The 4th Annual Asian Film Awards, organised by the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society, were held last week. Although South Korea took home the most awards, including Best Film (Mother), Chinese actors were also prominent.
Mainland actor Wang Xueqi (王学圻, pictured right accepting his award) was named Best Actor for his performance as a tycoon and financial backer of revolutionaries in the Hong Kong action drama Bodyguards and Assassins. The Beijing-born Wang made his film debut back in 1984 in Yellow Earth, a film that heralded the beginning of the Fifth Generation movement in film. Since then his career has been steady rather than spectacular. However two years ago things really began to take off for him. Last year he was nominated at the 3rd Asian Film Awards for Best Supporting Actor for his memorial performance in Forever Enthralled. He then picked up a Best Actor award for Bodyguards and Assassins in January at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards, and is one of the favourites to win Best Actor at the soon-to-be-announced Hong Kong Film Awards.
Another star of Bodyguards and Assassins, Nicholas Tse (谢霆锋, pinyin: Xiè Tíngfēng), was named Best Supporting Actor. The Hong Kong-born and Canadian and U.S raised Tse started his career as a singer. The 29 year-old has always shown promise as an actor, starting with his debut role in Young and Dangerous: The Prequel in 1998. That performance won him the Best New Performer at the Hong Kong Film Awards, and in 2006 he won Best Supporting Actor at the People's Hundred Flowers Awards playing Jackie Chan's sidekick in New Police Story. His on-screen career however has at times been overshadowed by his off-screen antics, including a short stint in prison for a dangerous driving incident.
Veteran actress Kara Hui (惠英红, pinyin: Huì Yīnghóng), inaugural Best Actress winner at the Hong Kong Film Awards back in 1982, was awarded Best Supporting Actress for her role in At the End of Daybreak, a Malaysian-Hong Kong-Korean co-production. Her performance has already won her a Best Supporting Actress award at Taiwan's Golden Horse awards late last year.
Also in At the End of Daybreak is Malaysia's rising star Jane Ng Meng Hui (黄明慧, pinyin: Huáng Mínghuì), who took home the award for Best Newcomer. Ng, who until recently was better-known in her homeland as an FM breakfast radio announcer, played a 15 year old schoolgirl in the film (in real life she's actually 27). At the End of Daybreak was her film debut.
The powerful City of Life and Death may have missed out on Best Film, but the film's director Lu Chuan (陆川) took home the Best Director award. The war drama which tells the story of the Nanjing Massacre is just Lu's third film, following on from his acclaimed second feature film, Kekexili: Mountain Patrol.
The Asian Film Awards also recognised two of China's most illustrious directors, John Woo (吴宇森, pinyin: Wú Yǔsēn) and Zhang Yimou (张艺谋) . Woo, along with co-producer Terence Chang, was named 2009's Top Grossing Film Director for the historical epic Red Cliff II. Zhang Yimou was honoured with a special award for Outstanding Contribution to Asian Cinema.
The full list of winners and nominees is at the Asian Film Awards website.