Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wai Ka-fai @ the NYAFF '09

Ahhhhhh........summer! As the Fresh Prince once rhymed, "the weather is hot and girls are dressing less, and checking out the fellas to tell 'em who's best." Well, it kinda rhymed? Summertime in NYC means the return of an institution. The New York Asian Film Festival. I had known about the fest for years but had never shlubbed my lazy ass into the city to go to it. My HK cinema world was relegated to flea market bootlegs, graduating to thousands upon thousands of dollars spent on Ebay. All the while the NYAFF was unspooling 65 miles west of where I was crazing over the same flicks. For shame, Kingwho? For shame, you lazy piece of..... And don't get me started on missing out on the last remaining movie theaters in C-town before they went gone with the wind. I am still bitter, very bitter, with myself about that.

In '08, Wei humored me and accompanied me to my first NYAFF experience as we went to see Johnnie To Ke-fung's SPARROW. The HK cinema pickings were lean that year and I think the only other film was Soi Cheang Pou-soi's SHAMO. Oy vey. So, suffice to say, SPARROW was the only film we went to. At the end of the screening, one of the festival curators, Marc Walkow, was able to speak to a production assistant (or someone close to the film) over speakerphone so we, the audience, could ask questions. It was super cheesy and super charming all the same. I was in love with the fest and the extent that they went to to satisfy the audience. It was a fun experience for us. And when the fest rumbled around in '09 with a few more HK films on the dance card, I hit up the online ticket ordering hard time. And holy shit! Wa Ka-fai AND Lau Ching-wan were going to be there in person with their new film, WRITTEN BY!? Are you freakin' kidding me?! From production assistant on speaker phone to Ka-fai and Ching-wan in the flesh?! STFU?! Tickets were bought and undies were moistened.

Look deep inside.....of Wai Ka-fai's nostril
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Bad news a few days before the event. Ching-wan pussed out for he was scared of the awful epidemic that overspread NYC. Ching-wan must have envisioned NY'ers sprawled out on the sidewalk among the trash and rats looking like characters from Herman Yau Lai-to's EBOLA SYNDROME. Or he just didn't feel like making the trip? That gosh awful Swine Flu was evil in the form of mucous and a force to be reckoned with! So.....yeah. Anyway, Ka-fai braved this piglet named entity and absolutely graced the fest for multiple days. Above, Ka-fai is introduced and passes by my seat as I snap and up-nostril pic. Surely there are up-nostril fetishists out there? I think Japan is making a 4 hour film about them as I type this?

Wai Ka-fai was a lovely presence. Soft spoken, charming, and kind. Over the course of a few days, Ka-fai and his interpreter rendezvoused with the audience over a few Q&A sessions. He was wonderful to watch and listen to.








A rainy weekend in the Manhattan. I shipped myself into the the city and hoofed it from Penn Station down to the West Village and the IFC Waverly, where the fest was headquartered. It has since relocated uptown baby, uptown baby! This was my second day at the fest after the previous nights premiere of WRITTEN BY. I made it in early to watch Nelson Yu Lik-wai's PLASTIC CITY. And interesting, if curious, visual feast starring the great Anthony Wong Chau-sang and Joe Odagiri. I really wasn't feeling the flick that day but have since bought the film and am willing to give it another go. Someday.
After Yu's semi-turgid affair, Ka-fai was scheduled to present one of Milkyway's best, THE LONGEST NITE, with an original print. Wei had to work earlier in the day and, once again, humored my silly butt by meeting me for the show. I should mention that though Chinese, Wei couldn't give a rats ass about HK cinema. Or any Chinese cinema for that matter. So, gussying herself up and trekking in scored her big bonus points.
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THE LONGEST NITE was one of my all-time best cinema experiences. Though nothing will ever beat catching Tarantino's revival of THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN on the big screen and the audience howling and literally falling into the aisles, seeing THE LONGEST NITE on 35 mm print, with all of the grime and darkness attached to the copy, was just fantastic. It was like someone wiped their ass with the celluloid and ran it through the projector. Another of the festival curators, Grady Hendrix (check out his blog right HERE) told us that this would probably be the last time anyone would ever see an original print of the film for exhibition. This just made the day more special.

