and giant billboards like this one. But the absolutely coolest thing I've seen are these DOG BITE DOG action figures. Little Sam sent these in and they're made by HOW2WORK. While the Sam Lee figure looks like he's getting eaten by his jacket, the Edison Chen figure looks eerily accurate. Almost as if they shrunk Edison down and made him stand very, very still...

(All photos courtesy of Little Sam)

August 9, 2006 at 10:12 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)

August 08, 2006


K_moebiusThe clunky-looking Mainland Chinese computer animated film, THROUGH THE MOEBIUS STRIP, looks  like a giant plate of runny scrambled eggs but that doesn't mean no one wants to watch it. The film opened this past weekend in China and did about 2 million yuan at the box office. This ain't bad (about US$125,500) and certainly it's not the flop that it was accidentally reported as when the numbers from one Shanghai cinema were picked up as the numbers for its total gross across China. But right now CRAZY STONE and DRAGON TIGER GATE are still picking up steam, and the DVD of THROUGH THE MOEBIUS STRIP is going to be released soon to scoop the pirates so the film probably won't even come close to making back its 130 million yuan budget in China. The producers are hoping it'll make money on the international market but that's pretty unlikely. MOEBIUS STRIP has made the rounds of the markets and festivals and no one's biting, probably because it's ugly as sin.

Nevertheless, at least it got finished. I had doubts this one would ever see the light of day.

(Thanks to Monkeypeaches)

August 8, 2006 at 10:30 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


It's spreading across the internet like mold: George Romero's next picture will be an adaptation of Koji Suzuki's SOLITARY ISLE. Suzuki is the author of THE RING and DARK WATER and SOLITARY ISLE (KOTO) is about a guy who goes on an expedition to a haunted island. He's also personally haunted by memories of a young girl he did wrong in the past. It's part of the anthology that includes DARK WATER.

Kadokawa and Hyde Pictures (which has a first-look deal at Fox) will produce and share the burden 50/50. The budget will probably be under US$25 million.

August 8, 2006 at 10:27 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 07, 2006


K_silkThe official website for SILK, the Taiwanese horror movie, is open for business. On the site is a poor quality copy of the promo reel that screened at Cannes in the market and you can view the whole site in English or Chinese.

I've never been quite sure why big movies love having official websites that are hard to navigate and full of a million useless bells and whistles, but if you dig around on the SILK site long enough you can find trailers and good looking artwork.

SILK is set to play Pusan and the Tokyo International Film Festival, and there's an interesting note in a Chinese-language movie magazine. SILK (and THE HOST, for that matter) both had negative comments made about their special effects when they were at Cannes. A big deal was made about the fact that THE HOST hadn't had time to finish its effects, and the same is true about SILK which is only now putting the final polish on its CGI. The lesson? Don't take your film to Cannes until it's 100% ready.

(Thanks to the sharp-eyed reader who sent this in)

August 7, 2006 at 10:17 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 06, 2006


Media Asia is celebrating Johnnie To's EXILED going to the Venice Film Festival by posting more stills from the movie on their website as well as a synopsis which reads:

K_exiled2_1"The time is 1998. The setting is Macau. Every living soul jumps at every chance to make quick money before the Portuguese colony ushers in a new era under the Chinese rule. For the jaded hit men, they wonder where this journey will end. Against this background of fin-de-siècle malaise come two hit men from Hong Kong sent to take out a renegade member trying to turn over a new leaf with his wife and newborn baby. They soon find themselves in the throes of a dilemma when two of their former associates also show up, intent on thwarting them at every cost."

They also talked to Josie Ho, who appears in the movie, and she says: "This is my first time working with director To. He's not as frightening as I expected!"

You can check out more of the stills here.

August 6, 2006 at 03:25 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


K_otokosore_poster_s_1Darcy turns in his review of THE HOST over on KoreanFilm.org and it's one of the best takes on the movie I've seen yet, boiling down what everyone's been talking about into language that those of us  who haven't seen the film yet can easily understand.

If understanding hurts your head, then check out this trailer for, well I'm not quite sure what the title is. But it looks good.

