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YG hip-hop duo Jinusean makes comeback after 11 years

  April 17, 2015  
One of YG Entertainment's first artists, legendary Korean hip-hop duo Jinusean made a comeback after 11 years with the new single "Tell Me One More Time" released on April 15. A follow-up to the duo's classic nineties hit "Tell Me," the uptempo electronic hip-hop track featuring K-pop Star 3 contestant and YG trainee Jang Han Na is jointly written and composed by Jinusean, Epik High's Tablo, P.K. and Fraktal. "Tell Me One More Time" topped major digital charts soon after its release, and the song's music video, which is filled with nineties references and celebrity cameos, has attracted over 900,000 views on YouTube in three days.

Formed by namesake members Jinu (Kim Jin Woo) and Sean (Noh Seung Hwan), Jinusean debuted in 1997 with the single Gasoline, and quickly found success with their second single "Tell Me." Regarded as one of the early pioneers of Korean hip-hop, the Korean-American duo released four albums from 1997 to 2004 before shifting to working mostly behind the scenes in production, management and charity. Both Jinu and Sean hold high-level positions in YG Entertainment.

Jinusean's comeback is the first Korean release from YG Entertainment this year, and will be followed by Big Bang's long-anticipated new Korean album. The label's notoriously delay-prone schedule for 2015 is also expected to include Ikon's debut and CL's US debut.

Text / Sanwei

Mei Ah announces 2015 lineup at HK FilMart

  April 8, 2015  
Mei Ah brought out a strong lineup of actors and directors to announce their 2015 slate at the Hong Kong FilMart last week.

The closing film of this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival, Port of Call stars Aaron Kwok as a middle-aged detective investigating the gruesome murder of a prostitute. The film is the third feature film by writer-director Philip Yung (May We Chat?).

The company also announced that it has signed a long-term partnership with Wong Kar Wai's production company Jet Tone. The partnership's first production is Drive Me Crazy, a romantic comedy starring Chang Chen and Wang Luodan that is produced by Wong. The director has not been announced.

Jet Tone is also working on a secret project that will begin shooting next year with Tony Leung Chiu Wai in the lead, but no additional details have been revealed yet. Mei Ah also announced that it has acquired distribution rights for Jet Tone's Ferryman, the directorial debut of writer Zhang Jiajia.

Encouraged by the success of films by Hong Kong directors in China, Mei Ah announced several co-productions by Hong Kong directors. Wong Jing will direct a Home Alone-esque family comedy starring Francis Ng and Angela Wang (from Where Are We Going, Dad). Gordon Chan and Chan Hing Kai will co-direct a comedy about three young men chasing their dreams in England. Joe Ma (Love Undercover) will direct a fantasy thriller based on a popular novel. Finally, Manfred Wong (Young & Dangerous, The Storm Riders) will produce a Boyhood-esque drama shot over the course of 15 years.

Meh Ah's plans also includes actress Carrie Ng's second directorial effort Knock Knock Who's There, as well as Taiwan erotic comedy Sashimi starring adult film actress Hatano Yui and Lee Kang Sheng.

Text / Rockman

Director Ringo Lam returns with Wild City

  March 31, 2015  
One of the most respected filmmakers in contemporary Hong Kong cinema, Ringo Lam returns to the director's chair for the first time in seven years for the action-thriller blockbuster Wild City. The film was introduced to the public at the 2015 Hong Kong FilMart on March 23. The big-budget production's press conference featured the star-studded cast, which includes Louis Koo (Overheard 3), Shawn Yue (As The Light Goes Out), Tong Liya (So Young), Joseph Chang (GF*BF), Simon Yam (Election) and Michael Tse (Turning Point 2).

As is the director's signature, the film is set in a gritty Hong Kong where individuals live to vie for money, power and sex. The story begins with bar owner Man (Louis Koo) escorting drunk female patron Wan (Tong Liya) home. However, when Wan sees her boyfriend George (Michael Tse), she goes into a fit and begs Man to take her away. Wan then asks Man and his brother Chung (Shawn Yue) to help her escape her boyfriend and return home. Man and Chung agree, unwittingly placing themselves in the middle of a dangerous and destructive gang war.

Wild City is set to be released in summer 2015.

Text / Frood

HK Film Festival hosts lavish opening ceremony

  March 27, 2015  
The Hong Kong International Film Festival hosted a glamorous opening ceremony this week on March 23 for its 39th edition.

