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Takakura Ken (1931-2014)

  November 20, 2014  
Renowned actor Takakura Ken passed away from lymphoma on November 10, 2014 in Tokyo at the age of 83.

Born Oda Goichi in Fukuoka, Takakura began his illustrious acting career with the Toei Film Company in 1955. He made his official screen debut in 1956 with Denko Karate Uchi. Well-known for his brooding tough-guy roles, Takakura shot to stardom during the 1960s boom in Japanese gangster films. He would go on to make 180 films with Toei before leaving the company in 1976.

Takakura was also a go-to actor for Hollywood directors making films in Japan. He had roles in the 1974 Sydney Pollack film The Yakuza, the 1989 Ridley Scott film Black Rain and the 1992 Fred Schepisi film Mr. Baseball.

Well-recognized for his stellar performances, Takakura was awarded the Japan Academy Prize for Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actor four times in his career: in 1978 for The Yellow Handkerchief, in 1981 for Doran and A Distant Cry from Spring, in 1982 for Station, and in 2000 for Poppoya. In 2013, he received the Order of Culture from the Emperor of Japan. His final film was Furuhata Yasuo's Dearest, released in August 2012.

Text / Frood

Filming begins for Bu Bu Jing Xin film adaptation starring Ivy Chen

  November 20, 2014  
Previously adapted into a blockbuster TV drama in 2011, Tong Hua's best-selling novel Bu Bu Jing Xin (a.k.a. Startling By Each Step) is getting adapted a second time into a feature film starring Ivy Chen. Filming for the new Bu Bu Jing Xin began on November 18 in China.

Published in 2005, Bu Bu Jing Xin is about a woman who jumps back in time to the Qing Dynasty during the reign of Kangxi and gets drawn into the romantic affairs and ascension struggle of the royal princes. The novel's 2011 television adaptation was a big pop culture phenomenon in China, launching the careers of leads Cecilia Liu, Nicky Wu and Kevin Cheng to new heights. The time-travel period romance series was followed by a modern-day sequel which was aired earlier this year.

For the film version, a completely different cast will be used. Taiwan actress Ivy Chen takes the leading heroine role of Ruo Xi. Actors Shawn Dou (Under the Hawthorn Tree), Tony Yang (Zone Pro Site) and Yu Bo (Saving General Yang) have also been confirmed for the film, but their exact roles have not been revealed yet.

The new Bu Bu Jing Xin is being produced by HS Media, which has mainly been involved in television drama production, but scored a huge hit last year with their first film, Vicki Zhao's So Young. In response to online rumors that a major character may have been omitted from the film, the production company responded that characters will be adjusted according to the film's needs, and that in addition to characters already familiar to audiences, new characters and story elements will be added.

The Bu Bu Jing Xin film is expected to open in the second half of 2015.

Text / Sanwei

2014's biggest Chinese blockbusters set to open in December

  November 19, 2014  
December is known as the most competitive month in the Chinese film industry as the year's biggest films arrive in cinemas, and 2014 is no exception.

In recent years, the month-long "year-end slot" has extended into the last week of November. This year, Edko kicks things off two weeks early with Rise of the Legend, director Roy Chow's reboot of the Wong Fei Hung franchise starring Eddie Peng.

After several shifts in the release schedule, Women Who Flirt, the latest romantic comedy from Hong Kong's Pang Ho Cheung (Love in a Puff) opens on November 28. Based on a series of Taiwan self-help books, the film stars Zhou Xun as a woman who must learn how to flirt to win her best friend (Huang Xiaoming) back from a Taiwan vixen (Sonia Sui).

A new international version of Roaring Currents, Korea's highest grossing film of all time, also opens in China that week.

After a year of production and a yearlong promotional effort, the first installment of John Woo's The Crossing finally opens in cinemas on December 2. The two-part historical drama – based on the sinking of the Taiping in 1949 – features a star-studded cast that includes Kaneshiro Takeshi, Zhang Ziyi, Huang Xiaoming, Nagasawa Masami and Song Hye Kyo. The film also opens on Christmas Day in Hong Kong.

