July 31, 2009

East Asian Films At 66th Venice Film Festival

The feature films competing for the Golden Lion at the 66th Venice Film Festival has just been announced and three East Asian films have made it into this prestigious list:

Pou-Soi Cheang's Yi Ngoi (Accident) from Hong Kong starring Louis Koo, Richie Jen and Michelle Ye.

Shinya Tsukamoto's Tetsuo The Bullet Man from Japan starring Eric Bossick, Akiko Monou and Shinya Tsukamoto himself. The third instalment in the cult Tetsuo franchise, this one is unique cos it's actually in English! Check out this intriguing eight-minute clip of the film shown at the recent Comic-Con that I found on YouTube:

And last but not least, Yonfan's Lei Wangzi (Prince of Tears), a Taiwan / Hong Kong co-production starring Chih-Wei Fan, Terri Kwan, Joseph Chang and Kenneth Tsang.

Two East Asian films are screening out-of-competition: Mainland Chinese film Chengdu, I Love You directed by Fruit Chan and Cui Jian (selected as the closing film for the festival):

and Japanese animated film Yona Yona Penguin:

You can find the full list of films here. Good luck to all the films competing for the Golden Lion.

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July 22, 2009

Korean Movie News - The Host Sequel and Jang Dong-Gun returns to big screen

Two recent news reports made me pretty excited - the official sequel to the Korean mega-blockbuster The Host is in the works and popular Hallyu actor Jang Dong-Gun will be returning to the silver screen after an absence of four years.

The Host 2
According to this article, Singapore's Boku Films will be co-producing the sequel to The Host (tentatively named The Host 2) with Korea's Chungeorahm. The director has not been announced yet ... hopefully it will still be the original director of The Host - Bong Joon-ho. The film is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2010. Besides this official sequel, there is a Chinese language sequel that is also in the works, this version will be directed by Ning Hao who is most famous for his dark comedy Crazy Stone. The Chinese sequel was annnounced last June and there were some rumours late last year that popular Hong Kong actor Andy Lau will be the lead actor, but since then there have been no further news or confirmation of this on the web.

Jang Dong-Gun's New Movie
After an absence of four years from Korean moviedom, Jang Dong-gun is finally returning to the big screen. He will star as a very handsome President (see pic below for how good-looking he is ;-P) in a new comedy entitled Good Morning, President. The movie also stars Han Chae-Young (of Sassy Girl, Chun-Hyang fame) as the handsome Pres's love interest (lucky gal!). The film is currently in production and is set to be released in South Korea in October this year. Before this Jang was in the English-language historical action flick The Warrior's Way (formerly known as Laundry Warrior) which is set to be released in the U.S. and U.K. this September. Check out the promo trailer for The Warrior's Way here. I know I will be looking forward to both films ;-)

http://enjoy.eastday.com/e/20081024/u1a3938570.html, http://popseoul.com/2009/07/21/good-morning-jang-dong-gun/, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/art/2009/07/135_48739.html

Pic from http://popseoul.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/jangdonggun_090721_20_289_29.jpg

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June 30, 2009

Yoon Eun-Hye's New Drama - Lady Castle

Update 7/22: Lady Castle has underwent a name change and is now My Fair Lady. The posters for the drama are up too, check them out here. Yoon Eun-hye looks really good...

Yoon Eun-Hye, the sweet, lovable star of popular Korean dramas like Goong and Coffee Prince finally has a new Korean drama in the works - Lady Castle! Yup, the long wait for her new drama is at last coming to a close!

Lady Castle is about three very rich sisters who live in a huge mansion and their romantic entanglements with a poor but scheming male housekeeper who wants to make their inheritance his own.

And it has just been announced that the male lead (i.e. the scheming housekeeper) is going to be played by Yoon Sang-Hyun, whose heartthrob status has risen considerably after starring in Queen of Housewives so much so that he has even been termed the Goo Jun-Pyo (Boys Over Flowers heartthrob) for the thirty-something crowd.