The star-studded opening ceremony was attended by the cast and crew of opening film Murmur of the Hearts - director Sylvia Chang, Isabella Leong, Angelica Lee, Joseph Chang and Lawrence Ko – festival ambassador Louis Koo, Taiwan actress Iri Cheng and Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. During the ceremony, Wilfred Wong, the Chairman of the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society, thanked the festival's staff and volunteers for making this year's festival possible.

In her first major acting role in seven years, Isabella Leong stars as a painter who is trapped in a dead-end relationship with a self-absorbed boxer (Joseph Chang) in . Lawrence Ko plays her estranged brother, and Angelica Lee appears in flashbacks as her mother. Sylvia Chang and her three actors attended the screening and appeared at a short Q&A session following the film.

This year's HKIFF features over 280 films from 50 countries and regions around the world. It closes on April 6 with the world premiere of Port of Call, starring Aaron Kwok.

Text / Rockman

Blind Massage tops 9th Asian Film Awards

  March 27, 2015  
Following its win at the Golden Horse Awards, Lou Ye's Blind Massage took home the top award at the 9th Asian Film Awards, held on March 25.

In addition to Best Film, the critically acclaimed drama also won Best Cinematographer for a total of two awards. Lou previously won the top prize two years ago with the marital drama Mystery.

China was the overall winner of the night, winning ten out of fourteen categories. Along with Blind, The Golden Era and Black Coal, Thin Ice each won two prizes. The Golden Era won Best Director (Ann Hui) and Best Supporting Actor (Wang Zhiwen), while Black Coal, Thin Ice won Best Screenwriter and Best Actor (Liao Fan). In addition, Jiang Wen's Gone with the Bullets won three technical awards.

Other Asian countries took only one award each. Korea's Bae Doo Na won Best Actress for her performance as a troubled police officer protecting an abused young girl in The Girl At My Door). Ikewaki Chizuru won the Best Supporting Actress award for Japanese drama The Light Shines Only There. Indonesian action film The Raid 2 won Best Editor while Mikey McCleary won Best Composer for India's Margarita, With a Straw.

As previously announced, legendary Korean filmmaker Im Kwon Taek was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award for his long and prolific career. Japanese actress Nakatani Miki won the award for Excellence in Asian Cinema.

A joint project between Hong Kong International Film Festival, Busan Film Festival and Tokyo International Film Festival, the AFA has been held in Macau for the past two years.

Text / Rockman

Nick Cheung tackles horror again for second directorial effort

  March 26, 2015  
Award-winning actor Nick Cheung introduced his second directorial effort Master Fat at the One Cool Film Production press conference held on March 23, 2015 at the Hong Kong FilMart. Like his 2014 directorial debut Hungry Ghost Ritual, Master Fat is a horror film, and principal photography already started on March 9.

Nick Cheung said that he was inspired to make Master Fat after watching YouTube clips about supernatural occurrences. Besides Cheung himself, the film also stars Karena Lam, Amber Kuo, Philip Keung, Louis Cheung and Shi Yanneng. The film is co-produced by Law Chi Leung, whom Nick Cheung credits with helping him stay on track when he gets "too rebellious" in the filmmaking process.

One Cool Film Production also announced other works on their slate this year including a romance with action and black humor produced by Sam Lee and directed by Leung Tak Sam; a crime film about the Internet, deception and how they connect to daily life produced by Soi Cheang and directed by Jonathan Li; an inspirational comedy about a soccer coach directed by Lam Chi Chung; a crime mystery directed by Cash Chin; and the Gordon Lam-produced Get Outta Here, starring Alex Lam, J.Arie, Louis Cheung, Ng Yuen Yi and Gregory Charles Rivers, which recently wrapped filming. The press conference's final highlight was a clip presentation of the in-development scifi robot project Virtus.

See photos from the One Cool Film Production press conference on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Sanwei

Director Soi Cheang and stars Tony Jaa and Wu Jing at SPL 2 press con

  March 26, 2015  
Ten years after the first SPL with Donnie Yen became a big genre hit, the Hong Kong action extravaganza returns to theaters this year with SPL 2. Director Soi Cheang, producers Wilson Yip and Paco Wong, and the film's cast, including Thai action star Tony Jaa, returning stars Wu Jing and Simon Yam, The Grandmaster's Max Zhang and Louis Koo, gathered for the SPL 2 press conference held on March 23 at the 2015 Hong Kong FilMart. The film's trailer was unveiled at the press conference, giving audiences a taste of the bone-crunching action to come.

