Monthly Archives: April 2008

RUN PAPA, RUN PAPA, or is it LOLA?

Run Papa Run, 2008

dir: Sylvia Chang

There is something about Sylvia Chang, whether as an actress, writer or director. She always strives to want to bring something new to her work. As a director, sometimes she succeeds brilliantly like in TEMPTING HEART (yes!!!) and 20 30 40 and sometimes fails like in PRINCESS D. RUN PAPA RUN is not an exact translation of the Chinese title. The Chinese title actually means A GOOD PAPA, if translated literally. So I don’t know how it became RUN PAPA RUN which is at once comical, does not really reflect the story and reminds one of RUN LOLA RUN. Maybe A GOOD PAPA sounds a tad too boring and common. Being common is not something that Sylvia Chang admires. Or maybe, just maybe, the director wants re-iterate that this movie is not a normal run of the mill dramatic movie and has elements of wackiness and fantasy in it, just like how the keyart depicts.

With this in mind, one will see why the movie suddenly breaks into a song out of nowhere and why LEE the triad boss (Louis Koo whose acting is certainly not up to par and is more comical than resembling a feared triad boss – maybe he should stick to movies like HAPPY BIRTHDAY which he also played with Rene Liu and both them and the movie were very good) talks to the camera. In fact, the creative opening title is rather refreshing to watch. RUN PAPA RUN takes a microscopic look into the life of a triad boss. In the majority of Hong Kong movies, triad bosses are depicted as violent (they actually are) or heroic but these movies hardly zoom into the inner life of the triad boss. In this movie, we see how a new born daughter plus a great wife (played by the ever so superb Rene Liu) changes the life of the boss and by talking straight into the camera, the audience is given a rare chance of what he actually thinks and feels.

Out of 10 triad members, 9 of them ends with a miserable life. That is the premise of the movie. Will LEE be the 10th, a triad who can actually lead a normal and good life at the end of the tunnel? Being a triad boss who is himself controlled by a board of directors (just like a modern big corporation), can he escape the underground activities and start fresh to give his beloved daughter a healthy life (some scenes depicting the fathers love for the daughter is actually quite nicely done)? Can he hide from his daughter forever that he is in fact a triad boss? Can Jesus save him? In fact, in a scene, LEE equated the Christian establishment with a triad establishment. So once he joins this new Kingdom of God, can he get out and continue to pray to Guan Yu and get blessings from both? Can the movie actually convince us that the love of a father to the daughter is boundless and exceeds any sacrifices that needs to be made? Will God do the same for all his children on earth (or at least those that believes in Him)?

However, the treatment of Christianity as a savior sometimes go overboard and becomes preachy and that got on my nerves quite a bit. We don’t have to be reminded constantly that only Jesus can save us and if a person is not baptised, he or she will go straight to hell (even if that person has done good his or her whole life???). Another disappointment in the movie is the rather predictable ending. Well, to think of it now, as I am typing away at the keyboard, what kind of ending can Sylvia Chang actually tell? Maybe this is the best ending ever for a triad boss. To avoid concluding an ending like most commercial movies does, she actually has an option of not providing an ending and leave it at that and let the audience come to interpret it. Like in TEMPTING HEART, the ending is perfect. Even thinking of the ending of TEMPTING HEART now, I can feel goose bumps at the back of my neck. That is because the ending inspire a sense of nostalgia, of could-have-beens, of deep feelings that is hidden in one’s heart but could not reveal or be expressed, of the unfortunate turn of events and of naive dreams.

RUN PAPA RUN is not even close to that but is definitely something fresh versus the onslaught of too many costume movies and dumb rom-com coming to the cinemas nowadays.

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Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon

Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon, 2008

dir: Daniel Lee

I was really not expecting much from this movie. Not another costume period movie, not after watching AN EMPRESS AND THE WARRIORS. But what the hell, since I watch many crap movies anyways and there is nothing much in the cinemas to watch then. So with rather low expactations, a packet of soya bean milk and a pack of nuts sneaked in, I sat down while the lights dimmed.

Actually, one key reason why I wanted to watch this movie is the focus on Zhao Zilong. Stories from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, one of the greatest literary classics written by Luo Guanzhong in the 14th century, always focussed on the key characters such as Liu Bei, Cao Cao, Zhuge Liang, Guan Yu, Zhang Fei. But this movie tells the story of Zhao Zilong whose character is much less well explored compared to the others.

What struck me when the movie started was the soundtrack. The combination of modern orchestration with the solo Pei Pa is most fascinating. It is like heaven and hell compared to the Leon Lai-Kelly Chen MTV in AN EMPRESS AND THE WARRIORS (by now, you would have figured that I hated that movie).

Andy Lau’s acting skill is on the rise as well and he managed to steer clear of the “Wah Di” look. Maggie Q is a stunner and exceeded my expectations too. She is very charismatic, very beautiful to look at and at the same time, just by looking at her will inspire fear. Ti Lung is superb as ever as Guan Yu, just that the image of him being Justice Pao keep recurring in my mind. That said, I thought Samo Hung’s effort to be rather below par and given the power of his role, as big brother to Zhao Zilong and the person that seals his fate, that character can be played more powerfully. Also, the one big spoiler is Vanesse Wu. Why the hell is that boy band in this movie? Completely spoils it.

Anyways, this movie is a fairly good tale of Zhao Zilong, and I appreciated this point of view, although it will help to further paint Zhao Zilong’s inner world and how he rose to greatness which was merely hinted at in the movie as it was rushed through (the movie plays at around 100 minutes). This little story, despite some fictional characters invented by the director (e.g. Samo Hung’s and Maggie Q’s character), will be a nice little piece in anticipation of John Woo’s THE BATTLE OF RED CLIFF. Ah, what a treat for us Romance of the Three Kingdom fans eh?

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NEW IRANIAN CINEMA

One does not have to watch PERSEPOLIS to know that Iran is not a country that you want to get yourself messed-up in. However, the movie is a good introduction to anyone who wants to know broadly the recent history of Iran and the impact on the people’s life. Knowing the key events will be helpful as they serves to also demarcate the movie industry in Iran.