While I enjoyed THE LONGEST NITE, Wei wasn't on board. She is more of a Disney person. She watches Hannah Montana and laughs her ass off for cripes sake!? So, during a certain ketchup bottle scene, Wei exited the theater, stomach churning. I sat and gazed with glee! THE LONGEST NITE is not on Wei's 'favorites' list. Opposites attract I guess? Mr. CAT III man and Ms. Disney girl.
Wai Ka-fai

If you know, or know of Grady Hendrix, you also know that he has the energy of a 5 year old who has skipped a Ritalin dosage or two. He's exciting which translates well to his interviews. And this was the case with Wai Ka-fai. Right off the bat he asked what ever happened to supposed THE LONGEST NITE director, Patrick Yau Tat-chi, and what did he and To do with his body? Excellent question! Ka-fai kindly explained that Yau was banished....I mean.... directing TV, in what is known as the former Hong Kong director Siberia, AKA the Mainland. Ka-fai also went on to tell what is widely known amongst the Milkyway fanboys, that Yau only directed 5 scenes from THE LONGEST NITE, and that he (Ka-fai) and To, directed the rest.....as well as most other Yau directing credits.

Walked into the theater lobby and Ka-fai was just standing there!? Click!!!

Above, Ka-fai signs my dvd of THE LONGEST NITE, after the screening of THE LONGEST NITE. Bliss. As for the next few pics below, I have a much sadder/damn funny tale to tell. For the previous nights premiere of WRITTEN BY, we brought along Wei's younger cousin, R. I have mentioned R before, as she is a cliche Asian nerd who attends NYU and usually meets up with us in C-town for din din after I finish my HK movie shopping. So, after the screening of WRITTEN BY, I was hoping to get Ka-fai to sign a dvd or two. In true, loser, HK cinema fanboy assholiness fashion. I asked Wei if she could snap a few pics and also asked R if she would get Ka-fai to sign a dvd while I had him sign another. The greedy little bastard, I am. I had Ka-fai sign my dvd of the rare TOO MANY WAYS TO BE NO. 1. Upon seeing the dvd, Ka-fai exclaimed, "Waaahhh!? Where did you get this?" I told him that it was an old Ebay purchase. "This is rare!", he said. Then, Ka-fai turned away from me and comically tucked the dvd into his jacket, as if to steal it. It got a wonderful response by onlookers. Big laughs. I had given R my dvd of PEACE HOTEL and, as you can see below, R scored Ka-fai's autograph for me. Take a look at the second pic with R and Ka-fai. Note the dvd exchanging hands. Tragedy was about to strike.

Ka-fai and R

Ka-fai, R, and the fickle finger of fate...or R?

R accidently put her finger over the area where Ka-fai signed during the exchange and smudged his autograph. I didn't immediately notice until Wei pointed it out. You might think that I would be furious at this, the now infamously dubbed "Wai Ka-fai Incident"? But, actually, we all just busted out laughing. Above, is the rest of Ka-fai's signature on R's finger. hahaha
PEACE HOTEL(1995) Smudge-o-graphed

TOO MANY WAYS TO BE NO. 1 (1997)

THE LONGEST NITE (1998)

Wei, Ka-fai, yours truly
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I also met director Nicholas Chin at a screening of his film, MAGAZINE GAP ROAD. I posted about it HERE. The following year at the fest, which was last year, was just the tops. If you missed them, you can trek back and revisit those posts by clicking HERE.
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This years incarnation of the NYAFF has been announced to run July 1st through July 14th at Lincoln Centers Walter Reade Theater. It's second year on site. Big time I tells ya. Big time! I'm hoping against hope I can get the days off from work. Will I see you there?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Two by To, HELP and THE EXECUTIONERS

HELP!!! (2000)

