August 27, 2006

A Movie With No Dialogue At All - Black Eyed

Taiwanese art-house director Tsai Ming-Liang's new movie Black Eyed will not have any dialogue at all! And it will have an even more daring scene than the last scene in his most recent film, the highly controversial .

Black Eyed will be one of the two Chinese movies vying for the Golden Lion Award at the 63rd Venice Film Festival starting on August 30 together with Hong Kong triad movie Exiled. Mainland Chinese movie The Banquet (Ye Yan) will also be screened at the film festival.

Black Eyed which was shot on location in Malaysia will star Lee Kang-Sheng who acted in practically all his previous productions and Chen Shiang-chyi who also starred in quite a number of his movies.

Actually, having seen a few of Tsai Ming Liang's movies like , and , I think to watch his movies, you really have to be very patient and just sit through the experience with no preconceived ideas of what a movie should be. There is usually very little dialogue and some of the scenes are honestly far out, for example the abrupt song and dance routines in Wayward Cloud which I really do not know serve what purpose besides generating a few laughs :-P But if you sit through it, you will come out of the experience with the images hanging in your mind... Perhaps its because his movies are so natural and still that its like you are watching someone real (ok, a strange and possibly disturbed someone) with a hidden camera and marvelling at their antics. And you may also recognise some uncomfortable truths in what the films are conveying.

Its really not for everyone, but I think its good to try to watch his movies at least once to get a totally different experience from the usual slam-bam dialogue filled films :-)

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August 20, 2006

Best Couples in Korean TV Dramas

Anyone who has watched Korean TV drama serials will know that the two crucial elements that define K-dramas are their romantic storylines and the chemistry between the romantic leads. These two elements are so important that they will literally make or break the drama series.

For me there were a few screen couples in Korean dramas that had so much onscreen chemistry that they became synonomous as a couple in many people's minds when they think of Korean dramas even though more often than not they were not really couples in real life.

  1. Bae Yong-Jun and Choi Ji-Woo () - who can forget the pure and tender love between the two lead characters in this drama that somehow reflected the pristine yet melancholic beauty of winter? This is THE drama that defined what is Korean drama for many people.
  2. Lee Young-Ae and Ji Jin-Hee () - For all the obstacles that Janggeum faced, thank god that she had the ever trustworthy Min Jong-Ho besides her. She was the perfect lady - intelligent, kind and fair of face and he was the perfect gentleman - open minded, supportive and brave. Together, they shared such a beautiful love that one can only hope for in real life.
  3. Lee Dong-Gun and Han Ji-Hye () - The chemistry between them is truly sizzling in this sweet romantic comedy. Watching Lee and Han act as a couple with all their unique quirks and eccentrities is so realistic and entertaining that you can't help but wish they were really a couple. And they are ;-) In fact, this is one screen couple that is reportedly a couple in real life too :-)
  4. Park Shin-Yang and Kim Jung-Eun () - The two shared a connection that made the cliched romance between a rich president of an automobile conglomorate and a poor student totally natural and just right despite their different backgrounds in the drama.
  5. Rain and Song Hye-Gyo () - This was the drama that showcased the comedic talents of Rain and Song Hye-Gyo (who was repeatedly typecasted in tragic heroine roles before this drama series). Strangely, the more the two engaged in hilarious "fights" and quarrels throughout the show, the more compatible they seem with each other. It was even rumoured that they became a couple after the show but both have vehemently denied the allegation :-P

Of cource there were many others that were equally notable, like Kwon Sang-Woo and Choi Ji-Woo in Stairway to Heaven and Kim Rae-Won and Kim Tae-Hee in Love Story in Harvard among others but for me the above couplings were the ones that truly made a deep impression :-)

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August 15, 2006

The Incredible Crazy Stone !

Too many times in recent months, after falling for all the marketing hype and finally watching a "hit" movie in the cinema, the only feeling that I have after I come out of the theatre is one of regret, i.e. regret that I have actually spent hard earned cash to buy a ticket and valuable time to watch something that I would not even watch on TV. But the Chinese movie Crazy Stone (疯狂石头) is definitely not one of these movies. In fact, I can safely say it is the best movie that I have seen this year.

Set in the Chinese city of Chongqing, the movie is about how a motley group of thieves, including a "professional" thief from Hong Kong try to get their hands on a precious emerald pendant that is being guarded by an ex-cop with a urinary tract problem (interesting huh?). What ensues is a highly complex madcap adventure where the thieves try to steal the "stone" by all sorts of crazy unimaginable ways but are somehow foiled at every turn by the ex-cop and his bumbling colleagues (sometimes most unwittingly)... but really the movie must be watched to fully appreciate the beauty of the storyline :-P

This relatively low-budget movie with no famous stars defied all expectations and has become the highest grossing local film in China this year. The movie uses plenty of close-up shots and fast camera angles to create a hyper kinetic feel (think Brazilian movie City of God) and unexpected surprises are a dime a dozen. Another technique the director (28-year old Ning Hao) frequently employed is to show chronological events out of normal order. For example, in one particular scene, we see a canoodling couple being disturbed by a motorcyclist slamming into their car door. But in the next scene, we see that motorcyclist racing down the road before he hit the car ! For me, what attracts and sustains my interest, besides the rollercoaster-like storyline, are the characters which are unbelievable cunning yet at the same time, extremely human...

