December 21, 2008

Top 10 Highest-Rated Korean Dramas In 2008

Family dramas rule this year in Korean TV drama land. The majority of the Top 10 highest rated Korean drama serials in 2008 were family-themed dramas (mostly stories that depict relationship issues between husbands and wives, or mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law). Unlike last year when period dramas ruled, this year only two period dramas Lee San, Wind Of The Palace and Iljimae made it into the Top 10. Also, compared to last year, average viewership ratings fell across the board and only the top 3 drama serials achieved ratings of 30% and above - Likeable Or Not (also a Top 10 drama in 2007) (about 39%), Golden Era Of Daughter-In-Law (about 32%) and Lee San,Wind of the Palace (about 30%).

Here are the Top 10 Korean Drama Serials based on average viewership ratings according to the two main sources of viewership ratings in South Korea: AGB Nielson Media and TNS Media Korea. The two lists are mostly similar but there are still some minor differences.

AGB Nielson Media *TNS Media Korea **
1. Likeable Or NotSame
2. Golden Era Of Daughter-In-LawSame
3. Lee San,Wind of the PalaceSame
4. You Are My Destiny Mom Has Grown Horns
5. Golden BrideFirst Wives Club
6. Mom Has Grown HornsYou Are My Destiny
7. First Wives ClubGolden Bride
8. New HeartSame
9. East Of EdenSame
10. I Am HappyIljimae

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December 3, 2008

Taiwanese Movies Make A Comeback

After suffering years of stagnating domestic box-office figures, Taiwanese movies made a spectacular comeback in 2008 with Cape No. 7 (海角七號), a small budget indie flick that has become the all-time second highest grossing movie in Taiwan ever (second only to the Titanic). Up till today, Cape has earned US$14 million in Taiwan and topped the box office charts in Hong Kong on its opening weekend.

Set in the coastal town of Hengchun in Taiwan, Cape No. 7 is about the romance between an aspiring singer called Aga (played by Van Fan) and a Japanese concert promoter called Tomoko (Tanaka Chie). Their romance became somehow inextricably linked to seven undelivered love letters from a Japanese man to a woman in Taiwan that were written some 60 years ago. The film also has elements of a musical of sorts as it also tells the heartwarming story of how a motley crew of small-town Hengchun residents form an impromptu rock band for a seaside concert.

By all accounts, Cape's success was truly unexpected, although critically acclaimed overseas, Taiwanese movies historically do not fare all that well at the local box-office. Moreover, Cape's director Wei Te-Sheng was directing his first full-length feature and the film was made with a miniscule budget of only US$1.5 million. The film premiered in August with little fanfare but by positive word of mouth, the film soon became the talk of the town and attracted the attention of the local media which gave the film ample coverage in their reports, this of course led to even more stunning box-office figures in the months to follow - Cape No. 7 topped the box office in Taiwan for 8 weeks in a roll from the beginning of September to the end of October*.

Cape's massive success could also have fundamentally changed the landscape for locally produced Taiwanese productions as other local productions that were released at about the same time, such as Orz Boys and 1895, also enjoyed better than expected box-office takings. However, whether this change can be sustained in the long run remains to be seen....

Here is the 5-minute trailer of the film that I found on YouTube:

More movie news next time ;-)


Image from Wikipedia.

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November 21, 2008

Trailer for Red Cliff Part 2

The first part of John Woo's mega-budget blockbuster film Red Cliff (赤壁) has done phenominally well so far, topping box-offices in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan despite less than stellar reviews from the Chinese critics.

The second part of the two-parter is set for a Chinese New Year release in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong on January 15, 2009, the film will premiere in South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore about a week later and in Japan in April 2009.

Can Red Cliff Part 2 do as well as Part 1? Well, we will have to wait till next year to find out but in the meantime, here is the trailer for Part 2 from YouTube... And from what I gather from the trailer, the style of Part 2 is very similar to Part 1, so if you enjoyed the first movie, chances are you will like the second one as well :-)


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November 8, 2008

Latest News On Chinese Movies

The Chinese movie industry has been abuzz with news on various big-budget films these last couple of days.

1. Jay Chou's new movie as a white haired gongfu expert.
Who would have thought that pop star Jay Chou (star of Iniial 'D' and Secret) will act as a white-haired highly skilled gungfu expert that teaches Once Upon A Time In China star Vincent Zhao, a highly trained martial arts exponent in real life, gongfu in Yuen Woo Ping's new movie True Legend. Check out this link for pics of Jay's new look in the film(gulp!). True Legend is about the life story of Beggar Su, a martial arts master who lived like a beggar and created the "Drunken Fist" style of martial art (popularised in the Jackie Chan classic movie Drunken Master). Jay will play the role of the er "Martial Arts God" in the film. Well, with special effects, anyone can be a gungfu expert and Jay Chou's gungfu moves were not all that bad in Curse Of The Golden Flower so... The film also stars Michelle Yeoh and Zhou Xun and is scheduled to be released in the middle of next year.

