Kozo (LoveHKFilm)
Latest answers

Do you think Taiwanese director Chu Yen Ping has an unfair reputation or are his movies truly terrible?

The latter. He sometimes shows some visual talent but overall his movies are pretty bad.

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What's your top ten HK film for 2016 so far? I know 2016 doesn't even merit five titles, let alone ten. But what would your answer be id you imagine Anthony Wong pointing a gun at your temple and force you to do so any way? 10 being the worst all the way to the best at 1. Thank you.

I unfortunately have only seen 40 of the 60 or so qualified Hong Kong films this year so any list I come up with would be incomplete. I have some time to catch up before we do the LoveHKFilm Awards (if we decided to do them this year), but right now I think I'd put TRIVISA, MERMAID, SOUL MATE and MAD WORLD somewhere near the top. CALL OF HEROES, HAPPINESS, and the documentary TASTE OF YOUTH might get lesser mention.

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Some movies are specifically set in 1997 or pre-handover times, but when watching them the time period doesn't seem to make any difference. What's the significance of this period choice for HK's domestic audience?

Depends on the film. Minus specific events, the filmmakers may choose pre-Handover times to add psychological factors to the characters and their choices. Hong Kongers living in pre-Handover times experienced a particular anxiety that might deepen their characters for a particular story. To use a current western example, a person might react differently to the same stimuli now, post-Brexit and Trump's election, than they did previously. Just read your Twitter feed and you should find ten zillion examples of that.

Another reason to set a film before the Handover may be to avoid potential political readings. In the case of something like SPL, which takes place before the Handover (even though someone is wearing a Vince Carter Toronto Raptors jersey - he was drafted in 1998), the filmmakers may have wanted to avoid concerns about police corruption. By making the film take place while Hong Kong was under British rule, you can't blame the current China government for not having a better handle on the Hong Kong police force. I realize that isn't even an issue in SPL, but who knows, someone could read into it and get offended.

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many are -ve about HK movies these days and r of the opinion that they churn out rubbish. In contrast, they love TVB dramas, which still get many followings even in SEA. I personally think TVB dramas are worse rubbish. Why is there a contrast between HK movies & TVB dramas? R they not equally bad?

TVB dramas are free and you don't have to work to watch them. You just flip on the TV and there they are. For movies, you have use your search engine and unauthorized source online. Or you have to *gasp* pay to watch it.

Also, longform storytelling does give viewers the chance to get to know the actors and characters in ways that movies don't allow. This can make a difference to some people.

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Have you seen the Hong Kong throwback movie "The Man with the Iron Fist"? If so, what is your opinion on it...

This is a movie I never got around to seeing. It falls into the same category as Keanu Reeves' MAN OF TAI CHI, i.e., western-influenced action films that either pay tribute to or rip off Chinese Cinema. Whether they've produced an homage or a ripoff is left entirely to your biases, of course.

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What's your opinion on Weeds on Fire? (Would also love a review on your site!)

Really enjoyed its style and verve. For a new director's debut feature it's surprisingly accomplished. I have bigger issues with its story and subject matter -- basically that it uses actual history and facts and hollows them out to shove in a predictable message about politics, youth and other stuff that's important to the Hong Kong culturatti. Many people won't care about that, but I think it does the actual story of Hong Kong's first baseball team a disservice.

A review will probably be up on the site at our next update, which will hopefully happen before 2017.

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Anpanman or McDull?

Do you think Brandon Lee would have been the next big martial arts/action star or reached Jackie Chan level of fame and success if he didn't die so early?

joe l

I kind of answered this question nearly 10 months ago:
http://ask.fm/lovehkfilm/answers/132934097610

The part I don't cover is if Brandon Lee would have reached a Jackie Chan level of fame and success. Honestly, I don't think so because Jackie Chan's level of success was SUPER huge -- like, way above the Jet Lis and Donnie Yens of this world. Brandon Lee could conceivably been a Donnie Yen type. I think by name alone, he would at least have surpassed the Andy Ons, Philip Ngs and Wu Jings of this world.

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Which one do you consider a better actress: Fan Bingbing or Angelababy?

I'd probably rate Fan Bingbing above Angelababy at this point. She's handled tougher lead parts (LOST IN BEIJING, DOUBLE EXPOSURE), and been surprisingly good in some supporting roles (SOPHIE'S REVENGE). Angelababy has promise but has yet to truly deliver upon it.

Regardless of who's the better of the two, neither is top tier. And neither has really impressed in their Hollywood work.

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Any new hong kong movies recommendation?