Recent Iranian history is now generally categorised as Pre-Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary and the year that demarcates them is the 1978-1979 revolution that saw the toppling of the Shah/Monarch and the birth of the Islamic Republic. Most of the Iranian filmmakers that we know today emerged from the Post Revolutionary period, except probably the most well-known of them all, i.e. Abbas Kiarostami who already started working during the Pre-Revolutionary period. Post Revolutionary Iranian filmmakers include Mohsen Makhmalbaf and the members of the Makhmalbaf family (most notably his daughter Samira), Majid Majidi, Jafar Panahi and a few others. The works by these filmmakers are now more generally known as the New Iranian Cinema (not, as many thought, the Iranian New Wave since the Iranian New Wave actually precedes the New Iranian Cinema and began about a decade before the revolution).

According to Screen Digest, Iran produces about 70-80 films in the past couple of years which increased dramatically from the early 2000s where it produced about 30 films a year, so the annual output has more than doubled and exceeded that of Hong Kong. However, although I acquire quite a number of Iranian movies for the channel, I am a very auteur focused person and concentrates a lot more on the films by Abbas Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Jafar Panahi and to a lesser extent Majid Majidi. For me at least, these four are the pillars of New Iranian Cinema.

To the uninitiated, many of their films, especially those of Kiarostami and Makhmalbaf, will appear raw and unrefined. However, to see the movies as such is to miss the point. The point is not to focus on the technical aspect of the movie by Hollywood standards but the story that is told. The style of how the story is told is also interesting and if one is willing to empty the cup that contains Hollywood and opens up the mind to accept a different cinematic experience, these movies are very rich in content, often offering a look at the Iranian society such as the after-effects of the Iran-Iraq war, the status of women, Islamic rule, the process of modernisation of Iran and interaction with the outside world, Islamic worldview and concept of God and afterlife, and such.

Some of the New Iranian Cinema movies that I like:

Abbas Kiarostami: A Taste of Cherry; The Wind Will Carry Us; Close Up; Through the Olive Trees; Ten

Mohsen Makhmalbaf: The Cyclist; A Moment of Innocence; Time of Love; Once Upon a Time, Cinema

Jafar Panahi: The Circle; The White Balloon; The Mirror; Crimson Gold

Majid Majidi: Children of Heaven; Colour of Paradise; The Willow Tree

As time goes by, I will slowly write reviews of each of these movies and put them up on this site.

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Web Update

Well, managed to put up some new stuffs on the website which includes some notes on recent trends in Hong Kong/China, Japan and Korea and also some notes on Iranian Cinema. Also added two reviews, one is THREE KINGDOMS: RESURRECTION OF THE DRAGON and the other is ESCAPE FROM HUANG SHI.

If you are interested, they can be easily accessed by following this link: http://hdoong.googlepages.com/

Comments can be posted here.

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Barking Dogs Never Bite

Barking Dogs Never Bite, 2000

dir: Bong Joon-ho

Bong Joon-ho was largely unnoticed until THE HOST grabbed international attention. Even that, in a world where most people choose their movies based on genre and has little regard of who the director is, it is easy to overlook this director’s two previous gems, i.e. MEMORIES OF MURDER and this movie that I am about to review.

BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE is Bong Joon-ho’s first feature length movie and we can already see from this movie the director’s style and the subject that preoccupies his head. He is concerned about the society that he lives in and the quirky people that is part of that society. He is interested in examining the psychology of these people and how these people live that led to the extraordinary events that happens. The criticism of the society and the people are always delivered with a mix of comedic sarcasm, drama and tragedy, and in the case of THE HOST, fantasy and science fiction.

The story centers around a college lecturer, Yun-ju (Lee Sung-jae), who is leading a rather sorry life. He is poor, has a nagging wife who is also pregnant and he realises that if he wants to be a professor, hard work alone is not enough. He has to bribe the Dean for that appointment. The problem is Yun-ju does not have that big amount of money to bribe the Dean even after convincing himself that giving money to buy that position is not morally wrong. How is he going to raise that cash?

In the midst of all these, there is a dog that barks and that annoyed him terribly. Despite the fact that one is not allowed to keep pets in the apartment, apparently no one gives a damn about that rule. And therefore, Yun-ju took the job up himself, kidnapping the dogs and silencing them without understanding the effect on the owners who lost their beloved dog. The consequences can be darn serious and he got a taste of his own medicine when his wife’s newly acquired pet dog went missing when he took it out for a walk. In a very well constructed and executed scene, we understand why the dog meant a lot to his wife and it’s now his turn to recover the lost dog to redeem his guilt.

Crossing his path is Hyeon Nam (played by the ever-oh-so-superb Bae Doo-na). Hyeon Nam is a clerk in the apartment maintenance department. She is a bored person whose job seems to only consist of stamping approvals on bulletins. The recent rise in the number of lost dog cases intrigued her and one day, she accidentally witnessed someone actually killing a dog. She then sets out in hunting down this dog murderer and when Yun-ju met her while looking for his lost dog, they became good friends. The thing is, of course, Hyeon Nam does not know that Yun-ju is the dog murderer. Anyways, this conflict was finally resolved as well, with an “all’s well ends well” ending.

There is one scene that suddenly jumps out on the unsuspecting audience and that is when Hyeon Nam went all out to save Yun-ju’s dog from the dog eater, we see a lot of yellow people suddenly cheering for her on the rooftops of other apartments. Of course, this is a fantasy in Hyeon Nam’s mind, that she is now a hero, something that she always wanted to be in her private times spent with her best friend (who I suspect loves her romantically as hinted by the director in a couple of nuanced scenes). There are also a couple of underground characters, the janitor and the beggar, that added to the uniqueness and richness of the story. This is indeed a grade A movie.

We therefore get a glimpse on the society through the lives of Yun-ju and Hyeon Nam: the corruption in Korean university system, the loneliness of people who has to depend on the company of their dog, the prejudice against women in the corporate world, the restless youth of the day but also the sense of morality and civic-mindedness, the Confucian tradition, that is still quite deeply ingrained in the Korean psyche. But then again, that is getting eroded day by day.

No dogs are harmed in the making of the movie.

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Ashes of Time

Ashes of Time, 1994

dir: Wong Kar Wai

In the mood for a Wong Kar Wai movie, I stretched for my copy of ASHES OF TIME. This is no accident as I was talking about this movie with the producer of FLOWER IN THE POCKET who is an avid fan of ASHES OF TIME. It reminds me how long ago I have watched that movie and I remember the impression of the movie is not very favourable since half the time, I have no idea what is actually happening. Rewatching it some years back didn’t really help, so I thought I may as well give it another try since there is something in there that really captivates me and I remembered the feeling. I want to explore that feeling.