2. New Mei Lanfang Trailer

A new trailer on the much anticipated biopic of Chinese Opera legend Mei Lan Fang by Chinese director Chen Kaige and starring Leon Lai and Ziyi Zhang was released recently. Previously simply titled Mei Lanfang, it is now known as Forever Enthralled in English. I managed to find the trailer for this film on YouTube and it just has "epic" written all over it. The film will be released in China on December 12 this year. This should be good.

3. Andy Lau's Latest Project

Hong Kong star Andy Lau will star in a new Wong Jing sci-fi movie titled Future Cop. Co-stars include Taiwanese actress Barbie Hsu, Xu Jiao (the cute kid in Stephen Chow's CJ7) and Taiwanese idol drama regular Mike He. According to this site, Andy Lau stars as a cop from the year 2085 who returns to 2010 to investigate crimes. Wow, a Chinese sci-fi film that is set in the future, we have not had this kind of film for a very long time. The movie is set for release in 2009 and there will also be on-location shoots in Dubai and Hong Kong.

More Chinese movie news next time...

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October 30, 2008

Early Review and Trailer Of New Dragon Ball Movie

The upcoming live-action Dragonball movie starring Chow Yun Fatt, Justin Chatwin, James Marsters and Emma Rossum may not be too bad after all ;-)

According to this site, a reviewer who claims to have watched an early version of the movie wrote that the best parts included the action ("awesome"), James Marsters as Picollo, Justin Chatwin as Goku and Emma Rossum as Bulma. The worst parts were the story, Jamie Chung as Chi Chi, Chow Yun Fatt as Master Roshi ("acted like Mr. Kesuke Miyagi") and the CGI dragon. Overall the reviewer gave the movie a decent 6.5 out of 10.

Well, the movie is set for general release in April 2009 so we will know by then just how good or bad it is. But until then, check out the trailer here.


Image from Wikipedia:

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October 20, 2008

My Thoughts On Japanese Movie 20th Century Boys Part 1

Finally got to watch the the first part of the highly anticipated live-action movie adaptation of Naoki Urasawa 's hit manga 20th Century Boys (20世紀少年) over the weekend. Costing US$60 million and starring Toshiaki Karasawa, Tokiwa Takako, Etsushi Toyokawa and other top names in the Japanese entertainment industry, it's no wonder that I had sky-high expectations of this movie. And the film does not disappoint, the acting was generally superb, many of the characters looked exactly like their manga counterparts and the special FX was good (not Hollywood standard yet but at least I thought that it was better than the special effects in Death Note). However, I felt that something was missing from the movie... Not sure what that "something" was but somehow I just could not become fully absorbed in the story that was unfolding before me on the big screen...

And after thinking about why I have this feeling, I have come up with two possible reasons:

1. Not reading the manga first. The storyline is very complex, no mistake about that, and like a good whodunnit, there were little hints here and there of who the dastardly villain a.k.a Friend is, but to catch these hints, I think one has to be somewhat familiar with the plot first. I did not read the manga from beginning to end, only bits and pieces after I found out that there was going to be a movie adaptation. This could have affected my ability to fully appreciate what was going on. Perhaps, if I had finished reading the whole manga series before watching the movie, I would have had a greater appreciation for the film...

2. Not enough time to flesh out the characters. As they had to squeeze the long and highly complicated plot (22 volumes of manga in total and a timeline that spans from 1969 to 2015) into three 2-hour plus movies, it is understandable that some parts of the story had to be sacrificed... This may have affected the flow of the plot to a certain extent. Also, because of the sheer multitude of characters in the story, many key characters appear for far too short a time to allow the audience to have the chance to understand what motivates them and to feel for them. Without this emotional attachment to the characters, it is hard to become all that interested in what happens to them in the film...

But that is not to say that the characters were not memorable, in fact, some of them (especially the minor ones) have so much character and their personality and quirks were so vividly brought to life that you will remember them even if they just appear for a mere few minutes. Case in point is Naoto Takenaka's short 3(?) minute appearance.

The parts I liked the most were the scenes of Kenji and friends as kids, as these scenes evoked a feeling of sweetness and nostalgia. Also, the scenes between Kenji and his niece Kanna (who will play a leading role in the 2nd and 3rd instalments of the trilogy) were especially touching.

