Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tartan Video has a label branded "Asian Extreme". Extreme horror, extreme action, extreme passion. Whatever. They release some of the so-called "extreme" asian movies, a term which I wholeheartedly detest. I decided to rent the Benny Chan film Divergence, in hopes that Aaron Kwok, Ekin Chang and Daniel Wu would entertain me for 2 hours. I was wrong. The movie was terrible. It represented everything that is wrong with Hong Kong cinema. Convoluted for the sake of being convoluted, it still somehow managed to be very predictable. And melodramic. Very, very melodramatic. Which is to be expected I guess with pop icons in some of the leading rolls, but really, how much does Ekin Chang have to cry? But what made my viewing experience even more painful was the fact that the subtitles, on a North American DVD, by a supposedly respectable DVD label, were delayed by almost 5 seconds. Granted, I don't think it would have made the film any better, but it certainly made it more frustrating.

Who at Tartan picks what movies they release on their Extreme label? There was nothing extreme about Divergence. Nothing remotely interesting really. Out of all the recent Hong Kong action/thrillers, why choose this one? Something like One Night in Mongkok, also with Daniel Wu, is far more engaging and original. Even the contrived Confessions of Pain was better than Divergence. It was by far one of the worst Hong Kong films I've seen in a while. I'm still not sure about this Benny Chan fella. He's definitely hit and miss.

On a side not, I wasted another 2 hours of my life when I finally watched the pretentious snooze fest Lady in the Water. My god. The self proclaimed master storyteller M. Night Shyamalan has finally gone off the deep end. He treats the audience like morons and then basks in his own glory as the man who will save the world with his obviously important films. He seems to think he is not only the new Hitchcock, but a step above Hitchcock, because his movies will change the world! Or make us slit our wrists.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Fuwa. The official mascots of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini. Being the somewhat naive foreigner that I am, I assumed that these 5 mystical looking characters were steeped in ancient mythological lore. Apparently I was wrong. At least somewhat.

You see, the names are structured to sound like an affection childrens name. Each one is suppose to represent a child in a closeknit group of friends. Four of the Fuwa represent popular Chinese animals. The fish, the Tibetan antelope, the panda and the swallow. The final Fuwa represents the Olympic torch. Each one has features of the animal or torch it's suppose to represent. Each Fuwa also symbolizes an element, and the landscapes, dreams and hopes of people from different parts of China. And, if you combine all their names, you get "Beijing huanying ni", or "Welcome to Beijing". So cute its repulsive.
So what at first appeared to be something magical, mystical, almost mysterious, turns out to be nothing more than a marketable advertising ploy. It will sell millions and millions of cute little stuffed toys of Fuwa all around the world. It will also ensure that the same people who buy the Fuwa know that all parts of China, no matter how remote, all minorities groups, know matter how unique, are a commodity. That they are Chinese.
On a side note, an article I wrote is up on my friend Mike's and his partner Matt's webpage http://www.ifthen.ca/. It's entitled "the easter egg hunt".