Thursday, July 21, 2005

Tsutaya in Tokyo

Tsutaya is a major chain VCD,DVD, CD, VCR shop in Tokyo with rentals and purchases . They have tons of American, European, Asian and of course Japanese films and CDS for rental and particular interest is Asian films and they have many Asian films either dubbed in Japanese or with Japanese subtitles.......they have many old and new HK films and also many Korean films....please click pic for more....

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo, Japan

Posted by: hcpen1111
Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo, Japan
A picture of the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. I visited it once and it really is a horrible place.....the sad thing is that many people were praying there as if it were some sacred place when it houses 14 class A war criminals and is a monument to the unknown rapist, murderers and torturers that were some of the Japanese soldiers during WW2. The museum attached to Yasukuni Shrine is a right-wing bastion with books denying Japanese war time crimes and the museum glorifies Japan's war of invasion during WW2. Examples are how the museum frames phrases glorifying sacrifice for the emperor and emphasises modernisation of Manchuria under the Japanese. Japanese warcrimes are completely absent in the museum and there is even a section on how Japanese 'liberated' South East Asia and Japan's invasion 'helped' SEA gain independence. Similarly, the colonisation of Korea is justified through showing documents of Korea's gov agreeing to the colonisation conveniently leaving out how the Korean govt was forced into the agreements due to the Korean peninsula's relative backwardness compared to Japan then. Further, a list war dead with photographs fill an entire section of the museum which is insensitive to Asian victim countries' feelings as these were the very soldiers that committed horrendous atrocities/crimes during WW2 towards the occupied Asian countries. Anyways, the whole museum was recently renovated and looked very grand indicating how much support and donations it gets from Japan's big my opinion, the musuem should be closed down and the Japanese PM Koizumi and everyone else should stop visiting Yasukuni out of respect for other Asian countries as well as to show sincere remorse for past wrongs.

HK, Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese films at Tsutaya Tokyo

Posted by: hcpen1111
HK, Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese films at Tsutaya Tokyo

68th Anniversary of Start of Sino-Japanese War, Tokyo July 7, 2005

Posted by: hcpen1111
68th Anniversary of Start of Sino-Japanese War, Tokyo July 7, 2005
July 7 is the anniversary of the start of the Sino-Japanese War and this was commemorated thru a host of activities and symposiums. I attended some of them and the pictures of these activities can be viewed by clicking on the pic to the left.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Homosexuality in Asia

This is another of my interests. As can be seen from my blog, i have various inerests such as Korean pop culture and TV dramas (which must be blatantly obvious by now!), WW2 and Japan, the Cheongsam (Chinese Dress) and Gay/Lesbian issues. I will start occasionally writing on gay/lesbian issues now though not alot and those who take offence to such topics can ignore these posts and read my other ones on Korean dramas, movies or WW2 and Japan posts....I have started with TV dramas which have a gay/lesbian theme and my focus will be only on gay/lesbian in Asia and mainly only the Chinese, Korean and Japanese sphere...Especially the Chinese entertaiment industry is not conservative at all and is on par or even more liberal than the West in terms of number of mainstream (note not independent art films!)films and TV dramas produced in recent yrs dealing with homosexuality....for some reason, despite Chinese(when i refer to Chinese in this blog i mean China Chinese, Taiwanese, HK persons, Malaysian Chinese and Singaporean Chinese)society's still prevailing prejudice and discrimination against gays/lesbians.
In the posts below i have mentioned in detail Blue Gate Crossing (2002), Crystal Boys (2003), Hainan Chicken Rice (2004), Formula 17 (2004) and Love's Lone Flower(2005).
I will post a full list of all or most of the Chinese(incl Taiwan,HK, Singapore) films, TV dramas dealing either directly or indirectly with gay/lesbian themes when i am more free...

Blue Gate Crossing (2002) One of my favourite films

Posted by: hcpen1111

Blue Gate Crossing (2002) One of my favourite films
This is one of my favourite films of all simply has a fantastic script and engaging story and yet is so simple in essence. I really liked it alot and i won't give away the crucial element of the story but it really is a fantastic film with a fantastic cast as both the actor and actresses really fit the role as they are both really down to earth looking and not glamorous or good looking people but they just have this feel to them which makes the audience emphatise with what they are going through.....the soundtrack is one of the best i have heard so far and even now, a few yrs since watching it, i still sometimes hum the melody to myself.....A MUST WATCH and recommended for anyone...i actually saw it at the Melbourne International Film Festival...