SPL 2 stars Wu Jing as undercover cop Kit who is planted in a crime syndicate, but he disappears after his cover gets blown and the operation called off. Kit ends up in a Thailand prison that acts as a front for organ trafficking. The prison warden, played by Max Zhang, wants Kit dead at all costs, while a prison guard, played by Tony Jaa, goes all out to keep Kit alive because he is a bone marrow donor match for his sick daughter.

During the press conference, the keyword "challenge" was used to describe the film and its production. Director Soi Cheang stated that just taking on SPL was a challenge in and of itself because of the pressure from the original film's fame and the great action actors onboard. For producer Wilson Yip, who directed the first SPL, the challenge was "letting go" and handing off the directing reins. Action director Lee Chung Chi revealed that his big challenge was integrating wushu and Muay Thai and handling the film's long single-shot fight scenes.

Tony Jaa said that SPL 2 is very important to him as it is his first Hong Kong film, while Wu Jing went as far as to call it perhaps the most memorable film of his life. Wu shared that he experienced marriage, the birth of his first child and severe injuries during the film's production time. On set, he was constantly getting hit by Max Zhang in fight scenes and even got knocked out twice. Zhang expressed that having to deliver lines in Thai was his great challenge, to which Tony Jaa quipped, "He speaks Thai better than me."

Other cast members also shared anecdotes about the film's grueling shoots: Philip Keung recalled one day when he had to jump off a building seven times and into water nine times, and Simon Yam said that he was hung upside down for days to shoot a particular scene involving his police officer character trying to save his family from Louis Koo's kingpin. Koo, taking on the antagonist role billed as a special appearance, joked that the special part of his role is that he's covered with a face mask most of the time.

SPL 2 will open in theaters on June 18.

See photos from the SPL 2 press conference on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Sanwei

Emperor Motion Pictures announces 2015 production slate

  March 26, 2015  
To celebrate its 15th anniversary, Emperor Motion Pictures (EMP) introduced the 15 films it has under development on March 23, 2015 at the Hong Kong FilMart. The star-studded press conference saw EMP present a diverse collection of films that range from raucous comedy to understated drama and exhilarating sports drama to intense thriller.

Leading the pack is To The Fore, a Dante Lam-directed drama set in the world of top-tier cycling. The film boasts a cast of young talents like Eddie Peng, Wang Luodan, Shawn Dou and Super Junior's Choi Si Won.

Veteran heavyweights Francis Ng, Simon Yam, Leo Ku and Patrick Tam star in Lau Ho Leung's crime dramedy Two Thumbs Up, about a group of criminals who rediscover their sense of justice while posing as policemen for a robbery.

Starring Lee Jun Ki, Zhou Dongyu and Ethan Ruan, Jump Ashin! director Lin Yu Hsien's latest Love in Sicily follows a woman as she tries to discover the truth behind the breakdown of her relationship with her fiancé.

Lauded provocateur Fruit Chan helms Kill Time, a thriller starring Angelababy and Ethan Ruan about a woman who finds that a purchase she makes on a mysterious website might be the key to solving a murder. Chan also directs Hins Cheung in We are the World, a drama about a group of 8-year-old aspiring ballroom dancers and the people trying to coach them to victory.

Irene Wan, Patrick Tam and Zhao Bingrui form the three corners of a love triangle in Lim Kah Wai's romantic drama Love in Late Autumn, which finds a woman caught between an inattentive husband and a gentle cab driver.

Fresh off their collaboration in Sara, Chapman To and Herman Yau are reuniting for The Mobfathers, a gangster comedy about five gang leaders vying for the top spot in the Hong Kong criminal underworld.

Kara Wai and Carlos Chan headline Happiness, Law Yiu Fai's touching human drama about an unlikely friendship that develops between a middle-aged woman with Alzheimer's and a young slacker.

Young guns Carlos Chan, Ken Hung and Deep Ng live it up in Takkie Yeung's Drink Drank Drunk, a comedy that follows a rich kid and his two acquaintances as they stumble through a night of hilarious debauchery on the streets of Hong Kong.

