April 30, 2007

Japanese Movie - Love And Honor

In Association with YesAsia.comAfter watching Love and Honor (Bushi no Ichibun), the final instalment of Yoji Yamada's samurai trilogy, I could not help but be extremely impressed with Yoji Yamada's attention to detail and his ability to create highly realistic depictions of life in Japan's samurai era.

Yet although the setting was realistic, while watching the movie, I could not help but feel that even if the whole movie (excluding the samurai fighting) was transported to a modern setting, the dialogue and storyline would not be out of place at all. This feeling was especially strong in some scenes early in the movie when samurai Shinnojo Mimura (played by Japanese pop idol Takuya Kimura) was teasing his wife Kayo (Rei Dan) and his elderly servant Tokuhei (played by Takashi Sasano) or when Shinnojo was complaining of his dead-end job to his wife. At such moments, Shinnojo could very well be a modern day newly-wed Japanese salaryman feeling very dissatisfied with his dead end job at a major corporation...

Takuya Kimura played the role of Shinnojo much better than I expected. He was particularly impressive in depicting Shinnojo's change in character and inner struggles after becoming blind. But I have to say that somehow I felt the role of Shinnojo was just too similar to the types of roles that Kimura has played numerous times before in TV doramas - that of the rebellious and playful young man who meets with a cruel twist of fate but somehow overcomes his insurmountable difficulties with sheer willpower and becomes a wise adult at the end. So much so that Shinnojo could just be Kimutaku in Long Vacation or Love Generation but with a much more cruel twist of fate - Shinnojo looses his eyesight whereas the others just had difficulties in their careers and relationship troubles.

Rei Dan was also impressive in her role as the Shinnojo's stoic wife Kayo. Besides somehow maintaing a quiet dignity even under the most difficult circumstances, I felt that she exuded a certain purity and luminosity that is quite rare in actresses today. (In fact, she actually reminded me of Tanaka Yuko, the actress who played Oshin...)

In the end, Yoji Yamada's attention to detail made all the difference between an excellent film and a so-so film. Minor details like the state of Shinnojo's house was not forgotten - at the beginning of the film when Shinnojo had a happy family, the house was bright and squeaky clean. At the end when Shinnojo was struggling with blindness and marital troubles, the house became dingy and old. A true reflection of our hero's inner struggles :-P

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April 23, 2007

Casting Troubles At The Red Cliff

Casting problems on the set of the in-production mega Chinese movie Battle Of The Red Cliff (赤壁) seem almost as exciting and unpredictable as the plot of the film itself.

The latest news is that Tony Leung Chiu Wai has rejoined the cast and may be taking over Chow Yun-Fatt's role of Zhou Yu after Chow left the cast last week. Leung was originally slated to play Zhuge Liang but his role was handed over to Takeshi Kaneshiro when he quit early this year.

The latest cast as per news reports:
Tony Leung as Zhou Yu (?)
Takeshi Kaneshiro as Zhuge Liang
Hu Jun as Zhao Yun
Zhang Fengyi as baddie Cao Cao
You Yong as Liu Bei
Chang Chen as Sun Quan
Chiling Lin as ancient hot babe Xiao Qiao
Vicky Zhao Wei as Sun Shang Xiang
Zhang Jing Chu as Da Qiao

This John Woo film will be divided into two parts, with the first part scheduled to be released before the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the second part at the end of 2008.

Hmm... hopefully the casting troubles will not affect the film too adversely...

Good luck to John Woo :-)

Also, check out this site below (in Chinese) for some nice pics of the cast and the characters in the movie: http://ent.tom.com/movie/f/chibi.html
And for some background info on the movie, check out my previous blog post here.

[information from articles in the following sites:
http://movies.monstersandcritics.com/news/article_1294807.php/Tony_Leung_rejoins_Woos_The_Battle_of_Red_Cliff’_ http://www.firstshowing.net/2007/04/17/chow-yun-fat-drops-john-woos-battle-of-red-cliff/

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April 14, 2007

The Two Versions Of Hwang Jin Yi

In Association with YesAsia.comKorea's legendary gisaeng Hwang Jin Yi or Hwang Jini is moving from the small screen to the big screen this June. While the TV drama serial had Ha Ji Won (top pic) playing the beautiful and talented 16th century gisaeng (female entertainer), the movie will star sweetie pie Song Hye Kyo (bottom pic) in the title role.

It is certainly going to be a challenging role for Song as prior to this movie her roles have mostly been female leads in romantic comedies (e.g. Full House) or dramas that had relatively straightforward story lines and not all that much character development. But she will certainly need to exercise her acting chops this time round as Hwang Jini was a complex character and had a dramatic life story. Ha Ji Won managed to win the prestigious KBS Acting Awards' Dae Sang with her portrayal of Hwang Jin Yi.

Who will be the more memorable Hwang Jin Yi? Well, its too early to say as the movie is not out yet but I managed to find the trailer for Song Hye Kyo's Hwang Jini on You Tube and you can judge for yourself. Enjoy the trailer and watch out for the movie :-)

[Pictures from YesAsia and http://yummycelebrities.com/2007/03/01/song-hye-kyo-finished-filming-hwang-jin-i/]

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