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Asia-AICN: Burden of Truth; THORNS; Twins Effect; CHIHWASEON; Infernal Affairs; THE EDGE; Revolution; BOMB

Father Geek here taking a breck from loading up films and swag for this weekends BUTT-NUMB-A-THON here in Austin, to post up the latest Far East Report from Darius26 and his crew of reporters... ENJOY...

Asia-AICN

Hey all, welcome back to an all-new edition of your favourite Asian column. This we are literally bursting with all sorts of scoops, including news on Ramgopal Verma’s next epic, director Anil Sharma’s next project, “Dhaar (The Edge)”, “Kaante”, “Karz – The Burden of Truth”, “Infernal Affairs” with Andy Lau and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, “The Twins Effect”, “Chihwaseon”, and an interview with filmmaker Kevin Fitzgerald. Enjoy!

INDIA

- One of India’s most ambitious directors, Ramgopal Verma, is about to team up with India’s most powerful actor – Amitabh Bachchan, for his next film – tentative titled “Bomb”. Yes indeed, Verma has announced that he will direct a forthcoming film which is touted to be his most epic project to date, dwarfing even “Company”. “Bomb” is set to be a political thriller, with multiple storylines, and is set in 5 different countries. Besides Bachchan, the film will also feature Akshay Kumar (does he have to be in every Bachchan movie?) and Ajay Devgan. The film, being produced by Bharat Shah (“Devdas”), will begin production sometime next year.

- Director Anil Sharma (“Gadar – Revolution”) has announced his next project, titled “Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyon (The World is in Your Hands)”. The war film is set to feature Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar (yes again!), and Bobby Deol in the leading roles. Pre-production work has already begun on the film, and shooting is set to start once Sharma finishes his current film, “The Hero”.

- Actor Dino Morea has signed on as the main lead in director Neeraj Pathak’s “Dhaar (The Edge)”, which co-stars Mahima Choudhary and Suman Ranganathan. The film was launched two weeks ago and is set to start principal photography in January.

- And just a small tidbit on “Kaante (Thorns)”. Apparantly the film is still being held up in the distribution stage (even though it has passed censors now with no major cuts and an A (equivalent to R) rating). So yes, it’s not coming out this week and will release no EARLIER than December 20th. Personally I wouldn’t be too surprised if this film ends up being released in January.

- And the film benefiting the most from Kaante’s delay is director Harry Baweja’s “Karz – The Burden of Truth”. It seems that out of the two main releases last weekend (the other being “Rishtey (Relationships)”, the audiences chose to see the Sunny Deol-Sunil Shetty action drama instead of the Anil Kapoor romance flick. I haven’t seen Rishtey yet (but supposedly it’s very routine with a very tired performance from both Anil Kapoor and Karisma Kapoor), “Karz” is a decent drama with some very good action scenes. Sunny Deol tries to be different during the first half but reverts back to his psychopathic persona in the over-the-top second half. Sunil Shetty steals the show with a very good comedic performance, while Shilpa Shetty is only relegated to a few dance numbers in both of last week’s releases. Out of the two films, I would definitely recommend “Karz”, especially if you’re a fan of Sunny Deol and his violent antics.

Sunny breaks loose and causes havoc on the bad guys in “Karz”: Just Click Now

Sunny threatens Sunil Shetty: Click Here

Even though his role is short, atleast Sunil gets to puts the moves on Shilpa: See Them Here

HK / CHINA

Here’s the latest report from AccSpy:

- The wait is over and "Infernal Affairs" will finally open this Thursday in HK. My prediction? $10 millions grossing for the first weekend, to say the least. Here's the pics from the grand premiere of the film on Monday.

(From Left) Lam Ka Tung, Anthony Wong, Shawn Yu, Tony Leung, Edison Chanand Andy Lau: Click

Tony Leung, Shawn Yu, and Andy Lau: Click Again

Edison Chan, playing Andy Lau's past in the movie: He's Here

One more of Tony Leung and Andy Lau together in a promo shot: They're Right Here

- "The Twins Effect" won't come out until next summer, but here's the teaser trailer of the film, with an awesome fight between Ekin Cheng and a vampire. (For the record, Edison Chan plays a vampire in the movie, but he's not in the trailer.) But wait, there's Gillian Chung trying to show a move at the end, and that's unintentionally hilarious! Click here to see it: Yeah... Right Here

Here we have more of Jackie Chan in "The Twins Effect”

Piece of cake: Click

Marrying scene with Karen Mok? Less comfortable: Click Now

And more of the same: Go Here

And one more: Click

- Andy Lau and the cast and crew of "When the Mouse loves the Cat" have wrapped the shooting in Beijing, here's the first look of Andy: Click Here

- Sammi Cheng and Louis Koo are shooting another Chinese New Year film with director Johnnie To, on-set photos ahead.

