Donnie Yen and Cung Le dining in Hong Kong


So far, there hasn’t been any updates on Donnie’s anticipated action film Special Identity which should complete its’ post-production stage at some point soon. Meanwhile, I’ve found a couple of interesting news on what’s to come from Donnie…

In a tweet by MMA champion Cung Le made on September 14, he revealed that he met up with Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen – while touring Asia and stopping by in Hong Kong – and discussed opportunities of working together again in the near future, possibly next year. Both guys first collaborated on Teddy Chen/Peter Chan’s epic political action thriller Bodyguards & Assassins about a group of fighters assembled to protect revolutionist Sun Yat-Sen against the Qing Dynasty and its’ army of assassins in the early 20th century. Yen played one of the protectors and got to square off against Le’s ruthless Qing assassin in one major fight scene which is considered to be one of the highlights of the film, although it was somewhat unsatisfying for some people in terms of editing and overall style as well as design of the fight choreography. I think this could be the time for both to work together again as Donnie has publicly stated that he’s moving on to doing contemporary action films after making a streak of period action films in the last five years.

Word from Hong Kong Cinema expert Bey Logan is that Donnie might star in a Hong Kong remake of Tony Scott’s 1991 action film The Last Boy Scout starring Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans, with Bey himself playing Willis’ role. I’m not sure about the overall idea but at least it’s a sign of films Donnie promises to make from here on.

Contemporary action/crime films in Hong Kong seems to be making a big comeback. Evident is the release of two anticipated films this year. First up is Sunny Lok and Longmond Leung’s bud-budgeted Cold War featuring a cast of huge stars. It includes Andy Lau, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Aaron Kwok, Charlie Yeung and Gordon Lam. Next up is film maestro Johnnie To’s Mainland-financed Drug War starring Louis Koo, Sun Hong-Lei, Crystal Huang Yi, Michelle Ye and Lam Suet.



More info on both films here:

You’ve probably seen Jackie Chan’s Rumble in the Bronx, but have you seen this version? This one’s uncut, with original Cantonese audio, and subtitled. It’s the version you’ve never seen and might never see. Highly recommended, as the fight sounds and voices are much different, and all the stuff that New Line cut out is left in tact.

Japanese outtakes from the Lucky Stars films, lots of great moments with Jackie, Yuen Biao and Sammo.

Jackie demonstrates some stone-breaking skills

Action-packed Jackie Chan commercials. First one’s on par with his film work

Philippine Cinema: 1960s-1990s

The situation of Philippine Cinema has seen major dramatic changes after the 1950s which is considered by critics and film watchers/historians to be the Golden Age of Filipino film-making. During the 1960s, films were characterized by rampant commercialism with James Bond and Western knock offs, bomba (soft porn) films, and musical films. The studio systems came under siege from the growing labor movement, which resulted in labor-management conflicts.

Touted as the second golden age of Philippine cinema, the 1970s was the period of the avant-garde filmmakers. Local producers and filmmakers ceased to produce pictures in black and white. But on 1972, the Philippines was placed under the martial law where films were used as propaganda vehicles. President Ferdinand Marcos and his technocrats sought to regulate film-making through the creation of the Board of Censors for Motion Pictures (BCMP). Prior to the start of filming, finished scripts were required to be submitted to the Board and incorporate the “ideology” of the New Society Movement like a new sense of discipline, uprightness and love of country. Annual festivals were revived, and the bomba films as well as political movies critical of the Marcos administration were banned. Despite the censorship, exploitation of sex and violence onscreen continued to assert itself. Under martial law, action films usually append an epilogue like claims that social realities depicted had been wiped out with the establishment of the New Society. The notorious genre of sex or bomba films still existed but in a milder, less overt way. The 1970s also paved way to the ascendancy of a new breed of directors like Cannes Film Festival-nominated Lino Brocka.

Around the 1980s and 1990s, most Filipino films were mass-produced with quality sacrificed for commercial success. Storylines were unimaginative and predictable, comedy was slapstick, and the acting was either mediocre or overly dramatic. Producers were antipathetic to new ideas or risk-taking. Instead they resorted to formulas that worked well in the past that cater to standards and tastes of the masses. Teen-oriented films, massacre films and soft porn composed the majority of the genre produced. The film industry prospered and produced more than 200 films a year. Majority of them were pit-pit films, shot in seven to ten days and aimed at quickly recouping their minimal costs. Attendance in theaters rose and several productions became huge successes. New laws were also introduced that gave more rights to women, causing several female directors to launch careers. Aside from competition with Hollywood films, the Asian Financial Crisis, escalating cost of film production, exorbitant taxes, arbitrary and too much film censorship, high-tech film piracy, and rise of cable television further contributed for the trimming down of production costs of film outfits that resulted to falling box-office receipts of domestic films, and the eventual precarious state of the local film industry.