ASHES OF TIME is by far not an easy movie to watch despite having one of the biggest cast line up that I have ever seen in a Hong Kong movie. Plus the talent of Christoper Doyle, William Cheung and Patrick Tam, it promises to be one of the best received movie. But the reverse is actually true. Most of the people in the team didn’t know what is happening and Patrick Tam was said that he thanked God Christopher Doyle did an amazing job with the visuals to make his editing job that much easier.

The story of ASHES OF TIME, if there is one, is loosely based on Jin Yong’s novel “The Legend of the Condor Heroes”. It is meant to be a prequel to the novel, on how the characters in the novel is as it is by examining the relationship between the characters when they were still relatively young.

This is where it started to charm me, this time, besides the great cinematography and music which I appreciated before. In ASHES OF TIME, deliberately or not, Wong Kar Wai infuses a certain humanism in the characters. For all of us who grew up with a steady diet of TVB drama adaptation of Jin Yong, if not read Jin Yong’s novel ten times already, the characterisation that we feel from the novel and the TV adaptations is somehow different from how Wong Kar Wai depicted them to be in the movie. In ASHES OF TIME, these characters are much weaker, more humane, still has love in their hearts, and still think of their hometown and people they love. The characters in ASHES OF TIME has just a tad too many human flaws.

These human flaws made the characters interesting and charming. And God-damn Wong Kar Wai made the characters recite dialogue which to many people will sound very comical, including me. In the scenes where Brigitte Lin and Leslie Cheung exchanges words, I cannot help but imagine the words of Leslie Cheung coming out of Stephen Chow’s mouth and I started laughing.

Well, anyways, this movie is about unrequited love most of the time. The people you love is not always the person you are married to. One exception that stood out was Jackie Cheung’s character where his wife came to look for him and he brushes her off. She refused to go and waited outside for him for days. Then much later, after many experiences, Jackie Cheung decided to leave to which Leslie Cheung asked him what he is going to do with the wife. He answered that he will take her along. And somehow, we the audience understood that Jackie Cheung understood the underlying meaning of love, i.e. the person you love most is in front of you. Make a life with her or you will regret later, like how Leslie Cheung regretted not saying the 3 words to the girl he loves, i.e. Maggie Cheung, or how Tony Leung Chiu Wai married a woman, Carina Lau Kar LIng, who loved his best friend, Tony Leung Kar Fai, more than she loves him and had to resort to abusing the horse to satisfy her sexual needs (hic!).

Another character that stood out was Charlie Young’s character who played a poor woman whose brother was murdered by a band of roving bandits. She asked Leslie Cheung to help avenge her but because she has no money and Leslie Cheung will not kill for no money since he is an assassin/assassin agent. All she can offer is a donkey which is supposed to be her dowry and a basket of eggs. Leslie Cheung said that she can actually get more money by selling her own body since she is not ugly. But Charlie Young adamantly stuck to her principles of not selling her body and it finally took Jackie Cheung to avenge her for the price of one egg which resulted in one of Jackie Cheung’s fingers getting cut off. What follows is a dialog between Leslie Cheung and Jackie Cheung, and it clearly shows the difference in characters between the two of them, who later in the novel, are sworn enemies and killed each other in a duel.

I came to realise the richness of the characterisation in the movie and even thinking of it now, a feeling of sadness for the characters and sympathy for their regrets arise from my stomach. This may be the same feeling I felt when I first watched the movie. And the theme music and scenes keep playing in my mind. Indeed a great movie.

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Sanctuary

Sanctuary, 2004

dir: Ho Yuhang

As I was saying to a friend, Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country but the Malaysian society is in fact very fragmented. Although we are made to believe that we are one nation, the three main races do not, in reality, mixes that well. Sometimes, it is a wonder to me on how these people can live in the same country, see each other daily at work and still know so little about each other.

SANCTUARY takes a look at the lives of a Malaysian Chinese family. It is popular myth that the Chinese in Malaysia is wealthy which is a basis for the New Economic Policy for weath distribution. I for one could not agree with this as I see with my own eyes how poor many Chinese family can be, and I come from one of these poor families. SANCTUARY put that on the big screen for all to see.

The story centers around a brother and a sister. The brother is a job hopper who can never find a permanent job and also sucks at gambling at the pool table. The sister works in a photocopy shop, that is evidently pirating textbooks. The grandpa lives in an old folks home, prefering to stay there to take care of another old woman instead of coming home to stay with his grandchildren. In fact, he seemed very much happy and contented playing and attending to the dog compared to with his grandchildren. The kiddo’s dad is dead, having been stupid and committed suicide. The connecting theme of these characters is that they are struggling to find their own sanctuary, a place where they can find peace, love and quietude. But can they find it? For me, I don’t think they can. In fact, I think they are doomed.

Throughout the movie, we see the characters looking for their sanctuary; the brother’s attempt to move to a motel is fruitless as the sound from the construction drilling annoyed him, the grandpa’s only peace is to look after the sick old woman but that soon has to come to an end, the sister’s solace in her brother turned out to have a dangerous romantic turn, well even the dead is not at peace as we still hear the construction drilling sound when the brother and sister visits their parents at the cemetery. So finally, where do they go? Maybe they are as doomed as their father. We see the number 4 appear at least three times in the movie. Number 4, in chinese, is synonymous with death. Is this their destiny?

The camera work is one of raw realism. Often times, on handheld, the camera follows the character and thus we always see the back of the character’s head. This technique gives us the feeling of watching the character from behind, seeing what he is seeing, and sometimes, a feeling of peeking into their lives, which indeed is what we are doing. In a scene in the cemetery, the camera went behind the joss sticks that and I get a feeling that I am the parents looking at my kiddos but can do nothing to help them find solace and peace and love. It is a very sad feeling. We see that the characters gets glimpses of richness, of what is “good” in the world via a radio commercial but all these seem so unreachable for the characters. For them, material comfort and cosmetic beauty will never be within their reach in this lifetime. But still, it challenges, even if one achieves material comfort and beauty, is that really a true sanctuary? If not, what is?

This seemingly “slow” movie is not for those who watches only INDIANA JONES and SPIDERMAN movies because this film is truly beyond them. It is beyond mass popcorn entertainment but if one has the patience to watch, feel for the characters and reflect, then the journey will be very rewarding.

