Guess who’s February?

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Yup, BoBo, whose tag on this site must be getting enormous. What can I say? These boys are newsmakers and their news will continued to be posted here. More pictures of the calendar with stars under their company here though you may not recognize a lot of them, except Li Bing Bing, Lu Yi and Vivian Hsu. They picked a eclectic mix of from their old and new stars, not necessarily the most famous (or photogenic) ones. Beijing-based Hua Yi Brothers wasn’t nearly as big on the Chinese entertainment scene five years ago but have quickly become one of the most powerful companies in China, and will be shaping China’s entertainment scene for years to come.

As usual, something as simple as a calendar has turned into a big long spiel on China’s entertainment scene in my hands and again a post on why I like BoBo. Bear with me.

Hua Yi is fairly good at identifying quality actors as exemplified by Feng Xiaogang’s The Assembly, which was basically a dumping ground for Hua Yi actors, including Zhang Hanyu, Deng Chao, Yuan Wenke, Ren Quan, etc all of which gave a great performances, easily making it one of the best movies of the past year, and earned Zhang Hanyu numerous awards for best actor.

Other more established stars under Hua Yi include Huang Xiaoming, Alec Su, Jane Zhang and Zhou Xun.

They aren’t completely what I would call prolific, but they do focus in on quality. Amongst their announced 2009 slate for tv dramas was “My Chief and My Regiment,” featuring the same cast as “Soldiers Sortie”.

Soldiers Sortie (Shi Bing Tu Ji)
Soldiers Sortie (Shi Bing Tu Ji)

Soldier Sortie was the most popular Chinese drama of 2007 and is still the most popular Chinese drama in China according to Baidu, which gave me hope in the level of China’s general population, because that drama was serious quality. I don’t usually consider tv dramas really all that great in general, because I feel like they are limited by their medium…they are meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator, otherwise they can’t make money and can’t survive. I think this soap-opera quality of dramas is reflected in some of the more popular Asian series especially…I know people are hating me for this now so I won’t go any further than that. But, quality was written all over Soldier’s Sortie. Its appeal lay its message, that focused efforts and doing what’s right are worth something, and that no matter who you are, you can accomplish great things just by being earnest and taking small steps in productivity.

I know people find it sometimes rather annoying that creativity is stifled in the Chinese film landscape because there must be some semblance of morals in the movies, and usually I am too, but at other times I find it incredibly refreshing to hear messages of hope and goodwill.

They’ve also got four films coming up in 2008…plucking some of the biggest directing talents from four Chinese-speaking regions, Feng Xiaogang from mainland China, Tsui Hark from Hong Kong, Chen Kuo-fu from Taiwan and Jack Neo of Singapore. All four might look boring in plot, but I have a lot of faith that they won’t turn out as boring as they sound on paper. Many Chinese movies have been excellent not because of a fancy plot but because of what they say about the human condition.

This is why I feel funny about idol dramas, just like the boybands. Sure, the boybands are noticeable, and it’d get Chinese music more noticed, and idol series would get Chinese series and actors recognized more abroad, but is it worth it? You’d have more people tuning in to mindless entertainment, that just gives you warm fuzzies but no substantialness. Does it matter whether other people know how good Chinese music is, as long as there’s room for quality artists in China? Does it matter if people think China’s idol dramas suck, when something as freaking good as Soldier’s Sortie has become the biggest success in China over all the shallow Hunan idol dramas (yeah, Hunan produces good idol dramas, but it’s still a shallow station akin to the WB in the US). I agree that a little shallowness is probably necessary…people seem to look outside China for that so they might as well have that in China, and that’s the way I look at the boybands, good in small doses.

As for BoBo, they don’t really seem like any of the kind of talent Hua Yi usually takes, but they seem to have found something special about this duo (hopefully besides the legions of fans with money to spend). To be honest, I don’t really see BoBo as special in the usual celebrity way. Their personalities weren’t like, let’s say Qiao Renliang, who completely shined on stage and was magnetic. They have good singing voices, and they look good, but they’re simple and there are probably lots more people in China who look good and can sing. However, they’re appealing to me because they’re simple like Wang Baoqiang’s character in Soldier’s Sortie (just a lot, lot cuter); they’re the pure and happy-go-lucky type that can be built upon to be productive and not pretentious. I can see them improving slowly simply by doing things in small steps and not scheming or being too overly ambitious.

