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Category 'Features'

Rigor Mortis (HK 2013) – Director’s Statement

The very moment before death.
A precise time-frame I’ve always been fascinated by.

Vampire and zombie movies have played an important and popular part throughout Western cinematic history. Hong Kong also has its very own version of a legendary vampire genre known as “Geung Si” or Chinese hopping vampires. A unique genre that combines thrill, suspense, ghosts, traditional mythology, action and comedy. A genre once so popular worldwide but suddenly disappeared and was unheard of again for almost 30 years now.

The mass-audienced “Mr Vampire” series respectfully represented Hong Kong cinema in the 70s and 80s – Taoist Priests, amulets written in blood, wooden swords, evil spirits in red dresses, action stunts and of course, hopping vampires.

The publicly-acclaimed series “Mr Vampire” starred the three protagonists, Lam Ching-ying as Master Kau, a unibrowed priest specialising in Taoist supernatural arts, Ricky Hui Koon-Ying as Man-choi and Chin Siu-ho as Chau-sang, both acting as Master Kau’s students. Somehow, they were like a golden trio.

Sadly, two members of the golden trio have now passed away. Lam Ching-Ying died on the 8th November 1997, due to liver cancer. Coincidentally, Ricky Hui also died on the 8th November 2011 of a heart attack. (Ricky’s name was written down as one of cast members in RIGOR MORTIS). Both died on the same day and month, something I am rather intrigued by.

Other memorable cast members include Anthony Chan-Yau, Wong Siu-fung, and Billy Lau Nam-Kwong.

I was born in 1984 and the first “Mr Vampire” was released in 1985. I grew up being fascinated by the “Geung Si” subject and I remember replaying the series over and over again on VHS, constantly rewinding to dissect particular scenes of interest. Thus a directorial debut in this subject couldn’t make any more sense to me.

RIGOR MORTIS is about reuniting the very original cast, bringing back this nostalgic “Geung Si” genre with a imaginative modern vision. Something I describe as “A Nightmare Poetry”. Also a sincere tribute to the cult. The story is set in a modern day housing estate and evolves around the last protagonist left from the “Mr. Vampire” series – Chin Siu-Ho, playing himself in the film.

Taking out the comedic elements from the original genre, RIGOR MORTIS aims for the very extreme on suspense, thrills, action and violence. It is about a group of underdogs once in the limelight who have now passed their time, re-discovering self-dignity through an intense surreal journey against a traditional evil force. Yet each character relates to their own origin in the original series.

RIGOR MORTIS begins shooting in approximately May, 2012. The cast will include Chin Siu-Ho, Anthony Chan-Yau, Bao Hing-Ching, Chung Fat,, Lo Hoi-Pang and Billy Lau Nam-Kwong.

Shinjuku Incident (2008) – Feature

About The Production
Shinjuku Incident brings together, for the first time, two of Hong Kong’s biggest box office draws: international action star Jackie Chan and acclaimed director Derek Yee. Despite having made movies for over three decades, Jackie will present a side in Shinjuku Incident never before seen by his audiences. Made at a cost of more than US$25 million, the film pools the top talents from Hong Kong, mainland China and Japan and takes audiences to exotic locations in Japan, and Suzhou and Changchun in China.

Director’s Statement
“Shinjuku Incident is the film that has probably taken me the longest time from the germination of an idea to the completion of a film but it’s more because the research was so fascinating and the story was evolving all the time.

I first came across the story of Chinese migrants in Japan back in 1997 or 1998 when I read a report in regional news magazine. The notion if the Chinese diaspora forming their own pockets of communities in places they migrate to was not something new but unlike other more open societies, Japan was always a tough place to gather roots because they were so unaccepting of migrants.

Very little was known of these communities that sprang up in Japan because they were illegal and stayed very much underground and I wanted to present a Chinese viewpoint of life within these communities. It’s not a real story, of course, but an adaptation of what my research reveled.

One of the things that struck me when I was researching for the script was that how little human nature has changed – or indeed will ever change – through the years. People have always moved to where the money was or the economy was booming. We’re not just talking about the Chinese but Europeans as well. And, when these migrants settle in and are oppressed, there societies survive by uniting and evolving into organizations.

I think audiences will take away different things from Shinjuku Incident. All our own personal experiences will find a resonating chord or two in the story that unfolds in the movie.

