Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The 10th Anniversary of Hong Kong's Handover

July 1 is the 10th Anniversary of Hong Kong's Handover to China. To celebrate this significant event, a movie gala was held in Beijing on June 25th.

Zhou Xun took part in this event. She appeared with a white skirt and wore a watch in white also. Her hair ruffled a little bit but smile always on face. In the interview, she raised her hand and showed a silver ring on her middle finger. Because it is on the middle finger so the reporters expected there was no meaning.

A funny story happened behind the stage. Jue and Chen Kun had an opportunity to meet each other in the Hotel. Unfortunately, they lost the way and ran into a cargo elevator before they set out for the Red Carpet. Then they chatted with a cleaner but forgot to ask the way, so they lost again when they got out of the lift.

You can find more news and pics here: zhouxun.tv
Thank Darren from zhouxun.tv


The 10th Shanghai International Film Festival

June 16th, at 7 p.m, the opening ceremony of the 10th Shanghai International Film Festival began. More than 250 stars gathered and shown up the festival.

On the carpet, Zhou Xun appeared hand in hand with Mr Wang and some actors of Hua Yi brother such as Huang Xiaoming... In the interview, Zhou Xun expressed that after winning the Best Actress at The 43th Golden Horse Awards, she hope to attend a good movie next year and get more awards.

Source: zhouxun.tv


Saturday, June 09, 2007

A strange movie operates in a strange world

Review by Ross Chen.

Ming Ming

AKA: Nana on the Run
Year: 2006
Director: Susie Au Shuet-Yi
Writer: Susie Au Shuet-Yi, Angela Lau
Cast: Zhou Xun, Daniel Wu, Tony Yang, Jeff Chang, Kristy Yeung Kung-Yu, Chan Bo-Yuen

The Skinny: Attractive and unfathomable. Susie Au's debut feature has style to spare, though to what end is ultimately questionable. Alternately enthralling and annoying, which isn't entirely a bad thing. Your mileage may vary

Cross Wong Kar-Wai with over-the-top Japanese anime and what might you get? Ming Ming. Music video director Susie Au's debut feature is sometimes stunning and sometimes unfathomable, meaning it's only partially successful. But there's good stuff here, too. Zhou Xun stars in two roles, first as Ming Ming, a black-clad superchick who's fallen for D (Daniel Wu), a tough enforcer working for mob boss Brother Cat (Taiwanese singer Jeff Chang). While sharing some quality time in the tub, D confides to Ming Ming that he only needs two things: 5 million dollars and a trip to Harbin. Rather than try to understand his need, Ming Ming steals the money from Brother Cat. Her goal is to hand it off to D so they can visit Harbin together. Unfortunately, soon after snatching the money, Ming Ming can't seem to find D.

Besides lifting the cash, Ming Ming also takes a special wooden box from Brother Cat, and he's exceptionally bothered to get that box back. Brother Cat sends plenty of thugs after Ming Ming, but she's able to fend them off thanks to her keen martial arts skills and ability to throw, uh, black beads. Ming Ming frequently flings these little black beads (Which look like the tapioca balls you might find in your boba milk tea. Mmmm, boba.) at her pursuers, many of whom get punctured by the flying projectiles. The chase eventually takes to the streets of Central, where Ming Ming hands off the money to Tu (Taiwanese star Tony Yang), who has the self-proclaimed talent of "running", and manages to elude many of Brother Cat's thugs by sometimes running up walls or leaping in an egregiously wire-assisted way. Chasing both Tu and Ming Ming is Mousey (Chan Bo-Yuen), Brother Cat's number one henchman and a frequent recipient of black pearl projectiles.