Link to Blue Gate Crossing Trailer:

English: Storyline: Ah Meng is a 17 yr old highschool girl who often sighs that she is no longer a care-free and problemless person as she hides a secret in her heart....She has a best friend whom she hangs around everyday and her bestfriend tells her one day she is in love with this guy from another class. She asks Ah Meng to help her get the guy and writes a love letter to the guy Xiao Shi in Ah Meng's name. Thus starts the misunderstanding whereby Xiao Shi mistakes the girl who loves him as Ah Meng and thinks Ah Meng is creating an imaginary friend as an excuse as she is too embarassed to admit her love. Xiao Shi falls for Ah Meng and tries his hardest to win her love but Ah Meng cannot love him as she has a secret......eventually Ah meng tells Xiao Shi her long buried secret and the two 17 year olds grow up overnight through sharing the secret realising that life has many challenges and the world is not just the world inside school...they make a promise to meet each other sometime in the future, maybe after graduation, maybe 3 yrs later,....underneath a blue gate.......


Formula 17 (2004)...Taiwan's First Gay Romantic Comedy (not first gay film though, first film was made in the 1980s)

Posted by: hcpen1111

Formula 17 (2004)...Taiwan's First Gay Romantic Comedy

I liked this film as it is one of the few films dealing with a gay theme that is a romantic comedy and does not end in tragedy as so many of the other Chinese gay themed films fact it is so upbeat and positive about being gay and almost all the characters in the film is gay that the Singaporean censorship board refused to approve it for screening in Singapore though it had no problems screening in more open societies such as HK.

Formula 17 official website: which is in Chinese and has a trailer with english subtitles.....for non-chinese speakers...just have to navigate your way to find it, basically its the page with three links to click and one will allow you to save and you download it and then play using mediaplayer.....

English: This Romantic Comedy revolves around the story of virgin 17 yr old Xiao Tian who happens to be gay and happy and from southern Taiwan. He is always wishing he can get a boyfriend as he has never fallen in love or for that matter had sex yet...he meets this guy off the net and they arrange to meet in Taipei. Xiao Tian travels to meet the guy who happens to be this guy who only wants sex and not love...however, for sweet innocent Xiao Tian, he as he puts it in the movie.....'only wants to do the thing he likes (ummmm, maybe sex?!) with the person he likes..'He then meets his highschool friend who is also gay and thoroughly in the Taipei gay scene and his friend's gay friends...enters the boy heart-breaker Bai Tie Nan who is renowned for one night stands and breaking men's hearts and Xiao Tian falls for him and the feeling is mutual but Bai hides a secret......
Chinese: 影片由晶瑩透徹的水底開始。美少年小天(楊祐寧 飾)一躍入鏡,自在悠游。然後,另一健壯男子躍入,背向鏡頭,泳姿熟練曼妙。小天尾隨,尋找另一半身影,但男子的臉卻始終失焦看不清楚。男子游出鏡,小天環顧,遍尋不著,驀地從身後攬過一雙健美的手。兩人溫柔接觸,極盡夢幻與浪漫的感覺。小天欲轉身看清男子樣貌,男子陶醉於小天的頸項間… 兩人就這樣纏綿於水波蕩漾之間… 正當小天再次試圖一窺男子的臉時,鬧鐘響起… 小天驚醒! 原來又是一場春夢。  
為了尋找那位「夢中情人」,周小天,一個純淨優質的處男,決定從南部千里迢迢來到台北展開一場瘋狂的性冒險。當晚,在一家知名的同志酒吧裡,小天與久未見面的國中好友- 小宇 (金勤 飾) 重逢,並看到了同志圈最有價值的單身漢- 白鐵男(Duncan 飾)。小天對鐵男大為心儀,而鐵男也對憨直的處男小天留下深刻印象。 但是小宇再三告誡小天:白鐵男是有名的花心大蘿菠,要小天千萬不要招惹他。
在朋友的介紹下,小天開始在台北一家健身房打工,同時體驗都會同志生活。除了接受外型上的改造,小天也開始盲目約會,更差點被一個猛男水電工色誘… 直到有一天,小天在健身房又巧遇了鐵男,兩人在淋浴間水氣瀰漫的情況下有了更進一步的接觸。小天雖喜歡鐵男,但鐵男身旁總是跟著一個男人- 俊(張大鏞 飾),讓小天懷疑有關鐵男花心不負責的流言,是否真實。

Hainan Chicken Rice (2004)

Posted by: hcpen1111

Hainan Chicken Rice (2004)

First film financed by the Singapore Government dealing directly with gay theme which is a progressive step and also an indication of Singapore's govt change of policy in being more tolerant towards gay and lesbian citizens. I like the film because of Sylvia Chang who is one of my favourite actresses and also cute handsome actors and a unique setting being Singapore instead of the usual HK setting and i am half-Malaysian and given the similar culture b/w Sin and Mal, i found it easier to connect with this film also...HOWEVER, the storyline wasn;t great and the ending was poor in my opinion....wouldn't really recommend though wouldn't discourage anyone from watching too...again mainstream film even shown in theatres in strictly censored Singapore which obviously means no explicit scenes. In fact there are not even kissing scenes , let alone sex scenes in the entire film....