But all in all, for all its faults, this is the best Japanese movie that I have seen this year. and I will be eagerly looking forward to Part 2 early next year. But I think I will go read the manga first hehheh.

And here is the trailer for Part II on YouTube, looks pretty exciting to me! Btw, can't help but notice that 'Friend' sure has a wide variety of masks, he could consider setting up a retail outlet selling masks when he retires from his business of terrorisng his childhood pals and world domination ;-P

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October 6, 2008

Korean Hana Yori Dango Cast Confirmed

The main cast of the Korean version of the hit manga Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers) has been announced. Playing the female lead character of Makino Tsukushi is the very sweet Goo Hye Sun (of Pure 19 and King And I fame). And the super rich boys of her school a.k.a. F4 consists of Lee Min Ho (as hot-headed F4 leader Domyouji), Kim Hyun Joong from boy band SS501 as the quiet Rui, Kim Bum as Soujiro and Kim Joon as Akira.

As the story's setting has been changed to Korea, there will be some changes in the storyline and character names. Makino is now Yeon Woo, the daughter of the owner of a dry cleaning shop. Domyoji is Goo Joon Pyo, Rui Hanazawa is now Yoon Ji Hoo, Sojiro is So Lee Jung and Akira is Song Woo Bin. For a comparison between the manga, Taiwanese, Japanese and Korean versions of F4, check out this blog post.

The drama serial is scheduled to be aired in December this year.

More info on Hana Yori Dango and other Korean drama series news can be found at my previous blog post here.


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September 30, 2008

Chinese Classics Come To Life On The Small Screen

The television version of the classic epic Romance Of The Three Kingdoms (三国) (on which the hit movie Red Cliff is based on) has just begun shooting yesterday. Starring well-known Chinese television personalities like Ruby Lin, Lu Yi, Nie Yuan, Peter Ho, Chen Hao, Huang Wei De and Chen Jian Bin in the principal roles, shooting for this 60-episode television adaptation will last for one year and is scheduled to debut on Chinese television in 2010. Pics of the main cast in costume can be found here.

This is the second classic novel out of the The Four Great Classic Novels Of Chinese Literature that has been adapted for television this year. Another classic Dream Of The Red Mansions has already started filming in May this year. This version will star newcomers in many of the principal roles, (e.g. Yang Yang as chief protagonist Jia Baoyu and Bai Bing as Lin Daiyu's love rival Xue Baochai). To date there is still no confirmation on who will play Jia Baoyu's love interest Lin Daiyu. Pics of the cast can be found here. Hmmm... very "Chinese opera-ish" costumes...

No news yet on when the other two classics, Journey To The West and Water Margin will start filming although there have been some news that Zhang Ji Zhong, the director of Journey will start filming this series after he has finished shooting the latest version of Louis Cha's Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre (gawd..... yet another remake :-P).

And for something different, I found this video on YouTube of the famous flower burying scene from the original CCTV version of the Dream Of Red Chambers... If you have not seen 1980's TV serials from China, you can get a taste of in in this vid below... Enjoy :-)

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September 22, 2008

More Korean Drama News...

On air Korean drama East Of Eden has been steadily climbing up the ratings chart hitting a high of 26.3% last Tuesday and 25.8% this Monday. With 40 more episodes to go, East Of Eden may yet hit a new high in its ratings.

Other dramas that have been performing well and moving rapidly up the charts include Jumong star Song Il Gook's 36-episode period drama The Kingdom Of The Winds (pic), a sequel of sorts to Jumong as Song plays Moo Hyul, Jumong's grandson and another great king in Korean history. Whether Kingdom Of The Winds can match Jumong's popularity remains to be seen but it sure looks like Song Il Kook has cornered the market for "great historical king" roles after his star turn in Jumong ;-)

And there is going to be another remake of the hit manga Hana Yori Dango, this time a Korean version. Hana Yori Dango is so well-loved that practically all the live-action remakes of the manga so far have been massive hits. The Taiwanese version (Meteor Garden) launched the careers of the Jerry Yen and Barbie Hsu. The Japanese version raised the showbiz careers of Matsumoto Jun (Domyoji), Oguri Shun (Rui) and Inoue Mao (Makino) to new heights, especially Oguri Shun who is incredibly popular in Japan right now.

The Korean version scheduled to air either at the end of the year or next spring will have 24 episodes and although the cast has not been officially announced, it is widely rumored that popular boyband SS501's Kim Hyun Joong has been cast as Hanazawa Rui. No news yet on the rest of the cast...

Another Korean TV drama serial that has the public buzzing is Song Hye-Kyo's comeback drama after 2004's Full House - The World They Live In (or Worlds Within). Also starring Hyun Bin, all that I managed to find out about the plot is that it is about lives of two directors who are played by Hyun Bin and Song Hye-Gyo respectively. The drama is currently in production and is scheduled to debut in October this year.

