Saturday, December 06, 2008


Alan Sings "Red Cliff"

We in the west will have to wait until January, 2009 to see the first part of John Woo's epic Chinese film "Red Cliff," set in the Han Dynasty. For those who don't know, John Woo is originally from Hong Kong, where he directed a number of action films before heading off to Hollywood, and transforming American action films to include intricate, almost balletic fight scenes (see Broken Arrow and Face Off, among others). He returned to Hong Kong, finally, to put together a new pan-Asian epic set in China, but employing Japanese and Chinese actors alike. On a side note, it is interesting to watch as China, Japan and Korea work to overcome their language and cultural differences to build a "general Asian" pop culture, but I digress. The Asian newspapers seem to be raving over the film, and though its production was plagued with actors quitting and rejoining the cast, and numerous other delays, Red Cliff, unlike Australia, seems to be an epic love letter to an expat director's homeland that isn't destined for failure.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that budding Japanese/Tibetan pop star Alan, over whom I raved earlier this year, has recorded the theme song--in Chinese and in Japanese. That's no easy feat. The languages are completely different, and Alan has an accent when she sings. But more than that, Japanese and Chinese pop stars have very different aesthetics. Alan is beautiful, but not in that classic kawaii "Perfume" way, which I loathe. Alan can actually sing. She has some gravitas. I can't help but root for her.

Japanese pop stars do perform in mainland Asia, and every now and then there is a Korean pop star, like Boa or that Harry Potter look-alike-actor who manage to cross over to Japan. Language remains a problem. I'm keen to see how Alan, with her talents, is going to fare.

The Chinese version, with subtitles, is below.

Japanese Tibetan?! Wow! Ok, you've inspired a long-ranging Google search. (I've heard Tibetan is similar in structure to Japanese, or at least a lot closer than Chinese. But of course that's not relevant.)

Also... can I point out why these pan-Asian films are so fabulous? Billing doesn't matter--all the most famous (and awesome) stars are involved. They're like classical jazz recordings, back when you'd have 7 masters collaborating on an album instead of one star with a recording band behind him/her. Sorry. Tangent.

But look!! Tony Leung (heart!!) AND my one true love besides Chabon: Mr Kaneshiro!! Eeeek!
You'll have to read what I wrote about her earlier, and also see the Youtubes on Han Hong, who I think is just incredible. Gordon and I watched her sort of slack-jawed.
What a beautiful song! The movie looks really interesting and visually appealing, too.
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