Based on the little info that I have about the plot, Yun Eun-hye's character is the extremely beautiful middle sister who is unfortunately also haughty, self-centered and stubborn. But at heart, she is actually a poor little rich girl who is lonely and longs for romantic love. She gets involved in a love-triangle with the housekeeper and a rich suitor. And I just found out that this rich suitor could be played by Jung Il-Woo who starred as Iljimae in The Return Of Iljimae although it's not confirmed as yet. But I still have not found any news on who will be playing the other two sisters...

The series will begin filming in July and is scheduled to air on Korean TV channel KBS in August this year.

Source: http://www.dramabeans.com/2009/06/yoon-sang-hyun-storms-the-lady-castle/, http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Lady_Castle, http://www.hancinema.net/chanmi-s-drama-news-new-drama-starring-yoon-eun-hye--20010.html, http://www.allkpop.com/index.php/full_story/jung_il_woo_joining_lady_castle/

Picts from http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Yoon_Sang_Hyun, http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Yoon_Eun_Hye

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June 21, 2009

Chinese Movie News From The Shanghai Film Festival

There has been a flurry of news on upcoming Chinese movies at the just concluded Shanghai Film Festival.

1. The creators of the upcoming big-budget Chinese film Bodyguards and Assassins unveiled their huge HK$50 million film set to the press. The film set is a replica of 1905 Hong Kong and is as big as 10 football fields. Part of the star-studded cast including Donnie Yen, Eric Tsang and Fan Bing Bing attended this so-called "opening of the city" ceremony. You can see more scenes of this replica of old Hong Kong city in this new promotional trailer below:

2. Stars of the upcoming period movie Mulan including Vick Zhao (who stars as wartime heroine Hua Mulan), Hu Jun, Xu Jiao (young Mulan) and director Jingle Ma went on a promotional blitz at the festival, including organizing a special "Mulan Night" dinner party. Here is a trailer of Mulan than I found on Youtube.

3. Chinese film The Search won the Grand Jury Prize and Hong Kong star Aaron Kwok's new period movie Empire of Silver won the Jury Prize at the SIFF. Empire Of Silver is about a powerful banking family at the end of the 19th century whilst The Search is a film about a director's search for a missing man. Aaron Kwok will also be in the new Hong Kong movie The Murderer which will also be out in theatres in Hong Kong in July.

Empire of Silver trailer. Looks pretty good...

4. New trailer of upcoming sci-fi comedy Kungfu Cyborg which is scheduled to be released in August. This is definitely one of the campiest trailers I have ever seen... ;-P

5. Feng Xiaogang's highly anticipated upcoming US$18 million disaster movie Aftershock will be the first Chinese film to be in IMAX format. Aftershock is about the life of a girl who survived the 1976 Tangshan earthquake. The film is set to begin filming next month and will be released in IMAX theatres in China and other Asian territories in July 2010. Box-office expectations for this movie is sky-high as director Feng Xiaogang previously helmed such massive box-office hits like If You Are The One, Assembly and The Banquet.

6. Ip Man 2 will start filming in August and Ip Man's disciple Bruce Lee will also make an appearance in the film. Donnie Yen will be reprising his role as Ip Man, but there is still no news yet on who will be playing Bruce Lee. There is another biopic of Ip Man that is also in the works - The Grand Master which will be directed by Wong Kar Wai and stars Lust, Caution star Tony Leung Chiu Wai.

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May 26, 2009

Kimura Takuya Continues Winning Streak

The ratings for trendy dramas in Japan have been rather low since the start of this year but trust the ever-popular Mr. Kimura Takuya to put things right. His new drama Mr. Brain jumped to the top of the ratings charts on its very first episode on Saturday, leaving the competition in the dust.