Fourteen years after July Rhapsody, Jacky Cheung and Karena Lam reunite for Steve Yuen's Heaven in the Dark, which explores the aftermath of a woman's sexual harassment accusation against a pastor.

In addition, Yuen Wo Ping is in the midst of developing a martial arts comedy, while Derek Kwok prepares to helm legal drama War of Injustice.

See photos from the EMP press conference on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Frood

Media Asia presents blockbuster lineup for 2015

  March 26, 2015  
Chinese film production company Media Asia presented its production lineup for the coming year at a press conference held at Hong Kong FilMart on March 24. Besides the anticipated all-star crime action thriller Helios from Cold War directors Longman Leung and Sunny Luk, Media Asia announced many new works including films from Johnnie To and John Woo.

Johnnie To unveiled two projects including his new film Three, starring Louis Koo, Vicki Zhao and Wallace Chung, about a doctor who finds herself caught in a conflict between the police and gangsters. The other project is Three which To co-produces with Yau Nai Hoi. The heist movie, following three gangsters played by Richie Jen, Gordon Lam and Jordan Chan, is helmed by three new directors who are each responsible for one actor's portion of the story.

Richie Jen and Gordon Lam also brought their own projects to the Media Asia Presentation. Jen showed clips from his directorial debut All You Need is Love with co-director Andy Luo. The balmy romance stars Shu Qi and Jen himself as two people who cross paths on the island of Penghu. Gordon Lam will produce and star in An Office and a Panderer with singer Ivana Wong, who garnered a record-setting five nominations at this year's Hong Kong Film Awards. Lam described the romantic comedy as a romance on Portland Street, referring to Hong Kong's red light district.

Adam Wong, who made a splash with the 2013 indie hit The Way We Dance, follows up with She Remembers, He Forgets starring Miriam Yeung and Jan Lamb. Wong works again with writer/producer Saville Chan, who started developing the script five years ago, and producer Teddy Robin. In the film, a high school reunion prompts a middle-aged woman to flash back to memories of her youth when she was close with two boys, one of whom she eventually marries. Wong likened the story of nostalgia and mid-life crisis to present-day Hong Kong, which can also be seen as going through a mid-life crisis period. Miriam Yeung and Jan Lamb revealed that the film is actually carried mostly by the younger cast of newcomers, with Lamb joking that he couldn't remember if he's even in the film.

The final highlight of the presentation was a video message from John Woo in which he discussed his intention to remake Takakura Ken's 1978 classic Manhunt. Besides paying homage to the late Japanese legend, Woo remarked that the film would also satisfy the yearnings of people who miss his earlier works about brotherhood.

See photos from the 2015 Media Asia Presentation on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Sanwei

EXO's Lay joins cast of sci-fi romcom Oh My God

  March 23, 2015  
Following the announcement that EXO's Tao will be appearing in the much anticipated film adaptation of Gu Man's hit novel My Sunshine, another EXO member is set to make his film debut in the sci-fi romantic comedy Oh My God. Lay has joined the cast of the Chinese film, which will be produced by Zhang Ziyi and executive produced by Guo Jingming (Tiny Times series).

Also starring Cheney Cheng (Tiny Times) and Jacqueline Li (Personal Tailor), Oh My God tells the story of a couple who's trying to have a baby. They're thrown in for a loop, though, when they become the accidental parents of a baby who falls from the sky.

To be directed by brothers Wei Min and Wei Nan, Oh My God is set to start filming soon.

Text / Frood

Kim Soo Hyun, Cha Tae Hyun, Kong Hyo Jin and IU in new drama from Stars writer

  March 13, 2015  
Kim Soo Hyun, the star of last year's mega-hit drama You Who Came From the Stars, is set to reunite with Stars screenwriter Park Ji Eun in the upcoming KBS drama Producer. Set in the world of variety show production at a television station, the series has generated great anticipation for its mega-watt casting and strong production lineup.

While Kim Soo Hyun will portray a rookie producer in the series, Cha Tae Hyun, who also famously paired with Jeon Ji Hyun before in the classic romance My Sassy Girl, returns for his first drama since 2012's Jeon Woo Chi to play a ten-year-veteran variety producer. Cha himself has a lot of first-hand knowledge of the variety world as he has been appearing on the popular program 2 Days & 1 Night for over two years. Kong Hyo Jin, whose last two dramas It's Okay, That's Love and Master's Sun have both been big hits, plays a music program producer and singer-actress IU, who co-starred with Kim in the 2011 musical youth drama Dream High, plays a top singer.