Hainan Chicken Rice English Website:

Hainan (HI-Nahn) Chicken Rice: one of the staples of Singaporean cuisine, a Chinese risotto sizzled in a pan and simmered in chicken stock, glistening with chicken essence and fragrant with ginger, every grain plump and separate yet chewy and bursting with juice. .
After being abandoned by her husband twelve years earlier, Jen (Sylvia Chang; "Eat Drink Man Woman", "The Red Violin." Best Actress of Hong Kong Film Awards 2002 - "Forever and Ever"), raised her three sons alone. She uses her mother's secret Hainan Chicken Rice recipe and opened a restaurant to support the family.
Her two older sons, Daniel and Harry are gay, as a woman with traditional values, Jen is fretful that she would have no grandchildren, if Leo, too, turns out to be gay.
Together she and best friend, Kim Chui (Martin Yan; famous Chinese cuisine TV Chef "Yan Can Cook") device a plan to keep Leo straight by bringing in a French exchange student to live with them. She is Leo's age and her name is Sabine. Leo develops a strange but intriguing relationship with her, which greatly pleases Jen.
However, things begin to crumble for her again when Kim Chui becomes "the toast of the town" with his invention of a new dish deeply challenging her Chicken Rice. Kim Chui becomes a national celebrity overnight, and Jen's self-esteem is threatened.
Finally, their conflicts come to a head when Jen participates in a cooking contest with Kim Chui and other chefs from Singapore. Food unexpectedly becomes a medium that not only nourishes their bodies but also opens their hearts…
Chinese: 故事大綱
珍(張艾嘉飾, 2002年憑《地久天長》獲香港電影金像獎最佳女主角)自十二年前遭丈夫遺棄後,以祖傳秘方調製的海南雞飯打響名堂,於新加坡開設餐館,獨力養活三個兒子。傳統的珍一直渴望兒子繼後香燈,當發現長子及次子皆是同性戀者後,將希望孤注一擲放在小兒子LEO身上。

Crystal Boys...(2003)

Posted by: hcpen1111

Crystal Boys...(2003) 孽子 電視劇

This drama was aired in Taiwan in Feb 2003 and was widely acclaimed as a well directed piece of work. It ended up winning almost all the awards at the 2003 Golden Horse Awards (金馬獎) in Taiwan which is the most prestigious TV Award in Taiwan and also garnered a huge following by straight and gay viewers alike with several reruns...I really liked it as the story had good looking actors, a superb script, effectively showed what Taiwan was like in the 1970s and how society was like then including the status of women(how the male main character Ah Qin's mother had to lead a life of misery and abuse at the hands of men and also Sister Yue Li's suffering) and also the repressed atmosphere under which gay men had to lead during those times unlike the comparatively more open and diverse lifestyle Chinese/Asian gay men lead today.....I also absolutely fell in love with the soundtrack especially the ending title which is really heart tendering and emotive...i would recommend this drama definitely even to those who are not particularly keen on gay themed tv dramas or films since this is an excellent drama with a fantastic director, cast, soundtrack and script...there are also very little gay sex scenes (only one very tame scene in whole drama i remember) or even kissing scenes which means it is suitable for even teens i would think....the problem is definitely how to obtain it as it is available ONLY in Mandarin with Chinese sub and there is no english version/subtitles to my knowledge, even in manyAsian countries it is not sold due to the sensitive topic of homosexuality it deals basically only obtainable in Taiwan, pirated copies in China, off the internet through BT or Edonkey sites or in countries like Malaysia or Singapore where even though it is not sold may still be obtainable through some CD,VCD shops which may order individually for customers if they so happen to have the connections.....

I am lucky that i went back to Taipei last year and as i have connections with PTS which produced the drama, was able to obtain the whole VCD boxset of "Crystal Boys" for free...really clear of December 2004, the DVD and VCD boxset was still selling at many shops around Taipei and was also available for rent at a rental shop in Taipei...


English: Basically the story of a gay teenager called Ah Qin and how he was discovered half-naked with his bestfriend in the school lab by the cleaner one night and got expelled from school as well as kicked out of home by his conservative military father after his father found out about it. It then follows his life at the New Park in Taipei where gay men congregate and form their little kingdom there when night falls. Ah Qin has 3 gay friends and a leader 'father' and the TV drama revolves around their lives incl family problems and love life....based on renowned Chinese novelist Bai Xian Yong's Novel Crystal Boys with the storyline roughly the same as the novel with some minor, though significant, changes.

