November 25, 2006

Golden Horse & Asia-Pacific Film Festival Awards

Two major film award ceremonies for Asian films have just been held over the last 2 days in Taipei, Taiwan - and the .

Hong Kong films again reigned at the , which some regard as the Chinese language equivalent of the Oscars - (父子) from Hong Kong took home the Best Picture award. The movie's lead actor, Aaron Kwok, won the Best Actor award the 2nd time in a row for his portrayal of an abusive single parent. Nine-year old Goum Ian Iskandar, who played Aaron's son in the film became the youngest winner of a Golden Horse Best Supporting Actor Award.

The hugely popular muscial (also from Hong Kong) won 4 awards - Best Director (Peter Chan), Best Actress (Zhou Xun), Best Cinematography and Best Original Film Song.

The mainland Chinese film (a personal favorite of mine) won the Best Original Screenplay award.

Check out the videos of the ceremony here (videos are in Mandarin):
Best Picture (presented by John Woo and Takeshi Kanshiro):
Best Actor (presented by Chang Chen [who was nominated for Best Actor but unfortunately the film he was nominated for The Go Master was withdrawn at the last minute] & Karen Mok):
Best Actress (presented by Aaron Kwok and Charlie Young):

Over at the , South Korean films reigned supreme, winning 6 awards in total. However, the Best Feature Film award went to Iranian film The Unwanted Woman, which also won the Best Director (Tahimeh Milani) and Best Screenplay awards.

15-year old South Korean actor Lee Jae-eung won the Best Actor award for his portrayal of a teenager's growing up pains in Bravo, My Life. Son Ye-jin took home the Best Actress award for her role in (which also starred South Korean mega hunk Bae Yong-jun). And South Korean box-office champ clinched 3 awards as well for Best Supporting Actor (Byun Hee-bong), Best Sound Effects and Best Editing.

Congragulations to all the winners :-)

[Compiled from news articles:,,]

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November 9, 2006

My Thoughts On Made-In-Japan Horror Movies

The release of The Grudge 2 recently made me realise what an impact Japanese horror movies have made on the horror movie genre this last decade or so.

When Ringu was released in 1998, the horror movie industry was facing a slump. Many of the best films in this genre like The Exorcist, The Shining and Salem's Lot were made in the 60s to 80s. In the 90s, scary movies were either slasher flicks or comedy cum horror type films. Although some of these movies were pretty shocking and could still generate a good fright, they lacked the dark, foreboding and dread inducing "I could hardly breathe" atmosphere that were so prevalent in the older horror movies. Instead, many predicted that the ability to make such terrifying horror movies were a thing of the past.

But when The Ring exploded on the big screen in and rung up the box-office cash registers in 1998, everyone started to look at this genre with new interest... and started to incorporate many of the elements that made the movie so successful in their own movies. I am sure you recognise the long-haired, white-gowned female otherworldly being with the creepy and jerky body movements in many recent horror movies. She has made many cameo appearances in slightly different guises in films like The Sixth Sense, South Korea's Wishing Stairs, Singapore's The Eye and of course Japan's own Ju-on and Dark Water.

Actually I feel that the Japanese approach to horror movies is very different from Hollywood. There is usually very little special effects if you compare it with horror films from Hollywood but there is always a sense that something mysterious and terrifying is lurking beneath the surface. The atmosphere is almost always very still and quiet, with a minimum of dialogue which makes the horror, when it comes, even more shocking and unexpected.

When I first watched The Ring at the cinema, I had such a shock from the infamous TV scene that I left the cinema shivering with fright. And I was actually worried that something will happen to me on the seventh day :-P Some people even shifted their TV sets out of their bedroom after watching the film... haha...

However, with more and more directors churning out Ringu style horror movies like a production line, I feel that the quality of horror movies these days have really fallen tremendously. For me, even Hollywood remakes of movies like The Ring and Ju-on really cannot compare to the original versions. I guess movie goers are tired of seeing the same techniques being used again and again... Could a horror movie slump be on the horizon again?

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