Two other films open three days later: Zhang Yibai's romance drama Fleet of Time and romantic comedy Meet Miss Anxiety. Starring Eddie Peng and Ni Ni, Fleet of Time is the adaptation of a popular novel that follows the lives of four best friends from high school to adulthood. The latter, a romantic comedy co-stars Zhou Xun, Tong Dawei and Wallace Chung, is the first Chinese-language film by My Sassy Girl director Kwak Jae Yong.

December 12 sees the opening of actress Annie Yi's directorial debut The Queens. Based on an internet novel, The Queens is a Tiny Times-esque drama starring Song Hye Kyo, Joe Chen and Vivian Wu as three best friends with rocky love lives.

One week later, Gone With the Bullets, Jiang Wen's big-budget follow-up to Let the Bullets Fly, finally hits cinemas in China and Hong Kong on December 18. In addition to Jiang and his Bullets co-star Ge You, the period drama also stars Wen Zhang, Shu Qi and Zhou Yun. Clara Law's period mystery-comedy Shanghai Noir, starring Ethan Ruan, Yang Zishan and Zhou Dongyu, opens on the following day.

Returning to the year-end competition three years after Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, Tsui Hark will unleash The Taking of Tiger Mountain on Christmas Eve. Based on a popular Beijing opera play, the action thriller is about a group of elite soldiers doing battle against well-armed and well-trained bandits in the snowy mountains of northeast China.

Opening on the same day are Love in the Clouds, Gu Changwei's contemporary romantic comedy starring Angelababy and Chen He, and a new 3D version of Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle.

Another intense competition is already set for the first two months of 2015, as the Chinese remake of Miss Granny (starring Yang Zishan, Chen Bo Lin and Lu Han), Xu Jinglei's Somewhere Only We Know (starring Kris Wu and Wang Likun), ensemble comedy Crazy New Year's Eve, Wong Jing's From Vegas to Macau 2 and Jean-Jacque Annaud's Wolf Totem are all set to open between New Year's Day and the Lunar New Year holiday in mid-February.

Text / Rockman

Kitano Takeshi's next film to be yakuza comedy Ryuzo and the Seven Henchmen

  November 18, 2014  
Returning to a familiar theme, legendary entertainment renaissance man Kitano Takeshi (a.k.a. Beat Takeshi) has revealed that his next film again draws inspiration from the yakuza. Following 2010's Outrage and its sequel, 2012's Beyond Outrage, both yakuza films, Kitano announces that his next film will be yakuza comedy Ryuzo to Shichinin no Kobuntachi (a.k.a. Ryuzo and the Seven Henchmen).

A riff on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the film centers on retired yakuza Ryuzo (Fuji Tatsuya, Snow on the Blades). When Ryuzo falls victim to a phishing scheme, he calls on seven of his old yakuza buddies to clean up the town, which leads to the old-timers facing off against young upstarts in the criminal world. In addition to serving as director, writer and editor, Kitano also makes a cameo in the film.

Ryuzo and the Seven Henchmen is set to be released on April 25, 2015.

Text / Frood

The Attorney leads nominations for 51st Daejong Film Awards

  November 11, 2014  
Nominations for Korea's 51st Daejong Film Awards have been announced, and courtroom drama The Attorney leads the race with 11 nominations including Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Actor. Record-breaking historical blockbuster The Admiral: Roaring Currents settles for second with nine nominations, followed by action thriller A Hard Day and period adventure Pirates with seven nominations each.

A Hard Day, The Admiral: Roaring Currents, The Attorney, Hope and Whistle Blower will compete for Best Film, while Kim Seong Hoon (A Hard Day), Kim Han Min (The Admiral: Roaring Currents), Lee Joon Ik (Hope), Lim Soon Rye (Whistle Blower) and Kang Hyung Chul (Tazza: The Hidden Card) are up for Best Director. Though he missed the Best Director shortlist, Yang Soo Wuk (The Attorney) is nominated for Best New Director, along with Shim Sung Bo (Haemoo), Lee Do Yoon (Confession), Lee Soo Jin (Han Gong Ju) and July Jung (A Girl at My Door).