August 6, 2006 at 03:23 PM in Film Reviews, Trailers | Permalink | Comments (2)


Sip your morning coffee and ponder this: if Jackie Chan has his way you could be buying your cup of joe at Jackie Chan's Java Coffee before too long. With a gang of Filipino investors, Jackie's opening a coffee shop in Manila that he wants to grow into a chain of coffee shops.

"Coffee is also a language in itself. When you watch my movies, you think of Jackie Chan. When you drink coffee, I hope you will also think Jackie Chan."

I already do that, but I think I know what he means.

Then he flew off to Paris to start shooting RUSH HOUR 3.

August 6, 2006 at 03:18 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)

August 04, 2006


A sharp-eyed reader (I love these guys) has sent in a translated article from Apple Daily saying that while there have been rumors that Donnie Yen will star in SHA PO LANG 2 (or is that KILLZONE 2?) directed by Wilson Yip, none of these facts are, in fact, true.

There will be a sequel to the joint-locking, cartilage-crunching SHA PO LANG but it won't star Donnie and it won't be directed by Wilson Yip. It'll star Simon Yam, Sammo Hung, and Wu Jing. This makes more sense, if you've seen the movie.

Donnie Yen will star in the new Wilson Yip movie with Louis Koo, but it won't be SHA PO LANG 2.

August 4, 2006 at 01:07 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (14)


Protege_web There's some more info about Derek Yee and Peter Chan's US$4.6 million drug film, PROTEGE, in this Screendaily article. It's mostly about the production companies involved and how this represents the first film for Artforce, a new production company that Yee and Chan have started. But the most interesting thing in there is that the cast includes: Andy Lau, as a druglord; Daniel Wu, as his protege; Louis Koo, as a junkie; and Anita Yuen.

Anita Yuen!?! There was a time in the mid-late 90's when she could do no wrong, raking in the cash Miriam Yeung style as she bounced from comedy to romance. But suddenly she seemed to disappear at the height of her fame, vanishing into the land of television. This is the first big film with her in a big role since 1998's underrated TIL DEATH DO US PART, although she has popped up here and there since in minor movies (like in - ugh - KUNG FU GIRLS in 2003; and LOVE TRILOGY in 2004).

(Thanks to the sharp-eyed reader who sent this in)

August 4, 2006 at 11:58 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (1)


There's been a lot of backing and forthing over the special features on the Weinstein Company's SHA PO LANG DVD, KILLZONE. First there were special features, then they seemed to be getting pulled back. Now, Brian White, formerly of Hong Kong Legends, and currently the head of post production at TWC and the gentleman who actually puts these DVDs together, has gotten in touch and given us the lowdown on what's definitely going to be on the KILLZONE disc and why these changes have been made. I'm turning the rest of this post over to Brian:

16:9 Anamorphic version enhanced for widescreen TVs (With no alterations or cuts)
Dual Language Format (Cantonese with re-mastered English Subtitles and English Dubbed)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio tracks (Cantonese & English)
DTS Audio track (Cantonese)
A feature-length audio commentary with Hong Kong Cinema Expert, Bey Logan

Born to be Bad: an exclusive featurette with incomparable martial arts legend, Sammo Hung
First amongst Equals: an exclusive featurette with legendary leading man and action-director, Donnie Yen
Echoes of Darkness: an exclusive featurette with prolific co-star, Simon Yam
A Dragon Rising: an exclusive featurette with explosive lead-villain, Jacky Wu
A Man Apart: an exclusive featurette with visionary director, Wilson Yip
Anatomy of a scene featurette: Alleycats (With optional commentary by action director, Donnie Yen, and Bey Logan)
Anatomy of a scene featurette: Challenge of the Masters (With optional commentary by action director, Donnie Yen, and Bey Logan)
Kill Zone: A 'making of' documentary
Hong Kong Theatrical Trailer
US Promotional Trailer
4 x Hong Kong TV Spots
Fully animated interactive menus

I would also like to pick up on a few concerns that your readers may have concerning the specification change:

1. Audio Commentary: We are naturally disappointed that Donnie's schedule did not allow him to engage in the recording of the feature-commentary, but he has been incredibly supportive of this project and has provided one hour of audio commentary for the two 'Anatomy of a Scene' featurettes, as well as a great 'to camera' interview, which is the backbone of the 40 minute 'First Amongst Equals' featurette.

