Thursday, May 28, 2009

Super Idol winner goes to number one in the Taiwan album charts

Newcomer Zhang Yunjing (張芸京) went to the top of Taiwan's G-Music charts with her debut album Unprecedented (破天荒). The 25 year old Taipei-born singer was the inaugural winner of Taiwan's version of Super Idol last year. Despite being eliminated in one of the earlier rounds, she got a second chance and went on to win the title.

Her androgynous look sets her apart from most other starlets in the Taiwan music industry, and her vocal talent is above average too. Other than that, she's a bit of an unknown quantity to most people. But the strong performance of her debut album - boosted perhaps by containing two hit songs from a Taiwan TV drama series - suggest she has a big future ahead.

The G-Music chart is based on Taiwanese retail sales for the week May 15 to May 21.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Amber Kuo Knocks Jolin Off Album Perch

Finally, after an amazing six week run at the top of the Taiwan album charts, the reign of Jolin Tsai's Butterfly has come to an end. The new number one for the week May 8 to 14 is Amber Kuo (郭采洁, pinyin Guō Cǎijié) and her album i amber (Chinese title: 愛異想). Released at the beginning of this month, it debuted at number two before reaching the top spot in its second week in the charts. Jolin's album slipped to number 4 after its marathon run at the top.

Amber Kuo is a relative newcomer to the Taiwan pop scene. i amber is only her second album - she released her debut album Invisible Superman eighteen months ago. The first single from the album is titled The Moon, Round Again (又圓了的月亮). The album is released by Warner Music.

The 23 year old has been compared by some to Avril Lavigne because of her more rock-style songs as well as her looks - although the majority of the tracks on i amber are ballads. Like so many other Chinese singers she also has a burgeoning acting career. She has already had a starring role in a Taiwan TV series, Invincible Shan Bao Mei, and will appear in a movie, First Page Taipei this year.

Chart information comes courtesy of Taiwan's G Charts which measure album retail sales in Taiwan.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Taiwan's FHM Readers Vote Supermodel as Sexiest

Taiwan's version of men's magazine FHM has announced its "2009 Top 100 Sexiest Ladies", and the winner for the third year straight was Taiwan's top supermodel Lin Chi Ling (林志玲). The winner was chosen after a six-week poll in which fans could vote online for their favourites. The runner-up in the poll was pop diva Jolin Tsai (蔡依林, pinyin: Cài Yīlín), also for the second year running.

The 34-year old Lin Chi Ling started her modelling career back in 1999, and recently began an acting career with a role in John Woo's hit movie Red Cliff. As well as her good looks she's famous for her long legs - she was once voted having the "sexiest legs in Taiwan" - and her high-pitched childlike voice. She's also more than just a pretty face, majoring in not one, but two subjects (Economics and Western Art History) at the University of Toronto.

I'd like to provide a link to the complete top 100 list, but can't navigate my way around the Taiwan FHM website to find it. I can say that Megan Fox was number three, and another Taiwanese model, the well-endowed Wang Si Ping (王思平) was voted fourth sexiest. The top 10, their number of votes, and their ranking the previous year in brackets, were as follows:

1. Lin Chi Ling - 55,182 (last year #1)

2. Jolin Tsai - 50,719 (#2)

3. Megan Fox - 47,229 (#3)

4. Wang Si Ping - 45,313 (new)

5. Alice (艾莉丝, or in pinyin: Ailìsī) - 40,403 (#27)

6. Wang Yin Ping (王尹平) - 39,713 (new)

7. Sonia Sui (隋棠) - 38,159 (#4)

8. Janel Tsai (蔡淑臻) - 37,635 (#17)

9. Wu Ya Xin (吴亚馨) - 34,627 (new)

10. Patty Hou (侯佩岑) - 30,326 (#6)

(The Top Ten list courtesy of this Sina article, but in Chinese)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Chang Chen: A Future Hollywood Heartthrob?

The UCLA Asian Art Institute publishes an excellent fortnightly online magazine, Asia Pacific Arts. Each issue contains interviews, reviews, articles - all good reading - and usually a Top Ten list. Well, I love lists, and the most recent issue's is entitled Hot Asian Actors Hollywood Doesn't Yet Realize It Needs. The accompanying article is a call to Hollywood to look beyond the stereotypes and start casting as leading men some of the many Asian actors with sex appeal. The list is of "men who are striking enough to cater to international, cosmopolitan, mainstream tastes". And it names ten actors who the authors (perhaps somewhat hopefully) dream might one day enjoy the same status in Hollywood as the Brad Pitts and Denzel Washingtons.

There was only one Chinese actor on the list, but a good choice: Taiwan's charismatic Chang Chen (張震, pinyin: Zhāng Zhèn). Chang made his film debut as a 16 year-old in Edward Yang's A Bright Summer Day back in 1991. His filmography since then includes a lot of arthouse roles that - despite his good looks, cool demeanour and undoubted acting ability - didn't have a lot of commercial success. A noticeable exception was the international blockbuster Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in which he starred as Zhang Ziyi's lover.

Recently it appears that Chang has been seeking more mainstream roles, which may cement his place as one of China's biggest stars. Last year he was in another major hit, John Woo's historical epic Red Cliff, and this year in it's equally successful sequel. He was expected to star in John Woo's next movie, a war film titled 1949, until the announcement last month that the project had been shelved. He has also been cast in another upcoming historical action film with the working title The Assassin, to be directed by Taiwanese auteur Hou Hsiao-Hsien.

Whether Chang can, in the article's words "blast through the glass ceiling" and make his name in Hollywood remains to be seen, but he's certainly one of the Chinese actors to look out for.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Connected" Wins Audience Award in Udine

The 11th annual Far East Film Festival, held in the northern Italian city of Udine, has just come to an end. The festival has an average overall attendance of around 50,000, and makes no apology for showcasing the popular cinema of East Asia - "popular" being the operative word.

Several Audience Awards were handed out at the end of the festival, and one of them went to the Hong Kong thriller, Connected (保持通话). A re-make of the 2004 US film Cellular, and directed by Benny Chan, it's not exactly high-brow festival fare. However, it was a hit at the Hong Kong box office, and ended up being the 5th biggest grossing Chinese-language film in Hong Kong last year. It stars Louis Koo (古天乐, Gǔ Tiānlè ) and Barbie Hsu (徐熙媛, Xú Xīyuàn) in the Kim Basinger role, with mainland star Liu Ye (刘烨) playing the bad guy.

Overall fourteen Chinese films were amongst the 55 films shown at the festival: seven from Hong Kong, six from the mainland and one from Taiwan. In a program that can only be described as eclectic, offering something for everyone, the films ranged from art-house (True Women for Sale) to soft porn (Forbidden Legend - Sex and Chopsticks), from box office smashes (Cape No.7, If You Are the One) to some more obscure offerings (The Story of the Closestool, Desires of the Heart).

The Festival also featured the early television works of Hong Kong director Ann Hui, including her much lauded "Vietnamese trilogy" from the late seventies, films centred on Vietnam's refugees. The festival spotlight on Hui was timely, with the veteran director recently sweeping the Best Director awards at both the Hong Kong Film Awards and Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards for The Way We Are.
Site Meter