HK Film Awards 2009 - Commentary
Usually I don't get too excited with HK movies, they are fun but they usually don't get me screaming "hey, that's brilliant". Well the past 12 months have yielded some pretty exceptional movies and some of the best acting I have seen for years. Loved Ip Man, Red Cliff, True Women For Sale and Beast Stalker. As good as Red Cliff was, it should be called an adaptation of a historical event. The purists will claim that there was a huge number of differences between history and the one shown by John Woo.
THE WAY WE ARE
Well, CJ7 has no reason to be there, seriously. Only because Stephen Chow is so well loved that people and fans are willing to tolerate bummers like CJ7, a couple of times maybe. People expect certain things from Chow, if you try to do a melodramatic movie, then go all they and surprise us. Don't go half-way and then have a fat girl doing silly stuff and what the heck was that sorry-teacher for - its quite a pathetic movie, the worst easily by Chow, and that is saying some thing because even those movies he participated and funded by gangsters, completed within 30 days, were much better than CJ7.
Big budget films have always had an edge and Red Cliff parts 1&2 were both astoundingly good, in particular the second part. If there was no Red Cliff, the best film would have gone to Ip Man for sure. Rarely do serious kung fu movies do well at awards, but this one got heart and soul. Red Cliff should win, but HK panel of voters have always liked to surprise hence Ip Man is the underdog. Rooting for Ip Man.
Ann Hui (THE WAY WE ARE)
Johnnie To (SPARROW)
Benny Chan (CONNECTED)
Wilson Yip (IP MAN)
The highly surprising omission was John Woo for Red Cliff, so I guessed the film directed itself. Wonder if it was a question of citizenship, if not probably John has rubbed some people up the wrong way on his climb up... HK business is very unforgiving, they remember. Its going to be very close between Johnnie To and Wilson Yip. Too close to call. Rooting for Wilson Yip for Ip Man.
Susan Chan, Sylvia Chang, Mathias Woo (RUN PAPA RUN)
Lui Hee-ching (THE WAY WE ARE)
Gordon Chan, Lau Ho-leung, Abe Kwong (PAINTED SKIN)
Ng Wai-lun, Dante Lam (THE BEAST STALKER)
Ivy Ho (CLAUSTRAPHOBIA)
I am rooting for Dante Lam in The Beast Stalker. Kidnap-thrillers don't get much respect but this one was extremely well crafted.
Louis Koo (RUN PAPA RUN)
Simon Yam (SPARROW)
Tony Leung (RED CLIFF)
Nick Cheung (WITNESS)
Donnie Yen (IP MAN)
Louis Koo is popular but like Andy Lau, he is not very convincing. If you get nominated a few times though, the voters tend to be sympathetic, but not his turn yet. Tony Leung's turn in Red Cliff was a miscast no doubt, I have never been convinced of a 5 foot 6 general during ancient times, its not Napoleon. Now you know why, Tony's role was supposedly to be played by Chow Yun Fat but he backed out midway. Tony was supposed to be Zhu Geliang, which would have been more believable.
Simon Yam was much better in Eye In The Sky and impeccable in PTU, Sparrow was not his best vehicle. I think its between Nick Cheung and Donnie Yen. Nick has missed out before and stands a better chance this year, but I have a sneaky feeling voters may embrace Ip Man like the global audience suddenly embraced Slumdog Millionaire. Donnie Yen gets my vote for playing a subdued brilliant fighter with integrity, facing extreme adversity.
Paw Hee-ching (THE WAY WE ARE)
Lau Mei-huan (TRUE WOMEN FOR SALE)
Barbie Hsu (CONNECTED)
Zhou Xun (PAINTED SKIN)
Lam Kar-yan (CLAUSTRAPHOBIA)
If Prudence Lau does not win, I will stop watching HK movies. She was a so-so singer in her previous life, acted a bit in B grade movies before, kinda left the industry and came back with a stunning portrayal of a not-so-smart, plain, heart on her sleeves prostitute in True Women For Sale. She was unbelievable, very convincing, and you really empathise with her character. The movie was pretty good as well. Barbie Hsu was pretty good too but everyone pales in comparison to Prudence Lau.
Best Supporting Actor:
Zhang Fengyi (RED CLIFF)
Stephen Chow (CJ7)
Liu Kai-chi (THE BEAST STALKER)
Lam Ka-tung (IP MAN)
Fan Siu-wong (IP MAN)
The two from Ip Man should win, its too close to call again. Lam Ka Tung for me.