That is not to say that the movie is without flaws, some parts are just too coincidental to be believable but all in all this really is a fun movie and highly entertaining to boot :-) Watch it if you can!

[Picture from:]

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11th Golden Bauhinia Awards

At the 11th held on 13th August, Peter Chan's has emerged the big winner with 7 awards including Best Director, Best Actress (Zhou Xun), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Original Music Score and Best Original Song. As expected, Johnny Toh's superb triad movie took home the Best Picture prize and lead actor Simon Yam was named Best Actor. Anthony Wong won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in the exciting Jay Chou racing movie and Teresa Mo nabbed the Best Supporting Actress for 2 Young.

Check out the detailed award results here :-)

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August 11, 2006

The 45-second Japanese Dorama Serial

Heard of a drama serial that lasts just 45 seconds per episode? Yes, there is no typo, it's not 45 minutes, it really is 45 seconds. And it will star popular Japanese actor Toshiaki Karasawa who played the ambitious Dr Zaizen in and Japanese actress Ryou.

The 45-second drama series August Rainbow (direct translation) which starts broadcasting in Japan today, is an experiment by Japanese TV station TBS to see if a drama that is as short and sharp as a commercial can address the problem of perpetually low ratings in Japanese dramas recently.

The story of August Rainbow, set in the year 2045, takes place in a world that is suffering from the severe after-effects of global warming, i.e. the whole planet has become a desert so much so that even the beautiful multi-colored rainbow that we have now has become black :-P The dorama, which is part of the Green Film Project, hopes to serve as a warning of what could happen if mankind does not change its current ways and global warming spirals out of control.

Well, although I really applaud what the producers of the drama are trying to achieve, I can imagine the difficulties in trying to follow such a short drama, hey I could miss one important episode if I just happen to switch on the telly just 45 seconds later :-P And since the whole series is 10 episodes long, it will just take around 7+ minutes to finish it :-P

Sigh, no wonder I find time getting faster and faster as the years go by haha.

[Compiled from news articles:,]

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Question From John Woo

Yahoo! Answers is now accepting answers to a question from the famous director John Woo ! The question from the man himself is: Our fascination with comic superheroes is time-tested. Why do we continue to relate to them?

Check it out here and give your answer, your valuable input might have a big influence on his next movie :-)

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August 8, 2006

Help Make Blogs More Visible

There are by some estimates more than 3 million weblogs. But most of them get no visibility in search engines. Only a few "A-List" blogs get into the top search engine results for a given topic, while the majority of blogs just don't get noticed. But this posting could solve that. Let's help the smaller blogs get more visibility!

This posting is GoMeme 4.0. So far we have tried 3 earlier variations. Our first test, GoMeme 1.0, spread to nearly 740 blogs in 2.5 days. This new version 4.0 is shorter, simpler, and fits more easily into your blog.

Why are we doing this? We want to help thousands of blogs get more visibility. How does it work? Just follow the instructions below to re-post this meme in your blog and add your URL to the end of the Path List below. As the meme spreads onwards from your blog, so will your URL. Your blog will be part of the pat for everyone downstream from you. That way they can see where they got this message from. Everyone in the Path List below benefits in a similar way as this meme spreads. Try it!

Instructions: Just copy this entire post and paste it into your blog. Then add your URL to the end of the path list below, and pass it on! (Make sure you add your URLs as live links or HTML code to the Path List below.)

Path List
1. Minding the Planet
2. East Asian Movie and Drama Blog
3. (your URL goes here! But first, please copy this line and move it down to the next line for the next person).

(NOTE: Be sure you paste live links for the Path List or use HTML code.)

August 6, 2006

Best Jet Li Movie Of All Time

I think the most memorable Jet Li movie of all time is not his recent work Fearless or Hollywood movies like Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 The Grave but the first Once Upon A Time In China where he brought to life legendary hero Wong Fei Hung (left picture).

Before Jet Li, when one thinks of this famous martial arts master, the image that comes to mind is Kwan Tak Hing's Wong Fei Hung (picture below right).

However when Tsui Hark made Once Upon A Time in China in 1991, the audience were so pleasantly surprised by Jet Li's balletic kungfu moves under the brilliant direction and cinematography of Tsui Hark that from then on he became Wong Fei Hung!

