Saturday, 8 September 2007

Fuyajo (1998)

English & Chinese title: Sleepless Town.

Very few people who can watch this movie without subtitle, except for Kaneshiro Takashi, who can understand all the dialogues speaking in its native tongues. Thanks to his mixed heritage of Chinese and Japanese (inherited a Japanese nose, and Chinese eyes), and the different places he lived and worked, he's able to speak Japanese, Mandarin, Hokkien, and Cantonese, which are all spoken in this film.

Fuyajo (1998)Although he wasn't required to speak Cantonese and Hokkien, one could still say KT is tailored for this role. In fact, he's more than qualified. 2 dialects over qualified.  I suspect he probably didn't even need to audition for the part.

There's an interesting development occurred after 1990s in the HK film industry that I liked where they eventually used the actors' original voice in the movies. I know, I know. For foreign audience of HK films, they would say, why shouldn't this be the case anyway. Well, it wasn't.  This was in fact an industry standard practise. Absurd, isn't it?

Before that, everyone's voice was dubbed. No, it has nothing to do with the actor's language problem. For example, Chow Yun-Fat, who speaks perfect Cantonese - and in fact can deliver lines in English as well - was dubbed in most of his films by another Cantonese speakers (who usually didn't sound as good as Chow). After the 1990s, everyone are given their own voice, even if they have an accent. For example, we found out that KT speaks Cantonese with a heavy Mandarin accent. Also, another Taiwanese actress like Brigitte Lin would in fact speak Mandarin in many Cantonese films. Both of these examples are found in Chungking Express (1994). Similarly, Michael Wong speaks Cantonese with a New Yorker accent, which lends distinctness and colour to his voice.

This is a forerunner of Shinjuku Incident (2009) where both films are set in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and both are in the gangster genre, and main characters are Chinese (from various parts of PRC) settling in the area. This film is less well known than Shinjuku Incident because of Jackie Chan's high status. While KT is well known in Asia, JC has achieved international profile. And if you expect more romance in this film because of KT, while more action in the other film because of JC, you're absolutely correct.

The look and feel of this film is top notched, which won it the 2 HK Film Awards in Best Cinematography and Art Direction. Don't take my words for it, take a look at the trailer yourself. The fleeting travelogue-like images of Kabukicho are also nice: basement pubs, striptease joint, eye-searing vertically rectangular neon lights, life-size posters of teen girls in bikini, and salaryman spews his supper and sake in the street. Bewdiful.

Fun Facts:
  • Mirai Yamamoto, who plays the female lead, is the daughter of fashion design Kansai Yamamoto.
  • Mirai Yamamoto also acted in Jackie Chan's Who Am I? (1998).

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