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Lelaki Komunis Terakhir

Lelaki Komunis Terakhir, 2006

(The Last Communist)

dir: Amir Muhammad

Amir Muhammad is a gem. He is a person that never gives up. Being a fore-runner of the Malaysian independent film movement, or the so called Malaysian “New Wave”, he made his PATHER PANCHALI with the premiere of LIPS TO LIPS in 2000. His wit and guts resulted in his now famous Banned Trilogy, i.e. THE BIG DURIAN, THE LAST COMMUNIST and VILLAGE PEOPLE RADIO SHOW. Why banned? Because the authorities thought he is inciting racial hatred, promoting the virtues of the communists, talking bad about the government and its leaders past and present, etc. Hmmm…..

THE LAST COMMUNIST is essentially a documentary tracking Chin Peng’s life from his birthplace in Sitiawan to the community of ex-communists in southern Thailand. In a road movie format, Amir not only told the story of Chin Peng but bring to live the towns and places that has been touched by Chin Peng and the communist. We see, for example, the interview of a bicycle shop owner in Sitiawan (Chin Peng’s family owned a bicycle shop), the interview of rubber estate tappers when the topic of communists terrorizing rubber estates popped up, leading up to the interviews with ex-communists who are still living in southern Thailand. The interviewees comprise of all the three main races in Malaysia, quite evenly distributed, which is rare in a local production (movies in Malaysia are either predominantly Malay or Chinese or Indian). He even interviewed an Malaysian Indian that speaks perfect Hokkien.

Amir is also not shy to use song and dance just like how the directors in Bollywood will do, only that Amir has 5 song breaks compared to the normal 3 or 4 song breaks in a typical Bollywood movie. The first song is about the birth of communism with he publishing of the works by Marx and Engels. The second song is about malaria in Malaya, followed by the third song that asked us to be thankful for a peaceful and prosperous country as Malaya. Then the 4th song is about identity cards, which is one of the methods used by the British to isolate the communist and the final song dispenses advice on how to choose your gun. All these does not still include the few songs sung in between, such as the church guy songs and the karaoke sessions. Indeed, this can in fact be a musical if Amir wishes. However, I cannot help but admit to be personally quite fond of a couple of the songs, particularly the Birth of Communism song and that Malaria Conquers Malaya song, both has strong melodies, witty lyrics and excellent dance sequence, although the Malaria song only uses finger dances predominantly.

Technically, we will have to accept that this is a film on a shoestring budget and meant to be told documentary style. So “imperfections” such as seeing the cameraman’s own reflection, etc. abound but this only added to the realism and charm of the work. The opening credit title is also quite creative although not too original and the final fireworks ending gets us to ponder on the history of Malaysia, particularly the history of communism in Malaya.

We may not learn a lot about the communism in Malaysia in this film but it is enough to excite those interested to go and find out more about this aspect of our history. Overall, a very smart work this is.

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Escape from Huang Shi

Escape from Huang Shi, 2008

dir: Roger Spottiswoode

A lot of people will get disappointed with this movie if he or she thinks that this movie has a lot of “action” war scenes, or expects to see for the most part the horrible stuffs that the Japanese did to the Chinese in Nanking, or even to watch their idol Chow Yun Fat and/or Michelle Yeoh in action as they did in CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. Instead, they are treated to a dramatic bio-pic of English journalist, George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) whose heroic efforts saved a few dozens Chinese children from certain death if they are conscripted to fight the war. In fact, the original title of this movie is THE CHILDREN OF HUANG SHI but perhaps this title is too “soft” to market given the whole of the movie trailer and such is rather misleading to make believe that this is a war-action movie. So the word “ESCAPE” is more action oriented and less of a yawner.

The marketing campaign which is angled on the Asian market, also positioned Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh as if they are playing the lead but in fact, the movie is very little about them and focused on George Hogg and nurse Lee Pearson (Radha Michelle) instead. In fact, the story only focused only on 2-3 children among the 60 and thus shed little light on the children’s story. So at the end, it just felt like a movie to “idolise” Goerge Hogg, a tribute on big screen to this personality.

Ok, I have said what I wanted to say. Now, but is this a good movie?

The movie is set during World War II during the Japanese occupation of Nanking. A few scenes illustrated the hideous things that the Japanese have done there and there is an execution scene that is quite well done and conveys the fear of the people and atrocities committed. Jonathan Rhys Meyers did a fine job playing Hogg while Radha Michelle is also very fine playing Lee Pearson. Watching the mass execution scene, one cannot but feel the pain of the people but this is war time and in war time, many hideous things happens. The Japanese themselves got bombed by the Americans and suffered miserably. The Americans also massacred the Vietnamese in the My Lai incident and I don’t see how the Vietnamese have suffered any lesser than the Nankingites. Then the Americans had their twin towers taken down. And so on and so forth.

Hogg is a naive idealist (whose family are pacifists and their family had tea with Gandhi) and in a streak of good luck, was saved by Chen Hansheng (Chow Yun Fat) while in the brink of getting beheaded. He was then sent to Huang Shi where an orphan-school gives protection and food to some 50-60 children. In Huang Shi, he comes to terms with the situation there and began to improve the living conditions and lives of the children there. A sort of Garden of Eden was created by Hogg while Mrs. Wang (Michelle Yeoh) a businesswoman who supplied the orphan-school with things such as seed, medicine, a book that ultimately inspired the long-march etc. All these are threatened by the Nationalist army who eyes to conscript the boys for war. In an effort to save the children, he decided that he should take the children on a mini long march of 1,000km to another town where the children could be safe.

The acting, as I have said, is good and the war scenes, however little it has, is believable. Art direction and cinematography is also top class. So barring my comments on paragraphs one and two above, it is a rather good movie. Just don’t goddam pitch the movie to us as a war-action movie starring Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh and we will adjust the expectations accordingly, and then find the movie quite good.

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NOTES ON SOME INDUSTRY TRENDS IN HONG KONG/CHINA, KOREA & JAPAN

A. China/Hong Kong

With the Olympics upcoming, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) is facing more intense political pressure to step up the censorship of politically sensitive content. This new zeal follows the controversial release of the movies LUST, CAUTION and LOST IN BEIJING and the tightening of the censorship screws has affected more than 50 productions/co-productions that is currently ongoing, with the highest profile of them all, SHANGHAI which is one of the Weinstein’s company’s joint production and has a US3million set built being denied a shooting permit.