Mr. Brain's rating of 24.8% is the highest rating for doramas to date this year and cements Kimutaku's reputation as the ratings king in Japan's television drama land. In Mr. Brain, Kimura Takuya plays a club host who unexpectedly becomes a genius after suffering brain injuries from an accident (wow, that's... er... incredible!). He joins the police force and becomes the resident neuroscientist who uses his newfound brain power to solve the most complex crimes. Like his previous drama series Hero, this drama series also has different guest stars for each episode. And in the first episode, the guest star just so happens to be Ryoko Hirosue, who was last seen in the Oscar wining film Okuribito. Future guest stars include pop idol Gackt and pop group KAT-TUN's Kazuya Kamenashi.

Mr. Brain also stars Ayase Haruka and Mizushima Hiro. Here is one of the trailers for the TV series:

Source: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/features/arts/20090515TDY14004.htm, http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/MR.BRAIN

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May 13, 2009

New IRIS Trailer

IRIS, the much anticipated 20 billion won mega-budget Korean spy drama starring Lee Byung-Hun (last seen as 'The Bad' in The Good, The Bad, The Weird), Kim Tae-Hee (unforgettable in Love Story In Harvard), Jung Jun-Ho, Kim Seung-Woo, Kim So-Yeon and singer-actor T.O.P. (from K-pop group Big Bang) is scheduled to be aired in September this year. And after viewing this trailer below, me thinks this drama looks as good as any big-budget movie and should be a real treat for K-Drama lovers :-)

Source: http://popseoul.com/2009/05/13/top-lee-byung-hun-kim-tae-hee-kim-so-yeon-in-iris/, http://wiki.d-addicts.com/IRIS

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April 25, 2009

Asian Directors Shine At Cannes

They say that when times are bad (like now), arts and cinematic works shine even more brightly, and if the explosion of creativity at this year's Cannes Film Festival is anything to go by, this adage proves to be most true. This year's line-up is widely regarded as one of the the best in the last decade. Five acclaimed Asian directors: Ang Lee, Park Chan-Wook, Tsai Ming-Liang, Johnnie To and Lou Ye are in competition for the Palme d'Or and this year each of them have come up with works that are refreshingly different and exciting. In the Un Certain Regard lineup, there are Hirokazu Kore-eda's Air Doll and Bong Joon-ho's Mother.

Here are some of the trailers for these films that I managed to find on YouTube.

Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock

Park Chan-Wook's Thirst is about a priest who turns into a vampire...

Johnnie To's Vengeance

I can't find the trailer for Tsai Ming Liang's Face but managed to find this behind-the-scenes vid of the film. Face, about a Taiwanese director making a film based on the tale of Salome is set in the Louvre Musuem and stars French stars like Laetitia Casta and Fanny Ardant.

The Host's director Bong Joon-Ho's Mother about a mother who desperately searches for the killer that framed her son for the crime.

Can't find the trailer or much information about controversial Chinese director Lou Ye's Spring Fever but according to this article, the movie is about "romantic entanglements between three friends".

A behind-the-scenes look at Air Doll can also be found here. Air Doll, based on the manga of the same name stars Korean actress Bae Doo-na as an inflatable doll and Japanese actor Arata as a video shop clerk.

Which film will emerge as a winner at Cannes? Well, guess we will only know at the Closing Award Ceremony on 24 May 2009.

Update: After an exciting one and a half weeks, the 2009 Cannes Film Festival has finally come to a close. Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon took home the prestigious Palme d'Or award. Two films by East Asian directors also won awards, Spring Fever by Lou Ye won the Award For Best Screenplay and Park Chan Wook's vampire drama Thirst won the Jury Prize. Congratulations to all the winners! The full award list is here.

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April 22, 2009

Local Films Triumph At Hong Kong Film Awards

Local productions were the big winners in this year's Hong Kong Film Awards held on 19th April. Big-budget co-productions like Red Cliff lost out to movies with a local flavor like The Way We Are in the major award categories like Best Director and Best Actor. But Donnie Yen's kungfu masterpiece Ip Man did not disappoint, winning the Best Picture award. I guess sometimes small and intimate films appeal more when audiences become jaded by huge and expensive co-production films with similar styles and themes...