And yet another highly anticipated comeback drama is Lee Byung Hun's big-budget spy thriller IRIS which is currently in pre-production. According to this site, the drama has a budget of US$22 million and there will be location shoots in the United States, Japan, Russia and China! Whew, this is even bigger than East of Eden! Lee Byung Hun is said to be currently preparing for his role in the drama (source). And... I am already tingling with excitement ;-)

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August 31, 2008

Confucius Coming To The Big Screen

A new US$22 million film on the most influential philosoper of all time in Chinese history -Confucius (孔子) will begin filming in November this year. The director tasked to make Confuciu's cinematic debut is female director Hu Mei, who is known more as a TV drama director rather than as a film director. She has directed some of the most acclaimed Chinese historical television drama serials ever made such as Emperor Of Han Wu and Yong Zheng Dynasty.

No cast has been confirmed yet but according to what I gathered from the net, some of the actors that the public would like to see in this role include acclaimed director Zhang Yimou (who recently directed the spectacular Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony and Closing Ceremony), Andy Lau, Chen Dao Ming, Zhang Fengyi (last seen as Cao Cao in Chibi) and Tony Leung.

Well, if all goes according to plan, this film should really be one of highlights of 2009 in the Chinese movie industry.


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August 24, 2008

New Korean Drama - East Of Eden

One of 2008's most highly anticipated Korean drama series East Of Eden will premiere this Monday in South Korea. This big-budget 50-episode drama has a star-studded cast comprising of some of the top names in the K-drama industry including Song Seung Hun (in his comeback drama after 2003's Summer Scent), Lee Da Hae (of My Girl fame), Yun Jong Hun, Park Hae Jin, Han Ji Hye (of Sweet 18 fame), Lee Yeon Hee and Dennis Oh. The producers and the TV station head honchos are obviously very confident that East Of Eden will be a hit cos the first two episodes will be aired concurrently on 26th August (An East Of Eden Special episode will be aired on the 25th), a very special arrangement that is reserved only for mega-budget dramas like this.

The drama has taken half a year to shoot (and still filming as of now) and cost 25 billion won (about US$24 million) to produce. On location shooting in some of the most scenic spots in Hong Kong, Macau and Japan means that even if the plot does not appeal to you, the scenery will be fantastic :-P

The plot promises to have all the elements of a good soap opera: good looking guys that just so happen to be born on the same day, mistaken identities, avenging heroes, beautiful heroines, complicated love triangles, jealousy, unrequited love etc. etc.... In fact, the plot reminded me of the highly dramatic Korean drama serials that were so popular a few years ago (e.g. Lee Byung Hun's All In), the only question now is whether the audience will still take to such stories today?

Well, whatever the outcome, we can be sure that this drama will milk our tear ducts and be the talk of the town while it is being aired. Here is the trailer of the drama that I found on YouTube. Really dramatic neh....

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July 30, 2008

Japanese Films Rule The Asian Movie Roost At Venice Film Fest

At the recently announced lineup of films in competition for the prestigious Golden Lion at the 65th Venice Film Festival which will take place from August 27th to September 6th, Japanese films are the most represented among all the Asian movies competing this year. Three Japanese movies have made it into the list of 21 films including two of the most anticipated animated features: Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea and Ghost In The Shell director Mamoru Oshii's The Sky Crawlers. The other Japanese movie in competition is award-winning director Takeshi Kitano's Achilles and the Tortoise. Ponyo debuted in Japan recently and has already topped the box-office records there. The Sky Crawlers will debut in Japan on August 2.

Unlike the previous years' La Biennale di Venezia, where Chinese language movies (including Hong Kong and Taiwanese movies) were quite well represented and a force to be reckoned with(3 films in 2006 including Golden Lion winner Still Life and 4 films in 2007 including winner Lust, Caution), this year, only one Chinese language movie made it to the list, Hong Kong director Yu Lik Wai's Plastic City, a Chinese/Brazil/Hong Kong/Japanese co-production about a group of Asian immigrant gangsters in Brazil. Plastic City stars über-cool Japanese star Joe Odagiri and well-known Hong Kong character actor Anthony Wong.

The trailer for Ponyo can be found here and the trailer for Achilles and the Tortoise can be found at this site. And here is the trailer for The Sky Crawlers that I found on YouTube:

Good luck to all the films competing in this year's Venice Film Festival :-)


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July 14, 2008

Red Cliff - Some Random Thoughts

As expected, John Woo's Red Cliff (赤壁) , the most expensive movie in Chinese film history, has broken opening day records in mainland China and topped the box-offices in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea over the last weekend. The US$80 million historical epic has already earned US$26 million on its opening weekend across these five Asian territories* and looks set to become the highest grossing East Asian hit movie this year. This is the first of a two-parter for Asian audiences and the sequel is scheduled to be released early next year. For audiences outside Asia, a condensed 2½ hour version will be released in January 2009.

