Yang Zishan, Han Dongjun reunite after four years in Never Gone

The first trailer for modern romance drama Never Gone has been released, and stars Yang Zishan (Red Rose) and Han Dongjun (Wuxin: The Monster Killer 2) as a young couple whose sweet romance through high school and university crumbles after getting hit by the harsh realities of life outside the school yard. Talented young actors Li Landi (of cult hit My Huckleberry Friends) and Hu Xianxu (Nirvana in Fire II) play the younger counterparts.

Li Chengbin (Operation Proposal) plays second male lead Shen Ju’an, husband of Cheng Zheng’s (Han Dongjun) older cousin Zhang Yue (Lan Yingying) and Su Yunjin’s ex-boyfriend.

Su Qing (I almost didn’t recognise here) costars as Mo Yuhua, Su Yunjin’s best friend who has a one-sided love for playboy Zhou Ziyi, played by Tan Jianci (The Advisors Alliance). He’s aware of Yuhua’s affections, but chooses to do nothing about it (judging from the trailer, he may reciprocate her feelings after all).

Directed by Lin Yufen (Ten Miles Peach Blossoms, Lost Love in Times), the 36 episode has yet to secure an air date.

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Review: Detective Chinatown 2

Tong Liya, girl, I have all the respect for you to make your own life decisions, but I’m judging so hard right now.

Verdict:  A sequel whose quality lives up to the original, with a tight, intriguing detective and almost no wasted plot points.  Humor unfortunately moves from verbal misogyny to straight-up sexual assault from the leads, and ended with a  huge  f- you to the audience  from the director Chen Sicheng that made me never want to see another movie by him again.

In Detective Chinatown 2, scriptwriter-director Chen Sicheng proves himself once more as a talented scriptwriters and directors, but also the  misogynistic jerk we all know he is. The sequel features a whodunnit story that’s just as compelling, full of plot twists, and sharply written as the first one.  Tang Ren (Wang Baoqiang) and  ( Liu Haoran) once shine as the buddy cop pair, this time joined by the welcomed addition of Xiao Yang, the new guy framed for a series of mysterious murders in New York City.

Unfortunately, the story’s treatment of its female characters left me with so much bitter taste it’s hard to enjoy it.   With two women in fridges, multiple sexual assaults by Tng Ren, a cheap plot of “she-left-me-for-money” to get rid of the former female lead (Tong Liya), the story was oozing with misogyny.

*spoiler below*But what really ruined this for me was the way Chen Sicheng treated  Ah-Xiang, the love interest in the first film played by  Tong Liya, Chen’s real-life wife.  Earlier in the film, it was mentioned that Ah-Xiang had left the male lead for a richer man because she only wants to marry.  She does not appear in the film, paving the way for a new love interests for Tang Ren to sexually harass.     

Then, in a mid-credits scene, Ah-Xiang appears in an expensive outfit, a drastically different change from season 1.  It turns out the rich man she had married was director Chen Sicheng himself. Ah-Xiang was not given a chance to explain why she chose to marry him. Instead, Chen takes Ah-Xiang as if he owns her, looks at the male lead and said I’ve been looking for you, and proceeds to beat him up.    

If you follow Chinese gossip, you would know that last year, Chen Sicheng was caught on camera cheating on Tong Liya  with a budding actress.  Especially given that he doesn’t have a clean slate on cheating ,  netizens were critical and wished that she would leave him. Neither actors gave statements.

The way Chen treated Tong Liya’s character like property and the way he set it up so that she only stayed with him for his wealth felt  like a huge middle finger to the audience and a power play against his wife.   Well, Chen Sicheng, I rise my middle finger to you, too. 

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Happy Chinese New Year!

Here’s my favorite performance of the CCTV Sping Festival Gala, a theatrical spectacle set atop Mount Tai that almost looks like an Olympic Torch Lighting.  The three song performance features Huang Xiaoming, Wallace Chung, Jerry Yan, Xia Li’ao,   and Li Yundi.

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Tony Leung forms an alliance with Kris Wu, Tang Yan in Europe Raiders

When films list Jingle Ma (The Butterfly Lovers, Mulan, Speed Angels) as director, it’s usually a sign for me to stay right away from the very beginning, because his movies always turn out to be so very boring. I’ve heard some good things about the other two Raiders movies though, so let’s hope he doesn’t turn an action flick into a snooze fest.

ony Leung) and Miss Wang (Tang Yan) are a pair of agents employed by the CSI to help track down ‘God’s Right Hand’, which was stolen by a mysterious woman (Du Juan). However, they discover that things are not as simple as they seem after saving genius hacker Luo Qi (Kris Wu).

The action comedy film is scheduled for a late 2018 release.

Tang Yan should always play bad-ass characters:

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Review: Detective Chinatown

Easily one of the best mysteries and best comedies of the past few years, Detective Chinatown is a sure crowd pleaser.

A belated review for one of my favorite films of 2016 to get ready for the sequel. Detective Chinatown 2 will be distributed by Warner Bros in the U.S. and will open in 48 markets (biggest in a long time for a Chinese film).

A clean and twist-filled mystery embellished with well-executed humor and splashes of romance kept me on the edge of my seats  for Detective Chinatown 唐人街探案. The buddy cop flick from actor-turned-director Chen Sicheng  proves that he continues to be one of China’s best young commercial directors.

When the reserved mystery novel nerd Qin Feng (Liu Haoran) is sent to spend the summer with his uncle, ne’er-do-well  Bangkok Chinatown P.I. Tang Ren (Wang Baoqiang), the two immediately clash and Qin Feng is ready to leave. Yet before Qin Feng can leave,   Tang Ren is framed for a murder, and Qin Feng is baited into helping him clear his name.

Despite mostly being sold as a comedy, the series has one of the most well-made crime plots among recent Chinese films. While other mystery films often feel either too pretentious with insights into human nature or too sophomoric with amateur directing/editing, Detective Chinatown felt like a polished mystery film fitting for a blockbuster. The mystery-solving is filled with unexpected twists, well-motivated suspects, and plenty of humor and chase scenes to make it exciting.

The comedy is sharper and more varied than the typical Wang Baoqiang comedy, although some of the misogynistic raunchiness remains. There are also notably a few comedic fights that’s a callback to older martial arts comedies of Hong Kong. Liu Haoran works well as the reserved nerd, while Zhang Zifeng shines as Snow, a seemingly normal student with secrets of her own.

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Figure Skaters Sui Wenjing, Han Cong photoshoots

Sui Wenjing and Han Cong are more photogenic than 90 % of actors.

It’s Olympics season, so expect lots of athlete-entertainment crossovers other than dating (cough, Jing Tian and Zhang Jike, cough).  First up are two of China’s favorites to place,  pairs figure skaters Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, in a series of  photoshoots.    The two not only are better actors than many actors, but also rules in photoshoots.>

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