Best Picture: Ip Man YesAsia.com
Best Director: Ann Hui (The Way We Are)
Best Actor: Nick Cheung (The Beast Stalker)
Best Actress: Paw Hee-Ching (The Way We Are)
Best Supporting Actor: Liu Kai-Chi (The Beast Stalker)
Best Supporting Actress: Chan Lai-Wun (The Way We Are)
Best New Performer: Eleven year-old Xu Jiao (CJ7)
Best Screenplay: Lou Shiu-wa (The Way We Are)

The nominee list can be found on the official website here. The complete awards list can be found here.

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April 6, 2009

More Boys Before Flowers News


The average ratings of the last episode (25th) of the hit Korean adaptation of Hana Yori Dango - Boys Before Flowers (or Boys Over Flowers), which aired on 31st March, was a very respectable 34.8%. And the all-time highest rating of the series was a staggering 42.9% (on the 18th episode)! By all accounts, Boys Before Flowers has been one of the more successful adaptations of Hana Yori Dango. With a combination of good-looking leads (arguably the most F4-like of all the F4s), flashy sets and high production standards, the series brought the manga to life like never before. And now there are two more adaptations coming up, the Mainland Chinese version is currently filming and a planned Hong Kong version is rumored to be in the works. Hana Yori Dango is going pan-Asia woo-hoo! I wonder if a Thai, Singaporean or Indian version will be next in line...

The Mainland Chinese adaptation, titled Meteor Rain, stars newcomers like Zhang Han as Murong Yun Hai (the Chinese version of Domyooji), Zheng Shuang as Chu Yu Xun (Makino) and Yu Hao Ming as Duanmu Lei (Rui). Check out the pics of Mainland China's F4 here and Makino here. This version will reportedly not just focus on the love stories of the protagonists like the other adaptations but will also be an "uplifting tale that shows the bravery and persistence of youths and the challenges they face" - ahem in other words, you can be sure that the main characters will all become wise and useful members of society at the end of the show haha. Adding this factor in may make the series a little too serious and moralistic for such a whimsical story like Boys but... who knows, it may still work out... If all goes well, the serial shoud be aired on Hunan TV this summer.

And according to a Chinese news article, there are rumours that Hong Kong's TVB station is also planning to make a series based on Boys, although to date there have been no official news on this. Rumored cast members include well established stars like Hong Kong actor Shawn Yue (as Domyoji), Taiwanese pop star Wu Zun (as Rui) and Hong Kong sweetie-pie Charlene Choi (as Makino). Hmm this cast is famous enough but aren't they a bit too er "mature" to play high school kids? But since these are just rumors, I guess there is no need to be too concerned about this as yet...

More drama news next time.

Source: http://news.cyworld.com/view/20090401n02159, http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Boys_Before_Flowers/Episode_Ratings, http://news.xinmin.cn/rollnews/2009/04/02/1767123.html, http://yule.baidu.com/tv/2009-03-23/113116218056.html, http://asianfanatics.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=604823

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March 27, 2009

East Asian Films Generating Massive Buzz

After the superb Departures (Okuribito) won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Japanese films continued their winning streak at the recent Asian Film Awards held in Hong Kong. Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Tokyo Sonata, a movie about a family's breakdown after the father loses his job, won the Best Film award. Hirokazu Kore-eda won the Best Director award for Still Walking and Masahiro Motoki won the Best Actor award for his role in Departures. Coincidentally all three pictures are about family relationship problems which could reflect a growing interest in movies of this genre as the global economic crises focuses our attention back to family and practical bread and butter issues. The Best Actress award was awarded to Chinese actress Zhou Xun for her portrayal in The Equation Of Love & Death. The Best Supporting Actor award went to Jung Woo-sung for his role as "The Good" in the very entertaining South Korean film The Good, The Bad, The Weird edging out co-star Lee Byung-hun (who plays "The Bad") in the process, hmm... a classic case of good triumphing over bad? The full list of awards and nominations can be found here.

