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Seoul gets dramatic, Blood Brothers gets the cold sholder, and Chang Cheh gets a 21st century facelift. All this and more in the latest edition of News from Abroad.
World dramas compete in Seoul
I wouldn't want to judge this competition. 130 television dramas (most of them multi-episode) from 32 countries were submitted for the second annual Seoul Drama Awards, which announced its winners on Aug. 27, with South Korea, Japan, and China taking the top prizes. The host country's A Dwarf Launches a Small Ball won for best single drama. Meanwhile, Japan's Nodame Cantabile won for best miniseries, beating out South Korea's Surgeon Bon Dal-hee, the U.S.'s The Tudors, and others. Best drama series went to The Great Revival, made in mainland China, whose Tang Dynasty was also a nominee in the same category, as was South Korea's mega-hit Prince of the Legend. In what was probably the night's biggest race, Japan's actor-stud Takuya Kimura (The Family) took the Best Actor award, beating Jonathan Rhys Myers (The Tudors), Song Il Gook (Prince of the Legend), and Chen Daoming (The Great Revival). --Brian Hu
Toronto kicks off its annual Film Festival
The Toronto International Film Festival is off and running and there is an impressive range of Asian and Asian American cinema on view. One such movie is Ping Pong Playa, the unlikely sports comedy crafted by Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Jessica Yu (Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien). Ping Pong Playa is her first attempt at a narrative feature and stars Jimmy Tsai, Smith Cho (Blades of Glory), and Roger Fan (Finishing the Game). There's also A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by seasoned director Wayne Wang. There is no shortage of variety: there's Arthur Dong's documentary Hollywood Chinese, Takeshi Kitano's comedy Glory to the Filmmaker!, and Pen-ek Ratanaruang's thriller Ploy. Takashi Miike's action movie, Sukiyaki Western Django is set during the Japanese "Genpei Wars" in the 1100s. Shekhar Kapur directs a sequel to his 1998 film about the infamous red-haired Queen, this time calling it Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Ang Lee also shows his much-anticipated Lust, Caution. From Lee Issac Chung's Munyurangabo to Johnnie To's Mad Detective to Hou Hsiao-hsien's Flight of the Red Balloon, the line-up in Toronto is burgeoning with promising films from all over. --Catherine Manabat
The unfortunate case of Blood Brothers
Director Alexi Tan's first movie Blood brothers hasn't fared so well. In Hong Kong, its revenue during the first two weeks was behind Invasion, Rush Hour 3, and various other films. In Taiwan, too: not that great. That despite the cast: Liu Ye (Curse of the Golden Flower), Shu Qi (Three Times), Chang Cheh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Daniel Wu (The Banquet), and Tony Yang (Ming Ming). While the film did relatively well on the mainland, its Hong Kong and Taiwanese numbers prove that the screen personalities have yet to prove that they are able to boost a movie's box office. --Haining Ren
Because five deadly venoms are never enough
Production dates and locations are set for director Kirk Wong's upcoming remake of the Chang Cheh classic, The Five Deadly Venoms. So why am I excited that Andy Lau is producing this new version? Two reasons. One, it's set in the 21st century, and it's always a good thing when bonafide Chinese martial arts are brought to the modern age (read: Shaolin Soccer). But more importantly, it's in not dubbed in English, but isn't supposed to be in Chinese to begin with. That's cause all our favorite overseas Chinese are aboard (Edison Chen, Wang Leehom, Maggie Q), making the mix of past/present, East/West even more confusingly terrific. Throw in old school master killer Gordon Liu, new-age showstopper Wu Jing, and the eminent sage of any period The RZA, and we've got ourselves the ultimate clan of intrigue. --Brian Hu
Actors Practice Taiji for New TV Series
Chinese actress Eva Huang (Kung Fu Hustle), otherwise known as Huang Shengyi, prepares for her new role, The Legacy of Guanfu Taiji, by (what else?) practicing taiji. Concerned with portraying the influential martial art correctly, the production team invited five-time taiji national champion, Wang Shaojun, to train actors on the TV series. Producer Du Jun sees the series as introducing the Chinese martial art to the world, a precursor to next summer's Beijing Olympics. Among Huang's costars is also her agent, Yang Zi. The Legacy of Guangfu Taiji will be directed by Cao Rong. Filming has already started in the town of Guangfu, the birthplace of taiji boxing in China. --Catherine Manabat
History according to Krush
In Suimou Tsunenimasu (A History of DJ Krush), a retrospective that will be released on September 18th, DJ Krush, now 45 years old and a grandfather, talks about his musical journey across continents and time. The DVD sews together patches of live performances from Europe, the United States, and Japan, as well as various interviews. Forthcoming in conversation, Krush reveals his difficult younger days, his relationship with his father, and his numerous experiments in music, which have in recent years been steered in a self-consciously "lighter" direction. --Haining Ren
Asian shows get U.S. outing on GekTV
Recognizing a lucrative market, GekTV Entertainment will soon bring Asian TV shows into US homes via broadband Internet. The pay-TV platform already has programs in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. GekTV plans to add Vietnamese, Cambodian, Indian, and Filipino content soon after the initial release. The first offered channels include exclusive broadband carriage of Hong Kong's television broadcasts, i-Cable News, Pearl River channel, and a Tai Seng channel. --Catherine Manabat
Date Posted: 9/7/2007