Sammi and Louis, playing doctor and patient: Just Click

Wait, it's a period movie? Click to See

Sami and Louis, getting their costumes adjusted: Click

- Stephen Fung has secretly signed a contract with Hollywood's Writers and Artists Agency three months ago, and has stayed in the US since then. He's now in talks to co-star in an action flick with Asia Argento. And yes, he loves her tattoos!

- After two weeks of dominating the top, the Edison Chen flick "9 Girls and a Ghost" took a nosedive to no. 7, while "Double Vision", an Asia-Hollywood collabration from Columbia Pictures and starring Tony Leung Kar-fai and David Morse, debuted at no.1 with $2.5 mil. Director Gordon Chan's comeback effort, "The New Option", starring long-time collaborator Michael Wong and co-starring Shawn Yu and Patrick Tam, debuted at no.2 with $1.5 mil. "Sweet Home Alabama" landed at third. “Dog Soldiers", "One Hour Photo" and "Changing Lanes" were at no.4, 5 and 6. And you guys will have to wait no further, Andy Lau and Tony Leung will cooperate to redefine the coolness of HK cinema behind Christopher Doyle's lens in "Infernal Affairs" this weekend. Chris Doyle and Tony Leung will also jump ship next weekend - to another anticipated film of the year, "Hero", which opens just in time for the Christmas season.

HAWAII INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL / CINEMA PARADISE FILM FESTIVAL

Here’s another report from the fest, courtesy of Ms. Moon Yun Choi. This time our fabulous reporter starts off with a very interesting interview with filmmaker Kevin Fitzgerald:

Chatting with independent hip-hop filmmaker Kevin Fitzgerald at the first Cinema Paradise Film Festival 2002 in Hawaii where eighty independent films are being showcased.

“Ever Since the World Ended” – filmed like a real documentary about what happens to a handful of survivors after a plague wipes out most of the world’s population - kicked off the festival on Dec. 6 to a good, enthusiastic crowd and Eric Byler’s much lauded “Charlotte Sometimes” returns to Hawaii to close the festival Dec. 12.

Q & A interview with Fitzgerald when he just arrived in Hawaii to promote his film “Freestyle: Art of Ryhme.” Also in on the conversation is Ty Bertrand, the film’s sound mixer and co-producer.

Moon Yun: Your film is in the Hip-hop Film Fest arm of Cinema Paradise. Tell me how the film involves hip hop.

Kevin: Where the rap came from, what its origins are and what it turned into is the root of what hip-hop is all about … being able to express yourself in an improvisational way. It’s in all the forms of hip-hop – in break dancing, in graffiti and DJ-ing. It’s the one thing that makes African-American music special. It has that level of improvisation. That’s the essence of the film … these MCs that would rather improvise their rhymes and hang out with each other and do the things in the underground as oppose to being big stars that have big record contracts and write the rhymes and make records.

Moon Yun: That’s fascinating. Why are there all these young filmmakers following MCs around?

Kevin: That’s just part of our generation. If filmmakers had been in the 50’s or 60’s they would have been doing films about rock or jazz. We are doing films about hip hop because that’s our generation – the Hip-hop generation.

Moon Yun: So you grew up with hip hop.

Kevin: Yeah, I’m a DJ and I use to have a radio show. When I was growing I’d be hanging out in my neighborhood where I knew MCs and DJs that were really good and see guys free styling. I just thought it was amazing and wondered why it wasn’t on MTV. No one really was showing how the music was being made. They’d only show it on stage or in music videos but not the actual what it took to make music … what was behind it … the history of it.

Moon Yun: So freestyle is just improvisational …

Kevin: It technically is but just like a jazz musician that has his licks … things that he sort of he uses all the time … It’s the same thing with freestyle MCs. They have little written rhymes that they use sometimes but technically it’s suppose to be 100 percent improvisational.

Ty: With freestyling they’re putting words together, creating ideas and it’s improvised. You can tell when they’re really improvising something completely new because it has a lot to do with the surroundings … what’s happening at that moment. Sometimes it can even be somewhat abstract but the ideas somehow have another level of meaning.

Kevin: Because they’re totally in the moment. That’s the whole thing. If you’re in the moment and you’re speaking totally without any premeditation of what you’re going to say then the content of what you’re saying is going to be truer probably. It’s probably going to have more of your spiritual aspects in it … of what you really want to say. But you’re also telling a story too. You’re telling YOUR story … of whether it was your brother who has shot or use to be a drug dealer and had problems with the law. Whatever the topic is.

Moon Yun: When you listen to MCs, can you tell which ones are creating a message and which ones are just saying things off the top of their heads?