Besides these award-winning films, another South Korean movie that has been generating much buzz recently is director Park Chan-Wook's new work Thirst to be released in South Korea at the end of next month. Thirst is about a priest who becomes a vampire and then plots a dastardly murder. Wow, just reading about the plot has already made me interested in the movie, a priest becoming a vampire... that's definitely something new. The trailer from YouTube below:

There are high expectations for this movie as Park who directed such award-winning movies like Old Boy and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, is a master in transforming violent themes into intelligent and introspective films and counts Quentin Tarentino as one of his fans. Thirst is reportedly also a possible contender at the upcoming Cannes International Film Festival in May.

Another movie that is already creating lots of buzz even though it's not even started production is Chinese film Bodyguards And Assassins (previously known as Dark October). This is mainly due to the star-studded lineup in the movie. The cast consists of a dream team of the top A-listers in the Chinese language entertainment industry, including Donnie Yen (Ip Man), Leon Lai (Forever Enthralled), Nicholas Tse, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Simon Yam, Fan Bing Bing, Wang Xueqi, Wang Bojie, Zhou Yun and Hu Jun (Red Cliff) and this is just half of the cast. According to a recent press conference for the film, the other half will be announced at a later date and reportedly may include Aaron Kwok, Anthony Wong and Chang Chen. Bodyguards and Assassins is about how a diverse group of patriotic individuals protected Sun Yat-Sen from an assasination attempt by enemy forces in Hong Kong during October 1905. The role of Sun Yat-Sen was originally offered to Chow Yun Fatt who turned down the role to star in Confucius (see my earlier post here). The film will be directed by Teddy Chen and produced by Peter Chan, filming will begin in April for a planned release at the end of the year. I found this promo video below that shows the set and the main cast on the Sina.com website here.

Source: http://www.kungfucinema.com/donnie-yen-headsbodyguards-and-assassins-6195, http://www.hancinema.net/korean_movie_Thirst.php#news18650, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chan-wook_Park, http://www.beijingww.com/1470/2009/03/19/291@84932.htm

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March 8, 2009

Chow Yun Fat To Play Confucius

The lead role for the upcoming big-budget biopic of Confucius or Kongzi (孔子) has just been announced and (drumroll) Dragonball's Master Roshi a.k.a. Chow Yun Fat has been cast as Confucius! Other cast members (as yet uncomfirmed) include a who's who of Mainland Chinese A-listers like Chen Dao Ming, Zhou Xun and Sun Hong Lei. To be directed by Chinese director Hu Mei, the script has already been revised 25 times since the film was first conceptualised two years ago. In preparation for this role of a lifetime, Chow has reportedly started growing a beard.

And one especially interesting news is that Confucius will not be portrayed as a scholarly, rather bookish elderly gentleman in the film but will instead be a lively, humorous guy who knows kungfu(???) and is an excellent archer and chariot driver. Hmmmm... this is really quite a shock to me as I just can't imagine Confucius as a martial arts expert... But on second thoughts, who's to say ancient thinkers and philosopers can't be fit and athletic?

More interesting details on this film can be found in my earlier post here.

Images from Wikipedia & YesAsia.com

Source: http://ent.sina.com.cn/m/c/2009-03-09/11462407988.shtml, http://022net.com/2009/3-9/444437192458323.html, http://sg.news.yahoo.com/xin/20090305/ten-737-chow-yun-fat-plays-confucius-zho-3c1b9bc.html

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February 22, 2009

Departures Wins Best Foreign Language Film Oscar!