This will affect the supply of especially big blockbusters in the coming years. However, it is expected that the producers can work around the issue as there do not seem to be a shortage of production funds still pouring into China. In fact, the situation is not that there is a lack of funds but a lack of stars and talent as the securing of these talents relies more on personal connections. Another serious issue that China faces is a lack of distribution channels as there are not as many companies interested in investing in distribution as they are in production and also due to regulatory restrictions.

Hong Kong home grown production continues to experience difficulty with continual reduction in the number of films produced, reduction in cinema admission as well as the drop in the quality of movies, and this is compounded with a lack of new talent. However, to counter this, the Hong Kong government via the Hong Kong Film Development Council has recently set up a film development fund amounting to $300million to finance small-medium productions to encourage greater production activities as well as to create employment opportunities and grooming of new talent. With just less than one year, 7 projects have already been approved and with this effort, it is expected to invigorate the Hong Kong film industry.

B. Korea

There is an apparent slowdown in the Korean film industry. While the number of production actually increased by almost 13%, only about 10% of the movies released actually made profits. It also saw a big decrease in film exports, of almost 70% between 2005 and 2007 while production costs increase by at least 50% from 2006 to 2007. The drop in cinema admission is made more painful by the fact that almost 80% of the film revenues come from theatrical release as there is almost no home entertainment due mainly to piracy and online illegal downloads. The reduction of the Screen Quota from 146 day to 73 days added to the pain.

The main reason for the decrease is due mainly to the marked drop in the quality of the films itself and this can be seen from the movies being released recently.

However, the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) realizes this (in fact identified this as a crisis situation) and has kick-started a new 5 year strategy to tackle the problem, from 2007 to 2011. The objective of this plan is basically double domestic and international market share and increase export revenue by almost 4-fold by 2011. It plans to do so by several measures which include the setting up of a Film Development Fund of approximately USD547million over the 5 years and the development and strengthening of various infrastructure such as research, production and post-production support.

With the above and the involvement of the telecom companies (KT and SK Telecom) which plans to inject a large amount of money into film production and distribution, the outlook is still upbeat.

C. Japan

Japanese domestic market has seen a dip since its big breakthrough in 2006 where total number of Japanese movies released topped 417 titles and domestic market share reached more than 53%, the highest in about 20 years. Total number of movies released in 2007 dropped to 407 titles but still much higher than the 356 titles in 2005 and 310 titles in 2004. The noted trend is the re-making/adaptation of popular Japanese novels, dramas and manga/anime into feature length movies such as TOKYO TOWER, ALWAYS: SUNSET ON 3RD STREET, NARUTO etc. While these are popular in the domestic market, many of these movies could not travel outside Japan. In fact, only about 10% of Japanese movies can travel outside of Japan and as such the Japanese must make more effort to market the movies outside of Japan so reach a larger audience. It must also be noted that the quality of Japanese movies is improving and in many productions, have regained its past glory and have surpassed the quality of Korean and even Hong Kong movies.

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Short Notes

Ah, back in KL. Have been quite pre-occupied with some stuffs which resulted in me not being able to write a few lines of comments re the recent Hong Kong Film Awards. Some short notes:

1. Hong Kong Film Awards

Peter Chan is a great director. I adore his movies, HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY FATHER, HE’S A WOMAN, SHE’S A MAN, COMRADES: ALMOST A LOVE STORY (one of my all time favourite movie), PERHAPS LOVE (a movie which I love and had its soundtrack playing and repeating in my car stereo for week after week) etc. Re WARLORDS, I have watched in the cinemas alone three (3) times and thought that it is a very well directed movie. But for the Hong Kong Film Awards, I really thought MAD DETECTIVE should win as it has an unmistakable Hong Kong feel to it versus the very China feel that Warlords is. Maybe it is just plain nostalgia but without nostalgia, a lot of things that we love will disappear before our very eyes.

MAD DETECTIVE got the award for best screenplay which it deserves. Story wise and idea wise, actually it is not too fresh but as I have said before, the plain execution o the movie is just superb. There is not much of a fresh story, just cops trying to solve some cases (which in this case, the story in THE DETECTIVE starring Aaron Kwok is a lot better) and the idea of using different actor/actress to play different personalities is not new either (say, for example, in 1977 Bunuel used that devise in THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE). But the style of the movie, Lau Ching Wan’s acting, the pace etc. are just simply marvelous.

Best Actor for Jet Li? Now that was really unexpected. I have always thought Lau Ching Wan will grab his second one in a row. But Best Actress for Siqin Gaowa is what I have expected. I cannot imagine any other actresses nominated can beat her performance in THE POSTMODERN LIFE OF MY AUNT. Best Action for FLASHPOINT? Definitely!! Best original song not going to the song from MR. CINEMA? Inconceivable! Both songs were performed during the awards show and it is just plain obvious which is the better song.

Well, it is not much of an award show anyways. It is getting more and more amateurish year after year.

2. French Film Festival in Jakarta

This is currently going on in Jakarta. The Kuala Lumpur version will be next month but mind you, I don’t think these guys talk to each other. Just look at the programming for the Jakarta side versus the Kuala Lumpur one. The Jakarta one is just so much more superior. Hands down.

Managed to finally watch Hou Hsiao Hsien’s FLIGHT OF THE RED BALLOON. Before going inside the cinema, I was tired like hell and just wanted to sleep and was very much afraid that I will actually fall asleep. But that movie just woke me up and as I watched, I get more and more interested and forgot about sleep. It is typical Hou with excellent, as usual, acting from Juliette Binoche. Simple storyline but is true to the heart. Hou is surely a master director.

3. Website

The website is on but am still writing stuffs to put up. So far, there is a review on Amir Muhammad’s rather burlesque THE LAST COMMUNIST, Ho Yuhang’s rather cinema verite SANCTUARY and Bong Joon-ho’s comedic social-satire BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE. I plan to put up more stuffs this weekend, on some Iranian movies plus some notes on the new Korean films and industry.

Well, that’s all for now.