2. Never Before Seen Footage: Far from being cancelled, the "Never Before Seen Footage" content has now been dramatically expanded. Each of the featurettes on the DVD showcases a significant amount of previously unseen 'behind-the-scenes footage', including rehearsal footage for a Donnie Yen fight sequence that was cut from the final print of the movie. The two 'Anatomy of a Scene' featurettes are composed entirely of Grade A behind-the-scenes footage:
Alleycats features Donnie Yen fighting Jacky Wu in the alleyway sequence and Challenge of the Masters showcases his climactic battle with Sammo Hung. If you want to get an insight into just how amazing and talented these guys really are, you need to check this out!

3. Breaking News / Hong Kong Press Conference footage: I had to make a decision to pull this off the disc to make room for all the new exclusive behind-the-scenes footage we recently uncovered. I am convinced the fans will find the replacement content much more compelling, as a good proportion is action-based, and gives a fascinating insight into how the fight sequences were created for this movie.

4. Martial Arts Demonstration By Jacky Wu: This has not been cancelled; the footage has been incorporated into Jacky's A Dragon rising featurette instead.

5. Anatomy Of A Scene Featurettes:  both featurettes definitively include an optional commentary by Bey Logan and Donnie Yen in the finalized specification.

Here's the finalized cover art for the disc as well.


August 4, 2006 at 10:50 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (7)


Yau Na-hoi, the long-time writer for Milkyway, is making his directorial debut with EYE IN THE SKY, a surveillance flick starring Tony Leung Kar-fai and Simon Yam, produced by Johnnie To. A trailer surfaced a while back, but disappeared. Now it's back, and although it's more of a teaser it does have some slick imagery and a very Michael Mann circa HEAT feel to it.

Also, the plot synopsis is up and looks bone simple: Simon Yam and crew are tracking down a thief (Tony Leung). But that's actually encouraging. It looks like a barebones playground for Yau to strut his stuff and based on the visuals in the teaser, his stuff might be pretty fine indeed.

(Thanks to the sharp-eyed reader who sent this in)

August 4, 2006 at 10:19 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 03, 2006


It's been a while since Herman Yau's really cut loose in a movie, but it looks like ON THE EDGE might be a really good film. There's a good-looking trailer up and from what I can tell it's an undercover cop story but one that starts where other undercover movies end. Nick Cheung plays a cop who's been undercover in a gang for 8 years before busting his boss, Francis Ng. Now he's back on the police force and no one trusts him. His girlfriend loses her job in a bar because she's seen as sleeping with a traitor, the other cops think Nick has turned bad and no one wants to cut this poor schlub a break. I haven't looked forward to a flick from Yau in a while, even though he's an incredibly nice guy, an ace cinematographer, and has several terrific movies under his belt. But this looks like it might be the film that puts him back on top of the heap.

(Thanks to the sharp-eyed readers and Monkeypeaches for the trailer link)

August 3, 2006 at 04:06 PM in Trailers | Permalink | Comments (2)


A sharp-eyed reader writes in to let us know that Tsui Hark has wrapped his section of IRON TRIANGLE and is sitting around twiddling his thumbs and waiting for Ringo Lam to start shooting his piece. The bad news is that it looks like the international title will be JIGSAW rather than the catchier IRON TRIANGLE.

This piece in The Hindu makes a couple of interesting points:

- the plot is described as being about "...a women fearful of her husband's violent tendencies."

- the actors don't know what's going on. Kelly Lin says, "
Lam [Ka-tung] should be a police officer, I'm guessing," and Lam says the actors are having to riddle out the story and their characters from minimal information.

- Tsui Hark wears velcro shoes.

August 3, 2006 at 02:35 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)

August 02, 2006


A bunch of discs are hitting store shelves over the next few months, and we ain't just talking about KILL ZONE.

