Thursday, January 15, 2009

Only in Hong Kong movieland...

A message to Wong Kar Wai wannabes
over on the Central-Midlevels escalator
that figures prominently in Chungking Express

This post is partially a direct retort to Glenn's lament about the lack of Chinese New Year movie offerings to look forward to this year and partly an account of how surreal it is to be living in the movieland that is Hong Kong.

To wit: Early on Sunday morning, as two friends and I walked out of a bar post-watching Arsenal play, we literally crossed paths with a tall man dressed all in black who gave us a smile as we passed by (or he passed by us). A moment or two after, one of my friends gave an exclamation and asked, "Isn't that Wong Kar Wai?" As we turned and looked at the man's back as he mounted a nearby building's stairs, I realized that that building housed the Jet Tone office -- and that yes, that really was Wong Kar Wai that we had seen (and seen give us a smile). Even though -- and it made sense, considering that this was about 1:15am -- he wasn't wearing his trademark sunglasses!

Fast forward to this evening (i.e., less than a week later). This time around, while I was at the bar in a bar in Central with a friend, I happened to turn to my left (my friend was sitting on my right) and found that none other than Chin Kar Lok was sitting right on my left. So... two celebrity spottings in less than a week. Oh, and to add to the surreal-ness of it all, here's pointing out that the bar I was at today is owned by Joe Ma's sister and located just a stone's throw away from a real life herbal tea shop that featured in Herman Yau's Herbal Tea. Also, that one previous time I had been to that bar, Herman Yau had been in it...

Now to the retort part of the post: instead of going to dinner and then drinks at the bar with my friend this evening, I could have tried to get a ticket for Red Cliff 2 which opened today and definitely should still be in cinemas come Chinese New Year. Another film that's opening this week but still should be around for Chinese New Year movie-goers to enjoy is Hayao Miyazaki's latest, Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea. (And yes, I know Ponyo's a Japanese rather than Chinese work but...!)

Also, curently in cinemas: Ip Man, Parking, Tactical Unit - Comrades in Arms, Forever Enthralled and Lady Cop and Papa Crook. And while a few of these undoubtedly will lose their places in the cinemas next week to Chinese New Year movies All's Well Ends Well 2009 and Look for a Star, this plethora of movies showing this January truly represents a feast -- rather than famine -- for Hong Kong film fans.


fallingstones said...

that's really amazing ytsl! what a dreamland and playground. hk is amazing!

YTSL said...

Hi fallingstones --

A friend of mine has asked me whether I pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. I don't pinch myself but yeah, there really are times when I do feel like I really am living in movie dreamland. :)

Jason said...

That sign is hilarious. I assume it's referring to actual production crews, though I did snap my fair share of still photos and video of you-know-which apartment (after riding the whole escalator more than a few times looking for it!).

Wow, seeing WKW without his sunglasses—even at one in the morning—that's like seeing Spider-Man without his mask on!

Is it wrong that the first thing that comes to mind when I read Chin Kar-lok's name in your post was the Super Trio show?

Glenn, kenixfan said...

Oh that's an awesome post! I would have commented sooner but I was in bed sick for almost two days.

I *really* hope that you spoke to Chin Kar-Lok. He seems like a reasonable guy and is a decent actor with a real variety to his work, too! Who else could work with Wong Jing and Ang Lee in the same year?

As for WKW without shades, I guess even Mr. Cool has to go without sometimes.

Stefan S said...

Is Tactical Unit any good? :D

sbk said...


You really do lead a charmed life when it comes to seeing famous people!! Yeah for all the movies you've recently seen and the upcoming ones too. If you pinched yourself everytime you see famous people, etc you'd be awfully black & blue by now.

YTSL said...

Hi Jason --

That sign is indeed hilarious. Have been meaning to take a photo of it for a while there but usually when I pass that way, it's dark. Last night, I thought "what the heck" and went for it! :)

Re Chin Kar Lok: Well... I guess I'm Brigitte obsessed because the first association that came to mind when I saw him was "Swordsman II" (Yes, he's in it.) But close to that -- the character he played in "Lust, Caution"... ;b

Hi Glenn --

Hope you're feeling better now! And I hope you won't keel over but no, I didn't speak to Chin Kar-lok. He was there in a private capacity after all -- and looking like he was thinking very hard, drinking a beer and scribbling into a notebook. (And to tell you how respectful I was: I did NOT pick that notebook up and look into it when he left it next to me when he went off to the toilet!!!)

Hi Stefan --

"Tactical Unit" is watchable but its TV roots are quite obvious. Also, it's amazing how pathetically the (P)TU members seem to be when out in the countryside!!! ;b

BTW, don't know if you've noticed but I've created a new section over on the side that lists what movies I've watched recently and my ratings for them...

Hi sbk --

Hmmm... since you're the one who's seen Brigitte, not me! (Though having said that, I do worry about the effect a Brigitte sighting would do to me, so it's probably just as well that I've never seen her outside of her films!) ;D

ewaffle said...

It can be a lot of fun to encounter real celebrities like that. Once while living in New York City we were having dinner and had one of those "don't look over there but look over there" moments--there were Robert De Niro and Mikhail Baryshnikov enjoying a meal.

Nothing like Hong Kong, though, where it seems that movie making has become almost a part of the air one breathes.

YTSL said...

Hi ewaffle --

Yes, celebrity spotting can be fun and I liked the way you put what goes on when it happens: i.e., "don't look over there but look over there".

And what I like about Hong Kong is spotting celebrities doing very regular things: e.g., taking the train and bus (as opposed to being chauffeur driven), walking on a street, hanging out in neighborhood (as opposed to just glitzy) bars, buying fruit at a fruit stand, etc. :)

eliza bennet said...

Yay! WKW - the man I was only able to catch a glimpse of while driving by (insert deep sigh)

Just as well I haven't seen him, I'd probably start crying and would not be able to stop and emberrass myself altogether.

So no Wong Chau Sang sighting (yet)?

YTSL said...

Hi "eliza bennet" --

Pray, tell: where and when did you spot WKW driving by (or was it you driving by him)?? And sad but true: no Anthony Wong Chau san sightings to report yet! ;b

eliza bennet said...

It was in the gala night of "Sound of Colours" starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Miriam Yeung. WKW, Carina and other friends of Tony also were there and we saw them driving by out of the garage (yeah even though there was a glass between us, I managed to get a good look at him (he was wearing his sunglasses) and some of his fans followed the car running and shouting his name :)

YTSL said...

Hi again "eliza bennet" --

In other words: you not only spotted Wong Kar Wai but a whole bevy of Hong Kong movie personalities -- more in one evening than some people have after years of living in Hong Kong! ;D