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January 23, 2009: News from AbroadBest Actor winner Arjun Rampal in Rock On!!

January 23, 2009: News from Abroad

Jodhaa Akbar continues its reign, Full House goes international, and Tony Jaa takes back the box office. All this and more in the latest edition of News from Abroad.

By APA Staff

Jodhaa Akbar rules, Rock On!!! rocks, Dostana makes history

Ashutosh Gowariker's epic Jodhaa Akbar celebrated big wins at the star-studded 15th annual Star Screen Awards in India. The wildly popular historical romance between Akbar the Great (Hrithik Roshan) and his wife Jodhaa (Ashwaraya Rai) won best film, director, lead actor, and best background music with a score from Golden Globe-winning composer A. R. Rahman, who also bagged a best music award for Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. Between the former Miss Worlds, it was Priyanka Chopra who took home the best actress prize for Fashion. Meanwhile, Farhan Akhtar's Rock On!!, a youth favorite in India, claimed awards for editing, art direction, cinematography, supporting actress (Shahana Goswami), actor (Arjun Rampal), and most promising male newcomer (director-turned-actor Farhan Akhtar). But the most explosive landmark of the night was Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham making Indian film history by winning the "Best Couple" award from their roles in Dostana. The Indian gay community saw it as a sign. Well, it is hard to deny that that those two did look good together. --Winghei Kwok


The Good, the Bad, and the Weird gets a fistful of nominations

Korea's The Good, The Bad, and the Weird has received eight nominations for the Asian Film Awards -- the most of any film this year. The film, a Korean western, was directed by Kim Ji-Woon and stars prominent actors Jung Woo-Sung, Lee Byung-Hun, and Song Kang-Ho in the their respective title roles. Song Kang-Ho received a nomination for Best Actor while his two co-stars each received one for Best Supporting Actor. Other nominations include Best Film, Best Director (Kim Ji-Woon), Best Cinematographer (Lee Mo-Gae), Best Composer (Dalpalan/Jang Young-Kyu), and Best Visual Effects (Kim Wook). The awards will be presented on March 23 in Hong Kong. --Frederick Stiehl


Full House set to be even fuller

The popular Korean television drama Full House starring Song Hye Kyo and Rain, which swept Asia back in 2004, will be getting a sequel. This time, however overseas actors will also be participating. A representative from Full House's production company commented that "currently, we have received requests from companies in Taiwan and Thailand for collaboration in this upcoming production. This sequel has garnered the attention of overseas companies since the pre-production stage and we won't insist the leading roles to be played by Korean stars." The series is also exploring the possibility of recruiting actors from Hong Kong or Japan to participate in the drama as well. Set for 20 episodes, the sequel is now in the script stage. --Kristie Hang


Cape No. 7 Valentine release for China

Valentines Day in mainland China will mean a lot more love toward the Taiwanese hit romantic film, Cape No. 7 -- not to mention much political clamor over understanding fifty years of Japanese colonial rule in Taiwan. It is still unclear if there will be any editing done to the release in China. Cape No. 7 details the life of a down-trodden Taiwanese band dropout who finds love in a Japanese publicist looking for someone to open for a famous J-pop star. Though it failed to secure a foreign film Oscar nomination, Cape No. 7 tops the Dark Knight and Lust, Caution at the box office in Taiwan with a final box office gross of NT$232 million. For a comprehensive take on the film, click here.  --LiAnn Ishizuka


Shigeo Fukuda's work lives on

Shigeo Fukuda, the great Japanese sculptor, graphic artist, and poster designer who created great optical illusions that usually portrayed some sort of deception, died in his hometown of Tokyo on January 11th at the age of 76. He was known to many for his antiwar and environmental advocacy posters that transformed complex concepts into simple, minimalist designs. His book Visual Illusion is a must-own for many American designers. Mr. Fukuda was the first Japanese designer inducted into the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. He had also been the subject of major shows in New York, San Francisco, and Toronto. --Kristie Hang


When Andy Lau meets Tsui Hark

Action film master Tsui Hark will direct Andy Lau for the first time in a period thriller Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame. Set in the Tang dynasty during the reign of China's only female leader Empress Wu, Detective Dee (Andy Lau) will solve mysterious murder cases while developing an intense love-hate relationship with the number one femme fatale in Chinese history. Scripted by Taiwanese director Chen Kuo-fu, the Huayi Brothers' production boasts a budget of USD$13 million. Before any murder case surfaces, the mystery of "who will play Empress Wu" remains unsolved. It is rumored that Tsui is negotiating with timeless beauty Brigitte Lin, who has long retired from showbiz, to return for the role. Like all detective stories, we will find out the answer in due course. Detective Dee is scheduled for production this May and is slated to release in 2010.  --Winghei Kwok


Another film adaptation for Vikas Swarup

Vikas Swarup, author of Q&A , the novel from which Slumdog Millionaire was born, has had his newest novel, Six Suspects, optioned for the big screen. Paul Raphael of Starfield Productions, a British film company, along with BBC Films has optioned the novel for 18 months. Raphael is currently in search for a screenwriter in hopes of achieving the same success he saw with his most recent film, Under the Bombs. Six Suspects is based on actual crimes in urban India, fictionally compiled into a single murder mystery. In the coming year we'll see if Six Suspects can live up to its award-winning predecessors. --Megan Chun

Ong Bak 2
a box office hit

The sequel to the 2003 smash hit, Ong Bak 2 grossed over two million dollars in Thailand over its opening weekend, topping the Thai box office. Tony Jaa returns as the lead actor, but this time also takes over duties as director in his directorial debut. Although the film is billed as a sequel to Ong Bak, it does not have any plot connection to the first. Under martial arts choreographer Panna Rittikrai, Ong Bak 2 combines the Muay Thai of the first film, with Chinese kung fu. One of the most expensive films made it Thailand, Ong Bak 2 was produced by major Thai film company Sahamongkolfilm. --Frederick Stiehl


Asia Pacific Arts