Kenix at Wedding of Ada Choi and Zhang Jin

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I'm THRILLED that Kenix finally decided to show up at a friend's celebration. She just seems to disappear for the whole year and has not been hanging out with celebrity friends for like forever. I was waiting to see her at Raymond Cho's wedding but I was upset that she did not attend; only Frankie did. And Raymond was among the best men at Kenix-Frankie wedding. I was praying that she would attend Ada's wedding because they were very close friends in the past. I have not seen many pictures of them in the recent years so I don't know how their friendship has developed. The last close pictures of Kenix and Ada were during At the Threshold of an Era days. My point is: ever since her wedding with Frankie, I barely see her with a friend. I was so desperate to see just one picture of her with any old pal but that still didn't happen. Gone were the days that this group of friends hung out together at both private and public events: Kenix, Monica Chan, Anita Lee, Athena Chu, Frankie Lam, Francis Ng, Noel Leung, Ada Choi, Kitty Lai, Lee San San, Gary Chan, etc... As I see, Athena, Kitty, and Catherine Hung were more of Ada's friends.

Despites of being called "a simple wedding," many celebrities attended Ada-Zhang Jin wedding. I see the familiar old pal faces such as Kenix (Yay!), Gary (but where's Noel? She was at Kenix's wedding), Athena-Catherine-Monica (& also Ada's assistant) as bridesmaids, Carol Yeung Ling, and Kitty Lai. From the "friends" group, I notice the absence of Anita Lee, Francis Ng, Noel Leung, Lee San San, and Jacqueline Law. Perhaps they were busy. Another piece of news said Jacqueline Law was present. Maybe I just didn't see her picture.
Other celebrities in attendance were Jessica Hsuan, Gigi Lai, Virginia Lok, Wong Hei, Joe Ma, Hacken Lee & wife, Liu Kai Chi and wife Money Chan, Ha Yu, Moses Chan, Nick Cheung, Flora Chan, Eileen Yeow, Charmaine Sheh, Timmy Hung, Paul (forgot last name, Athena's boyfriend), Shirley Yeung, Lawrence Ng, etc...

Ada looked very beautiful as a bride. Her simple white dress and cute floral on the head made her look very elegant and happy. Congratulations to Ada and Zhang Jin!!!

Images: tungstar,, ent.163
Credits to, TVBVN Fan Club

Sword Stained with Royal Blood

Sunday, January 6, 2008
This is not a series review but it contains some spoilers. Read at your own risk!

SSWRB was a 20 episode series adapted from Jing Yong’s novel in 1986. It stars Felix Wong, Patricia Chong, Michael Miu, Lawrence Ng, Mou Shun Kwan, and the cameo faces at the time: Michael Tao, Francis Ng, & Bobby Au Yeung. I’ve always wanted to watch this series because I found Michael Miu and his mustache go well together. This is odd because I generally do not like men with mustache. I can tolerate beard (Tony Leung in the Grand Canal) but not mustache. Ok, enough with the facial hair before I go off topic.

As much as I was anticipated to watch another series of Felix & Michael together, I was disappointed to learn that Michael’s character dies before Felix’s appears. Michael only appears in more or less two episodes but his presence is worth every minute. Throughout the series, we’ll see him again and again as flashbacks but he’s no more than a guest star, like in The Two Honorable Knights. Michael looks very charming as usual even though unlike his other series, his costumes in here are very simple. If I remember correctly, he only has two costumes and they are all black and white. I believe it is because playing a character who only has vengeance in mind, Michael finds no need to dress dashingly. Even though his appearance is worth every minute, it is also painful for me to have to watch him pairing with older actresses. Michael’s character dies early, but we still see his women in the later generation, so I guess that’s why TVB chose older actresses. It’s such a pity that TVB couldn’t choose a more matching partner for him. His love story with one woman is short but sweet. It is because of her that he gives up his plan of vengeance and goes to his doom.