Note: Bai's novel also entitled Crystal Boys incorporatd many real life places into the story including New Park which really exists in Taipei and was really well-known for gay men cruising from the 1960s to early 1990s. (I even remember vaguely once my parents mentioning the park as a gay area when we passed by once years back...) It is now not a popular gay spot anymore with Taiwan's new democratic liberal atmosphere with the flourishing of gay bars and discos as well as the has been renamed 228 Memorial Park and houses a memorial to the 228 Massacre.

Chinese: 誠如白先勇先生所言:「在《孽子》中,我主要寫父子關係,而父子又擴大為:父代表中國社會的一種態度,一種價值,對待下一輩、對待同性戀子女的態度——父子間的衝突,實際是個人與社會的衝突。
本劇情節描述從民國六十三年夏天的一個午后,主角李青因與同學發生曖昧行為被學校記大過開除,遭一直期盼他報考軍校的老兵父親趕出家門開始,這名邊緣少年如何在歷經母親、弟弟亡故、被家庭與學校放逐,乃至於無意中進入「新公園」蓮花池周圍的黑暗王國,認識許多相互扶持好友並與周遭人物開展一連串追尋情感寄託之處的心路歷程。故事主軸除了透過年輕卻早熟的主角李青,以第一人稱的口白方式描述在七零年代那個充滿壓抑的年代,自我如何掙扎於個人、家庭及社會群體價值的矛盾與衝突外; 也刻畫幾位主角在充滿喧囂、同情、憐憫、無助的環境裡,如何在生存、慾望和悔恨中掙扎擺盪,獲得最後救贖的人生旅途。

記: 白的孽子實際上加入了很多真的台北地點比如小說裡的新公園。非台灣人可能不知道台北真有此地。1960年代到1990年代初﹐新公園聞名同性戀者的聚地。但從90年代始隨台灣的民主化和社會的開明化和網絡的原因﹐新公園(現改名為228公園為紀念228事件)以不以前活躍。

Love's Lone Flower

Posted by: hcpen1111

Love's Lone Flower 孤戀花 電視劇 (2005) Please click photo for more pictures...

This TV Drama is produced by the Director of "Crystal Boys" which was a critically acclaimed tv serial in 2003 based on the renowned Chinese novelist Bai Xian Yong's only novel. This drama is also based on a short story by Bai entitled Love's Lone Flower.

The story, like Crystal Boys, deals with homosexuality but this time on the theme of lesbianism.

I am looking forward to seeing it as i haven't got a chance to yet though it has already finished broadcasting in Taiwan and is currently on a rerun on Public Television Service Channel in Taiwan and pirated copies are probably already widely sold in China by now....I want to watch this TV drama as I really like the director 導演 曹瑞原 as i loved Crystal Boys which he also directed and also it showcases 1940s to 1960s Cheongsams (Chinese dress) which is a passion of mine! (please read my very first post(April) on the Chinese dress!!!)


English: The story spans the 1940s-1960s period from Shanghai to revolves around Taiwanese musician Lin and his love story with a dance hostess Wu Bao as well as the indirect, suppressed love between Wu Bao and another dance hostess female protagonist Yun Fang. This all occurs in decadent, swinging Shanghai during the civil war period in China from 1945-1949. Then with the loss of the Nationalist Party, Yun Fang and Lin escape with the Nationalist Party to Taiwan in 1949 whilst during the wartime chaos, Wu Bao which both Lin and Yun Fang love befalls to tragedy. The story continues with the twos life in Taiwan and the entrance of another dance hostess, this time Taiwanese, into their lives........

Chinese: 藉由台灣作曲家林三郎一生的追尋與漂泊,講述一個因戰亂而交織成的亂世兒女情愛故事與難斷情緣。故事始於民國三十六年,一位台灣望族音樂家身處於動亂的內地-上海,因身份的特殊迫使其從繁盛而至頹敗;戰爭讓每一個如蜉蝣般的生命隨時代狂風擺佈,在共同的命運與旋律中,總帶著點昨是今非的悲涼。十里洋場的風月夜上海,歌舞昇平中瀰漫著一股末世的頹廢與華麗。三郎的情愛交織在舞女雲芳與五寶之間,因戰亂迫使三人分離失所。雲芳至台灣後與三郎再遇,卻只留滿面滄桑與寂寥。這是一個大時代裡台灣音樂家的流亡人生,身體的流離與靈魂的飄泊,回憶純真的花樣年華,遂成永遠的鄉愁…