It was only a matter of time before BOBO stepped up to the plate as employees of Hua Yi’s drama/film division and filmed something big together, but I would have thought it would be a drama, not a movie, an art-form usually reserved for the more skilled, and more bankable of actors in China. And yet, BOBO will be the leads in the new heartwarming romantic comedy “Young Gods of Cookery” where they both play…you guessed it, chefs.
Idols vs Directors, a comparison of HK and mainland film
Back when I posted on director Feng Xiaogang’s press conference I neglected to mention one particular part where he criticized the HK audience for not being a “director-focused” market, but rather idol-driven. The Chinese netizens, who usually love him, promptly dubbed him a snob. I thought he brought up a good issue even if he did sound like a pretentious jerk while saying it. Like the old musicians in China who see (and hate) the rapid changes in Chinese music, directors are beginning to feel the shifts in the film industry in China, as the growing market size allows for fluff pieces like “Fit Lover” or “Love Connected” to reap in big bucks in the mainland.
HK has been idol-driven market, with EEG indulging in movies with stars like Twins, Edison Chen, whereas China’s film stars, even when good-looking like Chen Kun, are not really idols, but seen as professionals. But those times are changing, with an interesting reversal of trends.
Now, with the deep mixing of HK and Chinese movie industries, wherein talent and investment from both sides collaborate on more and more movies, not only have the distinctions have blurred, but so have the characteristics of each industry.
While HK cinemaphiles bemoan the fact that Hk directors are catering toward the lucrative mainland market, and need to “adjust” their vision for the benefit of SARFT, aka China’s movie watchdog , this is only a temporary setback for Hong Kong, imo, since SARFT is more or less headed by old but influential people who will step down eventually. In the long run, I believe there is something very beneficial in the symbiosis of these two very different film industries. They can learn from each other’s strengths I think, rather than falling prey to each other’s weaknesses.
EEG handing over the baton to eeMedia?
Once prominent Hong Kong idol-film company EEG has already started to trim down the excess idol flicks, instead investing into more upscale features like Mei Lan Fang. I see less and less of Bug Me Not (a stinker starring Isabella Leung and Wilson Chen) type films coming from HK. In contrast China has begun branching out on their movies as well, going more and more commercial. eeMedia, whose new CEO Long Danni seems bent on developing an idol industry in China, with music (boyband Top Combine), drama (Meteor Shower) and movies (Le Huo Nan Hai) everything else, has announced a new branch diving into movies. Hua Yi seems to be joining them, with BOBO’s new movie.
I don’t want garbage coming out in theaters that bank on their idol stars to give the movie success, but I do want different genres, like the benign teen comedies or romantic comedies to develop. I’d like people to get used to the idea of teens leading roles so that Central Academy of Drama graduates don’t have to wait until they’re thirty to get good roles. Hell, I’d settle for people getting used to the idea that really good-looking people can lead a movie…because before Chinese movies portrayed a strict realism that didn’t allow for it.
Right now, there are a few Chinese directors who find newbies, like Zhang Yimou and Stephen Chow, but the directors are at the top of their game, and few. And sometimes, people like Zhang Yimou become nostalgic and start using people they admired in their youth…like Chow Yun-fat and Ken Takakura who are awesome, but won’t move the industry forward. Furthermore since many of the top directors are male, they place more emphasis on finding their actresses, leaving the male side to rot. Perhaps a new successful genre of film would allow for more people, not just those big-shots to take risks in finding new talent. China definitely seems ready to embrace these non-indie, non-serious films, with movies like Fit Lover and Love Connected becoming big hits.
Young Gods of Cookery – What’s it About?
Now that your eyes have rolled into the back of your head from reading me blather on and on about trends in Chinese entertainment, and don’t even care about the film anymore… that’s of course my cue to start actually talking about it.
Despite the fact that the duo are the leads, and the main selling point of this film, the crew couldn’t even remember their names in the beginning so they called them “daBO/big BO” and “xiaoBO/small BO”.
BOBO play long-lost brothers, one specializing in Western cuisine and the other in Eastern cuisine. “Xiao Bo” Jing Boran actually plays the older one specializing in Eastern cuisine, while “Da Bo” Fu Xinbo, playing someone half Taiwanese, is the one specializing in Western food, having studied in France. Jing Boran loves someone from a rich family fallen on hard times, and Fu Xinbo loves Jing Boran’s classmate, Xiao Mei but because of “complications” backs out of their wedding, leaving her distraught…eventually everything will tie up nicely and the two brothers will find each other.
Completely cliched? Maybe. But Hua Yi doesn’t play around usually with their movies or dramas…in general they’re good. In fact, they have been the major financers of Feng Xiaogang’s movies and his recent movies features a lot of Hua Yi people. Hopefully if this company dives into the world of idol entertainment, and teen comedies, they’ll put in the same attentiveness and care that have characterized the majority of their works. I’ve liked the way they developed BOBO slowly (from a cameo to skits to their own respective dramas). This movie is the culmination of that effort and I’d like to see the pay off.
Disclaimer: These are my opinions only, or my hopes…no need to treat them as scientific fact. Movie could be a horrible flop, BOBO could be kicked out of Hua Yi and become homeless, Feng Xiaogang will scoff at his partner Hua Yi’s attempt to makes movies with idols, etc.
Ahem…some behind the scenes action. Jing Boran sticks his tongue out at Fu Xinbo. Fu Xinbo goes to touch Boran’s mouth and proceeds to kick him in the behind. Boran laughs, running away. I love the fact that these boys don’t seem to have changed at all since before becoming celebs.