Producer will be directed by Seo Soo Min, a variety producer/director who has worked on 2 Days & 1 Night, Gag Concert and The Return of Superman. The series is expected to begin broadcast in late April or early May.

Text / Sanwei

Star-studded cast unveiled for Zhang Yimou's The Great Wall

  March 13, 2015  
Legendary Entertainment has announced the cast for Zhang Yimou's upcoming 3D epic The Great Wall. The film will be China's biggest ever in-country production intended for international distribution. Boasting a large, international cast of celebrated actors, the film will see Hollywood stars Matt Damon (Interstellar), Willem Dafoe (The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) joined by Andy Lau (Firestorm), Jing Tian (Police Story 2013), Zhang Hanyu (The Chef, The Actor, The Scoundrel), Eddie Peng (Rise of the Legend), Lu Han (20, Once Again), Lin Gengxin (Black & White: The Dawn Of Justice) and Cheney Chen (Tiny Times series).

The story of The Great Wall revolves around an elite group of soldiers making a last stand for humanity against the onslaught of mythical creatures. Set in the 15th century, the soldiers' epic struggle occurs against the backdrop of one of the world's most awe-inspiring structures.

Filming is set to begin in April 2015, and the movie is expected to be released worldwide on November 23, 2016.

Text / Frood

Taiwan convenience store mascot to star in feature film

  March 13, 2015  
In Taiwan, Open-chan is best known as the mascot of a chain of convenience stores. Now, the popular animated character will add film actor to his resume as he takes the starring role of his first feature film!

Like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Space Jam, Open! Open! will feature a mix of animation and live-action. Actress Chien Man Shu, who has made short films of her own before, will make her feature film directorial debut as the co-writer and co-director of the film. Chien also stars in the film as a young girl who finds love in the big city with the help of Open-chan and his friends.

Though the live-action portion of the film started production this week, Open! Open! has already been in the works for over a year. The fantasy comedy is set for release in Taiwan this summer.

Text / Rockman

Murmur of the Hearts to open 2015 Hong Kong Film Festival

  March 2, 2015  
Murmur of the Hearts, actress Sylvia Chang's first directorial effort in five years, will have its world premiere as the opening film of this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival. The Taiwan-shot drama stars Isabella Leong (in her first major film role since The Mummy sequel in 2008) as a woman who is reunited with her estranged brother years after leaving her hometown. The film also stars Joseph Chang and Lawrence Ko.

Sylvia Chang is also this year's Filmmaker in Focus. In addition to Murmur, the festival will also screen 12 of Chang's acting and directorial works. The retrospective includes Edward Yang's A Day at the Beach, Aces Go Places, Chang Cheh's Legend of the Mountain, Tempting Heart and 20 30 40.

This year's closing film is Port of Call, a mystery drama from writer-director Philip Yung (May We Chat). Loosely based on a true crime, Port of Call stars Aaron Kwok as a middle-aged detective investigating the gruesome murder of a prostitute.

Other Asian films include Sabu's Berlin Film Festival title Chasuke's Journey, animated film Appleseed Alpha, Tsukamoto Shinya's Fires on the Plain, Takeba Lisa's Haruko's Paranormal Laboratory, Hiroki Ryuichi's Kabukicho Love Hotel, Fruit Chan's new documentary My City, Japanese comedy Princess Jellyfish, Tsui Hark's The Taking of Tiger Mountain and Golden Horse Award documentary The Moment.

The festival's annual omnibus Beautiful will return for a 2015 edition. The four directors this year are Tsai Ming Liang (who was on the first Beautiful omnibus), Huang Jianxin, Yim Ho and Mohsen Makhmalbaf.

The 2015 Hong Kong International Film Festival will run from March 23 to April 6, 2015.

Text / Garden
Translation / Rockman

12th Korean Music Awards

  February 27, 2015  
Winners of the 12th Korean Music Awards were announced on February 26. Known to recognize more independent artists rather than popular idols who dominate other major award ceremonies, this year's Korean Music Awards presented Album of the Year, as well as Best Modern Rock Album, to W.A.N.D.Y by indie band Loro's and Artist of the Year to veteran singer-songwriter Lee Seung Hwan. 2014's biggest single, Soyou and Junggigo's "Some," won Song of the Year and Best Pop Song.