I got to watch this highly anticipated movie over the weekend and I was largely satisfied with the performances in the film. From Tony Leung's portrayal of the calm yet brilliant Zhou Yu, to Takeshi Kaneshiro's portrayal of the witty Zhuge Liang, to Chiling Lin's beauteous Xiao Qiao, every member of the cast did a satisfactory job of bringing their characters to life. I was especially impressed by Zhang Fengyi's portrayal of the dominating and ruthless Cao Cao, although he is the singular lonely villian in the story, he still looked like he could eat every member of the gang of good guys - Liu Bei and his generals, Zhuge Liang, Zhou Yu, Sun Quan, Sun Shang Xiang and Xiao Qiao, for lunch. It's one against many yet the many seem to have a real hard time dealing with the ONE (Cao Cao), who looks to be the smartest of the lot ;-)

But what impressed me the most were the battle scenes, these do not disappoint and are the best parts of the movie. I could honestly say that these are some of the best battle scenes I have ever seen in an Asian movie. John Woo is really the master of action sequences and the battle scenes in this film retain his signature style ( lots of slow motion and sweeping moves) without losing the feeling of realism. Look out especially for the exciting battle scene just before the movie's end, for this is the part where we can finally understand and experience Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang's military genius (even though according to Wikipedia, this battle is purely fictional ;-P).

But the movie is not without faults, perhaps because of the plot, there is little human drama that is memorable. After watching the movie, except for the battle scenes, there were hardly any scenes that sticked in my mind. Lovebirds Zhou Yu and Xiao Qiao do not generate a lot of romantic sparks and Cao Cao's obsession with Xiao Qiao somehow also comes out a but strange, maybe because it is quite unbelievable that a man like Cao Cao could be so obsessed over a woman, to the extent of going to war for her... And I also feel that the soundtrack could be improved, some of the film's music just sound too modern and do not seem to fit the time period of the movie.

All in all, I think this is one of the best big-budgeted Chinese historical epic that I have seen so far, definitely much better than the too-extravagant-for-its-own-good Curse Of The Golden Flower ;-P

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Picture from Wikipedia

July 1, 2008

New Anime By Anime Master Hayao Miyazaki is called...

Ponyo On A Cliff (崖の上のポニョ or Gake no Ue no Ponyo) and it is a story about a five-year old boy and a goldfish princess (hmmm... not sure why the goldfish princess has a human face but she sure is super cute!). This long-awaited follow-up to 2004's Howl's Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki will be released in Japan on July 19, 2008. And after seeing the trailer recently, I think that I have already fallen in love with the characters because honestly I have never seen anything cuter than Ponyo! Hayao Miyazaki is truly a master of his craft!

Update (July 31): Here is the trailer which has the theme song on YouTube, somehow I have a feeling that this song is going to be a huge hit ;-) Can't wait to watch this movie.

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June 18, 2008

Live-Action Manga & Anime Coming To A Theatre Near You

A number of high profile live-action movie adaptations of popular Japanese manga and anime are currently in the works, including adaptations of highly popular manga/anime like Dragonball. It is usually pretty exciting to see what the live-action versions of these manga will be like, especialy if you are a fan. But the thing is, if you are a fan, you may not like the live-action version all that much too, especially if it does not fit into your idea of what the characters should be like. And if the filmmakers engage in some "creative" modifications to these well-loved characters as most film makers are wont to do, well...

But that is not likely to stop the film industry from raiding the manga/anime world for new film making ideas in this increasingly competitive industry where audiences are always looking for the next new (and totally original) thing. Here is a list of the "manga/anime to live-action" films that I managed to find that are being planned or in-production now:

Dragonball (Dragon Ball Anime)
One of the most popular anime/manga of all time. This live-action adaptation adaptation stars Justin Chatwin as the super-powered Sun Goku (pic), Chow Yun Fat as Master Roshi, Goku's eccentric senseh who teaches him the powerful "turtle-style" martial art - the Kamehameha, James Marsters (most famouus for playing Spike the vampire in Buffy The Vampire Slayer) as Lord Piccolo the villian, Jamie Chung as Chi-Chi, Goku's love interest and Emmy Rossum as Bulma. This movie is currently in post-production and will be released worldwide in April 2009. An interesting piece of info is that the producer is none other than Stephen Chow, the famous Hong Kong comedian! Check out the screen shots here.

