Wong Kar-wai received the French cultural world’s highest honour Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Two nights ago he and his wife, actor Chang Chen, cinematographer Christopher Doyle and his film team celebrated. Doyle left around 11:30PM. saying, “The party is a family gathering, everyone wasn’t just excited about Wong Kar-wai’s honor but also proud to be a part of the team.”
Around midnight, Wong Kar-wai left with his wife. He said that the party included teams from his first film to his most recent one, as well as many friends from different places, thus he was very happy. Earlier, Wong Kar Wai went to a hot pot casserole shop with friends. They drank outdoors and chatted until 1AM but the neighbours complained about how loud they were. The police came to investigate. Wong Kar-wai said, “After midnight we already returned indoors, I am sorry to have disturbed the residents.”
“Born wearing a pair of sunglasses”, internationally renowned director Wong Kar-wai rarely has been without his sunglasses. Yesterday the Grandmaster of directing tried on glasses at an optical store. Wong Kar-wai went to pick out a pair of glasses at a Causeway Bay optical store. Actually Wong Kar-wai was as selective with his glasses as with his movies. After over an hour of choosing he finally left the store with his wife. He even showed his eyes while his wife became the “female Wong Kar-wai” and put on sunglasses. If not for his height, he almost could not be recognized without his sunglasses.
Whether you like Wong Kar-wai’s movies or not, everyone knows that “Wong Kar-wai” and sunglasses were almost inseparable “conjoint twins”. Earlier actor Eric Tsang described Wong Kar-wai as being “born wearing sunglasses” when Wong presented the Professional Spirit Awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards. However, the director also had moments when he was without his “beloved”.
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.
“The Grandmaster” will be in French theaters on April 17th.
‘The Grandmaster’ was the opening film of the 63rd Berlin Film Festival. Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Zhang Ziyi walked the red carpet hand in hand as they were welcomed with cheers and applause. Although Leung frequently attended international film festivals, this was his first time at the Berlin Film Festival. At the opening ceremony, the host compared Wong Kar-wai’s movies to women who made people fall for them unknowingly. She even jokingly asked Wong Kar Wai, “If ’The Grandmaster’ is a woman too, would you get intimate with her or vanish with her?” Wong Kar-wai humorously said, “Both feel pretty exciting.”
The film premiered in Berlin and received a 10 minute applause after the show. Wong Kar-wai cut a special “Berlin version” with 20 differences from the China and Hong Kong version. The film was about 10 minutes shorter. Because some foreign media did not understand the historical backdrop, some reviews said that it “cannot surpass In The Mood For Love“.
The Berlin Film Festival version of ‘The Grandmaster’ mainly added three important scenes and some subtitles that explained the historical background. Some of the subplots with an unclear relationship to the main plot were removed or replaced. The most notable addition that was not in the China and Hong Kong version was how Chang Chen‘s Yi Xiantian and Zhang Ziyi’s Gong Er met and their relationship. After Gong Er saved Yi Xiantian on the train, they later ran into each other at a Hong Kong restaurant named Old Muslim but did not acknowledge each other. Their reunion gave Yi Xiantian the motivation to stay in Hong Kong, which was easier to comprehend for the audience.
Another addition was the rainy night fight scene with Ip Man and Yi Xiantian. The story became more intense and made people’s blood boiled. This scene caught Gong Yutian’s eyes. He praised Ip Man’s kung fu abilities and after asking others he learned that the fighter was the Invincible in Foshan Ip Man. Other addition scenes included a young Bruce Lee staring at Ip Man from the school, Ip Man teaching Bruce Lee martial arts and Ip man’s ferocious fight with Cung Le. Ip Man’s challenge in Hong Kong to Ding Lianshan (Zhao Benshan) was removed.
Tony Leung did not feel that his scenes were removed, the most important was for the audience to accept the pace of the story. “I don’t mind the changes in the different versions, the most important is for the story to make sense.” Although Wong Kar Wai earlier was busy with ‘The Grandmaster‘s promotion, in a short month he was able to make even better changes. The mastery of his craft truly left people speechless.
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.
The 63rd Berlin Film Festival opens tonight, with the Wong Kar-wai directed ‘The Grandmaster’ opening the event. Yesterday morning, the film’s leads Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Zhang Ziyi flew from Paris for Berlin in preparation for the film festival opening.
