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Volcano High on MTV, Leslie Cheung Film Tribute, Shiri Actress in New ABC Show, John Woo's Paycheck, T.M Revolution's Sonic Warp, the L.A. Tet Festival and many more in this issue of News Bites.
Kung-fu meets hip-hop on December 21st at 9:00 PM ET when MTV will be premiering the Korean language action-comedy "Volcano High" (Wasango). Set to a hip-hop soundtrack, the movie will feature dubbing by some of the biggest celebrity hip-hop artists in the industry such as Andrew "Ice Cold" 3000, Lil Jon, Snoop Dog, and Method Man. This premiere is part of a new lineup of original movies from MTV's Senior VP Maggie Malina. After seeing the movie at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival, Malina was inspired to edit and tailor the film for an MTV audience.
The movie, which is directed by Kim Tae-hun, and stars Jang Hyuk, Shin Min-ah, and Kim Soo-roh was originally released in 2001 in Korea, where it soon became a blockbuster hit. The movie is set in a futuristic high school known as Volcano High where everyone is a martial arts expert. From the outside, Volcano High seems like any other normal school, but inside is a tension-filled power struggle as teachers and students fight for a legendary martial arts manual that allows its possessor to take control of the school. The movie is a feast for the eyes with its special effects and choreographed martial arts sequences.
For more information, please visit mtv.com.
Arthur Dong's "Forbidden City U.S.A." will be shown at the David Henry Hwang Theater located in Little Tokyo on December 16 at 7:30 pm. Sponsored by Visual Communications, this event will also celebrate the release of the special edition DVD of the film. As an added bonus, Dong will take the audience on a guided tour of the DVD, revealing the new and added features. The DVDs will also be available for sale and signing by the director.
"Forbidden City U.S.A." is a film about Forbidden City, a premiere all-Chinese nightclub that flourished during the 30's and 40's in the San Francisco Bay Area. Looking beyond the cartoon-like characters of Rodger's and Hammerstein's Broadway musical, "Flower Drum Song," (which was loosely based on the Forbidden City nightclub), Dong attempts to give viewers a realistic glimpse of what it was like to be an Asian American entertainer during this time period, battling racism and cultural barriers. In the documentary, Dong introduces a host of figures such as "The Chinese Sophie Tucker," "The Chinese Sinatra" and "The Chinese Sally Rand." Alongside the real life stories, audiences will be given a glimpse of rare original recordings and film performances that previous to this, were locked away in studio vaults and private collections.
This film was released in 1989, and won the Best Documentary of the Decade (shared award) at the Hawaii International Film Festival.
Dong, a graduate of the Film School at San Francisco State University, is a producer of many award-winning films and videos, which include "Family Fundamentals," "Licensed to Kill" and "Coming Out Under Fire." His documentaries combine the art of the visual medium with an investigation of pertinent social issues. He has won the George Foster Peabody Award, three Sundance Film Festival awards, an Oscar nomination, and five Emmy nominations.
For more information about Dong and his works, please visit www.deepfocusproductions.com.
Celebrating Lunar New Year at the L.A. Tet Festival
In celebration of the upcoming Lunar New Year, the second annual L.A. Tet Festival will be held from January 16-17 at the Whittier Narrows Regional Park located in El Monte. This year's theme is "Flowers of the Spring" and the event will include a range of activities such as beauty pageants, traditional and modern fashion shows, martial arts demonstrations, music performances, carnival rides, multi-ethnic entertainment, and dragon and lion dances.
The L.A. Tet festival is an annual festival that aims to preserve and promote Vietnamese culture in southern California. It was held for the first time last year and drew over 35,000 people. This year's celebration is expected to draw more than 50,000 participants. There will also be a live televised broadcast shown on the Vietnamese news that is expected to reach over half a million of Vietnamese residing in California.
The festival will be hosted by the Pro Fest Company. For more information, please visit www.latetfest.net.
John Woo's Paycheck
John Woo's new movie "Paycheck" will be released in theaters on Christmas Day. The movie stars Ben Affleck as Michael Jennings, a highly paid computer engineer who works on top-secret projects for high-tech companies. As part of the procedure, he gets his short-term memory erased after finishing every assignment so that he doesn't disclose company secrets. After finishing his latest 3-year project, he is expecting a $4.4 billion paycheck, but instead of being paid, he receives an envelope filled with random objects. With his memory already erased, he has no way of demanding for the money-- that is until he realizes that the objects from the envelopes are actually clues to his past. With the help of Rachel (played by Uma Thurman), the two work on reconstructing his memory while being on the run from the Federal Agents who have been sent to kill him.
Woo, notable for his beautifully choreographed action sequences, is probably one of the most well-known Hong Kong directors in America. His debut American film was "Hard Target" (1993) starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Since then, he has gone on to make such blockbusters as "Face/Off" starring Nicholas Cage and John Travolta, and "Mission Impossible 2" starring Tom Cruise. His Hong Kong hits include such classics as "Hand of Death" with Jackie Chan and "A Better Tomorrow" with Chow Yun Fat.
