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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Thoughts On The 26th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards. YEAH! Lau Ching Wan!!!

Lau Ching Wan winning the best actor award at the 26th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards

I'll get into my thoughts about the results later, for now, some thoughts about the show itself.

1) The 'Memorial' segment was HORRIBLE. I seriously have no idea why the hell would they have Eason Chan performing a song while the names of the deceased were being displayed on the screen. A deliberate attempt to divert our attention? Sheesh.

2) Nick Cheung was funny as the host, Lam Tze Chung's all right. As for Bowie Tsang, while she didn't really suck, might take a while before she can reach the godly level of her dad, Eric Tsang.

3) Anita Yuen's speech about the relationship between fans and celebrities was a good one. Someone has to say something like that after the whole deal with the crazy Andy Lau fan.

4) Lau Ching-Wan winning the Best Actor award was a case of life imitating art. In the film which he won the award for, he plays a fading actor who finally decides to get his shit together after receiving some advice from Tony Leung Kar Fai (playing himself), and eventually gets nominated for a Best Supporting Actor award at the Hong Kong Film Awards, and during the presentation, sees Tony Leung Kar Fai giving him a thumbs-up sign. In real life, Lau Ching Wan received the award from last year's Best Actor winner, Tony Leung Kar Fai.

Right, now, my thoughts on the results.

Best Picture: After This Our Exile

The night's major winner. Seeing how it had gotten both the Best Picture awards at the HK Film Awards and the Golden Horse Awards, I went to check out my AFTER THIS OUR EXILE DVD just now (which I hadn't touched after buying it at Johor last month). To my consternation, the DVD was broken. AAAARGH!

Best Director: Patrick Tam Ka-Ming (After This Our Exile)

Too bad my hero, Johnnie To, didn't win this. But then, dude had won too many Best Director awards in the past few years. Haha. Patrick Tam Ka-Ming was awesome for thanking the Malaysia crew during his acceptance speech.

Best Actor: Lau Ching-Wan (My Name is Fame)

His victory, to me, was the highlight of the night. Long being a fan of Lau Ching- Wan, I always felt that he was like the Peter O'Toole of Hong Kong actors, despite the many classics he had been, the many legendary performances he came up with, he just never had the chance to win anything over the years.

My friend, Peng Shien, had pointed out recently that perhaps Lau Ching-Wan lacked range, his eyes not expressive enough to put up the kind of intense performance you see from Andy Lau or Tony Leung. But personally, I never thought that Lau Ching-Wan is a lesser actor compared to the other two, that he has his own unique brand of acting, more subtle, less showy, hidden depths. It was unfortunate that he was in that many rubbish romantic comedies these days, but this win might start to change things again. Looking forward to see him work in dramatic works again.

It's fitting that he beat major names and acting heavyweights such as Tony Leung, Aaron Kwok (well, dude IS a 2-time Golden Horse winner), Chow Yun Fat and Jet Li for this award. I think his acceptance speech was a nice moment in HKFA history, self-deprecating (pretty similar to Martin Scorsese's acceptance speech at the Oscars) about his previous losses, and really moving when you see how his wife couldn't stop herself from crying tears of joy as well.

Best Actress: Gong Li (Curse of the Golden Flower)

She didn't attend the ceremony. Which sucked. But I DID mention that Gong Li was the standout in CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER. And it's not only because of the cleavage-baring costumes she was wearing throughout the movie. On the other hand, I was kinda rooting for Isabella Leong to win too, she was really good in the movie, ISABELLA.

Best Supporting Actor: Goum Ian Iskandar (After This Our Exile)

Haven't seen the film, can't really comment much. But based on the clips I saw, the kid had seemingly put up one hell of a performance. Well... probably better than Jay Chou's, haha.

Best Supporting Actress: Zhou Xun (The Banquet)

Was hoping that less-known names would be honoured (after all, that's what the Oscar does), like Crystal Tin Yui-Lei in MY MOTHER IS A BELLY DANCER, or Candy Yu On-On in MY NAME IS FAME. But guess the former will need to go through a drought of her own like her husband Chapman To is undergoing now, and the latter's role may have been too small.