Singer-songwriter duo Kim Sa Wol x Kim Hae Won were crowned Rookie of the Year for their album Secret, which was also named Best Folk Album. YG duo Akdong Musician fell short on the rookie award, but won Best Pop Album with their debut effort Play.

Two of the most talked-about R&B artists of recent years, Crush and Zion.T won Best R&B & Soul Album (Crush on You) and Best R&B & Soul Song (Yanghwa BRDG), respectively. The Best R&B & Hip-Hop Album and Song awards went respectively to Hwaji's Eat and B-Free's Hot Summer. For Dance & Electronic, HEO won Best Album with Structure and Yoon Sang won Best Song with his comeback single "If You Wanna Console Me."

Other genre winners include Danpyunsun and the Sailors' Animal for Best Rock Album, Asian Chairshot's Haeya for Best Rock Song, 9 and the Numbers' "Hide and Seek" for Best Modern Rock Song, Kwon Tree's "When I Was Young" for Best Folk Song, Lee Sun Ji's The Night of the Border for Best Jazz Album, Han Seung Seok and Jung Jae Il's bari, abandoned for Best Crossover Album and Kim Chang Hyun's Oblivion for Best Jazz & Crossover Performance. In the netizen categories, Jay Park, HA:TFELT and Infinite were voted Male Artist, Female Artist and Group of the Year.

Text / Sanwei

Corpse Party to become live-action film

  February 27, 2015  
Survival horror adventure game Corpse Party is being turned into a live-action feature film.

The game follows several high school girls who travel to another dimension in their haunted school and must solve the mystery behind the curse on their school to go home. In addition to several sequels, the game also spawned a series of mangas and OVA's.

The live-action film will be directed by Yamada Yasashi, who has directed several low-budget horror films. The film also marks the first starring role for idol Ikoma Rina, the popular center member of Nogizaka46 and Team B of AKB48. She previously had a supporting role on television drama Bad Boys J.

The Corpse Party film is set for release in Japanese cinemas this summer.

Text / Rockman

Golden Era, Black Coal and Haider lead 9th AFA nominations

  February 26, 2015  
The Asian Film Awards Academy announced the nominations for its ninth edition this week in Hong Kong. A total of 42 films are nominated in 14 categories.

Ann Hui's biographical drama The Golden Era received the most nominations at five: Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress (Tang Wei), Best Supporting Actor (Wang Zhiwen) and Best Editing. However, the film was not nominated for Best Picture.

Six films are nominated for Best Picture: China's Black Coal, Thin Ice, China's Blind Massage, India's Haider, South Korea's Ode to My Father, South Korea's Hill of Freedom and Japan's The Light Shines Only There.

Black Coal, Blind Massage and Haider earned four nominations each. Diao Yinan's neo-noir mystery is nominated for Best Pictures, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actor (Liao Fan). Lou Ye's realist drama is nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Qin Hao) and Best Cinematography. The Indian re-interpretation of William Shakespeare's Hamlet is nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Tabassum Hashmi) and Best Production Design.

Jiang Wen's dark comedy Gone With the Bullets also earned four nominations, but they were all in the technical categories: Best Music, Best Visual Effects, Best Costume Designer and Best Production Design.

In addition to Liao, Hill of Freedom's Kase Ryo, Overheard 3's Lau Ching Wan, Paradise in Service's Ethan Ruan, Roaring Currents' Choi Min Sik and Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends' Sato Takeru round out the Best Actor race. Joining Tang Wei in the Best Actress race are Miyazawa Rie for Pale Moon, Bae Doo Na for Girl at My Door, Gong Li for Coming Home, Vicki Zhao for Dearest and Kaiki Koechlin for Margarita, With a Straw.

The Best New Actor nominees are EXO's D.O. for social drama Cart, Zhang Huiwen for Zhang Yimou's Coming Home, Ivana Wong for Golden Chickensss, Tosaka Hiroomi for Hot Road and Zhan Huai Yun for Meeting Dr. Sun.

The 9th Asian Film Awards will be held in Macau on March 23, 2015.