Two posters here for the Johnnie To Kei-fung movies HELP!!! and THE EXECUTIONERS. First up is HELP!!!, an entertaining (if not much else) flick starring Noodle Cheng Yee-kin, Jordan Chan Siu-chun, and Cecilia Cheung Pak-chi. Honestly, I remember little about the film and it's kind of an odd bird in the To/Ka-fai catalog. I'm probably going to blaspheme right here but I'm growing weary of To. Don't get me wrong. I still enjoy To's films but when thinking about them they begin to smudge together. So, I'm in a curmudgeonly mood, so I shall further stir the pot. And keep in mind, this is just a cursory shit stir.


During a Chinese New Year dinner at Wei's house, one of her brothers Korean friends (a non-cinephile. Korean film or otherwise) asked me if I knew who Johnnie To was. HA! Did I know who Johnnie To was??? But of course! Anyway, he went on to tell me that he has been watching a lot of To movies lately and wanted to know why they all seemed the same?! Dark looking movies about gangsters who wear sunglasses and just look cool. They pose a lot. I didn't have an answer for him? I should mention that these are the recent To flicks he had been watching, ELECTION through VENGEANCE. He was right. I had been tiring from To but couldn't really put my finger on why? Until a cinema 'layman' pointed it out. He's making the same film. And before you go haywire on my tuchus, I understand that other HK directors make 'the same film' as well.




THE EXECUTIONERS (1993)

So, am I a bad boy? Have I spoken ill of one of HK's greatest filmmakers? As I said, I still enjoy To, but it's becoming much less. I recently went back and watched two of To's most 'groundbreaking' films, THE MISSION and A HERO NEVER DIES. Both films were made during the dog days of HK cinema in the late 90's and signaled a turning point of sorts in the way HK cinema was to be further presented. Less movies produced during the year, though with larger budgets. Well, larger is relative and within reason. Also, To was masterful in his narratives where much more was offered when much less was spoken. I enjoyed THE MISSION when I first saw it on initial release and wanted to see how it held up. I held it in high regard but upon watching it again, THE MISSION, 12 years later, is merely just a good movie. Not what I had remembered.
It was still functionally strong and I still really admire To's cinematic landscape change. Good job by To.

A HERO NEVER DIES I have always had mixed feelings about. It is a very silly movie. This is not a slight at all as most films I enjoy from my favorite period in HK cinema, late 80's-early 90's, were just as ridiculous. And that is a huge part of what I love about them. I believe A HERO NEVER DIES only works well one way, but I really can't get into it here. I could argue with A HERO NEVER DIES hardcores for days. I will proffer one word in how I believe To meant to present the film.....Homoerotic. This is the ONLY way the film works for me. And if it's not supposed to be blatantly about two killers with an unquenchable man-love for each other, than the film is just plain horse shit. Discuss and send death threats. Maybe I will do a post with my take on the film using stills from the film? After watching these films I wondered, sometimes out loud and to myself, were To's films really all that good? Placing these two 'classics' in the context of time and place in HK cinema history, were they the best or just the best of what was around? Hmmmmmm?
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If you are into THE MISSION (Please don't get me wrong! It's a good flick!), please do yourself a huge favor and check out my buddies blog A HERO NEVER DIES (guess who i'm gonna but heads with?), where he formatted his own dvd of the To flick using the French remastered version and inserting new English subs. Check it out HERE.



Ok, back to the posters. Above is the poster for To's excellent follow up to 1993, THE HEROIC TRIO, the same years, THE EXECUTIONERS. I have a poster for THE HEROIC TRIO somewhere but I just couldn't find it and was getting cranky looking for it. So ya'll are only getting the second half of this sweet heydey treat. If you don't know who these three lovely ladies are, exit this page tout-de-suite!

