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My adventures in asian cinema.

Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 8:46 am
by Chevalier
I risk my life, even now, writing about this, but I’m actually locked up in a basement. Where this basement is, I’m not entirely sure. How long have I been here? Longer than I wish to admit. It seems like an entire lifetime ago; I was on a business trip to Hong Kong when I accidentally wandered into a bad neighborhood. Trying to find my way back, I’ve wandered into a hole-in-a-wall type of shop. Comic mischief ensued, and I, inadvertently caused offence to a man I’ve since come to fear greatly.

His name is Marco. His ethnicity I’m unsure of; and though his face is scarred, his skin appears dark olive, somehow inhuman. He is man who wastes no small talk, but I’ve heard him effortlessly threaten people in Cantonese, Mandarin, English and even Russian on several occasions. His people refer to him as ‘The Boss’, and never Marco, lest they wish to misplace a few fingers or limit their facial expressions.

He has control of a video pirating syndicate, trafficking illegal bootleg vcd’s and dvd’s the world over. He tortures me by making me subtitle all kinds of Asian films and TV-shows for American consumption. It’s a grueling 12-hour workday, with little comfort. I’m offered in return some water from a rusty hose, located outside the bars of my window. I get leftover food from the standing guards. Sometimes, I’m able to get hooch, and try as hard as I can to get drunk. The days that feel like Christmas is when I pass out (and not just from dehydration).

What follows next are my written observations. A warning is appropriate though. Some of these films I’ve come to fear and hate as a rape victim might their rapist(s). Others I’ve come to love; they are my only glimpses into what life would be like if I were capable of recovery from years of masochistic abuse.

- This evening I got my hands on a heavily used vhs copy of ‘Tricky Brains’. Tracking was a bitch I tried to bear, and in fear of physical punishment, had to.

After a 3rd viewing, I’ve reaffirmed what I’ve thought after the first, and that it is unquestionably one of those films that would mark my life forever. Any comedic films I will see further on will have to be compared and referenced to this.

- Today was not unlike any other day. The morning was full of promise; the red lumps on my legs were starting to go away. I think this is because of the shoes I’ve managed to steal from Wong (one of the guards). They however reappeared, with a vengeance, after a viewing of Heroic Trio 2: Executioners. Takeshi Kaneshiro has used me I feel, like he’s used me in the past. I’m fearing that I’ve developed a battered-wife syndrome, and Takeshi is always telling me he hits me because, in his heart, he really loves me.

- A TV Show, A.D. 2000, has sparked yet another fight between Takeshi, and me; except it wasn’t really a fight, he knocked me around a few times; and missed, in a drunken haze, even more. He then passed out by bumping his head on a cabinet door. Night ended uneventfully as I’ve dragged him to the blanket I sleep on.

- I’m at my wits’ end here. If I could just get my hands on a reasonably sharp object, suicide would be an improvement on current state of my mental affairs. I just want it to be quick and reasonably painless. Something that the two films I’ve been working on, haven’t been. Dead or Alive 2 and 3 (Final) have pushed me too far this time, I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. My previous projections that Takashi Miike does not only suffer from Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, but that the world has merged into a giant dictatorship run by The Fifth International and Miike is the head of ‘The Bureau For Indoctrination through Cinema’ has only been reaffirmed. How else could this get produced?

- Being unstable as I’m, these days I find solace in daydreaming about killing my captives by choking them with vhs tape reels. I get these ideas, like a kid might get ideas about burning things down by talking to his imaginary friend. My imaginary friend, if you promise to keep it secret, is a film called ‘The Quiet Family’. It’s intelligent, funny and understands me like my parents never had. Nor will they; ever. I plan to run away and live with this film somewhere above a quiet little coffee shop. In the mornings, we’ll exchange droll remarks about the personal ads in the back of The London Review of Books. “Find the 10th coefficient in the expansion of the binomial (1+x) to the 20th power. Then love me some more. Mathematical Ms, Cambridge.” You don’t get it, but the movie does.

- My attempt at escape has been foiled. Yet, I haven’t even attempted it, no, it’s much more serious than that. My spirit is irrevocably shattered. I feel as a Commander of U-Boat might have felt upon returning to the motherland, only to see it defeated. Maybe all this time, my archenemy Miike has been watching me, unbeknownst to me. How else could he kidnap ‘The Quiet Family’ and turn it into this? This… this, words fail me; he calls it ‘The Happiness of the Katakuris’. I’d call it mutilation - ruthless, determinate and without purpose.

The rest of my entries from there on are largely incoherent, often meaningless scribbles of circles. The psychological meaning behind them I don’t know if I’ll ever discover. But, I’ve drafted a, let’s call it a ‘will NOT kill those involved in production of these films’ list. For better or worse (I’m unable to tell the two apart), these films helped me cope through the really hard times the past few weeks.

My Sassy Girl - South Korea

My Wife is a Gangster - South Korea

The Foul King – South Korea

Battle Royale - Japan, but only good if you’ve read the novel

The Tale of the two sisters - South Korea

The Classic - South Korea

All about Lily Chou Chou - Japan

Bayside Shakedown - Japan

The Days of being wild + As Tears go by – Hong Kong

The Eye –Hong Kong

Failan - South Korea

Fly Me To Polaris - Hong Kong

Infernal Affairs - Hong Kong

No Blood, No Tears - South Korea

Oasis - South Korea

Ping Pong – Japan

Slow Fade - Hong Kong

Space Travelers - Japan

Stereo Future - Japan

Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 12:40 pm
by SonOfaRich
Are you alright over there? :shock:

Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 12:44 pm
by Stick

i've seen most of em.

my sassy girl and infernal affairs are among my favourites.

Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 1:24 pm
by Kazu
I have not yet seen a Takeshi Miike film, but sometimes I get the feeling that this is a good thing. :)

Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 1:50 pm
by Kean
The last 5 minutes of Miike's first Dead or Alive totally broke my mind. Absolutely worth watching just for the ending. After watching that movie, I've become a complete Miike convert.

I loved Infernal Affairs, but has anyone seen Infernal Affairs 2 yet? It's hit DVD-land, and I can't seem to find it anywhere. Also worth a look if you dig Takeshi Kaneshiro is last year's Left Turn, Right Turn. I like the premise, but the acting not so much.

In other news, I just found out Anita Mui (the 'Asian Madonna') passed away at the end of last year from ovarian cancer. Along with Leslie Cheung, I wonder what will become of the current cantopop landscape?

Chevalier, if you're working in a pirate sweatshop (aarrrr), how did you manage to send off this extrodinarily lengthy post? I feel like maybe I should send you some cookies or something.

Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 2:32 pm
by Chevalier
Actually, I have a vcd of Infernal Affairs 2 sitting right here. I’m not really sure when I want to see it as I’ve a whole stack of Stephen Chow films I have to sift through. Later on tonight perhaps. I’ll tell you how it is, if I’m still alive.

As to how I communicate? Well, it’s an intricate system, involving 3-dozen pigeons, a contact at HK Anti-piracy unit and an old friend over at Tai-Seng. Actually, the contact at the Anti-piracy squad is a crooked cop, who’s not looking to rescue me. But because he visits so often, I’ve tried to make a friend of him. He’s not the trusting type though. I’ve requested, and he, maybe out of pity, or for a cruel laugh, delivers me a copy of London Review of Books regularly. I place encrypted messages in the personal ads, but I fear they’ve only confused some poor North Korean spy in Okinawa.

You can send me cookies, but only if you disguise inside them the following items:
One directional microwave transformer
Two 110 to 220 watt converters
One assorted rim of 8 gauge wires (preferably different colors)
2 canisters (however much space the cookie box allows) of Sodium Chlorate.
One Kahr MK40 Micro .40 pistol (ammo I will make myself)
Dry rations, but I guess cookies will do as well… ohh damn… he they come. I better hide.

Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 5:46 pm
by SonOfaRich
The Hong Kong films that will always lighten my day are CHUNGKING EXPRESS and FALLEN ANGELS. What do you think of those films, Chevalier?

Hey Kazu, watch at least one Miike film. It might actually get a good creepy giggle out of you.

Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 5:58 pm
by Kazu
By the way guys, Richie's a good friend of mine from college. He was the cinematographer on a couple of films I directed. Welcome, you SonofaRich! hehe.

Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 6:38 pm
by Chevalier
SonofaRichie: Obviously I love Wong Kar-Wai, he's my favorite living director. I have a hard time deciding between my favorite WKW film, but am currently leaning in favor of Happy Together. It's very hard, they're all great, even his first efferts (which I've recommended above) are on par. I couldn't say that 'As Tears go by' is any less poweful than say Fallen Angels. I was actually talking to a friend of mine today when he mentioned how much dialogue is in those earlier films. Now that I think about it, the contrast is amazing. WKW used to be an industry screenwriter before he started directing, so I guess the change was somewhat gradual.

Also, watching his concert dvd really made me think of how young Jacky Cheung used to look in WKW films. Andy Lau for some reason didn't change much, maybe he sleeps in a cryogenic capsule or something. Kind of scary.

Kazu, if you're going to see a Miike film, see Ichi the killer, that's about as whole a film as you're going to see out of the man. Besides the fact that Miike couldn't direct his way out of a paperbag, he likes to fill his films with actors randomly walking around, chewing scenery in uneventful locations. I don't think I have to convince anyone that this is less than exciting, but if you have trouble sleeping.

Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 11:18 pm
by Kean
Andy Lau for some reason didn't change much, maybe he sleeps in a cryogenic capsule or something. Kind of scary.
If you only knew the truth. Andy Lau was abducted by a race of space cows 7 years ago, anally probed for DNA samples (really, there's no other way to get a sample), and a replacement robot was built and sent back to Earth in his stead. This explains how he is able to act in a multitude of different roles, while still carrying the exact same expression throughout the entire length of the movie.

Soon, the day will come when a robotic Andy Lau will summon the legion of space cows, and they will one day enslave the entire human race with song, dance, and bad acting!!

Fear Andy Lau!!!

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2004 12:31 am
by Kazu
Oh, did someone mention WKW? Looks like it's time for another post...

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2004 11:51 am
by SonOfaRich
BTW, did anyone happen to catch the Andy Lau concert in Vegas during New Years? :P

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2004 2:48 pm
by Chevalier
SonOfaRich wrote:BTW, did anyone happen to catch the Andy Lau concert in Vegas during New Years? :P
Yeah, I would have attented, if it wasn't for the court order that prohibits me from being within 500 ft of him.