Akira (Akira Anime)
This is considered by many as one of the greatest anime of all time. Right now what I have managed to find about this project are the following: it will be produced by Warner Brothers. The lead actor is none other than Mr. Titanic himself - Hollywood heavyweight Leonardo DiCaprio! He will play the main character 'Kaneda' and will also serve as co-producer of the film. The action is now in Manhattan instead of in Tokyo (so guess that means that everyone will speak English instead of Japanese now...). It will be made into two films and each film will cover three volumes of the manga. It will be directed by Irish direcctor Ruairi Robinson. The first film was planned for tentative release next summer, but this does not seem likely because as of now, I can't find any news on whether filming has started or not.

20th Century Boys ( 20th Century Boys Manga)
This 22 volume classic by Naoki Urasawa is being made into a US$60 million three-part Japanese language movie. The first part of the trilogy will be released in Japan in August this year and the second and third part of the trilogy will be released in 2009. The cast is really something, there will be 300 actors (!) in total, and among these 300 people are some of the biggest names in the Japanese entertainment industry, including Toshiaki Karasawa as the main character Kenji, Tokiwa Takako as Yukiji and Etsushi Toyokawa as Otcho. The rest of the cast and more info on the movie can be found at the official website (in Japanese).

And I managed to find the trailer on YouTube :-)

Antique Bakery (Antique Bakery Manga)
This 1999 manga by Fumi Yoshinaga will be made into a South Korean movie starring Princess Hours star Joo Ji-Hoon and Kim Jae Wok and will be released in South Korea this year. You can find some screen shots and more info on the movie here.

Neon Genesis Evangelion (Neon Genesis Evangelion Anime)
One of my all-time favorites, this complex anime has the most compelling storyline that I have ever seen in an anime. I have always felt that that it may be rather difficult to adapt this anime into a live-action film. But according to this website, an Evangelion live-action movie is moving into production right now. However, there seems to be no info yet on who will be acting in it or who will be directing this movie.

Blood: The Last Vampire (Blood: The Last Vampire Anime)
Based on the anime of the same name, this movie is currently in post-production and stars My Sassy Girl herself Jun Ji-Hyun (credited as Gianna Jun in the movie) as the 400-year old half-vampire half-human character Saya. Japanese sweetheart Koyuki will also play a role in the movie. The film is directed by Chris Nahon and according to IMDB, will be released in the U.S. in the later part of this year. You can find screen shots here.

Ghost In The Shell (Ghost In The Shell Anime)
Based on this news article, DreamWorks has licensed the rights to make a 3D live-action version of Ghost In The Shell. And the person at the helm could very well be the great Steven Spielberg himself :-)

And besides these live-action movies, there will also be CGI remakes of two of the best-loved anime of all time Astro Boy and Gatchaman or G-Force :-)

I for one sure can't wait to watch all these live-action and CGI anime come to life on the big screen ;-)

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May 30, 2008

Winter Sonata And Full House Are Back... As Anime

Following the success of the animated version of Dae Jang Geum - Jang Geum's Dream, animated versions of another two highly popular Korean dramas - Winter Sonata and Full House are currently in production and will be released in 2009.

The animated version of Winter Sonata will consist of 26 episodes and will have the original stars of the drama series Bae Yong-Joon and Choi Ji-Woo reprising their roles as the star-crossed lovers - Joon Sang and Yoo Jin.

Here is the trailer for the animated verion of Winter Sonata that I found on YouTube. I think that it is pretty well made and manages to capture the atmosphere of the drama serial very well. Really, when Bae Yong-Jun calls out "Yoo Jin ah" in the trailer and the theme song starts playing, I am transported back to the scenes in the drama immediately... some good memories there ... :-)

Another drama that is going to be made into an anime is Full House the 2004 hit Korean drama starring Rain and Song Hye-Kyo. Originally a manhwa (Korean manga), it was made into a drama serial and now it is going to made into a full-fledged anime. At the moment, I can't find any news on whether Rain or Song Hye-Gyo will be lending their voices to the anime but regardless, if the animated version is able to capture the spirit and exquisite comic timing of the two leads in the drama serial, I will definitely be looking forward to this animated version ;-)

Till next time...


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May 20, 2008

John Woo's Next Project After Red Cliff - 1949

John Woo's mega production Red Cliff is set to be released in July this year in Asia and a spate of new trailers for the movie have just been released (one of them below). High profile appearences by John Woo and the the cast of the movie including Tony Leung (Zhao Yun), Lin Chiling (Xiao Qiao), Chang Chen (Sun Quan), Hu Jun (Zhao Yun), Vicky Zhao (Sun Shang Xiang) and Zhang Feng Yi (Cao Cao) at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival have generated much buzz for the film.

