October 30, 2007

12 Nominations For Lust, Caution At The 2007 Golden Horse Awards

To me, Lust, Caution is the must watch Chinese movie of 2007. The extensive media coverage and the lively debates generated by the movie have been unprecedented, no Chinese film has generated this kind of buzz in a long long time, Lust, Caution is truly the Chinese-language movie event of the year. And I think the Golden Horse Awards panel thinks so too as the film has been nominated for a whopping 12 awards at this year's Golden Horse Awards to be held on December 8th in Taiwan including the major awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Ang Lee), Best Actor (Tony Leung) and Best Actress (Tang Wei). Me thinks Lust, Caution is going to take more than a few of these golden horsies home this year ;-)

Besides Lust, Caution (色,戒), other nominees for Best Picture are:

  • What On Earth Have I Done Wrong (情非得已之生存之道) first feature film by Taiwanese director Doze Niu who also directed the Wu Bai and Barbie Hsu idol drama Say Yes Enterprise

  • Getting Home (落叶归根) a black comedy by Chinese Sixth Generation director Zhang Yang and starring Best Actor nominee Zhao Ben Shan and Hu Jun

  • The Home Song Stories (意) an Australian/Singaporean bilingual movie (in English & Chinese) by Tony Ayres and starring Best Actress nominee Joan Chen and Singapore based actor Qi Yu Wu.

And the other Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress nominees are:
Best Director: Yau Nai Hoi (Eye In The Sky), Li Yang (Blind Mountain)
Best Actor: Gurmit Singh (Just Follow Law), Zhao Ben Shan (Getting Home), Aaron Kwok (The Detective)
Best Actress: Joan Chen (The Home Song Stories), Li Bing Bing (The Knot).

A full list of the nominees can be found on the official Golden Horse Awards site:

And here are some screen shots of the nominated Best Picture films below:

Video: goldenhorse nomination films

Latest News: According to this news report, one of the original nominees, Tuya's Marriage (图雅的婚事) - Golden Bear winner at the 57th Berlin Film Festival, has announced its withdrawal from the Golden Horse Awards yesterday. So as of today, we are left with four competing films for Best Picture, and three nominees each for the Best Director and Best Actress awards...

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October 21, 2007

Three Versions Of The Great White Tower

Lately with all the news about the numerous nominations (8 in total!) for the popular Taiwanese TV drama The Hospital at the upcoming Golden Bell Awards in Taiwan - the television equivalent of the Golden Horse Awards, you may be wandering if this is actually a Taiwanese adaptation of the 2003 hit Japanese drama serial The Great White Tower (Shiroi Kyotou) as the two have the same Chinese or Kanji name - 白い巨塔/白色巨塔. But actually, although the two dramas have the same name, they are based on two different stories.

Shiroi Kyotou is based on a novel by Yamasaki Toyoko and depicts the conflicts and power struggles in a large hospital through the eyes of two equally brilliant but radically different doctors - the ruthlessly ambitious surgeon (Zaizen) and the upright and dedicated doctor (Satomi). The novel was a huge bestseller in Japan and was made into a movie in 1966, and drama serials in 1967, 1978, 1990 and in 2003. The 2003 version which starred Karasawa Toshiaki and Eguchi Yosuke was a ratings hit and won the Best Drama, Best Screenwriter and Best Director at the 40th Japanese Television Drama Academy Awards.

The Hospital is adapted from a novel by Taiwanese doctor cum author Hou Wen Yong. The main characters here are Su Yi Hua (played by Jerry Yan of F4 fame) - a somewhat naive and idealistic surgeon unwittingly caught between two rival factions vying for power and Chiu Qing Cheng (played by Leon Dai Li Ren) , a hard-headed and ambitious surgeon who is vying for power himself. It does sound a bit like Shiroi Kyotou doesn't it? But the characters and storyline in The Hospital are unique and totally different. Ng Man Tat, a regular in Stephen Chow's movies, Saya (who by the way shaved her head for her role as a cancer patient) and Fei Xiang also play important supporting roles.

And besides the Japanese and Taiwanese Great White Towers, there is also a South Korean version as well: Behind The White Tower. This Korean drama is adapted from Shiroi Kyoto and stars Kim Myeong-Min as Dr. Jang Jun-Hyuk (the Korean version of Dr. Zaizen) and Lee Seon-gyoon as Dr. Choi Do-Yeong (Dr. Satomi's alter-ego). As this is an adaptation of Shiroi Kyoto, the plot is essentially the same as the Japanese one.

Actually although I still like the Japanese version the most, I think that all three versions of The Great White Tower are very well made drama serials and worth watching. Check them out and good luck to The Hospital at the Golden Bell Awards!

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October 5, 2007

The Rise Of Period Dramas In Korea

While reading the latest news on Bae Yong Joon's epic period drama series Taewangsasingi or The Four Guardian Gods of the King (picture), I was struck by how good the TV ratings for period dramas in Korea were in general. Although these drama serials are not as well-known as comtemporary romantic drama serials such as Princess Hours or Coffee Prince in Asia, for the last couple of years, these ancient drama serials regularly trump the modern-day dramas in the ratings war in their home country.

For example, the highest rated drama serial in 2006 was the historical drama Jumong which achieved spectacular ratings of 51.9%* on its last episode when it was shown in South Korea in March this year. This is a phenominal result if you consider the fact that ratings for television drama serials in South Korea only average about 10 to 20%. In fact, any drama serial that achieves a rating of above 20% is considered a hit. Jumong's viewership rating is higher than all of the hit modern-day drama series in 2006 (the ratings of the much talked about and very popular romantic drama series Princess Hours peaked at only 28.3%**). And how can we forget 2003's mega-hit Daejanggeum (Jewel In The Palace), THE drama series that arguably popularised Korean cuisine across Asia and made its lead actress Lee Young-Ae an international star.

At the moment, this historical drama boom is showing no signs of waning at all, at least not in the near future. Currently, the two highest rated drama serials in Korea are, you guessed it, historical dramas - Dae Jo Yeong (大祚榮) and Yon-sama's Taewangsasingi (太王四神記), both shows achieved high ratings of about 30% in the last couple of weeks. These two drama serials are actually pretty similar, they are both about the life and times of powerful ancient kings in Korean history - Dae Jo Young (or King Go of Balhae) and King Gwanggaeto in Taewangsasingi. Other historical dramas that have garnered much interest recently include The King and I and Lee San, Wind of the Palace.
Check out this theme song video of Taewangsasingi on YouTube (me thinks Yonsama looks pretty handsome here hehheh) ;-)

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* Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumong_(TV_series)
** Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Hours
Picture from http://www.24framespersecond.net/
Other references: http://ent.sina.com.cn/v/j/2007-10-02/23351736996.shtml;