Friday, 29 January 2010

Spirit Warriors: first impression

Spirit Warriors, Jessica Henwick, Benedict Wong, Burt Kwouk, BBC

A lot of us may have heard about and has been anticipated to see Spirit Warriors, possibly the first British children TV show that featured Chinese as the main characters. But actually the casts are quite diverse. The series was created by Jo Ho, a very promising British Chinese screenwriter/director to look out for. I've already known about Jo by chance through the internet before I even heard about the series, so it's great to see the progression of this project coming into fruition. She's definitely an ambitious and an aspiring person. Spirit Warriors falls into the fantasy action genre, tells a story of five ordinary school kids whilst on a trip to the museum who unexpectedly transported to a mysterious world (the Spirit World) that pretty much resembles ancient China. The kids are about to explore the unfamiliar world whilst fighting against evils, and as well as finding a way to go back home.

Already in the first episode I can see some influences from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (fighting in the bamboo forest), Narnia (journey to a magical world) and some Dragon Ball (blasting fireballs from the palm). The story moves along quite quickly with all the main characters being introduced and the action already kicking in within the first 15 minutes. Bo the lead character played by young actress Jessica Henwick is very convincing in the martial arts role. There's also another young British Chinese actress Alicia Lai as Bo's cute younger sister. Though I remembered early on in the production Bo suppose to have a younger brother instead of a sister, so that must have changed from the original script. Another great bit is the appearance from veteran actor Burt Kwouk lending his voice to the CGI Dragon Shen.

Parts of it is a little bit cheesy but I guess you can get away with it for a kid's show. Another criticism that some viewers have pointed out is the kung fu stereotype, a cliche that always played out by east Asian characters on Western TV and films that the we are already too familiar with. Also the character Li (the bad guy) played by Benedict Wong shares the aesthetic of the classic oriental villain. However his little squabble with Hwang (his henchman) reveals there's a lot more to the character than just a Fu Manchu archetype, I hope so anyway. Good character development will give them a bit more depth than just two dimensional bad guys. Well at least for sure the casts didn't consist of Caucasians playing Asian characters, unlike this up and coming Hollywood film.

The show is on every Friday on CBBC or if you missed it you can watch it on the official website.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Post 80s Youths of Hong Kong

Image from Apple Daily

A typical afternoon in Hong Kong as we saw thousands of people with huge banners poured onto the streets making their way to the Liaison Office. This was not a New Years celebration or anniversary of the Hong Kong handover but a mass public protest. What's been observed recently is a growing number of youngsters in their 20s (also known as the 'post 80s generation or youths') has been making up a large percentage of the participants in public protests. Of course every generation have it's own share of young passionate activists, indeed for China in the past hundred years protest and political movements has always been spearheaded by youths. Certainly in Western countries this is nothing new. But in Hong Kong there has never been such noticeable turnout of youngsters in protests until lately. Most definitely they were never used to protests in such a ferocious and aggressive manner before. Sometimes the protests can go out of control and end up in scuffles with the police, as seen in the new years day march. Since then the post 80s generation has been perceived negatively by the public and in the media; branded as rebellious and a bunch of hooligans. Since then there's a lot of talk on the TV, radio and on the internet about this growing phenomenon, trying to understand why it is happening.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

China sympathise with Haiti

Found an interesting article regarding China's reaction to Haiti earthquake, having went through a devastating earthquake in Sichuan two years ago. It's good to see that the Chinese government was quick in responding to the disaster with aid and help.