Kim Yoon Jin to Star in New ABC Television Series
Korean actress Kim Yoon Jin will be appearing in a new show that will be aired in March on the ABC television network. She just recently signed a contract that will pay her a total of $750,000 for 12 episodes, including the pilot. After that, she will have the option of appearing in another 12 episodes. Kim has been actively pursuing roles in the U.S. since July 2002 after she signed with the William Morris Agency, a talent agency that also represents notable American celebrities such as Meg Ryan, Kevin Spacey, and Carrie-Anne Moss.
Even though she is a Korean actress, Kim actually received her education in the U.S. where she attended high school at the New York School of Performing Arts and majored in acting at Boston University. After doing a few stints in Broadway productions and acting in minor roles on ABC and MTV, she returned to Korea in 1997 where she appeared in various television dramas such as "Splendid Holiday," "Wedding Dress" and "Spring in My Hometown." She also made several movies such as "Yesterday" and "Iron Palm" but the one that catapulted her to stardom was the 1999 smash hit "Shiri," where she played the double role of Hee Myung Hyun, the recovering alcoholic girlfriend of one of the male leads, and Lee Bang-Hee, a ruthless assassin.
Day of Independence
Chris Tashima's "Day of Independence," based on Tim Toyama's play "Independence Day", was shown at the Redondo Beach Cinema on November 29 & 30, and December 6 & 7. Each screening also included a Q & A session with the cast and crew.
Set in 1943 in a World War II internment camp, the dramatic film short is the story of a 17-year old baseball player who learns that his parents are returning to Japan on a prisoner war ship but they are leaving him behind. Set around the theme of baseball, the film examines the struggles and decisions that challenge a person to find strength; and that heroes are not only found on battlefields but also on the baseball diamond. The film stars Derek Mio, Marcus Toji, Alan Maraoka, Keiko Kawashima, Ulysses Lee, Jonathan Okui, Gina Hiraizumi, and Chris Tashima.
The film was based on the actual World War II experience of Toyama's grandparents who had returned to Japan on the Grisholm, a prisoner exchange ship. The 26-minute movie was filmed in Stockton and Los Angeles in Spring 2003.
"Day of Independence" will also be shown in competition at the Global Peace Film Festival in Florida from December 10-14, and at the Sarasota Film Festival in Florida from January 23 to February 1, 2004.
For more information, please visit www.cedargroveproductions.com.
Release of T.M Revolution's "Sonic Warp"
Tofu Records just released T.M. Revolution's "Sonic Warp" DVD on December 2nd. This DVD features 23 minutes of music videos, with a remixed and revised version of two preexisting hits, "Heat Capacity" and "Love Saver." Similar to his first DVD "Summer Crush," "Sonic Warp" will have liner notes with full Roma-ji (Japanese written in the Roman alphabet) lyrics so that fans can sing along with the music videos. There will also be English translations of the songs.
Accompanying the music videos will be a bonus video, "Heart of Sword," which was the theme song to the popular anime series "Rorouni Kenshin." The song was filmed during T.M. Revolution's live performance at Otakon 2003, the largest anime convention on the East Coast. Also included in the DVD will be "Invoke," the title track from the anime series "Mobilesuit Gundam Seed."
The artist behind T.M. Revolution, which stands for Takanori Makes Revolution, is Takanori Mishikawa. He first made his debut on the Japanese music scene with the single "Dokusai (dictatorship)-monopolize" in 1996. Since then, he has released over a half dozen albums, not to mention numerous singles. He has gained a loyal fan base not only in Japan, but all over Asia. In addition to his music, he is also the DJ to his own radio show, which he has hosted since his debut as a recording artist almost eight years ago.
"Sonic Warp" is a limited release dedicated to anime fans and will only be available through the Tofu Records website and anime stores while supplies last. For more information or to place an order, please visit www.tofurecords.com.
A Tribute to Leslie Cheung
On the weekend of December 6 and 7, the Asian Film Foundation and the Kent Adamson & Brent Thompson Productions company hosted a film and music tribute to Hong Kong screen icon Leslie Cheung at the Regent Showcase Theater in Los Angeles. The two-day film and music festival included the L.A. premiere of his last film, "Inner Senses," along with other Leslie Cheung film classics such as Tsui Hark's "The Chinese Feast," Ronny Yu's "The Bride with White Hair" and Peter Chan's "He's a Woman, She's a Man." In total, there were seven films selected?ne period fantasy, three comedies, two contemporary dramas and one action romance. The festival also featured rare concert footage, fan tributes, and a light reception.
Cheung, who committed suicide on April 1, 2003, was a multi-faceted entertainer who first made his debut in a 1976 television performance of "American Pie." Known to his contemporaries and fans as "guh-guh" or "older brother," Cheung was not only a skilled singer, actor, and performer, but also a leading gay icon who made his first public announcement of his homosexuality in 2000 with the acknowledgment of his twenty-one year relationship with his partner, Daffy Tong. In a society that was largely homophobic, Cheung continued to gain enormous success despite his sexual orientation, and even played roles in gay-oriented movies such as "Farewell, My Concubine" and "Happy Together.
Date Posted: 12/12/2003