Tartan is releasing the Thai horror movie GHOST OF MAE NAK on October 10, as well as the stylish Korean psycho flick RED SHOES on October 24. RED SHOES is a good looking movie that suffers from an unoriginal story, but it has some great scenes of horrific demises as well as a good eye for turning normal architecture into freakish paranoia-tecture. GHOST OF MAE NAK is pretty negligible but it does feature one of the most insane, realistic and amazing death scenes I've ever had the misfortune to witness in a movie in quite some time. I got the feeling that a special effects house came up with this graphic demise and then the production company built the whole movie around it.

More excitingly, on September 26, Mondo Macabro will release the BOLLYWOOD HORROR COLLECTION - VOLUME 1, a two-disc set featuring two classic flicks from the kings of Bollywood terror, the Ramsay Brothers. There's PURANA MANDIR (1984) which was the Ramsay's first big hit and the movie that made horror a staple of 80's Indian cinema and BANDH DARWAZA (1990) the final splutter of greatness as the terror trend died out, beaten to death by the very family who created it.

The Ramsay Brothers were masters of cheese and vendors of corn, and their movies look like relics from a lost planet where the uncomfortable transitional period between the 70's and the 80's never died. But their movies are some of the hardest-to-find Bollywood flicks for folks like me who need English subtitles, so these releases are of major importance for hardcore fans. Here's what Omar has to say about the two movies over on The HotSpot:

PURANA MANDIR:  "Looking back it seems a tad bewildering as to why the film became such a rage becoming the first Bollywood film to have sequels and spin-offs and indeed it was the film that spawned Bollywood's first home grown monster in the form of Saamri...Purana Mandir has all the trademark ingredients of a typical Ramsay horror potboiler…the flesh exposure, the cheap double entendres, the floating mists, the blue and red tinted lighting, the overwrought performances, the hairy monster, the old dark house…yet it remains one of their few moments of glory...The films real stars are the fine, energetic camerawork, the background score and not least of all, the wonderful Ajay Agarwal who tackles the role of Saamri monster with such admirable relish - and is far and away the most frightening of Bollywood's largely laughable screen monsters."

BANDH DARWAZA: "Though the story isn't exactly original this film is one of the Ramsay's most effective efforts due to a number of reasons. Firstly and perhaps most importantly they have discovered in actor Ajay Agarwal a most amazing horror discovery...it doesn't veer off the track into tedious stretches of comedy and though Jagdeep is in the cast, his antics are kept to a bare minimum. Likewise there are "only" four songs which is way below the average for a regular Bollywood production...Bandh Darwaza is an unsung classic from the vaults of Ramsay's horror which comtain mostly the most tedious drivel imaginable. This film is the Ramsay's in top form; it moves along at a rollicking pace, the characterization is reasonably good, and the acting bearable for horror genre with old timers Aruna Irani, Raza Murad and Vijayendra turning in strong performances...one of the strongest and most effective horror films to emerge from Bollywood in many a year."

The set will retail for $24.95, which is a bargain for six hours of fun plus musical numbers.



August 2, 2006 at 01:47 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (2)


This year's Venice Film Festival will feature the premiere of Johnnie To's EXILED, a spiritual successor to THE MISSION and a film that sports an exceptionally fine cast led by Francis Ng, Anthony Wong and Nick Cheung who seems newly revitalized over the past year.

Thanks to Alex who just sent in the poster for the new Herman Yau (UNTOLD STORY, EBOLA SYNDROME) movie, ON THE EDGE, which sports a cast led by Francis Ng, Anthony Wong and Nick Cheung. Check out that autumnal palette and look at Nick! He's looking tough and uncompromising while sporting a massive pair of aviator shades. Now that's acting.


August 2, 2006 at 12:30 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (5)


Charlie Yeung Hong Kong newspapers (and Monkeypeaches) are reporting that the Pang Brothers have announced the cast of their Hollywood BANGKOK DANGEROUS remake. Nic Cage will play the hitman and Charlie Yeung will play his love interest. I'm not a big fan of BANGKOK DANGEROUS in the first place, but it was an accomplished movie that put the Pangs on the map no matter what I think and this remake already has "dodgy" written all over it.

The original was about a deaf-mute hitman working in Bangkok (which is dangerous) and falling for a local gal. In the remake, Nic Cage will play a hitman who travels to Bangkok (still dangerous) to pull off a couple of hits and while there he falls in love with a local gal played by Charlie Yeung, who will be a deaf-mute. In case you're worried that Charlie Yeung looks about as Thai as I do, don't sweat it. She's learning traditional Thai dance and sign language in order to bring realness.