Nominated again this year for The Attorney, last year's Best Actor winner Song Kang Ho is joined by Kang Dong Won (Kundo: Age of the Rampant), Park Hae Il (Whistle Blower), Jung Woo Sung (The Divine Move) and Choi Min Sik (The Admiral: Roaring Currents). For Best Actress, the nominees are Son Ye Jin (Pirates), Uhm Ji Won (Hope), Jeon Do Yeon (The Way Home), Chun Woo Hee (Han Gong Ju) and Shim Eun Kyung (Miss Granny) who won earlier at the Baeksang Arts Award.

Kim Young Ae (The Attorney), Ra Mi Ran (Hope), Yoon Ji Hye (Kundo: Age of the Rampant), Jo Yeo Jeong (Obsessed) and Han Ye Ri (Haemoo) are nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Meanwhile, the Best Supporting Actor category lines up some of the busiest names in Korean cinema: Kwak Do Won (The Attorney), Kim In Kwon (The Divine Move), Yu Hae Jin (Pirates), Lee Kyung Young (Whistle Blower) and Jo Jin Woong (A Hard Day).

Best New Actor will be a fierce race with popular stars Park Yoo Chun (Haemoo), Ahn Jae Hyun (Fashion King), Yeo Jin Gu (Hwayi: A Monster Boy), Im Si Wan (The Attorney) and Choi Jin Hyuk (The Divine Move ) all making the leap to the big screen in the past year. Though they've appeared in many films already, top child/teen actresses Kim Sae Ron (A Girl at My Door) and Kim Hyang Gi (Thread of Lies) have been nominated this year for Best New Actress, along with Honey Lee (Tazza: The Hidden Card), Esom (Scarlet Innocence) and Lim Ji Yeon (Obsessed).

The 2014 Daejong Film Awards will be held in Seoul on November 21.

Text / Sanwei

Pale Moon wins two prizes at Tokyo Film Festival

  November 7, 2014  
The 27th Tokyo International Film Festival announced the winners of its competition sections on October 31.

Japan neo-noir drama Pale Moon was one of the top winners. The latest film from director Yoshida Daihachi (The Kirishima Thing) won the Audience Award and the Best Actress award for Miyazawa Rie. In her first leading film role in seven years, Miyazawa stars as a married bank employee who devises an embezzlement scheme to keep up a luxurious lifestyle with her young lover. Co-starring Ikematsu Sosuke, Kobayashi Satomi and Oshima Yuko, the film opens in Japanese cinemas on November 15.

American indie drama Heaven Knows What also won two prizes: The Sakura Grand Prix (the top prize of the festival's competition) and Best Director. Russian drama Test won the Best Artistic Contribution award and the WOWOW Viewer's Choice award.

The main competition jury was headed by Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn. It also included South Korea's John H. Lee (71 Into the Fire), Australia's Robert Luketic, Singapore's Eric Khoo (Tatsumi), Shinagawa Hiroshi (Drop) and casting director Debbie McWilliams.

In the Asian Future section, reserved for Asian filmmakers making their first or second feature film, Iran's Borderless won the Best Asian Future Film award, and Cambodia's Sotho Kulikar won the Spirit of Asia award for The Last Reel.

Take Masaharu's 100 Yen Love, starring Ando Sakura as a 100 yen shop worker who finds new meaning in her life when she takes up boxing, won the Best Picture award in the Japanese Splash section. Ecotherapy Getaway Holiday, the new comedy from Story of Yonosuke director Okita Shuichi, won a Special Mention from the jury.