Philippine Cinema: 2000s-present

The era saw a dramatic decline of the Philippine movie industry. Hollywood films dominated mainstream cinema as they ever did, and fewer than twenty quality local films were being produced and shown yearly. Many producers and production houses later stopped producing films after losing millions of pesos. However at the same time, a new sense of excitement and trend enveloped the industry with the coming of digital and experimental cinema. This has proven very successful for indie filmmakers such as Brillante Mendoza and Eric Matti and shows the growing popularity as well as high demand of digital filmmaking in Philippines, which allows for bigger space and free creativity by veteran as well as new directors.

Philippine Cinema: Action films

The revival of local action films was noted when the crime drama Manila Kingpin was released in Christmas last year. Since then, investors seem to make more effort by putting forth more productions in work. Next up is an action horror titled Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles and artsy crime film OJT (On the Job Training), both by Eric Matti. If successful, these films could certainly encourage more directors to produce more action films and revive the once dying genre in the near future. Check out videos below.


While working on a science fiction concept I’m developing, it’s been interesting to study how the genre itself functions. Science Fiction has two key responsibilities:

  • Predicts the logical ends of a technological trajectory and sets it up as the conflict.
  • Utilizes current filmmaking and computer technology in a profound way.Or “Tech-porn”. Often sci-fi films will have throwaway scenes that really have no place in the story except to showcase a new technology. These are necessary for the trailer, so they’re  forgiven because they’re profound enough to elicit a strong response.

    (My favorite example is in Total Recall, where police see an x-ray of Quaid’s gun, so he just breaks through the x-ray glass, toward them! The police then cower and let him run away. The scene obviously had no logic to it, yet it’s iconic, so it’s forgiven.)

This is backed up by Wiki’s explanation:

Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible (or at least non-supernatural) content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities. Exploring the consequences of scientific innovations is one purpose of science fiction, making it a “literature of ideas”.

We expect sci-fi films to extrapolate on our current trajectories and set those up as the conflict. AI goes berserk (2001, Terminator), space travel finds more than it bargained for (Alien), and playing God goes bad (Jurassic Park, Gattaca). It’s what the genre promises. Take what we know about technology and show the consequences. The results of scientific innovation could be positive, but when a human is the main character, the genre tends to fall into the realm of man vs. technology. This is not an error of mere convention, but rather how stories have evolved over thousands of years.

Yet many recent sci-fi films depict scenarios already unacceptable, such as increased pollution, corporations exploiting the population, oppressive police states rising to power, etc. To make them “sci-fi”, technological elements are mixed in, often as solutions to the problem rather than problems in and of themselves. These stories are “What-if” scenarios, not logical ends to scientific innovation. Contrary to these, I can predict with certainty that in 10 years, no matter who takes office, there will be more green energy, smarter artificial intelligence, less religion, no time travel, and no zombie Hitlers. Last two notwithstanding, it’s disappointing that sci-fi filmmakers rarely tackle such issues.

In case you’ve been in a cave for the last 30 years, you won’t be surprised to hear that government-funded Science (with a capital S) has settled into a cozy era that has placed it on the pedestal. Artists are less inclined to predict its drawbacks and more interested in “what-if” scenarios should the trend reverse. That is the new sci-fi. Exceptions aside, for a genre which produced dozens of classics before the 2000s, its continual reneging on its promises has cause it to go soft and limp.

Basically, sci-fi sucks because Science takes itself so goddamn seriously.

My prediction is that this trend will not reverse any time soon, unless somehow Science loses its government funding and falls from grace, or an alternate information source springs up that competes with it. Until then, there are thousands of sci-fi concepts just dying to be made, and the audience is still there. It’s a good time to be a genre filmmaker.

Ric Meyers showed Death Grip at his kung fu movie panel, and I had the opportunity to meet James Lew before the panel. It was awesome. Though the crowd was an entirely different demographic than the one that attended our premiere, they laughed at all the same jokes. Afterward Ric had us all stand in front of a cheering audience.

All kinds of other awesome things happened too. Nathan met Eric Roberts, who signed a photo of him doing a stunt, sales were great, and I got to meet James Lew. Oh wait I said that already.