The main story is, of course, about Felix and his other story of vengeance. Kenneth Tsang plays his father, a very loyal general but is killed off for treason by the villain and the brainless emperor. Felix’s goal throughout the series is to help the rebels overthrow the emperor and then kill him and the villain to get revenge for his wrongfully accused father. Also unlike his other series, Felix looks very gallant in here. He dresses similarly to The Wild Bunch with very nice costumes and manages to look so fine. It is also the first time I see Felix hold a fan like a noble gentleman even though he only has it in the early episodes. His character has no extraordinary quality that makes him distinguished so it is a forgettable role and therefore, Felix’s performance is only passable.

The life of the whole show, to me, is no other than the naughty but adorable Patricia Chong. Michael & Felix were the reason I started on the series, but Patricia was the sole reason I kept on with it. Patricia was one of the few actresses who looked beautiful and adorable at the same time (e.g. Margie Tsang). Her character is also the most interesting. She plays the daughter of Michael & his fiancée but grows up as fatherless. She lives with her grandfather and great-uncles but they are no more or less thieves. All they do is kill and steal so they teach her to do the same. The first time she appears, she steals. In the third scene or so, we see her fight and kill other thieves. She likes Felix very quickly because he helps her fight off other thieves the first time they meet. Patricia looks very nice in here with many beautiful costumes. She looks beautiful as a girl and very handsome as a man when she dresses up like one. Her elegance as a male reminds me of Idy Chan dressing up as a man in the Grand Canal. Both actresses manage to look dashing in both.

By chance, Felix finds Michael’s cave and learns the martial arts in a book that he writes before he dies so his techniques won’t be lost. Michael also has a treasure map that now belongs to Felix, but whoever finds the treasure has to give a share to Patricia’s mother. When she learns of his death, she commits suicide & begs Felix to take good care of Patricia because Michael is, in a way, Felix’s sifu now. Felix agrees and from now on starts the adventures of the two. On their way to find the treasure, Felix & Patricia encounter various types of people and their problems, and are able to make friends as well as foes. While watching, I couldn’t help but notice that their partnership resembles Kwok Jing & Wong Yung from Legend of the Condor Heroes. Patricia is smart, mischievous, and likes to meddle into other people’s business, while Felix is the opposite. The differences are that Felix only treats Patricia as a sister and that both of them aren’t as smart or simple-minded as WY & KJ.

The only thing I despise about this series is that Felix does not return Patricia’s affection. He finds himself falling for the princess whose father he must kill. Mou Shun Kwan doesn’t look attractive and in my opinion, she’s a far cry from Patricia’s charms. Contradicting to the princess position, she only has about two dresses that she wears through out the series that you’ll wonder if she’ll ever change. I began to like the series when Felix & Patricia start the adventures together and how caring and protective he is towards her. I then started to dread at his love-at-first-sight scene with the princess and how he can’t stop loving her. I was hopeful, however, that because her father kills his father, he’ll realize that he can’t be with her and have a change of heart. I was completely beaten down when very near the end, he still loves her. I screamed and really wanted to smack him at the ending when he’s standing on the mountain, reminiscing about her & his closest friend’s death (Lawrence), and then going away. Patricia runs all over the mountains screaming his name but he is no where in sight. The series just ends like that. TVB just love to play with the audience in many “cruel” ways.
The series ends with Patricia and ME screaming! I was like “what?" At least I hoped it would end with Felix and Patricia together even if he doesn’t love her, because he still has to take care of her. Their relationship has developed so much that I don’t believe he can just leave her behind like that. I wonder how it really ends in the novel. Nonetheless, Felix & Patricia make a great couple. I just know four series that they were in together: Heaven’s Retribution, Soldier of Fortune, the Young Wanderer, and this one. The Yang’s Saga doesn’t count. But in all of them, they don’t end up together. In HR, Felix pairs with Jamie Chik; in YW, he pairs with Carina Lau; in SoF, they are lovers but she dies. Plus, I didn’t enjoy SoF because Tony still had a minor role even though he looked absolutely adorable while Kent played the bad guy. I didn’t finish the series but I did watch the part that Patricia’s character died.