Text / Rockman

Shibasaki Kou takes first solo lead role with Maru Maru Tsuma

  October 31, 2014  
Nippon Television announced that actress Shibasaki Kou will take the solo lead role in the the winter 2015 drama Maru Maru Tsuma. The drama is written by Kaseifu Mita creator Yukawa Kazuhiko and will be his first series since NHK Morning Drama Jun to Ai.

In her first solo drama lead role, Shibasaki stars as Hikari, the "perfect" wife of a popular newscaster (Higashiyama Noriyuki) who is completely devoted to her husband and their family. However, beneath the perfect wife image lies a shocking secret that is only known to Hikari and her husband.

Viewers won't have to wait too long to discover that secret, as NTV said that it would be revealed in the first episode. Asked about the role, Shibasaki praised Yukawa for his interesting script, despite her initial reservations about how to play Hikari.

Shibasaki can currently be seen on Fuji Television in Nobunaga Concerto, co-starring Oguri Shun. Maru Maru Tsuma is set to air on NTV in January 2015.

Text / Rockman

Arashi ties Oricon record for longest string of number one albums by a group

  October 29, 2014  
Johnny's group Arashi can add another accomplishment to their long list. With their latest album The Digitalian reaching number one on the Oricon weekly charts, Arashi has tied the Oricon record for longest unbroken string of number one albums in consecutive years by a male artist and a group. Released on October 22, 2014, The Digitalian sold 660,000 copies in its first week.

Arashi shares the achievement with EXILE whose 11-year streak ran from 2003 to 2013. Arashi's own streak began in 2004 with the group's fourth album, Iza, Now.

Having just returned from holding anniversary concerts in Hawaii, where the group debuted 15 years ago, Arashi is currently gearing up for their winter dome tour, Arashi Live Tour 2014 "The Digitalian". The group is also set to host NHK's annual music extravaganza Kohaku Uta Gassen for the fifth time, the most for a non-NHK announcer.

Text / Frood

2014 Mnet Asian Music Award nominations

  October 28, 2014  
Nominations for the 2014 Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) were announced on October 27. Best Male Artist offers a wide spectrum with Rain and Tae Yang up against veterans Seo Tai Ji and Lim Chang Jung and last year's Best New Male Artist, Roy Kim. Meanwhile, the Best Female Artist category is a tight race among Ailee, IU, HyunA, Hyo Rin and Sun Mi. Super Junior, BEAST, EXO, Block B and B1A4 will compete for Best Male Group honors, and past Best Female Group winners Girls' Generation, 2NE1 and Sistar look to repeat against first-time nominees Girl's Day and Apink.

The Best New Artist category is again filled with survival show graduates including Superstar K4's Eddy Kim, Superstar K2's Park Bo Ram and Kpop Star 2's Akdong Musician. YG boy band Winner and JYP boy band GOT7 round out the New Artist nominees.

In the Best Vocal Performance categories, Kim Dong Ryul ("How I Am"), Roy Kim (Home), K.Will ("Day 1"), Tae Yang ("Eyes, Nose, Lips") and Wheesung (Night and Day) are nominated for Male Artists, while Baek Ji Young ("Fervor"), IU ("Friday"), Ailee ("Singing Got Better"), Younha ("Umbrella") and Lee Sun Hee ("Meet Him Among Them") are nominated for Female Artists. Best Dance Performance is divided into three categories for Male Group (EXO's "Overdose," VIXX's "Eternity," TVXQ's Something, BTS's "Boy in Luv" and Infinite's Last Romeo), Female Group (AOA's "Miniskirt," miss A's Hush, Girl's Day's Something, Sistar's Touch My Body, 4Minute's "Whatcha Doin' Today") and Solo (Rain's 30 Sexy, Sun Mi's "Full Moon," Ailee's "Don't Touch Me," HyunA's "Red" and Hyo Rin's One Way Love).