And while we are still anticipating the arrival of Red Cliff, John Woo has already announced his next project at Cannes - 1949, a US$40 million epic romance set during the tumultous WWII era which will star Chang Chen and Korean actress Song Hye-kyo (left picture). As Song will play a Shanghai lady in the film, she will be taking Chinese language lessons in preparation for her role. This film will start shooting in December this year and is set for release in December 2009.

John Woo is one busy man ;-)

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April 28, 2008

Forbidden Kingdom Breaks Box-Office Records Across Asia

After becoming the Number 1 movie in the U.S. over the last weekend, the Jackie Chan & Jet Lee actioner The Forbidden Kingdom has continued to reign over the box-office across Asia, topping box-offices in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, South Korea and South-East Asia, even setting the highest opening day box-office record for China this year.

This result is truly incredible and shows the immense pulling power of the two biggest martial arts stars of today. But honestly, although North American audiences seem to love this movie (based on what I gather from the user reviews on IMDB) critical acclaim from Asian audiences have been rather muted*. For me, I think the movie is not too bad... But in a perfect world, I would have prefered Jackie Chan and Jet Li collaborating in a true blue Made-In-Hong Kong movie, with more spectacular and faster fight scenes, and for added oomph, have Donnie Yen and Ong Bak star Tony Jaa joining in the cast as well. We will then have Drunken Fist, Shaolin Kungfu and Muay Thai all in one movie haha!

Btw, according to this Chinese language news article, Jackie and Jet got along so fabulously that they are planning to make another movie together, and this time they are thinking of inviting the legendary Bruce Lee to join them! How are they going to go about doing this, I honestly have no idea, but with the magic of state-of-the-art special effects nowadays, well, anything could be possible! If they really succeed in making this movie, I can safely say that the box-office will explode! And don't forget to ask Tony Jaa and Donnie Yen too ;-)

And here is a YouTube video that shows the much talked about fight sequence between the two masters in The Forbidden Kingdom. Enjoy!

April 21, 2008

Gokusen V.S. Change

This battle between the new dramas in Japan this season is starting to look very interesting indeed! Gokusen 3 starring Nakama Yukie has exceeded all expectations scoring a sky high rating of 26.4% on its very first episode last Saturday! This result has undoubtedly put pressure on ratings king Takuya Kimura's new drama Change which will debut on May 12, whether Gokusen 3 will continue to triumph when Change debuts remains to be seen. But it definitely looks set to be a tough fight!

[Update 20/05/08
According to the latest ratings for the week of May 12 to May 18, Gokusen 3 is still on top with an average rating of 25.3% beating Change's 23.8%. But Change is only just a little behind and could still end up being the ultimate winner as this dorama has been getting generally postive reviews since it started airing on May 12. ]

The main attraction of Change is undoubtedly Kimura as the Prime Minister of Japan. He reportedly gained weight to make himself look more serious and authortative. And after seeing some screen shots of his new "un-kimutaku-like" nerdy image in the drama serial from this site, I think this drama could just be the vehicle that he is looking for that will finally allow him to leave his "teen idol" image behind him and propel him to greater heights in his acting career.

And besides Change, he is also starring in a new English language movie - I Come With The Rain with Josh Hartnett, South Korean hunk Lee Byung-hun and Hong Kong hotshot actor Shawn Yue. Here is the trailer of the film that I managed to find on YouTube. With so many good looking hunks all together at one place, this definitely looks like a great movie to me ;-)

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April 13, 2008

Jet Li Wins Best Actor At The Hong Kong Film Awards

The Warlords won eight awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards today, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Jet Li) and Best Director (Peter Chan). Co-star Andy Lau lost out to Jet Li in the Best Actor category but won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in Protege. Best Actress was scooped up by Siqin Gaowa for her role in The Postmodern Life Of My Aunt. And Ang Lee's Lust, Caution added another feather to its cap with an award for Best Asian Film. More details can be found in these news reports:

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March 31, 2008

Much Anticipated Upcoming Chinese Dramas

After writing about the much-anticipated Japanese/Korean upcoming dramas in my previous post, here are the Chinese language dramas that I think will be pretty hot this year:

Royal Tramp 2008 (pic)
This Chinese drama, based on Louis Cha's martial arts novel Duke of Mount Deer has been in the news recently because over 700(!) cuts/changes to the original version has to be made in order for it to be approved for broadcasting in China. This could be due to the theme of polygamy (the hero Wei Xiao Bao has, ahem, seven wives) and some pretty racy scenes that has never been shot before for a prime time TV drama in Mainland China. BTW, this is the umpteenth remake of Duke, the one that I liked best is still the 1984 Hong Kong TVB version starring Andy Lau as the Emporer and Tony Leung as Wei Xiao Bao. The current version stars Huang Xiaoming as Wei Xiao Bao and will debut possibly in April/May this year. I am not sure how this drama will turn out after all the cuts and changes but hopefully the entertainment value has not been too badly affected. I wonder if we can get the original "uncut" version on DVD hmmm...

