Wednesday, February 28, 2007

'Confession of Pain' next for a Hollywood makeover.

After the stunning success of 'Infernal Affairs', erm, I mean 'The Departed' at the Oscars, it looks like Hollywood is going straight into remaking another Andrew Lau/Alan Mak crime thriller, last year's Hong Kong hit Confession of Pain.

Hollywood Reporter story.

I thought Scorcese and co. made a lot of unnecessary changes in 'The Departed' which was a shame since I.A. was such a brilliant film. I haven't seen 'Confession of Pain' yet but from the reviews I've read, it doesn't quite match the quality of I.A. although there are meant to be a couple of good performances from Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Takeshi Kaneshiro.

Synopsis of the original film and trailer here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Pigazine - a Hong Kong podcast

I just found this podcaster via iTunes.

The presenter of this Cantonese podcast (Ah Pig) seems to divide her time between Hong Kong and Canada and is sometimes joined by a male co-presenter (Ju Jai).

Check it out. The podcasts are fun listening and it's nice to hear 'normal' colloquial Cantonese like this. In fact, this is a quite a good way of brushing up your Canto if, like me, you need to!


Friday, February 23, 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The N.T. - Experiencing Hong Kong's wilder side

Many Westerners have a stereotypical view of Hong Kong as a forest of skyscrapers, all gleaming glass and shoppping malls. That's true of Central and Hong Kong island, of course, but as many bbcs will be aware, the New Territories offer a very different environment: lush, green, almost tropical. And whilst many N.T. towns have been massively developed over the last few decades, you are still never very far from open skies and forested hills.

The Telegraph's Linda Kernan takes a walk on the 'wild side' of HK.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The evolution of Chinese cuisine.

An interesting article from The Times, which pays particular attention to the use of MSG in Chinese food, and perhaps puts it into perspective:

“In culinary terms it is much like Parmesan cheese, and is regarded as a condiment by the Chinese, while westerners see it as junky,” says Fuchsia Dunlop, who has studied Chinese food for ten years and spent two years at chef school in China. “It’s no worse for us than refined salt or white sugar,” she says.

In fact glutamates are a naturally occurring amino acid present in many foods, including tomatoes, ripe cheese, peas, chicken and broccoli..."

Read the full article here.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Presenting the bbc blog's Top 8 Pig Hall of Fame

Despite what the soothsayers... erm... say, I still think the Year of the Pig will be an auspicious one.

So to celebrate the upcoming piggy year, here's a list of some notable pigs. A piggy Hall of Fame, if you will. And to all readers: Gung hei fat choi!

8) Porco Rosso

The slightly lewd, mercenary ace pilot with the head of a pig is the hero of one of Hayao Miyazaki's lesser known films. The film is a homage to the days of prop planes and flying aces, done in that imaginative, Studio Ghibli way.

7) Porky Pig

This wide-eyed, perpetually smiling Loony Tune character was known for his distinctive stutter and featured regularly in my a childhood TV viewing. Looking at him now though, he seems a little bit sinister. Put some trousers on, Porky!

6) The char siu at Loon Tao restaurant, Gerrard Street, London

What? Of course I have to mention food! This is a bbc blog after all :)

You have not experienced Chinatown food until you have tried the char siu at Loon Tao. Trust me, it's amazing. Get the location here.

5) Spirited Away's parent pigs

Beautifully animated as you'd expect from a Hayao Miyazaki movie. The transformation of Mum and Dad into grunting pigs is a perfectly magical Miyazaki moment.

4) Miss Piggy
For some reason, the fact that 'irresistably' sexy Miss Piggy was voiced by a man (Frank Oz) never seemed that weird. Her unrequited love for Kermit was a brave celebration of mixed-race relationships although technically, they were both Muppets ;). Let down by her violent streak. The Miss Piggy wiki.

3) George Orwell's Animal Farm pigs

Part of my school reading list, Animal Farm was probably my first introduction to 'political' writing. The dictatorial pigs were brilliant creations - scary yet believable.