This just in - Japanese movie Departures (Okuributo) has just won the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 81st Annual Academy Awards. Congratulations to the cast and crew of Departures! What an achievement for East Asian film!

The full list of winners at this year's Oscars can be found here. Congratulations to all the winners!

The trailer for Departures on YouTube:

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February 20, 2009

Japanese Academy Awards Results

Departures (Okuributo) has become the biggest winner in the just concluded Japanese Academy Awards. The movie picked up 10 awards out of its 13 nominations including Best Picture, Best Director (Yojiri Takita) Best Actor (Masahiro Motoki), Best Supporting Actor (Tsutomu Yamazaki) and Best Supporting Actress (Kimiko Yo). And Okuribito might yet score an even bigger win as it has been nominated for the coveted Best Foreign Film award at the upcoming Oscars this Sunday. Another big winner is animated feature Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea which won Best Animated Feature and Best Music (me thinks that can't-get-out-of-your-head theme song definitely played a big part in the win ;-P).

Japan Academy Prize Winners:

Best Film: Departures
Best Director: Yojiro Takita (Departures)
Best Actor: Motoki Masahiro (Departures)
Best Actress: Tae Kimura (All Around Us)
Best Supporting Actress: Kimiko Yo (Departures)
Best Supporting Actor: Tsutomu Yamazaki (Departures)
Best Screenplay: Kundo Koyama (Departures)
Best Animated Film: Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea
Best Foreign Film: The Dark Knight
Best Music: Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea

For the full list of prize winners, check out http://www.screendaily.com/ScreenDailyArticle.aspx?intStoryID=43384

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February 18, 2009

Three Exciting Japanese Trailers

East Asian movie trailers have been getting more and more exciting lately. And the most interesting ones have been coming from the Land Of The Rising Sun. The Japanese are well-known for their incredibly creative and over-the-top CMs or TV ads and it seems that now they are bringing that CM-making creative genius over to their trailers.

Here are three Japanese language trailers that have been generating much buzz recently:

1. Blood: The Last Vampire Teaser
This live-action adaptation of the popular anime film stars Gianna Jun (a.k.a. star of Korean hit movie My Sassy Girl : Jun Ji-Hyun) as Saya the 400-year old half-human half-vampire with superhuman powers. Just from the teaser itself, this movie looks promising...

2. Yatterman trailer
The live-action remake of 1970's cult anime Yatterman is helmed by acclaimed director Takashi Miike (who directed such classics as Audition and Dead Or Alive) and will be released in Japan in March 09. Really love the campy 70's style and the creative blend of live-action and CGI in this trailer. This should be good.

3. Plastic City trailer

This Brazil/Japan/Hong Kong/China co-production about Chinese and Japanese immigrant gangsters in Brazil combines the acting prowess of Joe Odagiri and Anthony Wong. It could be because of the setting but I suspect it is mainly because of the music that gives this trailer a funky samba-like feel that is rarely seen in Asian film. Directed by Yu Lik Wai who is well known for his cinematography in award winning films like Still Life, expect nothing less than gorgeous visuals. This film is set to be released in Japan in March as well.

Enjoy the trailers and if you have a chance, do check out these movies :-)

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January 27, 2009

Korean Boys Before Flowers A Hit

Like its Taiwanese and Japanese predecessors , the latest drama serial adaptation of the hit Japanese manga Hana Yori Dango, on-air Korean drama Boys Before Flowers or Boys Over Flowers has become a huge hit in South Korea.

On its latest episode, Boys ratings of 25.9% even exceeded that of previous champ East Of Eden which registered 21.8% on the ratings chart*. The drama has also become the talk of the town with extensive media coverage. Lead actors Lee Min Ho who plays Goo Joon Pyo (Korean version of Domyouji), Kim Hyun Joong who plays Yoon Ji Ho (Rui), Kim Bum, Kim Joon and Koo Hye Sun who plays Geum Jan Di (Makino) have all seen their popularity ratings surge to new heights after the drama series started airing.