For Best Band Performance, the nominees are CNBLUE (Can't Stop), FTIsland ("Madly"), Nell ("Four Times Around the Sun"), Seo Tai Ji ( and Jung Joon Young (Teenager). For Best Rap Performance, Gary ("Shower Later"), Gaeko ("No Make Up"), Mad Clown ("Without You"), Epik High ("Happen Ending") and San E ("Body Language") make the shortlist. San E scores an additional Best Collaboration nod for the duet "A Midsummer's Night" with Raina. Other Best Collaboration nominees include Seo In Guk and Zia's "Loved You," Soyou and Junggigo's "Some," Jung In and Gary's "Your Scent" and Huh Gak and Eun Ji's "Break Up to Make Up."

Among the year's Korean drama soundtrack songs, Best OST nominations go to Kim Ye Lim's "Happy Me" from Answer Me 1994, Davichi's "It's Okay, That's Love" and Yoon Mi Rae's "I Love You" from It's Okay, That's Love, and Lyn's My Destiny and Sung Si Kyung's "Every Moment of You" from You Who Came From the Stars. Finally, 2PM's "Go Crazy," Block B's Jackpot, Seo Tai Ji's Sogyeokdong, Taetiseo's Holler and Teen Top's "Missing" are nominated for Best Music Video.

One of K-pop's major year-end music award shows, MAMA will be held in Hong Kong for the third consecutive year at the AsiaWorld-Expo on December 3.

For more information and online voting, refer to MAMA's official site:

Text / Sanwei

Shin Hae Chul (1968-2014)

  October 28, 2014  
Legendary Korean rock singer Shin Hae Chul passed away on October 27, 2014 at the age of 46. Shin suffered from a cardiac arrest on October 22 and passed away five days later. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

One of the most influential figures in Korean music, Shin Hae Chul began his career as a member of the band Muhangwedo, winning the grand prize at the 1988 MBC Campus Song Festival with the song "To You," one of Shin's most representative tracks. In a career spanning over 25 years and 30 albums, the daring and at times controversially outspoken singer-songwriter was known for constantly pushing the envelope and experimenting with different kinds of music, from progressive rock and metal to techno and jazz, earning him the nickname "Mawang," or "The Devil." He also spearheaded various musical projects over the years including No Dance, Monocrom, Wittgenstein and most notably the vanguard alternative rock band N.E.X.T, one of Korea's biggest music acts of the nineties.

Besides his music career, Shin was also a regular broadcast presence who appeared on various television and radio programs and hosted the long-running late-night radio program Ghost Nation. Shin's final music release was his sixth album Reboot Myself, which was released earlier this year in June.

Text / Sanwei

Boys Can Fly wins Best Television Series at 49th Golden Bell Awards

  October 27, 2014  
Taiwan's 49th Golden Bell Awards were held on October 25 in Taipei. Winners in the Television Series section were mainly split among the three titles that had received the most nominations. PTS's social drama Boys Can Fly won Best Television Series and Best Writing, while TTV's period drama Sun After The Rain, which had led with 12 nominations, picked up Best Cinematography, Best Supporting Actor for Chen Bo Zheng and Best Leading Actress for Chung Hsin Ling. Hakka TV's Lonely River was also duly awarded for Best Directing, Best Lighting and Best Supporting Actress for Isa Hsieh. Best Leading Actor Christopher Lee was the sole winner for A Good Wife.

In the Mini-Series/TV Movie section, PTS's Zi You Ren swept four awards, including Best Mini-Series, Best Directing, Best Writing and Best Sound, making it the biggest winner of the night. Best Leading Actor and Actress went to veteran Wang Shui (Zhi Xiang Bi Ni Duo Huo Yi Tian) and Ivy Yi (Hui Jia De Nu Ren), and Supporting Actor and Actress to Hsi Hsiang (Yan Di) and Jenny Wen (Dawn/Spring).

Wu Mi Sen's "About Twenty, And_." from PTS's "Youth Attack" trilogy won Best Directing for Non-Drama Program as well as Best Editing. The television movie The Snail School received a technical award for Best Art Design. Hit nostalgic idol drama In A Good Way missed out on the major awards but was recognized for the Best Marketing Program.