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I wanted to say thank you all for listening to the first show of THIS WEEK IN SLEAZE, and for giving me feedback. I hope you guys will continue to listen? Ken and I actually do put a decent amount of work into the show and research (more than watching movies) certain topics before blabbing about them. Keeping you guys up to date, Ken and I recorded our second show last Friday and are scheduled to record our third show next Friday. The second show should be out in a few weeks. I will keep everyone posted on the exact date. Thanks again and if you know anyone interested in Asian cinema and is into the podcast thing, send them on over to Podcast On Fire. A bunch of nice Asian cinema lovin' fellows, that lot!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

KINGWHO? ON FIRE!!!!!! A NEW BEGINNING!!!!!

Hey folks! On this, my 200th post, I bring fan-freakin'-tastic news! The day is finally here and I'm ready to gush about the dirty little secret I hinted at last week. Pardon me while I unzip my husky jeans and unleash my BIG announcement. I can't hold it back anymore.....it's ready to blow!!!! KINGWHO? in a podcast! THIS WEEK IN SLEAZE!


THIS WEEK IN SLEAZE is ready to drop, my friends. I was invited to join a podcast created by Kenneth B. of So Good Reviews, Sleazy K's Video, and the number one with a bullet Asian podcast network, Podcast on Fire, to co-host a bi-weekly shit shoot on our favorite topic, Hong Kong (s)exploitation through the years. Our first show was recorded a few weeks back and it's nipples have been tweaked and package tugged to loving perfection, and it's now ready to be splooged into the ears of Asian cinema fans the world over. Hook up that Ipod, grab a box of tissues, and download this hot load of CAT III gooiness. Welcome to THIS WEEK IN SLEAZE!


Click HERE to make your pants drop!
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On our first episode Ken and I discuss the origin of the CAT III rating, our personal introduction into the seedy genre, talk about a handful of classic early 90's CAT III films including SEX AND ZEN and DR. LAMB, and relay the beautiful sleaze we witnessed during our Last Films Watched segment. My effort this week....WHORE AND POLICEWOMAN!

After listening to the show, click HERE and head back to view my WHORE AND POLICEWOMAN poster.



Charlie is so excited he can hardly contain himself!

I hope everyone gives the show a shot. It was actually my first time in my 15+ years of watching HK cinema that I was able to speak/discuss it out loud!!! I am aware that my voice sound like crap but that's what happens when you work the graveyard shift for 10 years. I'll have to work on some things but the show was a ton of fun and Ken and I will be recording episode 2 this coming Friday. Nasty feedback and criticism is encouraged. I will most definitely keep everyone updated and hooked into the podcast and ALL of the Asian cinema love that is going on over at the Podcast On Fire Network. I really hope everyone enjoys the show?!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

HK junk, dribs and drabs....

Another filler post here as I'm leading up to something pretty cool in the next week or so. Stay tuned! Anyway, this past Thursday Wei and I celebrated Valentine's Day a bit early. Dinner at The Melting Pot and gifts, gifts, gifts! I would have much preferred to eat at Taco Bell but it's not always about what I want. Right?! But, the gifts were damn excellent! Wei bought me the above laserdiscs, WHORES FROM THE NORTH and the kinda rare ANGEL HUNTER. I have been waiting to see ANGEL HUNTER since I first read a review of the film at the outset of my HK movie watching days. Friday morning I dove straight in. And it did not disappoint. The film is stellar. Stylish and wild with an eerie feel throughout. It's populated by all-stars, Anthony Wong Chau-sang, Carrie Ng Ka-lai, Ng Man-tat, Vivian Chow Wai-man and Lau Ching-wan. Admittedly, most of the players appeared during their 'before they were stars' years but this is no skeleton-in-a-closet flick. It supposedly sat on the shelf for a year or two before being released in 1991. I really can't see why? Perhaps the subject matter, concerning religion, was a bit too taboo? Or maybe they felt the subject wouldn't scratch where film goers itched? The film isn't chock full of flavor of the day action scenes but a slow burn of creepy drama, a few out of place comedy bits, and absolutely fantastic performances. And for the action hounds, the finale is a stud, filled out by Yuen Bun and Yuen Kwai. My favorite write up of the film is a great quickie review over at HKMDB which states: "Satanic Cult recruits schoolgirls, and then bad things happen to them. Police decide to investigate." While not 100% accurate (police really aren't in on the mix), this is the type of review that I love to read. Short and sweet. If I were ever to do my own website or write a book on CAT III film reviews, that is how a review would go. I would only add that the film runs about 99 minutes and there is a smattering of nakedness. Brief synopsis, running time, and raunchy content. Now the review is complete. Perfecto.