2) The 'Lost' Wild Boars

Scary. Dangerous. Big. Had to be hunted for food. One of the last good things about 'Lost'. Once the hogs went, things immediately started to go downhill. Image from:

1) Zhu Bajie aka Pigsy from 'Monkey Magic'

Although Pigsy was portrayed as a buffoon in Monkey Magic, the original character from the Chinese story Journey to the West was in fact a formidable fighter and commander of an army in Heaven. It was after he made a drunken pass at the Goddess of the Moon that he was banished to Earth, and because he landed in a pig farm, he was reincarnated as part pig, part human. Zhu Bajie is able to transform himself into 36 entities and his weapon is 5000 kilo, nine-toothed rake which you have to say is pretty cool.

And that concludes this piggy Hall of Fame. Happy New Year, peace and prosperity to all.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Year of the Pig already looking bad!

Oh dear. This is why I don't put any faith in Chinese fortune tellers. They really don't hold back if they forsee bad news!

The world can expect a roller-coaster ride of conflict and unrest, natural disasters and a plunge in global stock markets once the Year of the Pig begins, Chinese soothsayers say.

"It is anticipated that there will be more international conflicts and disharmony, which will even lead to regional warfare, uprising and unrest, or the overthrow of governments in certain countries," [Feng shui expert Raymond Lo] said.

"So it will not be surprising that there will be more gun battles, murder with guns, bombing attacks in the year 2007," Lo added.

Feng shui expert Lee Sing-tong predicts serious conflict in the Middle East this coming year.

"Religious wars will turn intense. There will be large-scale warfare or explosions," said Lee, a third-generation feng shui master.

He also expects serious diplomatic conflicts in the East, for instance between China and Japan, and says the problem will be most acute until May 5.

Fortune teller Alion Yeo predicts an interest rate hike in the third quarter and a big accident between June and July.

"It could be a big fire or an explosion. It would be something that draws the world's attention and causes the stock market to fall," he said, adding however that the market would quickly recover.

Yeo also predicts a strong earthquake, at least 7.0 on the Richter scale, in a Japanese city between March and April. But the number of wounded would be limited by the earthquake resistance of the country's architecture.

Uh oh. That really doesn't sound good. And there I was thinking 'Year of the Pig' sounded so nice and positive.

It's not all bad, though:

Although Yeo anticipates global unrest, he expects a mediator will come in to balance the tense situation between conflicting countries.

"I don't think it will be that bad this year. Although there will be a lot of unrest and disharmony, problems will be solved in the end," he said.

Lo agreed. The pig belongs to the water element and is the birth month of wood. The pig symbolises the germination of plants and when new life is born.

And Lee predicts the birth of someone of national importance to China.

He said this person will be born on June 30 between 5.00-6.59 am Hong Kong time (21.00-22.59 GMT) somewhere in the east or south of the country.

"This date of birth is very rare. It only happens once every 60 years. It is very difficult to see such a good fate," he said.

Full article.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

Desperate Microsoft asks, 'What's wrong with you Asians?'

Found on

Apparently, Microsoft are confused by the lack of interest that Asian gamers are showing in their Xbox 360 console.

So much so that they went to the trouble of setting up a special website targeting the Asian market that points out the tremendously attractive features of the console (e.g. 'It looks cool.') and asks Asian readers, a little desperately, 'what's wrong with you??!!'

Erm, aren't there more pressing problems in this world that might deserve a domain name like that? The Middle East conflict, maybe? Climate change? The fame of Paris Hilton?

Oh well, I guess we just don't know what's good for us and need to be told. :)

Put me down for a Wii, please!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Help me spread the word!

Well, this blog has been going for a while now but it's still early days. Thanks for all the comments so far.

It's also been great discovering that there are other bbc relevant blogs out there too (<<<- see links). If you enjoy the bbc blog, please tell your friends! This is all the work on one person at the moment (me), so any help in spreading the word would be appreciated!

See you soon for the next post! :)


Friday, February 09, 2007

Stupid rumours about Chinese restaurants. Will they never end?