Text / Rockman

Lunar New Year films to pack cinemas in Asia during holidays

  February 23, 2015  
Lunar New Year is probably the best time of the year to go to the movies in Asia, as festive audiences across the continent flock to the cinemas to celebrate the holidays.

In China, a total of eight films are opening on February 19, the first day of the Year of the Sheep. Jackie Chan brings Hollywood stars John Cusack and Adrien Brody to China for period epic Dragon Blade. Aloys Chen takes on demons in fantasy adventure Zhong Kui, co-directed by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Peter Pau (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon). The second season cast of reality show Where are We Going, Dad takes a trek to Fiji in the show's second feature film, while the first season cast reunite for family comedy Emperor's Holiday.

Louis Koo, Francis Ng and Julian Cheung take to the skies of romance in the film spin-off of television series Triumph in the Skies, co-starring Amber Kuo, Sammi Cheng and Charmaine Sheh. Chow Yun Fat picks up his playing cards again in action comedy sequel From Vegas to Macau II, co-starring Nick Cheung, Shawn Yue and Carina Lau. France's Jean-Jacque Annaud (The Bear, Two Brothers) adapts a popular Chinese novel about a man who develops a bond with a Mongolian wolf in Wolf Totem, the director's first Chinese-language film. Finally, Xinnian is Coming: Uproar of Chuxi offers a fantastical animated adventure for kids.

In addition to Hong Kong co-productions Triumph in the Skies and From Vegas to Macau II, Hong Kong will see Louis Koo and producer Raymond Wong lead an all-star cast in offbeat detective comedy An Inspector Calls, which opened two weeks earlier in China. After the success of Golden Chickensss last year, Sandra Ng and director Matt Chow reunite for 12 Golden Ducks, which sees Ng putting on fake abs to play Hong Kong's top gigolo. Two weeks later, Eric Tsang and Wong Cho Lam give a belated new year's greeting to Hong Kong audiences with Lucky Star 2015.

In Taiwan, two local comedies and a unique animated film will face off against Dragon Blade. Following Night Market Hero, David Loman and Twa Tiu Tiann, popular comedian Zhu Ge Liang attempts for a fourth Lunar New Year hit with The Wonderful Wedding, co-starring Ruby Lin as his soon-to-be-wed daughter. Actor-director Peng Qia Qia is also back with comedy sequel Lion Dancing 2, a continuation of last year's hit film. Finally, a local puppet performance troupe brings their art to the big screen in 3D fantasy adventure The Arti: The Adventure Begins, created with a mix of puppetry and computer animation.

In addition to films from Hong Kong and China, Malaysia also has two homegrown comedies of their own. The first film of his new production company in Malaysia, Chapman To takes on Singaporean comedy star Mark Lee in Mahjong King, which also features many popular Hong Kong comedy actors. After setting box office records for The Journey, Ryon Lee aims for another box office hit with My Papa Rich, opening just one week after Lee's other new film The Dream Boyz.

My Papa Rich co-star Jack Neo also looks to retain his reign as Singapore's top commercial filmmaker this year with Ah Boys to Men: Frogmen, the third installment in his hit comedy franchise. The 146-minute comedy will face off against the Hong Kong films and Dragon Blade in Singapore cinemas.

While there is no major local film opening on New Year's day, South Korean audiences will likely keep period comedy sequel Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island at the top of the box office throughout the New Year holiday.

Text / Rockman

Katori Shingo and Ayase Haruka to star in Mitani Koki comedy

  February 17, 2015  
Known for his witty scripts and star-studded casts, Mitani Koki (The Kiyosu Conference) has revealed that his next project, romantic comedy Galaxy Turnpike, will star SMAP's Katori Shingo (Bayside Shakedown: The Final) and Ayase Haruka (All-Round Appraiser Q: The Eyes of Mona Lisa). In a break from his previous works, the new film will take place entirely in space and feature a cast of extraterrestrial characters.

In the year 2265, humanity has spread throughout the solar system, and situated next to Jupiter is a space colony called "Uzushio," which is home to a portion of a space highway that links to Earth. Once a buzzing area with numerous eateries, Uzushio's space highway has seen business dwindle in recent years. It's here that the story of Noa (Katori Shingo) and Noe (Ayase Haruka) begins.

Galaxy Turnpike will begin filming in March and is slated to be released in Japan in October 2015.

Text / Frood

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