Hua Yi has been slowly developing their career in a much admirable fashion. They started them out with dance and music training, a solid EP and album release where they still looked and sounded like BoBo, not changing who they were at all. Now are seemingly starting to promote them on a wider scale, first getting them a cameo in The Equation of Love and Death and then getting them supporting acting roles in what look like quirky, tv productions, something a little different than your average Asian soap opera. Fu Xinbo, as I have stated was in Ning Caishen’s drama. He got to work with not only a great witty, out-of-the-ordinary scriptwriter but solid although unknown actors. Jing Boran is cast in “A Tribute to Stephen Chow” in which he’ll be part of an ensemble of well known actors like Huang Shengyi, Tong Dawei, Nie Yuan, Bao Jianfeng, etc.

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Jing Boran in "A Tribute to Stephen Chow"

Thus, they are surrounding them with real talent that they can hopefully learn from and grow from, instead of letting them reside in the comfort zone of simply being an idol, and acting as leads in idol dramas when they really don’t deserve to be the leads. I’m terribly thankful to Hua Yi for that, for letting them first see what real professionals in the business are like before giving them more, and hopefully BoBo can become the kind of simple, pure idols that people can really look up to.

So I don’t really know if anyone understands what I mean by any that, and if not, sorry. Like with all of my long tedious posts, this stuff just comes out without me planning it and I just write and ramble. And it gets posted because there’s no way I’m letting an hour or twos worth of writing just sit there.

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Another side of Jing Boran in "A Tribute to Stephen Chow"

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9 thoughts on “Hua Yi Entertainment Releases its 2009 Monthly Calendar”

  1. Fang de Kai I suppose is what I meant by better actor…I like seeing that in actors. I wish I knew someone as “Fang de Kai” as Raven Symone in China, although I don’t like her acting, lol.

    The fact that Soldier Sortie was the most popular drama in China made me really proud to be Chinese for some reason. I mean, I’ve always had Chinese pride, but that made me stop and think and get a warm fuzzy feeling. It certainly makes me more proud of China than were I to see another boyband come out.

    I understand when people enjoy the boybands…they’re pretty to look at, and fun to watch interact with each other. What I don’t understand is when people think that their country’s quality level is somehow proportional to these boybands. Like oh, countries are loved because of their boybands? Or others rejected for that reason? That makes no sense to me whatsoever.

  2. He was the best actor out of BOBO? That sounds like there were a bunch of people in BOBO. I can’t really tell whose better, but I guess Jing Boran is more “fang de kai.”

    I think Soldier Sortie is mostly an inspirational drama, though. Qia Tong Xue Shao Nian is actually considered a “red drama.” If I didn’t like it so much, I would totally dismiss it aa a communist propaganda drama. Actually, I would still call it one. But its awesomeness beats its propaganda parts.

    There seems to this idea that everything has to criticize the world in order to be good and not shallow.

  3. Only 50th? lol…I think I remember trying to watch that series now but I was simply too busy. I can’t wait to see Jing Boran’s though.

    But it disappoints me that he is the lead…at least it’s an ensemble comedy. Jing Boran I did feel like was the best actor out of BoBo though.

    You’re right about Soldier Sortie…

    what really irked me was when someone said The Assembly should have criticized the government to be really good. The Assembly was fine the way it was.

  4. the guy who played Mao was really hot, though, so I don’t mind. It’s such a good drama…but like Soldier Sortie, it’ll probably be called communist propaganda if it were subbed and showed to the world…

    btw. according Google, this is my 50th visit to your blog. *celebrate*

  5. Wow, you killed my entire post.

    Alright forget Hunan then, since I never watched that particular drama, just think of whichever other idol drama that is fun to watch but has no meaning.

    And wow, Mao continues to ruin perfectly good things to this day.

  6. Jing Boran is the lead…

    Hunan dramas aren’t all thoughtless. Qia Tong Xue Shao Nian is very moralistic. But like Soldier Sortie, it’s done in an entertaining way. I’m totally in love with QTXSN. It’s so tight, well-written, well-filmed, with good acting, good costumes, good setting and inspirational but not in-your-face. It’s my ideal of a perfect drama.
    I think it’s just losing on Baidu charts because they set a “members only” restriction on their site because it involves Mao Zedong, which is highly political, so almost no one can post on it…

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