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 website here.


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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 &


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