It seems like it's been forever since I posted anything from my poster collection. Remember when posters where an integral part of this blog? I have so many more to show. Maybe I will get back to my roots this year? We'll see? This poster is in response to a blog buddy of mine, A Hero Never Dies. He showed me his so now I have to show him mine. Er, rather he showed me his HARD BOILED UK Quad poster so I am showing him my CITY ON FIRE UK Quad poster. I think mine is longer? But Wei tells me it's the width that counts. Is that true?



video

A few videos here for you to enjoy. Up top is the wet and wild scuba girls-with-guns action romp, LUNATIC FROG WOMEN aka VIRGIN COMMANDOS. The film features the legendary Cheng Pe-pei in an odd starring turn. Ms. Cheng must have needed to pay the rent that month?


video

A quick clip here from my absolute favorite film from 2010, Pang Ho-cheung's DREAM HOME. Josie Ho Chiu-yee's performance is fantastic and award worthy. This clip is kinda SFW, meaning just a heck of a lot of violence and no naked bits. The film has a ton of both. Such a goodie. Click HERE to relive my DREAM HOME journey and hear me make an ass out of myself as I ask Pang Ho-cheung a question at a screening of DREAM HOME at last years Tribeca Film Festival. Enjoy the clip and remember to check back, hopefully, this coming week. Some fun stuff ahead at Bullets Over Chinatown.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

GUNG HAY FAT CHOI! SAN NIN FAAI LOK! Or, if you prefer, GONG XI FA CAI! XIN NIAN KUAI LE!

Happy Chinese New Year of the Wabbit to all of my readers! Just a quick New Year's post so I can get back to stuffing my fat face with homemade New Year's food. And it's another foodie-douche post! Last night I hung out with Wei's family for New Year's Eve dinner and below are pics of the delicious spread. The pics came out kinda crap as I used my Blackberry and really wasn't much interested in taking pics as I was in sticking my pudgy mug into each and every dish. Above, in lieu of a hong bao, Wei gave me this awesome unsubtitled, shot-on-video, CAT III laserdisc. THE STORY OF A GIGOLO. Whaddaya say about a girl like that?

We sat at the kiddies table....in the foyer! It's because I'm white!


Tea Eggs. A personal favorite.



Salty Marinated Pork

Bean Sprout and Vegetable Stir-Fry

Fried Gluten


Vegetable Bean Curd Wrap



A new homemade masterpiece from Wei's mother. Meatballs on the Half Shell. Meatball and oyster. Delicious!

Jellyfish. Another personal favorite.



Pearl Rice Balls. Glutinous rice surrounds a pork meatball filling. Aces!



Pearl Rice Ball. Up close.

My first plate



Eight Treasures Rice
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And this was just round one! Round two is Saturday evening when a handful of Wei's cousins come home from their respective $100,000 a year universities (all stereotypical Asian nerds
. WTF is AP Bio? haha) and converge on Wei's parents home to chow down, and engage in more Asian stereotypes by throwing some dice and then playing Mahjong until whenever?! It should be fun?! I'm packing some Tupperware for leftovers, hooking on my super heavy duty under wire manziere, and wearing spandex. And then it's back over on Sunday for the Super Bowl. Come Monday I'll be hitting up JC Penney's husky ladies section for new bras. Bring on the food!
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A VERY HAPPY, HEALTHY, AND PROSPEROUS LUNAR NEW YEAR OF THE RABBIT TO ALL OF MY FRIENDS AND READERS FROM BULLETS OVER CHINATOWN!