The strongest realization I have gained from the movie is that no matter how much technological advances we have made in 3,000 years, our behaviour has really remained intrinsically the same.”
Derek Yee, May 2008

About The Director
As an award-winning actor, director, screenwriter and cinematographer, Derek Yee is one of the most versatile film talents in Hong Kong. Yee started his career as an actor with the famed Shaw Brothers and appeared in over 40 films in nine years. He made his directional debut with the award-winning The Lunatics (1986) and followed that up with other acclaimed productions including the wildly popular C’est La Vie Mon Cheri (1993), Full Throttle (1995), Viva Erotica (1996), Lost In Time (2003), One Nite in Mongkok (2004) and, more recently Protégé (2007). Yee proved himself to be one of Hong Kong’s most bankable directors who can tackle a wide variety of genres, although his forte lies in his trademark dramas of complex relationships that play out in our daily lives.

Detailed Synopsis
The Chinese migrant communities in Tokyo live shadowy lives. The Japanese neither acknowledge nor welcome them. They are shunned by the mainstream society, hounded by the yakuza, and go about their days under fear of being discovered and repatriated.

It is an alien world for Steelhead, an honest, hardworking tractor repairman from Heilongjiang in northern China. Steelhead has decided to take the perilous journey to Tokyo after he lost contact with his girlfriend, who has arrived in the city earlier.

Trying to exist in the underbelly of Tokyo long enough to find Xiu Xiu, Steelhead has come to realize the migrants had to stand united if they wanted to go about their lives without fear of oppression by not only the Japanese underworld but also Chinese gangs.

In his search of a decent living, Steelhead unwittingly finds himself pit against the Japanese yakuza. Ironically he also discovers that Xiu Xiu has adopted a Japanese identity and married Eguchi, an ambitious up and coming yakuza chief.

Steelhead wins the respect of his friends by establishing a base for them and forms an uneasy alliance with Eguchi. When he helps Eguchi dispose of a rival, he is given the control of Shinjuku’s night establishments. But, uninterested in living a gangster’s life, Steelhead finds a new love and takes the chance to start a tractor repair business outside Tokyo. However, his peace is shortlived when word gets to him that his former compatriots were now being used by Eguchi to front the yakuza’s drug business.

Steelhead fells responsible for this turn of events and feels obligated to bring Eguchi down. He also has to bear in mind that if he goes after Eguchi, hew would be destroying the newfound life of the woman he once loved. In any case, can one simple Chinese migrant take on the yakuza alone?

Red Cliff Part II (2009) – Feature

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Introduction
The story of RED CLIFF takes place in 208 AD in China during the Han Dynasty.  Despite the presence of an emperor, Han Xiandi, China was then divided into many warring states.

The ambitious Prime Minister Cao Cao, by using the Emperor as his puppet, waged war on a kingdom in the west, Xu, ruled by the emperor’s uncle, Liu Bei.  Cao Cao’s ultimate goal was to wipe out all the kingdoms and install himself as Emperor to a unified China.

Liu Bei sent his military advisor Zhuge Liang as an envoy to the Wu Kingdom in the south, trying to persuade its ruler Sun Quan into joining forces.  There he met Wu’s Viceroy Zhou Yu, and the two became friends amidst this uneasy alliance.

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Ip Man (HK 2008) – Feature

About The Movie

Ip Man is adapted from the life story of Ip Man, the grand master of the Wing Chun style kungfu and sifu (master) of legendary kung fu superstar Bruce Lee. Wing Chun has a history of more than 200 years. It was founded by Yim Wing-chin, took root in the hands of Leung Chun, and prospered with Ip Man. The art of Wing Chun has now become very popular with martial arts enthusiasts, especially overseas. It is a traditional Chinese martial art with a formidable reputation internationally.

Wing Chun Chuan is characterized by close body combat, requiring practitioners to show speed and power. Its Chi Sao of “sticking hands” is more similar to modern day combat skills and has a rich feel of genuine strikes. This is also why Ip Man differs from the dazzlingly romantic and purely fictional style of previous martial art movies. Its explosive punches and aggressive close-range combat offer a new thrill never experienced by modern day audiences.

The story of Wing Chun began in the 1920s and 30s, in wartorn China. Ip Man was martial art’s unyielding follower, devoted whole-heartedly to the free learning of wushu. The fight to be top between the Wushu schools in the southern and northern regions of China had not stopped him having goodwill matches with other practitioners. Nationalistic bad feelings and racial hatred had not lessened his respect for Japanese martial arts warriors. In this great era of hatreds and tragedies, Ip focused only on wushu. His enthusiasm for martial arts saw him having devastating straight fights with various elite practitioners.

To this date there have been neither movies nor publications about Ip Man. This movie will be the first important record of the master’s life. Ip’s persistent devotion to Wing Chun is a classic example of the love and respect shown to wushu and the freedom and spirit it represents. This movie will see the making of a modern whushu representative of Chinese people worldwide. Ip Man is a concept, a spirit, a way of thinking – and it represents a new peak in Hong Kong’s wushu movies.


