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As summer heats up, don’t expect entertainment to slow down. John Woo finds himself pitted against the Shanghai Movie Company, Chinese Rock 'N' Roll fans enjoy their own version of Woodstock, The Sound of Music finds a fan base in Beijing, and many more in this edition of New from Abroad.
A New Ending for the Edinburgh International Film Festival
As the Edinburgh International Film Festival takes off, it has just been noted by festival organizers that Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai's new film 2046 will not be closing the film festival as planned because the movie has not finished yet.
Described as a “blurring science-fiction” follow-up to In the Mood for Love, 2046 is set to star Tony Leung, Gong Li, Maggie Cheung, Faye Wong, Zhang Ziyi and Takuya Kimura. The 46-year-old director Wong Kar-Wai is most noted for such films as Happy Together, Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love. Wong is notorious for working without scripts and editing till the last minute. During the Cannes film festival in France last May, an incomplete version of 2046 was screened, but the final print of the movie will not be ready in time for Edinburgh’s closing night on August 29th.
John Woo and the Shanghai Movie Company fights over War of Red Cliff
Apparently a clash of the titans has occurred over the movie War of Red Cliff. In a recent statement by the Shanghai Movie Company, the movie giant expressed its displeasure against renowned Hong Kong director John Woo after he announced that he’ll move the war epic movie onto the big screen.
Woo has long hoped to work on the War of Red Cliff project. The film takes place in China during the Three Kingdoms period more than 1700 years ago. In a budgetary analysis, it’s estimated that Woo is planning to spend 36 million dollars on this film. Headlining the film will be the celebrated Chow Yun-fat, and many other celebrated stars from Japan and South Korea are expected to join the film as well.
Shanghai Movie Company was also shooting a film with the same name at the time Woo was shooting his. The company has invested a cost of over 30 million dollars into the production. Despite Woo’s announcement, the movie company has insisted that it will still go ahead with its own plans.
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Taipei welcomes Jay Chou’s Seven Mile Fragrance
Taiwanese pop sensation Jay Chou received positive feedback from his whirlwind promotion spots in Taipei. Four years after his first album Jay, thousands of eager fans waited in line to get their copies of Seven Mile Fragrance autographed. The album’s name is inspired by a plant originally grown in Taiwan. Chou’s album went on sale across Asia in early August 2004, but an astounding 20,000 albums were pre-ordered even before the record hit store floors.
Known best for his soft and smooth voice, Jay captivated the audience with his first album, making it an immediate hit. He hopes to do the same with Seven Mile Fragrance. Since his debut, Jay has won awards from all over the world. In China, he was honored with the Channel V award for Best Male Singer.
The Sound of Music set to appear in Beijing
The Sound of Music won five Tony Awards in 1960 and the film was released in 1965, capturing five Academy Awards that year. Over the years, the musical has found great fame on Broadway and on American silver screens, and now, it seems that the hit musical will find its way into Beijing. Celebrating the musical’s 45th anniversary, fans are excited to see the show. The Sound of Music is planning to make eight performances.
Even before debuting in Beijing, The Sound of Music opened to enormous popularity in Shanghai. Tickets for the play's 38 performances in Shanghai were all sold out. According to the staff working at the Shanghai Grand Theater, audience members would sing and cheer along with the popular tunes of “Edelweiss” and “Do-Re-Mi.” The Shanghai performances of The Sound of Music earned two million dollars at the box office, and Beijing expects just the same. It seems as though The Sound of Music has transcended generational and national borders, and has become a musical that anyone can enjoy.
House of Flying Daggers makes waves in China and Japan
As the summer season begins to culminate, so have the blockbuster movies in China. The summer release of House of Flying Daggers on July 16 in China has caused quite a sensation, and is expected to do the same with its August release in Japan. If moviegoers didn’t get enough from Hero, they can now look forward to the new Zhang Yimou film. House of Flying Daggers is similar to Hero in the sense that it borrows heavily from the martial arts field. However, according to moviebox.net, House of Flying Daggers is “more crowd pleasing” but a “less abstract dip” into the same genre.
The film is set in 859 AD, during the time where the once-powerful Tang Dynasty is facing a dubious future. Without a strong government, the society slowly begins to succumb to corruption and constantly combats with rebel armies in protest. The largest of the rebel army is the "House of Flying Daggers," which is growing ever more powerful under a mysterious new leader. Two captains, Leo (Andy Lau) and Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) are brought in to capture the leader from the rebel army. Part of their plan has Captain Jin pretending to be a lone warrior who will capture the beautiful revolutionary Mei (Zhang Ziyi) from prison. Jin will earn her trust and take her to the headquarters of the House of Flying Daggers. The plan works--however, Jin and Mei fall deeply in love on their journey to the House, which complicates the situation and thickens the plot.
The House of Flying Daggers sports an all-star cast, which includes Song Dandan in the leading roles along with Kaneshiro, Lau, and Ziyi. The movie is scheduled to open in the U.S. sometime later this year.
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Reigniting the "Glorious Path of Chinese Rock and Roll"
Up to 100,000 rock 'n' rollers caravanned to a distant desert in China’s isolated Ningxia province for a three-day festival featuring the nation’s oldest and best bands. The backdrop for the concert was a stone stage at the foot of Mount Helan near the regional capital of Yinchuan. After two years of preparation, the "Glorious Path of Chinese Rock and Roll" finally culminated from August 6th to August 8th, as concertgoers rocked out to six bands playing on each of the three nights. The eclectic festival showcased established acts like Cui Jian, Tang Dynasty, Black Panther, He Yong, Zhang Chu, Cobra and Ziyue.
In addition, younger bands were also included such as Second Hand Roses, Thin Man, Tongue and Bu Yi. According to concert officials, the 18 rock bands are supposed to represent the development of rock 'n' roll in China over the past two decades.
In fact, the success of the “Glorious Path of Chinese Rock and Roll” came as a surprise. An earlier attempt to unite the rock 'n' roll world failed, so organizers were apprehensive about the possible success of this one. In the summer of 2002, Cui Jian initiated a similar rock festival at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, in southwest China’s Yunnan Province. The event also attracted a media buzz. However, due to a low budget that restricted appearances, high transportation costs, and unexpected harsh weather, the concert did not go as planned.
However, all apprehensions were eased as this concert was clearly shown to be a success. After 20 years of government censorship, blacklisting, concert bans and the rampant pirating of CDs and tapes, the genre was finally able to unite and give an all-out performance. Concert officials hoped that the festival provided an opportunity for the audience to look back on how our rock 'n' roll has developed, and also figure out where the movement is heading towards.
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Date Posted: 8/20/2004