It's too weird to see last year's BEST ACTRESS winner winning this year's BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS award. But Zhou Xun is definitely one of the rare bright spots of THE BANQUET. Seeing her being raped by Daniel Wu made me realize immediately that the protagonist is actually an asshole, and the one I should root for is the evil Uncle. (to the uninitiated, THE BANQUET is a loose adaptation of HAMLET)

(Other than that, it's amusing to see THE BANQUET being completely shut out from all other categories. Zero wins for the technical awards. Zero nominations for the major awards. Political reasons made this film HK's Oscar representative despite a director from Mainland China, and having only one person from the cast being from Hong Kong. We can now see that HK people didn't really like THE BANQUET much)

Best Screenplay: Patrick Tam Ka-Ming, Tian Kai-Leong (After This Our Exile)

It's probably a good script.

Best New Artist: Goum Ian Iskandar (After This Our Exile)

Not surprising to see Goum Ian Iskandar win for this one. I hope he won't disappear like those many HK child actors in the past.

Huo Siyan was good in MY NAME IS FAME, yet her role ain't showy enough. But the fact that baby Matthew Medvedev was nominated for Rob-B-Hood was a joke... okay, maybe it really was a joke, but if the baby had won, even a baby-loving guy like me would be really pissed.

Best Cinematography: Andrew Lau Wai-Keung, Lai Yiu-Fai (Confession of Pain)

I thought CONFESSION OF PAIN was bad. But I won't deny the fact that the film has really good cinematography.

Best Editing Kong Chi-Leung (Battle of Wits)

Don't really agree. I thought the film could've been tighter. I couldn't finish my DVD because I ended up feeling too bored. But never mind.

Best Art Direction: Huo Tingxiao (Curse of the Golden Flower)

No contest.

Best Costume Design and Make-Up: Yee Chung-Man (Curse of the Golden Flower)

No contest either. Yee Chung-Man is a genius for designing those, ah, eye-popping costumes.

Best Action Design: Yuen Woo-Ping (Fearless)

I DID mention that the action scenes in FEARLESS are pretty good.

Best Original Film Score: Peter Kam Pui-Tat (Isabella)

Yeah, ISABELLA has a pretty good film score.

Best Original Film Song: "The Chrysanthemum Terrace" (from Curse of the Golden Flower)Composer: Jay Chou Lyrics: Fang Wenshan Performer: Jay Chou

One of those rare Jay Chou songs that I actually liked.

Best Sound Design: Nakom Kositpaisal (Re-cycle)

I gave Re-cycle a positive review. Maybe I was affected by my cousin's constant sobbing during the ending scenes, maybe I was pretty creeped out back then by the scary parts (cousin and I were whimpering and gasping). But once I think of it again, I realize that it really isn't THAT good a film, though it has some really awesome set designs and such, I did feel a little cheated. The Sound Design must have been good, but wasn't such a big deal for me.

Best Visual Effects: Ng Yuen-Fai, Chas Chau Chi-Shing, Emil Yee Kwok-Leung, Alex Lim Hung-Fung (Re-cycle)

This one, I definitely agree.

Best Asian Film: Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (CHINA)

This winning over THE HOST? No way. I never understood the whole fuss about RIDING ALONE FOR THOUSANDS OF MILES, I thought it was pretty generic, shallow and manipulative. But maybe they just needed to give Zhang Yimou something since he wasn't going to win any of the major awards for CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER.

Best New Director: Daniel Wu (The Heavenly Kings)

Yeah, the mockumentary, THE HEAVENLY KINGS, is pretty genius. Daniel Wu deserved this.

Century Achievement Award
- Sir Run Run Shaw

Without him, HK cinema and television would never been the same. If you've been watching HK films and TVB drama serials all these while and NOT know who Sir Run Run Shaw is, you ought to be ashamed of yourself! Read his Wikipedia entry here.

Professional Spirit Award: Man Yuen-Ling

Man Yuen-Ling is a make-up artist. It's awesome to see people like her being honoured since their efforts are often overlooked by public. The video clip of Chow Yun Fat presenting the award to her was really cute.

But ultimately, this post is really about my joy after seeing Lau Ching-Wan win his long overdue award. This was his 9th nomination (... hence the Peter O'Toole comparison). Great to see him finally cementing a place in HK cinema history.

Lau Ching Wan and wife, Amy Kwok
Lau Ching Wan and his wife, actress and former Miss HK, Amy Kwok