‘The Grandmaster’ Wins 12 Awards at 2014 Hong Kong Film Awards

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The 33rd Annual Hong Kong Film Awards was held on April 13 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre. With the most nominations of 14, ‘The Grandmaster‘ won 12 awards to become the big winner and broke the 9 award records that ‘Comrades, Almost A Love Story‘ and ‘Cold War‘ held. It won Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Action Choreography, Best Original Score, Best Sound Effects. Zhang Ziyi won her 9th Best Actress award for the film while Nick Cheung‘s performance in ‘Unbeatable‘ defeated Tony Leung for Best Actor.

Zhang Ziyi won the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actress for the second time after previously winning for ‘2046‘. As the awards presenter for Best Actress, Nick Cheung praised all the nominees including Zhang Ziyi, Tang Wei, and Paw Hee-ching, before announcing the year’s grand winner. Regarding Zhang Ziyi, he remarked, “Everyone calls her ‘International Zhang’. I noticed she has already reached international levels when I watched her outstanding performance in ‘The Grandmaster’ for the first time. She has a very high chance of receiving the award.” Adding to the exciting atmosphere, Nick spilled one of ‘The Grandmaster’s’ classic quotes to reveal Zhang Ziyi as the winner. In all smiles, Zhang Ziyi took turns hugging her costars including Tony Leung, Chang Chen, Max Zhang, Ada Choi, and director Wong Kar-wai, before heading onstage to claim her award. In midst of taking deep breaths, she uttered her speech of gratitude towards the cast and crew of ‘The Grandmaster’:

“Thank you the people of Hong Kong for your encouragement and recognition, thank you Leung Chiu-wai. No matter tonight who goes home with the award, he will forever be the Best Actor in my heart. In 2009, Wong Kar-wai approached me about this film. I was so happy that I was jumping around like a rabbit when I told my parents, not because making Wong Kar-wai’s film could lead to an award but because his films would show an actor’s most excellent side. During the three years in production, I have had a lot of life experience and shed many tears. I occasionally fell, but I believed that someday someone would help you up and get you moving ahead. He was Wong Kar-wai.  I am not emotional because I feel wronged, but because I am grateful.”

Backstage she said that she did not know why she cried even more than when she won her first Hong Kong Film Award 10 years ago, the older she got the more sentimental she got. ‘The Grandmaster’  has brought her 9 Best Actress awards, Zhang Ziyi said, “As the saying goes ‘9 9 return to 1’, I will also start anew and continue to make good movies.”

Nick Cheung got muscular to make ‘Unbeatable’. He defeated Tony Leung Leung for Best Actor, his second victory after ‘The Beast Stalker‘ in 2009. However Leung was very magnanimous and took the initiative to congratulate Cheung.

After 19 years, Wong Kar-wai finally won the Best Director award again. He previously won with ‘Days Of Being Being Wild‘ and ‘ChungKing Express‘. Wong Kar-wai admitted that the road to the stage was not longer, but to get on it again he already took 20 years.  Presenter Carina Lau joked that Wong Kar-wai and Tony Leung must really love each other because they both insisted on working with the other. ‘The Grandmaster’ won 12 awards, setting a new record for the most awards. Wong Kar-wai said, “Film is the same as kung fu, it’s about the word ‘believe’. I cheer for Hong Kong film.” ‘The Grandmaster’ also won Best Film. Winning Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design with ‘The Grandmaster’, William Chang has already won the two awards for the 7th time, but due to an injury he could not attend.

Max Zhang won his first Hong Kong Film Award for Best Supporting Actor, he was so emotional that he sobbed with his wife Ada Choi in an embrace. He said as he cried, “Thank you Zhang Ziyi, thank you Leung Chiu-wai, special thanks to Yuen Woo Ping, without Yuen Woo Ping I couldn’t work with Wong Kar-wai. Thank you Wong Kar-wai, people say that making his film would win an award.  I got it, I wouldn’t even dream it. Thank you to my wife Choi Siu-fun. Some have said that I would depend on her for the rest of my life, yes! My happiness for the rest of my life will depend on her. Once due to bad attitude I said to me, ‘What use is it that you are the only one who appreciates me in the world?’   Now everyone appreciates me.  At the wedding that we would weather any storm together, we have experienced too many storms.  I hope in the future we will have more scenery.  From now on for richer or for poorer we have to spend it together.” Zhang later accepted the Best Action Choreography award for Yuen Woo Ping. He said, “One of the missing on the Malaysia Airline flight is the film’s action coordinator Ju Kun. Now since the matter still has not been cleared up, I want to loudly say to him, Ju Kun part of this award belongs to you, come back soon!”