A restaurant chain in Scotland has apparently suffered a drop in takings because rumours were being spread that they were serving seagull under the guise of chicken.

Story in the Dundee Evening Telegraph.
“Since we reopened in October we have noticed a slump in business,” Chung Wong, manager for Jimmy Chung restaurants in Scotland, said today. “At this time of year we should be busier.

“We’ve been looking to open a second outlet in the city, but since these nasty rumours have been going around we’ve had problems. People have been phoning the council to see if they are true, but they are completely false.

“They say we have been using seagulls instead of chicken, but that’s totally ridiculous. Nobody does things like that. It is a lot easier to buy chicken than to go out and catch seagulls.

“People have been posting these rumours on the Internet, saying that is what has been happening in the Dundee restaurant. I can only think these are people who are also in the business and are upset we are selling quality food at low prices.

“We have been consulting our solicitors about these postings.”

Could anyone over the age of five really think it's possible that busy restaurant owners might be running about outside trying to catch seagulls instead of buying chicken from a wholesaler? Stupid. Just stupid.

The QPR vs. China 'friendly' punch-up

The mass brawl that erupted during a football match between the China Olympic team (effectively the national youth team) and Queens Park Rangers was quite comical in a way, and I hope it was just a case of players winding each other up (aka 'sledging') and things just escalating and getting out of hand.

At least the BBC report above shows some of the lead up to the fight, and not just the Chinese player going mental later on.

My only slight reservation here is that three QPR youth players are currently facing charges over the death of a Vietnamese student, Tu Quang Hoang Vu, who was either pushed or dragged into the path of a Tube train during some alleged 'mucking around' at Earls Court station last year.

The chances are that the players on the pitch during the fight are friends with, or know, the guys who were arrested and I just hope that this didn't play a part in turning this into some 'grudge match' in the minds of some QPR players. It was supposed to be a friendly after all.

Anyway, the fighting was out of order from both sides, and both managers have promised swift action against any wrongdoers.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

'Sweet Mandarin' - perhaps the UK's 'Wild Swans'?

I heard about this new book via a link on the Irish-born Chinese blog. Judging by the synopsis, the book will undoubtedly draw comparisons with Jung Chang's bestseller.

Books from 'bbc' authors are pretty rare, so it'll be interesting to see how 'Sweet Mandarin' fares. I might even get a copy!

Spanning almost a hundred years, this rich and evocative true story recounts the lives of three generations of remarkable Chinese women.

Their extraordinary journey takes us from the brutal poverty of village life in mainland China, to newly prosperous 1930s Hong Kong and finally to the UK. Their lives were as dramatic as the times they lived through. A love of food and a talent for cooking pulled each generation through the most devastating of upheavals.

Helen Tse's grandmother, Lily Kwok, was forced to work as an amah after the violent murder of her father. Crossing the ocean from Hong Kong in the 1950s, Lily honed her famous chicken curry recipe. Eventually she opened one of Manchester's earliest Chinese restaurants where her daughter, Mabel, worked from the tender age of nine. But gambling and the Triads were pervasive in the Chinese immigrant community, and they tragically lost the restaurant.

It was up to Helen and her sisters, the third generation of these exceptional women, to re-establish their grandmother's dream. "Sweet Mandarin" shows how the most important inheritance is wisdom, and how recipes - passed down the female line - can be the most valuable heirloom.

More about the book here.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

'BBC'? Cantonese not very good? This might make you ashamed! :)

The guy in the video is a HK based Australian actor called Greg Rivers aka Ho Kwok Wing who has played numerous roles in TVB dramas and HK theatre productions over the years.

Ho Kwok Wing's homepage is here.

Reminds me of a Chinese TV clip I saw once which was set in a hospital ward: A Western doctor walks in (I don't think it was Ho Kwok Wing). The scriptwriters must have had trouble coming up with an authentic-sounding Western name because the Chinese character turns to him and says, "Hello Doctor Beckham." :)