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Gustav Mahler’s Family (Paternal)

Gustav Mahler’s Family

(Paternal)

1. Great-Great Grand Father & Mother


Name

Born (Date, Place)

Died (Date, Place)

Occupation

Abraham Mahler

1720, Chmelná

9 Jul. 1800, Chmelná

Singer in a synagogue, supported himself by prepraring Jewish food

married to:


Name

Born (Date, Place)

Died (Date, Place)

Occupation

Anna

1731, Chmelná

26 Mar. 1801, Chmelná


2. Great Grand Father & Mother


Name

Born (Date, Place)

Died (Date, Place)

Occupation

Bernard Mahler

1750

1812


married to:


Name

Born (Date, Place)

Died (Date, Place)

Occupation


Ludmila (Barbara) Lustig






3. Grand Father and Grand Mother


Name

Born (Date, Place)

Died (Date, Place)

Occupation

Simon Mahler

1793, Chmelná

14. Jul. 1865, Lipnice

Lease holder, Businessman (owner of wine distiller, also founder of a textile factory)

married to:


Name

Born (Date, Place)

Died (Date, Place)

Occupation


Marie Bondy

1805

1883, Lipnice


4. Father & Mother


Name

Born (Date, Place)

Died (Date, Place)

Occupation

Bernard Mahler (Picture)

2 Aug. 1827, Lipnice


18 Feb. 1889, Jihlava

Businessman, wine distiller

married to:


Name

Born (Date, Place)


Died (Date, Place)

Occupation

Marie Hermann (Picture)

2 March 1837, Ledec

11 Oct. 1889, Jihlava


5. Siblings


Name

Born (Date, Place)

Died (Date, Place)

Occupation

Isidor Mahler


22 Mar. 1858, Kaliste

1859


Ernst Mahler

18 Mar. 1862, Jihlava

13 Apr. 1875, Jihlava (heart disease)


Leopoldine Mahler (married to Ludwig Quittner)

18 May 1863, Jihlava

27 Sep. 1889, Vienna


Karl Mahler

27 Aug. 1864, Jihlava

28 Dec. 1865, Jihlava


Rudolf Mahler

17 Aug. 1865, Jihlava

21 Feb. 1866, Jihlava


Alois-Louis Mahler

6 Oct. 1867, Jihlava

14 April 1931, Chicago

Bookkeeper and (Sales) Representative for the Heller Candy Company, makers of the Wiener Zuckerl.


Justine Mahler (married to Arnold Rosé)

15 Dec. 1868, Jihlava

22 Aug. 1938, Vienna


Arnold Mahler

19 Dec. 1869, Jihlava

15 Dec. 1871, Jihlava



Friedrich Mahler

23 Apr. 1871, Jihlava

15 Dec. 1871, Jihlava


Alfred Mahler

22 Apr. 1872, Jihlava

6 May 1873, Jihlava



Otto Mahler

18 June, 1873, Jihlava

6 Feb. 1895, Vienna (commited suicide)

Musician


Emma Mahler (married to Eduard Rosé)

19 Oct. 1875, Jihlava


15 May 1933


Konrad Mahler

17 Apr. 1879, Jihlava

8 Jan. 1881, Jihlava

6. Children


Name

Born (Date, Place)

Died (Date, Place)

Occupation

Marie Anna (“Putzi”) Mahler (Picture)

3 Nov. 1902, Vienna


5 Jul. 1907, Maiernigg


Anna Justina (“Gucki”) Mahler (Picture)
(married 1. Rup Koller, 2. Ernst Krenek, 3. Paul Zsolnay, 4. Anatol Fistoulari, 5. Albrecht Josef)

15 June 1904, Vienna

9 Jul. 1989, London

Sculptress

7. Grand Children


Name

Born (Date, Place)

Died (Date, Place)

Occupation

Alma Zsolnay (married German)


5 Oct. 1930, Vienna




Marina Fistoulari (married 1. Paul Glass, 2. Milan Havlicek)

1 Aug. 1943, London



8. Great Grand Children


Name

Born (Date, Place)

Died (Date, Place)

Occupation


Anna Germany

6 Feb. 1960, Los Angeles




Irene Germany

31 Mar. 1961, London



Alexandra Zdraska Havlicek

1 May 1975



The MAHLER line can be traced back to MAHLER Abraham, a merchant and synagogue singer, the first MAHLER to take that name. (Most Jews did not have fixed hereditary surnames until the early 19th century. Before that, people were known only by their first name and a patronymic, i.e. their father’s given name, e.g. “Yaacov ben Shmuel”, meaning “Yaacov the son of Shmuel”. Jews were required to take surnames at various times: Austrian Empire (1787). [1]

Source:

The above information was assembled with documents made available to me by Mr. Henry Mahler. We sincerely thank him for his kindness to allow us access to these information. All errors, however, are completely mine.

Ho Hock Doong (Hock-doong, Ho)
2 March, 2001
Kuala Lumpur.

Notes:

[1] From: http://members.aol.com/plinhardt/MAHLER.htm

[2] Iglau (German) is the same as Jihlava (Czech).
[3] Kalischt (German) is the same as Kaliste (Czech).

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DAS KLAGENDE LIED

“DAS KLAGENDE LIED”

Often translated as “The Sorrowful Song”, “The Song of Lamentation”, and “The Plaintiff Song”. Cantata composed in 1880 originally in 3 movements later revised in 1893 and 1899 with the first movement discarded along with changes in orchestration and arrangement to the second and third movements.

HISTORY

Composition

Mahler began to write the words of “Das klagende Lied” during the early part of his final year in the Vienna Conservatory where he was a student from 1875 to 1878. The draft text of the 3 movements was dated 18 March, 1878 and musical setting on the text began in the autumn of 1879 and was completed on 1 November, 1880. It was during this time that Mahler fell in love with Josephine Poisl, the daughter of a local postmaster in Iglau (Jihlava) and it is possible that he had her in mind while composing this work (he also composed 3 other works for Josephine and this will be covered in another article).

Beethoven Prize

It is believed that it was the score of this completed 3-movement cantata that he did submit for the Beethoven Prize in the autumn of 1881 with Johannes Brahms being one of the members of the jury. The prize eventually went to Robert Fuchs (1847-1927) for his piano concerto and Mahler was deeply wounded by that decision. Later, he sent the score to Franz Liszt in 1883 hoping that it will be performed but Liszt later sent back the score to Mahler citing “the poem” as the basis for his rejection. After another attempt and subsequent failure to get his work published by the publishing house of B. Schott’s Söhne in Mainz, Mahler decided to revise the work.