TRIVISA and THE MERMAID are on the high end of the scale. Below that things get dicier. I haven't seen THREE yet.

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I heard your site just had a financial set back. What happened and do you think the site can recover?

The site didn't really have a financial setback. The other day I tweeted that we lost 2.5K US dollars in 2015 because our expenses (hosting, some film purchases, etc.) far outweighed the amount that we made off advertising and affiliate sales. The only reason I tweeted that was because I had just finished my taxes for 2015 and the number somewhat surprised me. It's easily the "worst" my site has done since its earliest days.

However, this is only a big problem if the site is my main source of income -- which it isn't, so we're all good. At worst, it's just a semi-expensive hobby. Also, there were some years where the site was fairly profitable, so whatever I made back then could easily be applied to these "lean years". I think the main lesson to take from the loss in 2015 is simply to look for ways to cut costs. I could look for a cheaper hosting package on a shared server, for example. Some years back I had to move from shared to a dedicated server because the traffic was so high. Now traffic is much lower, so I could probably move back to a shared server and save a little money.

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Will you review Sammo Hung's "The Bodyguard" on your site soon?

I imagine whenever the LoveHKFilm.com returns from its hiatus there will be a review of THE BODYGUARD on the website. That is, unless it never returns, in which case there will be no review of THE BODYGUARD and we'll all have to be content with the ten zillion other reviews out there that already exist. The Internet is nothing if not a wellspring of opinions.

Speaking less jokingly, I'll write a review of the film whenever the site returns.

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Do you think it's too late for Lau Ching-Wan to debut in an English speaking movie?

There was a 2001 Canadian film called LUNCH WITH CHARLES, which featured Lau Ching-Wan acting in both English and Cantonese. So, technically he's already made his English-speaking debut.

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Does buying dvds/blu rays of HK film direct from HK sites like YesAsia, DDDHouse, and Bad Panda Shop contribute more money toward the HK filmmakers, or does it not make a difference if I buy in the US? And what about US versions like Ip Man 3? I really want to support the HK film industry.

Any purchased AND LEGAL physical media of a Hong Kong film should, in practice, benefit Hong Kong filmmakers somehow. And by filmmakers, I'm more referring to production studios than actual filmmakers who are mostly paid upfront and don't take a percentage cut of their work unless their name is Stephen Chow. I'm sure there are others but I really don't know their identities.

If HK filmmakers don't receive the money from the actual sale of the DVD/Blu-ray (some companies like Universe have their own physical media arm), then they make money from the ancillary sales, which includes sales of DVD/Blu-ray rights to US companies like Well Go or Lionsgate or whoever. I can't speak for which method of purchase makes a filmmaker more money, so I'd be content with just purchasing legal media. For IP MAN 3, you can buy whatever version makes you feel better: HK or North America. At least the money is going to someone who's somehow working with Hong Kong Cinema.

There may be DVD forums or places like City on Fire or Filmsmash that are better-versed on this subject.

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Is Pakho Chau the future of Hong Kong cinema ?

No.

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Any words you'd like to say on Steph Curry?

Do you agree with Adam Laidig review of John Carpenter's "Big Trouble in Little China", calling it racist?

As a kid, I enjoyed BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA but I haven't seen it in over twenty years so I don't know how I'd react to it now. Using my childhood perspective as a guide, I'll say that I don't agree with Adam's negative take on the film's entertainment value. That is, he didn't enjoy the film but I did. We might differ there but we're different people with different opinions so this is to be expected.

On the subject of racism, that's a tougher and much more complex subject.

Is the film "guilty" of some degree of racism? I think it is, especially when viewed from today's progressive media perspective -- you know, the same media climate where Oscars So White becomes an actual trending thing. The film used garish Asian stereotypes and put Asians into subordinate roles, even making sure that Jack Burton, despite being portrayed as somewhat of a buffoon, got the final killing blow on Lo Pan. It's clear that some of the people behind the film do like kung-fu movies, but in the end it's a surface exploration of Chinese movie signifiers that seems exceptionally shallow because it's made by non-Chinese consumers of a popular movie genre, and not actual Chinese who get how that genre fits with their culture.

This doesn't mean that the people who made BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA are racists. I don't think they were, nor do I think the film should be looked upon badly because of its use of Chinese stereotypes. The film was a product of its time and should be viewed as such. I have no doubt that if the same people who made BIG TROUBLE were to try and make it today, they'd go about it differently. At any rate, someone in Hollywood currently has the bright idea of remaking BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA so may yet see what a modern, more culturally sensitive version of the film looks like. Who knows, I may end up preferring the original anyway.