As for variety, Super Night Club won Best Variety Program, and Best Variety Program Hosts went to Genius Go Go Go's Hsu Nai Lin and Tseng Kuo Cheng, who also co-hosted the award ceremony with S.H.E's Selina. Special Contribution Awards were presented to veteran actor Chang Ping Yu and late producer Huang Li Ming.

Text / Sanwei

Hanzawa Naoki wins top prize at 2014 Tokyo Drama Award

  October 24, 2014  
Part of the annual International Drama Festival in Tokyo, the Tokyo Drama Award held its 2014 edition on October 23 in Tokyo. Hit TBS drama Hanzawa Naoki was the top winner of the night with three awards: Best Director (Fukuzawa Katsuo), Best Actor (Sakai Masato) and the Grand Prix for a series. Sakai also won the Best Actor award in 2012 for Legal High.

A television sensation that broke rating records in Japan last year, Hanzawa Naoki is a financial thriller about a bank employee racing against time to resolve various professional crises and bring down the corrupt high-level executives who created them.

Five other series received the Best Drama awards: supernatural crime mystery Border, late night drama First Class, family drama Woman, NHK morning drama Gochisousan and TBS-Wowow co-production Mozu.

TV Asahi's Toki wa Tachi Domaranai, about two families dealing with the aftermath of 2011's Great East Japan Earthquake, won the Grand Prix for a single-episode drama. NHK's Ashio kara Kita Onna, 24 Hour Television drama special Kyou no Hi wa Sayonara, Saiko no Rikon Drama Special 2014 and Wowow's Chicken Race won the Best Single-Episode Drama awards.

Mitsushima Hikari won the Best Actress award for her performance as a widow trying to raise two children and mend her relationship with her estranged mother in Woman. Mitsushima previously won the Best Supporting Actress award in 2011 for Moteki and Sayonara Bokutachi no Youchien.

In the supporting role categories, Yoshida Kotaro won Best Supporting Actor for his role as a coal tycoon in Hanako to Anne and as one of the villains in Mozu. Ishihara Satomi won the Best Supporting Actress award for Fuji Television's Shitsuren Chocolatier.

Okada Yoshikazu won the Best Screenplay award for the second season of Saigo kara Nin-ban-me no Koi. Okada also wrote single-episode drama Chicken Rice. Indonesia's Porridge Seller Pilgrimage, South Korea's You Who Came From the Star and Thailand's Pure Gold won special awards for international dramas.

Co-organized by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in association with the Japan Commercial Broadcasters Association, the International Drama Festival is held concurrently with the Japan Content Showcase, which also includes Tokyo International Film Festival's film market.

Text / Rockman

Matsuda Shota and Maeda Atsuko to star in Initiation Love adaptation

  October 17, 2014  
Matsuda Shota (Liar Game series) and Maeda Atsuko (Tamako In Moratorium) will be working together for the first time in director Tsutsumi Yukihiko's (SPEC series) adaptation of popular author Inui Kurumi's novel Initiation Love. Matsuda and Maeda were previously slated to work together in 2012 in director Kurosawa Kiyoshi's 1905, but production on the film was halted.

A perennial bestseller, Initiation Love was published in 1998 and is Inui's most venerated work to date. The novel documents the love story of Ta-kun (Matsuda Shota) and Mayu (Maeda Atsuko), two young adults in 1980s Shizuoka. When Ta-kun gets a job in Tokyo, the two must find a way to carry on their relationship without falling victim to the pitfalls of long-distance love. One of the major reasons Initiation Love is so well-regarded is due to the shocking twist Inui delivers in the last two sentences of the novel. The same twist will play out in the last five minutes of the film version.

Initiation Love will be released in Japan in 2015.

Text / Frood

Yoshitaka Yuriko and Arashi to co-host 2014 Kohaku

  October 14, 2014  
NHK announced today that this year's Kohaku Uta Gassen will be hosted by actress Yoshitaka Yuriko and Arashi.