Tu has a minor thing for Ming Ming, but during his extended chase with Brother Cat's goons, he meets Nana, a spunky, cute, orange-haired lass who becomes his inadverdant traveling partner. Nana looks a lot like Ming Ming, which is understandable because she's also played by Zhou Xun, only this time in a louder, sassier, more girlish manner. In a massive coincidence, Nana is also in love with D, which means Tu now is on the run with a girl who looks like his current crush, but has a crush on the same guy his current crush does. Raise your hand if that sounds confusing. Oddly, Tu and Nana's storyline gets greater focus than Ming Ming's, as the two wander around and eventually get drawn closer together despite carrying torches for other people. Ming Ming takes a backseat, and spends her time looking depressed in a hotel room while Nana and Tu eat up all her screentime. The trade-off isn't so bad because Nana and Tu make a charming couple in that "shared unrequited love" kind of way. The bad news is that without Ming Ming around, the action sequences screech to a virtual halt.

Meanwhile, the ever-brooding D has his own quest: he's searching for the whereabouts of his mother, and the key may be the same wooden box Ming Ming absconded with. Forget the fact that at least two hot girls who look like Zhou Xun are looking for him, D clearly has more important things to do. His quest leads to a cameo from Kristy Yeung, as well as a street fight with a bunch of black-clad thugs that's part Matrix, part Kung Fu Hustle, and part Looney Tunes. Eventually everything comes together with a shocking revelation. One key character dispenses the mother of all secrets, which no one in the audience likely expected because it's outlandish and seems to come from practically nowhere. Basically, the film handles some of its themes better than others, such that the big revelation may cause some viewers to respond with a resounding, "Huh?", if not outright laughter at the ridiculousness of what the filmmakers are selling. Really, Ming Ming is that kind of movie.

But hey, that's okay, because Ming Ming pretty much promises to be unlike your usual movie a good five seconds into its running time. Thanks to an abundance of showy style, Ming Ming proves downright alienating at first. The overdone freeze frames, rapid-fire cuts, and off-kilter editing can disorient the viewer, and the dense and disconnected storyline only adds to the lack of identification. Ming Ming is a strange movie that operates in a strange world. Flinging black beads for weapons? How does a person do that? What's up with Tu's "running" abilities? Why the over-stylized fights? Ming Ming is a work of tremendous imagination, though originality may not be a factor here. There's a lot in Ming Ming that's been seen before; the style is definitely nothing new, having been lifted from the French New Wave, Wong Kar-Wai, and yep, even The Matrix. The effect could be instant alienation on those who've seen any or all of the the above films.

Then again, it's hard to knock any modern filmmaker for appropriating because that's pretty much all one can do nowadays. Film and pop-culture consciousness is something that no modern filmmaker can be isolated from, and as a result there are bound to be lifts here and there—though one could argue that Ming Ming does it more than just "here or there". Still, Au manages to balance out the film's egregious style by getting many of the emotions correct. During their questionably relevant road trip, Tu and Nana slowly grow closer, and Au captures that with affecting observational style. The film sometimes slows to a crawl, but there's some enjoyment in seeing the lovelorn Tu and Nana futzing about. The action and chase sequences also work sometimes; even though Au's MTV-influenced style isn't that original, it's still exceptionally cool, and the hip soundtrack (from Anthony Wong Yiu-Ming, among others) and energetic camerawork are sometimes enough to make Ming Ming soar. Susie Au has created an intoxicating, sometimes seductive cinema cocktail with Ming Ming. When it works, it's quite a trip.

However, it doesn't always work, which is where the film ultimately suffers. Ming Ming earns points for its existential emotions and sheer stylistic chutzpah, but the film doesn't involve enough to erase its more glaring issues. It's incredibly uneven and even overlong, with flashbacks, repetition and other editing tricks noticeably padding the film out. The drama is sometimes assumed rather than earned, and the film's major plot twist is never developed enough to make it more than a self-indulgent plot detail. The action walks a thin line between cool and silly, and while many of the stylistic flourises do dazzle, others seem excessive if not pointless. Style can sometimes be enough to carry a film, but Ming Ming's thematic aims are so transparent that the whole film becomes a bit pandering. Too often, Au settles for voiceover exposition to tell us what the film is supposed to be about—a big no-no if she's trying to sell this as a purely sensory experience. And if the film is supposed to have real dramatic weight, then the abundance of silly concepts only gets in the way. A middle ground seems nearly impossible to find here.