BEST SCREENPLAY Zou Jingzhi, Xu Haofeng, Wong Kar-wai (THE GRANDMASTER)







BEST FILM EDITING William Chang, Benjamin Courtines, Poon Hung Yiu (THE GRANDMASTER)




BEST ORIGINAL FILM SCORE Shigeru Umebayashi, Nathaniel Mechaly (THE GRANDMASTER)


BEST SOUND DESIGN Robert Mackenzie, Traithep Wongpaiboon (THE GRANDMASTER)





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Wong Kar-wai will not make a Leslie Cheung biopic

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The late actor Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing does not only have a special place in the hearts of fans, but even international director Wong Kar-wai and producer Hsu Feng who have worked with him felt that no one could replace him. Not only would they not remake “Farewell My Concubine“ but there will also be no Leslie Cheung biopic.

Wong Kar-wai recently revealed that he has no intention to make a biopic about good friend and actor, Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing. Wong expressed his feeling about the 10th anniversary of Cheung’s passing online saying, “I don’t think I would make a Leslie Cheung movie and cast anybody to play him, because I think he cannot be replaced. He was a very special person.”

During his lifetime, Cheung has worked with Wong in many films, including “Days of Being Wild“, “Ashes of Time” and the controversial “Happy Together“, where he was nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Horse Awards and the Hong Kong Film Awards. In a few words, Wong  stated how unique Cheung was in his eyes, bringing his characters to life and leaving a deep impression with the audience.

Meanwhile, producer Hsu Feng also refused to remake Leslie Cheung’s film, “Farewell My Concubine”, stating that no one would be able to replace him in the movie.

However, it was recently revealed that a South Korean film company is interested to remake Leslie’s hit film, “Moonlight Express“, which also starred Japanese actress, Tokiwa Takako. It was reported that the right of the film has already been purchased and that the new version will be fully helmed and cast with South Korean stars.

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Wong Kar-wai, Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi attend the Berlin Film Festival



The 63rd Berlin Film Festival officially opened on the 7th February. Though none of the 19 films that compete for the highest honour Golden Bear prize are Chinese; luckily the Wong Kar-wai directed film ‘The Grandmaster’ is the opening film. Director Wong is the head of the jury and he led American actor Tim Robbins and the rest of the jury to meet the media. In the afternoon he hosted ‘The Grandmaster’ press conference.

Although ‘The Grandmaster’ has been in general release in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan for a month and its Mainland box office even exceeded 290 million yuan RMB which is the highest for a Wong Kar-wai film, to Berlin film viewers it is still full of mystery. The premiere’s tickets were hard to come by, the remaining 3 shows also already selling out in 1 hour.

In order to take care of the overseas (especially European) market needs, Wong Kar-wai earlier stayed in the Bangkok editing room to remove 13 minutes from ‘The Grandmaster’s original 130 minutes running time to the less than 2 hour International Version. Reportedly the story structure also was adjusted slightly. “The pace is even more intense and the feeling is even more mature.”

Actually, Wong Kar Wai has a deep relationship with the Berlin Film Festival. ‘Days Of Being Wild’ and ‘Fallen Angels’ both participated in past festivals and won European and American film critics word of mouth. This year he is invited to be the jury chair. On the eve of the opening ceremony Wong Kar-wai led the jury members including actor Tim Robbins, Oscar Winning Danish director Susanne Beir, Venice Silver Lion prize winning Iranian director Shirin Neshat and others to meet the media and kicked off the 11 day long film festival.

Another with a Berlin connection was Zhang Ziyi. Her films ‘The Road Home’,Hero’ and ‘Forever Enthralled’ appeared there. Two days prior, Wong Kar-wai, Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Zhang Ziyi completed its Paris promotion and headed to Berlin at night. Zhang Ziyi’s 34th birthday was on the day after the Berlin premiere and four years ago she celebrated her birthday in Berlin.

Tony Leung was ailing when he met up with Zhang Ziyi in Paris, then they walked the red carpet in Berlin. Luckily his mother tagged along, even though he was overseas for this Lunar New Year he would not feel too bad.