Best Supporting Actress:
Nora Miao (RUN PAPA RUN)
Chan Lai-wun (THE WAY WE ARE)
Vicki Zhao (RED CLIFF)
Race Wong (TRUE WOMEN FOR SALE)
Sun Li (PAINTED SKIN)
If on sentiment, Nora Miao would win easily. If people remembered well, she was the lovely girl in Bruce Lee's The Big Boss. If the judging was truly fair, Race Wong (part of the 2R singing group from Singapore) should win by a mile. She was fantastic, again in the movie True Women For Sale. Rooting for Race to win (sounds like a horse name).
Best New Actor:
Monica Mok (OCEAN FLAME)
Zhang Yuqi (ALL ABOUT WOMEN)
Leung Chun-lung (THE WAY WE ARE)
Lin Chi-ling (RED CLIFF)
Xu Jiao (CJ7)
Anyone can win except Lin Chi Ling. Xu Jiao is a shoo in for her role in CJ7.
Cheung Tung-leung (THE THREE KINGDOMS: RESURRECTION OF THE DRAGON)
Cheng Siu-keung (SPARROW)
Lu Yue, Zhang Li (RED CLIFF)
Arthur Wong (PAINTED SKIN)
O Sing-pui (IP MAN)
Red Cliff, no contest.
David Richardson (SPARROW)
Angie Lam, Robert A. Ferretti, Yang Hongyu (RED CLIFF)
Yau Chi-wai (CONNECTED)
Chan Ki-hop (THE BEAST STALKER)
Cheung Ka-fai (IP MAN)
Red Cliff again. It could really be a case where Red Cliff wins for all the technical awards but the big honours going to Ip Man.
Best Art Direction:
Daniel Lee, Ma Gwong-wing (THE THREE KINGDOMS: RESURRECTION OF THE DRAGON)
Yee Chung-man, Lau Man-hung (AN EMPRESS AND THE WARRIORS)
Tim Yip (RED CLIFF)
Bill Liu (PAINTED SKIN)
Kenneth Mak (IP MAN)
Its between Painted Skin and Red Cliff again. Couldn't care less about this category really.
Best Costume Design:
Thomas Chong, Wong Ming-ha (THE THREE KINGDOMS: RESURRECTION OF THE DRAGON)
William Chang (ALL ABOUT WOMEN)
Yee Chung-man, Dora Ng (AN EMPRESS AND THE WARRIORS)
Tim Yip (RED CLIFF)
Ng Po-ling (PAINTED SKIN)
Red Cliff and Painted Skin again.
Best Action Director:
Sammo Hung (THE THREE KINGDOMS: RESURRECTION OF THE DRAGON)
Corey Yuen (RED CLIFF)
Li Chi-chung (CONNECTED)
Stephen Tung (PAINTED SKIN)
Sammo Hung (IP MAN)
No contest. Ip Man's choreography was possibly the best kung fu fights ever, Sammo's best work easily.
Best Sound Effects:
Wu Jiang, Roger Savage (RED CLIFF)
Kinson Tsang, Lai Chi-hong (PAINTED SKIN)
Cheng Wing-yuen, Nip Kei-wing, Wong Tai-wai (THE BEAST STALKER)
Kinson Tsang (IP MAN)
Definitely not Ip Man, the only bit I really disliked about the movie was the over the top sound effects. Red Cliff again.
Best Visual Effects:
Heather Abels (RED CLIFF)
Eddy Wong, Victor Wong, Ken Law (CJ7)
Ho Siu-lun (MISSING)
Ng Yuen-fai, Chau Chi-shing, Tam Kai-kwan (PAINTED SKIN)
Henri Wong (IP MAN)
Red Cliff by a proverbial mile and deservedly so.
Best Original Film Score:
Henry Lai (THE THREE KINGDOMS: RESURRECTION OF THE DRAGON)
Fred Avril, Xavier Jamaux (SPARROW)
Taro Iwashiro (RED CLIFF)
Ikuro Fujiwara (PAINTED SKIN)
Kenji Kawai (IP MAN)
Painted Skin stood out brilliantly.
Best Original Film Song:
"Follow Your Dream" (AN EMPRESS AND THE WARRIORS)
"Breaking up is Ruthless" (L FOR LOVE, L FOR LIES)
"Heart War" (RED CLIFF)
"Ten Thousand Years Prelude" (MISSING)
"Painted Heart" (PAINTED SKIN)
Painted Heart again, yes, sung by Jane Zhang. Hope she is invited to sing.
Best New Director:
Kwok Chi-kin (THE MOSS)
Heiward Mak (HIGH NOON)
Ivy Ho (CLAUSTRAPHOBIA)
Best Asian Film:
IF YOU ARE THE ONE (China / Hong Kong)
CAPE NO. 7 (Taiwan)
SUSPECT X (Japan)
FOREVER ENTHRALLED (China / Hong Kong)
ASSEMBLY (China / Hong Kong)
Taiwan's Cape No.7 easily.
p/s photos: 2R & Race Wong