There's still some debate over whether the movie is going to be called TIME TO KILL or BANGKOK DANGEROUS, but since TIME TO KILL is already the name of a movie with Sandra Bullock in it (isn't she sort of the Western equivalent of Charlie Yeung?) my guess is that it'll still be named BANGKOK DANGEROUS and that the soundtrack will feature "One Night in Bangkok" over the end credits.

Shooting is supposed to begin this month.

August 2, 2006 at 11:19 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (6)

August 01, 2006


Yesterday there was a cryptic mention that the Hong Kong International Film Festival was doing fine while other fests were facing tough times. What I forgot to put in that post was that the HKIFF is holding a Summer Pops series that's showing new films from around the world that will be old news by the time their regular festival dates roll around in the Spring of 2007. What's on?

and more...

(Thanks to the sharp-eyed reader who sent this in)

August 1, 2006 at 01:37 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)


AzumiThree years later, Ryuhei Kitamura's AZUMI has hit American shores and the director himself is interviewed by Ed Douglas over on ComingSoon.net. He's a straight shooter and here he is talking about taking on GODZILLA: FINAL WARS:

"So I met producer Mr. Tomiyama, he's been making Godzilla movies for the last 15 years, and I told him that I loved Godzilla back in the '70s, but after the '80s, I didn't like it and I don't go and watch anymore. "Only Godzilla freaks [went to see them], so I have to be very honest with you, because I don't want to get into trouble after I start making the movie with you. I don't like the Godzilla movies for the last 15 years. I think there's something missing because back in the '70s, Godzilla had more power, more crazy things." Godzilla had lots of fun in it, very stupid things and funny things. Recently, they lost that kind of spirit. That's what I told him, so why do you want me to do it? And this producer said, "I want something new for the last Godzilla. I know that I've been making mistakes." So I said, "Okay, if you ask me to do it, I will do the upgrade version of '70s Godzilla, that's what I'm going to do. Is that happy for you?" and he said yes."

And he did.

Read more here.

August 1, 2006 at 11:33 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)



They're making all kinds of money over there in Asia this past weekend. In Korea, THE HOST opened up and broke pretty much every box office record in the industry. Budgeted at only US$11 million it earned US$17.2 million on its opening weekend (take that, SUPERMAN RETURNS!), and looks like it's going to set the standards for massive Korea flicks from here on out (it beat the one-day ticket sales record previously held by TAE GUK GI, surpassing it by 200,000 tickets).

(And if you're in New Zealand, don't miss THE HOST which is currently touring the country as part of the New Zealand Film Festivals. Its remaining screening times are:
Wellington / Thursday  03-Aug-06 / 10:45 PM / EMBASSY
Dunedin Sunday 13-Aug-06 / 8:30 PM  / REGENT
Christchurch / Friday 18-Aug-06 / 3:30 PM / RIALTO            
Christchurch/  Sunday 20-Aug-06 / 8:15 PM / RIALTO)

DRAGON TIGER GATE earned mostly negative reviews in Hong Kong (action = great; everything else = not so great; read free verse poetry reviews of DTG) but it earned HK$5.4 million (about US$692,308) and picked up about US$3 million across Asia. And it's doing well enough that Donnie Yen is talking about a DTG sequel for next summer.

In Japan, the big battling movies were TALES OF EARTHSEA from Studio Ghibli and BRAVE STORY from Fuji TV, both animated fantasy pics aimed at kids. EARTHSEA opened to US$7.2 million, which made it number one for the weekend (beating out PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN 2's second weekend in theaters where it made only US$6 million). I don't have figures for BRAVE STORY yet, but according to Mark Schilling it's the better of the two movies. He says that EARTHSEA is "...
like a tribute band playing a new number 'in the style' of some departed great -- and delivering everything but the greatness." while BRAVE STORY is "...fast-paced, visually arresting, narratively twisty entertainment...".

Poor Goro. He's making a lot of money, but is it really all about the money?

August 1, 2006 at 09:59 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (3)