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Wong Kar-wai’s road to celebrated director

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Wong Kar Wai’s anticipated film, ‘The Grandmaster’, is now finally playing in theaters. The martial arts movie is a yet another biopic of the Wing Chun master, Ip Man, and is the fourth Ip Man feature film to be released in the last six years. ‘The Grandmaster’, however, is unrelated to Wilson Yip’s highly successful Ip Man trilogy, the series that started the current Ip Man and Wing Chun trend. In fact, Wong’s idea to make a biopic for the legendary martial artist was conceived more than a decade ago, when he was working on his 1997  film, ‘Happy Together’.

Known for his slow-paced art films, Wong’s productions never coincided well with mainstream cinema. His announcement on ‘The Grandmaster’ project pricked up ears, but despite past skepticism on Wong’s ability to do action cinematography, ‘The Grandmaster’ has been a box office success, and has become Wong’s highest grossing film of his career.

Wong is now an internationally acclaimed and award-winning director, but there is no such thing as overnight success. Although Wong was immediately propelled to stardom after the release of his debut feature film, ‘As Tears Go By’, in 1988, the long-awaited stardom took many years of blood, sweat, and tears.

Born in Shanghai, Wong and his family emigrated to Hong Kong when he was five years old. His family was not wealthy. Wong’s father was a sailor, and rarely had the opportunity to stay at home with his wife and son. Soon afterwards, Wong’s father found a job as a hotel manager in Malaysia, leaving Wong and his mother behind in Hong Kong. At the time, Wong’s mother used to bring him to the theaters every day to watch movies, which allegedly contributed to his interest in filmmaking.

Wong graduated from Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 1980, majoring in graphic design. After his graduation, Wong briefly worked as a sales clerk in a clothing store. In 1981, Wong auditioned for TVB’s scriptwriting class, where he met his wife Chan Yi Kan, a variety program producer for the television station.

Wong struggled as a scriptwriter during his days with TVB. Chan then encouraged Wong to leave the station to focus on directing and writing his own films. After Chan’s many long meetings with various film distributors and investors, Wong’s debut film, ‘As Tears Go By’, was finally released in 1988 by In-Gear Film Production. Chan also produced the film. ‘As Tears Go By’ was a critical and box office success. Grossing over $11 million HKD in the Hong Kong box office, the film received ten nominations at the 8th Hong Kong Film Awards, and won two awards.

Wong’s second film in 1990, ‘Days of Being Wild’, was an even greater critical success, receiving nine HKFA nominations and winning five, including Best Picture, Best Director for Wong, and Best Actor for Leslie Cheung. However, it was Wong’s 2000 film, ‘In the Mood for Love’ that shot Wong to international acclaim.

Wong, Chan, and their 16-year-old son currently reside in a million-dollar house in Repulse Bay. The low-key director is often seen eating in outdoor restaurants around the neighborhood. Wong’s son physically resembles a young Tony Leung, which may be a reason as to why Wong frequently collaborates with the actor.

After two weeks of release, ‘The Grandmaster’ has already earned 252 million RMB. The great care in which Wong Kar-wai took with each frame of the film, the props detail, and the action choreography were evident, resulting in a film of great visual beauty and precision.

‘The Grandmaster’ will be the opening film at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, which will take place in February. Wong denied earlier rumors that there will be a four-hour director’s cut of The Grandmaster, but acknowledged he is currently editing a different international edition containing slightly different content from the mainland Chinese version.



Zhang Ziyi stole Tony Leung’s limelight in ‘The Grandmaster’

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Portraying Ip Man in ‘The Grandmaster’  Tony Leung  jokingly moaned, “I have been training under a Wing Chun master for the past 3 years, yet the scenes I have can’t beat Zhang Ziyi.” Although director Wong Kar-wai had set out to make a biopic about Ip Man, ‘The Grandmaster’ grew into a sprawling account of Chinese martial arts. In the opening scene, Tony Leung fought off 10 of his adversaries in a rainy scene, showcasing Wong Kar-wai’s signature martial arts aesthetics. In another scene, Leung and Zhang Ziyi were dueling at the Golden House; the awe-inspiring exchange proved the hard work both actors had put in throughout their training.

In ‘The Grandmaster’, Tony Leung hardly has many spoken lines, which prompted wife, Carina Lau to nickname him as “The Silent Ghost” after watching his performance. Director Wong Kar-wai explained, “Initially I gave Tony many lines, but I deleted them in the end because Ip Man is a man of few words. Without saying a word, he is able to command the room.” On the contrary, Zhang Ziyi had some of the best lines in the film. At the same time, her internal struggle between her admiration for Leung’s Ip Man and her impulse for exacting revenge for her father proved to be a well-received performance.