Revision

The first revision of the work took place in the second half of 1893 with a significant reduction and re-arrangement in orchestration and voices. The revisions, for example, include reducing the number of harps from six to two and the vocal soloists from eleven to four in the first movement. The boys’ voices were also removed. The off-stage orchestra, which played an important role in the work, was also completely removed from the 2nd and 3rd movement. The revision to the opening movement indicated that Mahler did not initially plan to discard the 1st movement. It was only during the autumn of 1893 while his revision was in progress that he decided to omit the 1st movement.

Further revisions were made between September and December of 1898 where Mahler’s initial decision to omit the off-stage parts in the 2nd and 3rd movement was reversed. The revisions were so extensive that Mahler had to write out a new score with only 2 movements, corresponding to the 2nd and 3rd movements of the original score. The first performance of this revised version took place on the 17th February 1901 in Vienna with Mahler himself being the conductor.

Since Then

In 1893, Mahler wrote the outlines of his first revisions into the original 3-movement score and passed it to his sister, Justine who subsequently passed it to her son, Alfred Rosé. Rosé used this score to prepare for the performance of the 1st movement in Brno in 1934 and then a hybrid version with the 1st movement along with the revised 2nd and 3rd movement in Vienna in 1935. Since then, he kept the score in private but later sold it to James M. Osborn in 1969 who later donated it in March the same year to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University in New Haven.

Since then, the work is generally performed in its entirety, i.e. with the 1st movement along with the revised 2nd and 3rd movement. Lately (since 1997), however, the original first edition of all the three movements is now made available.

The score of the revised 2 movements remained with Alma Mahler-Werfel until her death and was subsequently passed to the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York.

THE WORK

“Das klagende Lied” comprises of 3 movements, being the following:

1. Waldmarchen (Forest Legend)

2. Der Spielmann (The Minstrel)

3. Hochzeitsstück (Wedding Piece)

The work generally lasts for about 60 to 70 minutes.

Synopsis

Waldmarchen (Forest Legend)

This first movement tells of a haughty queen whose beauty is beyond compare but no knight seemed to be to her liking. However, in the forest, there can be found a beautiful red flower and whoever succeeds in finding the flower can have the queen’s hand in marriage. There went two brothers in search of the flower. The younger brother is gentle and mild but the older brother could only curse. The younger brother finally managed to find the flower and feeling a little tired, stuck the flower in his hat and took a nap. His brother continued looking for the flower in vain but alas! saw his brother sleeping with the precious flower in his hat. He took out his sword and there went wasted his younger brother’s life.

Der Spielmann (The Minstrel)

The second movement tells of a minstrel who one day found a bone while passing the forest. Seeing it, he decided to make a flute out of the bone, not knowing that the bone belongs to the younger brother who died under the sword of his own elder brother. He played on the new flute and what sorrowful music came out of it! Music so sorrowful and at the same time so beautiful! He who hears it would melt into tears. Wherever the minstrel went, the song of lament, which tells the whole tragic story, will be heard. Finally, the minstrel decided to play the flute in the palace during the wedding of the queen to the young knight, i.e. the elder brother (now king).

Hochzeitsstück(The Wedding Piece)

This movement tells of the minstrel’s visit to the palace on the wedding day to reveal the whole secret. The whole palace was jubilant and happy until the minstrel played the flute to the new king. The whole story became known and the queen fell to the ground. The musicians fell silent and the knights and ladies flee in terror. The ancient walls collapsed and the lights in the hall became dark. Ah, what happened to the wedding feast? Indeed what happened to the wedding feast?! Ah! Sorrow!

Inspiration/Sources of the Text

It is believed that Mahler drew on several sources for his version of the “Das klagende Lied”. One of the sources could be from an anthology of fairy tales by Ludwig Bechstein (1801-1860) whereby one of the stories was also titled “Das klagende Lied”. Differences between Mahler’s version and Bechstein’s version is, among others, the employment of a minstrel instead of a shepherd to discover the bone and his use of two boys instead of a boy and a girl as in Bechstein’s version.

Another notable source/influence is that of a tale by the Brothers Grimm with the title “Der singende Knochen” (“The Singing Bone”) whereby we can find the idea of the rivalry between two brothers for the favours of a beautiful queen.

The Music

This work is considered by Mahler himself to be his own ‘Opus 1’. Indeed, in this work, one can find the roots to his later works that spans the next 30 years of his career as a composer.

Notable examples are his use of a large-scale orchestra and his fondness of employing non-ordinary instruments such as the D-flat flutes and E-flat cornets in the first movement. It is also apparent that Mahler is bend on composing music which has an underlying story/meaning often based on existing literature. His early symphonies that were based heavily on the Wunderhorn poems stand in testimony of this observation. Note also that Mahler will go to such length as to compose/modify the literature to meet his musical needs as can be seen even in his late work of “Das Lied von der Erde”. It must also be noted that in general, his work is ‘narrative’ in nature, be it a story, a legend, a fairy tale or a philosophical argument and the ultimate narration would of course be that of Mahler’s own life story. It is therefore appropriate for Pierre Boulez to remark that “from the first, Mahler’s musical form tends towards the epic and the novelistic”.

The use of the off-stage band to create a sense of contrast (using “different rhythms and clashing tonalities” as pointed out by Donald Mitchell in the liner notes to the Kent Nagano recording, see below) and irony and also to portray a sense of dimension and distance can also be traced to this work. Notice that this technique was also employed, for example, in the finale of the second symphony.

Cross referencing/quotation between Mahler’s early work can also be observed. Examples are his quotations in “Im Lenz”, the “Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen”, the First symphony and the Second symphony. Notice that the tremelo in the opening of “Der Spielmann” followed by the ascending/descending motifs from the lower strings cannot but reminds one of the opening of the first movement of the Second symphony. Incidentally, both of them are also in C minor. Fragments of the “Dies Irae” theme can also be heard in this movement.

As Donald Mitchell pointed out in his essay, one of the “most arresting discoveries has been Mahler’s systematic use… of a motivic-based polyphony.” This technique will also be further refined and employed by Mahler in his future masterpieces.

Semantics

Speculations has it that one of the reasons for the removal of the first movement was due to Mahler’s desire to suppress his feeling of guilt on the death of his beloved younger brother, Ernst, in 1874. However, another explanation for the removal of this movement is based purely on dramatic reasons in that the first movement was deemed redundant since the story was told again in “Der Spielmann” and made clearer still when the king (his brother) played on the flute in the “Hochzeitsstück” movement. What is missed out if the first movement is removed is the motive for getting the flower in the forest which subsequently led to the fratricide, a part which I think is important to elucidate the meaning of the whole work.

