Thursday, November 26, 2009
It's a heist worthy of Johnnie To and Simon Yam: "On Monday night, robbers stole 228 bottles of vintage Chateau Lafite Rothschild, France’s prized Bordeaux - a haul valued at 6.8 million Hong Kong dollars ($877,000), Hong Kong police confirmed." (via SuperPunch)
I just stumbled across a small but really cool collection of early Chinese cinema while browsing archive.org, including PRINCESS IRON FAN, the first feature length animated film produced in China.
The description reads:
Produced by the Wan brothers in the midst of war, Princess Iron Fan is the first feature length animation made in China. We follow the Monkey King and his friends on their journey to the west. As they reach Fire Mountain they are unable to pass because of the fire but learn that a special iron fan can quench the flames. However, the fan belongs to Princess Iron Fan and she will not willingly lend it to them...
You can stream or download the full film here.
Click here for the rest of the Chinese film collection.
They even have an old Chow Yun-Fat film. An English dubbed version of THE HEAD HUNTER.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Monday, November 09, 2009
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Another Shaw Production: Anamorphic Adventures in Hong Kong
by David Bordwell
What did teenage viewers think when Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) opened with the logo for Shawscope? Could they possibly have shared the frisson felt by baby-boomers who had haunted inner-city theatres thirty years before? Or by viewers who had watched “Kung-Fu Theatre” on 1980s television? Or by fanboys like Tarantino, freeze-framing cropped and trembling VHS tapes? For all those generations, the Shawscope blazon opens onto a world of one-armed swordfighters, beautiful woman warriors, and kung-fu masters with very long white eyebrows. Without denying the peculiar pleasures of these sagas, we can peer behind the logo and study this widescreen format’s place in a broader dynamic. The Shaw mystique arose out of creative innovations of the studio’s personnel, guided by the business policies of an all-powerful producer. We can as well analyze how Shaw directors forged a distinct widescreen aesthetic—one that still, as Tarantino seems to realize, has much to teach us about the ways movies can seize spectators. Hong Kong took tutorials in widescreen from its neighbors, but eventually it could offer lessons, and exhilarating ones, to the world.
Have you ever seen a silent martial arts film? Until I read about RED HEROINE last year, the thought that such a thing existed hadn't even crossed my mind. Thankfully a group of Portland musicians called Devil Music Ensemble read about RED HEROINE and having toured performing original live scores to silent films before, thought that doing so with the only surviving martial arts film from Shanghai's golden age of silent cinema would be a worthwhile venture.
Even though it was released in 1929, RED HEROINE still hasn't screened in Canada. On Friday, that's going to change when it screens on Friday, November 13th at the Royal Theatre (an old home of Colin's Kung Fu Fridays screenings) as the Centrepiece Presentation of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, co-presented by Ultra8 Pictures and Over the Top Fest. Reel Asian starts on Wednesday and I'm looking forward to the films on Wednesday and Thursday but Friday cannot come soon enough!
You can buy tickets to the screening right here!
Here's the write-up from Reel Asian's program guide:
For one night only! – This year’s centerpiece Red Heroine is a rare screening of the only surviving silent martial arts film of its era, and includes an original live music score influenced by Chinese folk music and cult classic Kung Fu film soundtracks by the Boston band Devil Music Ensemble. This tapestry of ancient martial arts tradition, early-20th-century Asian film and 21st-century music breathes new life into a film treasure that dates back from the earliest boom of wuxia (sword-play) films, long thought to have been lost.
Banned in China after the Cultural Revolution, Red Heroine (Hong Xia) was made at the height of the martial arts craze in Shanghai (1920s–’30s) and is the 6th episode of a 13-part serial. It tells the story of a young woman, Yun Mei (“maiden of the clouds”), who is kidnapped during a military raid that decimated her village and killed her grandmother. Later rescued by a mysterious Taoist hermit, White Monkey, she trains in the mountains for three years, learning the art of hand and sword fighting, along with powerful magic.
Meanwhile, the villagers continue to suffer under the corruption and tyranny of the Western army. Yun Mei, now transformed into a resolute warrior, returns with White Monkey to exact revenge and fight back!
—Jeff Wright (that's me!) and Heather Keung
ABOUT THE PERFORMERS:
Devil Music Ensemble composers/performers Brendon Wood, Jonah Rapino and Tim Nylander utilizes the electric guitar, lap steel, synthesizer, violin, lap steel, vibraphone, erhu (two-string Chinese violin), drums and a variety of Chinese percussion instruments. Red Heroine has toured the Smithsonian Institution, the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, and the Portland Museum of Art.
RED HEROINE and Devil Music Ensemble are also playing in Ottawa on the 14th and Montreal on the 15th. Visit DME's site for more info.