Hot Shot (籃球火)
With a cast of three of the hottest Taiwanese idols at the moment - Jerry Yan, Show Luo and Wu Zun, exciting basketball matches and special effects never seen before in Taiwanese idol dramas, this one should be a sure-fire ratings hit when it is shown later this year in Taiwan.

The Condor Heroes
Ok this is another remake of Condor Heroes. But remakes of Louis Cha's novels usually garner much public attention and this is no exception. Hu Ge (of Chinese Paladin fame) stars as the hero Guo Jing and Ariel Lin (star of It Started With A Kiss and They Kiss Again) stars as Huang Rong. Currently in post-production and will be shown possibly in summer this year

It could be a side-effect of the Beijing Olympics but 2008 is turning out to be the "let's remake all the great works of Chinese literature" year, two of The Four Great Classics of Chinese literature are scheduled to start production this year:

Dream Of The Red Chambers
This classic has been adapted into a TV serial only once in 1986 and it was a big hit in China when it was aired then. This time round, the three main protagonists of the novel (Lin Daiyu, Jia Baoyu and Xue Baochai) wil be played by relative newcomers: Lin Daiyu - Yao Di, Xue Baochai - Bai Bing and Jia Baoyu (as yet unconfirmed). This heavyweight project is tentatively scheduled to start filming in April.
Wikipedia - Dream Of The Red Chambers

Water Margin
This classic is tentatively set to start filming soon (possibly in May/June 2008?), till now the only confirmed cast is Nie Yuan as Lin Chong. Hmm, I am just curious who will play the notoriously adulterous pair: Pan Jinlian and Ximen Qing hehheh.
Wikipedia - Water Margin

There is also some news that the other two novels in The Four Great Classics of Chinese literature - Romance Of The Three Kingdoms and Journey To The West will also be made into TV drama serials but I did not manage to find any news on when these two will be filmed...

Btw, the earlier TV drama versions of these four great classics by mainland China's CCTV station could also be regarded as classics themselves. Although the pace of these dramas were pretty slow and languid compared to today's television dramas, they were really well filmed and the acting and attention to detail were truly superb, check them out if you are interested in these classic Chinese literary works:
Dream Of The Red Chambers, Water Margin, Journey To The West, Romance Of The Three Kindoms.

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March 23, 2008

Character Posters For John Woo's Red Cliff

Character posters for the 8 major characters in John Woo's mega production Red Cliff were presented at the recent Hong Kong Filmart. Just click on the names of the characters below to check them out.

Zhao Zilong - played by Chinese actor Hu Jun. Hmmm, I like Hu Jun but his Zhao Zilong really looks a bit too burly and tough.... isn't Zhao supposed to be a rather debonair and dashing general? For another version of Zhao Zilong, check out Andy Lau's version of this heroic figure in the YouTube trailer for his upcoming new movie Three Kingdoms - Resurrection Of The Dragon below - in case you are wondering, yup he is the guy in the "WWII" combat helmet ;-P
(Wikipedia entry for Zhao Zilong aka Zhao Yun)

Zhuge Liang - played by Takeshi Kaneshiro. OK... he looks suave and scholarly enough...
(Wikpeda entry for Zhuge Liang aka Kong Ming)

Zhou Yu - played by Tony Leung Chiu Wai. Not bad at all. He looks more tanned and buff here compared to his Lust, Caution days. (Zhou Yu On Wikipedia)

Xiao Qiao - this ancient beauty is played by modern beauty Chiling Lin. Much much better here than I expected :-P

Cao Cao - played by Chinese character actor Zhang Fengyi. Fits the widely accepted image of Cao Cao. (Cao Cao on Wikipedia).

Sun Quan - played by Chang Chen. Not bad too. (Sun Quan on Wikipedia)

Sun Shang Xiang - played by Vicky Zhao Wei. Me thinks that glow from her forehead is caused by the reflection from the glass pane in front of the poster, it should not be in the poster itself :-P

Gan Xing - played by Japanese actor Shido Nakamura.

All in all, the characters don't look too bad at all. The film will be released in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong on 10 July this year just before the Beijing Olympics and in Japan in October.

Here is the Japanese version of the trailer:

And here is the trailer for Andy Lau's Three Kingdoms - Resurrection Of The Dragon:

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