Watch it or forget it: well, hard to say. If you are a fan of the 80s & 90s like me, you’ll probably want to give it a try since it’s so nice to watch the real talents of the old days. Even though the plot is forgettable, watching Felix, Patricia, & Michael was well worth the time.

Some captures done by me.

Tony Leung's Psychology

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Tony Leung: Lust actually

Tony Leung is best known for playing a repressed lover in 'In the Mood for Love'. But in Ang Lee's latest film he's finally unleashed his sexuality. And it feels great, he tells Stephen Applebaum.

Tony Leung is one of Asia's biggest and best-loved stars. He is also one of its most versatile. In his acclaimed body of work with the mercurial film-maker Wong Kar-wai, he is as at home in the martial-arts world of Ashes of Time as in the Sixties Hong Kong of their international breakthrough, the dreamily romantic In the Mood for Love.

Able to make silences speak volumes with just his melancholy eyes, Leung became the ideal avatar of Wong's impressionistic style. Now teamed with the Oscar-winning Taiwanese director Ang Lee, the actor gives one of his strongest performances in Lust, Caution, subverting the good-guy image that he cultivated with Kar-wai. However, it is probably not Leung's acting masterclass that has been pulling in the crowds in Asia. More than likely, it is the film's seven minutes of graphic sex (although not in mainland China, where the scenes have been excised by the censor), the fleshy frankness of which has been generating shock and surprise ever since Lust, Caution's world premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September.

This was Leung's first opportunity to view the finished film. "I think I did a great job," he said afterwards, apparently unfazed by the gobsmacked reactions on the Lido. "When I saw it the first time, I tried to focus on myself to see how I did as that character. The second time I watched it, I saw the whole movie, and I think it's great." Did he expect his fans back home to be as tolerant? "I'm curious about how they'll respond," he admits. "I think they expect me to change. They expect me to give them something different in every movie."
This may well be so. I am just not sure that the 45-year-old star appearing naked in highly charged scenes of explicit – though not pornographic – sex is the kind of "different" anyone had in mind.

Based on a short story by the respected Chinese author Eileen Chang, Lust, Caution offers a handsomely presented tale of patriotism, espionage, love, betrayal and revenge, set during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai in the Second World War. Newcomer Tang Wei is a star-in-the-making as Wong Chia Chi, an idealistic student who becomes the lynchpin in a plot by radicals to assassinate Leung's traitorous secret-service chief, Mr Yee. As the honeytrap draws the pair closer together, brutal rape gives way to tenderness and love, creating a conflict between will and duty.

When I meet Leung to discuss the film, it appears that even he was astonished by how far Lee wanted to go with the sex. Speaking softly, in Chinese-accented English, he says that the director was coy when they first met. "He didn't mention much at all," Leung says, laughing. "I was quite curious about why he always said, 'There's a love scene.' I said, 'How come you always emphasise this love scene? I do a lot of movies that have love scenes.' Ang said, 'There's a love scene.' I said, 'OK, love scenes are fine for me.' "After three months, when we had to do some rehearsals before shooting, he told me that we were going to do love scenes this way." Leaving little to the imagination, that is. "I said, 'This way? Er, OK. Let's try'." The surprise is still evident in his voice.

Lee says that he found the scenes "extremely painful" to shoot because of the trust he commanded from the actors. Leung is more relaxed, however. "Doing love scenes is always difficult without a strong emotional background. But I think the love scenes in this movie are not just trying to show the bodies of the actors, they're trying to reflect the inner accents of the characters. So it's easier that way." Asked if he did anything to help the less experienced Wei get through them, Leung's reply seems cold. "I didn't have time to help her. I was just trying to help myself."

