Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tsui Hark and Lung Kong @ the 2011 NYAFF

I'm exhausted!  This past weekend was my final weekend at the NYAFF and it couldn't come soon enough.  On Friday night I hit up the midnight showing of THE STORY OF RICKY.  I hadn't seen the film in years and the version being showed was an old Tokyo Shock/Media Blasters 35mm print.  It was dubbed to boot and possibly the ONLY fun way to see a midnight show!?   The audience was modest (it WAS a Friday night in the big city) but lively and in the mood for the kind of madness provided by RIKI-OH.  The requisite hoots, hollers, rolling-in-the-aisle laughter, and applause were in abundance and the entire over the top experience was infectious.  I could have sat there and watched it all over again.  But, it was now approaching 2 a.m. and I had to get the heck home.  I'm an old fart and need to be in bed at a decent hour. I got back to home base at around 4:30-ish and I was, of course, over tired, and wound up hitting the hay around 7?!  Thank goodness I had Saturday off from the fest.
Sunday came and I had REIGN OF ASSASSINS and DRAGON INN on my NYAFF dance card.  Still not quite recovered from my Friday midnight madness I ditched REIGN OF ASSASSINS in favor of an extra hour or two of sleep.  I have already seen the film and thought it was....meh.  Skipping the flick was an easy choice, even though director Su Chao-pin was presenting the film in person.  I began the usual fest ritual of hopping the LIRR to Penn and walking from Penn up to Lincoln Center.  Bypassing slow footed, slow witted, flip flop wearing, out-of-towners, and cursing them under my breath as I swiftly passed by.  Sweating my bags off the whole way but saving money!  While in line for DRAGON INN, the REIGN OF ASSASSINS show let out.  In the lobby area I spotted a few autograph seekers chatting up an Asian fella as he signed their programs.  Was this guy, Chao-pin?  I asked the girl in front of me if she could hold my place in line, she agreed, and I whipped out my DVD copy of REIGN OF ASSASSINS and approached.  I asked if he would be able to autograph my DVD and he graciously did so.  This guy WAS Chao-pin.  Dressed in a t-shirt and khaki shorts.  Stylin' and profilin'.  A very undistinguished man that I wouldn't be able to pick out of a line-up.  Very nice though, indeed, and he handed the DVD back to me with a kind, "Sank you." And I returned favor.  Well, I didn't say, "Sank you," but "Thank you."  We both smiled and nodded as he turned to take a picture with another annoying fan.  I returned to my place in line.


DRAGON INN began and it had to have been at least a dozen years since I had last seen it and it was almost like going in fresh.  I forgot how wild, sexy, and fun it was!?  Just before the film started, I noticed actor/director Lung Kong walking into the theater with his wife.  They sat two rows in front of me.  Lung Kong (don't worry if you have no clue who he is) I only knew from one of the movies he made, THE STORY OF A DISCHARGED PRISONER, which John Woo re-imagined into A BETTER TOMORROW.  I haven't seen the film as the only version available is unsubed.  And I only knew who he was this year on sight because he attended last years NYAFF in which Simon Yam acknowledged him in the audience.  This year, as last year, he flew in under the radar without anyone knowing who he was.  I do have to say, I felt very cool actually knowing who he was.  Anyway, the 76 year old legend nodded off a few times during the film, making his wife poke him awake a few times.  It was cute and very funny. After the show, one of the festival coordinators, Grady Hendrix, introduced Tsui Hark, who produced AND 'shot' some of the film.  Hark's imprint is apparent.  Pictures of their exchange are peppered throughout this post.  An excellent interview and Tsui was very informative, especially speaking about the heyday of HK cinema and the fever pitch productions of the time.
After the film I hung around for a few minutes to catch up on my IPhone shit that I missed during the film and to stick around in the beautifully air conditioned theater before trekking back to Penn in the 90 degree heat.  I decided to take off just in time.  It was kismet.  As I walked down the stairs from the theater, who was in front of me?  Tsui Hark and Lung Kong!  Perfect timing.  At the bottom of the stairs another fan stopped and asked for Tsui's autograph and then a handful of people followed suit.  I was one of them.  Tsui was all smiles and very happy to accommodate everyone.  There was one douche fan who broke the rules, though.  This ass-face had Tsui sign about 10 DVD covers while the rest of us waited.  Poor Tsui happily signed each and every one of them.  And what's more, the DVD covers were from BOOTLEGS!  The nerve of this douche nozzle!  Anyway, after signing a few more DVD covers it was my turn and Tsui amusingly let out an, 'Oooh!' as he gazed at and then signed my copy of PEKING OPERA BLUES.  He seemed pleased?  I was also able to wrangle a quick picture with him.  It was tops!

Me and my BFF, Tsui Hark.  We are slated to marry this coming fall.