There's lot to like in Ming Ming but also a lot to scratch your head over, and the balance could tip either way depending on who you are. If Susie Au's goal was simply to assault audiences with a pseudo-meaningful pop-art confection then Ming Ming is a success. The style is nearly enough to carry the film, and the actors (especially Zhou Xun) are charismatic and brave enough to go wherever Au chooses to take them. But if the goal was something of more tangible thematic depth, then Ming Ming falters. The style never seems to echo the film's self-proclaimed significance, and ultimately seems unnecessary to the existential issues faced by so many of the characters. Which is the way to go? Since film is largely a subjective medium, then there's probably no right answer here. Just pick your side and reap the reward and/or punishment. At the very least, Ming Ming is a tremendous first effort for director Susie Au, and shows that she may have a bright future ahead of her. Au doesn't fully succeed with Ming Ming, but her obvious love for film and its myraid powers gives us hope that one day her passion will pay off.[S]

Source: http://www.squatmagazine.com/article.php?articleId=184&issueId=7&pageId=2


Capsule Reviews: MingMing 2007

Lee Alon 4/29/2007

Getting a veteran of movie videos and commercials to direct a feature film is invariably a risky proposition. The results can shine or literally suck, and the last thing any sophisticated audience needs these days is another jittery, two hour-long mishmashed affair that looks like a Taiwan pop music video from hell taken to an extreme.

With Susie Au, a first-time movie helmswoman with a resume full of pop productions, that scenario was all too likely to become reality. In fact, her directorial debut Ming Ming seems to have reached a compromise in this respect. Its first twenty minutes are so painfully nonsensical and over stylized you can't help but cringe in anger, yet after those initial phases of ridiculous OTT poppiness blow over, the project reveals itself as quite enjoyable. Get past the obvious attempt to rekindle interest in Kill Bill's Hong Kong heritage through transparent "references", and beneath lurks a passably interesting escapade.

On the upside, Ming Ming delivers characters that surprise with their ability to grow and evolve over the course of a relatively short, and frequently very vacuous, release. Heading the cast is Zhou Xun, who fittingly enough plays two separate and identical looking protagonists. Ms. Zhou has displayed a mixed bag of performances in the past, shining in Where Have All the Flowers Gone and Beijing Bicycle, but irritating with exaggerated acting in films like Suzhou River.

In Ming Ming, she's both. As the titular character, Zhou does a vaguely Trinity-meets-The Bride, disaffected assassin that puts a whole new spin on beads and rosaries. Instead of guns, she launches marbles at her adversaries, cutting a swath of destruction through the henchmen of arch mobster Brother Cat (Jeff Chang). This happens after Ming Ming purloins a sum of money from the gangland boss, funds to be used in financing a new life for her with sulking hunk Ah D. The latter, a fist-fighting mob enforcer, is conveyed by Daniel Wu in a thoroughly disappointing part. We've gotten used to seeing quality and sincerity from Daniel, and in Ming Ming he just doesn't have those virtues on display.

Back to the story. Oddball luck brings together wide-eyed triad lackey Ah Tu (Tony Yang) and Ming Ming twin Nana as the money gets misplaced, changing hands and ending up with these two apparently totally unrelated individuals. On the run, Nana and Ah Tu take over the movie and show it does have merit. Both Zhou Xun and Tony Yang proceed to deliver very respectable performances, showcased by way of dialog and mood-setting scenes on the way to and around Shanghai.