The hardest aspect of Lust, Caution for him, though, was trying to strip away his usual persona to find something darker and more masculine. Under Lee's guidance, Leung watched films starring Marlon Brando, Richard Burton and Humphrey Bogart, and pored over history books about the Japanese occupation and biographies of secret agents. "I learnt how they functioned and how they worked; I needed to see a lot of documentaries to see how they talked, their gestures, and how they walked.

"Ang wanted me to be a different Tony Leung because the audience is familiar with what I've done before, so I had to change everything. It was very tough. Ang taught me to walk like his father. So my character actually walks like his father."

Leung is well known for immersing himself in his roles. He will take a script home and read it until he has explored every nuance. He does not just act a character, he lives it. Inhabiting Yee's darkness for months on end was difficult, the actor admits. "It was exhausting. Sometimes you just lost your appetite. You're always down. You're always very unhappy. You carry this character. It's very tough. But this is a new experience for me, and I think I had a breakthrough in my career."

Acting has always been more than just a job to Leung. When he entered acting training at the Chinese television channel TVB, aged 19, following a spell selling household appliances, he was painfully shy and reserved. As a child, he had watched his parents bicker constantly, and between the ages of three and six, his father – a captain at a nightclub – had left home three times, finally for good. "Suddenly, one day, he'd just leave and then maybe he'd come back six months later without telling you why, and then he'd disappear again after a year," Leung recalls. "It's very difficult to understand when you're three or five years old, so you just don't know how to handle it." He never met his father again. "He passed away a few years ago. I know he tried to see me, but my mother didn't want me to see him."

No one in the family talked about what was happening, he says. "In the Sixties, it wasn't that common for people to divorce, so I felt very bad. My mother didn't know how to tell us. And she needed to work because we needed money to live." Leung withdrew into himself. "I shut down all my emotions, I wasn't talkative, I didn't know how to communicate; I just tried to separate myself from people."

Acting provided an outlet for his bottled-up emotions. "I could cry behind a character, I could shout behind a character, and that kind of relief was fun." Acting became an addiction, something he needed. Gradually, though, as he has found other ways of expressing himself, the therapeutic element became less important. "I've enjoyed it more and more in recent years," he says, "because it's more than just using it as an outlet for my emotions or what I suffer. I enjoy doing movies now. That's the only thing I'm really concerned about now, working with really great film-makers, great partners, great actors. It's fun. It's exciting."

It appears he can't get enough of that excitement. Instead of taking a break after Lust, Caution, he moved straight on to Red Cliff, John Woo's historical epic set during the Hang Dynasty, which is being touted as the most expensive film ever produced in China. "It's very tough because it's a war movie and there are lots of people every day," says Leung. "You need an hour for a take because we have a lot of costumes to wear. The weather is very hot and we wear winter costumes, because the war happens in wintertime, and we have to wear armour weighing 20lb."
Already a huge star in Asia, it is surely only a matter of time before the Hong Kong-based actor makes his English-language debut in the West. But despite offers from Hollywood, Leung says he is not in any hurry to head to America. He would like to make at least one film there, but is certainly not looking to increase his fame. "I don't have any privacy anymore and I hate that. And besides work, I just want to be an ordinary person, not to be recognised, not to look like a monkey on the street, with everyone staring at you."

Leung reveals that he and Kar-wai are likely to reunite in 2008 for a project about Bruce Lee's kung-fu master. "We planned to do it five years ago, but I felt quite bored with him," he admits. "We'd been working together for over 10 years, so we needed a break."

It will be interesting to see what emerges. Kar-wai's films are notorious for beginning as one thing and ending up as another. "Maybe it's not a kung-fu movie at all," says Leung, laughing. "Maybe it's another movie about walking on the streets and smoking cigarettes. No more kung fu."

News source:
Belfast Telegraph
Images: credits to respective owners.