The film’s international version is 8 minutes shorter than the 130 minute version shown in China and Hong Kong, but Tony Leung’s role in the film has increased. Two major scenes like Leung’s fight with Cung Le and Bruce Lee‘s childhood meeting with Ip Man will appear in the international version. Leung said, “I never thought that my role was less in the Mainland version, so I don’t feel anything too special about the added scenes. Instead I feel some adjustments to the story make it more intense!”
As for the fight scene with Cung Le, Tony Leung remembered it like it was yesterday as he joked that he was already scared off before the shoot. “I already had pressure from working on a fight scene with him. Every time I saw him he would ask if I brought any protective gear, which added to my pressure. As the shoot went on, his martial arts truly were very high quality. He was able to control them at will. Our collaboration was very pleasant.”
The international version is shorter than the version shown in China as director Wong Kar-wai deliberated and finally removed some of Zhao Benshan‘s scenes. Because his role discusses kung fu with metaphors, foreigners might not understand them and therefore he removed these parts.
Supported by Hong Kong University’s Culture and Humanities Fund, a dialogue session for the film ’The Grandmaster’ was held at the Hong Kong University on January 31. The session was attended by actor Tony Leung, stunt coordinator Yuen Woo Ping, and martial artist Lau Kar Yung. Over one thousand tickets were given out to HKU students a few days prior to the session. All tickets were passed out in two hours. The waiting list for the session also exceeded 600 people.
At the session, Tony Leung openly talked about his filming experience on the set of ’The Grandmaster’. Tony remarked that although it had a tough three-year engagement, he did not regret the experience. Art house director, Wong Kar-wai, never really made movies for money, but ’The Grandmaster’ has now become his most commercially successful film in the box office. The film’s distributors are urging Wong to film a sequel, in which Wong is considering.
Leung is a longtime collaborator of Wong, but upon hearing that Wong may be working on a sequel, he immediately shook his head. Wong and Leung were earlier rumored to have had a falling out due to a disagreement on the film’s script and filming style. Leung insisted that he and Wong still get along really well; nonetheless, he expressed that he will not film ’The Grandmaster’ sequel if it is to be made. The 50-year-old actor explained, “I want to try new things. I like staying fresh. If I do the same things over and over again, it won’t be fun.”
As ’The Grandmaster’ took over three years to film, many actors in the film, including Tony Leung and female lead Zhang Ziyi, had complained about the harsh struggles in working on the film. Song Hye Kyo was also reportedly upset with Wong’s lurching and dragging filming ways, and declined to participate in the film’s promotions.
Yesterday, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Yuen Woo-Ping, and Lau Ka Yung attended the Hong Kong University’s “Who Is The Grandmaster film forum”. The 1000 seats were filled in two hours, with 600 people waiting outside. When Tony Leung appeared the crowd roared and gave him a standing ovation.
Tony Leung attended an university forum for the first time. When asked whether the film will have a sequel due to good word of mouth he said, “No, I am not afraid of three more years in production. Time isn’t a problem, I just want to try something else to have a sense of freshness.” Reportedly the Berlin Film Festival screening will be an extended version, Leung asked director Wong Kar-wai to confirm this. He said that another version would not be fair to the audience, he might edit out some scenes that foreigners would not understand. He would not demand to add back his removed scenes as he thought that as it is now the movie is rather entertaining.
Reportedly Tony Leung was upset at the size of the role and he was at odds with Wong Kar-wai. Leung laughed and said, “Hahaha, you are killing me, am I this type of person? I have been friends with Wong Kar-wai for so many years that I wouldn’t mind. I am 50 years old, I have everything, what else do I want? Instead I have to learn to give, to do charity work on my free time, help those who aren’t as fortunate. I took two years off before, life was brilliant. When I woke up I would drink with friends until I fell asleep. With sustenance and responsibility, life would healthier.” After promoting the film in South Korea and the U.S., he will take two months off before deciding on his charity work. He was willing to do charity work with his wife Carina Lau Ka-ling as well.
Action director Yuen Woo-Ping praised Leung’s kung fu film prowess. He should not be compared to Donnie Yen, as their styles and specialties were different. Was Donnie Yen better? He said, “Tony is great too, they are great in different ways. Tony’s action sense is great, he is just being humble.”
After the two hour forum ended, they went to Mongkok for an audience appreciation and celebrated with a lion dance.