Detailed Synopsis

It is 1930s Foshan and the mood is one of wushu, wushu and more wushu. One fateful night, Sifu Liu calls at the mansion of the renowned Ip family after the opening of Liu’s new wushu school. During the friendly visit, Liu challenges devoted Wing Chun master Ip Man (Donnie Yen) to a sparring match behind closed doors. Ip wins easily.

The match remains a secret until the younger brother of Kungfu Crazy Lam (Xing Yu), saw the fight and decides to tell everyone about it. It is a loss of face for Liu and results in some serious rows. Ip is mocked by a police officer, Li Chiu (Gordon Lam Ka-tung), and breaks the latter’s revolver in two. In the meantime, marauding thugs and followers of Kam Shan-chau (Louis Fan Siu-wong) goes around challenging the Foshan wushu schools. In one fight, Kungfu Crazy Lam is seriously injured. Ip tried to save him but is challenged by Kam. The whole of Foshan gathers to watch Ip dispense with Kam easily using the four forms of Wing Chun: fists, legs, knives and poles. Ip becomes an overnight hero and wins Li Chiu’s respect and Foshan goes crazy for Wing Chun.

Ip’s prosperity does not last long. In 1937, the Sino-Japanese war breaks out and within a year, Foshan has fallen. The Japanese army seizes Ip’s family home and Ip and his wife Cheung Wing-sing (Lynn Hung) as well as their son seeks refuge in a derelict house. On his way to a pawnshop one day, Ip bumps into an old friend Chow Ching-chuen (Simon Yam), the boss of a cotton mill factory. Chow offers his old friend help but Ip is too proud to forsake his dignity for food and shelter. When food runs out, Ip is forced to work as a coolie to keep his family alive. At the factory, he is reunited with Kungfu Crazy Lam.

One day, a troop of Japanese soldiers led by General Miura (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi) arrives at the factory. Miura is crazy about wushu and uses rice as a reward to temp the Chinese to contest the Japanese in martial arts. Ip refuses to be baited but Lam eagerly takes up the challenge. Lam’s skillful moves fuel General Miura’s enthusiasm and he enters the ring to take on Lam himself. Lam is no match for the General and pays with his life.

The next day, Ip finds Lam missing. He is forced by the soldiers to go to the arena and is shocked to see Sifu Liu already severely beaten up by three soldiers. Ip is furious that Liu had to risk his life for food provisions and enters the arena to challenge the Japanese enemies. Even though Ip is outnumbered, he beats down his challengers one by one until none is left standing, Miura is elated and full of admiration for Ip. But Ip is very upset especially when Miura rewards Ip with the bag of blood-stained rice.

Kam leads a robbery at Chow’s cotton mill, which leaves several people dead. Chow decides to seek Ip’s help. Ip finally agrees and trains the mill workers Wing Chun and the factory grounds are turned into a de facto wushu academy. Kam stages another attack and although Ip and his followers are no match for Kam’s thugs, they score a magnificent victory.

Meanwhile, General Miura cannot forget Ip Man’s masterly skills and places Ip on the wanted list. To avenge his defeat, Kam disclose Ip’s whereabouts to the Japanese. General Miura storms into the mill with his army. While Ip, tipped off by Li Chiu, decides to forsake his own life in exchange for his followers’ freedom. With great sadness, he hastily arranges for his wife and son to leave Foshan.

The approaching army is stopped in its tracks by a towering figure: Ip Man. Ip challenges the general to a duel but the general wants to take the fight to the streets of Foshan where he wants the residents to witness Ip’s defeat.

In the ring, Ip and General Miura give their all in a life-and-death match that pits Wing Chun’s Chi Sao against Japanese karate. As excited Japanese soldiers cheer their general on, their Chinese counterparts are forced to witness the fight in silence. But with each attacking move, Ip wins back dignity for the Chinese. As he hears a sudden roar of applause, Ip realizes that his family and friends have not abandoned him. As his supporters cheer him on, he becomes more courageous and daring. But at a crucial point when Ip launches his final deadly punch, a Japanese officer responds by pulling his gun on Ip. A shot rings out and the scene turns to mayhem.

Several decades later, a trendily dressed young man walks into a Wing Chun school in Hong Kong. The young man wants to learn Wing Chun from Sifu Ip Man. His name is Bruce Lee. The elderly Ep, with eyes like a hawk’s but a peaceful air, shows who the true master of kung fu really is.

Rob-B-Hood Press Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

by Chia-Li

Event : Press Conference of “Rob-B-Hood”
Date : 16 September 2006
Venue : Carlton Conference Centre, Kuala Lumpur

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