As Tsui posed for a few more pics, Lung Kong and his wife stood aside, again, Lung not drawing any fanfare as no one knew who he was?  Me, giddy with delight at feeling too cool for shule at knowing who Lung Kong was, took a quick pic of he and his wife.  Feeling ballsy, I then asked if he would like to take a picture with me.  After hesitating a bit, he nodded, and said, "Ok."  After the pic, he drew his attention toward my CAT III t-shirt, pointing at it and asking me, "Do you know what this means?"  I, without a question did, and answered, "Yes!  Category III!"  He smiled and said, "Oh. Ok," and continued to laugh a little.  I was on top of the f'ing world, and I floated back down to Penn with about 15 minutes to spare before my train home.  Stopped by T.G.I.Fridays for a lovingly frosted pint of good ole' Bud Light.  I guzzled that swill in about 4 minutes and hopped on the train.

The Oily Maniac and Lung Kong

The following day, now even more tired, I ventured into the city again.  My morning large-ass coffee wasn't working so when I hit Penn Station I picked up a Red Bull.  The low-carb one, of course, because I have to watch my moobies.  Lugging these bad boys back and forth uptown in 95 degree weather is quite a strain.  Beating my path up too the theater I flew by the usual 'on holiday from the former Eastern Bloc' tourists as I decided to change course and walk up 9th ave. instead of the heavily congested 8th.  And it was lovely.  A breeze to walk and tourist lean.  I would also like to give props to the Asian girl wearing a white see-thru summer dress.  You apparently don't know any better and while your parents may not have loved you, I sure as heck do!  I believe a bra and undies are appropriate when wearing a dress made of white gauze, but you don't.  And that's OK!  Thanks for making it a very CAT III day!
I had 2 films to gear up for.  First, Tsui Hark's THE BLADE and the next, Hark's DETECTIVE DEE.  Like I mentioned earlier, by this day, I was just swimming.  I had off from work a few days for a staycation of sorts but it was anything but with all of the to and fro.  I already had it in my mind that I would hit up THE BLADE, hang for the Star Asia Award ceremony where Tsui was being presented a lifetime achievement award, being held in between films, and then hit the road and miss DETECTIVE DEE.  Like with REIGN OF ASSASSINS, I already saw DEE and wouldn't lose sleep missing it.  I had also made plans to meet up with a fellow NY blogger, Diana, from the great CANTODREAMING blog.  She was attending DEE.  Just before reaching Lincoln Center, a few blocks before, I heard screams and screeches of delight.  The kind that only pre-teen girls emit when they come across a Tiger Beat heartthrob in the flesh.  As I approached I saw a huge crowd gathering.  Blocking the sidewalk and spilling out int the middle of 9th Ave.  WTF was going on over there?  Why are these people blocking my way to see Tsui Hark?!  A trio of teeny bopper girls shot passed me towards the crowd, knocking into me with their clunky knock-off Coach bags, tripping over their flip-flops and almost face-planting on the sidewalk.  Thousands of people packed into Lincoln Centers fountain area.  I really didn't care to know the reason at this point.  All I knew is I was going to have to detour a block over to 10th and tack on another 10 minutes to my sweaty excursion.  It wasn't until the introduction of THE BLADE that I found out what all the hullabaloo was about?  The cast of the new Harry Potter film was milling about as the new Potter film was premiering on an outdoor screen erected in Lincoln Centers fountain area.  Daniel Radcliff or Tsui Hark?  Who would you choose?  Emma Watson?!?!
As with DRAGON INN I hadn't seen THE BLADE in gosh knows how long and it was like the first time seeing it.  Also of way cool note, it was reported that this is quite possibly the LAST time THE BLADE will ever be seen on the big screen due to a certain bastard U.S. production company owning the rights and refusing to give it ANY type of release.   So, THE BLADE went off without a hitch and it was more ferocious and exciting than I had recalled.  I'm really glad I made it to the show.  After the film I was just struggling to stay awake.  I was tired as heck, hungry, and becoming cranky.  Like a little brat kid.  I couldn't wait to get home.  There was no way in heck that I could hold out for DEE.  Diana made her way into the theater and we finally met up after only knowing each other virtually.  We hit it off (right, Diana?) and shot the breeze for a little while before the awards ceremony began. It was unfortunate that we couldn't talk longer but I'm sure we will hook up at some other HK film event in the future.   
The Star Asia Awards were up just before the DEE screening.  And guess who was sitting directly in front of me?  Lung Kong.  I took a pic of the back of his head, because I'm a loser and that's the sort of shit I do.  Anyway, Tsui was announced and got a wonderful standing O.  Grady summoned Lung up onto the stage as it was his duty to present Tsui with the NYAFF Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award.  Lung and Tsui embraced.  And I got choked up.  A great moment.  Lung spoke beautifully, in choppy English, about his friendship with Tsui and of Tsui's work.  It was a touching and heartwarming recalling and it left me grinning from ear to ear.

The Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award

After Tsui received his Lifetime Achievement Award, the NYAFF crew took the stage to present Tsui with yet another Lifetime Achievement Award.  They surprised Tsui with a 'REST-OF-YOUR-LIFETIME' Achievement Award for ALL of his future films.  It was a very funny scene as Tsui hoisted the award over his head for a prime photo op.
Tsui's 'REST-OF-YOUR-LIFETIME' Achievement Award


After the award ceremony and just before I ducked out, Tsui came back out on stage to introduce DETECTIVE DEE.  He spoke briefly on the history of Dee and who the Empress Wu (Carina Lau in the film) was.  Another fine round of applause as Tsui exited the stage and the 2011 NYAFF.  As the production company logo lit up the screen, I hit the bricks.
I dogged it back down 9th.  Through Hell's Kitchen and the young hip night time denizens chowing down on the ethnic grub the area is well known for.  I tiredly ambled down towards Penn, swigging from my warm water bottle, thinking of Tsui, my see-thru gauze dressed mama, and my bed.  I was drenched in sweat by the time I got to Penn and wildly hungry.  I grabbed a chicken/ricotta slice, inhaled it, and caught the train back home to LI.  NYAFF 2011 down.  What's in store for 2012?


  1. Wah! What some people do to get their Asian film fix! I feel like a wuss by comparison complaining of the long trip from Brooklyn. And I never do double headers at Lincoln Center because that tends to involve expensive dining (because I am never prepared) so really very impressed with your film viewing stamina.

    Yes, I do think we hit it off quite well. Definitely we should aim to do this again, hopefully we'll have an opportunity before NYAFF 2012. I wonder if NYFF will show HK any love this year? Again, that is Lincoln Center but in Sept/Oct so the weather will be more reasonable at least.

    BTW, just how many CAT III t-shirts do you have? :)

  2. Great post Kingwho? Sounds like your Cat III T was suitably sweat drenched and with the stench of a rabid HK film fan/stalker (You could get a restraining order for taking pictures of the back of peoples heads!)

    Seriously jealous of the chance to see The Blade and Dragon Inn, both incredible movies and I think it's time for me to revisit Dragon Inn myself!

  3. Thanks for the fun report, Kingwho! It was almost like being there. I could feel the sweat dripping down the back of my neck, and if I closed my eyes, I could almost see that lady in white...

  4. Diana, When was the last time the NYFF showed love to HK? About 3 years back I met Wong Kar-wai at the NYFF but that's the last I remember a HK film being shown at the fest?

    And I only have 3 CAT III shirts. But I'm sure I will have many more by next year. Multiple colors =D

    AHND, thanks, man. I wasn't as stalkerish as I was last year. Just very lucky. I actually forgot about DRAGON INN, almost entirely. Some of the sexiest scenes I hav seen in HK cinema. And non CAT III!!!

    duriandave, Thank you. The Asian girl in white was......just.........wonderful. I didn't want to get too dirty with the image but nipples and downstairs hair were clearly visible! Hooray for NYC in the summer! =D

    NOTE* I updated the post a little bit. the secton where I was walking to Lincoln Center to see THE BLADE has a few new lines. I forgot to mention a HUGE part of the weekend!?

  5. Wow wow wow, Kingsley, look like you had an awesome time! Digging the t-shirt man. Oh, congrats on the pics, they look super.

  6. Dr. Lambskin, thanks. The pictures came out better tha expected but still not to my liking. I also have a ton more that came out blurry or over/under exposed. The pics I took with Tsui Hark and Lung Kong were actually taken with my IPhone!? Go figure?

  7. 3 Cat III t-shirts? Ah, that's not so many. I assume you are working up to a seven day supply? :)

    NYFF doesn't show a lot of love to HK films, true. But I saw my very first HK film at their festival years ago, which was PTU back in 2003, so I usually check their lineup. It was the one and only time I subscribed to the festival so I saw quite a few things that I normally wouldn't have. Anyway, we can hope. If not, Tribeca FF?

  8. Completely agree Kingwho? Maggie is amazing in Dragon Inn so sexy and mischievous! Love her in Green snake too!

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Terrific prose, excellent pictures--you really put the event together for those of us in the plains and prairies of the cultureless midwest. Tsui Hark had a couple of stories when he got back to China: "Yeah, the festival was nice, New York was great, but let me tell you about this guy with a Category III shirt...I should have gotten one while I was there".

  11. haha Thanks ewaffle. I honestly still can't believe it was him! He had his arm around me and everything. I think we were going to start spooning next =D


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.