Yoshitaka has been in the spotlight this year as the star of popular morning drama Hanako to Anne, the fictional story about the life and times of the woman who translated Anne of Green Gables. The drama received the highest average rating for a NHK morning drama in a decade. Last year, Ayase Haruka – the star of NHK's 2013 Taiga drama – co-hosted the show as the leader of the red team.

Hosting the show for their fifth consecutive year, Arashi sets a new record for the most number of years a non-NHK announcer has hosted the show. As always, the Johnny's Entertainment group will represent the white team.

An annual event since 1951, the Kohaku Uta Gassen brings Japan's biggest musical acts together for a friendly musical battle on New Year's Eve. Even though average ratings for the show has fallen steadily over the years, it remains one of the highest-rated television programs of the year in Japan.

Text / Rockman

2014 Hong Kong Asian Film Festival to open with Don't Go Breaking My Heart 2

  October 9, 2014  
The 2014 Hong Kong Asian Film Festival has announced its full line-up. This year's edition will open with Johnnie To's Don't Go Breaking My Heart 2 and close with Roy Chow's Rise of the Legend.

Once again written by Wai Ka Fai and his team of Milkyway writers, To's romantic comedy sequel sees Louis Koo's character caught between his old flame from the first film (played by Gao Yuanyuan) and his new girlfriend (played by Miriam Yeung). The film also co-stars Vic Chou and features a cameo by Daniel Wu, reprising his character from the first film.

A re-imagination of Wong Fei Hung folklore, Rise of the Legend serves as an origin story about the kung fu master's path to becoming the hero of Guangdong. The film stars Eddie Peng as the young Wong Fei Hung.

Screening as a special gala presentation is Peter Chan's Dearest, the child abduction drama starring Huang Bo, Tong Dawei, Vicki Zhao and Hao Lei. The film has played in the Venice Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and the Busan International Film Festival.

The festival's line-up also includes high-profile titles like Palme d'Or winner Winter Sleep (part of a retrospective celebrating 100 years of Turkish cinema), Kim Ki Duk's One On One, Sono Sion's Tokyo Tribe, Kawase Naomi's Still the Water, Ning Hao's Breakup Buddies, Nakashima Tetsuya's The World of Kanako, Hong Sang Soo's Hill of Freedom and Miike Takashi's Over Your Dead Body.

This year's Filmmaker in Focus is Pema Tseden, a leading figure of Tibetan cinema. The festival will screen five of his feature films and two short films, including his latest film The Sacred Arrow. Tseden will also appear at two events during the festival to discuss his work.

The New Talent Award competition features six films by first- or second-time directors: Turkey's Sivas, India's Court, Indonesia's In the Absence of the Sun, Japan's The Furthest End Awaits, Singapore's Revelation of Ghost Marriage and South Korea's Han Gong Ju.

The 2014 Hong Kong Asian Film Festival runs from October 24 to November 14.

Text / Rockman

Nominees announced for 2014 Golden Horse Awards

  October 3, 2014  
The nominees for the 51st Golden Horse Awards were announced in Taipei on October 1, 2014. Diao Yinan's Black Coal, Thin Ice, a neo-noir about a disgraced detective investigating a string of grisly murders, leads with eight nominations, including Best Feature, Best Director, Best Actor (Liao Fan), Best Actress (Guey Lun Mei) and Best Cinematography. The film previously won the Golden Bear for Best Film at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, with lead actor Liao Fan taking home the Silver Bear for Best Actor.

Following Black Coal, Thin Ice is Lou Ye's Blind Massage with seven nominations, including Best Feature, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Based on a novel by Bi Feiyu, the film is a human drama about the loves and lives of blind masseurs. Baseball drama Kano and military/romance drama Paradise in Service each earned six nominations, with Kano nominated for Best Feature, Best Actor (Nagase Masatoshi), Best New Director (Umin Boya), Best New Performer (Tsao Yuning), Best Makeup and Costume Design, and Best Original Film Song, and Paradise in Service nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Chen Jianbin), Best Supporting Actress (Ivy Chen and Wang Qian), Best Art Direction, Best Makeup and Costume Design, and Best Sound Effects.