Yang impresses as innocent, loyal and loving Ah Tu, certainly adding to the young actor's portfolio. Zhou Xun truly dazzles those in attendance as the genuine Nana, a character doing the actress far greater justice than the cardboard cutout silhouette that is Ming Ming. And who knew Ms. Zhou is so fluent in Cantonese? Yes, language plays an important part in Ming Ming, and for that we salute the production team. Cantonese, Putonghua and Shanghainese all find room herein, that last one to a large degree from the sensuous mouth of long gone but never forgotten lovely Kristy Yeung, a Shanghai native herself. Yes, she has returned! Although a small cameo, it's still awesome to have her around again.

Ming Ming further contains some highly enjoyable music, and is generally well-produced. Those frenzied opening sequences we could have easily dispensed with, but in the end an Armageddon-esque debacle is averted just in time for a bona fide twist ending that, for a change, puts the various plot pieces together with grace rather than rushed clumsiness. This isn't the new benchmark for indie cinema, but it gets the job done and should be viewed by all appreciators and supporters of filmmaking in Asia and movies in general. It's also proof positive that first impressions can be deceiving, so please, don't despair, stick with it and you will be rewarded.

Source: hkcinemagic


Either love or hate.

Rating: G

Danny Er
30 April 2007

This is one movie you will either love or hate.

The slow-pacing movie tries to do a cross between a stylish modern-day action movie that feeds on pop-culture influence and an edgy Wong Kai Wai genre and ends up with something that was rather mundane and confused.

While Wong Kar Wai movies tend to focus on the feelings and emotions between his characters and on certain themes that he wants to show, there wasn't much a need for him to come clean like what MTV director Susie Au did with Ming Ming. At the end, she tells the audience what she was trying to show them.

In the film, Zhou Xun stars in the two lead roles: one as the cool superhero-like Ming Ming who runs away from the mob boss (Taiwanese balladeer Jeff Chang) that she works for with the stolen five-million dollars and a wooden box to look for D whom she has fallen for; and the other as a spunky, orange-haired lass who was mistaken for Ming Ming and decides to run off as well with the money she is mistakably handed.

The film thrills with its panache of showy action sequences and starts off with a chase that leaves you just as breathless. And together with those MTV-influenced shots, freeze frames and jump cuts with edits, it is one stylish show.

There were obvious influences from the movies she loves like the matrix-like fight scenes and Wong Kar Wai who is similarly influenced by pop culture and the French New Wave.
Even the cabin scenes in the ship makes me wonder if she was a fan of Hitchcock. The scenes on the train give the movie a whole voyeuristic feel to it.

But all that show for a plot that thin really didn't work even though the characters created had potential to develop. It's a pity the plot fizzles out with an over-reliance on flashbacks and voice-overs.

Source: miw.com


Swifty Reviews 'Ming Ming 明明'

While watching MING MING, which stars Zhou Xun and Daniel Wu, I was initially impressed by first-time director Susan Au's MTV-influenced style. The rapid-fire cuts, freeze frames and disjointed editing are delivered with flair, it reminded me of Wong Kar Wai works like CHUNGKING EXPRESS and FALLEN ANGELS, and also a bit of Japanese anime.

The production values were good. Cinematography, sound design, art direction etc. Pretty top-notch. Appealed by its visual styles during the first 10 minutes of the film, the filmmaker in me started becoming more attentive, possibly preparing to take some mental notes for myself. (After all, anyone who had seen my short films, especially the two latest ones, should know that I'm really MTV-influenced too. Often I aimed for certain flashy visual techniques to enhance my works. More Fellini-influenced than Antonioni, or more Shunji Iwai-influenced than Hou Hsiao Hsien etc.)

But as the film went on, fascination turned to apprehension, apprehension turned to annoyance, annoyance turned to indifference, then indifference was slightly tinged with a bit of disgust.