The work can also be taken a step further from its explicit themes of love, rivalry, murder, revenge and justice. The choice of a minstrel to reveal the secret and thus bring about justice can also be taken to indicate the belief in the power of music to transform society.

RECORDINGS

15 different recordings were listed in Vincent Mouret’s site. Notable recordings include one by Wyn Morris with the New Philharmonia Orchestra recorded in 1967 for Nimbus. This version comprises of only the revised 2nd and 3rd movements.

The first recording incorporating the 1st movement but bundled with the revised 2nd and 3rd movements is one by Pierre Boulez recorded in 1970 for CBS (now Sony Classical). Other notable recordings of this hybrid version include that by Riccardo Chailly with the Radio Sinfonie Orchester Berlin made in 1989 for Decca and Michael Tilson Thomas with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra made in 1996 for RCA.

The original 1880, 3-movement version is now available on recording. However, only 2 recordings of this original version are currently available. The first is by Kent Nagano with the Hallé Orchestra made in 1997 for Erato and the second is by Harmut Haenchen with the Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest made in 2000 for NedPho.

Ho Hock Doong (Hock-doong, Ho)

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

13 March, 2001

Please send your comments to: hdoong@yahoo.com

Sources:

– “On Wednesday Evening at Half Past Seven” The Young Gustav Mahler and his circle of friends in Vienna, Herta Blaukopf

– “Das klagende Lied” Genesis-Sources-Versions, Reinhold Kubik

– Das klagende Lied: Mahler’s ‘Opus 1’, Donald Mitchell

– “Das klagende Lied” written by Edward R. Reilly for the American Symphony Orchestra’s “Dialogues and Extensions” section of their website.

– Synopsis summarised from poem in liner notes, Sony Classical, Sony Music Entertainment Inc.

– Vincent Mouret’s site at http://mapage.noos.fr/vincent/klagende.html

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Third Attempt on a Site

Well, this is my third attempt in getting a good website up. The past two has been quite a failure but the first one was quite good. Sadly, Yahoo! erased that site and I have no idea why. Maybe it is just that it was a tad too long that I have not updated it.

So here, another attempt. Besides trying to be smart and do fancy things and sound intelligent and knowledgeable and stroke my own ego, I have another reason why I started this website but the time is not ripe yet to break the news. When it comes, it comes.

Here is the URL: http://hdoong.googlepages.com/

Be warned, nothing there yet except a few reviews. Keep your expectations low. I may not even survive the next update and may scrap the whole thing next week. Well, one can never really know what happens next in one's life.

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Wong Kar Wai's Wuxia

In the mood for a Wong Kar Wai movie, I stretched for my copy of ASHES OF TIME. This is no accident as I was talking about this movie with the producer of FLOWER IN THE POCKET who is an avid fan of ASHES OF TIME. It reminds me how long ago I have watched that movie and I remember the impression of the movie is not very favourable since half the time, I have no idea what is actually happening. Rewatching it some years back didn’t really help, so I thought I may as well give it another try since there is something in there that really captivates me and I remembered the feeling. I want to explore that feeling.

ASHES OF TIME is by far not an easy movie to watch despite having one of the biggest cast line up that I have ever seen in a Hong Kong movie. Plus the talent of Christoper Doyle, William Cheung and Patrick Tam, it promises to be one of the best received movie. But the reverse is actually true. Most of the people in the team didn’t know what is happening and Patrick Tam was said that he thanked God Christopher Doyle did an amazing job with the visuals to make his editing job that much easier.

The story of ASHES OF TIME, if there is one, is loosely based on Jin Yong’s novel “The Legend of the Condor Heroes”. It is meant to be a prequel to the novel, on how the characters in the novel is as it is by examining the relationship between the characters when they were still relatively young.

This is where it started to charm me, this time, besides the great cinematography and music which I appreciated before. In ASHES OF TIME, deliberately or not, Wong Kar Wai infuses a certain humanism in the characters. For all of us who grew up with a steady diet of TVB drama adaptation of Jin Yong, if not read Jin Yong’s novel ten times already, the characterisation that we feel from the novel and the TV adaptations is somehow different from how Wong Kar Wai depicted them to be in the movie. In ASHES OF TIME, these characters are much weaker, more humane, still has love in their hearts, and still think of their hometown and people they love. The characters in ASHES OF TIME has just a tad too many human flaws.

These human flaws made the characters interesting and charming. And God-damn Wong Kar Wai made the characters recite dialogue which to many people will sound very comical, including me. In the scenes where Brigitte Lin and Leslie Cheung exchanges words, I cannot help but imagine the words of Leslie Cheung coming out of Stephen Chow’s mouth and I started laughing.

Well, anyways, this movie is about unrequited love most of the time. The people you love is not always the person you are married to. One exception that stood out was Jackie Cheung’s character where his wife came to look for him and he brushes her off. She refused to go and waited outside for him for days. Then much later, after many experiences, Jackie Cheung decided to leave to which Leslie Cheung asked him what he is going to do with the wife. He answered that he will take her along. And somehow, we the audience understood that Jackie Cheung understood the underlying meaning of love, i.e. the person you love most is in front of you. Make a life with her or you will regret later, like how Leslie Cheung regretted not saying the 3 words to the girl he loves, i.e. Maggie Cheung, or how Tony Leung Chiu Wai married a woman, Carina Lau Kar LIng, who loved his best friend, Tony Leung Kar Fai, more than she loves him and had to resort to abusing the horse to satisfy her sexual needs (hic!).

Another character that stood out was Charlie Young’s character who played a poor woman whose brother was murdered by a band of roving bandits. She asked Leslie Cheung to help avenge her but because she has no money and Leslie Cheung will not kill for no money since he is an assassin/assassin agent. All she can offer is a donkey which is supposed to be her dowry and a basket of eggs. Leslie Cheung said that she can actually get more money by selling her own body since she is not ugly. But Charlie Young adamantly stuck to her principles of not selling her body and it finally took Jackie Cheung to avenge her for the price of one egg which resulted in one of Jackie Cheung’s fingers getting cut off. What follows is a dialog between Leslie Cheung and Jackie Cheung, and it clearly shows the difference in characters between the two of them, who later in the novel, are sworn enemies and killed each other in a duel.

So, with this in mind, I will watch the movie again someday. Maybe more thoughts will come from more viewings.

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