Kevin: Yeah. The people in the film are people that I’ve been fans of that I’ve followed as a DJ. Where I grew up I use to go to this club called the “Good Life” in South Central L.A. It was open mike and the first place where you can get up in front of your peers and do hip hop and then share it with your community. In L.A. the whole community is very disconnected. It’s not like New York where you have neighborhoods. Then there was another thing called Project Blow. These are all real famous names. They’re equivalent to I’d say the Cotton Club in the jazz age. These are places where they had specific open mikes that those MCs who freestyle would get up and they’d battle each other and congregate. So I just started following the scene and it was great. There’s always the best MCs that know how to kick a good freestyle at the Cipher … The guys who don’t necessarily want to get into the club to dance, to talk to girls or to drink … they’re into hip hop and rapping so they’re going to hang out in front of the club in a circle at the Cipher sort of what a doo-whap group would do back in the 50’s in front of the fire and like harmonize and build and sort of just create. You’re creating art in the community of people in the moment. It’s just so interesting.

Moon Yun: In this movie, do you follow a group tour?

Kevin: No. I’ve been working on this film for about ten years now. The film was a freestyle shoot too. I had no concept except wanting to make a film that was totally as pure hip hop as possible.

Tai: It started out as a documentary but it just built into this huge, amazing project.

Kevin: It’s still a work in progress. For every screening we have, it’s a new cut. We’d have a party after we show at a festival … there would be MCs outside that would want to freestyle and we’d film that and cut it in so it keeps on like remix, remix.

Fitzgerald and his filmmaking comrades, Kevin Epps and Todd Hickey, are the founders of the Hip-hop Film Fest. They are currently touring the country with edgy collection of films from other hip-hop filmmakers as well as their own. Epp’s film, “Straight Outta Hunter’s Point,” is a moving documentary about San Francisco’s troubled ghetto neighborhood Hunter’s Point. Hickey’s film, “Street Legends,” documents the popular, underground Living Legends crew.

Definitely check out the Hip-hop Film Fest if it comes to your town. To find out when the festival will be coming to your town, log on to their web site: www.hiphopfilmfest.com.

CHIHWASEON (CHI MWA-SEUN aka STROKES OF FIRE)

South Korea – 2002 – 35 mm – 117 minutes – Director: Im Kwon-taek

Producer: Lee Tae-won – Cinematography : Jung Il-sung – Screenplay : Kim Young-oak, Im Kwon-taek (based on a story by Min Byung-sam) – Cast: Choi Min-sik, Ahn Sung-ki, You Ho-jeong, Kim Yeo-jin, Son Ye-jin

CHIHWASEON was the best Korean film I ever saw.

Hawaii audiences were lucky enough to get a chance to see this special movie when the Louis Vuitton presents Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) showed the South Korean film during the festival that ran from Nov. 1 – 10.

The movie was just so beautiful – on every level. I’m new to the Korean movie scene and I never knew that Korea had such good directors, actors and cinematographers. The HIFF program guide said that Im Kwon-taek is South Korea’s most famous director. It was a pleasure to be introduced to the revered director by this masterpiece.

I urge everyone to see this movie if they can. I think it should be nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign film category. My friend thought it was just so-so but the movie touched me at a deeper level. The cinematography in this movie is just as deserving for an Oscar nod. That was one of the most amazing elements about the film in addition to the directing by Im Kwon-taek and the acting by lead actor Choi Min-sik.

I had first learned about a South Korean film winning a Cannes award this year when I was watching the Bravo channel coverage of the French award show. I was on the lookout for this movie but didn’t know its name and almost missed seeing it until a HIFF volunteer pointed it to me in the program guide. I admit I was a bit skeptical at first because I wondered how exciting can a movie about a 19th century Korean painter be? But I walked out of the theatre simply blown away. And I remembered watching on T.V. the filmmakers accepting an award for best directing at the Cannes festival. Im Kwon-taek, the director, certainly deserved it.

The movie is about the great 19th-Century Korean painter “Ohwan” Jang Seung-up. He is an orphaned, beggar boy who was getting kicked around the village like a stray dog until one day a noble man, Kim Byung-Moon, takes pity on the teenager and brings him into his home. Kim discovers that the boy has a remarkable natural talent for painting. He nurtures that raw talent, introduces him to all the right people, and becomes his mentor and life-long friend. With Kim’s support, Ohwan becomes a famous artist and reaches the pinnacle of success by painting for South Korea’s king.

Ohwan got inspiration for his painting from wine, women and life. And that was exactly how he went about living his life, maybe excessive but pleasurable. He saw many courtesans and traveled to all areas of Korea to see different landscapes. He was a completely free man except he was also a wounded artist with demons locked within him for him to fight himself. Unfortunately, during the time of Ohwan’s life, Korea’s power in the 19th century falls because of internal dissent and the growing threat of Western imperialism.