But it should surprise no one that Boys has become such a big hit, practically all adaptations of this classic manga have been extremely popular mainly because it has all the right ingredients to appeal to young women everywhere - four very good looking and very rich young men (collectively known as Flowers 4 or F4 because they are said to be as beautiful as flowers...), a timeless love story of rich but vulnerable young man falling for poor but spunky girl, a gorgeous dream-like school setting, and a host of colorful characters, all conspire to produce a sure-fire hit.

And there seems to be no let up in F4 fever, right after this South Korean version finishes its run, get ready for Mainland China's upcoming planned adaptation of Boys Over Flowers. The proposed name of this version is Meteor Rain (Liu Xing Yu) and will likely be 35 episodes long. No news yet on who will be playing the leads.

* Source: http://www.innolife.com/mlist.php?ac_id=14&ai_id=18760; http://ent.sina.com.cn/x/2009-01-24/12222355818.shtml

Pic from DramaWiki

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January 19, 2009

Red Cliff II And Other East Asian Movie News

The East Asian film industry has been pretty quiet lately. But there are still some interesting news tidbits.

1. As expected, John Woo's Red Cliff 2 - the just released second instalment of the two-part epic based on the Chinese classic Romance Of The Three Kingdoms - has been doing exceptionally well in the box-offices in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The movie earned over US$14 million in just five days in Mainland China (incredible!). At this pace, it may become the highest grossing Chinese language movie of all time.

2. Japanese movie Departures (Okuribito) is the only Asian movie to make it to the semi-finalist stage for the Best Foreign Film Award at the upcoming 81st Annual Academy Awards. The final nominee list of five movies will be announced on January 22nd. Starring Masahiro Motoki and Ryoko Hirosue, the movie about the unique Japanese custom of "encoffining", has already won awards at various international film festivals including the Grand Prix des Amériques at the 2008 Montreal World Film Festival. You can find the trailer for the movie at the official site here. Good luck to Departures!

Update 22 January 2009: Departures has made it to the nominee list for Best Foreign Language Film at the upcoming Oscars! See the full list of nominated films here.

3. Donnie Yen's actioner Ip Man - based on the life and times of the legendary kungfu master who founded the Wing Chun school of martial arts - has punched his way to the top of the box-office in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Here is the short clip of the fight sequence where Ip Man fights ten karate black belts on YouTube. Great action, but like a lot of other fight sequences where the hero dispatches a whole bunch of lesser thugs in less than 5 minutes, you have to wonder why the bad guy fighters somehow always seem to look like they are waiting in line to fight the hero one-by-one... Wouldn't their chances improve tremendously if they all attack at the same time? hmmm...

4. Feng Xiaogang's romantic comedy If You Are The One (Fei Cheng Wu Rao) starring the sultry Shu Qi and acclaimed character actor Ge You has been a surprise box-office hit in Mainland China. It has already overtaken Red Cliff Part 1 in box-office takings and is still going strong now.

5. Japan's very own big-budget screen version of the pandemic disaster movie genre titled simply Pandamic (Kansen Rettou) has just topped the Japanese box-office over the last weekend, which just goes to show that disaster/epidemic type movies are still very much in demand.

6. Keanu Reeves will take on the role of Spike in a Hollywood adaptation of the popular anime series Cowboy Bebop. Err i don't know about you but I feel that Keanu Reeves who excels in playing powerful but rather expressionless god-like characters (e.g. Neo in the Matrix) does not seem all that suited to play the role of the free-spirited space cowboy Spike...

More movie news next time.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ip_Man_(film), http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/b79405_keanu_saddles_up_cowboy_bebop.html, http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117998388.html?categoryid=2429&cs=1, http://varietyasiaonline.com/content/view/7837/1/, http://www.screendaily.com/ScreenDailyArticle.aspx?intStoryID=42758&Category=, http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117998705.html?categoryId=19&cs=1

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