Under Wong Kar-wai’s heavy-handed editing, Chang Chen, Song Hye-kyo, and Julian Cheung Chi-lam have little screen time in ‘The Grandmaster’, despite extended filming. Taiwanese actor Chang Chen, trained for three years under a Baji master for his role; however, he ended up appearing in only three scenes in the film. Chang said, “I know Wong Kar-wai’s style, so I have expected this.” South Korean actress Song Hye-kyo, who has been noticeably absent from the film’s promotional events, plays Ip Man’s wife has one line in the entire film, “Is it that cold in Foshan?”, while Julian Cheung only appears for a few seconds.

‘The Grandmaster’ marks Tony Leung’s seventh collaboration with Wong Kar-wai. Since 1990, Leung has appeared in Wong Kar-wai’s movies such as ‘Days of Being Wild’, ‘Ashes of Time’, ‘Chungking Express’, ‘Happy Together’, ‘In the Mood for Love’ and ‘2046′. Will there be an eighth time? Leung declined to comment, likely due to the laborious filming conditions of ‘The Grandmaster’ and physical exertion for his role.

‘The Grandmaster’ was the top film in mainland Chinese box offices, earning 162 million RMB in its opening weekend.

Wong Kar-Wai on Alan Tang: He Will Always Be My Big Brother

Twenty years ago it was Alan Tang who invested in Wong Kar Wai‘s film Days of Being Wild, which solidified his position as a leading director in the film industry. Yesterday, WKW accepted an interview and spoke highly of his old boss. “He has always been my big brother and will always remain as my big brother. In my eyes, he was healthy and always in good spirits. When I heard the news of his passing, it came as a shock to me.” WKW says that Alan Tang was a good boss and a good friend. “He was the first person who encouraged me to become a director. He would also take time to share his experience in filmmaking. My thoughts are with his family during this time.”

Rebecca Pan also took part in Days of Being Wild. She says, “I didn’t know him very well. However, because Lydia Shum and I are both Shanghainese, we would occasionally meet up with everyone, including Alan Tang and his wife. I remember having conservations with him.” She says that life has many strange coincidences. Just two days ago she took part in an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of Days of Being Wild. Now it’s hard to believe that the film’s producer and its biggest benefactor is no longer here.

Days of Being Wild was a film from the 90’s. Just prior to that film, WKW and Alan Tang had collaborated together on the film As Tears Go By, which was a box office hit. Alan Tang decided to invest $40 million HKD into both Part 1 & 2 of Days of Being Wild. However, the film flopped at the box office and Part 2 was put on hold indefinitely. Surprisingly, critics loved the film and it garnered numerous film awards, including a Best Director Award for WKW. Alan Tang once spoke of his investment in the film. “If I had invested my money in stocks instead, I would have been a billionaire. However, I never once regretted my decision.”


Alan Tang died on 29 March 2011 from a stroke.

Five Films by Wong Kar-Wai Named in Greatest Chinese Films Poll

The Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival has announced the results of its survey of the “100 Greatest Chinese-Language Films“. 122 industry professionals took part in the survey, including film scholars, festival programmers, film directors, actors and producers.
With 73 votes, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s ‘A City of Sadness‘ topped the poll. Edward Yang’s ‘A Brighter Summer Day’ came a close second.
Wong Kar-wai was Hong Kong’s most recognised director with five slots headed by ‘Days of Being Wild‘ in 4th place. The other films by Wong Kar-wai in the list are ‘In The Mood For Love‘ (joint 9th), ‘ChungKing Express‘ (21st), ‘Happy Together‘ (26th), and ‘Ashes Of Time‘ (joint 50th)

Top 10:
1 A City of Sadness; dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien
2 A Brighter Summer Day; dir. Edward Yang
3 A Time to Live and a Time to Die; dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien
4 Days of Being Wild; dir. Wong Kar-wai
5 Spring in a Small Town; dir. Fei Mu
6 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; dir. Ang Lee
7 Yi Yi: A One and a Two; dir. Edward Yang
8 Dust in the Wind; dir. Hou Hsiao-hsien
9= Dragon Inn; dir. King Hu
9= In the Mood for Love; dir. Wong Kar-wai