The English translation of the title of the movie is “Strokes of Fire.” At the end of the movie, we see Ohwan looking into the kiln where potteries are hardened. Red, crackly and sparkling inside, Ohwan crawls into that fire and that’s the last we see of him. Legend says he may have disappeared into the mountains and taken recluse there. His retreating into the fire … could it be that he was going back to where he was created?

CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES" RECEIVES TWO NOMINATIONS FOR 2003 IFP INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARDS

Los Angeles, CA; December 12, 2002 - Nominations for the 2003 IFP Independent Spirit Awards were announced yesterday. Among indie giants "Lovely and Amazing," "Far From Heaven," and "The Good Girl" were two surprising nominations for an Asian American film called "Charlotte Sometimes."

Eric Byler (writer/director/producer) and Marc Ambrose (producer) were nominated for the JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (given to the best feature made for under $500,000), and Jacqueline Kim was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

Byler, who is half Chinese, wrote, directed, produced and edited the feature, which takes a boldly realistic approach to sex, love, loneliness and race in examining four Asian Americans whose lives intersect in a Silver Lake duplex. The Hawaii native received congratulatory phone calls at his hotel room in Honolulu, where "Charlotte Sometimes" will screen tonight as the Closing Night Film of Cinema Paradise.

"It's sort of odd and really wonderful that I happened to be in Hawaii when this came out," Byler said. "There are a so many people here who've supported me all my life. It's a great honor to be recognized, and really a shock."

Last month at the Hawaii International Film Festival, Byler and "Charlotte Sometimes" became the talk of the town when renowned critic Roger Ebert published a glowing review in the Chicago Sun-Times, declaring "Charlotte Sometimes" best of the fest.

Even so, industry insiders were as surprised as film's director to see "Charlotte Sometimes" among the nominated films. Greg Williams, CEO of Lot 47, Inc. called the two nominations, "a well-deserved and wonderful achievement for any film, and an exceedingly rare occurrence for a film that has yet to reach audiences beyond the festival circuit."

Dawn Hudson, Executive Director of IFP/Los Angeles commented, "You can see the evolution of the independent film world in these nominations: more films written or directed by women, more films made with digital technology, more outstanding films made on micro-budgets; and, this year, unfortunately, more excellent films with little or no distribution. "

Despite overwhelming critical acclaim and awards at prestigious festivals such as Florida and South by Southwest, "Charlotte Sometimes" has failed to lure major distributors to festival screenings. Sundance Channel will air the film December 30th, and again on New Years Eve as part of a festival called "New Voices for the New Year." The cable distribution deal, brokered by the film's Executive Producer John Manulis of Visionbox Media, provides a six month window for theatrical, during which Byler and Manulis are considering self-distribution.

Byler is currently in talks to direct the feature film "American Knees," also an Asian American love story, set to go into production this spring. Executive Producer Lisa Onodera ("Picture Bride," "The Debut"), with financial backing from Starz/Encore, commissioned Byler to adapt the Shawn Wong novel earlier this year. Byler is represented by Brant Rose of The Brant Rose Agency and David Guc of Vanguard Management.

Link to Charlotte Sometimes Official Website: http://www.charlottesometimesthemovie.com

Well, that’s it for this week’s column. Remember, if you have information regarding any film industry in Asia, please contact our Asia-AICN offices at atshrivas@rogers.com. See you next week.

Darius25

Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 13, 2002, 4:09 a.m. CST

    Definitely not first

    by Mooeth

    And thank god for that!

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 6:23 a.m. CST

    new jackie chan?

    by cyber

    Hopefully it wont suck as much as the Tuxedo. Jackie should be ashamed.

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 1:41 p.m. CST

    The Twins Effect is NOT a Jackie Chan film

    by darius25

    sorry to disappoint but the main stars of this movie are The Twins - a famous pop duo comprising of Charlene Choi and Gillian Cheung. The two girls are supported by Ekin Cheng and Edison Chen, and the film only features an extended cameo by Jackie Chan (who produced the film and yes does an action scene aswell). However the film has a good director, action choreography by DONNIE YEN, and the main leads are really really cute! What more do you need???

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 7:50 p.m. CST

    How come?

    by anuar

    Why is there never heavy talback on the asian page of AICN??? All the first posters should wait here to post..it's so easy!

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 8:18 p.m. CST

    Look at the giant fan with the camera

    by 7Cal

    Holy shit. Click on the picture under HK/China that says "(From Left) Lam Ka Tung, Anthony Wong, Shawn Yu, Tony Leung, Edison Chanand Andy Lau: Click". Check out the big giant girl wearing the blue coat and holding the camera, right behind all the guys. What the hell is up with that? She could like reach down and eat a couple of those guys.

  • Dec. 15, 2002, 3:56 p.m. CST

    Does CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES...

    by ThePoleOfJustice

    ...have anything to do with the Cure song, or is "Charlotte Sometimes" just a phrase I've never heard outside of that tune? Just curious...