Other nominees for Best Feature include Chen Jianbin's A Fool and Ann Hui's The Golden Era. Hui is also nominated for Best Director, along with Midi Z (Ice Poison), Wang Xiaoshuai (Red Amnesia) and the aforementioned Diao Yinan and Lou Ye. In the Best Actor category, Nagase Masatoshi and Liao Fan are joined by Chen Jianbin (A Fool), Lau Ching Wan (The White Storm) and Chang Chen (Brotherhood of Blades). Lead Actress nominees include Gong Li (Coming Home), Tang Wei (The Golden Era), Vicki Zhao (Dearest), Chen Shiang Chyi (Exit), and the aforementioned Guey Lun Mei.

The awards ceremony will be held on November 22, 2014 in Taipei.

Text / Frood

Second Legal High drama special coming in November

  September 29, 2014  
A year after its hit second season, Legal High is back for its second drama special.

This time, Komikado the undefeatable lawyer and his idealist assistant counsel Mayuzumi are defending a hospital accused of medical negligence. Komikado's opponent will be another brilliant lawyer whose goal is to rip off the hospital. Both Sakai Masato and Aragaki Yui are returning to reprise their roles for the fourth time. The rest of the cast has not been announced.

"It's a joy for any actor to be able to participate in a work that can last for so long. Once again, my gratitude to those who love this series," Sakai said in a statement.

The second Legal High drama special will air on Nippon Television on November 22.

Text / Rockman

Sun After The Rain leads 49th Golden Bell Awards nominations

  September 22, 2014  
Nominations for Taiwan's 49th Golden Bell Awards were recently announced. TTV's period drama Sun After The Rain leads the pack with 12 nominations including Best Television Series, Directing, Leading Actor, Leading Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Writing, Cinematography, Lighting and Art Design. Two other nostalgic dramas, SETTV's In A Good Day and Hakka TV's Lonely River, as well as PTS's Boys Can Fly and Amour et Pâtisserie join the race for Best Television Series and Best Writing. Boys Can Fly and Lonely River follow Sun After The Rain with eight nominations each.

Competition in the acting categories will be heated this year. A Good Wife's Christopher Lee, Sun After The Rain's Junior, Chocolat's Blue Lan and Boys Can Fly's Hans Chung and Chang Ting Hu are in the running for Best Actor in a Television Series, while Queen!'s Cheryl Yang, Amour et Pâtisserie's Sandrine Pinna, A Good Wife's Tien Hsin, Sun After The Rain's Chung Hsin Ling and Lonely River's Yan Yi Wen are nominated for Best Actress. Best Supporting Actor nods go to Sun After The Rain's Chen Bo Zheng and Yankee Yang, Lonely River's Wang Jing Guan, Boys Can Fly's Gu Li De and In A Good Way's Jay Shih; Supporting Actress nods to Sun After The Rain's Riva Chang and Qiu Nai Hua, A Good Wife's Si Man Ning, Once Upon a Time in Beitou's Joelle Lu and Lonely River's Isa Hsieh.

In the Mini-Series section, PTS's "Life Story" mini-dramas dominate the nominations, taking four out of five spots in the Best Mini-Series, Leading Actor, Leading Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress categories. As for variety, Super Star (hosted by Mickey Huang), Take Me Out (Harlem Yu and Ella), Super Night Club (Peng Qia Qia, Hsu Hsiao Shun) and Wan Xiu Zhu Wang (Zhu Ge Liang, Chan Ya Lan) are nominated for both Best Variety Program and Best Variety Program Hosts, along with Super Citizen and Hsu Nai Lin and Tseng Kuo Cheng (of Genius Go Go Go).

The 49th Golden Bell Awards will be held on October 25 in Taipei.

Text / Garden
Translation / Sanwei

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