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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thoughts on 31st Hong Kong Film Awards / Ode to Lau Ching Wan

The 31st Hong Kong Film Awards was held on Sunday night. I was following the results on Facebook and Twitter because I didn't know where else can I catch a live telecast of it in Japan.

A SIMPLE LIFE by Ann Hui ended up as the big winner of the night, winning Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay and probably a few others I didn't count.

I haven't seen it, so there's not much I can say.

But I ended up writing my thoughts about each of the acting award winners on Facebook, which I'm going to share here. (and I will expand on what I wrote if I can)


"When I saw Soh Hang Suen appear on Johnnie To's LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE, I was pleasantly surprised. She was a very familiar face during my childhood, from those TVB series I used to watch. She now operates a vegetarian restaurant, oh, and she's also the Best Supporting Actress in the ongoing HK Film Awards. She appeared only in 2 scenes. But to me. they were the most intense and memorable scenes in the film."

It's always great to see Hong Kong veteran actors or actresses appearing onscreen again. Most of the TVB series I remember of Soh Hang Suen were the sad ones. One that remained vivid in my mind is about her being framed for murder and being imprisoned in China, and her son (played by Roger Kwok) had to spend years and years trying to prove her innocence. I remember only one image from its final episode, she was finally given a not guilty verdict after all these years of being wrongly imprisoned. Her face was one of shock and disbelief, while her son just sat back and yelled in triumph, and then he began crying.

Those TVB stuff from my childhood were really intense.

The Best Supporting Actor also happens to be a familiar face from my past.

On BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR winner Lo Hoi-pang.

Good, I was always grateful that Johnnie To brought Lo Hoi-pang back for PTU, and all his subsequent films. Now he wins the best supporting actor for LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE. Deservingly.

Seeing Lo Hoi-pang in PTU nearly ten years ago gave me the same feeling I had when I saw Soh Hang Suen in LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE few weeks ago, a feeling of surprise and nostalgia. Among nominees, his performance and Kenneth Tsang's (in OVERHEARD 2) impressed me most.

On BEST ACTRESS winner Deanie Ip.

To the surprise of nobody, Deanie Ip won Best Actress for A SIMPLE LIFE yesterday, completing her sweep, (started from her historic win in last year's Venice Film Festival, and then also winning in the Golden Horse, Tallin Black Nights Film Fest, HK Film Critics Society Awards, Asian Film Awards)

I was excited to meet her the night before the Golden Horse awards last November.

Approaching her, I briefly introduced myself and told her that I was a fan of hers since...

"I was a fan of yours since..." Then I stopped myself, to complete the sentence with 'I was a child' would have been a little rude, I thought.

"Since you were a child?" Deanie finished my sentence with a smile.

Aside from the films and TV dramas I've seen. Every time I see her name, her powerful duet with Andy Hui rings loudly in my head 教我如何不愛他 like a personal theme song (you know, like wrestlers use when they enter the ring).

This is the photo I took with Deanie Ip after the conversation above.

And finally, instead of writing something about BEST ACTOR winner Andy Lau, I ended up writing something about non-winner Lau Ching Wan, who got two nominations this year in the category (for LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE and OVERHEARD 2). His role in OVERHEARD 2 was probably not flashy enough, so I thought he had a better hence with LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE. But when his two co-stars won the Supporting Acting awards, I knew he wouldn't have a chance at all.

Yes, Andy Lau ended up winning Best Actor yesterday for A Simple Life at the HK Film Awards. That would be his third Best Actor win after the two Johnnie To films RUNNING OUT OF TIME (1999) and RUNNING ON KARMA (2003). I thought he thoroughly deserved the latter, but not so sure about RUNNING OUT OF TIME, because I thought his co-star Lau Ching Wan had a more complex role in THE VICTIM that year.

This year, despite getting two nominations for Best Actor, for Johnnie To's LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE and OVERHEARD 2, Lau Ching Wan ended up not winning anything again. Which is quite a shame, this guy is probably one of the best actors of his generation (... a strong generation indeed, with the likes of Tony Leung, Anthony Wong, Francis Ng etc,), it'll be sad if he's just a one-and-done Best Actor winner (he won for MY NAME IS FAME in 2006).

Here are the number of roles which he got nominated for that I loved:

1997's Full Alert (Brilliant Ringo Lam film, either him or Francis Ng could have gotten something. It's a tough year. This was the year that Tony Leung won for Happy Together.)

1998's The Longest Nite (Him, as a bad guy, squaring off against Tony Leung. I loved the film, and him doing the whole Cool Hand Luke stuff in the cell. This was the year that Anthony Wong won for Beast Cops)

2007's Mad Detective (this was the year that Jet Li won for The Warlords... and he had just won for MY NAME IS FAME, so I guess they wouldn't let him get a back to back win, a pity.)

So yeah, Lau Ching Wan, despite his accolades and popularity, is somehow, to me, still rather underrated. Hope to see more collaborations between him and Johnnie To. They are the original pair.

Now, enough about the acting award winners. A friend of mine, Jessey Tsang, also won a Best New Director award for her feature debut, BIG BLUE LAKE. It's awesome. I actually met her two years ago at the Tokyo Film Festival, when the film was one of the projects in the Tokyo Project Gathering (project market, now renamed as TIFFCOM Market or something). She had just finished the film and was seeking postproduction financing and sales. And now she's a Hong Kong Film Awards award-winner, awesome.

Here's a trailer of BIG BLUE LAKE.