Ming Ming is seriously an over-the-top film, Susan Au's supposedly artful and stylish filmmaking techniques, which is seems like a nauseating mixture of Wong Kar Wai, MTV, Matrix, Japanese anime and French New Wave, gradually grows very grating and alienating, until its super self-seriousness and overindulgence border on self-parody. It reminded me a little of how I felt when I watched Tony Scott's 2005 film, DOMINO (starring Keira Knightley).

It made me went... "does it have to be THIS show-offy?"

When the end credits started to roll, which began with a dedication to 'all the mothers in the world', I couldn't help but snicker.

The story's a little intriguing. Ming Ming (Zhou Xun), a gothic-looking super assassin chick who kills people with er, black beads, falls for D (Daniel Wu), an angsty brooding enforcer of triad boss Brother Cat (90s prince of Chinese pop ballads, JEFF CHANG!!!). D reveals to Ming Ming that he wants only two things: 5 million dollars and a trip to Harbin. So, Ming Ming immediately steals the money from Brother Cat so that she can go with D. Unfortunately, D is nowhere to be found by then.

While being chased after Brother Cat's minions through the streets (I call it the 'Jackie Chan syndrome', meaning that you still attempt to run away in fear even though you can actually wipe out the entire group of baddies with your bare hands if you want to), Ming Ming hands the money to Tu (Tony Yang), who is a street punk/ acquaintance.

During the chase, Tu, who actually has a thing for Ming Ming, runs into Nana, whom he thought is Ming Ming... because she's played by Zhou Xun too. Nana is more girlish, talkative, sassy than Ming Ming, and has orange hair. Of course, the craziest thing is, Nana, like Ming Ming, also shared a previous romantic relationship with D.

D is actually in Shanghai, looking for his long-lost mother. The others, Ming Ming, Nana and Tu also end up in Shanghai while they are being pursued by Brother Cat's thugs. The Nana and Tu subplot takes center-stage (the duo has more screen time than the other characters) with the blossoming romance between the two reluctant traveling partners.

The movie could've been pretty good if more focus is placed on just telling the damned story and developing the characters, instead of relying so much on the flashy visual acrobatics, and showing off her MTV techniques. While some reviewers may be impressed by the director's intentions to try something different in her debut feature, I just feel a little repulsed by the execution and the end product... which reeks of self-importance.

It kinda reminds me of my postgrad diploma course in filmmaking last year, when occasionally, I have to sit through a film by a haughty and self-serious fellow film student who likes showing off to garner some kind of a positive reaction. The kind more interested in WHAT filmmaking techniques they are using than HOW they use it. They take themselves so seriously that they scare me. Ah, thinking of that again makes me shudder.

Not leveling any personal attacks against director Susan Au, nor am I going to make any other assumptions. Slightly miffed by the wasted potential of the film, and the negative feelings it generated from me, it made me wish that I've gone off to see Nicholas Cage's NEXT instead. :-(

Source: Swifty


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Cabbie Zhou Xun to Chase Romance in New Film

2007-06-05 11:15:53 CRIENGLISH.com

After having been involved in big-screen romances with Takeshi Kaneshiro and Daniel Wu, Chinese mainland actress Zhou Xun will again open her heart on-screen, this time to another heartthrob - Vic Zhou.

Shanghai Morning Post says that "The Banquet" actress will take on the leading role as a cab driver in the Huayi Brothers' unnamed love thriller, crazily searching for her missing boyfriend, who will be played by Taiwan actor/singer Vic Zhou.

Zhou Xun was named best actress at the 2005 Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards for her performance in Peter Chan's "Perhaps Love," which also stars Takeshi Kaneshiro.

She worked with Daniel Wu in Feng Xiaogang's 2006 hit "The Banquet." The film received the Future Film Festival Digital Award at that year's Venice Film Festival.

Sources from Zhou Xun's agent company, Huayi Brothers, say she has been waiting for a good screenplay ever since "The Banquet," and was drawn by the new thriller's interesting plot.

Singaporean actress Fann Wong is also expected to appear in the film.

Shooting is set to start next month.

Source: crienglish.com


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