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What Hong Kong movie from the Warner Brothers archive do you REALLY want to see released?

So, you got any special DVDs and stuff, like out-of-print releases that are better than more ones, or even alternate versions of movies?

Depends on what you mean by "special." I do have some DVDs that might be considered rare, but nothing that most people would be that excited about. One film I have is a Taiwan DVD of Corey Yuen's HERO, which is uncut unlike the Hong Kong DVD. I also own the Korean DVD of Tsui Hark's THE CHINESE FEAST, which adds in a fight sequence between Vincent Zhao and Xiong Xin-Xin.

Also, since I've been buying HK DVDs since the 90s, many titles I own are now out of press and no longer available, like a lot of the early Milkyway Image stuff. I also own a DVD of YOUNG POLICEMEN IN LOVE, which nobody has boasted about ever.

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Why no review of Stanley Kwan's "Women"? Just paid $30 for it and it was well worth it The list of great Golden Age films I discover seems to never end.

The answer to this one is simple: I never saw WOMEN. I did buy it on Shaw Brothers DVD when it got released but haven't gotten around to actually seeing it. I believe it's DVD number 243 in the stack of 600 I have yet to watch.

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How has Jackie Chan's recent troubles, legal, personal and socially affecting his career? Do you think he can recover?

Jackie Chan has been having troubles since the turn of the century, what with the "Dragon Seed" scandal, his obnoxious sucking up to China, and the other dumb stuff he tends to do when he opens his mouth. It's been affecting him for years, as Hong Kong locals now think less of him and his films, which used to rule the box office, now struggle to make a third as much, if even that. He can still turn out the occasional hit like ROB-B-HOOD or CHINESE ZODIAC but most of his other films enter and leave cinemas without much fanfare.

So yeah, locally few people really care for him anymore. Internationally he fares much better since people look at him as an action star (and not an entertainment personality) and all his negative press means less to your average kung-fu fan than a Hong Kong person. Do you think some guy on a random Kung Fu movie forum really cares that he's said stuff that denigrates Hong Kong people? Doubtful. They're just happy that he still punches and kicks people in movies occasionally. And China is likely happy with him because he sucks up to them.

Overall, Jackie can't recover his local popularity but internationally and in China he'll be fine.

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Who will play you in the inevitable kozo biopic?

Wong Cho-Lam, obviously.

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I'm not sure if this has been asked before but why did you end up choosing Kozo as your pseudonym for writing reviews?

I've been asked this question a number of times but I forget where the answer has been printed, if ever. I've answered the question at least 20 times over the years from random readers emailing in.

The name Kozo comes from a pretty boring place. When I was a freshman in high school there was some dude in one of my classes named Kozo. He wasn't my friend, but I thought it was a cool-sounding name and used it when playing games like FINAL FANTASY or any of those SNES or PC titles where you got to enter your name. I played a lot of games like that so I used the name a lot.

When I built the site, web handles were still a thing so I signed all my reviews with that name. People actually read the reviews and would write in using that name, so it pretty much just stuck. Looking back, it's pretty weird that I ended up adopting the name of some guy who I barely knew from a single year in high school for all my online activities. But I still think it's better than naming yourself Wolverine91784.

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Did the boycotting of the HKFA by the Chinese media directly influenced Ten Year's Best Pic win? All indication before that shows the momentum favoring Port of Call, up until the boycott that is. Has the merit of this year's HKFA Best Pic nominees been sacrificed for political sentiments?

There's really no way to answer your question definitively...though it certainly seems like the boycott might have influenced the vote, eh? Whatever. Correlation does not necessarily equal causation so all we can do is theorize about this. That is, unless we can find actual HKFA voters who changed their vote from PORT OF CALL to TEN YEARS after the boycott -- and I doubt many people will want to go on record as doing something like that.

As for merit being sacrificed for political sentiments -- actually that's always been the case for all award-giving ceremonies. It's just that usually the politics are more personal or right-versus-left than something on an international scale.

Also, personally, I'm not that thrilled with any of the Best Picture nominees so that TEN YEARS won is fine by me. Years later I'm sure we'll all look back and understand why this happened.

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Do you have a Hong Kong film collection (DVD, VCD,etc.)?

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About Kozo (LoveHKFilm):

Twitter for Kozo, annoying people since 2002 at LoveHKFilm.com. Sometimes I review Hong Kong movies. Member of the Hong Kong Film Critics Society

Hong Kong

http://lovehkfilm.com