Actually, if you compare Jet Li and his other contemporaries in the Chinese action movie industry like Jackie Chan, you will realise that Jet Li's moves are more fluid and graceful whereas Jackie Chan's seem more fast paced and dramatic. However there is no denying that Li's kungfu looks and most probably is just as powerful as Jackie Chan's :-P

Once Upon A Time In China wasn't the first Jet Li movie I watched, in fact I had the good fortune of watching his very first movie The Shaolin Temple which was released in 1979/80. However, being his first movie, I felt his acting then was not very polished although his kungfu moves were just as good. But in Once Upon A Time in China, you can see that his acting had matured a great deal. This is most obvious in the way he essayed the shy romance between Wong Fei Hung and his Thirteenth Aunt (Rosamund Kwan) which was so sweet and delicate that it will put a smile on your face :-)

Once Upon A Time was so popular that three sequels were made. They are all all well worth watching if only just to watch Jet Li execute his spectacular moves!

[Pictures from YesAsia and]

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August 4, 2006

The Changing Faces of Anime Characters

Have you noticed the changes in how anime characters are drawn since the art form started in the 1950s in Japan? In the early days, the characters were round and cute and had a strong Disney influence. They were also simpler in shape and not all that humanly realistic. For example, observe how Astroboy and Doraemon were drawn.

In the 70s and 80s, slim delicate characters with extremely large starry eyes became the norm. Even male characters had really beautiful large eyes and slim frames so much so that sometimes you can't tell whether they are male or female until you hear them talk :-P

In the late 90s, realistic character drawings became more common due to the influence of "realistic" anime like Ghost in the Shell, i.e. eyes became smaller and body shapes became more realistic (but male characters were generally still more androgynous than manly). Only Anime made with younger children in mind bucked this trend and still followed the earlier "cuter" styles.

Recently, it seems that cute characters are making a comeback in anime... But with more stylised exagerrated body shapes that are used as a tool to highlight the character's personality. A greater variety of body and facial forms also seem to be the norm, for example, in the anime Desert Punk, it can be seen that different drawing styles were applied for the different characters, the most obvious example being the huge difference between Kosuna and Sunaboozu :-P

However, it seems that even with the greater prolification of anime now, none have managed to reach the popularity of early animes like Astroboy, Doraemon and Kimba... Perhaps time to go back to simple designs?

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August 2, 2006

Dae Jang Geum (Jewel In The Palace) Animated Series

The hit Korean drama series Jewel In The Palace now has an animated version - Jang Geum's Dream. It follows closely the story of Dae Jang Geum in the original drama series but adds a new character in the form of Jang Soo-Ro, another rival for Min Jung-Ho's affections besides Choi Geum-Young.

This animated series which was a joint production between the Korean MBC TV station and the Japanese NHK station, will be made part by part, with the first part lasting 26 episodes. This part will be about Jang Geum's childhood and early youth with a large part on the difficulties she faced trying to enter the palace.

The second section is in preproduction now and will be about how Jang Geum becomes a great cook in the palace while at the same time overcoming the intrigues and deception that threaten her.

The broadcast rights for the first 26 episodes was purchased by TV stations from 17 countries! And already many television stations have expressed interest in buying the second part although it is still in preproduction.

I love the Dae Jang Geum drama series and I think this animated series should be interesting :-) And btw doesn't the cartoon Jang Geum look SOOOO cute?

[News from]


August 1, 2006

Latest Zhang Ziyi Movie - The Banquet

Another big budget historical Chinese movie in the vein of Hero and House of Flying Daggers will be premiering in September 2006. And its The Banquet (YeYan) !!

It stars Zhang Ziyi (Sayuri in Memoirs of a Geisha), Ge You, Daniel Wu, Zhou Xun(who starred as Huang Rong in the Chinese mainland version of Legend of Condor Heroes) and Huang Xiaoming (Yang Guo in the recent Return of the Condor Heroes) and directed by Feng Xiaogang who also directed the Andy Lau vehicle A World Without Thieves.

The story is a loose adaptation of the Shakespearen play Hamlet and is about how the the main protagonists which include the Emperor (Ge You), Empress (Zhang Ziyi), Crown Prince (Daniel Wu), The Minister (Ma JingWu) and The Minister's Son (Huang Xiao Ming) (hey almost everyone :-P), try to rid themselves of their enemies at a lavish royal banquet.

I am not sure how good the movie is but it will be competing in the 63rd Annual Venice Film Festival so it should be pretty good :-) The final edited full-length movie will be premiering on September 3 in Venice and will be about 2 hours and 10 minutes long.

Check out the trailer here and the gorgeous movie posters here (Both Chinese sites at
Check out the cool Official Site too (you need to have a fast internet connection though cos the site is really Flash heavy)!

The lavish costumes look great in the posters and pictures. Will need to see if the film can live up to the public's high expectations in about a month's time ;-)

[Picture from]